5/11/17

IM 70.3 St. George race report


1.2 mile swim
Marni: 30.32 (3rd AG after the swim)
Karel: 30.17 (4th AG after the swim)

After the gun went off, I quickly went into my race effort to try to swim away from my wave. My feet were a little cold to start but they quickly warmed up (as did the rest of me). I could see a few yellow caps here and there but I didn't worry about anyone too much (especially the one girl who was quickly swimming away from me) as 1.2 miles is a long way to go and I typically find myself getting stronger as the swim goes on in distance. After a few minutes, I found myself in my swimming rhythm but that quickly changed as I now had to navigate through the 15 age group waves ahead of me. I am always mindful of the less experienced swimmers so I try to make sure to not be aggressive around them. I strategically positioned myself to the outside of the buoys to swim in relatively clean water but with every buoy that I passed (to my left) I found the lake to be more and more packed. With so many athletes together, I found myself zoning out a bit, with some thoughts that I didn't want to be racing right now. But as the swim went on, I found myself getting more competitive as I was passing a lot of people in the swim. By the time the buoy turned from yellow to orange, I knew I was half way. As the water started to get a little more choppy after the 2nd/last turn buoy, I was feeling stronger than when I started. I think not being able to get in the water for a swim warm-up threw off my mental state but I was happy that by the last half of the swim, I felt better in the water. The lake got really packed when I could see the swim finish arch and combined with the chop, I had to change up my swimming rhythm with a bit faster of a cadence. I managed to stay on course really well and after I exited the water, I was ready to get on my bike.
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. 


I ran past the mount line and toward the barricades to avoid bumping into other athletes as I got on my bike. This made for a smooth start to the bike. Now that the swim was behind me, it was time to tackle 3200 feet of elevation over 56 miles on the St. George bike course. 


56 mile bike
Marni: 2:40.43 (1st AG after the bike)
Karel: 2:27.58 (2nd AG after the bike)


With this being my first time racing on the St. George course, I knew that I would need to take some risks in order to put together a solid bike. However, after driving most of the course (and riding the rest), I had a mental image of how to best execute the course. I did not chase speed or watts and I didn't wear a HR monitor. My perceived effort would help me produce my best effort possible, on this day, to deliver myself to the run. I hit the lap button on my computer after every significant change in the terrain so that I could review my file after the race to see how well (or not well) I executed the race. Karel never races by metrics as his bike racing experience has helped him master the concept of "racing by feel". Karel's only limiter these days is his lower back (disc issue diagnosed when he was also diagnosed with a hip labral tear in May 2016, which only affects him on the bike (and not on the run).
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 passed a lot of athletes on the first climb and that gave me an instant boost of energy. Karel discussed with me that the long downhills would not work in my favor because of my size so I knew I would need to use my climbing strength whenever possible.
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. 
I made sure to drink from my sport nutrition bottles every 10 minutes and to ensure that I stayed well fueled and hydrated, I took 3-4 big chugs every 10 minutes. After I finished my first bottle, I tossed it at an aid station to free up a cage for water. The temperature started at 63 degrees after the bike but around 10 minutes later, it was in the low 70.3. As the winds picked up throughout the day, so did the temps. 

For the next 9.3 miles (21 minutes), I was flying. Speed was up, power was low and I was passing a lot of athletes. I even saw one of my athletes Jane and told her to keep up the great work as I rode on by her. With a bit of wind at our back throughout most of the ride, I made sure to focus on constant chain tension to get the most out of every pedal stroke. My speed averaged 26.1mph for this segment with a cadence of 82 rpm.

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). 

After making a left to head to Snow Canyon, I noticed that the winds didn't pick up as much as predicted. It almost felt like we had a little push up the Canyon. The views were just breathtaking but I made sure to stay focused on my effort so that I wouldn't destroy my legs too much before the run. I found a nice steady rhythm and it was fun to see riders in the distance as my rabbits to catch. With a cadence of 75 rpm average up the Canyon and a total elevation gain of 1093 feet, my speed was only 12.1 mph average. The climb doesn't get too pitchy until the last mile and this was also the time when it started to get a bit more windy. Luckily, we had pre-rode this part of the course so that helped mentally more than anything to know exactly where I was as it related to pacing.

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 had a quick transition to my run gear but I didn't rush out of transition. I put on my race belt w/ number, hydration belt, shoes and hat (with sunglasses on the rim) but I wanted to make sure to keep my body temp as controlled as possible before the first part of the run so I walked my way to run out until I felt like I was ready to jog. Although I was able to pee a few times on the bike, I really needed to empty my bladder so I stopped at the port-o-potty which happened to be outside of the transition area, technically it was on the run course (so my time in the potty was included in my run time and not in my transition time). Although it  felt like forever, I don't think I spent more than 2 minutes to take off my fuel belt and take on/off my one piece tri suit. It felt SO good to finally go to the bathroom (triathlete problems). 


13.1 mile run
Marni: 1.49.08 (1st AG after the run)
Karel: 1:30.13 (3rd AG after the bike)


So you may be wondering about my Garmin run watch since I haven't mentioned anything on my wrist throughout the race. Well, I planned to put on my run watch in T2 but during my descend down into town, I convinced myself that my watch would be "too heavy" on my wrist and I didn't want anything holding me down on the run. Yes, that is right - I didn't wear my watch on the run because it felt "too heavy". Plus, I knew that pace meant nothing on this course and I didn't want to be distracted by anything as I needed to direct all of my attention on taking care of myself for the next 13.1 miles. 
So for the first time in a long distance triathlon race, I did not wear a watch - and I loved it!


After running out of transition, I made sure to not run too hard. For the next 3 miles, the road went up and up and up. Although the first 1.5 miles were a gentle false flat after the hill to the round about off main street, we had a steep incline up Red Hills Parkway for almost a mile. It was great to see the female professionals finishing up their run on the downhill as it reminded me that what goes up, goes down. 

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. 

Although I felt physically ready for the run course, for some reason my mental strength was not as strong as I would have liked it to have been. I walked through almost every aid station as I was trying to stay as cool as possible and a big part of me wished that I would have taken the risk and just ran through the aid station. While in the moment I was trying to manage, I now look back and wonder "what if". Well, I guess that's part of racing!

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!





Congrats to the Trimarni team for placing 1st Division V Triclub! 

Thank you for the support. As always, if you have any questions about race execution, race venue details or nutrition, don't hesitate to reach out via email. 


A BIG thank you to our 
2017 Trimarni sponsors and affiliates:

-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
-Xterra - for the fastest wetsuit ever (so fast, Karel is now beating me in the swim!)
-Alto cycling - for enginnering the fastest race wheels
-Swamp Rabbit Inn and Lodge - for keeping our campers happy with perfect lodging options
-Salem Anesthesia - for your Trimarni support