The Hammer’s Race Report: 2013 St. George Half-Ironman

05.13.2013 | 10:21 am

Bike snob abroad normA Note from Fatty: I’m almost embarrassingly pleased to announce that this Thursday, May 16, at 2pm ET / 11am PT, I’ll be doing a live Spreecast with Bike Snob NYC. He — quite naturally — is doing this to promote his new book: Bike Snob Abroad: Strange Customs, Incredible Fiets, and the Quest for Cycling Paradise.

I’m also pleased to announce that due to a bout of severe stammering, I will spend the first seven minutes of the interview simply saying the name of the book, with a possible four-minute overly-confrontational detour about whether the “fiets” pun was really necessary.

Then I will apologize profusely, in the hope I haven’t insulted him so badly that he is tempted to simply walk away from the interview.

After that we will talk about the book, and anything else that comes to mind, both trying like mad to avoid the awkward silence that we both know is never more than one sentence away.

I will sweat. And stammer. I will perhaps try to make a joke about how much I’m sweating. That joke will fail badly.

It’s entirely possible that I will begin some sentences without having any idea whatsoever how they will finish. It’s also possible that BSNYC will begin looking at his watch before I even finish introducing him.

Please feel free to watch as I badly bungle this interview and — for the love of all that’s good in the world — contribute questions of your own, so I won’t be reduced to asking things like, “So, what’s it like riding a bike in New York?” or “You don’t seem very snobby. Why do you call yourself ‘Bike Snob’?”

And also, so he won’t be forced to answer those selfsame questions.

By the way, those are the only two questions I have written down so far.

Once again, here’s the info:

Where: On SpreeCast, or right here at this website.
Date: Thursday, May 16
Time: 2:00pm ET / 11:00am PT

Oh, and if you can’t make it for the live version of the chat, a recording of it will be at the same place

The Hammer’s Race Report: 2013 St. George Half-Ironman

The Race is On…

…But not with who you think it would be with.

The truth is, I was never really racing with Elden. I pretty much predicted exactly how things would turn out with him: By the time we finished the swim and bike, he’d have gained twenty minutes on me, and there would be no way I could claw my way back to him in a thirteen-mile run. And I was perfectly OK with this; I wanted him to compete to the best of his ability and I also wanted to feel good about my race — so I wasn’t about to compare myself to Elden.

I had trained hard and I was hoping my training would pay off in terms of a fast time….and possible a fastER time than my dear friend, Lynette.

Lynette and me after the St. George Marathon in 2008.

Lynette and I have been friends for more than seventeen years and training partners for about 13. She started out running marathons, while I rode my mountain bike for obscene amounts of time. Our paths would cross whenever I decided to put on running shoes. My desire to run was always there, but the ability for my body to survive the pounding of running was not always there. My frequent running injuries were the cause of a lot of tears and missed running dates with Lynette.

I tried to get her to mountain bike with me, but it didn’t go over too well. On our very first (and last) ride, Lynette hit a rock and the bike bucked her off like a bronco. The usually mild-mannered Lynette — mumbling a list of words that don’t typically come from her mouth — picked up her bike and was about to throw it off the side of the mountain when I interceded.

I told her we could just stick to running; mountain biking did not bring out her best side.

Over the next several years, I dabbled in sprint-distance triathlon as well as XTERRA events. I had to teach myself to swim, and was never very good at XTERRA.

At the same time, Lynette decided to get a road/Tri bike. Her relationship with the tri bike was much better than with the mountain bike. She started out with small local triathlons, which she always did well in. Her love for Triathlon quickly progressed to the queen mother of Tri: Ironman. Her husband, Cory, was also excited about this new form of exercise.

Cory and Lynette, on the bus to the 2013 St. George Half-Ironman

Over the next several years, Lynette and Cory traveled all over the world — from New Zealand to Brazil to China — to participate in Ironman competitions. I’ve actually lost track of how many she has done, but haven’t forgotten the stories she would come back and tell me. I loved her adventures. I always dreamed of pushing myself to the limit and I loved hearing her stories of accomplishment.

In 2010, Lynette and I were able to compete in the St George Ironman. It was a thing of beauty to watch her. When I crossed her during the run portion of the 2010 Ironman, she looked amazing. Running so strong. She finished more than an hour before Elden and me.

One day, I vowed, I wanted to be able to compete like Lynette.

Fast Forward to May 4, 2013

As I lined up with the other orange and pink swim caps (Lynette’s and my age groups were combined together for a the same start wave) at water’s edge, I took one deep breath after another. Most of the faces looked just as scared as I felt.

But not Lynette — she was off socializing with one of her many Tri friends she has acquired in her world travels! I was a little jealous — I wish I could be that calm before entering the water with a bunch of flailing arms and legs!

Still, I hadn’t come into this swim unprepared. I had been training hard for this! At the first of the year, I had started using the Total Immersion Swimming: Perpetual Motion Freestyle in Ten Lessons DVD. I had done all the drills. I really like the philosophy behind the swim technique. I wasn’t necessarily swimming faster, but I was swimming more relaxed. I could bilaterally breathe when I wanted to, and my breathing was generally more relaxed. I could easily swim for an hour and not feel particularly tired.

Elden and I had actually swam in Sand Hollow about a month prior to the race. Once I was acclimated to the water, my swim went really well. I had never felt such confidence leading up to a triathlon before.

That all quickly changed the day before the race, when I had  the brilliant idea that I needed to go for a small swim.

Lynette and Elden both accompanied me on my little adventure. They immediately began swimming away from the shore, leaving me panting and gasping for air. I collected myself, calmed my breathing and took off after them.

Ten strokes later, I looked up.

To my dismay, I was swimming perpendicular to where I needed to be going. Lynette and Elden were swimming off in the distance. I laughed at my error, righted myself in the water and headed off in their direction. Ten strokes later, I looked up to find that I had somehow turned myself and was heading off course again!

This happened two more times.

It was so confusing. I would start out in one direction, then look up to find that I was going in a different direction. I eventually righted myself and made my way to the turn-around rock. Elden wanted to know why I was swimming so erratically. I informed him I just wanted to get in a little longer swim.

Now, on race morning, the announcer was on the countdown from ten. Treading water, I tried to make my way to the far right — I really didn’t want to start in the middle of the group. The horn blew and we were off. I could see a yellow buoy in the distance and I headed for it. I kept sighting and I kept seeing it, but it never seemed to be getting any closer! I could see the bulk of the swimmers to my left swimming very close to the buoys. I was making forward progress, but way out in right field.

As I neared the first red-turn buoy, a guy on a kayak started yelling at me. I didn’t know what he said, but I was the only person this far out, so I turned my body and headed directly for the buoy. I eventually came to the buoy and intersected the stream of swimmers, feeling like I was a salmon, swimming upstream.

I made the left turn and  thought I would have an easier time swimming straight now, because I had the sun shining in my face when I would breathe.

Earlier, when I commented that I could bilaterally breathe — well I guess I can bilaterally breathe … in a pool … under calm conditions. and at the moment I was anything but calm.

As I continued to swim, I continued to sight for the buoys and again they started to become farther and farther away. The boats and kayaks on the other hand were about six feet away from me on the right. They kept shouting at me and I would attempt to course correct and head for the buoys.

Here is a diagram of what I imagine my swim path — the red line — must have looked like:


Except maybe my swim path was even more jagged than that

I had no idea where I was in the pack. I could see multi-colored caps off in the distance, but I had no idea if they were in the waves that started before or after I did. I was virtually alone with the boaters. The one benefit to this was I wasn’t being kicked!

Finally, I arrived at the last red turn buoy. I tried again — really hard — to stay close to the buoys. I could see the shore and the dock with people on it in the distance. This time I was able to stay with a group of swimmers. I wasn’t completely alone. As I ran up the dock, I glanced at my watch.

Forty-six minutes!

I was ecstatic. I was hoping for sub 50; I had crushed my goal. I had just swam farther than anyone else and still made my time goal!

I knew then that this wasn’t going to be a bad day at all.

The Bike

As I was putting on my bike shoes (the only way I can describe the transition phase is to say that you feel like you are in “La-La Land”–I felt like I am going in slow motion and everyone else was on fast forward speed), Elden came running in shouting encouragement and “I love you’s.” I was so out of it, I don’t even think I responded. I was just happy that I had made it out of the water before him…and that we had both made it out alive!

As I got on my bike and sped out of Sand Hollow Park, I passed Val, one of Lynette’s training partners. Like me, she is a slow swimmer, and I was happy to see that she had survived. I yelled encouragement and pedaled on.

I felt fantastic. Taking a few days off to rest had seemed to do me good.

I flew up the first hill by the reservoir, but as I crested the summit, Elden passed me. He was flying! He yelled encouragement as he streaked by me like a bolt of lightning. No one, the entire day, passed me with the same intensity as Elden. It was amazing.

The bike ride went fantastic. I felt strong. I fueled myself with GU Chomps. I had put the amount of Chomps in my Bentos box that I would require for the ride and ate them when I could. My stomach felt great and my energy levels never waned.

My stats say I passed about 1000 people on the bike (going from 1646th place overall to 700th place overall), but the one important person I really wanted to pass I never saw. Lynette eluded me. Had I passed her while swimming? There was just about no chance of  that — she was hoping for around a thirty-minute swim.

But where was she?

Twice the bike ride took us on an out-and-back section so  there would be returning riders crossing paths with you while you were going out, and vice-versa. Since I’m normally just a little faster than Lynette on the bike, I was constantly scanning for her, wondering when — or whether — I’d catch her. In fact, I had to remind myself to be careful or I was going to wreck in my quest to find Lynette!

“Lynette must be having a banner day — good for her!” I thought.

The last climb — up Snow Canyon — was invigorating. I felt great. I passed people who were walking their bikes; I passed people who were gasping for air. Triathletes may be fast on the flats, but — in general — they suck at climbing. It was nice to be powered by mountain biking legs!

According to Strava, I bested my snow canyon climb by 1:15 — not bad for having just swam 1.2 miles and ridden 45 miles.

As I descended in to town, I was grateful that I wasn’t one of the people I saw on their bikes still heading out for Snow Canyon. I was also still on the alert for Elden (who I thought I might see running toward me) and Lynette (who I hoped to catch while still riding) as I watched the steady mass of runners leaving town.

I arrived in the transition area seeing neither one of them.

The Run

As I moved in slow motion through the bike to run transition, I snarfed down two Honey Stinger waffles and used the port-a-potty. If I’m ever going to win a triathlon, I need to learn to speed up this process! As I looked down at my Garmin 10 to start its timer, I noticed that it hadn’t locked on to the satellites yet. “That’s OK,” I thought, “I’ll just use my Timex ironman watch.” Then, to my dismay, I saw it blinking in some mode I’ve never seen before — it was also unresponsive.

So I was wearing two high-tech watches, both made for running, and neither of which would record my run.

I was pissed. Would I run this whole half marathon not knowing how fast I was going? How primitive. I didn’t know if I would survive!

Eventually the Garmin locked on — and eventually I found my running legs.

Strava shows that my first two miles were between an 8:15 and 8:30 pace — not bad. The runner in me was coming out! I have been training for the Ogden marathon (May 18 — this upcoming Saturday) and the thought of running only a half marathon was downright pleasant!

I slowed my pace as I encountered the first climb. I was surprised at how many people were walking. As the pitch leveled off, my pace increased. Soon I was cruising along in a Zen state. I had all but forgotten to look for Lynette and Elden, when I suddenly heard someone shout, “Lisa?!“ 

Was someone talking to me?

I turned around and there she was: Lynette! I had been looking for her the last three hours . . . and then ran right by her without seeing her.

We talked for a minute. She said she had a fast swim — thirty-five minutes — and a great bike leg. I told her I had been looking for her forever, and then just about missed her altogether. She wished me luck as I continued on. I was so happy. Happy that I had finally caught Lynette, happy for her that she was feeling good and having a good race.

Now I just needed to find Elden.

Just as I had predicted, I came across Elden at Pioneer Park. He was happy to see me and raised his hand to high-five me. The problem was, I didn’t have an unoccupied hand — you see, I was carrying ice cubes to help keep my body temperature down. So instead of high-fiving him, I threw ice cubes at him and told him, “I told you we would pass each other here.” And then he was gone. I felt bad. I had thrown ice at him and hadn’t told him I loved him. Shame on me!

I did, however, calculate that he was two miles — roughly 18-20 minutes — ahead of me. I was never gonna catch him. I was happy he was looking good and moving so well.

As I approached the mile 9 – 10 aid station, my stomach did a flip-flop and started gurgling. The pictures of runners with diarrhea running down their legs passed quickly through my mind. Oh please let my stomach settle down! I thought.

I stopped and walked through the aid station and had a drink of cola and water. My stomach seemed to settle down a little and I pressed on.

The road at this point turned downhill — I was on the home stretch. As I turned on to Diagonal street, I caught up with a man and we started chatting. We were obviously motivating each other as we ran the last 2 miles together. We were cruising. Strava says I was running a 7:30-8:00 minute pace. Not bad for the end of a half-Ironman!

As we came to the roundabout and could almost see the finish line, I asked him if he had any kick left in him. He said he’d see and we both took off. He jumped ahead of me and crossed the finish line first. I was a little scared that I had jumped the gun with this sprint and that I might poop my pants and barf at the same time! I reeled it back in and was surprised and happy to see Heather cheering for me as I crossed the finish line.

And guess who else was there waiting for me? Elden! What a great surprise! As I was ramping up my run, he was slowly fading. I had cut his twenty-minute lead down to about ten with my fast sprint at the end. Still, we had both finished, and finished well! I was so proud of him!

Lynette came in a few minutes after I did. She was happy and felt good about her performance. I was super proud of her — and proud of me, for beating her! In retrospect, I figured out there were two reasons why I had beat Lynette:

  1. Cory, Lynette’s husband, is the owner of SBR Sports in Orem, Utah and did a custom bike fit on my Shiv. He promised me it would be one mile per hour faster. I think he may have been right. 
  2. I wore a dorky, pointy time trial helmet…..something Lynette said she will never do! 

Too bad for her — I think it goes great with my outfit:

IMG 6401

Lynette’s daughter, Mckenzie, also beat her mom and was thoroughly overjoyed! I don’t think Lynette even new she could bring so much happiness to everyone. Lynette is an extremely good sport and ended up talking eighth in her age group.

I was overjoyed to find out that even with a horrible swim I placed fourth in my age group. Not bad for my first half-Ironman. Elden was super excited for me-I think he was even more excited than I was!


As I was standing on the podium, I had a chance to talk with the lady who took 5th place.


I had beaten her by a mere twenty-two seconds. If I hadn’t ramped up the run at the end, I would have taken fifth instead of fourth.

IMG 6370

Getting on the podium at all was awesome. I was so happy!


  1. Comment by Kristina | 05.13.2013 | 10:49 am

    Great race report, thanks so much for taking the time to write and post! Congratulations on an awesome race!

  2. Comment by Lynette | 05.13.2013 | 11:18 am

    I’m rethinking the helmet thing.

  3. Comment by Christina | 05.13.2013 | 11:38 am

    (wild applause)

    THIS is why I love your race reports. You are racing YOUR race and are so true to telling that story. I love that, although your paces are so much faster than mine, you have the exact same thoughts.

    Thank you for sharing! Congrats on the place!

  4. Comment by Mike | 05.13.2013 | 11:40 am

    Great report, thanks for sharing and congratulations!

  5. Comment by Clancy | 05.13.2013 | 12:08 pm

    Methinks you may need a new title. ‘The Hammer’ seems, well, frankly perhaps a bit too weak of a description.. :) Congrats!!

    And just think – Add another .5 mph to your bike and Fatty is in real trouble..

  6. Comment by Mellabella | 05.13.2013 | 12:43 pm

    I was really looking forward to your race report and you did not disappoint!! Thank you so much for sharing your experience and I think the pointy helmet looks fabulous!! :) Congrats again! Good luck at Ogden!!

  7. Comment by Fat Cathy | 05.13.2013 | 12:48 pm

    Awesome job, Hammer! Thank you for sharing – you inspire me. Oh, and TT helmets aren’t dorky at all if you are doing a time trial! You look fab!

  8. Comment by Eric Finn | 05.13.2013 | 1:28 pm

    As one of the multitude of folks who’d asked to read your race report I must admit I’m not at all disappointed. How’s that for a back handed compliment? Seriously, though, thanks for writing it. As someone who’s trying and failing on a regular basis to exercise its encouraging to read stories from folks that have kept at it and what you can achieve when you you do.

  9. Comment by 10 penny | 05.13.2013 | 1:33 pm

    Elden set up the shot for that TT helmet picture, didn’t he? It’s a very Fatty-esque pose (in an almost frightening way).

    Great race!

  10. Comment by Jeff | 05.13.2013 | 1:50 pm

    That looks EXACTLY like the swim I had that day. I told my wife afterward, “I may not been the FASTEST swimmer in the race, but I may have the dubious distinction of having swum the FARTHEST.”
    Congrats on a great race! I spent most of the run pacing for and pacing off the the third place finisher in The Hammer’s division – it was great fun and hope to see you all there again next year!

  11. Comment by Brian in VA | 05.13.2013 | 1:51 pm

    Glad I asked for this. Gladder still that you wrote it!
    Congrats on running your race and earning a podium in your first Half Ironman! You truly are The Hammer.

    You two are made for each other; my bride would never stand for putting on that helmet and posing for it.

    You rock!

  12. Comment by Tiffany R | 05.13.2013 | 2:15 pm

    Thank you so much for the race report. I’ve only done two sprint tris (looking to do more) and the swim scares the heck out of me. So glad even experienced triathletes have trouble in the water.

  13. Comment by Bee T | 05.13.2013 | 3:38 pm

    Yay! The Hammer reports! From meeting you at Leadman, I remember you as SUCH a calm and mellow and positive person- that sort of energy feeds on itself and brings out the best in your fellow racers! Love that you race your own race! (Gotta keep that in mind for my 70.3 in July!) Looks like it was just such a great and positive race.

    As far as the Porto-Potty- I thought you were a nurse? I worked a Level 1 Trauma for years- the nurses could go to the bathroom faster than anyone else alive! :-)

    Thanks for the report!

  14. Comment by Cheryl | 05.13.2013 | 4:32 pm

    Great race – congrats!!

  15. Comment by Jay | 05.13.2013 | 7:22 pm

    Boy, The Hammer really hates walkers, doesn’t she!?

    Nice race report!

  16. Comment by Doug (Way upstate NY) | 05.13.2013 | 7:43 pm

    Nice race. Congrats!

  17. Comment by Clydesteve | 05.13.2013 | 11:50 pm

    Well, pretty stinkin’ good, TheHammer! congrats!

  18. Comment by Kukui | 05.14.2013 | 2:35 am

    What an incredible race, The Hammer!!! You are such an inspiration! Congrats on podiuming and thanks for the motivational race report! :)

  19. Comment by Cyclin' Missy | 05.14.2013 | 7:19 am

    Great race! Nice work! Your positive attitude is always so uplifting!

  20. Comment by rich | 05.14.2013 | 7:47 am

    Thanks for sharing that – what a great write-up and what a great race you had! Congrats!

  21. Comment by Dave T | 05.14.2013 | 8:21 am

    Great race report. Congratulations Lisa.

  22. Comment by Heidi | 05.14.2013 | 8:25 am

    A W E S O M E ! !

  23. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 05.14.2013 | 8:52 am

    I second Heidi’s comment.

    I’m not even disappointed about the money I lost betting on the outcome, I’m sure Elden will put it to good use.

    Thank you for the write up Lisa. Good luck this weekend in the Marathon. (Fatty, is there a site we can track The Hammer’s progress live?) Is another podium place in the card????


  24. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 05.14.2013 | 1:55 pm

    it’s about a month till Davis. I hope we’ll see all our old friends there and many new ones as well. Team Fatty is currently in 4th place on Fundraising, so anyone who would like to donate check it out:

    I’m thinking Fiesta Food for Friday night so get ready! Zeeter, I promise something special for you and my daughter as well.

  25. Comment by GregC | 05.14.2013 | 2:20 pm

    Davis- is annual Fatty night at the Cycling Hall of Fame on again?

  26. Comment by Doug (Way upstate NY) | 05.14.2013 | 5:48 pm

    @davidh……You are making me wish I could make it to CA to ride with you all. Miss the Friday night Fatty Feast!

  27. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 05.14.2013 | 6:25 pm

    @Doug(way upstate NY)

    After this past weekend’s 52m mtb ride chasing a Leadville participant(10:24 he said) I thought about your quest. Until someone suggested riding our ‘island’ ride breathing through a straw to simulate altitude.
    Looking forward to your Leadville Guest Post.

  28. Comment by Nic Grillo | 05.14.2013 | 10:15 pm

    Awesome post, Lisa! Congrats on a great race!

    @davidh, awesome performance this weekend! You killed it! I look forward to being able to join you on the full route next year! Let’s get some more fatties involved!

  29. Comment by Julio Yohe | 05.15.2013 | 7:59 am

    Honestly, this is my first time to visit your site and I am really amazed by your race report. I am also a cyclist and I get inspiration from people like you. Thanks for sharing! :-)

  30. Comment by iRide | 05.15.2013 | 8:03 am

    “The pictures of runners with diarrhea running down their legs passed quickly through my mind.”

    Whhaaatttt? I’ve never seen any pictures of this but now I have one burned in my brain! I think I’ll stick with cycling!

  31. Comment by Tom in Albany | 05.15.2013 | 9:17 am

    Great write-up and race, The Hammer!

    You need a non-Elden-like pose for your tri-gear, though. Oh wait. You didn’t have to suck in your gut so, you’re in the clear!

    Great job!

  32. Comment by Tom in Albany | 05.15.2013 | 10:15 am

    I’d also like to recognize The Hammer for doing us all a solid and getting her entire race report in a single post!!!!

  33. Comment by Jesse | 05.16.2013 | 8:34 pm

    Thanks for the write-up! And that picture is just plain awesome, in a very Fatty-posed way. Love it.

  34. Comment by christ | 06.30.2013 | 11:03 pm

    I am also a ironman fans!working for profile design and Swift before…
    You are ironwoman!


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