The race in Arizona was very tough. I knew the training going in hadn't been ideal but tried to stay positive and hope for the best. I had been dealing with some nagging injuries and overall fatigue that caused me to train much less for this race than for last year's. Jen and I flew in on Thursday night and met good friends Adam and Flannery in Arizona. We enjoyed spending time with them leading up to the race.
SWIM: I was very pleased with how the swim went. I had not put in the yardage that I had early in the year or the amount I did before last year's race. From the sound of the cannon I was swimming with people which sometimes has been difficult for me in the pro race. Nearly the entire swim I was either on someone's feet or had someone on my feet. I felt very comfortable and felt I was having a great swim throughout. I kept thinking I was going to be under 1 hour until I got out of the water and saw 1 hr. 3 minutes on the clock. I was okay with this. It was the same time I swam a year ago and I didn't feel nearly as prepared. I had a nice fall right after climbing the stairs upon my exit of Tempe Town Lake. Mike Reilly, the voice of Ironman made sure to point out to spectators that I had just wiped out when I went to step down on dry land.
BIKE: This is where my lack of training caught up to me. I was hoping for a good ride despite much less bike volume but it was clear early on I did not have the power I was hoping for. I had perfect opportunities with 3 great riders out of the water behind me. When each of them went by me I would up the effort to try to stay 10 meters back of them but with each one I was able to hang on for less and less time. I was cooking myself way to early on the 3 lap course. At one point I was riding back and forth with women's world champion Leanda Cave and I kept telling myself that she would break 9 hours so I was in a good spot. As it turned out she was having a rough day and I was leave her on the 2nd lap and ride solo for much of the remaining bike course. By the 3rd lap I was in a world of hurt and my speed had gone down considerably. I knew it was going to be a very painful day.
RUN: I had nothing early on in the run. I was struggling to run 7 minute miles and knew this was going to be a suffer fest. I doubted at times if I was going to finish the race. I began walking through aid stations by mile 6 and by mile 10 I was walking even more than the aid stations. My goal was to finish at this point but it seemed like forever away. It's a daunting feeling to know you have to run a marathon when things are going poorly from the first mile. I had a lot of trouble getting my knees up on my run and my stride was shorter than a 90 year old lady walking into Wal-Mart. It felt like an eternity but finally I could see the finish line and I was thrilled to cross it. I have finished 4 Ironman distance races now. 2 have gone really well and 2 really poorly. I have learned the bad days are 100x more difficult than the good ones. I was really glad I could finish this race. It was an enjoyable trip minus the last 5 hours of the race. Jen and I had a great time with Adam and Flannery. Adam finished in just over 9 hours so we will continue our quest to break the 9 hour barrier next year.
About 6 weeks before this race I was approached by our head varsity girls basketball coach about coaching our 9th grade girls team. I was really excited about the chance to get back into coaching. I knew the way my 2012 season went I would want to train less early in the year because I felt like I was in my best shape in April with no big races for a few more months. The coaching position seemed to make sense to me if they could work through the first 2 weeks with me while I finished up my triathlon season. They agreed and I've had a lot of fun coaching our freshman girls team. It has been a struggle to get them to bring intensity and hard work every day to practice and games. That has been my biggest challenge. When I decide to do something I tend to do it with 100% effort whether it's teaching, coaching, triathlons, being a father, husband, or playing "Go Fish" with our kids. I may be the only 9th grade girls coach around that goes and scouts other teams and watches film for hours. I do it because I want to feel prepared to the best of my abilities. Coaching this team has filled my competitive void while I've been on a break from training and racing. I have rarely even thought about the upcoming year. It's been a great break mentally and physically. I'm not sure why but I have not gained nearly as much weight as I normally do in my offseason. I'm still fitting into my "in season" jeans which has never happened within 2 weeks of my season being over. I weighed myself for the first time since the season ended a couple days ago and I had only gained 6 pounds. My plan is to start running and biking after January 1st. I will wait to begin swimming until basketball is over in early February. My excitement for 2013 is beginning to grow. I don't have a 100% race schedule yet but I know for certain I will race Rev3 Cedar Point for my peak race of the year. That company puts athletes first and I loved my first Rev3 experiece. That race will be in early September. I also know I don't want to begin training really hard until the end of February. I want to peak at the right time this year and go into my biggest races feeling my best rather than feeling like I'm holding on by a thread. I'd like to thank all the supporters and followers for keeping me motivated through the ups and downs of 2012 that had 4 race wins. Healthy Habits has been amazing at keeping my bike needs met. I really enjoyed my first year on the Specialized Shiv. Kaminski Pain and Performance Care has been there for me since the beginning of this journey and has kept me healthy for the past 2 years. I have not missed a workout or race due to an serious injury. Mike Eskridge is a massage therapist who has really helped keep me feeling fresh going into races when I begin to feel overtrained. GU Energy has been amazing at keeping me fueled for workouts and races. Xterra Wetsuits has always been my choice of wetsuit companies because they keep wetsuits affordable for people who want to give this healthy sport a try. My wife Jen has put up with my crazy training schedule while I attempt to balance all of life's demands with 100% effort. I'm so grateful to have her as a life partner.
Since my race nearly 5 weeks ago I've done sit-ups once, jumped rope twice, and done defensive slides with our team once. The lane slides made me really sore the next day. That has been the extent of my workouts over the past 5 weeks. My body feels really good. For the first time in nearly a year and a half I don't have any tightness in my left hamstring and nothing else hurts. I told Jen I feel like I have more bounce in my step and spring in my legs than I have in a long time. Soon I'll be back on the bike dreaming of big things in 2013. If you've never done a triathlon before think about making one a goal in 2013. The lifestyle approach to training is such a positive one. This journey has been great and it's not finished yet. I still have goals I want to accomplish in the sport before I relax back into age group racing. Thanks for reading. Have a GREAT holiday season and DREAM BIG in 2013.