Sunday, August 12, 2018

Race Report: Ironman 70.3 Boulder

5 years

It's been 5 years since I completed my last half ironman.  Man time flies while you are stretching.

I've posted enough about those 5 years... specifically the last 3... that I don't need to rehash.  All I will say is that stretching is important.  Even the littlest amount helps.  I have found that when my hips (and shin) hurt that a couple days of stretching will relieve it.  It takes a couple more to loosen the hip up.  Seriously, a few days of stretching a week may have kept me from losing 3 years of my competitive years (plus the next year of getting back to that fitness level).

So let's move on.

I'm not exactly sure who chose to do Ironman Boulder 70.3 as the half for this year, but Kevin, Kristen, and I got signed up early.  The elevation gain on the bike and run was not as scary as others might think when doing a race in Colorado.  The base elevation gain may be, however.  Boulder is right around 5,300 feet compared to the 900 feet in Kansas City.  Actually, there is a new apartment complex near our house called Altitude 970, so I guess we are at 970 feet.

Training went fairly well.  I had a bad month of April and never recovered my TSS from it (never got back to the high at the end of March) but lesson learned.

I didn't really have any race goals coming into Ironman Boulder 70.3. I knew it wouldn't be a PR.  I just really wanted to have fun and enjoy the experience of endurance triathlon racing and enjoy the scenery.  It is racing near the mountains!!

We took off Thursday morning.  We hoped we got rid of the race gremlins right off.  Kevin had an issue with his tray bike rack and when TKB and I were heading to his house to start the caravan, my car wouldn't start (fast transition to TKB's car and we were on our way).  Gremlins squashed.

Kevin, John, Kristen, Dork, TKB
The race crew

Got into Boulder just before rush hour and checked into the hotel.  John and Kristen recommended a brewery that had a restaurant.  Early to bed as TKB and I were both feeling impacts of the higher elevation.

Somewhere between KC and Boulder. TKB is back there somewhere.

Entering Colorado.  Light'em Up!

Friday was race prep day.  We got up  and drove the bike course.  Then to the packet pickup.  As walking in I caught up with Ryan Falkenrath.  Shows how much race prep I did.  Didn't know Ryan was racing this until the week prior.  Good to see another familiar face out there and to race "with" Ryan again.  Packet picked and merch purchased.  We decided to do a practice swim and found the water temp to be pretty perfect.

Time For Swimmies!
We went back to the hotel and got our bikes ready to roll.  Our hotel was about 4 miles from the race site so we rode back to the site for bike checkin. About a mile to the site we started getting poured on.    It really wasn't that hot out but felt good.  Transition area was large as it normally is for one of these branded events.  After checkin, we listed to the mandatory race meeting and then back to the hotel to rest.

Dinner was at local bar that had a decent Mac n Cheese plate.  Then back to the hotel for an early bed time.

Race Day

4am wake up call and started my stretch routine.  Decided not to shower.  Couple bananas, couple hard boiled eggs, a bagel.  Also managed a pre-race bathroom trip before heading out to the race. Score!  Off to the race site!


Luckily got a parking spot not far from the transition area so didn't have a long walk.  Body marking, transition setup finalized, and off for the next to last bathroom break.  Even though we get there around 5am, it seems like it is 7am before you know it.

For those about to rock!

We all got suited up for the swim and Kevin and I went to checkout the water (for me... that FINAL bathroom stop ;)).  Water was even cooler today and perfect for wetsuit swimming!

The swim start was basically in waves but grouped by swim capabilities.  I assumed a 35-37 minute swim so lined up respectively.  Kevin was a head of me and Kristen behind.  Finally about 7:38, I stepped into the water (pro men started at 7:05).

I got into a groove pretty quickly.  I'm a bad swimmer in that I breathe almost every two strokes.  I tried do every four.  Some day I'll master that.  Today was not that day.

Before too long I started getting into traffic.  I really felt like I was passing a lot of people.  I felt strong.  A couple times I got blocked in by swimmers (one in front and one on both sides).  Even when I tried to draft, I couldn't maintain the distance and eventually pushed around.  Had I not, I might have actually improved my time.

Before we started I counted eight orange buoys on the way into the swim exist.  They definitely weren't spaced evenly but that's ok.  Before I knew it I was out of the water!  I picked a wetsuit stripped when I was finally ready and, woooooosh, I was without a wetsuit.

Eventually got to my bike and then on my way!

Swim: 34:04 - 1:46 pace

Time for some fun!

Loooong run to the bike mount plus it was up hill.  The bike course started with a couple out and backs along a closed highway.  I felt like I was riding within myself.  I was shooting for a specific power range that I thought I could keep for the 56 miles and it would also keep me in check on the ascents.  When heading west towards the mountains it was very much a false flat.  I mean, you are staring down the mountains while riding so of course your road will look flat.

Sure enough, I was riding about 15mph and putting in a high wattage.  So I dialed back my effort, sat up, and just kept passing people. As I like to watch the Tour de France, I combined what I see there with climbing techniques my coach shared.  Sit up high to engage different muscles and then I suck air in like a wide mouth bass.

We hit the top of the ascent, which was on a highway.  It was mostly flat on the highway but a little climbing.  As we ride along I see what appears to be our next turn off heading east.  It looks like motorcycles cruising along the road.  As soon as it was my turn I was flying.  In fact, my 5 mile split for that section of the race was 10:44 (average of 28 mph).  I don't think I've EVER seen that.  Not in my training, not in my racing.  It was fun and FAST.

Eventually we turn north and then west again and up another ascent with a false flat.  But what must go up must go down.  11:13 split this time.  Temperatures were rising.  During the ride I did my nutrition like I always do (2 chomps or quarter cliff bar every 15 minutes and as much liquid as I can).  I tried to continually drink whenever I can.  With higher elevation and low humidity, I wanted to make sure I was intaking as much liquids.  I do a mixture of water and gatorade.  In the last 10 miles my mouth was almost sticky.  I was thinking I should have a bottle of water with me to rinse but don't think it would matter. It's just the lower humidity.

Back to doing another couple out and backs on that highway and then into the transition.  I couldn't remember how long it was back to transition, so I ended up slipping out of my shoes with way to much road left to go but that was ok.

Jumped off the bike and then that long run back to the transition spot.  Shoes on, grab my hat/race belt and onto the run.  I actually did want to use the bathroom but chanced making it through the 13.1 miles.

2:34:28 - 21.76 mph

Heading out for an 8:25 pace first 5k.... and then I decide to "enjoy" the scenery.

My mouth was still super sticky and all I wanted was a cup of water to clear it out.  I hit the first aid station at about a mile out.  Lots of cheering for "MTC" (my team) on the way there.  As I mentioned earlier, I hadn't done much research about the race.  It wasn't until the week leading up to the race that I learned that the run was pretty much zero shade and dirt path with a couple rocky sections.  I seriously would have worn my trail running shoes had I thought about it.

I had a feeling with the heat and the couple hills that I'd bring on the walking.  I did not disappoint. I walked more than I'm proud of.  Likel related to the heat but probably due to my pace on the bike and a little bit with the run course terrain.  There were times on the rocky path that I just simply wanted to get off of it.  The bottom of my feet were sore.

Fortunately, there were a total of 10 aid stations on the run.  I pretty much downed two cups of water and then a cup down the back.

It was a two loop course around the reservoir.  On the second half of the second loop the clouds started to roll in and there was some shade provided.  I could tell I was able to continue running with the shade.  I ran half to the rocky trail this time before walking it as opposed to the previous lap.  Wind was coming in too.

Eventually I hit the last mile and the last aid station.  Zipped up my suit and into the finish chute!  I raised my hand holding five fingers representing five years since my last 70.3 race and finished!

I got "caught" by a friend of Kevin's at the finish line, so that was great seeing a familiar face in the finish line.  Thanks Molly!  She is going through something that I had to deal with for a couple years, injuries.  She was suppose to do this race.  I know I how I felt being at races but not able to compete due to injuries.  Massive props to her for volunteering and pushing through that pain!

2:18:52 - 10:36 pace


Age Group:  47 of 181
Overall: 435 of 1987
Note: Kevin and my watches both showed a 3 minute faster time and I noticed my swim time has been adjusted slower since the first day.

The swim was good, the bike was fun, the run was brutal.  Had I done my research and known about the run course, I might have considered a different race.  It was my personal worst half marathon but that's ok.  As I mentioned, I had no goals.  I just wanted to have fun and I feel like I accomplished that.

So this was truly my first Ironman branded race that I completed all three distances (Erik and I did a team at Ironman Muncie 70.3 in 2015).  I actually have a bad taste in my mouth with the Ironman brand because they killed my favorite Iron distance race.  They purchased Beach2Battleship 140.6, held it for one year and then killed it.  (Keep in mind that the first race at a given distance will likely always be your favorite race). So if I were to compare these branded races against the few other endurance triathlon events I've completed, I would definitely say that there were more aid station stops on the run.  Likely more volunteers in generally and volunteers are what make a race.

It's been over a week since the race and aside from normal post-race pains, nothing with the hip or shin.  Hopefully I've found the right combination because I still have one other big race this year.  More on that later. :)



TKB caught this on a walk Friday night.



Waiting in line for the port-a-pots... between the pro men (left) and pro women (right).

That water looks smooooooooth.