St. George Race report
All week I’d been getting reports from friends, about the weather. I’d tried not to think about it. I was too excited for a race-cation in a new city to be concerned with what ifs. This was a new adventure for me because I was heading out to this race with someone I barely new, Paul (who I knew was fast), and with no one from my inner circle. I was nervous, scared and a little excited. It was a personal test for myself to see if I really loved triathlons or if I did it because for my friends and family. Spoiler alert: I do love triathlons! So here I’ll get into it.
I woke up ready to go. no snooze alarm on race day, but plenty of back up alarms! I made sure I checked off all my lists before leaving the house. Once we got to the shuttles, the excitement was building as people waited in line. We’re about to get on the bus and I realize I left one of my bike bottles into the car! Not the way I want to start my morning. I rush back and we’re ready to go. We get on the bus I’m sweaty profusely. About 10 mins into the ride Paul and I confirm that, this is the quietest bus ever. I think back to the Phoenix marathon bus where you can hardly hear yourself think, but here… everyone was getting in the zone.
I run through my T1 checks, body marking, ensure everything is in place, tires are pumped and bottles are filled. Familiar faces in transition calm the nerves a bit. I run into Sean, Abigail, Keith and Scott. I find a place to put on my wetsuit which is a struggle for anyone… then a pro and their camera crew set up shop right next to me. I’m think oh gosh, I’m going to be in the background of this video as a struggle to getthis wetsuit on, haha. I’m quiet as I wait outside of transition for the race to start. I post up on a table to get a good view of the pros, and someone tugs on my wetsuit. It’s the roomie Paul, we talk about the pros a bit and then…
Time to race. The pros start off, and we calculate that we should see pros come into T1 before we even head out. This is one of the coolest races being the North American Pro Champions race, so all of the big guns are out here and I get to follow behind them! I see Brownlee for his Ironman debut race, Sanders, Kanute, and Hoffman to name a few. I rush off, into my wave and I see Aaron, a tri club member standing looking for something. I say hi and I realize him and his friend were looking for me. We wish each other luck and in three minutes from getting into the water.
At the sound of the horn, the lake becomes a washing machine of wetsuits. Trying to navigate, it took a few minutes to get my rhythm, but finally settled in. The first third seemed fast. After the first turn bouy the age group behind me started swimming over top of me and I started catches the age groups ahead of me. Admittedly I lost focus when my mind went to an ex-boyfriend and swam a good amount out of the line of the bouys. I kicked myself for not being focused in that moment.
The second third was just fighting people swimming over top of me and me overtop of them. I’m pretty sure Paul swam over me at this point, he was waiting for no one. After the second turn bouy it spread out a bit and I was able to catch my groove again. The water was choppy, But I remained confident in my swim pretty and I was keeping a good pace. I picked it up past the last bouy and come out of the water to T1.
Droves of volunteers are ready to help you strip your wetsuit. As I pull up to click my watch I see that it shows I’ve already been in transition! I usually rely on seeing my time out of the water for some confidence to the next discipline. Instead I had to wing it and find that confidence somewhere else.
I run out of transition to hop on my bike, a man in front of me is being yelled at a volunteer to secure his helmet before getting on his bike. It makes me check mine.
I’m excited to get on the bike we have a small decent before before climbing. As I’m climbing up this hill I’m thinking these are my easiest gears, how am I going to climb snow canyon? On these hills there seems to be no rules for passing within the designated time, people are just trying to survive these hills. For the most part I had a good tailwind the first half of the ride, most of the uphills, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t working.
Before heading up one of the hills I would deem large, I hear someone say something to me; it’s Sean McManus! I was so happy to see a friendly face, but a little ego burned as he passed me looking very strong.
One thing about the long course I’ve learned is that it’s not uncommon for people to pee while on the bike. (Of course everyone pees in the water) So in an effort to practice and to not loose a place by 20-40sec (according to Paul, you need to save time everywhere because it adds up) I peed a little in the bike for the first time. You think this is an easy task, but it’s really not. You need to relax but still really focus. Now try doing that going down a hill at 20-25 mph. Needless to say it was a relieving and interesting experience. Yes, you should rinse yourself off.
As I come into the more “urban” part of town the bike and the run cross and I see the first pros on the run! Again such a neat experience to know you’re on the same course.
The rest of the bike seemed fairly quick until I reached the Snow canyon climb. It was tough but no wind, just hills. I went back and forth passing some of the same people. But this was by far the most beautiful part of my ride. Out of Snow canyon I had the worst wind in a downhill. There was no reward that I was promised for finishing the Snow canyon climb. I was holding my bike at a 20 degrees at one point. It was too hard to drink and eat at that point while holding onto my bike. The last 15 miles proved hard to take in any water and nutrition (I’ll explain later).
As soon as I came out of the run, mile 1 was uphill. I had goose bumps and chills and was worried I wasn’t hydrated enough. This was the point at which I thought that This might be my first might DNF. I kept hydrating at each station, I poured water and ice over me too. I had to walk up a lot of the hills one because of the chills and two because of an injury. The last three months I had zero run training after the marathon due to a foot injury, so my muscles were not ready for the hills. Luckily I had no foot pain before, during or after thanks to Allison and Bernardo!!
I come up past the first few major hills and I see runners on my side of the road and runners on the opposite side of the road… I was a bit discouraged thinking I’d have to do this portion twice. With false hope I imagine this is a split course and that it doesn’t fold in on itself. Silly me for thinking it would be that easy…
As I was run/walking I kept doing leap frog with three women in my age group. I kept remembering what Paul told me that gear can be reasons you loose by 20 seconds. I told him I have a lot to invest in myself before I invest in the gear. Remembering these conversations I was determined not to loose to these three women and work on myself. It took a lot of mental and physical work for me to ensure that I push myself and hold myself to it.
At mile 11 it was all down hill from there. I waited until mile 10… all three women were in my sight. Like a doctor telling a new mother it’s time to push, I told myself… it’s time to push. Remembering Coach Anthony’s quote “Pain is temporary, pride is forever,” I couldn’t let them beat me with them in sight.
Then things started happening, my calf almost cramped and it kicked my foot back and I dropped my bottle at one point. I had passed them and around mile 12 I must have been totally relaxed because I started to pee, this time a lot. This time I didn’t have to think too much, I just knew I’d be able to run better if I did pee. I laugh wondering what the people are thinking behind me.
I come up to the last aid station, where I see six men, two cups in hand ready to to give out water. I yell at them, “dump, dump!” The first person repeats to his fellow volunteers and as I run through they are all too happy to be showering me with ice cold water. It felt so nice run through the cascading water.
I pushed as hard as I could that last mile with a ghost of the next age grouper chasing me and I crossed the finish line, light headed and struggling to keep my feet under me. Even though I knew no one would be there, I still looked hoping for a familiar face to come retrieve me. Still, it was a nice moment to relish in my finish, no disappointment in myself for my performance, just happy and proud that I completed. I stood in the kids splash pad cooling off. No greater feeling at that moment.
This was a journey that proved, no matter what happens you can still be happy. Emily sent me this quote at the beginning of the year, “Happiness is different from pleasure. Happiness has something to do with struggling and enduring and accomplishing.” That day at St. George this was true. I definitely missed my wolf pack that day, but there will be days where I will struggle and endure on my own and when I accomplish something I’ll know that wolf pack is still there. I got to my phone with 60+ unread messages of people following my day, and congratulating me!
The next day, with the tip from a first place age grouper… (soon to be pro…) I went hiking with my St. George roomie, Paul. The sights of Red Cliffs were nothing short of amazing.
Until the next adventure!