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  • Writer's pictureClaudia Spooner

DEC 30 Arizona.. My Kona Qualifier and Grand Finale

I left for Arizona feeling good, just a small cough.  I arrived early enough to get my bike from TriBike Transport who always takes such great care of all my gear. Then off to athlete check-in, back to the hotel, and check-in all before 2pm.  Knowing I needed food for the weekend I headed off to Trader Joes, my favorite store for pre-race nutrition.

Saturday morning it was time to get a shake the legs out ride and run,

(Making sure all was matching)

followed by a short swim. Cutting it close I arrived 2 minutes before the AM swim cut off, which is exactly what I wanted, no time to mess around.


Post swim; water was great and I was excited to get off my feet and get my gear ready

Powerbar, Athete Octane, Beet Elite, and my RocktheW tats!

I really kept to myself all weekend, I knew I was still fighting a cold and really just wanted to save myself for raceday.  After I got my gear together, it was almost 2pm and time for me to get my bike to Check-In

Racking up!

Blue Blaze was racked and I was ready

I'll see you(finish line) tomorrow!!

I went back to my room, had dinner and was in bed by 8pm.  I woke up at 4:30 had my coffee and bagel, then headed to the race venue, my biggest morning issue was parking so I wanted to arrive early.  I found a back street and parking was perfect. No Stress!!  YAY!!

  I grabbed my gear and went to to do a last minute bike check over, inflate my tires and add any needed items to my transition bags. 

I was pacing around a little before the start,  I was excited and nervous.  We were corralled

 to the water entrance and I jumped in, I was much closer to the front this time than my other Ironman's. I was ready for battle and that's what you get where I started. 

 The swim was packed, you can see nothing but arms and legs and swim caps.   I just handled myself and swam strong.  I felt like I was in a solid pack.  I had no idea how fast we were going but this was the group I seemed to be with.  My biggest problem was a few kicks in the stomach and fogged goggles.   I had to hope the person I was behind was on course.  I was on her feet and was planning on staying there.  We came in, and exited smoothly, that water exit was a little tricky.  My Garmin said 1:06, clock time 1:07, solid.  Not my best, but definitely better than my last few Ironman races, I was happy with that.

I ran right through the wetsuit strippers and was stripping myself, had my wetsuit to my hips, grabbed my T1 bag and headed to transition tent.. "Quick, Quick, Quick" I kept telling myself.  Helmet, Sunglasses, GO!!  Everything else was on my bike.  

I RODE HARD on the first half of the first loop out.  I knew I was burning matches, I looked down and my heart rate was almost to the 170s, I was banking on the turn around to get my heart rate down. I knew I was playing with fire, I pulled back a little but, I felt great.  

I looked down and my Garmin 910 and 510 both stopped.  I had no heart rate data, no cadence, NOTHING.. "I'm going Old school and I can do this, just listen to your body, hydrate, and ride." I was repeating this to myself .  Lap 2… Lap3 I had no idea even my average speed.  The only thing I knew was what time it was.  Coming into the Transition, I was ready to run, I felt like I had a solid bike.  Now to see how many matches I burned.

Into transition, grabbed my bag and headed to transition tent again.  Shoes, visor, glasses.. That was it.  It's make or break time.  I felt great, my feet were hurting a little, but nothing that was going to slow me down, my pace was solid and my nutrition was good. 

 Then… around mile 8 I started to get pain in my stomach.  Severe pain, the antibiotics I guessed were hitting me hard in the lower intestinal area.  I was super hydrated, but the effects of antibiotics run deep in our bodies.  I had no idea what to do. 

At this point I got passed and was now second in our age group per one of my friends on the course, Steve Blackmon.

 I would run, take a drink, then the pain would be so bad I had to stop.  I grabbed my side, pushed in and would start running again.  This pain happened every time I took in ANY fluid.  I stopped drinking.  Pain was so bad I wondered if I needed to go to the hospital. Was I having kidney failure?This was a whole new kind of pain.. I could not run through it. 

 At mile 10, I was falling off pace dramatically and was just trying to keep it together.  Mile 14, I got some tums for my stomach and hoped that would help.  I had no idea what to do.  

 I got passed again by a girl who was covered in salt.  sShe was running strong, but she was losing a lot of fluids, I could see it on her shorts.  I wasn't sure if she was on her 1st loop or 2nd loop, I had to assume by the salt all over her clothes she was on her 2nd loop.  Steve must have missed her because he kept telling me I was in second. 

I didn't drink anything again until mile 18, I took some ice.  My stomach pain was not near as bad. 

 I had to start running again.  The question was, could I and hold it together? 

At the next aid station I grabbed a coke and kept running.

I repeated that at the next aid station, small pain, but I kept running.

By mile 22 I was not stopping or slowing down at all anymore.  The pain was still there but, slight at this point.  I grabbed enough fluid to get some hydration and just run.  I passed the girl covered in salt by mile 24, she was walking and not doing well at all, I told her to stay strong.

  Now I was running and back in the race.  My goal at this point was to close the gap as best as possible and I ran as strong as I could at this point.  

Beat the sun… Beat the SUN!!!

10:20!!!   Good enough for 2nd!!  I did it, I made it!!  I was thrilled!!  I sat down and the pain in my stomach was so bad I couldn't get up.  A few volunteers helped me up, I walked to transition and waited for them to let me get my gear.  I was freezing and my stomach was hurting.  

I grabbed my gear and was so thankful I crossed that finish line!!! I cried.. I cried… I asked a family walking by if I could pet their dog and I cried.  

I walked back to the car, drove back to the hotel, showered and went to bed.  Did I qualify for Kona??  I wouldn't know until the morning…..

Rockin the W and supporting the Shop that keeps my bike at it's very best!!

Standing with a group of amazing athletes!

I again want to say Thank you to my amazing family for all their support and encouragement.  To Bicycle Sport Shop for taking such great care of all my bike needs.  Powerbar for all your years of support to me as an athlete and coach, to Athlete Octane for everything I need in a nutritional supplement.  To Beet Elite and there great product support!  ISM Saddles for the BEST ATTACK EVER! 

Now it was time for me to rest and recover, my body needs it!!  

What's left to do 6 days after Ironman Arizona????


I wasn't first but, I wasn't last!!!  Yeehaw!!!

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