Arizona 2012 Race Report: Todd Mellinger, 9:31, 2nd AG, 30' same course PR!

Coach P

ENicon_twitterThis was my second IM of the year and third since suffering a heart attack in 2009.   My reasons for racing have changed somewhat but my goal was to get that ever elusive Kona spot. Its hard to explain why anyone would really want to do such a miserable race, it really is the most oppressive miserable race i’ve ever done, but the thought of racing the best in the world seems to be a draw which over powers the negative aspects of that race.  I missed by 3 minutes 2 years ago at this race and 22 seconds earlier this year in idaho.  I realized I could no longer race conservative and needed to take some risks, with a slight change in run race plan i hoped it would be enough.

Goals for this race:

  • Qualify for Kona
  • Run < 3:35 marathon,
  • swim < 1hour
  • push myself to the limit, finish this race with nothing left


I trained a bit different approaching this race, increased my swim yardage and run volume.  Hit consecutive 50mile+ running weeks leading into the race, i figured i needed a 3:35 to likely qualify, a 3:30 would definately get me there.  Nothing out of the ordinary leading up to the race, saturday i got a large pasta lunch in with small dinner done by 5pm. Given it was not going to be a hot day, i did not hydrate as much as i normally might, the last 2 races were colder days and i overhydrated spending significant amounts of time on the bike trying to drain my bladder, didn’t want this to happen again.

  • 1:30am  2 naked juice protein drinks
  • 4:30am breakfast burrito, bowl of cereal
  • 5-6:30am 1gu, 1 banana, 1 gatorade, 1 water  up to race start

I had the luxury of huge race day support, my wife’s family was there(i swear i can hear them a mile away), my family, my mom, and  Uncle DAve/Aunt Lorie, who i consider my second family, very special indeed to have such amazing support on race day. Thank you thank you thank you.


Water was cool, ~62, i lined up in the middle as in past.  Looked like a beautiful day in store, chatted with a guy next to me in the water, this was his 93 ironman, wow..  Gun goes off and swim started as usual, about 10 minutes fighting for position but quickly settles down.  I spent most of my time in the water looking for feet to follow and drafted most of the race.  Had some issue with goggles on the second half, kept filling up with water, this became a huge struggle and had to lose a good draft a couple of times.  Next time need to ensure my new googles fit better prior to race start, mistake learned. Overall though felt nice and comfortable.. Satisfied but wanted to break 1hour, maybe next time.

  • Swim time:  1:01:59
  • 11th in age group, 164 overall
Arizona swim exit


My goal for the bike was to target a Pnorm 215-220Watts, i figured this would put me in the top 3 of my age group off the bike.  The bike course here is relatively flat, 3 loop course.  The trip out of town has a very gradual but small raise in elevation, but usually allows for a quick return.  Heading out on the bike i knew i had come out of transition relatively well as there weren’t many people around me.  I had a guy in my age group fly by me at mile 10(turns out he was the age group winner last year), wondered if i’d see him again.  Ride my own ride i kept telling myself, so i pretty much just stared at my power meter, stayed aero, and kept on race plan.  There was a slight headwind going out on the first lap which turned into a slight cross wind the remaining two laps, in general though very good weather conditions for a good bike.

Was very happy to be in the front as about 20min back the packs were huge, 5 wide coming up beeline, so glad i wasn’t there.  Started passing pro women about 20 miles into the race, things felt good,comfortable, stomach felt fine. About mile 100 i saw the guy that had flown by me at the beginning of the race and passed him, he’s not racing smart i told myself, but i’d see him again..  About mile 105 i encountered my only drafting complaint,  I saw a rider in front of me duck in behind a guys wheel and literally draft as best he could for about 5 minutes or so..  I thought to myself i wonder where he is from, as i passed him i asked and he said italy, but then ducked in behind my wheel for a draft..  I quickly swerved across the lane and he dropped back, but only to to come up to my side and draft on the side, and chat.  He was from Italy and was not in my age group, so i guess to him that meant it was ok for him to ride my wheel into transition, damn cheaters..


  • 112mile   4:53:25   22.9mph
  • 1st age group, 57th overall  (never new i was in front of my age group)
  • Pnorm=216 Watts, VI 1.02 , TSS=270  (hit target watts, could have gone harder considering low TSS, wanted ~300)
  • Avg HR = 146bpm  (HR very steady entire ride)


  • 5 bottles at 344Cal/bottle (1/hr)
  • 1gu mile 20
  • coke slushy special needs (frozen coke prior to race, this was absolute heaven when i got it)
  • ~5 bottles of water
  • Pee’d twice on bike,  loop2 and loop3
Arizona bike


In my run bag i had 2 waist bottles of infinit, ~ 125calories each, with goal to finish by mile 13. I also had put a bottle of frozen gatorade, which like the coke, was a perfect slushy, i spent the first mile drinking this down and trying to hold my pace down, still went faster than planned the first mile..  Frozen gatorade a definate thumbs up!!

As i headed out on the run my “pal” from Italy flew by me like i was standing still, the age grouper i had passed on the bike passed me around 1 mile, not running too well but running steady, i thought no way would he hold his pace given what i saw on the bike.  Don’t worry about it i said to myself.  My plan for the run was to start out running ~7:50, and actually try and maintain that pace to the end with a best case target of a 3:30 marathon..  I knew a 3:30 would get me a spot, 3:35 was a maybe, i figured all the top guys would be running 310-3:20 marathon’s so my only hope here was to do the best i could and hope i had enough from the bike.

I met a pro woman and spent the first hour pacing with her, Trish Deim, which was good for the mind for the first lap.  My run plan was simple, run 7:50 pace, at each aid station i would grab water, ice and coke, and NOT walk the aid stations.  This was contrary to coaching advise, however i’ve learned from the past that walking thru aid stations tells my body how good it feels to walk, i didn’t want to do that, so i slowed down a bit but made sure not to walk..

I passed that guy in my age group around mile 8, said a few words, he said he knew he needed to ride hard with the field today and rode a bit too hard, i would not see him again  At mile 13 things still felt pretty good, my world was slowly getting smaller but it wasn’t that bad..  I passed Mr. Italy at mile 16, walking, ha i thought to myself, serves you right for blatant drafting…  At mile 18 i had a guy in my age group run by me, i tried to stick with him but there was no way, i was in second place, and running scared.  My world became smaller and smaller but i maintained focus, around mile 23 a sabilizer muscle in my left foot cramped and i had to stop to stretch it out.  Oh no, i thought to myself, not now, i managed to stretch it out and start back up again, only 3 more miles.  I saw Coach Rich at mile 24, he informed me i was in second, just keep running i kept telling myself, run Todd run..

I don’t remember much of the last few miles but i do know i did not stop running, i vaguely remember finishing and was damn surprised when i saw the clock. I don’t keep track of overall time when i race anymore, just focus on the present, my time was better than i expected/hoped.  I crossed the finish line knowing i had done well enough to get that spot, i also finished knowing i left everything out on the run, i could not have run any faster that day.


  • 26.2mile   3:29:56   8min/mile pace
  • Mile splits:
  1. 7:14   14. 7:57
  2. 7:43   15. 8:09
  3. 7:48   16. 7:53
  4. 7:48   17. 7:55
  5. 7:47   18. 7:57
  6. 8:06   19. 7:50
  7. 7:52   20. 8:12
  8. 7:53   21. 8:00
  9. 7:55   22. 8:07
  10. 7:48   23. 8:40  (cramp)
  11. 7:52   24. 8:08
  12. 7:55   25. 8:19
  13. 8:05   26.  8:31


  • water, coke, ice at every aid station
  • 2 waist bottles of infinit, 125cal each, in run bag
  • 1 bottle slushy gatorade in run bag
  • 2 waist bottls of infinit, 125cal each, in special needs bag


  • 9:31:05
  • 2nd age group, 59th overall, 22nd amateur


  • spend more time with new goggles pre-race, a bit tighter next time
  • frozen coke in bike special needs was absolute heaven
  • frozen gatorade in run special needs was second heaven
  • target higher bike power if bike time< 5hours

I got that Kona spot with time to spare.  A huge thanks to my family who gave me amazing support this year, i couldn’t have done it without them.  A giant thanks to my main training partner Ben Nelson who helped me more than he’s willing to take credit, i appreciate it pal.. Thanks to miramont swim team and of course Team Peloton, the weekly beatings are hard to do alone, and you all deserve some credit for this result. Of course a big thank you to Team EN, the group support was awesome at this race, the coach advice is of course spot on, you guys rock.   I have so much to be grateful for on so many levels, this is just icing on the cake.  Thanks for all your help!

Go here to listen to Todd’s interview with Coach Rich


Coach P

All stories by: Coach P

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.