Sunday, June 17, 2018

IM Boulder 5.0 aka One F*cking Hot Day

It's 3:45am and my body wakes up just minutes before the 4am alarm goes off.  I got a solid 5hrs 45 min of sleep.  Perfect.  I slip out of bed trying not to rattle or wake up Jess.  Walking towards the bathroom in the stillness and darkness of the early morning hours hearing the heavy breathing of Rugger at the foot of our bed.  "Good boy" I think to myself, "You stay here and protect Mommy, while I go off to race." Closing the door behind me I turn on the lights to see all my stuff laid out on the counters and in our closet.  I think to myself....I've got this shit down to a science.  I then drop the kids off at the pool and read a few FB posts of racers already at the Reservoir.  What are they going to do with themselves in the transition area for 2.5 more hours before the cannon goes off?  I am soo not that type A triathlete. I get changed, unplug my Garmin, scribe my signature WM (WarriorMode)on each hand and bring my race morning items downstairs.  Here all my nutrition is sitting out on the kitchen counter and in the freezer.  I put up some hot water for my morning oatmeal, take a bite of a bagel I bought yesterday and almost broke my teeth it was so hard.  I'll leave that one behind.  Everything is ready to go just need the water to boil.  I head back upstairs to kiss my love goodbye.  One more quick stop in the bathroom to make a deposit at the porcelain bank.  I always wonder how my system knows that it is race day.  A soft kiss goodbye some well wishes by Jess and I am out the door.  4:30am.  Perfect.  Right on schedule to be at the Boulder HS by 5am.  I'm driving into Boulder and I eat my oatmeal I am also drinking my second Nuun (electrolyte enhanced drink tab that is gluten free, dairy + soy free, safe for clean sport, and made from plant based ingredients.) water of the day.  Can you tell I am also a Nuun Athlete Ambassador??  I know it is going to be a hot one out there today and I want to bank some electrolytes before the swim.

I get a great parking space between the HS and race finish line, drop off my special needs bags and head to the buses.  I notice that there are really no lines of people and wonder if I am too laid back as the vast majority of the racers are clearly already at the race start.  Onto the bus I go and am sitting next to a fellow racer with his family around.  We are engaged in idle chit chat predominately talking about racing at elevation and the bike section of the race.  I am always worried about conversation on the bus with fellow racers and wonder if I should just pretend to be asleep.  Read about why I have that fear here..IM Cozumel Pre Race.  I exit the bus to one of the most beautiful sunrises over the reservoir. This is going to be a really HOT day is what I thought when I saw that sunrise and then I began to peel my morning potassium banana.  Just under 1 hour to race start.
Sunrise Race morning

I made my way over to Bella to get her ready.  I attached my hydration system along with my repair kit and filled up her tires to the amount of pressure where I wanted it to be.  I put my fuel on her and she was ready to go.  She looked good.  She looked like she was ready to ride and that made me happy.  Bella was made for days like this.  She loves the excitement of race day and loves when I take her out on a 112 mile Ironman ride.
Bella in her place at bike drop off.
Over to the run gear bag to drop off some last minute items and then the same at the bike gear bag.    Most notably more Hammer Endurolyte Extreem tablets, Nuun Electrolyte tabs and another water bottle filled with ice and Nuun.  Do ya think I was preparing for it to be a hot day??  On my way over I ran into EK, got a great hug from Jen and a shout of "Lets Go Mets" from Dave.  I love racing in my town.  After getting everything all set I had noticed a row of porta johns tucked away around a corner with no lines.  This was a miracle. I entered one and began backing the big brown caddy out of the garage.  Three times a charm!  I am as light as can be and feeling great!  While in there I sprayed myself down with trislide, rubbed on body glide and lubed myself up well ready to put the wet suit on. At this point it was about just about time for the pros to start and about 20 minutes before us age groupers.  I made my way over to drop off my morning clothes and finish putting on my wet suit.  At which time the National Anthem began to play.  I immediately stopped and began to sing, as I usually do.  I was amazed at how many people are/were clueless and just going about there business and just tending to their own needs.  Little by little people stopped moving about and by giving proof thru the night that our flag was still there, they started paying attention.  Much better I thought.
The line was pretty tight as I began to make my way through the crowd.  I wanted to seed myself around the 1:30 swim time.  I wasn't sure exactly where I would finish.  I was thinking I could end up anywhere between 1:15 and 1:40.  If I chose 1:30 I didn't think I would have people swim over me because I was too slow and if I had to maneuver around a few swimmers because I was doing better, I certainly didn't mind.  I pushed and wiggled my way up enough and was just behind the 1:30 marker and made home. Some more idle chit chat with another racer.  A fellow New Yorker who moved out west.  I took in my last bit of nutrition, an espresso flavored Hammer Gel with caffeine.  A hug from 303's Jen and I was just about in the water.  They then held up the race for what seemed like a few minutes just as I was about to enter the water.  At this time it reminded me to ask someone what time it actually was.  As we had 17 hours to finish the race from when we stepped foot in the water.  I had forgotten this in a few races and then had no clue as to when 17 hours was.  I definitely didn't want to cross the line in 17:01 thinking I just finished another Ironman because it was before midnight.  6:40 is what the gal said and then I was off.  Garmin watch started and good to go.  I hugged my usual just inside the buoys left lane and relaxed my breathing and just like taking a 2.4 mile stroll.  I was swimming.  Several times through the course of my IMs, my legs would tighten up or toes start to cramp.  Not today.  My hydration electrolyte plan was doing well.   Buoy by buoy the course was going by.  Once in a while an arrant body would swim sideways and cross in front of me or over my legs but I noticed how little contact was actually made in this race.  I thought it might be because I had seeded myself slightly slower than I was actually going and that few minute gap in front of me didn't allow me to easily catch up and swim over people.  I liked this with the exception that there was no one around me to draft off of.  This is something I have been enjoying doing in my last few ironmen swims.  But not today....I was on my own.  After many buoys and a left turn and a bunch more and another left turn I had noticed that I was passing more and more people and working my way to the boat ramp and ending this part of the course.  Nice swim.  Back felt good and I was ready to get on the bike.
A beautiful swim
Out of the water, music was playing, spectators were screaming and the strippers were working their poles.  I hit my garmin to signal swim was done and that I was in transition #1.  I found a couple of strippers to help me disrobe and off I was looking for my bike gear bag.  Heading around the corner I decided to sit on the grass in the shade of a tree while my fellow runners all run into the changing tent.  I take my time wiping down and getting my bike gear on.  I, once again, choose to wear bike attire in order to be as comfortable out there as possible.  It is worth eating up an extra 5 minutes in transition to do so.  This has served me well in the past and I continued with that thought process today.  Make yourself as comfortable as possible while doing this race.  I took another few minutes to stretch out my hips and lower back and then I finally went into the changing tent to put on my bike shorts and spare everyone from seeing a full moon at 8am in the morning.  Out the other side of the tent, I went to the suntan lotion station and made sure I had every inch of exposed skin covered.  Next stop....Bella Nera.  There she was waiting for me.  A fair amount of bikes were around her.  That must have been a decent swim I thought.  I wasn't sure cause I had not looked at the time when I got out of the water.  Out the bike exit Bella and I went and I hit the next stage button on my Garmin only to hear music.  Wait a minute....that music only plays when my watch has finished a triathlon not between stages.  Damn.....Garmin troubles again.  I could only think that while the strippers were taking off my wet suit that the buttons on my garmin were pressed.  I quickly reset my watch and started her all over again.  A quick loop in the reservoir and we were out and riding on the Diagonal Highway.  I really enjoyed this section of the course.  It is a great start to the bike section.  A relatively flat stretch of 15 miles to loosen the legs up after the swim and before the hills.  Smartly laid out.  About mile 11 there was the first aide station....I rolled through it refilling on water.  2 bottles.  One to drink and one to use to pour over my body to try and keep cool.  A right on 63rd and then a left on Niwot.  Another aid station about mile 18.  Two bottles of water.  One to add to my Nuun mixture another to douse my body with.  Up the grade on Niwot/Neva and a right onto Highway 36 continuing uphill till Nelson, it is here I felt a slight strain on the back.  A right on Nelson followed by the first real downhill of the course where Bella let it out with speeds over 40 mph.  We were smiling.  Then I realized that my eye shield kept coming loose.  Ultimately I had to take it off and was riding with it in my hand.   We also realized we were hot.  Dry and hot.  As I poured the water over my coolwings, I realized I was pouring Hot water over my body and although it felt cool for a moment.  Drinking hot water and pouring hot water over my body is not going to help lower my core temperature.  We've got 85 miles more to go and the top heat of the day hasn't even arrived yet.  Mile 30 was the aide station that I changed my game plan.  I was going to stop to stretch the back out and instead of rolling through and grabbing water on the go, I sacrificed time and efficiency for being smart and attempting to keep the body cool and loose.  I set Bella aside and I stretched out the back.  I also put my eye shield back into my helmet realizing that a key snap was busted.  This was going to a a nuisance as I needed this shield to protect my eyes from not only the sun but from bugs, wind pollen etc.  I then went over to the volunteers and grabbed ice.  I filled my hydration system with ice.  I put ice in my bike shorts (groin), in a cooling towel that was around my neck and down the sleeves of jersey. (wrists & inside elbow)  I wanted the ice to hit spots where the blood comes closest to the skin (pulse points) and help it not to over heat.  I can't tell you what an almost instant difference that made.  Up the rest of St Vrain.  This to me felt like the steepest/hardest climb section of the course.  I saw several people ahead walking their bikes up the incline.  I wondered how they could be walking it on only the first loop about mile 32 into the course.  I felt for them and sent them silent well wishes for a successful race.  A bit more on HWY 36 and then we got to fly down Hygiene.  This is one of the prettiest parts of the course as you pass through rolling farms with horses and cows.  A rolling stream and plenty of trees.  A u turn and now up that downhill we just came from.  Mile 38 another aide station and the same thing.  Ice in those key zones.  Ice in my hydration system and 2 waters.  Up the hill on Hygiene Rd and more folks pushing their bikes.  This time I was vocal with Atta boys and encouragement to my fellow racers.  To the top of Hwy 36 and a right onto Ute.  This is another nice section of flat to slight decline.  East = speed and downhill.  West = ups.  Then ahead at about mile 45, there she was.  My Girl was out there, all smiles.  I stopped and Jess and I chatted a little bit.

Do you realize how HOT it is out here??

Took a few photos. Asked her to tell the family that all was going great.  Gave a few kisses and Bella and I were back at it.  A right onto 75th and now a rolling relatively straight shot back to the Diagonal for loop #2.  By this time, I made several bike friends.  People that would pass me on the ups but then I would fly by on the downhills and straight aways.  Then they would pass me again at an aide station as I got off to do my ice routine.  We would leap frog each other through much of the ride.  Approx Mile 52 approached and this was the special needs area.  I was thankful as I was just about out of water.  Unfortunately there was no water to be had at this station but there was Kerry.  I didn't need anything really from my special needs bag but I stopped anyway for a hug and a smile and a quick chat with my friend.  Water and ice was just around the corner at mile 55 or so.  This time I added three additions to my routine.  I would take off my helmet and have the volunteers pour water over my head.  I would then put ice in my helmet along with my other parts and I would place a few ice cubes in my nutrition bottle.  By this time my nutrition was a hot mess of a gel and the ice would cool it down and thin it out.  Onto loop #2.

I stopped at every aide station along the way and continued with my routine.  Besides my aide station routine, every 15 minutes I would ingest either plain water or Nuun enhanced water.   Every 45 minutes of the hour I would ingest my infinit gel nutrition.  Every 30 minutes of the hour and every hour on the hour I would ingest 1 or 2 Hammer Endurolyte Extreem tablets depending on what I felt my body was losing.  I would simply look at my black shorts and see if and what the salt build up on them would be.  If I noticed it was a lot I would immediately take two of these salt tablets if it wasn't bad then I would take one just to keep the reserves full.  Turning right onto Nelson, I was just about to let it loose downhill when up ahead I caught a glimpse of my gal again.  I stopped and pulled over for a kiss. She immediately apologized as she realized she picked a downhill spot and people were zooming by her.
Okey dokey
I said I didn't mind and I truly didn't.  I am so very thankful to have a loving beautiful wife that is out there supporting me and my endeavors that I couldn't care less if it wasn't the most optimal place to have to pull over.  Up St. Vrain the numbers of bike pushers increased.  The winds also seemed to increase quite nicely.  I was concerned for my fellow bikers and how they would handle it if they are not used to riding in these cross wind bursts.  Heading down Hygiene Rd, I took quite a bit of caution and had to hold Bella back a little bit.  I would not allow her to hit 45mph as she had done earlier in the day.  U turn and back up Hygiene Rd.  The aide station at mile 84ish seemed to be the one I stopped at the longest for the day.  I needed to stretch the back out again. Although it was feeling truly awesome.  Best of the last 3 Ironman races.  The heat was just so amped up, I took extra time to ice down and cool off.  I had noticed bikers on the side of the roads, laying out under trees for shade, relieving themselves of their breakfast and lunch and getting rides back to the transition area as their days were done.  I wished them each and every one a good day and healthy recovery.  Heading back down 75th a bug flew under my helmet.  Not thinking, I instinctively shook my head and my loose eye shield was now gone.  I had a decent amount of speed at that moment and decided to let it go.  I figured I would be ok for the final 10 miles or so.  I passed Winstons place for the second time of the day and to no avail either time, he was not outside.  I didn't blame him.  I probably would not be out in this scorching heat either.  Smart pig.  Final turn onto the Diagonal Hwy and Bella and I were heading towards Transition #2 and towards the marathon section of the course. All in all it was a decent bike section.  I believe I managed it well.  My avg moving speed, my normalized power was pretty much spot on to what I anticipated doing.  It did take me about 45 ~1 hr longer to complete this section then I had originally anticipated.  I knew I would get off the bike 2 or 3 times to stretch and talk with Jess.  I didn't anticipate getting off the bike a total of 11 times to do triage work on keeping me as cool as I could.  At the end of the day it was 100% the correct decision to manage the bike section.
My years of working with Coach EK were invaluable
During the bike I reflected back on the words of my then Coach EK.  It was my first season of racing and about to do The Oktoburrrrfest Sprint it was as cold as could be and I was not digging it and he said something like....."This race is about how you as a racer handle the elements and what gets thrown your way and how you handle that adversity.  That is what this race in the cold is about.  Can you turn it off and still race or will the elements get the better of you?"  Substitute F*cking Hot for Cold and you have it.  Can I race smart and control what I can control and not let the elements get the better of me?  I think I just did that for 112 miles.  I owe him, along with many other things, that piece of knowledge and mindset for IM racing.  Bella and I also had a blast as we topped out at 45.4MPH on the ride.  I realized something else about this bike section.  That although I had fun out there on this section, this was the first time in an IM that I wasn't singing to myself and out loud nearly the entire century ride.  No singing at all.  That's totally bizarre for me but I think I was so focused on getting it right and non stop thinking about what's next and what do I need to do and how will I stay on top of it that I never had the time to sing.

I leave Bella in the hands of a volunteer and head to the changing tent.  I again stretch and take my time.  I put on running shorts.  Going for that comfort factor.  I just sit inside in the cover of the tent and relax.  I watch racers come in off the bike and out and I just sit and relax.  Ok, it's time to go.  I head out of the tent to see Pam and Jen.  Pam asks me what my number was, I reply 1563.  I thought that was a weird question but who knows.  Then I realize that I had my bid number tucked into my shorts.
Hey guys, I'm already for the run!
Not sure how I did that but......high fives to the gals and I am heading towards the reservoir exit.  I know that the beginning of this run is all exposed.  Not a drop of shade.  I also know it is a nice little climb out on 51st.  I make the decision to walk it.  Hell, I may be walking the entire marathon.  Quick rough numbers in my head, I determine that I have about 7:40 to complete the marathon and be an 8 time Ironman finisher.  I have this in the bag.  What could happen I ask myself?  I've been very smart on nutrition and hydration and electrolyte replacement my body should not shut down on me.  The dry heat prevents me from really getting any blisters that are very prevalent for me in the humid races I've done so my feet should be ok.  I just don't see how it wont happen for me at Boulder 5.0.  Will it be my fastest race??  Not a chance, but I now know I will finish today.  Hitting the rollers on the course I see people run past me just to stop and walk a few feet later.  This was truly the Walking Dead.  I don't know if I have seen as many people walking the marathon section of an Ironman race right out of transition in my 10 IM attempts.  Then there she was again.  About mile 4 or so.  Jess joined me for a little while as we walked and talked.  I shared my plan of walking the marathon at least up until I can get to the shade of the Boulder Creek path.  She confirmed my math and we figured that I had just under 7:40 to finish the marathon.  I wanted my body to come back and and then run when I felt like it.  I didn't want to take any chances in blowing it now.  She shared with me that Liz had finished the race and came in 3rd in her age group in just about 10 hours.  I was so stoked for her but slightly sad.  I've always seen Liz out on the course at some point but not this year.  The course set up, my decreasing speed combined with her increasing speed did not allow that to occur.  I was thrilled on her finish and sad I did not get a chance to see and cheer her on.  Then suddenly I hear someone yell for me and I look up and it was Natalia walking her dog.  Fantastic to see & hear her out there.  Jess walked with me a little further.  I gave her a kiss goodbye and off we went.
One step at a time.
The marathon was somewhat anticlimactic.  It was just a matter of getting from point A to B in a certain amount of time.  I stayed to my game plan.  Every aide station a mixture watered down gatorade.  Every 30 minutes or so a Hammer Gel for calorie intake.  The shade felt fantastic.  So nice not to have the sun beating down on you.  Caught fellow 303er Bill out on the course a couple of times.  Great seeing Dave out there looking for his 11th IM finish and Esra peddling around supporting him.  I hadn't seen a few fellow Boulderites out there that I knew were racing and could only surmise that there day did not end up like they had hoped.  The run section was also littered with people sitting in the grass and shade a few laid out with IVs in them getting rehydrated.  The walking crew was similar to the biking crew.  They jog past you and stop 5 meters ahead.  Then you would jog past them and stop 5 meters ahead of them and the game continued.  Every once in a while a participant would not pass you and it was your time to go again.  You know they had slowed down even more or perhaps were out of it.  I would try to make a 30 second run of it counting to myself.  Staying to running  jogging in the shady spots and flats.  Jess was a trooper and all over the run course.  She'd stay with me for a few miles then go eat dinner.  Then walk/jog with me for a few miles then drive her car to another spot where she would meet up with me again for another couple of miles.  She wore her Ironmate shirt and received tons of positive comments.  I think we were unofficially voted cutest couple on the course.   I'm blessed to have her as my partner in life.
Here we come!
We'd calculate pace and time to make sure I was still on schedule.  I made sure to thank every volunteer each time I passed them on the bike and the run, jog,walk.  I paid to be out there in the heat and entered the race.  They are giving of their own time and were such a positive influence on racers.  Their spirit was unmatched.  It was the hardest I've seen volunteers work to take care of the athletes in my 10 IM races.  Simply incredible.  I truly cannot even begin to find the words to describe how fantastic they all were.  I wish there was some way, I could let all of those individuals know how much they meant to all of us.  I tried while I was out there but I know I could never do it justice.  The sun set and I continued to pick my jogging opportunities.  I think I may not have watered the gatorade down enough and the sugar was starting to act up on me.  I couple of times I thought about it but I knew I would be in trouble if I attempted it......yep, if I would have tried, I know I would have Sharted all over myself.  Does not make for good race photos and you get a lot of nasty looks from spectators.  So for the 4th time of the day I released the chocolate hostages and lost weight the quick way.  At the end of the day this wound up being my second slowest marathon.  Mile 26 came and I saw Jess again...I was at the home stretch just around the corner and I would head down the finish chute.  I could hear Mike Reilly in the back ground the spectators screaming.....ok here we go.  No more 30 second jog....we jog to the end.

I turn the corner and take flight.  "Ohhhh he likes flying on in" says Mike "Come on Brother"  I look up and see Jess and head over to her. "Aww he got a kiss" "This is Marty Rosenthal!"  "Come on Maaartaaaaay"  Then those words as I fly right up to him........"You are....." I stop and shake his hand" Ironman!  Way to go Marty!"

I continue down to cross the finish line fist pumped in the air.  I cross the line to see my 303 teammates cheering for me and taking a few pictures.
Ironman Finish line #8
A catcher comes over to me and congratulates me and starts to walk me over to get my medal.  I'm thinking and wondering where Jess is.  I'm ready to go home.  I look up and what to my absolutely wonderful amazement do I see but my dear friend Michelle with a huge smile on her face.  I wonder how she got in this area and then it dawns on my that she's a volunteer at the finish line and she is about to put my medal on me.  How cool is that!?!?!?!  A medal and huge hug from Michelle.  We see Jess and head over to her.
Wait a minute.......that's Michelle!!


Cozumel IM Reunited
Jess and I left the racers area and went over to see what the finishers food may be.  I decided to pass on it.  Jess and I then sat by the amphitheatre for a few minutes.  What's next?  I was wiped.  This may have been the worst I felt mentally after a race.  I was spent.  I had been in worse states physically after a race but my spirits were not as high as they normally are.  I was simply tired.  I grabbed Jessica's hand and we started to head towards the car.  She suggested that we go to the finishers shoot to cheer on the final racers.   Great idea!  What a fantastic and electric filled area.  We spend the next 30 minutes or so cheering and clapping and bringing home those final few before the midnight hour.  We then gathered up Bella Nera and my equiptment and headed home.  Boulder Ironman 5.0 is in the books.  A great and  challenging day.  10th starting line, 8th finish line in 4 years.  Not too shabby.  I love this shit.
Murphy's Tap House Post Race Bloody Mary
Swim   1:27:27
T1          16:21
Bike     7:28:56
T2          16:22
Run      7:09:46
Total    16:38:54