12.One.20Ten – Another Journey Begins…

Two weeks ago, I travelled to Tempe, AZ to watch the 2010 Ironman Arizona race. My main reason for wanting to view this race was to get a better feel for an Ironman event. I was also able to cheer on the Mile High Multisport athletes who were racing on Nov 21st. Upon arriving at my hotel, I quickly changed clothes and went for a run on the IM AZ run course. Many view the IM AZ course as a bit dull for racers. I believe this is primarily due to the fact that you do 3 loops of ~ 37 miles on the bike (112 mi total) and 3 loops of ~ 8.7 miles on the run (26.2 mi total). I like this course set-up as you can “learn” the course as you race, monitor your splits from one lap to the next, and see spectators throughout. In theory, a spectator could stand in one spot near Tempe Town Lake and see you 2x on the swim (assuming they could pick you out of 3000 people in wetsuits), walk 200m to the Bike Course and see you 6x on the bike (you go out-n-back on the Rio Salado Parkway in Tempe), walk 200m back to Tempe Town Lake and see you 6 more times on the run as racers go out-n-back on the south side of the lake. That is not a lot of walking for a lot of spectating…and from a racer perspective, that is quite appealing to me. I draw energy from friends-n-family cheering.

So…I ran most of the run course and checked out the transition area as racers were setting up the bikes for the next day’s event. You could feel the nervous energy in the air. Some racers were hoping to use IM AZ to qualify for the Ironman World Championships in Kona (each IM race has a certain number of Kona slots available…these are divided amongst the age groups…the bigger the age group, the more Kona slots are allocated. My age group (Men 30 – 34) is typically a rather large one, so it generally has about 6 slots available…so the Top 6 finishers in the Men 30-34 division would earn a qualifying spot to Kona). Some racers were looking to set a Personal Record (PR) or Course Record (CR). Many racers were competing in their first Ironman. All were looking at going 140.6 miles.

Race morning (Sunday, Nov 21, 2010) was an early one for me as I wanted to get down to the swim area (Tempe Town Lake) and see the start. For many people (myself included), the mass swim start is one of the scariest parts of a triathlon. Most local triathlons use a wave start…so approximately 100 – 200 people start together. As you can imagine, this leads to lots of “contact” (some unintentional…some not, unfortunately) during the early stages of a swim. Nearly all Ironman races do not use a wave start…everyone starts at one time. 3000 athletes start their 140.6 mile journey at once. I had heard some horror stories of IM starts and I wanted to see how it would go in AZ. I watched a lot of nervous-n-focused racers get last minute hugs from their family & friends before jumping in the lake. At 6:50am the pros were off…and then the 3000 racers lined up behind the row of start buoys (and kayaks). It was pretty crazy looking. As the race director was giving last minute instructions, the speakers started blaring Black Sabbath’s ‘I am Ironman’ and the feeling was electric (boogie woogie woogie) !! The cannon went off and there went 3000 people on their Ironman journey.

2010 IM AZ - Just Prior To Start

2010 IM AZ - Just Prior To Start

2010 IM AZ Start

2010 IM AZ Start

I spent most of the day watch-n-cheering for the athletes as they swam, biked and ran. I was with several Mile High Multisport coaches and we took a lunch and dinner break (and the racers continued…). As some of the MHM racers approached the finish line, we went to the stands near the finish and watched as the racers got to hear “Joe Wilson…YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!!” as they crossed the line. Very cool…very emotional. I have some idea of what these athletes did during the months leading up to the race….4 to 7 miles of swimming, 100 – 200 miles of biking and 30 – 50 miles of running…each week! (at least that is what the athletes reported at Kona). The focus & drive required to dedicate yourself to this goal is intense. These people were realizing the fruits of their labor (lots & lots of labor). It was really neat to witness.

The next a.m. I awoke early (again), went for another run on the IM AZ run course and then at 6:45am got in line to register for the 2011 Ironman Arizona event. I had been considering doing an IM for quite some time and now I was about to pay $600 and make it official. I reflected on how several years ago, when I was “just” a marathoner, I could not fathom swimming 2.4mi, biking 112mi and then running a marathon. I stood in line for more than three (3) hours and chatted with several other prospective IM athletes…two (2) guys near me (both in line and in age) were local to the Phoenix area and we chatted about our athletic backgrounds and why we decided to do this race. At 10am, I was registered for the race. In one year I hope to be at the start line (and 140.6 miles later…the finish) of the Ironman Arizona event.

This journey is just beginning. I have lots of training to do between now and November 20, 2011. I am sure some days will go well and others not so much. Some workouts will be easy-breezy and some quite tough. I am both excited & nervous for the challenge. I hope to find out more about myself (physically & mentally) along the way.

Here we go…

Max Spradley - 2010.12.01

Max Spradley - 2010.12.01

Initial Stats.

Weight: 173.5
Body Fat: 12.5 %

1000 yd TT (2010.12.01): 16:00.4
T-Pace: 1:36

20min TT (2010.11.27)
LT HR: 147
FTPw: 290*

30min TT (2010.08.17)
LT HR: 163
LT Pace: 6:35ppm

*Estimate as data was lost during CompuTrainer “save”. I was watching it during my TT and believe it was ~290 with a few minutes to go.


One Response to “12.One.20Ten – Another Journey Begins…”

  1. Congratulation Max in setting a great challenge for yourself! Will be fun to watch your journey.

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