I spent the week before the race in Denver with my siblings. As we have begun to shift into our adult lives, we have grown to really appreciate the time we are able to spend together. I never took their friendships for granted growing up as I have always known we have a unique relationship that not all siblings have, but I could never imagine just how much I would truly miss their company until we all moved to different states.
From a life stand-point: this was the best move. From a training stand point: It gives me anxiety to be outside of my routine before a race. It is hard to coordinate training when traveling as there are so many more logistics involved. But… like I said. Good life move. And well worth it.
I made my way to Life Time fitness once, popped into FAST Masters in Fort Collins another day and rode the course a bit in Boulder Wednesday, but felt like ultimately I was exerting more energy than I wanted to each day as there are just so many things I want to do when I am in Colorado. This is my fault.
Thursday I did something I rarely do: nothing. I watched a movie. This was in part because I was exhausted from driving around each day to get one thing or another done, but also in part because I had stressed myself out over the lack of my normal routine (eating out a lot/not knowing where/when I’d be able to train/trying to be considerate of others wants/needs/goals for the day.) Don’t get me wrong my siblings had nothing to do with this being difficult. They’re supportive to the max on whatever I need to do- everything it just different when you’re out of your normal environment and kinda vacationing. 🙂
We put those thoughts to rest.
Steve arrived late Thursday night and we drove from Denver to Boulder Friday morning. We went to athlete check in then for a quick spin around the course. We made it back to the expo just in time for the pro meeting then did a short run on the dam afterwards. When we turned around to come back towards what would be the finish on our run, I realized one difficulty of the course: You can see the finish with several miles left to go. This could be good or bad depending on how you look at it. noted.
We stayed at an airbnb 4 miles from the Rez so we rode there after we were finished with our check in/meeting/workouts. We had planned to do this, but did not plan (very well) on how we would carry everything home as we had initially been dropped off by car. The entire scenario was laughable- Steve and I were wearing our run gear (shorts/tshirts) with our aero helmets and carrying what we could in our very small cross shoulder Ironman bags. The rest we carried… I strapped my chacos to my wrists and Steve put his cycling shoes in his water bottle holders. I hope you caught this on my insta story as I failed to save any of it.
We woke up at 4:00 am and had our typical oatmeal/coffee combo. I don’t know why I feel compelled to eat oatmeal on race morning as I hate it and do not eat it at any other time in my life but alas… it is safe and fills me up. We left the house by 5 as Steves start time was set for 7. Ernie was nice enough to drive us. Once we arrived, we set up his camp chair where he would sit to yell splits all day as he is still on crutches after breaking his femur.
We both set up our transition areas then parted when Steve left for his 7AM start wave. The start ended up getting pushed back about 20 minutes due to traffic coming into the Rez. Steve started shortly after 7 and I started shortly before 8:30. While this is a bit frustrating, there isn’t much they can do about it as there just isn’t a great way to control traffic into the rez (one road).
There is, however, one thing I did not appreciate about the race that they could control…Ironman started the women 18-29 directly behind women 50+, men 45-49, and men 50+. Although waves were 3 minutes apart, I found myself as well as most others in my group catching not only the group in front of us but 2 or 3 groups of athletes in front of us in no time at all. It created congestion and issues for many athletes on both ends of it in the commotion. I’m not saying this to compliment my own ability nor diminish the ability of anyone in those age groups as I know there are many within them who can beat my swim time blind folded. I just think as a whole it would make more sense to rotate the start order as I witnessed a lot of very aggressive 18-29 year old women swim over top of many timid or less comfortable age groupers ahead of them
On a positive note: the course is very well marked. 700 ish meters out, 400 meters in a short turn along the back and 800 meters home. The bouys were close together and made sighting easy. We also did not swim into the sun for 90% of the race which was nice (just along the back portion). I felt stronger than I did in St George. From August last year to April this year, my swim fitness greatly declined as I did not have much structure in that time frame. Once Steve and I moved to Overland Park, we began swimming with Dave at the JCC. He has helped me immensely in many ways and has given me structure in swimming again. (Oh and he beat me on the swim. He was racing too!)
Nutrition: pre swim Mocha Clif gel
T1: I saw who I thought may be my biggest competition of the day in transition: Laura Haley. She was leaving transition as I was putting on my bike gear. I exited transition about 30 seconds back.
As always, I make no big judgement calls in the first 5-10 miles as they usually feel like shit no matter what. I use this time to get my legs moving and replenish fluid and calories. I drank most of my front water bottle and ate most of a Picky Bar (Ah, Fudge Nuts because I know someone will ask) once my HR settled enough to do so.
The first portion of the bike course was a short 9 mile out and back (18 total) on diagonal highway. It was great because it was flat and we had a bit of a tailwind on the way out. I was easily pushing 27-30 mph which is always a nice mental boost at the beginning of the bike portion when you aren’t feeling great yet. It also gave you a chance to see where you were in relation to everyone else.
I tried to look for girls I thought were my age group although it is hard to tell sometimes as everyone who races basically looks like they could be 20. I couldn’t tell how many were ahead of me after the swim. I knew Laura was. I spotted another ahead on a road bike wearing a Stanford kit. I didn’t know it then, but her name was Clara Meister and we ended up becoming friends and running for quite a while together later on.
I caught up to her, but fell back into my own pace after a while as she was moving. After the out and back, we moved into the big loop. I had settled into a pace by then and felt like I was back to “maintenance mode” on my nutrition (as oppose to when I feel like I’m playing catch up after the swim). I don’t ride with power and really do not keep many metrics in front of me, but after passing the 20 mile mark and looking at my time, I realized I was on pace for a 2:20 something finish if I could maintain it.
At first I thought I had blown it. I thought about the numbers and decided I went out too fast. As I started taking inventory of how I felt though, I realized I was fine and that the pace must be OK so I kept on. I smiled to myself as that kind of split was much faster than I expected to put out.
I found myself riding the course very naturally. I didn’t have to put forth conscious effort when deciding to push or to hold back. It was as if my body just knew how to ride it as I have ridden those roads so many times before. I continued with my nutrition plan: I finished my front bottle (water) and replaced it at each aid station, continued to drink from my concentrate on the back and ate shot blocks as I felt I needed them.
I was into the last third of the bike course. My pace was holding consistent and I was feeling great. (Hydration, calories, mentality) I took another minute to calculate my projected split and realized I was still on target for a personally very solid time. As we neared transition, I caught back up with Clara. I commended her on her riding and we dismounted into transition together.
Time: 2:24:51 *I had course at 54 mi but even adding 6 min or so.. PR for me and I’ll take it
Nutrition: 4 bottles H2O, 1 bottle Clif hydration mix/Base Salt concentrate, 1 Picky Bar, 2 packs of salted watermelon clif blocks
Elevation gain: 1,823
T2: In transition, I couldn’t stop smiling. A friend told me he has pictures of me “bursting” out of T2 and told me it was as if I were breaking out of jail. 😂 I couldn’t help it. I was so pumped! I felt like I raced the bike to my potential and was in my zone and it rocked.
Run Loop 1:
I saw my sister and friends as I was coming out of tansition. She told me Steve had finished. I simultaneously thought “wouldn’t that be nice” and also wanted to know more information. No time. Out of transition and onto the dirt roads. I had not yet hit mile 1. After leaving the excitement of the crowd in transition, I worked to find my pace and take inventory again. My heart sank as I started to feel a cramping twinge/pull in both of my inner quads. I am framiliar with this pain as it is the same I experienced before the debilitating/balling cramps I endured mid way through the bike course at Ironman Boulder last year. (Prior to claiming my DNF).
In my prior experience, the feeling was a strong warning sign. I tried to listen while racing Ironman Boulder. I backed off my effort, took in fluids, etc but was unsuccessfully trying to dig my way out of a deep physical/nutritional deficit. It was such a swing in emotion to feel this so early on into the run as I realized I may again be in a hole I could not get out of.
I slowed my run to a shuffle and tried to really ease into a pace. I let my body do what it could without pushing it over the edge. I looked at my watch twice in the first few miles. Once it read 9:43 and the next I was somewhere in the low 8s. Progress, I thought.
If you care about my run nutrition/logistics read this paragraph. If not skip over it.
On a related note I tried something new with my run nutrition. I held two flasks. One small flask with a VERY concentrated amount of clif hydration mix and Base salt. In the slightly larger flask I held water. I sipped from the concentrated flask through out the run and refilled the larger flask with cups from transition as I ran through. I would grab 2 cups at each aid station and dump them in the flask. A lot of water went to the ground but I think more made it in my flask than would’ve made it successfully in my mouth. This allowed me to drink from the sport top on the flask after I left the aid station instead of trying to pinch the cups drink while going through the aid station. It allowed me to take in a lot more fluids, gave me the freedom of not wearing a nutrition belt, and allowed me to still run hands free if I wanted to as the flasks could both fit in the back of my kit.
By mile 3, the pulling feeling began to subside and I was able to fall into a good rhythm. I was relieved, but I also didn’t push too hard as I kept hearing Ernie in my head telling me “this run course takes no prisoners.” It is true. The course is a two loop route around the res. Dirt trail. No shade. Typically very hot. And… there are these sick unexpected hills in the front half of the loop. So ya you hit them twice and they feel like you’re climbing Mt. Everest the second go around.
Ernie and Steve both told me to keep it conversational the first loop and to give it what I had the second. So… conversational it was! I talked to a few people along the way. I eventually met up with Clara. Not only is she a wickid fast biker but she’s also a great runner. Although after running together for some time, she told me she had been dealing with stress fractures and that she may drop after the first loop. We split off after a while. I was happy to see later that she finished the race.
I finished my first loop and ran by the finish to start my second. One. More. Time. It was a tease, but it was also a relief to run by transition again as I saw family and friends. I don’t think most spectators realize how influential their role is in the entirety of a race.
Grit it out! As a former swimmer who was frequently thrown into 200s (freestyle/breaststroke/IM), I am painfully framilair in the practice of racing the 3rd quarter. I try to think about this in training. No matter what the workout is: I try to make the third quarter STRONG as this is where the physical and mental fatigue set in. Pace, pace, build, race. Not pace pace fall apart and ‘just finish’ This is what I thought about starting the second loop of the run.
The first half of the second loop came and went as I focused on running my strong “third quarter.” The amazing power of mind over matter! I came to the beginning of the dam with about 2 miles to go. I felt taxed, but I was still running solid. Nonetheless my driving thought was “I need this to end. The faster I run, the faster this will end.” Even when you’re having a good day, the back half hurts. I pushed on keeping my tempo and picked a few people off in the process. I rounded the corner to the finish.
Nutrition: as much h2o as I could get in, 1 concentrated flask of clif/base, 3 strawberry clif jels
Elevation Gain: 391 ft
Total Race Time: 4:42:46
The pain, as it always does, subsided for those few moment as I ran down the chute. For the first time, I was running in the chute towards the finish with no one else around (not because I was breaking any records. Just the luck of the draw in where I finished). The crowd lining the chute erupted into cheer and I smiled nervously as I suddenly realized the attention was entirely on me. I kept my eyes forwards and crossed the line. Happy. Relived. The pain, as it always does, comes rushing back. It takes a second but the moment you stop you feel this horrible amount of lactic acid flood your body.
God bless the amazing volunteers at the finish, but they’re always immediately in your face trying to get a read on you to make sure you’re OK before letting you pass through. When in all reality… you don’t even know for yourself if you’re ok yet. I always feel like a drunk teenager trying to convince my mom I wasn’t out partying with my friends. After getting my eyes to focus on the face in front of me, I smiled and put on my best “Im good” face then immediately went to hold onto the railing for a moment.
I had no idea where I was at place-wise but ended up finishing second in my AG to Laura by about 40 seconds. If only I skipped the socks! :)- I was 11th overall amateur and 23rd overall female. Despite this knowledge or any idea of my chip time, I knew immediately I was happy with the performance. I don’t think it was perfect, but I can feel myself growing from the race experience I have gained this year. I feel things starting to click.
My “A” goal was to break 5 hours, but more than anything, I needed to create a positive experience for myself in Boulder. I left this place I love so much on such a low note on this same weekend last year. Pulled from the Ironman course. In the back of a medical staff car…Too sick to comprehend it all. Too upset to talk.
The experience left me many things. It left me hurt. It left me questioning myself, my ability, and for a while…my choice of hobby. And it took a long time to heal the hurt, however, the most valuable thing I gained was the strength it took to work through it. The failure made me tougher. It made me smarter and it has had everything to do with my positive race experiences I have had since. For that reason, I will always be grateful for it.
I’m enjoying competing at this distance. I raced a 70.3 three years ago (my first triathlon) then took a hiatus from the distance until this year. Boulder 70.3 was my third this season. There is certainly a large improvement in time/fitness from my race 3 years ago to today, but even just within my 3 races this season, I feel increasingly more confident to push it a little more each time than before.
70.3s to date: Kansas 2014- 5:57:20….St George May 2017- 5:08:04….Topeka Tinman June 2017- 5:13:55…. Boulder August 2017- 4:42:46
While time isn’t a tell-all in racing (as every course is very different) I do feel there has been a progression in my fitness and control as an athlete when looking at the race history and break down of each race. I think what I am enjoying most about the distance is the frequency I am able to race it. The frequency has allowed me to gain so much more valuable race experience than I was gaining racing 1-2 full Ironmans/year.
I am putting Boulder in my life & fitness bank and look forward to racing again at 70.3 World Championships in 5 short weeks! Congrats to everyone who raced this past weekend!
A huge thanks to..
My parents. Although they were not able to be at this race, they are always behind me 100% in anything I do. I cannot begin to tell you how lucky I am to have them.
My siblings for spending the week with me and simultaneously putting up with my race week anx…being flexible with their time/cars for me… in general being the best humans I know.
Taylor for allowing my brother and I to stay with you and Miranda. A huge thanks for coming to cheer me on Saturday!!
Ernie for being our Sherpa in the most miserable of conditions… on crutches with a broken femur 😦
Patrick at Rocky Mountain Multisport in Fort Collins for giving Slice a run through before Saturday
Tess & Erik at FAST masters for allowing me to drop into practice again last week.
Coach Dave at the JCC for coaching me and pushing me inside and outside of the pool!
Beth & Luke McKenzie for the Wyn Rupublic kit
City of fountains/KC smoke runners who have become my friends and training partners over the past year.
The Life Time crew here in KC for welcoming me onto their staff and embracing me as one of their own. I’m lucky to be surrounded by such amazing people!
All of my friends (the list would literally break my blog) who support me and encourage me in triathlon and life! Xx
Panache, Roka, Rudy Project, Clif, Picky Bars and Hoka for your continued support in pursuit of my goals. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!