Tuesday, July 26, 2016

IM Boulder Bike Course Preview

I debated whether or not to even write this post but since the information is still fresh in my mind and itmight be of some value, I figured why not.

Not long after seeing that my Sunday workout last week would involve a long bike ride, it seemed logical to do it in Boulder using most of the Ironman course. I had done a similar but much shorter ride in June and not only would this now be a chance to gauge my performance against what is needed for race day, it would also be a chance to get a firsthand look at the terrain I’ll be riding in less than two weeks.

A lot can happen in that time frame and I don’t expect to be back before that but as of July 24, this is what I see.

Early Stages

There was actually a triathlon going on the day I showed up to train so driving up to and parking near the reservoir seemed like a bad idea. Instead, I parked near the condo I lived in way back when I was a sophomore in college. From there, it was a fairly short ride to the course proper. So while I did not actually ride 51st Street out of the Reservoir area, I think it’s safe to say it’s probably not changed.

Just south of Jay Road on the Diagonal Highway (aka 119) the shoulder of the road has been milled (i.e.: ground up into a bunch of grooves). It’s not a long stretch, maybe half a mile and I didn’t have any issues, but this is early in the course and if it’s not fixed and there is no detour around it in the right lane of the highway, I could see problems on race day.

The bike trail that passes under the highway is a clever way to get racers turned around heading back toward Longmont. However, it’s at about mile 3 of the course which means big crowds and large potential for accidents. The path can really only comfortably support racers two-a-breast and my guess is that they’ll force folks into possible single file. Be ready to slow way down and just take it easy. There’s lots of race ahead still.

After heading back out of Boulder on 119, things get better. There are some large orange, diamond shaped construction signs in the shoulder but I trust those will be moved aside. Much of the road is fresh, smooth asphalt which is good, but there are also some small bumps in that asphalt. This may be a warning to cars drifting off the road but it caused one of my water bottles to loosen and then eject when I went over a large bump turning onto Highway 52.

The Big Hills

As intimidating as the hills running up Highway 52 and Lookout Road are, they seemed much better on fresh legs and before the real heat had set in. Indeed, a steady spin saw me to the top of the first hill without much difficulty or pain. Personally, I found the Lookout Road hills (yes plural) to be more difficult.

The first hill is steep but short and starts just west of 95th Avenue. The second hill is almost two hills with a flatter (but not totally flat section) between two steeper parts. Finally, the third hill seemed comparable to the first. Once you crest it, you’ll benefit from some free speed going not only the rest of the way down Lookout, but also as you turn south on 75th Street.

Back to the Loops

The right turn onto Jay Road sees the course flatten out a bit and perhaps there is even a slight rise. It’s not especially difficult this early in the race but I did see my power increase while my speed dropped off. Once you turn left and head down 57thyou’ll get a nice downhill before a steep uphill (comparable to those on Lookout) and then you’ll be headed west on Independence Road going by the airport. Back to 47th street and out to Jay Road and then you’re starting the two main loops that make up the majority of the course.

The Climb to Broadway

Jay Road is definitely a false flat. You’ll only ride about half of it the first time you hit it but it’s the steeper half and I saw my speed drop off notably in this section. That’s just the beginning however because the ride northwest on 28th Street/Highway 36 is neither false nor flat.

It does not feel like an especially big hill, but it steeper than most realize. I ran a gauntlet of barrel shaped objects soon after turning onto the road but I again trust this will be removed. I spun this section all the way until Broadway. In fact, when you see the large barn—shaped flooring store you’ll more or less have crested the gradual but consistent hill.

Rolling Along to Neva Road

There’s a nice steep downhill after passing Broadway which most will find a pleasant respite after the climb. I enjoy the free speed as well but there are a lot of fast moving cars through this area and things have often felt tight and a little dangerous in this section. Hopefully the presence of law enforcement and lots of racers will slow drivers down, but I suggest caution.

Once you go up an equally steep hill (hopefully with some of the speed you’ve garnered from going down) you’ll pass Longhorn Road and then be out on the open section of Highway 36 as it heads toward Lyons. This is a good place to open up a little but wind could be a factor, particularly on the second lap. I had no particular problems but it did slow me down the second time I was there.

Neva to 63rd Street

This has to be the fastest, sustained part of the course. While there are a couple of hills on the early part of Neva Road, you can hit them with some speed and still keep your momentum. After making an “S” turn where Neva turns into Niwot Road, you’ve got a steady slope down. It’s a good place to pick up speed or just recover depending on your own personal race strategy.

The 63rd Street Rollers

That sounds like a street gang, but this peaceful section of road just undulates gently proving ample opportunity to gain some speed but not too much as couple of the hills are short but steep. Once you pas Ryssby Church (a famous old Scandinavian church on the east side of the road) you’ll get a pretty steep downhill before the left turn onto Nelson Road.

The Nelson Climb

I suspect many a rider has seen their plans go awry when they head west on Nelson Road. It starts off with a long shallow climb but soon after it gets steep. From the point where the first big hill starts to its crest after making the curving turn around Table Mountain is 3.8% by my calculations. I’m sure certain sections are steeper. There’s a flatter section after that but then as you turn more westerly you’ll not only experience a net climb but also hit a rather steep hill. On the second loop, this comes not long before the special needs area so there may be some rest for you afterward. Technically, the climb continues after you turn right back onto Highway 36 but I’ve found that it feels easier.

Bombing Down 36 into Lyons

All that goes up must come down and that’s quite true of this section. Being as I was training and not racing, I did take a moment to enjoy the panoramic views from high on the course. Even if you don’t get to enjoy that, the ride down is fast and rewarding. Aggressive riders will no doubt push things in the big ring, but all riders will experience some of their most sustained faster speeds all the way to Highway 66. It’s a nice section of the course with a wide shoulder that allows plenty of room to pass and be passed.

Head East

While not nearly as steep as the preceding section, the ride along Highway 66 is a net decline and I’ve found I can maintain decent speed as I make my way down it. There are some flat sections and one slight uphill before making the turn back north on 75th Street near Hygiene, but overall you’ll probably be able to increase your average speed through this section.

Hygiene Run

For those not familiar, Hygiene is a very small town through which the course passes. It has a famous reputation as a popular stop for cyclists and indeed, during both of my training rides through the area I’ve stopped into the Purple Door Market to replenish my water supplies. If you find yourself in the area, I highly recommend patronizing this establishment. They’ve done a great deal to welcome the cycling community and are deserving of all the support they can get.

You obviously won’t be stopping in your race, but you will enjoy a downhill section as you move back toward the center of the loop. One word of caution I do have is regarding the train tracks that run across 75th Street just south of the market. It’s a water bottle grave yard. Last year, I ejected one of mine adding it to probably a hundred others. I don’t think anyone was getting a penalty, but losing a bottle is a penalty in and of itself.

Twists and Turns

A right turn onto St. Vrain Road will probably slow you some as you go west. A general rule is that if the mountains are in front of you, you’re going up. It’s not that bad and it’s quick before a left turn onto 65th Street which is a net decline and a good place to make up some speed. At the end the road, you’ll hit a “T” intersection with Nelson Road just a couple of blocks east of where you started the big climb earlier. Heading east on Nelson is decidedly easier, even if you begin by going up a slight hill. It’s also fairly quick and then you find yourself back on 75thStreet, south of Hygiene and headed back toward the northeastern side of the course.

The 75th Stretch

The southward trip on 75th Street is not the longest section of road on the course, but at a little over four miles, it is up there. You’ll actually be on 73rdStreet after a gentle curve about 1.5 miles in but the whole section feels pretty straight with no sharp lefts or rights. There’s even a nice downhill section ahead of Niwot Road. The leg has a net positive grade of 0.1% but it’s really a flat with on short up and one longer down.

Back to 119

Upon reaching Monarch Road, you climb very gently for about a mile and then turn left on 63rdStreet. There’s one big hump on 63rd Street just before you go down again and rejoin the Diagonal Highway heading back toward Boulder. This is a fairly unremarkable section of course but if memory serves, there is an aid station on or near that big hump. I found another large orange construction sign in the shoulder here, but again, I expect it to be gone on race day.

Finishing the Loop

The distance between 63rd Street and Jay Road on the Diagonal Highway is a little over two miles and while it’s not a steep climb (like Nelson) it is still a climb and on your second loop, you may also be feeling more pain. I also have found that wind can be a factor through here and while it might be behind you, it very likely could be right in your face as afternoon thunderstorms build. Fortunately, two miles goes by quickly on a bike and soon you’re climbing back up Jay Road.

To the Finish

If you’ve finished the loop for the first time, you’ll do all of this again. For me personally, the climb up Nelson a second time is the biggest challenge. Fortunately, there’s a nice recovery section right after.

If you’ve completed two loops, things change once you get back to the intersection of Jay Road and 28th Street. At this point you cross 28th and continue a couple of blocks west to 26th Streetwhere you turn left.

On my training ride, this was near the end but in the race you’ll still have a few miles to go. It’s a nice downhill ride all the way to Iris Avenue at which point 26th Street becomes Folsom Street. This will also be mostly downhill with the notable exception of a small climb at Valmont Road. It’s over fast however.

By the time you’re running down Folsom to Arapahoe Avenue, you’ll be very close to the finish. Though not personally experienced with it, I’m told the cruise down Arapahoe is pretty fun with that section of the street closed to traffic and barricades lining the sides. 


This is another long post, but it takes a lot describe a course with so many twists and turns. The overall condition is good with no potholes, or extended rough sections to speak of. Where this is chip seal work, it’s fairly smooth and not even that noticeable.

The biggest external factors to the rider are likely to be weather in the form of heat and possibly wind (rain is also possible but likely not until after the bike discipline) and traffic which has always been well managed by the officers from Boulder Police and Sheriffs and the Colorado State Patrol.

Having the big hills at the start of the course will definitely be beneficial but it comes at the cost of a probably log jam during the Highway 119 underpass. Otherwise, I think this is a good course (albeit on the short side of 112 miles). 

If you’re racing in Boulder on August 7, best of luck to you and thanks for reading!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

2016 Boulder Peak Triathlon: The Race That Wasn’t

I was settling in for a few hours of sleep before an early morning wake up call to make my way from my hotel to the Boulder Reservoir. Before turning in I checked my e-mail and got this message:

It is with great disappointment that we announce the cancellation of the 2016 Life Time Tri Boulder Peak presented by Voler. This evening a local disaster declaration was announced across Boulder County. All police, fire and EMS resources are being mobilized and reallocated across Nederland and Cold Springs in support of the current wildfire. As a result, the Boulder County Public Safety officials have mandated that our event be cancelled.

After exhausting all options, including course modifications and rescheduling, we are unable to provide our athletes with either an alternate event or a safe race experience.

The Cold Springs Fire was the result of a couple of out-of-state idiots failing to extinguish their campfire. Little hint to those who do not know: you have to use water to put out a fire. In fact, you usually need a few gallons to really get it done. If you can’t put your hand on the ashes because it’s too hot, then the fire is not really out.

With that being the case, there was no race. It’s disappointing but understandable. If the fire had really blown-up and the police, sheriff’s deputies and medical personnel were not able to respond quickly because they were working our triathlon, well, you get the idea that priorities had to be elsewhere.

As a result, I took Sunday as a recovery day. The race organizers have given me a code that will allow me to register for next year’s race at no cost. That’s right, not a discount, not extra swag, a completely free race next year. That’s exceptionally generous and since my hope next year is to focus more on short-course racing, it works fine. I’ll probably wait until I renew my USAT membership later this year or early next, but I’ll look forward to being a participant in 2017.

So now it is back to training. This week, in fact, that means a lot of training with a huge block this weekend. I sometimes find myself a little overwhelmed when I see the week I have ahead, but on the other hand, the efforts I make now will not only be a good gauge of where I am in my preparedness, they will also help me in getting ready for the big day which is now less than four weeks away.

While I have no wish to see my summer pass any faster than it already is, I am also quite ready to get out race and get this event behind me. Ironman training for the last couple of years has taken a toll on my middle-aged body and getting back to some saner training regimens will indeed be welcome.

As always, thanks for reading and good luck in your own training and racing.


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Boulder Peak Race Plan

Once again it’s time to strategize on how I will have a successful race. With barely a month before Ironman Boulder, it’s easy to look past this one. What’s more, my coach has me treating the coming weekend more like a long training block than the lead up to an “A” race so there’s that factor as well. Nevertheless, failing to plan is never a good idea.


Unlike last month’s race, I’m actually staying in Boulder starting Saturday night. That will save me over an hour of drive time and get me that much more sleep which is always welcome. However, since I won’t have access to my home means taking special care is needed with regard to nutrition. Local grocery stores have all I need but I’ll be careful to pick slowly and cautiously. I’ve gotten pretty used to waking up in a hotel on race morning so this should not be anything new.

My plan is to arrive at transition no later than 6:00. That is walking into the area not parking the car. That affords me 50 minutes to set up which ought to be more than enough. As always, transition will be a simple affair. Given that this is a larger race than the Colorado Triathlon and it is being promoted by Lifetime Fitness, I am expecting a number of newbies who may not be quite as familiar with protocol and etiquette but I’ll do my best to work around that.

Water quality at the Boulder Reservoir has been dicey lately but it seems to get worse when runoff is higher after heavy rains. No such weather is in the forecast so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we will have a relatively clean lake. I’ll do some warm up swimming just to get the blood flowing but I’ll save most of my energy for the race.



Maps from the race website suggest that the swim course will deviate from its normal easterly track into the sun and go north in which case the only time we would be swimming directly into it is the right turn at the far end of the course. That sounds great but I don’t fully trust their map. I’ll be ready for any kind of swim.

I found a lot of people storming off the line only to slow down when only a third of the way through. I’m likely to let them do so again. Last time, I started at the front of my group but I may let those who are truly faster (there aren’t many) and those who make bad pacing decisions fight it out. I might even find a drafting opportunity.

I’ve been swimming really well again this year so I’m confident that once I find a rhythm it will be straight forward (if not easy) to hit or near a pace of about 1:30/100 yards.

Goal Time: 26:00


I’ll take any good position I can get in transition, but the ideal spot for me is still close to where you run in from the swim. I’m anticipating the crowded and unsteady saw-horse type racks from years past but I’ll rack my bike in whichever position holds it steady so that items I place on my handlebars stay put. I’ll be sockless as has been the trend for the past two years and I think I can emerge a bit faster than last time

Goal Time: 2:05



A signature characteristic of the Boulder Peak is the tortuous climb up Olde Stage Road. The back side of that climb is a fast cruise down the lower part of Left Hand Canyon. This year, that road is under construction so the course has been altered. Instead of turning onto Lee Hill Drive to start the climb, the course stays on U.S. 36 toward Lyons.

The usual climb out of the Reservoir area all the way to roughly Broadway and Highway 36 is still present so just like last time, I’ll spend most of this time spinning. It’s still going to require a significant amount of power (roughly my FTP) to complete this section so I would not call it easy.

After Broadway, there’s a steep downhill into sort of a gulch. The problem is that traffic (both cycle and vehicular) builds up around here so while I’ll push the pace a little, I’m going to be cautious.

The turn off of the highway onto a side road is still 7 miles to the north with most of that being a net climb—albeit not as steep as the initial section. Again, I’ll push but I expect a lot of my energy will be put toward maintaining. I’ll use down hills to increase my speed going into uphills and hopefully keep the output on an even keel.

Miles 10 to 16 are mostly downhill including a fairly nice cruise east on St. Vrain Road. If it were an Ironman, I’d probably ease up and rest my legs. Since it’s just a little over 26 miles on this route, I’ll push to gain some speed. I’ve ridden south on 63rdStreet enough that it’s becoming very familiar to me. It’s a rolling section so for every tough mash up a short hill, there’s a rewarding downhill section. I think I can maintain a pace that’s higher than the first section without burning too many matches.

Heading southwest on the Diagonal Highway is mostly flat but wind can be either a positive or negative factor. If it’s behind me, that will be great but there’s no telling for sure and I could be bucking it. Obviously staying aero throughout will be important, but it will be especially so here.

I plan on keeping a good pace but also increasing my cadence as I head back up 51st Street into the Reservoir. If I’ve executed my strategy reasonably well, there will not be a significant loss of time versus the goal and I’ll get my legs loose for what’s to come.

Goal Time: 1:16:00


No more trying to transition without lock laces. I have a set of Yankz on my current running shoes and that means they will be on in seconds. Ideally, I’ll be in and out quickly which has been the case in other events.


Goal Time: 1:45


This is more or less the same run course as the Colorado Triathlon though I’m not sure which side of the canal on the north side of the lake we will be on. Hopefully it will be the more easterly side which is wider and allows for passing (or being passed) without the hazards of running on the middle of a jeep trail.

I’ll work my out as easily as possible until I reach the one tree at the top of the hill. Settling in usually occurs in the flat to down stretch that follows and then I can open things up a little on the first dam. I say a little because this is all still inside the first mile and while matches will be burned, I don’t expect too many to be left in the book.

Heat is likely to be much more of a factor this time. The 64* temperature that Garmin captured when I started the last leg of the Colorado Tri will be more than 10* hotter this time if long range forecasts are to be believed. I expect I’ll need water not only to drink but to dump over my head as well. I’ve been doing a lot of running in the hot afternoon sun and feel pretty well acclimated so I’m not overly worried.

Even though it’s only 6 miles (as compared to say 13.1 or 26.2) the smart move is still to just take one mile at a time. The next marker and the next aid station will remain at the front of my focus even as thoughts of finishing linger in the back of my mind. It will hurt, but it will be over quickly.

Goal Time: 51:00

Overall Goal Time: 2:36:50

That is a bit longer than the Colorado Triathlon but the bike course is also a couple of miles longer so I find it acceptable.

As I mentioned before, however, we are treating this weekend more like a large training block so on Saturday morning I have a two hour ride with intervals in the Z3 power zone. I did that one last Sunday and felt pretty good afterward so I don’t expect to be wrecked afterward, but I also think I’ll be a little less well-rested than going into my last race.

That’s all okay if it furthers my progress toward the goal of finishing the Ironman in August.

Thanks for reading and hopefully I’ll have a race report out early next week.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Ironman Tips, Round 5: In-Race Procedures

This is it. This is the last piece of advice I have to proffer when it comes to an Ironman-type race. As I’ve said before, I didn’t make it to the run portion of last year’s event in Boulder. Nevertheless, I was well briefed and have had several discussions with those that did. I would always encourage prospective racers to read the Athlete Guide and to seek more than once source of advice. In other words, my voice is just one in a chorus.


I covered this in my last post but it bears repeating. If you are checking your bike in for an overnight stay and the weather is going to be hot, leave your tires mostly if not completely deflated. A fully inflated tire in the hot afternoon sun will likely burst. Better to fill it up the next morning and be assured of a properly inflated tire.

No weather forecast is ever 100% accurate so I always plan for the worst. I put a plastic grocery bag over my seat and seal up all of my bags so that the chance of water leaking in is minimal at best. If serious downpours are a factor, it may even make sense to put items like shoes in their own bag before putting them in the race-assigned transition bag.

Ironman does a pretty good job of not only labeling where bags are by number but of also getting volunteers out to actually hand them to you. However, you should not count on that so try and find a landmark near your T1 and T2 bags and commit that location to memory. There’s a chance that things could be moved between then time you drop them off and when you pick them up but that’s out of your control so don’t stress about it.

If you’ve done a triathlon before, you already know how important it is to take extra care in packing your bags. I’ll say it again, though. Be slow and methodical as you pack the items you need. A checklist is an excellent idea.


When you arrive in your transition area, it will likely be dark. Most races will have some lighting on site but my own experience last year was the area was mostly dark. As a result, when I borrowed a pump, I couldn’t see the needle on the pressure gauge. I think I did an okay job, but a light source is advisable.

A couple of years ago, I bought a cheap but useful LED light that goes on a headband. You not only benefit from having a bright light, but also for having your hands free.

If you followed my suggestion about deflating your tires, one of your first orders of business is getting them re-inflated. Assuming you did not bring a pump, find someone who did and ask to borrow it. You could be told “no” in which case, find someone else. I actually borrowed two last year because the first one was not working for me. If all else fails, you can very likely borrow one from the bike support crew who ought to be in the transition area. That may involve waiting in line however so be ready for that.

This is also a good time to locate your T1 bag and determine if its location has moved. Assuming T2 is not in the same place (as is the case in Boulder) you may not have that option for both, but just knowing where your stuff is and how to get to it from the water will save you time and stress. With luck volunteers will be getting your number as you exit and waiting to hand it to you.


Many Ironman races and probably others are moving to a rolling start format. There are still some wave and mass starts, but this process is quickly catching on as the fastest and safest way to put athletes in the water.

If you’ve ever done a local running race, you may see a series of corrals where you self-seed according to your expected finish time. When I ran the Colorado Marathon in 2013 there were signs indicating expected finish times and you lined up behind the one that most closely corresponded to what you thought you would do.

The process is the same here. If you think you can finish the swim portion in about ninety minutes, there will be a sign for that. Likewise there will be several at about five minute intervals. It’s important both to yourself and your fellow athletes to be honest about where you are going to be. Slower swimmers in fasters sections get in the way. Vice versa, you’ll be running into the slower pack. It’s probably a lost cause to expect much compliance with this but I have to make the plea. Line yourself up where your training indicates you’ll finish and not by what you hope or want to accomplish. It’s a chip-timed race so ultimately, it won’t matter.


If you are like me, you’re not a fan of being naked in close quarters with members of the same gender. However, there is a better reason to minimize your time in the tent: time. If the race is wetsuit legal, you’ve already got an advantage because your kit can just go under your suit. You’re pretty much just left with getting out of the suit (and their will probably be volunteers to help with that) and getting into your riding gear which means shoes and helmet.

If you were not wearing your suit, you’re (probably) going to have the added struggle of pulling on your top over your wet body. Obviously there are some exceptions like bibs but my guess is most people don’t wear them. 

Last year, my routine was get my top on, get some chamois cream rubbed around my crotch, put on my beanie, helmet and sunglasses and then drop whatever I wasn’t taking (cap and goggles in my case) and heading out the door. It still took a few minutes so however fast you think you are, be prepared for it to take longer.

Once you’re out and you’ve handed off your bag, there will be volunteers on hand to apply sunscreen. It’s worth the time to get that applied. The ones I met slathered all of my exposed skin and while I still ended the day a bit red, it would have been much, much worse had they not been there. It was also faster than trying to apply it to myself.


I got a little frustrated with the aid stations so now is a time when I advise you to follow my advice and not do as I did. As is often the case, not everyone who is out there should be. I encountered more than a few folks who rolled to a slowdown or even stop in the middle of the course when all I wanted to do was grab a bottle of water and go.

With an obvious exception for those who are truly competitive in the race (essentially anyone who is trying to place in their age group and/or qualify for a Kona slot), there’s really no virtue in rushing. I’m not suggesting you need to stop for five minutes or even slow if there’s no crowd. But if there is, ease up, do what you need to do to ensure you’re getting the things you need and then roll out. If you lose a minute on a smoking fast five hour bike split, that would be 0.03% more. 

The same is true of special needs where nearly everyone who is partaking will stop. I was impressed to see a volunteer about half a mile ahead with a radio calling out numbers to his cohorts at the station. Unfortunately, I still had to provide my number when I stopped and wait for them to retrieve my bag. Again, however, it was a delay that really had only the most minimal of impacts on my overall time.


If you read my post-race article from last year, you know I left the bike course around 10 miles from the finish in an ambulance. Keep that in mind as I describe to you the process by which one exits the bike in an Ironman race. In other words, it’s all based on what others told me and on the briefing my coach provided me last year.

Coming off a bike after a long ride is tiring enough. Walking that bike through a crowded parking lot and trying to find the spot where it belongs is even more exhausting and if you can’t find your spot, it can be time consuming.

Ironman (and perhaps others, I can’t say) has come up with the idea of “bike catchers” who, not long after you dismount, will take your bike from you and see to its safe storage while you proceed to transition to the run. The bike is no longer your concern until you pick it up post-race.

There are a few items to consider, however. First, as is the case in Boulder, the run from dismount to where you pick up your bag is on the long side. If you are running in your bike shoes, it can be a little tricky. If you are not running in them, it can be a bit hot on your feet. There aren’t a lot of good solutions, but just be aware.

At the Boulder event, T2 bags are lined up on the running track at the stadium adjacent to Boulder High School. In the first year, that black all-weather surface was scorching hot. Last year, they ran long lengths of rugs which I hear helped. It did appear to me, however, to be crowded so hopefully volunteers will be of assistance in getting you your bag and into the change tent.

I’m forgoing any advice about the T2 change tent because other than to see where it was and to walk through it on the day prior, I never had the experience. I can’t imagine it’s especially involved however. Most of us are probably only swapping out bike shoes for running and shoes and perhaps putting on a fresh pair of socks.


I’ve covered a lot in this post so if you’re still with me, thanks for reading this far. Here are a few other miscellaneous items I can share:

In General (not specific to any one race)

·         Attend pre-race briefings, watch videos, read and re-read the athlete guide and avail yourself of any opportunity to be informed. Knowing the course, the race procedures and being ready for any unexpected developments can only help you

·         Thank the volunteers. Imagine arriving at an aid station to find it empty and unstaffed. While most folks who volunteer for races (myself included) do it because they want to be there, it’s always great to have someone thank you for it. 

·         Talk with family and friends who are going to watch or follow you. Ironman actually publishes a Spectator Guide with information on where to watch and what to do while you are out there racing for several hours. My family was able to track me using the mobile site provided by Ironman, but it can get overloaded so it may or may not be helpful. The rules say you cannot carry a phone with you (and you should follow the rules) so tracking via an app is not an option.

·         Make a plan in case things don’t go well. Ironman includes a couple of tickets that allow the bearer to get your equipment in case you are not able to do so. I was especially grateful that my wife and father-in-law could get my gear while I cooled my heels at the hospital. I had also left my phone in my car that morning so my wife was able to use the Find iPhone app to pinpoint the car. This or something similar is a good idea.

IM Boulder Specific

·         Parking in downtown Boulder (near Boulder High School) can be a little challenging, but in the wee hours of a Sunday morning, you’ll have a few more options. There are several garages within a few blocks of both Central Park (where you drop your special needs) and the high school from where buses will shuttle you to the reservoir. Last year I parked in the garage adjacent to the downtown RTD station at 14th and Walnut and walked a couple blocks over. I believe parking was free but even if it isn’t you’ve already spent a few hundred dollars at this point so you might as well pony up to get a covered space.  I don’t actually know the policy on metered parking in the area but I would be wary of it. There will not be anything for you at the High School and some of the adjacent lots are actually on CU property. That might fly, but my recollection of parking operations at the University is that they will not hesitate to ticket and possible tow you. Another option would be to do as I am doing and stay at a hotel downtown. I will no doubt pay through the nose for parking there, but at least I won’t have to worry about it.

·         Boulder Reservoir is accessible through and only through the shuttle buses they run. These depart from the front on Boulder High School (on the Arapahoe side) and will also return spectators back downtown. Don’t even try to drive, ride walk, run or pogo stick your way into the reservoir.

·         Your spectators seeing you at finish line is not impossible, but not easy either. It’s a crowded space with large sections devoted to the finish chute and a VIP area where folks with money to burn get special seating. If your friends and family have the $250 to $500 to blow on this, so be it. For most folks, it will probably mean elbowing their way in as close as possible and that could result in being either ahead of or behind the actual line. As a courtesy, once you’ve finished, they should move out as quickly as possible.

·         This is a big field. My memory tells me there are something like 2800 entrants which is far larger than anything else I’ve ever done. I did not find that to be a problem, but bear in mind, you’ll have others around you all day.

·         Downtown Boulder is an embarrassment of riches when it comes to dining options. However, my feeling is that majority of these run more toward the high-end and are not necessarily a great location for a pre-race dinner. Likewise, you may not feel like heading to such a place after the race. The surrounding area including the towns of Longmont, Lafayette, Louisville, Broomfield and Westminster have options for you. I’ve waited for over an hour at a certain well known pasta-restaurant downtown. I wouldn’t do that when I’m aiming for an early bed time.

That, at long last, is the end of my advice for racing an Ironman event. With luck, determination and perseverance, I’ll have just a little bit more to add after August 7!

Thanks for reading, good luck in whatever your event may be and have a terrific week!