Oh Boulder Peak, I hate you.
This race report really starts the week before. Our friend Mike was in town. He likes hills and we wanted to pre-ride the course anyway, so we did. Stage, a bitch anyway, really hurt that day. It quite possibly killed my lungs and my legs ... and they were still recovering days later.
That ride was Wednesday the 3rd. The 5th, we went for a ride in Cherry Creek State Park and I could not climb worth a crap. I usually kill Brandon on a lot of those hills - he destroyed me that day. The 7th and 8th were trainer days and I finally started getting a little life in my legs on the 8th. After that, I didn't ride again until the 13th, the day before, in a pre-race shakeout ... and I brought the Team Baby Dino mascots along:
So cute ...
Then came race day.
Started out like usual - packed up the night before, woke up early, ate breakfast, got hydration together, drove up to get to the reservoir before transition opened. It paid off, too, as once again, I got first on my rack:
I was not feeling good that morning - highly unsettled. My pre-race pooping wasn't going well, I felt fairly nauseous ... I just did not feel good. Brandon thought maybe I should not toe the start line that day, but I figured I'd try to race anyway.
I ate my peanut butter bread as we left transition and walked down to get in a pre-race swim; the two combined I think helped me feel a bit better and definitely better enough to race.
Swim was in the same format as the sprint, but in two minute increments (I did 39:00-41:00) and with a longer break between waves. Overall, I actually felt pretty good. I felt like I was moving well and tried to focus on not slowing down.
I did feel a slight scratching at the back of my neck - I was fiddling with my wetsuit a lot pre-race trying to make my neck feel not so choked (side effect of me feeling unsettled) and must not have reattached the Velcro properly - and tried to adjust it once, but for the most part, said "screw it" and kept swimming. Yeah, not a smart idea:
Baaaad chafing that made me cry horribly in the shower that night. I've never had to BodyGlide the back of my neck before, but I may have to start. Boo.
In any case, out of the water and up to transition.
Time: 41:04 (rate: 2:45/100m; 1161st overall; 78th division)
In, out, etc. Didn't bother to check the neck.
I knew this ride was going to hurt. I also knew that it would be a slightly less-drawn out pain, as the bike course for Peak, like the sprint, was going to be cut short due to construction. So, instead of the typical 42K, it was going to be 23.3 mi. Slightly annoying when one likes to compare race results to previous years, but eh.
I could also tell early on that the bike was NOT going to go well. I was in granny gear much earlier than I should have been. The turn on to ... Broadway? was just as painful as it was the Wednesday previous when we did the pre-ride. I had to stop to breathe a few times - my lungs still felt so trashed.
As a result ... when I got to the super-steep part of Stage, I said "screw it" this year, decided to swallow my pride and stubbornness and just walk. I've been so proud that I haven't had to walk up the hill the past few years like so many others, but this year, I decided instead of struggling to climb back on the bike and risk falling over again (and doing a cartwheel like I did on the pre-ride or risk breaking the bike like I did last year), I'd just walk ... and in doing so, keep moving at the very least.
So I did. And climbed back on just before I reached the top of the bad part. I tried to get a water bottle from the aid station, but that was a fail after several missed handoffs.
I kept going in a fairly small chain ring up until the very, very top of Stage and the speed zone. Down the hill, did fairly well with cornering and finally felt better on the bike until the turnoff to Nelson Road. I stayed fairly well in the 30mph range on Nelson - couldn't crack 40 like on the pre-ride, though; a bit more wind probably helped with that - and then got demoralized again on 63rd. I remembered why I hate 63rd - it's not the part of it you ride during the sprint; it's the part you ride during the Oly. Ugh.
The turnoff was uneventful and it was back into transition.
Time: 1:34:02 (rate: 14.9 mph; rank: 1129th overall; 71st division)
Sprayed some sunscreen on and used TriSlide instead of BodyGlide on the feet - worked well, I think.
Took the first bit really easy; partially because I realized my pretty MX12 kit was chafing under the arms a bit. This also meant that I did the entire run course with an awkward arm swing to avoid chafing as much as possible. The first mile aid station was fantastic - ice water and orange Perform with ice in it - SO GOOD. This also made me happy because I know they serve orange Perform at IMAZ ... so good to know I can drink it on the course and be fine.
I ran into Brandon right after the mile two marker; he looked like he was doing great. I was doing ... okay. It was hot and the awkward stride was, well, awkward.
Right after the turnaround, I kept going back and forth with a guy in a Timex kit and a below-the-knee prosthetic. He said I was looking good; I said kind of; we exchanged pleasantries but for some reason, it really picked me up. After the mile four marker, a similar thing happened - during one of my run stints, I complimented a woman on her tri kit - it was flowery and awesome. Not too long after I passed her, I had to walk again. She said that there was no way I could pass her with that much speed and then start walking, so I started running again at a slower pace and we chatted a bit. I ended up pulling away for good, but once again, I received a nice pick up from it.
Like the sprint, I felt somewhat stronger as the run went on and finished with a sprint - barely, pretty much collapsing on some barriers after getting my medal and taking off my chip. Once I recovered somewhat, I waited around the finish line before getting food to thank my two race angels who helped motivate me through the run.
Time: 1:06:34 (rate: 10:45/mi; 1085th overall; 69th division)
74/88 division (F30-34)
And as with the sprint, distances are different, but let's play the comparison game:
Swim: 41:04; 2:45/100m
Bike: 1:34:02; 14.9 mph
Run: 1:06:34; 10:45/mi
Overall Time: 3:26:37
Swim: 42:20; 2:50/100m
Bike: 1:45:31; 14.8 mph
Run: 1:07:01; 10:49/mi
Overall Time: 3:41:06
Overall Time: 3:41:07
As with the sprint, we can tell my swimming is finally paying off somewhat as I chopped 1:20 off my swim from last year and almost two minutes from 2011. I'm still not as fast in open water as my pool times are indicating and I'm hoping those two times will merge at some point this year (preferably November, of course).
I chopped a whole minute off of T1. No idea how that happened.
My bike was 11 minutes faster - seven minutes faster than 2011 - and yet I still think that I could have been a lot faster. I was .1 mph faster than last year and, given my course pre-ride, I know that I could have been better. Like the swim, I don't believe my bike in this race is truly indicative of where my abilities are right now.
T2 was 20 seconds shorter. Woot.
The run, while it felt like it went a lot better, it was only four seconds per mile faster and 30 seconds faster over all. It was also a lot hotter this year than last, so I'll take it.
Most importantly, I finally cracked 3:30 in an Oly. Yes, shortened bike, whatever, but I feel like on a less stupid course (one without a nasty f'ing hill in the first 8 miles of the bike), I could pull off the same feat with a faster bike average. I truly believe that my performance in both the bike and the swim is not indicative of what I can actually do right now.
I also have to keep reminding myself that my main race is in November. This is the equivalent of doing early season racing, like Chilly Cheeks. I have nowhere to go but up. I have to believe this, and I do.
That, and if I ever want to do really well in this race, I'm going to have to specifically train for the sucker. Grr.