Monday, June 11, 2012

Ironman 70.3 Boise Race Report

What do you get when you combine high winds + rain + cold air temps on race day? The Boise Aquathon! Don’t let the title of the report deceive you into thinking this was an actual 70.3, in reality it ended up being a 29.3 with the wackiest distance combination I have ever experienced. For me to even call it a triathlon is a stretch and I think it is better described as an endurance Aquathon with a 15 mile bike transition.

Everyone that lives in Boise knows that early June is still part of a transitional period for the seasons where you can have just about any weather, any given day. Hot, dry weather one day and cold, wet weather the next day.  This last week is case in point. Monday temperatures are in the low 90s following a week in the mid-80s. Monday night a major wind storm blows through, dropping everything in sight including the temperature by 30 degrees in only an hour. During the week, temperatures rebound slightly only to see the 5-day forecast projecting a windy, cold and wet race day.  Why couldn’t Mother Nature hold off one more day? I’m cold-blooded, I don’t race well in the cold. The only crappy weekend the entire month…Ironman weekend…it never fails.

I’m starting to wonder if maybe I’m cursed this season. Oceanside was cold, foggy and wet. St. George was a freak dust storm with dangerous winds and now Boise with wind, rain and crazy cold temperatures that were actually in the mid-30s when you factor in the wind chill. Maybe it’s not just this season. Last year at the ITU Long Distance World Championships in Las Vegas they had a rain storm that came through the night before and dropped temperatures that were in the mid-30s with the wind chill…the only difference, ITU cancelled the swim due to the risk for hypothermia. This weekend, WTC opted to keep the swim, full distance, cut the bike from 56 to 15 miles, and keep the run, full distance. I understand that the Race Directors don’t have any control over the weather but I’m not quite grasping the rationale behind the decision of what to keep and what to drop. I was half expecting them to next announce that the swim would not be wetsuit legal. Whatever their decision they were going to have some people upset.

Here's how things added up for me. First I have to throw out the disclaimer that I’m dyslexic so if things don’t add up in your mind, don’t worry about it, they make perfect sense in mine and by time you figure it out I’ll have already moved on.

35.74 + 0.6215T – 35.75(V0.16) + 0.4275T(V0.16) = Wind Chill (°F) calculation or you can simply tell with your appendages that are only verified to still being attached through visual verification because all sensory processing tells you they fell off before the first buoy. Don’t believe the reports that the water temp was 58 degrees because I swam at Lucky Peak the Monday before the race when it WAS 58 degrees. There’s no way it maintained its temperature with high winds and rain we had on Tuesday and then on race morning. Combine the air temp with the wind speeds and the temp at the start of the swim was in the mid-30s. Getting into the water for the swim start actually felt temperate for a half second but only because the water temp was warmer than the air temp. Once the cold water went through the zipper on my TYR Freak of Nature it took my breath away. It actually felt like someone pour a bucket of shaved ice down the back of my wetsuit. My hands and feet were already numb from setting up T1 in the cold wind and rain so I knew as soon as I stepped into the water that swimming 1.2 miles under these conditions was going to be the biggest mental challenge of the day. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t praying for the swim to be cancelled. Not because I don’t feel I’m the strongest swimmer in the field but I knew getting into water this cold then riding in rainy and cold temperatures in wet clothes would never allow my body to warm up.

34:12 + 2:43 = the total time I endured the freezing temperatures and transitioned onto my bike. After being in the cold water that long I think I’m all trained up for the Polar Bear Plunge for next New Year’s Day fund raiser. My hands and body were shaking so bad I could hardly get dressed. I’m sure whoever I beat out of the water easily beat me out of transition while I struggled to change my gear. I couldn’t feel my hands at all so I had to have one of the other Pro gals help me zip my coat. I’m not sure who she was, but thanks. In hindsight I should have followed Men’s Co-champion Matty Reed’s lead and wore my wetsuit on the bike and then transitioned out of it at T2.

56 – 41 = BORING! Can also be referred to as the total distance for the swim-to-run transition. I still can’t bring myself to calling it a 15 mile bike leg because it was almost entirely downhill and there wasn’t enough of it to separate out the field. That’s like a sprint distance bike leg. I just can’t understand why they would eliminate 60% of the race just because they were worried about people getting cold. If you don’t want them to get cold, don’t make them get in the water in the first place. I admit I rely on the bike to help gain some of the time I lost on the swim…as do many others. I simply didn’t have enough of a bike during this race to make a difference and the time I did spend on the bike was a complete waste of energy as my body shivered to try to warm itself. The day after the race my neck and stomach hurt from clinching my jaw and stomach muscles while I quivered. There really isn’t much to report on the bike other than I froze even more with the quick decent down from the dam and didn’t move up any places from where I came out on the swim.

13.1 = the only part of the whole race that I felt was worth the time I spent out on the course. I couldn't feel my feet until I made it to mile 5 on the run, the sun was out and I could finally thaw. It wasn’t the run of my life but I felt solid through most of it. I was a little sore from crashing on my bike on Monday but it was nothing like Chrissie’s crash before World’s last year so it’s not even worth elaborating on. It wasn’t a very good gauge of how my training is going this season since there wasn't a long bike but it was good to know I had more in the tank and to see how it compared to the other girls under these conditions. In the end, I crossed the line in a disappointing 12th place.

Next up…IM CDA. There's no time or need to make any adjustments to my race plan. I'm just hoping they have better weather than I've raced in all season. There is a new bike course this year that I haven’t had time to preview but I’ll be sure to bike the new sections of the course to make sure I know what to expect. I really liked the old course because it was very technical with a good mix of hills and flats. Anyone planning to race should expect bad weather since I’m racing. I seem to have that affect on the weather this year. However, my cheer crew has decided to make the trip with me since this is likely the closest race they will be able to watch this year. I always seem to race better when my kids are cheering for me along the course.