I flew into Las Vegas on Wednesday and met my friend Katie, who would be racing as well. We had the most easy and amazingly beautiful drive north to St George. I will tell you all, if you haven't been to St George, Utah, consider going to race next year at the 70.3 event. It is one perfect town to have a race. Nice roads, friendly people, and stunning scenery. I never once felt the chaotic tension that is sometimes around city venues with tons of people, traffic, and that frankly don't enjoy having an Ironman in their community. St George was none of these. The entire town was welcoming and accommodating to all of us.
My husband Rob arrived in late Wednesday, which gave Katie and I a chance to drive the bike course and check out the swim venue without dragging him around. I hope he appreciated that, as he would be number one bike mechanic, sherpa, and ultimate spectator on call for us the rest of the weekend.
Thursday was an easy relaxing day. I just went and took a swim at Sand Hollow. The water was so clean and clear. I am sure many of the triathletes appreciated the conditions. I got to finally swim in my new Blue Seventy Helix wetsuit. It was awesome. The most notable difference in the new suit is the feel with my catch. I can really feel the water so much more. I really felt comfortable and strong in the water. Then after the swim, I went to the normal pro rules meeting, and bike shop to get my bike tweeked a little bit. Everything seemed in place.
Friday was a little of the same. Jumped on the bike for about 30 mins, and got a little wet in the reservoir. It was really windy and hot on Friday, but the weather forecast for Saturday, race day, said low 80's and no wind over 9mph. That seemed perfect for me!!!
Saturday morning came around fast, but I was feeling ready and centered. I had dealt with my pre race anxiety very well. I choose to read books that keep my mind in a good place. This week I was reading, "ZEN GOLF". Now although the book was written for golfers, any one in any sport can relate to the mind/body tool in this book and put them into action for competition.
Katie and I got on the shuttle bus about 4:45. It was unbelievable how awake and chatty everyone was that early in the morning. We actually put in our headphones and tuned it out. Too much talk about race strategy and planning right before the race can create a lot of anxiety. For Ironman, I would hope that everyone would already have their plan in place and not need to worry or talk about it, but everyone deals with the stress in different ways. For me, I have learned to trust my plan and no matter what anyone else is doing or thinking, I stick to my plan.
It was pretty breezy out at the Sand Hollow State Park transition. It was a little chilly too, but perfect as we all knew the day would warm up in no time. Mike Reilly was on the speakers directing athletes where to go and announcing that the winds would die down before the start and we would be in perfect conditions for racing. Well, if you all haven't heard yet, mother nature threw us all for a loop Saturday morning. The pro entered the water around 6:30 and the water was calm and cool. I was feeling very centered and at ease. The swim is where I usually carry the most anxiety early on. I am still a work in progress on my swim and tend to worry about the outcome. The biggest focus of my race day plan was to stay present at every moment. So far it was working. I felt the most relaxed I ever have at the race start. The plan was to just put my head down and go my best. And that is what I did. I settled into a comfortable pace right off. The first stretch was 1,000 meters and I was able to clear the mind and just keep moving forward. I thought, "wow this is going to be my best Ironman swim yet." Little did I know what was coming. Let's just call it the PERFECT STORM. As, I turned the first buoy, I see that Jessie Donavan is with me and that both of us are realizing the water was getting a bit choppy. Not a big deal and we pushed ahead the 300+ meters to the next buoy. At the next turn it was like being smacked in the face.....a thousand times. The water was obviously getting worse and now we were directly into the chop for the next 1800 meters. For me these waves were a bit scary, but having someone by me made it less so. I've never really swam in bad conditions. I put my head down and stayed present and just realized this wouldn't be my fastest time but I would make it out of the water without a doubt.
However, right about this time I started getting a shooting pain in my left hip. Out of nowhere, and not sure why. I wanted to freak out and for a moment a hundred things came into my mind about what was happening. I saw Rob and he just reminded me to keep pushing forward and do what I could do. I went back to being present and thinking about the rest of my body that still felt pretty good. I had to slow down and eventually was off of my pace, but I just had to control what was controllable. In the end, Gillian Clayton, who I had not seen the entire run, comes flying from behind the last half mile to best me by a minute. She had an amazing run split. I kicked it into a the gear I had left but couldn't catch her. I now wonder what if I had pushed through my pain harder, faster, longer or done this or that, but the past is behind me and I'm still learning a lot about myself and racing triathlon. I am so happy with the result that I accomplished at Ironman St George. It was an extremely tough day out there and the goal I had for myself to stay in the moment and keep going until the end was a success.
Congrats to Meredith Kessler for putting out an spectacular race. She is the real deal!
I have to say thanks to my sponsors who help make all of this racing possible for me. I could not do with with out their support. Thank you, HED Wheels, PowerBar, Fuel Belt, Blue Seventy, Maxxis and Rudy Project.
I also have to thank Heath Thurston and Jimi Young for helping pace me up Diagonal St when I started to feel my worst. I am never surprised by the love and care that other triathletes show each other. It is really an amazing sport to be a part of. To Sue Hutter, for being the ultimate spectator, support crowd, and photographer. And finally to Rob Spitler. I could not do any of this without you. I appreciate your support day in and day out.
As we drove away from St George the Rolling Stones came on the radio and this sorta stuck with me.
"You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might get what you need."