IRONMAN 70.3 Boulder: A Failure

IRONMAN 70.3 Boulder 2019

Race Report#

  • Race Date: August 3rd, 2019
  • 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run
  • Swim Time: 52:32 - 2:43m/100m
  • Bike Time: 3:21:22 - 16.69mph
  • Run Time: Medical DNF @ 8.1 miles

Getting to the Race#

Left Maryland at 1600 on Tuesday July 30th, drove through the night and arrived at our AirBnB in Denver at 1600ish the next day, July 31st.

The AirBnB had a crappy AC unit that couldn’t keep the entire place cool. Sadly, the bedroom was quite the distance from the small window unit, so we moved the mattress into the living room after the first night

August 1; T-2 days til race day#

Woke up and was welcome with a nice $75 parking ticket; dofus me forgot August 1st was the first Thursday in the month and the street we parked on was being cleaned by a street sweeper.

Thankfully the day got better with a trip To Snooze (first of three in total) and a stop at Trubucha, a kombuncha place favored by my lady.

August 3rd; Race Day#

Day started well. My Garmin reported that I got a hair over 8 hours of sleep, and I cooked eggs and bacon for breakfast. We loaded the car and took off for the Boulder High School for a shuttle.

This is where things went downhill. It took us ~15mins longer than we expected to get to the shuttle pickup. Plus, waiting on the shuttle, and the traffic the shuttle had to drive through had us at the Boulder Reservoir at 0635

Then the walk to transition… See the shuttle was apparently for spectators, even though they told athletes to take the shuttle if they were able. So we had to walk from the spectator area to the transition area with all our gear. That took about 10 minutes, leaving us 20 minutes to setup since transition closed at 0700.

Even though we both knew that 20 minutes was plenty of time, we were still freaking out about it. Nevertheless, we got everything setup and walked to the swim start. We put on our wetsuits and swam for a few minutes before standing to wait for our turn to start.

Swim#

Swim was a great event for me. This was my first time swimming in a wetsuit and my goodness it felt like cheating. Normally my issue in swimming is keeping my hips up. With a wetsuit my hips (and my entire body) were held up by the buoyancy in the wetsuit.

Now in swimming I tend to not use my legs hardly at all because it causes me to run out of breath quickly. I stuck with this strategy in the race and just used my arms ~85% of the time. My arms were scorched afterwards, but I had a personally great time at 52:32 for the 1.2 mile swim.

This was a HUGE confidence booster because I was afraid of DNF’ing in the swim, especially after my Bear Triathlon in May (.9 mile swim in 55 minutes). I headed off to T1 feeling great

T1#

Even though the swim was good I was pretty tired because I went HARD. I sat down and started getting my stuff together. I had open a Cliff Protein Builder Bar during setup, so I ate that while sipping some water. Then I put my sunglasses on, helmet on, used my shammy and wiped down my feet. Socks went on next, followed by shoes. I stuff my Gu into my pockets and took off for the bike.

T1 lasted 6 minutes for me, which is really slow. I definitely think I could have improved this by running immediately out of the water and not simply walking half the way. Also, I could have ate the protein bar on the beginning part of the bike, along with tightening my shoes once I stated instead of in T1

Bike#

Wow the bike course was fast, and I mean really fast. The course started with a trip along the Diagonal Highway before turning into the Boulder countryside. Being my first Ironman event I wasn’t sure what to expected in terms of drafting. Of course drafting is banned in triathlon events by the USAT, but with this many people it’s impossible to keep 6 bike lengths of distance between riders. In addition I’m a much stronger cyclist than I am a swimmer, so I spent the first half of the bike portion flying around people.

The first aid station was at about mile 18. Till then I was feeling great. Once I saw the aid station I decided to take a Gu (Sea Salt Chocolate Roctaine), and I dropped my water bottle to pick up a fresh one from the volunteer.

This was the beginning of my demise. See, I had decide on the bike course I didn’t want to drink the Gatorade provided, and to just stick with my 24oz bottle of Nunn enriched water for electrolytes and sodium… Absolutely dumb. I’ll break down the nutrition math later, but it wasn’t enough and I should’ve known.

Next was a hill that took us south up a sharp hill, and then another hill northbound on Highway 36. I did really good on these climbs, and I averaged 15.5mph on the 5 mile lap across these climbs. However, while I was climbing, I had an awful mentality of I really wanted to pass these people. I kept burning matches on these hills because I felt great!

Second aid station, I figure now I should take another Gu (Mandarin Orange), splash some water on myself, throw my old bottle and grab another bottle of water. Mistake again! By this point I had barely touched my bottle of Nuun, and instead of grabbing a Gatorade I grabbed a water.

Now at this point through the race I’ve had 2 Gu’s, a few sips of Nuun, and a protein bar. That’s it. What a insane mistake.

Towards the later part of the bike, my legs started cramping. Starting from my hips, I’d have to unclip and shake my leg to get it to stop. Next came the thighs, then the calves. I should have started taken measures here to counter the cramping, but instead I just drank more water and never took the Gatorade at the next aid station.

I felt like I was limping back to transition, but I made it.

T2#

With scorched legs and the sun beating down, I sat down and just tried to breathe. I had brought a HydroFlask and packed ice water in it, and my goodness that was amazing. I poured the ice cold water of the top of myself, followed by soaking a towel and just wearing it around my shoulders through the transition.

At this point my shoulders were burned pretty bad, but I thought I’d finish. I walked out to the run course and started the 13.1 mile run

Run#

Not good. I tried to run and just couldn’t, so I ended up walking a lot. At this point I realized how bad I had messed up my nutrition, but you can almost never make up for the mistakes of a poor nutrition plan.

Also, the kicker: I thought we had only 3 hours to finish the half-marathon. This fact probably ended my race, mentally. Coupled with the sunburned shoulders, legs cramping, and falling down multiple times trying to run, I ended up stopping at an aid station for a couple of minutes.

The volunteers here were amazing. One of the kid volunteers poured water over my head, and a medic came by after seeing me sitting down with so much assistance around me. After taking my blood pleasure, pulse, and a few other things, he asked me a few questions, and finally said “I don’t think you should continue”

Boom. There was my out, and I took it. Massive regret there. Maybe if I knew I could have walked the whole way back I would’ve finished. But at that point I knew I couldn’t finish in under 3 hours, and this just added onto the mental want to give up.

Waiting#

I took a ride back in a SAG vehicle to Ironman Village where I then waited the hour or so for my partner to finish. It was great seeing her cross the finish line, and I was so proud she finished, got her medal and hat, and done one the hardest things she’s ever done.

It probably took us 2 hours to get back to the car. We were destroyed. Neither of us could hardly walk, much less function well enough to navigate traffic. My bike was literally the last bike to leave transition. Thankfully, we made it back to our little place in Denver

Aftermath#

I learned some lessons:

  1. Sunscreen, it’s a must
  2. Follow your nutrition plan, don’t make last minute changes
  3. Conserve energy, don’t burn yourself in the bike
  4. Pay extra and stay close to the race venue, and stay in a nice place

Lots of regret, but in 2020 I’ll race again and I will finish.