I’ll first start out by saying what a race and what a venue. Thank you to my coach for getting me through the race and thank you to my parents for coming out to support me. Thank you to Team SunRype and Base Performance for getting me to finish line and through training.
I signed up for this race because I didn’t get into Oceanside 70.3 it sold out in 2 days. So I signed up for this on a whim after my race bully friends posted about it in the Fil-Am Tri FB group. I didn’t look at the course ahead of time or do any scouting of it. I heard it was going to be tough but I had no idea how tough it was going to be. I saw the price of $175 bucks and I had to sign up. I then looked at the course elevations and thought to myself what have I done? I knew I was going to finish, but I figured it was going to be more towards the 8:30 cut off time. I was fine with that since with destination races it’s more about the course and the scenery and the people instead of time.
I got into St. George Thursday and got all my athlete stuff taken care of only to realize I forgot my bike helmet at home (this is becoming a habit of mine of leaving things at home). My girl and fellow TCSD Club members found a way to get me my helmet but it arrived very late with 15 minutes to spare before bike check-in. I didn’t want to risk not having a helmet so I bought one anyways (can’t have too many spares in my case). I did the course preview and the bike course certainly looked challenging. It looked very doable at this point and not a daunting as the elevation maps I looked at said. My confidence in it was building, and I knew it was going to be fun. Yes I said it… FUN. The run on the other hand, I knew I just had to suffer through it and persevere.
This was a split transition so we rode busses from the finish line up to the start at the gorgeous Sand Hollow Reservoir. Had a nice chat and share race stories with a fellow from Fresno. We both chuckled about the city that I really don’t ever want to return to. Finished setting up my transition area, found some fellow TCSD’ers, FAT’s, and friends from our FB group to cheer on and share words of encouragement. Got to say hi to some pro’s as well. Finally as the sun was coming up it was time to prepare for the race as the I met up with my parents and get mentally prepared for what was about to go down.
I was in the 2nd to the last wave to go off at 7:57. What does this mean, well it means I got to stand around and wait for a good hour after the race started. So finally my wave is called down to the water and we swim to the start line (Similar to Oceanside) the water is clear blue, and you can almost see everything. The temp is good, the water tastes amazing too. The gun goes off and we’re swimming. I should have placed myself farther to the start, but I didn’t think I was going to have that great of a swim since I hadn’t really been swimming fast at Masters or a whole lot. After the first 500M’s or so I finally broke through the pack and settled into my pace. It felt pretty comfortable and I certainly wasn’t pushing the gas by any means (probably should have) but I really wanted to make sure I wasn’t gassed from the swim since you basically start the bike right up hill. Coming out of the water I figured my swim around 40-45 minutes but a 36:38 including a long run into T1.
I had a 30/12 cassette put on the back for the hills and let me tell you, it was amazing. I was a little cold getting out of T1 I did the tap dance with bike shoes on out of T1. Not going for a place so figured I didn’t want to putz with it. the first few hills got the blood flowing and I felt really good about the coming hills. I knew the pain wasn’t going to be till later in the course so I tried really hard not to over do it like I had done in Oceanside. Go too hard early in the bike to not make it through the end of the bike. Made it to mile 44 or so when the climb up Snow Valley begins and by this time it was 90+ degree’s out with no clouds in the sky. It starts at a 2% grade and ends at a 8% grade. I lost my water bottle on a bump that caused my base bar to point vertically down. So I had to fix that (10 mins) and get going to the top without any liquids other than my rocket fuel (more to come on that in another blog post). As I was spinning up (slowly) there were several people walking their bikes up. I felt for them, cause I wanted to be out of that valley as soon as I could. Thankfully the last 8 miles are all downhill so I flew. I didn’t push the speed too much since I wanted to recover from that killer climb. Riding into town as a bit demoralizing cause you can see the run course and the hill you climb up right out of the gate. However, this is one of the toughest 70.3’s in America and it’s not for everyone. Looking back I had a blast on this bike course and I totally killed it.
I knew it was going to suck when I saw people walking up diagonal street coming in on the bike. I had my Base Electrolyte Salts in my pockets with my GU’s and set out on the final leg of the race. I had a blast on the swim, I had an amazing time on the bike, I’m jogging next to some amazing people. It was time for me to just suffer with the rest of them and we’ll get through the hills, the heat, and find we have a lot of heart. This run is no freakin joke, you start up hill on diagonal and then we make a right onto Red Bluffs Parkway and this was up hill at a 5-8% grade.. I kept up a walk/run pace at roughly 12 min miles and I was OK with this. The sun was cooking me, and I was taking down waters, salts, and grapes like a champ. I just kept marking down the miles looking at the amazing scenery (we were running above St. George and you could see for miles at the surrounding mountains). It was at the mile 7 turn around that there was the best tasting watermelon at the aid station and I must have taken like 8 small cups of it. Around mile 8 I ran into Lauren a fellow Tri Clubber and we just chit chatted for a bit till finally the downhill back into town started. At that time a monster headwind had started as well putting sand in the face… oh the fun. Making my way back down towards the finish, some of the crowds had gone home, but there were my parents cheering me on in the last 1/2 a mile to go. At the finish line I slowed up a bit to let an older gentleman cross the finish line in his moment. It was his first 70.3 and I certainly didn’t want to be that DB sprinting across the finish line at the same time. So I jogged it in, the announcer called my name and I felt a certain level of accomplishment in completing the race.
Wrapping up, it wasn’t a 6 hour finish time like I had hopped, but certain things happen when you go into a challenge with expectations and through the course of the race those expectations change. You find that even though it might be tough and you might not make it in the time you though. You realize you had a lot of fun when you didn’t think you would, and there are more people inspired by you just getting off the couch one day and saying “I CAN.” The city of St. George is simply outstanding when it came to supporting this race and the athletes. We got to visit the state parks free of charge and even the people I saw around town saw my race band and said good luck to me. This race is a part of the towns history so it seems and I can certainly go back to do the relay option for the swim or the bike.