Weather this time of year reminds me of St. George, UT. Specifically, the beauty of Snow Canyon. The "entryway" canyon wall is so magnificent, so impressive, so timelessly carved by geological and atmospheric forces that I will never forget it.
I HAVE that memory.
EVERY SINGLE TIME I've ridden through Snow Canyon, I get a little emotional about that beautiful canyon wall. It's inspiring.
('Course, it only takes a few minutes grinding up that +6% grade to forget about anything other than burning lungs and legs. Beauty can be cruel that way.)
I haven't been there recently, for obvious reasons. That doesn't really dilute the energy and joy the memory provides, especially during indoor training on a Wahoo Kickr in my Tempe garage.
For me, that memory is actually a practical, useful tool. Sometimes, with the right mental relaxation and conditions (which, weirdly, cannot be forced), Snow Canyon comes to my garage. It's not a magical conjuring across time and space. It's more like a small, simple pleasure of adding cream to coffee and getting juuuust the riiiight shade. Brings a smile.
Which leads to other positive memories...
Flashback to: a sunny Saturday morning in 2014. Southside Chicago apartment, 3rd floor walk-up. My wife and I are cleaning the place with the TV on. This 2014 Ironman 70.3 St George U.S. Pro Championship Broadcast came on, a combination race and Utah tourism sizzle video.
Getting my wife and I to stop cleaning didn't (doesn't) take much stopping power, but getting us to commit to the next step was next level. Hypnosis? Dunno. But I registered for the 2015 race while my wife booked flights. That morning.
I HAVE that memory, too.
We went to St. George for the 70.3 race in 2015 and then again in 2016. I had even registered in 2019 for the full distance St. George IRONMAN(tm) North American Championship in 2020, which was subsequently cancelled.
(I deferred registration to IRONMAN(tm) Lake Placid 2021--totally different geography, different conditions, different atmosphere. I'm excited at the prospect of gathering new indelible impressions, assuming it happens.)
Canyon walls aren't very glamorous. Yet, whatever else happens event-wise in 2021, I'm grateful for the two times I HAVE raced St. George.
Now, the same brain that bubbled up those two memories, (a) registering and (b) riding Snow Canyon also bubbled up memories of Gary Busey telling Keanu Reeves to get him two meatball sandwiches.
(To some people this will make perfect sense, to others it will seem like complete madness. Just like doing triathlons.)
So even as I train indoors, with no real assurance of when or where my next triathlon will take place, I raise my water-bottle in salute to Utah and all the startling, refreshing and sustaining memories connected to Snow Canyon.