I’ve been “off the grid” since IM Arizona so to speak. A couple of days in Sedona, AZ after the race for recovery and training (Amy). A day in the car. A Thanksgiving with family in Texas would not be complete without some shooting of guns, driving of 4-wheelers (Quads I believe James and other teammates call them), eating of turkey, wrangling of cows, sleeping, and too much food in general! I did manage a bit of training.
In 2008, I headed to IM Arizona for my 1st long distance race as a professional. I had a great swim, a so-so bike, and ran as high as about 13th place before I had some serious GI issues and limped home to like a 32nd finish in my 3rd IM. 2 years later I would find myself at the familiar Tempe Town Lake for the 2010 edition of IM Arizona. The field was ‘the best outside of Kona’ or something like that…no matter, race day anything can happen. IM Arizona would also mark my 8th IM or IM distance race ever and my 5th in the 2010 calendar year.
Anything can happen, and it did. The swim was 61 degrees and pretty chilly. The bike was challenging with periods of crazy head and cross winds…and some tailwinds as well. It rained on the bike, was cool on the bike, the sun shone on the bike, and on my last lap I am pretty sure that I rode through a small hail storm. It was sunny, windy, rainy, you name it on the run as well.
At the end of the day I crossed the line 13th, but the 12th professional male. I add that in because Chrissie Wellington “chicked” all but like 7 of the racers. My time was about 8:50, not a PB, but my best time on that course, and one of my more well put together races. How’d it go…
Swim. Well, there usually isn’t a whole lot to say here. I’m always amazed at how even though there was a very wide swim start with plenty of space, we all end up bunched up anyway. IM Arizona is nice in that the swim is one big loop, so no overlapping on the 2nd loop of the swim! I had a good start and was swimming even with a group of 2 to my left, a single swimmer way way off to the right, one out front, and I’m pretty sure one on my feet. Probably about 1k into the swim we all came together and it was a pack of about 6 through the remainder of the swim. I tried to have a quick transition onto the bike. Put on arm warmers and headed out on the bike in about 5th position and moved into 4th about 10 miles in.
Bike. Each loop is about 37 miles at IM Az. Gradual uphill on the way out, gradual downhill on the way back. I was ready to ride considerably faster than the 4:48 I rode 2 years ago. I held 4th position until about mile 30 or so when Jordan Rapp and Chris Lieto came by bringing a few more folks with them. I rode with them for the rest of the 1st loop and part of the 2nd. At the end of the 2nd loop Josef Major came by me and I struggled to hold on to his pace. I felt a bouncing from my front wheel as well as a couple of pretty hard bumps from the road. I looked down and saw that I had a flat. I rode it until it was dead and I was a good changing point, and I used my tube of sealant on the tire. I got about 10 more minutes out of the tire, and the sealant didn’t work. So, I pulled over again. This time I wrestled off a very well glued tubular tire and headed back out on the course. I wasn’t sure, but it seemed like I’d lost about 8-10 positions in these 2 stops and was sitting around 20th or so. I rode the last 25 miles or so really hard to make up some of that time and ended up passing back several of the guys in front of me.
Off on the run, and I was looking to pick off as many as I could in front of me. After only 2-3 miles, the lead cyclist for the women came by me…and so did Chrissie shortly after. She went on to run 2:52. We knew I’d be in the 3:00-3:05 range for the run, so I kept plugging along. I hit a bad patch about 25k into the run, but kept on going. In the end I ran right at 3:09 and finished 12th. The run splits online don’t reflect the actual markings as it seems that everyone died a quick death on the last time check. Math must not be someone’s strong suit, as the last time check was missing 1 mile…or was on race day…so times are a bit better than they appear!
Doc wanted me to do Az or Coz to close out the season. He wanted me to write about my 4th IM (official IM) race in 2010. On paper the field that was assembled was one of the best outside of Hawaii. We knew there would be a lot of guys there. Top-10 would be a good finish. In my mind I had no doubt that it was going to be a prize money day…that is a translation for top-8. I trained to write about having that complete race. The good race. The race that I have in me and am capable of having. I had a good run of training leading into this race. 9 months after going full time to race and train, I was sure that I had made the transition from preparing to train for an IM to training for an IM. My training was front pack swim, 4:35 ride, and 3:05 or better in the run. Those were the numbers.
So, I sit here and part of me thinks about the “good run of bad luck” that I feel like I’ve had this year. A crash, a couple of weird cramps or mild injuries during or right before races, and a 10 minute flat stop. I could write about that. 12th wasn’t what I wanted. It’s not what I am capable of. A look back on my Garmin for the ride shows a ride time of about 4:38 or so including the speed ups and slow downs. My total ride time was 4:48. What would 10 minutes have done? Who knows. It’s easy to just take off 10 minutes and say I would’ve gone 8:40. I definitely burned some matches early in the ride since that is where I’ve struggled in the past. I burned some more after my 2 stops. But, maybe it would have been 8:30 or 8:35. In the end, it doesn’t matter, there are no asterisks that say “12th male with a 10 minute stop”. The clock doesn’t stop. “Time waits for no one” as the saying goes. Sport is the “last of the no frills zone” as Doc says. You can’t hide. There are no judges unless you count Jimmy and the officials. You are judged at the elite level by what the clock says, or more importantly, what the placing says. November 21 it said 8:50 and 12th place. Period, end of story.
I’m back in Austin for awhile now. Not dwelling on the last race, but getting back into a routine. 2010 from my point of view has set up a very good 2011.