Saturday, January 30, 2016

Ironman Arizona Race Report: The Prelude

In the world of blog-posting, my Ironman Arizona Race Report is going to be Epic. In fact, I could probably write a book on the subject (and I have debated it).

Of course, by the time I'm finished this blog post it might be the length of a book. Sorry in advance.

Now, like any book - the question is where do I begin?
Once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away...
Oh wait, that's been taken.
It was a dark and stormy night...
Um, nope, not really.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...
That's pushing it.
Once upon a time...
Sure, let's go with that.
Once upon a time (also known as pre-February 2012)...
...the only Ironman I knew of was Robert Downey Jr.
He is Ironman
But then one day, a couple of months after I started my journey toward becoming fit, I read a book called, “Can’t Swim, Can’t Bike, Can’t Run – From Common Man to Ironman.” The funny thing is that I read this book by happenstance – when I tripped over one stair on a cruise ship me and ended up on crutches the entire trip. Because I couldn’t do much that week, I ended up taking this book out of the ship’s library along with “Born to Run.”
In hindsight maybe reading that book was fate.

At the time, I read the book for what it was: a hilarious take on the triathlon journey. I didn’t even know how to ride a bike at the time – but I did wonder what it would take to do something as crazy as swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and then run a marathon (26.2 miles).

I could barely wrap my head around those distances. I was still terrified about the prospect of running my first race – a 10k run 3 months in the future.

And yet, looking back, I admit now that there was a tiny part of me – even then – that wondered, ‘What if? Because really, if I could make the decision and commitment to become fit – how much harder could it be to do an Ironman?  

Insert maniacal laugher here

Needless to say, after doing my first beginner triathlon (after prompting from my brother) later that summer on a borrowed mountain bike, I realized just how incredibly insane the guy in the book must have been to do a race something like 100x longer. I couldn’t imagine doing it myself.
Loaring Beginner Triathlon - July 2012

Yet, the seed of the idea was planted, buried in my back brain. And anyone who knows me won’t be surprised that the seed grew.

Fast forward to September 2013

When I finished my first marathon in September 2013 after a summer of doing sprint and Olympic distance triathlons (which I loved), the Ironman cropped back up in my mind.
By this point, I’d met plenty of people through the Toronto Triathlon Club who had done Ironman races, but I didn't really imagine that I could do it.
Until I finished the Run for Heroes Marathon. When I crossed that finish line smiling, I realized I could do far more than I'd ever thought possible.
World Alzheimer's Day Run for Heroes Marathon - Sept. 2013
Shortly thereafter, I signed up for my first half ironman a year to the day after my first marathon. I thought that if I could finish that, then maybe - just maybe – I could do an Ironman.

Over the next year, I read every book and blog I could find on the subject – which is something I always do when I get interested in a topic. As part of my reading, I read “You are an Ironman” -- a book about 6 people training to do Ironman Arizona.
From reading that book (and subsequently all the race blogs I could find), I realized that Arizona had a lake swim, an untechnical bike course, and a mostly flat run. Even better, it was in the desert so it would be hot and dry during the day, but cool at night for the run.

As a first race, I realized I couldn’t choose any better. Good for me as a terrible biker…and good for my asthma because of the dry heat.

Insert maniacal laughter here. Anyone who knows what the race day turned out to be like will understand

A few months later, my friend Paula, who I’d met at the LPC Florida Triathlon Camp, mentioned signing up for Ironman Arizona.

“How awesome is that?” I thought. Now I had a good excuse to go down and watch/volunteer for the race – even if I decided not to sign up that year for 2015. I figured I’d eventually sign up, so either way it would be a great trip. Plus I could see and cheer on a friend!

I spent the whole summer telling people I wasn’t committing to signing up for IMAZ until after Barrelman. I don’t know how many people believed me – but trust me, it was true. I was fully of the mind that I didn’t want to sign up until I was confident (well, mostly) that I could do it.

Of course, then I finished Barrelman with a smile, feeling good and like I could have kept going.
Niagara Falls Barrelman - Sept. 2014

The rest was history. That November, I signed up for the longest race of my life: a race I couldn’t even fathom just a couple of years earlier.
I was going to do an Ironman.

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