5430 Long Course Triathlon (1/2 Iron distance)
by Brenda Bolding
I will start by saying this was, by far, the hardest race I have ever done and I learned a lot from it. I realize now that I didn’t take this distance or my running training seriously enough (I kept thinking about how great I felt doing my first ½ last year……when I was training for a full Ironman and in great shape) so by the time I got to the run portion this course smacked me around and it wasn’t pretty.
We took 2 days to do the drive out to Boulder so there wouldn’t be a full day in the car the day before the race. The Motel 6 in Hays (Fri night) had a breathtaking view of the McDonald’s dumpster, by the way – I highly recommend staying there if you get the chance.
We made it to the pre-race meeting at Boulder reservoir around 3 and the first thing I noticed was how blazingly hot it was in the sun. I had thought it would be cooler racing up in the mountains but we found out that they expected it to be 95 on race day. I tried to make sure I was hydrating really well and was going through a lot of water and Gatorade; I have experienced firsthand how awful it feels to be dehydrated up in the mountains.
Aug 12th – Race day
Got to Boulder reservoir at 5:45 a.m. and it was eerily quiet………so we pumped up the tunes while we inflated bike tires and got all the gear ready. The race director was convinced that the water would be too warm for wetsuits but everyone was wearing one so we grabbed them from the back (we had taken them out of tri bags because we thought it would be too hot). As I set up my transition area I wasn’t nervous about the swim or the bike but I was a little concerned about the run. I hadn’t done much heat training at home and it had been really, really hot in the sun the previous day. Not really enough time to think about it, though, so I put the wet suit on and headed down to the beach at Boulder Reservoir.
The pros took off at 6:30 and my wave, the last one, wasn’t until 7:05. I spent some of the wait talking with some really nice women who didn’t really seem nervous and told me that the aid stations and volunteers were really well organized. As the air horn went off I felt really good and was confident I would have a strong swim.
That “good feeling” I just described lasted approximately 3 seconds. I jumped forward in the water, put my head down, and started taking really strong, quick strokes to move ahead of slower swimmers. When I came up for air that first time it felt as though nothing was there. I had to come up and breaststroke for a little bit to try and catch my breath – I had no idea it would be so hard to breathe. The practice swim I had taken the day before hadn’t been bad at all and I had felt very comfortable with my breathing. Now I had to slow down quite a bit and spent the first few minutes alternating between freestyle and breaststroke, trying to ease the panic that had set in. Once I got into a rhythm I found that I had to breathe every stroke; I’m normally a bilateral breather and breathing every stroke made me feel very dizzy. Swim time ended up being 42:12 which was a solid 6 minutes slower than I had been hoping.
I had been out to Boulder in May and ridden one lap of the bike course so, for this part at least, I knew what to expect. The 56 miles was a two-loop course: come out of the Boulder reservoir, ride a big square, and then do a U-turn at the res for lap 2. Starting out I felt as though I couldn’t get my legs to work and I was not generating any power. Things started to get better around mile 4 and by mile 5 I started to feel pretty good. I knew that the first 10 miles or so of the loop were the slowest and then we’d take a right on St. Vrain road, have a tail wind, and really haul for a few miles to make up some time. My goal on the bike was to keep it really close to three hours which would put my average around 18.5