Ironman Arizona 2011

It certainly feels good to end the year on a high note and knock a couple monkeys off my back. The running sub 3 hr monkey was obliterated with a 2:51 run, faster than the absolute best case scenario I was planning for.

Back up a second here.  To start, I really need to thank Heather. Since her 2 IM wins this year and her great season ending race in Kona last month, she’s really done everything she could to help me get ready for Ironman Arizona. Supporting me on long runs, throwing food in front of my face when I’m too tired to eat properly, doing chores while I was out on a long day, setting up my transition workouts, and most importantly just fueling my positive approach to this race. Also, a big thanks to my great sponsors who keep me moving fast and reaching for my potential every day: AVIA, Blue Competition Cycles, First Endurance Nutrition, Rolf Prima Wheels, CycleOps power, Aqua Sphere SwimUltrAspire Packs and Run Belts, Tifosi Optics, and Torhans Aero.

Also, I want to put a word in for Paulo Sousa, my coach. He came to our RV at IMAZ last year and did his best to convince Heather and I to join his newly formed squad. I had never met him before that time. It was quite simply, “stop wasting your time, I know what you need to do, let me show you how to do it.” It was a tough decision to join up with a new squad after starting with a new coach in 2010, but that decision has brought me to a new level this year thanks to his guidance and some great training partners. It’s a long term approach and this is truly just a start. Amazing what one full year of hard work can do. I can count the days I took off from training on one hand, and those took place in the days after Ironman Canada, or long travel days. Consistency at it’s best. Paulo pisses a lot of people off, me included, but he calls out bullshit when he sees it, regardless of how that affects him in the eyes of others. When it comes down to it, he’s a good guy to have on your side, even when you want to punch him in the face.

In the back group. Going the wrong direction.

On to the race.

This was one of the largest pro Ironman races I’ve ever seen. The start line felt rather chaotic, I really had no idea where to start, but somehow got slammed into the middle of the line -not a big fan of the middle. I really wanted to get myself out of the situation but with only about minute before the gun went off I didn’t want to risk getting caught behind a kayak or miss the gun altogether. One of the main reasons I prefer the side, ANY side, is that I can see what’s happening up ahead and where potential breaks are forming. The middle is just downright annoying, there really is nothing you can do except keep your head away from feet and flying arms, and hope a break doesn’t form just in front of you. For the first 1.2 miles out to the two far turn buoys it was all ok. I was swimming reasonably hard and happy to have rounded the far turns in a sizable group. With the final straight 1 mile swim back to the Mill Street bridge I was confident that this group would remain a group. Aaaaannnnnnd, not so much. Someone let a gap go a few swimmers in front of me and proceeded to swim all over the place. It really surprises me how some people simply do not know how to swim a straight line and site the most direct path. I mean, come on, why are you going left when the furthest buoy we have to round is clearly 50m to our right. Maybe I just have eagle eyesight, but it’s a 6 FOOT ORANGE TRIANGLE in the calmest water imaginable. Arrrrrgh!!! I won’t bother going in to further details on how needlessly far we swam. Maybe I’ll draw a diagram, words can’t explain the situation. I was torn between the draft, or cutting the most direct path. Ideally I wouldn’t have even been in that situation, but I messed up. No biggie, in the grand scheme of the day it’s maybe a minute or three at most so my best bet at that point was just to stay positive.

Ironman Arizona bike course is…how do you say this politely…far from enjoyable. It’s split into 3 out and back, 60 km laps, 2 of which are spent passing thousands of age group athletes. Early in lap 1 I ended up watching a couple guys ride away, simply because I was looking at power numbers that I wouldn’t be able to sustain. This put me in a group of 8 or so, riding in 25th or 30th on the road. Yikes. That first lap I was hoping to simply ride my planned power output and get rid of a few guys in the group. Hats off to Olly Piggin who wasn’t afraid to get upfront and put the work in as well. By lap two I could see my efforts, and Olly’s, were only serving those in back so I had to make the call to play the game and move back a bit.  It was maddening to see how much drafting was going on. I’d love just call out a few names here, but really it’s not going to do any good. It’s very frustrating to ride in a group, it goes from surges of up to 400 watts, then down to 150 watts in order to stay out of the draft zone. Up, down, up, down. Nearing the end of lap 2, with about 75 km to go in the ride, I had enough and decided to take a risk with my day to try and ditch the group. Rounding one of the corners and through an aid station I dropped the hammer and rode well above my power cap for a good 10 minutes. Definitely not in my pre race plan. Happily, it felt SOOOO good to do this. My legs opened up and I finally felt like I was racing. My mindset changed, the day was on! My last lap was great, nobody around me, picking off guys that had ridden too hard to start, weaving in and out of age groupers, dodging the ever present Orange Cone. Good stuff. Finally having some fun. I did indeed start to fade in the last 15 km, but not so badly that you could call it a crack. An honest fatigue from a good ride.

Now to the run, where I really went outside myself and got well sub-3 with a 2:51. It’s hard to tell you how happy I am to have run well here. Every Ironman I’ve started in the past few years I’ve had this looming fear of walking the end of the marathon. To nail it is a huge boost and one I won’t forget how to do in future races. My pre race plan was to run nothing slower than 7:00 min/mile and nothing faster than 6:40/mile. Just be conservative and have something left in the tank to push the final lap and make my goal time of under 3 hrs. Well, I pretty much threw that plan out the window by mile 3. I’m very certain that the mile markers for miles 1, 2, and 3 were in slightly the wrong spot. I was lapping my watch at the markers, looking at it now they say: 6:04, 7:04, 5:33. I know my pace didn’t change that much so figured the 3 mile avg of 6:15 was an accurate guesstimate. WAY faster than I thought I should be running. Then and there I just said to myself, ‘screw it, bank as many sub 6:30’s as you can, this isn’t hurting too badly’. Crazy enough, they were almost ALL sub 6:30. I just never slowed down, going through the half way point in 1:22:10. Only in the last 4 miles, when I stopped taking splits and just ran my best for the finish were they more than likely edging closer to 7min/mile. It really is a different experience to run that hard in an Ironman. Nothing is ever on cruise control, it’s always trying to accelerate out of the 4 U-turns per lap, letting it fly downhill, leaping up and down curbs (lots of sidewalk action on this course), constantly pushing. Damn it felt good. It hurt physically, but mentally it felt so good to be ABLE to run like that and have confidence I could sustain it. Into the finish with an 8:22 and a 9th place. 9th place on a day like that kinda hurts, but I was inside the top ten in a field of great athletes so I do have to be happy.


UltrAspire Run Belt. Magnetic bottle and magnetic water proof pouch in back. 2nd water proof pouch up front with gel flask holder.

A large part of the day was indeed great training. My best ironman run prior to this was a 3:04, and I can honestly say a years worth of running as much as I’ve been running, can indeed knock 13 minutes off my run time. I also had the most ideal 3 months since that disaster run at Ironman Canada, and was very confident the fitness was even better than it was at that time. But when it comes down to it, shaving 30 minutes off off a run time (3:20 at IMC) is not just good training or being in the right place mentally. I made some changes to my nutrition plan that left me energized and mentally ‘with it’ enough to run well. Below is what I did…

Morning Breakfast:

-Gluten free, blueberry pancakes with cinnamon honey, almond butter, maple syrup (ya, my wife got up at 4:15 and made me pancakes in our RV 🙂
-Bottle of Ultragen
-I had some major pre-race nerves for this one so was happy to put down 3 pancakes.

Pre Swim:

-150 calories of liquid shot and water 20min before start.

On the bike:

-Plan of 400 calories per hour, at least. That’s one 400 calorie bottle per hour minimum.
-Started the day with 3 x 24 oz bottles with 400 calories (200 EFS drink and 200 CarboPro to keep the sweetness down)
-2 x Liquid Shot flasks of 400 calories in my back pockets. Consumed 700 calories of these.
-1 x single serve gel in the last 5 minutes. Probably got in about 75 cal from that.
-4 or 5 on course waters (~750ml each)…was not a hot day, and I peed 4 times as it was.

On the run:

-Water in my UltrApsire run belt that I refilled at aid stations. Sometimes I would put a bit of on course energy drink in there just for a bit of flavor change.
-2 x liquid shot flasks of 400 calories each. Went through the first 400 calories by mile 11. Picked up my second flask at special needs and finished that by mile 22. Drank water at the aid stations when I wasn’t filling my belt flask.
-Took a salt pill every few miles. Again, wasn’t a hot day so didn’t feel the need to overdo these. Though, some people said it was hot out there. I didn’t feel it.
-Had a TUMS at mile 11 and mile 19. Those taste GOOD!!
-Coke in the last 3 miles. This stuff is evil in an ironman. If you’re having gut issues and wondering why…try staying off of coke. Works really well for me in an half, but it really messes me up on a long day. 3 minutes after my first sip of coke I was having some stomach gurgles.

Props to Michael Lovato and Robert Kunz for a couple suggestions with my nutrition plan. On the First Endurance panel in Kona, Michael talked about how he needs to have an easy way to keep track of calories going down. This lit a bit of a bulb in my thick skull and realized that I am indeed not ‘with it’ enough during a race to keep track of one 1200 calorie bottle.

Now it’s time to relax and not think about what I have to do tomorrow. Ahhhhhhhhh.

~ by trevorandheather on November 21, 2011.

11 Responses to “Ironman Arizona 2011”

  1. 2:51..nuff said.

  2. Amazing stuff Trevor, it’s great to hear your enthusiasm and stoke in your writing. You really figured out your nutrition and energy plan, had a solid training base and awesome support to make for a perfect day. i’m so happy for you and sooooo look forward to what will come in the following years. Lots of love.

  3. Great race report Trevor, great race!

  4. Amazing race Trev! Congrats on your sub. 3 hour run… goal met! 🙂

  5. Enjoyed reading your recap. Nice job Trevor!

  6. Congrats Trev on a fine performance in the desert!
    I can indeed confirm that Trevor pulled the ‘hammer’ out on the bike course, then continued to nail the rest of the day like a true pro.

  7. Congrats on a fantastic race! ‘Bout time… Way to go. Are you the fastest Canadian IM now? and this was priceless: “he’s a good guy to have on your side, even when you want to punch him in the face.” Enjoy the off season!

    • Christine- Definitely not Canada’s fastest Ironman…yet:) Peter Reid has had a sub 8hr race in Europe. Tom Evans has been close to 8hrs at IM Florida. Probably others, too(Jasper maybe, Wolfgang maybe)…and I’d take a win in 8:35 over a 9th (8th now because of cheater?) in 8:22 any day.

  8. Fantastick race, homeskillet. Congrats on going sub-3. The only thing I have managed to keep sub3 on a consistent basis is my blood alcohol level.

  9. That marathon time is huge! Nice job!

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