Monday, June 13, 2011

Boise 70.3 Race report

So I'm in that melancholy mood that hits me after a race is done.  It was a great experience and I'm feeling good and disappointed at the same time.

This was my first "Ironman" branded race and I think I brought a bit too much expectation into it.  I was expecting really efficient registration and huge expo but instead was met my long lines and a sparse expo.  I think WTC makes things so exclusive that the local area and vendors didn't shine like they should have.

I attended the pre-race briefing on Friday morning and learned a lot, mostly about how cold the water was and how many lane changes we would have on the bike.  I also learned that the head judge uses tandem bikes as his basis for 4 bike lengths.  I swear he told us to keep about 80 feet between bikes.  

I think a highlight of the morning meeting was when a person on the front row asked if we were allowed to modify our helmets.  The judge looked a bit confused and I admit that I was wondering about whether this discussion was about taping air vents.  The judge asked for clarification and it ended up that this person wanted to attach a wig to her helmet.  It just shows that people race for different reasons.  I can't imagine purposefully adding both meanings of the word.

One of the pluses of having long lines for registration, but and finish picture is that I was able to meet some great people.  I also learned that compression gear pre-race is important.  I'm not sure why it helps during the taper and everyone I asked wasn't sure either but "all serious athletes" wear compression gear.

Also, it is important to wear exercise gear to any pre-race activity you can.  I chose to dress in my typical casual wear and regret that I was not representing my favorite brands adequately.  They key is to look like you just ran from your hotel across town and are fresh and ready to run the bike course after three loops of the swim.  It also is important to look more like a pro than the pros...I will adjust for my next race.

Boise 70.3 is weird in that is starts at noon (or 12:37 PM for people my age who's last name is between A-J).  I got to sleep in past 7:00 AM and eat breakfast.  I also had to stop by the grocery store for "lunch" once I figured out that I better eat something for lunch.

I rode the school bus to the start, checked my stuff like I was crazy and then sat around and talked to strangers about their ailments and fear of the cold water.  I was particularly struck again by compression wear and the cool tape that people had all over their body.  I was confused by the tape watching beach volleyball and was even more confused at this race.  There seems to be no set way to apply the tape but I personally believe that anything with an X pattern is faster. 

I also noticed that tattoos, compression socks and extreme body hair get in the way of body marking.

The swim was tough.  The pro field was already on the bike by the time I was shivering in the water.  I bobbed and put my face in the water as much I could for the 4-5 minutes before my wave started but never caught my breath.  I ended up with a 42 minute swim which was slower than I wanted but not too bad considering I couldn't breathe. 

T1 is really long with a hill and bad bike placement but I got through it with the help of the wet suit stripper and sun screen appliers.  The funny thing about the wet suit stripper is that I had to take a quick look to make sure I still had my shorts on.

The bike ended up as my pleasant surprise of the day.  My race goal was to focus on the run and so I took things as steady as I could and didn't want to waste all my energy on the bike.  The course was interesting and the wind was not a factor for me.  This was my first race with my Reynolds Wheels and the Wheelbuilder disk.  These are tubular wheels and I chose not to run with a spare tire.  I had both pit stop and the other product with a flexible hose for the disk.  I also had two air canisters with a small tube of stans and so I thought I would at least have something to do if I got a flat.  Ironically, I only saw one person with a flat during this race.  That shows how good the team did in sweeping the course before race day.  Boise is known for punctures and a late summer race would be a challenge.

I ended up with a  2:54:08 on the bike which is 19.3 MPH.  The course was crowded and I did a lot of passing and slowing to set up gaps with guys that were faster.  I did see some blatant drafting but overall people were doing a nice job.  The best thing about the bike was that I was able to stay aero the whole time.  There were plenty of people that I passed that were stronger than me but apparently couldn't hold their position and so were slower.

I started the run feeling tired but strong.  The run course was crowded and because of flooding on the river the modified course ended up having people in both directions.  This wasn't too bad until my second loop in which there were a bunch of walkers which didn't seem to understand that people would choose to run.  I really wanted to walk but kept going but really felt slower and slower.  I was tired but won the battle and ran all but the aid stations.  I felt a bit of pain in my right knee and so I ran carefully hoping knowing that this wasn't my "A" race. 

This race is cruel in that you pass the finish 3 times before you get to cross.  The good news is that I was able to see my girls two times on each loop which really meant a lot to me.  I stopped to give kisses and hugs each time and don't regret a second of lost time.

I finished, was treated like a king by the volunteers, wandered looking for my girls, and finally gave up and at pizza (3 pieces) and drank chocolate milk (3 wonderful servings of yum) and sang praises for my reflective space blanket. My overall time was 5:37:34.  I was 69/173 in my age group.

I finally found my girls, drove to our friends house and showered, then headed back to collect my bike and stuff.

I enjoyed the race.  I'm impressed once again by the people of Boise and the great volunteers.  I'm glad I raced and would do it again.

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