For starters, this corner of Utah is beautiful. Lots of interesting rocks and hills, if you like that sort of thing. (I do!) I also just spent a significant time working out _outside in May_ and am not fighting allergies. (Major bonus!) So there's that: definitely a destination race. The race itself is huge: upwards of 3,000 racers. It's also the North American Pro Championship, so if you ever wanted to share a course with a lot of people who will pull off sub-4 times, here's your chance. The race has a reputation for wind and heat, and is a 2-transition race.
Today the weather was very nice. No wind until _after_ I finished, and although the temperature was 85-90 on the run it's a dry heat and the sky was high overcast so it was actually comfortable. Locals tell me that this is unusual.
I did mention rocks and hills, though, right? The swim is flat. Enjoy the swim (36 minutes for me, AGAIN!) because other than one 200m stretch between two hills on the bike course the swim is the only flat. It's not bad, mostly, but there are several mile-long stretches where you will be in your lowest gear and wishing you had lower. In between the uphills there are some screaming descents on smooth asphalt: I just tucked in on the aerobars and maxed out at 48 before traffic --it's a big race-- slowed me down.
At mile 23 there's the one patch of bad pavement (tar-snakes) and I launched a full bottle of Perpetuum directly into oncoming traffic where it was run over by a truck. For this race I'd taken the unusual step of actually _planning_ my calories and fluid intake, so that put a kink in the plan! Fortunately I could fall back on my usual haphazard guzzling of whatever the aid stations had in stock. Unfortunately the aid stations stocked that awful Enduralite Gatorade stuff, orange flavor, and it messes up my stomach. Oh well, suck it up and keep riding.
The last and worst hill on the bike leg is miles 40-45 or so, through Snow Canyon Park. Gorgeous terrain, but even geared 36/26, with Q-Rings, I was down to 52 RPM at the top. From there, it's a 10-mile fast descent (on pretty good pavement) to T2. I pulled a 2:54 bike split: pretty happy about that given the amount of vertical involved. (3200' according to my Garmin.)
Then there's the run. I'd like to preface my commentary by noting that I have completed Auburn Long Course, AKA "The World's Hardest Half." This run is not _that_ hard, but you have to give the race director full points for trying. On miles 3, 7, and 10 there were more people walking than running. By continuing to 'run', I was able to pass some of those walkers. Barely. The middle 3-4 miles are marked out on a road that goes up and over a steep hill: by using both lanes AND a parallel jogging trail they were able to make us zigzag back and forth over that same damn hill four times. But all good things come to an end; in this case with almost two miles of uninterrupted descent into downtown St. George. I am happy to report that I finished this insane run course in under two hours! 1:59:57, to be exact.
Total time: 5:39:47. Not my best half-Iron time, but given the course I'll take it. It's better than I expected, and better than I deserved given my dismal state of training right now. (The only part of my training plan that I actually followed was the taper!)
Would I do it again? Yes. Next time I'd like to combine it with a VRBO and some other families, and maybe a day-trip or two to check out nearby Zion and/or Arches National Parks.
Oh, but BYO. This is Utah, so the beer at the finish contained no alcohol.