While the rest of Foxtrot Racing was off having a great team camp in Fruita this weekend, I was doing my spring training at the home of spring training: Scottsdale, Arizona. One of my clients/coworkers, Tim, is an avid triathlete (Tim provided all the photos). After Ironman Arizona last November, we talked about doing a spring triathlon in Phoenix in preparation for our Ironman efforts in 2014. We settled on the Bartlett Lake Triathlon, and little did we know we had signed up for one of the most challenging courses in Arizona. I also got to meet another coworker, Sheri, whom I had only worked with over the phone, and I had no idea she was a huge triathlon fan with an amazing Shiv bike!
During the pre-race briefing, the race director mentioned “the only flat part of this course is the swim.” He was right. Speaking of the swim, that water was cold but I had my new Aqua Sphere wetsuit and other then my toes cramping as I got in the water, I was comfy! The lake was really low and the water line was a good 50 yards below what appeared to be the “normal” water line. In retrospect, it seems this may have affected the accuracy for the swim course distance – or maybe it was because they were still dropping the buoys 20 minutes before the race started?! It also meant the run from the water to transition was long and steep. My Garmin showed my swim to be 0.56 miles, roughly half of the supposed 1 mile we were scheduled to do. My time of 24 minutes was super fast if it was a full mile, and super slow if it was only the half-mile Garmin indicated. Hmmm…
The bike course started off with a tough half-mile climb out of transition, then into another half mile of rolling hills. Then you hit the stuff that I didn’t even know Phoenix/Scottsdale had… a 3+ mile category 3 climb! I had previewed the course on Saturday, so I knew what to expect and took it relatively easy on this part. As usual, a ton of people beat me out of the water, and I caught a bunch of them on the climb. As I started the second (shorter) climb just before the turnaround, I dropped my chain and managed to really wedge it into the bottom bracket. It seemed like 5 minutes, but was actually only a minute delay, and I was back on the road.
The cost to check my TT bike on the plane using Adam’s bike carrier was going to be $400 round trip, so I ended up renting a Trek Madone 5.2 carbon road bike. I did use Kirk’s deep dish wheels on the Madone, but I didn’t have great confidence on the downhills, so I was constantly bleeding speed. It definitely cost me a few spots in the overall, as a few guys I had passed on the climb whizzed by me on the descent.
After the two lap bike course, the run started with the same half-mile climb out of transition. However, instead of turning toward the rolling hills like the bike course, we turned up a steep climb (12%-13%) that hit the summit 1.2 miles in. Then it was downhill for 2+ miles to the run turnaround. It only took a few steps after the turnaround for the legs to scream and burn as we made our way back up for 2+ miles before dropping the last 1.2 miles into the finish. My mile splits were all over the board: as low as 9 minutes on the climbs and as fast as 6:30 on the downhill portions! Of course, those downhills pissed off my IT band and I’ve got a good post-race limp when I walk!
I finished 19th overall, and 3rd in my age group. After looking over the times of a friend who had done the race previously, and who is pretty similar to me in overall times at all the triathlon distances, my goal was 3 hours, and I completed it in 2:56:15. In years past, that would have been good for a top 10 overall, but the field appears to be getting stronger! I felt stronger in the swim again, and on the bike, I think it was less then 5 people that started behind me and finished in front of me (there were a number that I caught on the climbs that passed me on the descents). I caught 5 or so folks on the run – not nearly as many as normal, but I think I was closer to the front of the pack the whole day anyway with improvements in swimming and cycling.
It is worth mentioning that the volunteer course spotters were awesome! They cheered for every single person that came through with a ton of enthusiasm. Also, a huge thanks to Tim for motivating me to stay active this winter. And also to Kirk and Adam for loaning me bike stuff that I will some day add to my arsenal. And finally, to my parents for watching Jude, our 7-month old, while I discovered that the Phoenix metro area actually has “real” hills!