Thursday, June 4, 2015

Sand Hollow Olympic Triathlon ~ 5-30-15

On May 30th, I raced in the Sand Hollow Olympic Triathlon in Sand Hollow State Park. It is located just outside of St. George, Utah which is about two hours from our house. The race was put on my BBSC. They always put on a great event and I happily race most of their races. 

We stayed in a hotel the night before so we could pick up the race packets on Friday night and be close to the race. We always stay at the Holiday Inn Express in Washington, Utah. It is only a few minutes from the park entrance. 

I arrived at transition at 6:30 AM and my wave was scheduled to start at 7:15 AM. I prefer to arrive earlier than that but my morning didn't run as smoothly as planned. So I didn't have a lot of time to roam around to find friends. I quickly unloaded the car and got my gear set up in transition. My assigned bike rack was almost full but I was able to find a spot by asking a few people to scoot their stuff over a bit. After I was all set up, I found my husband and then my boys. My husband was racing the duathlon and my boys were spectating. 

At about 7:05 AM I made my way to the boat ramp and got in line with my fellow purple caps (40+ females, all athena, and all relays). After the 7:10 AM wave started, we were able to cross the timing mat and walking down the dock. We then were told to jump in the water to prepare for the floating start. I gathered near a few of my friends for a few words of encouragement. Then there was a short countdown from 5 and we were off. 

The swim was a long skinny rectangle. The first section had us swimming directly into the sun. It was impossible to see the buoys. I just hoped that I was going the right way. After many minutes of uncertainty, I finally swam to the final buoy and made the left turn. From there I was able to see where I was going. I quickly was at the other turn buoy and made the final left turn to begin my long, straight swim back to the boat ramp. I could see the buoys and was making my way towards them when I noticed a large group of swimmers on my left. Either they were off course or I was. Then I had a paddle boarder cut right in front of me. I popped up and he said to continue towards the buoys. He was making his way to the rouge pack to round them up so it appears that I was the one going the right way. I felt like I was swimming well and continued until my hands touched the bottom and I stood up. I hit the ground running and quickly took my cap and goggles off and unzipped my wetsuit. I then ran up the boat ramp to the transition area and crossed the timing mat. My 1500 meter swim time was 28:09.

Transition went pretty smooth. I finished getting my wetsuit off and then sat down to dry my feet off. The only small issue I had was that I packed socks that were a bit tight so trying to get them on wet feet was tricky. After that wrestling match, I put my bike shoes and helmet on. I picked up my bike gloves to put on but decided to go without them at the last minute. I dropped them and grabbed my bike. I dashed to the bike out and crossed the timing mat. My T1 time was 2:31.

The bike portion starts with a nice downhill section which allowed me a few seconds to catch my breath. It then makes a left hand turn and has a small flat section. Then it begins to climb at about the one mile mark. I had a small problem with my chain as I switch to an easier gear. It locked up and wouldn't move. I had to get off my bike and mess with the pedals. Luckily, it was a quick fix and I was back on my bike after only a few seconds. The climb culminated with a long 6% hill affectionately called "The Beast". I have done this hill two times before so I knew what to expect. I just put my head down and climbed. Once we crested that hill we were greeted with a nice downhill to the sprint course turnaround. I had only done that distance before so everything past that point was new to me.  

The road condition deteriorated and it became difficult to hold a fast pace. It was a nice flat section at least. We turned onto another country road that had a slight climb to it until the turnaround point. After that, I pushed it. Near the top of "The Beast" I saw my husband working his way up the hill. I said a quick hello and then flew down the hill.

I don't know how fast I got but it was really fun! I ended up biking 20.4 miles in 1:12:23.

Once back in transition, I racked my bike, took off my helmet and changed my shoes. I grabbed my visor and sunglasses and made my way out of transition with a time of 1:33.

The run followed the same route as the bike so there was a nice downhill section right out of transition. After the left hand turn there was a nice flat section. I had grabbed a disposable water bottle from my bike and ran with it for the first mile until we were at the first aid station. It was a great way to catch up on my hydration while running. Once there I threw the bottle away and kept running. After the aid station there was a good hill. I focused on attacking it and not slowing my pace. The route turned left at the top of the hill. I then began a slight decline until the turn around tent. I had passed all the aid stations until my way back up the long, slight hill. I grabbed one small cup at each aid station. It was just enough to cool me down. I felt like I was running well and was actually passing people which rarely happens. I topped the hill and made the right turn to head down the good hill. I tried to let it go and gather some speed. I don't know if it actually does anything but I at least try. I pushed hard on the flat and then made the final right hand turn to run the half mile to the finish line. The final quarter mile is uphill and never fun. My husband and one of my sons were at the bottom of the hill and cheered me on with encouragement. I hit the hill and gave it what I had left. I ran the 6.2 miles in 1:02:55. 

After I crossed the finish line, I met up with my husband and we checked our times. I completed the race in 2:47:33.

I placed first in the Athena division of women 40 and over, 17/72 for women and 84/203 overall. I feel like this was a really good race. I finish under my goal of three hours. 

It was a perfect day for a race. The temperatures stayed lower than expected and there were no winds. I will be returning in September to run this course again. I look forward to seeing if I can do even better than this race.

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