My race morning alarm went off especially early in St.George; it is a 30min bus ride from T2 to T1. I woke up at 3:30am and was out the door by 4:10am. I parked downtown then dropped my run gear bag in T2. I took the shuttle bus to Sand Hallow park and tried to catch a little nap along the way.
I always feel like there is a lot to do in transition when you’ve had to drop your bike off the day before. I make a list for myself so I don’t forget anything; I put it in the order that I want to get it done.
1) pump tires
2) attach SRM/ bike computer
3) attach nutrition
4) attach hydration
5) Clip in shoes and elastics
6) place helmet and sunglasses
7) final check of tires, skewers, and break pads before heading to swim start.
I was done early and thankfully was racked next to Sarah True who was so much fun to hang out with pre race. She and I are entirely different in our race morning organization;) Our mood was lighthearted but when it came time for swim warm up we were all business.
I started with Heather Wurtele on the right side. I got out super well and tried to keep my breathing calm and even. St. George is not high elevation but I find that I can feel it just a little when I’m swimming and the effort is high. I settled in on Sarah’s feet with Pam Oliveira pulling the train. We exited the water in this order.
Once we completed transition I surged into the lead. It wasn’t until deeper into the bike that I saw who all was in our lead group: Meredith Kessler, myself, Sarah True, Pamela Oliveira and Paula Findlay. At some point in the bike Meredith and I were able to get a gap, it wasn’t until after the race that I learned how this happened. Meredith and I were strong in different ways and our lead exchange depended on the terrain. Meredith was amazing at the steep climbs, I was better at the descents and then everything else was about even. Meredith would push the pace on those tough climbs and then I would fly to the front on the descent, and it was on a descent that we got our gap. Meredith and I exchanged lots of words of encouragement- we were having so much fun pushing each other.
Paula Findlay caught back up before the Snow Canyon climb and Sarah and Pam were about 30 seconds back. By the top of the climb Meredith had gapped Paula and I by 45 seconds. At this point I still didn’t realize Paula was right behind me. I descended into town and had a great transition. I could tell that I had nailed my nutrition on the bike- I finally gotten in my goal of 900 calories on the bike. I got some last minute tips from Matt at Base Performance and I was feeling so good. I knew when I stood up to run, that would be the test of my nutrition. For the past two years I have thrown up on the run in 70.3s and Ironmans and since switching to Base in 2018 this has thankfully stopped.
When I got onto the run, I could tell my muscles were tired but I was okay; I wasn’t going to throw up. My stomach felt good, no sloshing. I focused on my pacing and continued good nutrition. I ran smart for the first 5 miles knowing how hard this course is. Having the ability to focus on pacing instead of “don’t throw up” was a totally new sensation to me. When Sarah True came by me at mile 5, I surged a little to run with her for a moment but mostly it was my kick in the butt to say, “ok the race is here, you’ve got to go now”. So I lifted my pace and I negative split my half marathon. I caught Meredith just before mile 8, then Jeanni caught me at mile 10. I was expecting Heather to come charging up to me at some point, so I kept pushing as hard as I could trying to keep Jeanni in my sights for as long as possible.
The last 4 miles are downhill and my quads were screaming. It wasn’t until 800m to go that someone finally told me that I had a couple minutes on 5th place. I felt myself relax, but not slow down- I had been looking at my watch and seeing that I was going to run my fastest half in over 2 years. I crossed the line absolutely thrilled with 4th and absolutely over the moon about my performance. I was also so happy for my friends on the podium- it was a very emotional finish line. I have never felt more calm and focused in a race than I did in St. George. Everything that it is going on with my family right now as centralized my focus and magnified what is truly important. I proved to myself that I can be there for my family and also still be great athlete. I feel driven and more focused than ever and look forward to racing Alcatraz in a few weeks.
Thanks for reading!