It's been an interesting year and Ironman Arizona was a great way to wrap up my season. There were a few ups and downs along the way but when I arrived in Tempe, my head was in a good place and my body was in decent race shape.

Ironman Arizona Finisher Medals

Our routine is typical and with Arizona being my third Ironman of the year, the second in five weeks, our agenda was still fresh in our minds.

We rolled into town on Wednesday, checked into the hotel, ran our errands for food and necessities, went through the Ironman machine for packet pickup, gear drop-off, etc. and before either of us could blink, we were about to enter the water.

Yes, I said "we".

The Mrs., following in the footsteps of her idiot husband, decided that one Ironman in a single year was not enough. Ironman Arizona would be my third for the year but it would be her second -- obviously we were made for each other. :)

So as I was saying, before we knew it, we were about to enter the water.

As I waited (im)patiently, I was flooded with various emotions but I noticed the absence of doubt. Doubt has been my unwanted companion for many years. It was gone. Finally.

Passing under the arch, I entered the water about 15 minutes prior to the start and I swam up to the front of the line to where I felt was the best position.

Looking around at the narrow lake, I realized I would need to move my ass when the gun went off in order to avoid getting pummeled.

Bang! The race started and I pushed hard for the first few hundred yards to open up a gap on the masses. Despite the narrow swimming lane, the initial push from the line was enough to escape the large crowd unharmed. Or so I thought.

Ironman Arizona Swim Start

Ironman Arizona Swim Start

Not long after opening up a gap on the majority of the field, I felt a foot connect with my thumb and then I felt a throbbing sensation in my hand.

Hey, I know this feeling. I've broken my thumb, again.

I say "again" because back in grade school, the fifth grade to be precise, I was in love with some girl whose name escapes me. But rather than express myself like a normal boy (then again, what fifth grade boy is normal?), I decide to chase her around the school.

All of this came to a screeching halt when my thumb met the end of a banister while running down a flight of steps.

After the foot connected with my hand, I flashed to the school principal's office where he explained why I shouldn't chase people.

Ironic because thirty something years later, I break my thumb again because I'm chasing people. :)

Fortunately the pain didn't increase with swimming, it was just uncomfortable. I got through the rest of the swim unharmed and when I exited the water, I looked at the clock and I was close enough to my target.

Ironman Arizona Swim Exit

Making my way through T1, I get my bag and I run into the transition tent. I sit down on a chair and a volunteer takes my bag, flips it upside down and all of my gear drops on the ground. My Garmin, in the bag, previously sitting in my helmet, was now gone. I'm certain it rolled somewhere when the volunteer dumped the bag but I couldn't find it.

I didn't want to lose time so I left without it.

Ironman Arizona Bike Course

For the first few miles of the bike, I started thinking about whether or not I'd buy the 310 again or would I upgrade to the 910. And then I started thinking about why I didn't want to purchase another Garmin when I had a perfectly good unit which was somewhere on the ground inside of the transition tent.

After mourning the loss for a few minutes, I realized there was a reason the Garmin was in the bag -- for the run.

Crap.

What would I do?

As I considered my options, I decided that I could pull the Joule off of the bike near the end and use it as a heart rate monitor.

The unit would power down after four minutes of not seeing the PowerTap hub but at least I'll be able to periodically check my HR.

"It's better than nothing", I thought.

With a plan, I focused on riding the bike course. And with that, I started ticking away at the miles.

Ironman Arizona Bike Course

Previewing the course in the days leading up to the race, I knew what to expect and race day seemed to be exactly what I had experienced two days prior.

The plan was to take the first loop cautious, perform a status check and then decide how to ride the second two loops.

Upon completing the first lap, I felt in control and my time was better than expected. As I started the second lap, I noticed a few riders in my age group going past me. I started keeping track and it seemed as if there were too many.

With plenty of gas in the tank, I decided to lift the effort to stay close (enough).

Ironman Arizona Bike Course

Lap two and three went by quickly and as I rolled back into town, I felt like I had paced the bike well. Just prior to getting off of the bike, I reached down and removed the Joule from the mount and I slipped it into my pocket.

At the dismount line, I handed my bike to the volunteer and I ran to the transition tent. As I removed my helmet, something fell onto the ground. It was my Garmin. Yes, the stupid Garmin was stuck in my helmet for a 112 miles and I never noticed it. Ha!

Sweet!

Entering the transition tent, I tossed the Joule into the transition bag and I mounted the Garmin on the quick connect band attached to my left arm.

Running out of transition, I powered up the Garmin and I settled into the run while waiting for the Garmin to find the satellites.

Running. Waiting. Running. Waiting. More Waiting. Even more waiting. Nothing.

Sh*t.

As I ran the first mile, I expected the Garmin to find the satellites but it kept searching and searching.

And then finally -- "Are you indoors? Yes or No?"

Again, sh*t.

I accidentally hit Yes, had to shut down the unit and start over. No such luck though, it still couldn't find the satellites.

By this point, I've already passed mile one and I decide to use the backup stopwatch attached to my right arm.

Cobbling together a plan -- "I can use the Garmin for HR and the stopwatch for lap times.", I thought.

While all of this is going on, I realize, I'm not paying attention to the time passing and my nutrition plan is off schedule. Mentally, I reset the clock and I get my nutrition plan back on track.

As the miles ticked away, the Garmin eventually found the satellites but it never worked correctly. Perhaps the hit to the ground damaged it in some way or it was just being wonky but whatever the cause, it wasn't functioning normally.

"You don't need it.", I thought.

While that statement is definitely true, I wanted my Garmin to work. I run by HR and not by pace but I don’t like change and I definitely don't like change during a race. I had no choice though and I continued using both devices.

The Garmin would periodically beep when it thought we crossed another mile but it was inaccurate from start to finish. I began using the lap button on the Garmin as I passed each mile marker so while not ideal, nor did I trust anything on the display, I attempted to use it in its limited functionality.

Accepting the current state of gadget chaos, I shifted my focus to the race and on my running.

Ironman Arizona Run Course

I felt good and I felt in control.

As each mile ticked away on that crazy and confusing run course, I reeled in my competition. Along the way, I noticed a significant number of pro men and women, more so than usual.

It's not unusual for me to pickup a few pros here and there but this was more than a few. After the race, I counted nearly twenty which contained an even mixture of men and women.

"Something must have happened", I thought but the source of their presence in my path was no matter to me. What mattered was that I was excited to overtake a significant number of pro men.

Anything to keep the mind entertained! And that provided some good mental fuel.

As I put the majority of the miles behind me, it wasn't the marathon I wanted but it was a solid performance. Regardless of the outcome, I put together a good race but according to my calculations, I needed to be around sub 9:30 to secure the win and based on the times at Ironman Florida, I felt like I would also need to be under 9:30 to get to Kona.

When I evaluate my performance, I not only look at where I finish in the age group but I also measure my performance against the entire field. So while closing on the finish in the final miles, it didn't matter who was in front of me, I wanted to shut them down and close the gap to number one.

With two miles remaining, I focused on form, my breathing and I kept telling myself that I could let up after I crossed the finish.

Ironman Arizona Run Course

When I arrived back at Tempe Beach Park for the final time, I was confused for a moment about the location of the finish.

"What?"

"I'm supposed to run through this empty parking lot, then off to the street and then around the corner, and it is there that I will find the finish?"

"Uh, ok. That makes sense."

Seriously? Who thought that was a good idea?

Somebody from Arizona needs to go check out the finish at Coeur d'Alene. Those peeps know how to do a finish. And yes, Hawaii does a pretty good finish too. :)

Ironman Arizona Finisher Chute

Ironman Arizona Finisher Chute

Crossing the line at 9:38, a PR and a PR for each of the disciplines, I was pleased.

2012 Ironman Arizona Finish

I felt like Kona and the podium had escaped me but I didn’t care because I raced a good race.

Broken thumb and gadget failure -- none of that had any significant impact on my race. Something always goes wrong, that's just how it works.

After the race, I went straight for the food and then not long after that, I went to the info desk to see where the Mrs. was on the course.

When the nice man gave me the info on the Mrs., I decided to have him look me up. "Sweet!" I was fourth in the age group!

2012 Ironman Arizona Hardware

2012 Ironman Arizona Podium

Based on the number of slots at CdA this year, I was confident that I had secured another Kona slot. Of course you never really know until the next day so I felt a little bit of anxiousness.

We rolled down to the signup the following morning and sure enough, four slots. Whee! Kona #4 for and that makes two slots in the same year. Heck, that wasn't even a box on my todo list but I just added it.

2013 Ironman World Championship Qualifier

Bucket List

- Qualify for Kona twice in the same year

As I mentioned in the beginning of this very long post, it's been an interesting year -- several podiums, qualifying for Vegas, running Boston, another trip to Kona and so much more. But what really stands out more than anything else is the number of old and new friends I've crossed paths with this year.

Triathlon is a small sport and for those who stand on the outside looking in, we appear to be "crazy" and people often wonder: "Why would anyone do that?"

The new friends we meet along the way and the friends we continue to see at one event after the next, they get it. We know why we do it.

The greatest reward for me this season was sharing this experience with my wife for not only her first but her second and also sharing the experience with my friends.

To my friends, see you guys next year! Enjoy your off season!

Vince

2012 Ironman Arizona Stats

It's been an interesting year and Ironman Arizona was a great way to wrap up my season. There were a few ups and downs along the way but when I arrived in Tempe, my head was in a good place and my body was in decent race shape.

 

Our routine is typical and with Arizona being my third Ironman of the year, the second in five weeks, our agenda was still fresh in our minds.

 

We rolled into town on Wednesday, checked into the hotel, ran our errands for food and necessities, went through the Ironman machine for packet pickup, gear drop-off, etc. and before either of us could blink, we were about to enter the water.

 

Yes, I said "we".

 

The Mrs., following in the footsteps of her idiot husband, decided that one Ironman in a single year was not enough. Ironman Arizona would be my third for the year but it would be her second -- obviously we were made for each other. :)

 

So as I was saying, before we knew it, we were about to enter the water.

As I waited (im)patiently, I was flooded with various emotions but I noticed the absence of doubt. Doubt has been my unwanted companion for many years. It was gone. Finally.

 

Passing under the arch, I entered the water about 15 minutes prior to the start and I swam up to the front of the line to where I felt was the best position.

 

Looking around at the narrow lake, I realized I would need to move my ass when the gun went off in order to avoid getting pummeled.

 

Bang! The race started and I pushed hard for the first few hundred yards to open up a gap on the masses. Despite the narrow swimming lane, the initial push from the line was enough to escape the large groud unharmed. Or so I thought.

 

Not long after opening up a gap on the majority of the field, I felt a foot connect with my thumb and then a throbbing sensation in my hand.

 

Hey, I know this feeling. I've broken my thumb, again.

 

I say "again" because back in grade school, the fifth grade to be precise, I was in love with some girl whose name escapes me. But rather than express myself like a normal boy (then again, what fifth grade boy is normal?), I decide to chase her around the school.

 

All of this came to a screeching halt when my thumb met the end of a banister while running down a flight of steps.

 

After the foot connected with my hand, I flashed to the school principal's office where he explained why I shouldn't chase people.

 

Ironic because thirty something years later, I break my thumb again because I'm chasing people. :)

 

Fortunately the pain didn't increase with swimming, it was just uncomfortable. I got through the rest of the swim unharmed and when I exited the water, I looked at the clock and I was close enough to my target.

 

Making my way through T1, I get my bag and I run into the transition tent. I sit down on a chair and a volunteer takes my bag, flips it upside down and all of my gear drops on the ground. My Garmin, in the bag, previously sitting in my helmet, was now gone. I'm certain it rolled somewhere when the volunteer dumped the bag but I couldn't find it.

 

I didn't want to lose time so I left without it.

 

For the first few miles of the bike, I started thinking about whether or not I'd buy the 310 again or would I upgrade to the 910. And then I started thinking about why I didn't want to purchase another Garmin when I had a perfectly good unit which was somewhere on the ground inside of the transition tent.

 

After mourning the loss for a few minutes, I realized there was a reason the Garmin was in the bag -- for the run. Crap. What would I do? As I considered my options, I decided that I could pull the Joule off of the bike near the end and use it as a heart rate monitor.

 

The unit would power down after four minutes of not seeing the PowerTap hub but at least I'll be able to periodically check my HR. "It's better than nothing", I thought.

 

With a plan, I focused on riding the bike course. And with that, I started ticking away at the miles.

 

Previewing the course in the days leading up to the race, I knew what to expect and race day seemed to be exactly what I had experienced two days prior.

 

The plan was to take the first loop cautious, perform a status check and then decide how to ride the second two loops.

 

Upon completing the first lap, I felt really good and my time was better than expected. As I started the second lap, I noticed a few riders in my age group going past me. I started keeping track and it seemed as if there were too many.

 

With plenty of gas in the tank, I decided to lift the effort to stay close (enough).

 

Lap two and three went by quickly and as I rolled back into town, I felt like I had paced the bike well. Just prior to getting off of the bike, I reached down and removed the Joule from the mount and I slipped it into my pocket.

 

At the dismount line, I handed my bike to the volunteer and I ran to the transition tent. As I removed my helmet, something fell out on the ground. It was my Garmin. Yes, the stupid Garmin was stuck in my helmet for a 112 miles and I never noticed it. Ha!

 

Sweet!

 

Entering the transition tent, I tossed the Joule into the transition bag and I mounted the Garmin on the quick connect band attached to my left arm.

 

Running out of transition, I powered up the Garmin and I settled into the run while waiting for the Garmin to find the satellites.

 

Running. Waiting. Running. Waiting. More Waiting. Even more waiting. Nothing.

 

Sh*t.

 

As I ran the first mile, I expected the Garmin to find the satellites but it kept searching and searching.

 

And then finally -- "Are you indoors? Yes or No?"

 

Again, sh*t.

 

I accidentally hit Yes, had to shut down the unit and start over. No such luck though, it still couldn't find the satellites.

 

By this point, I've already passed mile one and I decide to use the backup stopwatch attached to my right arm.

 

Cobbling together a plan -- "I can use the Garmin for HR and the stopwatch for lap times.", I thought.

 

While all of this is going on, I realize, I'm not paying attention to the time passing and my nutrition plan is off schedule. Mentally, I reset the clock and I get my nutrition plan back on track.

 

As the miles ticked away, the Garmin eventually found the satellites but it never worked correctly. Perhaps the hit to the ground damaged it in some way or it was just being wonky but whatever the cause, it wasn't functioning normally.

 

"You don't need it.", I thought.

 

While that statement is definitely true, I wanted my Garmin to work. I run by HR and not by pace but I don’t like change and I definitely don't like change during a race. I had no choice though and I continued using both devices.

 

The Garmin would periodically beep when it thought we crossed another mile but it was inaccurate from start to finish. I began using the lap button on the Garmin as I passed each mile marker so while not ideal, nor did I trust anything on the display, I attempted to use it in its limited functionality.

 

Accepting the current state of gadget chaos, I shifted my focus to the race and on my running.

I felt good and I felt in control.

 

As each mile ticked away on that crazy and confusing run course, I reeled in my competition. Along the way, I noticed a significant number of pro men and women, more so than usual.

 

It's not unusual for me to pickup a few pros here and there but this was more than a few. After the race, I counted nearly twenty which contained an even mixture of men and women.

 

"Something must have happened", I thought but the source of their presence in my path was no matter to me. What mattered was that I was excited by overtaking a significant number of pro men.

 

Anything to keep the mind entertained! And that provided some good mental fuel.

 

As I put the majority of the miles behind me, it wasn't the marathon I wanted but it was a solid performance. Regardless of the outcome, I put together a good race but according to my calculations, I needed to be around sub 9:30 to secure the win and based on the times at Ironman Florida, I felt like I would also need to be under 9:30 to get to Kona.

When I evaluate my performance, I not only look at where I finish in the age group but I also measure my performance against the entire field. So while closing on the finish in the final miles, it didn't matter who was in front of me, I wanted to shut them down and close the gap to number one.

 

With two miles remaining, I focused on form, my breathing and I kept telling myself that I could let up after I crossed the finish.

 

When I arrived back at Tempe Beach Park for the final time, I was confused for a moment about the location of the finish. "What?" "I'm supposed to run through this empty parking lot, then off to the street and then around the corner, and it is there that I will find the finish?"

 

"Uh, ok. That makes sense."

 

Seriously? Who thought that was a good idea?

 

Somebody from Arizona needs to go check out the finish at Coeur d'Alene. Those peeps know how to do a finish. And yes, Hawaii does a pretty good finish too. :)

 

Crossing the line at 9:38, a PR and a PR for each of the disciplines, I was pleased.

 

I felt like Kona and the podium had escaped me but I didn’t care because I raced a good race.

Broken thumb and gadget failure -- none of that had any significant impact on my race. Something always goes wrong, that's just how it works.

 

After the race, I went straight for the food and then not long after that, I went to the info desk to see where the Mrs. was on the course.

 

When the nice man gave me the info on the Mrs., I decided to have him look me up. "Sweet!" I was fourth in the age group!

 

Based on the number of slots at CdA this year, I was confident that I had secured another Kona slot. Of course you never really know until the next day so I felt a little bit of anxiousness.

 

We rolled down to the signup the following morning and sure enough, four slots. Whee! Kona #4 for and that makes two slots in the same year. Heck, that wasn't even a box on my todo list but I just added it.

 

Bucket List

 

- Qualify for Kona twice in the same year

 

As I mentioned in the beginning of this very long post, it's been an interesting year -- several podiums, qualifying for Vegas, running Boston, another trip to Kona and so much more. But what really stands out more than anything else is the number of old and new friends I've crossed paths with this year.

 

Triathlon is a small sport and for those who stand on the outside looking in, we appear to be "crazy" and people often wonder: "Why would anyone do that?"

 

The new friends we meet along the way and the friends we continue to see at one event after the next, they get it. We know why we do it. The greatest reward for me this season was sharing this experience with my wife for not only her first but her second and also sharing the experience with my friends.

 

My friends, see you guys next year! Enjoy your off season!