I got to Tempe Thur night with my hiking friend Stephen and this is going to be his first Ironman. After I arrived at Tempe one of the first things I notice is how the temperature changes within a short window of time. When it’s sunny out it gets very hot. When it’s overcast you feel chilly. I know staying hydrated and regulate my body temperature will be the priority on Sunday.
I went to the Expo on Friday to pick up my packet. Then went to this Wine Bar for lunch and it was surprising good. I then drove the bike course and hung around for Ironman Dinner. I managed to find Jennifer Jay from the Ncal Ironteam so I ended up sitting with her team along with Stephen, David Ruckman and Jennifer Howard. After dinner I drove to my home stay Dea to unload my stuff. Boy she has a very nice place! I even get my own room so I can lay my stuff everywhere! Bonus points for the 3 cats.
I went home and packed my stuff. Unlike Vineman where you setup your run/bike stuff next to your bike, you are not allowed to do so in official Ironman races. Instead you get 5 bags to put stuff on. Morning Clothes Bag, Swim to Bike Bag, Bike Special Need Bag, Bike to Run Bag, and Special Run Bag. If you race with me you know I am always prepared for different condition, so naturally I put a lot of stuff in the bag. Food, Clothes, Contact Lens… you name it I got it. Learning from this year Vineman Bike Special Need experience I basically put stuff in big Ziploc bags so I don’t spend a lot of time looking for different stuff like I did in Vineman. I packed my stuff into ‘must need’ Ziplocs and my ‘Oh Shit’ Ziplocs. So when I am looking thru those Ziplocs I know only to go thru the ‘must need’ Ziplocs and leave the ‘oh shit’ Ziplocs untouched unless something happen and I need to access stuff that I may need.
Saturday was pretty uneventful. I went to drop off my bike and the next thing I know TheWongstar (Professional Triathlete) was calling my name. Who’s the stalker now? I followed her around, took some pictures and even get to meet the mama WongStar. I then went to lunch with Jennifer and Sam who came all the way from LA to be a volunteer and to support Stephen and I. We went to a pho place called UnPhogettable and it was very forgettable. Food was expensive and bad! I called Coach Paul from teamsquareone thanking him and telling him that I am ready. I had dinner, and went to sleep at around 9pm.
I woke up around 3:30am on Sunday, left the house around 4:45am and got there around 5ish. One thing that I noticed right away is the city skyline around the racing area. It looks so beautiful and neat! Love the moon reflecting the lake and the lighting on the bridge. Anyway, I dropped my bags, and just wonder around. While I was waiting around I saw people pouring water on them. I put some in my wetsuit so I won’t be as cold when I go into the water. I jumped into the water at 6:45am, and the canon went off at 7:00. Mass swim start is interesting because you actually know who’s in front of you and who’s behind you. Half way thru the swim I was able to pee while swimming. That itself is a new accomplishment! I got out of the swim in 1:57.
The volunteer gave me my Bike bag and another volunteer led me to the changing tent. I forgot his name but he did Ironman Wisconsin in September and it’s now volunteering at the race. I told him I wanted to sit for a bit to get warm up and he just laid out everything for me. He helped me put on my BIB, help with HR monitor…etc He was very helpful and I really appreciated the support I received from the volunteer group. As I exiting the transition area I saw Ironteammate Linda, Sam, and Jennifer in Pikachu outfit!
The bike course is a 3 loops course. I was going at a good pace and I felt very strong. But above all my back didn’t hurt (as much). And I was even going uphill in around 19 mph??? Wow really? I got to the turn around (3rd aid station) and I stopped to take a break. I know the WB and TNT people are volunteering at that aid station so I figured I say hi and take a pee break. I didn’t know it at the time but I lot of people that I knew from Team In Training was also there. After I actually turned around I found out I was going 19 mph uphill because there is a crazy wind going uphill. So it’s tail wind uphill and head wind downhill! The wind was so strong I was going downhill at 12-14 mph. at times 10mph!!! It took forever to go back and I know it’s going to be a long day. As much as I don’t like the wind everyone is facing the same condition, so I just deal with it.
Lap two started to rain hard, thanks god it was a short period of time. Also I needed to pee at aid station 1. Man I need to practice peeing on the bike! I got to the turn around and saw Pai Wei and Linda. I stopped, resupply, and gave them a hug. I know I was over heating (wearing too much) so I took off my tri top at Bike Special Need and only wear the cycling top. Shortly after I took another restroom break at Aid Station 4!!! As much as I am peeing all the time I know I need to take in my nutrition. I also kept up with drinking extra water because I know AZ is hot. The headwind agave me a false of coolness but I just needed to remind myself that AZ is hot and dry. During the race I kept passing the people that I passed because I took extra time to pee. Remember, it only take 3-4 minutes to bike a mile so if I passed them for a mi all they need is an extra 4 minutes to pass me. Lap 3 I decided to hold it and not pee so often. I skipped the first two aid stations and stop at Station 3 again. This time I saw my friends at the WB Tri Team! It’s always nice to see familiar faces! I gave two of my bottles to them and told them to take it back to LA for me =P.
Loop 1 (Stopped): Aid Station 3
Loop 2 (Stopped): Aid Station 1, Aid Station 3, Special Bike Need, Aid Station 4
Loop 3 (Stopped): Aid Station 3, Aid Station 4
Luckily for lap 3 the uphill wind disappeared so I was finally able to go downhill at around 27mph. Then I rode the last 8 miles with headwind again *_*. During the later part of the bike I focus more on the heart rate so I don’t actually get lazy on the bike. At one point a girl was drafting behind me for a good 3-4 minutes before I finally dropped her. I talked to a few people on the bike at the last stretch and they all agreed that they are done with the bike for a while. After I dismount I told the volunteer I don’t want to see my bike for a while. The Volunteer at T2 Changing tent isn’t as eager to help in T1 so I took a minute to recollect myself from the bike so I can focus on the run. I changed my clothes and head out to run.
Run is a 3 loop course and its a little less than 9 mi each. Soon I discovered the bottom of my feet hurts. Not sure why. I tried to run it as much as I can. In fact I was doing well during the middle of the 1st loop I was averaging 9 minutes per mile for a good 2 miles. Eventually I started walking more and more because every step hurt. I compared the condition I am in versus the condition I was in at Nike Women’s Marathon and decided to just treat IMAZ run as a training race to minimize injury and reduce recover time. Don’t’ get me wrong, I did my run/walk and passed a lot of walkers! About a mile left I bumped into another Ncal Ironteam and she asked me if I am Pikachu. Yes I am famous. When I got near the finish line I started running, saw my friends, passed another handful of people and dashed across the finish line.
Monday was a chill day. I picked up my special need bag and took my friends to meet theWongstar. I decided not to buy any Ironman stuff until Ironman Canada. I knew she probably don’t want to talk about triathlon but as her #1 fan in Monterey Park I felt like I needed to get her Q&A ready when she has her podium finish.
So what do I think about the race? The swim is what I expected. I felt very strong on the bike throughout the whole 112 mi where on Vineman I was kind of out of it the later half of the race. And I felt good on the run compare to my Vineman run. I definitely did not run a 9 minutes mile in Vineman for 2 miles! I will need to work on my liquid intake so I don’t pee as often. Either that or pee on my bike/pee while I run. I think personalized training I received from squareone definitely help me to become a stronger athlete. Although I finished around the same time as Vineman but I feel a lot more solid during IMAZ, it is an important improvement because it allows me to get faster in the long run.
Overall it’s a very nice race. I like the city landscape and I like how the swim course is around the lake. You can actually see building and people walking with you to see you race. The bike is pretty flat with a nice downhill (if we don’t have the headwind!!!). The run is well staff, well lighted. And I did get a lot of people cheering from Team In Training. It is going to be a nice race for the Ironman and I am looking forward to hear the experience from the Georgia Ironteam.
I can’t thanks enough to the people that come out to cheer and to volunteer. I know I can’t remember anyone so I am not going to list them all. And my home stay host for giving me a comfortable stay and picking up my bike. Congratulation to first time Ironman Stephen Soong, Jennifer Howard, Lisa Lefner, Galya Bassin, Chris Andrew, Stephanie from WB Tri Team.