Thursday, June 17, 2010

the Dog House race report

This past weekend, May 16th 2010 was The Dog House sprint triathlon. It was a 500 meter swim, a 17.6 mile bike, & a 3.2 mile run in Lubbock TX.
I was motivated to do well in this race because my cousin Greg, who got me into triathlon way back when was going to be racing with me.

I wasn't expecting much from myself in this race. I'd over trained leading up to my A race 3 weeks prior to the Dog House triathlon & had been struggling to get through any workouts, much less been able to finish any races with any serious speed.

Because of my poor performance the last month I took some time before the race to pray. I asked for a strong race if it was Gods will, or to give me the strength to accept a bad performance if it was what He wanted for me that day. This particular prayer is one I pray frequently: to have the strength to accept His will when his desires conflict with what I want. I have made great progress with accepting His will over mine, which isn't an easy thing for me to do. I'm a man of sinful nature & all to often I see myself acting just like a stubborn & strong willed child would, resenting when things don't go my way, pouting, & feeling sorry for myself-case in point look at my last blog post, jeez, that was ridiculous! I try & remember God is ALWAYS right in everything He does, even when- no especially when it goes against what I want.

The race started with a 500 meter open water swim. It was a mass start in water just a bit over a 60 degree temperature. The last time I raced in Lubbock (2008) I waited in the back of the pack to allow the majority of the athletes to get out onto the swim course before I started swimming. Not this time! I've improved my swimming speed & skills & was confident I could swim in the middle of the the pack where all the pushing & thrashing is. As soon as the gun went off I took off running into water. As the water became deep enough that running became too slow & cumbersome, but it wasn't yet deep enough to start swimming yet I started to dolphin. I was surprised to see I was the only athlete doing that.

I really needed a great swim because I knew the swim was where I had the biggest advantage on my cousin, who struggles in the water. He is an AMAZING cyclist, & knew I had to put a lot of distance on him in the water or he was sure to pass me early enough in the bike that I'd never be able to catch him on the run. I ended up with one of the 2 best swims of my life, getting out of the 500 meter swim in under 8 minutes!

I made a rookie mistake & couldn't find my bike in T-1 losing a good 20 seconds.

The bike course is very hilly & challenging! There are a 3 or 4 BIG hills each way on the out & back course, the 1st of which is the largest & longest and starts 100 feet from the bike start.

I had a strong bike performance finishing the 17.5 mile bike averaging approximately 22 mph. Amazingly enough I had finished the swim in a good enough time that my cousin wasn't able to pass me on the bike.

I started the run with my stop watch telling me I was just under the 1 hour mark total. I knew I was having a great race, pulling off some wonderful splits, but the run had been where I was struggling most recently. I had no idea what to expect, but I was motivated because I kept imagining my cousin was about to pass me by any minute, & I didn't want to get into a situation where he & I were running the entire course stride for stride, pushing each other to the breaking point, because I know how much heart that man has, & he'd end up testing my limits beyond what would be fun for me, squeezing every last bit of energy I had out of me, until I had nothing left & he'd end up dropping me, leaving me to struggle on the rest of the run on wobbly legs, exhausted, barely able to hold myself in an upright position, much less run with any authority.

Since it was an out and back run I was able to count athletes coming by from the turn around point. By my count I was in 5th place overall. I was able to hold onto the 5th place overall until there was 1 mile left on the run. At that point a lady by the name of Gretchen passed me. She was running very well, with perfect form, up on her toes, her steps were light, fast, & rhythmic, I could barely hear them at all. As she passed me her steps sounded like small patters of rain & I never once heard her breath heavily, which was completely the opposite of me, which I imagine sounded to her like she was getting chased by an asthmatic elephant.

I hung with her a well as I could, but this lady was strong! She ended up finishing 15 seconds ahead of me- remember me being unable to find my bike in T-1? That 20 second mistake cost me a top 5 finish. That just shows a person never stops learning, or in my case, never stops having to relearn:)

I finished the 5K run in approximately 23 minutes.

After I finished I went back out onto the course & paced my cousin the remainder of his run. We really kicked up the speed the last half mile! Being able to finish the remainder of his run with him was a great moment, I'll remember that fondly the rest of my life!

I finished the race in a total of 1 hour 22 minutes. Finishing in 6th place overall & 1st place AG 35-39. I now am in 1st place in the South West Challenge Series 35-39 AG with a total of 71.25 points.

Monday, April 13, 2009

You can always count on family

My wife's Aunt & Uncle bought our kids a rabbit for Easter. The rabbit arrived in very very small bird cage. Definantly not something large enough to be comfortable. So now I get to spend the day buying $80 worth of supplies (which we can't afford right now) & building a rabbit cage (which I don't have time to build). Ah, gotta love family. This is the cage I'm going to try & build.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Cody Hanson's Wind triathlon post race report

Today, April 11th 2009 was the Wind triathlon at White Sands Missile Range. It started off with a loop 5k run.

Since last Dec my run has been absolutely atrocious. I came into this race not expecting to do well on the run leg & was fully expecting to have to make time up on the bike & swim legs. I surprised myself and felt pretty good out of the gate.

The first mile was a slight down hill & I clocked the 1 mile mark at 7:05. Shortly after that there was a very long & gradual (grueling) uphill. Usually hills sap my strength, but after I topped this long uphill I felt great & continued back to an 8 min per mile pace. I finished the 5k (3.2 miles) in 25:30 & had about a 90 second lead on anyone else in my division. Of course, the closest person to me in my division was Jason McClure who is my arch nemesis on the racing circuit- outside of triathlon he's probably the nicest person I've ever met. But let me tell you, he & I have had some insane battles during races.

On mile 5 of the bike Jason McClure caught & passed me. As usual he doesn't just pass me, he screams past me at a pace I could never dream of keeping. Because Jason is such a beast on the bike traditionally the only hope I have of beating him is if I can run a sub 24 minute 5k. That usually puts him deep enough in a whole that I won't see him again. Today's 25:30 wasn't good enough to keep old McClure away. He passed me, & I saw another Clydesdale drafting off him.

Occasionally people will draft for a few seconds. But this guy rode Jason's wheel for 10 straight miles!!! That made me angry, & like Bruce Banner so eloquently proclaims, "you won't like me when I'm angry." I start hammering, & hammering HARD! I was going to catch this cheating Clydesdale & convince him to stop drafting. & if he didn't stop I was going to personally remove him from the course. Finally & suprisingly I caught the 2 of them ;suprisingly because I'd never caught Jason once he got ahead of me cycling.

I started yelling at this lecherous triathlete. At first he tried to ignore my protests & continued his illegal escapades; you see, in triathlon drafting is against the rules. He realized pretty quickly I was not finding his antics funny in the slightest. I yelled at the top of my lungs & was gradually pushing him closer & closer to the gutter. His choices was to let go of wheel he was riding, or eat dirt. He chose correctly.

From that point on I realized Jason couldn't drop me like usual. He'd get approximately 75 meters ahead of me, then I'd start reeling him in. He'd see me start to catch him, kick in his after burners, & then again I'd start reeling him in. DING! Ureka! I realized at that point what big Jason McClure had been doing to me all these years. He'd sprint passed me on the bike leg until he'd have nothing left. But once he got a half mile or so ahead of me I'd unconsciously slow down. Essentially he's been beating me on the bike with a mind game. I figured out today that if I stay with him for a few minutes of his hammer fest; as painful as that will be, then he'll ride at a sustainable pace.

Unfortunately just before the turn around point Jason flatted out. This is unfortunant because I believe I could have stayed with him today & passed him in the pool. I really believe that today would have seen me victorious over the great & mighty Jason McClure. But instead I won by default. Yes, I know that for the South West Challenge series a win outright scores the same as a win by default. But I hated to see that happen. I hated it partly because I think I'd have sqeaked out a victory in the end. But the biggest reason I hate that he flatted out is because even though I'm his biggest rival he still goes out of his way to be helpful, supportive, & honorable. No one as gracious as him should have such an ill-fated & abrupt ending to the day.

About 2 miles left on the bike a MASSIVE wind picked up out of nowhere! It was blowing directly in my face. My speeds slowed down to a CRAWL, but I hung tough & finished slightly behind Felix Hijnoso. Now Felix isn't in my division, but I've only finished the bike this close to him a couple times before.

Now you may think in a triathlon if there is a run, then a bike, then next would be the swim right? Wrong. The most neglected leg of most triathletes is the transition. Transition #1 is how fast can a person get out of his/her run gear & into their bike gear. Then transition #2 is getting out their bike gear into their swim gear. Thankfully I practice this. Even though Felix had a ten second lead into T-2, I beat him handily out of the transition area & into the pool.

I finished the 400 meter swim some where around 7 minutes 30 seconds to 7:40. Giving me a finishing time of 1 hr 48 minutes & taking first place Clydesdale!

I now have 3 first place finishes & one 2nd place for the 2009 SW series. Which gives me 39 points & a first place standing in my division. 2nd place is Alex Garcia with some where around 32 points & in 3rd is Jason McClure with 29.

Next race is the Atomicman duathlon April 26 in White Rock NM. I'll keep you informed on how I do.

Thanks for tuning in.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

2008 5430 half Iron race report

I can't start my race report without talking 1st about how much I loved Boulder Colorado. It was absolutely gorgeous & an endurance athletes dream city. My wife & I have agreed we want to move there once I retire. 7-8 yeas depending if I want to max my retirement or not.The swim started out in the Boulder reservoir. I was in wave #5. I stated out feeling great & reached the half way point in 20 minutes. For some reason I fatigued at the three quarter point & slowed slightly. Looks like I need to start working on more distance per swim. I finished the swim in 43 minutes 20 seconds. My 2nd best time at that distance.

As I was running into T1 I heard an entire group of people start yelling encouragement for me. It took me surprise because I was so far from my normal stomping ground. I didn't think anyone would know me by name. I was in the zone though so didn't stop to see who it was.I had a fast T1 time of 1 minute 36 seconds. Especially considering how large the transition area was.

I started the bike on my new Cannondale Carbon Slice & my HED 3 wheels feeling excited, yet nervous. I had set my goals high for today's race. I wouldn't be happy unless I set a new 70.3 PR. My old PR was 5 hrs 58 minutes on a much easier course & in much better weather & altitude conditions. The bike course was two 28 mile loops. Half way through the first lap I was feeling like I was keeping a faster speed at low zone 3 than I had at any of my other 4 half irons. But that was just a feeling with no facts behind it because I had no magnet on my HED wheels. I was riding blind. A hint for anyone wanting to do this race. Use heavy duty tires. There were more flats on this race than anyother 3 I've ever done. seriously, I probably saw 25 people on the side of the road. That's just the people in front of me. Who knows how many flatted behind me.

At one of the aid stations on the first loop one of the volunteers dropped the gel she was trying to hand me. I turned back around & peddled by her a 2nd time to get my race nutrition. I wasn't willing to risk going on without the gel because I may of risked running out of energy later in the course if I failed to eat enough early on. On the 2nd loop I dropped the gel. 3rd loop was a success but getting it on the 3rd try didn't help me feel better about the time I'd lost circling around in little retarded circles.On the beginning of the 2nd loop I felt great. Much less fatigue than I had ever felt by that point in any other 70.3 distance race.

I finished the 56 mile bike in 2 hrs 51 minutes keeping an average speed of 19.6 miles an hour.Another great transition time of 1 minute 45 seconds.When I started the run I felt my legs burning in areas I don't usually fatigue that much at. I knew that was because I'd only trained on my new bike for 2 weeks, one of those being a taper week. I was a little worried how my legs would handle the stress later on the run.I most definitely ran the first of the two 6.5 mile loops too fast. I was averaging a little faster than an 8;30 pace. At the beginning of the 2nd run loop I hear some guy screaming & yelling encouragement to me again. He was behind me but was running up to me pretty quickly. After 13 years working in a prison people running up behind me screaming like that can make me pretty jumpy. I looked behind me as I ran with my fight or flight instinct in full swing! Turns out it was my coach Pete Alfino. He drove out to the race from Highlands Ranch Colorado to watch me & a couple of his other athletes race. He was so pumped up when he saw what time I may finish the half in that he got onto the run course & started running with me. He was shouting for me to continue kicking butt, to watch my heart rate & not let it get to high to ensure a strong finish. About that time a race official ran onto the course screaming at my coach to get off the course! It was quite amusing seeing the official yelling & chasing my coach as my coach was yelling & chasing me. I must admit that gave me one heck of a boost seeing someone so excited for my race going as well as it had up to that point.I didn't feel the negative affects of the fast run pace until around mile 9. By that point I knew I was racing well, but I needed to try & continue running at a descent pace & avoid bonking or falling apart. It was going to be close. At mile 10 a fellow Clydesdale passed me & that gave me the motivation to ignore the exhaustion, dig deep, & pick up the pace. It was a real battle until the 12.5 mile mark when I kicked in the after burners. I was hoping to run fast enough in the last .6 miles to either blow my fellow competitor out of the water, or get far enough ahead quickly enough that he would slow down thinking it was no use trying to hang with a pace like that. I use that strategy a lot in the tail end of races. It seems to break peoples will when they see someone they have been keeping up with jet off like a speeding locomotive. Most of the time when I use this tactic my competitor slows down enough thinking it is pointless to try to keep up, that even if I fall apart before I reach the finish line I have created enough of a gap that he's unable to catch up.

My best half Marathon time of 1:58:45 was set in Dec 06 at the Tucson half marathon. I broke my half Mary time in a Half Iron with a of run time of 1:58:07!!!Total finishing time of 5:36:24!!! Broke my PR by over 22 minutes!!! Finished 8th place Clyde. They grow them fast in Boulder. The first place Clyd was in the 4:40's! 2nd & 3rd place Clyd were both 5:22. Only one second seperated the two.

Monday, November 12, 2007

70.3 World Championship 2007

Clearwater, Florida
November 10th, 2007

Today everything was fast . . . all around me. The 70.3 World Championships was an absolute treat for me, from competing with the world’s top HIM athletes to enjoying a fabulous venue, first class treatment from the volunteers, and the warm hospitality from the residents of Clearwater.

My first ever ocean swim was Thursday morning (I don’t think that my previous experience in the ocean of wading in waist deep and playing in the waves counts). When I arrived at the beach there was a lecture going on about strategy suggestions for ocean swims. I was only half listing to what was being said because I very nervously was watching the waves wondering how in the world I was going to get up the nerve to get in. There were a lot of questions about swells. People were asking, “how big are the swells? In what direction are they moving?” “Swells?” I wondered, “Are they talking about the waves?” I slowly put my wetsuit on, watched, delayed, and then took the plunge.

Swells are very scary. Surfers love them, strong swimmers just deal with them, but weak swimmers like me find them terrifying. I bobbed up and down like a cork, trying to site the buoys, but they kept disappearing. I struggled for about 15 minutes and then got out wondering how I was going to survive the swim on Saturday.

That afternoon I checked in. At the first table a volunteer asked for my id and USAT card, gave me a pink slip of paper with my bib number, and then sent me to the next volunteer wearing a head set. This volunteer radioed my bib number and assigned me to go to table #6 where another volunteer had already pulled my packet and was ready to explain the contents, get me to sign the forms, and put on my wristband. From there I went to another spot to be weighed and another to activate my chip and a final one to hand me my complementary bag, t-shirt, hat, etc. The process was smooth and so pleasant. The volunteers made me feel important, and I really appreciated how they went out of their way to make sure every athlete felt special.

Friday morning I went to the beach again and this time paid closer attention to the lecture. The ocean looked completely different, no swells, so I was not as distracted. I’m glad I listened because there was a lot of useful information. For example, the moment to get up and run out of the water when finishing a beach start/finish ocean swim is when the hand touches the bottom. “Take an extra stroke,” they said, “get up and start running without removing goggles or cap.” “You will need your hands,” they said, “just lift the goggles off your eyes when you hit the beach and go.” I practiced this on Friday and followed their advice race day and it worked perfectly.

Friday I swam for 25 minutes and felt a lot more relaxed. I could site the buoys and when I turned to come back, I felt pushed forward by the waves. That was nice. I was grateful for calmer waters, and as it turned out, Saturday the race conditions were perfect.

Friday afternoon was bike and bag check-in. At the 70.3 Worlds the transitions happen in a changing tent and not at the bike like at other HIMs. So earlier in the day, I had carefully packed and re-packed my swim-to-bike transition bag and my bike-to-run transition bag. When it was time to walk over to transition from our hotel, Mark helped me with my bike and my bags, but he was not allowed beyond a certain point to get into transition, so I had to push my bike and carry the bags and I was making a mess of it, getting all tangled up and tripping over my bike. There was a long line beginning to form and I could hear the announcer saying, “we need more volunteers to check in the athletes; we don’t want them waiting; we want them happy!” When it was my turn a tall young man introduced himself and then asked me my name. It took me a moment to realize that each athlete got a personal volunteer to help set up transition, to show the flow, and answer all question. First, my volunteer rescued me from my tangled bags; and then he helped me rack my bike, suggesting the best way to do it, and pointing out all the major landmarks so I could easily find it race morning. Next, he showed me where to hang my bags, and he made many helpful suggestions about what I should do as I was running out of the swim and how to quickly transition from the bike to the run. He showed me and showed me again how the flow worked (I asked lots of question, often asking twice to make sure I understood). He patiently answered and re-answered my questions. He explained that there would be wetsuit peelers and a bike catcher. I asked him about race morning, race waves, potty facilities at transition and on the course, about water and food on the course. So when I couldn’t think of any more questions, I remembered my manners, thanked him, told him I thought the volunteers were the best ever, and then asked him, “you said your name is Steve, right?” “Yes,” he said, “I’m Steve, the race director.” Just then Mark, who was standing just outside the transition fence asked me to ask the volunteer for spectator viewing suggestions. “I’ve got the race director!” I shouted. So Steve walked over and answered all of Mark’s questions. The whole experience was just way too cool.

Race day morning the water was calm and gorgeous. I arrived at transition a little before 6. Transition closed at 6:30, so I did not have much time, but all I needed to do was fill my water bottles and put all my cliff blocks in my Bento box. The pro men were only a few bike racks away from me, so I got to watch Craig Alexander and Andy Potts get their bikes ready under the glare of the NBC TV cameras.

Soon it was time to get my wetsuit on and walk to the beach to my appropriate wave corral. It was cold, about 54 degrees. The water, I knew, was about 69 degrees. Fortunately I had had two cold mornings to acclimate, so I felt all right. I also knew that in about an hour the temperature would go up to about 70 degrees and the late morning would be about 76—PERFECT!

One of suggestions from the swim lecture the previous day was to have a plan for how to start the race. The advice was that weaker swimmers should walk, not run in, go all the way to the left away from the buoys, and then also maybe wait a little after the gun to get in. “This is the plan for me,” I thought, but just a few moments before my start I changed my mind. Too many women seemed to be moving to the left and hanging back. The strong swimmers moved forward and to the right, but not many were lining up after them, so I decided to just follow them in. The gun went off and I ran! It was fun. There was a little bit of bumping, but not much, and very soon I had open water in front of me. I was hugging the buoys, keeping a straight line. I was happy and comfortable until . . . the fast men in the wave behind me caught up. They also liked hugging the buoys, so they just swam over me. They were so fast, the swimming over me only lasted a moment, but I was a little scared. Very soon I was once again happily and comfortably swimming from buoy to buoy until the wave of fast swimmers from two waves behind me also caught up. They also liked hugging the buoys, and they also swam over me. I’m pretty sure Jon Brown was one of them (he had a blazing fast 29 minute swim and 4:34 overall time!). By this time I was at the turn around, and we headed east, right into the sun. I was prepared, though, because I had already experienced being blinded the two previous mornings. So I followed the swimmers ahead of me, knowing that eventually I would see the buoys, and I knew I could keep straight by sighting Pier 60 on my left. The swim back felt faster, don’t really know if it was, but the gentle waves were now working in my favor. I eventually touched the bottom, took another stroke, got up, ran, lifted the goggles, ran up the gauntlet of cheering fans, spotted Mark and his parents cheering, ran through the showers, reached the peelers who had me out of my wetsuit in seconds, and ran to get my swim-to-bike transition bag.

My swim was a slow 40 minutes and my T1 was a slow 4 minutes and change (I need to work on this transition thing). There were volunteers inside the tent ready to help me get my gear on and bag my stuff for me. I ran straight to my bike (Steve’s directions were superb) and just as I reached my bike I slipped! I did not hurt myself, but I was very embarrassed. But I kept going, ran with my bike to the mount line and took off. I was wet and cold for the first 15 minutes, but I warmed up quickly.

The bike course is very flat and fast except for crossing the causeway. It is about a half mile up with a 12% grade. Mark and I and his parents had driven the first part of the bike course the day before, the one with the most turns, so I knew what to expect. The first third of the bike course went through Clearwater’s business district and several neighborhoods. The cops were out in full force and they were absolutely amazing. They had to deal with some intense traffic, but they were just fantastic keeping everyone safe. The second third of the bike course was the fastest, a wide straight road and a tail wind. It was not very interesting, but the bridge over the bay was nice, and I was having way too much fun going fast. I kept thinking about all the times Mike and Tim pulled me to and from Bernalillo, going 22 to 28 mph. Thanks to them I was not scared to just go as fast as I could. Mike and Tim have everything to do with my improving on the bike this year. I totally owe them for my 2:35 bike time and 21.6 average mph. The last third of the bike course turned around into the wind and had some turns and then the climb over the causeway again, steeper and longer in this direction. I was much slower here, but I felt strong and kept pushing as best I could.

One thing that made me laugh while on the bike was the Europeans. The men like to wear speedos to race, and so when I saw them pass me, leaning over their bikes, I got a few flashes of rather hairy butts.

The transition to the run went much more smoothly. I felt great right away and I knew I would have a good run. The run course is not fast because it consists of two loops that go over the causeway. So there are four climbs. Fortunately I do a lot of climbing when I train, so I was not intimidated at all. I have my running buddies Jean, Ken and Susan to thank for my run time—they are always there helping me push hard when I am training. My plan was to gradually speed up. I didn’t get negative splits, but my two loops were practically even. The nice thing about the run is that there is more time to look around, to see the athletes and to take in the surroundings. I saw Mark and his parents twice, cheering for me, and that was super nice. In a quiet part of the course there were two older ladies sitting on lawn chairs waving their homemade signs for every athlete that went by. One sign said, “Allez, allez,” I’m sure in an effort to encourage the foreign athletes, and every time a woman ran by, one of the women turned her sign around that said, “You go girl!”

For the last three miles I wanted to quicken my pace. As I approached the finish, the cheering got louder and I could see the huge Ford Ironman finish inflatable. I started to pump my arms as soon as I heard the announcer say my name. And then I was done. Immediately a volunteer wrapped a towel over my shoulders, another volunteer put on the medal (a very nice one, by the way), another took my chip, another handed me Gatorade, another bottled water, another showed where to find food. I was hungry, so I ate some rice and beans and some fruit.

It was very crowed and I had a little trouble finding my family, but when I found them they were very excitedly telling me I had done the race in under 5 hours! My mom was also on the phone congratulating me. My run was 1:32:50, my overall time was 4:56, and my age group place was eighth. For 2007 I am eighth in the world in my division for the 70.3. It doesn’t get any cooler than that.

Monday, October 29, 2007

What a long strange trip it's been...part Deux

In November of 2003 I finished my first Ironman in Florida. I wrote a story about my trip from couch 'tater to Ironman and all of the detours along the way. I thought that I had the world by the huevos and there was no going back.......

Well that long strange trip had a few more detours, and some road construction, and a mirror. You see the mirror was there all along but I chose not to see it. The detours and bumps in the road were choices I made. I made a couple of choices over and over and kept getting it wrong.

About a month ago I woke up and found that years have passed, I gained weight, and I realized that alcohol had way to tight a hold on my life. I have never said it before, but I am an recovering alcoholic. Those goals I penned after IMFL were still there, I just had a hard time seeing them. I won't be drinking again.

I took a long hard look in that mirror and felt ashamed. But inspired. I sat down and rewrote my goals. Number one goal: Face each day sober and thankfull. So far so good.

I went for a run....well shuffle...and felt like I just ran down the IM chute. I went for a ride.....and felt like I won the Tour de France. I went for a swim...and realized that I still stink at swimming...but I am thankful that I could do it.

In the past month I have eaten like I should have been eating, run, swam, and biked my way through 20lbs.

I have training goals, race goals, and more importantly I am fixing what I broke.

I am an Outlaw again. I am an Ironman again. And I am ready for what comes my way, sober.

Soma Race report..

I can only say that maybe IMLF was that difficult and I just don't remember but this one in on the books for me as the scariest (physically)-like the scary kind of am i really doing damage here on my body or could I die in this heat kind of fear.So here's how it went:I woke up with a ridiculously sore throat and congestion, took some sudafed-that seemed to help. No other symptoms. Hartley and I got up early, did our morning bagels, ensure, coffee for me and decided to leave around 5:45 since we had later waves. It took about 25 min to walk to the race site. Our bikes were already there-I liked that part-no lugging bikes in the morning. When we got there, we started hearing "transition closes at 6:45-no exceptions" Well, they had said in the pre-race meeting that it closed at 7:15 so I was pissed. We had literally 30 min to get all our stuff ready and find air for my tires. That sounds like alot of time but it's not when you have all the little doo-dahs to put in your bento box,race number belt and bike helmet. Vaseline on my run and bike shoes and baby powder in each for a smooth transition..I got out of this very huge transition area (about 2000 athletes) just under the wire. I couldn't find Hartley at this point but finally somehow ran into him. We got to hug and say good luck-his wave went before mine. Mine was last! I thought that would be bad but i think it was actually nice to know I probably wouldn't get passed by another wave behind us. The swim takes place in Tempe Town Lake-temp was around 70 degrees-you jump in, tread water and boom! you are off! it was a rectangle course, the second half was directly into the sun-guess they thought us old women could take the sun and heat so started us last..I could see nothing but thrashing arms in the sun portion and just kind of followed them. I felt like I was swimming pretty well-not fast but not slow. At the end, this really big guy hoisted me onto this block step to get out. I almost lost my balance as I tried to stagger out of those steps-that was tricky. they stripped my wetsuit for me, then was about a 100 yard run to transition. All in all my swim time was 44 minutes-which was slower than I thought I was swimming. I read on one forum that the swim was long-that's what I'm thinking. I was 2nd out of 16 in my AG in the swim, which is great but sucked later when 5 women in my AG passed me on the bike.T-1. I just whipped out of there and did it in 2 min, something. Jumped on the bike after running forever it seemed-had my shoes already on the bike. Wasn't quite the pro start I wanted but I did get into the shoes eventually and took off. The bike course is a neat little urban 18 miles loop that you do 3 times. The roads were closed-it was awesome! Lots of turns, a couple of "hills" (are they kidding-go check out Elephant Butte). All in all a great course. BUT-one by one 5 women in my AG passed me on the bike. You can tell by the age numbers on their calves. This started to discourage me but also spurred me on to go faster. I was pissed!! These women were bigger than me, for the most part and I thought -"shouldn't I be faster here?" Well, I never saw them again except one I passed on the run-tee-hee...Total bike time-3:05. My personal best by about 25 minutes in a half. I am thrilled and do thank each and every 50-54 woman that passed me now! It was starting to get hot near the end of the bike, bu nothing really noticeable. I forced myself to drink and eat because I knew it would be hot later and I needed reserve. That all went well. I saw Dread Pirate on the bike stopped with a major bike problem and waiting for help. I felt really bad for her because I think it had something to do with the wheels I sold her..I ran into Duane on the bike and others. It was fast and alot of folks on that bike course..My legs were screaming by the end, I was pushing so hard and I began to wonder if I had pushed it too hard..I was trying to catch all those women!!T-2. Another fast one. I can brag that i did have the fastest transitions in my age group-something to be proud of. Coach Mico taught me that. Even if you are slow,even the slowest, you can make time up in transition..and I do..THE RUN: Now here is what separated the men from the boys, so to speak. And I am not sure that those of us that finished are necessarily smart or sane, but I did....finish.... As I I headed out to run, I noticed right away it was HOT! I mean REALLY hot! The internet said it was 97 degrees. There was no wind at this point-I was saying to myself by mile 2-"there is no way I will finish in this heat" I have never thought this before in a race. I felt at times running faint, nauseated, chilled-these are all signs of dehydration, probably sun stroke-I told myself. I started walking out of fear. There were ALOT of aid stations-at least every mile and at each one they had water, gator ade, pepsi, ice, etc..It was so well supported. At each aid station, I drank water, poured water on my head, put ice on my chest. I alternated drinking water, pepsi, gatorade. After awhile I think I was delirious because I forgot when I had taken in goo or salt tabs-I did take about 4 I think. I took 4 Ibuprofen. My legs were cramped and feet numb the first 4 miles. I had to stop and take my shoes off, rub my feel and put my shoes on looser each time. This happens to me often in the heat..I think it is the swelling after the bike. Anyway after about 4 miles and my "walking the aid stations" idea was clearly not working-I needed a new goal. OK-I can walk 60 secs./run 60 secs.. I do not race with a watch so I counted-probably out loud, who knows. But that seemed to work for awhile. There was an out and back loop at mile 4 that seemed like forever. Everyone looked like hell. I still wondered if I would faint and die out there. I wondered why there were not more bodies on the course-really! But somehow I finished the first lap. I still did not know my time but I knew if I did the walk/run thing-it would probably be about a 3 hour run and I could break my 7 hour goal. I saw Geek Girl at the 7 mile aid station and she said she wasn't going to make it..i understood that for sure..i was about to join her. About mile 7 and 1/2 I saw Hartley in a sag wagon-OH NO!! I thought. He told me he pulled something in his leg and was going to the medical tent. I was really bummed now-he wasn't going to finish his first half IM! I felt like crying. Then I re-focused and started the walk /run thing again. I met Russ, from San Diego and we walked/ran/encouraged each other for the last half of that very long hot run. My voice was hoarse by now-I could barely talk. The breeze actually started on the last 5 miles, which helped a bit. I no longer felt like I may die and knew I would finish at about mile 10 of the run. I met another guy that told me I would make it under 7 hours with time to spare (I wouldn't let him tell me the time-it psyches me out). Russ and I continued to jog and somehow the last mile and a half, I got a burst of energy and just blasted in. It felt so good to run the pace I wanted to run the whole time and at the finish line-there was Hartley, cheering me in and limping along...I felt tears in my eyes as I realized I had my PR and he didn't finish. He had pulled his Achilles Tendon (we think)..Final run time was a miraculous 2:52.Final time: 6:47-my PR by 27 minutes...I finished 6th out of 16 in my age group. 684 out 881 overall.