Karel managed to have an exceptional swim and stayed right on course. Although he started 16 minutes ahead of me, he still had to swim around a few athletes in the earlier waves. Karel makes sure to swim at an 80% effort for the entire swim as that gives him the "fastest" time possible without over-exhausting himself or swimming with an inefficient stroke.
My best advice for an open water triathlon swim is to always remain calm and confident in the water. The moment you stress out, tense up or worry, it's easy to panic. You must always remember that your swim training should build fitness but it should also transfer to great open water swimming skills and strength. Also, open water is still water. Don't let the lack of lane lines and no wall induce unnecessary fears. Believe in yourself.
As I ran out of the water, I quickly zipped down my wetsuit and ran past the wetsuit strippers. Since my wetsuit comes down to mid calf, it's very easy to get off. By the time I got to my bike, I stepped out of my wetsuit, put on my helmet (didn't forget it like I did at IM 70.3 FL!) and cycling shoes, powered on my Garmin 810 and I was off.
For the first 4.5 miles out of transition, the road went up.....although there was a gentle downhill after the first long climb, this was just before our first big climb of the day. With this all occurring on chipseal pavement, it was really hard to find a rhythm - but I was prepared for this. For this first section, my speed was 15.2 mph. Knowing this was just the start of the race, I was careful to not go too hard and to waste my energy in the first few miles of the race.
I just loved the first 7.6 miles of the course. We passed through lots of farms (with furry friends watching us) and the course was free of cars. Although the pavement was never buttery smooth, there was nothing technical or difficult in this first section. My average speed for this section was 17.5 mph so once that first climb was complete, it was time to finally settle into a rhythm.
With the entire left side of the hwy closed to cars, it was so nice to feel safe on the wide open stretches of road, especially with all of the downhills. After enjoying the free speed on the flat road, it was time to start our next climb - 2.4 miles of climbing. This climb took me about 9 minutes and I averaged 15.8mph. But after that nice flat segment, my legs were awake and I felt great on the climbs. Again, I was passing a lot of athletes and I had yet to be passed by another female athlete.
After this climb, we enjoyed a fast downhill before a few punchy climbs. This course was always entertaining with no boring part as the miles went by fast. I just loved how the course was broken up into different pieces, which helped me stay focused on the present moment and not jump ahead in thoughts (like thinking about Snow Canyon).
For the next 11.4 miles, I averaged 22.7mph and clocked my fastest ever downhill speed of 48.1 mph! Weeeeee!!!!
The coolest part of the run course was seeing Alistair Brownlee running on the run course as we were biking on the other side of the road. This 2x Triathlon Olympic champion looked so effortless running up the hills of the run course. Next came Lionel Sanders and then Sebatian Kienle. So inspiring!
For the next 10 miles or so, I averaged 22.5 mph. This section was very fast as we did an out and back section after descending down Red Hills Parkway (by the white Dixie sign, which was also part of our run course).
I made sure to grab a water bottle at the last aid station to use for cooling. Although I didn't want any extra weight loading me down for the climb, I only had 1 bottle left on my bike (out of 3) of sport nutrition so the extra water wasn't an issue. I used this water to keep myself cool as the Canyon felt very warm. My Garmin only recorded 79 degrees but it felt a lot hotter as the sun popped out of the clouds.
After making a right hand turn out of the canyon, onto Hwy 18, it was time to make our final descend into town. For 9.5 miles (minus two punchy climbs), it was a fast descend into town. I pushed as hard as I could on the pedals, in my heaviest gear and still only managed to ride 27.2 mph. Karel averaged a little over 30 mph for this descend!
I was passed by Caroline C. who is a super strong triathlete and cyclist on the descend but I caught back up to her on the two punchy climbs. I wasn't able to stay with her on the descends so I considered it a success that I was only passed by one female on the bike. Although other females rode faster than me, I was really pleased with my effort. When I switched over my interval screen to total time, I couldn't believe that I was so close to breaking 2:40 on this bike course.
I eased up during the last 1.5 miles, especially on Diagonal street, which was the start of the run course. Although a net downhill, it was a bumpy road and I was transitioning my brain into run mode. I made sure to take a few sips of my sport drink to finish 2.5 bottles on the bike course and used some leftover water to cool my body.
As I was making my way past the first turn about, I spotted my mom. She didn't expect me so quick so I gave her a big wave. She was excited to see me. After turning right after the second round about, I eased up on the pedals and finally dismounted my bike.
I took it very conservative on the first few miles to make sure to get a good rhythm. At this point, I was feeling very hot and by the time I got to the top of the climb, I needed to cool myself off at the aid station. I stopped to take in water and ice and then began running again. In between the aid stations, I took in my sport drink from my flask. This way, I was able to hydrate every 1/2 mile or so and fuel every mile. I only took in water/ice at the aid stations and the ice was AMAZING. The volunteers were fantastic and it was great to see all of the support on all parts of the course.
On the positive, I was able to pass a lot of athletes in the back half of the run and I felt strong on all of the climbs. With two out and backs on this course, it was fun to see other athletes for instant motivation. Not only did I see Karel when I was about at mile 4 (he was passed mile 9) but I saw all of my Trimarni athletes out on the run course - which was so awesome! Another positive was another race with no GI issues and no low moments on the run. Although there were faster female runners out there, I felt like I took good care of myself to put together the best race possible - but a part of me is fired up to take a bit more risks at my next half next weekend in Greenville.
The wind really picked up throughout the day, as did the heat. Although the temps never got above 85 throughout the race, it felt hot all day. I found myself having to turn around my trucker hat a few times due to the wind.
As for Karel's race, he also didn't feel too happy about this run but he put together the best race possible without ever racing on this course before. He was able to pass a few guys throughout the run but he said it took a lot out of him to try to keep up with some faster guys on the run. Karel relied on his fuel belt and Red Bull/Coke from the aid stations and didn't have any low moments and another GI-free race for Karel (he has never had any GI issues in a half or full IM).
After cresting the last big hill, it was time to finally make my way to the finish with 3 miles of running downhill. While the first part of the downhill was steep, the last 1.5 miles was not easy as it was in straight headwind - so I felt like I was still running uphill!
With about 1/2 mile to go, I saw Karel out of the corner of my eye as I was focused on one foot in front of the other to get myself to the finish. Karel ran with me for a few steps (he was on the sidewalk) not saying anything but just cheering me on by being there.
I was SO excited to see the finish as I felt like I put together the best race possible, under the race conditions, for my first time at IM 70.3 St. George. When I crossed the finish line, I was excited to see Karel and hear his race recap and then get back out on the race course to cheer for my athletes. While waiting for our athletes to get closer to the finish, Karel, Anthony, Robb and I hung out in the food tent. I was completely exhausted but no food sounded appetizing for a while, except my Cheribundi Rebuild drink that my mom was holding on for me for after the race.
Although I was sore, I was still able to walk semi-ok, so we made our way to the last part of the run course to cheer for the rest of the Trimarnis, until every one of our athletes crossed the finish line. For me and Karel, our title as athletes is over once we cross the finish line. Then it's back to being coaches until all of our athletes finish the race.
Later I learned that I placed 1st AG and Karel placed 3rd AG. A repeat from our results at IM 70.3 FL. I was pumped about another AG win on such a tough course but I am eager to come back next year as I feel more experienced on this course and I feel I can do even better next time. The finish line area was great, for family and friends and the awards ceremony was packed with athletes and spectators, in the middle of downtown St. George. It was hard to say good bye to this beautiful venue but we will be back next year for another great race-cation!
-Run In - for helping us with all of our running needs
-New Wave Swim Buoy - for keeping us safe and seen in the open water
-Mg12 - for helping our muscles stay relaxed
-Clif Bar - for quality ingredients in quality sport nutrition
-Cheribundi - for providing a safe, natural and delicious way to reduce inflammation
-Veronica's Health Crunch - for the most delicious hand made crunch - ever!
-Infinit - for customizable sport nutrition
-Levelen - for helping us optimize our hydration needs through sweat testing
-Hot Shot - for keeping Karel cramp-free!
-Solestar - for maximum stability, better power transmission
-Boco Gear - for helping us race in style
-Canari - for the most comfortable, functional and stylish gear