Ironman St. George 70.3 Race Report

Anyone that's been reading knows I've struggled with sickness this year. I always hate to use excuses - but when you have a poor race like I did, they are more explanations than anything. I had another relapse of sickness two days before the race and I wasn't properly prepared to race fast with all the days I took off leading up to it (also from being ill) = hence the ridiculous slow times/placing I put up. I still took a lot of positives away from it though. The biggest one was just not quitting. Not caring how the results played out or how I looked out there. I just refused to quit. At least I got to do it in one of the most beautiful race settings I've ever been at. Here's how it went down...

Pre Race: Amy and I along with the kids headed up to Vegas Wednesday to stay at a huge house with some friends. the house had a pool, kegerator, pool table, big screen TV's everywhere, BBQ....etc etc. Total vacation home and it was perfect way to relax leading up to the race. However the next morning I woke up feeling terrible. I had planned to go over the Vegas course a bit and get a good solid ride in but I ended up feeling fever-y, with the same head/chest congestion that I thought I got rid of a few weeks prior. Full on relapse again. This pretty much confirmed that I have this virus that I can't shake. I HATE going to the doctor and I HATE meds - but I might not have a choice now. I need to get better. There have been waaay too many times where I've gone to the doctor, paid the $50 co-pay only for the doctor to have a 5 minute conversation with me and say "Yup, it's going around. Just drink a lot of fluids and get plenty of sleep..." Lame.

Conditions were perfect!
So Thursday I took the day off and Friday I woke up without the fever but still really congested. I went on a chill ride in the am, packed up the family and we made our way to St. George. My Wattie team mate Aaron Dewald aka. professor hooked me up with the house he was staying only 1 mile from the swim start. This made logistics so much easier since T1 and T2 where miles apart - I wouldn't have to deal with the shuttle bus crap, sleep in a bit and hang out with the boys. That night I got my brand new custom Wattie Ink Blueseventy Helix and after putting it on for the first time I was really debating whether or not to race in it. I know the golden rule of never trying anything new on race day but after swimming in my old wetsuit that same week in Vail lake (near my house) my suit was just filling up everywhere with water. It's old, ton of holes, patches and it's too big on me as I was about 15 pounds heavier when I first got it. I decided to just go with the new one and cross my fingers it was a good decision...

Professor and I getting ready to race!
Swim: 1.2 miles 34:35 (1:47 pace) 62nd out of the water in AG

That morning I slammed my normal eggs, bacon and potato meal, headed over to T1, set up my transition which Ironman made extremely confusing. We had to have everything IN our Ironman bag before and after we transitioned onto the bike. Then we got an announcement saying we couldn't have our shoes on our bikes and that everything must be in the bag. Then they contradicted that statement again later...just super unorganized. Before I knew it - it was time to get in the water. It was advertised at 60 degrees, some said it was 56...either way, I thought the water was nice. About the same as it was at Oceanside. The conditions were absolutely perfect and the surroundings amazing. U2's "Beautiful Day" started blasting over the speakers and the cannon went of for the pros. Even though I was already hacking up and blowing out a ton of snot (sorry), there wasn't any other place I wanted to be.

I lined up about the second row and we were off! I only got about a 150 yard warm up in the new Helix and it was hard to tell how it'd play out. It was super tight and just not worked in much. About 800 meters in my arms were already burning. Not the typical hard swim set burning but just from my arms being restricted and not used to the suit. I grabbed some feet here and there, did a lot of dodging from previous waves and just did my best to swim as hard as I could while blowing out as much snot as I could in the process. Only being able to breath in and out of my mouth made it quite difficult especially under water. Add in elevation. St. George ranged from 2000-4500 ft - quite the nuisance for this sea level kid. I wasn't too bummed about my time. I swam a lot faster in Oceanside but that was salt water, sea level and I was a lot healthier - so no big deal.

T1: 2:43
Soon as I got out I let the wetsuit strippers do their thing since I wasn't quite sure how I'd do with the new suit. The funniest thing about T1 was I had the uncontrollable sneezes. About every 30 seconds I'd sneeze a bunch of times like crazy - snot, water blowing everywhere...ya, I was quite the sexy sight!

I'm the dark guy in the middle...
Bike: 2:38 (21.2 mph) 27th in AG (3,600 ft of climbing)

I got on my ISM saddle and Cannondale Slice and rolled out continuously eliminating the demons in my head. My body was telling me and giving me every sign that this was not a good idea. My mantra for the day was: Race hard and finish. Oceanside it was Stay Stubborn and Hurt. So you get the idea...

This bike course is pretty brutal. Definitely a climbers course which is why I picked it. I love to climb, I'm good at it - so why not race it? To be honest I was pretty surprised with my split. With all of the wheezing and coughing up stuff throughout the course I thought I'd be a lot slower. For those of you that have raced or worked out sick, I just had that achy - zero power feel to my legs. No bueno. I did a lot of passing and just tried to work hard while enjoying the beauty around me. My ism saddle was money (as always) and I fueled with Powerbar throughout the day. Using Perform, Cola Blasts and a Cookies and Cream Powerbar. To help with hydration I took in a lot of e21 recovery tabs throughout the ride too. After climbing the dreaded "Snow Canyon" climb towards the end of the ride it was a quick ride back to town and before I knew it I was headed into T2.

T2: 2:16

Took my sweet KASK Crono off, put my Kswiss Kwicky shoes on and rolled out. I saw Amy and the kids as I headed out which put a big smile on my face.

In a world of hurt!
Run: 13.1 miles - 1:48 (8:19 pace) (1,100 ft of climbing)

I knew going into this race sick and unprepared that the run was going to be a suffer fest. My strategy was simple. Don't walk and finish. I had a really hard time breathing and just coughed up junk throughout the run. Not fun. I think I had a 10 minute mile at one point. 1000+ft of climbing in a half marathon is pretty brutal. You were either going up or down. I was just in survival mode on the way out. Seeing team mates on the course and spectating helped...but only for like 2 seconds, then it was back to reality. Running's always been my weapon in triathlon and I rarely get passed. Let's just say there was a lot of passing going on. When you're going that slow you never run into those guys that are hurting because YOU are that guy. I was starting to get a little sketched out with about 4 miles to go. I started getting really bad chest/lung pain and that's when I started coughing/tasting a little bit of blood. Just a really bad chest infection. I just refused to quit. It was tough for my pride to finish but when I crossed that line I was smiling inside because it was one of the hardest things I've ever done. Everything in my body and mind told me to quit but I refused to. I will use this race for fuel when things get tough in future races.

Feeling it...
Finish Stats: 5:06:44 - 30th AG, 236 Overall

St. George was the hardest course I've ever done. We were lucky that we had perfect conditions as if it was hot or windy like it normally is this time of year out there, this could potentially be the hardest 70.3 out there (or at least right there with Vegas). So to almost break 5 hours under the circumstances I was facing, I'm pleased with the race. There's a lot of work to be done now. Amy and I have had a serious talk about the remainder of the season. I'm going "All In" if you will. I will dedicate every moment and every decision I can to triathlon these next 4 months leading up to Vegas. Balancing career and family with triathlon is difficult but I am so lucky that I have such an understanding wife that will deal with my commitment these next 4 months and let me give it a go. I understand that I can't become super fast in 4 months and that it takes a lot of time to get to a high level but when you do a lot of the little things right you can make huge gains and that's what I plan on doing.

What's next? Since I won the overall amateur title at San Diego International last year they are putting me in the elite/pro race this year. So this will be my first race with the big boys. SDIT is a legit race in San Diego (1k swim, 40k bike, 10k run) with most of the top locals racing so I will have my hands full. I'm just excited to mix it up with them and see if it elevates my game that day. Time to get rid of this sickness and countdown to Vegas.

Thanks Wattie Ink, team mates and all the sponsors that make triathlon such a fun sport. And thank YOU for reading!

More pics from the weekend:

Always a good time...
Kids had fun on the strip too - M&M Shop

Playing at the park
St. George was very kid friendly, especially with the splash park
right near the finish!
My support team!

Getting the rig ready, thanks again Dusty for letting borrow
some wheels!

Leaving for a hell-ish half marathon...

Kids loving the park

Bringing it in after a LONG day

Red Rocks where beautiful...ignore my man boobs!

Only smile of the day!

Katie got a good shot of me when I was in a very very bad place...


Thanks for reading. Cheers!!!


Mike Adams said...

This kind of persistence and passion is what fuels you James. Very proud of your tenacity.


Damie said...

Congrats on the upcoming elite wave for the next race. Glad you stuck this race out- sometimes we just have to gut through the unfortunate days. Your reward is an increase in mental toughness that you may be able to draw upon later. xo

Matt Green said...

Good job gutting it out. With any luck, you'll be fully recovered before the next event. Keep it up!

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