Thursday, May 7, 2015

St. George 70.3 2015

It's been a big week! Two big things happened:

Luke & I raced the US 70.3 Pro Championships in St. George, Utah and we announced the Island House Invitational Triathlon.

Snow Canyon, St. George, UT. Photo: Ian Matteson | ENVE

First, the race! Initially, I wasn't going to add St. George 70.3 to my race calendar. Five weeks after Ironman Melbourne, I thought I may still be in a funk or just building back. Facing off against the world's best half ironman athletes within that time frame just wasn't something I was sure about. Let's be honest, half ironman racing has not historically been my strength. I need an entire marathon to catch people. I don't do my best by going fast, I do my best by not slowing down. So, the OG plan was that Luke was going to race and I was going to spectate with Wynne. Somewhere in our talks, however, Luke pointed out that since St. George was 6 weeks out from Ironman Cairns (our next big race), if I was not racing, I'd have to put in a really big training weekend in St. George. That would be logistically harder on us as a team, especially considering Wynne. So, I decided to go the race route and knew I would gain some valuable fitness from racing, without having to put in a monster weekend far from home. Once I committed, I fully committed and got excited! I love the challenging conditions and terrain in St. George and hoped I could improve upon my 24th place pro performance from 2013 (race report here). 3rd times a charm!

My dad, Jeff, decided to make the trip with us, which made this entire trip so much easier as he was the designated Wynne sherpa and super gramps. This left Luke & I to focus on the job at hand.
Wednesday prior to race day, we went out for a final spin in California and Luke unfortunately went down hard in a crash. I had to go home & get the car to come get him and things looked sub-optimal, but we proceeded with the trip and took things day-by-day. Dan from SRAM came big to the rescue and fixed Luke's bike which was not a small job.  On Thursday, Luke was worse (really sore wrist, adductor, & back) and I even told a couple of friends that there was "no way" he would be racing. We went on a spin together and he couldn't keep up with me riding 100 watts. Uh Oh. But, over the next two days, things improved remarkably and he actually made it to the start line. This made me super happy as we certainly didn't travel to St. George just for me to race. I must say, I was less than confident that he had returned to top condition, but in the end he proved me wrong and still came 8th place overall in a ridonculous field. #proudgirlfriend

Road Trip!
Bike Check-In with my wingman. Photo: Sue Hutter
They didn't check her athlete bracelet
Ok, on to my race.
Race morning.

The swim (1.2 miles)
In 2013, I swam 29:12. In 2015 I swam 30:33. So, about 22k of swimming average per week for 104 weeks will net me negative 45 seconds of a swim. No, honestly, my swim was similar to 2013. Similar to 2013, I swam with a pack of girls (6 or 7) and actually felt I had a solid swim. Swim courses and conditions are always different, so it is very hard to compare year-to-year.

The Bike (56 miles)
Onto the bike in 2013, I was promptly dropped by all 6 or 7 of those women and rode myself into the DFL region of the field. In 2015, the opposite happened. I rode with a few of the girls in the beginning miles, but then opened up a gap and began closing in on those in front of me. It took all the way until snow canyon (the bigass climb at mile 40-ish) to catch any other girls, but from that point on, I caught and passed three more women before hitting T2. Those of you who have known me for a while know that those last couple sentences I wrote would have never come out of my mouth prior to this year. My old "best case scenario" was not to be passed by "too many" girls on my bike and to minimize my losses. So, it's a darn good feeling to finally feel like I can ride a bike. I came into T2 with a bike split 8 minutes faster than in 2013 (the course is slightly different, but it was a relatively huge improvement).
Photo: Ian Matteson | ENVE

I know that I'm riding a lot better thanks to coach Luke, but I also have the utmost confidence that I am on the fastest equipment out there. My Endura skinsuit- what can I say- I can literally feel the wind gliding around me, I didn't know you could "feel" aero-ness, but you can. My Scott Plasma 5/ SRAM Red is the perfect bike for me and goes perfectly with the ENVE 4.5s I chose for this race (great climbing wheels and handle really well in windy conditions).

The Run (13.1 miles)
I was pretty sure I came into T2 somewhere around 10th or 11th place and thought just maaaaybe with a solid run I could squeak into the top 10, but I didn't really know what was going on up the road. I committed to running my best and just went out with a smile to do some work. I saw Linsey Corbin exit a couple of minutes ahead of me, but I typically don't put any time into Linsey on the run as she's one of the best in the sport. Ahead of her turned out to be Mirinda Carfrae, who well, IS the sport's best runner. No one else was even in striking distance. I also knew that behind me would be super runners like Lisa Roberts and Ruth Brennan Morrey so I had to charge strong all day.
St. George didn't bring the heat as it usually does and I was really comfortable in my skinsuit and felt I could run without wasting time/energy on heat management. The course is incredibly hilly, so I never look at my splits on the uphills. I never really looked at all during St. George because the up/down nature doesn't ever give you a full picture of what is going on if you just look at mile splits.
Wow, really? Running a 1:25 on a hilly course is supposed to look WAY prettier than this! Photo: Sue Hutter 
I ran strong but not all out on the uphills and then turned on the afterburners and charged down every hill like a crazy person. I am not a great uphill runner (though I look like I'd be alright), but I am serious about my downhills. I can get myself to go to that complete point where you nearly lose control in every step and I love it! Since I've been running in Hokas (I race in the Clifton), downhill running has been even more amazing as I really can't even feel the ground or any pounding below me. It turns out that Linsey was having a tough day and I was able to pass her around mile 7, but I didn't make any real inroads after that. I ended up in a no-mans land and just kept running to hold my position, which turned out to be 9th! I ran 4 minutes faster than in 2013 and crossed the finish, elated to be in the top 10 in this kind of field. I noticed at the finish line that every woman who had beaten me holds multiple 70.3 and Ironman titles and I really felt like the first mere mortal to finish in their company.

Looking back, I am annoyed at myself that I ever considered not racing St. George 70.3 because I didn't feel I was good enough in that type of field. No, I am not now the world's best 70.3 racer, but I need to give myself credit, just in actually deserving to be there and give it a shot, rather than always write it off as "I'm not good at this distance". Finishing 9th in the US Champs, 2nd in Phillipines 70.3 and 5th in Pucon 70.3 so far in 2015 tells me that maybe I should actually keep these halves in the rotation, because, well, they're about a million times more fun than racing Ironman, you can recover quickly, and I can actually make a little bit of money doing it!

Post-race Feed... Is Luke flossing with that fork or just suuuper into his Lumberjack Slam? 

Ack, I thought I'd get to the Island House Invitational, but this post is already long enough. I'll save that one for later this week. In the meantime, please check out the website:

Photo: Sue Hutter

Thank you again to my Dad for being an amazing and helpful grandpa and to all of my sponsors and supporters for letting me do what I do. This has me REALLY excited for Ironman Cairns- just 5 weeks to go!
Photo: Ian Matteson | ENVE