Ironman Arizona 2008 – Mike R.
2008 Ironman Arizona
Leading into this race, I was feeling well rested and motivated. I knew my fitness level wasn’t anything near what it has been in the past, but I had to do the best with what I had. My goal was to beat my best time of 10:30 – and in order to do that my goals were to swim 58:00 / bike 5:40 / Run 3:35 – my training was telling me this was possible – at least in the 40 degree temps I was training in. ?
I had a challenging winter to say the least. Many people told me that training for an Ironman with a newborn would be tough with regard to sleep and recovery. Honestly, that was the least of my concerns. Hope sleeps like a Champ and Melanie was very supportive of my training. In order to make sure I was doing everything I could to hit the Start line ready, I did some blood testing in early December and learned that I was deficient in a number of key vitamins, including B6 and B12. Once I started taking these vitamins on a daily basis, I was sleeping much better and dare I say that I was sleeping more than I ever have, even with a 4 month old.
I went out to CA in early February for some training and had a great 3 days of training. My running was strong and I was cycling well too. On the next to last day of the training camp I woke up with the chills and I knew I was coming down with something. I ended up with the flu and I was bed ridden for 6 days and I lost 8 pounds. It took me another two weeks to get up to speed again and I was headed to AZ for training camp with the guys from D3 – we had a great week and put in about 30 hours of solid training. Everything was going well going into my last three weeks of training.
On my last long ride I was about two hours from home and I was struck by a car – an older woman turned directly into my path of travel. She hit me with her front bumper right in the middle of my bike frame, just missing my left leg. I was happy to have walked away from the crash, but my bike didn’t. I had some road rash and some deep bruising but all in all I was ok, thankfully. At first I though I had broken my ankle but it turns out that it was only some bruising and swelling and it was fine in 4-5 days. The last few weeks before the race were spent trying to get my other bike ready to race and getting my legs healed up.
Swim: The first ten minutes or so were tough, then I found a nice rhythm and hit the turn around feeling good. My swimming has been going well for the last six months and I even did a few practice swims in the wetsuit in the pool that had me around 55:00 for 4000 yards. I was expecting something around 58:00. On the way back to the finish the course had a slight bow shape to it, but I decided to swim straight back along the wall. I could see a large pack of swimmers off to my left and I knew we’d meet at the last turn buoy together. We did and I knew I had saved myself some time and aggravation by not swimming in the pack.
I exited in 1:01:30, and moved through T1 quickly – my legs felt great on the run into the tent and that’s usually a great sign for me. I hopped on my bike and I was off. Right away I could feel the wind – and it was directly in our faces. For the next 18 miles I knew we’d be riding right into it. I was going off of heart rate and RPE since I didn’t have a power meter on my bike due to the bike accident. At around mile 15, I flatted. I didn’t panic and knew a quick change would take me less than 2 minutes. I had my old tire off, the new one on, but the CO2 didn’t disperse any air. I tried my second CO2 and I couldn’t get any air into the tire for some reason. This time I realized that the valve was closed. So, I was out of CO2s and my first thought was ‘Race Over’ – but I thought what it took to get TO the Start line and decided to walk to the next aid station (2 miles) and get a pump from a volunteer there. Even if the bike took me 7 hours riding on a rim, I was going to get to the Finish line. ? As I was walking, one of my athletes pulled over and gave me one of his CO2s – thanks DP – you saved my race! I had the tire inflated in no time and I was off – 16 minutes after I got the flat, but I decided I was still going to have a good race. I rode the rest of the lap too hard – around 1:42 minus the flat, and that caught up with me later on (that’s a 5:08 pace for 112 miles – a bit harder than I should have gone!). The second lap was a little tougher into the wind, but I kept the HR in control on the way out and used the wind to help me get back on the return leg. On the last lap the wind died down, but I was starting to fade just a tad and with the heat rising it was tough to get any calories down. I did the best I could to settle my stomach with some flat coke but even with that being boiling warm it wasn’t refreshing. Final bike time was 6:08 with the flat.
I hit T2 feeling good and my legs were ready to run. I left T2 at 7:15 into the race and knew with a good run I could still be under 11 hours. Now if this were a 5k I would have been in great shape, but having drilled that first lap of the bike after the flat caught up with me. I took off at 140 HR on the run, and my pace was just under 8:00 pace- and after 9 miles I was running 8:35 pace, still at 140 HR. The heat was catching up with me as the temps were well into the mid 90s (95-97F). At mile 11 I tried to convince myself to keep running, but somewhere, somehow my body won out over my mind. I spent the next 15 miles run/walking 14 minute miles. Once you start walking in the marathon, it’s very tough to get going again. My time goals were out the window and I honestly lost interest in running. The funny part is the running wasn’t even that hard. The hard part was to start running again after getting to an aid station. I eventually just focused on getting to the Finish line. I secretly was wishing that Melanie would hand off Hope to me and I could cross with her, but we hadn’t talked about it and I wasn’t sure she’d be there. When I hit the last turn before the finishing chute, Melanie stepped out of the crowd and handed me Hope. As long as I live I’ll never forget the smile on Hope’s face when she saw me. She lit up like a Christmas tree – and it made all the training, the struggles, and misfortunes all go away. I walked toward the finish line with Hope on my shoulders – she was ringing a cow bell and was laughing so hard at all the people who were cheering. It was an absolute blast! A few people came up to me after the race and told me they watched Melanie hand Hope off to me – and said both of our faces lit up and it was very special to watch that. So, my worst IM time ever, but probably my proudest IM in getting to the Start Line, the Finish Line and finishing with Hope. It was a great day all in all!
Click link below to see our finishing photo:
Mike at Ironman Arizona 2008.