Fast forward five years later and I have now completed my 10th Ironman and my first as a professional. It is the beginning of new era for me, and admittedly I still did not know what I am getting myself into. Overall I had a good day and went 8:57. Here is a recount of the sub-9 performance at the 2011 edition of Ironman Arizona.
|Exiting Tempe Town Lake in my 2XU V:2 Wetsuit|
The gun fired and I was off. Much to my surprise it wasn't all that chaotic and I felt very relaxed as I found some feet. At about the 400 meter mark I started to get concerned that the pace was too easy but I wasn't going to waste any energy forging ahead solo. The pace stayed consistent, but we were actually starting to catch up to other swimmers who had been dropped from the packs ahead.
At the halfway point I decided to take a look at my watch and it read 26:XX. I was happy with that and actually quite surprised. We got a little off track on the way back in, but it is better to sit in the pack and swim a little extra, than to forge ahead solo.
|On The Bee-Line Highway|
We forged ahead on the Bee-line highway towards the turn-around as we climbed into a headwind. It was slow work and the average speed was falling into the low 20s. It reminded of the climb to Hawi and I was greatly looking forward to the turnaround. Finally we reached it and our speed was up into the middle 30s as we made quick work of the ride back into Tempe.
|Struggling In The Wind|
Lap 3: I continued to do a lot of work off the front but the lack of nutrition was really starting to take its toll on my energy levels as I watched my pace drop further. I was ready for the bike course to be done, but I still had 38 miles to go. I climbed out of town and to the turn-around where I received a very unwelcome surprise. The wind had changed directions and the tailwind I was supposed to have home was now a raging headwind. To make matters worse I was starting to get tunnel vision and I knew I had to get some calories down. I backed it off even further in hopes that I could right the ship before the start of the run. The wind would prove to be too much for Amanda and Dave and they would drop off the back as I rode it in with Ryan.
|At The Trisports Aid Station|
Lap 2: I continue on a torrid pace in lap two and through the half way point in 1:28. Then the wheels started to fall off. The Ironman Arizona run course is very rolling with lots of turns and concrete. The pounding was starting to take its toll on my quads, and my hamstrings started cramping. I got to an aid station on an uphill and decided it would be a good strategic point to visit the restroom. I let my body cool down, rest, and recover as I prepared for the journey to the finish. Miles 14-18 were the tough and I really had to focus through them. I finished lap two and I was thrilled to have only a lap to go.
|Rally Cap Time|
I continued on alone and knew that I could go sub-9. At mile 25 I saw a guy down on the ground with an oxygen mask on, and I just hoped I could keep it together for one more mile. At .5 miles to go I past Tim O'Donnell - he had bonked but toughed it out. I patted him on the backside and headed towards the finish with a mix of emotions. As I entered the chute I could hear Mike Reilly's voice welcoming me on as I reached out and slapped hands with anyone I could find. I crossed the finish line with a big smile on my face in 8:57:00.
Summary (8:57:00 / 27th Pro): Finishing Ironman Arizona was a flood of emotions - it was my 10th Ironman and my first as a pro. I have come a long way from that first Ironman back in 2006, but the experience of finishing never gets old.
This race was confirmation that all the hard work and effort has paid off. Although I did not have as strong of a run as I would have liked, I could not be more proud to be able to cover 140.6 miles under the 9-hour mark. I learned so much about strategy at the pro-level and I look forward to using what I learned in my next race. Although mentally I am ready for my next Ironman, I know my body needs a break, and I am going to give it an extended rest as I get ready for 2012.
|Trisports' New Retail Location In Tempe|
For those of you who don't follow Team Trisports, here is a quick summary of the IMAZ performances: Leanda Cave won the female's race, Torsten Abel took forth, owner and super-dad Seton Claggett won his age-group and finished in 9:14. Charisa Werrnick went 9:22 and Billy Oliver had an amazing race despite crashing and went 10:24.
I also want to thank my homestay for their wonderful hospitality. Dana and Bill Jones have been great and theirs sons Austin and Logan are some of my biggest fans. The boys always help me out with whatever I need, and on this trip they taught me all about geo-caching!