Saturday, January 14, 2012

Ironman Arizona (IM-AZing) Race Report

Back Story: I signed up a year ago with all kinds of lofty goals. I was going to work through the winter to improve my run and get down to a sub-five marathon (shut up, I’m NOT fast), summer was going to be all about the bike, and I was going to swim twice a week to get stronger. My goal…13:30.

Then life happened.

I was sick or injured most of the winter and didn’t run a winter marathon. I finally got my head out of my a$$ and started training in the Spring. Summer was good, I did almost all the weekday workouts, swam once a week, and got the weekend stuff in. Come September, training ceased. I was working 70+ hours a week so weekday workouts stopped happening. Our house was finishing so there was the move (and getting two houses ready for the rental market). We got a dog. What can I say, training kept getting pushed lower and lower on the priority scale. I did make sure I got the weekend runs/rides in but my lofty goals were reduced to (a) finishing, and (b) try to break 15 hours.

Race Plan: When I felt good HAMMER IT until it didn’t feel good anymore. Probably NOT the best Ironman plan, but due to the lack of training, I knew it was going to hurt. I also knew at times it wasn’t going to hurt so I’d take advantage of those moments.

Swim Motto: PULL, PULL, PULLThis year I noticed during swim practices I am confident and feel like I’m the fastest swimmer in my lane. When I swim in the fast lane I push myself to keep up with them and I manage to stay on their toes. That confidence disappears on race day though. I start swimming and just assume everyone is faster than me so I relax and just let everyone pass me.

Well not at Ironman.

This swim was the most physical one I’ve ever been in. There was punching, shoving, body checking, kicking, dunking, etc. I rarely got a clear area and even somehow got wrapped up in Tina’s (Team Z blind athlete) guide tether at the turn around point. Once I was turned around, I became a drill instructor and just kept yelling Pull! Pull! Pull! in my head, knowing my arms would feel like rubber at the end, but what do I need arms for on the bike?!

Overall I was thrilled with my swim! The volunteers pulled me out of the water, wetsuit strippers stripped me, and I ran/walked into transition with a gigantic smile on my face. I knew I PR’d the swim and really, the swim was the only thing I worried about. I knew I could ride the miles, and I knew, if required, I could walk the marathon. The swim was my biggest obstacle and I rocked it!
Distance/Time: 2.4 miles – Goal 1:30; Actual 1:24:26: PR by ~4 minutes!!


T1 – Goal 10 min; Actual 10:53 - I did a last minute change in the morning and swam in a swim suit instead of my compression shorts and sports bra (stupid, stupid, stupid). I wasted minutes trying to get into my Zoot’s but a wet body and compression shorts are not a good combination. I gave up, threw on my bike shorts and headed out

Bike Motto: Live the Plan: If you feel good, get in aero and HAMMER IT!

Split 1: This is a pretty fast course, or maybe it was the ZIPP 404 Firecrest tires. Regardless, the first loop was FAST. Great tailwinds, I felt good, so I hammered it.
37.4 miles 17.81 mph pace

Split 2: I spent this loop looking forward to the turn-around to get those tailwinds. Boy was I in for a surprise! Seriously, how could the winds turn so drastically? Oh well, I still felt good so I got in aero and hammered it. I was thrilled when I was still hitting my time goal at the turn-around point.
74.6 miles 16.45 mph pace

Split 3: I was a little down after the second loop but I kept telling myself just one more to go and maybe those winds will be my friend again. My neck was hurting so I stayed in aero and focused on the 6” in front of my tire. Made the turn-around …what was I in for…more wind, but not as bad as last time. Body check – feeling good, HAMMER IT!
112 miles 16.97 mph pace

Total Bike 112 miles: Goal 7:00; Actual 6:33:59/17:06 mph pace – PR by 14 minutes (against B2B, 41 minutes faster than Switzerland)!! That was AWESOME!!


T2 – Goal 10 min; Actual 6:51 - Robin, my Ironman Switzerland partner in crime, helped me into T2, into my run gear, and sent me on my way.

Run Motto: Anyone Can Run For Five Minutes (I do 5:1 run/walk intervals, so every time the watch went off to run, I said that…out loud)

Split 1: Started to run and realized I may have killed my legs on the bike. This is going to be a LOONNGG night. Plodded along waiting for my watch to go off so I could walk, and plodded, and plodded. How long can five minutes last? WTF…Seriously, when can I walk…wait a minute, Michele programmed my watch for 5 HOUR:1 HOUR increments instead of 5 MINUTES:1 MINUTE intervals. We had a good laugh about that when I saw her cheering on the course.
2.5 miles 13:35/mile pace

Split 2: The women with Dr. Hoy’s Pain Relief Gel are ANGELS – a little bit of that and my calf started working again! This course was a little hilly so I walked the inclines, and I walked my one minute increments. In between, I concentrated on form and cadence.
11.5 miles 12:12/mile pace

Split 3: (this was my worst loop mentally) The loops seemed to take F.O.R.E.V.E.R. And I could never figure out where I was. I saw people across the lake, but couldn’t figure out if I was heading there or if I had already been there. And my back hurt, really really hurt and Dr Hoy’s Pain Relief Gel doesn’t help bone on bone grating. I finally started in on the chicken broth and cola and my mood turned. Best advice I’ve ever received way back in 2008, “if they offer you chicken broth, take the chicken broth”!
20 miles 12:37/mile pace

Split 4: This guy dressed up as Batman kept leap-frogging me and I decided there was no way Batman was going to beat me.
Forget the pain, stay ahead of Bruce Wayne!
Finally made it around the endless loop to the finish line turn- in and assumed it was right there. Nope. There was a woman just ahead of me as we turned in, so I kicked it to get ahead of her (again, thinking the finish line was right there). It wasn’t so I had to hold that pace for longer than what was comfortable. FINALLY, finish line just ahead… smile, high five, smile, take it in, smile, check to see if others were around me, nope, OWN the Finish Line!

ESTHER LETSCHE – YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!!!!!



Yeah I am!
26.2 miles 13:12/mile pace

Total Run 26.2 miles: Goal 5:30; 5:33:05/12:42 pace (11 min slower than IMS)

Final –13:49:11 (PR by 29 minutes)


It really was IM-AZing!

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