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About Ironman Arizona

[All images from Ironman Arizona’s website.]

Ironman Arizona 2012 (www.ironmanarizona.com) takes place on November 18. The race is in Tempe, right next to Phoenix. It involves a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run. It starts at 7 AM, and everyone must be done by midnight.

The swim is a loop in Tempe Town Lake. The start is a mass start. Everyone is in the water, starting gun goes off, and we go! A couple thousand athletes all swimming together. I guess the upside to being a slow swimmer is I’ll be less likely to have people kicking me or swimming over me.

I won’t be pushing to get into the front of the pack. Water temperature will likely be in the low to mid 60s. I will definitely wear a wetsuit. Besides helping me keep warm, wetsuits also offer a little bit of buoyancy, which will help with the swim. (But, for you divers or surfers out there, tri wetsuits are thinner and more streamlined, and have more flexibility in the shoulders.) I have to finish the swim by 9:20 am. If I don’t cross the timing mat at the water exit by then, I’m done for the day.

After the swim, we transition to the bike. There will be people to help me get out of my wetsuit at the water exit, then someone will give me a bag I’ve pre-packed with my bike gear, and I can change, etc. (I’ll wear my triathlon bike shorts/shirt under my wetsuit, but I’ll want to pull on socks, gloves, sunglasses, sunscreen).

The bike course is three loops, meaning anyone watching me can easily see me several times! About 500 feet of climbing per lap, not too bad for the distance. There are aid stations about every ten miles on the bike, where I can get water, energy drinks, or other kinds of foods. And about halfway through the bike, I get a “special needs” bag that I pre-packed, that I can put whatever I want in (e.g., special food, drink, extra contacts). I have to finish the bike by 5:30 pm, 10 and a half hours after the race start.

After the bike, I’ll transition to the run. Once again, I’ll get a bag I pre-packed with my run gear: running shoes, hat, maybe a change of socks, whatever else I want. The run course is also three laps. It runs around the lake. It’s relatively flat, but with little shade (hopefully I get to the run early enough that there’s still a lot of sun to worry about!). I have to finish that by midnight.

I will spend much of the next year training for this event, which I expect to challenge me in ways that no athletic event has ever challenged me before. I will use this blog to track my training, but I will try to keep it interesting for my non-athlete friends.

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