Saturday, May 6, 2017

Ironman 70.3 St George 2017 Race Report

 72 hours post race and I am still on a post race high!  Where do I begin to sum it all up??


I headed down to St. George on Thursday morning and caravaned down with Jason and Cristin, who I talked into signing up for this race with me about 8 months ago.  We got into town, went to the expo, and it was super hot!  I kept hoping that we would not have this heat on race day!  I picked up my packet, went to the merchandise tent and bought the infamous race "name shirt" with all participants names on it.  It was the only thing I bought!  Ken was shocked.  This is my third Ironman branded event, so I just don't feel the need to go crazy on Ironman gear anymore.  It is still cool, but my tradition now is to just buy the name shirt, unless there is something else I just can't live without!

Friday I laid low.  I took the time to pack my gear bags to get them ready for gear and bike check in.  I had a late breakfast and it did not set well with me.  I was almost immediately sick to my stomach and this lasted the rest of the day.  I was not happy about this!  Please don't let me be sick before the race!!I went ahead and headed out to Sand Hollow to check in my bike.  I visited with some friends while there, did a very brief spin on Ivy to make sure the gears were all good and she was ready to roll, then I checked her in.  I was getting ready to leave when was pretty sure I saw Ben, my coach, speed by on his bike.  I have worked remotely with Ben for the past 18 months, but never actually "met" in person as he is in Madison, Wisconsin, and I am in Utah.  I couldn't pass up the chance to meet him.  So, I went over and said hello.  Thank heaven it was him, or that would have been weird!  Ben is just as cool in person!  I've always known he was a great coach, but he is also a cool person!

I wanted to get out of the heat, so I headed back into town, quickly checked my run gear bag and headed back to the condo.  Ken and the kids were in town by this point, and it was good to see them!

Saturday morning I woke up super early and was over the moon excited!  No race nerves, just plain excited!  I was riding to catch the shuttles with Jason and Cristin, so I met them at their hotel for breakfast.  I had listened to my "race inspiration" playlist on the way over and was just ready to get this thing going!  We ate, got on the shuttles, then it was a matter of airing my tires, loading my bike nutrition, and then waiting for the swim start!


I had high hopes of a swim PR for this course. The water was smooth (which is actually unusual for Sand Hollow, this area is known for the wind).  I was in one of the very last swim waves, so it was a hurry up and wait kind of game. I was in Wave #18, with a start time of 7:31.  I got up  and was going to try to hug the inside buoy line, and start near the front of my group.  We swam out to the start buoy, the gun went off, and it was time to get to work!  I stuck to my usual sighting every 8 strokes or 4 breaths, and kept telling myself  "reach long, pull strong".  I found a good rhythm right off the bat and was sighting well.  The first third of this went way fast.  When we went along the west side of the Island, that part lasted longer!  It was all good, but I was starting to catch the slower swimmers from the waves ahead of me and it started to get more congested and harder to stay right with the buoy line as I was trying to avoid the slower swimmers and go around them.  When we made the final turn where we swim into the boat dock, it was CRAZY!  Now you have every breast stroker, back stroker, and hanging-on-for-dear-life-stroker, and it made for just utter chaos. The water got choppy from all the congestion and I started to get nauseous.  Uh!  Can we just be done?  I was relieved to get out of the water and let out a HUGE burp.  My sister Lisa and father would have been impressed!  I immediately felt better though!  I unzipped my wetsuit, took off my cap and goggles, and ran for the strippers!  They had that sucker off faster than a prom dress!  Final swim time was 36:43 (24 out of 116 in my division), only 45 seconds away from a PR!  I blame the chaos at the end for that!  Either way, I was thrilled with this swim.


As soon as the wetsuit was off, I ran over to Ivy, threw all my swim stuff into the bag, threw on my shoes, helmet, and sunglasses and headed out of there.  I was super thrilled with my T1 time of 3:12. This is over 3 minutes faster than last time I did StG, but I was way happy with it.  Ken caught the pic below as I had exited the water.


I was both super excited and nervous for this bike.  It was on the bike that my race went so horribly wrong 3 years ago, but I also had a couple of good training rides on this course just a few weeks before, so I was excited to see it all play out on race day.  Ben had told me to make sure I kept constant tension on the chain.  Pressure on the pedals. I get into a habit of just spinning or coasting at times on the "easier" parts of the course.  My training ride here two weeks ago I spent well over an hour of a 2:45 ride in Zone 1!  What the?  Not okay for race day!  I quickly found that by doing this, I was passing lots of people on the flats and descents.  I am not a strong climber, but I found that many people that passed me on the hills, I caught up with or passed right after the hills.  This was just so much fun!  I would just shift into the "hardest" gear on the flats or down hills and just keep tension on the chain as Ben said.  I threw a lot of caution to the wind as well and stayed in aero on these down hills instead of on the breaks.  With the roads closed to traffic, I felt confident doing this. It was just so much fun!  I loved it! I hit some new high speeds of 45 mph on my bike on more than one of these down hills.

My nutrition plan was working well.  I had two concentrated bottles of my Infinit + Base salt.  I found that making more than a two hour bottle the flavor is way too strong, so I went with two 2 hour bottles.  Every 15 minutes I took in a mouth full of it and sipped on water every 5-10 minutes in between. It was warm, but over cast, and I felt like this was the perfect amount for the conditions. I grabbed a water bottle at every aid station as well. I took in about 750-800 calories during this ride and around 100 ounces of fluid.

When we got to the bottom of Snow Canyon, I was starting to feel the anxiety set in.  It was at the bottom of Snow Canyon that I literally sat on the road and cried in the red dirt thinking my race was over 3 years prior.  As I passed that spot, I felt strong and was so grateful to not be there today.  I said a quick prayer of thanks for my good race so far and prayed for continued luck!  I found that it was a pretty ride! I  loved it.  Though technically Snow Canyon is a slow gradual 4 mile climb, it is only the final mile of that is bad.  I enjoyed being there, talking to the other athletes and just settling in and getting ready for the big push at the end.  When we got there, it was the first time during this ride that fatigue set in.  Many were starting to walk their bikes.  I just kept telling myself to keep my legs moving, I was NOT going to walk.  It somehow seemed easier than it had been two weeks ago!  Before I knew it, I was at the top!  This was also the first part I noticed the head winds.  Holy crap, were they bad!  Luckily that last stretch into town is downhill, but still no fun in those head and cross winds. I just got low in aero and kept pressure on the pedals. I didn't break for a single down hill into town.  Just tuck low and let her roll! I had a ton of fun on this part of the course, though it was scary a few times :)

As I was in the final half mile, I heard Ken yell at me.  I was so happy!  I just not only conquered the bike course, but the demons and associations from this same ride 3 years before!  I literally was crying as I ran my bike into T2.  Final Bike Time was 3:28:26 (#38 out of 116 in my division).


I easily found my stuff and bagged my bike stuff, took time to throw on socks (I usually race sockless sprint and olympics), shoes, visor and my race belt.  I grabbed two cups of ice water leaving T2.  Final time for T2 was 2:36.


When I did this run 3 years ago, it was pretty much a walk.  I just wanted to run as much of it as possible. I knew that with the high mid day temps, wind, and hills, it wouldn't be realistic to run the whole thing, but I wanted to try!  As I left T2, I was still crying because I was so thrilled with my bike.  I saw Ken again right out of T2 and just said, "I did it!  I did it!"  He gave me a sweaty hug and said, "Yeah, but you're not done yet!"  I found that as I tried to run, I couldn't because my lungs were all tight from crying!  HA!  There's no crying in triathlon!  I took a minute to walk and calm down and found I could run after that. Ben had told me to stay within certain HR parameters, so I looked down at my watch and saw I had no HR data.  The watch wasn't picking up the HR at all.  Funny, because it had worked fine the entire bike.  Oh well, Plan B is run by feel!  The first 4 miles of this run are uphill.  They are a gradual false flat at first then by mile 2 you are going UP!  I settled into a decent, though slow pace for the first two and when I got to the Turtle Hill climb I had to walk.  I gave myself permission to walk on the uphills for a max of 30 steps at a time, and it worked!  It gave me just enough of a break to want to get going again.  I found that I was in good company on this rough run and saw many teammates along the way.  I was enjoying this run despite the toughness of it.  I made myself run the down hills and the flats, only breaking at the aid stations.  The aid stations were roughly every mile.  At each aid station I took in ice water, a couple of licks of Base Salt, and every 3 miles I had a gel.  There were also a couple of stations I would take in a Gatorade, Coke, or Red Bull based on what sounded good at the moment.  It all seemed to be working because I felt pretty good the whole time.

The second half of the run I was just ready to be done. I was still in good spirits, but I wanted to be done.  I ran most of the last part except for the couple of final uphills.  I ran into several more teammates and one of the newbies to our club Shawn.  We played leap frog from miles 8-11.  It was nice to have a familiar face at this hard part of the course!

The final 3 miles are basically down hill, so I went for it.  I looked at my watch several times during this downhill portion and was sub 10 pace every time. I still stopped at aid stations, but skipped the last one a mile from the finish line.  I just wanted to cross that finish line!  I bolted down the portion after the turn around at Diagonal and Main Street to the finish.  It felt so good!  I heard Ken yelling for me again and crossed the finish line.  Immediately I saw my friends Marianne and Meagan working the finishers chute!  It was perfect!  I completely lost it and Meagan was there to hug me despite me being a hot mess for a moment!  The only thing better than this moment was sharing it with such good friends!!

Final run time was 2:37:03 (#42 out of 116 in my division).  This is only 9 minutes from a run PR for the distance in a 70.3!  And on THIS course?  Heck yeah, I'll take it! Final race time was 6:48:00 (#42 out of 116 in my division). This is not a 70.3 PR, but then this is not the course for a PR!


I met up with Ken immediately after the race.  I went and got some athlete food and Ken went for the car.  I went with the kids to get my bike and ran into Ben there. Seriously, I can't thank him enough!  He is a great coach, and has pushed me further than I thought I could go.  I was glad to be able to give him a post race hug!  Then we loaded up in the car, got the kids food and played by the pool the rest of the day.  It was perfect!

I would be lying if I said I didn't have some goals time wise for this race.  I was right on them for both the swim and the bike, but not for the run.  However, when I see that everyone struggled on the run today, and I know that I honestly put forth my best effort, I am genuinely thrilled with the day I had.  This just gets me fired up and wanting more!  I have pretty mellow summer race wise...I have an Oly in a month, my Alcatraz swim, and then my 70.3 in September.  I am so excited to see what I can do on that FLAT course after this race.  It will be fun!

I've also decided 70.3 is my distance.  I love it!  The training is just enough to challenge me, but not overwhelm me or my life, and the distance is the same way.  I loved doing sprints and Olys last year, but this is a good distance for me.  I will probably stick with this distance for awhile.  I really want a sub 6 hour 70.3!

Onward and upward!  Happy training and racing!

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