The night before the race my nerves really kicked in. I couldn’t believe that I would wake up in the morning and that it would be race day!
As I dropped my run bag off in T2 and I noticed a few people were tying their bags to the bike racks to keep them off the ground. If it was going to rain I figured this might be a good idea. I ran into a few SOAS girls in T2, got some hugs, then said goodbye to Neil and boarded the bus out to Sand Hollow.
As soon as I got to the reservoir I stopped at the porta potties, then got to work getting ready. I had my tires pumped up, then I laid out all the gear I would need on my bike. I didn’t know what the weather was going to do so I had arm warmers I could put on, plus I brought a lightweight rain jacket if need be.
I found Coach Angie, then hung out with Neil as the minutes to the start ticked by.
Before I knew it, it was time to get my wetsuit on and line up with my swim wave.
Once the pros were off we steadily started moving closer to the water. We had to walk over some awfully sharp gravel to get down to the water and I regretted that I gave my flip flops back to Neil instead of sacrificing them at the water’s edge.
Swim – 1.2 mi/1900 m – 41:15
My goal for the swim was to push outside my usual cheesy easy swim pace that I tend to fall into. It was windy and the water was choppy. I know I’ve swam in worse (at the Sylvan Lake Chinook Olympic and on a practice swim in Kelowna) so I didn’t let the chop phase me. I wasn’t as smooth with my sighting as I would have liked because of it, but I kept plugging along.
I came out of the water with a brand new half Ironman swim personal best! I’m especially proud of this given how much I’ve heard other people comment on the rough water.
T1 – 6:24
I ran through transition to my bike and surveyed the sky. There were lots of clouds so I made the decision to put my arm warmers on (a tough thing to do when your arms are wet). I was feeling dizzy so had to sit down and take my time. I grabbed my jacket and thought about stuffing it in the back pocket of my tri suit, but then I decided to not bother. I would regret that later…
Bike – 56 mi/90 km – 3:37:59
I gave Neil a wave as I got on my bike and headed out of Sand Hollow. The first 8 miles of the course is rough chip seal and it definitely felt bumpy out there. I saw a lot of athletes pulled over and fixing flats and tech support was all over the area, ready to help.
There were also two cattle guards to ride over which had been covered over in plywood. There must have been a good bump on the second guard because it was a bottle graveyard there. I’ve never seen so many dropped bottles in one spot before!
It was windy and cool out and I was definitely glad that I had made the decision to put arm warmers on. A light rain started to fall and there were dark looking clouds all over the place. I tried not to think ahead about what the weather might be like further on in the course as I figured there was a good chance it could change.
I would say I rode pretty conservatively. My goal for the race was to have a steady ride – to not hammer too hard so that I would kill my legs for the run. It felt like every time I was descending a hill it was raining and I am not a confident descender. I took those descents fairly slowly as people zipped past me at full speed down in aero. I just couldn’t do it as I was too worried I’d lose control and wipe out. About half way through the bike the bike course and run course intersected and I could see Lionel Sanders running out in front and Sebastian Kienle chasing him. That was such a cool moment!
As we started our climb up Snow Canyon the rain really started to pick up. I was definitely going to have to wrap my brain around a wet descent into town, but first I had a big hill to climb. I knew it was about 4 miles from the pay station to the top so I had a mental idea of how far I’d have to climb. I kept my gearing easy and just kept pedalling on. I wound up passing a bunch of people here who all gave me a thumbs up, but I knew they would all catch up and pass me on the downhill.
When I got to the top of Snow Canyon I was thrilled! It was a big and challenging climb but I loved it!
I wish I would have pulled over at the top of the hill to stop and get some calories in me. My aero bottle was almost empty. I was carrying a bottle of concentrated Tailwind and had an extra bottle of water from an aid station to help dilute it. I should have taken the time to mix the two in my aero bottle and drink some down. Instead I started downhill, in the rain, without easy access to calories.
As I had climbed Snow Canyon the temperature dropped and it was about 4 or 5 deg C when I started my descent. The road was wet and I started to feel the chill. I was too afraid to grab calories, I was just holding on for dear life. I sang Old MacDonald to take my mind off the descent and ran through every animal I could think of. As we got closer to town I started to shiver I was so cold.
As I approached T2 volunteers were handing heat sheets to people as they were getting off their bikes people were that cold!
T2 – 5:01
The best thing I did that day was put a pair of dry socks in a ziploc bag inside my T2 bag. Having dry socks to start the run was an awesome idea! I wish I would have grabbed the gel in my bento box that I had meant to take near the end of the bike ride and ate it before I left T2…hindsight!
Run – 13.1 mi/21.1 km – 2:38:31
My feet were frozen as I left transition. They felt like stumps! As I ran out of town Neil spotted me and it was the only thing I could tell him. He told me to not think about it and to keep going.
People around me were running with heat sheets tied around their neck, plus I saw the odd person running in a trash bag it was that cold. I normally would have dumped my arm warmers in T2 but I kept them with me just in case.
The first three miles of this course is uphill. I just focused on turnover and staying steady and didn’t think about all of the climbing I was doing.
I felt pretty good until just after 6 miles when we turned around at the bottom of a hill and had to start climbing back up it. The hill was fairly steep and it was straight on into a crazy headwind. There may have been some additional walk breaks going up that sucker!
Somewhere around 7 miles or so I started to feel light headed. I had tried to take calories in on the run course, taking in a gel 25 min in and grabbing Coke or Gatorade at every aid station, but I think I was just too far behind from the bike. I would walk for 10 breaths and then start running again.
I was finding it harder and harder to run without getting lightheaded so there was more walking happening. The headwind was sucking the life out of me. As I approached an aid station around mile 10 I knew I needed to try and fix things so I grabbed pretzels and more Coke hoping to right the ship. It helped a bit. I just wanted to get the run done!
I had hoped the downhill towards the finish would help me out a bit but I still had to take the odd walk break to get the lightheaded feeling to pass. Finally I was making the final run to the finish line!
I crossed the line in 7:09:10…not quite my slowest half Ironman time!
Ironman 70.3 St. George is a difficult course, that is for sure! I’m really glad I decided to push outside my comfort zone and race a hard course. The scenery and the challenge did not disappoint! I really enjoyed the epic climb up Snow Canyon and I wish I would have been able to open up and enjoy the downhills more.
Given the difficulty I chose to focus on process goals today. My goal for the run was to be as steady as possible, which I didn’t really meet. In hindsight I wish I would have made a few changes to get more calories in on the bike or in T2, but I managed the best I could on the run.
The volunteer and community support for this race was unbelievable. There were so many people cheering in the cold and rain!
I would absolutely love to come back here and race again. I trained really hard for this race, which will hopefully set me up well as I now start to build to Ironman Boulder. I’m grateful I was able to get some quality early season riding outside in (especially some really hilly rides in Kelowna) because I think that really helped to prepare me.
Female 35 – 39: 60 out of 123 athletes (85 finishers)
Female Overall: 321 out of 640 athletes (454 finishers)
Overall: 1,542 out of 2,556 athletes (1,919 finishers)