Ironman St. George 70.3 – Fiddle Sticks

The truth is, fiddle sticks happen us every day. I have found how big of a deal you make your fiddle sticks determines how big a fiddle stick it really is.”

– Linsey Corbin

This was a tough report for me to write. I trashed it several times. I realized it would be silly to just post my good race experiences on here.  The truth is: the sky ain’t always blue, and the roads ain’t always smooth. I’ve definitely had my share of crap races. However, I feel I grow and learn the most from these.  So… without further ado, my St. George report:


Saturday, a week before my race, I lay in bed sick as a dog —achy body, fever, runny nose, coughing, and fatigued.  I trained as best as I could through tax season, averaging around 13-15 hours of training a week. I felt ready. Then, this damn sickness.  Why now!? I began to panic. St. George was an “A” race and I wanted to be in prime condition for it. I felt like I was a contender for an outright Vegas slot in my age group.

Linsey was out with a bad cold before Ironman AZ last year. I sent her an email early in the week and asked for recovery tips.  She sent me a lengthy list of advice (LC is AWESOME btw!).  Above all, she told me to rest and not have a pity party over being ill.  I spent a majority of the week drinking a ton of fluids, sleeping, and staring at the TV.  I missed the entire week of work. As the week progressed I slowly began to feel better. In my mind, I felt healthy enough to race Saturday. I packed up my stuff and headed to St. George.

Thursday and Friday were dedicated towards more rest and sleep… and helping my house stay can 25 pounds of chicken. That was a first!

Canning chicken... like a boss.

Canning chicken… like a boss.

I went for a short ride and run Friday morning and felt decent. From that point on, I told myself to forget I was sick.  I had done the training. I knew I was capable of a good race.  Excuses are the nails that build the house of failure. I wasn’t going to give the “I was sick” or “Linsey wasn’t there” excuses if I performed poorly.  So, this is where the excuse talk ends.

Race Day:

I woke up a 3:45 a.m. Mentally, I felt like I was in a good place. I had my race strategy planned out and I was well-rested.  The conditions in St. George were ideal—little to no winds and mild temperatures.  I still can’t get over the beautiful scenery in St. George. It’s gotta be one of the most scenic races I’ve ever done.

One of many totally awesome views at St. George

One of many totally awesome views in St. George

The water temperature in Sand Hollow reservoir was in the low 60s.  I got in as soon as they let the M25-29 wave in the water.  I got over the initial cold shock after a couple minutes as I floated on my back to “warm” myself up.  My wave was relatively small, so there was little congestion throughout the swim.  I kept my effort consistent as I found groups of swimmer to pace with.  I got out of the water 21st in my age group, in just over 30 minutes. My hands, face, and feet were numb from the coldness.

Swim start

The swim exit

The bike course contained many rolling hills with the biggest climb (about 3.5 miles long at around a five percent grade) 40 miles into the ride. The last 10 miles were all downhill. The bike course was a lot more scenic compared to my Arizona training grounds.  There were times, especially riding through Snow Canyon Park, where I just said “WOW.”  The scenery was incredible.  It somewhat distracted me from the pain.

Snow Canyon

The Snow Canyon climb

I knew pacing would be crucial for me to have a quality run off the bike. On the bike I just felt… blah. Not great, not horrible, just… off. I did my best to keep my effort up and power in zone, but this seemed really difficult.  I had training rides where it “felt” a lot easier to maintain power. My perceived effort seemed a lot higher than what my power numbers were showing. There were only a couple times I got out of my saddle to stretch my legs out, so the big power surges were kept at a minimum. I kept my heart rate in check on the climbs and tried to push it on the downhills.

My Garmin showed 3,300 feet of climbing. I got off my bike 15th in my age group.  I had a lot of catching up to do.  My plan from here was to just run as fast as I could and pick off as many people as possible.

I didn’t have it in me.  I never had that pep in my legs I felt in the past. I felt flat. I tried to mentally block it out.  I yelled at myself and tried to pump myself up.  I felt really low on energy. Every time I tried to pick it up, my stomach knotted up. This stomach discomfort seemed to last most of the run.  I had stuck to the same exact nutrition I used during training and I never experienced this much stomach distress.  I jogged the entire run course and gutted it out. I was not going to walk. By mile four, I knew this just wasn’t my day. I wasn’t giving up, but I knew I was out of contention. I had a lot of people cheering for me on the run course. I tried my best to smile and wave… but  I was pretty gassed.

I had an epic battle with Jacob (an AZ triathlete) towards the end of the race. We were going back and forth the last few miles of the race. It ended with a sprint finish and our overall times were exactly the same! I remember the crowd and announcer were really pumped up as we approached the line.  It was the highlight of my day!  We still don’t have photo evidence of who actually won… 🙂

St George Finish

I finished 13th in my age group, with a time of 4:56:01.

Do I think I was capable of a better performance? Heck yeah. On that day though, I gave it everything I had. I’m proud of myself for not giving up and getting to the finish line. This course has to be one of the most challenging ones on the 70.3 circuit. It ain’t no Ironman AZ.

I was way to tough on myself after the race.  I was upset, mad, humbled… I completely lost perspective. I trained to be a contender in my age group and I dislike when things don’t go my way. I let it get to my head. I kept having to remind myself that triathlon is just a hobby. I do this for fun!!! I took an entire week off. I just needed a break, both mentally and physically, to let myself reset.

The break gave me time to think about why I do triathlon.  First, I love the competition; I love performing well; and I love taking my body to its limits.  I’ve also met some of my best friends in the sport and the triathlon community in AZ is incredible. Above all, I like inspiring and motivating others. I love getting messages from complete strangers who stumble across my blog telling me that I inspired them to run their first 5k or do their first sprint triathlon.  I’ve influenced several of my family members, coworkers, and friends to live a more healthy and active lifestyle.  I even recently talked my Mom into doing her first triathlon!  She always calls with training advice; I’m her coach! And lastly, I GET to race triathlon. I’m grateful to be able to toe the line in one of the most physically demanding sports out there. There’s nothing else I’d rather rather do than spend a weekend competing against other crazy ass triathletes like myself.

St. George taught me a very valuable lesson. As LC put it, “Embrace the good and don’t put it on a pedestal. Accept the bad and don’t get too down in the dumps.”  We all have our fiddle stick days.

So… onward to Ironman Canada.  I feel recharged and ready to go again. I will be ready to go fast and have a blast in August.

Congrats to all my friends who qualified for Vegas. You guys are rock stars.


Post race with Andy Potts and friends

Dinner and drinks with more AZers

Post race drinks with AZ friends

Tags: , , , , , ,

Categories: Race Report, Races


Subscribe to my RSS feed and social profiles to receive updates.

5 Comments on “Ironman St. George 70.3 – Fiddle Sticks”

  1. May 14, 2013 at 8:37 am #

    Is that tyler there with you?

    • May 14, 2013 at 9:56 am #

      Yeah, she kept on asking me to ride horses with her. She also went streaking that night. Crazy.

  2. May 14, 2013 at 9:36 am #

    What’s truly impressive is that you managed to get through a 70.3 triathlon on ragged health. Most people would bow out of even a 5k when they feel ill, but you started, endured and finished. That’s badass. Some might say a bit reckless, but I say badass.

    I can’t say I’ve ever had a truly sick race like yours, where I can barely function as a person let alone put in a hard race effort, but I’m confident that the lessons you’ve learned will help you moving forward. If anything, it’ll make your next tri feel so much better because you know what it was like to have to drag yourself through the course.

    Also, did you take those pictures? They’re breathtaking.

  3. Teri
    May 16, 2013 at 5:24 am #

    You’re amazing. I appreciate you writing the tough report… And that it took you a while. I understand, and I know that you can’t expect to be at your best when you’ve been sick. Sometimes your body just needs time and sometime our day jobs get in the way. You’re going to be sooooo itching for glory by the time Canada gets here! I’m excited to continue to watch your success, Elliot!


  1. Kona 2014: Defeat | Elliot Kawaoka - October 22, 2014

    […] the moment I began this sport, my goal was to qualify for Kona. I’ve experienced many fiddlestick-like days with my fair share of less-than-stellar performances. I’m not going to sugarcoat it, I hate when […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: