I decided to do Ironman Arizona as the finale to my 2012 season. It was a race that I knew I would not be likely to get into as an amateur (it sold out in 40s this year!) and it also known as a pretty fast course. A couple Columbia Multisport Club (CMC) members were doing it and I thought, what the heck! Sounds good!
Training for a November Ironman is not something I will want to do again. The days get shorter and it is hard to motivate yourself to train in the dark. I also have more work related deadlines and a big conference in October that I needed (and wanted) to prepare well for. As much as I love being a professional triathlete, I refuse to loose sight of a career I also love and it becomes a balancing act in the fall, to be sure. The conference went great, it was in Portland and Steve came along. It was so much fun exploring such a bike-loving city! We returned home and I promptly became sick with the flu for a week, booo!! Basically, this meant that the 2 weeks when I should have been putting in 30 hour weeks training for Ironman were a complete write off. This was going to be an interesting Ironman adventure but I convinced myself this was a great challenge and most of surviving Ironman is a mental game anyway J
We arrived in Tempe on Thursday, weather was gorgeous (lows in the 50s, highs in the 80s!). Thanks to Tribike Transport for getting my bike to the race site flawlessly as usual, I love not hauling the huge bike box through the airport! I shared a hotel with friend Cheryl who was doing her first Ironman. It was fun living vicariously through an Ironman virgin, the first time is always special J
I got to meet Tiffany and Rebecca from ABPro Sports at the expo. This is a great company who provides me with race and training apparel. They do great custom apparel and released an athletic clothing line in 2012 as well, yes divas, this includes strappy running bras and running skirts!! A great American company out of California! Check them out!!
The other cool thing about Tempe is that my bike sponsor, Valdora is located there. I got to meet the Valdora “family” in person, which was awesome! Pete and Kendra showed me the new line of PHX2 bikes which now come in TONS of beautiful custom colorways!! The bikes simply sell themselves (LOVE my PHX2s, all 3 of them!), but what a great grass roots company it is as well. They had an open house at their fabulous show room in Tempe the night before the Ironman and I got to meet manyValdora athletes and friends. Lucked out with a ride back to the hotel in a 1968 Corvette, woohoo!!
My race number was 99!! It's not every day you get the same number as "The Great One." Canadians will not need an explanation, but for the Americans, I am referring to Wayne Gretzky.
The race started in Tempe town lake. It was wetsuit legal and the water was still and calm. What a thrill to line up beside Leanda Cave (the 2012 Kona World Champion!!) as the women’s pro field assembled at the start. We were off and I immediately found three girls to draft as we started the out and back. I really pushed myself to stay with them and knew this would mean I had a good swim. At the turnaround I was fatiguing a litte but I concentrated on rotation and high elbows and could tell I would be in good shape for the swim. I passed the group I was drafting off about ¾ into the race and hoped they would benefit from my draft to the finish (teamwork!!). I was 18th/28 out of the water and swam 1:06 (second best ever swim time). I can't bring myself to post a photo of me coming out of the water, I look too much like Jabba the Hut in the race pics, haha.
Got on my bike and was really cold. My feet were so vasoconstrited, shriveled and prune-like, I almost bailed trying to get them into my bike shoes once I was on the bike. The bike course is 3 loops of out and back on a hill. It was hard getting the legs going and I could tell my power wasn’t as high as I wanted it to be. My cycling training had suffered in the last month, and I knew I would have to dig deep to have the performance I wanted. I perked up a little for the second lap and third lap was just plain hard. I got passed by a few girls and I’m used to doing the passing when it comes to the bike so that was hard. I tried to keep them within my sights so I could be motivated when I got to the run.
We started the 3 loop run course and it was starting to be hot (well it was only about 80 but this seemed hot to me!). The one drawback to doing 3 Ironmans in a year is you know 100% about what you are getting into on the run. You know the first 10-13 miles are fine and you know the last 10-13 miles are the devil and you cannot escape the dread. I had never had what I felt was a good marathon at the end of an Ironman and I had vowed this would be the race to change that. I made it through 13 miles on pace and things started to get hard, but I had passed 3-4 girls! I broke the race down mile by mile, running from aid station to aid station. I dedicated several of the last miles to a special person in my life so I wouldn’t wuss out on my goal pace (thanks to Chrissie Wellington’s biography I read on the plane – this was a great idea!).
When I had 3 miles to go two men were talking about how the race time was 9:26….and this meant my race time was 9:36….I had 24 minutes to run just over 3 miles to break the 10 hour barrier…..and I had to hold 8:00 miles until the end. I gave it everything….I knew it was going to be close! As I rounded the turn into the finish chute I saw the clock say 9:49:47, I had 13 seconds to run 100m to break 10h (pros start 10 minutes before the amateurs). It was sort of hilarious because, back in my college track days, my best time for 100m was 12.3 seconds and lets just say age and and Ironman don’t dignify speed at all. It was not my day to break 10 hours. I did 10:00.10. Yes, 10 seconds off but still a PR. I also ran the best marathon I have ever run in an Ironman (3:30), it was still a good day!
Cheryl and Jen from CMC completed the race, we had quite the CoMO girl power contingent! Cheryl did her first Ironman in 12:28, a phenomenal time! It was fun having people to celebrate with, Jon and Lisa Rosen were also in town from CoMO visiting so they were able to ferry us and our invalid bodies around so we could drink, eat and carouse a little!
Thanks so much to all the people who believed in me this year. My first pro season has been a great journey! I am looking forward to next year! Thank you to Tryathletics for providing great athletic gear and advice, Joe Company at Endurance Company for his guidance and coaching expertise, Valdora bikes for making the most wonderful steed I could ever ask for, XLab USA for their superb hydration equipment, HED cycling for making the best wheels and aerobars in the business, glad I switched to clinchers!!, ABPro Sports for my gorgeous race and training apparel, GU and Electrodelytes for the delish nutrition and TYR for providing me with the INCREDIBLE Hurricane Freak of Nature wetsuit (I swam my two best swims ever in it this year!). Also a big thank you to TriBike Transport for getting my bike to races flawlessly and Tate Labs for providing me with a super aero option to geek out on my Garmin data (the Bar Fly and Bar Fly TT)!
Happy Holidays to everyone, enjoy the offseasoning J