This morning I completed my 35th Marathon at the 25th running of the Holualoa Tucson Marathon (Fiona’s 17th). My marathon journey started with the Boston Marathon in 2009 when I grabbed a charity spot. Then, in 2010 I ran it officially off of a 3:08 qualifying time when the standard for M18-34 was 3:10:59. I have run 3:02 and 3:06 since those times but those were more than 3 years ago and I wasn’t going to travel from Alice Springs, Australia to Boston to run a marathon I had already done twice. With all of our focus on IRONMAN, we don’t try to incorporate too many outright marathons into our seasons. But, this past season we included 1 BQ attempt at the Sandia Crest Marathon in Albuquerque, NM. Full Race Report is here: Short story is I went out way too fast running 6:20-6:30’s and blew up to run a 3:17. For Boston 2020, qualifying standards were reduced another 5 minutes. In order to qualify I had to run my 1st or 2nd fastest ever marathon of roughly a 3:02 to guarantee I would get a spot. Just because you hit the standard, doesn’t mean you’ll get one of the highly sought after 27,000 spots. Again, this is for Boston, the oldest, most prestigious marathon in the world and longest running outside of Athens, Greece!
I drank 2 liters of Sprite and ate half of a Domino’s Pizza on Thursday at work and then had a happy hour. Friday I had off and drank another 2 liters of Sprite. I also went to Costco and had a slice of cheese, a slice of pepperoni, and a churro which totaled 2,000 calories. Dinner was light with a 500 calorie bag of microwaving rice and a bowl of ice cream (4,000-5,000 calories on the day). I was up about 4 pounds: hydrated and glycogen stores maxed! During the day I ran 4 miles and biked an hour. Bed time around 9:30 after watching an episode of Road to Kona and Gold Rush.
Up at 3:40AM. Put on my Wattie Ink Tri shorts and Wattie Ink running singlet. I had a Costco bagel with butter. On the way we picked up Red Bulls. I drank a medium full-strength Red Bull as we drove the 50minutes from Sahuarita to Oro Valley, Arizona just north of Tucson. We hopped on the buses at a different spot from the half-marathon in which Fiona and I did last year going 1:27 and 1:40. My Aussie wife Fiona wanted to take the Yellow School Bus which was a wise decision since we sat right next to Fernando who is our friend from Sahuarita and a legend. He’s done Tucson Marathon 10X and is an Ultra-marathoner running a 50miler just several weeks prior. He would go on to run a 3:30:10 on the day, well done mate!! We caught up on the climb up to 4,823’ from the 3,035’ we were presently at.
The Race Director stepped on the bus, Fernando said that was Pam Reed. He then said that she won the Badwater 135 mile Ultramarathon (OVERALL) from Death Valley, CA up half of the tallest Mt in the USA Mt McKinley,… TWICE! Later I approached her at the start and just introduced myself and said thank you for putting on the race! I’m new to Ultra Running. I met and ran with Dean Kananzes before the Kauai Marathon back in 2010 (50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days) and I have Scott Jurek’s book (won Badwater like 7 times or something) but don’t know any other Ultra-Runners. But I should. In 6 weeks I’ll be running my 2nd ever 50KM Ultra near the start of todays race on the Arizona Trail which extends the full length of the state. Then, in March I’ll be running my first ever 50miler in Sonoita, AZ just down the street.
Well, my goal was simple. Run 3:02, PB, and Qualify. But I was nervous and scared. In order to achieve this, I would have to run 6:57 miles, for 26.2 miles, jeez. I wasn’t confident; I was cautious.
The national anthem finished with an impressive sunrise over the mountains of Southern Arizona. Wifey was somewhere behind me in her 3:30 goal, 20min faster than New Mexico. I put the headphones on and listened to Techno, Rock, and Dance, my first time listening to music in a race in probably 6 years.
The gun went off and I gave high 5 to another IRONMAN athlete which seem to flourish at these events these days.
OK LETS RUN.
RUN 26.35miles, 3:13:50, 7:21/mile, 273TSS, 86% Intensity, 433’ Ascend, 2,106’ Descend, Normalized pace: 7:48/mile, 36/468 Overall, 31/278 Male, 5/32 M30-34
I learned my lesson at Sandia Crest. The goal was to go out at 7minute mile and maintain. I was close to that on 6:55, 7:26, 7:20, 7:28 holding back significantly and way different from NM where I went 6:18, 6:30, 6:20, 6:21. But I was blown away during mile one when I was passed continuously and again felt like I was at Kona. And running at just over 3hour marathon pace was asking “What are you people doing?” I knew from last year that only 19 people went under 3 hours so when I counted off 45 people at a turn after mile 1 realized that there were a lot of people that were going to blow up and hit THE WALL. In fact by mile 5.9 where I was officially on 7:12/mile avg (but my Garmin had me on 7:07), I had fallen to 53rd overall; there was a shitload of people in front of me.
But, I stayed focused and tried to pick people off until mile 10 when I had a 45 second #2 Loo stop which really pissed me off because I had 2 immodiums when I woke up and 2 more right before the race like I had done at IRONMAN Arizona only 3 weeks prior. I was super hydrated and never used the HotShot I carried all day long. But, usually I’m down 4-6 pounds by this moment of an IRONMAN while my body is using the onbody glycogen and water during the 2.4mile swim and 112mile ride. Next time I will carbo load mostly with Sprite and for 1 day instead of 2 days which is our IRONMAN Protocol. But, energy was fine all day. 15min before the race I had a full pack of Clif Shot Bloks and then I consumed 3 blocks every 30-40minutes during the rest of the run with water and Gatorade.
I was probably passed by 10-20 people in those 45 seconds. At the turn around on this uphill ascend I looked out for Fiona and Fernando who I saw quickly. I can spot my wifey hundreds of meters away 😊. I hit the half in 1:36:09 and knew what I had coming up from last years race; another 900’ of descent. I was still in 53rd overall and 8th A/G without any changes over the past 6.2 miles (excluding my 45 seconds break).
Mentally I felt pretty good and tried to keep my cadence above 170 when I saw it drop below that. I started picking up some people and at mile 15 was thinking “Lets run to 20 miles, I want that, lets get there”. By 18.9miles I picked up 6 spots and 2 in my A/G, but pace was now sitting in the 7:20-7:30/mile. Quads were also starting to feel it and it’s probably here where I realized that my IRONMAN Arizona 9:34 Kona Qualifier was still in my legs. But, I was having FUN, this was awesome and I was going to run this whole damn thing. I was NOT going to STOP. Shortly after the Holualoa Native American Drummers there’s one pitch with 2 miles to go and I finally passed a guy and girl I had 200meters ahead of me for the last 11 miles. Then, there is one more hill but I kept moving forward and looking back here. I was looking for sub 3:14 and crossed the line with my phone unfortunately not recording the video I thought it had. That means I went 1:36:09 / 1:37:31 which is pretty damn consistent!!! The biggest hill is mile 25 and I went 7:53.
In the last 7.3 miles I had made up 11 spots overall to finish 36 of 452 and 5th in my A/G of 31. I didn’t expect to place based off of last years results but am happy with the overall placement, the fact that I only stopped once to poo, had fun and enjoyed myself. I then walked it off till the 25 ½ mile spot and cheered Fiona in. She was at 3:29 that moment and I was screaming that she had BQ’d! She needed around a 3:32 and went 3:32:37 taking 21st female, 89th overall, and 6th A/G, a huge 18min improvement over NM.
I’m pretty happy with 3:13. I have only gone 3:02 (Alice Springs, Australia), 3:06 (New Hampshire, USA, 3:08 (Corning, NY), 3:11 (Philadelphia, PA), and 3:12 (Boston 2nd attempt). This race was also at double the elevation we live at and was only 3 weeks after IRONMAN Arizona. Fiona won’t do Boston without me so we’ll aim for that in another few years. As for the running, it isn’t endurance, we have that. It’s the LEGS. STRENGTH Training is going to be pivotal this season. I’ll be doing heavy run volume in preparation for the 50K and 50miler. Then, it will be Asia-Pacific Championship IRONMAN Cairns (where Fiona has to qualify PRESSURE IS ON) and after that the IRONMAN World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii where I hope to improve on my 10:21 to a Sub-10.
In the end, a marathon is a massive accomplishment and I can remember how I felt my first time. But now I am an IRONMAN athlete and what you get and the feelings you get from doing IRONMAN just can’t even compare; it’s a life changing experience.
So thank you to the volunteers, congratulations to my fellow competitors, and if you haven’t yet done an IRONMAN then I challenge you. Swim 2.4 miles, Bike 112 miles, Run 26.2 miles, Brag for the rest of your Life.