Theresa, Danny (our Corgi, of course) spent the weekend before last in Boise for the 2009 Ironman Boise 70.3. A “70.3” is the WTC branded name for a half-Ironman, so it’s a 1.2 mile swim, a 56 mile bike, and a 13.1 run. I’ll have a separate post on the trip itself.
So, straight to the results: 5:46:47, 575/1186 overall, 90/170 in M40-44
- Swim: 46:21, 712th place overall, 105/170 age group
- Bike: 3:01:02, 547th place overall, 84/170 age group
- Run: 2:00:21, 565th place overall, 90/170 age group
I’m very pleased with those results. I had “no excuses needed” race in all three events, and despite stormy weather on the bike I delivered my best bike performance ever in a race.
The race has a 2pm start with my wave at 2:50. I had breakfast (coffee, eggs, toast) at the Residence Inn, then we (Theresa, our Corgi Danny, and me) headed over to BoDo to hang my T2 bag on the rack and wait for the bus to take me to the Lucky Point Reservoir swim start. I had the 11:15 bus ticket but had I known it was a 2:50 wave I would have done the 12:30 bus.
The bus ride was uneventful, just athletes chatting about the route and the potential for rain. At the swim venue I setup my bag on the rack at T1, setup my bottles, added the powermeter, that sort of thing. Hours to kill now. I used some of the extra time to practice the swim to bike transition, fiddling with helmet placement, practicing getting my aero helmet on quickly without folding my ears backwards, and the like.
I did see my friend Jill B., and she was very worried because her Garmin 305 was dead and her entire race plan was HR based. No Garmin == no HR == no race plan. I convinced her to take mine; I was using my Garmin for fun because my bike plan was watts based and my run plan was RPE based.
I was hoping this bit of good sportsmanship would give me positive karma for the day...
By the time my 2nd-of-2 M40-44 wave started at 2:50pm, the wind had significantly increased. The outbound leg of the swim was going to be straight into it, and there were occasional whitecaps on the lake . I had never swam in those conditions before, but I was not unduly concerned.
We had about 4 minutes in the water before the wave started. My choice of booties and neoprene hood worked out; the water was cold but not at all unbearably so. I seeded myself near in the back in the middle, doing some underwater exhales and dunking my head to get used to the water. I had forgotten my silicone putty earplugs, but the hood seemed to be keeping the water out of my ears well enough. Just before the horn sounded I noticed my watch had reset back from Chrono setting to Time, and I lost the first 3 or 4 seconds after the horn to fiddling with my watch. Not at all relevant in the course of the race, but it seemed like an eternity to float there after the gun, not swimming y et.
My swim plan was to push hard, stay focused on form, and stay “in the moment”, not letting my mind wander ahead. You’d be surprised how easy it is to let your mind go off on some tangent until literally you find you swam off on some tangent too, and have to get back on track.
There was a lot of chop, but I was breathing well and not having problems. Sighting and drafting was quite difficult, though. There were only say 85 people in my wave, and we spread out way too far to find people to draft. And the buoy line was quite difficult to see – there just weren’t enough of them. This was vastly different from say Lake Stevens where there was no chop and an underwater guidewire for the buoys that we could all see and follow. So I am sure I added 50 yards or more zigzagging the outbound leg.
After the first turn the wind was now at my side, and more water blasted over my head with every breath. I surprised myself by not really having any troubles breathing through all the water streaming over me. I could sight better, and I managed to find someone to draft a bit. Same for the second turn, and now the wind was behind me and it was actually quite easy to breath. By now I was passing some of the slower swimmers in the previous waves, and also being passed by the wave behind me – the different color swim caps made that easy to tell. Again, the buoys were too few and far between, and I am certain I added unneeded extra distance and time with zigzagging.
Half way through the last stretch I heard some crying and shouting, and popped up to look. A woman nearby seemed to be having a panic attack and was crying for help. I have to admit my first thoughts were unsympathetic – we must have been less than 200 yards from the finish, and nowhere near the time cutoff, and here she was screaming how she couldn’t finish? A kayaker was on the way, so I went back to my own business of finishing the swim. I hope she calmed down and finished the swim.
I spotted the time clock on the way out of the water (no dizziness, BTW), and was disappointed by a 46 minute swim – it felt faster than that to me.. I’m going to attribute a good part of that to chop and poor sighting adding extra distance.
Results: 46:21, 712th place overall, 105/170 age group. I need to sight better, zigzag less, and understand the course more beforehand rather than plan on relying on buoys.
There was a long run up the boat ramp to the wetsuit strippers, where as usual my calves cramped during wetsuit removal. My helmet and sunglass practice paid off, but I burned time drying me feet, putting on socks and shoes. I sometimes talc my socks but didn't this time. I was using Newton running socks in my bike shoes and they were just too tight for wet feet.
Results: 5:15. Not bad for such a huge transition area.
I rocked the bike course! Seriously, it was my best triathlon bike performance ever. I loved the course, I overcame a few issues, and turned in an 18.6 average despite heavy winds and rain. A lot of people have said they were "hypothermic" on the ride due to wind and rain. I certainly was wet, but never cold.
The bike leg started on a sour note - the first speed bump out on the dam road launched BOTH my fuel bottles (Carbopro / Gatorade mix)! I stopped immediately because there went my nutrition plan. One had popped its top and the other had rolled to the side and a spectator was running it up to me. So OK, now I switch to plan B nutrition – the GU gels I had brought along and on-course Gatorade.
After the dam road exits to the highway, there’s a long downhill followed by a short flat segment, then a long uphill on Gowan Road toward the airport. After that there’s a series of section line roads then back into town. My race plan was to always keep a “2” on the front of my power meter – 200-205 watts on the flats, 220 on the rollers, 260 on the climbs, and soft pedal the downhills at 100 watts or so rather than just coast, all with a ~90 RPM cadence. I had driven the course (except the hill climb to the Birds of Prey center which was only open on race day) and it seemed that it would be a fast, aero-all-the-time course. I was looking forward to it.
The initial downhill then climb was uneventful, but then as the road level “pow!” there was the headwind. And I do mean “pow!” – it hit like a physical thing. “So this is the way it’s going to be today” and just stuck to my wattage plan. After the first turn, we now had a steady crosswind, then the rain started. OK, rain and wind. That’s how it’s going to be. The climb to the Birds of Prey was steeper than I expected but no big deal, and at the aid station I chucked my now-empty fuel bottle. I hated those bottles anyway .. easy to spill, hard to close, narrow necked so hard to fill. Good riddance!
A few miles before Ten Mile Road, as I started up a small roller, my seat suddenly moved, tilting the nose way up. Argggh! This had happened in training, and I thought I had it tight enough. I stopped and adjusted it, but clearly now I had the nose too low. So a mile later I stopped and fixed it again. This still wasn’t quite right, but it was bearable.
I’m generally a slow swimmer and a faster cyclist, and I usually pass people on the bike. This time though I was passing, passing, and passing some more. I was spinning at 90 RPM, wattage in the correct range. Sometimes I had a strong steady headwind, sometimes a strong steady crosswind, sometimes it was peaceful as the tailwind boosted me along, and most of the time the raining moderately to heavily. I had no knee pains or neck pains from being in aero the whole time, and I was really enjoying the ride.
There was one point where I was coming to an left-turn intersection and on the street I was going to turn onto there were several cars, an ambulance on the side, a police car on the other side of the road and a slow moving police motorcycle with his lights on. Well, it didn’t look like I needed to slow down because I couldn’t see anything really going on, so after the turn I hammered it back up to 27 mph and blasted by the motorcycle cop yelling “On your left!” I had a big grin on my face from that, you know it.
A bit later I was on a long downhill approaching Gowan Road, with a heavy crosswind and pouring rain. Normally I would be Mr. Safety First, riding down the hill up on the horns, feathering the brakes. Not today! I hard pedaled my highest gear while down on the aerobars, riding a steady 35mph at 95 rpm.
I kept up the pressure all the way into town. My computer was showing an average of 193 watts and 19mph, which I call fantastic. Of course that doesn’t count getting my bottle or fixing my seat twice, so the official 18.6 average is fine by me. That’s the difference I get from spending three minutes fiddling on the side of the road.
Results: 3:01:02, 547th place overall, 84/170 age group. That’s my best bike placement ever in a half or full Ironman.
Theresa and Danny were waiting at T2 and I spoke excitedly about how well I had just done the bike. Transition was near empty and it was easy to rack my bike. Although I was soaking wet I wasn't cold so I didn't bother with my jacket in my bag, I just swapped my helmet for running hat and bike shoes for my Newton running shoes.
Results: 3:30. I'm surprised by that, it didn't feel that long.
The majority of the run course is a two lap circular course along the Boise River greenbelt south of BoDo, a tree shaded asphalt trail with some bridges to cross. We run out of T2 through a chute lined with spectators, which always gives me a great energy boost as I start the run. I waved to Theresa again, and settled into my “run until it hurts then keep it there” RPE-based race plan. Well, it didn’t take long for it to hurt.
The run was mostly uneventful after an uneven start. Only a mile into the race I started to get a side stitch, so I started my usual “exhale on left footstrike” to ease it which took a few miles. A little bit later I had to stop and fiddle with my shoe; something was either in my sock or shoe or I had a fold or something under my foot and I didn’t want a blister or what. Thirty seconds of shoe off, shoe on and I was running again. Then I chose to visit the porta-potty at mile 4, but since there was no line and it was just off an aid station that was quick. I had to take off my dark sunglasses early since the tree-lined course was actually rather dim, and it was getting into early evening. So for much of the race I was OCD checking my back jersey pocket to make sure they hadn’t dropped out. The course had a lot of deep puddles and sometimes I found myself trying to hopscotch around the larger and/or deeper-looking puddles.
There were many enthusiastic volunteers at the frequent and well stocked aid stations. In fact, they were so enthusiastic I started running through shouting for what I needed early and then shaking my head and chanting “no thanks, running through” the rest of the way. Otherwise I found myself having to dodge some of the volunteers. I was a good customer on the second loop, taking bananas, cola, water, and Gatorade as needed.
I see from race results that I was bit faster on the second loop (1:01:33 and 58:48 for a total of 2:00:21) which fits in with my usual pattern of warming up slowly and speeding up later in the run. I was passing a few people in my age group, especially on the second loop as more people took to walking parts of the course. I ran the entire course, pushing fairly hard. RPE was right at what felt like a good race pace – hard breathing, can’t carry on a conversation but can say phrases. I felt a tiny bit of a nausea coming on after mile 10 so I stopped getting anything at the aid stations and it passed.
The finish line was lined by cheering spectators and I saw Theresa and Danny waiting for me. He was pretty excited to see me; Theresa says he tried to drag her out in the street after me but settled for running her down the sidewalk to the finish. Not bad for a 29 pound Corgi. I sprinted down the chute as I heard them call my name, and finished. 5:56:47 overall time.
Results: 2:00:21, 565th place overall, 90/170 age group. A good solid run.