24:30, New PR by over 1:30!!
After a success swim at Galveston and having my best week in the pool leading into St. George I felt very confident about my swim. Heading down to the water seeing many of the male pros that I only ever see on TV at Kona was a rather surreal experience. Was amazing to get to line up along side the worlds best in the sport. As the gun went off I was able to position myself towards the front of the second pack but unfortunately missed the break when the lead group splits. After taking stock of the gap they were able to open after the first turn I decided that I wouldn't be able to close the gap to them and slotted into 2nd / 3rd position in the chase pack to conserve energy and stick with the remaining pack. I honestly didn't think we were swimming as fast as we were until exiting the water and seeing the clock on the shore reading just over 24 minutes. The water exit immediately put us running up a hill to the bike racks and after accidentally missing the wet suit strippers I lost a few seconds struggling to get my wet suit off. I want to thank Coach Tim Floyd of Magnolia Masters for coaching my swim workouts.
2:28:30 - oh how the hills kept coming
Out of transition, we proceeded onto the bike course where we faced over 4,000' of climbing on the day. After having trained in Texas and Florida from January till the race I wasn't prepared for the severity of the hills of the pace that the top men would be able to keep on them. I was paced by Sebastian Kienle and Jordan Rapp a few miles into the bike course and was astonished at the speed those guys were pumping out. The first 10 miles of the bike were quite cold as the water temp was only 59/60 F and the beginning of the bike course was shaded by several cliffs and the low early morning sun. I learned the importance of really studying not only the terrain but also the sun exposure (or lack there of) today. Most triathlons are famous for heat and wind but I learned that cool conditions can also be a feature of some courses. I struggled to get my legs engaged and muscles warmed up until we were onto the Red Hills Parkway and by this point I was having serious issues with my right IT band and excessively low HR's. As we rolled into the infamous hills of the Snow Canyon State Park I did all I could to manage the time lost throughout the bike course but entering T2 and seeing many of the bikes already racked was not an uplifting site. I definitely took away some important lessons from this race heading into a solid training block before my next scheduled race in Vineman, CA. i let the race slip away from me when many of the top men rode past me after exiting the water in front of them. Assuming that I would not be able to hold their pace I simply allowed the race to pass me by instead of trying to elevate my performance to what would be necessary for the day. I also learned the importance of continuing to eat even when the climate isn't as demanding as many races are. Only eating 400 calories on the bike for 56 miles doesn't leave your body with anything to call on to be able to push - learned this the hard way and I will make sure to learn from this going forward.
Out on the run, we meditatively began to climb back up onto Red Hills Parkway for what would be an out and back 13.1 miles. While I knew that I wasn't going to have the performance that I was looking for today I wanted to try and improve upon my run split from Galveston three weeks before despite the nearly 2,000 feet of climbing that lay ahead. Leading into the race we felt that if I paced better then at Galveston and held back more the first few miles that I should be able to run a 1:20 half marathon and so it was to be. Not making the same mistake on the bike and ensuring that I took in proper nutrition throughout the run course I was able to rebound some and made up a few places in the race and finished the run split exactly were we had pegged it from training. The hilly course did however beat up on my legs and IT's even more and definitely contributed to needing a full week off after the race before resuming training a few days ago. As we resume training we are taking a new approach to my run training in the short term, in order to let my legs heal up and try and give the inflammation time to fully subside, though long runs being done in the pool and increasing core and weight training to build future durability. Hopefully with an aggressive PT strategy for the remaining weeks in May I will be back to full strength in time to race Vineman and Calgary 70.3's before entering my final build block to prep for IMWI in early September.