Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Ironman 70.3 Boise Race Report 2014

What is it with this race and me?

In all honesty, I'm being ridiculously hard on myself here and I should just get over it and be happy.  This was my 2nd fastest 70.3.  I did really well on the run.  I did some really good trouble shooting.

But I didn't couldn't race to my potential and I'm crabby about that.  After 2013 being the "Year of PRs" its really hard for me to NOT PR, especially when I'm in even better shape than I was last year.  I know logically that PRs are rare and hard to come by, but I knew that I was capable going into Boise.

So, the race report:

There's nothing like a ton of driving to make for an awesome pre-race set up!

We left Denver at 6 AM on Thursday and arrived in Kimberly, ID around 4:30.  We did NOT get pulled over for driving Greenie and potentially having our 15 gallons of wedding homebrew (for a family wedding the following weekend) confiscated or us being fined in Utah for bringing beer into the state illegally.
Idaho!  With some other tri-dorks stopping to admire the sign.
I went on a 30 min shake out run on country roads.  My mother-in-law was super sweet and prepared a (mostly) gluten free dinner.  She even quizzed me on whether or not dinner rolls fit into my diet:
Do you eat white bread?
No, I don't eat anything that's bread or made with a grain.
hmm, I was going to make dinner rolls as a treat
that's fine, make them for everyone else.  I just won't touch them.
no, I don't eat any bread period.
And then she made "fancy" asparagus with a lemon grenata and covered it in ...  breadcrumbs.  *sigh*  She put a ton of effort into this dish and it was clearly directed at me and my food snobbery so I ate it.

Friday we slept in a bit and left her house at 10 AM for our second destination in the Idaho state tour - the family ranch by Mountain Home.  We got there around noon, unloaded our car, and I went on a 30 min shake-out ride by the ranch.  It was WINDY and I just hoped race day would be a bit kinder.  Also: Merlin does not like going over cattle guards.  Ouch.
on the ranch - one of my happy places on this planet
also: my sweet husband got this shirt for me because it matched my bike

I got done with the ride, my husband picked me up (I had to drive to pavement) and we went to the ranch to say high to people and we were treated with lunch.  Awesome!  Then it was time to head to Boise (1 hr away) and do check in and bike check.

Check-in was nothing exciting.  This year it was in a park instead of the local arena, which was nicer.  The check-in process was the least-enthusiastic I'd ever experienced.  The volunteers were just flat.  I was handed my packet by a guy and just sat there, expecting him to go through it with me and put the bracelet on.  He just stood there, avoiding eye contact, while 2 other volunteers were helping racers.  It was just awkward.

Bike check-in at Lucky Peak was no biggie either.  We stayed focused and were back at the ranch around 5:30.  Then it was feet up time!

Race morning is weird for this race since the race starts at noon.  I got up at 7, ate some FeedZone bacon/egg rice cakes (2.5 servings, probably 500 cals), had some coffee.  At 8:30, we left the ranch with the goal of getting to T2 to drop by bag around 9:30 and catching the bus up to Lucky Peak by 10.  I think everyone had that idea, and they maybe had 2 buses going, which made the line HUGE.  They finally got their act together and pulled all the athletes into one line for buses to ensure we'd make it up there before T1 closed (how nice of them!).  Will was left behind and I just hoped he would make it up there.  I sat with a really nice lady for the ride up.  I got to Lucky Peak around 11 and had ~45 min to get things set up and chit chat a bit.  I found Sonja and chatted to her for a bit.  I was happy to see that she's a friendly (but FAST) racer and was happy to talk for a bit.  (She also killed the race - 5th woman overall, including pros).

Will found me and I left transition and we went to find a shady spot to hang out.  Lucky Peak is very open with no shade to be found.  I saw the ONE 10x10 tent by the swim start and somehow wiggled my way in there.  It was a smart move, as once I wiggled my wetsuit on (which isn't easy to do when you're hot and sweaty!) I was a roasting little penguin.
The good thing about the pavement being so hot was that the 60 degree water felt AWESOME once you got in it.  All the ladies were pretty chill, no major jostling or anything as we swam to the swim start.
proof that I was in the same place at the same time with Speedy Sonja

No count down, no announcements or anything.  Just a horn and a "oh, ok, its GO TIME".  Nice guys. Thanks.

My mission was to keep my head down and find feet.  I think I did an ok time of that.  My head was down and I found feet, but my effort was pretty comfortable.  In other races my effort was comfortable and I had really good swim times, so I wasn't too worried about it.  The water was clean and everyone was playing nice, which was really good.

Then came the first turn buoy.  And it became a bit chaotic.  I remember looking around as I sighted/breathed and seeing more than your average number of water support present and hearing a lot of voices.  That's not really a good thing.  The water was pretty choppy and I was having a hard time figuring out which side to breathe on.  Neither side was a good option and I took in water/air on the back leg and on the way back to the swim finish.  I found some decent feet and just focused on keeping my head down and swimming.  My shoulder also decided to play along and behave, so that was good as well.  My stomach wasn't very happy and I was burping and having an internal debate about puking.  I hate puking more than anything and decided to keep things down.  I heard more voices (this time from the swim announcer) and was happy that was done.  It was not a fun swim.
Swim stats:
Time: 40:03
Pace: 2:04 / 100 m
Age Group: 25 / 72
Overall: 504 / 1295

not my best but not my worst, either.  I'm ok with this, given the chop.  But maybe next time if I feel like I'm cruising, I should step it up a notch.
this is funny now, but I was NOT happy then.
I dropped my cap/goggles not once but TWICE.  The sunscreen I was using made me crazy slippery.  Even my tri shorts were wiggling around on my legs.

I got to my bike and wrestled with my stuff.  I forgot to undo all my velcro.  Shoes were velcro'd closed.  Got to my gloves and crap, THOSE were velcro'd closed.  Idiot.  And then I wrestled into my cool wings, which IMO were mandatory for me to wear but were also a HUGE pain in the ass to put on when you're wet and in a hurry.  This transition felt stupid long - and it was.

Time: 4:31
a bit happier now and trying to give a thumbs up
And it was game time.  I had hills to conquer and something to prove.  The plan was to keep my HR around 150-155 and to go a comfortable fast pace.

I got on the bike, took it easy over the bottle-launching speed bumps and enjoyed the nice ~2 mile descent and tried to get comfy.  There was a hill after that and I enjoyed climbing it, remembering how the hills nearly killed me in 2010.

I was trying to ride/eat/drink but things weren't right.  Sometimes my stomach gets cranky with me but it usually sorts itself out.  This time, it wasn't getting better.  Add injury to insult, my right adductor was also cranky and I had to pee.  Sucky, and I lost nearly 3 minutes doing this.  I stopped at the first aid station, stretched while waiting my turn, peed, and got back to business climbing the big hill.  Going up the hill was good, but not as fun as I was hoping, mainly because I knew this wasn't the day I had in me.  I passed 3 people, which was good.  My HR was around 167, which was ok but a bit high.  But I made it and it didn't kill me.  Yay.

The winds were there, but not ridiculous.  Still, they were there and I needed to stay down.  The good thing about all the climbing I do in training is that it makes me strong.  The bad thing is that I'm up on my hoods most of the time and my neck is not used to being aero for long periods of time.  I need to work on this for IM Boulder - I had a hard time staying down for more than 10 min at a time.  I did the out and back on 10 Mile, which was a headwind/tailwind.  My leg was bothering me again - lame.

I hit the world's worst-located aid station and got a water.  Seriously, this is such a dumb spot and I wish they'd change it.  You have a 90-degree left hand turn right to a fairly steep hill.  And they put the aid station in the middle of the hill.  I only had the dexterity to grab one water bottle and couldn't put it into my speedfill until the top of the hill (because I need to coast a bit to get this done).  I really needed 2 water bottles but that wasn't going to happen. And I had to dump my bottle after the last drop spot, which I hate, but the other option was getting off my bike.  The dumb part is that there's a very nice flat section at the top of the hill (maybe 1,000 feet after the aid station).  I have no idea why they do this to us athletes - it sucks.

Also by the time I hit this aid station, I was nearly 2 hours into my race and was STILL having digestive issues.  Every time I tried to drink my Osmo my stomach immediately responded with angry sensations.  Every time I tried to eat, same thing.  Being in aero didn't feel good.  And the pain was starting to move from my stomach to my intestines, telling me I had likely swallowed air as well as water.

I made the executive decision to ditch both the Osmo and my salty balls as nutrition.  Sure, they were my plan, but I wasn't eating or drinking these things and sticking with the plan was not working.  I chucked my salty balls (I only ate 2 (maybe) - I should have had 4).  I got my Honey Stinger chews out of my pockets and filled my speedfill with only water, hoping that a change would do me some good.

A bit after the aid station, my leg was continuing to be cranky so I stopped again to stretch - and lost probably another 1:30.  But by that point it was just a game of getting the bike done without causing damage to myself in the future.  I was a pretty sad panda, with thoughts of "triathlon is dumb" and "shit, I have to do double this in 8 weeks".

By this point, the hills were pretty much done and the water was going down cleanly.  I was a bit worried about my total calories though.  I only had 3 packs of chews - and only one of them was non-caffeine.  I was really worried the caffeine chews would make my stomach worse so I ate the other ones, all 160 calories of them and had ~2 or 4 of the caffeine ones.  The pains in my gut were turning into gas, but that issue was resolving itself as I rode, which confirms that I swallowed a bunch of air.  Really disappointing, as I've NEVER done that before and I'm usually really good with that sort of stuff.

The rest of the ride was just windy and I just tried to stay hydrated and eat what I could without freaking my stomach out.  I had wind to contend with and not wanting to stay aero.  And I was a bit loopy, from lack of calories.  There was one part on Warm Springs where there was a nice strip of new asphalt on the left and I causally drifted over there, looking for easier spots to ride.  I heard a loud "LEFT" as someone came up behind me and yelled at me (legitimately) to get out of their way.  They passed and I realized it was my cousin Jeff.  Ha!  I also was zoned out and too close to someone - I had an official zip up next to me on his motorcycle and that woke me up enough to get some muscle and actually pass the guy.  The last thing I needed was a drafting penalty on top of everything else.

As usual, the last 10 miles of "nice easy downhill to the finish" was solid headwind and it became a mental game to just keep pedalling and to stay down.  And to try and eat a few more chews.

Finally T2 appeared and I got off my bike.  Very disappointing ride, but on the good side, my stomach was actually doing a bit better.

Time: 03:35:09
Pace: 15.62 mph
Age Group: 42 / 72
Overall: 937 / 1295
*new stat* average HR - a whopping 149.  Umm... yeah.  

This also seemed to take forever, probably because I didn't have many brain cells functioning.  I figured I had maybe 600 (more like 500) calories total on the bike. I should have had more like 900-1,050.  Fun!

Also not fun: leaving your hand-held water bottle on black asphalt to sit and bake all afternoon as you swim and bike.  That damn thing was BOILING.

What was actually fun: running up to my husband and giving him a kiss.  Normally I'm in "serious race mode" and wouldn't take time to do that.  Today, I figured my PR was shot and I owed him a kiss for his sherpa duties.

  1. Time: 3:13

aka: lets see if I can redeem myself somehow in this race
aaka: you can actually run kinda fast when you don't really use your legs on the bike

So I came off of the bike with some pretty negative thoughts.  I decided to turn my head around and try to PR the run.  Or at least give it a good go until I bonked.

I had a few minor mishaps.
  1. my boiling water bottle and no ice at the first aid station to cool it down.
  2. neglecting to start my garmin when I started the run.  I *thought* I did but didn't realize it wasn't going for 0.25 miles.  So that made things interesting in terms of locating aid stations and mile markers
  3. my HR strap inexplicably came undone and was hanging around my waist at the same level as my race belt.  There's no other way to fix it other than stop, put your stuff down, lift your top up and fix it.  So weird!
Once I got that out of the way, I just ran by feel.  I didn't give a whole lot of thought to heart rate other than to keep things sustainable, but I didn't slow things down if my pace was too fast either.  And I played some head games.  I normally walk at each mile marker to eat ~2-3 chews and drink a bit.  I did that.  But then the aid stations were a good ~1/3 mile after each mile marker, where I took the opportunity to get ice and dump it down my sleeves.  That was too much walking but my addled brain couldn't figure things out early on.

Finally maybe around mile 3 or 4 I realized I wouldn't die if I didn't eat RIGHT at the mile marker and told myself I could wait 3-4 more minutes and eat at the aid station.  I didn't consistently do this, but I did it enough where it really helped.  My splits were decreasing in pace and I felt pretty good.

Run 1
2.4 miles
Run 2
5.7 miles
Run 3
8.6 miles
Run 4
11.7 miles
Run 5
13.1 miles

That's pretty solid!

The run course for Boise is actually really, really good.  Its pretty flat, goes along the river, and is shady.  And there's stuff to look at!  The "out" is a slight uphill and the "back" is on the other side of the river and is a slight "downhill".  There's a bunch of people out and some good opportunities for Sherpa's to catch you a few times to cheer.  I actually really love the run course and that's the main reason why I keep coming back to this race.

blowing my Sherpa a kiss halfway through the run

Around mile 8 I decided to take a hit of coke and that was a bad mistake.  Usually coke is fine but this was an instant rebellion.  At the far end of the run you go through a golf course and there was a bathroom right off the path.  I seriously debated using it but didn't, thinking I could tough it out.  I did, but I spent a good portion of the last 5 miles debating on finding a bush, or just jumping in the river and floating to the finish ("no one would notice!")

Around mile 10 I just ran out of gas.  The lack of calories finally hit me.  I had some muscle cramping and just needed to do more walking than preferred to get things done.  I wasn't sloppy bonky - but I was verging on it.  So I just kept moving forward, trying to talk myself into running a few minutes and then "look, the aid station is only another 4 minutes away, you can do it".  That seemed to mostly work.

And then the finish line came and I magically got some energy.  I always somehow awkwardly get behind people who are strolling through the chute, soaking up high fives and stuff.  I don't want to share my finish line photo with them but I don't want to slow down and hang out either.  So I zipped past the guys and got a wild hair and decided to try a Sonja-style jump.  I did pretty good.

I stuck the finish

Finish line video - I'm the bottom video, around ~57 minutes in (finish line clock around 7:12)

Time: 02:26:43
Pace: 11:11/mile
Age Group: 45 / 72  I only dropped 3 position on the run
Overall: 911 / 1295   I actually gained position on the run overall!  Yay!

Total time: 6:49:69

Closing Thoughts
I'm not really sure what I could have done differently to not have taken in so much water/air on the swim, but its something I'm definitely going to think about while swimming from this point forward.

What I'm happy with is my troubleshooting while riding.  I identified the problem and was flexible enough to pitch my planned nutrition (which was causing issues) and moving to a backup (which worked).

I'm also pretty pleased with my run - to have sub-11 splits and to descend them until I bonked is pretty good.

I'm not sure I'll go back and do Boise again.  This was my 3rd go at it and none of them have been great.  I do this race because its close to family and Will has someone to keep him company while I race (usually - although this year everyone was kinda shitty and didn't hang out with him.  In fact, they went for BBQ when I was finishing the run.  Not really cool).  

What I need to work on is mentally being ok with an average performance.  I had high hopes for this race and am really beating myself up over having the 2nd fastest 70.3 time instead of a PR.  

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