7.Ten.20Eleven – Loveland & Boulder Peak Triathlons.

The first half of my 2011 triathlon season is in the books.  For those that have been following along, my 2011 racing season was going to be divided into two (2) segments:  pre-baby and post-baby/IM.  This past weekend I competed in what was to be the culmination of the first half:  the Boulder Peak Triathlon.  However, my “pre-baby” racing segment was shorted a few weeks (3 weeks and 1 day to be exact) when Molly and I were introduced to June Frances Spradley on June 12th.  The birth of our 1st child deserves it’s on blog entry and I will save that for Molly to detail (after she has a few minutes to recover from the whirlwind of the birth, becoming new parents, and introducing June to various members of our families).  I will say that the addition of June to our family has been incredibly exciting and we have enjoyed every precious moment (although, we would not mind enjoying a few more moments of rest-n-sleep ;-)).

Team 7.Eleven

Team 7.Eleven's newest member: June Frances Spradley

With the early arrival of June, I “tweaked” my training schedule to try and do my best at both the Loveland Lake-to-Lake Triathlon (June 26th) and the Boulder Peak (July 10th).  Basically, this meant that I stopped adding any volume into my training load, incorporated a few add’l rest days and focused on race-specific speed workouts.

June 26th, 2011 – Loveland Lake-to-Lake Triathlon

The Loveland Lake-to-Lake triathlon is an excellent local race.  I *strongly* encourage everyone to consider this race when setting their race schedule.  The location is excellent:  nice lake swim, bike course with a bit of everything and a flat-n-fast out-n-back run course.  The competition can be quite strong as it is often a USAT Age Group Nationals qualifier.  The race atmosphere just has a cool vibe to it…seriously mellow.  This year’s race was also a bit extra special for me as I had several Mile High Multisport (MHM) athletes competing.  For one athlete, Mike, it was his first Olympic distance triathlon.  MHM founder, Pete, was making his return to racing with the aquathlon (Swim + Bike).  Mike and I had done some course recon a few weeks prior (including 2 loops of the 30mi bike course) and were ready. 

The swim was a bit washing-machine like for me.  I lined up on the far right…but apparently, a large number of athletes had similar ideas and the initial section leading to the 1st turn buoy was crowded.  It thinned a little bit after the 1st turn and I was able to find my stroke a bit better.  Shortly after the 1st turn, I was passed by an athlete pulling his physically challenged “partner” in a raft.  After chiding myself for getting passed by someone PULLING someone else, I decided to make the best of it and got on their feet (err raft) and was able to enjoy a nice draft for a bit.  This also helped with sighting as I only had to lift my head minimally to ensure I was still behind this big yellow raft (vs searching for the orange turn buoys amidst the horizon).  Alas, after a bit, the raft pulled away from me and I was on my own to sight.  I felt solid coming out of the water and stripped my wetsuit shortly after exiting.  The run from the beach to the transition area (TA) is approx. ¼ mile and I did not want to do it with a quick-drying wetsuit clinging to my body.

Once at my bike, I dropped my wetsuit, buckled my bike helmet, grabbed my bike and made my way to the bike mount line.  Once passed I hopped aboard and started pedaling (NOTE:  still need to work on the flying mount).  Shortly into the bike I passed Pete (we started in the same wave) and wished him well.  The Loveland bike course has basically three (3) main sections:  12mi of relative flat (slight climbing), 8mi of up-n-down (with a few steep UPs and DOWNs.) and 10mi of rollers back to town.  During the 1st section, I tried to focus on nutrition and staying aero.  During the 2nd section, I tried to not go too hard on the uphills and push my limit on the descents (NOTE:  still need to work on descending).  Typically, the 3rd section back to town has a tailwind and you can just fly.  In fact, during my course recon I was hitting speeds 24+ mph w/o much effort.  However, on this day we faced a decent headwind and that slowed folks.  Again, I tried to focus on staying aero and taking in nutrition to ensure I was well stocked for the run.  Once I entered town, I focused on spinning my pedals to ensure my legs would be ready for the run.

T2 was a quick racking of the bike and on w/ the neon green running shoes.  After having dealt with a headwind for the last 3rd of the bike portion, I was not sure how my legs would feel on the run.  Thankfully, they felt pretty solid.  My mile splits were pretty steady for the first half and once I passed the turnaround point it was just about holding on.  I was passed by two (2) athletes during the run (one in the middle and one late) and tried to go with them as best I could.  I was unable to reel them back in, but did pass a steady stream of athletes throughout.  The finish line area is full of spectators and they definitely gave me a boost as I kicked it in to the finish.

Race Stats:

1500m Swim – 27:58 (148 / 724)
T1 – 0:51
30mi Bike – 1:20:32 (41 / 724)
T2 – 0:41
10K Run – 38:55 (21 / 724)
TOTAL:  2:28:58
32nd Overall;  4th in Age Group (M 30 – 34)

After the race I cheered on the other racers and was excited to see several MHM athletes compete well.  Mike finished his 1st Olympic distance triathlon with a HUGE smile on his face!

July 10th, 2011 – Boulder Peak Triathlon

The Boulder Peak Triathlon occurred four (4) weeks after the birth of our daughter, June.  My training during this time was a bit haphazard as we were sleeping in 1.5 – 3 hour chunks at night thanks to June’s feeding schedule (and a tendency to stay awake for a bit once fed).  Additionally, we had several visits from our family during this time.  However, I think my biggest limiter heading in to the Boulder Peak was a nagging ankle/achilles soreness that began after the Loveland triathlon (likely due to the fact that my race shoes have absolutely no support nor cushioning in them and racing 10K on the asphalt and concrete has a price).  Regardless, I was excited to race and give my best on the day.  The Boulder Peak is a special triathlon for me as my wife & I raced it on our wedding day last year (she ran with a veil attached to her visor and I had a bow tie).  Last year could not have worked out better as she had a 50 minute head start on me (thanks to the wave starts) and I was able to catch her with about a ½ mile to go on the run and we finished together…hand-in-hand across the finish line (before zooming back to Denver to get ready for our wedding).

Again this year I was in the last wave of age group athletes…there would be athletes starting 1hr 5min before me (and every 5 minutes in between).  This “delay” can play with your head a bit…on one hand, I would likely be racing in slightly warmer conditions & have quite a few athletes to pass.  On the other hand, I was in absolutely no rush to finish my TA set-up and do my warm-up.  One advantage of having a newborn in the household is that you get practice at waking up at 3am.  I arrived in Boulder at 5am and racked my bike – I got a pretty decent spot on the bike rack.  I unloaded my gear (which was pretty minimal:  bike shoes in the pedals, bike helmet & glasses on the aerobars, bottle of water & sports drink in the cages;  running shoes & race belt on the ground).  After my set-up I realized I had ~ 2 hours before showtime.  I tried to relax as much as I could and made my way over the Mile High Multisport tent and said hello several MHM athletes. 

Finally, 6:30 came around and the first wave started.  Shortly thereafter I started my warm-up…a couple of easy miles of running on the bike course.  Unfortunately, my Achilles was talking to me.  I tried to run “gently” and put the pain out of my head.  After my run I did some stretching, sunblocked myself to all get out and then put on my wetsuit.  As soon as I was in my wetsuit I headed to the water as I was feeling H-O-T.  The water at the Boulder Res felt nice and my swim warm-up went well.  I was able to watch several waves start and had identified a good starting position on the right side (near the buoys vs near the dock).  Finally, it was time for my wave to get lined up for the start and I found my spot.  The horn sounded and off we went.  I was pleased with my starting position and the line I swam as I had only limited traffic.  I was able to get on a few feet and get a bit of a draft, but I found myself moving up through the crowd a bit (NOTE:  Need to start my swim faster to get on faster feet!).  I had to go wide around a few swimmers who were doing breaststroke and I nearly swam over a girl who was doing a lazy man’s backstroke (arms came out to her side vs coming out of the water…thus she was hidden by the water and I did not see her until I was right on her).  All in all, I felt relaxed with my swim.  Swimming is tough because you want to push yourself, but you do not want to “fight” the water…it is a balance to stay relaxed, but also move powerfully through the water.  Judging by my recent swim times in the pool (vs previous seasons) and at the Boulder Peak (vs previous seasons), I feel I should have pushed it a bit harder.  It was my fastest swim at the Boulder Peak, but I know I can still go much faster.

Once out of the water there is a decent run up to the transition area.  During this run I could still feel my achilles and tried to convince myself that it was just “waking up” because it had not been used during the swim and it would be OK once it was primed from the bike and on to the run.  Once at my spot in the TA, I slipped out of my wetsuit, buckled my bike helmet, grabbed my bike and ran to the Bike Mount Line.

After another less than stellar flying mount (NOTE:  Need to look into using rubber bands on my shoes…my pedal turned upside down and my shoe got stuck in the ground forcing me to dismount, flip the pedal and try again), I got moving on the bike.  As I have a tendency to just race without thinking about eating/drinking, I focused on taking in nutrition throughout the ride.  Every few minutes I would drink from my bottle of Gen UCAN lemonade.  Once that was gone, I took on two (2) gels (washed down with water).  This course is known for the hill at Old Stage…a 15% grade (600 ft. of ascent over 2/3 of a mile) between the 6 and 7 mile mark.  Many riders have to get off their bikes and walk them up the hill.  As I left the Boulder Res and made my way towards the hill I was passing a steady stream of cyclists.  As I approached the hill I shifted down from my big ring to the little one…only to lose all power.  I looked down and my chain had fallen off.  Argh.  I hopped off my bike, put my chain back on, remounted and started back up the climb.  I could not help but think of Andy Schleck at the 2010 TdF.  I re-passed the cyclists who had passed me while I dealt with the mechanical and then hit the steep part of Old Stage…although this year, it did not feel as steep.  In fact, I never had to get out of the saddle to climb.  I kept a decent tempo up-n-over the hill and held on for dear life on the descent (and braked enough to obey the 35mph speed limit imposed by race officials).  Once off the steep descent, there are about 10 miles of riding bliss…slight downhill allowing you to absolutely fly.  After that section, there are a few rollers and then you are heading back to the Boulder Res.  As I entered the Res, I got out of my cycling shoes and did a decent flying mount.

I hit transition and ran to my area, racked my bike, took off my bike helmet and slipped on my running shoes.  I was off.  Unfortunately, I was also “off”…my Achilles pain/soreness was still present.  I hit the first, slightly uphill, mile around 6:10 and thought that if I could maintain this pace, I would do alright.  I would fair even better if I was able to negative split the run.  However, my Achilles issue did not diminish and each mile slowed gradually.  I was able to pass quite a few people on the course, but I was not moving at the same pace at which I had been training.  Regardless, the finish line soon neared and I was able to put in a bit of a sprint and nip a few people just before the line.

Race Stats:

1500m Swim – 27:26 (347 / 1300)
T1 – 1:41
42K Bike – 1:09:12 (85 / 1300)
T2 – 1:05
10K Run – 39:57 (68 / 1300)
TOTAL:  2:19:21
7th in Age Group (M 30 – 34)

Post Race.

I am now enjoying a couple of weeks off to rest (and heal) before I get back into training for my next ‘A’ race:  Ironman Arizona.  I know I have lots of training to do between now and Nov 20th, and I want to make sure I start that training block mentally fresh and healthy!

 

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