5/10/18

Ironman 70.3 St. George - race report


Running to the finish line in a long distance triathlon race is an amazing feeling. As I ran my way to the finishing chute at Ironman St. George, I couldn't help but thank my body for being so resilient. While I don't feel "fast" right now, I have been able to set a course personal best in my last two half Ironman races. So although I am getting faster, I contribute this to being great at not slowing down. With my focus now shifting to Ironman racing (with Ironman Austria and Ironman Wisconsin on the schedule), I feel I am in a good place with my endurance so the goal isn't necessarily to get better at going longer but to continue to trust the process because whatever I am doing, I think it's working! 
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Pre race: 
So many to-do's on the day before a half Ironman. After a good night of sleep and a little work on the computer in the am, II had a quick snack of 2 waffles, PB, raisins, granola, egg and syrup (similar to race day) and then laid out all my gear for the race. Around 8am, I left the house for my pre-race warm-up which was around 75 minutes on the race course (mostly the run course) followed by a 15 min run. My pre-race warm-up is never the same as I always go by feel and do what I need to do to feel race ready. After my warm-up, it was time to eat. I had a glass of milk before showing and then I yummed over homemade cinnamon rolls (2 of them - made my Michela) and some scrambled eggs. Yummo! I also had some fruit (banana, strawberries, tangerine).

With bike check-in lasting until 5pm, we were in no rush to drop off our gear. I spent the next few hours working on the computer which was good as I could take my mind off race and not overthinking anything. I stayed hydrated throughout the day and ate every few hours (mostly carbs with a little protein). I never felt too full, bloated or stuffed which was a good feeling going into the race.

Around 2pm, I packed up my transition bags and Karel and I headed off to T1 (Sand Hollow State Park) to drop off our bikes and gear. The gear bags were optional (cycling shoes and helmet) but we decided to drop them off with our bikes so we had one less thing to carry with us on race day morning. We scoped out the transition area and the swim course as all the buoys were set up.
Since we had already driven some of the course (after our practice swim on Thurs), we took the quickest way to downtown St. George to drop off our run gear bags in T2. Although two transitions make things a little more time consuming on the day before a race, it does feel good to drop things off, similar to an Ironman. Since Karel and I (and our athletes) all use some type of hydration system on the run, we still needed to access our run gear bags on race morning to drop off our flasks for our hydration belts.

Nearing 4:30pm, it was time to head back to the house to eat, rest and sleep.
For dinner, I had rice and potatoes and cottage cheese with a very small salad and Karel had chicken with rice. It was nice to have some many Trimarnis in our house as we could all socialize in the evening - reducing some of the pre-race nerves and jitters. By 7:30pm, I was getting tired and with a super duper early wake-up call, I managed to fall asleep around 8:30pm. While I felt I slept great for a few hours, I woke up sometime in the middle of the night but refused to look at the clock because I didn't want to get frustrated if I saw a time that was close to our 3:40am. I tossed and turned a little but eventually, I think I went back to bed to get a few more hours of sleep.

Race day
With our early wake-up call, I was a bit tired and slow moving. After my fainting incident at Ironman 70.3 World, I have become very mindful and attentive to how I feel and move on race day morning so I made sure to get up very slowly. Anytime I start to feel a little lightheaded (which now seems to only happen on race day morning) I just make sure to walk slowly to a place to sit or lie down until it goes away. Thankfully, no major issues that I couldn't resolve with a quick sit as I was waiting for my coffee to heat up. I had my typical pre-race/training snack of 2 waffles, PB, banana, lots of maple syrup and an egg (I swapped my normal yogurt for an egg this race) and one small cup of coffee. I also had 1 scoop Osmo pre-load in a cup of water. After I ate, I headed outside for a quick 5-8 minutes jog to get the digestive system flowing. I spotted Karel out doing the same thing. Nearing 4:40am, it was time to pack everything up and head toward T1 to park, drop off our run flasks and set up transition and board the shuttles.

After setting up my run transition area, we boarded the bus to head to T1. The ride was uneventful although it felt like it took forever to get there. Karel listened to his music and I listened to all the chatter from the athletes on the bus. I sipped in 1 throw away plastic bottle of 2 scoops Osmo hydration throughout the morning up until the race.

After we arrived, Karel pumped up my tires and I set up my bike transition area followed by placing my 3 sport nutrition bottles in my bike flasks. I put my computer on my bike and I was done. I still had a good hour before the race start but it felt good to not be rushed.

Because this race does not have a water start (which is very unfortunate considering the cold water), we resorted to dry land warming up with lots of jogging around the parking lot. I must have spent a good 20-25 minutes of stop and go jogging with some resting/stretching/talking in between. It was great to see so many of our athletes and familiar faces.

With the water temperature being 65 degrees, I debated about not wearing booties as I have never worn them in a race before. But Karel and I loved how they made our feet feel in our practice swim so we decided to wear them for the race (since they are allowed in 65 degree water or cooler).

I started to get excited and I felt ready to get things going. Nearing 6:40am, I poured some water down my wetsuit to adjust it and keep it from "sucking" to my chest and headed to the corrals to line up for the swim. To avoid starting out too fast with the cold water and to allow more riders on the course before I got there, I strategically stood in the 30-33 wave instead of being with a faster group. Karel lined up next to me.

They started us every 3 seconds (in rows of 3) and Karel started right in front of me.As soon as he went off, it was my turn to go. As soon as I stepped into the water, I was so glad that I had my booties on as it was a nice to not feel as if my ankles were being chopped off due to the cold water. 

1.2 mile wim
29:00 - Marni
29:30 - Karel 
The good -
I feel I swam super strong. I managed to see Karel for the first part of the swim but then I lost him in the craziness of having to swim through so many people. It was a little choppy so I tried to time my stroke rhythm with the chop. I was breathing every stroke and swapped sides for breathing every so often. Despite the sun, I was able to sight really well to stay on course. As I was swimming, I felt fast in the water and I kept thinking I would swim 28 minutes for the first time in my triathlon career. Wishful thinking - so close.

Lessons learned - I didn't have any issues in the swim but Karel felt a little tightness in his chest at one point which prevented him from picking up his effort. He stayed smart throughout the swim and still put together his best every open water half Ironman swim time. I feel like I only have one speed in the water and even though I can pick up toward the end, I wonder if I am swimming Ironman effort for 1.2 miles.

T1
2:30 - Marni
1:58 - Karel
The good - I felt like I had a quick transition until I saw Karel run past me (wahoo - I beat him in the swim) and then saw him quickly head out.

Lessons learned - I quickly wiped off my arms and legs as I was worried about being cold to start the ride. Not sure if that costed me a few seconds and if it was even worth it.

56 mile bike
2:38.20 - Marni
2:31.14 - Karel
The good - I was really proud of how I executed the bike. I managed my effort for the first 8 miles or so to really let my legs warm up. I did feel a little cold to start the bike but after the first climb, I felt much more comfortable. I got passed by two ladies in the first 10 miles of the bike but that was it for ladies passing throughout the 56 mile ride (I had the 20th fastest bike including the pros, I think 8th fastest female amateur). I didn't let it get to me when I was passed as I was focusing on my race and trying to put together the best race that I could from start to finish. I enjoyed passing lots of guys on the bike, especially on the climbs. I felt really strong throughout the entire bike, nutrition went perfectly and I had a lot of fun. The miles went by fast and the weather was perfect. Although a tough course, if you are a good climber, you get plenty of "recovery" for every climb.

Lessons learned- Karel did not have a good bike. He's been very frustrated with his biking and he isn't sure why his body is struggling on the bike. He is still running and swimming well but he is going to change up his bike training to see if he can bring back some speed into his legs. While he feels great on his bike (ex. no back issues like in the past), he just feels flat when he races. I felt a little warm near the top of Snow Canyon - I used water from 2 of the 3 aid stations to cool off so not sure I would have done anything differently. Although I used my climbing strength the best I could throughout the race, I felt I lost time on the downhills. I rode confident and skillfully but I don't think there's enough of my 5-foot body to give me much more of an advantage going down steep descends. 

T2
2:49 - Marni
2:30 - Karel 
The good - I remember last year being really tired after the bike when I entered the transition area. We had much less wind this year compared to last year but I also think I executed the bike and fueled/hydrated better.

Lessons learned - I spent too much time at my rack putting on all my gear. I should have walked out and put things on as I was walking to save some time. Every second counts!
13.1 mile run
1:40.50 - Marni
1:25.61 - Karel
The good - The first few steps out of transition felt good. Not great but far from bad. This was my first wearing the Nike vapor fly 4% in a race (same with Karel) as we have only put about 4 miles in them to keep them responsive and fresh. They felt amazing to run in and I felt so springy and light running off the bike. That feeling alone changed my mindset immediately as I was really enjoy the run from the first step. I was able to break down this course into sections which helps my mind when I run so I don't feel into any ruts. After the first few miles uphill, I found a good rhythm and couldn't believe how "fast" I was running. Last year I was disappointed in my 1:49 run as I stopped too much at the aid stations and just felt heavy and tired throughout the entire run. I felt in control and strong throughout the entire run which was a great feeling. I used only water and ice from the aid stations and made sure to hold ice in my hands between each aid station to keep myself cool - it worked wonders. Thanks to my hydration belt, I could drink whenever I wanted to and I tried to strategically drink on the downhills when breathing was more controlled. I loved seeing more and more Trimarnis out on the course as the miles went by for me. Karel had an amazing run that he felt made up for his sub-par bike. With Haines City not being a good run for Karel, he was wondering if his "fast" running days were overwith. It's a nice surprise when you can prove yourself wrong. Karel only took water from the aid stations (he said he didn't use much ice as he didn't feel too warm) and relied on his flasks from his Naked Running belt (which he loves because it doesn't bounce when he runs fast).

Lessons learned - I feel like I could have broken 1:40. I was looking at my watch several times as I felt in control over my form and it wasn't negatively affecting my race to see my pace. If anything I think it was encouragement as I was shocked to see the paces I was running. I am not sure if I would have done anything differently for if I had tried to run harder earlier in the race, I may not have felt so strong in the last few miles where I was able to pick up some good speed down the hills and to the finish line. I also didn't see Karel the entire run! I was bummed about that. Because of all the downhill running in the last 3 miles, my feet were starting to get a little tired so I think I need to make sure I do more feet strengthening exercises.

The finish - 70.3 miles
4:53.27 - Marni, 2nd AG (I was given 3rd place as I tied with 2nd)
4:30.26 - Karel (3rd AG)

The good - Oh that finish line feeling. I tried to run as hard as I could to the finish line. I wasn't sure what I was chasing but I knew this was going to be a big improvement from last year (5:04). Karel also had a course PR of 2 minutes. I was really proud of myself for the race that I put together and I couldn't wait to get back on the course to cheer for the rest of our athletes. After not recovering so well in the 24 hours post Haines City 4 weeks ago, Karel and I made sure to focus on our hydration and refueling as soon as possible after the race (we neglected to do so in Haines City with over 30 of our athletes on the course). This time I had Osmo pre load right after the race to replenish electrolytes and fluids (I had it in a bag for post race) and then I ate fruit, chips and 2 slices of pizza within 30 min post race. Karel had a chicken and rice dish from the food tent, along with a Mexican coke that he brought for post race.

Lessons learned - In looking back at the race, I don't think I would have done anything differently. My equipment was great, my nutrition went well, my mind was in a good place and physically I felt great all day. I made a huge improvement from last year on this course, I felt strong all day and I had fun racing. I smiled all day and felt like my body worked really well with my body - a great feeling that doesn't always happen in endurance racing.

As always, thanks for the support and for following us along in our adventurous and extreme hobby. Next up.....my favorite race venue ever.....Ironman Austria on July 1st!