As I get ready for IMAZ 140.6, I had one goal/mindset going into IMAZ 70.3 - treat it like a low and slow brick workout and assess at each leg, "could I go back and do that again?" This mindset turned out to be *key*.
We stayed at the Graduate Tempe. It was close to the venue (about a mile away) and had a pretty comfortable bed. The room was a little small, but overall a great option. The attached restaurants were quite frankly disappointing - food and was mediocre at the diner and service was initially terrible at the bar - but as a hotel, it did the job.
The day before
I had been kinda freaking out about the bike course for the 70.3 based on the map. It had a lot of 180 turns and I was expecting a crashfest, so Winnie and I did a preview of it to see what we had signed ourselves up for. As it turned out, it wasn't going to be as bad as I thought. It was hard navigating the course by car because of the 180 turns and they have you going the wrong way down some streets. Indeed, as Winnie said in her race report, it took us longer to preview that than the 140.6 course, but driving around and getting a feel for the area calmed my nerves somewhat and by the time we finished, I felt that this was going to go a-ok.
The night before
"Just a brick workout" notwithstanding, I couldn't sleep. I tried going to bed at 9:00, knowing I'd have to get up at 5:00. I tossed and turned all night. I probably only got about 3 hours of actual sleep. Less than ideal.
I finally admitted sleep defeat around 4:30 and started getting stuff ready. I ate my traditional pre-brick-workout breakfast of a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf Cranberry Breakfast Bar and got LT up at 5:10 to drive us over there. Unfortunately the entrance to the parking garage from Mill St is hidden and they had blocked off the roads for the race, so we took a looooooong detour/pre-view of the bike course trying to get back to the parking garage. We got there about 5:30, which was eating into my set up time because we had to be out of transition at 6:15. Less than ideal.
Here we goooooooo
I was in the second wave, which was a nice change of pace; usually I'm in one of the last waves. I get in the water and it's pretty warm. Winnie said the race director called it at 75.1, juuuust wetsuit legal. But water temp doesn't really affect me once I get swimming so I don't mind either way. The first wave goes and we get into position. After a while and the gun goes off. My "brick workout" begins.
I swam pretty evenly, just trying to mimic what I expect to do for the full. Nice and easy, very relaxed. The water was murky AF though and I literally couldn't see my hand if my arm was fully extended. No worries nothing to see anyway.
I'm swimming along around the 400m mark and have a good amount of space between me and anyone else in front or on either side. Then it happens, something that's never happened in any of the triathlons I've done: I got kicked in the face. Luckily, it was pretty light and pretty square, so it mainly just sealed my left google really well to my eye socket, but it was certainly a jolt. After that, I made sure I was paying better attention to people around me.
Even though I swam pretty evenly and calmly, I exited the water and didn't see anyone else from my wave in front of me. I wasn't trying to go fast. *shrug* Regardless, I felt great coming out of the water. Could I go back and swim that again? Yep, definitely.
Swim time: 34:26
(Turns out it was a slow group. I finished the swim 18th out of the age group with that 34 time, whereas I was 37th at Vineman 70.3 with a 3-minute-faster 31.)
Again, just a brick workout. I took my time, dried off, and got myself ready for a nice and steady bike. I'm not rushing out of T1.
T1 time: 4:26
Aw crap, I rushed out of T1 and forgot to apply sunblock. Sonofa...
The bike was not bad. Pretty flat and felt pretty good. The 180 turns were actually very wide due to AZ's 6 lane roads and there were only 1 or 2 hairpins (which he had to do 3 times).
About 1/4 of the way through the second loop, I noticed a weird, regularly timed *thwapping* sound. I thought it was the brake against my front wheel or that my wheel was out of true. I kept looking for the culprit to no avail. It was driving me a little nuts and I was little scared it wasn't safe, so I got off my bike and checked. I just couldn't find it. So weird. I figured I'd just ride and figure it out later.
About 3/4 of the way through the second loop, I noticed my bike computer between my aerobars was drooping. Thinking its velcro had stretched or something, I went to tighten it and realized that my right aerobar was wobbly and loose. Like "I hope this doesn't come off!" loose. I pulled over to fix it - hey, brick workout so who cares about time - and realized the bolts that were loose were actually buried in a part of the bar that I couldn't get at without taking apart the whole aerobar assembly. I figured it was safe enough and kept riding.
As I finished the second loop, I started to get bored. Yeah, I'm worried about this *thwapping* sound and my aerobar coming off, and hey, I still felt great, but damn I was bored. So I sang a song. Over and over and over.
Even though the temperature is climbing into the 90s now, I pull into T2 feeling pretty good, aerobar still wobbly but intact. Could I go back and do that again? Yeah, probably. Bored as hell, but mechanical issues not being a factor, sure.
Bike time (including two stops to check stuff): 3:04:05
Still singing my song. I take my time, even putting on Injinji toes socks. They take a little while to get each toe situated correctly, but soooo worth it.
I go to the sunblock booth and get lathered up.
T2 time: 5:26
Coming out of T2, "Yeah, just a brick work out. This is great. No problemo. Feeling all right."
[0.5 miles later]
"Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?!"
I don't know what happened but I died. Hard. It wasn't a "my legs are tired;" I just felt totally drained. I didn't bonk because I could still move my muscles, I just didn't want to move them. My brain said "nope, I'm out. I'm not giving you an ounce of inspiration or motivation. You're a dick for making us do this and I hate you."
The entire run was a battle - just like Vineman - of "jog to here, and then I'll let you walk a bit." It was an excruciating, defeating experience. Several times I said to myself "I'm done. My season ends here. I don't enjoy this. I don't want to be an Ironman. Eff this noise."
But I didn't give up. I gritted through it and finally crossed the finish line. I knew I shouldn't talk to Winnie because I didn't want to discourage her by bailing on the rest of the season and our #OneTeamOneDream.
Could I go back and do that again? Let's just say if you were in arm's reach, I'd have murdered you right then and there.
Run time: 2:36:57
Overall time: 6:26:00
Thankfully, LT is super supportive and made me feel like not-a-complete-and-utter failure. And there was a trailer there that just blew cold water vapor through fans, so that helped with the now-93-degree temps and my mood a skosh.
Later that night, LT and I met up with one of my college buddies and his wife that live in the area for dinner, which was great, so I was pretty mellow by then.
Before we left the next day, I was already planning how to tackle the full IM in a month.