IM St. George deepest place of your soul
Half way through BUDS training (the infamous navy SEAL training) while the students of class 226 where on an easy day, two instructors trash there room. I mean destroy it! The students at lunch, thinking they would come back, have room inspection and the rest of the day off. “the whole class will pay for this” one instructor said. The camera man asked why do this? This has nothing to do with training for war, being a SEAL, a sniper, diver, whatever. “This has everything to do with it!. These guys are thinking there day is done, it’s not even close. This is the toughest mental training there is. This is about how many setbacks can you take? How many times can you push to the top of the mountain only to realize you’re not even half way there? How many adversities can you overcome and not stop? Never stop, never EVER give up. That’s what this is about.”
This was passing through my mind as I was being punched on the face for the 80th time while water was being forced into my mouth every time I tried to breath. No I wasn’t in any military training or being tortured in some Middle Eastern prison, I was “racing” Ironman St. George.
Not long after the start a 40 mph wind came up out of nowhere and was creating 4 foot waves, White capping over our heads. Spray everywhere. It looked like I was swimming in the baring sea. I wasn’t even swimming any more. Diving under the waves, doing under water breast stroke. I thought there is no way I’ll make it, or it will take 1:30 at best for me to finish the swim. Chris comes in. “HEY! Focus. Somehow you are swimming straight, Find a buoy, swim to it repeat until I tell you to F’n stop” so away I went. I have swum in the ocean before, in pretty rough surf but not for 45’ nonstop and I wasn’t trying to actually get somewhere. I came out in 1:02. This is a bit insane to me. There is no way I swam that fast. I guess its possible. Swimming in the fastest wet suit know to mankind in my Rocket Science carbon I could be a 52 minute guy. So ad 10’?? still fuzzy to me. Anyway, through T1 dealing with the normally overly aggressive wet suit stripers. I love the volunteers but do we really need this station at all? I asked a helper in the tent how many had been through there “ahh 2 dozen” not bad I thought. Off on the bike. I was 9’ down on the lead. That’s pretty far. Chris, “ if you’re 9 down to the lead think about how far up you are on dudes that would normally be only a couple min. back, huh!!!” good point. I got on the bike and immediately gagged and through up from swallowing ohh… 3 gallons of water during the swim? They pulled almost 400 people from the swim that morning. DNF's
Right hand turn onto the roadd out of the Sand Hollow reservoir area. This road is smooth, slightly down hill and about 4 miles long. A perfect “easy” start to the bike. Well with a 40 MPH head wind I was in the aero’s pushing 260 watts, going ohh 13 MPH. maybe less.
Finial got into the tail wind which lasted a for a bit but after going over the third big hill the wind direction changed and we were back into a head wind. The easiest 20 miles now behind me and I had been riding for 1 hour. This bike was gona take me 6 hours! No way, the canyon climb will be protected and not so bad… Nope. Blasting head wind. “how many setbacks can you take and keep going” this was obviously the key to this race on this day. Chris, “OK Eric lets go find the front f the race.” I plugged my way forward trying to stay aero as much as possible. As I approached the top of the first big climb I was not making an impression on the front of the pack. Yet at the same time I never passed tons of people and the guys around me looked solid. I was farther up in the swim. Farther than ever before. Ok so that’s good but still I should be getting close if not all ready in the lead. Then I got passes. By someone in my Age group. WTF! “he’s gona blow.” This happened again at the start on the sec. climb. I was passed and simply road away from. Wow. “we thought this might happen Ek remember” harder bike course, brings out the good riders, they have over trained the bike and are over riding the bike. Stick to the plan. At mile 52 or so I checked my time again. 3 hour’s yep this was going to take 6 hours. OK adjustment. Can’t do 70% of threshold, gotta aim for 68% and I NEED that special needs back up bottle of infinit. I’ll run out of calories if I don’t get it. The worst part was I was having a real hard time finding a good rhythm. This pissed me off. I’m a good rider, a dynamic rider; wind, bumpy roads and changing grades shouldn’t throw me off. Yet I found myself in the wrong gear and pedaling a lower cadence than I wanted to all the time. 1 minute at a time, one steep hill, one gust of wind, one shift at a time. For 5:51 of riding…
I got a bit of a second wind the second time up the big hill, I pushed steady and focused on recovering as best possible on the decent. We had a tail wind there, thank god! If I did anything well it was T2. I crushed it!! Ok take a minute to laugh. 1:40 ish. Lindsay was right there on my way out. I was 7th in my age group but only 2 minutes down. “fu**, its over i thought, no way can I run them down even being as close as they were.” And I was feeling rough. This could get ugly, like real ugly.
“YO! Ek relax, find a rhythm we got a nice down hill to start here, 1 mile at a time… (all 26 of them) chris said under his breath. This is where being able to lie to your self is the difference between success and failure. “ohh yeah, I feel fine no problem, marathon time.” I said. By mile 2-3 I was feeling better I quick piss and I had nice little pace going at 7:45/ mile or so. However I was also getting passed. “it just aint gona happen this year”, I thought. It’s ok Hawaii is expensive and for whatever reason my best isn’t good enough today.
The next 18 miles were very internal. Running all on PE. I Barley looked at my watch. Infinit, water, repeat. “I’m not stopping, no fuc*** way.” I have to many people watching, to many following on line, to many clients that look to me for motivation, a bench mark, whatever. I was slowing down but I felt solid, more solid than at Lake Placid last year if a bit slower. But how fast should I be able to run with a swim like that and 6 hours on the bike? All my knowledge, all the hours looking at power files and run files, the 100’s of athletes I have worked with through ironman races… all of it meant shit now.
I was blind, just me, my Perceived Exertion, Grandpa and Chris. I could feel the hand at my back every aid station just giving a little push when my sub conscious would think hey just run through this aid station it’s ok. I could hear Chris fighting in there, it was freaking bar brawl. The person I want to be and the person as was going blow for blow. You know the scene near the end of Fight Club where Edward Norton knows Tyler isn’t real but he can’t get rid of him? It was kinda like that but worse, I need Chris as much as I hate him. Just before I started the last 8 mile lap on an out and back I saw a guy walking. I recognized him. He had passed me earlier in the run. And that guy too. I saw like 5 guys that were either walking or look like they were about to vomit all over place. Still too far back, to many to pass. 6 miles to go. “come on EK your in 5th!” no way he’s wrong. Whoever that was. 5 miles to go and I passed a guy in my AG that had passed me 2 miles into the run. “nice work dude, you’re in 4th keep it up you got your kona spot.” “What? Are you sure?” “yep” at this point I was so F’n gone It didn’t register, I think Chris had been taken down, or he was simply used up. I didn’t think this guy was lying, more likely just wrong. Well I have nothing else in the suitcase of courage so I’ll take it!
Up the steep hill to the last out and back, I was on the edge. My stomach was turning and I was out of infinit. My red bull was a can of 110 degree foam, shit I’m not gona make it. “Hey! Ek”, Chris was back, “don’t drink, you need more salt with it and we have none, just stay cool. You’re hydrated enough, we’ll make it… (I think?)” OK, whatever you say. Ice, water, hoses, sprinklers, I hit every cooling opportunity I could. One more pass with 2 miles to go. Wholly crap this cannot be happening?!! Maybe the last guy was on his 2nd loop? I’m not sure. I came down the finishing shoot, said a little thank you to gramps and almost fell over. I ended up in 6th place.
Only 50 Kona spots this year in St George.
The 35-39 AG got 5.
A few of the older AG’s had no finishers, we got one more spot. 6 slots.
I tock mine as everyone else did. Not one roll down spot.
This was a very tough race I am sad to see it go. St. George is a fantastic area. The Training Camp we did in March proved to be key for everyone that did the race. One of our campers Josh Vaughn earned his first trip to Kona in the men’s 30-34 AG. We will be doing the camp again next year as well. Details to come! I am very happy to have qualified again. I was disappointed to not have made the podioum (top 5) like last year, but looking at the over all performance I did and the competition I feel I was simply beat by beter guys. 2 of the top 5 in my AG are TOP amateurs. A 9:04 at kona last yr. and one guy ranked top 10 in the USAT ranking, just an extremely strong field here if not a large one.