I came into this race the fittest I've ever been. I posted my highest watts and fastest run in Racine 70.3 two weeks leading up to the Boulder Ironman. The week before the race I was able to get my heart rate up proving I was fully recovered from the half. I got my weight down to my ideal race weight just days before and I took two months off drinking in preparation. I was pumped to have a break through day in my home town.
After racing 5 Ironman's last year I felt I had the distance dialed in and came into Boulder over confident. I didn't have expectations to win, my goal was to place top 3. My confidence was in the hydration, nutrition and pacing aspect. I got lazy and did not properly hydrate or load my glycogen stores the days leading up to the race.
My day started with a relaxed wait for the swim start. The majority of the field were local friends so we chatted until the start gun shot.
As we started I broke free of the field on the left and Laura on the right.
We met together and I quickly hopped on her feet and Kerri on mine. Laura led us off course inside the 2nd
buoy, I followed hoping I could stay with her. Soon enough she surged and dropped us. I was now in charge of pulling Kerri, which I did around the entire reservoir. I maintained a consistent pace without wasting too much energy. We passed 3 pro men who began 3 minutes ahead. As we exited, Kerri tried to surge around me to exit first and we ended up running out together. I wasn't too worried and ran through transition in control knowing we had a long day ahead. She made a few small mistakes and I wound up leaving transition slightly in front but 1 minute behind Laura. I swam my standard 55 minute IM time, but posting this time at altitude and pulling the whole way was an improvement for me.
Kerri caught and passed as we exited the reservoir entrance. I settled into my pace, sticking to my race plan. As I did I noticed my target watts weren't coming to me as easily as usual. Typically I have to hold way back the first hour of the ride to keep from over biking. My glutes felt stiff; they weren't firing. I've never felt this bad so early on in any Ironman. I feared this could be a very long day but I pushed those thoughts aside and concentrated on riding smooth and steady. At the St. Vrain turn around just 10 miles in I was able to spot the field. Kerri had already caught and passed Laura, both were putting time on me. I rode on slow and steady by myself for miles and miles, still unable to hit my watts. I finally decided to stop checking my average and go by feel, to work with what I had on the day.
Around 50 miles in my coach, Curt came by. I shared how I was feeling and wished him well on his day. At special needs I had to slow way down as a volunteer happily ran after me with my bag. A few more familiar local amateur men came by offering words of encouragement. It was great to see so many friends having awesome days. I didn't feel terrible the entire ride I had highs and lows but mostly just felt flat.
Mile 70 came as Uli and Daniel rode up to me with two amateur men and the head race official. I was jealous to see they'd been working together legally and latched on. I rode with them for about 15 minutes as we all changed positions numerous times. The men were dropping into the legal draft zones which made me nervous of penalties. I was struggling to hold their pace so eventually they pulled away and I was left riding alone again.
As I made the turn from highway 52 just past 100 miles I got a second wind and pushed up the three short steep climbs which were lined with fans.
As I made the turn onto 75th
I saw my brother and niece cheering me on which put a smile on my face. I pushed through the last few miles only to be greeted by my husband Owen who caught me around 110 miles. He tried to chat but I urged him on; scared he would receive a penalty for exceeding the 25 seconds allowed to pass. I followed him the last two miles and entered T2 just after him. The run into T2 was long and the ground was hot, I ran slowly trying to keep my heart rate down.
I was now in 6th
place, Owen came up behind me taking slightly longer in transition. I finally urinated for the first time during the race a clear sign I wasn't taking in enough water and was dehydrated. After some words of encouragement Owen ran away from me. I was so happy he was having such a great day.
My legs were feeling stiff and my lower back was tight from the ride but it started to loosen. I waited a few miles hoping to feel better and get into a groove. It was difficult to get my calories down but I choked them in anyhow.
The course made a large Y which we covered twice to make up the marathon. The first out and back I was able to spot the competition. I was surprised to see how badly the pro women's field looked. Kerri was in the lead and walking, and everyone else just looked hot and tired. I put my head down and trudged through hearing cheers from so many spectators encouraging me to catch those ahead. As I hit mile four I saw Kerri lying in a ditch with medical attending to her. This is when I knew we were in for a challenging run and a war of attrition.
At the 2nd
turn around I caught and passed Morgan making my way into 4th
place. I was still choking down my calories and struggled to get enough water through aid stations. Heading down the creek path we entered the shady part of the course which was lined with fans at least 10 deep. They were cheering so loudly it felt like a bike race in Europe, I couldn't help but pick up the pace as I ran through so many familiar faces calling out my name. It was a party atmosphere; many tubing down the creek and I desired so badly to join them rather than running the remainder of the race. I was even cheered on by some homeless hippies and it wouldn't be the creek path if it didn't smell like weed.
Running in the shade cooled my core temperature down and I began to feel better and pick up the pace (slightly). As I began loop two fans shared that Uli and Laura were beginning to fade, somehow my slow pace was catching them. Uli put up a good fight for miles, spectators and fellow racers continued to tell me she was walking but each time we crossed paths she was head down running. It took me until mile 22 to finally make the pass which gave me a surge of adrenaline as I entered the tunnel of fans. Everyone likes watching the underdog come from behind, so seeing me come through in 3rd
got even louder cheers. I now had my friend Shelby as my lead biker pulling me in through the final four miles.
At mile 20 I had thrown my last bottle away only half consumed, not able to hold anymore down. At mile 24 I felt the missing calories. I had nothing left in the tank. At this point I'd run out of course to catch Laura, Morgan and Uli were too far behind to catch me back so all I had to do was run it in. I ran those last two miles at a snails pace but finally made it there. I collapsed over the line and was so happy to see Owen's smiling face after finally standing up.
Overall I'm happy with placing third, and achieving my goal. It was a tough day out there which was made apparent by so many going down on the run course. I don't believe a single amateur man passed me on the run. Meanwhile I ran the slowest marathon of my career after biking my lowest average watts in over a year (11% lower than races last year). I haven't been able to pin point exactly what I did wrong, my only estimation is hydration and nutrition leading up to the race left me starting depleted rather than loaded. This was a painful reminder to always respect the distance no matter who you are and how much experience you have it's always a difficult and challenging race. Anything can happen out there which is why we all love it and crave the ability to master it. I already have Ironman amnesia because I'm planning my next chance to prove I have a better performance in me.
Huge congrats go to Owen, having the race of his life out there taking 2nd
overall amateur only behind my coach Curt Chesney killing the field with his sub 9 performance.
Massive props to Danielle Kehoe and Justin Daerr for taking the wins, they were in a class of their own destroying the men's and women's pro fields. Teammates Richie Cunningham for 2nd
pro male, Wendy Mader for 1st
amateur female and Luis Alveraz for his 109th
Ironman finish. Training partner Amy Becker for taking 2nd
amateur female in her 1st
Ironman. You are all amazing, enjoy your recovery.