Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Race Recap from Ironman Arizona

Here's a short recap (it's an Ironman so the Lord of the Rings trilogy could be a short recap) from my friend from Austin, Tracy Shriver (like me, a guy with a girl's name) from his first and apparently last Ironman. Some questions I had:

You just finished IMA – what advice to you have for a Triathlete considering taking the plunge?
Be mentally prepared and realistic. for the past 3 years i've been more focussed on marathon running, and it wasn't until recently that i fully understood the mental preparation required to be successful. you hear about it and read about it, but for me it really was a switch that flipped one day that made me respect the distance, which i can now carry onto my other racing endeavors. a big part of that is being completely committed to one goal. i know too many amateur athletes/age groupers that are working on multiple goals at the same time, and end up failing a lot. for most first-timer Ironmans, simply finishing is the realistic goal, which is tough for someone who has been racing for a while.

What would you have done differently with your training – what would have made the most difference (aside of dropping the beer drinking)?
i would have trained more - my issue was definitely not being over-trained. time for training is always an issue, and having 8-10 hours on a saturday and another 6 on sunday for several months is a lot of sacrifice, not to mention all of the training required during the week. and while there's swim/bike/run, there's also weight training/stretching/nutrition. i was not prepared for the run - specifically i thought i could come out of transition and start clocking 8's, and instead started with 10's and 11's. that's a very different stride and form than every single mile of my running training and very quickly my knees gave out. the nutritional preparation for race day can not be understated. beer drinking = carbo loading, and i needed all the help i could get to keep from weighing as little as nicole ritchie.

What did your wife and family think?
every single person who had not previously done an ironman or was not currently training for one thought i was nuts. even for marathons there are so many people that have to ask "how far is that?" and the response you get when you tell people the distance of an ironman is astounding. it's a hard thing for most people to get their head around. i had an amazing support crew at the race and they now respect the feat even more having seen it. after lap 1 of the run i realized i was in survival mode, and when i saw my wife i got a little emotional because i was disappointed. as soon as i left her i realized she was probably going to be worried sick until i would see her again about 6 miles later, and when i did i simply told her i was ok. she asked what i was going to do and without hesitation i answered "finish." quitting never entered my mind, and i was able to shift myself quickly from disappointment to "don't do anything to jeopardize finishing." the goal was finish.

See anything interesting on the course?
i flew in on thursday night to be greeted by 54 degrees, wind and rain. this is arizona, right? the locals said they were glad for the rain because they had major dust storms earlier in the day, and the rain would calm that down. well after a sunny friday and saturday, the winds picked up and i got pelted by a dust storm on lap 1 of the bike. you could see it coming from 100s of yards away, and there was nothing i could have done except grin, grip, wince, and take 1000 pellet shots like a wimpering baby. the special needs athletes are very inspiring. you see an athlete heading to the swim on crutches and out on the bike with a hand-cycle, and you realize you have it relatively easy. the spectators packing the bridges and lining the lake as you're waiting for the cannon is unbelievable. i wish i could have had a camera. it took every nervous feeling out of my mind and body because it was so amazing to be in that position.

What did you think of the pros?
i didn't see much of the pros. they start 15 minutes before the age groupers, and you're too consumed with your own preparation to take notice. i saw them on lap 1 of the bike, was passed on lap 2 of the bike, and never saw the men again. the women leaders passed me at mile 8 for me on the run, mile 25 for them. gollnick had just made her pass of zeiger and already had her winning margin - it must have been an amazing move. men's austin local pro james bonney finished 7th and got his kona ticket punched, but woman's austin local pro desiree ficker skipped arizona this year.

Any observations about what people were riding or running in?
shorts and jerseys, mostly. this being my first ironman, i completed as many costume changes as Cher. comfort was important for me, not saving two minutes in the transition. proved to be a good idea though a BarcaLounger for the "run" would have been wise too.

What distance will you focus on for now?
much like runners who after a marathon convert some of that endurance to speed by focussing on 5 and 10k's, i will do a few sprints starting may 12th and olympic distance races and build up to a local half ironman the first week of october. that will be my goal race and i will define what that goal is soon. i'll be back on the bike as soon as it returns, since i'm not very sore after a fairly low impact marathon.

See any sharks on the swim – if you didn’t, you probably weren’t looking? you couldn't see your hands, so unless the shark was going to try to make out with me i wouldn't have noticed. also swimming in a man made freshwater "lake," i doubt there were any. Note: I'm convinced there are sharks or similar man-eating creatures in every body of water I swim in. I also have suspicions that there are also dead bodies at the bottom.

Care to wager on the outcome of the CapTexTri 2008 between me and you – I can see putting $500 down that says I spank you good despite the fact that you have no kids and have been training for about 5 years more than I have?
when you start dropping 1:20s on the swim and 6s on the run i'll get nervous. until then i just need to remind you about the critters in murky Town Lake. Note: I was at this race last year as a spectator and it got me back into Triathlon. It's an ongoing wager.

If I rip your legs off at that race – will you still like me?
the way i calculate it you need to ride about 40mph to have a chance, and if you do that you should be concerned with Jamie Cleveland and James Bonney, not me. you do know swim noodles and floaties aren't allowed under USAT rules, right? not to mention you're assuming i like you now. Note: I used to be his 'housemate', he was in my wedding but I was not in his, so he might have a point that I've somehow missed over the past 14 years. Jerk.

What song was in your head for IMA?
there were two little diddies i made up. one was called "don't puke" and the other was called "farking wind."

Did you consider tackling anyone on the bike leg of IMA? If so – who?
i think if you check the box score the leading tackler was the wind. i saw about 6 riders on the ground because of the wind, and another passed me with some seriouse road rash. it got worse as the day progressed. Note: We used to play 'Tackle Mountain Biking' in Seattle - I really think we played it once. 'Nettles Don't Sting Do They' was another fun pastime for us.

Did you wear boxers under your bike shorts? boxers are so 20th century. it's all about the whale tail. Note: I have witnessed boxers under black bike shorts on this fellow. It was a fair question.

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