Tuesday, May 7, 2013

St. George 2013

This past weekend, Amber and I flew out to St. George, Utah for the US 70.3 Pro Championships. We had been to St. George once before for the Ironman in 2011 where Amber had spent 45 minutes on the side of the road due to several broken spokes on her bike. She was looking for some redemption as well as some points to qualify for the 70.3 World Championships in Lake Las Vegas in September.

After a long delay in Fort Worth, TX, we finally arrived in Las Vegas Thursday night. We had arranged a home stay for Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights but since we arrived so late we decided we'd be better off finding a cheap hotel in Vegas.

After a sleepless night at the Flamingo casino due to all-night revelers in the adjacent rooms, we headed out to St. George. Friday was spent as most pre-race days are spent, gorging ourselves with food (although not racing, I didn't want Amber to have to eat alone), preparing race gear, doing a tune-up ride, driving some of the course and getting an early night sleep.
Amber with potential sponsors(photoshop yourself in=) ) after getting her bike from TriBike Transport. If you haven't used them yet, you should definitely check them out as they make dealing with the bike so much easier.
Amber on the top of the run course in her Zoot kit
The people who put us up were wonderful and very accommodating and didn't make us feel badly for going to bed while the sun was still up.

We awoke early the next morning and I dropped Amber off for the shuttle out to Sand Hollow where T1 was located(this race is a point to point bike). I then jumped in my car and headed out there myself. I had to park about a mile away and got a little run in on my way to the course. The water temps were in the low 60s and the air wasn't much warmer so people were bundled up pre-swim. The temps would rise into the 90s by early afternoon but you wouldn't have known by the early morning outfits. I positioned myself for a good view of the swim and soon they were off.

In 26:55 later and in 17th place, Amber was back, in a big pack of women including eventual third place finisher Heather Wurtele.
Amber out of the water
Amber writes more about her bike on her blog, but from a spectator she looked like she was cruising. I was able to drive to several locations to cheer her on before she headed into Snow Canyon State Park where I had to head back. I'd see her again soon as she headed into T2 after a 21.7mph bike split on a VERY hilly course. She pretty much held her position during the bike coming off in 18th place.
Amber on the bike

And off she went on the run. I saw her as she left T2 and then head up the hill to catch her at the summit of the climb. This course is hilly! My mind had must have forgotten just how challenging this course is but my legs soon remembered as I had to slow to a near crawl to make it up. I will say this-I'd do this race again WAY before some flat boring run courses. This race is beautiful albeit not a PR course.

I climbed up a cliff on the side of the run course where I was able to get a good view of the run. Soon I saw Amber flying by. She had already made up one spot and was closing in on the 16th place girl. Somehow she could actually hear me cheering and had a little dialogue with me about her placing:
Danny: Good new or Bad news
Amber: What?
Danny: Okay, bad news. You're in 17th place
Amber: What?
Danny: Good news. You're closing in on 15 and 16th place!
Amber: I love triathlon!
A mountain goat's eye view of Amber(center) crushing the run
Next time I saw Amber she had, in fact, become the 16th place female and was closing in on 15th. She had been down nearly a minute but with three miles to go she had cut it to 35 seconds. I gave her an update on her time back then ran to the last mile marker. By this time she had cut the lead to 22 seconds! She was closing fast. Alas she just didn't have enough space finishing 20 second back from fellow Zooter, Uli Bromme. Unfortunately this meant she was didn't get any points for the World Championships, but it did give her a great experience racing against some of the best triathletes in the world and with a taper(and a good night's sleep and no jet-lag) this 16th place finish could easily turn into a top ten finish.
Amber on the finishing kick of the run
After the race, we spent the rest of the day pool-side at our home-stay. That evening we had dinner with several other local racers and Svenja, the German Olympian, who had come in second that day. I'm sure it was nice for Amber to see her mowing down on some Krispie Kremes:) Okay, so more nice for me to justify equal consumption.

The next morning we headed out to Snow Canyon where we spent the day hiking and rock scrambling. I couldn't believe the views that the cyclists had during this part of the race(it is a different bike course than when it was an Ironman). Below are some pictures which do not at all do it justice.

At the opening of a lava tube

Amber feeling good enough to pose:)

And pose

And pose

A rare pic of Danny

And pose some more

And more

And still more posing:)

And feeling good enough to do a little rock scrambling

Amber and Danny

On Monday we had an early flight out of Vegas so we had decided we'd stay there for the night(rather than make an early morning drive from St. George and potentially get stuck in traffic). I had(as always) booked through a discount travel vendor and was able to get a good deal at the Rio. We arrived in for check-in and was made to wait for about a half-half, in which time Amber tried her lucrative hand in some one-armed bandits while I waited in line.
Amber winning "big"
Annoying yes, vacation ruining no. However, apparently the hotel thought we were put out more than we were so they comped us a top floor penthouse suite.

Amber lounging in our penthouse suite
 While all the other floors on the elevator could be accessed simply by pressing the corresponding button, for our floor we had to swing an access card. As Amber will attest, I made a point to wait until the elevator was full and then make a show of having to use the card to get to our exclusive floor oftentimes utilizing a British accent to illustrate our opulence. This my friend, is no two-star hotel.

We flew out early the next day and luckily continued our luxurious vacation by having our chauffeur pick us up at the airport. After threatening to leave me in Boston if I called her Jeeves one more time, Amber's sister, Deidre, drove us home where we promptly fell into a deep and restorative sleep.

A fun-filled weekend and good prep for Amber's June and July triathlon season which is rapidly approaching. I love seeing how well she has been progressing this year and encourage you all to keep following her as her season continues.

Up Next:  Rock N Race on May 16.

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