Aside from quite a bit of work travel and the honeymoon, it’s been rather difficult to train for two very different races just 7 days apart. On one hand, I’ve been cursing myself for signing up for the IRONMAN 70.3 Boulder, which was yesterday, and the Leadville Marathon, which is this Saturday. On the other hand, I knew I had to sign up for the triathlon for a bit of redemption, and I’m treating the Leadville Marathon as a training race, not a goal race. Regardless, I still feel like I’ve skimped on the training for both events. We’ll see how next weekend’s marathon goes, but with regards to the triathlon yesterday, I couldn’t be happier with my performance, especially considering the lack of training I put in.
- Swim: Two 30-minute pool swims within 3 weeks of the race.
- Bike: Two “long” rides, one on the trainer and one outside + at least 1x/week 30-minute interval session on the trainer.
- Run: Nothing specific. I figured the training I’d been putting in for the other races would hold up. I did hop on the treadmill for at least 5 minutes after every single trainer session to train my legs to transition from the different sports.
Swim: Why was I so damn confident going into the swim? As you can see, I SEVERELY skimped on training. I rested on the fact that I’ve always been able to hop in the water and go. As my mother told Pete while he was shaking his head about my lack of swimming prior to the race: “well, she’s always been a strong swimmer.”
I hopped in the Rez with 30 minutes before my wave started (bib #1921; AG 30-34; white caps) and did a lap around the warm-up area. I felt good. After standing around with Pete waiting for my wave to start, I began to feel nervous. You just can’t help it, staring out at the Rez with thousands of athletes out in the water and others milling around the beach waiting to start. It’s like the nervousness is palpable – in the air, or something.
As the gun went off for the wave before us, we headed into the water and treaded near the start buoys until our gun would fire. After a couple of minutes of only hearing the sounds of the lapping water and the nearby crowds on the beach, one of the women in my wave started to call out good luck’s and support. Many women echoed her feelings, and then she started to joke: “have a good swim…don’t be nervous…don’t swim on top of each other…watch out for each other…” I couldn’t help but internally roll my eyes at this woman. Yes, nice job in breaking the ice as we all nervously tread water waiting to start, but really? The biggest reason I dislike the swim portion of these events is because it’s every woman and man for themselves in the water. No one cares about crawling on each other; no one cares about kicking someone in the face; everyone has one motive: survive this death pool part of the race at any cost. For me, that goes against every ounce of reason as to what racing is about. Without going into a verbose diatribe about what racing should be about and how the trail/mountain/ultra community is the epitome of a supportive racing community, here’s some internal monologue after the gun went off:
“Why did I start in the middle of the pack? That was stupid. AND I’m closest to the buoys. I need to move left to separate myself a little bit.”
“So far so good! I just need to keep this rhythm and – ICK! That was a complete mouthful of water. Great. I’m totally getting Dysentery. Like my gravestone will read like the Oregon Trail: ‘Amanda died of Dysentery’.”
“Okay, there’s the orange turn buoy. Sweet, just make that turn and it’s back to shore!”
“Dude, why are you doing the breaststroke right now? You’re coming inches from kicking me in the face with your breast kick. Wait, why is the person keeping up with me doing the breaststroke? Son of a B Amanda, kick it up a notch!”
“Is that another orange buoy up ahead? Shit. It is. Dammit. That last one wasn’t the turn to the finish, the one up ahead is. FML.”
“Oh my god I just drank another mouthful of water. I really hope I don’t shit myself on the bike and the run. How long does it take for Dysentery to kick in?”
“For fuck’s sake person, you’ve grabbed at my ankles like three times. Have you not realized that there’s someone in front of you? OH MY GOD STOP IT. Is that the bitch from the start that was all gung-ho about not crawling on each other?”
“For crying out loud is that beach moving backwards? I think it is. I’m not getting any closer and I’ve been swimming towards it FOREVER.”
“Okay here we go, people are standing up. Shit I can’t reach, keep swimming.”
As I exited the swim and headed up the ramp to transition I saw Pete, Molly and my Mom. Hallelujah! It felt so great having them there for support, especially my Mom who rarely comes to races. I got to my bike and started gearing up for the ride.
To be honest, I was most nervous about the bike portion of the race. After last year’s DNF due to back issues during the ride, I wasn’t sure what to expect.
Bike: I think the bike was the most anticlimactic. Did I mention that I didn’t wear a watch during the race? I really wanted to go in to the race with no expectations and enjoy it as much as possible. I figured going in watch-free would help with that. So I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the 5 mile marker, because I knew there would be markers in 5-mile increments along the the way.
The course only had 1,200′ of elevation gain, and stretched out over 56 miles made for a pretty fast route. To be honest, I wish there had been more climbs, because that is where my strengths lie. The number of times I’d pass people on the ascents and then get passed on the descents and flats was too many to count. Plus, I started having pain in my hips and lower back again, just like last year. Getting out of the saddle and stretching helped, but it was hard to do because there weren’t that many opportunities to do so. After about 40 miles I found myself kicking my gears higher and standing up to stretch. The pain worsened throughout the ride and ultimately just pissed me off. I was frustrated that it was happening again and was elated when we turned onto 51st and could smell the Rez (eeew?).
I dismounted my bike and headed into transition where the fam was setup just outside the fence.
“How do you feel?” Molly asked me.
“My crotch hurts” was the first thing that came to mind.
I swapped socks, pinned my bib, laced up my shoes and headed out of transition for the run.
Run: As I passed Molly, Pete and my Mom onto the run course, I heard my Mom yell, “this is yours now!” It is, it is mine! I thought to myself. As you can see from the results page below, I started out way too fast. I knew I did, too, because my breathing was going crazy. My legs felt good (a little heavy at first), but I felt strong and consistent from the beginning.
The run profile of the course was fantastic: two out-and-back laps along the Boulder Rez dirt trail. I loved it because it was mentally painless. In my head, I knew I had to run about 3 1/2 miles out, then turn around, then do it again. Breaking it up into sections made it fly by. The downside to the run was that it had increasingly warmed up throughout the day and the course is completely exposed. I immediately found myself hot and bothered, and began dowsing my head with water at every aid station, as well as shoving ice down my shirt and shorts.
My confidence on the run was huge: I was passing people left and right. I’m not surprised, and knew going into the race that the run would be my strongest sport, but it still felt good to have such a strong presence. Besides the heat, I also had some issues with my breathing. I couldn’t get it under control. I wasn’t sure what pace I was running, so I was trying to go by feel, but it was hard because I felt that the pace I was running was not conducive to my breathing, or vice versa. At one point I could have bet a hundred bucks that I was running 12-minute miles because of how horrible my breathing was. It worsened throughout the run and you can tell by the last couple of miles because of how slow my pace was.
As I ran down the last descent into the finishers chute I was all of one emotion: relieved. Relieved to have finished; relieved to be done; relieved to be able to get out of the sun and into some shade! Honestly, I felt like absolute crap at the finish. I felt bad, actually, because my Mom, Molly and Pete were excited and I just wanted to sit down, catch my breath and get cool. I can’t say enough about how appreciative I am that they were there. It’s a feeling that’s hard to explain to people that don’t do these types of things, but when you’re out on a race and know that you have support at the finish (or transitions, etc.), you feel comforted.
After Molly and my Mom left, I asked Pete if we could visit the medical tent, because I was having a really hard time breathing and couldn’t stop coughing. I was checked out by an Emergency Physician who said that my blood oxygenation levels were great, but that I was wheezing and having asthma symptoms. He said it could be due to the weather and all of the rain, or it could be a chronic condition that I should get checked out. After dropping from the Silver Rush 50M back in 2012 from similar symptoms, I think I will get it checked out.
Pete and I headed out pretty quickly after finishing, as I wasn’t feeling well and really wanted to get out of the sun. That didn’t, however, stop me from wanting a post-race beer and munchies!
After reflecting on the race, I can honestly say that I have zero regrets. I wouldn’t change one thing about my performance and choices throughout the event, and am happy I closed a chapter that has been open for the last year. I’m also excited to now focus solely on running and the rest of the races I have lined up for the year (Leadville Marathon next weekend, Speedgoat 50K, Pikes Peak Ascent & Marathon, Bear Chase 50K).