Utah Half Toughman Race Report (8/22/2015)

This race came to be kind of by accident. Rob was lamenting the dearth of good cycling races in the area. I mentioned that he might look into doing the bike leg of a triathlon with a team. “I mean, you work at an outdoor retailer. Maybe you can even put a team together from people at work,” I said when we first had this conversation. “And if you can’t find a swimmer, I could do it.” BAM. I had just volunteered for the swim leg. Rob was pretty fond of the idea and was listing a few people at work that might be interested in the run. I mentioned in passing, “I bet my dad would do the run leg if those folks aren’t interested. He’d probably get a kick out of it.” From that point, our fates were sealed. The rest was just logistics.

My parents drove down the day before the race. This was slated to be the first time my parents met Rob’s parents, so it was a big-ish deal. And that part of the weekend seemed to go swimmingly. After Rob, my Dad, and I picked up our race packet, we spent the evening at Rob’s parents’ house, eating way too many snacks and not leaving nearly enough room for a giant spaghetti dinner. I mean, my dad was still able to put away two plates, of course, because somehow, he always can. I was really pleased with how well our parents’ clicked. By the end of the weekend, my dad was admiring Rob’s step-dad’s yard and porch and giving him advice to get rid of the tiny saplings that kept growing from a tree that had been cut down a while ago. And our moms were planning a weekend getaway centered around buying way too many things they didn’t really need from IKEA. I’d say that was a success.

The day started way too early (though not really that early for a triathlon race day). I hadn’t slept all that well which made the four o’clock wake up call both a relief (I can finally stop trying to sleep!) and a frustration (I can’t believe I have to get up so early after such a crappy night of sleep…). I was my usual high-strung, maybe-a-little-grouchy pre-race self, trying not to get annoyed that everyone wasn’t 15 minutes ahead of the schedule I had previously dictated. But everything turned out fine—we all ended up at the race site with time to set up in the transition, get changed into our race gear, and panic (me).

Waiting for the race to start
Waiting for the race to start
Goggle and wetsuit smile at the fans
Goggle and wetsuit smile at the fans

My plan was to go out a little harder than I might normally and just focus on having a strong kick during the entire swim. In reality, when they started the relay teams (in the first wave, no less), I took off much faster than I had planned. Before I reached even the first buoy, I was thinking just how tired I was. Time to dial it back a little, maybe. After we rounded the first buoy, we made a 90° turn and started towards the second buoy which was really far away and maybe helps explain some stupidity you’ll be reading about in a few paragraphs.

Before the swim started, they had warned us that the water would be shallow. They were right. During most of the race, if I extended my arm down fully, I could scrape the bottom (which consisted of the gooiest mud ever—this lake was pretty gross). But during this stretch, I hit some water that was only 2-3 feet deep. So I had to really adjust my stroke to continue swimming. I saw a lot of people just stand up and run a few paces during this section. I chose not to because I figured I’d be faster swimming a weird stroke than trying to run in two feet of water and a foot of mud. I hit the next buoy, and that’s when things got a little dicey.

So, somehow I got turned around. I have a really terrible sense of direction, and in open water I can get turned around (especially if I haven’t been in that particular body of water before). I thought I was going the right way, then I thought I was going the wrong way, then I kind of stood up and said, “Where are we going?!” And some guy told me to swim to the triangle buoy, so I did. But I was pretty sure I had accidentally swum a portion of the course twice. So I was frustrated and lamenting the fact that I would have no chance of hitting my PR. I tried to keep a positive attitude, though, and picked up the pace a bit to try to mitigate damage. I hit the super shallow part on the way back and tried a slightly different technique—when pulling through with my stroke, I just shoved my hand into the mud and pushed off the slightly firmer mud under the gooiest mud in the world. I’m still not sure if this helped because I had more leverage on my pull or hurt by stalling my momentum a bit. But it seems to have worked out.

Anyway, after hitting the final buoy, I pushed it in to the shore. Pretty much the second I stood up out of the water, I heard my dad yell my name. Good eye, Dad! As I ran out of the water, I took a glance at my watch and saw 33 minutes. WHAT. At this point, I became certain that, rather than swimming a portion of the course twice, I had actually accidentally cut off a portion. So I was worried and a bit upset when I ran into the transition to send Rob off. I was still a bit disoriented when I gave him the timing chip and wished him luck as he started off. Both sets of parents met me coming out of transition and congratulated me, but all I could say was that I had cut off part of the swim course. I asked my dad for the map we have been looking at earlier, and he handed it over. I looked over it. I hit that buoy. I hit that buoy. I hit that buoy. Then I turned around and hit that buoy… I looked up. “No, I think I swam the whole thing! …It must have been short.”

After the swim, when I still thought I had messed up the course
After the swim, when I still thought I had messed up the course

Swim— 33:08
Transition 1— 0:55

This is where the waiting started. The course marshal suggest not trying to see anyone on the bike course because of the logistical stuff—construction, bikes coming in and out, etc. So we waited. Ate some food, sat around, twiddled our thumbs. Eventually, my dad and I headed back to the transition area to wait for Rob to come in. So we waited. And waited. And waited some more. I was actually starting to get worried (What if he got three flats and is out of tubes? What if he crashed? What if he bonked?) when he rode up.

Rob rolling into transition

Sure enough, he had gotten a flat on the course around mile 16. His average speed (while moving) was 20.1, though, which is what he was hoping for. So despite the frustrations of a flat tire and all of the (illegal) drafting he saw, it was a good ride for him.

Bike— 2:55:04 (2:47 ride time)
T2— 0:38
Immediately after congratulating Rob, giving him a hug, and hearing a bit about his ride, I sprinted off to go cheer for my dad. The course was a loop, and I found a place where the two side of the loop were separated only by a parking lot, so that was where I camped out. They were understaffed at the two aid stations, so I was handing out water to the runners, cheering like crazy for my dad when he passed, and then going across the parking lot to hand out water and wait for my dad there. It was fun—I got to meet some great volunteers who were with the Salt Lake Triathlon Club, cheer for a lot of people, and see my dad and cheer my brains out several times.

His arms look strange here because he was getting ready to grab water from a volunteer just out of the photo
His arms look strange here because he was getting ready to grab water from a volunteer just out of the photo

Embarrassing aside– one of these times, I was doing crazy-Pridgen-shark-attack cheer when one of the people just a few yards ahead of my dad waved at me. It was my boss, guys. My boss who was also doing this event. I’m terrified that he thought I was losing my mind cheering for him—I would have cheered for him like a regular human being if I had seen him, not like an out-of-control maniac.

Anyway, after seeing my dad the last time, I ran back to the finish to wait for him there. We were all there cheering our brains out as he finished up. He looked strong the entire race and finished well on top of it, despite the 2000 foot elevation difference between his home and Provo.

Run: 1:44:21
Total: 5:14:08, 5/21 in relay division

My dad celebrating on the podium after the race
My dad celebrating on the podium after the race

He was wrecked, as he usually is after races, so we sat him down, and Rob and I just spent some time chatting with him as he recovered. I got him some watermelon, we apologized to the owners of the chair we co-opted, and we waited for the results. We had gotten some bad intel the night before when picking up our packets, so we thought there would be awards for male teams, female teams, and co-ed teams. Turns out, they only gave awards for the top three teams overall, so while we had a respectable placing of 5/21, it wasn’t enough to take home a prize which is no big deal (and also no big surprise considering all relay teams were competing against each other).  It was a really fun experience, and we all did well and felt good about our performances. (Well, for the most part. Rob’s still a little disappointed by the flat and wishes he had gone a bit faster, but he hit his goal, so he’s mostly satisfied.)

With our medals after the race
With our medals after the race

After a bit of a recovery and showers for all of us gross athletes at Rob’s parents’ house, we went out to The Iceberg, a local fast food place famous for their milkshakes. I know I promised a picture, but I totally forgot to take one because of course I did. I remembered halfway through, so here’s a picture of a half-eaten (and delicious) milkshake:

Peach milkshake-- a little mild. I'll probably do raspberry next time for a tangier flavor.
Peach milkshake– a little mild. I’ll probably do raspberry next time for a tangier flavor.

Goodbyes happened in the parking lot, and we sent my parents back to Idaho.

After returning home, I napped and it was glorious.


One thought on “Utah Half Toughman Race Report (8/22/2015)

  1. Pingback: Hey, I’m 28 now! | Something Something Triathlon

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