Monday, July 6, 2015

IRONMAN St. George 70.3

It is so strange. I've been wanting to do this race ever since it started as a full Ironman 5 or 6 years ago. It is a half now, and I have a couple friends, Chrystel and BJ, who go down every year. I was at a party with them during the winter and they convinced me to sign up! It was so great to have something big to work towards again, but at the same time I had done a half Ironman before so it didn't scare me enough to make me too stressed. It was perfect!

I trained pretty well, but gave my training plan a lot of wiggle room. Chrystel and I were also rehearsing for the upcoming ballet performance that my girls were going to be in. I was stressing out about that more than the race, and starting to feel like I shouldn't leave for the weekend and miss a rehearsal. Then BJ crashed his bike and broke his shoulder so he said he would just go if Chrystel went. But she wasn't so sure if she even wanted to go anymore. This made me not really want to go by myself. I had signed to go with them. So I couldn't decide...

But then the week of the race arrived, I followed the advice of friends and Pete, (who knows me so well and reminded me that I would regret not going) and decided to go. I had put in the work, and I knew I would have fun, so why not go?! Then Chrystel decided to go too, and suddenly I was excited again! Yay! So, let the packing commence:

It had been a while since I packed for a tri!

With my new excitement, I did my nails to match my bike, and bought a new water bottle. By the time we hit the road, I was starting to feel pretty nervous!

Pete and I had my dad watch the kids, and we got to St. George Friday evening with not much time to spare to visit Ironman village...

Get my wrist band, pick up my packet, drop my run stuff off at T2...

And my bike stuff at T1.

Looking at the beautiful swim course at Sand Hollow Reservoir, and the nice smooth water, made me more excited!

I went out to dinner with my friends while Pete went with his friends for a work meeting. That was fun, and helped me calm down a little. We were just there to have fun, no worries. Then we slept at a friend's house and I woke up bright (er, dark) and early to meet Chrystel and BJ at their condo so we could all ride the bus out to the start together. Let's get this party started!!

It's so much more fun going to a race with friends!

The swim was so great. I was a little nervous since I hadn't even put my wetsuit on for almost a year, but I got it on nice and early and had a lot of time to stand around and get excited, watching a lot of waves go before me.

Chrystel started about half an hour before me, and BJ was starting about 5 minutes behind me so my goal was to beat him out of the water!

When it was time for my wave to get into the water, it was so cold! I kept trying to put my face in, but I just couldn't keep it there! I wondered how I was going to swim in that, but then the gun went off and we were swimming. I told myself to just relax and take it easy. I focused on 3 strokes, breath, 3 strokes, breath. Before I knew it, I was feeling good and breathing just fine! Whew! The water was really smooth so that helped! I also used some of the moves I'd learned in the open water masters class I went to a couple times with a friend. When I got to the last buoy, I pushed hard to the end, and like usual, part of me didn't really want it to be over. I wish I had tried to go faster, I think I could have...

I'm not sure if I beat BJ me out or not because transition was huge and I just had to focus on finding my spot, but it must have come pretty close because I swam a 39... and his swim was like 35 minutes (It was only that close because he had a broken shoulder btw... Tough guy!!). That was my fastest swim for a half (by like 13 seconds...), but I didn't find out until afterwards. I was so happy to see that I'd gone under 40 minutes!!

SWIM TIME: 39:57

I put on a long sleeve shirt for the bike because I realized during my Havasupai trip, that it really wasn't that bad to wear and that it would keep me from getting sunburnt. It was actually nice to have at first, since I was cold and wet at the start, and then it was nice to not have the sun shining on my skin. The bike was really fun! I got to see Pete two times on the bike, and the second time he was like, "already!?" I yelled, 'Yeah, I'm going SO FAST!" He took this picture of me:

Love him.

There were a lot of ups and downs, which I did not train for at all, but it was just so beautiful and such a nice day, and the hills weren't too long so it seemed just perfect. At least until Snow Canyon. Snow Canyon starts at about mile 40, so I was just starting to get sore and tired of riding my bike. The longest training ride I'd done for this was 50 miles, and that was on flat.

At first, I really enjoyed Snow Canyon too. It was SO beautiful! Unbelievably beautiful! I even saw some people stop to take pictures.

When they had us turn around and go back down, only to turn around and go up it again, the slow hill started to get old, though. A LOT of people were walking their bikes by the end, but I was determined to stay on mine no matter how slow! Working that hard and moving that slow, it really started to get hot and I just couldn't wait for the last 9 miles when we would get to zoom down the highway into St. George and feel the wind again. I did stay on my bike, and boy was that downhill delicious! I was feeling pretty sore, though, and ready to get off my bike!

BIKE TIME: 4:09:08

In T2, I sat there for a little while, feeling so tired and hot and really not wanting to go run a half marathon! It was about 1:00pm by the time I started the run, and of course, the long sleeves had to go now. It was HOT. The run starts out uphill right away. I was only able to get myself going by telling myself that I could walk on the uphills. As long as I was moving forward, that would be ok. So that's what I did.

I pretty much walked the first 2 miles, then we got some really fun downhill! Then more up and more down and so on. It's a really hilly course, and so exposed! There was no shade whatsoever, and you're out there in the red hot desert! Luckily there were aid stations at about every mile, and I just kept myself drenched and ice in my bra and hat. That worked pretty well, and I stopped a couple times for sunscreen.

I asked a volunteer, I think at mile 4, if she had any Ibuprofen (meaning like at the aid station), and she dug in her own purse to get me some! That was so sweet, and really gave me a kick to get going! Then, either at that same aid station or the next one, the song "Shut up and Dance With Me" came on. I was walking so I could drink, and just as it got to the chorus, I came up alongside a guy who was also walking. We both yelled out, "Shut up and Dance With Me!" and I started running! For me, "Shut up and dance with me" became, "Shut up and start running!" Every time I'd want to walk, I would sing that to myself and I would give it a little more. I started running more on the uphills, though not on all of them, but I was determined to run now!

I think it was at about mile 5 or so that I finally saw Chrystel and BJ! I was so happy to see them, I gave them both big, wet hugs and we cheered each other on! It was hard to do the math while running, but I think they were about 3 miles ahead of me. The way the course zig zags and goes out and back up there on the hill, I was able to see them 2 more times! The second time, they told me Pete was at the bottom of the hill, at the half-way point! That was so great to hear, and I was so excited to see him again! He took this picture there, just before I turned around and had to go back up this hill.

I was feeling really happy. Only 6 miles to go. The second half of this half marathon was much better for me. I even pulled off a 9:21 in the last mile. Those last 2 miles are about the same as the St. George Marathon course, and I think the memory of running them strong after 24 miles really helped me be able to keep pushing this time. It was awesome.

Feeling happy when I saw Pete with the finish line in sight!

It was so funny, I saw a guy that I knew from when we lived in St. George at the very end, and he slowed down so I passed him and said, "Come on!" We both ran hard then, and he ended up beating me across the finish line, but that was a fun way to end!

RUN TIME: 2:37:34

I knew it was a hard course, and that it would take me longer than Utah Half, but I really had no idea it would take that long, or be that hard! It was great to have friends waiting for me at the finish line too!!

looking a little beat here...

FINISH TIME: 7:41:09

Woowee, that was a hard course! But the good news was that, since I was so slow, I really wasn't that sore the next day. Win! :)

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