Well here is my race report from the Boise Half Ironman 70.3
On Friday morning I attended the racers meeting. At the meeting they were concerned about the high wind warnings and temps. Race officials were preparing people in the meetings to let us know it could impact the course …. They said “the swim” specifically if conditions weren’t safe. The quote I remember from the meeting was “safety over pride” as the race officials warned of using disk and other high performance race wheels for the ride, telling folks to switch to their training wheels. I was good there because I have been on training wheels since I was a little kiddo! Ha ha ….
So the next morning the weather showed up as it was promised; windy, rainy and cold. We (Carolyn and I) had to deliver our bike transition bags downtown and then from there jumped on a bus to get to the race start by 10:30. When we got to the top of the reservoir, loads of spectators were already leaving to try to catch a bus back to town … it was COLD.
I headed to my bike (which we had dropped off the night before) to set up my water bottles, etc. Once I got everything on my bike I realized how darn cold my hands were. I found Carolyn at her bike and hid under a tiny tree with several others. It was about 11:00 by then, and I saw several with their wet suits on already trying to stay warm and agreed it was a good idea. I put mine on but my hands were so cold I couldn’t zip it up. It was while we were standing in line for the restroom, they announced that the bike course would be shortened to 15 miles. I was so disappointed L we talked about other races to do but I was totally bummed to say the least … keeping in mind I was frozen also.
After a bathroom break, and the close of the transition area, I tried to zip up my suit and realized I didn’t put on body glide (not that my fingers would have allowed it). A great lady out there, I think was one of the Pro’s, (that just climbed out of a U-Haul type moving van), offered to help me get my wet suit back on. Yes, ….. they seemed to pack a bunch of the Pros in the back of a big moving truck to keep them warm …. I’m guessing it was the pro’s anyway!
At this point I had lost Carolyn so I made my way with my morning bag toward the start line. When I walked through the gates there were two volunteers and one of them looked at me and said, “turn in your chip here before you leave”! It was then I saw two huge bags of timing chips from all the racers that quit. If that’s not a vote of confidence for a newbie … I don’t know what is! I got to the bag check area and I took of my tennis shoes and put on my flip flops and turned in my bag. Whoa was that a shock. Not only was a shivering uncontrollably, now I couldn’t feel my feet either! Everyone around me was shivering. It was at that point I found a group of tall men and hid in-between all of them waiting for the race MC to ask me to line up. I asked the guys around me if this was the stupidest thing they had ever done, and they all agreed it was high up on their lists. Ha ha … not often you get guys to admit it too. It was one of those moments for me where I was trying to decide just how stupid I was starting a race like this when I was already feeling hypothermic! LOL … it was CRAZY for sure!
I didn’t see any blue swim caps left in the crowd I was standing in … so I made my way to the boat launch to line up. I found Carolyn again and we started the swim together. She was so calm and such a great influence … she was also BLUE .. did I mention it was COLD! As you can imagine, for a minute, it felt good to hit the water, as the water temps were warmer than the air temps. I saw reports that said the wind chill @ 11:53 AM was 35.1 degrees. There was wind, rain and sleet for the 2 hours as we stood and shivered. The wind warnings were for 20 to 30 miles with gusts up to 45 miles. Then swimming in 57 degree water!
The swim start was very cool … countdowns were called as each set of racers entered the water waiting their turn floating at the set of buoys to start the swim. The swim start was good and I finally felt a little warmer. I did end up gulping a bit of water for the first 300 yards and had to flip to my back to get some out! Then my calves cramped (which never happened in training … darn it anyway!) I don’t really know how to describe the swim but it was kind of like a rocking boat trying to paddle with silly string for oars with no ruder. About the half way mark I realized the hands that I could see in the water were mine! I could no longer feel my hands; I couldn’t point them or pull them to swim well. I stopped and shook them to make sure they were actually mine. I figured I didn’t have a choice but to keep swimming so I kept the arms moving forward with sloppy floppy hands at the end of them. I must say that was kinda creepy not feeling my hands or knowing they were mine! With each breath I could see people’s faces … they were bright red and everyone looked so cold. My feet were numb but I was still doing okay! I swam in the time I expected to so that was good. Finally to the shore! Wet suit strippers! I had heard all about the strippers in Boise and they were fantastic! That was cool to get out of my wetsuit that quickly and I think the strippers enjoyed it too! By this time I realized the rain had quit and a little peak of clear was coming in the sky .. yeah!
With the shortened bike ride, I was cautious being cautious not to wreck. I was kinda chicken to be honest … riding 56 and wrecking was one thing but I didn’t want to wreck on a 15 mile ride in the slick conditions. I did see a Pro went down and a few others that passed me on the run had some nasty marks on their shoulders! Yikes! I guess my nature to be slower was probably spot on! Several said there was snow on the long bike course … I know there was a dusting at the foothills for sure.
The run transition was harder than it should have been and 6X longer than my sprint tri’s. My feet were still ice blocks and I couldn’t feel them at all. It was like running on hard frozen bricks. It took till mile 2 to warm my left foot and my right foot didn’t warm until over 4 miles ….. it was at this point I realized how bad my feet hurt … it mentally killed my run and I actually stopped to see what was in my shoes .. nothing just the pins and needles from the cold. I had been running so well in the training after long bike rides … this run wasn’t anything to write home about. Yucky for sure! Several of the other athletes on the run were chatty saying how horrible they felt and hadn’t felt that bad in training either. I blame it all on the weather and the shivering for 2 hours prior to the cold water swim. The weather did warm up nicely for the run, which was great – especially for the great fans!
All in all, I finished. A bit disappointed that I didn’t get to do the distance for the bike and did feel a bit shorted. But, understanding nobody can predict conditions or what would have happened if I did ride the distance after facing the cold conditions. It could have helped, it could have been even worse. Who knows … but I survived.
Other team mates that were there … please feel free to add, etc!
I will put pictures on the Team Great Divide Facebook page later tonight 🙂 http://www.facebook.com/TeamGreatDivide?ref=ts