2017 Boulder Ironman Race Report

 Feeling optimistic after my sprint "warm up" race.

Feeling optimistic after my sprint "warm up" race.

It's been way too long since I have posted a race report and I thought about not posting on this one, but I wanted to sort out my thoughts and feelings about what MAY be my last Ironman for a long time... maybe ever.

Boulder Ironman did not go as I hoped but it did go as I thought it probably would. I had a lot of back pain throughout my training and, even with bike fit adjustments, my back could not recover. I knew it would likely be an issue on race day but I hoped that taper would help wth that. The pain took its toll on me and I was not excited to race for the last several months of my training. I felt weak and slow and wondered... what was the point of racing? Because of my earlier foot injury, the longest I run I had completed was 10 miles. That hurt me physically (my feet were not prepared for the torture of concrete bike paths), emotionally (I was not getting the endorphin rush) and mentally (I did not “believe” I was ready for the run). Even with not much running, I was overtrained about two weeks out and was broken, mentally. Eventually, I got my head back in the game after a fair amount of mental training. The mental training was a good investment as I've put some practices in place that have helped me in later races.  

 BAMF (don't ask what it stands for) is race ready, thanks to Tribella!

BAMF (don't ask what it stands for) is race ready, thanks to Tribella!

All in all, I felt more as ready as could be as race day approached. I had my pre-race plan and followed everything. I did a little sprint the week before and, thanks to my PT (Frontier Therapy), my back was feeling better than ever, allowing me to easily take first in my age group. 

For my pre-race nutrition, I was trying to limit oxalate intake (watch for future post on the concerns of oxalates) so I decided to use butternut squash instead of sweet potatoes. In hindsight, not a good idea as it didn't sit with me as well as sweet potatoes typically do. Went back to sweet potatoes for all other races this season.

I felt optimistic on race morning and was ready to race. The swim started smoothly and was calm during the first half. I never felt pressure or crowded.  The water was more choppy coming in but not as bad as other races so I just rolled with t. I didn’t feel like it was a fast swim but I was hopeful it was a little bit faster. Not a PR but not my worst (time: 1:28:26). It was cold coming out but I got my transition stuff and felt like I moved as quickly as I could (time: 6:03) - PR in T1 (gotta find the high points)!

I felt really good on the first lap of the bike. My pace was around 19 mph, which felt like I could easily maintain. Thankfully, there was almost no back pain. I was a little behind on drinking Race Rx but knew I would be fine since I'm fat adapted. Once I started the second lap, I felt the back pain come on and then it got really bad. I was struggling to keep myself going mentally, knowing I was not even halfway through the bike portion. I took my natural alternative to Advil (with no negative side effects), which helped. It was hard to take in nutrition because I just kept thinking about the pain. I told myself that this could be my last 6 hour ride, if I want it to be. That made me feel better. I saw Klavs and Magnus at the start of lap 3. That helped but I knew I was not in podium contention since Klavs did not say anything. I felt a little better as lap 3 went on and I think part of it was knowing I was closer and closer to getting off that bike! I got through most my bike nutrition (1.5 bottles of Race Rx and 1.5 bottles of X2 Performance). Bike time was not great. I was hoping for under 6 hours but, considering the pain, I was happy to just get done. The actual distance was close to 114 miles. (time: 6:09:35). 

 Mind was in some dark places through much of this race, but I fought through the pain cave.

Mind was in some dark places through much of this race, but I fought through the pain cave.

When I got off the bike I could not run through the pain. I started walking and was in tears when I got to the changing tent. My volunteer was amazing and helped me think about what I needed to do in T2. I sat down and told her I didn’t think I could run... my back usually feels better as I run off the bike, but not this time. She said to just get going and see how it feels. I really didn’t think I could and what was the point of walking the whole marathon? My purpose for this race was to get on the podium. Then I thought about my son. What would he think if I quit? He was so proud that I was doing IM #5. I knew I couldn’t quit and had to start running.  I headed out but couldn’t run my typical gait. My husband noticed I was struggling, but I was happy to see them and that helped me immensely. After a while, the run started to feel better. I realized that running felt better than walking but my run pace was still slower than usual. I put in a Werthers and knew that I had to take in some X2 Performance since my bike calories were a bit lower than planned.  

As I approached mile 10 I thought… this is the longest I have run since right after my Dad died last November. As I ran more, my foot started to hurt so I worried about another injury. I realized both feet hurt so it was likely just soreness from the concrete and not anything serious. I started to walk more as the marathon progressed. It was really hard for me mentally and at one point I pulled my husband aside to tell him that I was going to drive home after I finished (not the smartest idea but I just wanted to think about being at home). I finally saw the finish chute and ran as best as I could. For the first time I actually saw Klavs and Magnus during the finish, waved to them and heard the music. It was Beat It by Michael Jackson. My run was not nearly as fast as I hoped (4:43:15) but I was finally done with what may be my last IM. 

The plus was that my nutrition was good. I took in about 370 calories, which is around 30 calories per hour. Pain was my limiter, not nutrition. My stomach felt good the next day and I was ready for some good recovery meals. 

 Some post-race fun!

Some post-race fun!

I was a little sad the next morning because I was only 9th (that made me ecstatic the last time I did Boulder IM) and because IM was possibly not a good thing for me anymore. Health first, performance will follow is my mantra so I need to practice what I preach. Time to take care of my back or realize that the longer rides are may not be in the cards for me. 

I finished the summer with 3 more sprints and did very well (1st in AG at Tribella, 1st overall at Steamboat, 3rd in AG at Bear Creek). I've started mountain biking again and love it! I have to admit I have the best coach... my 9 year old son.

I’ve waffled a bit on doing IM again, but know that if I do, I need to be hungry for it and I need to put health first. 

 Spending time with my favorite moutain bike coach!

Spending time with my favorite moutain bike coach!