Race Report: Ironman Boulder 2014

Executive summary for the attention-challenged: 2 weeks altitude acclimatisation at 7500′ helped a lot. Good swim, crushed the bike, walked much of the marathon in the heat. Did well with hydration and nutrition. Smiled a lot. Very pleased with my time of 14:32:36. Finished Ironman Boulder, am an Ironman.

Preview of my race pictures here – last expenditure for this race :-)

Image gallery from the Boulder Daily Camera

Morning pre-race.

Was awake before my 3am alarm. Coffee, bagel, peanut butter, banana, apple, water, bathroom. Race weight – about 192lbs. That’s about 7 pounds over my goal, but 38 lower than when I started training a year and a half ago. In the car with Minette (Iron Wife, Iron Sherpa, Iron Stalker) by 4am, short trip to downtown parking. A few blocks walking to find special needs bag dropoff and shuttles. Easy shuttle trip to the Boulder Reservoir and teammates Zack and Renaud came off the shuttle behind us. Happy to have taken their advice that everything would take 15 minutes so go early and keep the stress down. Park and walk? 15 minutes. Potty? 15 minutes. Access bike? 15 minutes.

Put sunglasses in bike bag. Checked tires, no need to re-inflate after sitting overnight. Put bottle with electrolytes onto bike. Drank an Odwalla and had some mixed nuts about 1.5hrs out from the starting time. Athlete lines for the porta-potties were way long so I walked way out of the bike area to use a spectator one. Much faster. Last night’s Indian food gone, Hallelujah!

Chilled, talked to teammates and Minette. Dropped off day clothes bag with Minette.

Swim start was a self-seeded rolling start according to estimated swim time. I put myself near the rear of the 1:15-1:30 group with an expected time of 1:25. 1 Clif Shot (200cal) about 10 minutes before the start.

Swim.

Saw/heard Minette just before got in and we blew each other kisses. Sappy but nice to have the contact. She was stressed about the swim.

Weird to finally be getting underway after so much fussing with organization, packing, travel, etc. I really just wanted to start doing my Ironman instead of all the ancillary madness.

Relatively little jostling in the water which I really liked. There was still some but nothing like the rugby scrum I’ve heard described for the typical mass start. I just rolled with it and worked to avoid people’s hands and feet in my face.

Athlete ID band (kind of like a plastic hospital admission wristband) was chafing my left wrist because my Garmin was up against it. That was a pain and I thought it might actually cut me. I needed to have the ID band put on the opposite arm from my watch.

Kept a steady pace with no heartrate spikes or redline, no slacking, just calm and lots of sighting. Swam wide for final leg and just stayed on my own, but was out of the draft. Not really sore, but soooo ready to get out of the water by the end.

Exited about 8 minutes off what I thought I could swim on a good day, but given the altitude a little better than my predicted 1:25.

Split Name Distance Time Pace Race Time Overall Gender Category Time Of Day
Swim 2.4 miles 01:22:54 2:08/100m 01:22:54 1230 964 177 08:07:03

Garmin Data – 2.61mi, a little over distance, 1348cal

T1.

Lots of walking in and out. Took my time (obviously) and was very deliberate about toweling off, applying lots of bodyglide and reading my checklist and notes. Didn’t stop to pee but should have. Failed to get the cute girl for sunscreen application .. alas. Saw Minette – the really cute girl – yelling and smiling again just at the bike mount point.

Transition Name Time Race Time Time Of Day
T1:Swim-to-Bike 00:11:31 01:34:25 08:18:35

Bike.

Rolling hills, giant long straight stretches, false flats. Beautiful views of the mountains to the West. Road surface was almost all excellent.

My Shiv was flawless, new Evade bike helmet was quiet.

Got burns on my forehead from ventilation holes in the front of the helmet. Not sure how to deal with that because if I put sunscreen on my forehead it just sweats into my eyes all day.

Finally peed at mile 30 (?) rest stop and that turned out to be the last time all day.

Quickly learned the routine of emptying last water bottle, snatching new one from volunteer at speed, filling reservoir and placing the half done bottle in my cage. Worked hard at hydrating consistently all day on the bike. Maintained 1 200cal Clif shot per hour which was roughly what I trained at.

At the halfway point and they didn’t have my special needs bag. I didn’t really want the cookie at that point anyways. Scrounged a sunscreen bottle and reapplied. Asked if anyone had Nuun (my electrolyte tabs) and found some – ghastly blueberry flavor but it served its’ purpose for the second half of the ride. Lost a few minutes because of the mixup but kept my head and managed it.

As the day progressed there was light wind only, gradual heating.

Knew I was maintaining a fairly high effort level for me but didn’t overdo it. I made the decision that it was worth having a strong bike effort to let me get onto the run course with tons of time to finish.

Bombed the downhills all day, surprised how many people rested on downhills from the start. I felt like that was my best opportunity to gain time.

Hot, sore feet by the end. Starting to get hard to drink fluids by the end.

Around mile 97 there was more uphill stuff but the hills are still nothing like Santa Barbara. That was big deal all day in that they were simply manageable grades for me, not the soul-crushing and cramp-inducing steep stuff.

Saw my whole family with a mile to go. Just had time to smile as I went past at about 25mph downhill.

Sooo ready to get off the bike by the end.

Split Name Distance Time Pace Race Time Overall Gender Category Time Of Day
Bike 1 44 miles 02:32:30 17.31 mph 04:06:55 1449 1166 213 10:51:04
Bike 2 75 miles 01:53:18 16.42 mph 06:00:13 1432 1156 217 12:44:22
Bike 3 112 miles 02:09:31 17.14 mph 08:09:44 1339 1090 204 14:53:53
Bike 112 miles 06:35:19 17 mph 08:09:44 1339 1090 204 14:53:53

Garmin Data – 112.13mi, 7994cal, 44.3mph max

T2.

Bit of a walk again, took extra time with bandaids on my nipples, bodyglide and sunscreen, reread my notes. Felt like I could start running.

Transition Name Time Race Time Time Of Day
T2:Bike-to-Run 00:18:45 08:28:29 15:12:38

Run.

87DegF. Lots of little ups and downs on and around the Boulder Creek Trail. As my coach pointed out later it was very difficult to maintain a stride. I was hampered mostly by the heat. Power walking at about 15-16 minutes/mile, slow run when I could. Used my glutes to get up slopes all day.

Nutrition. Struggled with getting water/electrolyte/gels down for most of the first half of the run. Figured out to pick up a gel, drink the water and then wait a few minutes for my stomach to settle before eating. The only solid food I took was 5 grapes and a slice of watermelon – didn’t want it. Didn’t even stop for my special needs bag at halfway as I did not want the treat cookie and M&M’s I had packed.

Pains. Took extra mini body glide with me in tri shorts pocket, used for butt chafing at halfway point and was glad to have it. Two blisters on left foot, possibly from leaving a small bandaid in the shoe unintentionally. Heel blister I wasn’t aware of popped at mile 19 and felt like a knife: didn’t care, couldn’t do anything about it and was almost done. Both big toenails blackened from a day worth of overuse. New sunglasses hurt a bit around my ears as the day wore on, on account of my big head.

Crowds. The crowds and volunteers along the trail were unbelievable. At some points it felt like the crowds on the hills in the Tour de France. Our names were on our run bib numbers and everyone was using them to cheer people on by name. My family found me multiple times along the course with cheers, fist bumps, signs, and general happiness and encouragement: that was priceless.

Mind. The Swim and Bike legs were pretty much forgotten by the time I was “running”. Because they weren’t awful I’m attributing that to ‘being in the moment’ instead of ‘denial and suppression of bad stuff’. Loved that the course had 3 separate arms as it removed any possibility of dreading a horrible long section. Very helpful psychologically for compartmentalizing sections of it and breaking it into manageable chunks. For most of the run but especially after halfway I kept smiling. This is something I worked at actively in my Wildflower half Ironman and it stood me in great stead during this race. The smiling is a combination of 1) keeping my brain organ hydrated and energized with food, 2) actively working on smiling (see Laughter Yoga), and 3) just plain being happy in the knowledge it was a beautiful day and experience and that I was going to finish.

Final movement. The sun went down around mile 20, the air cooled off and my pace picked up. The final section from mile 22 was up the canyon with bats coming out. Volunteers were handing out glowsticks as darkness came and things got a little surreal with little pink/purple/yellow halos and necklaces floating up and down the trail. Somehow everyone was Nearly Headless Nick in my mind. Saw coach Zack filming me in the last half mile and he congratulated me. I gave him a hug and ran towards the chute. Went full airplane mode running side to side getting high fives from the crowd. Lifted my arms and yelled to the crowd a couple times and got a huge response which was simply awesome – that was part of my dream of the finish and I’m almost crying writing about it. Just fleetingly heard the announcer say “Brad Dobson you are an Ironman”, mostly I was just excited for getting it done.

Split Name Distance Time Pace Race Time Overall Gender Category Time Of Day
Run 1 3.6 miles 00:41:43 11:39/mile 09:10:12 1373 1093 204 15:54:21
Run 2 7.3 miles 00:53:21 14:13/mile 10:03:33 1385 1100 202 16:47:42
Run 3 10 miles 00:38:32 14:17/mile 10:42:05 1384 1094 200 17:26:14
Run 4 11.5 miles 00:20:56 13:46/mile 11:03:01 1365 1078 196 17:47:10
Run 5 13.1 miles 00:20:07 13:03/mile 11:23:08 1370 1082 193 18:07:17
Run 6 16.4 miles 00:51:13 15:22/mile 12:14:21 1389 1087 194 18:58:30
Run 7 20.4 miles 01:00:46 15:06/mile 13:15:07 1428 1109 198 19:59:16
Run 8 22.9 miles 00:35:44 14:43/mile 13:50:51 1408 1091 197 20:35:00
Run 9 24.4 miles 00:20:50 13:42/mile 14:11:41 1405 1089 196 20:55:50
Run 10 26.2 miles 00:21:05 11:38/mile 14:32:46 1398 1085 198 21:16:55
Run 26.2 miles 06:04:17 13:54/mile 14:32:46 1398 1085 198 21:16:55

Garmin Data – 26.12mi, 3574cal

Wrap up. Chatting with my family after the finish I had no dizzyness or weakness, just sore. I guess that means I got the hydration and nutrition right. So pleased with final time and placings. This result was solidly mid-pack and that is such a great improvement from previous races.

Split Name Distance Time Pace Race Time Overall Gender Category Time Of Day
Finish 14:32:46 1401 1088 199 21:16:55

# of Participants – Race 2814 – Gender (M) 2055 – Category (M45-49) 392

I did my thank you’s on Facebook and won’t repeat them here except for the two that were the biggest parts.
  • Coaching from Zack Bertges was just great – core strength, glute strength, and a rounded approach all meant I showed up ready to do a 14.5hr great day instead of a 17-hour suckfest or DNF. Great job Zack.
  • My family for the unending support, missed dad and husband time, helping me focus on me to make a better dad. Love you.
Cheers y’all.

Finisher!

2 Comments

  • I’m surprised you didn’t eat more real food on the bike. Do they not offer real food at rest stops? I can’t imagine doing all this on Goo. Tough stuff!

  • Hi Bill! All my training was with 100-200cal/hour from gels/clif shots so I stuck with that. I really struggle to digest (or even get down) anything solid because my digestive system pretty much shuts down. Rather than force it I just went with the stuff that’s easy to digest. I went to a pro talk before the race and one of them said he doesn’t even do Gu for the same reason. He opts to do the whole race with liquid nutrition (powder mixed into water bottle). I think that’s different for everyone though. It was strange to get no hunger pangs for 14 hours straight – I didn’t even eat after the race and garmin estimated 12000+ calories burned for the day.

    For reference (I guess for when you do your Ironman .. hee hee), all stops on the bike and run had: powerade perform, water, ice, pretzels/chips, bananas, oranges, Gu, flat cola. Later in the day they brought out chicken broth on the run course.

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