A year ago, I signed up for my first Sprint Tri, the XTERRA PAN AM Offroad Championship race at Snowbasin Resort in Eden, UT. I’ve been a runner the majority of my life, and had recently picked up cycling. But swimming…I had no formal experience outside of growing up swimming near the Great Lakes. However, working for Suunto, the title sponsor, was enough temptation for me to take the plunge and sign up!
Fast forward to crossing the finish line last September at Snowbasin Resort, I was hooked!
Disclaimer: This post is for all the other newbie Triathletes out there. When researching if St. George was a bad idea for my first 70.3 I had a tough time finding anyone’s perspective. I hope you gain something from this :)
Choosing a race?
Because this was my first 70.3, I wasn’t willing to invest in a coach just yet. Instead, I reached out to the Betty Squad (Betty Design's team of ambassadors) and took to researching on Google to find a beginner plan. After many recommendations, I ended up going with Matt Fitzgerald’s Super Simple Tri Plan.
My training consisted of:
· 3 x swim & run days / week (one longer distance day)
· 3 x cycle / week (one longer distance day)
· 1 rest day
With the race being in May, I spent all of my swim training in a pool. I even took some beginner swim lessons to brush up on some of the basics.
80% of my training was done on my trainer, using the Zwift app. This was convenient, and with shorter winter days, I didn’t have the chance to get outside after work before dark. As soon as it started to stay lighter longer, and warmed up enough that I was okay with arm and leg warmers, I tried to ride outside at least for all of my longer efforts.
Much of my running in January and February was spent on the treadmill, with some of the longer efforts done outside on the weekend. I found it easiest to go straight from the pool to the treadmill in the mornings, and have my workouts completed by the time I went to work. We had a fairly mild winter in Utah this year, and by March, I was able to switch to running outside.
Training through the winter often meant hopping on the trainer or going for a quick run through the neighborhood after a long day of skiing, or often times…missing ski days all together. To help find a balance between making sure I was prepared for St. George, and not missing out on too many ski days, I did both, as much as I could without feeling burnt out. If a long, hard, powder day left my legs feeling trashed, I’d listen to my body and cut my cycle in half, or maybe skip it all together.
I also made a trip down to St. George 6 weeks before the race to ride the course and swim in the reservoir. I’m so glad I did this and would recommend training the course as much as possible. (Before XTERRA – my ‘normal’ MTB route was the course, this helped a ton!)
Nutrition is one area where I seem to struggle with a bit. I don’t stick to a plan, or make sure that I’m always drinking a protein shake following a workout. I’ve eaten plant - based for over four years, and have never had issues with recovery or energy throughout workouts. I tried to eat pretty clean, with big oat bowls for breakfast, lots of veggies, grains, potatoes, peanut butter, bread, and maybe a few too many bars. To fuel through longer workouts, I used dates, homemade “power balls” (recipe to follow), Waffles, salts, and some gels.
- TYR Women’s Hurricane C1 Wetsuit
- TYR Special Ops 2.0 Polarized Goggles
- Ear Wax
- Nose clip (don't feel alone if you use one!)
- Trek Emonda ALR
- Bontrager Hilo Speed Box
- Bontrager Velocis MIPS Helmet
- Bontrager Sonic Women's Road Shoe
- Chamois Butter
- Topical Edge
- Sunglasses - Rudy Project Tralyx
- Salomon Sonic RA
- Salomon Air Logo Cap
I woke up well before my 4:15 AM alarm, after a surprisingly good night’s sleep. We made coffee in the hotel room using some of my favorite coffee, a French press, and jet boil (probably not the safest) and ate my standard breakfast of a mini bagel, almond butter, and banana.
I opted to take the bus instead of riding with my brother and friend who had come down to support. This gave me time to focus on the race, and have some time to myself. They ultimately ended up meeting me an hour later after I completed body marketing and setting up my transition zone, and stayed by my side until 15 minutes before I entered the water.
Swim – The swim was going to be my weakest leg, I knew this going in. After seemingly choking on water for the first 100 yards, my mouth got used to the colder water, and I got my breathing under control. The thing I love about open water swimming, is you know there’s one set destination, instead of lap after lap in the pool. For me, my mind was focused on just getting to the next buoy, knocking off one buoy at a time until I reached the end.
Bike – My goal for the bike was pretty simple, capitalize on my strengths (climbing hills), try not to touch the brakes too much on the downhill, eat, and hydrate. I stuck to the plan and finished the bike ready to run.
Run – By the time I left T2, it had reached 90 degrees and the sun was shining strong. I took my time the first 6 miles, making sure to walk when I felt I NEEDED to, knowing I wanted to pick up the pace on the downhill on the back half of the race descending back into town. I walked every aid station, drank a cup of water, put ice down my pants, shirt, and under my hat, and made sure to take in a gel around mile 8. I finished the run with a long sprint through the finish line.
I went into this race knowing I would do my best, and ultimately go a pace I felt comfortable with, where I knew I could finish strong - and I’m so happy I was able to stick to those intentions.
I’m so grateful to have an awesome support crew and mentors in my life who cheered me on the past few months, and a few who even followed me along the course to provide lots of extra encouragement. Finger’s crossed they come out next race, because I’m pretty sure this won’t be the last 70.3!
Recommendations & things for next time:
- DO Have support crew bring bikes again, it worked well for them to be able to ride around the course. They were the only supporters on the run section! (All of these photos are from them!)
- DON'T plan on getting a sport's massage if you come in after 7 hours, they already closed the booth
- DON'T buy Tri stickers unless you really want them crisp for photos, the sharpie came off just fine!
- DO come down 1.5-2 days in advance to sit through athlete briefings and set up transition zones early in the day
- DO train more with salt tablets
- DO train more on fast downhills
- DO push a little harder, you'll have enough gas in the tank
- DO go back to the reservoir again after the race - this felt SO good!
- DO share the Ironman tracking app with your family the day before the race.
- DO practice swimming in a straight line - reference Strava segment above to see how not straight I swim :)
- DO have lots of fun
- DO this course again!!
Feel free to reach out if you have any questions!