PART BEAR. PART MAN. ALL AMERICAN
Location: Boulder, CO
With a quick one-week turnaround from the Cochiti Lake Triathlon to the Boulder 70.3, I was even more grateful than ever to not be dealing with travel to a faraway event. As much as I love racing around the globe, my decision to skip Steelhead in favor of Boulder seemed to be all the wiser, when I was able to stay at home with Amanda and Luna.
I did my very best to shut off the brain, to detach from all my other life activities, and to apply the proper amount of pre-race focus to this event as I would had I traveled away. It’s a tough task, but I managed to sit put for much of Friday and Saturday afternoons, collecting my energy, zipped up in the Recovery Pump boots, and sipping bottle after bottle of EFS. Ah, the taper life – not sure why it gets such a bad rap!
Race morning dawned, and I was up and at ‘em pretty early. I was strangely well prepared, and made my on-time departure for my ride down to the Boulder Res. Amanda and our friend Cassie (with Luna, naturally) made the drive behind me to make sure I got there safely.
I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks, as I was the very first pro to rack my bike that morning. Wow, promptness. After setting up the stealth Kestrel 4000, and getting my goodies prepped and primed, I ventured off for a warm up jog. The morning seemed cool and windless, a welcome departure from the typical weather for this event.
My morning routine went smoothly, and before I knew it I was donning the Freaky fast TYR wetsuit for yet another warm water swim. I’m hesitant to complain, as I could have chosen to wear my sleeveless, but I will say that I’d sure love to see those water temperature rules change a bit. It’s rough for a guy like me to wrap myself in neoprene and still manage to stay cool – how do the other fellas do it?!
Carrying on with the nitty gritty, I felt that I had a nice warm up and found a good position on the start line. The gun went off, and I got good position in the opening fray. To me the pace did not seem unreasonable, but I knew we’d soon be working quite hard. I chugged along still wondering when I’d feel the effects, and before I knew it, we were halfway done. I was still in contact with the chasing group, but things quickly changed. Approaching the second turn, I felt the not-so-fun sensation of my speed grinding to a halt. I cannot explain the way it goes down, but there I was, once again getting dropped and blaming my poor swim on overheating issues. Again, no complaints – next time I either select a non-wetsuit swim, or a wear the sleeveless suit.
Getting going on the bike came pretty easily. I felt strong and ready to ride. While I did not have any company, I could see a group approximately 40 seconds up the road. I did my best to reel them in, but ultimately failed to do so. I chose not to use the PowerTap for this race, thinking I’d be going with the group dynamic; however, with no group and no dynamic, I was left in no-man’s land. For a long while.
About halfway, I was overtaken by Chris Leiferman. I believe his pass coincided with a bit of a calorie bonk, as I just did not have the gumption to go with him. I was feeling a bit negative, and I let my only opportunity for company ride right on by. By the time I got back up to speed with calories and the resulting mojo, it was too late. I did what I could, and rode my way into T2 with anywhere from three- to ten-minute deficit to the others.
Quite displeased with my ride time, I was quite glad to be off the bike, and I made the decision to run as smart and strong as I could. The goal would be to run a closing 5k that equalled or surpassed the effort of my opening 5k. I knew my only chance would be to outlast the guys ahead.
My legs transitioned to running quite quickly, and before long I had locked into a pretty steady 5:43 pace for most of the half marathon. I let the pace slow over the hills, careful not to push into oxygen debt on the climbs, as racing too hard at altitude has a funny way of smacking you around later on.
I kept the pace, kept the faith, and eventually I overtook a half dozen or so of my competitors. Unfortunately, the damage done by the sub-par bike/ run was too great to overcome, and my 1:15 run split was only good enough to snag 8th place.
It’s always nice to finish on a high note, so the quick run left me with a good taste in my mouth. I was pleased to have kept on plugging all day, but truly disappointed to have not contented for a top-five finish, as I feel I was well prepared to do. But that is the nature of racing, and that is how, as they say, the cookie crumbles. (Personally, I try to buy the soft cookies that hold integrity and do not crumble much.)
Looking back, I had a great time racing in front of the local crowd. So many of my friends, training partners, and acquaintances were on hand to cheer for us, and that was quite fun.
And just so we don’t lose sight of what’s important – and think that racing is all about the cookies – I should mention that I drew great inspiration throughout the day from the thought of Amanda and my little baby girl supporting me on course. Oh, and the pulled pork sandwiches at the finish were quite tasty, too.