Monday, April 16, 2007

Ironman Arizona Champion


Six weeks ago after returning from my 2nd place finish at Ironman New Zealand I was talking with my husband and told him that I felt like I had something left in the tank and was contemplating a return to Tempe for Ironman Arizona. We discussed it with my coach and in the end we all felt like there was nothing to lose, I already had a Kona spot locked down, not to mention I love Ironman Racing! We proceeded to make arrangements so that I could bring the entire family out to Tempe to be part of this special day. Special thanks to my Sports Psychologist Marc Strickland of Phoenix who hosted us for the week. We truly appreciate your unwavering support! It was great to have my kids with me during the week. My husband had some shirts made which read “Our Mom Rocks” they were a hit!!

They took part in all my pre-race activities – for me that’s what it’s all about! Sharing this experience with my family made it that much greater.

Race morning was filled with the typical nervous stomach but I was excited about the day to come! (I actually was able to eat all of my Gluten Free English Muffin and Peanut Butter!!). I arrived at the race site early, got tires pumped, filled my Bento Box, did my pre-race warmup, kissed my kids and headed to the water.

The pros started at 6:45 am, fifteen minutes prior to the age-group athletes.
As we approached the start line two distinct groups were forming. I was in the group to the left of the start line – to my right was Joanna Zieger, Hillary Biscay, Tim DeBoom and other speedsters. I was thinking about quickly moving but did not want to get caught in “No Mans Land” when the gun went off. I stayed put and was able to get on another athletes feet. I never look at my watch during the swim – I was at the back of a pack and didn’t want to risk losing it to look. Before I saw the clock I saw Michael Lovato ahead of me and breathed a sigh of relief as I never really know where I’ll come out. I felt good about my swim exiting the water in 52 minutes.
I took off on the bike immediately chasing Joanna Zieger and Hillary Biscay along with the rest of the Pro Women’s field. I felt comfortable with my first two laps on the bike but saw Joanna’s lead slowly increasing. By the beginning of the third lap it was up to 10 minutes. Katja Schumacher had passed me as well and she was moving fast. I knew the time was at hand to push the third loop hard. I was coming off a series of 2nd place Ironman finishes at New Zealand, CDA in 06 as well as 2nd to Michelle at Arizona last year. I didn’t want to take 2nd again. I couldn’t let the gap get any larger so I pressed harder. The wind was picking up something fierce and I knew the time was now to cut back into Joanna’s lead. By the end of the third bike loop I cut the lead down to 6 minutes and change. Could I catch them? Six minutes is a lot, especially since Joanna is a former Olympian Speedster, but my run has been great lately so I was looking forward to the third leg of my race day.

The run was flat out exciting! Joanna had a strong lead and was running well, Katja Schumacher took off strong and was gaining time on Joanna as well. I knew it was going to be a long day on the run so I settled into a pace that I knew I could maintain. The 1st loop I didn’t make up much time on either racer but by the 2nd loop I heard split times getting less and less. It was hard as the splits jumped all over the place – someone would yell you are now 2:30 back, next person you are only 4 minutes behind. I had to keep pressing on. We were two hours into the run and I could see Katja getting closer, maintaining my pace I passed her and focused my sights on Joanna. Throughout the day I was praying for strength. My faith is an important part of who I am and relying on God for strength gives me confidence!! At the beginning of the 3rd loop, as I was crossing the bridge, I could finally see Joanna on the road beneath me. She was approximately 1:30 – 1:45 ahead at that time. If I gained 10 seconds a mile she would win by about 25 seconds. I needed to push more and like any athlete you have extra motivation when you have your competition in your sight. I also knew that if I could dig deep and give it my all I had a chance to overtake Joanna for the lead. As she was getting closer to me I kept picking it up. I moved past Joanna into first place just after the 24 mile mark. From there on the thought of seeing my kids at the finish line was my motivation!! I crossed the line at the 9:36 mark, securing my 4th Ironman Victory.

I really love the Arizona Ironman Course Setup, a three loop course is fantastic. Being able to see my family as well as the competition throughout the day is motivating. A special thank you to all the supporters who cheered me along throughout the day – thanks to you I never felt alone. These types of victories would not be possible without the support of my Sponsors. A special thanks to the Luna Tri Team, Orbea, Wigwam Socks, Village Bikes, Blue Seventy, Mavic, Dr. Bergman and Chiro Kinetics, Racer Mate, Giro Helmets, Computrainer, Power Cranks, Tribe Multisport, William Muhlstadt, Zogisle, Marc Strickland my Sports Psychologist, Coach Tim Crowley from Carmichael Training, Alan & Headsweats for the visor as well as Brian the “Stitch Wizard” for the cool “Our Mom Rocks” shirts.

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