Utah is a beautiful place to visit and I would recommend it to anyone who is looking to get away to a desert like environment. The colorful red rock mixed with the sunset makes for a great picture setting background.
During my check in process I ran into another Iraq veteran who I had no idea would be there. To see a familiar face was reassuring. Zach served in the Navy as a crew member on a helo during the invasion. Zach now resides in Arizona where he has two boys and is just being a great role model for them. Zach is a phenomenal athlete who is lighting speed in the water and if I keep training hard, then maybe I can be as fast as him. I sure was glad to see Zach knowing that I would have someone to meet up with after the race.
Utah without a doubt was the hardest race to date. The heat along with the elevation and the hills sure did slow me down, which is a good a thing due to all my upcoming races. For the start of the race, I was the second to last swim wave to go out so I knew if I were to have a decent pace I would be fighting a lot of traffic. Even though Utah was hot, the lake was COLD! I felt my heart rate spike when I jumped in the water. Now I do like to swim in cold water but this was like ice water and I’m glad I had a wet suit. The swim was tough because of all the waves that went before me which meant I had to fight my way around the swimmers.
The bike was beautiful but without a doubt very challenging. From the transition, we climbed for what seemed like an eternity. It was actually 9-10 miles. Then once it leveled out and I was able to find a groove, wham! Another elevation change and this one really worked me over. My legs were dead but at least the last 10 miles were much easier.
On the last transition when you think you had the blood back into your legs, you are met with a 5k uphill run. Normally I would consider myself a decent uphill runner but the sun was already out and cooking. So I was taking in all my nutrients and hydrating at every water station. To my surprise around mile 4 or so I caught up to Zach. Zach himself was feeling the heat and the challenges the course had to offer. This is where we were able to help each other and work as a team to finish out the run together.
Overall I had a great time in Utah and loved the gut check I received from the race. I’m very thankful that I ran into Zach and if I could run into someone every race,
it will make my time away from home much easier.