2016 Ironman Arizona Race Report
It has been a couple weeks since Ironman Arizona, where I had a personal best performance in 8:48. The race itself wasn’t particularly exciting, which is usually a good thing when it comes to Ironman age group racing. I just went out and did my thing, which looked a little like this:
Swim: 58:42 (2nd best IM swim, best since 2012)
Lined up in the queue behind the fence to the far left and was first down the stairs on the left side and dove in. Clear water and good line, which meant taking it wide of the buoy line almost the whole way. No contact until the very last 100m or so when we converged back to the stairs to exit the water. If there was a difference compared to most of my IMs, it’s that I swam it a little harder than usual, but felt strong from start to finish…racing at an elevation 4,000 feet lower than at home in Colorado is GREAT!
Rode pretty steady from lap to lap, but the way each lap was split shows a little excitement on the first outbound lap and what I perceived to be slightly different wind conditions on the second and third laps. RPE was steady from lap to lap.
1)219/228 (230/237 outbound, 204/212 back to town)
2)219/223 (225/229 outbound, 211/215 back to town)
3)217/223 (223/227 outbound, 208/217 back to town)
4)Full ride: 218/225
Each lap was right at about 1:34, so quite consistent. I wasn’t really paying much attention to my power output, and more or less just rode on autopilot and by feel. This was however, my highest power output out of my prior four IMs.
This was my third best IM run, with my top two being at 3:00.26 and 3:00.40, and all three of these being at IMAZ incidentally. I’ve also run 3:02 twice in Kona and 3:03 once at Coeur d’Alene. The biggest thing of note with the run was that I ran completely by feel – I had planned on turning on my Garmin in T2, but it never fired up and I left it there. Judging by the splits on SportStats, it appears that I came through the halfway point in exactly 1:30.00, which is a bit quick. I prefer to settle into my IM runs and finish stronger than I start. If I had a functioning watch, I likely would have run the first half a little slower with the hope of running the second half a little faster. Who knows if the outcome would have been a time in the 3:00-3:01 range, or even breaking 3hrs. But I’m not complaining about a 3:02, especially with having run 3:10, 3:16 and 3:12 in my last 3 IMs!
Where my “secrets” lie with regard to prep for this race and how I feel like they influenced my outcome:
Swim: This was my 3rd IM in 3-1/2 months (Boulder and Kona were the two prior). Heading into Boulder and Kona, I basically did “just enough” to feel like I could get by with a respectable swim. After Kona, almost all of my swims were with neoprene shorts, primarily because Arizona is a wetsuit swim. But this also allowed me to swim a little harder from a “catch and pull” standpoint and not have to be too concerned about what my lower body was doing energy expenditure wise. I knocked out a couple 5500m swims heading into Arizona and felt like I could have gone another 1000-1500 during those workouts. Heading into the race, I felt 58:xx was totally within reason.
Bike: All year, I rode exactly once in excess of 4hrs during training, and that ride was about 4:10. After Kona, I loaded all my weekly riding into 3-day blocks, knocking out 9-12 hours of riding in three days and not doing any other riding the rest of the week. I did a crap ton of 3-4 hour rides this year. This wasn’t necessarily by design, but due more to my “life schedule.”
Run: I think the biggest difference with my 3:02 run was that I took the Q-Rings off my bike and went back to round rings. The Q-Rings were new this year and they felt great while riding, BUT I’ve had quite sub-standard runs off the bike in all my long-course races this season for no apparent reason (nothing glaring with training or nutrition)…I just had no “pop” in my legs straight out of T2 at Boulder 70.3, IM Boulder or Kona. At Arizona, I felt like my normal self again coming out of T2. As with the bike, I wasn’t pounding out any big miles this year. Longest run all year was 18 miles, longest after Kona was 13. Put in four weeks all year in excess of 35 miles.
How was I able to have such a strong performance on my 3rd IM in a fairly short window of time? I don’t feel like I really hammered either Boulder or Kona – they were more like long training days and representative of my fitness at the time of those races. Neither of those two runs were particularly stellar, which is where the real “damage” can happen – so I didn’t feel all that beat up after those two races, either from training or the races themselves. Couple that with the great fall weather we had in Colorado and I was able to put in a very strong block of training after a couple weeks of downtime after Kona.
I’m pretty stoked to have been able to string it all together and have my 13th IM - and 3rd at age 40 - be the best one yet!