This race will go down in many ways as the hardest race I have ever done. To see why, here is my recap from May 7th 2016 STG Ironman 70.3. It is arguably the hardest 70.3 Ironman course there is, and the weather decided to make it even harder last Saturday!
Leading up to the race, I was fairly calm because I have raced this course twice already before and trained on the course many times as well. I felt excited to go race my "home" course (even though I don't live there anymore) and I felt more excited then nervous. I had a small cold set in the Saturday before the race and I was a little worried but tried to rest and take lots of extra vitamin C, eat lots of fruits and veggies and luckily by Wednesday morning it was almost gone. Which was a huge relief because when I raced this race 2 years ago for the first time I was super sick with a sinus infection and strep throat! And was slightly sick the year before as well. I always get sick in May. My 5 year old was also really sick until that Wednesday too (as well as my husband being gone for work) so it was a full week and I was lucky to be feeling good going into race week.
I got everything settled and headed down to St George with my 2 youngest kids, my boys on Thursday morning. My daughter had dance auditions that same weekend (which I didn't know the dates would conflict when I originally signed up) and gratefully my dear friend offered to watch her so she could go to auditions with her best friend. I was so happy it worked out. I owe her big time! My daughter and I have a special bond and we were both so sad to not be there for each other the same weekend with big events. I always put her and my boys activities above my own but sometimes life happens. Grateful it all worked out and for everyone that helped!
I got to St. George Thursday night and grabbed cafe rio with my kids for cinco de mayo! ;) And met my dad and my husband who flew in to be there from a work trip for me. He's the best. I'm so grateful for his support. We got settled and planned to go to ironman village in town square the next morning. It's always a lot of planning and coordinating for this race with set up and checking in and little kids in tow. We are getting pretty good at it these days! This particular race has 2 different drop offs for transition 1 and transition 2. T2 at the finish in town and T1 at sand hollow lake.
It took most of the day to check in, visit with a few booths and friends, get the boys and us lunch and get my bike all checked and get up to the lake. Trevor was an amazing daddy and played with the kids and made it fun for them. Up at the lake it was soon windy! I was nervous. The weather didn't look amazing for the next day but I hoped it would clear up. Got it all done and then ate dinner with my dad. My mom was out of town Running the Tinkerbell 10k that same day so it was hard to not have her there but I loved time with my dad and love that my mom was running a race too. She's a rockstar! I have great parents and examples.
The lake! Love this lake! From my Instagram HERE I was able to meet up with 2 of my best friends from St. George, Brittany and Ricki while I was there for some Yogurtland! Never tried that pre race day but I loved it! I missed a girls weekend with them and our friends the week before due to the business of life and so this was so fun to see them!
Before I knew it, it was time for bed Friday and I was pretty tired and mostly relaxed. Last year I was so nervous I couldn't even sleep. I slept pretty good and Trevor and I got up at 4:45 so I could eat breakfast (this morning it was a bagel, and a Honey Stinger waffle in the car and lots of water and Cocogo) and headed out the door. He always drops me off at the swim and comes to support me. It reminds me of when he used to come watch my swim meets back when I was a junior in high school and we were dating. So sweet.
Gear All Layed out the night before! So much gear for an Ironman event! We got to the lake and the weather looked like it was getting worse and worse. It wasn't as windy but there were dark clouds and rain starting. My weather app showed that it would probably rain on us for at least the first 2 hours of the bike. I wasn't super excited about that. Everyone though it would just blow over but I was mentally preparing myself for a bad weather day already. I hate that I was right about it......
I met up with my awesome friend Tamarynn and a few other friends at the swim start. We got everything set up and went to body marking, and then started putting our wetsuits on. It was great to have a friend starting in the same wave. Glad to have good friends there always!
Southern Utah Friends! Liz, Amanda, Nicole and me. I love the energy and excitement with any event in St George. There really is something special there. The volunteers are amazing and the location is incredible. Usually weather is perfect (not this day!) and the whole community's energy and spirit is unmatched. I just love racing in southern Utah. I feel so lucky that Utah is my home state.
And my amazing friend Ashley was making her PRO debut here today! Good Luck hugs before the race start! I am so dang proud of her! She works so hard and is so positive and friendly and fast! I am lucky to get to train with her about once a week and have her as a friend. She is incredible!
Trevor waited with me and we visited with Tamarynn and her husband as we waited for the start. Our time was 7:18 which I think is a perfect start time. Last year my wave started after 8am and it was so hot last year it pushed it back another hour. This year was very cold though and I wanted to just start! Finally we heard the Pros start, "Go Ashley" we yelled!! Tamarynn and I were so excited for her and her Pro debut. READY TO GO! ;)
We just had to wait a little longer and then they called our wave to head down to the water. We both kissed our husbands good bye and walked down to the water together. Nerves always set in a little at the start, but the swim is my favorite part and I tried to remember my swim team days and how excited I got and how much I love the water. The wind was picking up, but it was go time!! We got the the waters edge and stuck our feet in. Initially it felt cold, but we settled in, and the air was colder then the water. Water was 61 degrees.
It was finally our turn! I wished Tamarynn good luck and went to the front of the pack of girls. I'm not #1 by any means but I'm top ten in the swim usually, and need to start in the front or I get kicked in the face too much. We waded out and the water was so cold on my face at first. We tread water before the start and that always gets me warmed up. Goggles set, legs and arms ready, and........go time! The horn sounded and we were off!
We started to swim and I had made the right choice to head to the front of the pack. There was a lot of good, fast swimmers at the front but I was right with them. There always is at this race. It's always pretty crowded at the beginning so I try to pop my head up and spot for a way around the crowd. I was able to find one but it always takes a good five minutes or so to get everyone filtered out. Finally found a pathway in with my groove. The problem is that now we start getting the men in front of us that we pass. That was when I got kicked in the face first within about 10 minutes of this start. I'm used to getting kicked in the face or body at tri's but I took a few hard ones during this swim. It slowed me down a lot because I had to fix my goggles and make sure I was on the right line. The water was pretty choppy too for sand hollow, which I think made some people frantic swimming.
I always feel like a 1.2 mile swim is pretty short from what I'm used to with my swimming back ground so before I knew it we were making the final turn on the homestretch. I spotted the dock ramp and swam right in. I love the swim but it always feels so good to get the first leg done. Out of the water and into transition!
Swim Time 34:16 - slower then normal for me but not too off. #10 in my division. My wetsuit was a little hard to pull off for these strippers. But we got it off finally! Usually it's not so bad. It might have been the cold! Haha
Transition 1 - 5 minutes I wasn't worried about how slow my transitions were for this race. Normally I would care more but I hadn't practiced them at ton leading up to the race and I was ok with just not stressing about it this time around.
Onto the bike!! It was cold and windy and dark clouds hung over the lake as I got my bike gear on. I had a light jacket I brought but decided not to wear it last minute hoping the weather would blow over like everyone was saying it would........
I ran my bike to T1, mounted it and and was off! I heard Trevor there yelling and cheering for me. I knew I would see him again soon. His cheering always gives me a boost! We started the first little climb by the lake and it was cold already. The hills on this course always helped me warm up a little but I never got "warm" or even un cold this entire ride. I was already wet and cold off the swim and couldn't do anything about it while biking through a storm and mentally told myself that it would be cold today and to get through it. I think that kind of helped me keep going all day. I knew it was not going to be an easy ride and so I had a "bring it on" attitude from the start. It was windy and rainy and cold the entire ride. And absolutely miserable!!
As I approach Hurricane/ Washington at around mile 20-25 I knew I would see my family soon. That's our cheering spot. When things were only getting tougher, I was so happy to see my family on the bike course cheering me on. It lifted my spirits more then they will ever know! So grateful for my rockstar husband, my dad and my boys being there for me on the course supporting me #MoreCowBell 🚴🏻 just missing my daughter in the pic, but she was there in my heart too ❤️
I felt so strong body, legs, lungs and heart, but the elements were just crazy today! I tried to smile through it but the cold and wind and RAIN never really let up The whole ride. I was so happy to have my aero bars on my little bike Pearl though! She did good. The last stretch down into Ivans towards snow canyon was awesome! A slight course change that made this very challenging hilly course a little friendlier. It was fun to loop around and see other bikers too.
I had entered snow canyon and was feeling ready to get this thing done! 4+ miles of more climbing and in my head I said "Bring it on!" Even though I was cold and tired and my hands weren't working properly due to the cold. Scary! There were so many bikers that were pulling off the course and looking frozen. We all were. I knew the hard hills would maybe "warm me" up a bit though. I didn't want to stop in my body but my head kept saying, "stop, ask for help.... Get warm." No!!! I wanted to finish this dang thing! I trained too hard to stop even though I was a little worried about my body at that moment. Numb toes, numb fingers and creeping to the hands and up my arms. Teeth chattering and jaw clenched so tight that it hurt. Legs shaking from cold, not from fatigue. So many people stopped and so many DNF's today. It was hard to fuel on the bike properly too because I couldn't grab my nutrition and water bottles well. I got a Good 2 Go Bar in before snow canyon and almost my whole bottle of Cocogo and a salt pill. That will have to do I told myself.
"How was I going to brake into the next transition?" I thought. I couldn't even feel my fingers shifting. I was so happy to be up I've that climb but the last 10 miles coasting back into town should be fun but they were the worst! So cold, worried about crashing. Wind and rain and cold on your face and whole body..... Finally I could see the heart of town approaching. I had made it! I had finished that dang hard bike in terrible conditions. I was pretty proud but also really let down because now I had to run and I didn't feel like it in that moment. I felt awful..... My right leg especially and legs were shaking so bad from the cold and my arms too when I pulled into transition. I think it was 41 degrees on the bike and no-one was prepared for that today. I was so lucky I braked in ok and dismounted without falling. It was so slick! 2 volunteers ran up to me with space blankets and wrapped me up, "are you ok?" "No" I though but I nodded and walked my bike in. I started to cry.... I love to run but I felt sick and I couldn't even imagine running 13.1 miles after that. It just took it out of me.....
Total bike time 3:28:40. Was so cold coming into transition 2. Crying and mad. Shaking, and freezing COLD. Had to sheepishly ask a volunteer help me get off my helmet and put on my long Pro compression socks and Altra running shoes because my hands were so cold. (That was comical for a mom of 3 to need help getting HER shoes in!) The hardest 56 bike miles I have ever raced physically and mentally. Had to dig deep at the end of that ride.
Transition 2 - my longest ever - 13 minutes Tamarynn and I found each other at T2 and I was really struggling mentally and physically. I was sitting on the ground while the volunteer was trying to get my socks and shoes on and in tears. She found me and we were both saying how rough that ride was. So cold! Couldn't use my fingers. 😬 We hugged each other, and agreed to run together. We got ourselves up, I told my helper thank you and even though it was a really slow transition we went onto the run. I was really emotional. I wanted to give up so bad in that moment, and I rarely feel that way in a race. I trained too hard for this though and I'm so grateful that Tamarynn and I had each other for the run!
These photos taken by my friend Kenzie, pretty much my face sums up how I felt in that moment! Trying to smile through it but felt Awful! We started running and I was really struggling still. I knew I would feel better if I just got warm and running was the only way to do that right now I just kept telling myself that. 4 miles in up that huge hill and I finally was feeling like myself again.
I was so grateful for Tamarynn and to have friend to run with! It really was the best part of the race and I was so grateful we were able to run together. She save me! And my dry socks and shoes and dry headband helped so much! I couldn't believe how much better I was feeling now that I wasn't having hypothermia like signs. We started smiling and talking and laughing.
My sweet husband was there with my kids and my dad supporting us the whole way too. ❤️ #MeltMyHeart. Such amazing support!
We were cruising along and the miles and minutes were ticking by. We dedicated miles to our families, kids, husbands, and just talked our way through it. It was actually fun and felt like a normal Saturday run almost......(Lightly on the NORMAL part) We stopped and took a quick walk through every aud station and refueled because my fueling not the bike was a joke this race because I couldn't use my fingers properly, and the energy from the coke and my GU's helped keep me going. I took 2 GU's and drank a lot of water and gatorade and coke to stay hydrated and keep my energy up.
Despite the rough day, my run actually felt good! And my Fastest run time (course run PR) on this particularly hard 13.1 miles. So small victory there! 🏃🏻🙌🏻 We felt strong at the end and could see the finish line in sight!....... Tamarynn and I knew we were close and decided to push it to the end. We cranked it up and gave all we could that last 2 miles. We finished those last 2 miles at a sub 8 per min mile average and I am very proud of that! We pushed it home and finished together! Video Link below. Total Run Time 2:06:07 (Course PR)
Total time 6:27:55
And done! Crossing that finish line has never felt so good! I was so happy we did it! How we really felt about the weather today!!
My biggest supporter! Love this guy of mine! I could not do this without him! Only a few minutes shy of my course PR on a tough day. I'm so glad I didn't listen to that little voice in my head that said "You can't" today when I got off the bike. It was a struggle today but my run and swim felt decently good today strength wise, because I know I trained hard for this race, and the bike I felt strongest I have on that course despite the times and it was a triumph in brutal conditions.
Seeing friends at the finish line is always my favorite too! Loves seeing my friend Shannon several times on the course today. She was cheering on her husband and is an amazing athlete as well. Loved giving her a finish line hug!
Post race congrats with Ashley! All three of us were cold and tired but we did it! It was done and we happily chatted about the course and how crazy it was like we were just out to lunch now that it was over!
So another Ironman 70.3 St. George is Done! ✔️ 🏊🏻🚴🏻🏃🏻 It was so hard but so worth it! . mostly the crazy rough weather on the bike. Overall I am so happy with this finish today and I have never been more proud of a medal hanging around my neck then I am now. I fought for every mile of this 70.3 and I am happy and proud of it today! I truly feel like I earned the title of "Iron" today!
XOXO - Heather I hope you enjoyed this very detailed race report (Im long winded ;) haha ) and if you're considering doing this course, do it! It is amazing! Hard, but amazing and the weather is usually not this crazy! Come join me here next year! I would love to race it with you!