Sunday, June 14, 2009

Ironman 70.3 Boise Race Report; Alternately Titled: Are We There Yet?

Wow, I’m glad that is over and done with!

Cliff Notes Version of the RR, for those of you who are in a hurry: The upside, nothing I do this year will be that hard again, from a weather perspective. The downside, it was a hard day.

I got up at a normal time race morning and ate several breakfasts to ensure that I was well-fueled.

Ready to get it on!

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We dropped off the run gear at T2 around 11:30 and then headed to the swim start at Lucky Peak. Because of an effed up parking scenario where I had to walk up the mountain to transition and dogs (theoretically at least – we saw many though) were not allowed at the area, we had decided Jeff would drop me off and then just hang back at the hotel and see me when I biked into T2 and on the run. That didn’t stop my IronSherpa from carrying all my bags up the mountain so I didn’t have to though.

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I got body-marked and then amidst the usual sniffles of WTF-am-I doing-here, I sent Jeff on his way.

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Lucky for me, I wouldn’t be completely alone in the time leading up to the start. My awesome friend Kirsten drove up from Salt Lake City on race morning and then rode her bike up to the start so she could watch me race. She kept me distracted while the pro waves went off and I watched the chop in the lake get higher and higher as the wind increased.

Apparently I was somewhat oblivious to the clouds behind me…too worried about the swim.

As the pros finished the swim, the wind really picked up and the chop on the lake grew like crazy. I watched them fish out swimmer after swimmer as I waited in the corral.


Finally it was time for my wave to start. The 64-degree water felt great after all my practices in low-50s Santa Cruz water. We were not allowed a warmup swim, so I am glad the water was as warm as it was. As we waited to go off, the chop and current kept pushing us back towards shore.

And then finally the horn went off!


After about the first minute, I felt like I’d found my own space in the water and it was time to follow my plan/instructions – use the swim as a warmup for the rest of the day and move at a reasonable comfortable pace. This ended up being important to getting me through as I had to fight hard enough in the conditions we faced. The chop (and I think also getting waked by all the boats speeding in to pick up DNF-ing swimmers) ended up tossing me in the air through the entire first leg of the swim. I’d land in the water, catch a breath, stroke, and get tossed again. Oh fun.

After the first turn, I had to swim a longer leg into the current. I was grateful throughout for not getting run over by the men’s waves that came after me. It seems everyone was having a rough day and the swimmers were spread out enough to prevent too much manhandling. At the second turn, the turn buoy broke free of its moorings and drifted, causing everyone to swim a bit long while they captured and deflated it. All throughout, I saw people getting fished out of the water, or trying to breaststroke the entire distance (at least I passed them!). Of course on the last leg, where the current would have helped speed us in to the finish, the wind relaxed and the lake was calmer again. Doh!

I think my sighting was good throughout so I'm pleased with that. I don't think any swim on my race schedule this year will be as nasty as that one. This swim was so far off what it should have been for me timewise, but after the destruction I saw along the way I am just happy to have survived and finished it. I see from the numbers that quite a few people did not continue their race after the swim.

Very happy to be out of the water finally!

As I headed out on my bike (sped on my way by wetsuit strippers – my favorite thing!), I noticed the bike out arch was gone.


Geez, I thought bitterly, they couldn’t wait for ALL of us to finish before they take shit down? As it turns out, Kirsten captured how it collapsed in the midst of the peak athlete departure time and had to be taken down.


Mentally, I was all ready to get out on the bike, knowing the first 5 miles were downhill - I could get my fueling started and let my legs warm up a little. Well, it’s a very good thing that my instructions were to NOT push on the bike and DO NOT LOOK AT PACE, because when you are going down a steep hill into headwind and rain and you’re only going 12mph…pace goes out the window.

Due to my late wave and all the DNFs, there either were not a lot of athletes behind me, or they all cycled slower than I did. I spent a lot of time on the bike course all alone. It was a point to point ride that mostly involved riding out in the desert outside Boise – beautiful country but isolated with little crowd support.

Like the isolation was not enough, the entire ride was a perfect culmination of thunder and lightning storms, with rain and hail and monster headwind that shifted directions as the storm blew through. It was really cold and miserable. I know of at least one athlete who ended up in the ER as hypothermic off the ride. I had to be careful on the descents because of the wind and drenched roads...I guess my goal for the day became to not crash! With all the lightning striking, I really wondered if we’d be pulled off the course a la Kansas 70.3 last year!

Kirsten took this shot from her car while I was out riding


Regardless of the weather, I stuck to my instructions, fueling and drinking on schedule, and NOT pushing. Even spinning every hill easy as instructed, I passed people.

Since he was supposed to be back at the hotel, imagine my surprise around the 15-mile mark when I saw Jeff standing at a corner just before a steep climb to cheer for me!

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When I came back down the hill (it was an out-and-back climb), I’m pretty sure I asked him to marry me again, I was so excited to see him.

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And then I was off on my own again…

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But about 15 miles later, there he was again in the middle of farmland, with all the dogs!

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Finally, in the last 15 miles of the ride, I started catching riders from waves ahead of mine and passing them. If anything, my bike leg was a victory of sticking to my plan, regardless of what conditions were thrown at me.

By the final 5 miles into downtown Boise, I was ready to get off the bike and not look at it again for a long time! Given how long I had been out in the cold, I wondered what my tired stiff legs would have left. I already had a sore shoulder from the choppy swim and cramped hands from the cold on the bike.

Nearly there – speeding into T2

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I ran my bike to its place, tossed it into a rack and changed shoes in a hurry.

And then I hit the run course to find…my legs felt GREAT! (what a testimony to good bike fueling)


All I could keep thinking was, I'm a runner, this is my happy place, this is what I suffered all day to finally do. I felt so good heading out to run, it made me giddy. I was finally around PEOPLE again, both the crowd and other racers. The entire 1/2 marathon, people (spectators and fellow racers) kept commenting on how happy and strong I looked. I passed people on the whole run.

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The first loop seemed to go by pretty fast - I took in calories on schedule and just felt happy.

My spectating crew didn’t mind the rain much (Max was just pissed I kept running away from him)


The second loop was no doubt slower but still didn't feel too bad. My stomach started to get sloshy, so I cut back on the calorie intake for a little while and switched to Coke from the aid stations starting at mile 9 to settle my tummy down. I focused throughout that last loop on fast feet, high cadence, good form, and feeling zippy, and it seemed to work to keep me moving along. Final few blocks to the finish and I was hurting...getting harder to breathe, running out of gas, but I pushed through to the end and saved my wheezing for afterwards. 1/2IM run PR!

Last block to the finish line


At that point it was around 10pm so I hobbled over to pick up my bike and all my gear bags, walked back to the hotel, and we ordered pizza.

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I also had my first alcohol in 6 weeks! 1 beer was more than enough for this night.

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Overall it may not have been the race I wanted, but I stuck to the plan and got through it no matter what the day threw at me. It is a huge confidence boost for my A-race 1/2IM in August, where I know I won't face these kind of conditions.

Finally, another thank you to all of my friends for their kindness and support. Knowing that Kirsten was coming to cheer, my Smofit friends sent their messages and Kirsten flashed me different signs all along the race course for encouragement. You guys are too awesome for words.

My signage (there should be 1 more, sorry Andrea rain is a destructive thing!)



Beth said...

Way to get through it Molly. You are right - I don't think any race conditions you run across will be that challenging again! Happy recovery!

Marit C-L said...

Yeeaaahhh - haaaawww! Nice job out there! Those were brutal, brutal, brutal!!! I am convinced that if you can do that, you can do anything!!! Enjoy the alcohol and recovery (in that order ;)

Major props to Jeff as well - what a man!

beardies3 said...

Absolutely raced like a champ! You stuck to the plan and did it no matter what was thrown in your way. That is the sign of a true triathlete.

tribeaner said...

Nice job out there, Molly. Way to persevere and stick to your plan. You did awesome and should be very proud of what you did out there!

jennabul said...

You are right, no other race will be like this one. Congrats on sticking through the swim and conquering wet hills on your bike (I bet you just "loved" that!). I am happy you had such an incredible run. Glad you're okay too. Enjoy your rest week - don't forget to follow the ELF's instructions!!!

Jen said...

You are awesome, girl! Yay! Congrats to you! : )

cat. said...

congratulations!!! that makes two of us with wet, wet, wet and windy 1/2 IM conditions. guess you had no idea at napa how the rain was training you! here's to dry racing from here on out!
congratulations on sticking with your plan and getting every last bit out of that course!!!

Meredith said...

What an accomplishment. You raced like a pro and I hope you are enjoying your post race food, booze and rest.

Clarese said...

You are amazing, Molly! Great job!

Meredith said...

I've done two 1/2IM and both have been in weather like this. Great job to get through it and finish strong. We'll see you this weekend!!!

Unemployed Dragon said...

I just finished reading this and I've got goosebumps and I'm choked up! (I lost it at your line about asking Jeff to marry you again!). What an inspiration you are. Your point about working your plan no matter the conditions really wrings with me.

You're inspiring me to get back on the bike!

I hope you've had a restfull day and a good trip home.

Sharon aka ByeBye

Liz Waterstraat said...

Molly, you executed your plan on a day when most others got distracted by weather or other pains. You saw your vision through. This wasn't the time you wanted but this was the type of day we wanted you to have - in control and tough. THAT goes a long way in Ironman.

Trishie said...

Wow, way to HTFU through a TOUGH RACE ! Excellent race and great photos :) your IronSherpa did a great job too.

Diamond Girl said...

You can make even hell sound like fun. Great job - congrats!!

Missy said...

Wow, that looks hella-tious! Huge congrats on sticking to the plan. That can be very hard to do, at times.

Love the pictures of your pit crew/cheering section.

Andrea said...

Oh are so strong! I would have drowned in my own tears on that swim. AND I know I would have been pulled from the swim.

You are right - nothing will be as hard as this and you can stick that in your back jersey pocket for the next race!

GoBigGreen said...

YOU DID GREAT!! What a super day for you, even if ma nature didnt want to play nice. Rest up. You deserve it!

Stef0115 said...

GREAT great job Molly!! Nice to have a race with nasty conditions under your belt! You controlled what you could control in that mess and what a triumph!!! Congrats on the run PR and the whole dang race!!!!

Props to Jeff too. Great support!

Larissa said...

Great Job Molly! My friend in boise told me about the weather and i hoped you didn't have it bad, but i see although it was hard you did good :) Congrats

And your Hubby should win Hubby of the year award!

Sherry said...

Molly, you are amazing and I'm going to use your mental toughness as inspiration for the next few months. If that had been me, I might have DNF'd simply b/c I don't think I could have kept it together admist the 'loneliness' out there. Amazing girl, you are!!!

Well, I suppose on the bright side is that if you wanted SERIOUS prep for IMAZ, you definitely got it! No IM is ever a piece of cake, but I think you are right... conditions can't possibly be much worse!

COngrats again to you on a strong finish!!!

Unknown said...

Great race...the way you followed your plan is total inspiration for me!

SWTrigal said...

Wow..just wow..I am:
a.Surprised they let the swim go on with a chop like that
b. Let you ride in the lightning-that was risky!
Nevertheless-damn girl you did it! i was cold even reading about the bike!
Congratulations and love the pics..

Jennifer Cunnane said...

I cannot believe how tough the conditions were! Congratulations on making it through such a tough day and despite of it all setting a run PR! Can I also get your loved ones + doggies to come to a race I do next year?? They must be the best support crew!

Wes said...

Molly, you are a superstar!! You went through hell to get to your reward, the 13.1 mile run :-) So inspiring! Way to go, and I'm glad to see you celebrated with beer and pizza. There is no greater taste of victory :-)

Elayne said...

Wow, congrats on toughing it out in some rough conditions. Sounds like your training is paying off well.

LittleRachet said...

Wow, what a day! What does Liz call that....process goals? You nailed your process goals while got you through to the end successfully, despite the crap-tastic conditions. HAIL??? Omg.... You are tough chick!

Runner Leana said...

Molly, you absolutely rock and are an amazing inspiration! Choppy swim, cold and rainy bike, and then you pull of a PR on the run in a half IM? Nicely done! You can't control the weather, but it sounds like you followed the race plant to a T. Well done.

Have a beer for me!

ShirleyPerly said...

WOW, what a TOUGH day! From the rough water conditions, to all that rain and cold, you really did well to keep things together and finish the race strong. I too am always happy to get to the run portion of tris. Great job out there, Molly!!!

Beth said...

Oh Molly! You must be over the TOP proud of yourself!
You followed the plan and finished strong!
And what a "Crew" you had too.
I hope Jeff said yes?

Beth T.

Jennifer Harrison said...

I am so proud of you!!! Winners are the ones who gut it out on a very tough day!!! Even tho I was on the other side of the US... I was checking on u. I even emailed ELF bc (duh!) I forgot u started at 2pm... !!! Congrats. ;). Enjoy your R&R!!!

BriGaal said...

A 1/2 IM run pr!! Awesome! And very impressed you didn't have alcohol for 6 weeks. Of course, not that you couldn't do it, but I sure wouldn't have wanted to :)

lynn yarmey said...

hmmm, i think i would do some minor edits to your cliff note RR: 'the weather sucked and it was a hard day, but i took the circumstances in stride, i didn't let the weather get in my way (much less end my race like so many people around me!), i stayed focused and rational, passed a ton of people, and even hit a PR on my amazing run! i am happily celebrating with alcohol and the best husband in the world!!' :)


Lisa T said...


Meera said...

Great work Molly! I'm so incredibly impressed. And you've got a keeper in Jeff.

Jennifer Harrison said...

I just checked to see if my post showed up - it didn't! I did it on my Iphone! AH! Anyway, LMM, CONGRATS on your race! THESE are the races that make you a WINNER!!!! Tough day, tough conditions - way to HTFU! I was eamailing ELF b/c I could NOT figure out why I couldn't get updates (in my hotel room) = DUH!!! I forgot your race started at 2pm. HA :)) happy recovery week~ !

Rainmaker said...

Awesome job, huge congrats! I heard from other friends how rough that rain was, incredible stuff. You did great!

Sarah K said...

Wow, AWESOME job in really tough conditions. I had a bunch of training friends out there and they all came back saying it was one of the hardest races they had ever done. Be proud and enjoy your recovery week!
P.S. Super cute tri-top. What brand/style is it so that I can get one?!?

Bob Mitera said...

Nice work in the rain! Jeff took great shots! Love the shot of the dogs.

LadyPatsFan said...

Wonderful! You did awesome, you should feel very proud. Congrats on a great race in horrible conditions.