The trip started out with a stopover in Flagstaff, and it might be the first time I slept without hearing the roar of wind or trains outside. My friend Kris provided the accommodations, and we treated her to breakfast at Martanne's (very good New Mexican fare with generous green chile on every dish). We dropped down the basalt cliffs into Oak Creek on our way to Sedona, watching the landscape evolve from thick Ponderosa forests to sandstone spires and buttes dotted with pinon pine and juniper. We parked the car and went for a short ride in perfect weather, exploring the northwest area of Sedona before heading south to Phoenix.
We were fortunate to have a good friend with a nice condo in Scottsdale, so we set up shop about 15 minutes from the Ironman race site, and played a round of golf at the ASU Karsten course on Friday afternoon. It's been ages since I golfed seriously, but I had some good holes and really enjoyed the perfect weather. Saturday morning we went for another short ride east of town, and then went down to Tempe Beach Park for our volunteer duties. My dad and I were assigned to afternoon bike check-in, so we helped people rack bikes and drop off their gear bags. It was nice to be on the other side of the event, helping others feel ready to take on Ironman, and with my dad volunteering, his entry was assured for the 2010 event.
Race morning was chilly, and I was happy to not be facing the 63 degree waters. Instead, I watched the swim start from the bridge and then rode along the pathway to follow the lead groups. I knew several people racing, so it was an exciting day despite not being part of the battle for top spots and requalification for Kona. The conditions were more agreeable than last year's, and that was reflected in some killer bike splits in the pro field. Another graduate of the Montana school of triathlon, friend Linsey Corbin battled her way into second place with a ridiculous 3:04 marathon, and all other friends finished the event with very respectable times. Congratulations to all competitors and finishers.
Now I'm back in Grand Junction for the Thanksgiving holiday, getting ready to enter a food coma and watch football. The extra calories I pack on should be a good buffer as I get back into training starting tomorrow. Happy Thanksgiving!