Big Rocks and I had a great trip to Arizona. Well, I cant speak for him, but he seemed to enjoy the time. Each day, weather wise, was a carbon copy; sunny and in the low 70’s. Weather doesn’t get much better. They just need some water in Arizona. And not water like the Tempe Town Lake where they swam for the IM. First, this lake looks more like a river. Next, it looks more murky than a mud puddle which has to correlate with pollution, right? There is a beautiful running path around the lake though and I took advantage of this and ran each day for an hour to 90 minutes. Right next to Arizona State University's Stadium is a huge piece of dirt called “A” mountain or “A” hill – it looks more like, well as I initially mentioned, a big piece of dirt. Theres a trail that goes up this and I ran it each day. It’s short but a son of a bitch. I’m guessing the gradient is maybe 20%. There is a great 360 degree view of the city and surrounding area from the top. On Saturday, the day before the IM, I was running bounding hill repeats up a short section of this hill when a guy walking up stops me to ask if I’m racing the next day, to which I said “yup. Gotta cram in one more last minute session”. Saturday afternoon, Big Rocks and I went out to Scottsdale and hiked up Camelback Mountain which is a short (1.5 miles) hike to the peak, yet very steep and technical. Amazing views at the top of this as well.
Race day is always busy, whether you are racing or spectating. We walked down to catch the swim start and I ran into some familiar faces who were also there spectating. This venue is ideal for a spectator as you can walk along the river, I mean lake, watching the swim and can actually see people you know swimming. You also get a great birdseye view from above the overpasses as the athletes swim under you. I was pointing out to my father the diversity in swim strokes amongst the front four guys. The lead swimmer was super-efficient, with a nice long, powerful stroke, while the swimmer on his toes was just an engine, like a wind-up toy, taking three strokes for every two of the front guy. Both were getting the job done quickly. We met some guy who I guess is a pro and has been first swimmer out of the water at a bunch of IM’s and made sure to tell us this plenty of times. He seemed to know all the pro athletes racing and also not racing and according to him he also taught them all.
I then headed out for a run and ran 30 minutes out onto the bike course and turned around to run the 30 minutes back. As I ran back, cyclists zooming at me heading out on the first of the three loop bike course, I witnessed the pros come by first in a nice tight little group. Jordan Rapp and TJ Tollakson shortly pulled away, however the rest of this group I'd guess liked staying as a group. Jordan and TJ were on their own for the majority of the bike – they really earned their one two finish. Next came the pro women who were together but spaced out very legit riding legally. Then the front age groupers. I’d guess these were the swimmers who were in under one hour. They were spread out quite a bit and getting into their rhythm. Then, the masses came. I’d say the swimmers who did between 1 hr and 1 hr and 20 minutes – yes, that long a time gap. This is where the majority came out and it seemed like one long two or three abreast train on the way out. I think this Arizona course is actually more flat than IM Florida. There wasn't much wind making for fast bike times. I guess there was a bit of a headwind one way, however, it didn't seem bad. This is a course where it pays to pay extremely close attention to the aerodynamics of your bike set-up and position. Sure, it does for all courses, but many courses are more of a balance between power output and aerodynamics and you cannot go extremely deep with wheel selection because of wind gusts and cross winds. Not so here.
Big Rocks and I got some frozen yogurt - the frozen yogurt places out here are all self serve! Brilliant! Then we went out onto the run course ad hung out on the backside of the loop and cheered on the athletes. All my athletes were running and looked great actually. It was very cool to see - I'm extremely proud of them. Many did prs and all finished and finished well. I think that because of the mid 70's temps, many may have underestimated the amount of salt that they needed to take in in general out there. Winner Jordan Rapp took in close to 2000 mgs per hour! Jordan also had a pigeon toed running style and didn't look like he was running fast, yet knocked off a 2:55 marathon. Very well done on his behalf.
Spectating an IM event never fails to provide motvation. As I watched everyone out there driving themselves towards the finishline, I thought with excitement about some new coaching ideas and about the 2010 season, and about the fact that without a goal out there, we are just status quo. Try to convince yourself otherwise, but justifying not setting goals is playing it safe and staying comfortable which gets us no where, thus defining status quo. Congratulations to everyone who competed in IM Arizona and any race this year and especially my athletes and friends who raced. Keep up the great work! By the way, I picked up "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy at the airport on the way out - man what an intense read, and great book! The movie is coming out this weekend for those who don't want to read it, but I highly recommend the book.