When I was planning my 2017 I set out to build for a full Ironman in 2018. That meant two 70.3’s in 2017. I had abandoned my plan of a full in 2018 over the summer but didn’t want to waste an entry to a race I wanted to do. So I continued my training as best I could with continued encouragement from my husband. After all, neither one of us had ever spent any time there. It would be an adventure. And we could drive there in one day. One VERY LONG DAY.
Once we got to town we set out to find carbs. And we settled on Blaze Pizza. While there we made friends with 4 of Tempe’s finest:
They asked what we were doing in town. I told them I was competing in the 70.3. “Where are you swimming? Not in Tempe Towne Lake?”
So lets talk about this water…
Swimming is not allowed in Tempe Town Lake…except twice a year. Once for the 70.3 and once for the 140.6. When I went for a shake out run on Friday morning I was met with this sign. I was relieved. I had planned to swim ahead of the race to get a feel for the water but there was a smell in the air that was not…good. All I could do was finish my run and embrace the rest of the athlete village experience. That is exactly what we did. I spent the next two days enjoying Tempe, the weather and the experience.
Race morning found me ready, or so I thought. Its practice for me to put together my kit and everything I need for race day the day before. Kit gets hung up with timing chip…ALWAYS. This time was no different, except I didn’t put my timing chip on when I got dressed. It took the announcer in the athlete village on race morning saying the words “timing chip” to even get me to look down at my ankle. This is where I interject and tell you how amazing my husband was. Since I knew right where I left it he went back to the hotel and grabbed it. Come to find out he didnt need to but it was nice to be able to find him before the race and get it to me so that my timing was linked to my name. It was pretty much par for the course with where my head has been and that was ALLLLL over the place. Also big thanks to my mafia sister Mary V who was able to get me a temporary timing chip in case hubby and I couldn’t reconnect. She really kept me calm. I was a MESS that morning. Lesson learned.
It wasnt long after we connected again that it was time to get in the water. All I remember thinking was that it was cooler that I was expecting but it wasnt cold. It was the perfect temperature actually. I entered the water with the first wave of women for the race (40-44) and we all calmly chatted at the start line before the race and we were able to really pump each other up. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this sport for that. It seems like the longer the distance the more supportive everyone gets. We really were all in it together. The horn sounded and we were OFF!
Now, if you follow me at all ou know the swim is my least favorite of all the disciplines. I truly swim to survive. That’s all. I had an interesting experience this race though. I felt pretty calm during the swim, particulary early on. No panic. No watch monitoring. Just swimming. I was also surprised to figure out that I am now a fan of rolling start races. I must have been swam over a half-dozen times with faster racers from the age groups that followed mine. Why yes, I did kick a racer. More than one. You do not need to continually grab my legs to get past me. That canal is huge. GO AROUND ME. *steps off my soap box* AHEM. I finished the swim before the cut off. NOT a PR but I wasnt looking for any PRs this day. Total swim time: 57:24 with a T1 time of 4:55. Obviously I need to work on transitions. Oh well.
Off on the bike. I was really looking forward to this part because it wasnt the swim and it wouldn’t be too hot yet. I was surprised by a great deal on the bike. This course is a course consisting of three loops of approx 18 miles each. The first loop I had thoughts of, “I might like these loops. I’ll know what to expect. Lots of people out cheering. The hills are that bad. There are a lot of fast riders out here who are likely almost done. Where are the timing mats? It’s so pretty here.
Lap 2 saw the course PACKED with most of the riders. I’m surprised I didn’t crash. Lots of u-turns and technical portions on the course. Mix that with riders that aren’t always that confident on the bike(I count myself in that group) and accidents are bound to happen. I didnt see any but read later that there were several. Im thankful I made it back in one piece. I stopped for a restroom break at the last aid station during the second lap. I made a lot of friends during this loop as well. I also ran head on into a Gatorade bottle that had been dropped in the middle of the course. I stayed upright the whole time. It was during lap 2 that I figured out where the timing mats were (it wasnt that hard once you start paying attention). Before I knew what hit me I was starting the third lap. It was much less crowded on the course by then. It was still tough and by the third lap I was ready to be done with the bike and all the u turns. I took the time to chat with other racers who were friendly enough but kept my head down and pushing when I was alone. The heat also started to set in. I was happy to get out of the saddle. I felt slow. Really slow. Later my husband would tell me that the tracker was going off a LOT the first part of the bike. He said he was really proud and a bit worried he would miss me on the bike entirely. He’s adorable. However, it was a PR, and one I was ecstatic to have later since it helped cushion the blow for the run. Total time on the bike: 3:24:48 T2 being 5:36.
The run. The run was hot. On my way out of T2 there were people slapping sunscreen on everyone. I took all the advantage because there was very little shade. Off I went. The run was two loops that circled Tempe Town Lake. I stopped at each aid station for water. Water to drink, water to thrown over my head and water to thrown down my top. The key to surviving this run was keep your core body temperature down. I think I was mostly successful. At mile 11 I threw a cup of water over my head and realized I was sloshing around in water in my shoes. Time to put my head down and move through to the finish. No need for more. I made friends again with people on the course. Some had done the full here in previous years. I learned a lot. I may go back to AZ to do my full should I find myself wanting to tackle a full at some point.
When you can’t wear headphones during a triathlon you find ways to occupy your mind. I sing (sometimes out loud) and I do math. Somewhere around mile 7 I had an inkling that if I buckled down there was a chance I could PR the 70.3. It was a long shot but it was doable. It was at mile 11 that I knew it was within reach.
One of the things I LOVE about Ironman are the staff and volunteers on the course. I have YET to have a bad experience. At the last aid station on the run at mile 6 there was a woman who recognized me from Instagram. That was fun and the boost I needed. I didn’t stop to thank her the second time through but I was appreciative of the shout out and her willingness to volunteer. Its people like that who make the race the experience it is! Thank you!
Head down and off the pavement onto grass for the final last bit of the run. That kind of hurt but you just don’t care at that point. Youre so happy to be done. I turned the corner and on to the rep carpet. I love that damn carpet. I even tried for an epic finish line photo:
I nearly fell flat on my face but the pictures don’t show that. Yay! LOL Total run time 2:51:50 for a total race time of 7:24:32. Thats a PR of 2 minutes and change. Ill take that.
2017 was an epic season. Thank you to Trek and Sunnyside Bicycles for your continued belief in my dreams. Thank you to Velocity Sportswear for keeping my comfortable and for the support that the Trimafia has brought to my life. Thank you Team TriEqual for the coaching and support as well! I have made so many friends and learned so much this year about who I want to be and don’t want to be as an athlete and human being! This sport continues to surprise and amaze me at every single turn. I’m looking forward to all that 2018 will bring in growth and friendships!
Thank you for joining me on my journey!