i had some issues with my blog this week,(it was posting things i didn't mean to post and smearing text all together so i apologize) but james fixed 'em for me and even put on my new header photo. i call it my "chin up" photo. if you are going to sit on the side of the road for more than an hour during a race you've trained six months for, might as well take a few photo opportunities.
anyhow, the course, of course. since this was the inaugural year of ironman saint george, i thought i'd offer up my course thoughts and a little review for those ready to take the plunge in the coming years. this is not about my race, just about the race in general.
for a first year race, it felt like a well-oiled machine. there were two transitions separated by 20+ miles which was a total pain in the butt, but the ironman folk pretty much held our hands and made sure we got everything where it needed to be. for spectators, especially families, however, this could be a tough one (if you decide to spectate the swim). once back to town however, park yourself near the "hot corner" and see your athlete 3 times on the bike and 4 times on the run. nice!
sand hollow reservoir is breathtaking. and quite cold. water temps were mid 50s and sounds like many folks got hypothermia. morning air temps in saint george were chilly- mid-upper 40's until 10am. as for the water, i thought it was tolerable, but i have also had a couple cold ocean dunks prior to race day, so maybe was more prepared. the mass start was chaotic and hundreds of people were still on shore (maybe a funneling issue to get everyone in the water when no one wants to sit there and freeze 15 min before the start.) the swim course is one huge loop. this is the only part of ironman saint george that is flat. coming from the ocean, it was refreshing to swim in a lake, and luckily for us, there was a little chop, but nothing crazy. however, had the race been on one of the days surrounding ironman, we may not have made it out alive. wind down there can be nuts!
(photo by larry rosa, heading out of T1 i think)
again, california is great training grounds for this race because the hills are not a surprise and nothing more than the east county climbs we tackle every weekend. however, i know lots of people come from flat lands and the course could be described as mountainous. there are rolling hills the first 20+ miles into town and then two lollipop loops where you climb for 2/3 of the loop and descend the final 1/3. this is one of the bigger climbs.. (photos by larry rosa)
there is also a lot of low grade climbing where it is nothing steep, but you are just grinding slowly for miles and a lot of this can be into the wind. the views along the course are EPIC. i was in heaven just soaking it all in. i saw lots of slower folks walking the climbs and people hopping off their bikes to take a break and lay in the grass! i don't think walking the climbs is necessary if you have proper gearing. honestly, the worst part of the bike is this sneaky short hill they throw at you in the final mile- its kind of an add-on to probably make it 112 miles instead of 111. that hill is a joke (on us!) and made lots of us laugh. no fair! overall, the bike course is do-able on a "good day". we had some serious wind especially on lap 2, but NOTHING compared to the 50+mph gale force stuff that surrounded race day. this would make me think twice about signing up again.
the marathon of Ironman Saint George is totally relentless. the only flat part is the first 200 yards out of T2. if you live in san diego, the closest description is the San Dieguito Half marathon, except the climbs (and descents) are much longer. the awesome part is that you get to loop through town (2-loop out and back course) and see the spectators A LOT and also see your fellow racers what seems like just around every corner. there is NO hiding on this course. i got on the run course rather late, and i'd say that on my second loop, 85% of the field was walking the hills. there were times that i was the only one in sight running. the run is banked in red rocks and lots of it up on the ridge of Red Hills Parkway which makes it prone to the wind. it was VERY windy as the day wore on. the last 2 miles of the marathon are like butta! gradual downhill and literally catapulting you to the finish line. super cool.
the support & the town:
the volunteers were AH-MAZING. i feel like there were as many volunteers as there were racers! so incredible to have the support of what seemed like the entire town! Saint George was very welcoming and incredibly friendly. the one drawback i will point out, is that there were very limited "healthy" places to eat. lots of chain restaurants and random looking places. it might just be the kind of town where its best to rent a condo and cook yourself. or maybe we just didn't find the spots. but i ended up eating my pre-race dinner at Denny's because i knew i could get a veggie/egg white omelet and a side of pancakes. yum!
all in all, it was an amazing race. i will freely use the word epic to describe it. would i do it again? YES. i really loved every second of it (that i was moving). But, i would sign up again ONLY if someone could promise me that the winds wouldn't make the race virtually impossible. and they can't promise that. i had way too much anxiety going in that i would get blown off my bike. the course without the elements is tough enough. but DO-ABLE! i saw a thread on slowtwitch asking to compare Sliverman (which many consider to be North America's toughest IM) to IMSG and i thought this was a good response, " I did both this year. I put them about the same. The Silverman bike is a little tougher. IMSG run is a little tougher. It's a wash. My times were about the same. Both races could be far, far tougher than they were this year". That's it for my review, anyone have anything to add?