‘Tri’s and tribulations
Ryan Summerlin June 17, 2014
Trish Deim was going to compete in a race in Boulder, Colorado, last weekend until she was hit by an asthmatic episode at home in Boise, Idaho. So she changed her plans because, she said, "I didn’t know if my lungs could take it."
So Deim took the weekend off, right?
Nope. Instead she showed up Saturday morning as a contestant at the Olympic category at the Rock Cliff Triathlon at Jordanelle Reservoir.
"I have three children and they’re competing in LAX (the lacrosse tournament in Park City) this weekend a big tournament for them," she explained following Saturday’s race.
"So I thought, ‘oh, I’ll jump in up here to this [event].’ The race director was kind enough to let me bounce in last minute. That way I can still support my kids. So I’m scrambling out of here to go watch my son beat down on somebody with a lacrosse stick."
Just for the record, Olympic competitors at Rock Cliff were expected to swim a mile, ride 26 miles and then run 10 kilometers, which would be challenging enough under the best of conditions. And for Deim, these were not the best of conditions.
"My asthma is exercise-induced, but I’m allergy-triggered as well," she said. "So allergens in the air are smoke, certain pollens. I’m highly allergic to yellow pine, cottonwoods, and western pine. Those ones are brutal. You might as well give me a juice straw and say, ‘Breathe through that.’"
If you’re familiar with the Rock Cliff campground, you know that it’s laid out along the banks of the Provo River, next to the eastern arm of the Jordanelle Reservoir. And the area the site of Saturday’s running event is thick with cottonwood trees.
"I ran into the same issue last weekend in Boise," she said. "It (cottonwood) is in bloom, and I didn’t realize how much there was here. I could feel it on the bike. I just kind of pushed through. And it really slowed me down on the run. Pretty thick. We never got out of the cottonwood here."
Nevertheless, Deim not only finished the race but won the women’s Olympic category by a comfortable margin. Well, "comfortable" may be the wrong word, judging from the way she struggled to catch her breath at the finish line.
Deim, who started racing triathlons in 2002 when her son was only three months old, doesn’t consider herself particularly strong in any of the three triathlon disciplines.
"My strongest discipline is suffering, and that’s it," the third-year pro contestant said between coughing fits. "I only know how to just suffer more, suffer faster, suffer harder. That’s it. I’m not great at anything. I’m just great at not quitting."
Deim was among about 180 hardy souls 70 women and 110 men who braved the chilly waters of the reservoir and a brisk north wind to compete in Saturday’s triathlon. Aaron Shamy, a race director for RaceTri.com, the company that organizes the event, said he was expecting the cool water and required all competitors to wear wetsuits.
"The water temperature here at Jordanelle was the warmest I’ve ever seen it in the last five years at 63 degrees," Shamy said. "It was nice and balmy. We didn’t see too many people showing symptoms of hypothermia like we have in years past."
At the finish line of the swimming event at the Rock Cliff boat ramp, contestants had to strip off their wetsuits before donning shoes and heading down the road on their bikes.
On the other hand, the wind did cause some problems both for the riders and the race organizers.
"Going out [on the bike] it felt like you had a headwind until you started coming back and then you really had a headwind," said Casey Robles of Orem, Utah, overall winner of the men’s Olympic event.
But it was during the running event that the wind was the most disruptive, according to race director Shamy.
"Our signage: There was one specific turn where the sign got blown around and our two lead runners [in the Sprint category] took a left when they were supposed to take a right," Shamy said. "They ended up running a half mile (the wrong way) down the road before I turned them around and said, "Go back to the point of departure on the course. You won’t be disqualified if you get back on the course from where you departed,’ which they did, and they both finished the race in first and second place. Nobody caught up to them, even with the extra mile." (The Sprint event involved a half-mile swim, a 14-mile bike ride and a 5K run.)
Finishing first overall in the men’s Sprint category in spite of running the extra mile was Griffin Conroy, a 21-year-old Salt Lake City resident who is relatively new to the sport.
"This is only my second year as a racer," he said, "and I didn’t do any endurance stuff in high school or anything. I kind of came through and just jumped into this sport when I was done with team sports."
This was Conroy’s third podium finish in a triathlon this year. Earlier in the season he finished third in the Ice Breaker Triathlon in American Fork, Utah, and third in the Salem (Utah) Spring Triathlon.
The overall winner of the women’s Sprint event was Natalie Rasmussen, a 10-year triathlon veteran from Lindon, Utah, who also won the Sprint at Rock Cliff two years ago. Rasmussen had a lead of about two-and-a-half minutes after the biking leg and was still well ahead at the end of the run, even though she described running as her weakest discipline by far.
"I think I got lucky," she said with a smile. "All the fast people stayed home today."
For more results, please turn to the Scoreboard section or visit www.RaceTri.com.