Saturday, April 11, 2015

Get Off Me!! - Taming the Untamable

Last week my fam and I spent some time in the city of St. George, where my in-laws live. One of the days, my mother-in-law (a principal and former teacher) hired a former student to help with some stuff on their property. Long story short, before he left he went to his van and pulled out a huge bird known as a Red-tailed Hawk to show my kids. This thing clearly had a chip on its shoulder, was a master of the “stink eye,” and looked like it could claw and/or peck you apart in no time. Evidently the hawk is this guy’s pet, and he described how he hunts with her, has trained her to listen to his commands, etc. He did, however, lament that he hasn’t been as consistent as he should with training her, and that he’s “probably lost some ground” in terms of taming her over the last several months.

As my wife and I attempted to tame the wild stallion that is the Ironman 70.3 St. George course, I felt the same way. Based on how roughly the course treated us after an 11-month absence, we’ve probably lost some ground in terms of taming her.

Due to the family connection (and being within driving distance) I’ve done the Ironman races in St. George the last three years. From 2010-2012 it was Ironman St. George, and I caught the last year of the full. IMSG was notorious for being one of, if not the hardest, course on the Ironman circuit, and failed to sell out that last year largely due to people being scared away. For 2013 the race was changed to a 70.3, and has been the US Pro Championships race at that distance since.

For some reason it seems like both the old and new course do not like to be conquered, whether it’s race day or just a training day, similar to an irate, bucking bull doing everything in its power to eject a cowboy off its back. I’m not doing the race (held May 2) this year, but my wife is for the 2nd consecutive year. We set out to ride the course, which starts in a town appropriately called Hurricane. It was extremely windy, and as we started out circling Sand Hollow Reservoir, we were pelted with a stinging sandstorm. Once passed that, the wind continued to howl through Hurricane before slightly mellowing out. About 2/3 into our ride the course then threw a flat at Lindsay, which we fixed as a curious lizard watched on three feet away. It wasn’t pretty, but we ultimately finished the ride.

get off me!!

Our last day in St. George I set out to solo ride a loop of the old IM course (~44 miles). St. George in general gets an A+ for scenery, but this loop is especially amazing. That helps make up for some killer hills on this loop, including an infamous climb known as “The Wall.” I had what felt to me to be a slight headwind on the way out, but once I crested The Wall, I was pounded with a far nastier headwind on the more exposed highway that leads back to town. It seemed to defy the laws of physics, leading me to believe it was just the course once again messing with me for old time’s sake.

You may never ride a bull, nor tame a Red-tailed Hawk, but if you get the chance I encourage you to do this race and/or tackle other challenging courses sometime. You probably won’t PR, but the reward for taming the untamable is pretty sweet!

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