Deciding to Race:
The last few weeks I’ve been debating on whether or not to do this race. My knee and elbow have been recovering from the tendinitis well, but I wasn’t sure if it would hold up through a fast race. But last Thursday I found out there was a $20 discount through the CSU Tri club, and because I’m a graduate student, whenever there is a deal take advantage of it.
There really wasn’t too much in the way of specific training. After Calgary 70.3 my base phase was over, so I just started building my speed. Thursday I would go bike up in the mountains and hammer the hills pretty hard, and Saturday I’d go for a longer endurance ride with a few surges on the hills. Tuesdays I’d do some run speed work (generally 800s) at the local park with the NoCo Triathlon club. Other than those three workouts the rest was pretty easy. During base phase I do a lot of zone 2 and 3, but during build I polarize my training to do 20% of my workouts hard, and 80% incredibly easy. Because the rec center closed I didn’t swim for 2 weeks, essentially doing duathlon training.. Which was the worst because my lower body was always tired, and my upper body was shrinking from lack of swimming.
The main benefit (and disadvantage) of the Boulder Sunset race is that it starts at 10am. So I was able to wake up at 6am, make some toast and do some last minute adjustments to my bike before my friend picked me up to drive down to the race. When we got there I went off on my own and did the usual bike racking and transition setup while chatting up the competition. All this time I had been sipping my water bottle with a scoop of Skratch to keep the electrolyte levels up, but it was starting to get hot so I finished it sooner than planned and had to fill up the bottle with normal water. I was planning on going for a short bike to loosen up the legs, but got lazy and went for a half mile jog instead. When I got back it was 9:40am, so about time to put on the wetsuit and head over to the water for warmup. Some tips for those who are new to wetsuits:
- Put plastic bags on your feet when putting your feet into the wetsuit, it makes putting it on so much easier.
- Once you’re in, use PAM (yes the cooking spray) on your wetsuit legs and arms. It helps when it comes time to take the wetsuit off in T1.
After putting on the wetsuit was on my coach told me my goal was to beat my friend David to T2, then hold on for the run. David is a fast cyclist, like 350+ FTP fast. Luckily for me he just did Ironman Boulder 3 weeks ago and his swim is a little slower than mine, so I had a shot.
Nutrition: Boulder reservoir water.
The swim sucked. At this particular race they start collegiate men and women together in the 3rd wave at a beach start. There is a 10ft gap close to 100 people had to run through to get to the water, so there was a lot of violence at the start. As soon as I was able to, I swam off to the side to get some space away from everyone else and I started pushing the pace. My usual strategy is to go hard the first 200m or so and then hop on the closest person’s feet for the rest of the time. Unfortunately, the goggles I was using for the first time kept filling with water and I lost sight of my swim buddy almost immediately (always try something new on race day). So once again I was off swimming on my own. Every now and then I’d get kicked in the stomach or face by someone from the earlier waves doing breaststroke, which sucked, but it comes with the sport. The rest of the swim was relatively comfortable, by the end I mastered draining the water from one side of my goggles and pressing it back on mid stroke which was pretty cool. At the end I started kicking more to get the legs ready for the bike, and I made it out of the water in 23:04, which put me a minute behind my fast swimmer teammate, and three in front of David.
Nutrition: 1 GU and 22oz of water w/ 1 scoop EFS and half a can of Rockstar energy drink.
The bike started off pretty rough as well. I have been riding my road bike for the last month since Calgary, so I only had three rides with it before the race. Couple that with slamming my stem and flipping it to angle down I was in a far more aggressive position than I ever have been. The goal was 270 watts, but I quickly could tell that wasn’t about to happen so I set a new goal of 250. Me and some guy with a sleeved skin suit went back and forth for a little bit, him coasting the downhills and hammering the uphills, and me holding my constant wattage. After the rollers stopped and there was just a steady flat I pulled ahead, and after passing him he made a comment about how he would be faster than me if he had a disc.
Warning: Rant incoming. Saying stuff like that really frustrates me. My bike split was 7 minutes slower last year, and I had the same rear wheel. Would you be faster with a disc? Yes. But it’s only worth ~30 seconds in a flat 40k with a full carbon disc. I don’t have a carbon disc though, I have a 2009 powertap hub with a heavy 32 spoke DT-Swiss rim with a big plastic cover I spray painted the Star Wars imperial crest on. I’ll admit I get some more time savings because I’m slower than the speeds they tested at, and the course was two miles long with 1000ft of climbing.. But that LG Skinsuit you wore saved you about a minute, which is 30 seconds more than if I had a carbon disc. So before you make excuses about why you’re getting dropped, work on your engine. End rant.
Anyway the bike continued without anything too eventful. About 10 miles in there was a nice 2 mile stretch with a steady downhill. I tried to keep my power at 250, but would spin out before getting there. Thankfully two miles of easier cycling was like hitting the reset button on my legs, so when I started going my goal power again it felt a lot easier. It was around this time that I realized not having pure water was a mistake. A concentrated bottle with water was good for a 70.3, but during an olympic having that be my only source of hydration was a struggle. Nineteen miles in I ran out of water and was feeling thirsty. But just as I ran out there was an aid station ahead! Unfortunately there was not one, but two failed handoffs of the water bottle, so I’d have to do without until the run. At mile 22 I finally passed my fast swimmer friend, we exchanged some words of encouragement and continued on the last few miles to transition. I was the first to T2 from our team with a bike time of 1:02:46, so I was pretty psyched about that. David came in a minute after me, giving him the fourth fastest split of the day.
Nutrition: Water every mile.
By this time it was about 11:30 and starting to get a little warm, so needless to say this part sucked too. Almost immediately after getting off the bike my hamstring started to tighten up, so I did my best to run out of transition in a way that it wouldn’t seize up. As soon as I got out my coach told me that there were a few CU guys ahead, and I needed to catch them. For those of you who aren’t familiar with collegiate triathlon, they’ve been the national champions for the last 7 years, and also our rivals (we’re working on it). The course was a 10k out and back, the first half being uphill, the second downhill. Starting out on the run my first mile was probably a little too fast, so I dialed it back a bit so I wouldn’t blow up on the hills. After the 5k turnaround for the sprint athletes there were very few people ahead, so I knew my position was probably pretty good. A little under three miles in I saw my first competitor heading the other way, it was a CU guy. I figured there was a small chance to catch him, so I decided to roll the dice and increased my effort. Before the 10k turnaround I saw another 3 people pass by, so as long as there weren’t any super fast people from the first 2 waves I missed a top 5 finish was possible.
After the turnaround I picked up my pace even more, knowing that it was mostly downhill on the way back. With two miles to go I had already caught up with the 3 guys I saw earlier, so the only person I knew was left was from our rival school. This is where my run started to fall apart though, the heat and lack of water on the bike started to catch up with me.. Thankfully remaining course was mostly downhill, so I was able to coast it out and not lose any of the places I fought to earn. I ended up with a run split of 38:27, which put me at a final time of 2:07:18.
After finishing I went straight to my water bottle from earlier, chugged it, filled it up with more water, and repeated the process 2 more times. People were asking me what place I finished in, but at this point I had no idea, maybe top 5? I was just happy to drink water, eat food, and get some free Boulder beer. After getting some nutrition I realized I should be a good teammate and cheer for my friends still on the course. Across the board Colorado State turned up today. We put our top 4 in before CU’s top 4, which was nice. They were missing a few pros today, but we were missing a few of our top guys as well. We also had a few of the newer members complete this difficult race in a respectable time. One did his first sprint, got a flat on the bike, ran the bike back into transition, did his 5k, and STILL was top 3 in his age group. I kind of want to read his race report now.
After a while I went back to the shade and water to look at the results. It turns out there was a fast pro in the first wave who was so far ahead that neither the CU guy or I know he was there. It wasn’t that big of a disappointment though, because I still managed to set a PR on my way to finishing top 3 overall! Despite not knowing whether or not I could race a week ago due to my knee and elbow, I’m super stoked that I was able to hold it together to get a solid result at the start of my build phase. Next race, Oktoberfest Draft-Legal sprint tri!
Big Thanks To:
- My teammates, for pushing me both on and off the course.
- My coaches, for giving my training some structure.
- My sponsors, for keeping me fed, hydrated, and clothed.
- The volunteers, who worked out in the hot sun handing out water to athletes.
- Hunter, for driving me to the race.
Post Post Race:
I have a bad cold. It could have been the exertion, the heat, the reservoir water, or some combination of the three. But I’ve been writing this between naps while hopped up on Nyquil. Nothing like a little sickness to give you a forced recovery day.
Data & Stuff: