Sunday, June 12, 2011

Ironman 70.3 Boise

The Boise 70.3 was one of my “A” races for the 2011 season and I really wanted to make this one of my best races of the season. It’s my home course with my home crowd; I had no reason not to put down a really solid performance. I mean, this was the "plan" until I injured my calf at Wildflower and I was off the run up to 3 weeks before race day. I knew that my origanl goal was out, so I just needed to get myself into a world spot and call it a day. I told myself that once I was in the top two in my age group to shut it down and save it for another race.

Tri racing in early June in Idaho can be a coin toss on whether you’ll have decent weather and whether that weather will last more than a couple of hours. The weeks leading up to the race have been cool and wet with daytime highs hitting 70 degrees only a couple of times. The Army Corps of Engineers has been dumping water out of Lucky Peak dam all spring because we’ve been receiving so much rain and above average snow pack meant they needed to make room. I was really surprised to see how low the water level was at the reservoir and immediately began to wonder how they were going to hold the swim at the Barkley Bay boat ramp since the water was still ~20 feet below the bottom of the ramp. I had been swimming in some of the ponds in town that warm up a lot faster and I knew I needed to get into the water to get my body accustomed to the cold, if that’s possible. The week before I went to Lucky Peak to swim a couple of times and the water temp was a bone chilling 53 degrees. I was keeping my swim time to only ~20 minutes to make sure I didn’t get so cold I couldn’t get warmed up. A couple days before race day, a cold front moved in and we received some more rain and daytime highs were kept into the mid-60s but the forecast for the end of the week was nice with temps in the mid-70s. I was secretly hoping for a little warmer weather so the water would warm up some more and even if the water was still really cold then the air temp would help warm you on the bike…but, it wasn’t going to happen. In my opinion, this race is held a week or two too early. Ironman Coeur d’Alene is actually just about perfect timing for our climate and elevation.

Race morning I found myself alone because Jeremy “The Saint” was up early with the kids headed to Tayllor’s All-star softball team tournament and they had to be to the fields by 7am. It was nice having a quiet house to compile my thoughts, make sure everything was accounted for and focus on just me. It was kind of sad though knowing that my support crew was not going to be somewhere out there cheering me on. I had my race plan and was going to experiment again with my bike because I got a new Bontrager Aeolus 9.0 rear wheel with a power tap a couple of weeks ago. I had started to collect some data and I hoped to apply to this race. I have never trained or raced with a power tap other than a couple of rides over the past couple of years on a CompuTrainer with the Boise Aeros at Rob’s House of Pain, but nothing for over a year. The power tap is in my hub so I don’t have anything on my training wheels so the data I collected was pretty limited but I thought it would at least help me maintain my effort so I could have fresher legs for the run. With limited run time over the last couple of weeks I knew I would need them as fresh as I can get to have a shot.  Unfortunately I was only able to collect a minimal amount of data which was convoluted with stops and starts at intersections. Still, I was confident I would maintain a predetermined watt but then settled on a lower number to save the legs for the run. This would prove to be a big mistake, I have told my athlete's a thousands times, your stregth is still your strength even on your worst day. In hind sight I should have thrown down the hammer and never looked back. It killed my competive spririt to merely ride in my "safe" zone. I love to ride right on the edge. I should have rode my self into first and let them chase me, some call it "smart" racing.

It was a beautiful day for racing with almost no wind and overcast skies; bummer no wind that is our only equalizer on this flat course.  The forecast for the day was a high in the mid-70s, mostly cloudy skies and a chance for a late day thunderstorm; now if only that water somehow warmed to about 60 degrees. I really wanted the wind, I feel like the Boise course is so flat and the "hills" that we have are not really hills either. They are far apart and you can fully recover between them. Not a challenging course which caters to more but is sad to me. We live in a really dynamic area with beutiful riding, but instead the course takes you through the industial park,  a trailer park, gravel pits, oh and don't forget the beautiful sage brush fields...boring.

The plan was to head to downtown early to drop of my T2 bag and then meet up with my fellow TYR teammate Jared Preston up from Utah and ride up to the reservoir with him and his friend Adam since they were charging $8 for everyone that wanted to ride the shuttle bus, including the athletes…really? That can’t be included in the $250 entry fee? J’s driving technique mirrors that of Mario Andretti and we made it up to the base of the dam in record time to find out that this year they were charging $5 for parking…are you kidding me? Next thing you’re going to tell me that they were going to charge people to use the transition areas or stand on the awards podium. Stop nickel and dime’ing me to death and make this an experience I want to come back for, not one I have to take out a personal loan to compete in.

At T1 I had plenty of time to burn, especially since my swim wave wasn’t scheduled to start until 12:33; have I ever mentioned how much I’ve started to dislike the swim wave race starts? I always feel like I get bogged down with slower traffic until the 2nd half of the bike. The swim was going to be beautiful with calm winds, sunny skies and a brain freezing water temp of only 53 degrees . I needed to complete the swim in under 30 minutes to stay competitive out of the water but with swim wave race starts I knew I was going to have to add a couple of minutes to my time as I worked my way through slower traffic plus the colder water was going to start taking some kind of a toll on my pace the longer I was in it. Little did I know that half way through the swim my arms and legs were going to feel like lead weights, if it’s even right to say “feel like” because I couldn’t feel any portion of my body that was exposed to the water. I was using the TYR polypropylene swim cap to help with the brain freeze effect and it worked awesome and is so nice because it doesn’t have that bothersome chin strap like other vendor's designs and it will not "float" your head and change your swim position. Swim time was a lumbering 32:53 and then to top it off I couldn't feel anything with my hands in the transition area to get wet stuff off and cycling stuff on...nearly 4 minutes in transition...arrrggghhh. 

The bike is always my favorite part of the entire race and today was to be no exception. The only caveat was that I was had to stay at my pre-determine wattage so I could save myself for the run. I was rolling on my Bontrager Aeolus wheel set, 6.5 on the front and my new 9.0 on the back. The beginning of the bike course takes you across the dam and then down a nice long hill that you can get going pretty fast but the wind chills you since you are still wet from the swim. I’m not sure how aerodynamic goose bumps are but I’m pretty sure mine were so big they were creating a lot of wind drag. I had ridden the course a couple of times this spring as part of general training and had been able to complete it in under 2:45 including stopping at intersections for traffic so I knew I should be able to ride at about a 2:30 if I didn’t push too hard and didn’t get any flats. You know I’m notorious for finding something to flat on when riding. I rode well and felt good the first half of the bike as I worked my way through the slower part of traffic that were in swim waves before me. As I made my first climb up the hill towards Micron Technology I saw two little boys with short hair along the side of the road that looked a lot like mine. I wasn't expecting any race support because Jeremy and the kids were at Tayllor's softball tournament out of town. Sure enough, as I got closer, I recognized them as my Hunter and Porter cheering as loud as they could and ringing their cow bells, love me some cowbell. What a great surprise and motivating for me to make them proud. It's amazing how much excitment that brings each race. I love having my family there.  In general, the bike was solid, not as fast as I knew I could go but I was trying to stay at the specific wattage so I could have a solid run. I finished with a 2:32:45 which was a little slower than I wanted but I would take it for now...if it meant I would have a faster run. I later found out that it was the fastest bike split for the amateur women but still about 5-8 minutes back from most of the Pro women. I wish I had a full disc for this course because it’s so flat and I could shave a couple of precious minutes off my bike. Only the Pros are riding on Bontrager’s prototype disc wheels so maybe next year they’ll have something available for the general public.

The run is a pancake flat cruise along the Boise river and is a nice course, if you're not allergic to cottonwood trees. My goal for the run was to maintain an sub 7:00 mile and finish just under 1:30. As I left for the run, I felt really good. My nutrition had been right on for the bike and I was confident I could maintain it through the run since I was going to carry everything I would need on my Fuelbelt, I just don't race well on the nutrition they provide on the race course. The only thing I was nervous about was my run fitness and my calf that I had injured during Wildflower. I had been going through physical therapy with Dr. Dave at Physio Therapy for the last 6 weeks but had only been back to running for the last 3 weeks. I felt good during my runs but had to keep them short so as not to prolong the recovery so my longest, non-stop run prior to race day was only 8 miles with one 11 miler broken with walk breaks; I was just wondering when the wheels would fall off.  I did a good job of going out steady and just settling in. I was sticking to the plan, a first for me.  As I went past mile 3 I saw my husband and he informed me that according to the Athlete Tracker I was currently in 3 place for the overall amateur women but was about 6 minutes back from 1st. "Keep in mind" he said, "it isn't alway accurate because they initially listed the lead women out of the water in 17 minutes." With the wave start, it was hard for him to tell for sure where I was and it became even more difficult on the 2nd lap with everyone else that had come in from the bike and were starting their run. Everything was going well and on pace until just after mile 9 and then my body began to fatigue, and fast. I just needed to keep putting one foot in front of the other, maintain my pace and hope that the girls in front of me were going to start dropping off their pace so I could pull in front. It was awesome running through the Boise Aeros crowd cheering everyone on because that gave me that last bit of energy I needed to finish strong. My run was just off my target pace with a 1:36:58 or a 7:24/mi. My last 4 miles where not painful, just not fast. I pushed for more and they would not respond. I knew I had out run my base. So I decided to just maintain and not let anyone pass. I was happy to see the run splits for the fitness I had for that day.

Final time was a PR 4:47:58 and good enough for 2nd in my AG and 3rd OA; enough to qualify for Worlds. I took my slot and will spend the next 3 months training in the heat of the day cause I know it's going to be killer hot in Vegas in September. I'm excited for the race because it will be a similar course to what I will race on in November for the ITU Long Course Worlds in November so this will be a good practice run.

Up next is Pacific Crest in Sun River, Oregon (just south of Bend). I'm going over with my good friends Dave & Gina Green and am going to race the long course on Saturday with Gina and then the olympic distance course on Sunday with Dave. I really like Pacific Crest. I've raced there once before a couple of years ago on one of my "off IM" seasons and would probably race it more often if it wasn't on the same weekend as IM CDA. I love the bike course which takes you on a long grind up and over Mt. Bachelor and then a nice gradual decent back into town. I just wish for a hilly run...Iguess they can't all be Wildflower courses. Anyways, if I don't see you there, look for me July 10 in Portland at the Rev 3 race.

As always, I can't sign off without giving a shout out to those who are behind the scenes making all of this possible. First of all, the "Saint" and my kids for putting up with me through another taper. None of this would be possible without their unwavering support. Of course to Trek and their awesome line of Speed Concept TT bikes that get me to T2 faster than the gal I just passed and the dude I just chicked. My swim would be much longer and a less pleasurable experience without TYR and their Hurricane wetsuit and their new Orion swim goggles, if you haven't tried them yet, quit procrasting, you'll wish you went with them sooner. Those goggles are awesome! Not to mention their new line of Carbon race gear, it's the most confortable race kit I've worn; and I've worn a few. To the local guys, John and Crew at George's Cycles on Fairview who keep my Speed Concept 9.9 in top running order; Dr. Dave at Physio Therapy and Dr. Jim at Boise Valley Chiro who help put Humpty Dumpty back together every week. And last but not least, K-Swiss and CEP Compression who are both giving me a shot this year to see what I'm made of. See my earlier post on the CEP Clone, I'll have a follow-up post as soon as my Clone arrives.

Marty and Nicol, two of my IM CDA athletes

My buddy J and his friend Adam from Utah