Posts Tagged ‘SOMA Quarterman 2008’



So, I finished. And, I finished in approximately the time I had hoped (3.5 hours). Turns out the bike course was 5 miles longer than it was supposed to be. I thought maybe my odometer was off, but someone else mentioned it as well. The bike was almost 32 instead of 27.

What did I get? Well, I got the very cool finisher’s medal shown above. On the back it says “FINISHER SOMA TRIATHLON TEMPE, ARIZONA”. I got the opportunity to compete in (well, complete) a very well organized and supported race (thanks again to all the volunteers and the directors and organizers!). I got to swim in Tempe Town Lake (yeah!).

But, more than the items above, I got from this event what I always get from these types of things and that is a sense of amazement and wonder at all the people who work so hard and train so hard to achieve a goal. You don’t just get up off the couch and do one of these events (well, some people do and I hope I at least passed some of them). You train, you sacrifice, and you work hard. And in the end (for us mere mortals) people don’t do these kinds of things to win races. They do them to succeed at something they committed to and worked hard for and, for many of them, thought they couldn’t do. So, a big “CONGRATULATIONS” to all competitors in the SOMA Triathlon today. You all did a great job. Can’t wait until next year (where I WILL be doing the half Ironman).


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7:42 am – The horn sounded for my wave (12 of 12) in the swim, and before I knew it I was swimming madly in a sea of frothing arms and legs headed East toward the Mill Avenue bridge. There’s something about the start of a race that catches you and sweeps you up into a series of “moment by moment” experiences and this race was no different. All I could think about was a) not drowning due to getting smacked in the head or kicked in the face and b) keeping my line as straight as possible to avoid “bonus distance”. I managed to accomplish both of these tasks and made my way around the course.

Swimming in Tempe Town Lake was not as bad as I thought it would be. In spite of the occasional “questionable floating lake particle” that I inhaled or the infrequent and unintended gulps of water, swimming in the lake was not really an issue (guess I need to wait a few weeks to see if any of those unintended gulps contained critters that should NOT be in my body!).

8:09 am – After approximately 27 minutes of mostly freestyle swimming, I exited the lake with the help of the “lake puller” volunteers. Up the stairs and down the carpet, I headed to the waiting “wetsuit pullers”. These volunteers have the fun job of helping the athletes strip their wetsuits off their bodies as quickly as possible. As you are running, you reach behind your back and pull your zipper then slip your arms out of the wetsuit sleeves. As you approach a volunteer, you sit down and they do the rest of the job for you. THANK YOU WETSUIT STRIPPERS!

With wetsuit in hand, I headed into the transition area. As the prize money for first place was nowhere in my sites, time was not a serious issue. So, I had some Hammer Gel, drank some water, put on my socks and shoes, visited the porta john (yes, again), put on my helmet, glasses, and gloves, and ran across the transition area to the “bike mounting” area.

8:14 am – On the bike now and ready to ride, I made a right turn out of the Tempe Beach parking lot and then hit the sharp curve of Rio Salado Parkway. The bike course was very convoluted and had lots of regular turns and U-turns. I am sure that designing a course that winds its way through downtown Tempe is not the easiest thing to do, so I can appreciate the task of the race directors. I must say, though, that the course was extremely well marked and monitored and there were many, many times I just “put my head down and rode”. What a great feeling after all the miles training and commuting with traffic and lights to deal with

“BB” the wonder bike gave a stellar performance as I was able to maintain an 18.6 mph average for the course. I passed lots and lots of people on the bike and was, of course, passed by lots and lots as well. Passing during a triathlon is tricky business as drafting is not allowed. Each person has an invisible box around them and when your box touches another athlete’s box, you have to pass in 15 seconds or incur a 4 minute drafting penalty. In a race with narrow lanes (online in a few places) and 1800+ riders, timing is critical. All the riders were great, though, and I did not see any accidents or abuse by the athletes. Vehicular traffic, however, was another matter as a couple of impatient folks actually turned onto the course in front of oncoming bikes. I guess they just couldn’t wait and didn’t really understand that a race was in progress.

9:57 am – I finished up the bike a little later than I had calculated and headed in for the second transition. Not looking forward to the run, I took my time. After another snack and some NUUN water, I exited the transition area and started on the run course.

10:06 am – I very quickly realized there was no way for me to run the entire 6.5 miles. In addition to being pretty burned from the bike, a nagging hamstring injury reared its ugly head. So, I resigned myself to a staggered running/walking pace. I am not a runner, but when I actually run I can keep a good pace just not for very long. So, I started running 100 paces and walking 50. Then, I went to 50 running and 25 walking. At some point I switched to 50 running and 50 walking. At any rate, I passed lots of people (well, some people) and TONS of people passed me. But, I still finished in 1 hour, 19 minutes which is nearly a 12 minute mile pace. I figured that was not too bad given I walked probably half the distance.

11:20 am – Finally crossed the finish line and took a big lunge through the Slip & Slide optional exit. With 93+ degree temps out, that water sure felt good!

See SOMA Triathlon – Results Writeup – Part 3 to finish up…

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  • Swim: 27 minutes
  • Transition 1: 5 minutes
  • Bike: 1 hr, 43 minutes
  • Transition 2: 4 minutes
  • Run: 1 hr, 19 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours, 37 minutes

Read on if you want the details….

SOMA Quarter Ironman Race – 2008 – Tempe Town Lake

2:45 am – Saturday evening I set my alarm for 3 am hoping to rise early and eat a bit before heading down to Tempe around 4:45. Trouble is, my alarm automatically adjusts for time changes and apparently, somewhere, there was such a change last night. I woke at what my clock said was 1:45 but what hubby’s said was 2:45. Realizing that now my alarm would do me no good, I got up and groggily shuffled into the kitchen.

3:15 am – Breakfast of champions ensued: scrambled eggs, cheese, tortilla, juice, coffee. I knew I would use a lot of calories today so wanted to get as many in me as early as possible with time for digestion.

4:45 am – After checking and rechecking my bags and equipment and clothes and food and reading Bicycling magazine articles about the return of Lance Armstrong (GO LANCE!), I gathered up all my things and drove down to Tempe. Parking near the Beach Park was impossible, so I had planned ahead and packed all my things in a nice rolling bag. Bumping along in the dark with my bike pump in one hand and the roller-bag hitting the back of my foot, I wondered what kind of craziness it takes to be up this early for a race.

5:00 am – Arrived at the transition area and stood in a long line of competitors waiting to get in. Rock music blared from the speakers nearby as a cheerful announcer worked his way down a list of announcements. Over 1800 people were racing today and lots of them were here already. I bumped my way to the far side happy to see my bike had made it through the night unharmed.

5:15 am – All my gear is ready and placed in strategic locations next to my bike. Tires are aired up and the bike looks ready to go. Great! I just have 2.5 hours to wait until my wave (the last one) of the swim start. (Jeopardy music plays in the background…the guy next to me is also standing there waiting having arrived even earlier than I did). “Well,” I said in his general direction. “Guess I’ll go stand in line for the porta-john and do something productive.”

5:30 am – Back from my task and standing once again in front of my bike and all my gear. Feeling glad now that I did come early as I watched the guy next to me blow a tube and race to get it changed before the race. If something had been amiss, I was there in plenty of time to deal with it.

5:31 am – Adopting the pose of the thinking man as I rested my chin on my fist. My biggest quandary at the moment was how much gear to take with me out of the transition area which was closing at 6:15.



5:45 am – After standing around for a few minutes and checking everything over yet again, I made my way out of the transition area and acquired a seat along the concrete bench next to the lake. I wanted to be front and center when the first wave began (6:30) to see how people negotiated the entry and exit.

6:25 am – Still waiting for the first wave to begin. Took a decent photo of the sun starting to rise of Tempe Town lake.



6:45 am – Hubby and I finally made contact. I began the arduous process of putting on my Zoot Fusion wetsuit (inhale, grunt, tug, pull, don’t use fingernails, repeat with next small section). When I bought the thing in Idaho last summer, I had to try on three of them to find the one that fit. Took me 15 minutes to get in and out of each one. But, was it worth it. The suits are amazing and provide a level of buoyancy not to be believed unless you have experienced it firsthand.

7:00 am – Done with wetsuit and ready for another 20 minutes of standing around. In the first wave of swimmers, someone finished the .6 miles in a mere 11 minutes. Bikers streamed quickly out onto the bike course behind me.

7:20 am – Headed over to the line of Quarterman athletes standing in waves to enter the water. Before I know it, the line moved and we inched toward the shoreline. Goggles on securely then it was my turn to get in the lake. I must say that swimming in Tempe Town Lake was the part of the race I was least looking forward to. Given the odoriferous nature of the West and East ends of the lake and the green scum floating around the edges (not to mention the dead rat I saw in the lake last week), jumping into and inhaling even a drop of that water was the last thing on my list of fun things to do. But, I put my mind in Lemming mode and headed into the brink. Entry into the lake was not at all shocking. In fact, the water felt warmer than the air around it and the wetsuit did the trick. I stroked slowly over to the green starting buoy. The biggest issue for me at the moment was the dire need to empty my bladder. There was no time while standing in line previously and the fluids I tanked up on earlier were knocking on the door to get out. I floated away from the others and tried to relax without success. [Note…if you are ever in an open water swim, watch for the swimmers who seem to be “just floating” and steer clear!] Finally, I was able to complete my task and none too soon as the horn sounded for our takeoff.




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Packet is picked up and bike is stored in the transition area. BB (that’s the bike by the way) is resting and ready to race and so am I!

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If you are attending the SOMA triathlon tomorrow, this information will be of use to you.

Maps of the Swim, Bike, and Run courses:

Race start: 6:30 am

Best Places to watch:

  • Mill Ave Bridge – swim, bike, run
  • Tempe Beach Park – swim, transition, run
  • Rio Salado Parkway – bike
  • Finish line – slip & slide finish woohoo!

My estimated time schedule for each event:

  • Swim 7:42 – 8:10
  • Bike 8:15 – 10:00
  • Run 10:05-11:15

Bleachers will be set up at the finish line for spectators. Otherwise, I would suggest throwing a bike in your car because parking might be quite a long way away. Plus, if you want to get out on the course you will need some quick, non-vehicular transportation.

Bring water and snacks if you plan to stay all morning. Not sure what will be sold on-site.

Bring a chair if you don’t plan on sitting in the bleachers and your camera if you want to get some good pictures of the athletes and events.

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Today is a day of rest, carbo-loading (but not overeating), hydrating, and packet pickup. I’ll head down to Tempe Town Lake soon and leave my bike in the transition area for the night (yipes!). I hope there is good security!

  • 11:00 – head down to registration and packet pickup
  • 11:30 – drop off bike
  • 11:45 – 1:00 cruise the Expo area
  • 1:00 – athlete meeting
  • 2:00 – head home to rest and get ready for tomorrow

Bike is all ready to go! Just need to clean it up a little and add a spray or two of lube to the chain and crank.

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Well, today is the eve of the SOMA Quarter Ironman triathlon and I have the requisite case of anxiety and jitters. Will I be able to maintain consistent effort throughout the race and “kick it in” at the end? Have I remembered everything I need during transitions? What will the weather be like (although not such a big deal in Arizona)? Will I get run over by a real competitor on the biking part? All these questions and more have been running through my head but I think now, today, the time has come to put those aside and focus. Today I will focus on what my goals are for the race and on being present and doing what I have trained my body to do. The training is over now and I can’t worry about that. All I can do is pay attention and breath deeply as I visualize being present tomorrow.

Goals for the event:

  • Relax and enjoy the workout!
  • Be present and pay attention to every swimming stroke, biking revolution, and running stride.
  • Support others around me as they go through the race.
  • Start out slow and calm giving myself a chance to warm up then build my effort throughout the race.
  • Finish strong with a smile on my face

I can’t help but have a time goal as well although I am trying not to pin my success or failure on it. Individually, I can do the events in the following times:

  • Swim 1000 meters in 25 minutes
  • Bike 27 miles in 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Run 6.5 miles in 1 hour 7 minutes

Adding those times means I should be able to do the entire event in 3 hours 2 minutes. However, there are transition times to think of and also fatigue from doing all the events in one day. Factoring in those elements I will shoot for a time around 3 hours 30 minutes.

Keeping this all in perspective is also very important. While this event may be tough for me and a challenge when I wake up on Monday morning I go back to work and normal life. Others face challenges every day that are astronomically more difficult than competing in a triathlon. Case in point is a story about a woman using yoga to deal with cystic fibrosis. Thank you to a friend who sent me this link. This woman, Brooke Sterling, is her yoga teacher.

Read Brooke’s story to get some new perspective on your life:


Having a phrase or saying (short and to the point) for motivation along the way is also helpful. My sister-in-law uses the phrase “constant forward motion” when she does her events. Because I haven’t found my own phrase yet, I will check and see if I can use hers. I even designed her a logo for it last year and sent her a t-shirt and coffee mug with the design.

Constant Forward Motion

Constant Forward Motion

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