“You are READY, trust the work you have done!”~Ironman Arizona Team
Cliff Notes Version: I GOT to race Ironman Arizona on Sunday, November 21! 💙💛
- I was SO ready to create an experience I had never had before, and that is EXACTLY what I did!
- this is a one transition race
- ALL gear (bike, bike bag/gear, run bag/gear) was dropped off on Friday
- the water temp was 64.2F on race morning (wetsuit legal race…I wore my Roka Maverick Pro II Wetsuit)
- there were no pro athletes at this race, so age group athletes started at 6:45 am
- the swim start was a self seeded based on expected swim time finish with 5 athletes sent off every 4 seconds
- the swim was one big loop with very choppy water, but I focused on my effort
- there was a lot of talk about the swim buoys being difficult to see due to swimming directly into the sunrise, but it was a cloudy morning so we weren’t swimming into direct sunlight
- I created an Ironman swim PR
- there were wetsuit strippers
- there were a few volunteers to help change in T1
- the bike course was 3 loops
- there was a strong headwind climbing out of town on the Beeline Highway to the turnaround, which meant an amazing tailwind on the descent to town
- there were three water/aid stations on each loop of the bike course
- I created an Ironman bike PR
- there were a few volunteers to help change in T2
- the run course was 3 loops
- there were aid stations on the run nearly every mile with water, gatorade, gels, ice, bananas, grapes, Coke, Red Bull, etc.
- they brought chicken broth out during my last loop in the run
- I missed an Ironman run PR by less than 6 minutes
- I created a 52 minute overall Ironman PR
Longer Version: I GOT to race Ironman Arizona on Sunday, November 21 in Tempe, Arizona! 💙💛
The alarm went off at 3:30 am. After doing all of my morning rituals and consuming my breakfast smoothie, we made our way to the transition area (we drove to the parking garage closest to transition). There was an amazing spectator willing to tote all of my stuff to transition for me in his wagon so that I didn’t have to carry it from the parking garage to transition. Thank you random stranger! When I got to the transition area, it wasn’t open quite yet, so I walked my run special needs and bike special needs bags over to the designated drop off area before making my way back to the transition area. I put bike and run nutrition in each of my gear bags that I would pick up in T1 and T2, emptied my bladder, aired up Mojo’s tires, loaded Mojo with my bike bottles, lubed up her chain, helped a friend from back home do the same to his bike, squeezed another friend from back home, and exited the transition area. I got love from random puppies, ate my Skratch bar at 5:45, donned my Roka Maverick Pro II Wetsuit, took in a gel at 6:15, and made my way to the swim start. As I lined up behind the sign for 1:15-1:20 swim time, I found my friend Lil. It was so great to see her, squeeze her, and chat with her before starting our day.
Swim: (1:16:14 for 2.4 miles at 1:58/100 m average pace…22/89 F40-44, 100/480 F, 510/1928 overall)
I eased into the swim by remaining calm and focused on my strokes + breathing… “1, 2, breathe…1, 2, breathe…1, 2, breathe.” At the first turn buoy I kicked the effort up a few notches and found my groove. The water was a bit choppy, but gratitude moment: thankfully choppy water isn’t a problem for me. As we swam along the back of the course, we were supposed to be swimming into direct sunlight due to the sunrise, but gratitude moment: yay for a pretty cloudy morning, so there wasn’t much sun shining in our eyes to make sighting the buoys extra difficult. I spent the majority of the swim staying in the moment, playing chase, having fun, and focusing on my effort. My effort was right where I wanted it to be, which allowed me to create a swim PR! ⚡️
It was a little bit of a jog from the swim exit to T1, but when I got to the change tent with my T1 bag, I quickly started to get my 4 peanut butter Oreos down the hatch, changed into my bike shoes, donned my helmet + sunnies, and ran to grab Mojo.
Bike: (6:18:11 for 112 miles at 17.8 mph average speed…23/89 F40-44, 116/480 F, 739/1928 overall)
The three loop bike course gave us the perfect amount of challenge + fun! We got the challenge of climbing into the headwind on the way out of town, but once we reached the turn around, we got to rocket back to town thanks to the descent and tailwind…SO FUN!
During the first loop, I settled into the ride while taking in all of the scenery, noticing landmarks I could use to get me through the 18+ mile stretch to the turnaround, and fueling + hydrating like it was my job…because let’s be honest…it was my job on this day! Cheers to and from Vanessa as we went in opposite directions! Once I made it to the turnaround on the first loop, I had so much fun rocketing back to town. Sure, the road surfaces were a little bumpy, but the descent + tailwind were AMAZING!!
As I cruised back into town, I saw Dad and Aunt Patty out on the bike course. They convinced a group of random strangers to cheer for me. It was a great boost of energy in that moment! At the turnaround in town, I was greeted by cheers from my #1, my good friend Erika, and OJ. So much gratitude for my support crew!
Here we go…lap two! Wait a minute…where did this wind come from? I thought the winds were supposed to be less than 10 mph all day…that’s clearly not the case. Oh well…gratitude moment: good thing I’ve done this before and train in headwind all the time in Iowa! This is my kind of challenge! As I got to the Beeline Highway, I focused on getting to the next landmark to get me to the turnaround (it’s only 4 miles to the Gilbert Road, it’s only 4 miles to the mountain, it’s only 2 miles to the turnaround). I played chase and commented to other athletes I passed (and athletes who passed me), “it’s a good thing there isn’t any headwind today!” They didn’t think I was funny. 🤪 I sang songs out loud: “I feel good,” “Life is a highway,” “This girl is on fire,” and “I won’t back down”…sorry to those athletes who heard me and wondered where that screeching was coming from! 🤪 Cheers to and from Leslie as we were going in opposite directions…I’m going to try and catch her! And just like that, we were at the turnaround! Cheers to Lil as we were going in opposite directions. Gratitude moment: AWWWW YEAH! That tailwind + descent is AWESOME! LFG! ⚡️
I saw Dad and Patty on my way back into town and then saw my #1, Erika, and OJ at the turnaround in town, but this time they were joined by our good friends Jeff and Deb. Oh the cheers! Thanks support crew!
Here we go…last lap! I caught up with Leslie on my way out to the Beeline Highway. We chatted for a bit and then we each continued on our separate ways to the turnaround. The wind hadn’t died down, so I again focused on making it to one landmark at a time while singing, smiling, and enjoying every minute of this ride. As I rounded the cone at the turnaround, I thanked the volunteers and put the hammer down all the way back to town. Oh…and that last loop was faster than loop #2. BOOM! ⚡️
I spent the majority of the bike staying in the moment, playing chase, and focusing on my effort. My effort and focus were right where I wanted them to be. I rolled into transition creating a bike PR by almost 30 minutes. ⚡️
An amazing volunteer took Mojo from me as I dismounted. I grabbed my T2 bag and made my way into the change tent. As I was changing my shoes, the Women’s Change Captain was talking to me saying how I looked familiar. I told her I was the Women’s Change Captain at Ironman Wisconsin and we worked together this year as she was a co-captain for gear bags in Wisconsin. I thanked Joanna as she took my bag while I set out for the run, but not before a quick stop to empty my bladder (boy did I have to pee 🤪).
Run: (4:57:21 for 26.2 miles at 11:21/mile average pace…30/89 F40-44, 163/480 F, 734/1928 overall)
My goal was to hold back at the start of the run and keep a solid + strong effort throughout the entire run while only walking through aid stations to ensure proper fueling and hydration. In all of my Ironman races in the past, I have started out too fast causing lots of walking in later parts of the marathon. This time I wanted to make sure I wasn’t burning too many candles at the start of my run so that I had candles to burn in the later parts of the marathon. I saw my #1 and Erika immediately after I exited transition and set out on the run. They let me know I had a massive PR on the bike and asked how I was feeling for the run. And guess what?! I was feeling AMAZING!! This is what I had trained for! This is where the fun begins!
The run course was also a 3 loop course, which was awesome because we got to see spectators so many times! During the first loop, I kept my pace steady and focused on the mile I was in. I continually asked myself, “how is my effort?” so that I wasn’t pushing too hard early on. I took in my nutrition and hydration as planned. I saw Dad and Patty at about mile 3 and then saw my #1 and Erika between miles 5 and 6 twice. As I made my way to mile 7, I felt my stomach gurgling, so I made a quick Kybo stop to 💩 and headed on my way back around the lake to start loop #2.
As I made it back to the transition area to start loop 2, I again saw my #1 and Erika. They cheered me on and gave me updates for where I was against my competitors. I was still feeling really good and keeping a steady pace. My stomach felt extremely full; I kind of wanted to vomit so that I wouldn’t have a sloshy stomach, but apparently my body wanted to hold on to all that liquid. At about mile 10.5, I saw OJ for the first time and she was FULL of cheers! She asked how I was doing and I told her I was keeping a steady pace + constantly checking in with “how is my effort?” to remind myself to not burn too many candles. I continued to hydrate and fuel according to plan which helped me stay strong and energized. I saw Dad and Patty again at about mile 12 and then crossed over to the other side of Tempe Town Lake where OJ was like “Where’s Waldo” out on the course. She had her bike, so she was able to bounce all over the place cheering me on and keeping me motivated. I again saw my #1 and Erika around mile 14 and then saw OJ again before heading back around to the other side of the lake to start loop #3.
I saw my #1 and Erika near the transition area. They asked how I was feeling (the answer…GREAT!) and told me they would see me at the finish as they were going to get my bike + gear and take it to the car so we wouldn’t have to do it after the race. I thanked them and powered on. OJ continued to bounce around the course cheering me on, which I really appreciated. At about mile 18, my body decided it was done with gels, so I switched to eating grapes at the aid stations. I still had plenty of energy and was feeling strong, just couldn’t choke down one more gel. As I made my way to the other side of the lake for the last time, I was surprised to see my #1 and Erika at about mile 23. Tim told me he would give me an update on where I was against my competitors when I crossed the timing mat and came back to them, but I told him I didn’t want one. I was in such a good mental space that I didn’t want to fracture that in any way by adding pressure to myself knowing where I was against other women in my age group. I just wanted to continue to love this race and enjoy every moment of it!
I was overcome with gratitude for having such an amazing race from start to finish as I made my way back around the lake toward the finish line! For the first time ever, I executed my run goal perfectly! I had SO much support out on the run course, which made it extremely easy to stay in the present mile and tick off each mile one at a time. While my pace slowed a bit during the 2nd and 3rd loops, my effort was still as high as it had been throughout the swim and the bike. I created a run performance I had only dreamed of and finished just about 6 minutes short of a run PR. ⚡️
Overall: (12:44:56…23/89 F40-44, 117/480 F, 622/1928 overall)
As I ran down the red carpet into the spotlights with the cheers of family, friends, and random strangers surrounding me, I was full of emotions. I had created a race experience that fell together like nothing I had experienced before and it was MAGICAL! I had created the race experience of my dreams! I was SO F’ING PROUD as I crossed that finish line in 12:44:56 creating a shiny new PR by 52 minutes! ⚡️
Gear: Coeur Sports triathlon shorts, Coeur Sports sports bra, Coeur Sports aero top, Roka X-1 Goggles, Roka Maverick Pro II Wetsuit, Specialized Transition tri bike, Specialized S-works Evade helmet, Specialized Torch 2.0 Road Shoes, Coeur Sports visor, Newton Kismet running shoes, Roka SL-1X sunnies, Orange Mud hand held water bottle