Bright Spots: hanging out with Freeplay teammie: Mary Tanner; AZ 70.3 Volunteers; Qualifying for 70.3 World’s in Tennessee on September 9

Things I could do without: Yucky water on the swim and a bike course with way too many turns

To get into Arizona (AZ) IM you either have to show up the year before you want to race and volunteer, register the day before competing in AZ, or get very lucky and get in through general registration in the first few seconds it opens. In 2015, Ironman offered early registration for IM AZ to those who registered for both AZ 70.3 and AZ IM at the same time.  I figured if I had to fly to AZ anyway to volunteer, I’d rather be racing.

I flew to Arizona on Saturday, arriving at 12:30, in plenty of time to check myself and my gear into the race venue.  Tri Bike Transport (TBT) picked my bike up from Walnut Creek a week before the race and drove it to AZ for a mere $350 (cough cough).  TBT no longer picks up in Davis so now I have to schlep my bike to the Bay Area for drop off and pick up (well, not me but my husband, Jeff) …yes, it’s a pain!  Note to Santa, I want a Scicon Travel Bike Bag for Christmas, for details see my teammate Mary T!

It was fun to connect with Mary and share our stories.  Mary is a very experienced and accomplished triathlete! She knows a lot about equipment and who’s who in triathlon, so it was cool  learning from her.  We also had a chance to talk about our families, including our most favorite furry friends Scout and Murphy our yellow labs.

We arrived at the race venue around 5:30 and learned that race officials decided to close transition earlier than they originally planned. After a bit of rushing we made it out of transition in plenty of time to sit around and wait for our swim wave.  Mary was in the water 8 minutes before me so I knew we would eventually see each other on the bike and run as there were plenty of turnarounds in the race.  The water was really warm but I had decided to wear my new long sleeve wet suit because I planned on wearing it for the full IM and I like to know how I will respond in a race situation with new gear. I felt comfortable but fast on the swim but I did notice pulling to one side a few times.  My swim took at least a minute longer than I thought, not sure if that’s the warm water or my less than straight line.

The first few miles was pretty slow on the bike, only because the course takes you up and over an overpass.  Things picked up until the first of many 180 turns on the course…there were more than a few turns on this course and the roads were bumpy.  Around 7 miles into the race my saddle bag  Velcro ripped away from the bag and was dragging on my wheel. I had to stop and secure my bag and get back on my bike.  It only took a few seconds but afterwards I started holding my bag over big bumps.  Note to self, double check all equipment is secure before you race! This course was pretty flat for the most part and would be very fast without the turnarounds. My average pace was 20.3.

When I arrived in transition there was one bike racked but I had heard there were two racks for our age group  and I wasn’t really sure where the second rack was located so I really wasn’t sure what place I was in when I headed out on the run.  The run was not too hilly but it was hot and I was tired from hammering hard on the bike. My pace was average at best and I spent most of the run praying that the girls who were passing me didn’t have 50-54 on their calf.  I ran up on one female athlete who didn’t have her age on her leg. There’s no shame in my game, I came straight out and asked her what her age group was and she said it was the same as mine. I asked her what it was and she said 40-44, I laughed out loud and said, well it’s out lucky day because I’m 50!  We both laughed, relaxed, and ran together for a while.  I finished the race in 5:22, not my fastest 70.3 but I felt I gave it everything I had.

I didn’t have my phone at the finish so I asked a couple of young male spectators who looked like they were checking the triathlon app on their phone if they would look me up to see how I did. They told me I placed second in my age group and at the time I was 11th overall.  After they saw my age they looked at me like I was super human… “you don’t look a day over 40” they said, and this my friends was the highlight of the whole day!

Ironman does awards at 4 for 70.3 races, so we went back to our hotel to shower and grab  lunch before heading back to the race venue.  At this point, I wasn’t sure how many slots would be offered to my age group.  After the awards they hold what’s called the roll down where they offer slots to 70.3 World Championships.  First place in my age group was this amazing former Olympic marathon runner and all around awesome triathlete named Colleen De Reuck, she beat me by 45 minutes (that’s a LOT) and she WON  first place overall! So excited to have a 52 year old female beat EVERY female athlete, such an inspiration.   In the end, they offered 3 slots to women in my age group and now I’m planning my first trip ever to Chattanooga Tennessee to compete in my second ever 70.3 World Championship. Now, onto AZ IM, my last race in 2016!!

Thank you to our Freeplay team sponsors, Freeplay Magazine, Natures Bakery, Folsom Bike, Sacramento Running Association, Fluid Nutrition, Salming Running, Rudy Project North America, XX2i Optics, and Hoffart Chiropractic.