It’s 7:39PM Saturday December 19, 2020. I got Sydney on a leash and my sore and aching legs are roasting at the campfire. We ate steaks over a bushcraft built fire using our ferro rod (ONE SPARK!!!), hatchet, and saw as well as corn on the cob, beans, and salad. Neighbors just arrived alongside the 30′ Saguaro.
We woke up at 4:15am. I ate 2 pieces of toast with Jam and vegan butter, a banana, and medium redbull. I layered up with my WattieInk Kona kit and we drove the 5min to the race start. I checked in, sat in the car for 20min, and hit the loo. I boarded the bus heading 30miles West towards Lake Pleasant where the race began. It was at this time I thought back to epic bus rides: 24hours from Santiago, Chile to Buenos Aires, Argentima across the Andes Mountains; Lake Nicaragua from San Calos to Managua where people had to get out to push the bus through the muddy dirt, and the Oracle 50km. Honestly, there is nothing like driving in the dark, at 5:30AM, 30 miles away, and thinking, “I gotta run this???”. It was 40F, black with stars above, and I hit the loo again. I ate 100calories of Clif Shot Blocks 30min before and again 15min before. I was seeded 4th based off of past performances and started in the first wave at 6:30AM. It was still totally dark and hard for me to see since my eyes were watering from the cold and since I usually where glasses. I started in 3rd place behind the eventual winner in 3:59 and fellow Tucson based Professional Triathlete Lisa Roberts carring a baby Yoda in tow.
The first part climbed a small hill into a gully where I quickly lost the trail but relied on the headlamps of the leaders to make sure I was on the right path.
At 6 miles I was passed by a bloke. I paced with him for the next 3 miles coming within 10 meters of baby yoda. We were running on the dirt road right next to the trail which I sort of felt was cheating since Lisa was on the path, and while the path was a bit more ankle rolling, I figured it was all the same ground so I went with him for a bit. We passed by some hunters with shotguns and we both looked over with EDM playing through my headphones; Arizona.
At the first aid at mile 9, the guy was asking for salt tablets. I grabbed a banana and took off; I never saw him again. I had Lisa in sight fir the next mile or two but my pace slowed from 8minute miles which I considered, solid and consisitent, not overly taxing, to 8:20 into a head wind. Although mile 2 was a 10:24 climbing 214′, I was really consistent through 18 miles running between 7:39 and 8:39. I didn’t stop except at the aid station 9 and 16miles where Lisa was 90sec ahead of me. But as soon as I left the 16mile aid, there were 2 runners right there. I was dissapointed since I hadnt seen anybody behind me since mile 10 but I held off one of them until mile 20’s steep 186 climb and then mile 21 but that was it. I would remain in 5th. With temps only reaching mid 60s, I was happy that it was delayed 2 months; I would never have done this well in 90F temps. My hamstring tightened up by mile 18 and my quads started aching by mile 19/20. But I wanted this, I wanted to go Sub5.
At 4 miles in my race plan of nothing faster than 8:30 was thrown out the door since the course was so runnable. But I wasnt pushing hard and knew that I was locking in some needed reserve for the hills that the 16mile aid said were coming, and I knew were coming thanks to prerace starva stalking. Shortly after mile 22 and passing some of the 24KM runners, my bowls had enough to I took a quick squat. I continued on now some very tough and technical terrain in which I bit it once to my hands and I was thinking of Fiona on her 24KM run. I passed several fellow Ironman athletes grabbing 3 cups of coke with my little squash cup and then I saw the monster. The 29th mile 410′ climb.
It was here where I said many things including, ” You have to run this whole hill or you will lose too much time”, “embrace the pain”, “KEEP MOVING FORWARD”, “this is what you paid for”, and “this is what its all about”. I got to the top having run 12:12 up and I was so FIRED UP! I was 8min ahead of my Sub5 goal thanks to the 920XT Virtual Trainer and knew I would get my goal in the bombing but not so bombing final 2 miles when my quads felt like they were going to explode. But, I just kept thinking “Remember this pain, remember this!” It was at this time that I thought about how the few that get to feel this. And then I thought of Fiona who would be waiting at the finish. In this shity ass year, I was finally going to set a Personal Best, I was going to finally have a race that I was so proud of and worked for. 2,500miles this year and it helped me set a 19min PB after nearly 2 years. It also made me realize again that going longer than this, man, I don’t know, it’s just a completely unparalled level of hurt.
After the race we talked to Lisa who Fi had been following since we knew we were coming to Tucson 3.5years ago. She was a delight and a really down to earth person.
I grabbed a burger from Jack in the Box and then went to Anthem Dog Park for the kiddies, welcomed in by a fellow Ironman athlete.
The day could not have gone better. I went faster than planned which helped me get my Sub5. Fi didnt have the day she wanted with an Achillis injury. Now its back to the Coronas, Waynes World 2, and maybe some Scotch. And what next? A very large February goal run volume month and Ironman Couer d’Alene. The goal is Kona but I expect the competetion to be insane next year. Anything is Possible. Thanks for reading.