Monday, November 30, 2009

Race Photos

My Mom told me that I had to order the professional race photos. So I did. :-)

Swim start from the helicopter. The turn around is just a bit past the first bridge (Rural Road) that you can see in the distance. We ran over that bridge 6 times during the run course. The path on the right side of the "lake" is also part of the run course. Another one of the swim start, but from water level. It doesn't look so bad!Me coming out of the water. My goggle-eyes are S-E-X-Y! You should see it close-up. Even sexier.

Me on the bike. Take note of the sweet smooooth pavement underneath me. That was awesome. And my stylin' arm warmers (tube socks with the toes cut off). I was in my happy place here.

Me starting the run. Quite the flattering pose, no? Huh, I don't remember doing the chicken-dance during the race. Actually, I think I had just headed out of T2 (note the slathering of sunscreen all over me) and was thinking "boobies = chaffage = ooooowie".
Another one just out of T2. "Seriously? A marathon? Um, I don't think I thought this through very well. Well, shoot."

And how awesome do you think I was feeling when this one was taken.

And now the good parts. :-)

Finish line #1. My leg looks funny, and you can see the chaffing under my arms, but hey, it's the FINISH LINE!!!!

From a different angle.

And the grand finale!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Stats

My overall times, paces, and places:

Time = 1:25:37
Pace = 2:16/100m
Division Place = 78/122
Overall Place = 1650/2516

Time = 5:47

Time = 6:38:24
Pace = 16.9 mph
Division Place = 80/122
Overall Place = 1887/2516

Time = 3:59

Time = 6:17:20
Pace = 14:25 min/mile
Division Place = 111/122
Overall Place = 2147/2516

Time = 14:31:06
Division Place = 99/122
Overall Place = 1983/2516

Part 3: The Run

By this point, I have ran 2.4 miles, rode 112 miles, and now I've changed clothes, lubed up, and am heading out for a marathon. I saw my Mom and Debbie and got hugs. This is so fun! I am surprised at how awesome I feel. I can totally do this! This feeling lasted exactly 1/2 mile. I was badly overheated and was starting to feel a little...funny. I ran by the very first mile marker on the ground. 1 mile. I can't write down what I wanted to do to that stupid sign. The guy next to me actually said out loud what he wanted to do with it. Okay, at least I'm not alone here.

I ran into the first aid station and went straight for the cold water. Ahhh. Then a cup of gatorade. It came right back up. Okie doke, no gatorade. I tried an orange slice. Nope, uh uh. A gel? Right back up. Oh crap. I grabbed more water. Poured some over my head and some down my throat. Ice went down the sports bra and into both fists. For the next 8 miles, nothing would stay down. I took in approximately 100 calories over the first 2 hours of the marathon. You don't have do be knowledgeable in endurance sports to know that this was NOT GOOD. If something didn't change fast, I was going to be in big trouble.
I ran across the support crew around mile 4.5. I was in the middle of my lowest point of the entire day. The edges of my mouth were lined with regurgitated gel. My calves and hamstrings were cramping up every 10 steps. I was crying. I wanted to jump into the lake and drown myself. Instead I gave Ken a hug (and a kiss...ewwwww, I bet that was gross for him) and kept moving forward. I remembered something I had heard during training "no matter how you feel during the day, good or bad, you can be sure it won't last." I had to believe that this wouldn't last either.
Somewhere towards the end of the 1st loop, the sun started to go down. Relief! I started to feel better, but wasn't quite ready to start eating yet. I saw my crew again and let them know things were about to get better. And it did! By the 2nd aid station on the 2nd loop, I was able to drink cola. Nectar of the gods, that stuff. Hmm, let's try a gel. Okay, no, that still won't work. Cola it is! And potato chips! And pretzels! My routine at each station became: wet sponge to wipe the sweat off my face, water, cola, chips, pretzels, cola, water. Run 1 mile and repeat. The only problem...the bottom of my right foot was becoming badly covered in blisters. Each step felt like a hundred sharp pebbles grinding through the skin. I wanted to run, but I couldn't. So I walked fast. Faster than some of the people running. I ran when I could, which wasn't often. But I was moving forward. The marathon was going to take me longer than I had hoped, but I was going to FINISH! I was going to become an IRONMAN!
On the 2nd half of the 2nd loop, I was able to access my special needs bag. I reapplied body glide. I took the poptart. I couldn't eat it, but I held onto it for like 2 miles. You do weird things at this point in the race. I took out the photo of Matthew McConaughey and laughed out loud. Thanks Jenn! A little bit later I saw my friend Angie's mother-in-law Barbara and brother-in-law Matt under a random bridge. I didn't even know she was in town! We hugged, they cheered, and it picked me up enough to finish the 2nd loop. By this time I was feeling AWESOME. Yes, I wanted to cut my foot off. But my legs weren't cramping, I had found a way to get calories without turning my stomach inside out, and I was over half way there! I power walked my way to the 3rd loop. I saw my crew again and we all screamed and laughed. 9 miles left! SINGLE DIGITS!!!

On the 3rd loop I started taking the chicken broth. It rivaled the cola in it's awesomeness. My new routine was: water, broth, cola, broth, cola, water. I ran/power walked from aid station to aid station, looking forward to the cola and the broth and the chips. I blocked out the pain in my body by dancing to the music at aid stations, talking to other athletes, high fiving the spectators. I was having so much fun again! I finished the first half of the 3rd loop and only had 5 miles left. Only 5 miles, but these were going to be the toughest 5 miles I had ever done. I saw Brian and Nadine here and they wanted to run with me a bit. I couldn't run, so they walked with me up a little hill. I got another mental boost from them, and started to run. Only 4 miles left! I got to my least favorite part of the course. It winds through a dark, empty park. Up and down some hills. Around a bridge. Out to the other side of the lake, but directly in line with the finish line. You can hear Mike Reilly and the music. Okay, only 3 miles and I get to be there too. Only a 5k left. I crossed back over the river to the Tempe Town park walkway. Onto the soft dirt path. Getting closer now. I started ripping the reflective tape off my shirt, fixed my hair as best I could, wiped the crud from my mouth. Gotta look good for the photos!

I passed the 25 mile marker and was running. 1 mile left now. I cheered silently. I wanted to celebrate, but there were people around me still on their second loop. I came to the split in the course and I got to turn left. Then I cheered! All of the pain was gone from my body. I saw Tom and Jon and their families. Hugs all around. I kept running. I found myself next to another athlete. He stopped and nodded for me to go ahead and have the chute all to myself. Thank you! I turned left and was blinded by the lights. Music boomed towards me. The crowd screamed. Somehow in all of this, I found my friends and family. I floated towards them (I was running on air now, not pavement). High fives and smiles and cheers. More high fives as I ran towards the finish. I made sure to listen for Mike Reilly saying my name. There it is! I crossed under the archway, threw my arms up in the air, and finally...I got to stop moving.
Matt, and his wife Heidi, caught me at the finish line. So cool. They held onto me tight. My legs weren't working so well anymore. They wrapped me in a space blanket. Someone else put the medal around my neck. I got a shirt. A hat. And then was put in front of the finisher's backdrop for another photo. Then they walked me to the family meet-up area and got me water and fries. Mmmmm, salty fries. My Mom, Debbie, and Ken came in and hugged me. Julie, Jeff, Brian, Nadine, Kristin, and Lorin were on the other side of the fence to congratulate me. The only thing better than crossing the finish line and becoming an Ironman, was getting to see my family and favorite people at the end. I wish I could bottle up how I felt at that moment. There really is nothing like it.
I sat there babbling gibberish for about 20 minutes. Then I started to shiver and it was time to go home. I wanted to stay to watch the midnight finishers, but my body needed to leave. Next time I'll stay and watch.
It's worth mentioning a HUGE thank you to the volunteers. This event wouldn't happen without them. It takes over 3000 volunteers to help 2500 of us to the finish line. Amazing! And another thank you to my friends and family. The support I received this year is unreal. I cry every time I think about you guys and how awesome this year was. Thank you!!!!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Part 2: The Bike

The bike is like my long-lost love...that I didn't even know existed until last year. I absolutely LOVE riding. I'm not particularly fast or at all talented at cycling, but there are times on the bike that don't quite compare to anything else in life. It's those times when the road feels glass-smooth, your legs turn the cranks in perfect circles, the whirring of the wheels drones out all background noise, and the power builds in the legs as you tuck in just a little further to get that last little bit of speed. This usually happens at least once per ride, and every single time my smile spreads from ear to ear. And it stays with me long enough to get me out the door for the next ride.

Yeah, I enjoy swimming, and I even admit in public now that I like to run. But the bike is where it's at for me. During the latter parts of training, I developed a few rituals with me and my bike. At the end of the work days, my relaxation consisted of locking the Cervelo into the trainer, changing into my comfiest tri gear, and settling in for a quiet ride in the dark. Followed by a hot shower and an early bedtime. I got through the rest of the work week by knowing that on Saturday morning, I got to wake up before the rest of the world, meet up with some of the best people I will ever know, and spend 5...6...7...or more hours with them and our bikes and the awesome Pacific Northwest scenery.

This is a long way of saying that during the 3-week taper at the end of my training cycle, I felt a bit lost without my bike rides. By race week I just wanted to get on the saddle and go as far as my legs would let me. The evening before the race I was filled more with excitement to be reunited with my bike, than I was with pre-race jitters.

The Bike
As I ran out of transition with my bike, I was elated to be out of the water and only seconds away from climbing on for a 112 miler with my old friend. I waved and smiled at the crowds lining the exit chute, rinsed the TTL water out of my mouth, and settled into the aerobars as we rode out of town. I found a comfortable gear and just spun. Sometime during the first out section, a guy crashed about 15 feet in front of me. He had just passed me, and he veered a little too far to the left and smashed into a tall orange cone. I stopped to see if he was okay, and took off as soon as he was tended to. I only lost a couple of minutes, but I'm afraid that might have been the end of his race.
I kept the computer on cadence-only for the first hour, but couldn't resist taking a peek at my speed during the headwinds on the Beeline. 10-12 mph. Ugh. No worries though, because I was ON MY BIKE and I was HAVING FUN! After the turn around, it was awesome. 25-30 mph, downhill, with a tailwind. Here is where I recovered, caught up on my nutrition, and talked with other athletes. Soon I was back in town, waving to my friends and family, and heading back out for Loop 2. Still smiling.
Loop 2 was pretty much the same story. Headwind on the way out, tailwind on the way back. Lots of dirt and lots of cacti. Numerous bottles of water and gatorade, and through 1.5 flasks of gel. A banana half here and there. I was apparently over-hydrating because I had to stop twice on this loop to pee. 7 minutes total of waiting in lines for the porta-potties. Oh well, better to be comfy. The end of the Loop 2 I was still smiling, though maybe not quite as much.
Loop 3 was not a whole lot different. Except the winds had shifted. We no longer had a headwind on the way out, but we did on the way back. I think this is a faster way to ride the course, but I don't think anyone appreciates a headwind during the last 17 miles of a 112 mile ride. I stopped at the porta-potties for a third time. Not so much because I was going to burst, but more as a quick break to stretch the legs and get out of the wind for a minute or two. Meh, I was still having fun. :-)

I rolled into transition, dismounted the bike, and gave it to one of the 8 volunteers trying to grab it. No doubt about it, Ironman is full service.

Loop 1 was close to 17.5 mph, Loop 2 was about 16.5 mph (bathroom breaks!), and Loop 3 was 17 mph. Total time = 6:38:24. Pace = 16.9 mph. Next time I'll break 17 mph.

Transition 2
I stopped to take off my bike shoes and called out my race number to the volunteers. Just like T1, I got there before they did. I grabbed my bag, ran down the aisle towards the change tent, and just about mowed over 2 girls who were NOT happy to have a marathon to run next. I had an awesome helper in the tent...I did a full change into running shorts and singlet. She didn't even flinch when the stench of my tri shorts and bike feet permeated the air. She had to have been a triathlete!

Last steps were to body glide the bits, get sunscreened outside the tent, and smear vaseline all over my badly chaffed shoulders. I have got to find a different sports bra!

Total T2 time = 3:59. Freakin awesome when you consider that length of the transition area, doing a full clothes change, and loitering around the vaseline station.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Part 1: Pre-Race and The Swim

I'm going to copy several other bloggers and split up my IMAZ race report into sections. It's easier to read, easier to write, and maybe won't seem as long this way. Since I am really writing this for myself, it will probably turn into a novel. If you want the condensed version: I swam, I biked, I ran, I had so much fun (#1 goal), and I finished (#2 goal).

If you want the full version, continue on. This entry will cover my pre-race routine and the swim.

The night before the race I finished packing my special needs bags, laid out all of my morning clothes and swim gear, and got bottles/nutrition ready to be mixed. I ate a smallish dinner (probably huge by normal people standards), visited with friends and family for a short while, took half a Benadryl, played a game of cribbage with Mom (I won), and went to bed around 8pm.

Despite setting 3 alarms to go off between 3:15am and 3:30am, I woke up around 3am and couldn't go back to sleep. Since I'm not much of a morning eater, and I have a particularly difficult time eating before an event, I went right to work on my pre-race nutrition:
2 high-protein vanilla Ensure drinks
1 bike bottle GE
1/2 banana
2/3 vanilla power gel
lots of water
This is less than 1/2 of what I was supposed to consume, but if I puked, I would be even further behind. So I just went with it and figured I could catch back up on calories once I was on the bike.

Ken drove me to the race and parked in the US Airways garage, which was pretty close to the transition area. I dropped off special needs bags, put nutrition on the bike, and aired up the tires. Then stood in line multiple times for the porta-potties.
Side note: a gal asked to borrow my bike pump and since I don't want bad race juju, I let her take it. I finished lubing my chain, looked up, and she was having a dude help her with her tires...using a different pump. I walked over and asked for mine back and she just stared at me. I was like "um, you just borrowed it, what did you do with it? I would like to leave now and need it back." She didn't know what happened to it, so I asked her to help me find it. She just gave me a dirty look and walked away. She was a total bitch and, sorry, but I do hope that the karma gods took care of her. Thankfully a really nice gal, also named Sarah, saw my frustration and was able to locate it for me. Thank you!
I also got body-marked by my Mom and Debbie, which was awesome. Thanks Duane for the photos! Then it was finally time to start getting into the wetsuit. I found Jon and Tom, we got dressed, then filed through the "swim start" arch to activate the timing chips. The pro cannon sounded at 6:50am. 10 minutes before the age-group start.
Ken took this pic of the swim course from up on the Mill Ave bridge. The turnaround is a little ways past the bridge that you can barely see in the distance at the end of the river/lake.
It was now our turn to jump off the dock into the water. I did a cannon-ball of course. :-) Then swam about 150 meters, directly in front of the Mill Ave bridge, about 25 meters behind the start line. This was by far one of the coolest parts of the entire day. I treaded water and did slow circles taking in the view around me. Thousands of people in the water, thousands of people on the bridge above us and the river edge next to us. Helicopters flying over head. Mike Reilly on the microphone telling us "today, I WILL see you at the finish line, and you WILL do this." The national anthem was played. I covered my heart with my hand under the water and sang along silently. Reminded myself to BREATHE. The cannon sounded for the second time, and we all slowly started moving forward.
The start of the race was so much more mellow than I anticipated. I had clear water for about 500 meters. It started to get congested, but not any worse than previous races. Time was flying by and soon I was near the Rural Rd bridge. As we neared the turnaround on the other side of the bridge, I found myself much closer to the buoy line than I wanted to be. It started to get VERY crowded. My hands made contact with someone every other stroke. My legs were getting pulled down, I got groped multiple times, and my head kept getting dunked. One person even pushed off my shoulder to move forward. But somehow I got through both turns and was headed back to Mill Ave.

This is where things went from "yeah, this is awesome!" to "holy hell, just get me out of this damn water!" I could not get into clear water no matter how much I zigged to the right or zagged to the left. I was smack dab in the middle of about a dozen big dudes. One who could not sight without doing the breast stroke. I took his size 13 foot smack in the gut. The air was pushed out of my lungs just as someone else pushed my head under water. Air! I need air! I got my head up and was promptly kicked in the goggles so hard that I was sure that my eyeball was going to pop out of the socket. I looked up at a kayaker and briefly thought about swimming over and hanging on. But then I took an elbow to the jaw which knocked me silly for a few seconds and I forgot all about the kayak. Even as I write this 3 days later, I have a bruise and bump on the side of my face. With about 1000m to go, it started to open up again and I had mostly clear water until the take out. I was able to enjoy myself again and go through my mental checklist for T1.

Swim time = 1:25:37 (2:15/100m pace)

I swam up to the stairs on the edge of the lake, was hoisted up by my armpits by an awesome volunteer, started running up the steps....and promptly face planted back onto them. Someone lifted me back up, someone else unzipped my wetsuit, and I ran to the wetsuit strippers. Was pushed onto the ground, my suit yanked off, was pulled back up, and pushed towards transition before I even knew what was happening. So much fun!
Next up: LONGEST TRANSITION ROUTE EVER. As I ran along the pathway towards the transition bag field (yes, field), I called out my race number but arrived at my bag before a volunteer did. Then ran to the change tent and saw how crowded it was, and decided to put my shoes and helmet on outside. A volunteer packed up my stuff and I ran through the tent (naked boobies and butts everywhere!) to the sunscreen volunteers, ran to my bike (again I got there before the volunteer did), ran to the bike exit, passed the mount line, and climbed onto the bike just as I spotted my Mom and Debbie cheering about 10 feet away. Alrighty, 2.4 miles down, 138.2 more to go.
T1 time = 5:47

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I Am An Ironman

It was an amazing journey to even get to the starting line. Getting to the finish line was like the cherry on top. Training for this thing really was fun and life changing. I made new friends and became closer to those that I already knew. I saw the most beautiful places from the saddle of my bike and during the solitude of those long solo runs. I realized what an amazing group of people I am surrounded by, and I found out what I'm made of.

There was also the other side...the early mornings almost every day for 3 months when all I wanted to do was pull the covers over my head, the throbbing muscles and broken will that brought me to tears more often that I would like to admit, missing time with friends and husband because I was all-consumed by Ironman. But it's true what they say. The finishers chute makes it all worth it.

After a long season of training, followed by an even longer day of racing, I saw mile marker 25 and knew it was only 1.2 miles away. I could hear the music from the finish line, the people cheering in the stands, and Mike Reilly announcing the finishers. Then I came to the split on the course -- "1st and 2nd loops go right, finishers go left". I finally got to go left. You turn and wind through an empty parking lot. Then spectators start to appear. I saw Jon and Tom and stopped to give them big hugs and exchange congratulations. Then the final left turn. It was sensory overload...the insanely bright lights, the roar of the crowd, and the feeling that everyone in the world is looking at you. I got to see my friends and family and give them all high-fives. The finishing arch kept getting closer, but really, I wanted to stay in that chute forever. I crossed the timing mat, put my arms up, and heard the voice of Ironman finally say my name. I am an IRONMAN!

I can't thank everyone enough for all of your support, the overwhelming amount of messages, and all of the understanding from you. When we get back home, I'll sit down and write a proper race report and post more photos. But right now, I get to go enjoy an awsome vacation with my husband. Finally!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

One more quick post...

Check my blog (in the upper right hand corner) or my newly-created Twitter account (@SarahIMAZ) for race-day updates from my friends and family tomorrow.

Ironman Eve

I woke up this morning, packed my gear bags, and headed out for my last training run of the season. 15 whole minutes. It finally felt smooth and fluid. A huge relief after yesterday's struggle to do 2 miles. Then I rode the bike down to the expo to check in my bike and drop of T1 and T2 bags. It took a lot of restraint to not go barreling down Rio Salado for miles and miles and miles. The one thing that I am looking forward to most tomorrow (aside from the finish line and Mike Reilly's voice) is getting on my bike for all of those hours. I miss it! We did one more quick pass through the merchandise tent (still haven't purchased any IMAZ gear), and now I'm back at home. Topping off the fuel tanks and kicking my feet up. Maybe some lounging by the pool. I have a bit more bag packing to do, then an early dinner, and a really early bedtime.

If the 140.6 miles isn't intimidating enough for you, the bags and drop-offs and lines will certainly put you over the edge.
I think I'm holding it together pretty well. The only near-panic of the day was when I looked down at my watch during the run and saw "Tomorrow IMAZ". So I started my mantra of the day...BREATHE.Here's me in the transition area, making friends with other nervous peeps."Really? I have to put my bag way over there? And then this other bag goes way over there? And then I walk this way over to there and then through that thing and then back around. Okay, what?"Whew, done!
I'm signing off now until Monday sometime. When I really hope that I've crossed this line and I can tell you all that "I am an Ironman".

Friday, November 20, 2009


Another fun day! Practice swim again this morning. With the sleeveless this time. It's faster, but colder. The full-sleeve bunches up in the back...not sure why I didn't figure this out sooner. It causes enough drag that it's a noticeable time difference compared to the sleeveless. I'll make a game time decision in the morning.
We checked out where my bike will be racked.
We did some more expo shopping with my Mom and Debbie...the shopping list keeps growing. :-) Later on I went for a short run. It sorta sucked, so that wasn't very inspiring. Just getting the kinks out I guess. Then it was on to the athlete welcome dinner. Awesome! Mike Reilly is hilarious, the oldest/youngest competitors were introduced (the oldest man is so freakin darling), all of us first timers got to stand up, then the biggest loser competition was held. I got to stand through 50 pounds...the winner has lost 110 pounds! Wow!
The mandatory briefing was a total waste of time. And verrrrry cold. All you spectators, make sure to bundle up for the evening. An hour later (and 2 cups of hot cocoa) and I'm still chilled.

Tomorrow is a 15min run, 15min bike, check in the bike, check in the transition bags. Then sit in the condo with my feet up and try to r.e.l.a.x.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Long day. I don't know where the hours go at these things, but they FLY by. I hope the finish line appears just as quickly on race day.

Today, we did the practice swim...
...and I got to meet some of my cyber friends too! Here's my "2 thumbs up to not very cold water".
...We looked at the very expansive, and currently empty, bike setup area...
...We checked out the merchandise tent. But I'm not buying anything before the race because I'm superstitious like that. We made a digital shopping list so that the support crew can get stuff while I'm running...
...Jon and I drove the bike course. And then biked about 16 miles of the "hilly" section. I only WISH that all hills were this UNhilly. No pictures from that though. Then we did athlete check-in...
...Apparently we do silly poses for the camera too. Lots of peaking energy right now!...
And now we're waiting for the girls to arrive so that I can dig into the girls birthday cake. Yes, my appetite is still TTTTTTTTTTHHHHHHHHHHHIIIIIIIISSSSSSSSSS big.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

We're here! We, meaning Kristin and I. The rest of the girls arrive tomorrow, The Hubs on Friday, and Lorin on Saturday. Friends who are staying elsewhere filter in starting tomorrow.

We left Portland around 6am on Tuesday morning. 16 hours later we were in Los Angeles. The drive was pretty uneventful...lots of potty breaks (we are well hydrated), a lunch stop in Weed, and crummy weather until central California. Driving through LA was scary, so I slept and K finished up the drive.

Here she is in the very over-packed car. She only has like 1 bag in there.

And me, happy to get out of crazy over-populated SoCal.

We got back to it around 6:30 this morning, and arrived in Tempe just after noon. Checked into the condo (it's awesome!), got pedicures (even more awesome!), and prepped the bike for the ride tomorrow. It's ridiculously beautiful. Now, instead of unpacking, I have assumed this position:

--Practice swim in Tempe Town Lake
--Drive the bike course, ride for 1 hour on the Beeline
--Athlete check-in. Which also means athlete weigh-in. Ugh.
--Mom & Debbie arrive. Birthday dinner for all the ladies.
--Resume position. :-)