Race Report: Ironman 70.3 Boise (First IM AG win!)

Blue turf and triathlons!!!

Blue turf and triathlons!!!

If Wildflower was the triathlon Woodstock – 8 dudes in some RVs, racing, drinking and eating a lot of meat – Boise was a business trip:get in, get out. Knowing that I wanted to do one more solid, competitive long course triathlon before Ironman Tahoe in September, this was the closest, most schedule-friendly and financially feasible race there was.

So off I went, solo to Boise Idaho for less than 48 hours to race a half Ironman. The outcome: taking my first age group win at an Ironman 70.3 race and discovering haloumi cheese (ohmafreakingod).

Flying solo

Racing solo presented its unique set of wrinkles to race weekend. I checked into my no-frills motel, similar to the meth hotel from Breaking Bad, a mile from the finish line and took the same taxi from the airport to registration. I realized I was in trouble when I saw the tri-bike transport tent at the expo.Which meant my bike was brought not to the bike start, but to the finish line. Which meant I had to get my bike to the bike start. Which meant that, after making some calls and realizing there was no option for bringing it there, I was going to have to ride it 10 miles uphill to the bike start.

So after riding my bike back to the motel on bike paths to get my helmet, riding it said 10 miles uphill to the bike start, convincing the iron-willed organizer to let my bike in without my (forgotten) stickers, and hitching a ride home with a tattooed guy in a kilt and a neon green drop top Wrangler – I was set!

I stayed positive, viewed the 10 miler as my warm up for the day, got to meet a cool guy named Clint in a kilt who would become my buddy and drive me to the race the next morning. All was good – but it sure took some effort.  

Race morning

This edition of race morning is about 6 hours longer than usual. Boise is a unique race in that race start is at noon (my wave at 1:00) as opposed to the usual 7:00ish. Going in, I wasn’t sure how to feel about this. Sure, it’s more civil, but there’s more time idling around, finding shade, wondering if you should be eating or not, sitting or warming up… I think ultimately the later race start was nice, but my wave was last and went off at 1:00pm, way too late, and that 10:00am would have been great.

Race day song

Boise, Brazil, close enough.

The Swim

Boise waterAs the last wave of the day on a single loop course, I knew we were going to have to mow through some traffic. Luckily, the lake was crystal clear so keeping on the right people in sight was easier. The goal was to come out of the water in a competitive position, but, I wanted to be careful not to overexert. The altitude of Boise is not Tahoe-eque, but at ~3K ft., it ain’t nothin’. I paced and managed through traffic to come out in 6th position.

SWIM DETAILS | Division Rank: 6

Split Name Distance Split Time Race Time Pace Division Rank Gender Rank Overall Rank
Total 1.2 mi 00:33:00 00:33:00 01:42/100m 6 71 88

The Bike

I headed out onto the bike in the company of plenty of guys from my age group. Similar to the swim, a late start meant a lot of traffic to work though. The course started with a long downhill and some flat before a climb and I noticed guys were chippy with this free speed in their wheels.

Holding steady in some bodacious winds

Holding steady in some bodacious winds

However the head and crosswinds were insane. I had to ride the first couple of miles with a hand on the brake to prevent from getting blown over (seen above).

A big goal for Boise was to establish myself as a presence on the bike, something I knew I was capable of but perhaps didn’t have the confidence to do in other races. But I had to be careful in the wind early. When we turned to make the first climb, I targeted the guys who were making noise early and made it clear that they were going to have to ride well to keep up.

Doing my best Jaws impression into the wind

Doing my best Jaws impression into the wind

It was pretty difficult to settle into a groove with such strong winds. Watts jumped all over the board and I didn’t know which numbers were “real,” so a lot of by-feel riding. An out and back at mile 21 provided the biggest test of the day as it was straight into the wind. However the turn around provided the first glimpse at my position against the guys in my age group and it looked pretty good.

About 75% into the bike I noticed a bit of the pep in my step fading. After checking all systems, I arrived at the decision that this was likely because of calories and that perhaps the late start. So I started to take in calories. But by the time I was a couple miles out from the bike, I was really feeling zapped and my stomach was a bit off.

I cruised into T2 trying to reset myself mentally for the run.

BIKE DETAILS | Division Rank: 3

Split Name Distance Split Time Race Time Pace Division Rank Gender Rank Overall Rank
Total 56 mi 02:28:53 03:04:10 22.57 mph 3 42 44

The Run

Within the first 100ft there was something wrong with my shoe insole and I knew I had to stop, take it off and fix it, which was a buzz kill to that “bat-out-of-hell” thing I had going on. About a half a mile into the run I knew that I had bigger problems than shoe insoles to deal with. It felt like there was a vice around my torso. My stomach was really feeling awful – tight and nauseous

stan barfWorse yet I looked down at my watch and it was like I was running backwards. Bad thoughts started to creep into my head and as the miles went on, I began writing my race’s obituary in my mind. As I plodded along at a substandard pace, barely holding back beverages I’d drink at aid stations, I just waited for the first guy of many from my age group to come by me and put me out of my misery.

Except that wasn’t happening.

Either this was a slow day for everyone or they just hadn’t reached me yet. Whatever the case, just before the 5 mile marker I had a major HTFU moment. “Did you fly out to Boise, ID by yourself to get to mile 5 of the run and roll over? Didn’t think so. So let’s get running and stop quitting, you pansy,” is about how it went.

Boise Run_So I started moving with more confidence, hoping this would trick my body into thinking it wasn’t so bad. It kind of worked. And then after awhile, it definitely worked. I saw a guy at the end of loop 1 coming the other way who looked like he was running well and I was able to respond. Another reality check came at mile 10 when I felt like the race should be over, knowing I still had 5K to go.

“Just 5K to go,” I thought. A mile later, “OMG…2 miles to go???” The roller coaster continued.

Until I saw a strong swim/biker from our group that was approaching a turn around. I knew he was doing well in the race and was encouraged to see him. I came up behind him and gathered myself before making a hard pass that would lead into an elongated kick to the finish.

Boise Run chute_As I was approaching the finish line, it was great to see the support in the city of Boise present in the downtown finish. Music was playing and the crowd was great. I looked behind me and saw I was in the clear and coasted down the chute.

RUN DETAILS | Division Rank: 1

Split Name Distance Split Time Race Time Pace Division Rank Gender Rank Overall Rank
Total 13.1 mi 01:26:54 04:32:44 06:38/mi 1 29 31

First Ironman event AG Win

I didn’t know that I had won my age group until getting a massage, eating soup to warm up, grabbing my morning clothes bag and checking my phone. Seeing all of the congratulatory texts, tweets and emails was a really cool way to find out. I had a feeling maybe I did, but given the slower pace of the run, wasn’t sure.

This was definitely a milestone in my days as a triathlete. First of all because I hadn’t won my age group and an official Ironman event, where the competition is usually a bit steeper, but that I did it on the bike instead of dropping the fastest run split (I did not this time).

Stare into the sun and show everyone how happy you are to have a trophy!

Stare into the sun and show everyone how happy you are to have a trophy!

Takeaways 

Swim: I was happy to come out in a position that would set me up to capitalize on my strengths. I averaged 1:42/100m which was decent, but as always, I need to be better.

Bike: I proved that I could ride harder and sacrifice some run performance and still net out OK. I feel good about how I handled the wind, but the energy zap toward the end was concerning.

Nutrition: On that energy zap…I believe I was dehydrated. At 3K feet, wind blowing so false sense of not sweating, late in the day start – all of these likely played a role. My response, however, was to take in more calories. This was a double whammy as I was dehydrated and my blood was going to my stomach to digest calories, and not my legs. So my theory is that I under drank and over ate.

Run: I worked with what I had on the run and executed a total mind over matter game. It played out OK, but I need to be mentally tough the whole race, not during the Haily Mary pass.

Boise: is awesome! It was a great race and I think I can definitely say it was the nicest town of people I’ve ever come across. If it works in my schedule next year, I will be back.

Thank yous

Thank you to my family, friends and of course Ali for the support. Michael and the M2 Revolution gang for helping me race the best I can. Fitbit for being supportive of my racing. GU Energy for the race entry and the buffet of nutrition options – I may have over eaten, but ultimately repped the best I could!

Next up, Ironman Tahoe. At mile 10 of the run when I wanted the race to be over, I wondered how in the heck I was going to do a full Ironman. I’ll let you guys know when I figure it out.

Cheers!

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