Sunday, September 16, 2012

2012 Iron Man St George

St George Iron Man 2012 more than just a swim-bike-run. Team Bruin headed out on race morning at 4:30 am to meet our friends Brandon, Dave and Brittany at the bus for our ride to Sand Hollow Reservoir. We dropped our special needs bags in their designated boxes and away we went. Meri was funny because she brought more stuff in her bags than she would have packed for a trip to Hawaii (smart). After arriving at the lake we made a few last minute preps on the bike, sun-screened up and zipped up the wet-suits and before we knew it, we were headed down to the lake. The walk down is like a cattle call herd you into a narrow fenced carpeted pathway into the lake. We moved to the side of everyone and waited a seemingly long 10 minutes before heading out to the far left start buoy. At 5minutes to the 7am start we made our way to the buoy line to the left. This would help to keep us straight for the 1000 meter stretch North towards the big sand mountain. Just as we entered the water I noticed a slight breeze and the flags started to flutter a little bit more and more as the sun rose over the horizon. I didn't think much of it other than it was kinda weird timing. It was my friend Brandon's first Iron Man and he was going to try to stay with me following my feet the best he could. Very difficult to do when 1000 people are around you, but it is worth a try. The area around me started to get crowded and the cannon went off and away we went. The first 800 meters heading south I was in a groove and it was smooth. I was hitting buoy marker after marker like planned and we approached the turn. As I got near the turn to head east I felt my body rise and fall a few times. It reminded me of a swim I did last year in Oahu with the ocean swells and waves but much worse. I thought “uhh ohh” that wind has picked up, or as other people described it as who is driving there big boat out here causing these wakes? Things got crazy as I made the left turn. Turn buoys create bottlenecks with swimmers and I learned from last year that this left turn was very difficult because it is directly into the sun. If you hold up you get climbed over. I could not see anything except spray of water everywhere. I knew if I kept swimming slightly into the sun and follow the majority that I would reach the next turn. Wave after wave would hit me from the left, at least every two seconds. Finally I spotted the bouy and made the turn directly into the wind. My body was then rising and falling into the crest and trough of each wave. I would tread water and try to sight but could not see very well at all. I would get pummeled in the face if I did not time the waves. Treading water was not the thing to do right now and I had no choice but to put my head down and swim up over and through each wave. Every 20-30 strokes I would pop my head up to sight. I did not seem to be getting anywhere. I was hoping I was not staying in one spot. I used the Sand Hollow Island as a landmark in the hazy distance. I knew we had to get past the island and keep it on our left. Treading water was harder than swimming, so I just kept going. I remember my swim stroke was chaotic, crossing over, under, and into wave after wave. Slowly I was making it. My hamstrings and calf muscles were on the verge of cramping and I did what I could to relax and not tense those muscles. Finally the island was too my left I new I was getting close. Off to the distance I could see multiple kayaks struggling to get upright and one pulled up on a submerged rock helping a swimmer to take them to shore. Out of the blue I heard someone yelling my name, it was Meri!! holy cow what a relief, she was swimming right by me and I didn't even know it. We tried to follow each other from that point into the finish. Heading into and up the boat ramp my I had made it and Meri was ahead of me. My buddy Heath was right with me too. It was a weird coincidence because we seem to make this a habit in races we do together. I usually jog up the ramp at a race but today I just walked in amazement. Wet suit strippers quickly removed my suit. Immediately my skin chilled as the wind hit my wet skin. I began to shiver like crazy. I hurried into the change tent and found a heater in the corner. I sat there huddled over the heater with this guy from France. My jaw muscles and teeth felt like lock jaw. I could barely talk as we tried to communicate and share our experience in the water. He said he had never been in anything like that before. I would just nod my head up and down in agreement. I put my dry clothes on and slowly started to get back to normal. Volunteers kept checking on us and kept saying we had plenty of time. I knew once I got on the bike I would start to warm up again. I could hear the howling wind and knew it was going to be a tough 112 miles. 1:36 swim (21 minutes longer than my best) and a whoppin 24 minutes in T1. I could have made hot cocoa with marshmallows and watched my favorite episode of Magnum PI in this time. It actually only seemed like 5 minutes but time flies when your having fun!! Heading out of T1 to the highway was tough into the wind. I was not going to fight the wind so I got as aero as possible. Sand blasted across the road on the road out of Sand Hollow as I pedaled through it. Coming into town on Redhills Parkway was a slight relief. New road had been paved and the wind seemed to have died down or was actually just being blocked from the landscape. I made a pit-stop in Ivins at the aid station. I kept thinking now we will have a tail wind up the canyon to Gunlock. The wind unfortunately was coming down through the canyon, headwind again. My plan was to keep the heart rate in check on these climbs but it was hard to do battling the wind. I remember getting to Gunlock reservoir and seeing whitecaps from one end to the other. A quick pitstop in Gunlock at mile 45 and I knew I had to get to The Wall where the tail wind would help up one of the hardest hills. The Wall was reached and I turned into a tail wind and sat up. Ahhh up the wall was actually quiet moving with the wind and sitting up to catch the wind on my back. Veyo was a positive mood changer as I rode by and yelled hello to my favorite pie shop. I was feeling sick from the time I left the lake and figured I must have swallowed water and air in the washing machine experience at the lake. I needed to get to Mile 55 special needs. I swapped out my bottles and nutrition at special needs and away I went. I stopped at the next aid station and there is Meri!! She says, “are you on your second lap”? I laughed. I went to the pota john and felt much better, took two Aleve and within 5 minutes I was feeling decent again. I thought this is awesome!! We get to ride the descent back to town together!! We were flying down. We were able to stay within sight of each other for 10-15 miles or so. We got back into near Gunlock and I slowly pulled away but knew she would do her thing and I would do mine. The winds on the second loop were still there but not like they were on the first loop. In Veyo, I stopped to talk to my friend Devaney at Veyo Pies. No I did not eat any dessert! I can't remember what I told her, but I asked her later and she said “You said with a beat face, almost sad, that "it has been very tough, not sure if I can do the run or not, not much strength left, we'll see when I get to town. Meri is behind me a little ways, we rode together for about ten miles and she should be a couple miles back" . She had rock music blasting for the athletes. Off I went and I knew this tail wind would help me recover again. The decent was very fast in some places with some athletes reaching 50plus mph!! I was cautious and didn't want to get blasted by a crosswind at that speed. Coming into town I remember laughing and thinking... MARATHON?? After this?? Ha ha ha. Ryan and Sterling were an awesome site to see as I rolled into T2. I made sure I stopped my watch with authority knowing I made it through the most challenging of any of my longest rides on a TT bike. Transition 2 tent was another mental prep to get out on this run course. I changed out of cycling shorts into running shorts, got all sun-screened up and exited T2. I walked a good half mile and my friend and neighbor Adam said “You got plenty of time”. Legs started to run finally and I continued to do a run/walk through aid stations. I really liked this run course with spectators lined all over. Shade trees helped to keep it a bit cooler on the course. My body and mind fell like a roller coaster as I felt good and bad, good and bad. This course also allows you to see the other racers multiple times on the course. I ran with my friend Heath for a while, a friend Paul kept me going from the sidelines!! Couldnt thank him enough. I saw my family members on the Hot Corner. The Lamberts, Whitneys, Funks, and Kings yelling my name. Students from school cheerin like mad. I couldn't wait to get back to them after I would pass them. And YES, I saw Meri running with our buddy Lyle both looking strong. I said to Lyle, “I will trade you spots”!! I knew I would be able to finish this race with Meri again!! I was not too far up the road. At Mile 20 my friend Brittany Dell says: “Rich!! you are going to get to finish this race with your wife again”!! This had to be the greatest thing to hear all day!! And soon enough we were together to finish this race together!! Incredible experience! The crowd of people at the finish were incredible. We both went down to the massage tents and we felt both felt pretty good after. The cold pizza was not appealing. We had to retrieve our bikes and get to the car. We decided we wanted fries from Macdonalds. We have not been there in months. Around 2a.m. we hit the hay and boy what a day! I am so glad all were safe this with the conditions we faced. IronMan is hard. We did the best we could with the situations that were dealt to us. People often ask me what my goal time is going to be. 4 IronMan finishes all at 4 different hours. I have to say: “I have no idea, I just want to get to that finish-line”!!

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