IMAZ Report…. WINDY!!!!! j/k, here it goes… WARNING: It’s a long one!!!!
Let’s start by saying it has been one of the toughest one of all 3. Yes I know we’ve had our share of tough ones, from broken bones to mechanical failures. This one was hard but couldn’t have asked for an overall better race (I know doesn’t make any sense)… Well maybe less wind and I will spare the details for later.
We started this journey a year ago when we volunteered all day by catching bikes and pointing runners until the last runner was taken out of the course at the 17 mi cutoff. It was an awesome journey, after 2 140.6 in a year we can say that while it wasn’t easy it definitely wasn’t impossible. We had our goals set for each one of our races and we had big dreams but we weren’t going to let our race day(s) be ruined by any setbacks we could encounter and we would make the best out of it regardless of the outcome. That doesn’t mean that we would not try our hardest out there but circumstances change and you simply adapt and keep moving forward.
So as promised here are some of the details of how it went down:
Days leading up to it:
We left home on Wednesday with a short stop overnight in El Paso. Ended up arriving to Tempe at around 2 pm on Thursday. So we were able to check-in at our hotel, dropped off the bikes and went to the Ironman Village to do the athlete check-in
Before we knew it, it was 5:30 pm and we had planned to do the Tribe Multisport Store Underpants Run. It seemed like something fun and we had a blast along with other 100 people.
We went early to a yoga/stretching session that a guy from the Arizona 2014 FB page had setup. He was pretty amazing as he was going through chemo the entire training and still toed the start line with us. We did that, kinda took it easy afterwards. Then we went to the Tribe Multisport annual party. It’s a pretty cool event. Got to talk to a couple pros and enjoy the tri community in the area. Highly recommend it. After that we went to dinner with Suzy, John, Herb and some friends we met through the Arizona 2014 FB group and then back to the hotel to pack the bags.
Early morning swim, was pretty good. Water didn’t feel cold so we decided it was going to be a sleeveless swim, with a short spin after it. Then it was to the typical bike checkin, bag drop offs, met up the Swim Bike Mom Ambassadors and heading back to the hotel. We wanted to rest since it had been a couple of intense days. No much rest on the legs. We didn’t really do much from 3 pm until race morning. Fixed nutrition, got dinner takeout and off to bed we went at 8:30.
So the day started pretty early. 3:30 am the alarm went off. We wanted to be out of the hotel by 4:15. So it worked out great. We made it to parking at the US airways parking garage by 4:30 and had an awesome spot. That’s a tip for future participants it is free. However make sure you don’t leave your bike outside on your rack even if it is secured. There were a few reported stolen bikes from athletes. We did our normal routine, air on tires, fixed nutrition on the bikes, and off transition into the swim. We located our selves around the middle.
Although we had gone prepared and had both sleeveless and long sleeve wetsuits, I decided to brave the swim with my sleeveless as the day before during the practice swim, it felt great. Sunday morning the water temperature was about the same (@68 degrees) so sleeveless it was. Felipe and I had planned to start the swim in the middle and stay around each other at the start of the race. We jumped in the water and all I could think about was this water feels great!! We swam under the bridge to be closer to the start of the race and held on to a kayak while waiting for the start.
I realized there were so many people holding onto the kayak that we were floating backwards, so decided to let go, move to the front, and tread water. Cannon went off, we counted to 10, and off we went. I knew Felipe would leave me quickly and remained focused on my swim. I thought this swim was more challenging than IM TX as it took me longer to find an empty spot. I kept swimming into people and looking for open areas, but didn’t actually find one until the turn around. Felipe says it was because my swim has improved so much and I’m faster, but at the time it was just about surviving. Half way through, I heard some girl yell “ow” after I accidentally hit her on the head as she swam into a buoy. To my surprise, shortly after, I see her trying to pass me and then felt her hand on my hand. I guess she couldn’t continue her swim until she got even. Now that’s being on a mission, but I didn’t let that get in my way. Finished my swim strong and headed for the funky stairs that were tough to climb. I had to hop onto the step, sit down, and then pull myself to stand up while the volunteer with the bright pink wig held me up. Finished strong and PR’d my swim by almost 14 min. Yay!!!
Ran out of the swim into T1, which felt like it was almost a mile away, but was so excited when I heard Herb calling my name! That took my mind off the long run and I ran into the tent. The Volunteers were amazing and super helpful!
I was looking forward to the bike, knowing that it isn’t my strongest, mainly because they describe it as mostly flat and 3 loops. As soon as I left town, I felt I was going straight into the wind. When I turned onto the Beeline, well Hellooooooo Wind!! All I thought about was who ticked off the Wind Gods as there had been little to no wind the days before. I kept hoping for relief on the later loops, but that never happened. It just got worse. I felt as if I was holding on for dear life to not fall over and doing no more than 9/10mph on a steady incline for 10miles. I was super excited to see Felipe cruising down on the other side and thought there must be relief back into town as people were flying. I did the turn around at the top of the hill and soared downhill. Looked at my watch and clocked 28mph. Wow what a difference!! I got back into town and felt strong ready to brave the remaining loops. I saw Herb and smiled and back out I went! The wind was just as bad or even worse on loop 2 and remember having pulled into an aid station for brief relief from the wind. On my third loop, it was unfortunate that I witnessed another athlete have a bike accident. She was on the other side of the road and I was facing the wind, then all I heard was a loud scream and thump. She either had not seen the mile marker or was distracted. Luckily it happened near one of the intersections manned by police who called for assistance. I was shaken a bit as thoughts of our previous accidents came to mind, I slowed down, hoped she would be ok, and kept on fighting with the wind. I use the word fighting because it felt like a mental fight. I was thankful for riding in circles at TMS, but in true IronMan spirit, my mind began to play games, having thoughts about taking more breaks from the wind or worse giving in. I thought about Felipe, remembering how he finished our last race with 2 broken ribs, thought about the team, and about the hours spent training to give up because of some temporary wind. So I sucked it up, snapped out of it, and went to finish with another PR of about 15 minutes.
Pretty similar experience to T1 just faster!!
Going out on the run didn’t feel too bad after such a gruesome bike. I stuck with my intervals and stayed focused. At about mile 2, I saw Felipe and Suzy across the run path. It was awesome to see them and know they were out there already. I felt strong until about mile 8 and then my interval times started fading, becoming more of jog/speed-walking. My IT band was on fire and felt as if I was dragging my leg. Talked to other athletes on the run, compared bike experiences, and shared the same feelings about the wind!!! Ughhhh, The sun started to set, it started to get cooler, stopped by special needs to get my arm warmers, and kept on moving. At mile 15, after enjoying warm chicken broth, I noticed a particular shuffle in the dark that looked familiar….it was Felipe!! I was so glad to have caught up to him and off we went to finish together. As we neared the finish line and heard Mike Reilly, we both smiled and the pain disappeared while we ran down the shute!! Such an exciting feeling and burst of energy to have people cheering as we cross the finish line. I could not have asked for a better way to finish, both of us in one piece, and sealed with a kiss!!
This Ironman experience was #3 for us and this one is especially special as I got news in AZ about a position I put in for. We will be moving to NY. There will probably be more posts about that… definitely will continue to tri, we are far from bored with it and if you are asking yourself if we would do another one… the answer is yes… Bring it Ironman Cozumel 2015