So, what about that pandemic eh? I’ve had way too much time on my hands to write another post but recent adventures, and
a nagging an encouraging wife have prompted me to pick up the pen again.
With the pandemic, most of the races were canceled and Ironman is not an organization that wants to return your considerable entry fees. so I ended up with a rather packed race schedule for 2022. But what happened since the last post, aside from a global pandemic and helping launch a nationwide online doctor service in the UK? Well, glad that you asked…..
St George 70.3, May 2021
With Ironman AZ 2020 being canceled just after I finished packing everything, the nearest deferment option was Ironman St George 2022 so I chose that. This is a full distance, 140.6 mile race. Remember this nugget of information for a little further on….
Having no races on the calendar in 2021 I decided to enter the St George 70.3 (the half-distance). I figured it would be a great way to see the area and get ready for the full in 2022…..Mmmmmm….
St George, Utah is an incredibly scenic part of the country, just a short 670 mile jaunt. We arrived a week early, taking advantage of one of the perks of the pandemic, working from anywhere, to acclimate and to be one of the first to the merchandise tent to buy the mandatory t-shirt.
Race day started with an amazing sunrise.
The swim was in a lake, followed by a bike ride through some amazing scenery with 3,300ft of climbing as the heat kept climbing to 95F. We ended up downtown to transition to the “run”. I thought I was going to die. The heat, the hills and a pair of running shoes that I last used in early 2020 all combined to make for a pretty miserable “running” experience. My feet were bleeding, swollen and generally pretty unhappy when I finally crossed the finish line.
Even the pros said it was a tough course, as they knock out a half marathon in 1:10. I didn’t quite take 3 times as long as them, but pretty close at 2:53. The odds for doing twice the distance in 2022 were not looking good!
Escape from Alcatraz 2021
Some “friends” persuaded me to enter the lottery for the iconic Escape from Alcatraz race in August 2021. As the name implies, you jump off a perfectly good boat just off Alcatraz, swim the 2ish miles to shore, jump on the bike and cycle the 18 miles out to Golden Gate park and back and then run 8 miles out and back to Baker Beach – as well as running on the sand for 3/4 mile or so.
It truly was an epic race with the current that is supposed to make for a fast swim being negated by a really strong westerly wind which delivered a mouthful of salty water with every breath. The swim itself took about an hour and then a run to Marina Green to get the bike, a loop out to Golden Gate Park and back and then an uphill/downhill/sandy run to end up back at Marina Green. It’s a really fun event with a great vibe and some stunning scenery.
Escape from Alcatraz 2022
See above, except it rained and I was slightly faster! Progress.
St George, twice the distance this time, twice the fun….?
Fast forward to May 2022, Ironman St George, the 2021 World Championship. Yes, you read that correctly, the 2021 World Championship. Kona is the fabled Ironman destination and you have to qualify to race there but with the ongoing travel restrictions in 2021 they decided to make this race the World Championship, so I inadvertently found myself in a race with most of the best athletes in the world. No added pressure.
In between my training had taken a severe downturn due to work related challenges in late 2021 so I knew this was going to be tough. I had no idea how tough…
We traveled there the week before and saw some wide-ranging scenery, driving past Vegas and visiting Zion National Park.
I enjoyed the pre-race atmosphere of the World Championship, it was certainly different than a “regular” Ironman event. The practice ride went well and after a hot and scenic climb up to Veyo I stopped to enjoy one of their fabled pies. It was so warm that the bike sought shade…
Does this photo give you a sense of how keen I was? There’d be around 3,000 bikes racked here by the end of the day
Race morning we were bussed from downtown to the lake and it was already in the low 70s. Watching the pros, the best in the world, take off at the swim start – and exit before I even got in the water – was quite something. The swim went well and I swam mostly straight, helped by an endless line of buoys that stretched as far as the eye could see.
The swim took me 1:30 and it was great to see the TriDot folks, and Coach Jeff, manning the transition tent. After a quick change, it was out on the bike.
The short version is that I managed 102 miles on the bike and 6,600ft of the 7,300ft of climbing. The rest of the bike course was completed in an ambulance. Coming up Snow Canyon for the final climb the heat was increasing to the mid 90s and people were dropping like flies. A mile after thinking “Wow, there are a lot of ambulances here….”, I felt pretty woozy, got off the bike and didn’t get back on it. Despite drinking a large volume of liquid and electrolytes, it just wasn’t enough for the heat and exertion. My blood pressure was pretty low and the medics recommended saline so that was the end of that. So far, yet….
DNF #2, the second consecutive one at the Ironman distance.
I didn’t feel as bad about this one as I did after Wales, where I found myself second-guessing my decision to quit. “Could I have finished”, “Why did you stop”, “Damn those lovely ladies and their tea and Welsh cakes” etc. This one was a definitive ending, and there was absolutely no way that I was going to be able to run, even if I did somehow finish the bike.
With Ironman Alaska next in August, hopefully not a 3rd DNF……
If you’re at all entertained by these antics, or not, please feel free to donate to a cause that is very dear to me, F*cking Cancer