Monday, August 6, 2012

2012 Ironman Boulder 70.3 Race Report

Let it be known starting out how grateful I am in exceeding (place wise) my expectations in the age group finish. Dealing with what one medical expert calls extensor tendinitis since Ironman Coeur D’Alene limiting my run to a handful since well over a month ago, there wasn’t much to expect aside from something short of disaster. Training has not gone well until a week ago. However, I only had two runs the last two weeks due to this acute issue keeping me from my #1 strength.

Wake up time was 5 AM. Quick coffee, Clif Bar, toast, fill the tires (disc wheel for this race), ride the bike the entire 3 miles to the start. Simple plan I follow living so close to all the local races—holds true for the sprint, oly & half races we have here in Boulder. Since Ironman CDA on June 24th, I’ve been 100% inactive for 2 weeks while fishing in Canada…then sporadic training and low energy levels leading right up to the day before the Boulder 70.3. My “pop” in the legs only showed hints of re-surfacing about a week ago although most of the time the legs were admittedly flat. It showed at the Boulder Peak too…flat. No zip, no pop, nadda. The outlook for 70.3 wasn’t that good given I’ve run more in a week preparing for IM CDA than I did SINCE Ironman CDA (I’ll just call it IM CDA from here out).

As a coach, I wouldn’t have suggested an athlete to race with an injury like this. However, it had not been really tested in a long, long time (the foot)…additionally, this race, like the sprint & oly (The Boulder Peak Tri), were all C races. Nothing more than a training day. No expectations really, not even finishing for sure was an expectation. I knew the run was going to be tough, after all, no running right? The next item up for bid…the HALF iron distance is my single worst distance—ever, always has been. After that, HEAT is my Nemesis, after all, look at my historical Kona finishes. Never have done well there, but once—which still isn’t that impressive (to me anyhow). Hell, I didn’t even do a warm up for this race aside from a few hundred yards of freestyle & backstroke because of wanting to save “the foot” for later.

Long and short of pre-race was during the Anthem, I realized how lucky I am to be American and out here doing this sport, enjoying it while others in some countries are dodging bullets and lucky to ever see a clear blue sky like I was under, once the smoke from the bomb shells disappear. I digress…there were about 255 registered in the 40-44 AG. There were 15 waves total in the race, I was wave 8. The one thing with these Boulder races is the sun…no way could we see the far turn buoy. Starting far right actually nearest the buoy, when the horn blew I sprinted for a couple hundred yards. Then settled into what I felt was a warm up pace. Oddly enough, I found myself alone. No cap colors the same as mine. Was I in front? I had no idea…never been in that position on the swim before. I kept imagining the underwater Olympic footage of the freestyle races. For some reason it relaxed me and things felt more efficient than usual. By the end of the swim exit, I looked around…nobody in front…my first “FIRST out of the water” swim in a big-time high caliber race. There was ONE guy faster from wave two of our AG, but I still claimed the SECOND fastest swim in the 40-44 Age Group. Awesome…makes me want to work more on my swim now to keep it going!

T1—looking at T1 & T2 times, combined, there is nobody close in transition, it’s been that way all season long. Some years I’m slower but this year, great transitions, nailed all of them so far. I headed out onto the bike and saw Jen, wife of Mark (who I saw just before my wave went off). Mark is a guy I coached a couple years ago—well, I had given a shout out to Jen to GO! She kindly emailed me today actually, informing me that myself & some other guy glued to my rear wheel from my AG, were way out in front of everyone else. Quickly making way through the previous waves, the crowds thinned north of town. About mile 5 “the pass” came from Joe Fogerty (who has won all three of the Series races this year). He was taking it easy on the first lap of the bike so I passed him back, may as well, let’s have some fun right? We went back & forth a few times up to mile 25 when he dropped me & the guy that I *think* Jen said was glued to my wheel (I didn’t ever look back so don’t know who it was). Anyhow, that is about the time I also dropped Mr. Drafter guy who had passed me a few times looking back at Joe & I as if to say, “C’mon guys, let’s pace line this thing!” This “guy” hooked up on Joe’s back wheel for a while as I watched from about 75 yards back. One thing I did not want to happen is let Joe out of my sight too far—ha ha, like that was going to happen. Needless to say, he put 10 minutes into me on lap 2 of the bike.

Realizing the pace he then set would take too much to hold close, I continued on with the same way the swim went…easy. I’ll admit, my effort was wimpy and not difficult at all on the bike. Legs never really felt strained as the goal was nutrition to stave off the inevitable heat/dehydration from the 90+ F. The energy sapper would be the run as it would be about the time the heat really was supposed to hit.

T2—lickity-split in and out in 50 seconds. Excellent! Immediately upon the first few steps using a lacing system in my “Kona shoes” which would alleviate pressure on the top injured portion of my foot, the lead in the legs were apparent. Each step was running in mud-like effort. Clearly my “A” sport was gone. Zippo—not there. Known more as a runner than swimmer or biker, there was nothing to fall back on to hoist me up the ladder of results. I did get some inspiration when Dave Scott, yelled at me, “Good job Kevin! Keep it steady going up this grade!” First it was surprising that Dave picked me out remembering my name. Sure we live in the same town but he’s big time & I’m small apples and a dime a dozen of an athlete, not even what I would call “elite” anything. He’s surrounded by those types day in & day out. So yeah, it was cool to hear that from him. The run was more of a soggy shuffle than anything. Again, taking in calories and liquids to practice nutrition for Kona was the main effort here. That—and finishing the run. Each step uphill was way more painful than the flats or downhills as more pressure is required to bound off the front/midfoot on an uphill. Not having my lace system “X” over the top of my foot and having the laces parallel for half of the shoe helped a lot. However, the shoes were LOOSE on the foot/feet and did cause more blisters than normal.

A note on my competition…Joe had been so far ahead at this point that after the turn around at mile 6.5 I did not see him again until the finish line. No idea how wave 2 of my AG was doing, something that wasn’t an issue because it was only getting to that finish line that I hoped for. There were two guys faster in the area that did not show up race day so that helped a lot in the final standings…but at this point a guy from a previous launched wave I know (while passing him on the run), said, “To the best of my knowledge, you’re in 4th place." NO IDEA if that was in the AG or overall, it didn’t matter…just looking for the finish line! It’s difficult in knowing that, normally, I can hit the turbo thrusters & make up tons of ground on a run on any given day. Now I was in a position where the lack of running and pain from just slapping the ground sends screams of STOP! throughout the nervous system. As long the body still felt there would be no long term damage done—the mind allowed it to continue. The pace was soooo slow in fact; I likely could have kept that pace up indefinitely. It was an easy pace, yet so painful. I’ll call it a “highly uncomfortable cruise mode” and leave it at that.

The final half mile was hilarious. A runner from 35-39 AG in front of me was daring me to pass him towards the finish. He was completing his first loop on the run, he knew somehow I was on the second lap. It went something like this…”C’mon, put 10-15 seconds on me by the finish line, c’mon, pass me!” I was laughing inside because there was no more speed…that was it. The Governor had been met! However, running downhill I did end up passing him. One thing I’m really happy about is that I did not have to stop to use the bathroom the ENTIRE race. That just doesn’t happen to me in a half or longer race. No time lost there!

The ending…final AG place was 3rd. Great swim for me despite easy effort, easy bike ride, worst run in likely 10 years of racing halfs. Surprise! A slot to the Ironman 70.3 World Championships! However, I passed on the slot and did let it roll down to the next person in the age group. Got the slice of a tree for an award (varnished log with the race logo burned into it), plus a good sunburn to show for it! Now about two more weeks of rehab, no running aside from aqua jogging, then hoping things will be better for Kona training. At least I can bike/swim…if the foot stops its distractions early, you may find me out on the trails. I’ll be the one looking like he is re-learning to run again.