Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Boulder 70.3 Post Race Expressions

  Well, it is in the books.  My final half ironman for the year is complete and with that the main focus of my race season is done.  I can say with utter validity that I met 2/3's of my goals with this race, for reasons I will explain as you read on.  As I always do, I must first thank the best support crew any racer can have.  Lil' Coop and Con have been real troopers and managed to show up on the course when I needed a smile the most.  I race with them always in my mind and my heart.  I love seeing them around the corner with their hands out waiting for a high five.
  But truly the best support is my wife Kerrie.  She has been there for every smile, minute, and tear.  And after this race there were a few.  She has been my biggest fan, loudest cheerer, and first one that I look for when I cross the line.  Thank you Kerrie for making me what I am.  She knows that I write this on purpose by the way, just for the tear jerker moment.
  Now for the race.  The city of Boulder is at an elevation of 5500 feet above sea level (give or take a bit). The weather started absolutely pristine, temp at race start was 65 degrees, 0 humidity, and no wind.  The reservoir itself lies east of the foothills to the Rockies.  The water was dead flat.  My race started with not a cloud in the sky, and the most beautiful sunrise, water temp was 74 degrees so I donned my wetsuit.  The gun sounded I hit the water, we started at shoulder depth so it was not so much a tread start which is my favorite.
  Within the first 400 yards I felt a bit overwhelmed and could not feel right.  It was a weird panicky feeling that I have never had before.  I slowed my stroke a bit and pulled stopping my kick altogether.  I found my groove as well as two swimming partners and quickly picked up my pace again at the first turn.  The rest of the swim was uneventful, with the exception of a swimmer that tried to swim over top me with 200 left to go.  For those that do this it is unnecessary. There was no need for this action and I wished to pull this guy back as well as throw an elbow into his gut, but I did not.  The swim split was 00:38:02.
  First transition was quick (2:28) as I was excited to hit the bike course.  The weather had begun to heat up a bit and still no clouds, and no wind!    The bike course starts with about a 6-9 mile climb at a 3% grade roughly.  Then it turns into nice rolling climbs for the next 5 miles, until you make the turn on St Vrain Road.  When I made the turn, holy cow!  They say that Boulder is the fastest half iron bike route there is.  Making that turn I went to 44 mph with out peddling.  I did not touch my pedals for 5 miles. Once I did pick my pedalling back up I held 30 mph for another 3miles or so.  I finally settled in to a pace of roughly 23mph for the remainder of the loop.  This is a two loop course and the second loop was met with increasing winds and heat. 
  At around the mile 40 mark I noted that I was no longer hungry and could not stomach my normal nutrition regime. I tried to force a bar in as well as fluids but I was focused on my cadence and keeping my head down due to the increasing head winds.  It was difficult to determine which way the winds was as the mountains and turns kept it always swirling around.  Winds were constant and steady at around 15mph.  The sun was getting hot well on its way to 95 degrees plus, but still no humidity.
  If finished the second loop with a PR at 2:26:49 avg 23mph (or for those that wish to be exact 22.89 for 56 miles) this also put me 33rd out of 180 in age group.  I came into transition pumped because I knew I was right on pace for my 5 hour flat goal. I made a quick transition again (1:38) and headed out on the run.  I saw Kerrie, and hollered quick that I killed the bike and was uber pumped.  I kept my pace easy out of transition to start.
  The run is barren and very lonely.  It also is a two loop course.  It has three long climbs at about 3%grade and is about 80% gravel and crushed rock.  It also lacks shade.  There is absolutely not a lick of shade on the course.  Water stations were at every mile, but fans and motivations were lacking.  By the fourth mile I knew I was in trouble.  The temps had risen to over 95 degrees, still no humidity, and the winds were picking up even more.   I ran a slow first 6.5 knowing that I was not feeling at all like myself.  I was dizzy, bloated, cotton mouthed, and suffering with every stride. 
  I coaxed myself to continue running, albeit slow through the party atmosphere and finish line area.  I saw Kerrie and heard her cheering and did not wish to alarm her as to how I was feeling, but I know she knew.   The dizziness was increasing and getting worse.  I had told myself to run to mile 7 then I could assess and walk to make sure I finished.  I could not drink enough to quench my thirst.  I also noticed that I had not sweat for about the past 3 hours.  I knew dehydration or something had settled in and the only way to salvage my race was to begin my death march. 
  I tried to run a bit and walk but ultimately for 3 miles I walked.  I was devastated.  I had worked so hard to hit my goal, but now that was not going to happen.  It was all I could do to keep moving forward because the trail was moving in circles, my stomach felt huge and bloated, and my mouth was dry as a desert.  By mile 11, my friend and teammate Jared had joined me, and I was relieved to see that he was having a hard time as well.  We took a quick photo together and continued on.  The run left me miserable and depressed.  My split (2:33:47).  This was about 45 minutes off my goal time.  The race finished for me at 5:42.
  All in all, the race was a big lesson.  Altitude for me was not a factor.  I spent 10 days prior to the race at altitudes above 7000 feet and even three days at 10,000 feet.  I did learn that I was definitely dehydrated.  The dry heat left me without the normal sweat rate that I was accustomed too.  We had a great family vacation and summited 3 mountains.  I did not drink enough water prior and my race nutrition leading up to the race was not the normal for me.  I look forward to next year and possibly re tackling this monster course.  
  On a side note, there is a big congrats to my son Connor.  We found out when we are on this vacation that he has qualified for the IRONKIDS National Championship race in Des Moines.  Thanks again for all of the followers and well wishers.  I have one more story to come, so keep your eyes looking for the next motivating story to come.  


  1. Throwing elbow to dudes gut....bad mojo. I know it feels like people are trying to swim over you or being malicious. They are not. Don't pass on bad mojo--dg

  2. Thanks anonymous, I never mean to be malicious, I believe the elbow to gut was more a wish to do than done. I am used to a little contact my wave are generally the biggest and most fiercly competed (35-39 men). It was just the fact that we were in wide open water with no one around with a very small amount of time left and they chose to go right over top. Not a cool move on their part. I will hold back the bad mojo in the future. Thanks for reading!

  3. Thanks for being a good tri citizen. The guy who swam over you could be throwing you a tire or CO2 later in the day or giving you positive words on your run. Especially if you wear a bright orange kit, it makes you super visible even in the water.

  4. Thanks Anonymous, and thanks for reminding me to change my wording. I think when I wrote this I may have emblished on what transpired in the unfortunate event. I did edit my post and I believe this is more accurate as to what had happenned. I am a very considerate racer, and I am very happy to encourage and help along the way. I think we all have our moments when we race, but once we cross that line it all goes away and we enjoy the entire moment.