I am an Ironman – or so they tell me. I definitely heard Mike Reilly say it as I crossed the finish line. Do I feel different now, versus the day before? Well, I’m a heck of a lot more sore… I certainly feel proud to have completed the 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run, but like many first time events in your life, it’s blur of emotions, images, pain, highlights. It’s quite surreal really, if not for the constant burning in my quads, I could be led to believe that I only imagined the whole thing.
My First Ironman
I am 35 yrs old, married and a father of 2. I also work full time (albeit with a flexible schedule most months). 6’2″, 193lbs.
I have raced many sprint and olympic triathlons, and several half iron distance races since starting in 2008, so it was almost natural progression to try a full iron distance race at some point, right? I have, however never swam 2.4 miles. I have never biked 112 miles. And I have never ran a marathon.
I decided last year (2011) to volunteer for Ironman Arizona so that I could soak up the vibe and guarantee a spot for this years event. Signing up a year in advance isn’t typically my style, but, for better or worse, that’s what’s required to enter an “Ironman” brand race.
In the year since singing up I prepared for my first marathon, but got sick 2 weeks out, and didn’t race. I raced Oceanside 70.3 2012 (PR’d with a 4:54), and I raced the Orangeman Half (4th in AG). Between those two I did some mountain biking, and broke my upper left humerus which led to me basically doing nothing in July and most of August. It was definitely a setback in my 2012 IMAZ preparation. I missed about 8 weeks of swimming, 6 weeks of running and 3 weeks of cycling. I didn’t let it break my spirit though. Setbacks happen and I had no qualms about the race. Once I could, I picked up and regained my fitness as best I could.
With my taper week in full force, I had time to think about goals for the race. Number one priority was to start, then to finish, then to do the best I could during the race. Smile, have fun, and enjoy what I accomplished to get here, and what I will accomplish throughout the day. No matter what the day would bring, I’d set a personal best time – that’s the great thing about doing something for the first time. Having never run a marathon, I would set a marathon PR as well. As far as times go, I figured I’d swim about 1:20 based on pool times, 70.3 times, and the fact that my shoulder still isn’t 100%, I anticipated about 5:30 on the bike, and about 4:00 on the run. All in all, when asked, my goal was somewhere between a best case of 10:30 and what I thought would be a conservative 12 hours.
We drove to the race venue Thursday after my daughter got out of school. Once at the hotel, we settled in.
The plan was to take it easy until race day. Friday, I went to register, check out the vendors, and then back to the hotel to lounge. Saturday, I went back to drop of my bike and bike/run gear bags. My daughter also ran the Ironkids mile. Pretty sure she was the fastest 6 year old out there. Against the suggestions of a friend, we hiked up Hayden Hill to take in the view, and headed back to the hotel. Feet up, hydrate, and relaxing time. I went to bed at the same time as the kids (9pm) and fell asleep pretty easily. I was up at 4:30am (no alarms needed on race mornings!) and felt refreshed. Got a solid 7hrs of sleep.
Race morning I was feeling pretty good. Never had any anxiety or nerves going on. I knew the task at hand, and didn’t let the distances overwhelm me (though admittedly, months leading up to the race I couldn’t wrap my head around running 26.2 miles at all – let alone at the end of such a long day). Since bike and gear were all set, race morning was easy. Get numbers put on, pump air into the tires, and put my water bottles on the bike. I also put my Garmin 500 on the bike, turned it on to get satellites, then turned it off. More on that later….