RACE REPORT: Reed at IM Arizona

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As I watched the 10 day forecast, I was laughing at severe warming trend that looked to be peaking the day of Ironman Arizona. Turns out it was the hottest day of the year in Tempe, so far. When Loran Storts and I signed up for the race, I prayed for 2 things: 1. That we would have a decent winter, so I could ride outside some. 2. That it would not be a brutally hot and windy day. Obviously God had another plan as we had the worst winter in recent history and the temps topped out at 96 degrees and 15-20 mph winds on the bike course.

I will start with the thank-you’s. First of all, my wife, Kristin, kids, Josh and Kassy, for their unconditional support and love, it just wouldn’t be possible without them on board 110%. My best pal and training partner, Loran Storts, who is my soul-brother and who pedaled and ran virtually every step with me. My folks and my mother-in-law, brothers, sisters, friends, Foster Group co-workers, all were dream makers. The Rassy Tri Team men and women that wrote me notes and provided feedback and support. Greg Rasmussen, Sterly, DQ, Terry, Jeff….you guys are rockstar…more on this later. Jenny, JJ, Matt from Zoom Performance, friends and partners in this journey. Nicole and Tim DeBoom, 2-time Hawaii Ironman World Champion, friend, and coach this year…..This guy knows what it takes….as does Nicole, Wisconsin IM champ and President of Skirtsports. www.skirtsports.com

My training leading up to the race went as close to perfect as I could ever hope. Despite having to be inside on the Compu-Trainer for many EARLY hours per week, I never went totally mental. Breaking this up with several movies and friends that came over to ride was the key. I was very blessed to make several trips to Arizona (my folks winter down there) and get a lot of riding in while vacationing and working. The 3rd thing that I prayed for was to arrive on race day healthy and injury free. This was in God’s plan.

I was complaining to Coach Tim about the heat and a few other things and his response was simple. “You better just ready to suck it up! Start worrying about things that are in your control, not the things that are out of your control.” O.k, I thought, he should know. So, I quit checking the weather and focused on my preparations. Flew down to Phoenix on Wednesday with the kids, got in late, but made it safely. Put the bike together that night and got some sleep.

Thursday, Kristin, the kids, and I went up to Tempe and Ironman Village….the energy was already building. Wanted to get in a short swim, but they only had open swim times from 8-10 am in Tempe Town Lake. We got there at 10:01am. Went and got registered and stopped by the merchandise tent. My weight was a concern and focus this year. I have been racing at 193-195 and although around 10-11% body fat, I knew losing a few pounds would help my running a ton. Weight at check-in….183…perfect.

Took an easy spin Thursday with Dad for 45 minutes and relaxed. Got up Friday and Kristin and I went back up to Tempe for a swim in the Lake….(more like a drainage ditch) water temp was a cool 65 degrees, but felt great after a few minutes. Tried out the new 2008 Blue Seventy Helix long sleeve wetsuit. It was absolutely the best fit I’ve ever had.

Saturday, I did my normal pre-race. 10 minute swim, 20 minute bike, 10 minute run. All week, I was feeling just o.k. Not until race day did I really feel good. I told DeBoom about this and his advice was this: “by the way, you are very ready for this. it doesn't matter one bit how you feel this week. good, bad, great...nothing matter till race day. it will be there. don't do anything stupid this week to derail yourself.” Again, very wise advice from a pro….i trusted him and my fitness and said, o.k., let’s do it.

Stortsy and I were able to go together to Transition and get all of our stuff done…special needs bags, swim to bike and bike to run bags. Pump the tires, fill the water bottles, final checks, etc…that makes it very relaxed when you have a pal alongside. We got a few pictures and then I headed to the Porta-John for one last break.

TJ and the Pros went off at 6:45. I entered the water immediately afterwards. Got a very short warm up in, should have done more, but wanted to get my spot in front of the starting line. Was able to get 2/3 to the right and front row. Canon went off and we were stroking. I swam in pretty clear water and after 200-300 yards, looked for a draft. The water was so dirty, you couldn’t see straight and we were swimming into the sun. I felt just o.k., and swam off to the right about 15 times and worked to get back into the draft. Started to finally settle in at the turnaround and then got very concerned. Both calves started to cramp up. Had to stop several times and grab my toes to relieve the cramp. Not sure of the reasoning, but I decided to just do what I could to make it to the end….even if I had to slow down and give up a few minutes.

I was relieved to exit in 59 minutes…a bit slower than I expected, but tried not to be too concerned, I knew it was a long day and 2-3 minutes would be easily gained or lost on the run. A quick transition and I was on the 2008 Rassy Orbea Ordu. If you haven’t seen this thing, it is super stealthy with matching Zipp 999’s (black/silver) DQ did a great job getting me the bike and getting me fit. Greg, Sterly, jeff, and Terry spent 4 hours getting a cable thing taken care of 2 days earlier. Thanks guys! It proved to be worth the time and effort. Bike was 5:04:57, I had the 9th fastest amateur bike split…less than a minute from 5th, I believe. The fastest amateur was only 5 minutes in front of me and the only guy that outsplit me in my age group blew up and ran a 4:46 marathon.

The bike was 3 loops. 18.5 miles into the wind and then back with the wind. The first loop everyone was excited, as usual, and many pushed the pace. I settled in and watched for people to self-destruct. Relax, stay aero, hydrate, food, stretch, enjoy the moment. As we hit the turn-around, it was like Christmas. I was 53-11 almost the whole way back to town. The wubba, wubba, wubba of the Zipp disk was saweet. My plan was to really relax on the second loop, as it was getting HOT, and conserving energy would pay huge dividends. I had to pee and couldn’t get it rolling on the bike, so I decided to hold it until mile 62 went I stopped to get the Special Needs Bag. Got my refills of Clif Bars, and Carbo-Pro (frozen the night before and put in my special needs bag) ahh, a nice cold shot of Carbo pro mixed with Crystal light…, took a 2 minute pee and hopped back on. A great stretch break and although I gave up 1 ½ to 2 minutes…I enjoyed every second and felt refreshed on the bike. My plan was to make my serious move on the 3rd loop into the wind and then relax and cruise the last 20 miles of the bike with the wind and get hydrated and fed. It worked perfectly. Being a 3 loop ride, the bike course was a mine field of people that had blown up and others that were in process. I tried to springboard past everyone, but quite honestly, most were not going fast enough to get any kind of boost as you go by. One rider almost took me out as I came up to pass, note to self, don’t get too close to inexperienced riders.

I don’t remember ever feeling a lot more joy than hitting that final turnaround and heading for T2. As I jumped off the bike, I looked at the bike transition area. Other than pros, I could only see 5-6 bikes in the whole field. I had a quick T2, ice in the hat, sponge on the back, gel in the fuel belt. I ran out onto the run course and immediately get passed by TJ Tollakson who was starting his 2nd loop…cool! The next person I see was Ashley Tousely, TJ’s girlfriend. She yelled, great job, Reed, you’re in 7th! I’m thinking, cool…7th place in my age group, 10-11 spots for Kona…I can give up a net 3 and still be in the running. I didn’t find out later that she mean’t 7th OVERALL, 2nd in my age group! A Good thing, because about mile 4, 2 guys in my age group go clipping by me at warp speed, they ran 3:15 marathons…mile 6, another 38 year old who ran 3:16.

My plan was to run the first loop easy, pick it up slightly on the second loop and lay it out there on the third and see what happens. I think I was too excited to see TJ, because I kept him in sight the first 3 miles…ran 7:20 and 7:35, then forced myself to slow down to 8…the rest of the day, I stayed mellow and ran 8:15- 8:30 minute miles with a 20-30 second walk through each water stop to keep hydrated and cool. Ice in the hat, down the shorts, cold sponge on the back/neck. Refill every mile. I switched to Coca-Cola at mile 9. this was somewhat of a gamble this early, but I thought I could make it work. Despite a 90 second stop to pee about mile 16, I still kept on pace. As I passed my family at the end of the second loop, I yelled “One more!” my wife, Kristin, who said she only cried 3 or 4 times during the day, yelled to me, “Nicole DeBoom said run with ice in your hands to keep cool!” I must have looked worse than I felt, because I didn’t think I was deaf, just tired! I was laughing because she yelled it loud enough that it wasn’t a secret any longer. I was calculating my time and was on track to finish around 10 hours, which I thought would be enough on a day that topped out at 96 degrees. The last 5.7 miles I was able to pick it up and run 8’s + 30 seconds for water stops. My last 2 miles were 7:45 and 7:15. Arizona is awesome because I could see my family and friends about 10-12 times during the day. This is critical when racing an Ironman….you look forward to seeing them each time. Kristin, Josh, Kassidy, Mom, Dad, Tom Hamilton, Marc Gillotti, Jenny Weber, Michelle Ennis, Jan Mohs, Amy Hanrahan, Jenny Storts, Julie V, Ashley Tousley. The more the better, for sure.

Turning the corner to the finish line, I spied my son, Josh, age 9, crouched like he was ready to receive the baton. He grabbed my hand and we sprinted to the finish line. 9:58:08. A 53 minute improvement on my time from IM Wisconsin 18 months earlier. The finish line is the best….hugs, tears, high 5’s, laughing, crying, yelling…it is surreal. I just thanked God for getting me across the line. I felt fine for about 10 minutes, but then things went south and I was wheeled over to medical for the next 3 hours….3 IV bags later I went home and to bed. I woke up at 3:00am and ate some Cheerios and had a glass of Chocolate Milk. I couldn’t get back to sleep because I was worried that I would sleep past 9:00 am which was the Hawaii sign up deadline. At 9:01 they give your slot to someone else.

At the Ironman Hawaii sign up, I was expecting a dozen Hawaiian girls to be dancing in their skirts as they called out your name and requested your presence to register..all the while the hula girls would be rubbing your shoulders and waving palm branches….HA! some dude asked you your name and then says, “O.k. that will be $500.”

As I sat down to register, TJ came up and grabbed me with a big hug and congrats. We got to register for Kona together. A nice end to a great journey.

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