Amazing Arizona

When I booked my flights to the US, I originally planned to return to the UK yesterday on Tuesday 20th November.  As it happens, I’m writing this post from Arizona having extended my trip by another week.  I’ve been in Arizona for a month now and I’ve had a really, really great time.

Since leaving Tucson just over two weeks ago I’ve been staying with a friend in north Phoenix, not too far from Scottsdale.  The training here is great and the weather is absolutely perfect.  It still makes me laugh that people are calling it ‘winter’ here, even though the temperatures are still reaching the high 20’s (degrees C).   It’s been a little cool in the mornings – cool enough for an extra layer, arm and knee warmers while riding.  The early morning rides in the sun have been nothing short of spectacular.

Running here is great too, with some awesome trails.  The best trail run so far was in the McDowell mountains, doing the 9 mile Wingate-Bell pass loop.  Unfortunately I didn’t take a camera, but the views were amazing!  What seemed like an innocuous 9 mile run ended up taking its toll, as I was a little sore for a few days afterwards. 

You all know I’m a bit of a foodie, and north Phoenix has proved to be a great place to go out to eat!  We’ve had Thai, Mexican (at a restaurant from Man vs Food!), Japanese and Italian, as well as some great breakfasts out.  I also had my first NBA experience, going to watch the Phoenix Suns play the Denver Nuggets!  Having loved my time in both Colorado and Arizona, I was torn on deciding who to support, but was happy to see the Suns come out on top.

Last weekend was one of the highlights of the trip, spectating Ironman Arizona.  On Friday most of the vendors at the race expo were set up and I spent the day at the Extreme Endurance booth with Robyn and Andrew.  It was great fun to chat with competitors and supporters throughout the day and hear so any first hand positive experiences with the product.  Some of the Extreme Endurance athletes who were racing stopped by, including Matt Russell and Mirjam Weerd.

Despite having raced 8 Ironman events, I’ve never actually watched one in person, so I was really looking forward to the race on Sunday.  We were up early to drive down to the race venue and grab a spot on the bridge, giving us a great vantage point for the swim.  It was surprising to see just how quickly the men’s pro field formed into separate groups, as well as taking different lines.  Watching the mass start of 2500 age-group athletes set off was a great sight and I can’t deny that part of me wanted to be out there racing. 

Male pros

Female pros

Carnage!

We then went down to the transition area to see the athletes grab their T1 bags and run to the change tent.  We stayed until the 2h20’ swim cut-off, waiting until the very last swimmer went through transition.  Ironman Arizona is a very spectator friendly race as far as Ironman events go, and I spent the next few hours with Brian near the bike turnaround point.  I later headed to transition again to watch the pros and lead age-groupers come off the bike.  Some looked great and ran to transition smoothly, while others didn’t look so good.

After watching the lead guys and girls start the run course (which is 3 laps), I headed to aid station #8 a few miles from the end of the loop - run by local tri club One Multisport – to help hand out drinks.  This turned out to be great fun, with most athletes being really upbeat and positive.  There were of course a few who were struggling and not having their best days, but everyone was very grateful for the volunteers.  A few friends that were racing had great days, so I must say a big congrats to Chris Glibert on his first pro race, as well as Steve Johnson and Ivan O’ Gorman.  One of my takeaways was seeing just how much fluids most pros took through the aid stations.  It was literally as much as they could get their hands on.  Another highlight was pro triathlete Linsey Corbin (eventual race winner) taking my cup on laps 2 & 3!  It was a great day and far more fun than I thought it would be.  It certainly helped get some extra motivation for the winter of training coming up.

So, why am I still here you ask.  I’ve had the opportunity to do some work with local cycling analysis solutions company, Cyclologic.  I won’t go into too much detail in this post (I’ll do an in depth follow-up post in due time) but I had an extremely comprehensive bike fit, utilising some unbelievable new technology that was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.  Some changes that seemed insignificant turned out to have a big impact and the end result was pretty exciting.  As well as that, this morning I found myself in the lab at FASTER for my first vo2 max test (again, a follow-up post to come).  The initial results were very interesting and I can’t wait to go through the post-test analysis in detail. 

Dialing the fit with Paraic McGlynn at Cyclologic

Lab testing at FASTER

As you can probably tell, I’m having an amazing time here, meeting great people every day.  I’m very fortunate to know so many people who have given their time and effort to help me develop as an athlete.  Triathlon is seen as an individual sport, but the best athletes have great support teams in place, and I feel that I’m now in the process of attaining a fantastic support team of professionals as well as excellent companies, which will be invaluable in helping me progress.  To say that’s exciting is an understatement – it’s huge.