IRONMAN 70.3 BOULDER 2024 RACE REPORT

IRONMAN 70.3 Boulder, I have done this race 6 times now. Every year the course is a little bit difference, but much of the race is the same. We swim in the Boulder Reservoir, rip the speedy roads of Northern Boulder and run around the reservoir. It’s a race that is hard to pass up as it’s so close to home. It also is a race that I’ve been able to go sub 5, 3 times. I’ve not done that in any other 70.3.

The issue with IRONMAN 70.3 Boulder is the location. With IRONMAN Village and Transition located at the Boulder Reservoir, there is no convenient way to get in an out. There is only one entrance which can lead to a traffic nightmare. I past years, athletes had to park at the reservoir on race morning. This caused several delays to the race start as it took hours for everyone to get in and parked. Last year they moved parking to a local business just past the reservoir, and then shuttled everyone in on school busses. This is a big improvement, but still takes extra time on race morning. And then getting your bike back to the parking lot is a challenge. This year they rented box trucks that followed the busses. I had a smooth experience, but left soon after the race. I heard many had to wait a while. That said Boulder is a logistical nightmare, and while close to home I’m not sure I want to do this race again.

There are things I love about IRONMAN 70.3 Boulder and then things I hate. The Boulder Reservoir is a great place to swim. The water just feels nice and the temperature is never too cold. The bike course rips, and no matter what variation of the course you are sure to have a good bike split. But the run course sucks. This year it was almost all on dirt and the hills on the back half are brutal. The course is also very similar to many of the local triathlons held at the reservoir. So while IRONMAN does put on a good race, you can save the logistical nightmare and hundreds of dollars to just do a local race.

So how did the race go? Man, I really wish I could say that it went great. And I didn’t have a bad race by any means, but I just felt average. I knew the biggest challenge for this race would be the run that truly came to fruition. But let’s start at the beginning.

After a decent triathlon season in 2023, I was looking to make some big improvements moving into 2024. I embraced the off season and the started working with a coach for the first time so that I could work and improving my racing. I was very happy with this move and noticed a difference in my training. The big thing was that I was spending less time training, but a lot of the sessions were a lot harder than I was doing in the past. This new style of training gave me a lot of confidence in what I would be able to do.

The one thing that I felt I was lacking though was on the run. I was running way less than normal, but I was hitting some good speed in my training sessions. The first test of my running would come at the BolderBoulder which I pretty much run every year. I had spent the weekend before at a training camp for Team Zoot, so I was coming into the race a little fatigued. Race morning I pushed it and had a solid race, but came in about a minute slower than the pervious year. With that in mind I had been doing marathon training the year before, so I had a lot run training in the legs. I was happy with my effort, but I know I gave it everything I had and there wasn’t much more left on the table.

So I discussed my running with my coach and we came up with a pace and game plan based on what we thought I was capable for the half IRONMAN. I was feeling confident I would be able to execute, but I knew the back half of the run would be a challenge.

I drove up to Boulder with Jacob the day before the race to check in and get my bike set up. Despite the weather in Colorado being rather cool at the start of the season, it was a hot one out there. Just about 90°. The good news was the clouds were going to move in for race day at it was only supposed to be 77°. I made a quick trip out of check in and didn’t really even shop for any merchandise. I was ready to get off my feet and relax before the race.

Race morning I got up early and started to get ready to go. One of my big strategies for the day was to make sure I was fueled well. I was shooting for 90 grams of carbs per hour. It’s funny because I was so into the low carb world just a few years ago. I still feel strange taking on so many carbs. And while I can’t say that I really notice a major difference, I do know that it’s helped my racing.

Once I parked my car I was looking to find a porta potty in the parking lot. They had them last year, but I couldn’t find one this year. What I did find was a long line to get on the shuttle bus. It moved though, but by the time we got into the reservoir there was limited time to get ready. I felt a little rushed. I got my stuff together and put my wet suit on. I seated my self in the swim start a little bit faster than I knew I was capable of, but I wanted to try to have a good start on the race.

The race started and I slowly made my way through the starting corral. I got in the water and immediately felt the cold water. Not freezing, but colder than I expected. I started pushing the pace knowing I wanted to try to get a good swim time. In the last few races I had been over 40 minutes and I wanted to bring that down. The swim was going well, but at times I felt a little crowded. I moved a bit to the outside so I could just focus on my pace. My goggles fogged a few times and I slowed to clear them so I could see where I was going. I was able to see my pace on my watch and knew I was doing okay, but not anything out of the ordinary. I got to the end of the swim and knew I had broke 40, but not by much.

I ran up to the ramp and heard people yelling my name. Not sure who it was, but damn that is so motivating. I was pleasantly surprised to see they had wetsuits strippers. I took advantage of that and headed into transition. I decided to try calf sleeves for this race. Normally I would wear high socks, but they don’t work with the sleeves. The shorter socks were much easier to get on. I think this was a winning combo. I felt as though I had a good T1 and was onto the bike.

The bike starts off with a little out and back in the Boulder Reservoir before heading out onto the highway. This is a perfect little warm up. I was motivated and started pushing it on the bike. Coach told me to not push it too much and to watch my power. I did my best to follow, but really just went with the feel on this course. I know it so well, where I can surge and where I can relax, it just comes very natural.

I was passing a lot of people and only had a few that pushed on past me. And for the first lap of the course I was feeling amazing. Last year I had Sam Long pass me towards the end of my first loop. He had won the race . This year Trevor Foley passed me even earlier in the course. He went on to win the race. What I found interesting is that no other pro passed me, this year or last. So they must have had a pretty good lead on the bike.

The second loop of the bike course I started to feel it a bit more. I was still moving but didn’t have the push that I had on the first lap. The first part of the course is more of a climb while the second half rips downhill. Once I was able to get past that first section the crowds dissipated and I had lot of room to just ride.

As I finished my second lap, I knew I wanted to be around 2 hours and 28 minutes. It looked as though I was spot on. I felt as though I had a really good bike. After the race, though, looking at the results I realized I didn’t have a great performance based on others in my age group. I was actually further down in terms of time than normal. And ironically my run (which I didn’t feel went well) had a better place than normal. Not really complaining, just an interesting side note.

T2 was not the smoothest, but not the worst transition. All of my stuff got knocked around and my sunglasses were missing. I started to freak out. Not only did I think someone stole them I was worried about running a half marathon without them. Just as I was ready to accept that I might not find them I saw them and when to start the run. Then I realized I should probably pee, so I made a quick pit stop to do so.

I got out onto the run course and I was feeling good. I was hot, hotter than it was supposed to be so I grabbed a wet rag from the first aid station and wrapped it around my neck. I set off running and noticed that my pace was a little faster than what it was supposed to be. I was happy and I felt that I could hold that pace. But then came the hills. That’s when things changed. I pushed up them and then tried to return to my pace. I just didn’t come. Slowly I started fading and towards the end of the second loop I knew I could only push as fast as I was running, about a minute per mile slower than goal pace.

I felt that my fueling was solid, but my legs were tired and between the uneven dirt surface and the heat I think I wasn’t prepared to hold that pace. Even with the hills I think if the run was on pavement I could have done it a bit faster.

As I pushed through the second loop of the run I was ready for the race to be over. I stopped pay much attention to the time as I knew I was pushing as hard as I could. The last few rolling hills back into the reservoir hurt, but I pushed it to the finish line. I saw the red carpet and then Lauren and Jacob. I finished and wasn’t exactly sure of what time I had gotten. I felt good about the bike, but I knew the run wasn’t the best.

My watch also stopped working correctly. I had my Garmin on and my Apple Watch Ultra. Both failed. Not the end of the world, but really disappointed I can’t get accurate stats for this race.

Tuns out I was at 5:07. Not my slowest, not my fastest, just an average day. I’m happy with the result, but I feel I’m able to do more. I am getting older and this is my last year in the 40-44 age group. It’s going to be hard to improve but I’m willing to put in the work. I really do love this sport and to see what I can accomplish.

Two weeks later I’ll be racing 70.3 Coeur d’Alene and I’m curious to see what I can do there. I know the bike will be harder, but I feel I can push more on the run.



About

Growing up in Colorado you can't help but love the outdoors. Something magical happens with 300 days of sunshine and the Rocky Mountains in your back yard. My athletic endeavors started on the bike, I would get out and ride whenever I could. In 2011 I moved to Oxford, England for work. I missed the sunshine and mountains, but discovered my passion for running. When I moved back to Colorado I started combining cycling and running, so it was only natural that I started competing in triathlons. I took second place at my first sprint, and caught the bug. Today I'm training for my fourth Ironman.


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