Ironman Boulder went out the window two weeks before the June 11th race after I crashed my bike on a training ride coming down from Jamestown. To say that I was sad would be a huge understatement. The crash was pretty bad. After a car ride down to Boulder by a witness to the crash, then six hours at the hospital ER, I left in a sling, some stitches, and a diagnosis of a broken elbow.
I was unable to move that arm for a good 12 hours without pain. Not being able to crack your own pistachios is a tough thing.
It felt as busted as a broken bone should feel. BUT... over the next day, the swelling must have subsided and I was regaining mobility. I was back on my bike (trainer) the next day, then pushing back on the run right after that. I had it X-rayed again, and it showed no sign of fracture. So yeah - it was a miracle. Seriously... I was going to be able to do the race after all.
In between all of this, was the BolderBoulder 10k (my favorite day of the year) and my wife Beth's 40th birthday. We also were able to go down to Colorado Springs the weekend before Ironman Boulder to stay with my sisters family for two nights at the Great Wolf Lodge - an awesome hotel and indoor waterpark. These were some truly great early summer times that I will not forget.
Ironman Boulder Race week
I kept healing and was able to swim for the first time after doing the Bolder Boulder twice, and just before Beths awesome surprise party on Memorial Day. I was stiff, but knew I was good to go.
The week went by and I was sleeping in my own bed, not traveling, and therefore not really feeling the nerves of a traditional Ironman prep week. It was good and bad. The good is that I am sure it was lower stress on my system/body/mind, the bad is that my head was not really "in the game" like it probably should have been.
I was able to get myself a bit more together by the pro race meeting that happened on Friday. It always helps when you are in a room with the guys you have looked up to forever, and are talking about racing against all of them.
I need to note that I still feel a "how the f**k did I get here?" moment every time I step into one of those meetings, see my name on the pro start lists, etc... To be called a "pro" and to be racing in the pro field is still shocking to me. I never thought it would be possible.
I have my prep day video below. Take a watch if you haven't seen.
Ironman Boulder - Race
We had dinner at my parents house on Saturday night. I had my traditional beer and glass of wine, along with asparagus and a huge ahi tuna steak. I dozed off as early as possible - Im guessing it was about 8pm.
I'm always up with a 3:01am alarm on race morning. No different on June 11th. I went downstairs and had some cereal, and some rice leftover from the night before. I have been eating almost all solid foods before IM races and it's been working. My goal is always to get in 1500kcals total before the event starts. So... from 3 to about 6am, I try to eat a lot.
One of the perks of racing pro at the Boulder Ironman is that I got to drive directly to the Res with my wife instead of taking the shuttle all the way from Boulder High School. We can also bring our bikes the morning of, so that we don't have the stress of prepping it the day before, then leaving it there over night.
Getting to the Res in the morning, we had the discouraging news that the water temp was 69.5 (or close to that) degrees and that it would be a wetsuit legal swim. Even though I am in the best wetsuit on the planet - the Roka Maverick X - I still hate wetsuit swims. I panic, feel claustrophobic, and overheat WAY too easily.
The water felt pleasant during the warmup, but quickly faded after the canon went off. I was swimming well and with the second pack for what I would guess was a quarter of the swim, but I started to overheat right about then. I was putting myself into debt, and was cooking inside of that suit. I was absolutely miserable for well over half of the time in the water.
I lost feet for the whole second half of the race after losing contact with fellow pro Robbie Wade. It was a lonely swim back to transition and made worse by having to grab and pull open the neck of my suit every 20-30 strokes to let in some cooler water. I am at a loss of what to do with wetsuit legal swims. Do I wear a speed suit with some neoprene shorts over it? TBD... I just hope that Mirror Lake is over 71.5F in three weeks.
I exited in a very, very disappointing 58 minutes hot as can be, with a very high heart rate.
The bike was uneventful and I'm thankful for that. After taking a good hour to recover from the swim, I settled into a rhythm. It took at least that long to recover due to high heart rate, disappointment, and being overheated.
Ironman bike segments have become a "put my head down and go until I get to run a marathon" thing for me. I had no rides longer than two hours in between Ironman Texas and Boulder. My trust in my bike training is in its consistency - RIDE EVERY SINGLE DAY - Period. I believe that it's more about being on a bike 1 to 1.5 hours every day that can make a rider strong. It's the overall body of work that is put in over the week that counts. Oh, and I also hate doing long rides in training. I know that I'm leaving some on the table by doing this, but I'm still evolving as an athlete and will be incorporating more long sessions over the next years in this sport.
Anyways, I biked hard and just tried to keep consistent power. After 4:40:07 I was done with the 114 mile ride around Boulder County. It was two miles long with the new course this year.
The run of IM Boulder is the hardest (of all I have done) in North America - This is counting the run in Kona. The constant elevation changes and NON STOP twists and turns add up to burn an already fatigued athlete who has swum for an hour and biked for four and a half. It's also 99 percent on concrete. These issues create a run that does not allow you to find ANY sense of rhythm during the marathon, and for someone like me, it sucks. I depend on rhythm and predictability.
As an athlete, I am best on flat courses because I can turn my mind off and just go. This does not exist in Boulder.
For the first 6 - 8 miles, I was holding 6:45's to 6:55's (per mile) easily, then at the turnaround on east Pearl St, I slowed to 7 - 7:10's per mile. It was damage control and about minimizing my losses from there on out. The last 15 miles were tough, but I relied on my 15 previous Ironman finishes to bring me to the line. There were times going through underpasses and making turns where I felt I might fall down or trip during the last part of the race. My coordination was completely shot. I simply focused on one foot in front of the other and on taking in nutrition - Red Bull at every aid station.
After a 3:13 marathon on the Boulder Creek Path, I was done with this race. Total time was 8:58:45. My fifth time under nine hours at this distance on a long course at altitude. I finished top ten and made a little money. It was a fine day.
It meant the world to me that I was actually able to start this race. To finish with a semi-respectable result was just an added bonus.
On to the next one!