Ironman Arizona 2012 Race Report

Ironman Arizona 2012 is the last triathlon of the season and I went out with a BANG.  This race report came very close to being the shortest race report for an Ironman race but fortunately (or unfortunately for you) I have a lot more to say since there was and ending that I can speak of.  In case you don’t want to go through the process of reading every word just jump to the bike section and you can read why this was very close to being a short post.  If you care to read it all than let’s jump right in together:

Thursday:  On Thursday I flew into Phoenix ahead of Karen because she had to work.  From the airport I drove straight to the expo to go through the athlete check-in and get all of that over with before heading up to Emily’s house.  Emily was kind enough to allow Karen and I to stay at her house during this race weekend and I am so grateful to her for doing so.  We picked up dinner and then I headed back to the airport to pick up Karen and prepare for a rather easy Friday.

Friday:  Lots of nothing going on.  Did the rounds of the expo for Karen to see and spent the day off of my feet as much as possible.  Friday night is the big dinner night for a race on Sunday and I ate and ate and ate.  Felt good though.

Saturday:   Headed down to the transition area early so that Karen could begin her 22 mile run since she has the Dallas Marathon coming up.  At first I was going to go to sleep in the car and then do the practice swim and a quick 30 minute bike and 30 minute run.  I was antsy so I figured I would ride and run then swim.  Thankfully I did as I realized as I was heading to the swim that I did not bring my bike and run gear bags and they had to be checked in that day.  After getting that all done we headed to the tattoo parlor to talk to the artist about sketching out the tattoo (I will be getting it today so stay tuned for pictures.)

Sunday:  Race day.  It all starts with a 3:30am wake up followed soon by a cup of coffee, a bowl of granola and toast with peanut butter, banana and honey.  Gather up whatever I need for morning clothes and into the car we went.  Off to the race site at 4:44am (a node to Emily) and we got down to transition after fighting with the GPS for a few minutes.  Walking down to the race site I had a calm come over me.  Maybe it was experience or just that I knew I was ready but either way there were no butterflies.

I got all my gear checked over and then put my nutrition on my bike along with pumping up my tires.  Body marked and porto-potty time.  After that I ran into Troy and Michelle and what a terrific sight.  We all stayed with each other until it was time to jump in the lake, and here the race report begins:

Swim:  Michelle and I jumped in the lake together with about 7 minutes to go before the cannon.  We found a surfboard and hung onto it.  While handing on I dropped my face into the water several times and kept kicking to keep my body warm.  The water temp was 64* and while I made it much colder in my mind before jumping in the temperatures  still ran a chill down my spine.

With about 1 minute to go until the start I told Michelle that we needed to start swimming so that we were moving and would be able to just go without stopping.  As we were swimming the cannon went off and we said our good lucks and went.  The start at IMAZ is not as crazy as I expected.  I sighted on every stroke to start to make sure I wasn’t swimming on top of people and to also help me find a line.  After the first 200 meters I found an opening and went.  I was not touched after that, nor did I touch anybody.  That is until the first turn buoy, then second turn buoy which are very close together.  People warned about the sun as you would be swimming into it but I never had any issues on this section of the swim.

After the second turn I had smooth sailing and picked up the pace.  I was settling into a groove when the leg cramps started to hit.  My calf muscles would get very cramped and I had to swim while flexing my feet.  It was after the 4th or 5th cramp that I decided to kick just a bit more to keep my legs from tightening up again.  Then before I knew it I saw the last turn buoy and was headed toward the stairs.  When I got to the stairs my legs were a bit fatigued and I almost slipped climbing the stairs and that is when the lady in front of me went down.  Feeling so bad for her I just stepped over her and kept on moving.  Found the wetsuit strippers and off to grab my bag and into the changing tent.

T1:  I pride myself on getting through the transition areas quickly, but this time I decided to bake cookies or so it would seem.  A 12 minute transition in T1.  What is this all about?  Well, let me tell you.  Being afraid of being cold I took some toe warmers and hand warmers from Emily that had to be opened.  I changed out of the shorts I swam in and into a dry pair.  I put on a top (swam without one) then applied sunscreen and arm sleeves.  Put on race bib, shoes, gloves and helmet and I finally got out of that tent.

Bike: Ironman Arizona is a 3 loop bike course with each loop consisting of 37 or so miles.  I got on my bike at the mount line and started going.  I held back a bit because I wanted to make sure that I could feel my legs and not over exert myself because I was cold.  After finally settling I began my plan to hydrate and get the calories in.  The plan was to drink my prepared drink every 15 minutes, a HoneyStinger every two hours and EFS every 1.5 hours.  In between I would take water off the course from every aid station.  I would drink what I could and chuck the bottle before getting out of the aid station area.

At the first aid station, which is about 13 miles into the race, is where the race nearly ended.  I slowed down behind another rider as he reached for a water bottle.  As soon as he grabbed it I grabbed mine.  He dropped his, and then a Gatorade bottle dropped from some place and he went down.  With only one hand on the bike and no place to go I went down over top of him and hit the ground with a huge thud.  I  could feel the air leaving my lungs and then my head smack down hard on the ground and then the sliding began.  I stayed down for a moment and then stood up and a few volunteers helped me.

One woman told me I was ok and that I had no swelling and the bike looked ok.  I was gathering my thoughts when I thought of not being able to continue and this so soon into the race.  I thought of the sacrifice that Karen had put in to get me here.  I then started smacking my saddle and cursing.  After feeling bad for myself I did a body check (check) and a head check (check) and then a bike check (check) and started to go.  Before even the first peddle stroke I noticed that while my bike was pointing forward the wheel was pointing to the left.  That is when I really thought my race was over.  I asked the volunteer helping me if there was a bike aid around and he found there was one at the end of the aid station.  I walked my bike down there not knowing what to think.  The mechanic put it up on the bike holder and made some adjustments and told me the bike was perfect that I could keep racing.

I got on the bike and with a lot of hesitation and trepidation I began going.  This section is where the 3% grade is but we were also facing a headwind.  With my body still wracked and the elements against me I had the slowest splits of my day at this point.  When I reached the turn around I was pissed and said it was time to ride.  I started hammering and noticed that I was riding at 30 mph (thank you tailwind.)  I got to the turn around to start Loop 2 in about an hour and finished Loop 1 in 2h6m.  My goal was to do a 5:50 bike split and doing the math I knew I would need to kill the 2nd and 3rd laps but I did not want to hurt my run so while I was aggressive I did not blow all my energy.  My left hip was feeling good and other than the cut on my shoulder I thought I was ok.  That was until my right hip started throbbing and the top of my right foot started to hurt.

When Lap 3 started I just wanted it over with and pedaled.  This time there were no incidents or issues but I really wanted to be off my bike and running.

T2: More like it.  I ran down my row, yelled out my number and as I got there the guy was picking up the bag and I told him to throw it.  I caught it in full stride and ran to the tent.  Just like in Texas I did not go into the tent and sat down on a chair outside and put on my visor, running shoes and grabbed the bottle of EFS.  Off I was in a swift 1:51.

Run:  3 loop course but the miles seemed to be further apart than I remember a mile being.  The course is a mixture of cement and gravel.  There are a lot of turns and  I think this caused the miles to be further away than other 3 loop courses I have run or trained on.  When I started running I noticed my pace was down in the 8:00/mi and I wanted to pull back and get my HR under control which I did.  I slowed down and started the hydration plan.  Every aid station I would take water from and every other aid station I would walk for 10 seconds.  I did this through the first two aid stations but I felt great at the 4th aid station and did not stop to walk.

I started to feel really full and though I needed to use the toilet.  I went into the bathroom (yes, not the porto as there were bathrooms on the course) and nothing happened so I got out and got ready to get going again.  I managed to make it to Mile 10 before I wanted to walk the aid stations.  At this point my left hip was throbbing and my shoulder hurt so bad I could hardly keep my left arm pumping during the run.  The pain was almost unbearable but I started to do math calculations in my head.

When I reached mile 13 my watch was beeping so much that I just turned it off and decided to just run.  I knew that to get in under 12 hours I needed to run a 2 hour half-marathon and that became the goal. With every passing mile I would multiply the remaining miles by 10 minutes (assuming I was running 10:00/mi pace but I really had no clue) and made sure that I was always under 12 hours.  When I hit the 17 mile marker I told myself it was only 15k to do, then again at mile 20 (only 10k to go) and finally at mile 23 before I could get my thoughts out another athlete yelled: only 5k to go until I am an Ironman.  That got me fired up and I picked up the pace.  I was really hurting here but knew that I did not have far to go.

As I got closer to the end I could feel the electricity in the air.  As I made the turn toward the finisher’s chute Susan Lacke ran up on me and I had no idea who it was but I got pissed because I was thinking:  What a$$hole is going to sprint past me to get to the finisher’s line.  When I saw Susan’s face I could have cried.  All the pain was now leaving my body and I only had a few hundred yards to go.  I crossed the finish line and could not lift either arm, legs in total shut down mode and my brain completely fried from trying to motivate my body to keep moving forward.  After the catcher held me for a few moments I started walking and found Richard who helped me through the chute and over to Karen.

I hugged her and told her I was in so much pain.  More pain then I ever thought I could endure.  My hip was screaming mad, my shoulder was not happy and the soft area on my head started pulsing.  I never noticed the major road rash on my calf or shoulder area, let alone the skin ripped off my elbow until this morning’s shower when it all screamed at me.

Through it all I never lost sight of my goal… honor my father.  I did not hit the 11:18 but I think he would be proud of me for not quitting.  He would be proud of me for proving that anything can be done if you put your mind to it.  He would be proud that when I finished I did not bitch and moan about my time but instead accepted what the day gave me.

For that I am the proudest.  I fought the good fight on the course and when it was all said and done I set a PR in the process.  Finishing my second Ironman this year in 11:53 will be remembered for the time but for me it will always be remembered for not quitting even when the going got tough.

Thank you to everybody for reading and for your support.  At different times on the course I channeled you and you helped m get to the finish line.  I can never repay for your help.

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  1. Matt Oravec says:

    Nice job man. Seriously … how do people not know how to grab water bottles? Sucks man.

    Glad you were alright and able to finish the race. Sucks cause you didn’t get to see what you were capable of out there.

    Time for some much needed off season :)
    Matt Oravec recently posted..ODNR Hunter Education ProgramMy Profile

  2. You’re amazing Jason! Way to go. It may have not gone as planned, but to endure a fall like that and keep going shows what a true Ironman you really are! Way to finish out an incredible season! ! :)
    Shannon Puphal recently posted..Chupacabras, Escaped Inmates and Ho’s! Oh My! El Scorcho 50k Race ReportMy Profile

  3. CTER says:

    Seriously I have no idea what the F that guy was doing. He dropped the water bottle and then this Gatorade bottle came out of nowhere. I wish I could see it on tape to try to figure out just what he was doing.

    All you need to do is grab and peddle. Simple but this guy had all kinds of sh*t on his bike most likely.

    I have given up trying to figure out how much time I lost because it is a waste of energy.

    And off-season……oh hellz yeah! Feed me seymour, sleep in late seymour. Feet up and enjoy the family more and the time with them to cherish.
    CTER recently posted..Ironman Arizona 2012 Race ReportMy Profile

  4. Marlene says:

    I saw this kind of thing happen sooo many times when I volunteered at the bike station in LP. Scared the crap out of me and makes me want to figure out some way NOT to need water from the stations so I can cruise through and try to stay in the safe zone. I’m sure this is not realistic, though.

    I don’t know how you got up and pulled yourself together enough to not just finish but finish another sub-12 after all of that! A true Ironman.

    Congratulations on # 2! You’re amazing.
    Marlene recently posted..Lake Placid Pre-Base Building Week 2My Profile

  5. Victoria says:

    Amazing display of perseverance. Congratulations, IRONMAN!
    Victoria recently posted..Richmond Half Marathon 2012: 1:53:32My Profile

  6. Maria Simone says:


    So proud of you, Jason! What an incredible day – and what incredible strength you summoned to get to the finish line. You earned this day and showed what an Ironman you are. Your father would be (is) proud!

    Rest and recover well, my friend. :)
    Maria Simone recently posted..My Missing MojoMy Profile

  7. Colleen says:

    Wow Wow Wow!!! Amazing day out there Jason… you overcame a lot and finished strong. INcredibly proud of you!!!

    ** okay, so here’s the deal as to why I didn’t call to meet up. We didn’t get to AZ. :( Tom came down with what we are now considering the flu (we thought it was food poisoning at first, but it wasn’t). This hit Wednesday. By Thursday morning when his flight was to go, we got all the way to the airport and he had me turn around. He was in bed for the next three days. I’ve never in my life seen him that sick. So we didn’t even make it to Arizona. I’m so sorry that I couldn’t be there to cheer you on!!!***

  8. XLMIC says:

    Great finish even withOUT the catastrophes and crampings. Congrats on your second Ironman and a PR to boot :) Way to go!
    XLMIC recently posted..Jingle Bell Hell 2012 is COMING!My Profile

  9. Morgan says:

    Your badassery knows no bounds! Congrats on another IM finish and PR Jason! So proud of you!!! Rest and heal up!!!
    Morgan recently posted..WordsMy Profile

  10. Karen says:

    Yes – he would have been SO PROUD of you for picking up and continuing to move forward! You should also be SO PROUD of yourself for sucking it up and continuing. One of those mental hurdles taken to the extreme I suppose. IMPRESSIVE! Awesome race, hate that you had that crash, thank goodness it wasn’t more serious (my friend’s coach who was racing out there yesterday was taken out during the bike leg when he was hit by a race motorcycle – CRAZY!). …let’s not even talk about the great finish time despite the bike crash. NICE JOB!
    Karen recently posted..5k domination…My Profile

    • CTER says:

      I heard about a couple of crashes involving the motorcycles. I have a hard time with the organization of this race in that respect. Lots of space on the shoulders for the motorcycles to ride (outside of aid stations and thus why they may not do that) but to ride in the middle just did not seem like the right idea.

      Thank you for the kind words.

  11. Congratulations Jason! Your performance is impressive on its own and even more so knowing about the crash and injuries you suffered through. It kills me that something like that — something out of the athlete’s control — can have such a big impact (no pun intended) on a race that required months of training. It’s a good reminder to enjoy the training too, and know that it is its own reward. I’m glad you pushed through to the finish and I hope you heal quickly!
    Angela @ FitFunMom recently posted..Santa Barbara International Marathon 2012 Race RecapMy Profile

    • CTER says:

      Angela – that is a great point about enjoying the training. So many things are out of your control on a day like Ironman so you need to truly embrace the race, the training and the lifestyle otherwise you will just be miserable.

      Thank you for the comment and compliment.

  12. Jen says:


    Standing ovation! A huge congratulations. What makes you an Ironman is the fact that you overcame adversity, you didn’t throw in the towel, you sucked up the pain and the cramping, buttercup and kept going. You made it across that finish line smiling (even if you were in awful pain.) Your continual sharing and inspiring makes you extraordinary. I loved tracking you online and watching you finish!! So proud of you my friend!!

    Jen recently posted..Taking control of my messy worldMy Profile

    • CTER says:

      Thank you so much for your support Jen. It means a ton and as I posted on your FB page…..the song You’re The Best Around was playing on Lap 2 of the run and gave me a huge boost. I need to watch the Karate Kid when I get home now.

  13. Bob says:

    I was stalking online yesterday at the Phoenix airport as I passed through at 6pm on my way out here to LA. I saw the time disparity on the first leg of the bike and wondered what happened. I was thinking flat. Like usual, way to hammer the run. Somewhere around mile 13 you must have passed Ken Bauer who is Charisa Wernick’s dad based on the times I saw. Not sure if you follow CW. She came in 9th.

    Book it Danno!
    Great job
    Bob recently posted..Triathlete Magazine (Again)My Profile

    • CTER says:

      I am a big Charisa fan and am upset that I did not get to see her and introduce myself to her this weekend. Very bummed about that and I saw that she came in 9th place.

      Thanks for checking in on me during your travels.

  14. Jeff Irvin says:

    Outstanding job Jason! Kevin was texting me with updates and he figured you had a flat but a crash is just shitty luck. At least you were able to continue as it sounds like quite a few crashes happened on the course so it could have been a lot worse, I guess.

    MattyO is very proud of your T1 time and I am calling BS on this statement: …and the soft area on my head started pulsing

    We all know you are to hard headed to have a soft area (-:

    Congrats man!

    • CTER says:

      HA HA HA!!!! Yeah there is a lot of hard headedness going on here but I think you have to be that way to WANT to race this distance in the first place……

      Pure shit luck. Happened to get out of the water when I did, ride like I did and end up behind slippery hands at the aid station. Nothing you can do about it.

      Tons of crashed on the course. Even ones involving motorcycles. Thumbs down to the race for that scenario. I am going to write a post comparing both races (IMAZ v IMTX) and my thoughts about each section and the overall experience.

  15. Incredible. Especially loved the part about channeling your dad. You made him proud, no doubt.
    Shut Up and Run recently posted..10 Things You Should Know About Me If We Are Going To Be FriendsMy Profile

  16. Carla Weber says:

    Jason, I almost cried reading your post and thinking about how much pain you were in and yet still able to push through the pain to accomplish your goal. However, at the same time I am so very proud of you and all you were able to accomplish in spite of the incident on your bike. You inspire so many people because of who you are and what you do. I know your Dad was there with you all the way with a huge smile on his face. Congratulations…you are an Ironman always and forever. Way to go.

    • CTER says:

      Thank you Carla. The pain was there but you just block it out and keep moving. Relentless Forward Motion was my mantra throughout the run.

  17. adena says:

    That race report IS epic!! I’m so proud of you for not quitting. That is something I never thought about, congested water stops. Great one more thing for me to fear. Wanna I’ll be walking my bike through every single one at CP.

    Sub 12 is unreal and I was so excited to watch you cross the line. I also appreciate that you finished just before 9pm my time so I could then park my ass on the couch to watch my favourite bad reality tv show. In my defence, I did a swim AND a trainer ride yesterday. ;-)

    you rock Schmoodge!
    adena recently can you find me??My Profile

    • CTER says:

      You know the whole time I was running in the dark I was thinking about my East Coast buddies who had to get to bed……haha!

      Congested wasn’t the issue. It was the fact that the guy didn’t know how to take a water bottle hand-up because he not only dropped that bottle but also some Gatorade bottle that for the life of me I can’t figure out where it came from.

      Grab the bottle and move to the left as soon as you can. Check for traffic and you’ll be ok. I managed to get through all the rest of the aid stations without any issue as well as all the stations at IMTX.

  18. So glad you were able to persevere. Congratulations on your PR and solid race even if the day brought unexpected obstacles. I know your dad would be so proud.
    TriMOEngr (Christina) recently posted..Over 300!My Profile

  19. Kevin says:

    Holy crap dude! I have a nightmare of that scenario happening at every aid station.

    Kudos to the bike mechanic. Awesome they could get you back moving just like that.

    What do you think caused the cramps on the swim? The cold water?

    You are freaking awesome for picking yourself, dusting yourself off, and kicking ASS! Proud of you man!
    Kevin recently posted..Identity CrisisMy Profile

    • CTER says:

      Man it was crazy how it happened. And you know with any accident it happens so fast you have no clue what to do. It totally sucked and I wanted to pound the guy after I got up but he never got up while I was in the aid station so I’m not sure what happened to him and I hope he is ok.

      The bike mechanic was awesome. He fixed the cockpit and adjusted my back wheel in a matter of moments it seemed like and off I went.

      The cramping is definitely from the cold water. While I felt comfortable in it and not frozen like a popsicle it was still cold and being in there that long I think finally worked its way into my calf muscles.

  20. Your wife says:

    Nothing like an easy bake oven in transition! Super proud of you my love. What a great weekend – u pushed thru and PR’ed in spite of chaos. You make me proud to be the Mrs.- hurry home

    • CTER says:

      As I have said a million times and will always say: none of this ever happens without your support.

      Now with the jokes regarding T2……will they end when the next race has a single digit time?

  21. Scott says:

    Congrats on overcoming the obstacles and the congrats on the finish of the race
    Scott recently posted..Annoying People You Can’t Avoid At Gym, Part 1My Profile

  22. Jeannie says:

    Awesome Jason! Purely awesome! Congrats!

  23. That’s a crazy crash! Super scary man. That’s the kind of pain that you always hear about in Ironman. You really did test your limits and prove that anything is possible. And you still turned in a great time and can be proud of your performance. great job out there!
    Carolina John recently posted..Big Week Done! Hello taper.My Profile

  24. katie says:

    My heart is with you, friend. I sympathize with every word you’ve written because I’ve been there. I’ve crashed early in a race and kept going, and I know how mad you were and how much it sucks and how badly you just want to have your day. I know all of those things. I can promise you this, your day will come.
    katie recently, I live here nowMy Profile

  25. dr says:

    Nice job at the Ironman!
    just huge fighting all the way through….would have ended many people day but you were actually able to pick it up a notch on the remaining bike and also on the run. Great work!


  26. Caroline says:

    Bravo Jason! Scary about the crash..I am glad you are ok….so sorry you were in so much pain….Determination was your middle name that day for sure… and a PR on top of that!
    be proud!
    Caroline recently posted..Thank you OiselleMy Profile

  27. Christi says:

    Congratulations on a well fought battle!

  28. lindsay says:

    how were the cookies? chocolate chip i hope.

    dude. i can’t believe. that crash sounds hard! and so early in the race – that says a lot that you pulled it together to finish the damn thing! as for the guy at the finish chute… i do that in road races. but i think i get the ‘etiquette’ in an IM because you want to have those pictures / that moment to yourself.

    can’t wait to see what ‘real’ PR you can set when you’re not baking cookies and crashing! :)

    happy thanksgiving!
    lindsay recently posted..october 2012My Profile

    • CTER says:

      There were 4 of them and yes they were Chocolate Chip……oh they tasted so good just after the race.

      The crash truly sucked but it proved to me that I can fight through anything no matter how hard it seems at the time.

      Love the comment about baking cookies……pure awesome right there.

      Happy T-Day to you as well. Let’s Go Clemson on Saturday. HUGE GAME!

  29. Natasha says:

    Wow way to push through I can’t believe that happened to you on the bike!!! I’m so glad you finished and in an awesome time to boot!!! I had issues on my run and thought about finishing in the medical tent but decided it would be better to walk it in and finish!
    Natasha recently posted..You are an Ironman! I survived!My Profile

  30. Beth says:

    I’m so behind on this. I had no idea you went down on the bike. That’s total poop. But I’m so glad you were ok! Also, I thought I was the only one who baked cookies in T1? Lol! Great job as per usual Baha. You da man!

    • CTER says:

      Yeah there was an invitation from the pavement to my head and my head decided it should RSVP in person…….

      Oh man, I had chocolate chip and oatmeal. I left before the snickerdoodles were done but not a bad day in the kitchen.


  1. […] the victim of an unavoidable bike crash at IMAZ (“Cook Train Eat Race” blog), […]

  2. […] To read Jason’s Ironman Arizona 2012 race report, click here. […]

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