Monday, June 14, 2010

Boise 70.3 - The "bad news" first

I have to break down my Boise 70.3 adventure into two parts: 1) the actual race and 2) the trip in general. Blog numero uno is the race report, which unfortunately is the "bad news." Hm, maybe "not so good news" is less harsh. Either way, it was a tough day for me on a lot of levels.

But it's all good because the future Blog #2 will wrap up my story of this past weekend on a good note--i.e. the fact that going to Idaho with one of my best friends, Sara, was so incredibly fun and even with a 70.3 carried out as an aquabike, it still was one of the funnest trips ever. No regrets. Seriously.

Just look at this place:
So the race....

A 2 p.m. start sounds cool, and in the case of Boise, I definitely preferred it over a morning start given the frigid lake temps/cold mornings. However, I would rather start a race at 7 a.m. any day. Sitting around waiting to go is tough. Knowing how much/how little to eat before the race is tough too.

We left our house at 11:30 a.m., which ended up being way too late. We were late to drop off run gear at T2, which was closed by the time we got there. We begged the security guard to add our bags. He did:

Yay, we made it to the race start...

But wait. stress was a comin... we were late. I HATE being rushed before a race, and that's just what happened when we got to transition. I had non-stop prep to do that I didn't even finish before transition closed. I was shaking with anxiety, and literally blacked out to the rest of the world. (Sara and I were talking about it later, and I have no recollection of some of the things she said to me.) Thankfully, I calmed down a little bit before starting, as our wave was 30 min after the pros.

But while waiting, the sweating began. See how sunny it was:
And crowded. Getting corralled down to the lake in sardine-like crowds:

It was so hot standing in our wetsuits before the swim that I opted to not apply Bengay on my lower legs/feet, which I was planning to do given my tendency to cramp during cold swims. (Using Bengay to stimulate warmth was a tip I received from a good friend/athlete in SD.)

Finally into the water. Frigid. As soon as we got in, all heat left my body and I was immediately freezing. The lake water was apparently in the low- to mid-50s. Colder than the ocean. major uh-oh. The snow just recently melted off those mountains:

The swim was awful for me except for my sighting--I stayed pretty much on course the whole time. But I felt like crap. I had no "oomph" in my stroke. Maybe it was lack of taper, maybe it was the freezing water. Whatever it was, it was beyond demoralizing to feel so flat and blah. Then the leg issues came. I don't kick too hard on triathlon swims, but this time I played around with my kick force hoping to maintain warmth. Nothing worked, and my legs were turning into ice blocks/anchors. It didn't take long for that familiar tingling to show up, then full-blown cramping hit at about the halfway point. Doomed. The pain and annoyance of that caused me to feel claustrophobic.

I had the slowest swim I've ever had in a half-Ironman, which kills me more than I can even describe. I know it was freezing and blah blah, but I cringed in disappointment when I saw my time. I was ready to cry, but not ready to give up.

Can you see sadness/anger?

I took my sweet time in T1 like never before. For the first time ever in a triathlon, I put on socks because that's how bad my feet hurt from the cold, even though it was ridiculously hot and sunny outside at that point. I headed out.

View heading out of T1:

As I got going, I still was undecided on run vs. no run. Maybe a subsequent half-marathon could happen? But about 30-40 minutes into the ride, the knee pain started. Eventually, I felt it all the way up my IT Band. I decided not to bike as hard as I would in an A race scenario, and I took it down a notch. I couldn't let this ride be my season-ender.

Then there was wind.... crazy mo-fo wind! Hold on it's gonna be a bumpy ride, yee haaawww!

I've experienced gnarly winds, but never nonstop gnarly winds for a full 56 miles. For the most part it was either a headwind or scary crosswind. I heard the gusts were between 30-40 mph. Not sure if that's true, but let's just say I was more than ok with going 10 mph on some stretches vs. death and dismemberment.

At one turnaround point between miles 20-30, I was singing songs (I tend to do that) and waiting to see Whitney and Sara go by in the other direction. They eventually passed, in that order. I was about 6 min behind Sara, so I was making up good time from the awful swim (she swam 4 min faster than me). For a few minutes I got super motivated. But my ITB/knee was still hurting, and I think I realized my fate at about mile 30. Don't overdo it, I thought.

Meanwhile, more issues... like forgetting to take electrolyte tabs before the start and forgetting to put extra tabs in my bento box. It was pretty dang hot, and GUs+Gatorade helped but weren't enough to counter my major sweating/electrolyte depletion. Or how about this one: My saddle was slowly dropping the entire ride and destroying my lower back, knee, power & sanity. I questioned whether I was imagining it? Nope. Failed at the bike-building. Rookie! At least my handlebars stayed securely in place.

Adverse situations were hitting me hard. What could I do? I just laughed like a psycho as tears welled up in my eyes. I was loony, yet determined to stay positive. I thought about how great a trip it'd been so far; thought about Benoit, my tri friends and my family. I even thought about my triathlon-related jobs/commitments and this dang BLOG, which, btw, is always on my mind during races!!! It's cool to have followers and no longer be an anonymous face/name in the tri world... but scary too! haha :)

In the end, what a journey those 56 miles were. Incredibly brutal, but I'm glad I experienced it and survived. My time was ridiculously slow (slowest to date) but given the circumstances, I was not disappointed in that time. A lot of others said the bike was insanely hard on them, too--physically and mentally. Glad I wasn't alone on that.

For those wondering about the Boise bike course: The scenery is awesome if you like looking at mostly undeveloped open space with rolling green hills, livestock, trees, rivers, nature, and eventually downtown Boise. As for course profile, without wind, I'd say it's a moderate course: fairly hilly but not the hardest of climbs, good flat sections, decent descents, always changing directions and not boring with spectators cheering throughout the whole thing. But add in wind, and it's hard as can be!

Typical sights:

T2 & The End

The most emotional part of the day.

I hopped off the bike, hobbled to my run bag, put on my shoes, jogged back and forth in transition deep in thought.... A 13.1 mile run would likely mean the end of my season. Heck, I was suffering on the bike and could barely "run" in transition area! I couldn't bear the thought of digging myself deeper into an injury.

Decision made.

Next thing I know, I was in medical with an ice pack on my knee and a smile on my face. I didn't feel like smiling, but I made myself do it anyways, and eventually that smile felt real....

I know I made the right decision and am thankful for all I learned and endured during the race. Oh lots was learned, and it wasn't easy.

Hanging out at the finish and cheering. Bitter sweet...
Waiting for Sara (who did great)...

Just like that, the day was over. At around midnight we remembered that we had to pick up our bikes. Oops. We were nearly the last ones to do so, even the racks were taken down by then... late again haha.

Here we are getting the bikes, all smiles. I was down but definitely not out! Life could be worse. And you better believe that beers and good times followed. We played until 3 a.m.!!!

And, fyi, I'm putting the pressure on myself for Vineman............. ?


Next up, story of the best girls trip ever.

(Oh, and PS - I will get out those recipes from the Food blog soon. Thanks for the great comments)


  1. congrats on your aquabike! not the easiest decision but it will make vineman that much more sweet! and yes... cornbread recipe STAT. im still salivating.

  2. Came across you through the GU peeps. I know quite a few people who raced down there and they couldn't agree more on the tough conditions. Looks like you made the right decision.

  3. Better safe than sorry. There will always be more races why risk injury. Good decision since you know your body best. Congrats on what seemed like a tough swim/bike!

  4. you made the right decision, as hard as it might have been. what a tough day!!!!! looking forward to meeting you at vineman :)

  5. Stopping at mile 16 of the San Francisco Marathon was the hardest race decision I've ever made. Looking back, I never should have started on that day. You did the right thing by not running.

    We will be at Vineman with signs & cowbells cheering you on (you'll have your own Punk Rock Racing Army there).

    Recover (then kick ass).

    All the best,


  6. Sorry your race didn't go as planned but it sounds like you made the smart decision. I don't think I would have been smart enough to do that.

  7. So sorry about the injury. Your experience will out shine this bump in the road. Thanks for sharing the details sometimes that is hard to do on here. Good luck with the rehab.

  8. I'm sorry your race didn't go the way you would have liked it, but you finished an aquabike! Woohoo! I think you made the right decision about not running. It sounds like it was too much of a risk for ending your season early.

  9. Ah, too bad you couldn't run, but you were smart to play it safe. I'll see ya at Vineman :-)

  10. Great job on your race! You made the right decision and followed through. That takes a lot of mental fortitude! I can't wait to read your next post!

  11. Your race recap is great! I agree the winds were awful, I am a terrible cyclist but the wind truly showed how bad I am on the bike. You made the correct choice on the run--to Tri another day :).

  12. Going into Boise I was kind of in the same boat. I had a torn muscle in my quad, and a bruised femur bone. The run was completely up in the air. Luckily I didn't have any pain off the bike, so I gave the run a go. Sorry your race did not turn out as you hoped, in the long run you will be happy that you stopped in T2 and called it a day. It is not worth ending a whole season for one race (maybe with the exception of clear water or Kona :) ).

  13. sounds like you made the best out of a bad situation, which isnt easy to do! I hope you heal quickly!

  14. Tawnee, killer pics on both posts!! That course look beautiful.

    Sorry to hear about the never ending injury. Yes, we should have a ITBS is BS party!

    Keep you head up, and enjoy your fresh new perspective... you'll be better for it (cliche, I know, but you know too ;)

  15. Tawn... Seriously, don't push it too hard with your knee. I just went thru a horrible year after trying to 'tough it out'. Had I backed off a bit, things might be different. On the other hand, it's taught me a lot (ok, well, maybe just a little) about patience :-) Rest, keep some ice around, and then get back out there and PLAY!!!

  16. I had the same thing happen to me at NO 70.3 last year and like an idiot hobbled out onto the run course. My knee ballooned to the size of a grapefruit and All I have to show for that race is my slowest time ever and the fact that it knocked me out for another 2 months. GREAT DECISION. It's hard to be smart in this sport, eh?