First thank you to: Race Day Wheels, Coeur Sports, Saris Cycling (CycleOps), Saucony, Oakley, and Designer Protein for keeping me looking good, training hard, and refueling post-workout! Can’t thank you all enough.
After a week off the grid and taking a break from anything digital…My St. George 70.3 Race Recap is finally up!
WIND…RAIN….COLD….HAIL – Anyone who raced St. George 70.3 last weekend and finished just got mentally tougher. (I will be doing a different blog post on Topher’s and my pre-race and post-race adventures, so stay tuned for that, but this post is all about race day)
To paint the picture of race day – I must first begin with the weather days leading up to the race. Topher and I arrived at St. George on Thursday (the race was on Saturday). It was 90 and sunny. In fact, it was so hot that I fell asleep at a recovery boot station. haha. On Friday, we went for a short shake out run in the morning – it was sunny, warm, with a bit of wind. When we got to Sand Hollow Reservoir for a shake out swim, the wind had started to pick up and we had a bit of chop. My bike was with Race Day Wheels getting “race day wheels” thrown on, and so I drove alongside Topher while he did a shake out ride near the lake. It was windy. When I got out of the car to shoot a photo of him riding, the wind was really blowing. All I could think was, I hope this dies down for tomorrow. We went back to the expo (where the finish line and T2 are) to pick up my bike. We then drove back out to Sand Hollow Reservoir to drop off our bikes at T1. They have a mandatory bike check-in the night before. Part of me likes this because then you don’t have to think about it the morning of the race, but part of me thinks it’s a hassle especially when T1 and T2 aren’t conveniently close to each other or in the same place.
As we drove in to Sand Hollow Reservoir, cars were lined up to park and people were dropping off their bikes. I took my bike out for one last spin, to ensure all the gearing was working, especially since I had different wheels put on. It was crazy windy. I was getting blown all over the place. My teeth were clenching, my fists were tightening their grip on my handle bars, and I was feeling nervous. Oh man, this is going to be a bit of a pain if the wind stays like this for tomorrow. Holy moly. I remember thinking, I do not want to stay out here long, this wind is crazy! As I rode back to T1 and hopped off my bike, I started thinking about how my tiny bike’s wheels usually can’t touch the ground when I rack it. How am I going to keep it in one place over night? I walked my bike to my rack, found my number, 1406, and decided I would try to rack it with the handle bars instead of my bike seat. Ugh, it just won’t stay. At least the back wheel is touching the ground, but I can’t get my handle bars to stay on the rack. I asked Topher if he brought electrical tape, and he did. So, we electrical taped my handle bars to the rack. It was perfect. He even did it to his own bike, that’s how bad the wind was. We packed up and headed to T2 to drop off our run gear, and then went back to the condo to relax for the rest of the evening.
My go-to pre-race meal is always pizza. My stomach likes it, and it keeps me fueled and energized for race day, and I don’t have any bathroom problems, which is definitely something I know we all worry about for race day. It was then sleep time, and then wake up time!
St. George 70.3 Race Report….
3:45am – Wake Up – Hop in Shower – I always like to shower before races, it just starts my day out right, and wakes me up.
4am – Iced Chai Tea – this has been my go-to lately
4:45am – leave to catch athlete bus to Swim Start at Sand Hollow Reservoir
7:18am – Swim Start
I got to transition laid everything out, and then met up with Topher to see him off. I hopped in the port-o-potty one last time, before my wave started getting ready to walk down to the water. It was go time. The wind had picked up a bit, and there was definitely some intense chop happening out on the lake. (I still hadn’t pooped, which was making me nervous. The worst way to start a race is not having pooped, because you worry that you will have to go at some point during the race, and of course, just as we got in the water, and were wading, my body says, I have to poop now. I was like, “body, now is not a good time, you will have to wait.”) I started thinking about Topher, and hoping he was having a good swim. The water temp is cold, but I like cold water swims. It’s refreshing to put your face into the cold water when you are heating up by swimming hard. The swim is a pretty easy straight out, hard left, straight, and then another left toward shore.
It was 37 degrees when we started the swim! Holy moly! Good thing I thought about packing arm warmers and gloves for the bike! As I started the swim, I placed myself on the outside to the right. I prefer to swim on the outside vs. in the riff raff, and honestly it doesn’t seem to add too much extra distance, and makes the swim more peaceful and enjoyable. After all, I’m out here to push it, but also to have fun, and personally I don’t find being swum over or swimming over people very fun. I wasn’t too stoked on my swim, but I also knew it was choppy and windy. About 3/4 of the way through, after the 2nd left turn, I started to feel water splashing me. I thought maybe it was just other people swimming, but as I breathed I looked to see where the water was coming from…It’s raining. It’s definitely raining. I thought. haha. Oh man, this is going to be a FUN day! As I swam, I thought to myself, I definitely need to get back in the pool. Swimming with Masters really helps me swim with people and swim hard. Right now I’m feeling scared of swimming, and I’m not sure why.
I got out of the water, and the first face I saw was my dad. He was cheering, and then I saw my mom. I was happy to see them. I said to them, “well it wasn’t terrible but it wasn’t great either. On to the bike!” I was wondering how Topher was doing on the bike, as I ran to my bike rack. It was definitely cold when I exited, and after I had my wetsuit stripped off, I knew I was going to be putting on my arm warmers and gloves in transition. I was cold already. I thought, wow, Topher is riding through the rain right now. I wonder how that is going. Picturing these crazy fast descents and rain doesn’t always paint the prettiest picture, in fact, it paints a pretty scary one. In addition, he’s been dealing with an injury, so I was wondering how he was feeling. I ran out of T1 and hopped on to my bike, happy to have the swim behind me.
Swim Time: 40:06
As I started the bike, I thought about how cold and windy it was going to be, but I thought the rain might pass. The weather report said 10% chance of rain – I guess they thought that was a funny joke. The first 20 miles I felt awesome. I knew I hadn’t had a great swim, so I started putting the pedal to the metal. I was passing girls, and really working my way up the field. I knew I had a lot of work to do if I was going to be in any kind of contention for a top 10 finish. At about the 10 mile mark it started sprinkling, but then quickly passed, it sprinkled again at the 20 mile mark, but again passed. I thought, we might be in the clear today, and we are just getting bouts of showers here and there. But, I thought too soon. (Again, I started feeling like I had to go to the bathroom, but I just wasn’t going to stop. It can wait til the end of the race, haha).
At around 30 miles, it started pouring, and then suddenly HAIL!!! Holy shit. It’s hailing. WTF? It felt like there was an army of people with BB guns. I mean we were getting pelted. I have an aero helmet with a built in eye shield, and there is a small gap between the shield and the helmet, and it was getting through that and pelting me in the eyes. I was like “Is this for real?” The thoughts of quitting started going through my mind. I mean, what are we doing out here? Why am I doing this? I don’t have to do this. I don’t have to be here. My parents will still love me even if I quit. haha. I mean you guys, it was that bad. But, then I would think, you are tougher than that. You don’t want to disappoint Topher or your parents. Your parents flew all the way here from Milwaukee for 48hrs to see you race. You are just as tough as that girl that you are passing. You are not a quitter. This will make you tougher. Stick with it. I remember seeing my parents around the 35 mile mark, and putting on a smile for them, and not letting them see how awful it was because I didn’t want them worrying. Then my teeth started chattering. My arms warmers and gloves soaked. No longer helping at all, and if anything making me colder. A few girls started passing me, and I just couldn’t push the pedals. No, I thought. I just passed those girls 5 miles back. Am I slowing that much? I’m trying. Push harder. My legs just won’t budge. They are frozen.
I’m now at the 40 mile mark about to climb Snow Canyon, actually excited for the climb because the descents are nasty with how cold it is, and rain pelting you, and also I need to warm up. I need my heart rate to rise to keep my core temperature up. At this point, my teeth are chattering to the point that I might accidentally bite my lip or cheek, my hands have a death grip on my handle bars, and my feet are frozen. Come on quads! That’s all that I could feel on my body at this point. Is everyone as cold as me? I mean I’m practically in a state of paralysis. I get to the top of the climb, and now we have a 10 mile descent. This is going to be brutal I thought. I would rather be climbing. No wind! It’s freezing, and I’m soaked. The rain comes again. Please stop. Please stop. I just need you to stop weather so that I can get through this descent. It won’t let up. I can’t get my chattering under control. Stop chattering. My legs are shivering. I am now just praying to stay up right and not crash. Holy crap. This is scary as FFFFF!!!! As I passed each aid station, I remember just smiling, and thanking people for volunteering. As I passed people I would say keep it up. And I got to a point, where I was just laughing at how crazy we all were to be out here doing this on a Saturday. I mean when the going gets tough, you just have to smile and laugh, because really what a cool thing to be out here pushing our bodies to the limit in this crazy weather.
I pull into T2 and honestly, I’m just thankful to be off my bike.
Bike Time: 3:02:42
T2: 4:22 – I was so cold I couldn’t get my helmet off, I had to ask a volunteer to unbuckle my strap for me.
I’m usually excited to head out onto the run, and I was, but my feet were numb. I literally couldn’t feel them as I went off on to the run. It felt like I was running on stilts or nubs or something. You knew they were there, but they weren’t. Maybe I should stop and go to the bathroom? Nah. I just didn’t have the patience. At this point, I told myself to keep holding it, and get this run over with. It took my feet until mile 4 to warm up. They started going through the tingles of blood flow around mile 3, and by the end of mile 4, they were awake again. I saw my parents at about mile 1.5 of the run, and they were full of positive energy, but clearly looked cold and wet. I was impressed with their fan enthusiasm and stamina. #toughparents
At about mile 4, I saw Topher, as he was at about mile 10 of the run. I was happy to see him running, and not just running, but running with a big smile on his face. We were loving it. Then my stomach started rumbling. Oh no. I’m starving. It was so cold on the bike, that I wasn’t able to get more than half a bottle of nutrition in, and a few chugs of water when I went through aid stations. I started eating my Honey Stinger chews, and it would settle my stomach for about 30min, and then I’d be starving again with stomach cramps, and worried I was going to poop my pants, but then I would eat another 2-3 honey stinger chews, and it would go away for a bit. When I tried to speed up, it worsened, and I knew that I had really messed up my nutrition. Oh well, I thought. You are doing the best you can today given the conditions, and that’s all you can ask for. Are you having fun? I honestly wasn’t sure. It was the first race I’ve ever done, where I questioned if I was really having fun or not. haha. I wasn’t having the best race, so I started focusing on supporting others. I saw a few girls walking that were in top 10 contention, and I cheered them on. Some of them gave me the death stare, like shut up, while others were smiling. Sometimes I’m afraid to cheer on and support others when racing because of the “death stare” or “shut up I’m in agony”, but I figured, I’d rather be supporting and cheering than not. It’s what this sport is all about. Community.
It was a tough day, and cheering on others, was part of what was going to get me to the finish line…seeing others finish, too. I was at about mile 8, when my friend Julie Dunkle, who’s in the 50-54 age group, catches up to me. I thought, holy shit, this woman is crushing it. She was inspiring me. I started to pick it up, and I thought I can pick it up for a few miles, and hopefully pull her a bit, since she’s crushing it. At about mile 10, I slowed to my pace, as I just couldn’t keep up that pace, my stomach was getting wonky, and cheered her on as she went on to win her age group. How inspiring to be honest, to be passed by a 50yr old woman, who started in many waves after me. I thought, shit, I want to be like that!!! I then was passed by two more girls, and all I could think was, “Go get ’em”. I just didn’t have it in me to chase. I really had to poop, and I didn’t want to stop, and any time I tried to run faster, my stomach just rumbled. My nutrition game was off, and the conditions sucked, and I made the most of it for me on race day. I crossed the finish line with a big smile, and was honestly just happy to have not been a quitter. I remember telling myself as the doubt set in at different moments along the course, “YOU ARE NOT A QUITTER” “IF SHE’S DOING IT, YOU CAN DO IT, TOO”. Congrats to everyone who finished. It was a tough day, and proud of everyone for battling through. We are all mentally tougher because of that race.
Run Time: 1:57:25
Overall Time: 5:48:29
19th AG/93 (who started)
Fun Facts from St. George 70.3 (I figured these out on my own):
73 people finished in 8+hrs
376 people finished in the 7hr range
663 people finished in the 6hr range
659 people finished in the 5hr range
148 people finished in the 4hr range
17 of 93 women in my age group did not finish
300 did not finish
300 did not start
Approx. 2500 registered
At the end of the day, were the conditions brutal? Yes. But, I love the quote “Pain is temporary, quitting lasts forever.” Because, no matter how many times I wanted to give up, I knew in the end it would be worth it crossing that finish line. It always is.
Not sure what’s next…possibly San Diego International Triathlon…
Stay tuned for the recap of Topher’s and my Road Trip to St. George, and our camping trip in Zion National Park! 🙂