8.Eight.20Ten – IM Boulder 70.3

On Sunday I competed in the Ironman Boulder 70.3 (Half Ironman) triathlon. This was my first triathlon since the wedding and I was a bit unsure how it would go, given that for the last month I had been subsisting on wedding cake, wine & cheese (and was carrying a few extra pounds due to this “diet”).

It was an early race day morning as my alarm went off at 4:00am MT. However, given that I was in the last wave AND this was a long course triathlon, it was not as early as I might typically do. I was not as concerned with my bike location as I did not think it would effect my overall results much since I was viewing this race as a “casual” one.

Molly wanted to join me in Boulder (she was going to do some running around the Boulder Res while I was either swimming, biking or running). Of course, I think she decided this before fully realizing how early & long a day this would be…regardless, I was very happy she came to cheer me on.

Unfortunately, our relatively late arrival into Boulder had us stuck in traffic for 15 – 20 minutes as everyone made their way to the Boulder Reservoir. Once there, I set-up my transition area and made it out just a few minutes before it closed.

After all of the rushing to get set-up, I had approximately an hour to kill while the other waves of athletes started every five (5) minutes. As the day was going to be long (70.3 miles) and hot (90+ degrees), I did not do any type of bike nor run warm-up as I would typically do for a Sprint or Olympic distance triathlon. Instead, I tried to find a shady spot to relax.

Once the Pros reached T1 (they were the 1st wave of athletes to start), I knew it was time to get in my wetsuit and do a little swimming. With Molly’s help, I got into my Blue Seventy wetsuit (NOTE: It has a “reverse” zipper so it is practically impossible to get on & zipped without outside assistance) and made my way into the water. Despite the recent wave of 90 degree days, the water was not too warm…thanks, in large part, to a rain storm on Saturday night.

Finally, it was time for my wave to start. I positioned myself on the inside of the clockwise loop as I typically breathe to my right and like to keep that as open as possible (despite the fact that it increases my chance of body contact as people try to take the shortest line). My focus on the swim this year has not been speed, per se, but constant swimming. Several years ago, I would take longer sighting breaks (and maybe a few breast strokes) every so often. This year, I have focused on quick(er) sighting and maintaining a constant speed via freestyle. Although I am still not the greatest swimmer, my race times have improved. Despite doing only a few swim workouts since the wedding, I was able to hold my form for the 1.2mi swim and came out a few minutes faster than I expected.

The good feeling from the swim was quickly lost as I had trouble finding my bike in transition. I *thought* I was on Row 4…turns out I was on Row 5. (Rookie mistake…make sure you check AND double-check your position in transition). After finding my bike, I stripped my wetsuit, grabbed my sunglasses, clicked on my helmet, strapped on my shoes & grabbed my bike. I was moving…although I opted to not have my shoes in the pedals and do a flying mount. My bike was pretty loaded down with liquids & gels and I did not want to risk spilling everything. As I left the Boulder Res, I glanced at my watch and noticed that I was just hitting the time I thought I would do for the swim. So far, so good.

The bike course for the Ironman Boulder 70.3 is flat-n-fast, and I took full advantage. I struggled a bit the first few miles…and was concerned that I may have overestimated my abilities for my the bike split. However, after these initial struggles, I was able to find a sustainable rhythm and my average speed kept climbing. I tried to concentrate on riding easy enough to be able to take in continual calories via Gatorade, Gu and Sport Beans. This appears to work well as I was able to stay steady throughout and made it back to T2 faster than expected AND feeling strong for the run.

Heading into the race, I knew that I was not in top running condition, so I wanted to start conservatively on the 13.1 run. I got into a rhythm and was able to move up through the various packs of runners. At each aid station I would sip a bit of Gatorade, drink some water and pour a cup of ice down my tri suit. That seemed to do the trick for the first loop as I was running steady 7:30 miles. However, on the 2nd loop, the ice was becoming scarce at the aid stations and my lack of run fitness came to the front. I struggled on the 2nd loop and had to focus on simply continuing to run vs running fast. Thankfully, the race’s finish line came and I even managed to pick up the pace (albeit slightly) to cross it.

I then made a bee-line for the post race food as I was hankering something serious for a soda…don’t ask me why (I rarely (rarely!) drink soda), but that is what my body was craving. Molly and I found a shady spot, ate-n-drank a little and then made our way to the Mile High Multisport tent to cheer on some finishers. After a bit, I had reached my quota for sun-time and we headed back to Denver (but only after getting our salt fix with some Red Robin french fries).

In looking back at the results, I was pleasantly surprised with how I performed (considering my training, or lack thereof, the last month).  Here is a comparison with my 2008 splits:

                    2008                    2009

Swim        41:53                    37:02

T1              1:15                       2:26

Bike          2:24:53                2:22:30

T2             1:26                       1:38

Run          1:42:55                1:45:25

Total       4:52:20               4:48:59 (PR!!)

—max.

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