Ya that’s right, a triathlon! I can sit here for hours and discuss why and how I came to the decision to venture into Triathlon racing, but I won’t. It’s a roadie’s worst nightmare and the butt of many jokes. Luckily I have thick skin and actually feed off any negative energy heaped in my direction, so please send it, I have some training to do. After giving it everything for the elusive National Title Chase last season, I finished with a great ride at Cascade and warmed up to the idea of triathlon with a couple of Olympic distance races in Tahoe and Malibu. Into this season, I had planned on balancing both racing and getting my feet wet with some half Ironmans.
I signed up for St George 70.3 last fall on a motivated buzz (drunk), which was the North American Championships, because I wanted to measure up to the best on the bike. I had some aspirations of doing well, but knew my running was nowhere near up to par, so I would just focus on the bike.
I spent this winter focusing on bike racing and trying to peak for a couple races on the calendar (Chico, Copperopolis and Redlands). I wasn’t able to go to Redlands, so I dove right into my next goal which was St George. I had just over a month to get ready for that damn half marathon. I continued to plug away on the bike and in the pool but had a very measured approach to not hurting myself with running. I started with 1-2 miles a day at 9 minute pace and continued to knock off 30 seconds a week until I was back down to 7 minute pace…still really slow, I know. But it worked, everything was holding together and Tasha and I made the trip.
The drive down was classic road trip. Tasha and I had some serious laughs along the way, highlighted by a supine, rigored dead cow we named Rachel. We checked into our “fancy/shitbag” hotel near Sand Hallow, and I got out to pre ride the course. Only problem was it was 90 degrees and 30+ MPH winds. I pretty much bonked and dehydrated myself by riding the whole thing, but I had shit legs so I needed to get everything out. I met Tasha in St George, got my reg and found this great little Mexican place Irmita’s!!
Friday was all about trying to iron out all the little details involved with Triathlon. Two different transitions, bags to put gear in, what nutrition do I need etc, etc. To put it mildly I had some beginner nerves.
Race morning finally came!! I got up at 430 and tried to stomach some food and got on the Wahoo Kickr for a little 15 minute warm up. Tasha dropped me off at the Swim start, and I got all my bike stuff set and went for a little jog. One last porta visit and I was ready.
I had to start in the 10th wave, 35 minutes back from the Pro men, and behind a whole lot of non-swimmers. I had some serious concerns about swimming through that many people but it wasn’t bad. I only had to swim over a few groups that were swimming 4 wide and was even punched by an upset victim. I was a bit confused on the course but just kept following people in the general direction of the finish. I came out of the water in 25:38. Not bad.
I got through the transition without too many problems (needed help with a wetsuit zipper) and immediately felt wind and some drops of rain. It was cold but it felt good. I had an extra bottle of CR7 that I slammed as I ran my bike out of transition and got after it. There was still a ton of earlier waves all over the road, so I was overly cautious about not getting a drafting penalty and following rules. After the initial surge, I settled into my goal pace of 330 watts and it actually felt very doable. The further I got into the bike, the less people were all over the road. I had one near miss with a van that pulled out in front of me as I had to lock it up and swing all the way off course…I yelled a bunch and continued my charge. Once I hit mile 30 the rain and wind really started to pick up and soon I was dead ass in the middle of a thunderstorm. I couldn’t feel my hands or feet, but figured everyone had to contend with it so no biggie, just focus on power and the all the positive energy coming from the spectators. I made my way up the featured section of the course, Snow Canyon Rd, I was hurting too much at this point to enjoy the view and just hammered up the climb as best I could. Headwind and nuking rain are not beneficial at mile 45 of a bike leg, but it did mean I was gonna get a screaming tailwind on the way back into town. I made the turn and just hammered up to speed. The roads were flooded and I was hitting speeds well over 50…I think strava said 53.2. I made the final approach and showed my lack of Tri skills by coming to a complete stop at the dismount line and running into T2 with my shoes on…I did not eat shit FYI!
I had some trouble unbuckling the helmet and shoes with the numb hands, but I got through without out too many problems. Again I slammed a bottle of CR7 in the first half mile of my run and planned on two more gels throughout the run. I couldn’t feel my feet either and my legs were brickish feeling. The first 4 miles of the run were all uphill, so I knew to just run at my pace. It was now my turn to get passed. A few pro girls came by me and then a couple of the fast younger guys that could run well. I got to see the best of the Pro men charging down the hill at 5 minute pace as they were approaching the finish…intense!! Back to my shuffle and world of pain. I hit mile 4 and felt great I was within myself and not too far off my goal pace. Things didn’t really start to hurt until mile 8-10 when I hit the climb on the backside of the course. Just brutal! Luckily I didn’t have to shit myself or stop because of cramps, but I could have easily seen it happening. I fought off urge to slow down to a walk and just set my sites on the top of that final hill. Made it over and started my 3 mile descent into the finish. I was able to increase the pace and the “wounded giraffe” motored to the finish line.
4:18 – 25:38 swim, 2:10:40 bike and 1:37 run…good enough to win my age group and just squeeze into 3rd place overall in the amateur field and 29th Overall.
I was shocked when I saw Lionel Sanders and Sebastian Kienle’s bike splits. 7 and 4 minutes ahead of mine, but I’m now realizing that those are the two best cyclists in the Professional sport of Triathlon. Apparently Lionel did 352 watts for 2:03…That’s with 0’s, uphill, downhill, turns etc on TT bike!! Impressive stuff for sure. All in all, the entire experience was amazing. Ironman has their organization on point and the scenery in the town of St George and surrounding area is truly breathtaking. What’s next? Well, I got a Pro card out of the whole deal, so I guess I’m going to race with the pros next time!!