IRONMAN 70.3 Boulder was my first IRONMAN branded half IRONMAN. I signed up as a combo deal when I registered for IRONMAN Boulder. Originally the 70.3 came before the full, but it got switched and I ended up racing the full first. While it would have been ideal to work my way up to the full IRONMAN, thing ended up working out nicely.
I was sick, dealing with stomach issue the 5 weeks prior to IRONMAN Boulder. I wasn’t 100% and didn’t perform as I had hoped, or trained for. But I was able to recover and focus on IRONMAN 70.3 Boulder. This race went much better than expected.
I was familiar with the course for IRONMAN 70.3 Boulder, so I didn’t really spend any time previewing it. In hindsight I probably should have, although there really were no surprises.
Like most IRONMAN’s you have to get your packet and check in your bike the day before the race. I had to take Friday off from work and drive up to Boulder to do this. I arrived at Boulder Reservoir excited to see IRONMAN village in all it’s glory. I got there just before the athlete briefing was about to start. I hurried through packet pickup trying to get it all done before it started. I only needed up missing the first few minutes.
There were a lot of people there listening to the briefing. I noticed several Pros walking around, including Tim Don who ended up winning the race. I didn’t know it was him at the time though. I didn’t really learn much in the briefing, but was glad I listened just in case. Next stop was the merchandise tent were I couldn’t help but to pick up a few items. It seemed like everyone was purchasing stuff.
Next I racked my bike. I was somewhere in the middle with no great landmarks. Thank goodness each rack was numbered sequentially which made it much easier to find. I was surprised there weren’t many bike around me yet. Although I was there fairly early in the morning. I left the Reservoir and headed home to finish getting ready for the race.
I cooked up a nice Sun Basket dinner. Vietnamese shaking beef with lime-pepper dipping sauce, and it was the perfect pre-race dinner.
I got to bed early in preparation for waking up at 3:45am! And for the most part I got up and got going on time. Although, like always, I left the house latter than I wanted to. It was early though and there was no traffic. Well that is until I got to Boulder. About 4 miles out form Boulder Reservoir traffic came to a stand still.
I assumed that it was just a long line getting into the Reservoir and that it would only be a few minute delay. But after about 20 minutes of waiting and not moving I was getting a little nervous. The guy in front of me walked back to my window and asked if I was racing too? I told him I would check Facebook to see if there was any info and what was going on. I did, but didn’t find anything. Finally I saw some others were posting and people were commenting. No concrete info though.
Finally after about an hour we got word that the start was delayed 15 minutes and we started moving. It still took a long time to get in and get parked. I ended up next to the guy in front of me and we chatted and we walked quickly to transition.
When we finally got into transition there were not many people left. And they were telling us that the Pros were about to come in and we needed to get out of there. I wasn’t left with much time to setup. I grabbed my wetsuit and ran out of there. I got to the beach about 5 minutes before my start which was not nearly enough time to feel ready. But I had made it!
This race went off in waves which were made up of each sex and age group. However, there were so many people racing in my age group that it was split into two waves. We started in the water and there were a ton on people. I like the rolling start at IRONMAN Boulder much better. But I made my way thorough and found a groove. It was crowded most of the way though, but not so much I couldn’t swim. There were only a few time where I couldn’t get around people.
The swim didn’t feel great, but it also didn’t feel bad. I wanted to focus more on speed, but felt that the crowd made it difficult. I did notice for a long time that I was around people with the same color caps on. But eventually the wave behind us caught up. This is something I’m used to, but I felt like it was a little bit latter than normal.
I got out of the water and headed to the wetsuit strippers. I heard someone call out my number! That was a cool feeling. They yanked my wetsuit off in a single pull and I was off to transition. I didn’t have a bike racked next to me so I had a nice wetsuit hanger. I struggled to get my socks on, but then I was off. I saw some sun screen and and asked the volunteer to put some on my back.
I was off on the bike where I feel at home!. I got right into the grove and started making my way though people. We had an awesome tail wind and I was flying. I looked down at the speed and saw 32mph! And with almost no effort. I knew it was going to be a good ride.
There were a lot of people out on the course though, and with the drafting rule it made me uncomfortable. For the most part there were no snags and I was able to keep up my pace. I only got passed two or three times. One was a older guy who had passed me on the right. Not cool! And them I ended up passing him again. Eventually he did make his way in front of me.
There was also an incident with a raging motorist on the approach to Nelson Road. This section feature some rolling hills where cyclists would get clogged up toward the top. The driver came flying by yelling at all of us. She was right next to me with her windows down just screaming. I told her she needed to give us 3 feet of space. She didn’t like that at all and whipped around me. Minutes latter I had passed her again. We were approaching the intersection where there were two police officers stationed. I yelled out to them that the lady in the Rouge was harassing us. Not sure if they ever stopped her or not.
This was not the best race strategy for me as I lost some speed and got passed on the corner. The next section of road was the major climb up Nelson that I was all to familiar with. I did only do it three times during IRONMAN Boulder. I think the run in with the motorist threw me a bit as I didn’t have my best climb. I got passed once, and it was by a guy in my age group too. He was flying though.
I had estimated my times and told Lauren what I was expecting. I originally told her it would probably take me 2:15 on the bike, but then as I was thinking I told her it would be more like 2:45. But the closer I got to Boulder Reservoir the more I realized that 2:15 was a possibility. In fact I finished in 2:17, but the course was 2 miles short.
As I was finishing the bike, I saw Ben Hoffmann finishing the run. I couldn’t hear what the announcing was saying but it was cool to see him finish. I wondered if he won. He needed up coming in third.
The transition to running went smooth and we got a nice downhill section to start off with. We ran out of the Reservoir and started on the dirt road. I’m never crazy about running on dirt, but it didn’t feel so bad. As I came up on the first aid station I was a guy from my team. I realized it was Arron. We never really met before, but we follow each other on Instagram and he was at IRONMAN Boulder cheering us on. I ran up beside him and we chatted for a minute, then I was on my way. I told him I would see him at the after party if I survived.
I was feeling good and my pace was faster than expected. My first two miles came in at about a 7:45 pace. I knew I needed to be at 8:45 to get my goal time. For the first time I was thinking that it was possible. I wan’t able to hold the pace though. I did alright keeping a pace faster that 8:45 for the most part.
One older guy stopped to asked me about the team, TRS. He was with another team that I knew was competing in Aruba in October. A race which I’m doing. I asked him if he was going and he said not he was on his way to Kona. was kind of cool to exchange niceties, but then he left me in his dust. I need to get faster at the run.
I came up on another member of the team. I didn’t know this guy but I asked him how he was doing. He said horrible. I couldn’t tell if he was joking or not. I told him that he just had to make it to the party. He said he didn’t think he would be going. I told him that sure he would. Don’t think he showed up haha.
The run was a two loop course. and just as I was finishing the fist loop I heard my name. Lauren, Jacob and here parent were there cheering me on. I needed that at this point as I was starting to fade. I then started my second loop. Which thankfully went much faster than the first, or at least felt that way.
As I got to the last mile of the course I was fading fast. I thought I had further to run, but I looked at my watch and say 12 miles! That was great news I just had to make it to the end. I wanted to beat 2 hours and I was at 1:45. I knew I could do it.
As I approached the end there as some congestion and I had to work my way through a few guys to get to the finish chute. The final run to the finish was on grass and it felt rather un even under my feet. I was hurting, but I was so close. I rand with all my might and threw my arms up as I crossed that finish line!!! They gave me my medal and took my timing chip. I then remembered to stop my watch. I looked down and was surprised by what I saw. 4:53!!! I had a sub 5 hour 70.3. Something that I wanted to do, but not something I thought would happen this race.
After a few minutes of rest I borrowed Lauren’s phone and looked up my results. I had come in 18th in my age group! I was so happy with the result. I raced hard and had earned this place.
Lauren, Jacob and I hung around the race for a little while before we had to drop Jacob off. After we went into Boulder to get some food and then headed to my team’s after party. We had a great time and they had set up recovery boots. Lauren and I sat down and got all hooked up. Man this things are nice! A guy came and sat next to us. He asked me if I had a good race and I said yes! I told him I got 18th in my age group and he said oh ouch. I was so offended.
I wondered who this guy was. Then I saw his number, the number 4, so clearly a pro. I got out my phone and looked up who he was. It was Matt Chrabot who came in second. And he was first out of the water which I just happened to see as I was running to the start. We got to chat a bit which was cool, it was nice to be at a party with several Pros. Lauren and I didn’t stay long though. I was exhausted and ready to get home.