Boulder 02

Boulder Peak Tri 1.5k/42k/10k

swim 24:55, bike 1:15:10, run 42:20, final 2:25:40
In ag, 12/13/5, final 6/72
Overall 230/232/156, final 171/1500

This was my A race for the year, goal to break 2:30, previous best 2:34 on this race. Big training weekend was 3 weeks ago, did a 3-day charity bike ride to raise money for Childrens' Hospital here in Denver, 160 miles over the 3 days and about 9000ft of climbing (including Vail Pass, Tennessee Pass, Battle Mountain, Forney Pass topping out at 11 284ft). The last week before taper week I was really dragging, slow sluggish and sore in all the workouts. Last workout was a 5k TT on the track, in 20:30, which was a little depressing, since I knew I'd need a good 10k to get under 2:30. I'd been running twice a week instead of the usual once, adding in a brick/speed session of riding to the track, then 10-12 x 400m at 90sec. The additional speedwork didn't seem to have worked very well.. On the bike, I'd just taken 2min off my record for my usual 15 mile route, which is testament to the good effects of a few long rides. So overall I wasn't too optimistic about my chances, but figured I should get a bike PR for the race at least.

Up at 4:30 to get to Emily's house by 5, urgh. Bit too early for me. Drove up with Emily, Laurie, and Gwen, myself the only thorn among the roses, so to speak.. everyone is married with children, so we all felt like we were on holiday. Joined the 1600 other racers streaming into transition in the early morning sun, magnificent sky and air clear as a bell, the Flatiron mountains looked to be about a mile away. Racked up in the wave 6 racks, absolutely as far away from the swim entrance as they could be, but right at the bike entrance and run exit. Swings and roundabouts, figured T1 would be slow and T2 blazing fast.

Swim course this year was a bit odd, usually it's a simple triangle shape: but now we had to swim due east into the rising sun, squeeze between a buoy and some moored yachts, dogleg south for a bit, spin around back NW, then start the long straight bit. I saw several groups in earlier waves get headed off by the shepherd kayaks as they started to cut through the dogleg, sighting on the wrong buoy. Most waves had 100-150 people in them, the gap between buoy and yacht was about 40-50yards, so it made for a congested swim. Laurie (no wetsuit) said she felt like she was swimming in a pack of seals, wetsuits slithering by on all sides. My wave was 20-24, 40-44, and teams, definitely one of the bigger waves. Usually I can go fast for the first few hundred yards and escape the worst thrashings, but all those young bucks and team swimmers foiled my plan this time. However the advantage was I had several fast packs to draft.. after the navigation phase of the course, got into clear water, and it felt like I'd suddenly hit a patch of thick water, seemed to slow dramatically. Trundled along merrily, breathe L and see the buoys, beach, another wave churning off; breathe R and see the foothills hanging sharp and clear in the morning air; having a fine time.

Out of the water in 23:50, a PR. Thanks Pro-Motion wetsuits. I'd forgotten to borrow my wife's watch, can't get the wetsuit off over my oversized watch, so took it off and held it in my teeth while stripping off the top and running up the hill. Fumbling around trying to find the leash for the zipper, dropped watch into the sand, and had to backtrack to retrieve it. All this clowning around cost me close to as much time as I'd gained from the good swim, bah. Dithered around in T1 some more, rinsing sand out of the watch, etc, finally headed for the bike mount point at a dead sprint, grumbling.

Bike starts with a nice slow energy-sapping climb of 6 miles or so to the bottom of Old Stage Hill, a 15% grade for 2/3 of a mile. It's always discouraging to be in the bottom gear before even getting to the 15%, and this year was no different. Oh well. Grunt up the hill trying not to fall over sideways. At 5mph, I'm still passing people. Once over the 15%, there's a brief flattish stretch where the hills open up, can look out over the plains to Kansas and see Boulder reservoir with the last swim wave coming through, a thousand feet below. Some more hill to climb, though. Passed by a guy in my AG, riding a carbon Trek with tri-spoke wheels. Caught him again on a steep pitch to the top (1400ft climb in toto), then the plummet down the other side, 50mph downhill with some excellent curves to weave through. 

On to a gentler descent down Left Hand Canyon, but still holding 30mph or so. Got stuck behind a RV doing a cautious 25, waited for a broken yellow line, and passed it, which was amusing - had to sprint for a good 200 yards past the behemoth and its trailer car. But I wasn't going to dawdle down the hill at 25.. A long generally downhill stretch follows, again it's possible to hold nearly 30mph for most of this stretch. The guy on the Trek and I kept repassing each other, out in the wind in front neither of us had enough power to get away. So he'd pass, I'd sit up and stop pedalling until he got the legal 7m ahead, but by then I'd be so well rested, as soon as I pedalled again, I'd pass him.. we were trying not to draft, but it was tricky. At one minor bend there was a wreck, ambulances everywhere - heard later a guy in a pickup came across the center line and hit a bike. Not fatal, but I don't know how bad it was. Sharp corner - out here in the farmlands, the roads are pretty much a grid - and into a section of rolling hills. I'd decided to bag the even-effort, stay-in-the-saddle type of ride here, and just attack each roller, standing in the big ring. Dropped the guy on the Trek somewhere in here. Got passed by another AG competitor on a Cannondale, chased CannondaleMan for a while but lost him eventually. It's odd doing this bike leg, because there are always freakish fast roadies out on their training rides blowing by you - it is Boulder after all.

Bike finishes with an uphill headwind pull along a 4-lane highway, rather nasty. But even that came to an end, 1:14 on my computer, a PR by 6 minutes on this course.  Checked my sandy watch, 1:42, all I need is a 47-min 10k to get goal. Blew through T2 in 38sec, a lot more focused than in T1, and off on rubber legs, Mr Wobbly Man, up the first hill. The run here has great views across the reservoir to the mountains, but no scrap of shade, with the temps probably into the 80's by now. Stomach not happy, would lurch every time I tried to drink on the run, so just dumped cold water on my head at each aid station. Caught CannondaleMan by the first mile, quite satisfactory. I had this malicious thought every time I passed someone in my AG, thinking of the '41' clearly on display on my calf "read it and weep" - hah! The silly things we do for motivation.. Ignored the mile markers as a distraction, and set small goals all through the run, to avoid thinking about the visibly long way I still had to run. On this flat open course, it's easy to look at the long string of runners ahead and behind, and get discouraged.

Saw Emily coming back fast, but not in enough time to react and say hi. Turnaround in 22min, so I knew barring complete disintegration, I'd get the 2:30. Some of the young bucks in 25-30 AG were steaming by me now. I focused on calves for the rest of the run, pick out the next one with a 4 on it and catch it. At the last turn, checked the time, and realized a 2:25 was possible, so kicked it in as hard as I could, a feeble sprint, but enough - 2:25:49. PR by 9 minutes, I'll take it, thanks. Overjoyed in fact. 42:43 run, way faster than I expected given the 5k TT time.

Great after-race party, though barbequed pork wouldn't have been my first choice of post-race nourishment. The free beer from Odell's Brewery was excellent, however.. We stayed around to watch the pros race, in damnably hot weather. No wetsuits allowed for them. Nicole DeBoom came through T2 so fast she was just a blur, really I think she was flat-out sprinting with the bike. Tim is a relatively small guy, most of the male pros were big and well-muscled. He looks like a long-course racer. We got chatting with the parents of one of the younger pros, he's at CU and getting paid quite well for coaching, plus getting his Master's tuition fees covered. What a deal. But he can't swim without a wetsuit, so didn't place very well today. Conrad Stolz came in to the finish looking very happy, slapping hands all through the finish chute. He averaged 25.9mph on the bike and then ran a 34min 10k in 90degree heat. Yikes.