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Ironman 70.3 Boulder (formerly 5430) - Triathlon1/2 Ironman

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Boulder, Colorado
United States
90F / 32C
Total Time = 4h 51m 27s
Overall Rank = 127/1866
Age Group = M40-44
Age Group Rank = 19/172
Pre-race routine:

This was the race that motivated me to get started in triathlons. I was a former runner who got fat and middle-aged, started biking 2 years ago because I thought I couldn't run any longer, and then lost enough weight to start running again last year. Last summer while recovering from a collarbone break, and realizing that I didn't really have the nerve for regular bike racing, I learned that I had landed a summer teaching gig in Boulder in 2011, and so I decided that signing up for the Boulder 70.3 would be a good way to make the most of being in Tri Town. At the time it seemed so implausible that I was embarrassed to tell anybody about it. I didn't even know how to put my head under the water in the pool. It took a while before I got up the courage to confess to my wife, and a lot longer before I admitted the plan to friends and coworkers. A few weeks after signing up for the HIM I tried out a duathlon, and then bought a gym membership and started learning how to swim properly. (Around the same time I discovered BT, and I have learned so much from everybody here.)

Fast forward past months of injuries that I thought would scuttle my plans, a few practice races, and far too much spending on tri-related stuff, and today was the day that I had to make good on my crazy plan of a year ago. Strangely, I was feeling much less nervous than I normally would before a race. My training wasn't as long as I would have wanted, but it had been systematic, and I knew that I was as ready as I could expect to be.

Up at 3am. In the night I could see the lights at the race area from my window. As chance would have it, for the past month one of the first things I've seen each morning has been Boulder Reservoir in the distance, reminding me to get out and train. (I'll miss our summer rental home when we return to Maryland in a couple of days.) Final check on my piles of tri gear, and off to the Res at 4:30, to beat the crowds and take time to soak up the race atmosphere, not to mention standing in a few porta-potty lines. The morning air was chilly, though we knew that wouldn't last. The forecast winds had not yet picked up, so the reservoir was calm. And the threat of wetsuit-illegal temps did not materialize. Phew. A nice feature of this race is that the swim beach has a large area where swimmers can warm up before their wave start. (Shortly before my wave started I marveled at how Andy Potts had again destroyed the pro field in the swim. Surely this was going to be another straightforward win for him -- something must have gone wrong, as he was well down the pro field when he lapped me on the bike, and he appears not to have finished the race.)

  • 38m 3s
  • 2112 yards
  • 01m 48s / 100 yards

There were so many guys in M40-44 that we were split into two waves, 5 minutes apart (I was in the second). The swim was uneventful, exactly as I wanted. I have been doing regular Masters OWS workouts in the reservoir for the past month, so the water felt familiar. I chose a fairly wide berth (and at a couple of points my poor navigation sent me way wide; gotta work on that), so I didn't see too much traffic. Got my first kick in the goggles early on, but it seemed to actually help the goggles, so no problems there. I generally breathe with a 3-stroke rhythm at sea-level, but felt comfortable with my altitude-induced 2-stroke rhythm. The swim seemed to take a long while, but my final time was almost exactly what I would have predicted based on training times. My split wasn't fast, but at least I was on schedule.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing. It was as expected. I just need to keep working on my swimming
Transition 1
  • 03m 24s

I much prefer grassy transition areas over parking lots. Especially large ones. Ouch. Not especially fast, but I wanted to make sure that I did everything right, given the long ride ahead.

What would you do differently?:

  • 2h 30m 32s
  • 56 miles
  • 22.32 mile/hr

The bike course is deceptively hilly, with a 600' difference between the high and low points. Most of the climbs are very gradual, though, so it's easy to be deceived by false flats. The winds were starting to pick up, too. I was afraid of going too hard on the bike, so I made an effort to hold back. Because of my slow swim I had plenty of people to chase down on the bike, as usual, and only a few people passed me (plus the leading pros who lapped me). The race was on open roads, but the traffic presented few problems, except for one truck that almost drove into me while I was descending at speed. My first lap split was roughly where I wanted it to be. The second lap felt a little harder, but I still had something in reserve. I was starting to get nervous about how my legs would fare in the run. One minor annoyance - I felt pleased with my deft grab of a water bottle at the penultimate aid station, but then was annoyed to find that it had a missing cap. It was one of those sport bottles, so not as bad as it sounds, but still there was water splashing around. So I rode most of the last 12 miles with one finger over the nozzle of the bottle, to keep the water from spilling further. I just missed my goal of a 2:30 split by a few seconds, but was happy that I had slowed only slightly in the second lap.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing. I just need to practice more riding fast on flats in aero. Good gains in the past month, but still a ways to go.
Transition 2
  • 01m 38s

Easy. I'm starting to get the hang of this one.
What would you do differently?:

  • 1h 37m 50s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 07m 28s  min/mile

I had been looking forward to the run. But I was also afraid of it. The run is my strength, so I generally get to pass a few people. But I hadn't run 13 miles since 1996 (longest training run was slightly shorter, and not preceded by swim/bike), and the Boulder run course is harder than it looks. It's a relatively flat 2-lap route around the reservoir, but it's 90% on dirt roads and trails that are a bit uneven, and it is almost entirely exposed, with no protection from the sun. Which on this fine day was rapidly warming things up towards 90 degrees (and beyond for some of the later finishers). But I had trained on the course, and felt that it would be fine. And the first lap was fine. I was running right around 7 min/mile, and it felt fairly comfortable. My legs felt really very good after the bike, and I was starting to worry that I had held back too much earlier. The second lap was different. As I passed the finish line to start the second loop my legs started to feel rather heavier. I was getting warmer, and I started thinking only about how far it was to the next aid station. I started taking longer in each aid station, and the hills that had seemed so innocent in training now looked quite daunting. They made me really want to walk. I picked up icy sponges each mile, and they felt great for a few hundred yards. But the air was so dry that there was barely a drop of moisture left in them by the time I reached the next mile marker. I knew that I was slowing, but at that point I had reached the point where I stopped caring. At least the digestive issues had stayed away. Until the last mile, that is. Just as I was starting to believe that the end was nearly there, the stomach cramps came on, so the last half mile was rather strained. The finish felt really good, but it took me a couple of minutes to really figure out that I was done. My final run split was a little slower than I had hoped for, and I was a few minutes slower on the second lap than the first (a big chunk of that probably due to time in aid stations). But a look at the other times indicates that everybody was suffering out there, due to the terrain, altitude, and heat (except for the very fastest folks, who mostly finished the run before the heat kicked in; the slower folks and later starters had it by far the hardest out there).
What would you do differently?:

I was happy to finish under 5 hours with a few minutes to spare. Some parts might have gone a little faster, but under the circumstances I don't think that there's anything that I would have done differently. The fact that I felt comfortable until the second half of the run, and then felt rather uncomfortable, suggests that my pacing couldn't have been too far off.
Post race
Warm down:

I really appreciated the race caps that they gave out at the finish, which were dunked in ice water before being handed to us. Perfect! Wandered around in a bit of a daze for a few minutes, before bumping into Andrea, who again had got to the finish just to late to see me come in. The traffic to the reservoir was so jammed up that she had to abandon her ride and walk instead. Schlepping a big, comfy camp chair with her. For me to sit in - oh bliss! I owe her a lot for that. The sun was getting brutal, and everybody was trying to squeeze into the small patches of shade that were scattered around the finish area, so we quickly high-tailed it out of there.

So my first season as a triathlete is now done. I have loved the experience, and I've learned so much in the past year. I'll be back for more triathlons, for sure. Am I eager to sign up for more long course events? Now is probably not the best time to answer that question.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Experience, heat, altitude, terrain. But at least 3 of those were the same for everybody in the race.

And I need to figure out how to swim faster. Not for the first time in a tri this year, I found that there was nobody ahead of me in the OA standings that swam slower, and almost nobody behind me who ran faster. I'm pretty unbalanced.

Event comments:

Generally good organization from a very experienced outfit. Almost everything was run very well. And Boulder is a great town to do a triathlon in. My main disappointment was with the post-race provisions. After exiting the finishing chute competitors were left struggling to find a few inches of shade to shelter from the brutal sun, and it took some searching to find the rather disappointing post-race food and drinks

Last updated: 2011-01-01 12:00 AM
00:38:03 | 2112 yards | 01m 48s / 100yards
Age Group: 97/172
Overall: 623/1866
Performance: Average
Suit: Xterra Vector Pro 3
Course: Triangular course around reservoir. Well-marked.
Start type: Wade Plus: Waves
Water temp: 74F / 23C Current: Low
200M Perf. Average Remainder: Average
Breathing: Average Drafting:
Waves: Navigation: Below average
Rounding: Average
Time: 03:24
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Below average Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Yes Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed:
02:30:32 | 56 miles | 22.32 mile/hr
Age Group: 32/172
Overall: 183/1866
Performance: Good
Wind: Some
Course: Mix of flat and rolling. Exposed. 2 laps.
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence:
Turns: Good Cornering:
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 01:38
Overall: Good
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike Average
Racking bike Average
Shoe and helmet removal Good
01:37:50 | 13.1 miles | 07m 28s  min/mile
Age Group: 8/172
Overall: 74/1866
Performance: Average
Course: Dirt roads and trails around reservoir. Relatively flat, but very exposed to sun. 2 laps.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Below average
Race evaluation [1-5] 4

2011-08-07 6:11 PM

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University Park, MD
Subject: Ironman 70.3 Boulder (formerly 5430)

2011-08-08 11:51 AM
in reply to: #3632907

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Straight outta Compton
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Boulder (formerly 5430)
Congratulations on an incredible race!
2011-08-08 5:39 PM
in reply to: #3632907

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Parker, CO
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Boulder (formerly 5430)

Congrats on a solid performance!  That is one fast run, especially considering the heat.

2011-08-08 6:21 PM
in reply to: #3632907

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Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Boulder (formerly 5430)

I found that there was nobody ahead of me in the OA standings that swam slower, and almost nobody behind me who ran faster. I'm pretty unbalanced.

I'll trade you my swim for your run any day.

Awesome performance. Too bad I didn't think more about meeting folks. We were in the same wave. That's a really good first season you had.

2011-08-08 8:49 PM
in reply to: #3632907

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Parker, CO
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Boulder (formerly 5430)
Solid race for you.  I'm really impressed with your run time in that heat coming off the bike.  Nice job!
2011-08-22 9:51 AM
in reply to: #3632907

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Crab Cake City
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Boulder (formerly 5430)
Great Race Colin!! you did an outstanding job for a 1/2 Iron distance. I will be heading out to Boulder next summer for 10days on a work trip and am excited to get some training in out there.

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