Ironman Arizona 2010

Its been 2 weeks since Ironman Arizona. It was my fastest Ironman to date - 9 hours and 5 minutes. A very satisfying end to my 2010 season. It normally doesn’t take me this long to report in on an event. My best excuse has been that I have been in off-season mode enjoying the white & fluffy snow in Montana.

I asked for questions on my race - and they poured in! I loved all of them. I will have to do this again next year. I wish I could have answered all of them - but here were some of my favorites. Thanks for taking the time to write and I will see each of you in 2011.

Before I get to the questions I want to thank my incredible support network of sponsors:
Saucony, Scott, CLIF, Big Sky Brewing, FSA, ISM, Missoula Bike Works, Oakley, Purple Patch Fitness, Saris, SRAM, Travis Blanton, TRX, Xterra, Zipp & 6 Pony Hitch.

And as always, a big shout out to Chris Corbin, my family, supporters and Missoula, Montana!

Thanks to each of you - great things are happening!!

Now, onto the questions. Enjoy.

1. Was it daunting racing against The Chrissinator?
I actually thought racing against Chrissie caused the entire womens field to elevate our game. It wasn’t just Chrissie with an accomplished resume - there was Leanda and Rachel along with IM Champs Heather Wurtele & Meredith Kessler (just to name a few). I like the timing of the IMAZ race. To me, I could go into the event with little pressure. I viewed it as a great way to end the season. Icing on the cake to a great year. My goal was to break 9 hours at Ironman Arizona. I knew if I did that I would be tough to beat. That didn’t change when I found out Chrissie was racing. If anything, I knew I had to take some big risks in the race if I wanted to stand a chance at being on the podium. I knew if I didn’t take some chances, I would be far off from the 9 hour mark.

2. What was your pre-race meal?
I always have close to the same thing: grilled chicken, sweet potato, some sort of vegetable, bread or rice, and desert, of course!

3. What kind of fuel did you use?
Breakfast: oatmeal, yogurt, bagel w/almond butter and a CLIF electrolyte drink at 4:00 a.m.
Pre swim: Espresso CLIF gel on the way down to the swim start (approx. 30 mins before the gun).
Bike: x1 CLIF Shot gel every 30 mins. x3 salt tabs each hour. Gatorade + water as needed.
Run: Caffeinated CLIF Shot gel every 4 miles. x3 salt tabs each hour. Gatorade & water each mile. Starting at mile 10 I had coke as well. Usually 4-6 oz each aide station.

This is a strategy that has worked well for me since 2006. Not much has changed. Depending on how I feel, sometimes I take in an extra gel or two.

4. How did you feel about your swim? What will you be doing differently this winter in order to drop that swim time into the mid 50‘s and get closer to the lead pack of girls on the bike?
I felt my swim was my swim. I didn’t feel awful. I didn’t feel great. I am sure I made a few mistakes at the start that made me loose the group I felt I was capable of swimming with. I was not happy to come out of the water 8 minutes down on the leaders. I do know an Ironman is a long day though. I have been in this position before (Ironman Coeur D’Alene). I always try to look forward - and thats just what I did. You can’t get hung up on the past in an Ironman. So, I went to work on the bike.

I know the swim is a weakness of mine. I switched so many things up this year, I just couldn’t afford to also switch my entire swim regimen. Now that I have adjusted to the style of Matt Dixon’s training - I will be spending the next few years focusing on my swim. I know to achieve the goals I want to in this sport, I need to be swimming 52-55 minutes. To do this, I will have to change my entire swim approach. For example, I will be swimming 40k a week and getting stroke technique help over the next few months. I will also be spending the winter in an environment that is conducive to elite athlete swimming. I know I can do it!

5. Do you monitor your effort on the bike based on wattage, heart rate or perceived effort…....or do you monitor at all? 
Generally I monitor everything on race day off of feel. I train with heart rate and wattage (CycleOps Power Tap + Joule 2.0) in nearly every session - so I have a pretty good idea of what race watts “feel” like. For IMAZ I was equipped with the Zipp 900 rear wheel w/a Power Tap. I did use the power to monitor my efforts each loop. I held even watts the first two loops of the bike. The third loop my watts lowered more than I would have liked. This can be attributed to the weather, crowded course, and fatigue of course.

6. How did you battle through the low points (if you had any)?
Yes, I go through all sorts of high and low points in racing (as well as training). For me, the goal is always to stay as even-keeled as possible. The weather on race day was a bit frustrating on the bike and that got me a little cranky. Thats when having the Joule 2.0 bike computer was nice. I focused on keeping my cadence up. I would look at my splits and realize I was on target to break 5 hours (a goal of mine). I also always think of how good the finish-line will feel. I really try to imagine myself running down that chute, slapping high-fives and the feeling of accomplishment.

Once on the run, when I was getting fatigued I thought of a few key things. I always have key words - for me this was “quick feet” and “sub 3.” After the first lap of the run, it was becoming more clear that I could possibly break the 9 hour mark. I remember thinking how cool it was that I was given this opportunity. When would another chance to break 9 come again? I knew I couldn’t waste this day and wanted to just get the most out of myself. I also alway try to focus on the crowds, competitors, my family, and those that have supported me. I draw energy off of all this - which ultimately makes me happy and takes my mind off of the low points.

7. What have you changed in your training that has helped you the most on your run?
I pride myself on being “Consistent Corbin”. In the last 6 weeks I ran two marathons of 3:04 and 3:03. I think what has enabled me to do this is Matt Dixon. I have been injury free for a year now, and this is a huge platform. To run train consistently for an entire year has been monumental. We make each of my runs have a purpose: endurance, strength, speed, form, or transition off the bike. I have cut my volume down quite a bit, and increased my intensity. I also pay close attention to my rest and recovery (both within a workout and between sessions). Finally, I have incorporated TRX training in which is huge. Having the strength in the back-half of the marathon is key.

8. What was going through your head at mile 24 of the run?
I was trying very hard to break 9 hours. I found a super great age-group man on his first or second lap. He was really encouraging of me. I told him I wanted to break 9 hours and he really did his best to pump me up and keep me rolling along. How cool is that? Here is someone running a marathon and giving so much energy to me. I can only hope that I return the favor to those around me! I tried to match his pace. I just looked at the 31 (his age) on his calf and tried to be strong into the head wind. I knew I had been given this incredible opportunity, and I didn’t want to let it pass me by. I judge my Ironman performances on if I have given all that I can give. I really felt I gave an A+ effort in the race. That’s all you can ask for. With a mile to go, I realized I would have to run a 6 minute mile to break 9 hours. I shut it down at that point and just took it all in and enjoyed that last bit of the day.

9. I always cheer the pros I know by name when they lap me up. Is that distracting when people do that? Welcome? Encouraging? Does it depend?
I love this! I try to encourage everyone back as best as I can. I try to get as much energy as I can from those on the course, and I hope I can return the favor. That’s part of being in the Ironman Family - we get to share the day together!

10. On the run did you just focus on Dec 1st, when Movember would finally be over and you could kiss CC again?
Ha! No - but you donate until December 9th:

11. When you were close to the finish, did images of a tough Kona or a successful 2010 come to mind? Or neither, just Big Sky Brew?
In no particular order I felt relief, satisfaction, a weight lifted from my shoulders, happiness, very tired legs, and then I nearly bonked and had to eat a CLIF Shot once I crossed the line. What was I thinking!?! Really - all you can do is look forward. I gave my best effort and pushed to the best of my abilities. You can’t ask for much more - thus the feelings of being satisfied and happy. I had my most successful year yet - and that finish just made me savor what a great journey 2010 has been.

12. Other than the finish line, what was your favorite moment in the race?
I really enjoyed spending race week visiting with some great friends. I love the moments of pre-race nerves right before you hop in the water. Everything seems impossible and then that canon blows and everything comes good. I take a big exhale, relax, and know that I am doing what I am meant to be doing. All my worries and doubts seem to fade and I get to go to work doing what I love. On the run I loved the Phoenix Tri Club “Jail House” aide station. The TRIBE one made me laugh on lap #1, too.

13. Did this IM automatically qualify you for Kona next year?
Not necessarily - we have a new points system, which you can read about here. I think the solid result will take some pressure off as I am currently ranked 8th.

14. Having had such an amazing race/season, what advice would you give in light of where you are now?
Never give up. You never know what is going on up the road and what may happen down the road. The sky is the limit. Ironman is about being the best problem-solver on the day. Use logic and not emotion. Triathlon is about more than swim-bike-run: core strength, flexibility, diet, strength & mental stamina.

15. If beer is a recovery remedy, what beer would you choose (Big Sky not included!)?
Beer is a recovery remedy and Big Sky is always included. Check out the soon-to-be-released Cowboy Coffee Porter. Choiceeeeee!

16. Chris Corbin’s fishing pictures rock! Can you tell us if Chris is a ‘catch and release’ guy?
Chris loves fishing as much as I do triathlon. He is a catch and release guy. St. Nick is brining him an Orvis spey rod for Christmas.