2011 Utah Half Ironman – Review by Colleen

The 2012 Utah Half is almost here and for those who you who are signed up – you are going to do great!  For those of you you who are fence sitting, here’s a great post from an amazing woman who did it and finished strong.  Way to go Colleen!

I was given permission to repost this by the author, here is the link to the original http://fasterthanpete.blogspot.com/2011/08/utah-half-ironman-2011-race-report.html

By Friday I was feeling pretty much all the way better from my cold which, in turn, made my stress level go down too. It was also nice that I had already picked my packet up at the swim clinic so I didn’t have to worry about that. I was now able to just be excited! (mostly)

We drove to Heber Friday afternoon when we could no longer stand being in our hot house. It was so much cooler up there at my dad’s house, but watch out for the mosquitos! We got the kids to bed then my husband, Pete, and I ran to the store to get some more baby food for George (7 months old). We wanted my dad to have a lot of options for the day ahead. He was worried about feeling like a monster when George got hungry. 🙁
I slept relatively well, considering it was really starting to hit me what I was going to do in the morning! George woke up once during the night, then I woke him up again at about 4:45 to feed him just before we left. I was feeling nervous and sick, but driving down Provo canyon in my dad’s truck sure helped me forget about it for a little while! We left our Jeep with him so he could bring the kids if George got too sad, and his truck has really crazy steering plus it’s so big!
Anyway, as we got closer to Utah Lake, there was a huge line of cars that wasn’t really moving, and we saw a bunch of people parking on the side of the road. Pete checked on google maps, and we were only about 1/2 mile away from transition so we decided to park. I got all my stuff and my bike and rode in. I told Pete he could go ahead and go back to sleep for a little while. I told him I’d text him when I got done with the swim.
I got to transition just a little after 6 and the race didn’t start until 7 so I had plenty of time. It was still dark and there were mosquitoes everywhere! I had put bug spray on before we left the house, but I must have missed some spots because I’ve got a few itchy spots now to remember that lovely morning.
I picked a spot in transition right by someone’s green balloon, with a darker green ballon on the next row so it would be easy to spot. I set up my stuff, and managed to drop the stopper from my race belt into the grass as I was trying to put my number on. Amazingly, I found it even though it was dark! I brought a bucket to sit on in transition for the first time which was so nice, and just put my wetsuit back into my backpack.
I decided I didn’t want to wear my wetsuit, though most people were wearing them. The water was around 76 degrees which is plenty warm, and I just didn’t want to deal with getting the dang thing off afterwards.
I got body marked and dropped off my special needs bag. I was number 37 which was awesome and made me feel a little bit like a pro! 🙂
After the race director talked to us a little, we cleared out of transition and trekked down to the water. We had to walk quite a ways, and there were some spots that were pretty gravelly. I was a little worried about having to run back with bare feet, but it turned out we would exit the swim closer to transition. Whew!

I got in the water and swam around for a little while, and it felt really nice so I felt good about my decision not to wear my wetsuit. Then I got out so I could see when they pointed out the course, and I started to get cold. I got back in because the water was warmer than the air, but I still felt cold the rest of the time while I waited for my wave so I began to question my no-wetusit decision again.

All females were in the last wave, along with the relay and some of the men, and we started at least 15 minutes late. Normally I wouldn’t care about this, but I couldn’t help thinking, “That’s 15 more minutes George will have to wait to eat.” But he was in good hands, and I felt pretty good. I knew he would be ok for half a day without me, even if he got sad. I just tried to not worry about him, and focus on the task at hand. I think I did a pretty good job!

The gun went off. I was at the front of the pack and it got really crowded really quickly so for the first little while I just had to focus on getting around people. Then suddenly it totally thinned out and I was all by myself. Turns out, this was because I was pretty much to the right of all the traffic, but not too far right to be off course. We did 2 laps, but it was kind of a weird shape lap. After the second buoy you couldn’t see the next one because of a rock wall that you had to swim around. I feel like that was a little confusing and might have slowed me down a bit on my first lap.
On my second lap I ran into those rocks a little bit, but so did 2 other ladies who were right with me, and who I made it a point to stick with. I felt good and smooth out there, and didn’t think about being cold for one second. It was so nice to just be able to run out and get right to transition without worrying about the wetsuit. Who knows if it would have made my swim faster or not.

SWIM 1.2 miles – 40:10

I didn’t wear a watch so I had no idea what my swim time was. I just didn’t want to get depressed and dwell on my swim time for the rest of the race. I’m really happy with this time, though since it’s right on what I was shooting for (not counting the longish run to transition), and realistically I thought it would take me 45 since that’s how long it took me to do one loop in my Ironman!

I just felt happy and excited to ride my bike as I got my bike shoes, race belt and helmet on. Then I was off! As I rode out past the truck, I realized I had forgotten to text Pete when I got to T1. He was probably still asleep, but that was ok, I would just make sure to text him when I got to T2.
T1 – 2:52

Right away I found myself cruising at 20mph, but I didn’t feel like I was pushing too hard so I kept that up. I figured it was a false flat so it would be harder on the way back. I watched my speed the whole time and made sure it was at least 18, but it was usually higher! It was such a flat, fast, fun course! It was awesome, I loved it! I passed a lot of people and only a few people passed me. Mostly men. I noticed the lead guy coming back when I was about 20 miles out, and spotted the first woman 12 minutes before I got to the turnaround. I don’t know why but I counted how many women were ahead of me, and I there were about 10. I could have missed a few because, I hate to say it, but sometimes it’s hard to tell if it’s a boy or a girl…

Anyways, like I said, the bike ride was really fun. We rode through corn fields and by a dairy farm (which brought back memories of when I was a kid growing up right by a dairy farm…ah, the smell!), through trees and along the lake which was really pretty. The road wasn’t the best, and I saw many ejected water bottles, but thankfully I didn’t lose anything. We did have special needs bags at the turnaround, but I didn’t need mine. I just kept going, which was awesome! For the last 20 miles or so my back started to hurt and I started to feel a little more sluggish. I kept waiting for that false flat to come back and bite me, but it never did! I was able to keep my average speed up at 19.9! Wow! I looked at my time as I came into transition and about started to cry, I was so happy!

BIKE 56 miles – 2:49:05

I couldn’t believe how fast that was! It almost took me 8 hours to do the bike at Coeur d’Alene so I was going to be happy with 3:30. Cutting almost an hour off that made me ecstatic!

I texted “T2 baby!” to Pete and knew he’d be surprised too. He called me back right away to tell me sorry he missed me, he was getting breakfast. I told him it was ok, it was faster than I had planned, but that I had to go. I still had a half marathon to run! I was so glad my bike was so fast because I knew my run was going to take forever.

 T2 – 3:01
I could hardly even walk after getting off my bike so I was a little worried. My hip hurt like I had pulled something during the bike! I started running slowly, hoping it would go away, and it did! Whew! I also followed the 2 women ahead of me into the restroom at the beginning of the run, and had to wait a few minutes for my turn. It was probably worth it though. The only thing I’d complain about with this race is that there were no port-o-potties out on the course. This bathroom was just the park restroom, and it was just where I needed it, but I’m sure some people had problems with the lack of bathrooms. In fact, I saw a couple girls squatting just off the path at one of the turn-arounds.

Like usual, a LOT of people passed me on the run so it was kind of tempting to try to run faster at first, but I had to remember that I needed to run my own race and that meant going slow so I could run the whole thing. I didn’t want to go out too fast and end up with my knee or hip hurting too bad to run the last few miles like I did at the Utah Valley Half Marathon (speaking of which, I passed one guy on the bike wearing the shirt from that). Pete appeared right after the first aid station and said I looked good. I grabbed his hand for a second, but didn’t want to stop and talk. He said, “I’ll see you in an hour.”

The run course was 2 loops with 2 out and back sections so you really got to see the other athletes around you a lot. It was fun to smile, say “hi” and “good job” to people I recognized like the lady who was in T1 with me with the purple tape on her leg who always had a smile or a thumbs up for me as well. The run was also really flat, and thankfully most of it was along the river or lake on a shady path. This, along with dumping a cup of water on my head at each aid station, kept me pretty cool. I actually didn’t really notice the heat that much so I was kind of surprised by how concerned Pete was when I saw him again. He asked me if I’d been walking much and I told him, “No, only at aid stations.” I told him I felt good, and he asked me if I could do 4 more miles. I was like, “Yeah, I can definitely do 4 more miles!” I really did feel pretty good! But a few miles after that, I realized he must have been mistaken about that number, and my legs started to hurt. I made it to the second turn around and the girl there told me I was at 10.5 miles so I had less than 3 to go, but I felt so bad for the girl who turned around with me who was still on her first lap. Ouch! I was really hurting, and I started walking for longer at the aid stations, and a little not at aid stations, but not for long. I made myself start running again even though it was really hard! When I had about 1 mile left, my knee started to hurt, but I was like, “Just one more mile!” and just made my feet keep moving forward.

I saw Pete just before the finish line and he commented on what a good pace I was running at, but I hadn’t been running that fast the whole time! I averaged 11:42 min/mile for the half marathon.

RUN 13.1 miles – 2:33:16
It was a great feeling, like always, running down the grassy area to the finish line! I had kind of planned on the kids being there because my dad was going to bring them if George got sad, but they weren’t there. It would have been nice to see them, but it was great having Pete there, and he ran down the finish shoot with me!

FINISH TIME – 6:08:22
If I would have known I was that close to 6 hours, I might have tried to push it a little more! But I think it was really good to not wear a watch because I just had fun and listened to my body. It was such a great race!
I’ve never taken advantage of the free massages after a race because I always seem to be in a hurry when I get done, and this was no exception, though they did look very temping! I just walked over to a shady area with Pete and stretched for a few minutes while he got a hold of my dad to see how George was doing. He was asleep! And had had been really good! Wow! We still wanted to get back soon because we knew he’d be hungry when he woke up. I really wanted to get in the water for a while, but figured I could just ice my knee later so we headed to the truck.

 This was when I noticed the heat. It was scorching, and I practically burned myself when I climbed into the back of the truck to put my bike in! Pete reached in his pocket to get the key and said, “Oh crap.” He didn’t have it! The though of walking all the way back to the finish line and searching for a single key in the grass in this heat was just overwhelming to me. Luckily, Pete just told me to wait there and ran off to find it while I tried, and failed to get ahold of my dad to see if he had an extra key. Even if he had an extra key, though, he’d have to drive all the way down there with the kids and we’d have to wait around for 45 minutes so I really hoped Pete would just find the key! I was also really hot and my knee hurt. We were parked right by the river so I just went and sat down in the river while I waited. It was like an ice bath, it was so cold!Then Pete texted me and said he had found the key!! Wow, what a miracle! When he got back he said he wanted to jump in the river too, and I told him, “No, you don’t. Just wade in and you won’t want to swim in it.” He did, and that was enough for him. I dipped myself in one more time, then we headed back.

We stopped at Wendy’s on the way home and ordered enough food for 3 people! To be fair, one of those things was a salad that I ended up eating for dinner so it wasn’t really that crazy. But I did get a cheeseburger and a frosty with fries, which I hardly ever do.

I’m so glad everything turned out so well, and I was able to have such a fun race! Now I remember why I love triathlon so much, and I’m all ready to plan next year’s schedule! It’ll be good to take a little break, though.