IRONMAN Arizona 2016

I would be lying if I said I was super pumped for the build up to IRONMAN Arizona after what happened in Kona. I wasn’t. But that is exactly when your mental strength comes into play, so every morning I woke up and repeated to myself (my wife was a pretty good chorus on this one): Don’t. Give. Up.

With race day getting closer I set the goal to just finish the race, independent of the placing, and enjoy my ”hometown” race with all my friends.

That wishful thought only lasted until the gun went off and then I wanted to win. The swim, however, didn’t go as expected, I mean talk about a lousy swim. It was a mix of bad placing at the start, lined up with the bridge pillar instead of having a clear sight of the buoys and poor feet choice out of the gate. But again, racing Ironman is all about overcoming obstacles and setbacks.  At T1, frustration could have easily taken over and almost did for about 2 miles of the bike, but I then put my head down, embraced the pain and hammered the pedals as I hard as I could, what came to payoff with a personal best time on the bike (4h21) on what felt like a windy day. I started the marathon in 9th but I knew I still could run a good marathon and climb a few places. My goal for the marathon is always the same – run hard from the get-go and hold on when wheels fall off. This is the opposite of what I tell people to do, what all the triathlon books tell you and what all coaches advise, but, and with my own coach approval, it’s what works best for me.

Usually the first 13.1 miles of the marathon feel very comfortable, or at least manageable, even on my fastest marathons on an Ironman, but this one never came anything close to comfortable. Half way through the marathon I felt like my legs fell off, the bike effort started to take a serious toll and I was unable to sustain the pace. I had gain enough ground on everyone behind me, gain two places and had just caught up with 6th place. From that point until the end it was nothing but counting miles one by one, trying to jog the aid stations and always moving forward.

I confess that crossing the finish line was a relief after a very grueling day, not only physically but also emotionally, as I struggled with the frustration of that poor swim. Ambition is in our athlete’s nature and we always want to do more, be better, go faster, win.

That being said, I was happy with my 6 th place (with a time of 8h11m) but mostly thankful for all the love I felt from everyone in the race course shouting my name.

Pedro Gomes

Pedro Gomes is a professional triathlete made in Portugal, currently based in Dubai, UAE. He's also a certified Ironman triathlon coach and a self proclaimed donut connoisseur.