Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Ironman AZ Race Report

Ironman Arizona, as I said in my previous post, is a race that I just like. After this weekend, I like it even a bit more.

Arizona feels like a bit of a second home to me. I had the great fortune last year to spend well over a month enjoying the incredible generosity and hospitality of some extraordinary people and friends in Bryan and Jamie Dunn. This year they again opened their door to me prior to the race and I was able to spend a very enjoyable three days at their lovely home.

TRIBE Multisport, for the third year in a row, put on a fantastic pre race party. It is a true pleasure to work with a shop and crew that really gets behind the athletes and pulls out all the stops to really enjoy the experience of an Ironman.

With IM AZ being the closest Ironman to my family in LA, it was great to have my parents and older brother come out for the race. It also meant a night in a hotel only minutes from the race site to ease the race morning prep. In addition to my parents and brother my pseudo brother and life long family friend, Josh, made it out as well as my Aunt Kay and Uncle Dan. So it was up to me to make it worth their while. Here's how it went:

Swim: 48: 41
I had a terrible swim at Austin 70.3 and my separated shoulder had been causing me all sorts of problems since that race. My last masters workout went terribly and my back and shoulder were so tight I couldn't even finish the set. I know that when my shoulder is happy, I can swim well, but if its not, I swim like a brick. So in the final week I made sure to get some massage and serious ART work done and limited my swimming thereafter. I knew going into this race that I HAD to make the front swim group. Without a dominating bike or run, I just wouldn't be able to get myself into the mix if I didn't make the front in the swim.

Thankfully, the gun sounded and I found myself in a strong group rolling up the right side of the lake. I took one solid kick to the goggle which immediately filled with water, but aside from that and a few other small knocks it wasn't a terribly rough swim despite the size of the field. There were definitely some key moments where I had to really push to stick with the group or close a gap that a falling swimmer let open, but for the most part I was within my "comfortably hard" zone and just tried to focus on form and turnover. When I exited the water and saw 48:xx I was happy to know I was already on pace for a new PR.
The Zoot Prophet was awesome again. Warm, buoyant & flexible
Photo: Kerry Yndestad

T1 went by in a flash and I was onto the bike just behind TJ Tollakson (read his report here).

BIKE: 4:24:07
Heading out of town I knew I was with a strong crew of cyclists. TJ being the dominant force on the bike that he is, I knew I was going to have to work to stay with that group. In the beginning we numbered many. But soon guys began to fall off. I was working pretty hard on the outbound section of the first loop and my Joule was telling me I was exceeding my goal wattage, so I made a decision to stick with the group to the turn. If the effort was still too high on the way back to town, I would have to let up. Fortunately, by the time we got off the B Line on the way back to town the pace had settled down some.

Onto the 2nd lap again the effort picked up on the outboud (into the wind) section. I think this is a point where the group lost a few more. At the turn around, the referee moto crashed in front of me and forced a little detour through the turn. I was out of water at that point and had to grab a bottle. By the time I looked up the group had a solid gap on me and I knew it was another "make or break" moment. Coming downhill from the turn with the wind at my back, I knew it was going to be very tough to catch back up but I knew I had to. I hit the gas. This was my first opportunity to ride the new Reynolds Aero 90 front wheel. It was at this moment that wheel came into its own in my mind. I've never felt it before, but the only way I can describe it is that it felt like the front wheel simply disappeared. Not like it was cutting through the wind or just rolling super smooth, but like it completely vanished. Like I was riding a bike without a wheel under me at all. It was an incredible experience. Sooner than I expected I had made it back to the group but missed special needs.

I knew heading into the 3rd lap, that guys were beginning to tire and this would be the key lap. The course had become clogged and you had to have your wits about you. We dropped a few more from the group early in the lap as we made our way out. Unfortunately, as we went through an aid station I found myself at the back and needing water. Once we had cleared the malay, TJ and Nils had gotten a gap. This is the one "hindsight" regret I have of my race. I am not saying I could have hung with TJ and Nils on the final lap, but this is where they got their break. Riding with Paul Matthews and Paul Amey, I knew with their running ability, they were not going to be too concerned with a little gap, thus the onus fell to me to set the pace for much of the 3rd lap. I focused on riding steady and staying within my goal watt range, no reason to blow myself up just to pull some excellent runners all the way home.

RUN: 3:02:31
I REALLY wanted to run under 3hrs on the day. Since getting my cycling back on track I have been putting more focus and energy into my running and I felt it had been showing promise. My plan was to come out of T2 and run no faster than 6:40s for the first lap. By doing so I hoped to avoid the mid run hole I found myself in at Rev3 and Augusta. Immediately I knew I had a shot at my goal. While my legs didn't feel great, I knew I hadn't shredded myself on the bike and my Zoot TTs were ticking over well. Cadence and Fuel. That was my mantra. With Ironman switching from PowerBar gel to Gu, I wore a FuelBelt with a flask of red bull and a flask with 4 Power Gels and water. Special needs had a 2nd flask of each. Starting the second lap running past family, friends and the TRIBE tent had me fired up. 
My brother nearly knocked me over with that High 5

I must admit some wind came out of my sails however when Tyler Butterfield passed me running a blinder. I had to remind myself, "Dude is an Olympian! It's ok. Just settle down." To my chagrin my planned 6:45-50s just didn't hold for the second lap and I managed just under 7. 

Fortunately, I came around both mentally and physically at the start of the 3rd lap. I was passed again, but was sure the guy was on his 2nd lap (not so lucky), and I kept my focus. After the park on the back side I made up two spots in short order. With the multiple laps, it is always hard to know where you are. One minute someone would tell me I was in 5th, the next 8th. I had no reason not to keep running hard. Around mile 24 my good friend Justin Daerr alerted me to the fact that Starkowitz was only a bit up the road and told me to get my ass in gear. Going over the bridge I spotted him and knew I could get him. At the final aid station I made the pass and put in all I had to open a gap. It worked but I wasn't aware it had until I made the turn for the finish. 
Pretty stoked to see the new PR

Annnndd Done. 
Total: 8:19:38
A new PR by 20+ minutes and a great way to end a season. 

Now its time for some much needed R & R. 

I need to send a special THANK YOU to my wonderful sponsors who have been so supportive this year: 

ZOOT: Like I said, the Prophet was great. Cold water was no problem and I never felt even the slightest resistance from the suit. The TT 5.0 is a fantastic shoe. The perfect choice for the day. 

Reynolds: I have never felt anything like I did with the new 90 Aero. I was amazed at that sensation and performance. 

SPY+: I opted to race without a visor to try and beat some of the heat in this race. The striking Arizona sun was no match for the Screw with the Green Spectra lenses. 

PowerBar: 20 Power Gels, 1.5 PowerBars, 2 bottles of perform... Powered 8 hours and 19 minutes of pushing. 

TRIBE MULTISPORT: Everything from pre race party, pre race maintenance, last minute needs and on course cheers. You guys did it all. Thanks so much.


  1. Congrats on your race and new PR! Did you mean Tyler Butterfield? You had me all confused a confessed doper was racing you on Sunday. ;)

  2. Nice race man. I'm glad to hear that someone else races tactics. Seems like everyone these days says, "I race my own race". Congrats on the PR, jealous of your swim, enjoy the break!!!


    Thomas Gerlach
    Professional Triathlete

  3. When we turned pro I was told multiple times that it would take a minimum of 3 years to race where I was competitive & really finally see my potential. Guess it might have been true :)

  4. Nice work, I really like Thomas's comment and from reading your race report, I'm glad you took some risks in order to RACE!

  5. I am finally catching up on some friends blogs, and this was such a good one! Ian I am so happy you ended your season with a great race PR and some confidence for 2013! ENJOY your holidays buddy, hope you land here for Kona 13!!

  6. Great race report! Happy you wrapped things up on a high note!