“A” race for ACE and Ali – Boulder 70.3

Ironman Boulder 70.3Ironman Boulder 70.3 was THE race of my 2013 season.  The event I had train for, dreaded, dreamed about and stressed over.

As I focused on my half Ironman training and preparation I thought back on what I had learned, both good and bad, from my other races. The infamous Harvest Moon of 2012 loomed large, at this race which is a half Ironman distance but not an Ironman branded race, I had seriously misjudged my nutritional needs.  Effectively, bonked and ended up walking much of the 13.1 mile run, missing my goal time by over an hour.  After THAT race I was demoralized and demotivated…in fact for a short period of time (OK, it was really only about 24 hours) I swore off long distances races.  Well, as anyone that is a triathlete knows this sport is HIGHLY addictive!

To ensure that I didn’t have a nutritional breakdown I practiced my hydration and nutrition on long brick training sessions and during The Peak race.  I was hyper committed to my training calendar.  I made each workout count and trained like I was heading to the World Championships.  I had even begun to jokingly tell my hubby “IF I qualify for World’s, I’m heading to Vegas…ha ha!”.    I also added more open water swimming to my repertoire including two Aquaman races—1 mile swim and 5K.  Now those, for anyone not familiar, are NASTY as in pretty darn brutal.  Until I did my first Aquaman I didn’t fully appreciate how much recovery you get after the swim when you’re on the bike during a triathlon!  PHEW, going from a swim race to a running race meant you had your heart race at close to max for the whole time…much harder in my opinion than a Sprint distance triathlon.  Thankfully I also had some great friends to train with and training with friends always makes it much more fun and you seem to push yourself harder!

Bike training with Craig, Anna and Bart

Bike training with Craig, Anna and Bart

As race day approached, I felt surprisingly calm.  I didn’t have pre-race stress, I wasn’t super bitchy…it was because I felt prepared.  I was ready to RACE!

To make Boulder 70.3 even more special we had extended family (Nessie and Kate) in town on vacation from England.   Having these super fun gals there along with my #1 fan Mr. Keith was fantastic, #2 fan was at his first sleep away camp so no one was cheering Go! Triathlon Momma Go!, but there was plenty of GO Ali, GO to be heard!

Transition area before Boulder 70.3 with Marla

Transition area before Boulder 70.3 with Marla

Race day arrived bright and sunny without issue and my unusual Zen state continued all the way thru race prep.  When I lined up in the self-seed swim corral I stood next to my triathlete buddy and fellow Masters swimmer Craig.  We wished each other a great race and before we knew it we were plowing thru the water on the 1.2 mile loop.  Soon I was racing thru T1 and out onto the ride on my bike “ACE” (doesn’t everyone name their bike?); who is seriously a streamlined speed machine!  I really tried to stay in the moment and appreciate just being there.  I thanked God for being able to do what I love.  I was racing in Ironman Boulder 70.3!  WOW!

Bike course Boulder 70.3

Bike course Boulder 70.3

Soon it was T2 and onto the run. The half marathon was two loops around Boulder Reservoir, which is notorious for having ZERO shade!  The run was hot but I continued forward and used a strategy of walking thru the aid stations.  I ultimately ended up walking a bit more than just the aid stations but mostly ran.  I also found a strange love of Coke (and I NEVER typically drink soda), cold, flat, Coca Cola is a magical thing, something like instant jet fuel!

As I neared the completion of my race, I was certainly happy to see the finish line, but not exhausted in a devastating way…I had paced myself much better than in earlier races AND my nutrition was spot on!

Run course Boulder 70.3

Run course Boulder 70.3

I waited with my family and friends to see my finish time.  A race time of 5:51:24 was better than I had hoped and placed me 9th in my age group.  I hung around for awards and soon I came to realize that I really DID have a chance to qualify for Ironman 70.3 World Championships.  A slim chance but still worth waiting for as it would all come to “roll down”.   Roll down means that if the 2 spots that were allocated to my age group were not taken by those that placed ahead of me, or those women had already qualified in another 70.3 race…the 2 slots would progressively “roll down” to the next qualifier.   Good grief, was this really going to happen?  Was I really going to legitimately qualify for the half Ironman World Championships?!!

WHAT?!  I am going to Vegas?!

WHAT?! I am going to Vegas?!

And…the answer is YES!  I did, the same girl that only two years prior who had not even run a 5K, that same girl was heading to Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Henderson, NV in early September.

I had a little pit in my stomach, was that panic or excitement?!?   I think maybe a little bit of both!

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2013 Multi-Sport Season Retrospective

2013 retrospective…I’m not sure how it actually happened but my 2013 multi-sport season is now in the rear-view mirror.  And, when I look back there at what transpired— I’m surprised, a little exhausted and possibly slightly proud of my old self and what my “old” body was able to accomplish.

There was much training, friendship and racing involved this past season including:   Trail runs, epic mountain rides, running races and Elephant Rock cycling festival.

Lucky Laces 5K with Lauren and Erika

Lucky Laces 5K with Lauren and Erika

Early morning training run at Wash Park

Early morning training run at Wash Park

Cherry Creek Sneak 2 - 2013

Cherry Creek Sneak 10 Mile Run with Himee, Lauren, Heather, Nico and Cary. Hot day, hard race and no PR but did convince some nice lady to lend me her ID so I could get into the beer garden. Good grief, I stopped looking less than 21 more than 20 years ago!

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Dawn at Grant Ranch, 1st open water swim training of the season

First training ride on my Felt bike ACE, with Marla

First training ride on my Felt bike “ACE”, with Marla

Colfax 13.1

Colfax Half Marathon with Cole, Heather and Bart. No PR for me but a still a good race with good friends. Why does beer taste so AWESOME after an endurance race?

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Beautiful 8 mile run up Green Mountain

Dawn at Grant Ranch last open water swim training of the season

Dawn at Grant Ranch last open water swim training of the season

Mostly all happy times, with one BIG sad spot that brought tears to an otherwise fantastic season.

This sadness was related to the loss of my #1 cycling buddy and fellow Masters swimmer Randy Herndon.  Randy lost his life in a tragic cycling accident in Boulder in mid-August of this year.   He died too soon, but died doing something he LOVED.  Randy did not live his life on the sidelines; he lived his life 100% engaged.  I will fondly remember him for his crooked smile, quick wit, encouragement, kindness and mental toughness.  I’ll certainly miss him but he’ll be in my thoughts and bring a smile to my face and heart as I push forward on my multi-sport journey.

The highlights of my season included 7 multi-sport events.  WHAT?!   Yep, that’s right 7 multi-sport events between June and September!  Sounds a little crazy even to a triathlon addict like ME!  Was each training and/or race day rainbows and butterflies?  Did I start each training session thinking yippee I get to do VO2 Max this swim workout or rejoice the opportunity to do those long fartlek run sessions…heck NO!  But, I think I can honestly say that I remained committed to my plan, followed what my coach set forth.  I did not miss a workout, I did not skimp, wimp or otherwise cut any corners.  I worked hard.

Now, did I accomplish all my goals?  NOPE.  I’m still a penguin runner, though thankfully no one actually called me that this year.  But, I did hit the BIG goals.  So here’s the crib note version of the season’s races:

  • Boulder Sprint
  • Boulder Peak (Olympic) – Qualified for 2013 Hy-Vee 5150 US Championship
  • (2) Aquaman  – 1 mile swims and 5K run
  • Ironman Boulder 70.3 – Qualified for  Ironman 70.3 World Championships
  • IronGirl Sprint – Qualified for 2014 USA Triathlon Olympic-Distance National Championships
  • Ironman 70.3 World Championships – Won AGE GROUP…just kidding!!!

Yes, sir-ee  Ironman 70.3 World Championships…ME and the Who’s Who of triathlon, who’d believe that would ever happen to me, a Sophomore age grouper and penguin runner?  World Record set by ME?  Baa Haa Haa, NO!!! But, I did feel super fortunate about being there surrounded by the best of the best at the ½ Ironman distance.

IronMan 70.3 World Championship qualifier happy dance!!

IronMan 70.3 World Championship qualifier happy dance!!

So there’s the abbreviated story and I’m sticking to it.  Details of races and training to follow.