The day had finally come to take on one of the most difficult 70.3’s in the circuit. I was really looking forward to this race because of its location, I’ve seen photos of the views and read plenty of race reports to know this was going to be an unforgettable experience. My wife and I drove up to Saint George on Friday morning the day before the race and checked into our hotel. We didn’t much time there as I had to go to athlete check in, drop my gear off, head to swim practice and hopefully be back early to rest. Once I dropped off my bike at T1 I decided to go for a swim. My wife joined which was exciting because it was her first ever open water swim. I went in with no wet suit, she didn’t have one so I figured I didn’t need one either. The water was cold but refreshing and with it being 95 degrees out it felt so good to get in. Once our swim was done we headed to Ironman Village to drop off my run gear before going to dinner. I read about a nice restaurant named Cliffside Restaurant known for its incredible view of Saint George. My wife and I had a lovely dinner overlooking the town and I tried to remain calm and not think about what was in store for me the next day.
3:30 AM wake up call to start eating a bit and head out to T2 where I would catch a bus to the swim start. My wife dropped me off in the morning, we agreed that she should stay in and not see me off for the swim. This way she could have a relaxing morning and grab a good breakfast. I checked on my run gear, took everything out of the bag and laid it out. The bus ride was about 30 minutes so I tried to take a quick nap, I got woken up by a bump on the road as we were pulling into T1. I don’t have a crazy setup so I did what I needed to do and mingled with the fellow athletes. I took a look and the pro’s bikes and dropped off my morning bag. I did get to meet some Instagram friends before the swim start, that is always special.
I was scheduled for wave sixteen so I had plenty of time to talk and watch the pro’s start before it was my time. In fact, the pro man was off on the bike before I even touched the water. The water was cold but only initially, you get over that quick as you swim towards the start buoy. I’d say you get a good 30 meter warm up before the canon goes off. I like to hang in the middle and work from there. water was nice and calm as I made my way out to the first left turn. I saw a lot of people struggling with the cold temps and many doing the back stroke, I even saw one guy doing a breast stroke. I kept calm and avoided kicks. My swim felt slow but I was in for a long day so it didn’t matter to me, let’s face it I’m never going to win based off my swim anyway. I took the last left turn and it was a straight shot to the finish. Here is where it got interesting, the water got very choppy as the winds picked up and finding a rhythm became a challenge. I had to slow down a bit and time my breathing so I wasn’t drinking too much water. The swim got done in 42:35 and although I wish it was 3 minutes faster I’m good with how it turned out.
I was out of the water and in full force to my bike. As I run up to my bike I hear a familiar voice. My wife was there to cheer me on and was waiting for me just outside transition. I screamed I LOVE YOU and started to change into my bike gear. Because they transport your swim gear back make sure you throw everything in your blue bag and tie it nice and tight. I gave my wife a kiss and I was off for my fifty-six-mile ride. I made my way out of T1 and onto the road, right away you have a climb leading out of Sand Hollow State Park make sure to take it easy and start your fuel plan because this ride is not walk in the park. I would describe this bike course as technical, there are some really fast sections where you can make up a lot of time if you take advantage of the decent. At mile ten is where the first aid station is located, I saw a crash there and I felt horrible for the athletes. They looked good but it’s a shame that it happened. You hit the highway passing that aid station where the roads are blocked off for you but the winds do start picking up. It’s important to remember to hydrate, the winds dry your sweat making you think you’re not sweating but trust me you are. The locals are so supportive, they’re out on the streets and in front of their homes cheering you on. At mile thirty you start cycling a portion of the run course. This is where I saw the pro men hammering away at the pavement. You go out on a false flat street and flip the other direction to take you to the Snow Canyon climb. At mile forty-two you start the last climb and toughest part of the course. The sun is blasting on you and you climb for about four miles. This is where I made sure to hydrate well and eat. I talked to some athletes to make the climb go by faster and before I knew it I was at the top. Now that I look back at it, it wasn’t that bad. You make a left out of Snow Canyon and its all down hill to T2. But for me flying down the hill in aero position was out of the questions. What felt like a forty mile per hour cross wind freaked me out and forced me to hold on tightly to my handlebars. So I rode the breaks down the hill to transition making sure I arrived safely for my run.
This is where the story gets good and my training really got tested. I didn’t drive the run course the night before, I wish I had, so I didn’t realize what really was in-store for me. Sure I studied the course profile but we all know that’s not enough. The first two miles are a gradual uphill, I kind of moved faster than I wanted to but I wanted to attack the run as I felt it was my strongest pace of the puzzle. Well, let me tell you that did not go well, At mile three I hit a wall and started feeling really fatigued. Passing the second mile you turn right into a hill and it leads straight up to the mile four aid station. I had to walk as I was not producing much saliva and it was beginning to worry me. This was a sign of dehydration and I needed to re-evaluate my game plan for the run. As I walked up I thought about my wife and how she would not want me to risk my health for any race. It sucked to feel this way so early on the run but I knew that somehow I needed to salvage this run. I got to the aid station and took in as many liquids as I could grab. I also started to pour ice down the front and back of my jersey to cool off as much as possible, I walked through the station making sure I got in that short rest. And so I kept pushing, leaving the mile four aid station there were gusts of winds strong enough to blow away hats off of athletes. I put my head down and put one leg in front of the other. I took advantage of every downhill by pushing the pace trying to make up for the time I had already lost.
That was my pattern walk every aid station drinking as many liquids as possible, icing down my body and grinding it out. I did a walk/run pattern on the hills and that seemed to work well. The familiar faces on the run course provided tons of motivation. I ran with a fifty-nine-year-old gentleman from Edmonton, Canada for a good portion. Turned out we did Silverman 70.3 together, he was a tough dude and kept moving at a good pace. I ran with my Instagram friend Sarah for a few miles, she had a killer swim and bike and was crushing it out there.
Four miles left and it was all downhill from here. Sarah and I were next to each other hoping the down hill pain was not going to screw us over on a solid finish. I looked at my watch and knew that if I pushed hard enough I can squeeze out a sub-six-hour finish so I turned it up a bit with two miles left. mile twelve was 7:54 but as I was trying to maintain I got a cramp that brought me to a halt, the last mile was 8:41 and that was not fast enough to go under six. I approached the finish line and my watched vibrated telling me that my phone connected, I looked around and saw my wife cheering me on. I pointed to her and headed to the red carpet, official time was 6:00:40.
This race is tough but I am happy with everything that happened on that course. It challenged me to dig deep and find a strategy that would work with the conditions thrown at me. This is what triathlon is all about, growing from the challenging experience. I would not change a thing about it and I’m happy and honored to have completed the race. Congratulations to everyone who finished and those who attempted it, you’re all badasses in my book.
Honey stinger Gel before the swim
2 Bottles of Base Rocket Fuel
2 bottles of water
2 Honey stinger Gels
Pack of Cliff Shot Blocks
Water, Gatorade & Soda (at every aid station)