Sunday, August 18, 2013

Race #6 of the Season: IM Boulder 70.3

So I crashed my bike Friday and screwed up my elbow ... typing this is going to be interesting ...

The story of this race really starts the week before. On July 28th, we went up to Boulder to pre-ride the new course - it went from two loops to one loop. It had been raining off and on all day but it looked like we had a hole in the radar so we went. Well, radar holes don't show the persistent crappy drizzly rain that's just annoying enough.

I was smart enough to bring my ear mitts (ear warmers that only go over the ear and aren't connected; they're awesome) and arm warmers that I decided upon on a whim which ended up being awesome. The rain was persistent and demoralizing. We got about 10 miles in and decided to turn off. Neither of us were really dressed for it and we didn't have dry clothes back at the car. Plus we didn't feel safe with the depth of the water in some places - hydroplaning on a tri bike isn't fun.

So, back to the car we went and just drove the course.

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Mmm, mud.

We thought we had a decent grasp of the course ...

Then on Wednesday (31st), we went for another ride. Before the ride, I noticed that my back tire was low. I pumped it up and out we went. With about three miles to go, I felt my back tire skidding out a little - checked it and sure enough, it was going flat. Must have had a slow leak. I limped on it for about another half mile before stopping to avoid risking damaging the rim. Brandon continued on home to get the car and pick me up.

He changed the tire that week and it held up fine on our pre-ride on Saturday (about 10 miles). We thought everything was good.

Saturday, we had our longest pre-race workout to date. We did two miles with our running store in the morning and then the aforementioned ten to the Tri for the Cure expo. SkirtSports had a store going there so I went to check out a few things and ended up getting a new race belt skirt (which you can see in the photo below). I also reintroduced myself to Skirt owner Nicole DeBoom and introduced her to Brandon.

In the afternoon, we went up to the expo for packet pick-up. We were hoping to get in a swim like usual, but lightning at the Reservoir put the kibosh on that. It was gloomy and cloudy and, as Brandon stated in his recap, unfriendly. It made him particularly anxious and since we couldn't swim, we just wanted to get in and get out.

We did learn, however, that we were going to have specific places in transition unlike previous Boulder Tri Series races, so that meant a slightly later wake-up call on Sunday morning. Instead of having to leave the house at 4am, we could leave at say, 4:15am.

We got to the Reservoir just after 5am - the normal transition time. However, the line in was RIDICULOUS; as we turned in, we realized why; the rain from the night before made the usual lots too muddy (or so we surmised) and they were shuttling us further back ... which I thought was really strange as we were driving on part of the run course. As a result, we got parked later and had a longer walk into transition and not as much time as usual.

In short, we were rushed. But so was everybody. Transition at that point in the morning is usually a lot more relaxed; not so that morning.

We got set up

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and then went to do our pre-race business. I also went to find our friend Scott from Run Colorado, our running store and talked to him for a few minutes. I also spotted Mike, another MX12 VIP member from Arizona who came up to do the race. We quickly chatted with him and then exited trans, hoping to still get a swim in.

We managed two loops of the swim area before calling it good. We ran into Mike again and talked some more with him before splitting off into our separate waves. Since I'm slow, I seeded myself in the last wave. My pool times said I should have seeded myself in a wave one or two from the end, but this was open water and we don't get along.

The Swim:

After all the other waves went off and the first few male pros came out of the water, it was my time to finally go out into the water. I was fighting the water a little bit until I told myself to just treat it like I would a pool swim. I know when I'm in open water my stroke and rotation changes a bit - probably to be able to breathe over the chop or something - so I thought if I focused on swimming like I normally do all the time, things might work out better for me.

And they did ... except for sighting. They did switch the swim course slightly so we weren't swimming directly into the sun which was nice, but every now and then, I still had problems with finding the buoys. I almost had to stop swimming to find the buoys which I know slows me down. Something to try and figure out for IMAZ for sure ...

In any case, the swim just trucked along. It was probably also the first race swim where I didn't question why the hell I stay in this sport - I just tried to keep focused on "pool swimming" and before I knew it, I was in the sand and getting out of the water.

Time: 52:02 (rate: 2:41/100m; 1486th overall; 547th gender; 112th division)

T1:

Being slow and being in the last wave means pretty much all the bikes are out of transition. Therefore, it's really easy to find my bike (okay, she'd be easy to find anyway due to the bar tape). In any case, off with my swim stuff, on with my bike stuff and I'm pretty sure I quickly sunscreened. I also tossed on my arm coolers just on my wrists, figuring I'd get them the rest of the way up on the bike.

Time: 3:20

The Bike:

Soon on the bike I realized I probably should have just taken the extra time to put on the arm coolers as attempting to pull those up while riding? Yeahhh, not easy. But, since I try to take 51st out of the Res and the Jay easy, keeping my cadence super high, it wasn't so bad and I managed to get them most of the way on.

The Jay seemed to take no time this race, which is nice. 36 took forever, but you're also on 36 for quite a while. My main issue was - and I feel kind of embarrassed writing this - that my ladybits must have gotten frozen or something in the swim as it felt like they were numb and didn't thaw out for a good 15, 20 miles. Something I've never run into before and, quite frankly, never want to run into again.

Strangely enough, I never did get truly comfortable on the bike. I felt some rubbing on the inside of my left leg (seam of my tri shorts ended up chafing a bit) and the ... adductor? whatever the muscle is on the inside of your leg was sore most of the ride. I told myself that I could handle the soreness and I would unless it felt like the muscle was pulling; if it ever felt like that, I said that I would pull out and live to fight another day and not risk injuring myself badly. Luckily, it never got to that point.

For the first 10, 15 miles, I passed some people and got passed by others ... but I would wager that I ended up passing about 60% of the people that passed me within the subsequent 10-15 miles.

I ate my first waffle slowly and timed it so I'd be finished with it by the time I hit the first aid station (dispose of my trash properly!). The honey-flavored waffles and the lemon-lime Skratch made me feel like I was eating graham crackers and lemonade on the bike as opposed to race nutrition.

After the aid station was the downhill portion ... or so we thought. The Ute Highway was pretty fast, but the grooved pavement felt a little weird. Hindsight being what it was, I think I know why it felt kind of weird ... I also felt slightly bad for the ginormous line of cars that was being held up due to all of us triathletes turning on to 75th.

Once we turned on to 75th, it was twisty-turny farmland, a lot of false flats and a few horrible climbs. Nothing too long, but since my legs already kind of hurt, it was enough to make me kind of hate my life. I finished my aero bottle and put in my back-up bottle around mile 25, so about halfway through. In general, though, I felt like I should have been going faster for good chunks of the farmland sections. I also didn't like how many turns there were on the course. While the one loop was nice, I think two loops with very few turns may have been nicer, ultimately.

The little bitch hills did get to me at some point. I mentally gave up at one point - I was so sick of climbing and dropping into my smallest gear just to attempt to pedal up one more stupid little hill. I also stopped at one point to try and adjust my tri shorts and stretch some since I was not comfortable. I ate most of waffle #2 in the farmland (dropped some) and got a few bites into waffle #3 when it made me super queasy. I immediately stopped taking in both Skratch and nutrition since I knew something wasn't agreeing with me.

Once out of the farmland and crossing back over the Ute Highway/66, I started feeling better. As I neared mile 40, though, I felt myself slide a bit on a turn and thought, "Crap." I immediately stopped and felt the back tire - yep, going flat. I got back on and thought, "I have 16 miles to go. Maybe I can manage," ... and then realized that it wasn't going to happen. Luckily, I saw the third (and final) aid station around a bend in the road and knew I could limp it in.

I got into the aid station and braked to a stop. One of the volunteers stopped handing out water to see if I needed help - I said no, just need to change a flat ... and then noticed one of the cars parked nearby. And then took another look at the volunteer - "Hey, I know you!" "You do?" "Yeah, you go to Run CO, don't you?" "Yes ..." "I'm Theresa! One of the Geists!" "Oh hey, I didn't recognize you with the helmet!" I couldn't remember her name at the time, but it was Kristin, one of the regulars at my running store. It was awesome having her there while I had issues changing my flat.

Of COURSE the flat was the back tire. After the standard struggle of getting the stupid back tire off and getting that first rim of the tire off, I got the old tube out and changed the tire pretty quickly. But then I tried inflating it. I had a new CO2 inflator that I didn't quite know how to work - Kristin figured that out easily enough - but I could only inflate the tire to a certain point before it went POOF and died. I killed both my CO2 cartridges trying to get the tire inflated but it JUST WOULDN'T INFLATE. Kristin called over a fellow volunteer to help who notified me that bike tech support was actually at the other end of the aid station. So, I gathered all my crap together and clomped on over.

The support guy was helping someone else out so I had to wait until he was done. I was doing my best to not watch all the people pass by - lots of people I had already passed - and not get discouraged in the process. Eventually, he got to me - we learned that my spare tube was faulty, which is why it wasn't inflating properly. I also checked the tire ... and found a goathead (common pokey thing around here) that I probably picked up in the rain the previous Sunday and that Brandon neglected to check for when he changed my tire the first time. We got that out of there, got another tube in and then I was back on my way. I wasn't sure how much time I had lost, but I knew it had to be quite a bit.

Once back on my proverbial feet, I tried to bust ass a bit back to transition, but it was still 16 miles away and the lack of distance training was starting to catch up to me. I pushed it as best as I could and just tried to survive. Eventually, I was rolling back into the Res and back into transition.

Time: 3:42:44 (rate: 15.09 mph; 1538th overall; 565th gender; 115th division)

T2:

Hindsight being what it is, I definitely should have taken more time to sunscreen here. I'm also liking the TriSlide on the feet as opposed to the BodyGlide. Spray is so much quicker.

Time: 3:22

The Run:

I took it easy coming out of transition, grabbing some water, Perform and a sponge right away. I also saw Mike as we were leaving the aid station; he was starting loop two. We filled each other in on our races thus far; I mentioned the flat; he said he had blown up on the run. As we left the Res and turned onto the county roads, I left him and went on to run my race (later on, he told Brandon that I was looking good; I appreciated it as I didn't feel totally awesome).

To start off, I decided I'd run descents and in general, when I could and walk up hills. The problem is, there are some nasty hills in the first few miles that just go on forever. I knew I was slow, but tried my best to plod on. I kept the sponge soaked in the back of my tri jersey, just at the nape of my neck - grabbed water at every aid station to drench that as well as my arm coolers. I was also grabbing ice/icy cold Perform at every station as well.

The first half can be best described as a slow plod; I didn't want to push it too much so I could save something for the second loop. Really, the only other notable thing was I stopped at a porta-potty at around mile 5.5 (what would be just past mile 1 if we were running in the opposite direction. Unlike 2011, my tri shorts cooperated in being pulled up and stayed in place the whole race. We also saw a few clouds come out to cover up the sun, but they were much too brief.

Time: 1:23:43

I got a bit more sunscreen on my shoulders at the start of loop two - I chose to veer off to the sunscreeners to hopefully avoid major burning (failed) and mostly to cover my damaged skin from last year's bike crash.

As the loop got started, there were obviously fewer and fewer people. One girl (I think in my age group) had her boyfriend/significant other walking with her; she did not seem in good shape at all. I started having overheating foot issues like usual - If you know of any way to stop feet from overheating in a race/on a run, PLEASE let me know. Always happens - doesn't matter the sock and it's happened in every running shoe I've owned - but I tried not to let that slow me down TOO much.

The main problem I had was I started getting lightheaded. It was probably due to lack of nutrition - I hadn't eaten anything since about mile 30, 35 on the bike (when the waffles started making me nauseous) and had only consumed an ass-ton of Perform. I cracked open one of my chocolate Hammer gels, but I got maybe a third of the way through it before I decided I couldn't take it anymore. So, when I descended upon the aid station, I decided to stop and try to squish under the food tent to eat something. I decided on a pretzel (meh) and some potato chips (tasty). I figured the salt would do me good as well as the calories. I must have not looked that good as one of the volunteers asked me if I wanted to sit; I declined, saying that if I did, I probably wouldn't get up again. So, I took some chips and moved on.

Running between aid stations 1 and 2 was a little iffy; I stopped and got more Perform at station #2 and just walked and sipped with it until right before station #3. At that point, the lightheadedness had gone away. However, I felt like I needed a run buddy - I'm really starting to like those - so I asked a guy I'd been going back and forth with if I could walk/run with him; said I needed the company.

He was from Texas and struggling a bit in the altitude, feeling like he couldn't get a full breath. I told him I understood, given my sports asthma. His walk pace was slower than mine and I could barely keep at his run pace, but it was nice having the companionship, so I stuck at the slower pace for about 3/4 of a mile. When we hit a small descent, I wished him good luck and said I was going to try my hand at running (we had about a 5K to go at this point). I ran down the hill and tried to keep running.

With so little to go, I was getting sick of being out on the course and just tired of dealing with the heat and everything, so I kind of said "Screw it" and decided to push it out of my comfort zone. I definitely ran more than I walked in the last three miles and ended up passing most of the people who had passed me earlier on that loop. I'm not sure I walked much at all in that last mile and Brandon ended up getting a picture of me looking quite strong for being 70.2 miles into the race.
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I managed my usual sprint to the finish and then about died. I was completely spent at the end of the race.

Time: 2:58:41 (rate: 13:38/mi; 1487th overall; 547th gender; 110th division)

I found Brandon and went over to the food tent, but really didn't eat anything as nothing sounded appealing at all to me. We did meet up with Mike again and get an MX12 VIP team photo, though:
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Overall Stats:
Time: 7:40:09
110/118 division (F30-34)
?/627 females (I'm gonna guess somewhere in the 550s)
1487/1674 overall

And since I like doing it, let's play the comparison game to 2011, shall we?

This year:
Swim: 52:02; 2:41/100m
T1: 3:20
Bike: 3:42:44; 15.09 mph
T2: 3:22
Run: 2:58:41; 13:38/mi
Overall Time: 7:40:09

2011:
Swim: 59:28; 3:05/100m
T1: 3:44
Bike: 3:29:13; 16.1 mph
T2: 3:28
Run: 3:18:16; 15:07/mi
Overall Time: 7:54:09

The swim was 7:26 quicker, which is a HUGE improvement. It was also :04/100m quicker than my pace at Peak, which is an even better sign for me. Again, I am validated in the fact that all of my hard work in the pool is starting to pay off slowly.

T1 was :24 quicker. That's actually fairly significant ... especially if you consider I tossed on arm coolers, too.

The bike was 13:31 slower. HOWEVER: I had a flat. If you take the reading off my cyclometer, my bike was 3:14:57, not 3:42:44 - this means that I had about a 30 minute delay (well, 28ish, if you include me stopping to stretch) for the flat. I essentially lost two whole miles per hour, as my average speed registered on my cyclometer was 17.1 mph. So in theory, my bike was actually 14:16 faster than in 2011.

However, we also go by the clock in these cases, and the clock don't lie. Stupid flats.

T2 was :06 quicker. Shoulda made it :06 longer and put on some more damn sunscreen.

The run was 19:35 faster than 2011 and I believe had I not spent so much time at that Texan dude's pace, I may have been able to chop another three or so minutes off ... but that's probably not enough to matter.

This all adds up to a 14:00 (on the nuts!) race PR. Even with the flat.

It also means that, in theory, I could have had a 7:11:22, which would have been AWESOME. Still, a PR for a race that I didn't feel prepared for going in and that I ended up flatting in is still ultimately a good day so I can't help but be happy.

(on a side note, in my final comments in my 2011 race report, I said, "That was unbelievably difficult ... and yet I still totally want to do a full. IMAZ 2013. Fo' sho'." and what race might i be doing in november? i've been talking about doing this stupid race for TWO YEARS. it will happen.)

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