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2017 - May 06 - 70.3 Ironman St. George Race/Event Reflections Post


70.3 IM StGeorge swag stuff...

70.3 IM St George Event 6 May 2017

Activities - Strava Logs (Shane's Strava link)

(Look for rollover links if you are Strava stalking me :) )

Monday
Activity 1 - Run 1Run 2Swim
Tuesday
Activity 1 - Taper - Eat all the things
Wednesday
Activity 1 - Taper - Kill all the things
Thursday
Activity 1 - Open Water Swim (OWS)Run
Friday
Activity 1 - Taper - I think all the things are trying to kill me
Saturday
Activity 1 - Triathlon




Ironman official results

So I am going to try and make this less of a travel or event recap and this is what happened post. Rather I want to concentrate on the lesson's learned, mental, physical and other obstacles/equations encountered and how I approached over came or tolerated.

So here we go.  We'll see how I do.  hopefully I don't get the #BOOM or #EPIC eye roll.  I guess I should note this is my 3rd 70.3 Ironman St. George (2015, 16, 17).

Thursday Activities

Getting out The Door

The travel to St. George started for us on Thursday morning.  We packed most things and made ready to go the night prior.  As I loaded things, I had a mental check list and went through things while packing up our Dodge Journey.  We got out the door at 9:33 AM and we were on our way.  Not too shabby for a family of 4.

Lesson learned:
Pre-packing reduced the level of mistakes made in packing from the previous year, like almost forgetting my wetsuit.  It also made for an easier go with Dennis and Juniper.  Not having to pack for Zion's Ragnar Trails also, was a big improvement on space management.  Improvements all around.

On the Road

Liz (wife/coach/sherpa - the one who kicks my trash when its needed) determined that we would take as much of the food as we could en route with us.  This enabled us to just stop at a few stops for minor bio breaks and wiggles.  We made great time and didn't stop for food, nor did we need gas on the way down. 9:33 AM departure and a 3:53 PM arrival (Logan, Utah to St George, Utah). This was a major accomplishment for us.  Dennis did well with Juniper on the way down.  For a sometimes very grumpy/moody boy - he comes through well at times and helps well.  Limiting his electronics times was also quite helpful.  He even remarked a few times, while looking out the window at things how cool what he saw was.  He tried to keep his sister engaged at times and it was nice to have a relatively positive ride down.  Its always an adventure when a pregnant lat an 11 year old a 22 month old and a tapering triathlete travel 380+ miles as a family.  Nutrition guidelines were easier to manage and bliss in the car was so much better.

Lessons Learned:  

Nutrition doesn't have to have an excuse or become a point of failure.  A little planning goes a long way to control things especially when your body is in taper and heightened to its recovery, needing/wanting to eat and other things personal to each of us.  Long trips are for memory making.  Family comes first especially where the triathlon lifestyle is more of a hobby than a means to providing for my family.  It was a good trip, we planned and we executed and adapted to things that came up :)

Checking in at The World Mark

Everything was ready to go for us, and we moved right on in.  We weren't sure what the sleeping arrangements would be (My father and is wife are the time-share owners and joining us), but we followed last year and took the larger space with the attached restroom, as we had Juniper.  One of the challenges is keeping the 'bike' away fromt he toddler.  She is now enamored by it and wants to ride it, touch it, see it.  So, placed it in the then surplus closet until Granpad and Naunie arrived.  We off loaded everything then ran out for a few needed errands in town at the local Walmart and did Ironman Check-in (See below).  We got back and conquered the pool and hot tub.  Dennis and Liz had a great time, and then Naunie and Grandpa arrived with my nephew Blake.  Dennis was brimming with excitement of ourse and it took Juniper a bit to warm up tot hem but she was engaged in the toddler pool and hot tub managing time between both to insure maximized use of both options.  My brother Chris also came on by and ended up spending a lot of time with us through the weekend which Dennis really seemed to enjoy, as he let us know most days how many days in a row we got to see uncle Chris.  There were a few other Ironman participants at the club, each wearing their different shirts and hats, but I already had my Blue wrist band of honor.  Yes, yes I did check-in already.

Ironman Check-in (Thursday)

One major win to getting in early this time was checking in the first day.  We just missed the pro stuff, but oh well. We did very well this year and did not trick-or-treat the merch tent or expo.  I went and got checked in doing the normal things.  Present ID, get a wrist band, follow the cattle lines, get my stuff, talk to a few volunteers, and then exit with swag bag and other things.  I am disappointed in the swag bag thing from Ironman.  I think Liz will use it more than me.  To me it's impractical and a bit gimmicky, not as practical as last years well sized backpack light swimming bag.  The size of the thing is odd to me and I don't like the single strap design.  The participant shirt and its design was well done this year.  I think the color was spot on for the fellas.  I can understand why the ladies don't like it.  We then got Dennis all set to go for Ironkids, looked over a few tents and bugged out.  We did look at a few items, but in the end got away without purchasing anything i think.  Score!

Lessons Learned:  

Don't enable self and fall prey to the hype at the merch tent.  The first go is fun, or if that is your thing, but most of the stuff is over priced and only a few get it now type benefits.  The expo is pretty bland so we concentrated on family relationships, trip needs and other pre-race/event stuff.  It is so much more satisfying, for us anyway.  I also went out for a light run to acclimate to the hills and heat (did I say acclimate, uh huh, that's it- sure).  A monster jack rabbit that I mistook for a fox really surprised me on my light run.  I grabbed some photos and took in the environment.  This would be my 3rd IM St George.  We made it safely, and in good time.  

Friday Activities

Sand Hollow and T1 Check In

By checking in the day before, Friday morning was really lazy and almost eery.  I was able to take Juniper to the playground and get her to have some fun.  Got the boys in the pool and discovering the fitness center and game areas.  I could tell that my dad and Naunie were a bit anxious and needed to get a few things done.  It came time to get out to T1 and T2.  We left a bit later than expected but no worries, it all worked out.  So I got to Sand Hollow and set about to getting to T1 stuff.  I spent some time getting things ready, deflating tires and doing the mental and physical walk through.  I took pictures of my bike placement and gear just in case, as some folks have been having a few reported issues.

Racked

photos to ensure proper handling and care

This was the first time that my nephew Blake has seen anything like this in person.  Grandpa was having fun with Blake and Dennis.  My father even got to doing some FB Live moments.  Questions were asked, answers were given and things were pretty much ready to go.  I racked and checked my bike one last time and placed my bag.  Then I trusted in the security and volunteers to do their jobs.  I didn't really run into anyone I knew that was going to be there yet, and in a lot of ways it was nice as I was able to focus on those that got me there, namely my wonderful and patient/stubborn pregnant wife as she managed Juniper our almost 2-year old in the 96 degree sun.

OWS Pre-event Swim

I finally did it.  This was a very big win for me.  In Cache Valley its still a bit cold to OWS.  So, I suited up in my newly acquired wet suit (Xterra Vendetta) for this season.  It was correctly sized, almost too tight and it worked wonders.  The water was chilly but not too cold in the 95 degree heat.  Dennis and Juniper enjoyed the experience.  My father geeked out using Facebook Live and doing a Mike Reilly play by play.  It was a nice 400 + yard swim.  I just used the time to tread and float for a bit to get used to the suit and sighting, and the overall conditions of the fresh water lake.  The swim was off the boat ramp which would be the last part of the OWS the next morning.  I find that it's better to swim out from the end point so that you can find sighting cues, and identify and perhaps anticipate challenges that may occur and rehearse those in your mind.  I also recommend just floating for a bit.  to look around, remind yourself you can float and take in the greatness of life.  It's a simple centering exercise, but so worth it.  It was a great thing to do.  It did get a bit interesting when a ski boat wanted to enter at the same ramp and it caused a bit of chaos.  Oh, did I mention the attitude of the wake boarders was not the best.  I mean c'mon a bunch of tapering triathletes, and a bunch of volunteers and local law enforcement, not the time to be cranky.  We got back in the car and started to head back for my son Dennis and his cousin Blake to do Ironkids :)

Lessons learned:
The pre-event swim is vital in the longer distances.  In the 70.3 and greater it is essential to understand the water and to anticipate what may be problematic.  I recommend swimming the ending portion of the course as it will be most beneficial in sighting and understanding any currents, wind patters etc.  For me the largest benefit was to checking my stroke.  Checking bi-lateral breathing options.  In the first 200 - 400 yards I typically warm up and use all my options until I determine a rhythm that is 'best-fit' for the day.  It was also great to allow my family the time to see and assure that Dad won't drown.  They don't often see me swim except at a pool at beginning or end.  This allowed them to garner confidence, that while there won't be much tracking, the sherpa and followers stress and anxiety is lessened.

Ironkids

Dennis ran a PR at 8 minutes and 11 seconds.  He thoroughly enjoy it.  Some little robot kid ran a 5 min 30 second run.  Incredible!  My nephew Blake who has recently completed his first HS track season also PR'd at a 6 minute 11 second.  Dennis was loving it.  Blake was so destroyed from he heat and his effort.  This was the highlight of the trip outside of my activities.  Heather Fuhr was available and it was pleasant to have a few choice words with an Ironman Hall of Famer.  She stopped and asked Dennis a few questions too.  How cool?  In a lot of ways that was my favorite part of the weekend.  A lot of our challenges with our great boy slip away during things like this.  We are blessed for these moments.










Friday evening

Things mellowed down and I think I stayed up a bit too late but not to the point that it truly affected anything.  It was good/nice to have family and those that came to support me.

Race Day - Wake up and bus ride

So I grabbed the cooked up  egg banana pancakes from the night before and ate them in the morning. I also finalized my water bottle prep after I woke up at approx 4:25 AM.  My father was up and ready to drive me over at 5:15 AM.  I made my way to a bus, found a seat, and was left to myself for the ride.  I tried to zone out and just actively rest until I arrived on the uncomfortable school bus.  No cool seat neighbors, just a bunch of folks miserable to be on a bus and mentally readying for the events about to unfold.

Lessons learned:
Make more pancakes next time and don't forget to have a gallon sized baggy for them - I used paper towels from the club/condo (worked but ya, not the best).  I also think I need to add more calories in a shake mix in the morning - I did this last year but over looked it this year.  I adapted quite well to the late information about the swim wave adjustments which put me in the water approx 14 mins earlier.  It was out of my control, so I didn't much care, where about 3 other athletes I met at Worldmark were fretting over.  One guy, even quipped 'How are you not bothered by this?'.  My response was 'It's out of my control, so I will focus on nutrition and sleep'.

T1 Prep activities - pre swim

I need to get tri-tats.  I took the ole fat-boy sharpie permanent marker treatment.  With my sleeves kit they went a little more to the forearm "1216".  I then had my age, 43 - Ironman branding age :)  From there I strolled into T1, located my bike and began prepping things.

Lessons learned:  
Be stingy with bike pump.  The racer next to me was like the local water source and I was more focused and to myself and was not asked once.  Remember my transition mat, I was trying to be kind and friendly but skip that jazz, bring it.  Don't forget throw away sandals I bought a week before at the condo.  Tore my feet up a bit and it affected me on the bike.  Make sure to have liquid nutrition and calories available prior to leaving transition.  The fumble of nutrition management began the week prior and it affected me all day.  Keep things simple and don't over think anything.  Don't forget that they have water there available to a large degree, so if you forget hydration or do a morning shake/drink, use that to your advantage.

Swim Readiness

I ran into a work colleague that I have yet to meet in person.  I wasn't expecting him to be there this year, and he called me over.  I think I was a bit out of it, but it was quite nice to have an unexpected and welcomed friendly conversation.

After setting things, and being majorly confused about where to drop the morning drop bag, I sauntered out of T1 and started to get my bearings.  The logistics of the transition changed a bit, so my open space was a bit more compressed, and no surprise pro athlete run in this go around.  I took my time and got my wetsuit started.  The odd thing, is I didn't need the restroom, and I have been clock work at about 5:30 to 6:30 AM MST for the last 2 months.

1.2 mile Swim


Swim00:52:31
So, it felt like they extended the start point of the swim a bit, it felt farther out than the last two years.  Overall I did what I wanted.  Walked down knowing no one this year and I was in a solo island.  I forgot my flip flops, and the walking around from T1 to the water took its toll on my feet.  The water adaptation wasn't nearly as rough.  i walked in.  Grabbed some water in may face, down my neck, adjusted my goggles, and began out to the line.  I stayed a bit right to avoid the zoo.  So the interesting thing this year is although I took it out slow, until I got into a blender mix - multiple swimmers nearby- i didn't settle in all the way to a good and persistent rhythm.  For the first 100 meters I was breathing to my left side on every stroke. Once folks started catching up about 300 - 400 meters further, I didn't settle into a bi-lateral pattern.  For my admittedly, first OWS of the year, 42 minutes moving and 51 minutes clock time was solid.  A good 12 minutes faster than last year.  

Lessons Learned - Swim

Trust in the journey.  I swam nearly 36 miles in building up to this event.  I learned how to control myself.  I learned going out easy and getting stronger is worthwhile.  I learned in the cold water and in the compression of the wetsuit, I had to stop to pee.  I was a better swimmer in the crowd and not solo.  In the crowd, sighting and direction changes as the pack is working in an odd unity although it is not at all!  Get an OWS in the water environment the day before - this was the biggest lesson learned this year.  I was able to sense at the end of the swim that my sightings were a bit weird as I ended up about 100 meters wide of the swim in target about 300 meters out.  Forget about the rest of the day during the swim and just get it done and start the thinking of whats next at about 400 meters out from the swim finish.  I stopped for a moment and took a look about when I peed.  I had a calm moment amidst the maytag of swimmers.  I took it all in, and was grateful for this years journey, and knowing that my wife still accepts my crazy.  Technology:  I set my watch to data recording of Smart - bad move.  Use every second.  You can see the anomoly on my Strava and Garmin connect in this post.  Also, I use an application called roadID for tracking.  Link here for the event tracking.  A recent rule change by Ironman allows us to do so, and my family appreciated it.  I kept a battery connected to my phone and started it prior to leaving T1 in the morning and then when I left the OWS and began the bike, my family knew more or less where I was at any given time.


T1 - Swim to bike

So, I walked the ramp as my watch said 42 minutes - I still don't understand the drift in clock time and real time but I won't argue too much.  The pullers struggled with my suit for a moment, but it gave me 30 seconds of levity and de-stressing and recomposing from the swim.  The KT tape on my neck worked with a proper fitting wetsuit and I have a very limited rash - hairline.  When I got to my bike, I had to grab the transition rack, and just wait for about 30 seconds.  I was disoriented from all the blood flow and temperature change.  It was quite euphoric.  Then I settled into the change over.  Grabbing nutrition.  Clasping my helmet.  setting sunglasses. Looking at the weather and dropping un needed things.  then walk running out.   I made it out of T-1 in just over 5 minutes.  This is a marked improvement from last year.

T1: Swim-to-bike00:05:08

56 mile bike


Bike03:34:46
On the lead out I was feeling quite good, and reminded myself not to go out to hard and not to forget about nutrition.  Well, at least I meant well on the nutrition.  Things were different today.  Right before we left, I changed my arm supports for aero.  It was a great decision.  i have not yet done a real bike fitting, and this was a great move, for not knowing anything about how well fit I am.  I was able to leave all of Sand Hollow to the first turn on to the highway in aeor up the annoying first bump up to the highway.  There were already a few flats, and others side lined and I thought, hope their day isn't over, bammer deal.

The ride out was strong and so far the winds weren't too bad, oops, hold on, there they are (the winds).  So I just settled in and began pedaling 3 gears from the top.  I was doing alright and getting passed by some folks and passing plenty of folks too, then the AG officials were with us.  See this is the first time I was out fast enough from the swim to see the officials.  Folks were drafting all over the place but not maliciously for sure.  It was a solid ride out to the Hurricane local airport.  The winds were persistent but manageable.  The next segment after the initial aid station was solid.  I wasn't being dumb.  Making gains where I could.  holding off a bit in the climbs but being steady.  Dealing with the wind gusts as they presented.  Capitalizing when a tail or non problematic headwind hit.  But I wasn't eating.  I took on two Pro bar meal bars and was going through my water bottles.  I only fill my between the bars once on course, and then thinking back that was it.  so I had 2 25 oz water bottles and a 28 oz between the bars.  So I was about right with water - efs in 2 25 oz water bottles.  I took one salt stick pill maybe two.  Somewhere along the line I got comfortable and brave for me and hit approx 45 mph.

Once I got past the second aid station, i settled in again to get tot he red hills parkway.  i was surprised coming up the final climb to see my family.  My father had a camera, and Liz, Dennis, Juniper were all cheering for me.  My Nephew Blake, brother Chris and father and his wife Dawn were all in the middle of the road being great spectators and supports.  So I ducked back into aero, and it paid off to climb the hill they were on and also for the photos my father captured.  As I came over the hill I heard the cheering of the crowd for the first two pro males.  So I am about 28 miles into the cycling and Alistair Brownlee and Lionel Sanders are pushing towards their respective 1 and 2 finishes.  I paced Lionel for a few seconds from the bike, haha, ya right.  Then the winds got real on the decent down to Ivins.  I topped out about 35 mph heading down the parkway and out toward Ivins.  The loolipop allowed me to prepare for the climb

Snow Canyon this year was mentally and physically straight forward.  i hadn't put too much time on the rides this year, but I am learning to relax and spin a lot more.  I also pushed through the little downhills a bit to keep fresh and gain a little momentum.  but overall I was almost 2 minutes faster through Snow this year and I was holding back.  There wasn't a lot of wind, then from Snow canyon on into T2, it was hold on for life and not get blown over.  I did well, but my shoulders were majorly fatigued from having to navigate the 40 + mph wind gusts.  A few folks were cramping up and pulling off the road, making rumble strips and the shoulder fun to navigate.

Lessons Learned - Bike

Trust in the spin.  Bike fit matters.  I need a true bike fit.  Need to concentrate on hydrating better during the ride.  Need to manage nutrition in a different fashion.  I was disrupted with the wind and trying to make sure i was safe but gaining ground.  I had all my gears for the whole ride which was a new experience for me :)  Nutrition helps from ironman


T2 - bike to run

T2: Bike-to-run00:06:35
I did ok in this transition.  I shouldn't have listened to the gal directing me, she forced me up the lane one early, and I trusted her.  Fail.  I had to go down and around and that mental hiccup took an extra minute.  I took a moment to re-center.  Had a laugh with two others, and then got out.  I ran by the sunscreen folks, and 5 seconds past I heard my wife in my head, and back i went.  I'm glad I listened to my wife, in my head.  I got all slithered up and out I went.  Apparently I looked strong on the way out.  

13.1 mile Run



Run02:52:22
I located my family, came over and kissed my wife, after looking at my watch out of t-2 it read 4 hours 30 minutes.   I was going to have a shot at h30 and definitely sub 7 hours.  NOPE.  After I got past the family and out to the round about i just hit a mental and physical wall.  I walked until Jenni Archibald SCREAMED at me!  Thank you.  I took off but only made it about 3/4's of a SLOOOOOOOOOW mile.  So, there I had some decisions to make and this is where I blew up.  I decided ok, let's take this slow.  Dial in to 13 minute miles no more for the first 7 miles.  But the first 5k was brutal up into the parkway.  I knew it would be there, but it just wasn't there.  Oh ya, dummy, you didn't eat.  Aid station, Red bull, yes please.  Ice - to the hat, water, sure.  Neglected everything else.  I also opened up my pro bar chomps praying that by some miracle I would have red bull wings and get re-booted.  Nope. 92 degrees and a HEADWIND from hell.  Then the self doubt showed up.  I don't get it often but it was right there.  I worked through the first segment up until a buddy from home - Chris Budenbender - screams my name.  He's an hour in front of me or better as he's at mile 9 and I am about 5 in.  I appreciate his call out b/c I was getting lost there, like ready to just whimper to an 8 hour acceptable finish.  Nope, I dug in and did what I could.  From that point on I had 2 ugly splits, but I did pretend that i was a runner - on this day, that's a funny.

So, there i was out there, in no man's land, and just working it through.  I was taking on redbull at every station followed by water and a cup or two in the hat of ice.  Many of us were struggling that day.  It was a tough one.  It was the unknown that always shows up in St. George.  if it was just the wind or the heat, I think I could have pushed off and gotten to a 2 hour 15 minute half.  But with both there in team against me, it was mentally debilitating, although I never lost it, though I was spiraling at one point.  Then there was one last pick me up.  One of the Pathetic Triathlete Group folks called out.  Sara Porter.  It was a simple pick me up, and it was appreciated.  It was on the segment I call Satan's pitchfork.  There is a double out and back segment after Pioneer park that is just brutal, and it was out there that it helped.



Lessons Learned - Run

Nutrition and hydration on the bike matters more than I have given it credit.  this was my major fumble this year.  I also can go fast, it is mental, and I am strong enough.  Sure I could blame the bike or other things, but i just have to practice more and get bike to more riding volume to compliment my run volume.  I learned that I can probably cut 30 more minutes of my bike.  I should be able to ride an avg of 20 MPH on that course.  The wind conditions weren't in my favor this day, but I feel I can do it.  Technology: - using Road id  I was able to track where i was better.  As this was different from my last 2 years, I started out of T2 without my phone, but about 100 ft after I left bike, I back tracked, grabbed it quickly and was off.  this small change was worth it for my family and supporters following me.

Reflections, lessons learned, summary

I learned I am human. I learned that my change in focus over the last 2 years has paid off. I learned that I smile more when I should have been whimpering in pain and been defeated. I learned that I can control what I can, and persist through what I cant control. I learned that I underestimated my fitness and my health and blew up making simple mistakes with nutrition (650 calories on the bike - Whiskey tango Foxtrot). I learned that I need a bike fit. I learned That my race support family is the greatest for me. I learned that friends I have at the race and those following me in different ways helped make the fumble better. I learned that this is my lifestyle. I learned that i have lots more work I want to do. I learned that I am mentally back from years of apathy (high school and college athlete that got injured and just gave up). I learned that i can do more. I learned having all gears from a simple tune up the week before is a game changer. I learned a LOT! I learned i was ok to PR 2 of 3 disciplines and fall apart on the 3rd and not just walk away but finish well in time.

So what's next?  How to avoid post event/race blues?  Drop 13 is around the corner and a friend of ours wants to complete it.  So, I will help her pace through it.  She will either love me or hate me, but we will get her through it.  I have Cache Gran Fondo, the Cache Valley Triathlon (Sprint or Olympic), Spudman in Burley Idaho, and I need to complete a Marathon run at 26.2 miles distance.  Liz is wanting me to do something than St. George next year, and after the new little one arrives, she is wanting to be more active too.  So it should get interesting.  Interesting thoughts and timelines:
  • 70.3 Oceanside, California - March/April 2018
  • 70.3 IM St George - May 2018
  • 140.6 IM Coeur D'Aleine, Idaho - August 2018
  • 140.6 IM Arizona, Tempe - November 2018
The things I'd like to accomplish before 2018:
  • Complete another 100 mile bike ride (actually around 112 miles)
  • Complete a Marathon
  • Be able to swim 2.4 miles 
Further along the way, we have a baby girl expected now in September - we found out the gender on Wednesday.  I'd like to maintain and strengthen our family along the way.   I hope that Liz and I keep active and with our growing family don't slip.  A major part of this lifestyle is getting both healthy and fit.  Avoiding injury and doing things correctly is a high priority for us.  So far, no set backs since my knee flare up.  I do get sore, but I listen to the red flags, pay attention and adapt my training and activities.  As I mentioned, I had re-calibrated things so that Liz could have some of the support she needed.  It was a good reminder to me that #familybalancetri is still a major focus and lifestyle.

Overall I am happy with the outcome.  The journey of this one was unique but the same.  My volume in swimming paid off.  My mental adaptations to climbing on the bike and riding downhill paid off.  I made mistakes, which allows me to remedy, learn and grow.  I did it all sans injury and didn't destroy myself, family or others along the way.  I have gained a lot of new memories, relished ones past and created and gained friends, followers that inspire me as I hear I inspire them.  Life is good.

#zentriathlete #familybalancetri #zenfamily#roadtoimstg703 #hereicome195#travelingnerc #fearthebeard#mizunorunning #crushingiron #run4fun#travelingnerc


Oh, and I was 194.6 lbs this morning - back to pushing for 185 and ultimately 180.  This is where I need the most help.

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