Saturday, April 29, 2017

Ironman Texas Race Report: Adam Lee

Utah Tri Buzz reached out to Adam Lee, newly minted Ironman (and recently announced SLTC president) for a race report from Texas.

He obliged, and did not disappoint... enjoy!

On August 18, 2016 at 10:43pm my heart dropped as I half-heartedly submitted the order for my entry into the Memorial Hermann IRONMAN Texas. (Those who know me understand the significance of this date.) Seconds later the vibration of my iPhone rattled the desk with the registration confirmation email – it was done. I did not choose the insurance option as my mind was set. I was determined to complete one of the most difficult physical and mental challenges on the planet, the Ironman – my first. At that point, my longest distances were a 2,000-meter swim, a 100-mile bike ride, and a 13.1-mile run.

Fast forward to April 19, 2017, my training was complete and included over 96,000 meters in the water, over 1,700 miles on the bike, over 200 miles on foot, and hundreds of hours away from my family to prepare. Before I left my home in Utah, I wrote the last of many motivational statements on my mirror – the statement was, “Did you do it Adam?” I knew my family, friends, and colleagues would still love and support me if I did not finish the race, but I also knew the one person I would have to live with every day of my life would remember forever – me.

Pre-race preparation was less stressful because of the experience I gained at the St. George 70.3 event. I was already familiar with the registration process, however as a full IRONMAN first-timer, the race volunteers in the tent ring their cowbells and yell “first-timers,” which prompted a special feeling. Little details like where to place the race stickers and how the gear bags function would not cause any worry. I was confident in my nutrition plan. ProBike Express made transport of all my equipment a breeze and staying at a family member’s house provided the familiar food and environment that I need to stay relaxed. I attended the athlete briefing on Thursday and ran a 5k in the evening to simulate the run time of the IM.

On Friday, April 21st, I swam 1,200 meters at a local country club then hopped on the spin bike for 10 miles to keep my legs loose. Bike check-in was next. This brought some nervous feelings due to a mechanical issue I experienced on the bike at STG on mile 2. Up until this point, my bike and I were not on good terms and had yet to “make up.” So, I clicked through all the gears several times and meticulously checked the torque on every bolt and screw. I dropped off my bike bag and run bag after checking the contents five times, then another four times for good measure. Stepping away from the bags, I gave my bike one last kiss and left the transition area. On the way back to the house I rented a few movies with plans to relax until the following morning. My 1.5 day carb load and pre-race dinner of chicken, salad, two bowls of rice, avocado, brussels sprouts and Gatorade were down the hatch. All systems were ready.

Saturday morning…my first alarm went off, letting me know it’s race day!! The selection of awakening is the pleasant sound of “Earth” from the Man of Steel motion picture soundtrack. Then, I step things up a few notches with my get-up-and-go anthem, “For Those About to Rock (We Salute You),” by AC/DC (I’m not the biggest fan, but I like that song). EDITOR'S NOTE: classic pre-race choice. My wife, Kirsten, already had my standard breakfast ready, consisting of four egg whites, avocado, two pieces of Dave’s Killer Bread, along with coconut oil and Gatorade. Time to put on my smoking hot, neon green SLTC TriKit and grab all my swim gear and race day nutrition. As I made my way out to the car, the weather felt cool with clouds covering the sky.

Kirsten dropped me off at the transition area to fill my bike bottles with nutrition, remove the seat cover and rack ties. I then made the 1-mile walk to the swim start, being sure to slip on my $1 flip-flops only to leave at the start. This setup and walk was not like those of the recent past…I did not have 20 to 100 SLTC members there to keep me loose. Which was in-line with the personal purpose of this event.

The scene was familiar…spotlights shining in my eyes, the portable generators rumbling, the glow of the sun waiting to climb the east horizon accompanied by quiet conversations and a touch of creeping anxiety. I spent the remaining time swinging my arms around and around to get them warm.

The pros dashed into the water at 6:30am sharp and then the rolling wave of black seal suits churned that water. Months of training was about to be tested. I stayed back a few moments to let all the crazies go frantically by, grabbed one last drink of water and entered at 7:00am. As my stroke started to find a good rhythm I anticipated the usual tightening of my shoulders between 400-600 meters. I know it’s coming, but also know it goes away – no biggie. 600 meters passed and I didn’t feel a thing so I pressed on and picked up the pace a little. The two goals I had for the swim were to, of course, make it out before the 2:20:00 cut off and to not stop my stroke during the whole swim – even during spotting or getting hit by fellow seals. 1,000 meters passed, then 2,000 and I was smiling in the water and giving fellow swimmers a thumbs-up as my hand came out of the water. I passed the 3,000-meter mark, then finished the remaining distance up the narrow canal. During the open lake swim, either the buoys were not straight or I wasn’t straight, but I only had to make corrections for going off course a couple times. Back to the canal – by this time I knew I was going to make it and have a lot of juice to spare. Not knowing how the whole day would transpire, I continued my steady stroke and saw the waterfall which signals the exit stairs are near. “Oh my, was that it?? I feel great.” I climbed up the ladder and asked the first person I saw what time it was, the kind soul said 8:40 – YES! I made it. The first portion was done.

Pumped and ready for the bike…I trotted to the bag pick-up and retrieved my goodies. Kirsten and my mom were there and cheered me along. I entered the dark, muddy, locker room (tent) to change after my wetsuit was stripped – I told the excited strippers to settle down as I had to hold my SLTC TriKit around my waste, didn’t want any pictures with the influence of cold water.

I zeroed in on Vader (bike) and asked him to focus on the Force and stay away from the dark side, grabbed my bike and headed toward the mount area. Due to the mud, I spent a couple minutes cleaning off my tires then jumped on and started that spin. Advice I had been given suggested the biggest mistake triathletes make in an Ironman is to go out too fast. So, I listened and kept the heart rate down but noticed the mph was high. I kept passing people and thought to myself – I am going out too fast but I feel fine. This went on until I hit the Hardy Toll road. By then I could tell there was a little tail wind but didn’t know the speed. I was warmed up and thought about all of those SLTC KickrLab hours throughout the winter and knew I could pump those pistons. I was averaging 25-28mph for miles…I was passing several people, which kept my energy high. Then I noticed the pros and all-world athletes coming back up on their loop and could see the body language suggesting a firmer position. I scanned the horizon for flags and couldn’t find one for miles…but I kept the HR just below 150, which was my goal knowing I had a bloody marathon coming up. After about 30 miles I looked over at the loop aide station as a top rider went down hard while grabbing a bottle and it did not look good. That picture in my head kept me away from the aide stations. I did grab a couple waters but had everything I needed on my bike. Well, there is the turnaround – let’s see how bad this wind is. Holy schnikey – this blows, ha ha.

It was not pleasant, I had trouble maintaining 15mph and knew I had approximately 20 miles to go. It was a slow painful drag – like climbing a 20-mile hill. Seeing the turnaround going back south was like Christmas morning. After I pointed my Rudy south, I burned up the pedals and cruised to the last loop knowing the ride back up will be rough. Of course, the wind was worse the second time and I was in the 13-14mph range. Riders had pulled off to the side because it was too much for them. At about mile 80 the bones in the balls of my feet started to hurt – a new pain that progressively got worse. The pain was so bad that I undid both straps on my tri shoes to give me about an inch of up/down play and pulled up the last 10 miles to relieve the pressure on the bottom of my foot. It was at this point the dreaded marathon entered my mind and the pain issue provided additional doubt. My legs were strong and fresh, my lungs and heart were ready for more but the feet said no. Well, I pulled off Hardy Toll road entering the final segment and my family was there cheering me on. The adrenaline and familiar voices reduced the pain and I pushed to the finish – still feeling confident. I hopped off the bike and gave it a big kiss – we are “cool” now – I knew there was good in him. No mechanical issues and all that remained was my body, mind and 26.2 miles. I finished the 112 miles with an 18+mph average.

The run – big sigh. I took my tri shoes off and walked to the bag area with stinging pain in the feet. I heard my uncle Spencer yell, “How are you felling?” I responded with – my feet hurt, but that is enough about me, let’s talk about you, what do you think about me? A little joke to keep my spirits high. I entered the muddier locker room and found cardboard to put under my feel. I grabbed my feet and shifted the bones by grabbing each side and pushing in opposite direction, then I twisted them until I heard a pop and cracked my toes. After I put on my shoes and loaded my bag, I headed out of the tent and started my VivoActive. I told myself, stick to your plan, stick to your plan. The plan was jog 3 minutes and walk 1 minute. Here we go…wow, feet don’t hurt, legs don’t hurt, body feels good. I got to the first aide station as scheduled and hit the next 7 miles without much trouble.

As I made my first loop I asked for the time, the kind spectator said 5:30ish – holy cow I have 6.5 more hours to run 18 miles, I could walk and still make it. After the first lap I finally had to use the bathroom (#1) which seemed like a long time. My stomach, problematic left calf/shin and knee hadn’t given me a thing to worry about. Don’t get me wrong, this was still the longest run I have ever attempted. Being that I only trained up to 13.5 miles (longest distance ever ran prior to race), this distance was extremely taxing and it took a lot to keep going. At this point in the run, I thought to myself, “This is going as planned and I may very well finish.” Then, at mile 13, I felt my left achilles start to tighten up. Of course, I kept jogging and the tightness turned into pain and then turned into, “How in the H-E double toothpicks am I going to finish the remaining 13 miles?!”

Yes, I just got blindsided with an uppercut. I had every emotion flow through me and then I remembered the note I wrote myself on the mirror before I left, “Did you do it Adam?” I thought of all the support the SLTC had given me. I thought of everyone at the office who knew I was taking on this challenge, all my non-tri friends who were following me, my extended family, my children and especially the person who has sacrificed the most – my wife Kirsten. There was NO WAY I was stopping – I told myself this “thing” will have to snap and roll up my calf to make me stop and then I will hop until I can’t hop and then I will crawl until my knee caps shatter. I pressed on for the next 3 miles until my right hamstring tightened up due to my compensation for the left achilles – oh my! Everything is just fine Adam… I think at this point there was a little blubbering or a lot. But I could walk and I had time and it was just pain, after all – I know I could take the pain. So, I walked as fast as I could until I felt like I could jog…then I would stop when it hurt too bad…and so on. Just after this, I saw Kirsten and my mom where I told them what was happening. Looking back, it was eye-opening that when I told them about my issues they simply said, “You only have 10 miles to go, you can make it.” I replied, “I know” (all captured on video).

They told me that they would see me at the finish line. As I walked off, Kirsten said it is ok to walk, which made me want to run – so I did. As I did these run/walk sessions, I always made it a point to give high fives, cheer others on, ask if people were ok who looked hurt or sick, and talked to those who were walking when I was. I took the issue of not being able to stick to my plan and soaked in the lives of all those around me. I ended up with Scott Sporer bib #536 who had both hamstrings tighten up. We chatted for the next 7 miles and learned about each of our families and life – it was great. We pulled each other to the finish line.

Yes, the finish line. I had been dreaming of this moment for months. Every video I had watched on YouTube, every story I head heard, all those in the club who had finished… I couldn’t believe it. As I came around the corner I saw the chute and basically broke down. There was the red carpet…As I got close, I got more emotional and stopped to reach down and touch that magic red carpet. It was really happening…and I had over 2.5 hours to spare. This was the second hardest thing I have ever done in my life – and I loved every minute of it and it can never be taken away.

I will end with how most of these recaps end… I heard my name being called over the speakers loud and clear, “Adam Lee, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN,”

WE did it everyone!

“Take Advantage of Today, it Doesn’t Happen Often.”

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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Do Your Kids Tri??

Has your daughter mastered the flying dismount? Did your son learn the meaning of 2.4/112/26.2 before his multiplication tables? We shouldn't force triathlon on our kids, of course, but why not give them a lil' taste? What a great way to get moving and experience that awesome feeling of accomplishment.

Here Utah Tri Buzz contributor Mandy Oscarson takes a look into some local options for kiddos (and adults) to get involved in the kid triathlon scene.

Think back to your very first race. Think of all the things you had to overcome to get there. You were probably nervous, excited, or maybe totally chill because you had no idea what you’d gotten yourself into. Now remember how you felt when you crossed the finish line. Exhausted, but euphoric at accomplishing something you never thought you could – you were now a triathlete!

The next generation of triathletes are going through the same things you did. Kids these days are tri-ing hard things! Watching those emotions on a child’s face – well, it just gets you right here. No, not the pocketbook. That soft and squishy place that sometimes gets shoved under mounds of paperwork at the office or never-ending chores at home.

Two recent local tris included kids races and as I did some research, I learned there are quite a few options for your budding triathlete. The 14 and under crowd can see what mom and/or dad were talking about with, “killer hills!” and “by the time I get to the run, there’s nothing left!” or even “I’m GOING to be an Ironman!”. Since we don’t see too many race reports on kids’ tris, and since, after all, they are the future of triathlon (and so dang cute!), Utah Tri Buzz decided it was time to highlight the littles!

Ice Breaker

RaceTri’s Ice Breaker, at American Fork Rec Center, had a 100-meter swim, 3 mile bike, and 1 mile run. 14 kids took on the challenge. While waiting to cheer on two of my kids, I learned most of them decided to race the night before (including my daughter) or morning of, one through the prodding of her friends. I talked to her dad before the race started, and asked if he was a triathlete. He said no. So I asked if he was feeling a little nervous for his daughter to participate in something they had never done before. He said no, he’d seen youth get so focused on one sport that they burnt out by high school – which was a shame since they had so much potential. He didn’t want that for his daughter, so he encouraged her to try new things. His philosophy panned out – since his daughter Maddie got first place overall for the females!

Check out RaceTri's Facebook page for more pics!

a kids race podium from Ice Breaker
SHAC Triathlon

The SHAC Triathlon in St. George provided two kids’ races. The kids’ beginner was a 50-yard pool swim, 1-mile bike, and .5-mile run. The Kids Sprint was a 100-yard swim, 2-mile bike, and .75-mile run. 57 kids participated in the beginner race, while 38 toed the line in the kids’ sprint. Utah Tri Buzz contributor Christopher White participated in the adult race and had a chance to interview one of the kids, 10-year old Asarah Kingston (with her dad’s help).

Chris: How many triathlons have you done?
Asarah: Three. South Davis Recreation Center’s two races: Splash n Sprint and Labor Day, and SHAC Tri.
Chris: Why do you do triathlon?
Asarah: Cause it’s good exercise and it’s fun.
Chris: What is your favorite part of doing triathlon?
Asarah: Out of swim bike and run? The bike.
Chris: If your friends wanted to do a triathlon, what would you say to them?
Asarah: I would say that they are really fun and good exercise.
Chris: Anything else you want to say about triathlon? (Dad expanded it to, what’s your goal?)
Asarah: My goal is to be an Ironman one day.

TriUtah – Brineman and Team Kid Courage

For another option for getting kids involved in tri, look no further than TriUtah. The only open water I could find, Brineman will offer a kids’ race “where kids can swim in safe open water of the Stillwater ski lakes and parents can walk alongside them on the shore!” according to Dan Aamodt, race director.

TriUtah also partners with Team Kid Courage (TKC), which is an organization that pairs an athlete with a disabled child so they can experience sporting events (including triathlon, marathons, and cycling). Dan confirmed there will not only be teams from TKC this year, but also from Team Hoyt and Reese Thorne participating at East Canyon, Echo, and Jordanelle.

Heath Thurston, former Utah pro triathlete and current swim and triathlon coach, has been on many of these teams, and had this to say, “Any organization that works to help bring equality to any person of any ability to be able to participate in sport or activities that some people with special needs may not even consider doing… I love being a part of those types of organizations and being around those with special needs always makes my day better and happier. Pushing kids and/or adults with TKC always made me so excited to race and help those that I was pushing to feel the wind and speed that I take for granted sometimes.”

Heath Thurston pushing a kid for Kid Team Courage

Team BAM triathlete Amber Foster also shared her experiences racing with TKC, “As athletes we get so wrapped up in numbers: paces, times, PRs, and finish results. The running races and triathlons that I have pushed these kiddos with disabilities have been some of my sweetest memories in the sport. In these races I forget about the numbers. The race becomes about the person I am pushing… that person that loves to race but couldn't do it without the loaned body of someone else. I have developed some sweet relationships with families that I have come to know through these experiences. In these moments you remember what racing is isn't always about the numbers but more about the love of the sport. I am grateful I have had the sweet opportunity to help these kiddos do what they love as well... racing!!”

Nothing like a pint-sized athlete to help us remember why we do what we do. Here are the deets on how you can get involved with TKC or give your child the gift of tri-ing:
  • Race Tri’s Icebreaker (registration usually opens around November)
  • Shac Triathlon (registration for 2018 opens in Sep 2017)
  • IronKids race St. George 70.3 (just a run, but a fun event crossing the real finish line)
  • Kearns (KOPFC) Cool Kids Tri
  • South Davis Recreation Center 150 yard pool swim, 2.5 mile bike, 1.5 mile run
  • Splash n Sprint May 13, 2017
  • Labor Day Sep 4, 2017
  • TriUtah's Brineman September 16, 2017
Team Kid Courage: Information on their site on how to get involved – either as an adult athlete who can guide disabled kids, or if you’re a parent whose disabled child would love the opportunity to participate in a race.

Stay tuned for Part II!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Train Comin' Throo!! Interview with Local Pro Kathryn Throolin

Get to know Kathryn Throolin, a 3x Kona Qualifying age group terror turned first year pro triathlete. Among other things, here she talks about her first pro race at Oceanside 70.3, the medical breakthrough nurses use to avoid getting sick, and reveals the top secret running partner who has been key to her success.

Thanks for the time, Kathryn, and best of luck this season!

Standard question… what’s your athletic background and how did you get into triathlon?

Growing up my dad took me on many hiking and climbing adventures. These adventures helped me gain endurance and I learned how to push my limits. In high school, I played basketball for a few years, tennis for four years, cross-country for three years and swimming for a year. I love most sports and the mountains. In nursing school, I met my friend Holly who convinced me to sign up for a triathlon once a year. We didn't have bikes, so we would train on stationary bikes at the university gym. Before race day, we would rent a road bike and practice shifting gears. We had a lot of fun racing many local triathlons such as Jordanelle and Cache Valley. And that's how I started my journey into triathlon.

You’ve long been a terror as an age grouper on the local scene. What made you decide to go after the professional ranks, and what was the qualification process of doing so?

Last year at Ironman Boulder & IM Boulder 70.3, I was the second amateur, which qualified me to race as a pro. My goal for a long time was qualifying for Kona. After qualifying three times I wanted a different challenge to help me focus on improving my abilities as a triathlete.

Oceanside being your first pro race, on a scale from 1-100 how nervous were you going into it? Was it a completely different vibe, or just like any other race?

When I saw the list of all the amazing pro triathletes racing, I was super nervous... so 100%. I looked up to a lot of these pros and my bike was right next to them. So I was also super excited just to be around them. The main difference between racing as a pro is that your competitors are super fast! They are super fast on the swim, the bike and the run.

What lessons did you learn from the experience of getting your first race under your belt as a pro?

When I was an age grouper, it was very easy to know where to go... you follow the person ahead of you. However, racing as a pro female I was by myself. This means that I need to learn the course more - where to go, turns in the bike and the swim, etc.

What are the rest of your race plans for 2017, and what are your goals for the season?

My tentative race schedule is Santa Rosa 70.3, Coeur d'Alene 70.3, Ironman Canada, Santa Cruz 70.3 and Ironman Arizona. I hope to gain experience during my first year of racing.

Are you still working full-time? What’s your typical work schedule, and - always wondered this - how do you avoid getting sick all the time working with patients all day? Do nurses simply have the world’s strongest immune systems?

Currently, I work as a full time nurse at Huntsman Cancer Hospital. I don't think nurses have a special secret to staying healthy. They always say good hand hygiene is the key to avoiding being sick.

Coach or self-coached?

My current coach is Malaika, a former pro triathlete.

What are your biggest strengths and weaknesses as a triathlete, and what’s the general plan of attack to continue improving now that you’re a pro?

My biggest strength is my work ethic and resolve to always improve. One of the things I am working on is my open water swimming. The rest of my plan, you would have to interview my coach. I simply execute her plan. :)

What are some of your favorite Utah races and why?

There are so many great local races. As I said earlier, I got my start doing Jordanelle and Cache Valley triathlon. I love St. George 70.3, Kokopelli and Lake Powell triathlons.

Anything else you want to share?

I have a running partner in training. She is a cute, smart, athletic puppy. She is learning how to swim, and may be a future triathlete minus the bike.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Locals at Ironman Texas

Ironman Texas takes place this Saturday. Keep your phone on you to track and cheer on our Utah field, which includes female pro Ashley Paulson. Please let us know if there's anyone we missed!

Good luck all!

Here are a few pics from previous Utah Tri Buzz posts of people racing IMTX:

Hopefully no broken bones this time...

Don't mess with Sam Hobi!!

FPRO Ashley Paulson (2nd from right)

Brice Williams (far left) was the 2nd fastest Utahn (after
Sebe Ziesler) at Kona last year

Kyle Lewis, last year's Utah Tri Buzz M3539 Champ

Russell Baughman (far left) destroyed Oceanside 70.3

here's hoping for better weather than last year!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

St. George Races: Interview with Aaron Metler

Last weekend, Utah Tri Buzz contributor Christopher White traveled to St. George to compete in the Sand Hollow Aquatic Center Triathlon (or SHAC Tri). SHAC has a sprint race, a beginner race and a kid’s triathlon. While there he caught up with Aaron Metler, race director for SHAC and St. George Races for an interview.

How many events does St. George Races do every year?

We do fourteen races a year. We do Lake to Lake Relay, team relays, triathlons, kids races, Fourth of July races. We help the Senior Games, we help out with the St. George Marathon, we help out with Ironman, we try to help out everything in the community.

Specifically what triathlons do you put on?

We do a race in October called the Trick or Tri, one in April called the SHAC Tri and the Road Rage Duathlon in February. 

How long has the SHAC Triathlon been running?

I’ve been here nine years and I’ve done it all nine years. They did it three years before that so about 12 years.

What is your favorite part of being a race director?

I just love seeing people achieve their goals and come through the finish line. Even just beginners. Especially SHAC you see families come out together, the parents doing the sprint, somebody doing the beginner, the kids doing the kids race, bringing the whole family together. Having it all oriented around fitness, I think it’s amazing. It’s cool to see that happen here in beautiful St. George.

What do you do yourself? Do you run, do triathlon?

Yeah, of course, if you’re going to work in this kind of industry you have to do something and be a crazy athlete yourself. I do running but I envy the triathletes who do swimming biking and running. I can just do one of them. I do run, I do marathons and like to train that way.

Ever do a triathlon yourself?

No triathlons yet (raucous laughter from both of us). I have to learn to swim better and bike better.

What is the most inspirational story you have heard as a race director?

There’s been a ton. When you do 14 races a year for nine years you see a lot of inspirational stories. In the SHAC tri, we had a special needs athlete who couldn’t run but his dad pulled in a boat in the pool, pushed him in a wheelchair in the bike and same thing for the run. Stuff like that is inspirational to see. People of all abilities out there trying to finish and trying to be a part of everything. We love supporting that and having that here at our events. That and many other inspirational stories. The average every day athlete coming out and competing is a sensational accomplishment we think. We give finisher medals to everybody for that reason.

Last question, the bulk of triathletes in Utah live up on the Wasatch Front. Why should they come down to St George to do your races?

It’s beautiful here. We have the weather. In October we do our triathlon, Salt Lake is getting snow, usually, even in April. It’s a great weekend road trip. I feel like we can offer something unique with the red rock and the scenery and the great weather. It’s a fun experience to get out of town a little bit. Salt Lake to St. George is not long enough for really traveling but you still get a vacation feel. It’s kind of a fun road trip. Actually most of our racers, about 75% are from up north.

Thanks, Aaron for the interview and for the great race.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Oceanside 70.3 Race Report Part II: Bee STING

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee... pretty much sums it up! Andrew Hall was the fastest age grouper (non-professional) at Oceanside 70.3, finishing with a blistering 4:18.

Here is his report.

Last time I was in Oceanside, I was on spring break in college on a much different mission. It was one of those trips where we couldn’t make it from the rental house to the beach without someone puking in the car. Celebrating Saturday night after the race with the Salt Lake Tri Club was just as wild and will be more memorable!

My trip started with a nice brunch and coffee in Newport Beach, one of my wife’s and my favorite places to vacation. Then I got to be the passenger on the scenic drive down to Oceanside. Wow Oceanside – I’m not sure if it was the bright sun or the excitement from the village. I soaked it all in and started getting excited for the race the following day. I was ready to kick off the triathlon season! But after dropping off my bike in transition, my race was almost cut short. I was hit by a speeding car in the parking lot at the Pro Bike Express trailer. Luckily my backpack took the brunt of the impact from the car mirror, and only my wits were shaken :).

The race morning was like any other triathlon: a little chilly and I was running late. Ironman TV caught me darting through the transition area to give my wife my down jacket and morning clothes bag; she wanted the jacket due to the crisp temperature of 48 degrees. Of course, I didn’t have any time to warm-up, but isn’t the swim just a warm-up in a 70.3? I found my buddies at the front of the race pack and had them zip me up. I was probably about the 30th or so athlete to start the swim. It felt great: visibility was clear, water temperature was comfortable, the group I was with was about the same ability. But of course my right goggle fills up with water immediately. It’s a good thing we have two eyes. I just kept the right one closed for the next 29 minutes. I was happy with my swim time at 28:43, which was my 2nd fastest in a 70.3 race and I thought It was my weakest leg going into the event. I had a great T1 passing people on my way to my bike.

My goals were to keep a target power of about 85% of my FTP, pick off the top swimmers and pros ahead of me, and hold off Rory Duckworth. Well, not all of those happened. Around mile 35, I dropped another age grouper I had been trying to catch for 10 miles, but then I saw a shadow coming up on me. It was Rory and he yells at me, “hop on the train! It’s coming through!” Thank you for the motivation buddy. I was able to keep him within a minute or two for the final 20 miles, but I was going to blow myself up trying to keep his pace. Shortly after being passed by the freight train, I caught Skye Moench, a local pro woman. When I ran into her at the village the day before, we both agreed to a similar game of seeing who could hold the other one off the longest.

You probably know how the run went. When they released the bib list I noticed there was a Christopher Hammer registered right below me: Hall, Hammer. I have never been able to win a race against Chris Hammer. I know he is a faster cyclist and runner than me, but I was hoping to at least run with him and have a good battle running myself into the ground trying to stay with him. Even though Chris Hammer didn’t end up competing in Oceanside (editor's note: Chris instead went to Australia and won an ITU race), I was mentally prepared for the effort to beat him, so why not run my brains out and see how I do? I turned my focus to catching Rory Duckworth and other age groupers in front me.

I had 13.1 miles, but with a two minute deficit leaving T2, I decided I might as well do it right away and set the tone to win this race. I started aggressive and caught up with Rory just after the first mile which I covered in about 5:20. I was excited with how spectator friendly the course was and motivated by the encouragement from my wife, friends, club members and the crowd! I usually hear some splits and comments like “you’re looking strong!”. But I think this run just shocked people. I felt like I was on Baywatch running into the ocean to save a swimmer. People’s jaws were dropping and I heard yells like, “now that is a pace!” or “oh my god, look at that guy go!” With 5K to go I think I might have this race wrapped up, but I’m not turning down the pace. 

chip time 4:18:02

I passed Heather Jackson and think “You got 3rd at Kona!” and Heather Wurtle “You won Ironman St George 70.3!” I admit, I like to complete against women or anyone who is one of the best in the world at their sport. My wife teases me that I could go pro if I was a woman, but I really do enjoy the equality in triathlon. It doesn’t matter if you’re a man, woman, or para-athlete, you have the opportunity compete against one another and be on the same stage with the same prize money. You don’t see that in a lot of sports.

Finish line and time to celebrate! I can’t recommend this race enough. It was a fun and challenging course and the race had great energy. I appreciate my number one supporter, my wife, for making me feel like #1 no matter how I do and the Salt Lake Tri Club Members and friends who I had a fun weekend hanging out and racing with! See you in St. George.