Ironman Arizona used to be my season finale, so I was very excited when I short of notice decided to fly to Phoenix to surprise my 2 athletes racing. Having good friends always helps, and I suddenly had cheap standby tickets for Alaska Airlines and a travel buddy. Thanks Victor!
We even got kinda matching outfits... The cool kids who leave their stickers on their hats. :D
After an odyssee with missed flights, we finally made it to Arizona with about an 6 hour delay. So it was Hotel, dinner and bed time. The next morning I forced my friend into running a part of the race course with me and he probably disliked me a lot for it, without saying much - it was his longest run for a long time. And I loved smelling the desert and finding out that Curry Hill actually is not much of a hill really, unless you are running it in a race.
After catching up with a few friends (so great to see you Charles) and one of my athletes (Mitch) at the training swim, we met with Pat, my other athlete, and her friends for lunch. I truly enjoyed being able to enjoy Arizona from a non-racing perspective this time. After lunch, we walked onto ASU campus and managed to get free guest passes to the fabulous outdoor pool. Definitely will try that next year again!
Such a treat to swim outdoors in November!
Race morning came quickly and we found a great spot on the bridge to watch the race start. We even managed to film Mitch during the swim, thanks to the eagle eyes of his brother who spotted him.
I also managed to see Pat at the Swim exit when she was running into transition. Soon after we decided that spectating is a very hard sport and we needed a big breakfast at Ncounter, which for me is the Lava Java of Tempe with great breakfast. The hot coffee and breakfast chased the chill out of our bones. I was worried about my athletes being to chilly, however I think the temperatures where pretty ideal with a few lonely rain drops.
The bike course is somewhat difficult to spectate if you dont have a car. So we decided to take the train back to the hotel where I was able to track Pat and Mitch on the computer. After an hour of lounging, we headed to mile 4 of the run course. It was a perfect spectating spot, with a foot bridge to cross Salt lake to pop out at mile 5/6. This meant I could also see my athletes 3 times per loop by simply crossing the bridge.
So Victor and I were all ready with big signs and stuff. We did warm up our voices by cheering loudly for the professionals and soon after the age groupers. Mitch had a bad start to this marathon after a phenomenal swim/bike being in the top 5. Unfortunately, his nutrition issues made an appearance again and he was suffering badly, ultimately dropping back to a still very good 10th, and looking at the times, the Kona spot could have been his.
I always forget how tall this man is. Future Dr of dentistry Mitch.
Pat however looked happy and confident. Ironman tracker had her in 3rd place for the entire run, which was missleading as she was actually in 4th due to rolling start. She got out of the water in 6th, rode a personal best into 3rd and then only let one person pass her to a great 4th age group place. I have no doubt that a Kona spot is on her horizon very soon!
It was awesome to be part of Mitch's and Pat's races and I am looking forward to cheering again from the sideline soon!