Ironman Arizona: Coach Cliff qualifies for Kona racing 9hr17min. Aloha!

Hello from Tempe Arizona!

To finish off the 2008 season I chose to race in the desert; Ironman Arizona.  After some average to good performances during the early part of the year I wanted to finish the season sticking a hopefully "excellent" long course performance.

From the end of August through the fall I trained smart,  I trained hard and  I focused on my recovery. The end result a slot to the Ironman World Championships for 2009.  : ) 

Here is how the day went


[Photos courtesy of Ryan Scherb Photography.  View: from atop Mill Ave bridge]

-Standing on the banks of the man made Tempe Town Lake, I leap into the 65 degree water and the darkness. 
-Swimming under the Mill Bridge to the front of the swim I position myself dead center in the front and just in time as it took me almost 5min to get there!
-Bang, and were off.  I push HARD for the first 5min hoping to catch the wave of fast swimmers.
-The sun comes up and we continue to swim as a large pack for the first half mile.
-1.2mi and I turn back towards the start of the swim.  Feeling good I relax my stroke and hang in for a good draft.
-2nd half of the swim I continue to back off and keep a solid draft in order to save energy for the long day.
-Climbing out of the water I glance at my watch to see a nice swim time of 57min.

T1 4min 48sec

BIKE  4hr 48min

-Once onto the bike I focus on RELAXING and getting my HR down to less than 150bpm.
-The early sections of the three loop course go by quickly as I work to pass the faster swimmers on the bike
-Turning onto Beeline Highway the wind picks up and is a headwind slowing my pace.
-I put it in an easier gear and spin saving my legs.  (1st loop effort = easy)
-The sun is shining and the conditions seem good. (Wind is manageable and heat is low for now)
-Turning around at Shea BLVD  the wind is at my back and the disc acts like a sail throwing me down the desert valley back to Tempe.  Many sections I am cruising at 34mph!  I'm feeling great and this is going to be a good day...
-Loop number two, effort is moderate and HR is still low.  At this point I pass most of the pro woman and a few male pros having a bad day.  I think to myself..Am i going too hard? (First 2 loops averaging 23mph +)
-I continue to drink lots and eat lots. ~20oz every 40min and 400 calories / hr.
-For a bit of time I ride with Age group legend Joe Boness. ( I rode with Joe last year at IM FL and realize that my pacing is on track. as Joe can bike.)
-Loop #3 I know I need to hang tough.  Climbing up to Shea BLVD one last time with the wind takes a bit out of my legs.  I start to worry that running the marathon I might blow up. 
-the last three miles my legs are feeling BAD and I want off this bike!
-I roll into T2 with a bike time of 4hr 48min!  A tie with my previous personal best.

T2 -2min 21sec

RUN -3hr 24min

-Oh man... the first steps onto the run course do not feel good.  I start really slowly.  
-As the food digests I pick up the pace and start to feel more comfortable. 
-I continue to get calories in sipping from my camelback. 
-Looping back towards transition my brother (Ryan Scherb) and Brandon Del Campo (TriStar Coach) let me know I am the 2nd amateur!
-"Just hold the pace Cliff and keep eating" says Brandon.
-I pull my hat down grit my teeth and keep moving.
-I continue to keep the pace "easy" and shuffle up the long hill on the backside of the course.
-Nature calls and I have to stop at the restroom.  (#1 is no prob while running but #2...!)
-Back on track, grabbing sponges and Gatorade at each station.  My HR continues to drop to 140bpm.  Gotta get it up!
-I push harder and focus on my run form and quick foot turnover.
-Just when I needed it, a bit of motivation Hillary Biscay with a giant smile says "Cliff... your still running!  Looking good!"  I muster up a weak "Thanks". 
-As I pass my brother for the third time he yells, "You are 3rd in your Age, and two guys are nipping at your heals, get moving!"
-The next six miles turn out to be my fastest of the entire marathon!
-As I come to the last mile Jeff Zink (a TriStar Iron guy) confirms it.  "You got it Cliff take it home!"
-On the final mile another friend on this spectator friendly course (Paul Bashforth of True Motion)  high fives me. I manage to punch his hand in jubilation only to hit his watch. Sorry for putting a hole in your hand Paul bloody knuckle can be seen in the finish shot.  Oops.
-Down the finish shoot, happy as a kid in a candy store, fists pumping I break the tape in 9hr 17min.  Sweeeeeet. Hawaii here I come. 

Post race analysis

-8th amateur
-3rd in Age Group
-Avg HR 143bpm
-Total calories burned 8500
-Calories consumed 3752

Special thanks to my family, brother and many friends who cheered me along and belived in me!

Its a great end to another fun season, for now its time to eat Turkey and rest.  Happy Thanksgiving see you next year!

For more race photos click here

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