Ironman Arizona Race Report – The Run

We’ve made it to the final installment. Don’t miss the story getting there, the swim recap, or the bike report though!

The Run – 26.2 Miles

Finally! Time to show this race who’s boss. Almost. Within the first 20 steps I realized that every muscle in my core was shot. I guess remaining tense and hunched for six hours takes more energy than I thought. Even still, my first couple of miles were right around my goal 8 minute pace. I saw Ev, Travis, and the rest of my support crew at Mile 4 and gave a big smile, though I wasn’t feeling terrific.

IMAZ run smile

I really wanted to kill the run, and all the way through about Mile 10, my pace was solid. But a few miles before starting the second lap, I just couldn’t hold it. The only thing I could eat turned out to be Ruffles potato chips, so at each water stop I walked while cramming as many chips into my mouth and occasionally grabbing some Coke. The race went from “16 more miles” to “just get to the next water stop.” It was hard to accept that my run wasn’t going to meet my own lofty expectations, but I got on with it. And you know I’m always good for a picture.

IMAZ run hook em

At the halfway point I stopped for a full minute to talk to the support crew. I was feeling awful and let them know it, but Ev gave some great words of encouragement, reminding me how many times I’ve run 13 miles and that’s all that stood between me and the finish line. Back at Mile 17 I saw everyone one last time before the finish. This time Ev put things in perspective saying even Hazel can run 9 miles. She also told me I was quickly climbing up the rankings in my age group, meaning even if I thought the run was tough, everyone else must have thought it was tougher.

IMAZ run course

At that point I distracted myself by keeping an eye out for people in my age group, methodically tracking them down. The sun had set and the temperature was cooling off again. The thought that I started the race before the sun rose and would finish after it set was in some way comforting. Making the final couple of turns, leading to the “Left for Lap 2, Right for the Finish Line” brought on a huge sense of relief. It felt like I was sprinting, though my watch put me closer to a slow jog.

Nonetheless, as I rounded the second to last corner I saw Ev and the rest of the support crew going nuts. I stopped and Evelyn gave me a huge hug while everyone else hooted and hollered. I took off and ran down the final corridor and had the finish line in my sights. The crowd was insane and the emcee called my name out and gave me a high five as a crossed the line.

IMAZ run finish

Here’s a video of me finishing! (Thanks KV for the video!)

Run Time: 03:50:42 (goal: 3:30:00)

I was immediately grabbed by volunteers (formally known as “catchers”) who took me through the finishing chute and got me seated right across from the food tent. Another volunteer brought me a big plate of fries, but I couldn’t even think about eating still and had to leave them behind. It was there, sitting by myself in a folding chair, unable to eat, that I got choked up thinking about what I had accomplished. Not just the brutal 11 hour race, but the nine months leading up to it. I was done.

IMAZ finish with medal

I found the rest of the group a few minutes later and we sat in the grass while I let my body come to terms with the fact that it could stop moving for the first time in half a day.

IMAZ mike ev sign

Let’s Wrap This Up

As for how I did overall, the best way to put it is absolutely awesome. I killed my swim goal (1:12 vs 1:30), crushed my bike goal (6:00 vs 6:25), and I kept a solid run pace for the majority of the marathon (3:50 vs 3:30).

There were:

  • 2,707 total finishers, I came in 520th.
  • 1,957 were men, I was number 430.
  • 131 in my age group (25-29), and I came in 24th.

My final official time is 11:18:39.

Most surprisingly (and what makes me very proud) is that I passed more than 600 people on the run. Coming off the bike, I was in 1123rd place, and I moved up to 520th. I distinctly remember only getting passed on the run by ten people (yes, I counted), a few of which were the pro athletes. Yea!

IMAZ medal

Thank you again to everyone who cheered me on and supported me, for the last 36 weeks and for the 11+ hours I was racing. The flood of tweets, Facebook notifications, and text messages that I came back to was just too much. Hopefully I’ve been able to thank everyone individually who wished me luck, cheered me on, or said congratulations. But if not, thank you. As for the question of “will you do another one?” Nope. I had an amazing journey and a fantastic time at the race, but the training is not something I want to go through (or put Evelyn through) again. Once is enough for this guy.

Oh, and as for the post-race meal? I finally regained my appetite, and of all the places we could have gone, we went to the newly-opened Scottsdale location of Hopdoddy! I craved a burger, fries, milkshake, and beer, and Hopdoddy was a sure thing. Amazing.

Thanks again for joining me on this adventure!

2 thoughts on “Ironman Arizona Race Report – The Run

  1. kurtvanderah says:

    Mike, this is great! Thanks for taking us along for the ride — what an exciting read. Congratulations all over again 🙂

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