Monday, August 31, 2015

IM Boulder Race Recap 2015...2.0 ~ The Bike, The Run, The Bloody Mary

The Bike ~ Hey wait.....Where is the Start of this race??  If you find yourself wondering where the swim and start of the race is, check out my previous blog entry Boulder Ironman 2.0 ~ The Beginning then get back here.  I'll wait.

Coming into T1 from the swim, I knew I wanted to work on bettering my transition times for the race.  IM Boulder 1.0, in retrospect, I felt I lost some valuable time in transition and if I wanted to better my placement every minute would matter.  It would come to pass that this was my best T1 of the 4 Ironman races to date.  Not only because my time was the fastest but because while bent down putting on my shoes a volunteer came by to help us racers.  I thanked the volunteer and when he replied "No problem" I realized the voice sounded awfully familiar.  I gazed up to see my good buddy Kevin helping out.  Huge smiles and hugs.  It was great to see him.  I probably would have been a minute or two faster if we didn't engage in brief conversation but I'll take that exchange we had over a gained minute or two any day.  In T1 I was organized and knew every step I was going to take.  I think my only mishap was not getting suntan lotion put on the back of my neck.  As I was getting my legs lubed down with lotion, I was scouring the crowds for Team Marty.  There they were screaming and yelling.  I got kinda sidetracked and took off without having the neck area covered with Bullfrog.  Luckily, it did not come back to hurt me.  In my haste in trying to get through transition and to Bella, I had my head down and I was charging forward towards the bikes, I looked up and there was 303 Grand Poopah, Dana taking my picture with a huge smile on her face.  What a great honor it is to race, represent and be a part of Team 303 Triathlon.
T1 chute between swim and bikes
I went into this bike section feeling really strong...both mentally and physically.  Although I feel I had a shortened training season in preparation for IM Boulder my bike training rides and races leading up to this day had been pretty strong.  I was riding 5+ hours of wattage (power) on my bike unlike I had ever ridden before.  Coach Eric and I had reviewed what my numbers were going to be on the bike.  The game plan was to ride at a lesser wattage output then capable in order to have plenty of gas in the tank for the run.  In the end, it doesn't matter how fast you swam or rode your bike or cruised through transition areas, if you walk the marathon and give all that time back.  I knew this and agreed 100% with Coach E's assessment and game plan for me.  I was coming off of failures in my past few attempts at running off the bike with my lingering Hammy issues.  Just a few weeks prior, I pretty much walked the entire 10k at The Boulder Peak Triathlon. So let's save that leg for the run was the idea.  I got to the bike racks and much to my amusement, surprise and delight the vast majority of bicycles were still in place.  Had I had that good of a swim??  I looked down at my Garmin....Damn, I forgot to stop my watch after exiting the water.  I quickly clicked through the transition and went to the bike section on my watch.  I mounted Bella and started to head out.  But before I left the reservoir, I saw Jessica and my Dad and I shouted at them.  I think I caught Team Marty by surprise by the startled looks turned into big smiles on their faces.  I didn't see my Cousins or Mom but heard them as I peddled by on the other side of the road.  I hope they aren't on opposite sides of the roads all day as that will be too confusing to me.  Which side am I too look at and say hello??? I thought as I departed the reservoir and made the left onto 51st St.
The "You Da Man" point
In typical fashion, coming out of the reservoir and hitting those first few inclines people are pumped and bang those hills pretty hard.  I have learned that if I just stay disciplined and to my power numbers, I'll catch up to quite a few of those folks in time as they fade from going too hard too early.  So I worked on keeping my adrenaline in check and rode my numbers.  Got some fuel in me as I just swam for over an hour.  My nutrition plan for the bike was pretty simple.  Every 15 minutes I would drink.  On the :30 after the hour I would take edurolyte salt tabs and every hour on the hour I would ingest fuel.  I would grab 2 bottles of water at each aide station whether I needed or not.  One would refill my water bottle in my aero bars and one would go in my jersey, just in case.  If I did not use all my just in case water by the time I got to the next aide station, I would dump the remainder of that water over my head to help cool me down.  This nutrition plan has basically worked in some shape or form for me since IM Cozumel.  I learned some big nutritional lessons at that race and have adapted or adjusted accordingly race to race.  
The Hanging Loose and Rocking On Pose
The course was 2 approx 42 mile loops with a final out and back over some Boulder Hills before you head into downtown and to transition area #2 at Boulder HS.  At about mile 30 just after passing Mary's Deli in Hygiene you have a nice down hill that crosses train tracks as I hit those tracks my salt tabs went flying out of my aero bars.  This must have been a common occurrence as the road was littered with debris.  I put on my brakes after a milli second thought if I should stop or not and walked back carefully scouring the road for my container holding these salt tabs.  There was no way in the world I would want to ride another 80 miles with a marathon following without electrolytes in my system.  I just hoped the container didn't open and the pills would be thrown around the floor.  At that point I would have crawled on my hands and knees to get as many of those tabs back as possible.  I noticed a few water bottles amongst full nutrition canisters.  How in the world could people have dropped these items and not stopped to pick them up??  This was pure nuts to me.  Especially at mile 30, it wasn't mile 100 or so.  Oh well.  I found my undisturbed bottle of salt tabs on the edge of the road, put them back on my aero bars and made sure they were secured by my "I'm a babe" bracelet.  I thought to myself....I certainly am.  I chuckled and off I road.  Those bands were serving their purpose for sure.  It was great seeing Marian out on the first lap as we were leap frogging one another.  Seems like she took me on the inclines and I had the descents.  It was fun riding with her for a little while.   She was also racing a bit injured.  We shared thoughts of what would happen "if" and also what was next in our seasons.  It was a nice exchange and brief bond for me.  Unfortunately I later learned that Marian did have to pull out during the run because of such injury.  Mile 44 was approaching and I knew this is where I should see Team Marty.  A great location where the bike section passes by 3x and is around the corner from my buddy Nick and PF's house, where my family was roughing it to a buffet of food and wine while I peddled.
Mid Fives to Team Marty

Team Marty almost doubled in size as Chris & Erin along with Nick & PF joined my family and Jessica  in cheering me on.  I was totally thrilled to see everyone and made a wide right turn for lap #2 onto Rte 36 in order to give everyone a hand slap and mid Five.  Definitely one of the high moments for me in this race!  Up 36 and a right onto Neva Bella and Iwere riding. Exactly where we were supposed to be.  Then mile 55 happened approx. 3 hours on the bike and riding up on 63rd. My power started to drop. I felt like my energy was being sucked out of me.  I started running through the checklist in my mind. I am eating, I am drinking, I am riding on my numbers, I am taking in electrolytes.....why is this happening.  I could not conceive why after about 5 hours into the race I was being zapped.  This is the moment when the Demons caught me.  Coach Eric once told me when I first started racing, that the Demons will always get you out on an Ironman course.  The goal is to make it 10 minutes from the finish line not 10 minutes into the swim or in this case 5 hours into the race.  All I could do was watch as more and more people begin to pass me.  Dave was one of them and looking strong.  I recall thinking that he must have had a nice swim and was wondering if I'd see him again on the course.  He had just done IMNZ in March and I was curious if he was fully recovered.  I now had the long climb up Nelson Road.  My right side glutes and lower back began to hurt, badly and there wasn't a thing I could really do about it.  Suck it up Butter Cup, came to mind.  That and Warrior Mode.  I definitely did not feel like a Babe at this moment.  I came to the special needs bag drop area and knew there was nothing in there that could help me at this point.  A spare inner tube or C02 cartridge wasn't going to give me my power back.  Seeing Tricia dressed as a Super Hero for the 2nd time helped to lift my spirits as my appreciation for her and her volunteering was huge.   This is a big advantage of racing on your home turf.

Team Marty @ Mile 60
Being chased down to get dumped on
Approx. Mile 60 I got another boost.  Team Marty drove ahead of me to surprise me out on the course where I did not expect them to be.   Can I say it a billion times????.......huge appreciation.  Just after I passed my support crew a volunteer chased me down and sprayed me with ice cold water and handed me my 2nd water bottle from that aide station.  Chek it out here....Mile 60 on Bike Just listen to Team Marty scream even as I've passed and made the right turn up and on 36.  Awesome!!  I was slightly revived and feeling a little bit better though my power numbers were not showing it.   I noticed a little bit of salt forming on my shorts and decided to alter my salt intake.  Instead of 2 tablets every :30 after the hour I changed it to 1 tablet ever :15 and :45.  I also changed my food from every hour on the hour to a smaller amount but at every :00 and :30.  I continued to drink every :15.  Hours 3 to 4 were quite tough for me on the bike and about 1000 racers passed me by but around 4:30 I started to pick it up again.  I recall Nancy passing me by and thinking "great for her".  this was her 1st Ironman and she was having such a wonderful season racing and training for this event.  I recalled back in March leading a ride through the second half of the course with Nancy and how far she had come.  My power was still low but my spirits were higher.  I wasn't losing any more power but leveled it off.  At mile 85 or so, I came on 2 racers that were having a conversation.  One of the racers was telling the other guy that he ran out of salt tablets and was struggling.  Here we go again.  I've seen this at almost every Ironman that I've done and similar to the other times, I rode up to the guy once he was alone and offered him some edurolytes.  Not wanting to short change myself, I apologized that I could not give him more but handed over 4 edurolyte tablets. I believe I had enough to last the final 35+ miles on the bike.  I figured, at least bought the guy some time to find more and not to continue to drop in electrolyte deficit.  I bid him the best and I peddled away.  

Hour 6 crept up and in my original game plan I would have been at or about T2 by this time. I was still an hour or so out from that point.  Not happy with myself.  I was quite frustrated because I would easily ride close to 50 watts more of power on my easy long training rides but today it was not happening.  Again, I just kept thinking something was not right.  Besides the pain in my back and glutes now the outside of my left foot was killing me.  What the hell is this from??  I kept wondering to myself.  I loosened the velcro on my bike shoes in case the pain was coming from my feet swelling and my shoes were too tight.  This did nothing as I continued to ache in a spot that has never hurt before in my life.  What is going on??  I kept riding at my slow and powerless pace drifting back and forth from being mad and frustrated with myself to singing and smiling and being thankful that I am alive and out on this beautiful day.  Out on a more desolate part of the course two really cool things in particular made me thankful and smile.  The first was seeing an absolutely fantastic sign that read......
made by Sammi. The second was passing the 303 Snocone Tent.  Although I did not partake in a Scratch Snocone.  It was great seeing my dedicated team (Jen, Nicole, Sasha & Dana) from 303 out there.  I know what a difference 303 Triathlon made to the racers last year and seeing them out there this year with snocones I could only imagine how much joy they were bringing to the athletes.  Much appreciation for these wonderful folks in my life.
303!, 303!, 303!,303!

I'm guessing Sasha was a hit

Nicole & Jen making racers happy

303 Chief Dana was taking all the pictures
Here's the big difference between IM Boulder 1.0 and 2.0.  Version 1.0 I was non stop laughing and singing and having a blast while racing.  2.0 had a lot of this "frustration" of not being able to perform as I knew I should or believed I could.  Coach Eric's words of "Race with what you have on the day" kept ringing through but at times were drowned out by the sheer wonderment of "WHY?"   Why is this happening?  It shouldn't!

I hit the hill on 52.  I hit the hill on Lookout Road. I hit the hill on 57th where I over peddled and pulled some stuff in my groin in Boulder IM Version 1.0.    Just one more pass by Team Marty and I'll be heading down 26th and bringing it in off the bike.  I began to worry about the run.  I was supposed to be saving it for the run.  That was the game plan.  I couldn't even produce the low power that was supposed to be a breeze for me on the ride.  I was convinced that 2000 people passed me on the bike.  My lower back was aching, my glutes were hurting and the outside of my left foot was killing me.  I'm a wreck, I thought.  I can't wait to see Team Marty by Jay and 28th that'll at least lift my spirits.  But, they were not there.  My heart sunk.  Huh? What?  OK, maybe they are on Nicks corner just a block down.  But to no avail.  Dang, we must have missed one another and perhaps they are already at the run.  Oh well, I thought.  A left turn on 26th and about 300 yards down on the right side of the road there they were!!!! Loren was looking like he was having a blast.  Mom and Dad were screaming and rooting and hollering.   Nick was taking pictures, Chris was videotaping &  PF, Karen,Erin were ringing those cowbells as loud as they could.   Jess was beaming from ear to ear.  At first, I wondered if it was the affect of them having too much wine and that they were standing out in the sun too long.  But it wasn't.  What a great site this was too me.  I needed that.  They all should know      just     how     much     I needed that.  Let's do this.........

Boulder 1.0 - 10:00
Boulder 2.0 - 9:52

Ride (different course 2014 vs 2015)
Boulder 1.0 - 6:38:29  187/391 = 47.8%
Boulder 2.0 - 7:07:15   217/370 = 58.6%

The Run ~ Unlike in transition1, I was slow in transition 2.  So slow that this was the slowest transition to date of my Ironman experiences.  I didn't know what to do.  I could barely even walk let alone set off for a marathon.  Although my back and ass hurt this left foot thing, made it impossible to pretty much even walk.  I just sat there.  I changed my socks.  Put on some skin lube.  Thank goodness no blisters were forming as per in Cozumel and Fortaleza.  I took off my bike helmet and put on my running visor.  Loaded up with nutrition and got some suntan lotion applied and I hobbled off.  What can I do?  Can I run?  Can I jog?  Can I even walk?  I started out on my exploration of ....what can I do?  I did my best to try and figure it out.  I began to try and work out whatever was going on in the lower half of my body.  I was thankful for being off the bike.  While jogging, I could try and work things out.  Alter my gate, adjust my stride, move and stretch and wiggle unlike you can do while being in the saddle.  About 5 miles in my trying to figure it out and make the pain go away shuffle I came across one of the biggest smiles out belonged to Sammi.  What a joy seeing her and then to my surprise, Kevin again.  Surprise because I was unaware he was finished with his volunteering duties and now to be out on the course giving a boost to us all.  Big hugs to both and again another reminder of appreciation for such wonderful caring friends.  I made my out and back to both ends of the Y or Flux Capacitor as Race Director Dave calls it and passed Kevin and Sammi for another brief moment of joy.  Not too soon after that I saw Kenny.  He managed to get some shots of me for 5280 video and I was able to brag about how my Garmin watch had actually come together.  You can see that here 5280 Boulder IM Run Course at :50.  Kenny always brings a smile to my face.  Whether it's Tuesday morning morning swim or Sunday afternoon dragging my ass in Boulder Ironman.

Dude my watch is working!!!
My attempts at running really started to mess with my knees.  My left foot hurt so much that I had to alter my gate and stride.  But altering my stride I was putting pressure on my years of rugby knees and they began to hurt.  I pretty much felt my day was over as my body could not do what I had been training it to do.  Experience has told me that once I feel the pain in my knees danger and trouble is teetering on that tight rope and it had to be managed.   More and more I was coming to the resolution that there was no hope for a strong or even a decent marathon and that all my thoughts of best finish yet would have to be thrown out the window.

Leaving the Flux Capacitor
Bridge to Scott Carpenter Park

Mile 9 was approaching and that would mean meeting up with Team Marty.   The plan was that I was going to pick up a  passenger when I got to them.  Jess was going to run, walk, shuffle with me for the next 5ish miles till I got back to Team Marty again. 
Hi Fives with dad
Here is a video of a typical pass through Team Marty central.  Mile 9ish on marathon  Can you tell we are a hugging and kissing type of family??  Wouldn't want it any other way!!  So Jess and I were off and it was a great reprieve because I could share some of my thoughts and not dwelling on my knee hurting.  The right leg was dead.  Just not firing.  Similar to The Boulder Peak and every brick training session I've had since the injury just 6 weeks back.  You can see the barely a jog in the video as we left the group. About a mile later out popped Susan onto the course for a hug and kiss.  Super fantastic to see her out there.  A year ago we trained together weekly for this race so it was wonderful to see her out there in support for me and the rest of the racers. She decided to join Jess and I for our casual Sunday Stroll.  A few hundred yards after that, I saw Coach Eric come out on the course.    When I think about the people in my life that I am concerned about disappointing with my athletic performance or should I say lack there of, besides myself, Coach Eric ranks right up there.  A good coach knows who you are and what you have got to offer.  He should be with you every day. Wondering and thinking about your mental and physical state.  He should be with you for every training session even if he is a million miles away as he reviews your data on Training Peaks and plans out what is best for you for your next session etc.  Maybe that is an unrealistic expectation for a Coach.  I can only speak of how I was when I coached for all those years.  You put so much of your time, energy, heart, mind and plain old hours into your athletes.  They become an extension of yourself out there with their performance.   When I don't or can't perform, after the routine of beating myself up, I immediately feel bad that I have let down my coach and feel a great weight of disappointment.  When I saw EK it was dual emotion that went through me.  It was great to see him out on the course.  It was also a bit of a fear to see him.  Not unlike a dog after their guardian returns home after he rummaged through the trash.  A feeling of guilt and wanting to hide.  I have not had a solid or even semi decent marathon in my past Ironman races.  Always some reason or "excuse".  In Cozumel and to a greater extent in Fortaleza. my feet were like hamburger meat, all chopped up with multiple blisters and with ripped off toe nails.  Boulder Version 1.0 saw a pulled groin and really tight leg muscles from the last hill on 57th st while riding and now here I am again failing at the marathon section of the race with leg issues from hammy injury from playing "Kickball".  Something my coach did not want me to do and warned me against doing.  I think we both felt that Boulder 2.0 would be different.  That monkey was finally going to get off my back.  This obviously wasn't the case and this was the first time I had seen Coach E since my poor ride and now a walking marathon. Here comes Marty with his tail between his legs to his Coach.  Coach Eric was great.  He didn't rub my nose in it or whack me with a newspaper, but he clumped along with me as he was wearing his bike shoes down the Boulder Creek Path.  He spoke words of encouragement and even discussed the idea of stopping the pursuit of finishing Ironman Boulder.  We decided that I would keep going as long as my knees did no hurt to any greater extent.  He wanted to keep me on a short lease and for me to pull myself if it felt worse.  Better to end it today and rehab then to push it and be out for a long time.  I know he was 100% right but it was difficult to hear and I knew that it would even be more difficult for anyone to pull me off the course, pain or no pain.  I am typically not the smartest athlete when it comes to that sort of thing.  Jess and I left Eric and Susan and continued our way to Eben G. Fine park.  After my chat with Coach Eric, I felt that weight lifted off my shoulder and began to enjoy myself much more on the course.  Unlike I had felt thus far in Version 2.0 and more like that all day from Version 1.0.  Passing through the masses of spectators downtown, out of no where, I spotted, my cousin from another family, Dianne.  I hadn't seen Dianne in almost 30 years, but she was out here as her husband George was also participating in the race.  A hug and kiss and I was off shuffling again with Jess.  A mile or two up the road was Laura, Charles, Cisco and a few more BTC members.  And so began silly face making during photos on the run.  I used the open mouth one a lot on the course and for the rest of the day.  
Charles grabbing a shot of Jess & I
Somewhere on the course, I ran in to Travis.  This was his first full IM and we've had nice exchanges leading up to the race.  Sharing of newbie advice etc.  He was having some nutritional issues but hanging in there.  We spent some time on and off for the remainder for the race supporting one another.  Heading back towards the family, we ran into Susan again for one last hug, kiss and selfie.
With Susan @ mile 13ish
Back to the family mile 14ish
What a special treat it was for me to be able to spend these last 5 miles or so with Jess by my side.  She endures the daily grind of my training and preparation and it made it extra special for her to be literally taking part of this journey with me.   I dropped Jess off with the family and was more than 1/2 way through the marathon.  Insert another hugging and kissing video here.......Mile 14ish on the marathon  Two great quotes from friends about my experience with my family out on the course were "The Great Ironman Kissing Bandit" was John's and "It's so great that your races not only have water stations to stay hydrated but love stations to keep the love going." from Jane.  That was so true as my family and friends kept the love going all day.  Another pass of Sammi and Kevin with more hugs and kisses.  Heading out to the Baseline point of the flux capacitor, fellow newbie IMer Susan passed me by.  We chatted for a little bit, both in our 4th Ironman in 20 (me) and 22 (Susan) months.  I hit the turn around at Baseline and to my surprise there was Team Marty with Ice cream and Gelatto, none was Vegan for me of course.  They picked up Jim, Erin's Dad to add to the party and fanfare.  This was truly turning into a party for me.  Then I ran into the Iron Tiara herself Kristina and she shot this picture and quote....."Always the best smile out here!"

Thanks Kristina.  It's easy to smile when there is so much support and love from our community and in my life.  The run section wasn't all smiles to me as it was tough seeing fellow triathletes and coaches out there watching me walk.  They'd cheer words of encouragement to me to pick it up and get moving but they had no idea what was going through my body.  I hate excuses and wasn't about to stop to try and explain what was going on.  Let them think I am weak, I thought.  I really couldn't care less at that point.   I'd politely nod or shake their hands but wanted to hide in the same breathe.  I saw plenty of fellow local athletes out there struggling as well. We'd exchange pleasantries or perhaps shuffle by one another stone faced almost like we couldn't say a word to one another.  Too pissed off to acknowledge or more like embarrassed to be seen in such a state.  It is all good as we each go through our journeys, our highs and lows or demons of the race.  I saw several racers being tended to by medical staff and a few laid out along the course.  You simply knew their day was over.  Mile 18 something changed in me.  I wasn't quite sure what it was at the time.  I was able to pick up my shuffle to an easy jog.  I caught up and saw Dave again and we chatted briefly.  He was having GI issues but hanging in there.  We high fived and off I went.  I than began doing 30 x 30 or 30 x 1 min.  Basically running for 30 seconds and walking for 30 seconds or running for 30 seconds and then walking for 1 minute depending on the terrain or how my body felt or if I met up with people and chatted. Russell, Brian, Amber, Esra, Jonathan, Darren, Colleen, Pete, John, Katie, Jen & Jen....the list just goes on and on as to how many wonderful people I knew that were out there racing, volunteering or supporting.  I almost feel bad listing folks, as I know I missed about a billion people but the point is that everyone was part of this final step that is my Boulder Ironman Version 2.0 journey.  The celebration as I called it of completing my 4th Ironman race in 20 months as a triathlete newbie.  I was running.  I wasn't blazing but running at mile 19 of the marathon of an Ironman race.  Something I have not done yet to date with exception of when you get to the finisher shoot filled with adrenaline.  My numbers show that my last 6 miles I actually descended in my splits meaning I was running each mile faster and faster.  I passed Team Marty one final time in the dark for yes another round of hugs an kisses.   It felt like it was darker earlier this year than last and became tougher to see people on the Creek Path.  I caught up and passed Susan and Travis and wished then each a successful finish.  Welcomed Travis to the exclusive IM Finishers club and made my way to Eden G Fine Park one last time.  Along the route I heard people make comments like "holy shit, this guy is motoring for so late in the race", "Fantastic Pace"  In the aftermath, I have come to learn that my body was getting back to its regular state.  Meaning, earlier in the day most of my right upper leg muscles had shut down.  My quads, glutes, back were working overtime to pick up for the lack of being able to use my hamstring and stopped firing. Once my right leg went, my left started working double time to make up for the difference, hence the foot pain from all the extra weight and work on the bike it had to do.  My 5 hour nap while marathoning enabled my body to get back to it's somewhat  "normal" state and I was able to start running.  Pretty friggen interesting no?  Again, I didn't realize the whys at the time, I just knew I could run again and I did.  I also didn't want to push too much hence I continued to do the 30 x 30 rather than just an all out run.  I felt great.  I reflected a bit on the day during this time and thinking, Yes, I am doing it.  I've never experienced a race like this.  It certainly was not what I was expecting.  I was overwhelmed with feelings of appreciation.  I thanked every volunteer all day long, that I came in contact with as I am in awe of them giving of their time and energy to take care of me.  I appreciate and am humbled by my fellow athletes and their journies to get to the starting line.  I couldn't even put into words my thoughts of appreciation for my family, my girl and my friends for being there all day for me.  Running all over the course, traveling halfway across the country and supporting me every day just to be there for and with me to be a part of this final celebration.   It sounds so cliche, but truly there are no words that can describe the love and appreciation I have for all of them.   Coach Eric and my training partners with Boulder Tri Club, EK Endurance and my 303 Triathlon Family all came to mind.  It takes a village is the saying and it speaks the truth.  I took that right turn the one that takes you off the Creek Path and towards 13th St.  Dark and desolate, I noticed I had the runway to the finish line pretty much to myself.  I ran into Kristina again and then Kenny.  He asked if I would take his Go Pro with me through the finishers shoot as he was working for 5280 Elite and 303 Triathlon.  My mind went to, "Will I be disqualified?"  then "How do I work this thing?" Sure, let's give it a try, I figured.  Up 13th and crossing Canyon Dr. I ran into Charles and the gang one last time. 
Taking flight to the finish
The lights got brighter and the crowds got bigger and louder.  Version 2.0 felt like a more festive finish line than 1.0.  I entered the chute and it was time to take flight......I was now flying to the finish.  Unable to really see anyone or anything I was in my own mind.   I raised my hands in the air. 

As I was approaching the finish line I thought about my traditional heel kick that I have given  in my 3 previous IM Finishes.  My original thought was to do the same.  But it didn't feel right to do that right now.  This race was different.  The celebration wasn't about me but about the appreciation and love and thanks I had for everyone that was with me.  I chose not to click my heels bringing attention to myself but to just finish and cross the line in appreciation for everyone else.  So silently I gave thanks once again to everyone and I crossed the line for us.  What a journey, my best celebration finish.  

Here's the Flight to Finish Video.....Flying to Finish.  Crossing the line I was greeted with, yes, more hugs and kisses and more friends with huge smiles on their faces.  Some of them were sweaty delicious hugs....Finish line Hugs.  It was my mom's 1st live Ironman journey.  Although she has been with me on every step for the previous three finishes it is something else to be there live.

Sangue....with my girls
Fantastic to share such an experience with my Cousin Loren.
All smiles after the race!

Immediately after I was greeted by my family and friends it was back to business.  Straight to the medical tent for ice for the knee.  Keep the swelling down as it's back to work on Tuesday morning swim with Coach Eric.
Much thanks to Coach Eric as we've finished
4 Ironman Races in 20 months together
One last Goofy Faced Photo....for now.

But before Tuesday comes there is one more tradition to follow through with.  Coach Eric along with two fellow training partners, Jessica and Anush, joined Team Marty and we made our way to the nearest bar for a tradiional post race Bloody Mary.

Here's to Boulder Ironman 2015.  All in all a fantastic day filled with 15 hours of me managing my inability to race to my potential and having full appreciation for those sharing the day with me.  Version 2.0 was slower and more difficult in many ways.  Tougher to get to the starting line and definitely tougher to get to the finish line.  In the end my smile was just as big and my heart just a full.

"Be in a state of gratitude for everything that shows up in your life. Be thankful for the storms as well as the smooth sailing. What is the lesson or gift in what you are experiencing right now? Find your joy not in what's missing in your life but in how you can serve." - Wayne Dyer

Boulder 1.0 - 11:55
Boulder 2.0 - 17:07

Run (different course 2014 vs 2015)
Boulder 1.0 - 6:27:17  
Boulder 2.0 - 6:32:15   

Boulder 1.0 - 14:45:08  203/391 = 52%
Boulder 2.0 - 15:26:10   214/370 = 57%

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

IM Boulder Race Recap 2015...Version 2.0 ~ The Beginning

I can't believe it has been over 3 weeks already since I made that left turn up 13th street towards the light, the noise, the crowds, the finish line of Ironman Boulder 2015.  I've documented in this blog over the last few months the difficult journey it has been for me to get to this starting line.  This race..... is simply that, just a race.  Just another day out and about in the world, doing the things that I love to do.  I'm not curing cancer.  I didn't loose 300lbs on my way to get to this race.  I didn't have dear ones leave this planet during the journey to that which is IM Boulder.  I am humbled a billion times over by each entrants personal journey to get to the starting line.  To me the race is a celebration.  The celebration of that journey, for each of us no matter how bumpy or smooth our path was to get to the Boulder Reservoir at 5am on August 2nd.  Emotionally to me, in 2014, that celebration personally was much more grand than in '15.  That is not to take away anything from my experiences from this race.  Version 2.0 was a very different race for me.  Version 2.0 was much more about my journey, then that final celebration.  It was a day about my family that came out to support me and my support system, not about clicking my heals crossing the finish line.

Team Marty @ The Boulder Reservoir
At the end of the day, in my eyes and head, the race was a disappointment to myself from a performance standpoint.  Secretly I harbored visions of a higher % placement in my age group than the 3 Ironman races I had completed in the previous 20 months.  Not only a higher percentage but about 10% better compared to my other fellow age group competitors.  Although I know time does not signify how good or bad you do in a triathlon, its all based on what percentage that you finished in your age group, I also harbored a secret desired finish time.   I (perhaps unrealistically) felt my recent injuries would not play a part and get in the way of my desires of race day performance.  I realize that these are very selfish statements to make.  And ones somewhat not customary for me to make aloud.  The truth of the mater is, in the larger picture, those that care about and for me could care less if I came in 1st place or 2500th.  Of course they want me to reach my goals and my dreams but above all else they want me to be happy and healthy.  Version 2.0 was 15 hours of me managing my inability to race to my potential and having full appreciation for those sharing the day with me.  I've been asked "How was the experience?" "How was your race?" and until I just put that last sentence on paper (computer) I have not been able to sum up my day better than I just did.....Version 2.0 was 15 hours of me managing my inability to race to my potential and having full appreciation for those sharing the day with me.  It was definitely a high and a low, a yin and yang, a full day of frustration vs. sheer love & joy.
The High
The Low
A few days prior to Boulder 2014 was very easy for me.  My family came into town and were stationed in my Boulder home. We went to registration together. I did my final rides around town visiting Winston and the Oreo Cows.  I went to work.  It was all very smooth and easy.  Version 2.0 was a completely different story.  Recently moving down to Lakewood saw me trying to adjust to an unfamiliar territory for pre race training rides, a 1.5 hr drive back and forth to Boulder for registration and gear drop, and pre race bike tune up.  In 2015, a lot more coordination of scheduling for myself and others was needed.  If I forgot something it wasn't a 2 second ride back to my house but a haul back down to Denver.  I don't think I was prepared for how different this change would be.  My chief concern was my family.  In 2014, I knew that my family had my house to go to in order to use the bathroom, refresh, grab a bite or just rest and get out of the heat/sun in between cheering me on out on the course.  I had them set up in a hospitality suite where I worked loaded with food, drink and a private restroom while I was out on the run course.  All I had to concentrate on was being happy and racing in my home town.  Version 2.0 saw little of that and it took a lot of coordination and concentration to make sure my out of town loved ones were going to be ok.  This was not better or worse, just different.
1st IM Finisher Shirt-Last Brick Run
1st IM Bike Jersey-Last Brick Ride 
My dear friends, Chris and Erin were more than gracious to open their home to myself & Jess along with my folks the night prior and night after the race to crash.  This took a huge burden off of trying to get up to catch a 4am bus at the Boulder HS after driving up from Denver and then having to drive back at midnight after a full day of racing.  Equally awesome were great friends Nick & Pui Fong  allowing my family to base camp at their place after the swim and during the bike section of the course and coordinating where my family should be and when while I was out there.  Food, drink and wine would be plenty at their place and what a great proximity their house is to the 2 loop bike course.  This was spectacular.  Version 2.0 had me rely and depend on a support group second to none.  So I laid out all my equipment. We packed our bags and headed to Boulder to register and race.
Laying it all there.  One last check

Team Marty checking in
Registration Silly Face tradition

Paying homage to my last IM Tradition~ Fortaleza
Boulder Tradition - Going to Lululemon and finding your name
With all the differences between IM Boulder 1.0 and 2.0 I tried to maintain a sense of prerace routine and normality for myself and my traditions.  Traditions such as making silly faces at the camera while registering and wearing the last IMs Finisher Shirt to Registration and swinging by the finish line to say "I shall return".
Selfie Tradition at finish line.  We'll see you in a few hours.
My pre-race meals have become as standard as I can get them.  Version 2.0 was exactly the same as Version 1.0 same meal, same wine, same restaurant with a slight change in the supporting cast of Team Marty.  A nice relaxing meal, avoiding the downtown craziness and the welcome reception.  A chance to just enjoy my family, my gal and my friends.
Rigatoni with Asparagus, Spinach, Artichoke Hearts & Sun Dried Tomatoes....oh and a glass, ok maybe two of Sangiovese

The Swim ~ So for the first time in a billion years the Boulder Reservoir is wetsuit illegal for a IM hosted triathlon.  What does that mean??  The Ironman website states...Wet suits are prohibited with temperatures over 76.1 degrees Fahrenheit (24.5 degrees Celsius). Athletes who choose to wear a wetsuit in water temperatures between above 76.1 degrees Fahrenheit (24.5 degrees Celsius) will not be eligible for awards, including World Championship slots.  So a conversation ensues with Coach E and we decide, I am not going to try and place in any age group championship this time around :-)  I might as well go with a wet suit.  We then decide to go sleeveless since the water is warm and it'll help to keep me cooler and less a chance to overheat.
The calm before the storm.

Up at 3am, I get a good 4~5 hours of sleep and I'm happy with that.  Some oatmeal, start hydrating and a bagel for breakfast.  Grab a banana for the road and Team Marty is off for the HS to catch a bus to the reservoir.  It was a beautiful morning with the promise to be a mild day as compared to Boulder '14.  I set Team Marty near a tent.  Family is secured, now time for some business.  I check in with Bella and load my hydration, nutrition and tool kit onto her.  The night prior I grabbed some red rubber wrist band bracelets to mount my tools on my aerobars.  They promote the Boulder Babes Rugby Club and have "I am a Babe" printed on them.  I carefully put those band on the bike so I can read those words throughout my ride.   Prior to heading to the reservoir I also marked my hands with a WM as a reminder that besides being a babe I am in full Warrior Mode today.  
Warrior Mode
I have a nice conversation with Bella as we are feeling super ready for the day.  I remind her how much I love and appreciate her and what a wonderful day we are going to have together.  She reminds me that the rubber bands that say "I am a Babe" are meant for her.  We share a chuckle together, I kiss her saddle and back to the family I go.   Adding to the list of in person supporters is my cousin Loren and his wife Karen, who flew in from NY the day prior to be a part of Team Marty.  So super psyched to have them make the journey.  I also meet up with Coach Eric to briefly review the day.  It's time.  I put on my wetsuit, down a Hammer Gel and some water, kisses and hugs around and off to the starting corral.

A little Bella Love before the race.

Pre swim connecting with the family

By the time I got to my fellow wetsuit racers, which happened to be the majority of those racing today, I was pretty far in the back.  I couldn't have this.  I was a bit concerned with being right in the front as I didn't want to be swam over and I certainly didn't want to be in the middle of the pack.  So I continued to make my way through the crowd of neoprene until I found a spot where I felt "comfortable".  I went to the far left of the line so that I was at the close/short end of the racers.  My game plan was to be just to the inside of the buoys around the course.  I checked my watch for the umpteenth time, for those of you following the 5280 Triathlon videos you'll get my reference.  Last year I didn't work my watch correctly and didn't have a clue as to my swim splits.  I had to figure it out while riding the course.  Version 2.0 would be different.  I was confidant that after 20 months of watch follies, I was going to get it right.   ummmmm yeah sorta.  BOOM the cannon goes off and so do I.  I was real happy of my placement in the group and have a free left side and a crowd to my right.  A few kicks and body rubbing pursued as we made our way around the large rectangle of orange buoys.
A great day for a swim
They were laid out about 8 long make a turn a few across and about 8 to return to shore.  I'm guessing somewhere about buoy #5 I realized my right side lower back was tight and a bit in pain.  I spent a far bit of that 3am time rolling out my lower back and stretching my hips to try and give my injured hammy a chance for today's race.  I knew that was my first sign of trouble but thought, perhaps it'll work its way out.  I continued my stroke and my breathing and just kept my thoughts on a rhythm, on trying to swim straight and to stay relaxed.  Buoy after buoy I counted each one.  I wish I had remembered exactly how many buoys there were for each length of that rectangle.  This is something I should pay attention to better next race.  I convinced myself there were 8.  Along the way I attempted to draft to conserve energy, I caught up to a good number of those racers not wearing wet suits and passed them by and simply tried to retain good form.  I felt strong and was happy.  Before I knew the shore line got larger and larger and this 2.4 mile swim was over.
Out of the water and towards T1

All in all I am happy with my swim.  Brief facts and stats.....Finished 712 out of 2770 swimmers or about at the top 25%.   83rd in my division out of 370 or top 22%.  Not bad for this boy who learned to swim before his 1st Ironman 20 months ago.  I also had sooo much fun swimming I figured I would swim an approximate an extra 500 yards above the 2.4 miles according to my Garmin watch from my zig zag style.  Need to work on better open water swim sighting.  Up the ramp I went, as I had a date with a few strippers.  I laid down and in 3 seconds flat 2 gals stripped me of my wetsuit.  Gotta love that!  No time for a cigarette, I now had a 112 mile date with Bella I needed to get ready for.

Boulder 1.0 - 1:17  105/391 = 26.8%
Boulder 2.0 - 1:20  83/370 = 22.4%