For those of you that have followed my season closely, you know that
it hasn’t been the most productive year. First it was a crash in the
USAT Duathlon Nationals where I sprained my right thumb and had to
wear a hard cast for 2 and a half weeks. Then it was a severely
sprained right ankle during a pickup basketball game (read: dumb) that
effectively ended anything I had planned for the Summer and early
Fall. I was to do no swimming, cycling, or running for 4 weeks, and
then even after I could start swimming and cycling on an indoor
trainer, it was another 6 weeks until I could start running again.
So that put me at the beginning of September with 11 weeks til IM AZ
and no running base over the past 2 and a half months. There were
many days in that time span that I was pretty down on myself, just
laying down all day with my foot propped up, completing Sudoku puzzles
and sleeping, knowing that my fellow competitors were out and about,
building up their base, improving their technique, getting race
So once my physical therapist gave me the green light to start
running, I made sure that everything I did from waking up til going to
bed helped me to get to the starting line on IM AZ ready to go. I
normally don’t watch what I eat too much, but over the past 11 weeks,
I cut out refined sugars and ate organic and fresh foods. I started
getting massage therapy once per week, and I did a much better job of
listening to my body when it needed time to rest.
Somehow I did manage to survive the gauntlet of training from
basically nothing to IM form in 11 weeks. I traveled with my friends
Brad Smith and Connie Glueck, who were also racing and did all the
normal pre-race check-ins.
Really my only goal for this race was to get a Kona slot. Pretty much
whatever that took was what I was going to try to accomplish.
Anything else would be icing on the cake.
This was my first mass swim start ever, so I didn’t really know what
exactly it was going to be like, but I seeded myself up in the first 3
rows, and when the race started, I got jostled for about 5:00, but
after that I was able to find some space and open up a bit. I was
hoping to swim right about an hour, and I tried to find fast feet to
hang on to for a majority of the swim. I found a couple on the way
out, but realized that they were a little too slow and that if I was
going to swim an hour, I needed to move up a bit more. So I took off
solo for a bit, and at the turnaround, I really lucked out and found 2
swimmers that were absolutely flying. So I tagged on and they took me
all the way back in. Coming out of the water and looking at the clock
was a huge confidence booster. I was 8th in my AG.
Since I had such a great swim, there weren’t too many people ahead of
me on the bike. So I set out smooth and relaxed. The bike course was
pretty much flat, with the exception of a 2 mile incline at the end of
the out and back loop. The tougher part was the head wind going out,
which wasn’t horrible, but enough to be noticeable. There were 3
loops on the bike course, and on the second loop, a guy named Chris
Ganter passed me. I had raced him a couple times before, and I knew
he was a strong cyclist, so I increased my cadence just a bit and
stayed within range of him. By this time we were passing lapped
riders, so I couldn’t always tell if I was moving up in the overall
standings. I did know, however, that I was riding just about spot on
to my goal time of 5 hours flat. The hardest part of the ride was
judging how many electrolytes I needed to take in. It was so dry out
there that I couldn’t tell how much I was sweating. My hamstrings
started cramping around mile 85, but once I drank some more Gatorade
and took a shot of EFS liquid those went away fairly quickly. I came
into transition just under my goal time and 3rd in my AG.
I was very fortunate to have finished within a minute of Ganter on the
bike. We came out of T2 in virtually the same time, and started the
marathon right there.
Since we were acquainted with one another, and
since we were in different age groups (he is 30), we decided to work
together and try to hit 7:15 pace for the first 15 miles and then go
from there. That didn’t work too well, as we were both running
extremely well. Effortlessly were rolled through the first 11 miles
in just under 7:00 pace despite really trying to hit 7:10-7:15’s.
Having someone there really helped out. Eventually those effortless
7:00 miles turned into effort-laden 7:30-7:45 miles, and by mile 20, I
was just trying to hold things together for the last 10k. We both
know at that point that Kona was a reality. I was now 2nd in my age
group, and down by 20:00 to the first guy (who had a ridiculously great race),
and Ganter was 3rd in his age group. At that point, we both decided
that if one of us felt good we could go, otherwise we’d work together
to the end. At mile 25, we made more or less of a gentleman’s
agreement to finish together since we had basically been racing
together since about mile 50 of the bike, and that’s what we did.
We pulled each other to massive IM PR’s, his was about 30 minutes, mine was 36 minutes.
2nd Age Group
I took my Kona slot and realized a goal that I’ve had since I saw the
race on NBC back as a teenager. It has been a long journey in 2008,
and honestly I’m very glad it’s done. I am really looking forward to
starting fresh, giving my ankle some additional time to heal up this
winter, and starting with a new mental outlook on the season.
This race report would not have been possible without the following:
My family, who cared for me when I was hurt and supported my passions
Ben, Jennifer, Tom and everyone else at 3Sports
Sasha Digges at PEAK Physical Therapy for helping me rehabilitate, get to the starting line in one piece, and for motivating me on those “bad” days.
My roommates for respecting my 9pm bedtime.
Dr. Michael Potter for being honest with me and helping me do what was best in terms of my recovery.
Brad Smith for meeting on those late nights to swim. Those extra sessions helped out a lot.
I missed a lot of other people, but basically if you know I did the IM, and you’re receiving this email, then you played a big part in
this result. Thank you.