20 November 11: Ironman Arizona Weekend

by hillarybiscay

It just happened that –of course–my biggest training weekend before Ironman Western Australia coincided with Ironman Arizona weekend—and this was a huge, can’t –miss weekend for both some of my best friends and my athletes. Needless to say, all of these commitments have had me going non-stop from roughly 5am til 10pm for the last 3 days.

All of this effort culminated in today’s spectathlon in Tempe.

imaz spectating

The last three days have been so action-packed that I haven’t even had time to write a blog, and now that it’s all done, I have one word left to describe it: WOW.


WOW for the women’s pro race—particularly the first 3 women, who happen to be some of my favorite friends and training partners. Mere, Leanda, and Lins were all 9 hours flat or less—talk about raising the bar and a super-speedy podium!


Then WOW for one of my most rewarding days in coaching, ever . . .

david run

You all heave heard many times over now about how much I love “my kids”; I truly feel so fortunate for the many special relationships I have with my athletes, past and present. Just today I ran into David, who was one of the first athletes I ever coached when I started back in 2005. He was out most of this season with an injury and thus was out for a jog with his camera today during the race—love it!

david run2

He stopped to snap a pic….then I made him get going!

dawn cheering section

I love Ironman Arizona because I get to see so much of my athletes on this looped course. I always camp out on the back side of the run course where I can see the athletes about 4 and 6 miles into each loop. Today I had two of the toughest ladies I have ever worked with duking it out with the women in  their age groups for coveted Kona slots. Above is me running after Dawn to yell at her . . .

dawn crushin it

Dawn has had more than one close encounter with Hawaii qualification and enlisted my help a couple months back to help get her over the hump. Not interested in things that are “easy,” however, Dawn spent the last 3+ weeks leading into this race unable to run on land due to a chronic foot issue.  Instead, we did lots of bonus swimming and running and got those two disciplines as bulletproof as possible.

It worked. Dawn PR’d by 25 minutes and finished in 10:40 to take 4th place in 40-44 and earn herself a trip to Kona.

As if that wasn’t enough, Dawn had no sooner been carted off to medical than my little-sister-from-another-mother, Alyssa, crossed the line in 10:46. In “just 26.2-miles,” this 100-mile ultramarathon veteran had annihilated herself in her final push to grab the second of two Kona slots in her age group.

AG so proud

Back in August, I told you about Alyssa’s great swim-bike in Louisville, which was followed by a stomach-revolt extravaganza death march on the run . . . Well today I must admit I was afraid we were going to have a flukey thing get in the way of Alyssa’s race again, as she lost about 10 minutes with a flat tire on the second bike loop.

AG post-race

But no: Ms. Alyssa’s mental and intestinal fortitude were strong enough to make up for that lost time. She found another gear to close a silly amount of time in the last four miles and made the Kona-qualifying pass with 1/2 mile remaining in the race. While she was thrilled to qualify and set a 50-minute PR, she did say that she would rather avoid another ironman sprint-finish in the future. I figure she will be good for awhile now as I think it took me 8 years before I had to suffer through one of those! They are usually worth it though….


I could not possibly be more proud right now: 2 for 2 in Kona-qualifying today!!

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

lucy francis November 21, 2011 at 5:50 am

And they must be so happy to bring you great results too 🙂


IB November 21, 2011 at 6:37 am

Wow, that is just great! Alyssa, how did you know that you had someone ahead of you that needed passing for the Kona slot? It seems impossible to know? PS: It looks like Eva was checking you over to make sure you were OK?


IB November 21, 2011 at 6:38 am

Ooops, one more question: how cold was the water?


TLC November 21, 2011 at 8:30 am

wow what a day!! congratulations to you Coach — and to your amazing trainees! 🙂


Kim (Tri-Mom) Basala November 21, 2011 at 10:16 am

AMAZING, AWESOME, So very neat!!! Congrats to the two girls for gutting it out, and overcoming obstacles before the race and during! Congrats to you as well on some great coaching, and never letting them even think about throwing in the towel! This is just so “guts awesome!!”


Taryn November 21, 2011 at 10:44 am

This is SO COOL!! Huge congratulations to you and your athletes, they made it a fun day of virtually spectating yesterday!!! Safe travels down under, and good luck to you and the GCM!



Meaghan November 21, 2011 at 11:30 am

Cue tears – this is so, so, so great. A HUGE congrats to you and your athletes. Simply amazing Hill! And great work this weekend!


Alyssa November 21, 2011 at 5:20 pm

The water was 62 degrees….definitely wetsuit worthy but not bad once we were moving!

I had a couple friends out on the course who, with help from friends at home with computers, were able to zero in on the girls ahead of me and give me time checks. They waited at 25.5 to tell me I was only 20-30 seconds back at that point, so I knew I had to move!

Thank you everyone for all your support! So happy this all came together.


Dawn Elder November 21, 2011 at 9:18 pm

We are two very fortunate girls to have the wisdom and encouragement from Hillary.

The water was cold but do-able. Chop made things a bit more interesting than usual. Still under a min from last time on this course.

I, too had a few Iron supporters out on the course giving me updates.

Thank you Hillary for everything. Now we have Kona!!


IB November 22, 2011 at 6:57 am

Thanks A & D, for your responses! Super accomplishments.


baker November 30, 2011 at 9:00 am

Thanks for cheering us on!
I was the guy that yelled out to you ‘Love your blog Hillary!’


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