Just over a month ago, it took me 16 hours, 36 minutes and four seconds to get my chubby body to chug along the 140.6 miles from the starting line to the finish line of my first Ironman triathlon. And that might not have been the most exhausting part of the sweet experience.
My family drove about 1,500 miles round-trip – and spent nearly a full day and night in the packed Suburban – for my IM debut in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
Fast forward to this past Saturday, and you can guess a big reason why I thoroughly enjoyed doing the Black Ridge Triathlon that so happened to take place in my Herriman neighborhood.
The starting line was only a little further away than my snooze button. Ahhhh.
The lake is about a mile drive from my house. Same for the finish line at our town park. Heck, I had to swim further than that (2.4 miles) just to get to the bike portion of my Ironman race.
Fortunately, a superb location — for all of us who enjoy staying on the Wasatch Front for a triathlon — wasn’t the only excellent thing this fun Racetri triathlon had to offer.
The swim is held in a small water-storage reservoir with a man-made sandy beach. My kids absolutely love the place in the summer, and it’s a perfect spot for a short-distance triathlon swim — for experienced swimmers and newcomers.
Because of its size (only about 300 yards long), it’s not nearly as intimidating to swim in this body of open water as it is in bigger Utah lakes – especially ones that purportedly have monsters lurking in their depths.
Once you dry off on the beach following the short 500-yard swim and get the sand off (or most of it, grrr), you’re then treated to the best part of this triathlon — the 14-mile bike course.
The first mile or so is mostly downhill (through my neighborhood!), and then you settle in for a couple of miles through the ever-growing town. The middle part of the bike ride is what makes it something special. And it offers a mixture of pleasure and pain.
The pain comes from a steady incline that leads you out of town toward the Oquirrh Mountains, and it becomes really challenging for a few hundred yards as you wind your away around and up the highway toward the Bingham Copper Pit.
The pleasure is two-fold: For starters, the scenery is as breathtaking as the ride, because you’re going next to a small stream, pretty fields and natural mountain landscape. On top of that (literally), the entire Salt Lake Valley opens up for one heckuva picturesque scene on the right while the interesting mine is to your left.
But beauty isn’t your only reward for the tough climb. The next two miles are a downhill thrill ride, setting you up for a mostly flat and fast final push back into town.
After taking my socks off to get some annoying sand pebbles out for the run, I was off and running. Finally!
I’ve had a personal struggle getting back into the swing of things since my Ironman finish on June 26. In other words, I’ve been extremely lazy and worn out. To wit, I’d only run a total of six minutes – during a 35-minute walk/jog – in the month after my Ironman. So, this run was a challenge and a much-needed springboard to get me moving forward again.
The course was nice. We weaved our way through a neighborhood using sidewalks and the nice trail system Herriman has. The best parts were: 1) Compared to a marathon, a 5K is a wonderfully short distance! And 2) My buddy Steve took the 40-minute jog/walk with me (I’m not exactly fast) because he had tried to sign up too late for this sold-out event.
The finish line had a fun vibe to it, with music, lots of supporters and an exuberant announcer who had witty and welcoming comments for everybody heading for the big red arch.
Finishers received medals and were treated to cold water, bagels and fresh fruit (oranges, bananas and peaches), and it felt like a party at the park as race finish lines often do.
Having two transition areas made it a bit more complicated than most tris, but organizers helped out by bringing swim gear back to the finish area (each participant was given a numbered plastic bag).
The only complaints were minor, with obvious course-cutting by a number of swimmers topping that small list. (Maybe a few more officials on kayaks are needed?)
Overall, this was a terrific triathlon – and not just because it was on my home course (though that’s always nice!) or because it was only about 18 miles long. The numerous volunteers were gung-ho and encouraging; the course was well-marked, interesting and organized (with lots of police assistance); and the ambiance was vibrant from start to finish.
All of my friends had a blast — from the first-timers (go Tom and Cory!) to the age-group winner (yeah, Di!) to the Ironman finisher (awesome Cindi). It was tough enough to make us work hard, but fun enough to make it worth the work.
That leads me to my biggest complaint of my hometown triathlon. We have to wait until 2012 to do it again.