I trained like crazy in 2011 to try to get back to Kona only to have my worst race in Arizona. I decided to move away from Ironman racing. A good friend signed up for IM AZ 2016. I was going to be race support, but decided it might be fun to try and see if could still get through an Ironman. Unfortunately he was injured and unable to train or race. A small part of me wanted to see if I could get back to Kona.
The 2016 season was off to a great start. My power numbers were 10% higher than the previous summer. I had decent results in several local races. I signed up to race Santa Cruz 70.3. Everything was pointing to a solid race.
The week before I was scheduled to leave for Santa Cruz, I noticed a pimple on my kneecap. I didn’t think anything of it, so I popped it. It progressively worsened over the next few days. My knee started to swell. After a few trips to the doctor’s office, my knee was not getting better. The night before my flight to California, I had a fever and still not getting better. I went to the ER and was admitted to the hospital for a few days. I didn’t train for almost 2 weeks because of a swollen knee and super antibiotics. I slowly started working out again. I lost about 20% of my power, so I changed my goal to use the race to gain fitness for the Boston Marathon.
I noticed another crack near the welds on my bike. This got me thinking about a new bike. I have always been opposed to getting one of the mainstream bikes because they are everywhere. I found a great deal but wasn’t sure until about 4 weeks from the race. I assumed that would be plenty of time, but what I didn’t factor in was the time to get the bike, parts, etc. I did not get the bike in hand until 11 days out from the race. I ended up with a swollen knee, so no riding or running for a couple more days and to make matters worse, a stomach bug swept through the house. I was ready to ride the bike on Saturday, but could barely reach the pedals. My seat was an inch too high. I had to wait a day before I could cut the seat post. I finally rode the bike 1 week out. It felt pretty good, but I noticed my neck and elbows were not used to the new position.
Wednesday-Arrived PHX and get to the house at 8PM.
Thursday-Spent most of the morning putting the bike back together. Ran an easy 4 miles trying out BASE salts. Drive to Tempe to ride a loop and realize I forgot bike shoes half way into drive. I turned a 45 minute drive into 90 minute drive. I biked a loop of IM AZ. I felt pretty good. There was a tailwind out to turn around and a headwind back, which is the exact opposite that I have experienced on race day.
Friday-I forgot my cassette tool to put on my disc cover. I took the bike to Regroup Bicycles. The mechanic was awesome and squared me away quickly. Grabbed lunch at my favorite restaurant in Tempe RA Sushi and then picked up race packet.
I felt pretty good on the swim. This was my first experience with a staggered start. I think there was a lot less contact then I have experience in the past. The turn buoy came faster than I expected. The dark goggles I used made it difficult to sight.
I skipped the wetsuit stripper and equaled my previous best time.
I felt great on the first loop. My quads were on fire during the second loop. I couldn’t figure out why. I knew if I wanted to finish I had to back off on the throttle and just get back to transition. I also started drinking every 5 minutes. I stopped at special needs to grab new bottles and used the port a potty. The winds picked up on the third loop, but I felt like my legs were back. I decided to empty my last bottle around mile 85 thinking I would have enough. I ran out 4 miles from transition.
I felt great through the first several miles. I was using BASE salts for the first time. I think they are easy to use as long as you know how much you need. I was taking in salt every ½ to ¾ mile. After 14 miles, I began cramping in my groin area. I only stopped three times to refuel bottles and walked through 3 aid stations. This was one of my best marathons off the bike with minimal walking. I spit up twice, not sure why.
This was my second fastest time in Arizona. I am surprised I was able to put together a solid race after all things considered.
LESSONS LEARNED FROM 2016 SEASON
-Popping pimples on the knee is not a good idea
-Switching bike/fit with minimal time for adjustment is not wise
-Dark goggles make it difficult to see when the sun doesn’t pop out
-Drink more often on the bike
-Do not throw away a half bottle of nutrition assuming you
-Taking in more salt when cramping may not be the right answer
-Keep moving forward and the end comes sooner
Some down time and then focusing on Boston Marathon