If you watched the triathlon racing last weekend via the blogs, FB or Twitter there were a lot of people talking about this fantastically gorgeous race in Saint George, Utah. I was lucky enough to be on the start line of that race and I can't say enough positive things about it.
If you want to skip the reading and just get the story of my race, you can listen to Episode #37 of Jim and the other guy where he got me to spill the beans.
Prior to the race I had a really strong training block with the camp I attended in San Jose along with the work I’ve done back in Denver. I was feeling good. Coming off Oceanside the fire in my belly was bright. Racing a 70.3 just 3 weeks prior to Ironman Brazil was something I felt excited about, I tend to recover quickly, especially in those final weeks before Ironman when my fitness is high.
I also had 3 of my athletes racing and I was really excited to see where they were at, and how the work I’ve been giving them is absorbing. I was just ecstatic with how things went. Mikki finished her first triathlon ever, very strong and she had fun! Mo had her first puke free triathlon since I’ve been working with her...and that’s been years. It was such a huge success for the both of us. And Jody had a superb race with no cramping, and is right where he needs to be for Brazil. Add to that, Punk Rock Runners 13 min half marathon PR on Sunday and I would say this was one of the best triathlon weekends of my coaching life.
As I lined up on the start line I had a lot of things in my mind. My athletes races, mainly the swim for Mikki (so much anxiety around that for first timers), but also PICs mom. She was really in my thoughts that morning due to some medical stuff she was dealing with, and I was thinking about PIC too, and hoping she could race for her mom and be strong. Here is our scared faces!
The reservoir is one of the nicest lakes you can find to swim in. The water is clear, you can see bubbles. I met Katie Kyme on the start line and we got into the water together. The start was smooth for me, although it was cold. My face was nice and numb but I felt like my turnover was a little slow as my arms were just cold and slow moving. I found some feet, they were great feet, straight swimming feet. On the final stretch, as the feet got a bit tired I swung around and swam strong to the finish. The swim work I’ve been doing with coach Nick continues to help me feel strong and prepared in the water. He assigns a lot of broken miles and I can refer back to those workouts on race day. It gives me tactics to use!
Out of the water and onto the Quintana Roo I was jazzed to get this show on the road. I love the first miles on the bike, because really, the only thing going through your mind is “How are my legs?” “Are they here today.” All I could come up with is COLD. My legs were cold, they weren’t warmed up and they were slow moving because they felt cold. So I decided to really give them some time. I told myself it’s a long day, let them warm up slowly.
3 miles into the race you go up your first climb. It takes about 5 minutes and I remember thinking “that was harder than when I rode it yesterday.” But you don’t always have to feel good in races. Sometime you just have to race hard, and know that it will all turn out okay in the end. At mile 15 I caught up to Rebecca and there were two other ladies in my age group right with her. I knew that when I went by this group of three I really needed to go and go hard. So I sat back (legal) and sat up and just watched for a little while. I ate a bar, and let my HR drop low and I just watched what was going on.
Then I went. I put in a big effort for about 3-4 minutes and just went as hard as I felt I could reasonably go. After this effort when I pulled off of it, Sarah Jarvis passed me and said “Hi Sonja.” I took a look back and realized that she was the only one that went with my move.
The rest of the race was the Sarah/Sonja back and forth show. Sarah would pass me on every single uphill and then I would bust a move to get back to her on every descent. The course is very hilly. There are so many climbs that I lost count. But there were lots of bomber descents as well and the course evened out pretty well with a mix of the two. I remember going through 25 miles at 1:06 and thinking “this isn’t that slow.”
At about mile 38ish Sarah and I passed another girl in our age group, Christine. She was riding wicked strong and hung tight as well. As we approached Snow Canyon I was trying to decide on my tactic. My athlete Jody passed me and I had given him the go ahead to ride Snow Canyon as hard as he wanted, so he was bustin’ a move. I decided that I would keep my HR "managable" and use the 10 mile descent to bust my final move. So I rode that canyon hard, but not all out. Both Sarah and Christine gapped me pretty big.
Oh, and I ran over a Post-it note half way up the hill and it got stuck in my breaks and was making a HORRIBLE sound. It was a sound like I got a puncture, and I thought it was stuck in the back break but found it in the front and got it out. Scared the crap out of me for a few minutes though.
When the descent came I nailed it home. Hard as I could go, full tuck position on those descents and it paid off. I got back past Christine and Sarah and rode into T1 in the lead in the AG.
After Oceanside and my solid bonk I decided to make a few changes. I had a race belt with hydration to put on so that I was prepared with fuel goodies. I also decided to run without socks. I’ve been running in Sketchers recently and ran a few runs without socks in my goRun2s but didn’t practice with wet feet (bad move Sonja). I got my stuff on and got out of there.
I had advised my athletes to be VERY careful about your effort the first 2 miles. It’s a deceiving course and only gets worse as it goes. I started running and the hill was there but my legs actually felt good. My HR monitor strap was bugging me (I feel like that thing is trying to kill me on the run, hate it hate it hate it), but all in all I was feeling a boat load better than Oceanside.
I passed Mud who’s camp I attended and threw him my HR chest strap and got some encouragement to keep it steady. I also turned around, wondering where Sarah was and SHE WAS RIGHT THERE. This got me really excited. I love a good foot race.
The more the miles racked up the faster and stronger I felt (thank you Jen Schumm for all those single leg squats over the winter). I remember running down the first downhill and just feeling so strong. I had asked Stacey Simms (Osmo nutrition) a few last minute questions about my nutrition plan and I was repeating “I love Stacey Simms” going up one of those hills because my nutrition was working flawlessly. Having the waist belt was great, and I will take it in Brazil for sure.
I slowly got a little more time on Sarah as the miles went by and with each little surge I put in. I kept the pressure on and tried to catch every girl I saw in front of me regardless of age group. I felt better running than I ever had before in my life.
At about mile 6 I realized that my feet were getting harassed with no socks on. It just made me run harder. There was nothing I could do about it. With 2 miles to go, you have been descending for a long time and they send you on this out and back that’s an evil hill. I ran up that thing hard and took a time split back to Sarah of 1:05. Knowing I felt great, it was the first time I really smiled. Don't get me wrong I was having fun, going fast is fun, but it was the first time I just was overwhelmed with absolute JOY. The last mile and a half I just wanted to feel the experience of the runners high, where you feel like you can run as hard as you want and it doesn’t even hurt. It was one of those days. I could do no wrong.
Coming into the finish I was so happy. It was so emotional to have one of those races where everything came together. Fitness Brains Tactics Emotions. It is so rare that everything falls into place and that was what happened for me out there.
I want to extend a huge congratulations to the ladies I shared the podium with who were not only the top 5 in the AG, but also in the top 6 amateurs. Way to go womens 30-34! Sarah Jarvis, Emily Ure, Christine Avelar, Carly Johann! Solid racing ladies!! Also, a huge shout out to PIC Michelle who opened up a new age group at this race, and took home the win, and did so for her mom.
Thank you to Kompetitive Edge, the new kit is great. Also thanks to Quintana Roo for my awesome bike. I didn’t have the fastest bike split, but it was close :) Amrita Bars, Punk Rock Racing, Osmo and NUUN have been so supportive. Thank you to them.
And also, a huge thank you to all those that have supported me through the good and the bad. My husband Troy and daughter Annie who continue to just love and accept me for who I am, tired, peppy, grumpy, you name it, they are my ROCKS. Thank you to the friends I have made training this year, especially the San Jose crew. And mostly, for the LOVE that I have received as of late.
Total Time: 4:47:28, swim: 30:57, T1: 1:40, Bike: 2:36:49, T2: 2:08, Run: 1:35:54, 1st Amateur, 1st 30-34