25 In ironman arizona/ race report/ triathlon

race report // ironman arizona

Keep fighting.

This sign – held by a woman at mile 10-ish of the marathon – sums up my IRONMAN Arizona. I fought so damn hard all day long, but punching that second trip to Kona just wasn’t meant to be this past Sunday. Was there a smidge of disappointment? Of course. But, there were plenty of lessons learned, and it was a solid day building some serious mental fitness. Onward to the offseason – of dreaming and scheming!

Swim // 1:09:15

Overall, the swim wasn’t that pleasant – or, perhaps I’m biased coming off Kona’s clear turquoise water!

I skipped Saturday’s practice swim because I didn’t want to know what I was jumping into: a dark, icy “lake” (who knew, this being Arizona and all!). The second my feet hit the bottom step into Tempe Town Lake Sunday morning… zing! It didn’t quite take my breath away, but, wow, it was freezing. I didn’t warm up until about 400 yards in and that was only because I peed in my wetsuit.

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We started in the dark – at 6:50a – so sighting was hard until the sun came up, and even then, it still wasn’t great. My plan was to swim near the wall (on the right) until the bend, but because I couldn’t tell where I was, I ended up swimming just inside the buoys (with clear water) nearly the entire 2.4 miles.

I never really felt like I found a groove and instead focused on a getting to the next buoy… and the next… and the next… until I finally reached the final turn buoy. The choppy back stretch felt long – am I even moving forward?! – so I knew I wasn’t setting any PRs, even in a wetsuit. Maybe I need to stick to salty ocean swims?!

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Gear: ROKA Sports maverick pro wetsuit + X1 goggles in jade mirror, and Coeur Sports one-piece kit + little black sports bra.

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Bike // 5:12:36

My bike strategy was to tuck into aero and fly on the Beeline. I felt great at the get-go, and I made sure to keep drinking as I made my way out to the first turn around, straight into the wind. OK, I can handle this, especially after Kona, I thought. After I flipped, I realized just how strong the wind was because the descent back into Tempe was stupid fast. Like barely pushing 150w and going 35mph fast. I’m a descender – my favorite! – so used it to my advantage and hammered the pedals.

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The wind started to wear on me about halfway through the second loop. I watched my power slowly start to fall, and no matter how many times I told my legs to move, they just wouldn’t hold the watts my brain was telling them to. Nevertheless, I kept fighting and moving forward toward the turnaround as fast as I could, ready to make up more time on the screaming descent. (Highlight of the second loop: Seeing friend Krista and her two pups – one a baby vizsla! – at the turnaround!)

After some cheers from my tribe at the Rio Salado + Mill turnaround in town – THANK YOU for being everywhere on the course when I least expected it and needed it the most! – I gave myself a little pep talk to gear up for the third loop. Last one… keep Emily in view… you’ll be done in less than two hours… think of the reward, that descent, at the end!… you can do this… you don’t get to give up!

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The last out was tough, and about halfway through, Emily took off, and I knew she’d crush the rest of the race (she later took the overall amateur win… boom!). I fought hard, got out of aero probably more than I should have and just kept hammering as best I could to try reach my bike time goal. At mile 100, I knew it would be close, so I hit it as hard as I could through the final turns through town (and felt oddly discombobulated). I rolled into T2 two minutes shy of my goal, but pretty freaking pumped to have biked a 5:12 – the fifth fastest in my AG! To be honest, I haven’t been super happy with my cycling the last few months – it’s just felt flat – so this was a big confidence boost that yes, it’s there and that if I would have held my target watts…! Still lots of work to do, though :)

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That said, I’m not a fan of this bike course. It’s flat and boring, and there’s too much drafting. Lesson learned: Pick a course that plays to my strengths (climbing FTW!). 

Gear: Argon 18 E-119 TRI+, Quarq Elsa RS, CeramicSpeed UFO chain, Giro Aerohead helmet, Sidi T3 shoes, Coeur Sports one-piece kit + little black sports bra. 

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Run // 3:50:18

As soon as I got off the bike, I knew the run would be tough. As I tried to lift my right leg over my bike saddle, a searing pain shot through my groin – something that’s never happened after biking (later found out my seat was too low, so guessing that’s the culprit). I hoped it was just tight from being in aero for so long, so I tried to walk it off into the change tent. I sat, caught my breath and got my bearings (I was kinda dizzy) before hobbling out to run. After a mile or so, it loosened up a bit, and to my surprise, holding 8:40s felt doable. A quick stop in the porta-potty at mile two – the Coeur one-piece was an easy on + off! – and I was on my way to see what I could hold for the next 24.

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Overall, I never really felt good the entire run – but then again, does anyone ever feel great during an IM marathon? I dug deeper than I ever have and fought hard for every single mile. There were tears several times and more than once I thought about how nice it would have been to just walk and how much better I’d feel physically post-race if I did.

But, that’s not me.

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After a particularly low point around mile 16 when Nick walked with me for a short stretch, I put on my big girl pants, sucked it up and started running. Yes, it hurt like hell (especially my right hip + left quad), and I wanted to be done. But, I also wanted to give my best – because giving anything less isn’t me. With two miles to go, Coeur teammate Amy slapped my ass and told me to hustle and catch Robin. So, in true erin fashion, I dropped the pace and ran my fastest two miles of the day. I fought ‘til the end, but came up a minute short of fourth and 2.5 minutes from Robin in third. (If only I’d had one more mile or picked up the pace a smidge earlier… I know for sure I could have caught both of them.) 

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Getting a pep talk from Coeur teammate, Amy.

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I’m trying not to think of the what-ifs because that gets you nowhere, but they’re still there. Could I have found feet on the swim? Were there more watts in my legs? Could I have dug deeper earlier in the marathon? In the middle – and the end – of the marathon? All likely answered with yes, but it’s over and done, and I’m ok with my race – especially six short weeks after Kona.

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Ironman aftermath.

Any day on an IM podium – especially with my Coeur Sports teammates – is a good day. 

Onward!

But first, a much needed and well deserved off-season…

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35-39 AG podium!

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Coeur teammates and speedy ladies, Kristin and Hailey.

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Recovering with an açai bowl (obviously) and still dreaming of Kona…

Gear: Coeur Sports one-piece kit + little black sports bra, HOKA One One Clifton 2s + Kona trucker hat, and Feetures no show tab socks.

Official time: a shiny new PR of 10:19:01!

Thank yous!

First, thank you, body, for powering me through a long year (on a TrainingPeaks schedule since last November 1!) healthy and happy! 

And, I’m a lucky lady to have such incredible people in my corner – you all know who you are – and I have so much gratitude for everything they’ve done to support me on this journey. High-fives and hugs to you all ♥

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My number one ♥ He gets all the photo credit, too!

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Coach Andy and friends Nick + Danielle hard at work figuring out AG placement with a time trial start. That may have been more work than actually racing!

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25 Comments

  • Reply
    Elizabeth Trudel
    11/25/2016 at 10:57 am

    Amazing work Erin :) I want to be like you when I grow up :P

    • Reply
      erin
      12/04/2016 at 11:53 am

      Ha! Keep working hard and never give up! :) Thanks so much, Elizabeth!

  • Reply
    whistlercup
    11/25/2016 at 12:35 pm

    Oh my… it’s like you summed up my race 100% from last year. Nice work out there, proud of you!

    • Reply
      erin
      12/04/2016 at 11:54 am

      It’s a tough one, right?! Thanks so much! Any races on your calendar?!

  • Reply
    SimplyAmyLynn
    11/25/2016 at 2:35 pm

    Well done! I can’t believe how awesome you did just coming off of Kona. You are tough as nails–a true inspirational athlete!

    • Reply
      erin
      12/04/2016 at 11:55 am

      Ah, thank you so much, Amy! I love seeing you finding some bike love :)

  • Reply
    Kersti
    11/25/2016 at 3:39 pm

    You rock!!!!! Yeah!!! And you always make it look like so much fun. Maybe someday…. :)

    • Reply
      erin
      12/04/2016 at 11:56 am

      Someday is NOW! :) Do it! Cheering for you! Thanks so much, Kersti!

  • Reply
    Valerie M
    11/25/2016 at 9:12 pm

    Congrats on that shiny new PR! You are an Ironman – many times over!

    • Reply
      erin
      12/04/2016 at 11:57 am

      Thank you so much for all your support and cheers, Valerie! :)

  • Reply
    Kecia
    11/26/2016 at 10:02 am

    It has been so much fun chasing you around IMWC and IMAZ!! Congratulations on another outstanding race with a PR to boot…so awesome!! Proud of you lady!!

    • Reply
      erin
      12/04/2016 at 11:58 am

      Thanks so much for all your cheers, Kecia! It was such a fun year! And, now, thoroughly enjoying the offseason :)

  • Reply
    Kristina
    11/26/2016 at 10:09 am

    Sounds like you did ‘dig deep’, and considering that you are six weeks out from Kona, that’s amazing (to me!). Enjoy your much-deserved off-season as you plot what’s next.

    • Reply
      erin
      12/04/2016 at 11:59 am

      Dug SO deep… oof. Thanks so much, Kristina! Thoroughly enjoying it – and, doing lots of scheming! :) What’s next for you?!

  • Reply
    Leslie @ TriathleteTreats
    11/26/2016 at 11:11 pm

    Congrats!! What a race! I am sure you were just flat from just racing in Kona!! You will punch your ticket again, no doubt! A PR and a 5th place finish isn’t too bad either!!

    • Reply
      erin
      12/04/2016 at 12:01 pm

      Yeah, that short turnaround definitely had something to do with it. It’s hard to dig that deep in back-to-back tough races! Thanks so much, Leslie! Hope you’re well!

  • Reply
    Eri
    11/28/2016 at 12:46 pm

    Congratulations!!!! I’m still feeling all the excitement from your post from Kona- and now reading this got my heart pumping!
    You have a wonderful team for support :)

    • Reply
      erin
      12/04/2016 at 12:02 pm

      So lucky to have such an amazing support team! Definitely couldn’t race without them :) Thanks so much, Eri!

  • Reply
    therightfits
    11/29/2016 at 10:26 am

    Congratulations Erin on your new PR! How does that work for Ironman’s- is it apples to apples between races? My friend did one where the swim was shortened due to the ocean being too dangerous…does someone have to try to figure out their time had it been the full distance?

    I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t get into Kona again but I’m sure you will- you’re an inspiration! Enjoy a little R&R now. Let me know if you want to meet for an easy run sometime, maybe you, me and Nordica could do a Sunday run on the river!

    • Reply
      erin
      12/04/2016 at 12:08 pm

      That’s a really good question. I’m not sure how that works if one of the disciplines is shortened… maybe there’s an asterisk next to the result?! But, across the full distance, a PR is a PR, regardless of the course. However, it’s a tough comparison given they’re so different. For example, IMWI’s bike has about 6,500 feet of climbing, while IMAZ has about 2,100 feet. Wisco is definitely harder! Though riding in aero for 112 miles is tough, too!

      Thanks so much for your support and cheers, Jessie! I’d love to meet for a run (and coffee!) once I’m running again (likely January)!

      • Reply
        therightfits
        12/04/2016 at 12:56 pm

        Sounds great! I’m still fighting off a terrible virus but hoping to be healthy soon. (Sound Probiotics are fantastic but germs are strong…)

  • Reply
    Candice
    12/11/2016 at 7:52 am

    Your race smiles make me smile! Erin, there is pure joy written across your face throughout this race. Keep kicking ass!

  • Reply
    Dondie Sichon
    06/14/2017 at 4:15 pm

    Hey Erin,

    How the did 808’s do on the bike course? Thanks! Awesome finish! Congrats on the PR.

    • Reply
      erin
      06/15/2017 at 7:58 am

      Hi, Dondie! Thank you! The 808s were great for AZ! A lot of people even use a rear disc of that race with an 808 in the front. Are you racing it this year? Hope your training’s going well!

      • Reply
        Dondie Sichon
        06/15/2017 at 10:30 am

        Good to hear! I’ve never ridden anything deeper than 404s. But found a really good deal on a pair of 808s. So I took a chance. Anyway, yes I am racing this year. It would be my first full IM (I have done 3 70.3’s, 1 Olympic and 2 sprints). I am super excited and training seems to go really well. By the way, I’ve been reading a lot of race reports/blogs and yours is the most fun to read. Just love your energy!

    your thoughts…

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