Ironman Boulder 2016
Last week, Traci and I went to two Eric Church concerts at Red Rocks. He has become a favorite of mine lately primarily because I feel like I relate to his songwriting and the appeal of him generally being a badass. Why is this of any importance in a triathlon race report? Good question. Here is an artist who has gained significant popularity over the last few years and comes to Red Rocks, a hallowed ground for many. He comes and doesn’t do any fancy light shows and loud music – he performs two nights of generally intimate acoustic sets and gets away with it. He has reached a point in his career where he can do whatever the F he wants to…and fans eat it up.
To an extent I feel like I’ve reached that point in my triathlon “career.” Pardon the chest thumping, but I’ve been able reach my AG podium at Kona twice and won an AG world championship last year in Chicago in the sprint distance. I don’t race to please others; I do it for myself…and the decisions I make can be unorthodox. People can give me heat for the choices I make, but it’s not like I haven’t put any thought behind them. If you disagree with my equipment choices and race strategy, all do respect – but GFY.
Anyway, heading into Boulder I wasn’t sure I was even going to race. The benefit of having a race in your town that isn’t sold out is that you can train, see how things are going and then make a last minute decision on whether or not to race. I didn’t sign up until the Friday (two days) before the race.
Swim: 1:00.43 – my second best IM swim and came out 3rd in AG. Simply stated, I just got in and swam a comfortable pace. I entered the water and took a slightly wide course to the right and didn’t have any traffic, which is what I like for an IM swim. I’m not really a fan of the jockeying at the start of these races and appreciate a rolling start. By having a generally solo swim, I was able to pace the way I like: ease into it and build effort slightly during the second half. I was able to execute this strategy really well for this race and made up some good ground during the second half of the swim. Rather than keeping up with those around me, I was putting them behind me…and catching groups in front of me. This had to have been the easiest of my 11 IM swims, and to have my second fastest time, well – I was just tickled coming out of the water at 1:00 and change.
T1: Strapped on a 2.5L Osprey hydration pack <gasp>!
Bike: 4:41.35 on 215AP/225NP. I had been training with a hydration pack, so I figured why not race with it? Yeah, I knew I was giving up some time by wearing it, but honestly I didn’t care. I would rather come off the bike feeling good about my hydration and nutrition for the first ~6 hours of the day rather than getting into T2 with the fastest time I could and potentially be at a nutritional deficit. Could I have finagled my hydration and nutrition approach a little differently? Sure, but I simply didn’t feel like it – this wasn’t really an “A” race, considering that I had only signed up on Friday. I was approaching it more like a long training day and just seeing what the results had in store for me. I also didn’t ride with any sort of expectation of power or goals. I simply went out and rode 99% by feel. I had my Garmin positioned on my stem and couldn’t even see it unless I was sitting up or cornering. The only time I was paying attention to power was on climbs, just trying to keep the effort in check without spiking too high. I felt real good about my effort…the second half of my ride ended up being ~1% lower then than the first half from a power perspective. Not bad when you’re going by feel, IMO.
T2: Came off the bike in 5th place overall. Not bad, and my legs felt really solid jogging through T2. Felt great. Strapped on 1.5L Osprey hydration pack. WTF…TWO hydration packs for this guy?!
Run: 3:16.07. Second fastest run on the day, but one of my worst runs of all my IMs (narrowed this down to a poor fit adjustment after switching to a mid-foot cleat position on the bike because of an angry Achilles). I actually had good energy throughout the run but didn’t have any pop. I just tried to stay steady by walking all aid stations, getting ice, taking in some of my self-supported calories/hydration. I just played tortoise and hare for the first 16 miles. It was at this point when I felt like I could move up to possibly 3rd overall, after having been in 5th overall through the run up to this point. I just kept plugging along and had a pretty good idea that the two guys that were within reach in front of me were exactly that – within reach. All I had to do was keep on keeping on with what I was doing; walking aid stations, playing it smart, keeping HR under control and getting fluid/calories in every mile. Approaching the last turnaround, a little less than 2 miles from the finish, the other guys in front of me weren’t there…so I knew I was getting closer and closer with every step. It wasn’t until I was about 30 seconds from the turnaround where I came upon the third place guy and yelled “you better go!” – meaning I was going to catch him unless he turned on the gas. This must have lit a little fire under him b/c I never caught him. But I came upon and passed the 4th place dude pretty easily and put a couple minutes on him over the last mile or so. I came to the finish in 4th place OA and 1st in M40-44AG and was greeted by my wife and boys – greatest feeling ever to see them right before crossing the line in 9:05.30.
So what was so unorthodox about my race/training?
*Hydration packs on both bike/run.
*Riding and running by feel, rather than by numbers.
*Walking all aid stations.
*Just being relaxed all day long, not forcing the issue at any point until the last 10K of the run.
*Longest training ride: 3-1/2hrs.
*Longest training run: 2hrs.
*Switching from round to Q-Rings. Knees feel MUCH better after long rides.
*Switching from standard cleat position to mid-foot. Achilles was acting up, and this has helped out BIG TIME. (All other things being equal, just make sure you lower your saddle the right amount!)
All in all, a successful day of racing – some lessons learned, both good and bad, that I can apply to future training and racing; always in search of that perfect race!