Thursday, November 12, 2015

IRONMAN Arizona Race Day Plan

Race day is quickly approaching and I know some people will be spectators on the course and others will be following along via (direct link with details provided below). Here is my plan for Sunday so you can see how things unfold versus what I am planning for.


Saturday: After getting a good night sleep, I will head down to Tempe Beach Park to participate in a practice swim in Tempe Town Lake. Afterwards I will check my bike into the transition area and then drop off my gear bags that I will need in T1 (swim to bike transition) and T2 (bike to run transition). Dropping off my bike and gear the day before is mandatory. Then after a good dinner (pasta and chicken) I will head to bed for a good night's sleep.

Sunday 3:00am: Wake and get a quick breakfast of scrambled eggs and orange juice. I will grab my swim bag and then head to Tempe Beach Park.

5:00am: The transition area opens up. I will first check on my bike and get the tires pumped up to my preferred pressure. Then I will find one of the bodymarking volunteers to have them write my number on my arms and legs (I had considered buying "tri tats" but decided not to).  I will eat Fig Newton as some point and then after a stretching routine, I will get into my wetsuit and drop off my gear bag with my jacket that I will need again after the race.

6:30am: The transition area closes and on the way out I will eat one last snack of a Performance Energy Wafer Bar, Chocolate Peanut Butter flavor.

Swim (2.4 miles)

This year IRONMAN Arizona will be using what is called a "rolling start"...

6:40am: The Professional/Elite Men will enter the water and begin the swim.

6:45am: The Professional/Elite Women will enter the water and begin the swim.

6:50am: Age group athletes (like myself) have thirty minutes to enter the water.  We are supposed to "self seed" ourselves according to anticipated swim speed and volunteers will have signs to help us out with that.

7:00am: Sunrise.  The current forecast has the temperature around 48 degrees and the water temperature around 64 degrees. This when I plan to enter the water and begin my race. To make things interesting, we start the swim course by heading east into the sunrise.

Spectators:  I recommend standing on the Mill Ave Bridge and look to the west for the start of the race and watch us swim under you.

8:50am: I am anticipating that it will take me around an hour and fifty minutes to complete the swim. It is important to note that this is thirty minutes under the cutoff of two hours and twenty minutes. If athletes do not finish before the cutoff, their IRONMAN is over.

Spectators: I would stand at the west end of the swim start/finish so you can see the swimmers get out of the water and then head towards the transition area for T1. This will put you position to watch the bike retrieval. Something to be aware of is that I will probably come out of the water in a daze, I may not recognize you unless you are the one who pulls me out of the water or helps me out of my wetsuit. But do not worry, my head clears quickly during transition.


8:50am - 9:00am: As I enter the transition area for T1, I will first be met by the "peelers" who will help "peel" my wetsuit off of me.  I will then run towards the Mill Ave Bridge and to the area where I will get my T1 bag with my bike gear in it. While putting my bike jersey, helmet, and shoes on, I will quickly eat a Fig Newton and put my wetsuit and googles into my T1 bag.

I will then run through the bike area where I will retrieve my bike. Then I run with my bike to the "mount line" where I am allowed to get on the bike and pedal out the front gate of the park to the road. This part of the race will take no more than ten minutes and I might get a little ahead of schedule at this point.

Spectators: If you are watching the end of the swim, then the best place to see me come out is at the west end of the transition area as I am handed my bike and start to ride out. Another good place to watch things is along the chute from transition to the park's front gate or at the park's front gate on Rio Salado Parkway and Mill Ave and the start the bike course.

Bike (112 miles)

The bike course contains three loops where we bike up to the Shea Blvd on the Beeline Highway and then back to the intersection of Rio Salado Parkway and Mill Avenue.

9:00am: I will start the bike course and plan to ride the course at an average of 18.5 MPH, depending on the wind conditions (currently predicted to be under 10MPH) and temperature (predicted to be in the low 70s).

11:00am: I arrive back to the intersection of Rio Salado/Mill to complete the first loop of the course. At this point, I have completed approximately 38 miles of the course.

1:03pm: I arrive back to the intersection of Rio Salado/Mill to complete the second loop of the course. At this point, I have completed approximately 75 miles of the course.

3:06pm: I arrive back to the intersection of Rio Salado/Mill to complete the third and final loop of the course and head back into the park for T2.

During the bike course I plan to "eat" every 45 minutes or so. I will be carrying with me Fig Newtons, GU Packs, and Clif Energy Food. To stay hydrated, I will slow down at the aid stations to grab water and Powerade bottles from volunteers.

Spectators: There are two spots I recommend. If you are there for the IRONMAN experience, then just east of the Rio Salado/Mill intersection is a good place where you can see me approach the turn around and then head back out again. From here, you can watch me enter T2 and be in a position to move over and see me start the run course along the lake.

Another place to watch the race is along McClintock at Tempe Marketplace since there is plenty of parking there. However, you will have to approach here from the 101 since the 202 ramps will be closed. If you choose to watch from here, you will be about 2 miles from the transition area. Plus you will be near one of the turn around points on the run course along the lake.

At this point, I would have been out on the course for eight hours. Last year, the winner finished in 7 hours, 58 minutes.


3:06pm - 3:16pm: T2 is just like T1, but in reverse.  After riding through the chute I will dismount the bike, rack my bike, and then retrieve my T2 bag. I will spend no more than ten minutes eating what might be the last solid food I will eat until I cross the finish line. Of course, it will be a Fig Newton.

Here I change into my running socks, compression sleeves for my lower legs, and running shoes. T2 tends to be the longer of my two transitions since I need to make sure that my shoes and socks are on just right to prevent blisters later in the race, but it should be less than 10 minutes.

Spectators: If you want to see me come out of the transition area, a good place to stand is on the east side of the Mill Ave Bridge where you will see me run out to the east. 

Run (26.2 miles)

3:16pm: I will head out onto the run course to begin the first of two loops. My goal is to run the course at a 14 minute per mile pace (4.25 MPH). Depending on how my legs hold out, I could be a bit faster or slower. I will have my GPS watch so I can try to maintain an even pace so that I will have the energy to finish as strong as possible. The following calculations will be for the target pace and all times are approximate since they are not on mile markers.

4:06pm: After running along the lake towards McClintock and turning around, I will be passing under the Mill Ave Bridge outside of the transition area again. This is just before the 4 mile marker.

5:22pm: I should be at the aid station at the corner of College Avenue and Curry Road (just past the 9 mile marker). This is the aid station I have worked the past five years and I am looking forward to seeing familiar faces working here. Then I will start to run up the steepest hill on the course, the Curry Road Hill.

5:27pm: Sunset

6:18pm: I will be running under the Mill Ave Bridge outside of the transition area and beginning my second loop. At this point, I will be 13.1 miles from the finish.

7:14pm: I will be going under the Mill Ave Bridge outside of the transition area one more time. This is around the 17 mile marker.

8:24pm: I have past the 22 mile marker and will be approaching the aid station at College/Curry. It will also be time to go up Curry Hill one more time.

9:20pm: I will be heading down Rio Salado Parkway and about to turn towards the finish line chute.

Spectators: A good place to hang out is on the east side the Mill Ave Bridge outside of the transition area where you will see go by four times and you will be able to head over to the finish line with plenty of time. 

Another good place is at Tempe Papago Park on the corner of College Avenue and Curry Road where I will go by twice. You might be able to park at the Arizona Historical Society Museum at Papago Park and walk to the park. Also, if you want to see me finish you should be able to walk the approximately two mile walk along the lake and across the Mill Ave Bridge. You should get to the finish line in time and not have to worry about driving around the race and then having to park.

Finish Line

9:23pm: Mike Riley will call out my name and say the four words I have been obsessed with hearing for a year and I will complete a 140.6 mile race I have been wanting to do ever since I heard the word IRONMAN over 25 years ago.

Spectators: Any where along the chute on Rio Salado Parkway between Tempe Beach Park and the former US Airways Building should be good. You will probably want to sit in the bleachers that they have setup for spectators. Keep in mind that the temperatures could be dipping into the 60s at this point.


9:25pm: I will have my Finisher's picture taken while wearing my Finisher's Medal and Hat. I will also hydrate and try to eat something so my body will know it is safe to eat solid food again.  After leaving the finish line area, I will be able to see anyone who was able to make it out to the finish line and celebrate. At some point I will try to get some serious food into me since the average athlete will burn between 7,000 and 10,000 calories during the race.

10:30pm: I will collect my bike and gear bags so that I can head home to take a nap.

Monday 7:00am: The IRONMAN store opens and I will buy my Finisher's Jacket

9:00am: Celebration breakfast followed by the Awards Ceremony

Important Spectator Information

If you are heading out to see the race, you should check out the Spectator Guide.

Tracking the Race Online

If you are heading out to see the race, you will want to follow my progress online using the Athlete Tracker and use my racer number: 2323

There should also be a live video feed from the finish line for those who want to watch from home via the Live Coverage page. Also, I am hoping that they will provide similar coverage of the race as they have for other "big" ones that includes the swim start, swim finish, run out, as well as the finish line.

Scenes From Today's Check-in

Mill Avenue Banner

Street signs that are all along the course warning of road closures

Registration Tent

Packet Pickup

Swim Entrance/Exit

View from the changing tent of the Transition Area

View from Mill Ave Bridge of changing tent and transition

Swim Entrance/Exit

IRONMAN Village and Transition Area

Bike ramp for curb when exiting and entering park

Collage of race day "food"

If you are on the bike/run course, look for this jersey since I will be wearing my Bike Barn jersey and will look something like this...

If you want to see my pictures from the 2014 IRONMAN Arizona please see the bottom of this page.


  1. Lots of hard work but I know you will shine!! Glad it's not me LOL...