IM 70.3 St. George Race Report

IM 70.3 St. George (StG) is an EPIC race of GRAND proportions.  And, hopefully, this race report will do it justice and give you just a little taste of what the race was like.  Epic and Grand? Yes, totally! And, during this writing, I might think of some other awesome, stellar, dynamite adjectives to add!

 

IM 70.3 St George

 

Preface:  I have been training for IM 70.3 St. George since January, with IM 70.3 Oceanside as my warm-up.  It was on tap to be my “A” race this year.  My goal was sub 6 and I knew I was capable of that.  In fact, I just hit a new PR in Oceanside just 5 weeks prior and I was (am) in the best racing shape I ever have been in.  I was feeling very strong and confident going into this race.

Pre-Race:

I flew into Las Vegas the Thursday before the race and met up with some great friends.  I rented a van and drove a couple of hours to StG, where I had rented a condo.  This was my first time flying with my bike, so I was nervous as heck that something would not go back together right.  My nerves settled as my friend, Josh, was able to help me put it all back together.  (**A special thank you to Brent for helping me pack my bike and to the Bellingham TRI Club for the bike box loaner).

bike box triathlon travel

 

friends at airport

 

Steph, Josh, Angelina, Me, Ginger, Doug and Stephanie below
Left to Right:  Steph, Josh, Angelina, Stephanie, Me, Ginger, Doug

 

 

On Friday, I did a mini shake-out brick, consisting of a 20 minute bike ride and 10 minute run.  Josh and I did this together near the condo, while our other friends (not racing) were out for a long ride together.  Josh went to meet up with the girls, and I went to the expo.

shake out bike ride triathlon

Expo/Packet Pick-up:

Ironman Village, was located in the Town Square of StG.  It was only a 10 minute drive from my condo.  Plenty of parking and easy access.  The expo had outdoor booths with vendors and the packet pickup had a tent with a long line.  I waited and finally entered the tent.  The day was hot and there was no shade, except for when I was inside the tent.  The packet pick-up was seamless and I was off to see what the Ironman Merchandise tent had.  I bought just a couple of t-shirts and water bottle.

athlete village St George expo

I met up with Josh and the crew sometime after 2 pm and we headed out to check our bikes in at T1 – Sand Hollow Reservoir.  We located the area and took some stunning photos of the water.  It was so hot out and this was the first time I really thought about how the heat (THIS heat) might affect me on race day.  It was dry and HOT.  The temps called for mid 90’s on race day.  It was low 90’s when I checked my bike …. uhhhhh … okay then.  I can do this!  I practiced with heat at home on the trainer.  Long sleeves and a wool cap.  That should be the same.

***(insert wide eyes here optimistic but realistic scared look here)***

Sand Hollow Reservoir Beautiful

Sand Hollow Reservoir
A pano shot of the entire swim course!

Trek Speed Concept racked at St George

Race Morning:

3:45 am wake-up.  A cup of coffee, 1/2 a bagel with peanut butter and a banana.  I got ready and we were all out the door by about 4:30.  We went straight to T2, near the athlete village and dropped our run bags.  We then said our goodbyes to our crew and we boarded the buses to the start.  The drive seemed to take forever.

race crew
Kim and Marco (far left) were also racing!

Once at the T2, I made my way to my bike and filled my tires with air, got my hydration bottles ready and laid out my bike gear.  Two more trips to the porto-potty and I was good to go.

josh and I getting ready

I met up with Ginger, Jazzy, Steph and Angelina for some last photos and before I knew it, I was in the water.

Jazzy and Ginger see me off
Jazzy and Ginger see me off

 

swim start St George 70.3

Another friend from the F3 community was in my wave and it was so nice to have someone there with me.  Thanks Kim!  This was her very first 70.3 and I was so excited for her, that I forgot about my own nerves.

Kim and I talking race.  You've got this!
Kim and I talking race. You’ve got this!

Race:

The swim started in the open water.  I had exactly 3 minutes to get to the red buoys in the water before the air-horn would blow for my start.  From the pictures above, they don’t look at that far away, but they were!  I didn’t even make it to the red buoys before the the air-horn blew.  Dang it.  I’m already behind.  I started my Timex and started my race.

Head down, I told myself to relax and just swim.  I had really worked on my swimming the past 3 months and knew I was capable of sub 48 minutes if I really worked.  I wanted to get 45 or less truth be told.  I held my own and could feel others swimming by me from the wave starts after mine.  I was clawed at, hit, and grabbed.  I maintained my position and kept swimming.  The water started out cold (60 degrees), but I soon warmed up after about 10 minutes.  I was breathing hard, reaching and pulling.  Trying hard to focus on being relaxed and not slowing down.

Before I knew it, I was headed in and hit the mat running.  I looked down and saw a 45 something on my Timex …. WHAT????!!!!! YES!!!!!!  A huge smile formed across my face.  I was so proud of myself.  I did it!!  It was at this very moment, I decided I didn’t care what the rest of my day looked like, I was so happy with this accomplishment.  (If you have followed my triathlon journey, you know I didn’t even know how to swim just a few years ago).

credit: Finisherpix
credit: Finisherpix

Wetsuits strippers peeled my suit and I was running to my bike.

My bike … where was my bike?  I was turned around and it took me a little bit to find it.  Mistake #1, but not a biggie.  I still had a faster transition time than I’ve ever had!  I was off and pedaling.

t1 bike St george

The bike … Oh the awesome, amazing bike!  This truly was the course of all courses for beauty and scenery.  I took it all in because it was breath-taking.  It was also the hardest bike course I’ve ever done.  The hills never seemed to stop and the descents were sparse.  I felt solid on the bike and took in plenty of fuel for the run.

credit: Finisher Pix
credit: Finisherpix

Coming into T2, I could not locate my run bag.  It took me an extra 30-45 seconds.  Mistake #2.  When I finally found my spot, I racked my bike and quickly changed shoes.  I grabbed my run belt with bib, visor and water bottle.  I was off.

Running out of T2
Running out of T2

It was hot out and I pushed it out of my mind for all of about 2 seconds before I thought about it again.  Dang … it’s hot!  Shuffle.  Small steps.  Just keep moving.  My coach, Daryl, told me if I was breathing too hard, to slow down.  Okay then, I was breathing hard and I was in the first mile.  Granted the first 3 miles are all uphill.  Not just little hills, they gradually became bigger by mile 3.  It was about this time, I thought my head just might pop off my body.  My head was seriously throbbing and my face felt hot, like steam was coming out of my ears.  I fueled at every aid station and dumped ice down my top and shorts to cool my body temp.  Nothing seemed to be working.

I will admit at this point, about 3.5 miles in … I thought about stopping at a medical tent and calling it a day.  I had PR’d my swim after all and had an amazing bike ride.  I just could not get the throbbing in my head to stop and I was not sweating.  My clothes were wet from ice, but my skin was bone dry.  I thought I might have a stroke or something my head hurt so badly.  I walked.  I thanked the volunteers.  I tried to stay positive because that is who I am.  I thought about everyone cheering for me and eventually I kept putting one foot in front of the other and kept at it for miles.  So many thoughts swirling in my head: Why did I sign up for this race again?  I am never doing another Ironman.  I think I like sprint TRI’s.  Yeah, those sound nice.  I do not like hot weather for racing.  Me and Heat don’t get along.  Ginger can’t do this race, so buck up and get going!  Mikey would have killed this course.  I loved the Yoga I did last night.  Oh — that’s a cute TRI suit.  Oh, HI! Where are you from? I wonder where Josh is.  Is it almost over?  These volunteers are so friendly.  Oh, see … he’s walking too.  Eek, does he know those black tri shorts are see-thru?  Just say no to crack buddy.  Looking strong Michelle!  Run to that bush.  Where is the shade?  There is no shade here.  Oh, photo op … start running and smile …. the random thoughts go on and on.

The scenery was gorgeous, but to be honest, I had a hard time enjoying it because I was suffering.  I was not cramping however, which is the best news of all.  I continued to jog/run/walk.  In no particular order.  In the last two miles, I put the hammer down and just wanted to be done.

run St George 70.3 Ironman

ironman 70.3 St George finish running

Post Race:

Upon crossing that finish line, I was greeted by the nicest lady who helped me.  I was not feeling well.  At all.  She asked me if I wanted to go to medical, but truth is, I didn’t know what I wanted.  I saw my friends and thanked her for her time.

finish line volunteer St George

As I continued to exit the finishers area to meet my friends, my emotions overcame me and I started to bawl.  Not cry … bawl.  I’m not sure exactly what overcame me in that instant, the heat, the accomplishment of being done, my friends, the fact I didn’t feel well, or all of the above. Thankfully, my friends knew just what I needed … shade.  And ICE.  Angelina ran over to grab some ice from the medics and put some on the back of my neck and head.  This did the trick because in about 10-15 minutes, I felt so much better.

We found Josh and took a few photos and grabbed food.

josh and me St George finishers

It sank in … I finished!  My fifth 70.3 distance.  I was happy and I was not going to be let down by my overall time.  Why should I? There was too much to be thankful for.

Thankful take-a-ways:

*Swim PR (45:51)

*T1 PR

*It was the MOST beautiful course — EVER!

*I finished (and I have the medal to prove it!)

*I had the best friends there for me (Thank you Josh for racing with me; and to Ginger, Jazzy, Stephanie, and Angelina for cheering me on all day.  Also thank you to Doug and Stephanie for meeting me at the airport!)

*I had friends who wanted to race today, who were registered to race, but were not able to.  I thought of them during my race! ❤

Finisher medal St George IM 70.3

A few more Memorables:

1.  I did not wear my Garmin.  The day before the race, I knew I did not want to be dependent on my pace/time.  I needed a stop watch for fueling, so I opted for my simple Timex for time only.  This was a good call.

2.  The volunteers were the best EVER.  Like EVER.  In all the races I’ve ever done … StG volunteers take the cake!  I had all the ice, all the coke, all the love from the run course.  Simply awesome!

3.  Thank you to Gatorade Endurance for my fueling!  The G Endurance Carb Energy Chews are the best!  I am proud to be an ambassador for this company!

4.  The entire race experience was unforgettable.  In every way, even the hot run, I am so thankful for it.  I now know what it feels like to be in an oven (on broil) and trying to run at the same time, up hill.  That is the best analogy I can give you.

5.  I have the best friends.  They came from San Diego, Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and San Francisco.  Each one of them inspires me.

swim bike run St George

 

 

Advertisements

IM 70.3 Boise Race Report

boise IM finish

With my race bag packed two days ahead of schedule, I was more than ready to take on IM 70.3 Boise.

5:30 am rolled around the Thursday before, and I said goodbye to the family and drove away.  This would be my first, and hopefully my last, LONG solo driving adventure.  I made six pit-stops along the way before arriving in Boise some 10 hours later.  My child-hood friend, Rae, had invited me to stay with her and her husband, Casey, for the long weekend.  Both being triathletes, and having done Boise in the past, Rae and Casey were a wealth of knowledge and inspiration.

Boise day-of-race, I was told, was a crap-shoot.  The weather often toyed between down-pour rain and freezing temperatures (2012) and soon-to-be, sweltering hot this year.  I was also told the bike course was always windy.  ALWAYS.  So, I’d better hold back on pushing too hard on the bike and save some energy for the run.

Rae chauffeured me around, which I loved because I didn’t have to figure out where to go, when to be there, etc.  We headed for packet pick-up Thursday night.  It was a seamless process and very well-organized with tons of volunteers.  It could have been that I also beat the rush of the crowd that were due to show up on Friday to check-in since race day was Saturday.  In any case, it was super cinchy and I was in and out in no time!  I was also able to add my local TRI team to the IM 70.3 Boise list, The Bellingham TRI Club, at the last-minute.

The expo was pretty non-existent, compared to other events I’ve been to, but what I really cared about was the IM 70.3 Boise gear!  I scored:: new Tri shorts, pint glass, water bottle, t-shirt, M-dot ornament, and cookie cutter.  Cheesy I know, but I like that stuff!

My highlight on Thursday, besides being in Boise for the first time, was meeting Alexander Ford and his family, and other FurtherFasterForever Tri Peeps who I have been following on Instagram.  We met down at a local brewery, called 10 Barrel.

f3 peeps

On Friday, I did a quick shake out bike and run and Rae joined me.  It was already so hot out!

ride/run shake out

We took my bike to check in at T1 at Lucky Peak Reservoir, where the swim was going to be.  Looking out at the water, the first thing I noticed was all the waves and choppiness from the wind.  Oh my.  A bit of panic set in.  I gulped.  Rae asked me if I wanted to get in.  Uh …. no thanks.  I think I’ll wait until tomorrow and wing it.  (and, PRAY that the wind dies down between now and race time).

Not so calm ...
Not so calm …

trek speed concept wsd

Friday night dinner was home-cooked spaghetti with french bread. YUMO! (thanks Rae!)  I prepared my race bags and made my hydration bottles.  On my down tube, I made a mixture of 3 scoops CarboPro with GUbrew electrolytes.  I froze this bottle and intended to sip from it every ten minutes on the bike until it was finished.  My aerobar bottle was water with GUbrew and I packed two more GUbrew electrolyte tabs for replacing the water at the aid stations on the bike course.  With one bottle in the freezer and the other in the refrigerator, I bid everyone goodnight.

Race morning, I slept in a bit.  After all, IM 70.3 Boise is a 12:00 start.  I don’t know any other 70.3 races that have a start time this late, and I’m not a fan.  With the heat of the day ahead, I would have much preferred a morning start time.

pre race breakfast

I had my pre-race breakfast, 1/2 plain bagel with a banana and a cup of coffee.  I can’t eat much before a race and I knew I had been carbo loading and eating and hydrating with electrolytes really well the past few days, so that didn’t worry me.  We left Rae’s house around 9:15 and headed to T2 to drop my run bag.  This race is a clean transition race, meaning EVERYTHING has to be in either the run or bike bag.  No footprint for a transition zone whatsoever at either T1 or T2.  Just your bag.  In fact, the T1 bag had to be hanging from the bikes.  Nothing on the ground.

me and alexander

I met up with Alexander and Rae gave him a ride to Lucky Peak swim start too.  We parked and hiked about 20 minutes to get to the start.  I had to set up my bike bottles and get my tires pumped.  No transition zone to set up, so I just hung my bike bag from my handlebars.

Then the wait for my swim wave.  I was in WAVE 5, which was set for 12:15.  I was relatively calm considering the water was a choppy mess.  This would be my rockiest swim EVER.  And, if you have been following my blog or know me, you know how thrilled I was with this. :/  Nonetheless, it was GO TIME.  Time to conquer this swim.  Goal #1 was a 45 minute swim.  Given that the water was so choppy and everyone was rocking, I told myself I would be happy to finish under an hour.

Deep Water Start
Deep Water Start

The horn blew, and just like that … I was off.  The swim felt remarkably solid for being thrown around like a lonely towel in a washing machine.  I didn’t dare stop for the one time I did, I ended up with a load of water right in my face.  Forge on.  I swam to the outside left, way away from everyone or anyone coming up behind me.  And they came in droves.  I didn’t care if I swam an extra 1/4 mile, just so no one swam over me or kicked me.  I was swimming for what seemed like forever, but all the while, I was very comfortable.  YAY for some progress!  I came out of the swim feeling like a million bucks and prepared to rock the bike course.  Wet suit strippers at the top of the hill skinned this rabbit and I was off to find my bike bag.

swim
I’m on the far left

Slow transitions seem to be my specialty and I need to find another gear to speed up my transition zones.  I dried my feet, put body glide on them, socks, then bike shoes.  Glasses, then helmet and oh yeah …. wetsuit and goggles/cap in the bag cinched up.  Away I went.

The air was warm and dry and I quickly warmed up after the chilly 60 degree swim.  My feet, which are typically frozen for quite some time, liked the ‘warmness’ of the air.  A quick descent right out of T1 and I was on my way.  EASY I told myself.  Hold back.

HOLY WIND …. okay, then …. this makes it easy to hold back.  Sideways, pushing, almost loosing control of my bike a couple of times type side wind.  Headwind on descents made it hard for the so-called easy recoveries.  So, I kicked it down to easy gears and just remembered my quick cadence.  I took a Peanut Butter Gu at 30 minutes in and again at 1:30 and a Roctane GU at 2:30.  I used CarboPro with electrolytes every 10 minutes.  I used salt tablets 3 times on the bike and I consumed water with electrolytes from my aerobar bottle.  I’ve got this.  The miles clicked by and I was passing people in my age group left and right.  How can this be?  I was riding super easy, not pushing it at all.  OH YEAH … I was so looking forward to killing it on the run!

bike
photo credit to: finisherpix.com

The miles seemed effortless on the bike and before I knew it, I was finished!  This time really sped by for me.  The course itself was really nondescript and not the prettiest of courses I’ve ridden, but I didn’t mind it.  A couple of hills, but nothing to write home about either.  The only real killer was the wind and one technical trail – single track – with no passing.  It was downhill at first and I wasn’t prepared to quickly go uphill and I was in my biggest ring.  OUCH!  I had to suffer the mash-fest to get up the hill because I didn’t want to drop my chain or get chain suck from shifting.

bike front
photo credit to: finisherpix.com

Hwy 21 was most remarkable on the bike and a guy standing on the corner made me laugh.  He was holding a big yellow sign that read, “GO RANDOM STRANGER!”  His friend was holding a sign that read, ‘THIS IS A MOTIVATIONAL SIGN.”  For whatever reason, this made me LOL.

Coming into T2 – I knew I was prepared to run.  This was my speciality and I had been practicing bricks for the past 22 weeks.  This run was mine for the taking.  Settle in, steady pace … break it into thirds and race the last third.  I’ve got this.

I quickly racked my bike, changed my shoes, grabbed my hat and race belt and I was off.  One quick stop at the porto-potty.  I tried to pee on the bike, but I just couldn’t do it.  Literally, I couldn’t make myself go.  I tried.  And tried.  And tried.  Seriously.  Couldn’t make it happen.  So, into the porto-potty I go, but I really didn’t have to go … so maybe that was my problem.

The run …

….. oh, this run.

I am a runner.  I’ve got this …

GO

Four minutes in …

UGH, pain tightening in my left quad.  Pain so bad I know I needed to stretch the sucker out.  I moved out of the path and started to lift my left heel to my hand for a good ‘ol quad stretch …

ARRRRGGGHHHHHH!  Charlie horse in my hamstring … opposite side.  F%&* S($# (many expletives I can’t remember here).

I am bent over in excruciating pain.  Unable to move.  After a couple of minutes bent at the waist massaging my leg, I try to walk.  And … I’m limping.  It hurts.  Tears start flowing out my eyes.  I look at my watch and know I will have to walk this 13.1 miles or a majority of it and my goal of sub 6 just went out the window.  I cry harder.

Wiping my tears under my glasses, I continue walking as other athletes are running by me.  It’s such a pretty run course, on a paved trail next to water and trees.  I want to run so bad.  What the heck??  I fueled just right, didn’t I?  I hit mile one in 10 minutes.  Geesh.  This is going to take forever.  First aid station, I down some water and get some ice.  I chew on the ice and the rest goes in my shirt and down my shorts to cool me off.  It was the hottest part of the day and now I was grumpy. Cranky grump.  But, I continued to talk to people and walk with others when I could.  I stopped at every aid station and kept drinking, only now I started drinking coca-cola.  OH, this is good.  I jogged a little, but mostly walked.

run

After a couple of miles, I felt a raw type pain on the back of my left ankle.  What the heck?  I look down and it’s rubbed raw.  UGH.  I stop, pull up my sock over it and carry on. At the next aid station, I get a bandaid for both ankles because it’s rubbing raw on both ankles.  I’ve never had this problem before.  EVER.  I stop again at the next aid station because my first bandaids came off.  That’s when I realize …

hey dumbshit …. you forgot to cinch up your laces.  How could I have forgotten that?  Now I’m angry with myself and tell my ankles to just go ahead and bleed.  I deserve it.  Dummy.

Oh — and for pain’s stake … what’s one more bandaid change?  They’ve come off again and I can’t seem to go any slower anyhow, so I take my time changing them out for the third time.  Swell.

hugging rae

I was just finishing the first loop of the run course when I found Rae and Casey.  I hugged Rae tight and told her what happened and I started crying again.  She gave me a pep talk, but in my moment of delirium, I really don’t know what she said, but I kept moving.  Casey told me to stop with the cola and switch to water.  Good call … I listened.  I started to jog slightly more the second loop and finished with a new PW.  Personal Worst.

Nonetheless, I finished.

And, I finished smiling.

run finish
photo credit to: finisherpix.com

I went straight to medical and told them how bad I was cramping.  Hoping they would give me an IV of fluids to make me feel better, they gave me chicken broth.  In my non-sensical rationale, I told them I had been consuming electrolytes all along and had no idea why I was cramping.

Casey and Rae took care of getting my bike and all my gear bags and helped me to the car.  I took one picture with Alexander, who was waiting at the finish.

finish photo

As I was taking this picture, I just felt sick.  Nauseous.  No sooner did they get me home, and I was throwing up the lame chicken broth.  Oh yuckiness.  I hate throwing up.  I can’t remember the last time that even happened.  Never in a race or after a race.  I still had no idea what was happening.

I didn’t seem to come to my senses until after Rae and Casey fed me dinner at 9 pm that night.  I felt much better, even though I really didn’t want to eat and my throat hurt from throwing up.  I drank a ton of water all through the night and woke up just devastated.  What the heck happened?  I ran through everything in my mind again how I had awesome swim and an awesome bike … what the heck?!

My bike …

I went out to my bike in the garage and pulled my water bottle from the down tube.  It was half full (or half empty at this point in the game).  SHIT.  I thought I had consumed almost all of it.  After all, I was drinking from it every 10 minutes.  I ran inside and asked Casey if he had dumped my aerobar bottle.

Yes.  

How much fluid was still in it?

About half.

CRAPOLA!  Then I replayed the aid stations I went through.  Only two had I grabbed a bottle of water.  I poured half over my head and emptied the rest into my aero bottle before pitching it inside the trash zone.  I knew I had to consume AT LEAST 3 full bottles while on the bike, probably 4 with the heat.  I consumed maybe 1 to 1 1/2 bottles max.

SIGH.  THAT WAS IT. CASE SOLVED.

Time to regroup.

Time to recharge.

I have IM CANADA in 12 weeks and I need serious practice at hydration and fueling.  Obviously.

Lesson learned – but it doesn’t make it any easier in the moment.  I am so glad I finished and I never once thought I wouldn’t – it’s just not in me to quit.  I am most thankful for all the support from my friends and family over Facebook, Twitter and IG.  Thank you!  Truly.

As Casey told me — Boise is DEAD to you.  LOL!  I love this.  I may have to resurrect it next year.

boise medal

Reunited! And, it Feels so Good!

Hooray for a X-Train night on my schedule!

Oh – how I missed my Maddie.  If you haven’t met Maddie, she is my awesome first road bike, a TREK MADONE.  She is my go to road bike for the trainer and for most rides outdoors.

Tonight’s schedule called for 30 minutes of cross training …

Saddle up!

30 minutes went by in a flash and I wanted to keep going, but I have another big running week ahead of me with only one rest day.  Best to stick to my plan!

However, 30 minutes was enough to work up a great sweat!

Stay motivated this week. Keep training.  Fuel right. Be thankful for everything you have worked hard to achieve!