Monday, July 3, 2017

2017 Ironman 70.3 Coeur d'Alene

Well, CDA 70.3 is done and it was great to go back and re-do a course from last year.

Going into the day, I really didn’t feel on top of things.  By the numbers, I was in a good place, with some improvements over last year and consistent training.  But somehow, I just didn’t feel nearly as ready or confident as I did last year, and I knew that would play a big part!

Regardless, race week crept up, and finally Mac and Kyle were in town for a couple days, before we all headed over to Coeur d’Alene.  It was great to spend some time all together, and we even stayed at the same house we stayed at in 2015 for my full!  So, that was kinda cool.

One slight wrench in the works was Friday, after arriving in town and stopping by packet pickup and the expo, I realized I suddenly didn’t have my wallet!  I knew I had it with me at the expo, and knew that I had been juggling things at the coffee shop on the walk back to the house, and there I was at the house…with no wallet.

Well, after frantically running up and down Sherman a couple times, stopping inside every shop and asking if anyone had turned in a wallet, and sitting on the phone cancelling all my cards, I opened up facebook messenger to text Mac…and saw I had a pending message request from someone I didn’t know.  I vaguely remembered seeing some sort of a “request” notification from a name I didn’t recognize, while running around and trying to text Allen who was also helping me look, but now that I opened it up… it was the lady who had found my wallet!  She looked me up on facebook and messaged me, saying she had found my wallet and asking how she could return it to me!

We headed over to her house, and I was exceedingly grateful to get my wallet and ID back.  Kind of a bummer I had already cancelled everything, but it was still really, really good to have it all back (especially my ID) and know that no one had my information!

Needless to say, that evening’s shakeout run did not happen.  Instead, met up with Doris and Mac and Kyle we all went to dinner (which took five years, thank you very much).

The next day was a quick spin, a swim with coach (and Katie and Mel, who had all just gotten into town), a whole lot of lazing around in bikinis in the sunshine (and getting sunburnt), and a quick little run.  By then it was later in the afternoon and it was getting really hot, and my stomach didn’t feel good and running just felt AWFUL.  I tried to ignore it, and just chalked it up to the day.  After prepping everything else and setting an early, 3:45am alarm, it was bedtime!

Race morning quickly arrived, and I quickly had my bagel and coffee.  We made it out the door on time, at around 4:20am, and walked down together to transition.  It was super quick setting up transition, and we all met up outside, along with Shawn and Laurie (and later joined by Jenny).  Found Doris again, as well as Devon, who was doing his first 70.3 ever (and ended up finishing 16th overall, including beating 1/3 of the male pro field, so don’t you go calling him a rookie).  Bathroom breaks (the line to the real bathroom was shorter than the line to the porta-potties, always), photos, and wrigging into wetsuits…finally it was time to head down to the beach!

After pushing and funneling through to the entrance to the beach, we managed to find Mac and Kyle, which was excellent, and then found Rebecca as well.  Not sure how we always manage to find each other, in a sea of black neoprene (seriously, everyone looks IDENTICAL)..but it always works out.

The Pros were off, and soon it was the AG start.  With the rolling start, it takes some time to get everyone into the water, and they seemed to only be letting a small group of a few athletes at a time—even fewer than last year!  I’d say it took around 10-15 minutes (lining up in the 30-35 min group), but finally we were let into the chute and it was time to go!

Swim – 38:02 (22 AG)

As always, my swim was woefully underwhelming.  Nevertheless, I jumped in and got on Allen’s feet. This lasted all of 10 seconds, as his feet quickly sped up ahead and I lost them in the distance.  Meh.  That was nice while it lasted.

Things were pretty chill, and it was nice to not be fighting with people the whole time.  This further highlights the question of WHY WAS EVERYONE SWIMMING ON TOP OF ME.  Seriously.  It’s not that I got hit or smacked, it was just swam on top of.  A lot.  Like, hello, there’s an entire lake, why are you rubbing shoulders and why are you now veering into me and now why are you on top of me?!  Very odd.

I did feel I swam well, in the sense that it “felt” good.  I felt comfortable in my wetsuit, and my body was moving the way it should.  I was actually gliding, I could feel my extension and reach, and I was breathing well.  That doesn’t mean I swam fast, it just means that some of these form things I’ve been working on are starting to stick.  Which is good, I guess.  Although I’m ready for them to start making me faster :)

In any case, before the start we were looking at the buoys and I thought oh, nice.  That doesn’t look too far.  It’s actually nice to see it all laid out, it really makes it seems so close together!  The second I got into the water, then glanced up the first time to sight, that quickly changed.  There was yellow buoy after yellow buoy after yellow buoy.  The line of yellow buoys disappeared into the horizon, with no red turn buoy in sight.  Sigh.

So I started counting buoys, saw they started at 8 and were counting down.  I started to veer off course, I started to correct it.  So many people were swimming inside the buoy line that there was actually a lot of space on the outside, too.  I spent a lot of time thinking about how it felt like it was taking a really long time…but I did, finally, make it to the turn buoy.  Hooray!

Turn buoys are always messy, and this was no exception.  Once we turned it was straight into the sunshine, so I just tried to kinda follow people, and look to the sides a lot.  Suddenly, there was a girl in a Roka wetsuit next to me, and one breath, as I turned and looked—I recognize those earrings.  THAT’S MAC!  It’s insane to me that we actually saw each other in the swim, because usually it feels like once you get into the water it’s this mass of water and humans and wetsuits and no one knows what’s going on and it’s all a mystery until you get out of the water and suddenly you recognize your life again…but it was Mac!

So, that as cool.

We kinda lost each other again, but then it was time to turn again and head back to the shore, thank goodness, FINALLY…And thus began my demonstration of How Not to Swim Back to Shore on the CDA Swim Course.

Ok, so I’ve swam that course 4 times in the last 3 years.  (2 laps for the full in 2015, 1 lap for the half in 2016, 1 lap this time.)  You’d think by now I’d know how to swim back in but I cannot for the LIFE of me swim back to the swim out without veering wildly off course to the right.

My going theory is that with the sun rising over Tubbs hill and the resort, it seems like you should be able to sight off your right shoulder and swim parallel but IT’S NOT.  I spent the entire time feeling like I was swimming to the left, then looking up and realizing I was pointed 30 degrees to the right of where I needed to go.

So that was annoying, and maybe someday I’ll learn, but just not in 2017.

I went back to counting buoys, and was immensely bored because swimming is just really boring, man.

But at long last, I finally reached the very last buoy, and started hearing the deafening cheers from the crowd on shore.  My absolute favorite part!  LIFE outside the swim.  Life—and now it’s time to BIKE!!!

As I got nearer to shore, I swam up to a guy in a Roka.  Hah, so funny I saw Mac.  Wouldn’t it be funny if I saw Kyle?  I wonder where he is?!  I swam past this guy, and tried to get a good look, but as mentioned previously—everyone really looks the same in a wetsuit, doubly so when you’re actually swimming and you only get a half-submerged view of them every 10 seconds while you’re really just trying to take a breath of air.  But now I was next to another guy, and as we both took a breath, THAT IS KYLE!  I recognized the goggles, which I have never seen anyone else wear, and I was 99.9% positive it was him.

Anyway, that gave me enough incentive to give it one last push for the last few meters back to shore.  There’s the ground.   There’s the ground.  Almost…. And UP!

Scrambling up out of the water is literally my favorite part of the swim, and as I lapped my garmin (38 minutes, meh, sounds like a normal slow Rosanne swim), it was time to leave that behind and focus on the fun stuff.

T1 – 2:46

Trying to carefully take my wetsuit sleeve off over my Garmin (hard to do, especially while trying to run and watch where I’m going, apparently), and I realized there were wetsuit strippers!  Was not expecting that.  Sure I don’t need it, but it sure is nice! I ran to the end, they were patient as I finally got my sleeve over my watch (“oh yeah, careful, don’t hurt anything!”) and that sucker was off in an instant.  Maybe that’s why I like wetsuit strippers—the sooner that thing is off (no more swimming!), the better!

Trotted back to transition, and was very happy that the in/out was swapped this year!  Everything flowed soooo much better, and I was able to run straight down the side along the edges, down to my bike.

Seemed to take forever to get my shoes on, but I had a pretty good, quick time.  Helmet on, bike garmin on, shoes on, GO!

Trotted around and down a curb (?) but finally the mount line was there and with very graceful plop on the bike (read: very not graceful) I was off!

Bike – 2:49:25 (6 AG)

OK.  On the bike.  Finally where I feel like I belong.

Right at the bike out, I heard a shout, and knew it was Monica!  She had mentioned trying to be there by the end of the swim, so yay!  Also got a huge “go Wattie!!!!” cheer from someone wearing a HIT squad t-shirt, right as I was starting, so that was pretty cool too :) I kept my eyes peeled for the rest of the Inertia Performance group, but didn’t see them… Figured they must still be at the swim out (and I must have missed them) somewhere.

Anyway, started weaving through town, and shaking things out.  The first miles are always odd—turns and neighborhoods, and everyone is still trying to figure out how to pace etc so there was a lot of going back and forth with people.  An official on a motorcycle hung out with me for a bit, and so – as always – I tried to off-set where I was riding and not get too close, although it’s always hard to do RIGHT at the beginning of the bike!

I started seeing straggling pro men, and the lead pro women, coming back towards me.  I kept my eyes peeled, and spotted Alycia!  I think I yelled at her.  In any case, I realized that meant it was time to keep watch for Kyle.  I wasn’t exactly sure where he was.  I wasn’t positive that had been him in the water, and even if it was, I wasn’t sure if he would be ahead or behind me by the time we were out of transition.  I did spot Doris climbing back up near Bennet Bay hill, and my math to the turn-around told me she was 6 minutes ahead.

Suddenly, I saw a patriot kit with white helmet whiz past me, going the opposite direction, before I had time to really register it.  Without time to get a better look, I tried to remember what Kyle had settled on wearing, since he had gone back and forth over the last few days.  I also saw Allen, and was happy he was ahead meaning he must have had an awesome swim!

As I approached the turn-around I started scanning for Kyle, and when I didn’t see him on my tail, I figured the Patriot kit I saw must have been him.

OK, so he’s just ahead of you; just keep it steady and it’ll all settle down and shake itself out once we hit 95.

I saw Mac, we waved, and I put my head down to get back into town.

When suddenly, approaching the golf course, I heard a “well, look who turned into a swimmer!” as Kyle pedaled past me.

I laughed, because I’m definitely  not a swimmer and a 38 minute swim does not qualify as turning into one, but hey, now I knew exactly where he was! ;) Although I was then a little annoyed, because I would have pushed a little more had I known he was right behind me (I must have just missed him), rather than settling in and getting ready for the longer climbs of highway 95.  Oh well.

We yo-yo’ed a couple times, before he pulled away a bit.  I kept him in sight, ish, but didn’t worry about catching him yet. As we turned back into town, I was slightly annoyed that this now meant that I was ahead of him out of the swim, but now already everyone would see him coming back in first..but, no matter.

I love love love the sprint down Lakeside Ave, as it’s about 6 blocks of straight, slightly downhill road with all of the crowds on either side screaming at you.  I heard Monica shouting for me, then a few blocks later there was an absolute roar erupting from the sidewalk, and I saw everyone decked out in their Inertia Performance sweatshirts, as they all jumped up and down and generally gave me way more enthusiasm than I probably deserved :) Totally made me smile, and definitely fueled me!

I turned the corner, and knew it was about time to really start this race.  Another few blocks to go, and we’d be turning on 95 and it would be time to put in the work.

Going over the bridge was easy-peasy, no wind to worry about.  Crossed the bridge, and—Whaaaaaat, what is this?!?!

I did a double-take.  The road… had been re-paved.

The road had been re-paved, starting after the bridge, and it was the most magical repaved road you have ever seen.  I think I actually laughed out loud, in sheer delight.  I kept looking ahead, thinking it was just a patch, but no, it stretched for a few miles and it was honestly one of the most fun sections of road I’ve ever ridden on. Smooth like butter and so, so, SO fast.  Like, we’re talking 95W and 25mph on a slight incline, FAST.  Of course, road like that just makes you WANT to ride harder and faster and more aggressively, so I took that momentum while I had it and had so much fun in the process.  I know everyone else was doing the same, so it’s not like I was gaining much, but MAN it was fun.

I was sad when that glorious road ended, and it was back to normal highway ‘meh,’ but that also meant it was time to start climbing.  Bring it, Mica.

The best thing (ok, ONE OF the best things) about the CDA course is that I’ve now ridden it in training, in the full Ironman, and in the previous years’ 70.3, which means I have layer and layers of memories associated with various portions of the course.  There’s a little driveway before hitting the beginning of Mica which will forever be That Place I Stopped to Get my Chain Back On for the First Time during Ironman, which is also, Last Year When I Remembered This Spot.  Luckily, no repeat of chain issues, still (knock on wood) and I happily began the ascent.

Off in the distance, I recognized a HIT squad kit, with what looked like a yellow helmet.  That was good—someone easily identifiable to chase and catch, plus then I could see who it was.  I also spotted Kyle, who was making his way to the HIT squad kit, although it looked like he would catch up first.  Good.  Carrots.

I climbed, I ate, I watched my power numbers (more out of curiosity than anything, and was satisfied seeing they seemed steadily higher than last year).  I kept my head up and focused on whether I was gaining on Kyle enough, and if I would catch him before the top.  HIT squad kit was getting closer.  Focus, Rosanne!

I got closer, knew I was catching up to Kyle, looked back to the yellow helmet… and it suddenly hit me that it was Allen!!  I have no idea how it didn’t register before.  I think because I had seen him previously, I forgot I still needed to pass him ;) and for some reason I just didn’t even put it together.

In any case, as soon as I realized it was him, I pushed just a tad harder, to make sure I could catch up quickly.  I did, we chatted briefly, and I set off to go catch Kyle, who at this point was getting closer and closer.  I could see the top of the main part of the ascent coming, but I figured by now I should be able to reach him before he reached the top.

Like the jerk that I am, I snuck up on him and said “hey, nice mountain goat tattoo” (…since obviously mountain goats are good at climbing…and I’m a jerk like that…) and kept going.  I knew I could get time on him going uphill, but there was no way I could keep up on the downs, so I just tried to get as much as I could.  Since we were nearing the top, I knew there wouldn’t be much time, but at this point it was more about getting back up there and reminding him I was still there and chasing.

As expected, he quickly caught and passed me as the road flattened out.  Actually, to clarify, what really happened is that I quickly felt a shoulder ride up and lean up alongside me, as he intentionally grazed me and made some smart-alek comment ;) You know you have a friend out there, when they know they can sneak up from behind and push you sideways, while you’re both in aero, and no on freaks out and crashes.  Who said triathletes don’t have bike handling skills?

For the next 10 or so miles, we passed each other back and forth—I’d take the lead on the climbs, he’d fly past me downhill (or on the flats), but at least I kept him in sight.  I did, however, realize that this was rapidly going to turn into a foot race, since we were both riding relatively equally, and we would likely come in to T2 within a couple minutes of each other at this rate.

Back and forth, I did notice him soft-pedalling at times, and he mentioned something about his leg.  Again, like the jerk that I am, I continued to crack jokes about him being a slow old man (which I think some other people heard, and hopefully they could tell I was joking?).  Back and forth.  At least it kept me engaged!

Coming over another bridge as we got closer to the turn-around, the wind picked up, and it picked up QUICK.  I swear, one side of the bridge was perfectly wind-free, then halfway through it started gusting like crazy.  A huge crosswind came through and grabbed my wheel, causing me to swerve and teeter precariously.  Shaken, I made it to the other side of the bridge into the relative safety of the highway, but from that point forward, I could feel the wind around me.

Some guy asked if we were almost to the turnaround, and I told him “yup, it’s coming up!”  Though really, I’m not sure what else he expected me to say.  No?  And what qualifies as “almost to the turnaround?”  And what difference does it make?  And it’s going to be 56 miles so…the turnaround will come when it comes?

Anyway.   As I sat there contemplating the turnaround location, which I knew was somewhere up ahead—at the top of this hill; oh no, maybe the next hill; oh yeah, I forgot about this one, must be the next… – I saw Doris coming back towards me.  I had seen a few others at this point (Alycia again, and Devon) but as I made it to the blessed turnaround, I calculated she had 4 minutes on me.  So, I was gaining, but not by much, and I likely wouldn’t catch her on the bike.

Saw Kyle coming up to the turnaround, pretty hot on my tail.  I knew there was some downhill, and expected him to come rushing past me at any moment.  Saw Mac, Allen and even Rebecca (although I don’t remember what order or even where, exactly), and tried to amuse myself by watching the stream of athletes.

Although this time, I was a bit more distracted, because the swirling wind was still pushing me around.  I reached the bridge where it had hit me 20 minutes earlier, braced for the side winds, and waiting for the winds to drop as I continued on… but, no such luck.  It was time to accept that the winds of the day were picking up, and there was nothing to do other than stay in aero and try to slice through.

Last year, there was a very slight headwind heading back to T2.  This year, it was a legit headwind, and I dejectedly saw my speed dropping, and suddenly that 2:40 split was slipping away.

I wish I could say I stayed strong out there, but I always seem to break around the 40-ish mile point.  Maybe I need to fuel more, or maybe I just need to suck it up and be prepared to fight through it, but I was tired.  I was tired, and my watts were low, and I just wasn’t inspired to push it anymore.  Suddenly, I was being passed right and left (ok, passed on the left, but it sounds better to say ‘right and left’) and I could not for the life of me motivate myself to lay down a chase.  My back and shoulders were really, really aching, and the wind was only making me more dejected.

Hmph.  These races are the worst.

I pushed on, less enthusiastically than I should, but at last I saw Mica up ahead.  I didn’t fully get a second wind, but I was much more motivated once I got there because you really are getting close—it’s just a big climb, a biiiiiiig descent, then a few rollers and turns before getting back into town.  Inspired by this, I booked it down the last descent before the climb, aiming to get as much momentum as I could.

As I started up Mica, another lady rolled up alongside me.  “You are a BEAST!” she gushed.  “Nice work!!”

I smiled, said thanks..but wondered how much of a beast I was if she was passing me uphill…  Although I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t at least a little proud, since it meant my descents were getting much better, and my more aggressive riding was paying off (even dejectedly, I could still fake it, I guess).

Plus, it’s a long enough climb that eventually I caught back up to her, passed her (as she again said something nice about “go catch those boys!”), and was ready to take on the last few hurdles of the bike course.

First up: the huge descent down Mica.  They had new signs up in a few areas, specifying no passing (I think those were there before, but there were more this time), and “no aero bars” (which I had never seen before).  Not like you have to tell me twice; I could never stay in aero down that descent to save my life (well, technically speaking, I get OUT of aero to save my life, because I’m pretty sure I’d die if I tried to stay down on the bars.  But, I digress.)

Anyway, I tried to not ride my brakes but MAN that descent creeps me out.  My feeling of improvement kind of disappeared after this, but whatever.  I let a couple people by (sorry for being slow!) but thankfully I made it down.

Time to get these last little pitches done and over with—and was rewarded with that silky smooth pavement once more!  SCORE.  I had totally forgotten about that.  Zipped along, up down, around the turn (which I now had to brake on, since I carried way too much speed, thanks to that pavement!) and over the bridge.

Back into town.  I glared down at my Garmin, showing I was already over 2:45 (which was last years’ time).  Stupid wind!  Pedal pedal, I was looking forward to the cheers and the enthusiasm of the crowds, knowing I was about to rely on them for the run. I sadly did not see anyone I recognized, but figured I’d see them soon enough on the run.

A slightly different turn back into transition, and the dismount line really crept up on me.  Some chick in my age group passed me right as we rolled up to it, what the heck!  Quick brake, hop off the bike, and scamper off into transition.

T2 – 1:46

I haphazardly ran through the pro racks, noting how disheveled things looked.  It’s so funny how pre-race, everyone’s stuff is laid out so neat and precisely…but mid-race you see half the bikes there, half of them gone, shoes and helmets and wetsuits everywhere.

In any case, I got back to my rack and saw the two girls on either side were already back (no surprises there).  One girl had even conveniently racked her bike at a 45 degree angle sideways in my spot, so that her front wheel was literally on top of my running shoes and it was very much impossible to get my bike racked.  I unceremoniously shoved her bike over (although I was admittedly gentler than she deserved, but I mean, bike), racked, and actually for once took my helmet off first?! 

I think because of the new helmet with the flip up sunglasses shield, it makes things easier to take off vs like usual, when I leave my helmet on.  Are the days of wondering if I’ll get onto the run course with my helmet still on over?

New Xtenex so nice.  After 8 months of not having them on, it was soooooo nice to slide on my shoes and GO.  I shoved a gel into my pocket and clipped my number on as I ran, and bolted out of there.

Run – 1:42:02 (8 AG)

Luckily, they seemed to have learned since last year, and not only made the run start a lot more obvious (I knew when to lap my garmin this time, yay!) but also didn’t flow quite so strangely.  Well, that’s lie, it definitely was an odd flow of looping around a parking lot and through crosswalks to get to the park, but it was different than last year and maybe it was just marked more clearly and felt like an actual course—not like just running on a sidewalk and hoping you’d find the course.

This always feels phenomenally slow and phenomenally difficult, especially since there is the tiiiiiniest littlee incline.  Of course, I glanced down and saw 6:15 so I tried not to think about it and just calm the heck down, and figure out what I was doing.  For the number of triathlons I’ve done, you’d really think I would know that when you get off the bike it feels all ‘off’ and you just need to CALM DOWN.  But, no.  I think biking leaves you in this state of general fogginess, and the legs just go into auto-pilot overdrive trying to FIGURE. IT. OUT.

Anyway.  Turned into the park, and immediately heard wild cheers, and looked up to see Ellen!  I was impressed she even recognized me in my disheveled stated, but was so happy to hear friendly cheers!  I turned and saw some sign that had something to do with Christmas, and what is going on, suddenly I was in the BEST AID STATION EVER!  It was Christmas-themed, and everyone was wearing Christmas elf costumes and basically it really gave me the smack in the head I needed (figurative, not literal) to try to get into the Run mindset.

Weaving through the park, I looked for people I knew.  Monica appeared, as always, which was just what I needed.  She yelled really earnestly about how I looked “so skinny!” which totally made me laugh!

Rounding the corner, through the streets and down through the aid station, I was still trying to figure out exactly how I felt.  My legs were coming around and I was trying to settle down, when suddenly I saw a guy running at me and realized it was, of course, my coach!  Shawn had a huge grin on his face, ran through the entire station straight at me, yelled “Alright, time to WORK!!!!” and gave me the biggest high five as we crossed paths.

Alright Rosanne… time to work.

I wasn’t sure if I could really feel it; wasn’t sure if I had that ‘time to work’ mentality going, but I tried.  About halfway down Lakeshore Dr, I saw Katie and yelled at her asking if she wanted to run for me… of course, she took that as an invitation to run with me, which of course was great, but not quite the same as trading places and letting her run in my place ;)  We ran and she chatted and said she’d run the next half mile or so with me to find Mel on the course. 

But I could distinctly tell that I was not “working."

It just wasn’t there.  Somehow, that spark and push wasn’t there and my stride was just a little too tight.  I knew it wasn’t going to happen. 

Meanwhile, Katie was talking and telling me I was looking good, and exclaimed “you’re running so fast!”  Of course, she said this right as we were coming up behind some other guy, who turned, and quickly laughed, saying “oh, I thought you were talking to me!!  I was going to say thank you!”  We assured him he was also running quite well, and I was happy at least she thought I was fast, though I was already seeing 7:40 with no sign of improvement. I tried to push it and keep it going but those 7:20s were just not coming to me, and if they weren’t coming to me now, a mile and a half in (enough of warm up, but not tired yet), there was no way it was going to get any faster.

Mel was up ahead, and Katie dropped off and doubled back, as Mel yelled encouragement as I passed.  Through the neighborhoods, always hoping to settle deeper into my groove of working hard.  Don’t get me wrong, I was working—but it wasn’t that settled-in, pushing the pace kind of work.  It was more of a “ugh, but I’m tired and just wanna take a nap, I don’t wanna move any faster” kind of work, which is really not the kind of work you want to be doing in a race.

I started wondering where Kyle was.  All I could really do was keep going, and see at the turn-around if I could find him.  My only thought was that the hills plus the wind was enough to wear him down, so hopefully I had enough of a lead that my run would survive.  Unfortunately, not even that really got my pace to improve.

Nevertheless, I kept trying, and I did get a few comments as I passed guys who were taking up the ENTIRE space in the road.  I started seeing the female pros coming back in, and started looking for Alycia.  I saw Devon, and we waved and as always, the familiar faces help perk you up—the best part of this run course is that you are basically just doing huge out-and-backs, so you see everyone on course the entire time.  Finally saw Alycia, yelled at her to PICK IT UP, and then tried to tell myself to pick it up, too.

First turn around was coming up.  I saw Doris!  Now only about 2 minutes ahead.  I made it my goal to try to catch her, mostly to trick myself into running faster (spoiler: it didn’t work).  I ran back up past the aid station, and someone yelled “OH hi Rosanne!!!” and I was thrilled to see it was Jessie, who I didn’t know (or likely just didn’t remember) would be there.  I saw Carly, who I had passed earlier, and we exchanged cheers and high fives whenever we saw each other.  I saw Rebecca and her orange ice cream hat; I saw Robin at some point.  So, at least I was soaking in the excitement of finding people.

But still, I just didn’t feel like I was really running.

As I wound back into the neighborhood, I saw Mac… She held her hand out for a high-five, and yelled out “Kyle collapsed off the bike, he’s in the med tent now!”

The high five was great, but that news was not.  I’ve known Kyle long enough by now to know what that means, and the fact that Mac was still running (and not in the med tent with him) was encouraging, but I was sad to hear he was no longer in it.  I was selfishly bummed that it meant I didn’t get to race him, too.  I ran along wondering if he was really ok, and not really knowing what the deal was, but comforted by the fact that he had at least made it safely to the med tent.

Thankfully, Mel was up ahead, and I ran at her with my hands in the air and mouthing “Mac said- ” to which she yelled “he got his nitro, he is stable, Katie is with him!” which was just enough for me know that things were at least ok for now and Katie could keep things under control.  As bummed as I was, there was nothing me worrying about it would do, and the best I could do was just finish this thing.

Run back through the rest of the neighborhoods, aid station and towards the park was relatively boring.  I knew the park would help amp me up a bit again, and was looking forward to some friendly faces.  As I rounded a corner, I totally missed Monica—and apparently she did too, because I heard a “OH, Rosanne! YOU RAN RIGHT PAST ME HEY!”

I was passed by another female pro, and jealously watched her cross to the “To Finish” lane, while I ducked into the “2nd Lap” Lane… I was not feeling awesome, but just as I was about to run under the overpass, I heard my name as Ellen was enthusiastically cheering for me, which again forced me to smile and wave, happy for the support.  I hit the sidewalk with the Christmas Aid Station up ahead, and merged traffic with everyone else just starting their first lap.  Ohhhhh boy.

This is not to say anything bad about those people, other than the fact that suddenly the path was a LOT more crowded, and they were also still in the dazed state I had been in 6.5 miles ago, where nothing makes sense and you’re left wondering how to put one foot in front of the other (and also why, exactly, you’re doing this).

But I weaved through, and managed to get out of the park.  I was a little sad not to see Laurie or anyone else, though at this point I was mostly wondering how I was going to get through another entire lap of this with my times still seriously slipping.

Somehow, there was nothing truly noteworthy about this lap.  I think I blocked it out.  All I know is I did NOT want to run, I felt like I couldn’t run, and try as I might to get my legs to move faster and push it a bit, I just…couldn’t.

I continued seeing people.  I saw Allen once or twice more.  Mac yelled at me and told me in her sternest teacher voice to go catch Doris, but unfortunately I’m like the disappointing little kid because that never happened.  I broke down and tried some coke (which also meant stopping to walk a few steps, which I haaaate) at probably 3 aid stations, but I’m not sure it it just annoys me that I slow down.  I think it’s really an excuse to walk, though; I should stop that.

I tried, I tried, I was exceedingly frustrated that this run was NOT going according to plan and I did NOT feel like a very good athlete at all, but at long lost I finished the out-and-back, headed back, and found myself running up the last few blocks towards the hill.  Someone sprayed me with the water (which felt AMAZINGGGGG) and as I emerged from this glorious, heavenly bath of water, I saw Shawn and Laurie and Gentry (and probably more people but it was a little hazy at that point) standing on the corner all yelling and screaming at me.  Man do those guys know how to make me feel less lame about myself!

I turned into the park, and immediately heard my name, and saw Jennie running at me!!!  I was so excited to see her on the run course, and really happy to see that she looked so happy as well (although I did not envy that she was starting out and was going to have to deal with the rapidly increasing temperature)!

Thankfully, just like last year, the energy of the crowds through the park really does carry you, and I soaked up every bit of it.  Happily crossing over the overpass this time, I once again saw Ellen and was super happy to give one last wave.  And of course, as I ran up past Vault, there was Monica, yelling and cheering, and also pointing out the glitter in the street, which she had obviously put out just for me.  In hindsight, I’m really not sure what the glitter thing was about, but I did briefly register the glitter and it totally made me laugh (and took my mind off the fact I still had like 5 too many blocks to run), so it was appreciated none the less.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again—there is nothing like a Coeur d’Alene finish line.  Even with a shorter run down Sherman than for the 2015 full, those last few blocks are utterly fantastic.  The glittering lake below, red ironman carpet an finish line welcoming you, as the streets are lined with people watching and cheering.  I’m pretty bummed that this is the last year they are doing the full, and I will 100% admit that as I hit that red carpet, I caught myself choking up thinking about crossing that line 2 years ago.  But, no time for that now, happy face and be glad Rosanne, because now you are DONE!

Total: 5:14:01

Post-race, Doris was at the finish line still waiting (overall time, she beat me by like 9 seconds and got a PR!  Awesome!), so we hung out, chatted with others, and waited for Allen and Mac (and various other people we knew) to finish, which was actually a lot of fun (minus the part where it suddenly felt really hot.  How is it that it doesn’t feel nearly as hot when you’re running??).  We just tried to move around and stay out of the way before anyone noticed we were loitering, and it was super fun watching people finish.  I managed to steer Allen to get his medal from Andy Potts, and we got to get a giant finisher photo all together :)

So how was this race?  Oh, I don’t know.  I’m not really sure how to answer.  Time-wise, it’s my 3rd best finish, and lumped together in the group of my “best” times (5:08 at Troika which I think had a short swim; 5:11 at CDA last year; and 5:14 at CDA this year).

My swim was kind of a standard, run-of-the-mill swim time, so as always, I just need to learn how to swim.

My bike time was 4 minutes slower than last year, which is infinitely annoying.  But, looking at the data, I also averaged a substantially higher average power number, AND slightly lower average heart rate, which tells me I was putting out more power for the same (or little less) effort…which also tells me that wind played a real role in it.  So, I think I did “ride better” even if it didn’t end up being faster.

Interestingly, my run was only 9 seconds slower than last year.  9 seconds total.  But last year, I felt like that run was a huge win; so why did it feel like such a failure this year?  I think it’s really just how it felt.  Heart rate was lower this year too, so I know I didn’t push it as much and it validates how I felt on the run.  Not sure why, but it just wasn’t quiet there.  All told, I guess I should be happy that it was still about the same, despite all that!

I’m also a bit bummed to “only” place 8th, mostly because I wanted to feel a bit more redeemed at going to Worlds this September, but those other girls put on a heck of a race, and all it can do is fuel me to get better.  Nothing but respect for them!

So, it was good.  There was nothing terribly awful, no huge thing I need to fix.  Not every race is a PR, and I’m happy that my “normal, meh” days look like this!

Friday, May 12, 2017

2017 Ironman St. George 70.3

Ok, so maybe it’s time to write one of these again…
Last year, when trying to figure out my 2017 race schedule, I just couldn’t get excited about anything. I kinda wanted to do another full, just for the sake of doing a full, but didn’t feel particularly committed to any of them. Halves were kinda meh, and I couldn’t quite seem to find a focus (other than “go faster”). I just didn’t know what I really wanted. Coach finally suggested St. George 70.3, promising it would be a tough, “epic” type race, which was early enough in the season to keep me motivated through the winter, but left plenty of time to do more racing for the rest of the year.
Hey coach, you were right: it was certainly “epic.”
Anyway, fast forward through the winter, and a marathon, and a quick build up to learn how to ride a bike again. A month out, I was feeling perhaps a bit rusty, but pretty confident. Then we suddenly decided to buy a new house and sell our current house, and two weeks before the race we found ourselves madly prepping to sell, juggling agents who wanted to show the house, and entertaining the cats during open houses. I don’t think this really negatively impacted the race, except that my head wasn’t really in it as much as it normally would be—I got all my workouts in (it was actually the best timing, since I was tapering anyway), but my mind was way more preoccupied with stuff at home than I was with racing. Good or bad, it is what it is.
After a long but annoying day of travelling, we arrived in St. George on Thursday afternoon. And it was hot. Like 98F hot. And after the ridiculous Seattle winter/spring, where standard weather was about 45F and rain for the last 120+ days or whatever (not even kidding), it felt REALLY EXTRA HOT. After picking up packets, we assembled bikes and went to bed—and I promptly fell asleep and got like 9+ hours of sleep!

Due to aforementioned house stuff, I had been getting wayyyy less sleep for the past couple weeks, so it was actually really amazing (and important!) that I was able to just SLEEP so much that night. On the other hand, I did wake up often throughout the night because my neck hurt thanks to the hotel mattress and pillows (I think I’m just super sensitive to those things and need to start travelling with my own pillow) soooo, there’s that.
Anyway, we got a short little run in after breakfast—and it was hot. There was also nowhere flat, as we found ourselves up and down and up and down and UP a giant hill…. All in our quick, 15-minute run. I feel like these things really should have tipped us off…

But since there was nothing to be done about it, we grabbed our bikes to spin and make sure everything had been reassembled correctly. Still hills. Everything seemed fine. Cut it short because we didn’t want to actually do any work, and seriously, the hills.

Finally, we headed out to Sand Hollow Reservoir, which was the swim start and T1, to drop off bikes and bike bags and to get in a quick practice swim. The super cold winter meant that no lakes at home were warm enough to swim in yet, so we hadn’t had a chance to do ANY open water swimming—last time I got an OWS in was at 70.3 WC in Australia, back in September! I also had a new wetsuit (the new BlueSeventy Helix), and I was anxious to actually try to swim in it. I will admit that I actually brought my old wetsuit to Utah as well, just in case the new one didn’t fit right!

We got to T1 and I realized…I had forgotten my wetsuit at the hotel! BOTH OF THEM! T1 was a good half hour from the hotel, but I also realllllllly needed to do a practice swim aka go stand in some open water, so after dropping off our bikes in transition, we head back to the hotel. Then back to the reservoir. So annoying, ugh!!! But an hour later, we were back, and actually go to test out the water.
FYI, putting on a neoprene wetsuit when it’s in the 90s is really not a fun thing, but the water was cold (60-62ish I think they said) so as soon as we got into the water, it was worth it! Luckily, my wetsuit felt much better than it did when I tried it on (for the first time, shhh) in the hotel the night before, and as much as I grumbled about the whole swimming thing, it felt “good.” Allen swam a million times faster than me, and I quickly remembered how much I hate open water swimming (ok, so I’m not sure if it’s necessarily the open water I hate, or just the swimming in general), so after a quick 10 minutes we called it good. It’s not like I was about to gain any big swim improvement, and I had confirmed the new wetsuit was a go!

Next up was a dinner get-together with Wattie Ink teammates who were in St. George.  So much fun!  We had some good food and a fun time chatting about the race (and laughing at how sunburnt Allen and I were from being in a state with sunshine for 24 hours), before all heading off to bed.  Something about a race the next morning… ;)
Up until this point, I was still very much in denial about a race.  I think because of the house distraction, I just hadn’t been thinking about it much and it truly did not feel like there was this thing I had to do tomorrow!  Usually I’ll be fine, but then finally start getting nervous the night before—not this time!  I tried to go through the motions (also hard, as the first race of the season meant I couldn’t really remember what those motions were) and honestly didn’t give anything much thought.  Maybe I should have cared a little more –and it’s not that I didn’t care, I just didn’t feel any pressing urgency to anything—but I got everything ready to go, and went to bed.
Early alarm clock the next morning.  I distinctly remember looking at myself in the mirror, brushing my teeth at 4am, and asking myself what I was doing.  Why do I even do this?  I could be asleep in bed right now.  Seriously, Rosanne, WHY!?
But instead of think about it too much and trying to remember the “why,” we grabbed our bags, grabbed some coffee, and hopped onto the hotel shuttle, which dropped us off at T2, where we would take the bigger bus out to T1.
That’s when I realized that I had left my cold bottle of Gatorade and my bottle of EFS (aka my bike nutrition) in the fridge in the hotel room.
Ok, quick, change of plans.  There was always the chance to go back to the hotel and get it, but that was going to be stressful.  I had a package of clif shot blocks in my T2 bag (which we had access to) as a “just in case” thing, and I knew the first aid station on the bike was only 10 miles in.  So I grabbed the shot blocks, to at least have something with me out of the water, and figured I could just drink my speedfil bottle (full of Herbalife CR7) for the first 10 miles.  Clif products were on course, so as long as I was diligent and took nutrition in the form of shot blocks or gels every chance I got, I figured I would be fine.
Got to transition.  Started feeling a bit more real, and the nerves finally started to kick in.  Tried to remind myself that I always seem to figure it out once it all starts.  Pumped my tires, prepped my CR7 bottle, and arranged my bike transition (which was literally just helmet and shoes and the shot blocks, so it took a good 30 seconds) …and waited around.  Killed time using the porta potty as many times as possible.  Dropped off morning bag, started wiggling into wetsuit, and hung out with some teammates as the gun went off and the pro race began.
The swim start was in AG waves, which were originally 5 minutes apart.  Due to the high wind advisory that was supposed to start around noon, race officials moved up the pro start time by about 5 minutes, and then adjusted the wave times after that to begin only 2 minutes apart (instead of 5), in an effort to get as many people off the bike as early as possible.  All things considered, I think this was a good move, though the swim did get a big congested (for a wave start swim), especially at the end.
In any case, I was in the 3rd to last wave, so Allen went ahead to his group a little earlier and I was left to wait around a bit longer.  Soon enough it was time to queue up, and I found my group of red caps, and we made our way to the water.  Even the sand here was red sand, which was kind of cool :) Things were a bit rushed, because of the quick 2-minute staggering between wave starts, but it worked out ok as long as you were paying attention.
A short little swim out to the deep water start, and suddenly the announcer was saying it was 15 seconds to the start!  Without really feeling real, I got my garmin ready to go and…. GO!
Swim - 39:31 (18th/54)
I actually felt good swimming, right off the bat.  The starting mess wasn’t really that chaotic, and I felt like I got into a rhythm pretty quickly.  I started counting buoys, and realized I had no idea how many there were (standard procedure) and that I had also completely forgotten how long a 70.3 swim really is.  I reasoned that 20 was a good number of buoys, but wasn’t really sure what the course looked like (other than 2 left hand turns), so after a while of getting bored, I started thinking we must be nearly done by now.
And then we finally hit the first turn.
I contemplated looking at my watch, but convinced myself that it had probably been only a few minutes (and not an eternity, which is how it felt), and kept swimming.  I started passing people in earlier waves (although I also started getting passed by those in the waves behind me), but generally it was all fairly tame.  I vaguely wondered if I should be swimming harder, but just focused on not freaking out and moving forward.
The line of buoys was yellow, with red buoys at the turns; up ahead, I saw a reddish blob, and was exceedingly pleased that we were indeed coming up to the point where we could finally turn and head back to shore.  Yay! Almost done!  Thank goodness!
Except when we reached it, we didn’t turn…because this was actually an orange buoy, not a red buoy, and now there were a ton of other orange buoys still to go, and suddenly I realized that the yellow buoys must have just marked the first HALF of the swim, and now I had a full set of orange ones to go.  How did I miss that?!  I also saw that the orange buoys re-started at #1, so my guess of 20 buoys total seemed about right.  On the plus side, I reasoned, I haven’t been violently kicked, and I haven’t tried to drink half the lake!  No gasping and choking is always a plus!  Har har har, I bet I just  jinxed that…
Annoyed, I kept going.  Finally, the REAL red buoy appeared, and as I tried to correct my course (always off course), I was finally able to turn and NOW we were heading back to shore!  Now it was basically just like what Allen and I swam yesterday, right?
But suddenly, the water was super choppy.  There were people everywhere.  Did they just pile up and get stuck here, on the last little leg back in?!  People kept stopping in front of me, blocking me, getting in the way.  The choppy water kept going down my throat—so much for the not choking and dying bit.  The entire swim back in was incredibly frustrating, feeling very slow and trying to navigate through the choppy waters and other people.
Finally, finally, I found the ramp up.  Finally, people around me started to stand up and trudge out of the water.  Finally, after swimming past more people who were trying to WALK through 4 feet of water, the ground came up to meet my face, and I scrambled out.
The ramp was crowded.  I ripped off my goggles and hat, lapped my garmin (and was highly irritated it was in the 39-40 range), and forgot about the whole stupid swim.  Yup: business as usual.
T1 – 2:39
I suddenly remembered I needed to take the dumb wetsuit off, so I held my cap and goggles tightly (not wanting to repeat the CDA 70.3 debacle) and fumbled to unzip and get my arms off.  There were wetsuit strippers, so ran to them, and got that thing off lickity-split.
Still clutching my cap and goggles, scampered back into transition, and made a beeline to my bike, yelling over to Sam along the way (not sure he heard, but yay, teammate!  And yes, he also started after me, but shhhh).
Transition was funny, since everything had to be in bags.  I’m sure it was NOT the smoothest transition ever, as I started my 520, shoved my helmet and shoes on (and clif shots into my pocket!), all while trying to get my wetsuit (and those darn goggles and cap, don’t lose them this time, Rosanne!!!!) back into the bag.
Awkwardly ran out of transition, trying to remember how this all works, and made a fool of myself trying to mount quickly.  Again—business as usual.
Bike – 2:53:00 (8th/54)
Ah, finally, the bike!
It is (obviously) no secret that I’m a pretty abysmal swimmer, and that getting on the bike is like the BEST.THING.EVER.  I also like to go 10000% right out of the gate, and I will never-ever-ever understand people who don’t just start GOING.  I passed probably 20 people in the first 100 feet, not even kidding.  It was a nice, downhill exit out of the park—literally an empty parking lot (aka TONS OF ROOM) and I got down and hammered.  I think I just like getting rid of the swim.
Anyway, after turning onto the main road, I got quickly overtaken by Sam, but was happy to keep him in sight at least for a little while :)
The gently rolling road around the reservoir made for nice riding, albeit a bit bumpy with the chip seal at times.  I got down in aero and—OW, WHAT IS THAT.  My back/neck/shoulders were absolutely on fire.  I wondered if something happened swimming (no) when I realized: that darn hotel bed and pillow!!!  I kept trying to settle down into aero but it hurt so, so bad that I would have to sit back up after about 25 seconds.  I briefly wondered what this would mean, and resigned myself to a long, painful 56 miles where I knew I would force myself into aero no matter what.
Luckily, with some more gentle pushes and maybe just stretching it out, it did eventually get better (taking well into the second half of the ride).  The surrounding roads in the first portion of the course were absolutely gorgeous, with farms (and horses!) everywhere and some terrific red rock backdrop scenery.  It reminded me a lot of riding out in the valley, except for all the red mountains around us.
This one guy wearing a blue kit on a road bike kept passing me.  Then I’d pass him back.  Back and forth and back and forth.  He was kind of annoying though—just got the vibe that he was irked about it, and never made any kind of acknowledgment (I feel like usually once I start going back and forth with someone, we usually at least smile, knowing “yup, passing again, see you in a few”).  This guy just seemed always angry.
Some fun, fast sections here (maybe it was the wind?) kept my speed up really nicely.  Speaking of the wind, the fact that it was there was…troubling.  I thought the high winds weren’t supposed to start until the afternoon?!
After passing a school with lots of spectators out front, we turned onto the highway—and what a view!  This is definitely a gorgeous race course; everywhere it took us was fantastic.  From the farms around the reservoir, to a highway, to Snow Canyon later…there was no shortage of fantastic views.  I definitely took the time to look around and soak it in (while TTing) because it was so beautiful.
The first aid station was also here, but didn’t see any nutrition—only water and Gatorade.  I grabbed a water for my top holder, and refilled as much of my speedfil as possible with Gatorade.  Unfortunately, I seemed to have forgotten how my speedfil works, and conveniently had it oriented facing downwards, which meant it was really hard to refill it.  Most of the Gatorade ended up all over me, but at least I had kind of a full bottle of some form of calories and electrolytes now.
Racing with cars in the lane next to us was a bit unnerving…especially because now that I think about it, we were riding on the left hand shoulder, so the cars were coming at us head-on.  There were lots of cones, but even so, with lots of riders around and wind, it definitely made you think twice.  Another fast section, it was really fun to bomb down some of the little hills along the highway, and lose hardly any speed going back up the other side!
Around here, there was a short little climb, and I heard a motorcycle riding up alongside us.  The road bike guy with a blue kit rode up next to me.   I was passing someone else, then looked around to move back over to the right, but he had followed and was right there, and not giving me any room.  What is this guy doing?  I kept riding, and looking around to see where to go.  There was no one behind me on my left, but blue kit guy would not get out of the way on my right.  The motorcycle (with what was clearly an official hanging off the back) kept riding beside us.  I really hoped he wasn’t going to get mad at me, since now I was kind of just riding in the middle of the lane, but I couldn’t move over… when suddenly Blue Kit Guy went ahead and passed me on the right, then snaked around some other people.  Well that was dumb, I thought.
Motorcycle and official sped away, and I went back to my ride, but shortly realized that they had slowed down and were now talking to the Blue Kit guy…and shaking a card at him!  Blue Kit guy was totally getting a penalty (and he did not appear to be taking it well), presumably for blocking and/or passing on the right, and I wondered if he had honestly not realized there was an official right there watching us (I mean, a motorcycle riding on the inside shoulder, with someone hanging off the back staring at us, seems like it should be pretty obvious?).
Anyway, the highway continued with its undulating course, and I really enjoyed it.  My bike felt fast, I was ticking off miles and riding strong in aero (would have to get up and stretch on every uphill, but was getting through it).  Despite the winds, everything seemed to be going fine.
It occurred to me that I had still not seen Allen, and I wondered how long it would take to catch him.  I started keeping my eyes peeled in the distance, trying to spot a yellow helmet, but so far, nothing.
Finally, off in the distance around a turn up ahead, I saw him!  A little yellow helmet, with a checkered HIT squad kit.  It took a bit longer to catch up to him, but finally, going up a little hill and 1:08 after starting the bike (…not like I checked…), I was able to pass him.  We exchanged a very quick gripe about the swim, and off I went.
Another guy on a road bike and disk wheel saw me pass him, but he was much nicer—“nice work, girl, keep it up!!” as I passed him.  We continued to go back and forth passing each other for the remainder of the race, up until the very end, but his was a much friendlier vibe.  It’s always nice and grounding to find someone else out there who you sync up with unexpectedly every once in a while, even if you don’t know them at all.
Finally, another aid station, and this time, I saw volunteers holding out various foods.  I had long since eaten all my clif shots, and they are easy to eat and store so I rode up to grab some—and promptly knocked the package out of the volunteer’s hand.  Sighing, I set my sights on the next one up to road and—same story!  And now there no more volunteers with any kind of food, so I settled with yet another Gatorade (and also dumped about 75% of it on my legs in the process of refilling.  Seriously, what was going on???)
I knew this was highly sub-optimal, since I was over an hour in with about 200 calories + Gatorade (plus the swim).  But there wasn’t much to do about it now, so I kept trying to drink as much Gatorade as possible (and started dumping water on myself) and just go go go go.
More pretty views, more rolling hills, and more really fast sections.  I’m not sure how or why the course felt so fast, but it was seriously SO much fun!  I’m always amazed at how much faster I bike when I race vs in training, but it’s always a big relief to see that it shows up when it matters.  I also knew the Snow Canyon climb was yet to come, so as much fast time in the bank now as I could deposit, the better.
We finally started snaking back through St. George, and out to the west, where I knew Snow Canyon was…somewhere.  I also realized I was feeling really hungry.  Ugh.  This is never good, because usually by the time I actually feel hungry, it’s way too late.  I still felt relatively good, but my energy levels were starting to drop a bit, and I just really needed more fuel.
Big long out and back.  Finally, a chance to see some people!  I saw a couple teammates, as well as Allen, on this section, which is always a good morale boost.
But I was still hungry, and now we were turning towards what I knew had to be Snow Canyon.  Thankfully, there was an aid station just outside the entrance to the park.  There wasn’t a lot, but I knew I needed as much of whatever I could get.  No clif shots this time, but there were a couple people holding gels, and I was desperate enough that I didn’t even care :) Thankfully, I was able to actually grab and hold onto a gel this time, and I tore into that thing.  It was some kind of lemon flavor and super messy and got everywhere (pretty sure the sticky mess of gels is the #1 reason why I don’t like them) but I slurped up as much of that thing as I possibly could.  Definitely could have used about 5 more, but hey, it was something.
The entrance to Snow Canyon is nice and gentle.  Some little up and downs, and you start wondering how this is possibly a canyon climb.  It’s also even more gorgeous, if that’s possible, and again, I found myself just looking around and ogling the sights.  How lucky I am to get to travel and race and see all these things simply because of this hobby!  There were birds and flowers and of course more red rocks in the craziest formations, and the fresh pavement sprawled out ahead of us.  I am endlessly thankful for the new places I’ve seen and experienced because of triathlon, and this was definitely a highlight.
Speaking of the sprawling, windy road, it very suddenly was UP ahead…because now the road really did seem to be going uphill.  It came in short, pitchy climbs, then evened out, then steeper yet, and soon the lesser-uphills seemed flat just in comparison.  Guess this is the climb, then, and I thought back to Shawn telling me to just “do my thing.”  Do your thing, Rosanne, just spin and ride strong and pass people and ignore everyone else and do your thing.
My time up Snow Canyon was nothing phenomenal, and I certainly wasn’t trying to attack it or anything, but it felt good to ride strong, conserve energy but keep it steady and purposeful.  There were a few short, pitchy sections (and I think I may have gotten out of the saddle once? For about 3 pedal strokes?  Because I was too lazy to shift??) but all in all it was a good, fun little climb and never felt that bad or steep at all.  In fact, probably less steep than many of the climbs at home—just went on for longer.
Nonetheless, I was happy when it ended, and turned out onto the highway again.  But this time, it was for a 10-mile descent back down into St. George.
This was also hands-down the scariest 10 miles I’ve ever spent on a bike.
Leaving the park, and on the exposed highway, we were suddenly faced with wind.  LOTS of wind.  It was only a bit after 10:30am, but the high winds were definitely already picking up, and it was relentless.  Less of a headwind, and more of just swirly gusts, I hung on to my bike for dear life.  At times I was in aero, and wanted to get up but there was no way I could let go for half a second to sit up, so I was forced to stay down.  On the other hand, sitting up just increased surface area to be blown around, and created less of a steady feeling.  Oftentimes, I just settled for holding on to the bars but crouching down; I have never gripped the bars as tightly as I did then, always trying to push down and hold as much as my weight onto my front wheel as possible.
A few scary moments, but soon we were back into town.  PHEW.  But even back down the side streets, the wind was insane.  With less than 2 miles to go before rolling into transition, another giant gust grabbed my front wheel and I felt the bars skew to the left; I tried to steady the bike, overcorrecting and veered the other way.  After a few more really sketchy wobbles, I managed to stay upright.  I need to be off of this bike Right.  Exactly.  Now!!  Clinging on and trying to stay on two wheels, I finally reached transition, and not a moment too soon.  I wasn’t actually sick of riding my bike, like I am some times by the end of the bike, but I was really getting worried about being blown over.
T2 – 2:02
Running into transition, I quickly racked my bike.  The guy next to me didn’t seem to understand that he needed to rack his bike in his own spot, as his bike was very obviously in my spot, so I had to shove his bike over (sorrynotsorry) and got mine racked.  I actually took my helmet off first this time (what?! I think because it was a new helmet), and sat down.
I realized I didn’t feel very good.  I felt hot.  I didn’t want to run.  I knew I was wasting time, but I needed to just sit for a second and get myself regrouped and psyched up.
I took longer than usual to pull on socks and shoes and hat and I was dismayed that I had no more nutrition (I was hoping I had accidentally forgotten about some secret stash of food I had left there; nope) and I also had no more excuses to just sit there taking my time.  Unsure of what was feeling “off,” I hoped that I could just start running and start figuring it out—but there was no question: I knew I was going to go run for 13.1 miles and I just didn’t want to.
But the best way to get it over with is to just get started.  So once again, I trusted that I would start and things would fall into place, and got my butt off the ground and started running.
Run – 1:55:41 (8th/54)
I wish I could say it all clicked, but it didn’t.  I just felt hot, and my legs felt like trash.  Had I pushed too hard on the bike?  Was I just lacking in nutrition?  Was I maybe actually running really well, but it just felt bad?! (A desperate and far-fetched fantasy)
I did see I was running a 6:40 pace, and new that was a bit much, so just tried to settle down.  Saw Colleen at the run out, smiled and waved, and headed up the first few blocks, which was of course up hill.
I got to the top of that, turned..and kept running along the same road I had just biked down.  I tried to distract myself by watching the bikers coming in.  But it just didn’t feel good.  I couldn’t get my legs to turn over faster, and I knew I wasn’t running fast enough—even without looking at my watch, which confirmed I was running an 8-something pace.
I hate to do this but… Numbers time: I should have been running about a 7:15-7:20. After the initial shake out, including that little uphill, I should have been able to settle in to a pace and lock into a 7:20 fairly comfortably (comfortably in a race-type mode, which is not comfortable by any means, but a comfortable push).  Not only was I not feeling good, and not feeling like I was in that comfy-pushing zone, I was a good minute per mile slower than I should be—and trying to move my legs faster did nothing.  This is when I quickly realized my legs were just not showing up to the party, and that I needed to quickly resort to crisis-control mode—and I was less than a mile into the run.
But still hoping against hope that I could rally and maybe warm up my legs and get some nutrition, and  that I would magically snap back into it, I approached the first aid station, threw some water on my face, and thankfully grabbed a packet of shot blocks that some kid was holding out for me.
They were warm, from sitting out in the sun.  Yuck.  But I knew I needed them.  I tore the package open, and popped the first one in my moth….
What.  Is.  This.  I tried not to spit it out, scrunched my nose, and looked at the package.
Ginger Ale.
Not only was it a warm ginger ale flavor, but I absolutely HATE ginger in any way, shape or form.  JUST MY LUCK!  I grimaced and choked it down, knowing it was way more important to try to force in some calories.  I ran a minute or two more, then forced myself to eat another. It’s for your own good, I told myself.  But after the second (which mostly just disintegrated in my mouth because I couldn’t even get myself to chew it up and swallow it), I gave up and threw them away.  I just really hate ginger :-\
At the next aid station, I tried again.  This time, I grabbed Spearmint, which also sounded gross but at least it wasn’t ginger (and those were the only two options).  I held onto the package for the longest time, but never ended up eating any.  I guess on the plus side, the ginger flavor made m lose my appetite, and I wasn’t feeling hungry any more.  Blegh.
Meanwhile, I was still watching for Allen, and finally saw him coming back into town—whew!  It was time to focus back on the run, which by the way was still all a very, very gradual uphill.  Ugh.  As we snaked up the road, we finally turned and made a sharp right turn and…
…this is the biggest hill I’ve seen in my life.
I looked up ahead.  The hill kept going.  It kept going as I could see a stream of runners up ahead, high above me and going around a corner, up out of view, but always still uphill.
It was at this moment, I realized this run was really not going to be happening for me.
But I ran, slowly.  I got passed more than I ever have before.  I probably could have walked faster.  My watch showed a really sad, slow pace, and I kept eying the distance.  This is a two loop course, right, so we should be turning around soon… although I do NOT want to come run up here again…
But the 3 mile mark came and went.  Soon the 4 mile mark did, too.  We kept going and going and by the time we got up on the ridge, the wind was really howling too, because why not add that to the mix now?  It was hot and super exposed to the sun, the winds pushing strong against us, and always up hill, all the time.
Eventually, as we started a little out and back, and I realized it was really two out and backs that were side by side, my brain finally put two and two together and I realized that a) it was not a two loop course, and b) I was going to have to run up here on top of the ridge twice.
In all honesty, it was probably a good thing.  I was really dreading having to run down then back up it, and really wasn’t sure how I was going to motivate myself to do it.  But now, I was stuck, and I may as well just keep on going, since it was the only way to get to the end, at this point.
Not a lot to say about the run, since it was just HOT and WINDY and I felt pretty zapped.  I was exceedingly frustrated that I couldn’t run—I tried, but it was just a shuffle.  I know I am capable of running so much better, but I had nothing in my that day, and it was all I had in me to just keep moving forward.
I did finally see a couple teammates on the out and backs, and kept seeing Tu sneaking up closer and closer on my tail (he started in the last wave, so I was really just trying to prevent him from passing me all day ;) ).  It was good to see people and wave and smile, but I was way past the point of enjoying anything at this point.
FINALLY, we crossed the point where all the out and backs intersected, and it was time to head back down into town.  4 miles to go.  3 miles to go.  It was finally time to run down the ginormous hill, and I tried to make up some time but I was lucky to stay under an 8:00/mile pace at this point.  I spent a lot of time just being mad—mad at myself for not being able to go any harder, and mad at myself for being mad about it.
Down to the bottom of the hill, and now I was telling myself it was just the long straight push before the turn down to the finish.  And yet, it just felt so, so long.  It was a slight downhill, but my times were slipping again.  I tried running as far left as possible, to get any hint of shade, but that didn’t really accomplish anything.  Nothing in particular felt awful or painful, but I still just felt so bad, and wanted nothing more than to just stop.
Miles 12.  Just over 1 mile to go…and I almost started crying.  Like actual tears welling up and starting to choke, actually crying.
I had 1 mile to go, but I couldn’t even fathom one more mile, and I wasn’t even sure if I was crying because I truly didn’t want to run, or because of how sad and pathetic that was.
I ran anyway.  I walked through the last aid station, half a mile from the finish, just because I wanted an excuse to take a break.  This is the state I was in at this point—thoroughly defeated by the run, discouraged, and just ready to be over with this once and for all.
At last, we got to the last round-about, turned downhill, and a straight shot down to the finish.  I think I tried to smile at Colleen and she cheered in the finishing chute, and I was also the jerk that magically picked up the pace and started sprinting down the finishing carpet to pass people before the line.  Sorry, I just honestly wanted to stop and never run again, at that point.
And finally, 1:55:41 later, I finished my slowest half marathon run ever.

TOTAL: 5:32:53
Not quite must slowest time, but close.  Ironically, IM Cabo 70.3 still holds the record for my slowest, and yet I still won my age group there…  Just goes to show that things are so much more than just a time, I suppose!
In any case, I’m still processing and deciding how I feel about this race.  The run defeated me, that’s for sure.  But there were some really good take-aways.  Overall, I’m mostly focusing on the fact that I’m happy that the race season is officially underway, and I can confidently say I’m really looking forward to the rest of the summer!