Monday, June 22, 2015

Boulder 70.3 and MP training camp

The past week has been a blast.

Boulder 70.3
After a busy week at work, I got all my race gear ready for Boulder 70.3.

Geneva thought the old lace served as a good bow / headband
After an early wake-up and quick breakfast, I was soon at the Boulder Reservoir.  I set up transition and headed out for a jog with some music to relax. As I was putting on my wetsuit, I wished CSU alum Bailey Hinz good luck as she headed down to the beach for the pro women start.  After getting into my Roka, I headed down to the swim start with Geneva to warm up.  I started swimming about 30 minutes before our wave was scheduled to go off to make sure my swimming muscles were feeling good.

A few minutes before our wave was to go, I found Mace for some last words of advice and headed to the front. Even though there were two age groups, everyone in our wave was casual getting into the water and giving each other space. I sprinted hard for the first two or three minutes. By the second buoy, there was a group of three of us in a line. By the first turn, one of the guys in front of me had dropped off the pace and we were starting to hit congestion from the earlier waves.  The remainder of the swim, I tried to find a solid rhythm in between dodging around swimmers and sighting.   

I ran hard out of the water to my bike. After nearly running over a few spectators at the mount line (completely my fault :) ) I found my pedals with some words of advice from an onlooker to "look forward no matter what".  One of the wires on my left shoe came unhooked while trying to slide my foot in (the second time it's happened during a race) and after cresting the first short hill, I completely stopped, put my bike down and fixed my shoe.

Going into the race, my plan was to go harder than 70.3 pace for the first 20-ish minutes to get into race mode. Only thing was, my computer wasn't picking up any signal from the power meter. I had switched mounting positions so I think this confused it a little. After basing a lot of my bike strategy to rely on watts, I did my best to not freak out and just rode hard by feel. My legs felt good and I tried to keep a steady effort up and down the first part of the course with some rollers.

After a while, my power meter started picking up a signal every few seconds but would lose it quickly. Having the computer directly in my face was quite distracting because there was no data for me to care about other than my heart rate, which was extremely high. Since mounting the bike, it had not gone below 170. I tried to ignore the high heart rate and focus on pushing at the effort I had wanted to.

Not from the race, but needed another bike shot...trying out the Wing 57 (such a sweet helmet)
In most of my previous half-distance races, I've unwillingly slowed down the last few miles of the bike and run. I attributed this to lack of proper nutrition and hydration during the bike leg.  For Boulder 70.3, I stuffed 5 rice balls (same that I used in IM Florida) into a case mounted on my top tube. I began trying to eat around 30 minutes into the ride after I thought my stomach had settled.  Trying to chew and eat at a heart rate of 170 was ridiculous. It took me a good 20 seconds to eat half a rice ball where I had to chew like a caveman to get enough air into my lungs as well. Talk about multi-tasking.  I ate 4 and a half of my rice balls during the ride and went through about two bottles of fluids.  I felt that I had fueled myself well enough as towards the end of the bike, I still felt strong and whenever my computer decided to sync
sink some watts, I was within the range I wanted to be in. (Strava file here)
Heading to the dismount line
Cruising into transition was awesome because of all the cheers.  I dismounted and threw on my Saucony Fastwitchs and headed out onto the run. 
THE shoe - matches our kit too!
heading out onto the run
I felt confident about my run endurance going into the race, I just knew I needed to pace myself well and manage the heat which was steadily increasing. After a few minutes I looked down at my watch to make sure I wasn't running too fast. I wanted to start around 6:30 min/mile pace and settle in before picking it.  Instead,  I saw 5:30 pace. I tried to slow down but it felt easy. I knew I was going to majorly blow up if I tried to hold that pace for too long but I was only able to slow down to 5:55 after a mile or so.  I threw out my pacing plan (bad idea) and tried to settle in to the effort.

At every aid station, I grabbed as many cups of water, ice and gatorade as I could. Next time, I should try and make it a game to see how many I can get my hands on. (Kinda like in ASU's 2014 Road to nationals video)  

A pretty cool picture of me tossing a cup on the second lap
After a few miles, I had a dreaded feeling that my stomach wasn't absorbing any more food.  Post race, I looked up a few things and realized this has happened to me a few times on the bike in a triathlon. Instead of letting my heart rate relax right away, I've started eating food too early for my body, trying to follow a nutrition plan that some one else has said works for them. Eating too much food, and food that is too difficult for me to digest at a high effort, ends up shutting down my stomach. (This article does a better job explaining than I can.) I didn't feel too bloated, it just felt like things weren't being adsorbed. The past week I've been experimenting with different strategies and seem to have found a combination of liquids and solids that I'm able to digest in the heat and at a high level of effort. Most importantly, I've tried learned to trust my body, relax into a 4+ hour race, and listen to what it wants.

I hung tough on the run and felt really strong through about mile 10. Around then I really had to focus on form and managing the slight uphill efforts to keep a decent pace. 


All the cheering really helped, and so did latching onto a pro women's shoulder the last 2 miles (no shame, I was hurting). The last 1/2 mile was painful. I leaned hard on my volunteers and Geneva, and poured water all over to try and cool down. I was relieved to have made it. While I could have raced smarter, I knew I gave it everything and reached my limit the last half mile which is all I want during a race. Once again, I learned a lot and got my butt kicked by my first half-iron of the year, but still want more.
With the CSU Tri team
After the race, I jumped in the reservoir, got some fro yo with the CSU crew and hung out with EMJ teammates Yoni and Rudy Kahser. 

When I saw Rudy before awards, he didn't say anything about him winning OA - congrats by the way! I only found out on the way home that he had gone 3:59 on a day when many pros didn't even break 4 hours. That guy is a stud and his attitude and humbleness is a testament to team EMJ : a group of elite athletes but not elitists. Such class.

Very grateful for Geneva's support!
MP Multisport Altitude Training Camp
After an easy day Sunday, I packed up my stuff and headed to Granby, Colorado with a group of MP Multisport athletes for an altitude training camp.  We stayed at the YMCA Snow Mountain Ranch (> 8,000') and swam, biked and ran for 5 days. It was a fantastic experience. Recapping would take a lot so here are some pictures and you can find my rides from the week on Strava!

Dinner with a view

We had a chef prepare all our meals. Fanciest and best food I've ever eaten for a week. This meal was roasted half chicken over apricot brown rice and sauteed veggies, drizzled with an apricot pan gravy. Amazing!
Testing our balance and learning was also incorporated into the camp
Not a bad place to get lost on the second day
Everyone at the trail ridge road visitor center
The four of us had a pretty epic day
Love the trail ridge ride!
The time spent training in the mountains was fantastic. It was great meeting some other athletes and learning.  Next year is a ways away but I would love to be there again and I'd highly recommend the camp to everyone.  The food alone is enough to go next year!

Up next is another half-iron race in Steamboat Springs, CO. 
Thanks for reading and have a great day!

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