October 21, 2019 - Going from giving up running and triathlons to racing my A race with no expectations to setting a PR by 30 minutes...
Race report - IM Arizona 70.3
I almost didn’t make it to this race. So much drama!
USAT Nationals in mid August was my last triathlon race, and it was not fun. IM Ohio 70.3 was just two weeks before and had flared my fat pad syndrome. I ran 6 miles in pain. When I finally went to see an orthopedic surgeon about the opposite knee that was likely responsible for the imbalance that led to the heel pain, I was told that I needed immediate arthroscopic surgery and that I should give up running. With my surgery on the books and a very heavy heart, I scrambled to get a second opinion from the local knee guru and a third opinion from a fellow triathlete rehab doctor. What shook out from all this back and forth is that I cancelled my surgery, got my knee injected w hyaluronic acid, and decided on moving forward with this race, fully accepting a possibility of a mediocre finish since I hadn’t run in 2.5 months.
The venue: Tempe is about 15 minutes east of the Phoenix airport, the race set at Tempe Lake Beach. The weather couldn’t be better for this part of the country. Sunny, high in the mid to upper 80’s, beautiful and dry. Tempe lake had an algae bloom warning but since treated and was declared safe. Water temperature dropped in the past week to 70 degrees and was declared wetsuit legal! We stayed at the AC Marriott which was 5 minutes walk from IM village.
The swim 49:17 – Self-seeded 2 athletes every 5 second start. Even though the water was murky, it felt great going in! Swim started east with some difficulty sighting, but majority of the swim was due west (changed direction from prior races). I thought I swam better than I did (adding an additional 150 yards due to poor sighting) but was told by Mark, a much more experienced swimmer, that there was an undercurrent undermining my efforts.
T1 6:43 – Woo hoo! Wetsuit strippers were on hand when we exited the water! It was more than half mile from the swim exit to transition on a strip of carpeting (my delicate feet were grateful), but a long way back to transition.
The bike 2:56:54 — Three loops within immediate city of Tempe including 4-u-turns per loop (12 u-turns for the 56 miles). This is not the full IM bike course. Generous two aid stations per loop. I pulled over at all but 2 aid stations to load my torpedo and mix my Infinit. Drank more than I expected and had to grab Gatorade at the end. Roads were in rough shape, and had to dodge the bottles launched from the bikes. There were areas of narrow roads, some inexperienced riders hogging the middle of the road during my ride (Mark rode w more experienced riders it seemed). Couple little climbs, but generally pretty flat. Couple stretches where you can get some speed. From the IM FB site, there were at least 3 crashes that day so I think I was lucky to have stayed safe.
T2 3:08 — Uneventful. Took a big swig of warm Infinit at transition, anticipating a hot run.
The run 2:14:26 — It was hot, dusty, and totally exposed two loops near the lake. I saw Mark once starting my run (he was on his second loop), and then saw Mark and Priscilla 4 more times as they stayed to cheer me on! Boy, did I need that boost! I started my run starting to cramp my hamstring. I slowed to a walk and took the salt sticks, Imodium, Naproxen, and Ex strength Tylenol. Felt pretty nauseous the most of the run. Kept ice in my bra, walked through the aid stations which were about 1.1 miles apart, dutifully consumed my concentrated Infinit every 10 minutes, and salt sticks again after 1 hour. The nausea didn’t improve until about mile 10 when I started adding coke and a couple bananas and pretzels to the Gatorade and water. By that time, I was developing a nasty blister on my left arch. It was the hardest 3 miles, and was so grateful to finish!
I met up with Mark and Priscilla at the finish! They are the best support ever! They fed me chips and water before walking me back to the hotel to clean up.
The PR 6:10:26 (by 30 minutes) was a huge surprise. I knew I didn’t swim well looking at my watch coming out of the water, I thought my bike was better than expected, and struggled to keep the contents of my tummy down on the run. I do think that the Bourbon Country Burn a month ago got me in bike shape, and my new ride made a huge difference in maneuverability and power transfer. I am sore but not as bad as I thought. I will be enjoying the next two weeks of post season before making some decisions about next year. Was thinking about starting my year at Puerto Rico but after the run yesterday, am having some serious reservations about running in 90 degree heat w 100% humidity.
All in all, a very memorable and special race. A huge THANK YOU to Mark, and Priscilla who made this trip so much fun. Dan, we missed you this trip, but congratulations on an impressive finish on your first half! And my coach, Ryan, who had to adjust and take care of me and my training through all my medical drama. Benh@lovethepain came through with my cute cactus kit for the race! I think I am going to have to come back to Arizona to wear the kit again!
Peace out until 2020!