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.