Wednesday, November 21, 2012

IMAZ From the Sidelines

Where do I begin? So much to share from the past weekend. You probably already saw a lot from me via Twitter and FB - the #IMAZ hash tag was in overdrive! It's been fun watching Ironmans lately and getting to run around and do whatever I want rather than taper... and rest... and eat plain food... and get in cold water before sunrise, but, in all honesty, I am ready to do one again myself... just gotta be patient!
Sunset on IMAZ race day from the bridge. 

Sherpa Coach

Giving Ray a few seconds of encouragement as he hammers
the third loop of the run (finished with negative splits!).
Speaking of me racing, I think a few people thought I was actually racing IMAZ after mentioning on social media that I'd be taking a trip out there. Nope! No IM until Tahoe '13 for me. This trip was pretty much all about my athlete, Ray, who was doing his first-ever Ironman. Ray was one of my first client's ever 3+ years ago, so being there for his IM debut was a no brainer. We all traveled together (Ray's lovely girlfriend came along too), and it was a great time. How'd he do? Let's just say that he smashed it! My fast goal time for him was a 12:30 - realistic for the athlete he is, but one in which he'd have to dig deep and really race smart to achieve it. His real time? 12:27 (including about ~5 min of random delays). Not only did he race to his potential, he was clearly having a blast the whole day. There's something to be said for seeing your athlete over the course of an Ironman rather than tracking them online. Splits are great to have, but seeing the athlete's face and body language gives you the real race report. Ray was on Cloud-freakin-9 but also looking very focused and driven from the time I saw him exit the swim to the finish line, and everything in between. He even made time to stop and give his GF a few big hugs & kisses over the day (next time we may have to say NO to doing that so he can go faster haha).

Athlete & Coach at the finish. Happy is an understatement.
On Saturday, Ray and I spent two or so hours, maybe more, getting everything ready for him and I literally provided a written step-by-step guide for what he needed to do with all his bags, nutrition, etc., from that moment on. We laid out everything he had and needed, and also went through the motions of what he'd need to do for check in, race day with nutrition, and more, like his a breakfast plan (I nixed his pre-packaged muffins, he tried to sneak those by me - nope!). In addition to all the time we've spent talking about IMAZ in recent weeks (months, actually), as well as the specific prep sessions we've done, on Saturday we also went over race strategy in detail, so there would be no question marks for him going into it on Sunday. Just execute. Which he did. Perfectly.

I think - no - I know, one of the keys to Ray's success on Sunday was his nutrition, which consisted of Skratch Labs Drink Mix, Honey Stinger Waffles, a few "emergency" PowerBar chomps if he needed, water ad libitum more secret ingredient that's deserving of its own post, so I'll save it for next time. Curious?!?! heehee

AZ Fun

TRIBE bathroom decor.
Anyways, in addition to Ray, I guess you could say I was also out in AZ for a little business and pleasure too. John and I were lucky enough to be the guests of Elizabeth and Tomas in their brand-new apartment - they literally just moved in last week! It was such a nice place, and they were excellent hosts. I finally got to meet the famous Cody too, what an amazing dog.

Of course networking with the usual Ironman suspects was also a priority, and we had some good times at the TRIBE Slowtwitch Party on Friday (you can see pics on Slowtwich gallery; there's one of the crowd in which you can spot me in a bicycle-clad shirt chatting with Charisa and Ian). That was a fun time, with a solid turnout, some good beers and nothing too crazy because it was still afternoon and light outside. We followed that up by hitting up the new TriSports shop where Leanda Cave gave a chat, and we mingled some more. Did I mention another open bar? Oh man...
There are a couple fun breweries in the Tempe area.
I don't drink much beer, but it is fun to try different kinds!
From there it was the Pre-Race Athlete Dinner with Ray and his crew, as well as hundreds of others. I was impressed with the good content they provided onstage. However, it was cold and I wasn't a fan of the pasta buffet with iceberg lettuce salad - not surprising I didn't like that, right? I did run into a couple Endurance Planet fans by the port-o-potties and we chatted about Extreme Endurance and whatnot... fun times!

Efrain is earning a little fame these days as the guy who races in
Crocs, on the bike & run! (He made special bike shoes.)
Apparently Chrissie Wellington even got down
on hands & knees and kissed his shoes in Kona one time.
Saturday was a lot more mellow schedule-wise than Friday, and John and I got in a nice swim/bike (McDowell pool rocks - I'm jealous ER!) before race prep with Ray as mentioned. Then again later we hung out with Ray and his team, the Fil-AM Tri Team, that afternoon - their team is starting to have a huge presence at races! What a fun bunch; very unique stories on their journey to IM, and some unique approaches to the race (see pic to left). Later that night Elizabeth and Tomas joined us for a fun "I'm not racing" pre-race dinner at OHSO Brewery. We all went to bed too late given the alarms were set for pre-5am. But come Sunday it was go time... It's actually never really that hard for me to get going on a race morning no matter how little sleep is in me. Adrenaline is a beautiful thing... It's the day after that always blows.
Traditional Filipino fare cooked up for some pre-race "comfort food."

Race Day / 11-Miler

With all the pics I've seen of this sight over the years, I was
trying to make a mass swim start look unique ;)
No I did not train on race day. (The weekend was a solid recovery period for me so nothing big at all!) That said, I did this crazy thing on Sunday that I've always wanted to do - wear my Garmin over the course of an Ironman to track how many miles I walk/run just in spectating alone. At IMAZ, being it's such a spectator-friendly course, there are a lot of places you can be, and that means a lot of running around. So, the grand total for me was just over 11 miles by foot from start to finish (I was there from roughly 6am to 10pm-ish). Crazy!

Spectating was a nonstop blast because so many people I know/know of were racing and/or spectating/working/etc at the race - it's like a mini Kona in a way, warm weather and all!

The pro race was definitely an interest of mine, of course, with the stacked field it was (is any Ironman in the US not stacked any more?). I always am curious to see how the pros go so late in the year after having done so many other races. It did not disappoint! I wanted to see it all, so let's just say we were doing a lot of math over the day to be in the right spots at the right times - to see Ray, the male/female pros, other friends, etc... I don't think I really even missed anything significant, whew. I even got to catch up with my buddy, Rachel Stanley, of 110% Play Harder compression. Rachel is a rad chick, and I'm glad she's working for such a legit compression brand. I love their stuff, and you'll likely be hearing me talk about it more in the future...

The swim was pretty interesting to watch. The pro men formed two packs side by side, which was something odd to see. And the female pros were then wondering which path they should follow, as I was later told by Linsey Corbin. The separate male/female start creates for an interesting dynamic and, in particular, it affects the women's times (listen to podcast with Corbin; read on below...)

From the swim it was hopping around the bike course. One fun highlight of the day was sitting with Ian Mikelson's parents during the bike, just as the pros were coming back toward transition from loop 1. At that point Ian was in second - a surprise to us at the time because we didn't know splits - and man were his folks stoked when we saw him fly by sitting #2!!! Hugs and cheers were rampant! Also, if you don't know, Ian's mom is one of the most dedicated triathlon moms ever and she knows her shit, too, when it comes to triathlon. A good person to sit with for race info.

Another highlight was finally meeting Sonja in person. She'd tweeted a pic of a girl who she thought was me running, which it wasn't (I was actually stuffing my face with food at the time). I later ran into her and, man, she is a rad chick too! We had fun talking, and I heard more about her Kona story, which honestly half made me want to puke, but it was also very interesting (hint: a detailed port-o-potty story). Anyways, I'm a GoSonja fan even more now.

Fast forward and all the usual stuff went on, including some epic racing and surprises. The men's bike record dropped by 6 minutes by Andrew Starky (bc I don't know how to spell his name), a 26-year-old German named Nils stole the win... the women's race proved again that anything is possible - I don't think anyone was expecting Leanda to NOT be on the podium, MBK did another IM for the year and podiumed again (what is that, 10? jk)...

I made sure to catch the pro finish from the VIP area, and it sounds like quite a few of you saw me on the Ironman Live video feed. Funny stuff.

Some pics of the race...
Nils Frommhold. I really have a knack for taking
run pics of the eventual winners... kinda weird!
Linsey Corbin making up 7+ min out of T2
to run her way to the win.
I love the media crew. It's starting to feel like
we're carnies as we travel from one race to another.

When I posted that Corbin/MBK pic, I tweeted "Somewhere MattDixon is cheering his brains out...  and 1&2  @purplepatch." I actually didn't know that he was there, and then a few minutes later I ran into the guy in the VIP area where he when he was snagging a couple celebratory beers! It's always fun to see a coach like him getting to celebrate his athletes' success, especially after there have been some tough times this year (listen to podcast I did with him; click here).

Champ Corbin Podcast

The Mike Reilly interview.
Speaking of Linsey Corbin, prior to the race I had scheduled an interview with her. She was busy (and also sick) and asked if we could do the interview Monday post-race. Sure! My joke to her, via email, however, was that she wanted to wait until Monday so by that time she would have earned her podium spot. Of course, the class act she is, she was quiet on that comment of mine. Humble girl. Ferocious competitor. I was bummed to hear she was sick prior to the race, but like the champ she is, she still stole the show for the win. And we did get in our podcast, which you can listen to by clicking here. She gives a lot of great insight on her race, dealing with being sick, as well as insight on the course and more. Good chat.

Feeling Thankful

And just like that we were on the way home. I can't believe how jam-packed my time in AZ was, and how fast the trip went - and that's with practically no working out on my end. It was so much fun! As we approach Thanksgiving, it's easy to say what I'm thankful for - I am just so thankful to have an athlete like Ray and am so proud of him. He's actually had a really tough year with some hard blows, and he finished it on a high note, which is awesome. He worked hard and earned this one. I know that his girlfriend, Anne, John and I were all on a total high those final hours seeing him on track for a stellar finish. Not to mention, I'm thankful Ray had the desire to go out and celebrate after too. Quote of the night was from Anne: "I have cowbell tunnel syndrome!" hahaha.

I am also so thankful to be involved in such an amazing sport with great people, including my E&T for inviting John and I in... they were probably happy to have us go because now they can finally have some alone time for the first time in the new place ;)

Anyone know the story on this guy? Was it just random?
I am also thankful that people have the guts to do things like this, giving us all a good laugh...


  1. Was SO much fun having you guys in town and staying with us!! I swear I have had more adult beverages in the last 5 days than I have in the past 5 months!! :)

  2. Please, PLEASE, do not run alongside an athlete who is on the course. As a long-time USAT official, seeing 2 runners side-by-side for more than a stride or 2, when one has a timing chip on the ankle and the other doesn't, is a no-brainer penalty for Unauthorized Assistance for having a pacer. Being stationary is the safe way to go, as calling out any kind of information (intervals, splits, whatever) is always legal.

  3. I was running right behind the guy in your last photo. Everyone was cheering for him so it made part of the run super fun for me! Awesome post!