It has been 4 months already since Panama 70.3, it feels like an eternity. I was hoping for Ironman Boulder 70.3 to be a good race for me in preparation for the full Boulder Ironman on August 3rd, but it was not to be. If you have been reading this blog you know that I have been injured for about 2 months and running was very challenging, so I was mostly worried for the run, the run turned out not to be bad though. I did have a full week of issues with my bike.
Everything got started on Wednesday before the race. I was going out for an easy 90 minute ride. I got on my TT (time trial) bike and started pedaling, after 1 minute on the bike my chain broke. The pin came off of one side but it stayed on the other side, causing the broken part to catch on the front derailleur and braking my derailleur hanger.
As you can see from the picture on the right, it completely snapped. I immediately went to the bike shop thinking they were just going replace the hanger. I was told that the frame had to be sent to Cervelo to get it fixed as there are no screws or bolts. The only people that can fix it was Cervelo. This happened 3 days from Saturday, when I had to check my bike in for the race.
At this point I had 2 options:
1. Glue the piece with super glue, during the race do not shift from the big ring to the small ring and pray that it would hold.
2. Race with my road bike. This is more complicated than it sounds, as I didn’t have aero bars or a power meter on the road bike.
I decided to go with option 1, remember this as it will come up later again. I knew that after the race I would still have to ship the frame to Cervelo, so I decided to take a chance.
Spoke with Christelle and we both agreed that it was better that it had happened before the race and not during. The following days were normal, I trained on my road bike. Sunday came around and I was excited to race. Wanted to see how differently my body would react to altitude and without a ridiculous current like the one I had in Panama.
This year they decided to have the swim start by age group. Last year they started the waves by how fast people thought they could swim. I really don’t like how they did it this year. First of, they separated the AWA (All World Athletes) from the regular age groupers, so you don’t really know who you are racing against. You could finish “first” thinking that nobody in your age group passed you, but in reality they could have raced faster, against faster people, earlier and you would never know. Also the earlier you race, the cooler and less winder it is. Secondly my age group was the second to last wave to start, our starting time was 8:20, that is 1 hour and 20 minutes after the pros. T1 closed at 6:30am, I had to wait for 2 hours before I got started, this to me is absurd.
Finally 8:20am came around, they started us off in the water, in between two yellow buoys. As I was waiting there I realized that I couldn’t touch the bottom, so my only option was to float. It is absolutely crazy how much buoyancy the wetsuit gives you, I flipped on my back, relaxed and just floated there for about 2 minutes with my eyes closed just trying to relax. If I try to do that without a wetsuit, my feet will immediately go under. I knew the wetsuit helps, I just never realized how much.
The announcer finally started us and I sprinted a little to try to get away from the other swimmers, when I finally started to look around to make sure that I wasn’t going to hit anyone, I couldn’t see anybody around me, so I was able to stretch my stroke out and tried to relax as much as I could in the water. I started passing the wave that had left 5 minutes ahead of us at about the 400 meter mark. At that point I had to start swimming around people. I still felt very good in the swim, I came out of the water and a friend of mine, Russell, yelled that I was the first one out of the water in my age group, I was happy, but usually that means that the person behind me is not that far behind, but I didn’t look back. Apparently I had a very good swim, I finished the swim in 25:02, that time was the 16th fastest overall, so I’m happy with that. The second fastest swimmer in my age group swam it in 29:14, I obviously didn’t know that at the time. I came out of the water collected, with my heart rate under control, which almost never happens. T1 was normal, got on my bike and started pedaling.
I had been on the bike for about 3minutes and 30 seconds when I heard my back tire pop and the air started to come out. I immediately stopped on the side of the road, was upset but I knew I can change a tube quickly, so it wasn’t that big of a deal. Changed the tube, inflated it, put the wheel back, got on the bike and about 4 pedal strokes later I heard the loud pop again. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t have a second tube or CO2 cartridge.
I had ridden exactly 1.5 miles and now I didn’t have a way to continue. The baby blue color line on the map is how far I had gone, when I got the first flat. For about 5 seconds I thought I was done, had almost given up but then I realized that I could go back, get a new tube and continue, at least I wouldn’t get a DNF (did not finish). I took off the tire again, took off my shoes, put the bike on my shoulder and started running back to T1. With about 400 meters to go I heard a voice ask me if I needed help. I turned around and saw a person on a bike, he wasn’t competing, and he asked again: “How can I help you?” I asked him if he could ride to T1 and tell them that I would need a new tube. He said that he would take the whole wheel and that they would have it ready by the time I had gotten there. That was so nice of him, I am really glad he was around. I think that actually saved me additional time.
I kept running with my bike on my shoulder and finally after, what I felt was an eternity, I got there. They grabbed my bike and I immediately noticed that my wheel was on the ground and they were putting a regular (non-carbon) wheel on my bike. I quickly asked what happened and they explained that I had a side wall tear on my tire and that the only way for me to get my bike back quickly was to use the wheel they were giving me. At this point I didn’t care anymore, I had made up my mind that today was going to be a hard training day, I was officially out of the competition. I looked around and there were maybe 40 bikes left in T1, out of 2000+. I had lost so much time, I was thinking about all of that when I noticed that my bike was ready. The guy fixing it was just changing gears to make sure everything was OK, when he shifted the crank from the big chain ring to the small one. This broke the derailleur hanger, remember I wasn’t supposed to touch it? I didn’t have time to tell him not to do it. It was at this point when I thought my race is over. I am not sure how the mechanic did it, but he ended up fixing it, temporarily of course. He said, don’t worry I’ll secure it so you can ride. He somehow fixed it at a higher point of the hanger and it held for the whole 56 miles.
If you take off the time that I lost and start the timer when I got my bike back from the mechanic, I rode the course in 2:25, officially I did it in 2:54. Which means that I lost 30 minutes with this whole tire problem.
I have to admit though, the one thing that I loved about being so far behind is that nobody passed me, I was the only one passing people on the bike. I guess this means that I just have to get faster.
When I got to T2 all I wanted was to have a good run, I knew I wasn’t going to be in the top 10 but I wanted to catch as many people as possible. I was feeling pretty good coming out of the transition, I looked at my watch and I was running 6 minute miles. I immediately backed off and started running the pace I thought I could hold for the half marathon, which was more like 7:15.
Coming out of the reservoir I saw Christelle and the girls which made me very happy and gave me a little bit more energy and strength.
Not everything went perfectly on the run though. As soon as I got to the first aid station, people were literally just hanging out, all the runners were just stopped in the middle of the road, so I tried to go around them and as I tried to get back on course I got a cramp on my hamstring. I had to stop and stretch it out for about 30 seconds, once the pain had gone down I continued running. Thankfully it didn’t come back during the whole run. The 13.1 mile run consists of 2 loops around the reservoir, there is nothing harder than coming around the first loop, running next to the finish line, seeing 5+ hours on the clock and knowing that you still have 1 loop left. My whole plan was to hold steady until mile 10 and then for the last 3 miles I was just going to give it all I had left in the tank. Everything was going according to plan when I got to the last straightaway with about 1 mile to go, this is when the wind picked up. I was averaging about 7:05 minute miles and my heart rate was still under control, as soon as the wind picked up my heart rate shot up about 15 beats per minute and I couldn’t run faster than 7:40s. I even got about 3 muscle twitches almost cramping. It was the longest mile that I can remember. As I came down to the finish line the announcer said my name and that I had finished under 5 hours. This seemed a little strange to me but I was happy regardless. I had finished the run in 1:35 but more importantly I had finished and I was really happy about that.
Here are my final thoughts, I am very glad that I was able to finish and that even though I had all the mechanical problems I was still able to improve my time from last year.
Last year: 5:00:49 time for the Boulder 70.3
This year official time: 4:57:48 Time for the Boulder 70.3
This year time without flat: 4:29:08
Last Year: 32nd in age group
This year: 24th in age group
Without the flat tires would have been 6th
This was a great preparation race for the Boulder Ironman. I hope that I don’t have any of the technical issues I had. I want to thank my wife Christelle for always waiting for me patiently with the girls and then cheering like they haven’t been waiting at all. Also to all of those that encouraged me before, during and after the race, THANK YOU! Until next time.