I raced the Inaugural Boulder Ironman in 2104. I had not raced an Ironman in 3 years and was a little anxious on how the day would unfold. My anxiety stemmed from the fact that I received my Trex Speed Concept 12 days before the race and I got injured, ankle tendonitis, the first day I rode then ran off the bike. I swam as fast as I could, biked steady despite serious back pain since I had not ridden aero all year, and when I ran my ankle did not bother me. I crossed the finish line first in my age group/second amateur. I felt fine, a little nauseas. Then ninety minutes after finishing I was feeling worse. I went to medial and my blood pressure was 60/40. I was sent to the ER after receiving 2 liters of fluid on the med tent cause my blood pressure was still 60/40.
This year with the strength I have gotten riding my Trek for a year, no injuries, my nutrition, hydration dialed in, I was certain to have a strong race and get a Kona slot. My number one goal when I get to the start line of a race is knowing I have done the mental and physical preparation to achieve my performance goal. To focus on what I can control and evaluate the “things” that can happen that I can’t control. I felt 100% mentally and physically prepared so was pretty relaxed race morning. I still did my Plank A Day
IM Boulder 2015 is probably my favorite course. Warm swim with no current. The bike course is within Boulder County, fairly fast, with a couple hills. The marathon has some beautiful areas on the Boulder Creek path. Lots of out and back sections so you are never alone. The community is awesome!
Every Ironman I have done provides an experience, each one unique. I approached this years IM Boulder focused on running strong. I was confident that if I ran within my fitness, I would get a Kona Slot. This was important to me cause I struggled on the run at Legend 100 triathlon and Tri the Boat Half. I am not injured and training had been going great. I attributed my sub par run performance during these June events to nutrition and lack of proper ‘rest’ mainly pre race. I made a conscious effort to not let nutrition or weather get in the way of my fitness and performance in Boulder.
Pre race: I did everything right. Tapered off my training and maintained a high level of calorie and carbohydrate intake as well as hydration a couple weeks out and especially the week leading up to the event. I hit my “key workouts” and was very confident what my power on the bike and pace would be on the run. I would finish under 10:30 in Boulder.
IM Swim: I was thrilled the water temperature was 78 degrees and everyone who was racing to get a top 5 podium or Kona slot could not wear a wetsuit. My swim training was almost non existent this year. This year the plan was controlled pace. I caught a draft behind 3 other guys so the swim felt relatively easy. The downside of not wearing as wetsuit was that I seem to swallow more water then normal. This happened in 2009 Kona IM and caused some major GI issues that caused me to walk the entire marathon that year. Always grateful to be a strong swimmer exiting the water in :57 minutes
Photo credit: Boulder Daily Camera
Bike: As mentioned above I love this course cause it is not very hilly (relative to other Ironmans). My bike nutrition consisted of a powergel, one bottle of Gatorade and a bottle of water, about 200 calories per hour(same plan as in 2008 Ironman). This year I added BASE salt on the bike.
I had my IM power dialed in and decided to scale back cause I wanted to be ensure I would have a strong run. I started ‘trying’ at mile 60 and my body responded perfectly. Like so many other racers, I was intimidated by the few climbs between miles 90-100. When I got to the first set of hills, I had the power to get up them. Then my body seemed to start to fall apart approaching mile 95. Photo taken by Dana from 303triathlon. I was feeling pretty week.
Falling apart meant I was feeling breathless, nauseated, dizzy, and no strength. Thoughts of not finishing the bike entered my mind. I never had breathing issues and even considered not finishing the bike portion of an Ironman. To be safe, I coasted the last 12 miles. Mentally I struggled at this point. “How was I going to run a marathon?” I dismounted and was pleasantly surprised to see a 5:20 bike split, under my 5:30 goal time. I felt like I took it easy on the bike compared to other Ironmans I have raced. This year the marathon was 100% mental game for me before I got off the bike.
T2: Awesome volunteers!!! I am always grateful to dismount the bike with no mechanicals or crashes. I heard of someone crashing at the dismount line due to another racer and another participate got hit by a drunk driver at mile 108. Both survived and finished the race. I am sure many more stories out there.
Run: When I started running I was in 4th place and my legs felt descent, nothing like the glycogen depletion that I felt when I ran in Tri the Boat and Legend. My breathing was under control and I was running 8:30 pace. I knew if I ran a 4 hour marathon I would still break 10:30 and get a slot to Kona. About mile 8, nausea started again and at mile 11 I was walking due to the same breathing issues and nausea I felt on the bike. At that point a paramedic came to chat me me and directed me to the med tent. I thought it a good idea to get my blood pressure checked because last year it was 60/40 when I finished.
I sat down, although they told me to stand, I could not stand anymore. They brought me orange, grapes and chips. At that point I wanted my race to be done. My mind was not into it anymore and I was struggling like I have never struggled before with breathing. I watched my competitors pass by and knew I was not going to get my 4th overall place back, let alone a Kona slot. So what to do. The medics suggested I stop. If I did quit, I could have put the blame on them if I chose too.
I respect the Ironman Distance and part of the deal, what happens during the race, is dependent on that day. When you decide to train and race then you should accept the struggles and disappointments as much as the “wins/accomplishments”. I knew my body and mind were capable of walking and finishing the race. I just needed to change my mindset. About 15 minute later I stood up and started walking.
When I got to the “hot spot” mile 12-13, where most spectators were cheering, I was able to jog , looked at the time and my goal now was to finish under 12 hours. Heck, 11 hours was still a possibility. From miles 13-26.2 I jogged from aid station to aid station and walked while sipping water.
Believe it or not, at mile 18 I had a feeling (and was right) that I was in 5 th place in my age group. I still had a shot at breaking 11 hours so I started to pick up my pace. That lasted for 3 miles, then the nausea/breathing issues came back and I slowed to a walk/jog. Two women in my age group passed me, they were struggling, and we went back and forth, the final 2 miles they passed me and I would not keep up. I finished joyfully 7th in my age group.
It is easy for me to smile while running even though I am struggling cause I am doing what I love. Running, biking, racing, I am very grateful for what my body can do! So many great photos on my facebook wall, thank you!
Thank you to the hundreds of volunteers on the course. Races cannot happen without volunteers. Thank you to my sponsor support, Team Timex and Powerbar. Thank you to Patrick Ray, PRTriWorks for getting my bike race ready. Thank you Tish Moore of the much needed pre race massage. Then you to my husband Don who supports me 100% every day. Thank you to Eddie for the homestay in Boulder. Thank you to all my friends and family, the list goes on and on, I am very grateful for all of you, for the well wishes.
The following weekend I took place in a 6 person Women’s Ultra Ragnar Relay cause my friend dropped out. I was not sure how my body was gonna handle 40 miles of running on an overnight trip. I felt great and our team finished 2nd Ultra, behind a mens team and 10th overall including all the 12 person teams. We had a blast
Have you ever mapped out and organized what you thought was the perfect plan to achieve a dream but it didn’t happen? Maybe it did happen, but the time table, course and order you thought events would happen were a total surprise.
Seriously?!?! Did IMTX really happen?!?!
I know a lot of people know this, but I took the Washington State Bar Exam at the end of February (which I PASSED. BOOM!!!) and I wasn’t “training” during that whole prep time. It’s impossible. Stressed is an understatement and the whole sleep thing doesn’t really happen like it should because the brain NEVER turns off. I like to call what I was doing, “exercising for my sanity.” Coach cut the schedule back to one workout a day at no more than 90 minutes which I usually did at lunch time to break up the day between morning review lectures and afternoons of wanting to poke my eyeballs out. Sometimes I had to cut those 90 min to 60 min and sometimes I had to choose a nap over a swim and my HR was always through the roof because of the lack of sleep and stress so yeah…it was just a mid day exercise break.
Once that was all said and done though, the IMTX focus was ON! Ooof. That gave me what…like 8 weeks of build and 2 weeks of taper? I wasn’t out of shape but I wasn’t really in shape. I’d say Coach P nailed it but man o man going from bar exam to ironman was like going from zero to 90mph (and week 1 of that was spent at 7000 ft in Jackson Hole at my sister’s wedding. I don’t like to make life easy). March was tough!!!…I’d like to blame any grumpiness/hangry-ness on my part in the month of March on Dave Orlowski. He’s responsible for this ironman nonsense being born way back in 1978.
Just kidding, Dave. You’re AWESOME! :)
Because of all of the above, I don’t think I could’ve been in a better place mentally going into IMTX. Of course we all WANT Kona but on top of the whole Bar Exam thingy, I aged up to 30-34 (I’m still 29 at the moment though) and those girls are STUDS…especially on the bike. My little chicken marathoning legs can’t quite bike like some of the quadzilla girls out there. I don’t know how they do it! So for all of March, April, May, and race day I told myself to make sure I was having fun…and to ESPECIALLY enjoy the process after I found out I was officially out of academic prison (middle of April is when I found out I passed the Bar). If Kona happened, GREAT! I’ll take that! If that opportunity comes around, you DON’T turn it down! If it didn’t happen, life would go on. I blew up at mile 24 of CIM back in December while on track for a 2:58 marathon and ended up running a 3:02 so I would go back for revenge on those 2 minutes if Kona didn’t happen. No stress. Just enjoying the process and the day.
Fast forward to The Woodlands…No wait…rewind to about 9 days before IMTX. I fell in a hole. Yep. On my last long run I fell in a hole. I have NEVER done that on a run. I scraped up the palms of my hands and more than tweaked my ankle. Connie the Cankle GOT FAT. I actually mustered up the courage to finish that long run since it was my last long run before race day and I knew while running those next 11 miles that I was probably going to pay for that decision. I did. It got huge but I’ve finished an ironman looking worse but I don’t even know how I did an ironman on it. It’s still fat. I should probably start getting concerned about that.
(Connie the Cankle pre-IMTX)
Ok…now fast forward to The Woodlands…
I got to Texas on Wednesday before the race. On Friday, the absolute BEST Sherpas and friends in the face of the universe drove 7 hours from Jackson, Mississippi just for ME?!?! I feel so undeserving and incredibly grateful all at the same time. From the second Donavon and Darryl got into town, they didn’t let me carry anything, they ran errands if I needed something…you name it. I swear I tried to carry my bag and bike to bike check-in on Friday but NOPE, they wouldn’t let me! On top of that, it was non-stop laughing for all of us the whole time and that makes race day stress SO much better!
Race morning was more of the same. A QUICK trip to T1 to put food and what not on the bike and in bags. The whole week before race day was full of non-stop thunderstorms (I actually hadn’t heard thunder or lightening since 2013 when I left the dirty south and moved back to Seattle!) so transition was one massive mud pit that smelled like a giant turd (not even exaggerating one bit!). We walked to the swim start with my awesome pal and all time favorite gal to race with, Caitlin Glenn and her gang that included my equally AWESOME former Timex Teammate, Melanie Sherman! Donavon and Darryl broke the tension by playing fart noises from an iphone app while walking past groups of people and talking about the burritos they ate the night before. Apparently later they connected the phone via bluetooth to a LARGE speaker and played more fart noises when people walked by while they were riding their trainers while I was out on the bike course. Yep. Those are my peoples!
And then the race happened…
I’m not too sure how I feel about these new rolling starts but I totally get the reasoning behind it. It was probably better for Connie the Cankle though because I had less mean men trying to grab an ankle. I was really worried about that possibility. I hopped in near the front of the 55min-1hr group so getting trampled and feeling like I was a sardine in a tiny tin can that was going to drown in a washing machine was kept to a minimum for the most part. I did slip on the boat ramp though. That was “awesome.” My goal was somewhere between 57 min and an hour so I’ll take 1hr on the dot. I found a few groups of feet to jump on throughout which was nice because at one point I got gapped between groups and my solo efforts to bridge the gap weren’t very successful until a dude came up beside me with a sweet draft. Oh…and super nifty exciting stat…I was SECOND out of the water in my age group! Less than a minute down. Darn. Just missed a swim prime!
T1 was a fun run through the giant turd smelling mud pit. Pretty much everyone put their shoes on at the bike exit. I had so much food stuffed in my bra it looked like a massive uni-boob. I’m pretty good at eating on the bike.
The first 40 miles were GREAT. We had a SWEET tailwind and I was riding well for myself…then the Kona conditions happened. Heat, humidity…and STIFF headwinds with crosswind gusts. Must be nice to be a big dude and able to stay aero in that. I spent A LOT of time on the hoods. You’d think we would’ve gotten a break at some point. NOPE. Just NOPE. The whole rest of the way. I did my best to stomach some sort of food every 20 minutes. Gels, uncrustables…there was a snickers at one point in there too but since it was hot I had to shove that whole thing in my mouth at once because it was melted. One of my uncrustables got soggy from water I had poured on me so it was a good thing I always pack a few extra gels. 5:46 is decent for me on such a windy day. That tells me on a good day I’d be closer to 5:30 which is what I was aiming for. No complaints. Except for the quadzillas, it seemed like the average bike for most was around 5:45 and I only dropped to 9th place even though I wasn’t paying attention to positioning all day. I told myself not to because then I’d start stressing about Kona possibilities.
T2 was uneventful. I shoved more food in my bra and off I went. The turd bath smelled even more awesome at this point in the heat and humidity. The change tent smelled even better. I don’t even want to think of what the puddles I ran through barefoot ACTUALLY contained.
My favorite!!! I normally wouldn’t be too thrilled with a 3:41 (that sounds ungrateful. I know that’s great off 112 miles but I know I have better in my legs, that’s all) but in Texas it’s moving. The run course in The Woodlands always seems like a survival fest. I felt good for the first mile and then after that, I walked pretty much every aid station. I actually didn’t look at my watch (the new Timex ONE GPS) AT ALL for the whole run. I couldn’t. I knew it would bring me down seeing walking/running splits. I was positive I wasn’t even going to break 4 hours. That’s how awful I felt on the run course. At this point in the day, Darryl was dressed like Gumby and Donavon was dressed like a giant whoopie cushion…so if you saw them at the beginning of the portion leaving the waterway after that grass mound hill we have to climb, THOSE WERE MY PEOPLES!!! Donavon later changed into a cheerleaders outfit and I had no idea it was him until he chased after me for like 50 yards yelling ridiculous things. I stopped to pee on the first lap. I’ve never figured out how to pee on the bike. I just can’t. My bladder gets pee shy. When I raced IMTX in 2013, I didn’t even pee all day because it was 100 bajillion degrees that year and my mom likes to bug me and ask me a million times after races if I’ve peed yet so when I passed Donavon, I told him to tell my mom (via FB) that I stopped to pee. I knew she’d be so proud! Those first two laps were ROUGH though. I almost threw up a few gels. I was doing my best not to over heat and just stay positive. On the second lap I stopped to poop. S*** happens and I felt so much better for it. Lap 3 was the best lap…because it was the last lap and I really REALLY wanted to be done and demolish some pizza.
SO here’s why an extra large pizza punched my ticket to Kona…
By lap 3, the course was FULL of people. People everywhere. People stopping at aid stations and and just plain scattered all over the place and whatnot. Just people everywhere trying to survive the BRUTAL day and become an ironman. I made the decision at mile 24 to NOT walk anymore aid stations…mainly because I REALLY wanted pizza. Darryl and Donavon are aware of my post ironman love for pizza. Pizza tastes WAY better than usual after 10 ½ hours of exercise. They tried to keep it a secret but I knew they were planning on ordering a pizza from Grimaldi’s Restaurant on the finish line and having it waiting for me. Did I have the BEST Sherpas in the face of the universe or WHAT?!?! At mile 25 ½ I saw a girl with a 33 on her leg and passed her but at that point, you don’t know what lap anyone is on so I just thought, “cool!” and kept on trucking at the pace that I was going…because PIZZA. Plus, I STILL didn’t know what place in the AG I was in or how many girls I had re-passed back on the run course or how many Kona spots were on the line. It turns out she was on her 3rd lap like me…and she was in 3rd place in our AG…and there were 3 Kona spots…and I beat her by 10 seconds. I’ve actually been on the other end of that 10 seconds before and missed a Kona spot. I didn’t even know I got 3rd until Jennie Hansen wrote on my Facebook while I was demolishing the infamous extra large pizza that I got THIRD. WHAT??? THAT REALLY HAPPENED?!?!
I think my picture from awards the next day really sums up the best weekend ever (the one at the very beginning). 10 weeks ago, I didn’t think Kona was going to happen this year and I was okay with that. I knew it COULD be a possibility but I didn’t want to stress about it. I just wanted to go RACE. I worked my BUTT OFF in those 10 weeks between Bar Exam and Ironman but I just made sure I enjoyed the whole process and day. This will be my second time going to Kona and it almost feels way better/sweeter than the first time I qualified…and what’s REALLY exciting is that Caitlin won 25-29 and IS GOING TO KONA TOO!!!…and Melanie is going to come…and we’re trying to convince Darryl and Donavon to come because the weekend was just so hilarious with them around and they HAVE to be there! They’re also both racing Whistler so I get to be their Sherpas for that weekend. I’ve got high standards to meet but there are plenty of shenanigans in the works.
As always, big thanks to Tristan and Team Timex and every single one of our team sponsors. I feel so lucky to be part of the best team in the world! Coach P for nailing the 8-10 week Bar Exam to Ironman plan and believing that Kona was a possibility the WHOLE time (he always nails my training plans though so I was never worried). My Sherpas, Darryl and Donavon, for driving 7 hours on Friday and making the weekend FUN and less stressful even if it meant having to take my computer and phone in the bathroom out of fear that they would hack into my Facebook when I wasn’t paying attention. My parents for getting excited for this stuff as much as I do…and all my friends in the tri community. You guys make this FUN as well. Misery loves company out there and cracking jokes with friends when the going gets tough helps lighten the mood.
See you guys on the Big Island!!!
In 2011 I ran the Horsetooth Half Marathon Course with Athletes in Tandem. I have run it every year since with them except 2014 when the snow and wet weather prevented the kids from joining the event.
This year I was grateful to be able to participate with Logan. I help him uphill, he helps with manage a quick pace downhill. Although there is a challenge on the upper body, back, shoulders and chest pushing the stroller up the first 2 mile of hills, you can see from the course profile, lots of downhill. The tough part is the little rollers on the bike path the final 2 miles.
Here is a video clip displaying Monster Hill.
My new Castelli jacket kept me warm
I earned the rest of the day lounging in my SKINS compression