Saturday I had a 5-hour ride, so I figured I would ride the Ironman course and check out the conditions. They were exactly as I expected.... hot... and windy. Both which are bad news for a triathlete. The heat is bad because it causes you to sweat out your nutrients so you have have to eat and drink twice as much in order to cope with fluid loss. Heat is also bad because it causes your core temperature to rise which makes your heart work twice as hard to pump blood to your extremities to try and keep itself cool (this also becomes worse when you are sun burnt) The wind is especially bad on the bike because it makes you work so much harder when you are in the headwind, thus raising your heart rate, exasperating your energy stores, causes you to sweat excessively, and overall just sets you up for a long demoralizing day. Thank god I was only out there for 5 hours, not 6 or 7 hours like some of the people on race day.
I have not been sleeping well lately, so after my ride on Saturday I came back and crashed for about three hours. It was much needed. And especially after a training week of nearly 18 hours my body did not recover very well. I noticed this especially after my long run on Thursday night. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday I was walking very stiff and I was not sleeping through the night because my legs were so restless. Now (Monday) I am starting to feel a bit better, but still dragging. I only have a swim and an easy run today so hopefully this little recovery time will give me the boost I need to make it through this weeks training (another 18-19 hours of training).
Sunday I woke up early to go catch the swim start at Ironman Arizona. The forecast said it was going to be windier and hotter than Saturday. Not good! The swim went as expected, the pros were all out of the water under and hour, and most of my friends started to trickle in after 1:05. Heading in to the transition area everybody completely covered themselves in sunscreen in hopes of warding off a sun burn on their 112 mile bike. I heard the bike course experienced up to 40 mph wind gusts! It was not ideal race conditions and people starting dropping like flies after the first 40 miles into the bike. Even some of the pro field could not handle the heat. It was in the low 90's the majority of the day and the heat was definitely taking its toll on the competitors. I was volunteering at the finish line so I actually got to hold the tape for the 2nd and 4th place finishers. It was said that it was one of the greatest Ironman finishes of all time. Four athletes were neck and neck all the way up to the the final few miles. It was pretty cool to be standing at the finish line because there was quite the list of Ironman celebrities in attendance including 3-time Ironman champ Michael Lavato, and 24-time women's Ironman Champ Paula Newby-Fraser. NBC sports considers Paula to be the greatest female athlete of all time! So it was an honor to even be in her presence... even though she was not very nice and was not keen on talking to "volunteers" ha ha.
Besides the soreness and lack of sleep it was an amazing weekend. My girlfriend was in town which is always fantastic, I had a great experience at Ironman Arizona, and it culminated my toughest training week yet. Not an ideal weekend for most folks but I thoroughly enjoyed it :)
"Only those who attempt the absurd achieve the impossible."
-Found on the back of some guy's shirt at IMAZ