Thursday, 24 November 2016

#sub9hr - Ironman Arizona Race Report - #smashyourgoal

So I had set out at the beginning of the year that Ironman Arizona would be my only “A” race of the year. That meant that everything this year was focused on having a great race here. The goal from the onset was very clear in my mind…go sub 9hrs. 

I flew into Phoenix on Thursday morning and headed directly to Cactus Pool for a swim. After my swim, I ran into Brent McMahon who had just finished his swim and was headed out for a run. I then headed down to Tempe Beach Park to complete athlete check-in. Athlete check-in was very quick and I had a quick walk through the expo. On my way out, I ran into Jordan Bryden. I headed back to the car to put my bike together. Just as I was finishing, Jordan reappeared and said he was going to head out for a ride as well. So once we both had our bikes together we headed out for a ride on the course. I was very thankful to be able to ride with Jordan as he knew the course. We biked almost a full loop with the exception of the climb at the end.

After the ride, I headed up to John and Sue Coffen’s. They had once again graciously agreed to be my home stay while in Phoenix. John and I had first met back in Coeur d’Alene in 2012 and have stayed in touch ever since. 

Friday I did a quick 5km run as I was unable to fit it in on Thursday. After the run, I headed down to the expo for the athlete briefing and then to take in the expo. I ran into Michellie Jones at the Compex booth and thirty minutes later I walked out as a proud owner of a Sport Elite Muscle Stimulator. In the afternoon, John and I went to Slowtwitch gathering at Tribe Multisport. John introduced me to quite a few of the local athletes. 

Argon 18 E-118 (aka my Stealth Steed) Racked and Ready to Race!
Saturday morning I did a quick brick: ~30min ride followed by a 4km run. I then headed down to Tempe Beach Park for the practice swim. I did one loop and then checked in my gear. 

I didn’t have a very good sleep, but that’s pretty much standard. I woke up at 0345hrs and made my typical breakfast of a couple eggs, a bagel with honey (instead of the typical jam), a coffee, and a glass of cranberry juice. I headed down to Tempe Beach Park at 0430hrs and was in location shortly before 0500hrs. Parking was an absolute breeze and the parking garage was directly across the street from transition. I dropped off my bike special needs bag (500mL of Red Bull + 2 Gu Gels), pumped up my tires, and put my nutrition on my bike. 
The picturesque swim!

Swim – Swim Strong
As I’ve stated before the swimsmart initiative from Ironman turns the race into a TT, however, the advantage is the swim start is a lot less chaotic and quickly spreads out the field. This resulted in very little contact during the swim. I swam using my motto Swim Strong. I was a little disappointed to see 1:05:XX on my watch as I exited the water, but knew that even with a  1:05 my goal should still be within reach.

Bike – Bike Hard
Through transition efficiently while ensuring I had sunscreen applied to my arms. I was onto the bike and very quickly settled into a mod-hard effort. I quickly found myself in a pack with three other athletes. It was clear that the athletes I was riding with all understood how to ride legally and attempted to maintain 12m of separation. The bigger issue was the athletes that we were passing were not falling back like they should be. I was getting pretty sick and tired of the yo-yo-ing effect from the passes and kept moving to the front of the pack which required surges to above threshold effort. I knew I didn’t want this to continue for the remainder of the race so at the turn-around on Beeline Highway I put the hammer down and took off. One of the other athletes had a similar idea and he passed me on the way back down the Beeline Highway. I felt very strong on the bike  and made sure to focus on my nutrition in preparation for the run. On the bike I consumed 2 Caramel Bonk Breakers, one during each descent on Lap #1 and Lap #2, and 2 Gu Gels on the third descent and ride back into  Tempe. In addition to that I drank about 5L of PhD Glyco Durance Strawberry-Kiwi Flavour (1200 Calories) and 500mL of Red Bull (220 Calories). I was pretty happy with my lap bike splits of ~1:32, 1:33, and 1:33, Final Bike Time was 4:38:05. Power 203W Avg, 210W NP. IF 0.78. VI 1.03.
To the finish by His Grace!

Run – Run Fast
Off the bike and onto the run. As I quickly ran through transition I glanced at my watch and saw 5:48. It was at this point I felt very comfortable that I had my #sub9hr goal in the bag. My legs felt great and I felt I had sufficient margin to put a very solid effort in on the run. I settled into an effort that I classify as steady. I quickly realized that I was near the front of the age group race. I was surprised to see that I was holding a 4:00/km pace. I knew it was probably unrealistic for me to hold this for the full marathon, but knowing I had a buffer I figured I just go with it and back off the effort to ~4:16/km once the effort started feeling hard. I was through the first loop in just over 1:25 and I felt that I could run the second loop in 1:30. It wasn’t until I caught Patrick Bless (Male Pro) on the second loop that I realized that I had worked my way to the front of the age group race. As we were climbing the hill he made a comment to me about being the top age grouper. The last five kilometers were tough but knowing I had a shot of being the top age group was motivation enough to keep the hammer down. Run fast the kids said and that’s what I did. Final Run time 2:54:38.

Final time 8:43:52. A new Ironman PB by 22minutes with a PB on both the bike and the run. I have to say I am still in absolute shock that I was able to smash my goal by 15+minutes. And of course the icing on the cake was I was the 1st Overall Amateur and 22nd Overall.
F30-34 & M30-34 Podium (LtoR - 1st to 5th)

A special word of thanks to my amazingly supportive wife who graciously allowed me to race yet another year. Also, a big thanks to John and Sue Coffen for their amazing hospitality. Finally I can’t say enough about the great support I have received this year from Cam and Elise @ Element Cycling and Multisport, Argon 18, Jonathan Kisiloski the Canadian Distributor for Z3ROD, Compressport Canada (distributed by A-1 Imports), and the many amazing friends and colleagues who continue to support me and my family.  

Going home with more hardware!


  1. Stunning performance. This proves the rule that in life, you get what you pay for. You had the vision, put in the work, executed the plan, and reaped the reward. Well earned, it sounds simple enough.... very difficult to do. BZ, Joel.

  2. Congratulations Joel! Knew you could do it!
    Love ya even if you are crazy! :)

    Big sis.

  3. A huge accomplishment Joel. Congratulations on an awesome feat. I miss you guys in Cold Lake.