Monday, November 19, 2012

Ironman Arizona Race Report

I feel like I have so much to say about this race!  The entire week we've been in Arizona has been awesome.  But for this first blog entry, I'll try to keep it to race details only.  More "vacation" and fun pictures/reports to come...  :)

My main goals for this race were to (1) break 10 hours and (2) run under 3:30 for the marathon, with a lot of little process goals along the way designed to help me reach the big goals.  Long story short, I accomplished one goal but not the other.  Darn IM keeps pulling me back in for more in search of that "perfect" race.  (I know, such a thing doesn't exist)

Swim: 1:03:27

In filling in my training/racing log tonight I noticed that I swam the EXACT same time (down to the second) yesterday as I did at IMCdA in June.  That doesn't say much for my swim yesterday because CdA is a much tougher (colder, way choppier, etc...) swim.  However there was one big difference between the two races.  Yesterday I (LITERALLY) swam the entire swim by myself.  As in one lone shark.  All by my lonesome.  From about 50 meters in until I climbed up the steps to get out of the water.  I liked it better when we started with the male pros because more bodies in the water = higher probability that I will find a buddy!  But I know this is a reality for many pro females so it is what it is.  It made for a long swim but honestly, I felt pretty good.  I longed a little for the mass start of the AG swim where you don't even have to move your arms that much but rather just get sucked along in the masses (even if you do get clobbered 10,000 times :).  I did really like the swim at IMAZ though.  Other than the sun being in your eyes on the way out, it's easy to navigate, the water seems to be just the right temperature and the bridges you swim under are pretty.  :)

Didn't have to ask Andy to zip up my wetsuit this time!  :)

I believe this is the pro men's start.

The bridges are pretty.  :)
Bike: 5:04:02

I was really excited for this bike course and it did not disappoint!  I got out of the water in 14th place and (I think) off the bike in 13th place but there were MANY shifts in position over the course of the bike.  This kept it interesting and fun.  I also entertained myself during the bike by trying to keep my power average as even as possible (which I failed at during the 3rd loop) and of course, paying attention to fluid and nutrition intake.  As many people told me, the winds did shift throughout the bike.  We had a headwind on the way out on the 1st loop but by the 3rd loop, the headwind was on the way home instead.  The bike course is certainly very fast and that helped me to a 15 minute IM bike PR. 

Big thanks to Kerry and Cathy Yndestad for some awesome pictures!
Run: 3:41:44

Ugh.  That is all I have to say.  As you can tell from the time, I had a rough run and didn't reach my sub 3:30 goal.  Although the run course is flat at Arizona, I would suggest that it's deceptively slow due to all the turns, curbs, varying terrain (concrete, gravel, carpet, grass, hard packed dirt, etc...) and just lots of twists!  I liked the course and I liked the fact that I saw my family a gazillion times (also 3 loops like the bike).  But IM marathons and I just don't seem to get along.  Although I had high hopes at the start of the run (I felt GOOD off the bike), I struggled mightily over the last 10 miles.  Some of it is nutrition (it's just really hard for me to keep calories/fluid down in these long races).  Some of it is my inability to focus over such a long haul.  But I also think some of it is the fact that some athletes are built for shorter races and some are built for longer races.  I'm starting to believe I'm the former!  Nevertheless, I'm not going to let the IM marathon beat me (just yet!).  We shall meet again some day!  :)

Photo from Kerry Yndestad.

Proof that I did smile at least once on the run.  Yes, it's because at this point, I can see the finish line!  :)

Overall: 9:54:01

What kept me going during the run (especially at mile 23 when I *really* wanted to sit down on the side of the road and cry) was the fact that I knew, as slow as I was moving, I could still break 10 hours.  It was a very powerful motivator to JUST KEEP MOVING FORWARD.  And in all honesty, I am very excited to have finally broke 10 hours.  It's a huge monkey off my back, just like when I first broke 4:40 in a half.  Now I hope to make it a habit.  :)

And so continues my love/hate relationship with the Ironman distance.  I think it's an amazing race and I truly feel a wonderful sense of accomplishment upon crossing an IM finish line.  I have never crossed a better finish line in all my years of racing as the 4 different IM finishes I've been fortunate to have had.  BUT, I just don't know if it's *my* distance.  I much prefer the 70.3 distance at this point.  The only thing that gives me a little hope is the fact that I felt the same exact way about 70.3s when I moved up from Olympics but I grew to love them as I learned to race them.  Although many of you have not read my blog long enough to remember this, I did indeed think 70.3s were evil and really long and one year (after dropping out of Steelhead), I swore them off forever.  So maybe I'll eventually come around to IM too.  :)  And I certainly haven't sworn them off.  Although I'm pretty sure I'll focus on 70.3s next year, I'm sure I'll also sneak a full IM in 2013 too.  After all, I still have to prove to myself that I can run a decent marathon off the bike...

Of course as athletes we always want MORE.  But overall, I have to say, yesterday was a step forward and showed progress in my ability to race at this level and at this distance (both physically and mentally).  As disappointing as my run was, there was much more positive on the day as a whole.  And most importantly, I learned a ton about myself, about racing, about being a pro, and about going 140.6 miles. 

I have so many people to thank, first and foremost my parents and Oscar who came to watch and stood out in the hot sun all day cheering me on.  I feel so blessed to have a family that supports my dreams, not just in words but in their actions as well!  I'm also very thankful to my awesome coach Dirk, who has guided me through the past 2 years and has helped transform me as an athlete in a million different ways.  When I came to him 2 years ago, my IM PR was 10:44.  I'm 50 minutes faster now.  This obviously means after 2 more years with Dirk I'll be a 9:04 IMer...right?  :)  Seriously though, his guidance has been awesome and his patience has been key and I'm very lucky to have him.  And finally, for all the support and encouragement from everyone via FB, blog comments, texts, calls, twitter, etc..., I am TRULY thankful.  It overwhelms me (in a good way!) how awesome people are.  I think of it often during racing and training and it is so very much appreciated.

With that, my rookie pro season comes to an end!  Although I don't usually do "year reviews" I think I just may this year (in a separate entry of course!) because this year was a little different than most.  This season was more than I could have imagined and leaves me so very excited for 2013!  First though, a nice off season and LOTS of turkey on Thursday.  :)  Happy Thanksgiving to all and congrats to all IMAZ racers!!  :)


  1. Beth, you and I will nail that IM marathon down one day, and when we do, it will feel oh soooooo good!

  2. Congrats on a GREAT IM, Beth! Arizona is very special and that swim and run are deceptively slow. I had the same reaction when I swam 1:02 last year -- REALLY???!!! Anyway, you had a great day and HUGE congrats on sub 10 !!!!! Enjoy your turkey!

  3. You had a great race, Beth, with big things to come in the future. Kiet is right, when you nail that Ironman marathon, it's going to feel so good. . or so I at least keep telling myself :)

  4. Sub 10 baby! Congrats beth!!! That sub 3:30 IM marathon will come, i know it.

  5. Hi!!! Congratulations on your sub-10!!! Totally nuts!! Your season was such a success by so many standards and you look totally strong in your pictures. Have a great holiday! Can't wait to hear what is ahead for 2013!

  6. Beth I am so proud of you!!!! Keep up the work my lil Iron Women. You are a total rockstar! Can't to see what you do in 2013! P.S. I might be in AZ (starting in March) if you go back there I will love to join your cheer squad :)

  7. Sub 10 - YES!!! Beth you're a rockstar and I can't wait to see you continue to improve. You'll get that 3:30 IM marathon!!! And I hate 70.3's, hate them! :) But I will learn to love them, someday.

  8. those are some HOT pictures beth! you look like a triathlon super model!!

    congrats on the sub-10....your day on the run will come! xoxo.