Monday, January 18, 2010

Rock and Roll Marathon Phoenix Arizona and Ironman AZ Course Preview

No I didn’t run the marathon but my amazing wife Liz did completing the certified course unofficially at 3:40:05 qualifying her for the Boston Marathon. I’m so blessed to have a wife who is so athletic and we can spend many of our hour’s together training. Liz is such a naturally gifted athlete and this is an awesome accomplishment. Congratulations! You’re going to Boston!

While Liz was preparing for and running the marathon I had a chance to scout out the Ironman Arizona run and bike course. For the run and the bike you must complete three laps which allowed me to run and bike the entire course of each. The timing also worked out that I was on both courses at the same time of day I would be on them for Ironman Arizona (IMAZ). Saturday late afternoon and early evening I started out on my one lap (8.75 miles) of the run course. IMAZ is in Tempe with the main transition area at Tempe Towne Lake Beach Park. I’ve read complaints that the run course is not flat and that you have to run much of it on concrete. I thought the run course was very nice and even scenic compared to where I often run, the Santa Ana River trail here in Orange County CA . No it’s not flat because you cross and re-cross bridges that span Towne Lake and the Salt River but there are no 15% hills like the OC Tri. I had a great run. It was maybe the easiest eight mile run I’ve ever done as I visualized doing IMAZ. Granted I didn’t swim 2.4 miles and bike 112 miles before my run but overall I loved the course.

The bike on Sunday morning was a little different. I’ve heard all about the bike course, windy, uphill, ugly, monotonous, mine field for flats. I generally feel good to great on the bike but this morning I did not feel comfortable. Maybe it was due to the 12 hour recovery time from my run the night before. Whatever it was the course did not help and I was only riding 38 miles today. It also didn’t help that I missed a turn and ended up on a desolate road being chased by not one, but five pit bulls on four different occasions. The course is as advertised, a steady but gradual uphill in to a headwind for 18.6 miles as you ride thru desolation. I was riding at 60% of my MAX HR (except when chased by the pit bulls) and was averaging between 15-18 MPH. I was reminded of the lava fields in Kona and thought at least Arizona has cactus and pit bulls. I could see how this course could wear on you. Once I got to the turnaround things changed dramatically. I was now going 22 MPH while taking a drink and soft pedaling. I averaged between 24 – 27 MPH on the ride back. From what I’ve heard of Kona, this course is much easier in the sense you have a headwind followed by a tailwind where as Kona it’s just brutally windy the entire time on the bike. All in all a very successful weekend for Liz and I. Having the opportunity to pre-ride and run the IMAZ course fueled my desire to be an Ironman even more.

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