Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Race #9 of the Season: Ironman Boulder

Brandon actually beat me to this recap, so I should probably get on this, huh?

He explained all what was going on with him (check the previous post). As I was helping him along with the process, my training occasionally also took a back seat. Delta wouldn't just affect him; it would (and will) change both our lives. As a result, I was probably (okay, definitely) undercooked going into Boulder as well.

The Lead Up

As triathletes do, we were obsessively checking the water temp at Boulder Reservoir. It was looking to be 50/50 on whether it would be wetsuit legal or wetsuit optional on race day. Neither of us particularly like our wetsuits anymore and didn't care if we weren't able to race in them. However, we did want to get a practice go in just our tri suits in case. Enter Boulder Aquatic Masters (BAM) and their Bare Bones open water swim series. Twice a year, BAM hosts an open-water swim event at the Res with one, two, and three mile options. I broached the idea of doing this to Corie; she loved it and so a week prior to Boulder, I had a one mile open water swim on my schedule. Brandon was luckily able to do it with me thanks to some work luck.


Post-swim photos!

All things considered, the swim went well. I'm still noticeably slower in open water than in the pool, but the water (72 or 74 degrees, depending on who you asked) was more than comfortable to swim in without a wetsuit.

The following week B was off to Atlanta for Delta and I actually mostly stuck to the workout plan for the week instead of taking it entirely off as I usually do for taper. Oops.

We spent many days driving back and forth to Boulder for the expo and everything, but it was easier and cheaper than a hotel ...

We were also able to meet a few new MaccaXers this year in Randy (cheer/volunteer squad only), Francesco, Shawn, and Kurt, the latter being a surprise addition to the lineup. Kurt DNFed due to a mechanical at Challenge Roth about a month prior and was planning on coming out to Boulder anyway to cheer/volunteer. Lisa and Curtis (or one of them ...) told him he should bring his bike out and, well, long story short, he ended up racing with us. 

Outside the expo. Hey Ironman, what was with selling a ton of race-specific finisher gear pre-race? Fail ...

Amaryllis with borrowed race wheels.

No ankle mishaps this year!

At bike check in, we had also brought our wetsuits to test the water with them. I did a practice swim loop both with my wetsuit and without it.

A little vintage Skirt ...

My two loops told me that, even though I loathe it, I am indeed faster in the wetsuit (and it was a tad more comfortable). After a consult with Corie ... the wetsuit was going to be a go in the morning.

Race Day

Unlike Arizona, and contrary to most things we've heard regarding Ironman sleep, we actually slept pretty well the night before. I had a minor freak out moment the night before in bed; I was on Facebook on my phone half-asleep when I saw a post in the IM Boulder group about the timing chip; I shot out of bed realizing I had no idea where mine was! Thankfully, I found it quickly and added it to my race morning pile. Potential crisis averted.

The alarm sounded way too early, but it was actually pretty easy to drag my ass out of bed. I was able to eat my standard egg and oj (being able to make my own breakfast was also a huge perk to not getting a hotel ...) before leaving. We left maybe a bit later for Boulder than ideal, but we still got up with plenty of time to find a decent parking spot, drop my handheld in my run bag, drop off special needs, hit up a porta potty, and catch a bus. 

I know B mentioned that he was worried about the bus ride from Boulder High School to the Res - and with good reason; the last two races I had to take a bus to the start, the ride wasn't pretty - but for some reason, I was okay. I think the fact that I had my snack on me (Bobo's oat bar) and that I started slowly eating it helped. Also it was a MUCH shorter ride ...

We get dropped off and since I knew Randy was doing body marking in all his IronFan glory, I made sure to find him to get my race number and typical smiley face Sharpie'd on. I got in the line to get my bike tires pumped up. I tossed my butt butter into my bike bag. I saw Francesco (who was essentially a bike rack over) and chatted with him. We got a picture with Kurt.


I was a little anxious, but thankfully, it wasn't too bad. Before we knew it, it was time to drop off our morning clothes (I remembered to ditch my flip-flops this time!) and line up.

The Swim:

Ironman Boulder is a self-seeded, rolling start, based on estimated swim time. My AZ time was 2:02; I was hoping to go under two hours for sure, but I didn't want to seed myself that far back mentally. As my pool times had been pretty good, and going off of what I did at BAM the weekend prior (one mile in 47:41), I decided to be optimistic and seed myself at the back of the 1:30-1:45 corral. 

I took a second heading into the water to get my lungs underneath me and get rid of that initial "ack coldish water" shock one (or at least I) always gets first hitting open water. However, that took me maybe 15 seconds before I was off and swimming.

I am so thankful that it was overcast for the entire swim. It made sighting a breeze. I was also skeptical about the swim start, but it worked well. I really didn't get swum over (yay!) and I felt like it gave a lot of open space. 

Other notes from the swim:

- The buoys changed color halfway through. This was both good and bad. Good because of the indicator (yay, halfway!) and bad because it felt like it took FOREVER to get to said halfway point.

- Garmin said I swam in a relatively straight line, but that I still swam 4480 yards, which is clearly more than I needed to. Oops.

- I actually overtook some people after the first turn. This made me super happy.

- I had heard things about seaweed on course thanks to Shawn's DNF a year prior, but had never encountered it in the Res before. Well, it's a thing, and it made me feel like I was some swamp creature for a while as I could feel the seaweed hanging off me. Quite pleasant. In any case, it didn't slow me down at all.

- My swim cap decided to threaten falling off my head for at least a good third of the swim. It was driving me absolutely batty, but I didn't want to stop to fix it. I finally did after the final turn to shore because I just. couldn't. deal. anymore. I hung off a kayak to take off my goggles, completely re-put on my cap, and put the goggles back on. I very determinedly did NOT look at my Garmin (I also very determinedly did not look at it when I hit said halfway point) because that is a bad, bad thing mentally for me to do.

- Right near the shore, I saw Curtis and Lisa on their paddle boards. Being me, I yelled something along the lines of, "screw you, you losers!" at them ... which apparently shocked a fellow volunteer. Oops. Sorry, guys.


Time: 1:51:33 (53rd division, 387th gender, 1393rd overall)


Flop down, get the wetsuit stripped off, stand back up, grab my bag, hit the tent. As it was nice and overcast (and it in theory wasn't supposed to get that hot that day ...), I decided to forego my arm coolers (spoiler: bad idea). Other than that, added a bit more butt butter, slathered on some sunscreen, tossed on my sunglasses and helmet, put on my shoes, and clomped off to get my bike.

The perk about being a bit of a slower swimmer is that transition is nice and open so grabbing one's bike is a breeze. No people, no bikes on the rack ... problems I would like to encounter eventually, but I was happy for the lack of chaos.

Time: 5:39

The Bike:

Oh, the bike. Long story short: I was (and am) super disappointed with how the bike went, given how much I had trained this stupid course. I knew every inch of the course, but it was just ... not pleasant on race day.

- The sun did eventually come out, and when it did, ugh. Brutal.

- There was a funny sign on the Jay when you hit it on the first loop - "You're almost done! Oh wait, that was last year!"

- I felt like I kept my effort steady on the first loop. A bit slower than in training, but I was also trying to pace myself somewhat. Hydrated well and was doing my best to eat food.

- When I hit 36, on what would be a downhill, we slowed down around a crash. I didn't see much except for a mangled bike on the side of the road and a lot of emergency crews. I may have seen Ms. Walters on a stretcher (I think I saw one), but I don't know. Heavy heart passing that ...

- Stopped for the first time a little after 35 miles at an aid station on 63rd to pee. Tried a banana, as I remember them being good at AZ; nope, not this time around. Pretty sure I peed a second time on loop two at the same stop.

  - Nelson was awful, as I knew it would be.

- Thank you 303 Triathlon for your sno cones. Definitely snagged one on the first loop. I also grabbed a bit more water as I had run out of Skratch by this point.

- Stopped at special needs to swap out my bottles. I also had some of my Lays potato chips and Dr. Pepper (I had usually stopped for these two things in Hygiene on my training rides, so I figured why not?), and they were delicious. I attempted to reapply some sunscreen, but it wasn't all that succesful, as evidenced by my very strange tan/burn lines post-race. My volunteer was friendly and awesome. Not awesome: forgetting my pizza in my bag. I realized it before I exited the zone and I almost stopped and clomped back for it, but I didn't. I kind of regret this.

- Loop two ... sucked. 

- Encountered Kurt on Neva/Niwot on loop two; we (legally) chatted and went back and forth until the end of Nelson when he dropped me on the 36 descent.

- Started having my overheating foot problems. Started stopping at the aid stations to grab water to completely drench my feet. It helped. Feet started hurting about mile 70ish and didn't stop the rest of the day.

- Took a bit of a break at the 303 aid station for another sno cone. Had an angel of a volunteer give me some of her colby jack cheese stick thingy. (NEEDED NOT-SWEET SOMETHING.)

- Looked forlornly at special needs, knowing I couldn't stop again, even though I was so close to being done. Totally could have used more Dr. Pepper. And chips. And my damn pizza.

- Thought the ride into town was supposed to be fast. Maybe it was because everything hurt so damn badly, but it was NOT fast. At least for me. I'm just thankful that ride may have been short (Garmin read just shy of 110).


Don't let the smile fool you; I was in pain. I just chose to grin the entire day.

Like a boss. Might have been Neva/Niwot loop two ...

Time: 7:28:32 (54th, 355th, 1322nd)



You dismount, run behind basically the entire length of Boulder High School, run across a bridge over the creek/path to the football field (all with your bike), then grab your run bag while running down the length of the football field, across a tiny bit more grass, UP STAIRS, then across some MORE grass before you finally hit the tent. Sheesh.

I ran some of it, but probably not as much as I should have. Silly bike shoes.

Changed into my running socks/shoes, changed into my hat, tossed on my Race Belt skirt, slathered on a bit more sunscreen (volunteer accidentally got my chafed neck - OW), grabbed my handheld, and off I went.

Time: 9:25 (under 10 minutes ... SCORE)

The Run:

What I didn't mention in the bike section is that I developed a headache sometime late in the ride. I'm pretty sure it was lack of food, although given how much salt I scraped off myself later, it might have been dehydration, too. Who knows. 

The first mile or so was mostly walking as I tried to shove food in my belly. I had another Bobo's bar on me, but it didn't sound appealing, so I just snarfed chips and grapes at the first aid station. The second aid station somehow had bacon (OMG BEST EVER) which I'm pretty sure saved my race. Thanks, superhero aid station! I peed here - my only run porta potty stop which was a vast improvement over AZ.

I first saw B early on in the first out-and-back, and TriSports buddy George early on as well. I also ran more than I maybe would have thanks to Curtis and Lisa stalking me on their mountain bikes, yelling at me to run. 

I negative split miles 2-7, managing to run when I could (taking advantage of the downhills - gravity is fun!). I walked every aid station in order to top off my handheld. I had a couple packets of Skratch on me. I'd drink 2/3rds to 3/4ths of my 12oz bottle each mile, stop at the aid station, toss ice and water as well as some Skratch in it, shake it up, and keep going. I grabbed chips here and there as well.

The next time I saw B we decided to figure out where we were in relation to each other; I believe I had just hit 6 and he was at 7-something (so about 1.75 miles behind). 

I caught up to Kurt at about mile 7.5 at the back end of an aid station. Due to some ankle/foot issue, he was walking the vast, vast majority of the marathon. I was feeling pretty good, but I also hadn't really made any race buddies and felt like chatting with someone, so I walked with him for almost a good two miles.

He stopped to use a porta potty and I didn't want to wait, so I ditched him somewhere in mile 10. I subsequently had my fastest mile in mile 11 (11:51 - my one sub-12 mile!) thanks to the insane crowd support of that section (behind the high school/IM village). I saw Randy near the tail end of this mile cheering.

I saw a few of my Skirt sisters at the one aid station on the west side of the course and snagged some chicken broth on my way back through. I also saw B on this out-and-back, and figured I was about a mile behind.

(I also figure I got ahead of Kurt by about two miles at this point.)

I was still moving well on loop two, and I pretty much always had a smile on my face. One showed up any time I saw Aaron (new friend! ... although we figured this out on facebook post-race) thanks to his ridiculous(ly awesome) costume. I somehow missed Francesco out on the run, but I did see Instagram buddy Leana, so that was awesome.

I saw B again at mile 16 and at that point, I was only .85 miles behind him. I jokingly said something about catching up to him and he jokingly said I should ... so I actually attempted to pick it up so I could. I wasn't moving all that swiftly thanks to the general fatigue of the day (and okay, my poor dead feet), but I was running more than Brandon (which I didn't know at the time). On this out-and-back, I also bummed some Pringles off a volunteer, because hot damn did Pringles sound good at that point. Mmm, salt.

By mile 21, I had caught up to Brandon. We walked together for a few miles, running a bit, but my poor husband was starting to fall apart a bit. His back was bugging him, his feet ... poor mrrmrr. I left him about two miles later, as he wanted me to run my own race. I did too, to be honest, but I would have 100% stayed with him had he needed me to.

I chatted with my Skirt peeps again at the far aid station (a bit more on the return trip), as more of them had shown up to work the later shift, so that was an amazing pick-me-up. Love you ladies!

I wasn't able to run nearly as much as I wanted in the later miles. I could have gone faster down the chute, but I wanted to let the guy in front of me have his moment; if I had done my typical thing, I would have passed him right at the line. Pfft, with us being so spread out that late, I wanted each of us to have our moment. I was able to finish to the tail end of "R.E.S.P.E.C.T." by Aretha Franklin (and the very beginning of Sister Sledge's "We Are Family"), which is a much better finishing song, so I was happy for that. 


Time: 6:17:41 (51st, 309th, 1177th)


Final Stats:
Time: 15:52:50
51/55 division (F30-34)
309/361 gender
1177/1313 finishers

I knew B wasn't that far behind, so I delayed leaving the finish area. I chatted with Curtis and Lisa who were on the other side of the fencing. When I saw B coming, I asked a volunteer if I could hang his medal around his neck, so I was able to do that for him which was kind of awesome. We then, like at AZ, got a finisher's photo together.


I attempted to eat food afterward, but my body wanted nothing to do with the post-race pizza. We had hoped to get a massage, but we finished too late for those (sad, tragic day). We didn't take too long to hang around as we knew we still had to drive back home, try to shower, realize how sunburned we were, etc.

Now, since I've done two of these crazy things, comparison game!

Swim 2013: 2:02:48
Swim 2016: 1:51:33

An 11:15 swim PR. MASSIVE gains. I will so take this. Choo will undoubtedly be faster, but Choo is a special snowflake case ...

T1 2013: 11:24
T1 2016: 5:39

5:45 faster. Not having to get an ankle retaped up helps this immensely ...

Bike 2013: 7:26:02
Bike 2016: 7:28:32

2:30 slower. This upsets me highly, as I feel I was better prepared for this stupid bike course. Grum. Ble.

T2 2013: 7:52
T2 2016: 9:25

1:33 slower, but Boulder was way longer than AZ.

Run 2013: 6:07:29
Run 2016: 6:17:41

10:12 slower, but I kind of chose to be slow on this run. I purposefully walked with Kurt for almost two miles. I purposefully chose to pause at each aid station to mix my Skratch in my handheld (totally doing that again). I purposefully chose to burn matches trying to catch up (and subsequently pass) my husband. I purposefully stopped and chatted with my Skirt family each time I saw them. 

In any case, it all somehow worked out to a 2:45 PR. Small potatoes when you consider the length of the race, but really, all things considered, I will take it. Especially that swim.


  1. "I just chose to grin the entire day." YES. That right there is golden -- I love it. It was so fun tracking you guys, and I'm so glad you didn't need pre-race stitches this time!! Now I have to go read Brandon's report, and I need to add your blog to my RSS feed because I somehow don't have it in there. Strange...

    Congratulations!! I LOVE the kit.

    1. 1. kit is so, so comfy! fifth different tri kit i've raced in and probably the most comfortable so far (skirt sports, zoot, champion systems, and de soto were the other four).

      2. i actually learned something about smiling through pain - your body doesn't know the difference between a fake smile and a real smile; it'll make the same chemical reaction (... or whatever. silly science) in your body. plus, i figured a positive attitude is never a bad thing when you have to be constantly moving for basically an entire day!! ;)

  2. 1. Those kits are so bright and cheery, too! I really don't need more cycling clothes right now, but I really want to at least try them on (and we all know about THAT slippery slope).

    2. I learned the smiling phenomenon around mile 18 of an accidental huge marathon PR -- I was in that "this sucks and I'm going to walk" mode when I reached an out-and-back section and a couple runners smiled at me. I smiled back out of politeness, and then just kept smiling at every runner after that -- and I'll be damned if I didn't suddenly feel like a million bucks. I now tell everyone to "just make yourself smile," and I do it, too, because hey, people are out there racing or cheering or volunteering and they deserve some encouragement.