Ironman Boulder-Part One

On the road to Boulder in the middle of Wyoming with my training partner-in-crime

On the road to Boulder in the middle of Wyoming with my training partner-in-crime

Beautiful Boulder.

For years I have wanted to visit this triathlon mecca tucked away in the Flatiron Mountains at the base of the mighty Rockies.  Imagine my surprise when Ironman triathlon decided to chose this little gem of a city to host a full Ironman triathlon.  I had told my husband years ago….”If there is ever an IM in Boulder, WE’RE THERE!”  (I have a few cities that I think this about)  So when WTC announced a new IM race in Boulder, it took me all of three-seconds to decide my race venue.  The day it opened, I woke up with the excitement of a kid on Christmas morning and the second I could register, I was on to secure my spot.

A night at the fabulous Avery Brewing Tap House (click pic for info)

A night at the fabulous Avery Brewing Tap House

After months of training for my third Ironman, we took the trip to Boulder.  Deciding to go early (2 weeks) because I had never raced at altitude before and was unsure how it would effect me.  We got there and training continued into my taper; the altitude never having any effect, thankfully.  We immediately loved the area.  My hubs LOVED the area.  Lot’s of sun, lot’s of great food options (what a foodie city) LOT’s of fit, health conscious people who were so friendly and eager to talk to out-of-towners, great outdoor activities and bikes EVERYWHERE!!  All things we adore!  We enjoyed every day of the 2 weeks leading up to race day.

WHAT THE KALE!!! During this whole trip I craved Kale!!  This made my night.  Roasted Kale and Brussels Sprouts with Sweet Soy at Foolish Craigs.  OH yes please!!

WHAT THE KALE!!!
During this whole trip I craved Kale!! This made my night. Roasted Kale and Brussels Sprouts with Sweet Soy at Foolish Craigs. OH yes please!! We tried this place because it had been on the TV show Diners, Drive-In and Dives (click pic for info)

When Ironman village opened we enjoyed hanging out there, being at the Athlete Welcome Party, listening to the Ironband (these guys ROCK!)and the great Mike Reilly pumping us up for race day!

The Saturday before race day is bike and gear bag check in.  I made sure my bike was all clean and ready to rock (Thanks to my bike handler hubs) packed my run and bike gear bags (your T1-T2 bags)

T1 Bike gear bag: Helmet, Rudy sunglasses, cycling gloves, cycling shoes (I do not wear socks)

Saturday getting ready to pack my bags

Saturday getting ready to pack my bags

T2 Run bag: EFS Liquid Shot flask; filled, visor, Garmin, socks (Nike dry fit) and my kicks (Hoka One One Bondi 3) Running in socks is all new to me, but with these shoes I feel like I need them.  Hoka I beg you for a seamless, sock-less friendly shoe.

After a quick little workout that morning; 10 min swim, 10 min bike, 10 min run, we headed down to Boulder Reservoir for the bike/bag drop.  It was a swirling beehive of activity as athletes and family members walked their bikes down for their security photos (I told them that my bike looooooves having her photo taken) and to rack them up for their overnight stay at the reservoir.  It was so fun for me having friends from CdA there at checkin that came down to volunteer.  To see a familiar face when nerves are starting to brim up inside is such a huge comfort.  I left the hubs and walked in with my bike giving JB a quick, nervous, hug that immediately brought the sting of tears that just wanted to fall from my eyes.  I went into bike transition and found my number on the rack and hung my bike.  I walked back to the start of transition and walked back to my bike ensuring I knew exactly where she was (this will be a funny story later). Then with a sigh and a little lip-quiver of knowing the next time I saw her I’d be past a 2.4 mile swim and ready to head out on a 112 miles, I walked out.  I saw JB again and grabbed a quick, reassuring hug, thanked her for being there to volunteer and went to meet the hubster to drop my gear bag.  I dropped that bag and came around to check out the swim buoys that were already placed.  The reservoir is beautiful. 186214154 1600 Looking at a one-loop swim course always seems to appear SO huge! (I mean it is…almost 2 1/2 miles)  Some of those buoys were almost out of eyeshot.  I giggled at thinking how nervous I was for my first IM swim and how far I’ve come.  I have learned to love that swim so much (it was actually the first workout I did post IM this week)  I also noticed that the transitions seemed long from water exit, to wetsuit peelers, through bag pick up, into the changing tents, but that ended up not being the case and didn’t effect my transition times at all.

Race ready and Dropping of the goodies!

Race ready and Dropping of the goodies!

IronBand rocking us with some sweet tunes at the Athlete Welcome

IronBand rocking us with some sweet tunes at the Athlete Welcome

Next was run bag drop.  That was at Boulder High School.  This was something new to me, having split transition areas.  But again, during the race, was of no effect.  I dropped my bag on the track, looked to see which tent I’d be entering (left or right) and left for the day.  Lunch, rest and packing Special Needs bags was all that was left on my schedule for the day.

I was set!!

Hiking in Chautauqua Park…Gorgeous Day!

Hiking in Chautauqua Park…Gorgeous Day!

 

Running in our Undies-Ironman Boulder Underpants Run.  Love this tradition!

Running in our Undies-Ironman Boulder Underpants Run. Love this tradition!

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Loved the "bike" lights

Loved the “bike” lights

Mountain Goats

Mountain Goats at Chautauqua Park

The (not so) Glamorous Life of a Woman and Ironman

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I am laughing at what I am about to write.  I am pre-lauging, because the words haven’t even hit my screen and I knooooow some of this will sound bad.  I laugh now as I sit, outside in my cool, shaded yard.  Listening to birds and the waterfall trickling in our front yard, eating a Schwann’s popsicle.  My workout day done.  When only days ago, hours ago, I was in misery during a workout.  Hot, sweat stinging my eyes.  Things going all wrong.  Ya know….those kind of days.  That kind of day when your mouth opens and says….”WHY am I doing this?” <again> That moment when if given a split second chance, you’d reconsider this whole thing.  That kind of day.

Aren’t we supposed to be Enjoying the Journey?

Here’s the deal; for ever bad day, there are two, three or five good.  For every day that I have overheated, sweat pouring off of me, and salt staining everything I own; I consider the cold, frozen, snowy months.  There are bad days and good, ups and downs….funny and not-so-funny.  Here are a few not-so-glamourous things about being a women (or man) and training/racing your heart out.

Just to name a few:

Let’s start with the swim.  Honestly, can my hair get ANY more like straw in the winter?  Not only are we in the cold weather, but getting into an overly-chlorinated pool..well if there was any shred of health in my hair, give it a few days once in that pool, let alone the MONTHS we in the Pac Northwest have to spend.  No amount of Moroccan Oil will help this out.  On top of it, my hair is naturally curly, which translates; naturally dry and unruly 99% of the time.  Add chlorine…well, you’re looking at a recipe for disaster.  We waiiiiit for the day that we can get in to open water, which lends its own set of problems.  In comes the wetsuit.  If I were maybe say a banana or a sausage link, I might feel comfortable adding a close-to-your-skin layer onto myself.  Wrestling a body into a wetsuit is an art. A tight, rubber skin being layered on… all while trying to be as careful as possible not to yank, pull too hard, rip a hole, dig a nail into or tear a seam.  But making sure it’s pulled up correct, high enough, pulled up over the butt (this helps if you have a friend) and zipped up the back, without it being too tight in the arms and neck.  And lets not even talk about the zipper…..  It’s nonsensical! Getting the wetsuit on is a workout unto itself, and usually leads to increased heart rate,  heavy breathing, sweating and slight exhaustion.  After all of this, you walk into our icy waters to start your swim, where you then get to pee on yourself and into your suit to warm up.  Glamourous! After the swim, if you’re lucky, you may end up with as I did today, a sweet looking raspberry “hickey” on your neck that is SURE to cause some sort of scandal when seen by people around town!  Which leads to my next glamour word; Chafing!

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I’m telling you what, if you have clothing of any sort on; you’re gonna chafe somewhere.  It is inevitable!  I don’t care how much Body Glide you use, you WILL miss a spot!  Always.  Over 140 miles in a race, something, somewhere is gonna go bad.  I have had chafing on parts of my body that quite frankly I didn’t think possible.  And unless I just figure out a way to dip my body entirely into a tub of Body Glide, it’s just gonna be that way.  Probably the worst part…..the post workout/race shower…that in all aspect should feel like the best thing you’ve ever experienced, until water hits that raw skin…..screams of agony and jumping out of the water a best-feeling-ever-shower does not make.  Along with chafing you have it’s counterpart the blister.  Blisters also have a way of cropping up when and where least expected.  I have blisters that have just become permanent residents on my feet.  They don’t even hurt anymore.  They come and go, and it doesn’t matter the socks I wear OR shoes, they appear.  Always in the same place…on the deformed pinky of my right foot.  Add the blister, deformed pinky and the possibility of black or missing toenails (this has thankfully only happened one time to me on said deformed pinky) and you have a pedicure nightmare!  Runners feet….not always the prettiest girl at the ball!  Speaking of pedicures…forget it.  Or…find an exceptional person to do them.  My girl…knows to not even go NEAR my calluses with a pumice stone.  Taking those fabulous, well worn- in, necessary calluses, off would result in more of the above; chafing and blisters.

Lets talk bike.  And throw out words like; saddle.  112 miles on a saddle not quite wide enough for Barbie to sit on.  Or maybe you’re like me and ride a split-nose saddle, which brings its own set of gifts to the party.  This thing has saved my butt though.  Literally.  HOWever…that being said, riding that type of saddle takes some getting used to.  Even though theres nothing pushing into your….nether region, you have the chafing issue to get used to on your upper legs….and sit bones that need to man-up and do their job of…ummmm sitting correctly for HOURS.  Yes, you will have bruising.  Doesn’t everyone get a bruised butt?  HA!  Glamour, right there!!   There are great conversations to be had on a long training rides with your girlfriends.  Things like… the bruising.  Down There.  Things like…which is the best butt cream.  And I’m not talking for your babies.  I am talking  Ruby’s Lube, Chamois Butt Butt’r, Hoo Ha Ride Glide……for all of that fun stuff going on downstairs for HOURS on the bike that is supposed to keep you chafe free and possibly relieve some of the goings-on atop that saddle.  I’ve learned a few things in my time of doing Triathlon;  there is no perfect saddle, not kit that will help, no butt butter that will suffice.  It’s gonna hurt at some point…and thats that!  On top of that; being hit with bugs in the face at 20mph-plus HURTS, bee stings on the bike HURT, and your butt….it’s just gonna hurt!

Let’s move onto the last piece of this fine Ironman puzzle; the run.  This is where chafing can be the worst.  Anything and everything can rub.  I have had chafing from a heart rate monitor, which is soft around my chest, that when sweated on and ran with my body for 26.2 miles at Ironman Canada, decided it just wanted to cut into my skin.  My rib cage looked like it had been in a knife fight after that day.  The same heart rate monitor that I had worn every. single. day. for training.  If something touches you…..your gonna chafe.  This is where we can get Uber ladylike….the run.  Peeing (or worse) in bushes while your running partners stand watch like sentinels.  And, OH, perfecting snot-rockets ranks right up there on the glamour factor for sure. That is some high-class glamour!!  Snot-rockets are also an art form.  Practice!  Doing it wrong….well you can imagine what can happen.  It can get nasty-gross.

PS: The snot-rocket does work particularly well when riding 20mph….those things can really fly.

PPS: You know your heavy into racing season when you find yourself <almost> blowing a rocket from your car window.

PPPS:  It has taken me years…and I still hate to do any of this in front of my husband.  This is a side of his sweet, soft, clean-smelling, perfumed, showered, wife that I have a hard time allowing him to see.  For better, for worse….I guess, right?

Add all of this to water retention, food obsessions, falling asleep the second your head hits the pillow, or before…like…as your walking in from brushing your teeth, having every calendar date, family outing, vacation or camping trip revolve around your IM schedule, sore muscles, wearing compression like it’s your job, and being gone HOURS on end for long bike/run days, laundry that morphs overnight from one shirt on the floor to a Matterhorn sized pile within hours, that continues to multiply because you never have time to catch up, dinner that’s not always on the table on time,  the intimacy that your bike saddle sees more of than your spouse, sock tan lines, bike short tan lines and tan lines across your back that look as if they were branded on you by alien life forms…and you have the glamorous life….

***I know this sounds like I’m wining, but it’s all in fun!  I honestly love every day that I get to do this.  Good and bad, short and long…..it’s love!

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Mumblings of a Crazy Person-Ironman Boulder Training

Seven weeks out from Ironman Boulder.  Training is getting…fun? Enjoyable?  Entertaining?  Monotonous? Insane?  Yep…there it is!!

hill-seekerI’m going to give you a little peek into my mind while out on my training ride today.  The ride was only 24-miles with a series of hill repeats thrown in on Fernan saddle, which is about a 6% grade, all timed, so that my legs had just enough time to “turn on” before I’d turn to swoosh back down at 34mph.…nothing to get too crazy about.

Fernan was quiet….2 cars today.  I rode from town, and out around the lake taking in its gorgeous beauty.  I have to say, that view…never gets old.  I love the winding switch backs and the smooth pavement out to the gun range, where the hill starts.  It’s serene.  Peaceful even.  I was nice and warmed up by the time I got there.  Ready to attack those hill repeats!

First repeat….this is feeling pretty easy.  I look over the hill to the gun range and take a notice to who’s out there…a dad with 2 young kids, an older, graying, gentleman and his wife.  He looks like he’s teaching her to shoot.  “Keep it aimed out towards the target, Mama” I think….OK, I’m started to get warm with my jacket on..that will need to be peeled off when I turn around.  Hmmm…is that a bone?  Yep!  That looks like an ulna.  Cat?  Dog?  Coyote?  Oh…theres a pelvis.  WOW!  Yes there are wild animals out here! Check the time…

Down…turn around….Kids and Dad still there.  Wife and husband still there.  She still hasn’t taken a shot.  There are the bones. “That’s gotta be a femur.”  I continue to climb.  A Dairy Queen straw…and the cup.  A Blizzard.  man, why do people litter.  So rude!  On this climb, of course, I start my self-talk.  Last time I made it to point X..this time, I have to make it a little further.  I’m timing 7-minute hill repeats. I am BY FAR my own worst critic.  Not the self-hating, self-punishing type of critic…but the kind of critic that gives myself pep-talks that motivate, makes me work harder, makes me pick up my cadence, sweat a little harder.  I will never work harder than when I am racing myself.  There is something that boils up inside of me, that makes me want to go the extra mile, go a little harder.  It’s me..against ME!  Last time I made it to the snag, this time I blew right by her.  Snagatha Christy!

Down, turn around.  Dad and kids are loading up to go home….the older couple…she’s ready to fire, gun held up..he’s out fixing the target.  Oh man…that doesn’t look good.  I say a prayer.  The bones…man, what’s the story with those bones?  And why? are they in the road?  There’s the DQ straw…oh man! a Blizzard sounds so good right now.  Does it though?  I haven’t had a Blizzard in years!  Honestly 2001 was the last Blizzard I had.  But this little gem, laying on the side of the road….perfection!  Pink toothbrush..Oh that’s new.  How does a toothbrush find its way to the side of the road?  Was it tossed from a car?  Fell out from someone’s belongings on the way to a camping trip?  Hmmm that would make for a weekend of bad-breath.  Was that a couch cushion?  There’s that big, beautiful snag…See Ya Later! Snag!

Down, turn around.  It’s like a slow dance.  Slow it down, turn around, repeat.  The older couple…granny is poppin’ em off like lightning now.  Yeah!!  She’s got it!  It quiets as I head up the hill.  Bones, check.  Blizzard straw, check. pink toothbrush, check.  Yes, that IS a couch cushion, check.  Snag….hmmm there you are you broken and gnarly piece of tree….”were you struck by lightning?”  I think my legs were just struck by lightning.  Dear Paula, you decided to sign up for yet another Ironman….this is part of the pain.  Hit it girl!  I giggle to myself.  It is so quiet now.  No cars, no fire arms, no bikes, no wind….silence.  Me and my breath.  My toosh hurts….(this is another blog-post that needs to be written)  Oh my BUTT!! “Do I have my pepper spray in my Bento box?  Sooo quiet.  And beautiful.  The mountain and trees are magnificent under the sunshine.  I am always so in awe of this place we call home.  I feel blessed.  31525_20130124_125818_good_morning_quotes_06

Down.  And up.  Grams & Gramps have left the range now, seemingly satisfied with her firearm prowess.  It’s just me.  Last repeat.  Last time to make it outstanding.  I am dying to stand up….coach says, “keep the climb in the saddle.”  Make this strong and remarkable Paula….again, being my own worst judge.  Don’t think about the fire starting to escape through your muscles, and burning through your shorts.  This makes me think of the Fantastic Four and the Human Torch…my legs could quite possibly catch fire!  Think of how you’ll feel if you give up now.  Finish this last repeat like a boss.  Do not look for your distractions on the ground.  Look up.  See the snag?  She’s waving you by.  She knows that she was a one-time deal and that you would never stop at her again.  The sound of my breathing is a great sound.  It reminds me how alive I am.  It reminds me that my lungs are strong and healthy.  Capable and competent.  My mind drifts….”your great grace..”  I am WAY past my first attempt of this climb.  Past my second and third attempt.  It feels GREAT to continue up.  Further than the last.  A silent prayer escapes my lips….”Thank you for this.” photo

Time!!!

Look at that yellow mushroom!!!

I am WAY further up the hill!!  Nice work Lady!!  Take a selfie!

“Get your butt home before whatever drug those bones to the road, comes out for a visit.”