Utah Half Race Report

The Utah Half is completed, woo hoo! This was my 7th Half Iron distance race since I started triathlon back in 2005. It is also my first half since 2009 Gulf Coast, which seems like ages ago. I was very excited about getting out there, testing my fitness, and dusting off to cobwebs prior to Beach 2 Battleship in late October.

I arrived in Provo on Thursday night, in plenty of time to land a hotel, eat, go to packet pick up, and get comfortable. Friday I slept in a little, got my bike stuff together and did a nice prerace workout at race site. Regardless of the race distance, my typical day before a race workout is a 45 min bike with a few efforts followed by a 15 min run with similar efforts

While out at the race site warming up, I ran into another gentleman doing a similar workout. We started talking and I found out that this was Barry Siff, the founder of 5430 Sports (now WTC Events) and a well-known and respected member of the triathlon community. Oddly enough, we live within a few miles of each other in Boulder, but it took a 8 hour drive and a flat tire on Barry’s bike for us to meet and spend a little time together.

After the workout, I started the process of preparing the gear, tuning up the bike, and mixing oodles of sports drink and electrolytes. Whitney has me currently using a combination of GU Products, Carbo Pro, and Nuun. This process gets my mind in the right place and helps in visualization of what’s ahead. After I felt comfortable with everything, I headed out for dinner and a movie at the local theatre.

I was home from the movie at 8:45pm and in bed by 9:30pm, at which point I called Whit before I hit the sack. I can’t tell you how much we connect through similar goals, and this race was no different. She couldn’t attend because she is in full preparation for Ironman Wisconsin, so over a phone call she and I went through all the race preparation duties. We also discussed each aspect of the race, playing different effort, weather, and nutrition scenarios out. At my level, completing a half iron is not an issue, but being able to race one is. Her insight and our conversations before races has been an invaluable tool. Not to mention, she sent me one of the most motivational emails ever as we were talking. Thanks, Shorty Fry.

Race morning the weather was beautiful, absolutely perfect. Getting to the race was painless and before I knew it my gear was in place and ready to roll with plenty of time to spare.

I started in the second wave (the first wave was Pro and only had 6 people) with all athletes under the age of 34. The swim was a two loop course and I was hoping to get out in under 40 minutes. After the first loop I looked down and saw I was at 15:30, hell yes. I was giving myself the chance for a good race. I was putting forth a hard effort so I intentionally backed it down and took the second lap slower. When I exited the water my clock read 32:40. I took off towards T1 and got ready to tear up the bike.

It’s funny how training puts perspective on things. My coach and mentor, Dawson Cherry, had me complete several 5+ hour solo rides over the past few months, 56 miles felt like a short spin. Mentally I was stuck between wanting to hammer the bike and being aware that a too much effort too early, could in fact, ruin the rest of my race. Plus, Rachel had let me borrow her Flashpoint aero wheels, which was very much appreciated and I could tell a difference immediately. The first part of the bike was through downtown Provo so there were a lot of turns. Triathletes are notoriously terrible at bike handling so I was able to pass about 15 people in the first few miles. Once we got out to the straight and flat roads, the course got fast. At about 20 miles in, I knew I was towards the front of the race and that I needed to be sure to reserve some efforts. When I hit the halfway point I was right at about 24mph, maybe a little over. Since my overall time goal was a 4:40, I resigned myself to being conservative with perceived effort for the second half of the bike as to ensure a solid run.

After the turn around, I caught 2 riders within a few miles but neither one of them were looking well. At about mile 40 I got in to a quasi-group of three. We exchanged leads back and forth and used each other as beacons. It was a really nice group, all of us were on course to be on about the same bike split and gave us an immediate goal to stay with. I led the last 3 miles heading in to T2 and looked at my clock, a 2:12…. HOLY COW, that is just above 25 mph. In all honesty, though, the course was a couple miles short so that pace is slightly inflated.

I entered the run well on target to make my goal of a 4:40, but with a chance to make 4:30. All I had to do was run a 1:40 half and I had it in the bag, which who cares if that is 3 minutes faster than my fastest Half Ironman, Half-Marathon time ever.

Out of T2 I was moving well. I didn’t mean to be, but at mile 1 I looked at my clock and saw 6:15. While I felt ok, I knew that was too fast so I tried to back it down, at mile 2 it read 13:33, damnit. By mile 3 that pace hit me and I had slowed down to about 7 minute miles. And by mile four, my stomach started having some problems and I settled in to a pace of about 7:30, which is where I stayed for the remainder of the run. While I am happy overall with the race, I do wish I had been able to break 1:35 in the run, maybe next time.

The Utah Half marked the first competition with my new nutrition plan. Overall I was very happy with it, except I had a little bit of stomach issues. I mostly blame that on the overall heat and effort of the day however.

I crossed the line with a 4:29:44, by far the best time I’ve ever had but my fitness has also come around this year. That broke down to a 33:20 swim, a 2:13 bike (25.1mph), and a 1:39 run (7:38 pace). I’ll admit, though, that the bike course was shortened. My clock actually read 24.2 mph, which I am still very happy with.

After the race I ran straight to the car and started the 8 hour drive back home to the house and my Lady who had a 6 pack of Colorado Native waiting on me. The ride was beautiful and I snagged a couple more photos! Looking forward to my next and final race now.

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