Wind Blows: Ironman Boise 70.3

Wow, what a ridiculous race. Examining the profile of this course months in advance, I became so excited to put down a new personal best at the Ironman 70.3 distance. The conditions seemed perfect, a flat lake swim, a bike with less than 1500 feet of climbing and more descent than ascent, and a flat, fast, two loop course for the run. All of this combined with hopefully some good preparation and some good health on race day, and I was hoping to beat my previous 70.3 best of 5 hours and 23 minutes, and hopefully even get near the 5 hour mark.

Well, as you know, in life, and more so in racing, things don’t always go according to plan. Because the sun doesn’t set until 10:00 p.m., Ironman Boise begins at 2:00 p.m. Not being the world’s best morning person, this seems like a concept I could get behind, but when you have all day to think about the race and have to change up your whole race day nutrition program, it doesn’t seem so appealing anymore.

My teammates and I arrived at the Lucky Peak Reservoir outside of Boise at around 12:30 and set up our transition area. 2:00 came quickly and it was time to go get setup at the swim start for our respective start waves. For some reason, my wave, Men 25-29 was the very last wave of the day. So while the pros and other waves began going at 2:00, mine did not begin until 2:45.

Right before my age group was about to enter the water to swim to the start line, the wind began to come up. Nothing major but enough to turn the once glassy water into a choppy and potentially white-capped mess. The gun blasted and I began to swim. Feeling pretty good for the first few hundred meters until my right goggle lens filled up with water and the wind chop from the left rendered me unable to breath to that side. That paired with my less than straight line between the first and second turns yielded a swim time nearly 6 minutes slower than my goal pace. Goal number 1: not met.

Coming out of the water, I ran up the boat ramp into T1 to change into my cycling gear. I made it through the first transition relatively quick and headed out onto the bike.

Once on the bike, it was apparent that the wind had come way up. This ride was going to be tough. I would guess that the winds were consistently 35 mph, with gusts up to 45 mph. 15 or so miles into the bike, I saw my wife Elise (who had started in a previous wave) pulled over on the side of the road with a flat tire. Knowing that I would probably have to sleep outside for a month if I didn’t stop, I pulled over to help. She had already done most of the work so I didn’t have to stop for too long and I was happy to get Elise back into the race. I ended up finishing the bike in just over three hours, nearly 30 minutes slower than my anticipated time.

I moved through T2 quickly and hit the streets of downtown Boise for the 13.1 mile run. My legs were pretty spent from pushing hard into the wind on the bike so I wasn’t quite sure how I would feel on my feet and sure enough, the first couple of miles were very tough. The run course was a mostly flat two loop course that ran mostly along side the Boise river that runs right through the center of town. I wasn’t too pleased with my first 5 miles but after that, I found my second wind, picked up my pace and began to feel pretty good. On the second lap, I tried a new tactic to get myself feeling good… I started complimenting people. Sounds weird, right? Well, I started telling people that their running form looked good, complimented their shoes, their compression socks, their calf muscles, whatever I noticed, I was complimenting, I was even telling the hot older age grouper women that they must have had the wrong age written on their calf, “because you don’t look a day over 30.” At some point I started speeding up just so I could pass more people so I could compliment them. It was a strange tactic but it worked for me that day, and who knows, maybe it helped those that I passed go a little faster too.

I finally crossed the finish line with a run time of 1:59 and a total time of 5:48:06 . It wasn’t the best race I’ve ever had but it certainly was a good learning experience and will hopefully make me a better, more experienced racer in the future.

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