Monday, May 11, 2015

Race Report: 2015 ST. GEORGE 70.3


St. George Goodness

St. George 70.3 has come and gone and I am so sad it's over already! What a FUN weekend! If I am anywhere within striking distance next year, I will be back!!!

My favorite race in my favorite place with so many of my favorite people 
= a whole lot of awesomeness

I love going to races where I know that - no matter how race day unfolds - the trip is going to be a blast. A huge thank you to everyone (and there are a lot of you!) who made this weekend unforgettable

How can I NOT love this place? 

Dropped the kids off at the park to play soccer with friends after school and off I went! I know I have been on quite a few trips lately and yet - every time I leave town on my own I have a huge smile on my face, do a fist pump, and yell: Freedom! I then cherish every minute of it and when it's time to go back home, I can't wait to be with my family again! I think I am just still recovering from 6+ wonderful and hard years of entertaining my kids 24/7...

First stop: Vegas

This allowed me to leave late Wednesday afternoon, visit Melinda and her wonderful family, break up the drive, enjoy the Henderson pool, and get some pre-race goodies at Trader Joe's. Happiness all around! Thursday morning, I got to run a bit on the Silverman course, enjoy an outdoor swim (I NEVER take those for granted) and see the finish line area in all its beauty and without a gazillion sweaty bodies all over it. Can't wait for Silverman 70.3 on October 4 (which happens to be my birthday weekend)! I'm in love with that race, too. 


home for the weekend

On to St. George where I got to explore a new part of town thanks to my wonderful home stay. Ellen volunteered at the race all weekend long and still found time to spoil us with funny stories, great recovery shakes, and even an epsom salt bath. We were well taken care of! Thank you, Ellen and Zeke!

Pre-Race 

Highlights


Exploring Santa Clara by bike on a beautiful spring evening



Being reunited and spending the weekend with my good friend, Anne, who I hadn't seen in 6 years. Ellen was very gracious and invited Anne to stay at her house as well. Talk about great hospitality! 



Figuring out tricky parts of the bike course and taking time to be silly. 




Getting our bikes and gear prepped and ready to go. This time I decided it would be a smart move NOT to crumble up my bib number (although The Husband taught me years ago that it must be done for good luck) and then think it's garbage and throw it away with the other scraps of paper. This may or may not have happened to me at my last race. And I may or may not have used my warm-up then to run back to the condo, dig through the garbage, and fish out my bib number. Live and learn! 



Having my very own plaque in both T1 and T2. St. George sure knows how to spoil us! After representing the US for the past few years, I decided to race for Germany again this year. I was - after all - born and raised in The Fatherland! 



Swimming in the gorgeous waters of Sand Hollow Reservoir. Yes, this is really what it looks like. I had a total blast in there during my short, little swim on Friday and didn't want to ever get out. Love, love, love this lake and thought water temperature was perfect! Especially after taking 3 hours to check in my bike on a hot afternoon. My usual get-in-and-out-as-fast-as-possible turned into a oh-my-gosh-all-my-friends-that-I-haven't-seen-forever-and-love-so-much-and-need-to-talk-to-and-laugh-with-are-all-right-here-and-here-and-here extravaganza. And you know what? I love it both ways! I loved going to Oceanside all on my own and only knowing a handful of people. And I loved coming here and having it feel like a homecoming of sorts. It's getting me all excited to move back to Utah County in a few short weeks! 

And then there was the pro meeting. The room was chock full of super stars! And although I didn't quite fit in, I was quietly loving it! Linsey Corbin and Beth Gerdes next to me, Mirinda Carfrae, Jodie Swallow, and Siri Lindley in front of me. Talk about girl power! And that's only the ones that were right by me. I decided to sit close to the front on purpose so I wouldn't be too distracted and would have a chance to actually listen rather than just stare. And it worked. Until Andreas Raelert walked in and sat down right smack dab in my line of vision. DANG! Talk about a distraction! He happens to be one of my all-time favorite triathletes for obvious reasons:

Nicest hottie I ever met.

So, yes, I have a crush on my German! As in: I-am-happily-married-and-the-guy-doesn't-even-know-who-I-am kind of a crush. Those are ok to have, right? We even talked after the race and walked over to get our bikes together! Ha!!! And that's after he asked a bunch of us in the finish line area: Can I get you guys anything to drink? Like this was a party and he was hosting it! Totally confirmed what I knew all along: He is a true gentleman! 

Ok. Ok. Moving on. 


Race Morning

I love the organized hustle and bustle on race morning! Photo Credit: St. George News


Bummer

So you know how Arizona is in a different time zone than Utah? Even my not-so-smart phone knows that. My watch has been glued one too many times, so I can't change time of day anymore. Or set an alarm. And because I trust neither my watch nor my phone, I bring an extra alarm clock. High maintenance, I know. Not leaving anything to chance. Or so I thought. 

Alarm goes off at 3:30, so I can leave the house by 4:00, find a good parking spot, set up T1, be on the shuttle bus at 4:30, get to the lake at 5:30 with plenty of time to get ready for the 6:55 start. 

Except that, while I am getting ready in the bathroom, I think: Mmmh. Considering that it's only 2:30 in Flagstaff, I am feeling pretty awake. And then it occurs to me: OH CRAP CRAP CRAP! I forgot to change my alarm and it's not 3:30 but already 4:30 in St. George!!! Time to get your hustle on! And so I did. 

In the end I still got to the lake at 5:30 thanks to being prepared and calmly staying on top of things. I might actually sleep in longer next time knowing now how super efficient I can be in - what seems like - the middle of the night! 

We were allowed to get in for a good warm up with the men! Photo credit: St. George News

Highlights

Since this was a Championship event, all professionals were required to carry an extra GPS device with them for better tracking and online coverage. It was about the size of an iPhone, just a little thicker. Which was pretty much a pain in the rear to deal with BUT I really appreciate Ironman's efforts of improvement in this area and there was no complaining. And then on race morning I figured out that it fit snugly and perfectly into the middle pocket of my Coeur Sports shorts! Score! Ironman legend, Heather Fuhr, secured it with a safety pin for me, and - voila - I was all set! My Dad has since told me that he loved being able to see my little spot and knowing exactly where I was on the course and who was around me. So that's pretty cool! 

Turns out the girl right next to me was German! Annett Kamenz lives in Canada and has a similar story and we  became friends right away. Yay for new friends on race morning! 

And yay for old friends, too! Since I didn't feel as lonely in our own little gated pro transition as last year, I never went in search of my friends on the other side of the fence. But some came and found me! And one, who shall remain unnamed, was making quite the scene. She had warned me that she would embarrass me and she sure tried! But I just laughed. I mean: Who else has their own cheerleader while setting up transition?!? Thanks, CT! 


The Swim 
(30:40 - 1:35/100m)


Pro Women Start - I am in there somewhere

Highlights 

I went out hard. And I didn't die. And I didn't even think I was going to die. At least not for very long. And only when I swallowed a crapload of water. Success! 

I found feet. And I thought they were good feet. And I stayed on those feet. The whole time. Success! 

I was having so much fun in our little group, I didn't want to get out of the water!


Bummer 

Maybe, just MAYBE, if you are having so much fun that you want to be swimming all day, you aren't actually going as fast as you think you are! Ha! Honestly though, I was working pretty hard at the end of the group and was CONVINCED that we were swimming well sub-30. Someone said the timing mat wasn't until the top of the boat ramp, which would be nice, but I am still not sure... The fact that I forgot to start my Garmin came in handy. Ignorance is bliss! 


The Bike 
2:36:30 - 21.47 mph


Heading toward Snow Canyon pre-race. 

Bummer 

Well, let's just call it how it was. The bike was a shit show from start to finish. 

I had been having issues with my elbow pads slipping all year. No matter how hard Karl tried to get them to stay in place, they would drop down. Shortly before the race, the plastic under the pad broke. Most likely from me having to pull it back into place frequently while riding. So we got new ones. We actually got new everything. New aero bars, new elbow cups, new elbow pads. Just to get rid of the problem altogether because I was sick of dealing with it. Karl put it together with special Carbon Assembly Paste. Should be good, right? It seemed just fine on the few rides I did prior to the race. 

But, on race day, when I hit the first patch of rough road, both elbow cups slipped all the way down onto my handle bars. SWEET! Just what I had been hoping for! NOT!!! It was actually worse than it ever had been. Neither side would stay in place. 

So, long story short: I spent as much time as possible NOT in aero position. And when I did go aero,  it was very uncomfortable, I was worried about crashing, and I had to pull the cups back in place every 40 seconds. Talk about annoying

Between eating, drinking, taking in salt, riding clean, and dealing with this crap, I felt like I never really settled in or found a good rhythm. That said: It could've been worse. It could (almost) always be worse. And, while I think I could've been a little bit faster - and definitely smoother - without this issue, I am not sure it would've been significant. 


Snow Canyon Beauty

Highlights 

I actually dealt with the above issue rather well! I may have thrown a tiny little fit at the beginning and another one in the middle of the ride but I wasn't indulging in any pity parties and I didn't let it get to me. I just dealt with it the best I could while pedaling on. Problem solving is a big part of any race. And the longer the distance, the more possible problems. It's actually kind of exciting always nerve racking: What is this race going to throw at me? And how am I going to deal with it? 

The bike was no solo mission this time! Unlike Oceanside 70.3, where I didn't see a soul for more than 30  miles, I was with a few other girls the entire time! It actually felt like a race! Especially since we had our very own race official right next to us for 50 miles. Cool! Because - hey - that means I must be somehow sort of 'in the race', right? We were all doing our best to ride clean, so there were no issues as far as I could tell. The constant noise of the motor cycle and the other girls definitely helped me to stay focused and have fun despite my mechanical issues. 

The course! I love this course with all of its hills and beauty. The course was slightly different and, in my opinion, just a tad bit slower with those 3 miles on a winding bike path but just as pretty! Not that I have time to really take in my surroundings but it doesn't go unnoticed! And neither do the volunteers. This place has the BEST volunteers. Not only is the race superbly organized and runs super smooth but the people are full of energy and enthusiasm! And it is so very much appreciated! It makes a huge difference whether volunteers are just sitting there playing on their phones on every corner or whether they are having a party and cheer you on like you're their best friend! Thank you, Washington County! And please don't tell me Mormons don't know how to party. When it comes to race day partying, they are almost up there with my Germans! 


The Run 
(1:35:13 - 7:16/mi)


Bummer 

NOT the run time I was hoping for. I was definitely shooting for sub 1:30 and thought that was entirely possible seeing how I ran 1:29 last year. There was a slight change in the run course as well, it was hotter this year, and apparently most people were disappointed with their run time. Still. There were plenty of girls running very fast but I wasn't one of them. Good thing I had tossed my Garmin in T2 and was running without a watch. Knowing my pace doesn't generally help me to race faster. I just swim as hard as I can, bike as fast as possible, and then try to run my guts out. And if my watch doesn't tell me what I want to see, it just messes with my head. But knowing now I am a little bummed. 

It's lonely out there on a one-loop course. I got passed by 2 age group men and 1 pro girl. That's it. And I didn't catch anyone in front of me until mile 12. That's not a whole lot of entertainment on a half marathon! Just a whole lot of time to play mind games (hoping I am going to win) and try to convince myself to push harder.  Until I am so tired and partly delirious that I just count steps to 30 over and over again. And when that gets too complicated, I start over at 10. Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining. This is what I call FUN after all. I am just telling you how it went down. 


Highlights

Two things: 
Friends and Finish Line Sprint

At mile 10 it suddenly got a whole lot more exciting. There was a steady stream of age groupers coming the other way and, seeing how this is my 'hometown' race, I saw a ton of familiar faces. (Even if they were all a bit blurry since I wasn't seeing straight anymore.) Although they were going up as we were coming down, there were still plenty of cheers and words of encouragement.  Friends out on the course are the best!!! Thank you! 

I am not sure I have ever worked quite this hard going downhill. But I had my sights set on Svenja Bazlen, fellow German and 2012 Olympian, who I was making up ground on ever so slowly. She was clearly not having a good day at all or she would be miles up the road but that didn't matter. I knew exactly who she was and she was going to go down! Maybe... I mean: She is an Olympian after all... But I was determined to give it a try

The plan was to sneak up on her, then sit back for a minute and gather myself before making a decisive pass and hopefully dropping her right away. But that didn't happen. The closer I got, the louder the cheers from the sidelines and age groupers on the other side of the road. Which was AWESOME but there was going to be no 'sneaking up'. She totally knew I was getting close. And as soon as I passed, she stuck right with me. Like glue. So close that she accidentally stepped on my heel at one point. And that's how we ran all the way down Diagonal. 

It was painful. But when is mile 12-13 ever NOT painful? Still. I considered letting her by. Considered easing off just a tad bit to stop the agony. She was going to win either way, so why fight until the very end? 

In all of my years of racing, I have never been in this situation. Ever. Either I make a pass and it sticks or I let whoever is passing me go. Because this is my worst nightmare. To have been at my limits for hours and now I am supposed to find yet ANOTHER gear and battle it out over the last mile? No thanks. 

But this time I wasn't going to give in. I was going to fight. And fight I did. The best I knew how. Until she pulled away in the finish chute. 




I don't care that she beat me. Not one bit. This is - after all - the HIGHLIGHT of the run, not the bummer. I am glad she stuck with me and forced me to prove to myself that I CAN find another gear. That I don't HAVE to give up when things seem impossible. And that it doesn't hurt THAT much more. 

This time I battled for about 1.3 miles. You bet I am ready to battle for at least 2 maybe even 3 miles next time. And hopefully improve again from there. 

And that's why I am still in love with racing. Because every race teaches me something new about myself that I wasn't aware of before. Or shows me that I can in fact do something I didn't think was possible. Or exposes a weakness that I need to work on. There is still so much room for improvement, which is why I am not going to stop this silliness anytime soon. Sorry, Karl! 





I love that quote. It is so true! And triathlon is chock full of strong women. My favorite kind. Beautiful, strong, awesome women. Everywhere. In the pro ranks just as much as among the age groupers. Yes, we are fierce competitors and aren't going to give each other an inch while racing. But that's only from the time the gun goes off until we cross the finish line. Before and after we are friends who support and encourage each other. And I wouldn't want it any other way! That is what makes this sport so incredibly appealing to me! 


Carlee crushed the race two months after giving birth to 
her fourth boy. Pretty much my hero. 

I have to admit, I was a bit worried last year that I wouldn't be having as much fun racing as a professional as I did as an amateur. I thought that maybe the camaraderie among the pro girls wouldn't be the same. Or that I wouldn't feel welcome or accepted. Boy was I ever wrong! I love these girls and can't wait to meet more of them and see the ones I already know at the next race! These ladies rock! 


Coeur teammates cooling off

It was great fun to hang out at the finish line area for hours and hours after the race visiting with old friends and making new ones. Good food, green grass, shade, and water! All I ever need! Hands down my favorite race venue. 



With training buddy and teammate, Malcolm

Overall
 4:45:48 - 14th WPRO

Not my best race, not my worst. I felt more in the mix of things, especially on the bike, which was nice and a bit of a confidence booster. Love racing with the best in the world even if that means I am going to get a solid butt-kicking. It's still fun! And very inspiring! 


A huge Thank You to my fantastic sponsors:


Coeur Sports - The BEST in women's athletic wear

 T3 Triathlon - My FAVORITE triathlon shop

Fuji Bikes - In LOVE with my Norcom Straight

Zoot Shoes - My shoes of choice since 2008

Cobb Saddles - Most COMFORTABLE saddle ever

Osmo Nutrition - Hydration at its BEST

Tifosi Sunglasses - I wear them every single day! 


And to Dr. AJ Gregg, Shea at New Roots, and Stephanie with Flag Massage
Thank you for your patience and for getting my body to cooperate! 



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