Sunday, April 16, 2006

Ironman Arizona 2006

A Great PR Day!!

I was looking forward to a return to Tempe for IM Arizona 2006. What a great job I have. I get to train and race as a professional athlete. Now that I live in Florida I have had the opportunity to train outdoors for months leading up to this event. The week leading up to an Ironman is always a very busy time for me and this week was no exception. My new sponsor JR Ironbody and Right Toyota had lined up a multitude of media events during the course of the week. I had the privilege of speaking to the Tribe Multisport Club on Wednesday evening. Many athletes were saying how I motivated them but little did they know their enthusiasm and support really Motivated ME – THANKS EVERYONE!!

Friday included a morning interview with Channel 10 from the swim start, a Press Conference for Ironman North America, Television interviews, Radio (ESPN) interview, and my favorite of all speaking at the late afternoon Iron Prayer service to a packed ballroom. Thankfully, Saturday was a day to make final adjustments and get off my feet!

Race Day came and I arose with a sense of confidence that I had prepared myself to the best of my abilities, (yes, there were still nerves as usual). On Ironman morning the minutes pass by quickly and before I knew it the Pro Field was asked to hit the water. I know how important it is to get off to a fast start, so strategy dictated positioning myself correctly. The gun sounded and we were off. We swam directly into the rising sun and I felt that I was moving quickly through the water in my new Blue Seventy wetsuit! I felt strong throughout the swim and exited the water in a time of 53:38, a great start to the day. I made my way through transition, making sure I had all of my nutrition for the day and headed out to the looped bike course. My goal was to try and pick off some of the leaders. Michellie Jones was off to a quick start and the rest of us were attempting to keep up the pace. I found that now being a resident of Florida the heat really did not affect me - in fact I actually enjoyed it – the hotter the better! My position throughout the 5 hour 17 minute journey did not change and I entered the run in sixth place.

I knew that I had my work cut out for me but I had been working very hard on my run over the past few months. I could tell from the pace I was keeping through the first loop that this had the potential to be my best marathon in an Ironman to date. I kept myself well hydrated and fortunately began to make my move passing Tereza Macel, Andrea Fischer and Hillary Biscay. My daughter Jordan who has Cerebral Palsy wrote me a letter before I left telling me that “whenever my legs felt tired, to just think of her and press on”. Great advice and motivation from a nine year old! Desiree Ficker passed me but after keeping a steady pace (and thinking of Jordan) I was able to overtake her once again to move back into second place. In the end I was able to pull away and earn not only my best marathon in an Ironman (3:16), but an overall PR for the day finishing in 9:33. I came across the line feeling like I had won the race. Michellie had a flawless day and I congratulate her on an impressive win.

It was a day I will not soon forget, but no athlete gets their alone. I would like to thank God for blessing me with the ability to do something I love, my family and of course my sponsors whose support is vital to me.

Thanks Clif Bar, Oomph Sports, Fig Newtons,
JR Ironbody, Right Toyota, Inside Out Sports, Zipp Wheels, Orbea, Ironman Helmets, Profile Design, Village Bikes, Radius Wellness, and Penta.

In closing, congratulations to all the first time Ironman Finishers, may this be the first of many.
Heather Gollnick
3-time Ironman Champion