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Ford Ironman St. George - Utah - TriathlonFull Ironman

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St. George, Utah
United States
65F / 18C
Total Time = 14h 33m 32s
Overall Rank = 1058/2348
Age Group = M 40-44
Age Group Rank = 203/443
Pre-race routine:

Well, this was my first every IM. I've been training specifically for this since about October. Living in Utah, this has meant a lot of dark mornings on the trainer and treadmill. I think in all I probably rode 10 times outside before the IMSG. I had a pretty good base, having done two HIMs last year, but it was still a huge commitment for me and my wife/kids. But, now writing this a few days after IMSG, it was well worth it.

All my training has been using my Garmin 305. To make sure it would last the entire race day, I wore it around St. George on Friday. After it ran down, I realized to my horror that I had forgotten to bring the charger! So that would mean I would compete in my first IM with no mph, lap, HR or any other data. I could have thrown up right then and there, but my real mantra has been to worry about things I could control, and this--because of my stupidity--was something completely out of my control. So I would have to pay attention to my body and my RPE.

Got up at 3:45 (!) after a really bad 4.5 hours of sleep. Was a bit too amped to fall asleep and tossed and turned a lot. At a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and drank a bottle of water at about 4:00. Ate a Stinger gel at about 6:00.
Event warmup:

Took the bus down to Sand Hollow at about 5am. Set up my bike and then waited in line for 20 minutes for the port a potty. Didn't really warm up much at all; not a real need with 14+ hours of racing ahead of me.
  • 1h 20m 9s
  • 3862 meters
  • 02m 04s / 100 meters

As this was my first IM, this was my first "real" 2.4 mile OWS. I was pretty excited walking down to the water; it's an amazing sight to see that many incredible athletes in the water at one time. I got in, splashed water in my face (very cold 59 degrees!) and swam out towards the middle of the pack when the cannon went off. As expected there was a lot of jostling, getting hit, kicked, etc.

Part of my approach to this sport in general--and especially for swimming--is to really try and "stay in the now." That means not worrying about how far I've come, or how far I have to go. I'm usually very good about this in the water, and I did a good job in this swim. I sighted really well and was able to deal with swimming over and around people (including the dude with the purple cap who kept zig-zagging right in front of me. Thanks.). I felt really good, rounded the buoy after the first 1000 meters for the next 500. Did those well, too. Sighted well, headed left up the backstretch after 1500 and then got a side cramp. I get those sometimes while swimming, so knew I could keep going on and just breathe through it. It went away after about 5 minutes. Long 1600 meter backstretch. Felt good, sighted well and went just inside each buoy. Another left turn for a 600 meter or so (not sure if these all add up) straight line to the boat ramp. Really pushed this segment, as I hadn't stopped at all and didn't know what my splits were. It was so cool to sight and see the crowds lining the boat ramp and know I'd be there in a few minutes. Hands were getting numb at the end from the cold. Noticed a noise in the water and realized it was me, groaning with effort as I exhaled.

Got out of the water, took off my top and then over to the stripper who helped with my bottoms. Ran and got my T1 bag and then into the change tent, after seeing my friend Paul and his wife along the barriers. Felt good, though a bit dizzy and "out of it" which is normal after a long swim in cold water.
What would you do differently?:

1:20 was my stretch goal (did 39:39 in Oceanside a month ago), so I feel really good about this performance. a 2:05/100 is great for me, especially given the traffic out there. I'm sure I lost a minute swimming around people, etc.

What would I do differently? Not much, really. Tactically I did really well. Swam straight, didn't stop, sighted well. I guess just improve my overall swim fitness.
Transition 1
  • 10m 26s

I knew I wanted to change into my bike kit, since it has WAY more butt padding than my tri shorts. My T1 goal was 6 minutes, so I was 4 over. Hard to find a place to change in the mens change tent, and I was still mentally out of it due to the cold water. I got all my stuff on, but it of course stuck to my wet limbs, etc. It was a huge transition area, so that also contributed to my slow time.

This being my first IM, I really had no clue what to expect for my time, but I didn't rush and felt like it went okay.
What would you do differently?:

Maybe find some tri shorts I could bike in and not change. That would have saved me about 6-7 minutes, but really, who cares? I knew I wasn't going to win anything, so wanted to be comfortable.
  • 7h 02m 33s
  • 112 miles
  • 15.90 mile/hr

Again, I had to do this ride with no speed, HR or any other data since I had let my Garmin battery die. Literally the first time in years I rode my bike without constantly looking at the data. It felt really strange at first, since I had no way whatsoever of ascertaining kind of how I was performing.

Thankfully I had ridden the course 3x in the past few months, so I know roughly what my split/segment times should be in order for me to hit my goal of 7:00 (stretch goal of 6:45).

The first segment was about 22 miles into St. George (actually, up on the Parkway). I had done that in training in 1:11 and 1:15; I did it in the IM in 1:13, so felt good about that. Wasn't pushing it, was just trying to start eating, take my Sportslegs, etc. There's a big hill outside of Hurricane (and a few others) where people were really going slowly, so it felt good to pass some people there (though I knew they'd catch me later on the run!). My legs felt fine, no real issues. I knew it was going to be a long, long day, but I wanted to enjoy it (really my main goal for the race). I had no clue how I'd be feeling during the run, so wanted to stay within myself and be controlled. I had my wife write some slogans on my forearm with a Sharpee that I could look at from time to time to keep centered, including an M-dot in a box, which helped me stay in the now. May sound stupid, but it IS a long day, and it was really important to me to just enjoy each moment, enjoy the opportunity to compete, to be in great shape, to share the day with others who had similar goals. I just felt really thankful that I could participate in something like this. That feeling helped me--in retrospect--have a great day and be positive throughout.

I wanted to do the first loop in 2:50; I ended up doing it in 2;39, which was a bit too fast. Again, I had no clue what my pace was at all. I felt okay, handled all the climbs well including the "Wall", and luckily there wasn't too much wind on the first loop. Was thankful for the special needs bag and my PB&J! Tasted great, as I was really getting sick of Gu and CarboPro. Saw the pros fly by me at about mile 70 or so; amazing what pace they can operate at. Saw my cute wife just after starting the 2nd loop, was nice to see her encouraging face.

Lap 2 goal was about 2:50, and I think I ended up doing it in 3:00+. I purposefully slowed down to save energy for the run, but still did the climbs well. WAY more headwind the whole way out; it was brutal at times. That much said, I train in wind nearly every ride here in Utah, so it wasn't anything I hadn't experienced before. I just kept moving forward and enjoying the day. Saw some guys walking the climbs, so felt good I had trained enough not to have to. My butt was getting so sore the past hour or so, was really eagerly awaiting getting off the bike. Flew down the hills at what must have been close to 50mph (no watch, but never hit the brakes and tucked the whole way down!). I was expecting to finish the bike in well under 7 hours, but forgot about the little no pass zone they set up towards the end which included another cruel climb before speeding into downtown St. George, so ended up finishing in 7:02 and change. 2nd loop was 46 miles to 44 for the first loop, which threw me a bit.

Basically hit my goal for this ride, which was cool given that I was flying blind out there.
What would you do differently?:

Take my Garmin!! Was really odd to have no race input at all on this.

My nutrition is still my weak point. Often felt queasy on the bike and had a hard time eating enough. I did drink 3 16-ounce bottles of water and probably 3 of my own bottles, so was hydrated okay, I think. I really think CarboPro makes me stick to my stomach. It might also be the level of exertion--don't really know for sure. Again, the lack of winter training opportunities on the bike hindered my ability to really nail down a fool-proof nutrition plan. Yes I rode on a trainer, but it's just not the same thing.

Overall I was happy with my ride, though I would have love to come in under 7 hours!
Transition 2
  • 10m 25s

Man, 10 minutes speed by when you're tired! Like T1, took the time to completely change into my run gear. That took way more time; suppose it would have been like a 2 minute transition if I only had to change my shoes. But again, wanted to be comfortable for what would be a long evening.
What would you do differently?:

Next race I might just not change at all...
  • 5h 50m
  • 26.2 miles
  • 13m 22s  min/mile

First marathon ever. Have done 4 HIMs and 2 standalone HMarys. Not known in these parts as a great distance runner! :-) Goal was 5:00 (naive, I know now in retrospect), so I was considerably over. That much said, I had NO idea what to expect heading into this run. That, plus no watch for HR/pace data, meant that I was really in unchartered waters here. So, overall, I feel really good about my "run."

My goal was always to walk the aid stations and then to walk the hills, which is pretty much what I did on this brutal course. That much said, the aid stations started to stretch into longer walking pauses, as is probably normal.

Leaving T2, I felt pretty good. My legs were fairly strong and it was obvious to me that I hadn't pushed the bike too hard. Aid stations and miles started passing. I saw my awesome tri coach a few times (she would later qualify for Kona--nice job!) as well as a couple buddies from work I've been training with. It makes it so much more rewarding to share this with people you know/care about. As time went on, though, I kind of started feeling like that with everyone out there, especially after the sun set and it got harder. So, it was up Diagonal Street, then up hills to the Elks Lodge and up to Bluff, where I walked. I stuck to my plan basically the first loop, really only walking the hills. I think my first split was like 2:42 or something--much longer than I'd hoped for--but I was still mentally okay with that. I felt good, and it was amazing to see that I was actually ahead of people. And there were a LOT of people jogging; I hardly saw anyone (maybe 5%) running the hills.

It was a bit hard at the turn-around spot to head back out when there were already people finishing down the road and you could hear MR calling out names, and so forth. (Actually, you could hear that from up on the bluff at certain points, too. What an amazing run venue...) But I saw my wife and best friend, so that gave me more strength. The 2nd loop was of course way more challenging on every level. I was having a hard time eating very much, and anything sweet made me feel sick to my stomach. So I alternated water with ice and Gatorade, and threw in some handfuls of pretzels. Up and out again; it was fun to see people on their home stretch and to think that I'd be in that position in a few hours. Turning onto the parkway, I could tell my legs were getting tired. One of the strange things was that my ribs hurt-actually, everything was starting to hurt. But I had no doubt that I could keep going. I was able to run the flats (what few there were) and the downhills, but I admittedly walked more the 2nd loop. At the turn around (mile 19 or 20) it was so cool to think I was heading "home." The sun started setting on the red rock cliffs and mountains, and it was really beautiful. I think I'll remember that view for the rest of my life. I started realizing "Hey, I only have 4 miles left. I can do 4 miles!" and ran the whole way back down to the finish line, with a few pauses. It was a mighty struggle, though, but I kept thinking "This is MY Ironman" and I knew I would finish, even though not at my goal time.

So, now in the dark, I ran down Diagonal Street. The runners were slimming out now, so I rounded the last round about and saw the finish line ahead. I just let my legs go and ran as fast as I could. I really can't describe what it felt like to run through thousands of people, to see the lights, to feel the electricity in the air, to hear your name called in front of everyone and to hear "Mark Willder, YOU are an Ironman!!!!"

It still gives me goosebumps, and I suspect it always will.

What would you do differently?:

Run more, longer. Longest run was 19 miles, so this was a stretch for me. Again, not having a clue what to expect, next time I'll be better prepared.
Post race
Warm down:

Crossed the finish line and gave my coach, Keena, a huge hug (she was in the Finishers' Area). Took photo, and just smiled at everyone and everything. I was DONE!!

Nearly fainted, though, after I found my wife. Got really woosy and had an out-of-body experience while talking with her and my friend. I don't think I was giving up the ghost (!), but just that my blood pressure dropped so soon. Got up and walked around and gradually got better.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

No Garmin! Just overall lack of experience, I think. Overall, though, this was a GREAT race for me and I am proud I did my first IM in 14:33!

Event comments:

What an amazing venue, incredible volunteers. Very well organized (though still need more potties at the run!). Would love to do this again. Incredibly hard course, but a great challenge for my first IM.

Now, writing this a few days afterward, I'm still really happy with how my body and mind performed. Yes, I would have liked to finish in 14 hours--my original goal. Yes, I would have liked to run more and walk less. But at the end of the day, my main goal was always just to finish with a smile on my face. And I really did that. And now I belong to an elite club of people who can call themselves an Ironman. And it's very, very cool indeed.

Last updated: 2009-06-11 12:00 AM
01:20:09 | 3862 meters | 02m 04s / 100meters
Age Group: 171/443
Overall: 944/2348
Performance: Good
Suit: Full wetsuit
Course: LONG counter-clockwise rectangle in Sand Hollow reservoir.
Start type: Deep Water Plus:
Water temp: 59F / 15C Current: Low
200M Perf. Below average Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Average
Waves: Navigation: Good
Rounding: Good
Time: 10:26
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: Yes
Getting up to speed: Good
07:02:33 | 112 miles | 15.90 mile/hr
Age Group: 174/443
Overall: 855/2348
Performance: Good
No Garmin...
Wind: Strong with gusts
Course: Down into St. George, then 2 loops up past Ivins, Gunlock Reservoir, up the wall, through Veyo and down to St. George.
Road: Rough Dry Cadence:
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Not enough
Time: 10:25
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
05:50:00 | 26.2 miles | 13m 22s  min/mile
Age Group: 239/443
Overall: 1265/2348
Performance: Average
No data
Course: 2 out and backs up Bluff Street onto Red Hills Parkway. Amazing scenery...
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 5
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

2010-05-03 2:20 PM

Subject: Ford Ironman St. George - Utah

2010-05-03 2:23 PM
in reply to: #2833887

Subject: ...
This user's post has been ignored.
2010-05-03 2:55 PM
in reply to: #2833887

Fort Collins, CO
Subject: RE: Ford Ironman St. George - Utah
Congrats on your finish IRONMAN!  Amen to no Garmin, those gadgets just get in the way of a good performance anyways.  I always have more fun without a watch.  You are right, you will remember that race for the rest of your life, cherish it!
2010-05-03 3:49 PM
in reply to: #2834015

Sin City
Subject: RE: Ford Ironman St. George - Utah
Nice work!
2010-05-03 4:07 PM
in reply to: #2833887

Extreme Veteran
, Utah
Subject: RE: Ford Ironman St. George - Utah
Congrats, Iroman. You did awesome!
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