It didn’t start well. The 5 hour trip to St. George took almost 7 because of the 45 minutes it took to make it through the drive through at Subway and the horrible snow storm that forced us to tail a semi and only go 30 mph most of the way. We pulled into the house at around midnight, unloaded the car, our bikes, the food, and hit the sack. The next morning Wes and I were up running around town finalizing swag bags, food, and packets.

It was a beautiful sunny day and we were anxious to get out in it and start training. That afternoon we welcome some of our friends from Arkansas that drove 21 hours to come to camp! It was awesome to see them after so long! And it meant the world to me that they came out to experience this with us!  Jess and Shawn didn’t even look tired, so Wes and I took them to the pool where we swam 3,000yrds. It was great to spend the time with them and have a good workout before the other athletes arrived and the chaos began.

                                                  Shawn on his way from Arkansas to St. George...Ironman Style

Most of the athletes were able to come to dinner that night.  Getting a bunch of perfect strangers together for dinner can be tricky. I don’t know why I was so worried! It was a blast! We had athletes from California, Utah, and Arkansas all there and we couldn’t have had a better time! In fact the waitresses had to scream to get our attention and take our orders. Everyone was so excited to meet new friends and share stories. One of the athlete’s there was Fatema. She drove out from California with her friend Marlene. Fatema is competing in Ironman St. George in May. When she crosses the finish line she will be the first woman from Afghanistan EVER to finish an Ironman! At 2 ½ hours I finally had to pull the “coach card” and send everyone to bed!

Early Friday morning we met at the indoor pool for a swim set. Wes and I organized lanes based off of a questionnaire we had sent out to the athletes.  After a warm up and more lane organization, we were able to start the 1,000yrd swim for time. Even though we staggered the starts there was some bumping and passing going on. In particular Jer (the bike dude) and Barbara, she was faster but there was no way he was going to let her by him! So at every wall they were knocking elbows and arms. This lasted the entire 1,000yrds!  Jer and Barbara had never met before and every time they fought for space I would just cringe, wondering how this would all end up.  By the end of the 90 minute swim Jer and Barbara were great friends! How do you know if you’re a triathlete? You don’t take the hits personally; it’s all a part of the experience.

After a short break for breakfast we met back at the house for a quick introduction and, of course, a little GPP workout. It was so fun to hear everyone’s background, experience, and goals. We had 28 athletes that were there because they loved triathlon, meeting other triathletes, and training hard. Some of us were beginners and some of us were Ironmen. Chris introduced himself and then continued to answer why he started doing triathlons saying, “Well, I saw myself naked in front of the mirror and knew it was time to do something”.

                                                      The start of our first ride.

We threw down 10 minutes of “Hit the Deck” and then loaded up the bikes and the food to head out to the Ironman course with our bikes. It was cold but the Ironman group rode an entire loop 40+ miles and the Olympic group rode 28+miles. We took a little break and met back at the same trailhead for an hour trail run on the red rock.

                                                        Hit the Deck!

Saturday morning we hit the pool with a tough 2 hour swim. We drilled on stroke efficiency and had an amazing workout where everyone worked their hardest and improved their swim times! We left feeling beat! It was an incredible workout where everyone gave their best despite being so tired!

 After breakfast we met at the house for another GPP workout where we did everything with a partner. Partner carries, partner leg throws, partner squats, partner push and pulls. It was so fun and so tough! These athletes had never done anything like it before.  The weather wasn’t cooperating but we were able to go and run the ½ marathon on the IM course. It rained, but the run was beautiful! That night we did some stretching and had a killer dinner where Ashlyn and Amy cooked Café Rio salads for us. We talked and laughed for hours together!

Sunday morning the weather was horrible. This was the day we had scheduled for our long brick session on the course. The Ironman group was scheduled for a 7 hour brick and the Olympic group a 5 hour brick. We had a nice brunch with homemade cinnamon rolls, eggs, fruit, muffins and juice. While we ate Wally talked to us about good nutrition while training and for recovery. The weather was getting worse so we did more GPP! We did a core workout on Neil’s count and all of us felt it! But we were determined to give this brick a try. So we duct taped trash bags to our clothes, loaded up our gear, and headed to T1.


                                           Shawn and Jess water-proofing for our ride.

The drive out to Sand Hollow Reservoir took 30 minutes and by the time we got there it was snowing harder.  No one wanted to call it, but Wes and I decided it was an issue of safety.  We drove the course back to where we biked on Friday and then headed back to the house. We rounded up some trainers and biked in the garage or headed out for an easy 60 minute run. That afternoon the sun came out and we were able to get outside for more riding.

That night we met for dinner as a large group.  It was supposed to be a big deal where Wes and I handed out prizes and thanked everyone for coming. It was a huge fiasco trying to get a reservation and turned into a big scavenger hunt for a place to eat! Finally we all got to Iggy’s where we were informed, (30 minutes AFTER placing our orders), that they were out of hamburger, fish, and several other main foods on the menu. Needless to say, it could’ve been a disaster!  But we squeezed everyone at one table and decided to see how the night would play out. It was hilarious trying to figure out what to order, who got what, and then waiting forever for everyone’s food to arrive! 3 hours at Iggy’s, horrible service, gross food, and an unforgettably fun evening!

Monday, after our swim, we hit the course for our brick. It was cold and there was snow at the top of Veyo, but everyone got in a great workout. It was a tough training day, but a perfect way to end a great camp! We had all formed tight friendships. It was very bitter sweet to say good bye to the athletes that came from out of town. Wes and I packed and cleaned up fast, but just couldn’t say good bye! We were lucky enough to have dinner with Shawn and Jess before they started their long drive home to Arkansas. What a special opportunity to meet incredible people! Everyone at the camp came with open minds, open hearts, drive, determination, and desire.

Despite the unfortunate weather everyone got intense training and formed lasting relationships! We had wonderful volunteers that supported all our athletes on the course and became part of the family. Wes and I are so thrilled with the way the camp went and very humbled to have been able to spend time with such incredible people. We will head down to watch all our friends cross the finish line at IMSG in May!

                                                Boo-randon, Kathryn, and JL.