We paddled west into the sun just south of Tucson in the land known as Patagonia. The light wake startled little Sydney learning how to balance on a ten foot paddleboard. By now I was able to stand on our wedding presents used only twice while living in the Australian Outback. But here we were. A large man-made lake surrounded by mountains and hills both near and far. The water was nearly ours with only one light powered boat near its perimeter. We returned near the beach, site of the next days Patagonia Lake Olympic triathlon.
We signed up in June when I planned the season lead up to Ironman Arizona. It was my plan to race multiple events to build up to Ironman Arizona. It was shortly after that Fiona once again hired Sean Foster of Fluid Movements in Melbourne, Australia to help Fiona’s run structure. Since then, the roads have become familiar including half of the course we rode, inspired by local Professional Triathlete Ben Hoffman who took 9th at Kona this year. We rode 45minutes to the highway, the power will be quite high. This race is known as the toughest in Arizona.
Our RV was parked 50meters from transition in the state park. I killed a bottle of champagne and a beer. We ate pizza, chips, and garlic bread. I had my first shower in the RV and Fiona taped up my back. We met triathletes who forgot their helmet we shared with. The race plan was nothing short of my last few races. Go as hard as you can from start to finish. Don’t pace, don’t think, just go! I expected a good swim very strong ride, and a gutsy run. 9 hours to go.
My lips tingle, the incredibly smooth 14year old Oban Scotch coats my tongue, and warms my throat. Meanwhile my legs are being compressed using our Normatec’s. It’s 10:24PM and the day started a long 13 hours ago +.
I had woken just before 5AM to the nightmare of our house burning to the ground. God Bless the people of Santa Rosa, California! But then it was down the hatch with 2 pieces of bread and a banana. We checked in with our bibs, back to the RV. We got ready and walked our bikes the 50 meters to transition. Racked and set up our area. Back to the RV we got our wetsuits on and told Sydney we’d see her later.
SWIM 1,500Meters (1,431meters) 23:09, 1:29/100yard or 1:37/100meter 1st Out of the Water or 1:33/100m on official distance. (1 KOM), (Fiona got 2 KOMs)
Fiona and I walked to the boat ramp. I swam 50meters to warm up. The deep water start had me head back out in the cool, brisk waters surrounded by desert mountains. There was a small group but I started 5 meters away from them w/ a better line on the first buoy. At 7:00 the gun went off and I took off at 36SPM before setting down to my average 33SPM. Around the 500meter mark I found a swimmer. I passed him and thought there might be 1 or 2 athletes ahead of me. I looked for the Red Buoy and when I made the turn a kayak took off in front of me. Good Lord! I was leading the swim? I was pretty surprised but felt good and kept pushing hard breathing to one side and had more kick on the day trying to keep my heavy legs more streamlined. I continued to follow the kayak into the beach and then made myself vertical.
Compared to history, it’s not a PB. I went 21:46 in Darwin, Australia 2013 in wetsuit salt water, 22:09 in a 50m pool wetsuit in this years Alice Springs Olympic I won. Most importantly, it was 1:57 FASTER than the Bartlett Lake Olympic just 4 weeks ago. This is good, this is good.
There were wetsuit strippers but I ran to my bike and took it off there; I think it was actually faster. I put Rudy Project Wing 57 w/ flip up visor on and my new prescription Oakleys Racing Jackets, then I was wondering where they were; on my damn face. Cleates on since slight incline out of T1 and only 20’ to run. Running out heard 2nd swimmer from the announcer coming out of water.
BIKE: 40KM (24.43miles), 1:08:07, 284NP/272Avg Power, 86.1%IF, 83TSS, 1,709’ Ascend, 50.3MPH Max Speed (2 KOM’s)
My goal was 330-350 watts climbing the hills. It was a new experience for me to have a lead car who was great by the way. Once on the highway I was looking to take a KOM over Ben Hoffman who took 9th in the World at Kona this year and trains here in Tucson. But there was a bit of headwind heading to Patagonia. So I was 3:45 off Ben, his partner Travis, and Daniel Zamora. I looked up Daniel when reviewing Ironman Arizona results months ago. He qualified for Kona with his 8:55 last year. Daniel ended up riding 4:41:36 at Arizona and I stole the KOM on the course from him today by 54 seconds… that’s something to think about. Likewise, I biked 5:04:24 in Kona when Joel Maley biked 5:00:32 and Joel then went on, only 5 weeks after a 9:21 performance at Kona to ride 4:38 in his way to a 8:43 and first overall amateur. So a PB over my current 4:45 is in the cards, maybe a sub 4:40? No expectations.
At the turn around I had a 4minute gap, I quickly saw Fiona as first overall female who would also go on to take the overall KOM and one other, on top of her 2 KOM’s from the swim! At 50.3 MPH, the lead car let me pass him with the Sprint Athletes around, I hit the turn and stormed pass two athletes up the 10% grade climb crawling at 5MPH in my chainrings at 40RPM within 30 seconds; reminded me of Syracuse 70.3 I was stoked to break 1:10 and set a course record. I had also smashed the bike time over another one of my competitors, Sean Anderson who had a brilliant race in the Oro Valley with the overall win in the Sprint.
I had 2 cans of redbull in a bottle, 1 package of cliff shot bloks, and 1 bottle of water with Endura Fizz electrolytes.
On the butt for socks on, Hot Shot down, and Altra Torin 3.0’s on (that I was complimented on by another athlete during the run).
RUN: 10KM (6.08 miles, 45:55, no HR, 600’ Ascend, 171SPM, 7:33/mile)
I took off hard up and over a very pitchy bridge. I ground it out up the large hill to start and was surprised to have beaten Sean’s time on Strava by 7 seconds for the 5:51 segment. I’m surprised because he destroyed me in the Oro Valley with his 18:08 5KM run to my 21:22. But, I am getting faster even over the last 3 weeks. After all, I ran a 1:34 in Arizona 70.3 last week, a PB by 3 minutes.
The course turned to dirt/rocky road and the volunteers were great. I finally saw 2nd place who looked speedy. I was trying to do the math and thought he was 6minutes back. But I was worried so just kept running as hard as I could. After seeing Fiona still leading, 2nd place was in the same spot I saw him first turn around. 2 miles to go and I realized I forgot to have my gel so I slammed it down, especially considering I could feel some cramps coming on with lack of salt tablets. Then, mostly downhill to the finish. I soaked it in and was so proud of myself to come across the line the Overall winner!
Fiona came in not too long after as first female leading by nearly 20minutes, my lead was 5minutes. And, she ran the last 400meters with Sydney and across the finish! (I asked the RD if it was ok).
The awards and medals were amazing as were many of the people we met like people from Phoenix, Strava followers, volunteers, and ladies from local clubs. We went for another 40minute ride back to the highway for additional training, received complimentary burritos, went swimming with Sydney, and bought some Christmas presents for our nieces. We packed up the RV, headed towards Sonoita and then went wine tasting of course! We even went antiquing after that and bought whisky and port glasses. Back home we quickly jumped on the bikes for another hour ride, showered, and were out the door heading to Monkey Burger in Tucson. Then to the UofA football game. And back here I am. Time for bed, we have a half marathon in 7 hours…..Seriously.
TMC Get Moving Tucson Half-Marathon – 1:34:04, 7:11/mile, 29th/557, 2nd A/G
Up at 5AM, 2 pieces of toast & banana. In the car heading to Tucson and I slam down 2 regular RedBull’s to help give me some focus for the race. Found parking, checked in, hit to loo, and ate a pack of Clif Shot Bloks. We headed to the start line and I saw the inevitable winner Harry Mulenga from Tucson. He ran 1:08:57 and was the look you expect, lean thin, African-American, and when I past me during the race he looked so light that I immediately though how heavy I felt!
I started a couple rows back from the start with Fiona a few rows further back. What to expect? Who knew. This was my 20th half marathon since 2008 including those during 70.3’s. I’ve got a 1:27:02 PB from 2010 and went 1:29:17 in June in Alice Springs, Australia; that course was short but equated to a 1:31. In August I went 1:57 in the MountainMan half-ironman at 7,000’ in Flagstaff and improved on that in last weeks 70.3 Arizona to 1:34, a 23minute improvement.
As the gun went off, I went out hard. I was going the best I could and the leaders took off. When I hit the first mile in 7:04, I thought WTF? How is that even possible? I haven’t done anything but wake up. Last week I swam 1.2miles, biked 56miles, and then ran a 6:59. Even more so, my slowest miles in 70.3 were: 7:21 and 7:20 but today? Two miles at 7:24!!! Further analysis reveals my avg HR today was 141. While I didn’t have HR at 70.3, I did for my 1:31 back in June and I held 147. So it’s clear that the harder you push, the higher HR you have, and the faster you go. Thankfully Peak Training and the taper mode starts this week.
In the end, I saw the Santa Rita mountains from the North, the same mountains I saw from yesterdays Olympic Triathlon. I saw A-Mountain and was happy that the storms wiped out the road as I was not too interested in running up that mountain today! I saw Mt Lemmon and then realized where I was, The Loop! I saw FiFi and then saw at least 50 people running with the shirt that that wouldn’t earn until they crossed the finish line. A MASSIVE PET PEEVE!!!
A 16 year old ran me down right before the finish and soon Fi came in. We hung out and I had a 9:30AM Free Beer from the Beer Garden, why not. We collected free socks and $15 gift cards each for our 2nd place A/G finishes. First was 1:27 for my A/G and 1:38 compared to Fiona’s 1:40.
After some errands in Tucson including a pit stop at Doughnut King, we went to Fishy Buziness and bought our first nemo fish for our new 125gallon fish tank. Once at home, I did 2 hours on the bike.
3 WEEKS TO GO till IRONMAN ARIZONA!!!