IRONMAN Boulder 2018 – A race that went incredibly well with a plan the went horrible wrong.
This was my second IRONMAN and my second IRONMAN Boulder. The first go didn’t go as planed. Well the second didn’t go as planned either but I’ll get to that later. In my first attempt I was suffering with a intestinal virus for the six weeks leading up to the race. My training was all messed up and I hadn’t felt ready for the race at all. I finished and I was an IRONMAN, but I was not satisfied. That race hurt and I walked much of the marathon. During that struggle I told myself that this distance was too much and I would not do it again. I think I signed up for my second IRONMAN Boulder a week later. It’s because I knew I had more to give.
This year I had a solid plan. From training to nutrition all was going very well. I was feeling incredibly ready had a pretty lofty finish time in mind.
The build up to Boulder was going well. Other than a three day break due to a small cold I was perfectly following my training plan. The first couple of race of the season were going well, some better than others, but progress was being made. As I started my taper I felt a little less prepared. I assume this is normal, as I had worked up to a very large volume of training. And man I was a grumpy during the taper!
Thursday before the race I took a trip up to Boulder to get checked in. Normally I would have had a brick session, but I decided to just take a light jog on the course afterwards. Check in was a breeze and the IRONMAN village was quite a draw. I did a little shopping in the merchandise tent and the prepared for my jog. The easy run wasn’t exactly easy as my heart was pounding from the excitement. 3 miles turned into 5.5.
Race day was looking hot, with highs in the high 90’s and even IRONMAN related a heat plan. I wasn’t to concerned about the heat. Generally the movement on the bike keeps me cool and the Boulder Creek path, which would host most of the run, is shaded and cool. However there were some sections of the course that were completely exposed. I was a bit worried about these, like running from the reservoir into town, but overall I didn’t let it get to me.
The day before the race I got up and took an easy spin on the bike. Okay, I lied, it wasn’t easy. I was a little stressed about time and I ended up crushing it. After we had to go up and drop off the bike at the Boulder Reservoir. We got up there and parked. I rode my bike to transition on got it racked and ready. I was getting really excited for the race. The rest of the day we spent looking at houses. This kept my mind pre occupied. Unfortunately, it did not help me get to sleep as I kept thinking about the properties we looked at.
I got up at 3:30 in race morning and went though my usual routine. I started to apply my TriTat numbers and messed them all up. This took up a lot more time than I was expecting and I ended up leaving the house about 15 minutes later than I wanted to. I drove up to Boulder and was feeling a little crunched on time. I had to park downtown and then take the shuttle bus to the reservoir still. I found a parking space on the street much like I had last year and walked to the busses. I got on the bus an quickly realized I was the only athlete on the bus. This made me slightly nervous.
A guy sat next to me and he told me that he liked my style. Not sure what he meant, I continued to conversation in hopes to figure it out. Apparently, he thought it was a good strategy to show up last minute and just race. I did not tell him that was not my intention at all. He told me he had signed up for this race too, but the training was too much and so now he was just there to cheer on the other athletes.
When we got to the reservoir I hopped off the bus and ran towards transition. I had about 5 minutes to space at this point. I got my bike computer set up and quickly managed to get my wetsuit on right as they were telling us to leave transition. Right as I was about to leave I looked at my bike one last time, and realized I had forgotten all of my race nutrition in the freezer at home. I was freaking out!!! I had to run to the swim start and I didn’t know what to do. As I had to hand in my morning clothes bag and give up my cell phone I couldn’t text for help.
I tred to get on some sunscreen and the top portion of my wet suit on as I wiggled past 2000 athletes. It was a rolling swim start and I wanted to seat myself in the 1:10 spot. I got there way to late to even figure out where that was. I just worked my way up as far as I could. I asked a lady where we where and she said 1:15 – 1:20. I figured that would have to do.
Things were not off to a good start. I was rushed, forgot my fuel and not seated where I needed to be. But there I was, about to start my second IRONMAN race. All I could do is move forward, and I did just that.
I jumped into the water and started swimming. The water was calm despite all the athletes. The temperature was perfect. I proceeded forward and a good clip, sighting as I had in practice. Other than a small leak in my goggles, the start of the swim went perfectly. There were a few times I felt crowded but for the most part I was able to focus. I came up on the first turn buoy quickly and was surprised to see it. The entire swim went by very quickly. As I approached the boat dock at the end I was excited to be done, but nervous for the bike, as I was not sure what to expect without my fuel. I hit my watch, but didn’t see the overall swim time, so I had no idea how I did. It felt like I had a strong swim though.
I got the top part of my wet suit down and headed to a wet suit stripper. She yanked my suit off and I ran to get my bag. I headed into the changing tent. I told myself not to rush. Sitting on a chair and putting socks on makes a world of difference. I was able to get ready for the bike very quickly! I grabbed some water and got sunscreen for my arms. I ran into transition and was off on the bike.
My bike Garmin was froze for some reason. I was just using it for reference, so I wasn’t too concerned I turned it off and back on as I started the course. It came back and all was good. I missed a small portion of the course, but wasn’t concerned.
I felt good on the bike and the first section of road was fast! I was passing a lot of people. I continued on pace feeling really good about my speed. As I came up on the first aid station I grabbed some water. I have actually never used a bike aid staton before. I was slightly nervous, but all went well. They also had Gatorade, so my plan was to grab some the next time though. Normally I wold never consume the stuff, but I knew that I had to have something to make it though.
As I started the second loop I noticed a screw coming off of my pedal. This has came loose before and is an easy fix. I really didn’t want to stop to take care of it, but I was concerned that if I didn’t it could end up being a bigger problem. So I came around a corner and stopped. It felt like forever, but I counted in my head. I think I was stopped for only 30 seconds or so. Probably didn’t loose much time at all.
I had reddened the course a couple months earlier so I knew what to expect. The first loop went fast and I was feeling good about my time. As I hit the halfway point I knew that was close to breaking 5 hours. The second loop of the course was not as forging though. Fatigue had set in and the wind kicked up. The hardest parts of the course had a strong headwind and while we got a nice tailwind on the descents, it didn’t help to make up the lost speed.
Nutrion wise I was doing okay. I did have fatigue, and grabbed some cliff energy chews in the hopes it would help. They were rather tasty, but if they did anything I have no idea.
As I got to 100 miles, I new that I wasn’t going to make it under 5 hours. I’d be close though. I powered in to transition to start the run. I’ll admit this scared me a little. Not only was I going to be running in the heat, uphill along an exposed road to Boulder, but it was a whole freaking marathon!
I got transitioned efficiently and headed out of the chaining tent. I got more sunscreen put on and hit the bathroom while I had some time. Then the fun started.
I felt good for the first bit of the run. I needed to run 8:45 pace to get my time goal. I was running 7:55. Perfect that would give me some room. Well that did not last long. I quickly started to slow down. Once I hit the first aid station I think I was somewhere in the 9:45 range. But this was the hardest section of the the course. It only got worse though. My speed was gone and I was running as fast as I could, and it was not fast.
At that point I made a deal with myself not to let myself walk, except through the aid stations. At times it hurt and I begged to an aid station to come up, but I kept moving. The miles passed, but were very out of sync with my watch. It was really annoying. I didn’t know what was more correct.
Not far from the reservoir I came up on a girl with a coach who kept following her along the way. He would encourage her and give her tips. I passed her and that felt good. Then she passed me. Eventually I caught up to her again. Here coach told her that she was in 5th place and that if she went for it she could get 4th. That encouraged me as I wanted to be in a good position to. I passed her again and that’s the last I saw of her. I think she needed up in 7th.
This run was long and at the halfway mark I was feeling it. I was lucky to see two of the pro men I follow run by. That was exciting.
As I walked though the aid stations I developed a very good strategy. I would take in water, sometimes gatorade and then I discovered coke! Again I would normally never touch the stuff, but it sounded good and I heard it gets you going in races. So I tried and I was hooked!
There was a turn around at mile 20. That’s where it really started to get hard. I had to really push myself to keep going. It was hot, my legs hurt and I didn’t want to go any further. One person told me it’s just another 10k to go. That’s shorter than the distance of my easy runs, I knew I could do it. Eventually I got down to the last 5k and I thought the same thing, this is so doable. But I was in a dark place then.
At mile 25, or the sign for mile 25, we passed close to the finish line. There I was able to see Lauren, Jacob and her parents. I don’t think Jacob noticed me as he was looking off probably confused by all the noice and excitement. I only had a mile left, I had this things done. But that mile felt like it was the longest mile in the world. The fist half was uphill to a turn around then we had to fight the crowds on the way back.
As I ran towards a sign that pointed to the finish, my calf started twitching. I knew I had pushed myself, and I knew I was almost there, but I didn’t want a massive cramp in the finish chute. Luckily I was able to ward it off. I came around the corner and saw the red carpet. I was there. All of the hard work and training I’ve done came down to that moment.
I looked over Lauren, Jacob and her parents. They were pointing at me, but again Jacob was confused about where to look. I ran over and rubbed his head. The silly guy. And then I crossed the finish line! I stopped my watch, got my medal. A nice young man came over and help me.. He walked with me making sure I was okay. I got a photo and some more water. My legs were shot, probably the most sore they’ve ever been or since my first marathon.
I had no idea what time I had gotten, and at that moment I didn’t care. I ran the entire way, I got it done. I felt something on my legs, I looked down and it was my nice Zoë! He handed me a medal that said 2x IRONMAN! I met Lauren and my Sister and family. We chatted briefly and they looked up my time for me. 11:12:50. It was an hour slower than I wanted, but give the conditions and the effort I put in, I was very very happy with that time. They also said I was in 18th place in my age group. That made me very happy.
We walked over to get my morning clothes. It was a bit of a nightmare. I was hot, tired and didn’t want to wait in a line. But I had to. They transported our bikes from the reservoir and I guess we weren’t allowed to pick them up ourselves, so volunteers had to run and get things. But eventually I got my clothes and we walked to dinner. I stopped to pee on the way. It was not a pleasant experience. My urine was darker than I’ve ever seen and wasn’t sure if it was blood. It burned and I didn’t know what to make of it. I freaked out a little, but drank plenty of fluids at dinner and was back to normal within a few hours.
I am so happy with how this race went. Not to plan at all, but I was able to make the most of it. I still need to figure out how to run in an IRONMAN, but that will come in time.