Monday, May 9, 2016

Ironman St George 70.3 Race Report

Be careful what you wish for....  

We arrived in StG on Thursday around 3pm and it was 92 and dry. Hot wind blowing and I was thinking holy cow it better cool off as predicted.  Friday was cooler but still 70 and when chatting with a fellow racer who said I hope it stays warm I stupidly said bring on the cold, wind and rain....

Getting the lay of the land.

StG is a split transition, meaning the start of the race is not in the same place as the finish.  While this is not uncommon it just makes pre -race logistics a bit time consuming.   

Friday AM was the usual pre- race shake out workouts.  I dropped my run gear bag - shoes, race #, hat, run nutrition in T2 around 1pm. 

 This is my 10th year racing triathlon and I still read the Athlete Guide.  They write it for a reason and usually contains helpful race day information. So when I came across 2 separate groups of very lost looking athletes, with their bikes, who asked me "where do we drop our bikes?"  I told them Sand Hollow State Park. "where is that?"  I reply 18 miles that way.  3 of them, jaws dropped say, really? we don't have a car.  Seriously.... well good luck.  Take some responsibility people!  

Off to Sand Hollow to drop my bike and when I open my car door it blows shut.  I step out to 25mph winds, white caps on the lake and think oh boy this could be interesting. But the forecast said 68 on race day with winds 3-5mph and we all know how accurate weather forecasters are so I was not worried.  I managed to check my bike and as I make my way back to the car I see a guy crouched on the ground between 2 car doors building his bike from one of those "awesome" Rooster cases where you take the whole bike apart.  The wind is howling, his bike keeps falling over and he did not look happy.  He asks me where he drops his run gear and I tell him back where he registered.  Crestfallen...he has to build is bike in the gale, drive 30 min back to drop his run gear and drive 30 min back because he is staying near the start.  Which makes no sense as I have no idea how he will get back to the start post race.  But its 3:30. I'm tired and say good luck.  As I reflect now I could have offered to drop his run gear as I was going to be reasonably close to the finish, but well I did not. 

READ THE GUIDE
gourmet "kitchenette"


Dinner was epic in our hotel room.  Let's just say we were 0 for 2 on the dining in St George at this point and elected to eat in.  The Green Valley Spa and Resort takes liberty with their vocabulary as in "resort" and "kitchenette"  The "kitchenette" was a modified armour with a microwave, coffee pot for that could not be opened in the space it was held due to its size, a microwave, sink, fridge and cutlery and plates.  The fridge was conveniently in the bathroom.    My plan of brown rice, eggs, avocado and salsa was good in theory but took a tremendous amount  of effort to execute but we did it and I was fed and horizontal by 8.

Up at 4 and cooked a gourmet breakfast in my professional grade "kitchenette" reheated a really good buttermilk package the size of my head.  Making pancakes in the microwave was not happening.    And we were out the door 5;15.  Wind was calm and temp was high 50's, felt a lot like Oeanside in the AM.


Nice calm lake
After a warm up run and hanging at the start I made the FIRST mistake of the day by declaring it warm enough to leave ALL my carefully thought out gear with John, my vest, arm warmers, socks, toe covers and gloves, with him. No not in T1 so I could decide post swim but in the car because I am an idiot.   Off to the swim and as we sat behind a car that was blocking the wind waiting for the swim start I started to wonder about my minimalist decision.  We laughed with Wendee who said she has all kinds of gear and I asked if she had a picnic blanket too for a buffet. Ha ha... who had the last laugh ugh! 


Racing with friends
The water was temp was not 62 as the announcer announced but more like 59 or 60.  Water start and off we went.  First 2/3 of the swim were ok, a bit rough but nothing bad.  As we rounded the last turn buoy the wind has picked up, white caps and I was gulping water.  All I could think was please don't let this water have Giardia.  

My PSA re: the swim,  If you are a timid or new swimmer or choosing to do elementary backstroke, sidestroke or breaststroke, please don't swim in in the direct buoy line and then later complain you were run over.  Just swim a few yards to the right or left and leave a clear path for the swimmers coming from behind.  Thank you.  

Out of the water, ouchie cold feet, running into T1 and I am ignoring the weather, No decisions to make as nothing there but a helmet, sunglasses (ha ha) and shoes.  Off we go.

The first 10 miles is around the lake and no matter how nice that sounds let me paint the real picture.  Rough chipseal road that is hilly.   I tell you how rough the road is, . I saw 3 flats and already saw bottles launches. PSA #2 don't put a new bottle cage or carrier on without testing it on a bumpy road or you risk losing all your nutrition!  I am riding along thinking it really is not that cold and this will be fine.  I settle in and start to get excited.


Coach on the course 
I feel moisture and at first I am thinking my aero bottle is leaking but then I realize it is sprinkling.  I also realize i have not had a sip of liquids and I am 35 minutes in.  I lean forward to put the straw in my mouth and realize Mistake #2 of the day.  When I was worried, (ha, ha ha), about the heat I decided to use  larger bottle with my front hydration and did NOT test it out. ignoring my one PSA  Well longer bottles means the straw was out reach without a gymnastic move. Duh!  

Soon it is raining and cold, as in 45 degrees cold and I am cold.  I am trying to make the best of it but shivering and riding was a challenge but soon the rain stopped and it looked like it may clear, ha ha, ha, I was so thankful for what seemed like a warm spell, which was really 53 degrees. I stopped shivering and started to focus on hydration/nutrition and power. I was feeling pretty good and rode to plan. I was relaxed and so happy it was a tolerable temperature until we rode right into the storm, as in dark clouds, cold wind and rain.  I used my entire mental tool kit and every swear word I could - think warm, imagine the beach, think jacuzzi, f this it is raining and cold and I am shivering.  I thought about channeling #dbj but last time I reached out to him we had 4 flats.

this is legit- someone rode in a wetsuit
I focused on not shivering and my teeth chattered. Then I tried to figure out which used less energy shivering or teeth chattering, still looking for an answer.  And by the time we reached Snow Canyon I was doing both.   Crap, what is my power? When did I last eat or drink?  Can brains freeze?  Are my feet still attached to my ankles?

The concept of reaching for my bottle of calories was challenging enough and when I did it was covered in road grime and I could not squeeze it to get calories in.  I was loosing track of time and would just guzzle when I could.  I ended up about 250 calories short in the end.  500 vs 750 as planned. 

Climbing Snow Canyon was brutal, the coldest part of the race. So much for warming on the climb. There were some really funny signs, not that I can remember any right now.  I cannot even tell you how my legs felt as they were numb. I tried to keep an eye on power but was sorta in that loopy land.  As we crested Snow Canyon the realization that we only had 10 miles to go made me break into a giant grin, until I realized it was down hill.  Descending in the freezing rain.  Here is where I nearly broke down....I sucked it up, got in my aero bars and descended like a mad woman as in 47mph.  I figured carbon brakes on wet roads would not really work anyway so just get it over with.   In hindsight, probably not the smartest plan, clearly brains do freeze kind of. 

Into T2 and I knew to leave my shoes on as my feet were not working.  It was a slip n slide coming in, 2 people in front of me went down.  I got the rack and was having trouble getting the bike on the rack but managed that.  Right about then a volunteer descended from heaven to take off my helmet, hands not working and asked what I needed.  " a hot tub, dry clothes and a mocha"  She laughed and helped me put on shoes and socks and off I went.

Running with club feet was awesome but really I was just so dang happy to NOT be freezing on the bike.  The rain continued off and on but not an issue running. 

I was really excited for this run- had knocked out some solid hill repeats and strong hilly runs OTB.  I was feeling good on the first 3 miles of climbing.  For some reason I had this unrealistic and crazy  notion that after mile 3 it was rollers and at mile it was downhill.  

WRONG.  It was up or down and well around mile 5 I realized I was carrying a bottle with me to get in calories and fluids and had only a few sips. I couldn't drink it and suddenly it weighed 20 lbs and I dropped it. I knew enough to know I needed calories- so at the next aid station I slammed a gu, gatorade and coke.  The coke was the $$.  So than it was just taking it one mile at a time.  John and Coach were out there - so happy to see them!  But not so happy at this point of the race. 

Around mile 8, BTW it was NOT down hill until mile 10, things went South, my form tanked and everything just hurt.  This is the "How bad do you want it" time and just focus and suffer.  I was so worried 2nd place was going to come flying by but really I was at my limit.  I did not want to get beat in the final miles but I could not get my legs to turn over. I asked them politely, I yelled at them, I prayed to them...but that was all there was so I swore at them and everyone quietly. 

I chatted with a few friends and than hunkered down. Finally mile 10 and the downhill I had nothing.... I could not pick up the pace and use the downhills.  Ugh.... so i used what I had which was not a lot and took it 1 mile at a time.  Finally mile 12..... and than the illustrious finish line!  

OMG that was hard.... harder than hard.  But of course the pain dissipates with the medal and the hat.  Suddenly it was so awesome!  


Wow is all I can say....I was happy to win my AG, unhappy I let someone pass me at mile 12 who I wanted to stay with, wish I was stronger the final few miles and left the race knowing I have a lot of work to do before IM Canada!  Mike was there to see my form tank late in the run....yes we have work to do. 

This was a mental day.  As cold and miserable as I was I never thought about quitting it was about keeping track of the time until I would be warm.  I realized this was my own fault and had to pay the piper.  My rock star husband met me at the finish line with an arsenal of warm clothes and towel!  

WHY did i not listen to my own advice, the advice I gave my athletes "be prepared, have extra gear in T1, you can always choose not to wear it"    I would have paid $500 for a jacket, not that i had a wallet but just sayin...

If I had my gloves, vest, arm warmers, socks and toe covers I still would have been cold, but that would have make a huge difference!   Wait till you see my transition in Canada it will look like a ski shop.

Thank you Mike Ricci getting me prepared and for keeping it real out there. I recall something like " I know it hurts but too bad"  And John for your undying support!  Love you baby.

Nytro- my bike held up NO issues!  wind, rain.... it was awesome! Cervelo and Enve perfect combo.. 

For those who don't get it....

Yes I paid for the experience
Yes I will do it again
Yes I really do love it
Yes I am insane


Temperature (taken from Garmin) 
46.5 °F
Avg Temp
39.2 °F
Min Temp


53.6 °F
Max Temp