Ironman Arizona Race Report Part I


We arrived in Phoenix the Thursday before the race (which was a Sunday). Since we got there early afternoon, I went to check in at registration and lucked out because there was no line. Right away Jason and I noticed that athletes were walking around with their race numbers on already, along with their ages on their calves. Hmm, triathletes never cease to surprise me with their weirdness. At registration I was told you could get body numbered before the race, or in transition on race morning. I asked a fellow racer why anyone would get numbered beforehand, and he said "if you get numbered early they use a stencil, but race morning they only use a sharpie" and the look on his face told me that should explain everything, obviously. Uh huh. Another guy said he was getting it done early in case it comes off, so then he can get it done again. Right. I did find it amusing that the line for pre-body marking was really long, and athletes seemed ok standing around for up to an hour in the sun, just to get ink smeared all over them. Probably not the smartest thing to do pre-race.

Registration complete, souvenirs purchased, so we headed out to the Beeline (highway 87) so I could go for a ride. I wanted to get my legs moving after sitting on a plane all morning, and make sure everything with my bike was working. It was a super-calm afternoon, nice and warm with no air movement at all. Of course I got all excited thinking conditions for race day would be perfect. Ha ha on me! Anyway, I went for a spin up and down the Beeline while Jason hung out waiting. I really like the bike course, it is well-suited to the strengths I have cycling. I'm not a good climber but am content to pedal at a pretty steady effort for a long time.

Pre-riding on the Beeline.

Back at the condo, Kirsty and Heidi arrived so we hung out, unpacked, and visited. Friday didn't have anything on the daily program besides some pool time and the pre-race dinner. Candace arrived in time for that busy schedule, so once we were done lounging by the ice-cold pool (which would come in handy later but was kind of disappointing that afternoon), we headed to Tempe Town Lake for the dinner and pre-race meeting.

Dinner venue at Tempe Town Lake.

Saturday was the only day the race organizers had scheduled a practice swim, and swimming in the lake wasn't allowed any other time so Candace and I headed to the lake that morning. I got my wetsuit on and jumped in, and holy crap was the water cold. My feet and face were instantly frozen! Apparently the water temperature was 61 degrees F (16 C), which isn't the coldest water I've ever been in, but a bit of a shock when the air temperature is so warm. I didn't swim for too long, but mainly wanted to check out the swim exit as it seemed a bit of an issue.

The water level was lower than the stairs out; in fact the first step at the swim exit was just above the water line. That meant you couldn't step or even kneel onto the ramp at the end of your swim. I found the best thing to do was grab a few steps up and haul myself out of the water until I could get a knee on the bottom step. Not the most graceful manoeuvre, and I was wondering how that would go race morning when there would be dozens of swimmers all hitting the stairs at the same time.

Practice swim over, it was back out to the Beeline for another quick ride and then a run. Then check in the bike and gear bags, and back to the condo to relax (read: try not to freak out too much) and get some sleep before the really early wake-up call race morning.

Desert evening.

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