I know, I know … racing at altitude when you don’t live there year-around is … well … hard (understatement). But I planned to do another half-ironman before the 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas, and Boulder 70.3 was the right timing … AND (most importantly) I just so happened to have a friend who lives in Boulder and the view from where he lives and works looks like this –>
So I flew up (really late) on Monday evening… and spent the remainder of the week relaxing, doing my taper workouts, and hanging out on Pearl Street (read: eating really good, healthy food … drinking a lot of good coffee and tea … and even sampling a small bit of the amazing microbrews the city has to offer). If you’ve never been … you should check it out, and try to resist the urge to start looking for job openings in your area of expertise (guilty).
My friend and amazing host, Charles, is a triathlete himself and knows the scene in Boulder well. I was in good hands. We did one loop of the run course out at the Boulder Reservior Tuesday afternoon. Thursday we previewed the bike course, and headed to the pool. This might have been one of my favorite memories from the week. We showed up just as the lunch hour Master’s swim was finishing and jumped in a lane to start warming up. I eventually looked over to see who was cooling down and it was none other than the likes of Crowie, Mirinda Carfrae, and Tim O’Donnell among many others. I’m not one to drool or gawk over celebrities … but I was a little star struck and humbled. Wake up call … ” You are in town with the big dogs!”
Thursday afternoon my mom and dad flew in to Boulder. Normally they are racing along with me (it’s hard to be a spectator in the Blunck family), but this weekend they were my #1 supporters and fans … and they surprised me by flying in my little brother too !
Friday was my day off. I slept in, talked to my coach Alex McDonaldand headed to the expo to check in. I got to spend time talking to a number of the awesome FFT sponsors … Training Peaks, Skin Sake Athletic, and Computrainer just to name a few … These guys all make training and racing more efficient, effective, and comfortable. Thanks for the continued support!
- Saturday morning was pre-race shake-out workouts … a short swim, bike, and run to remind the body what race pace feels like and then off my feet.
Up to this point in the week, I can’t say I felt like I was struggling with the altitude much. BUT … I was also on a taper week and I wasn’t doing much intensity to test it out. The conventional wisdom is that if you can’t get up to altitude weeks in advance, then your best bet is to get there within 24 hrs of your race. A week was the best I could do at this point, and I had to hope it would help out some. I remember some shortness of breath on my Tuesday run and a twinge of a headache after. All that being said … I knew race day was still going to be tough.
I have an awesome friend who started this season sending me a motivational thought in the weeeee early morning hours of race day. I have charged him with continuing this for every race … and this particular morning he really out did himself. It is too good not to share …
1) “Little Lamb, who made thee?” – William Blake
2) Usually MY inspiration comes from women… and generally those who lived hundreds of years ago. This week it came from Wednesday’s Olympic news. Wojdan Shahrkani. A 16 year-old girl from Saudi Arabia and just a blue belt in judo. But with special dispensation from the IOC, the Prince, and the judo federation to wear the required headcovering she went to London and was the first woman from Saudi Arabia ever to compete in the Olympics. By regulations she had to wear a black belt, which she did for the first time. And lost in 80 seconds. How much courage does it take to go halfway around the world to stand up and make a point… knowing you’re going to get slaughtered and afterwards return home to a country where woman can’t compete in sports and most people will call you a heathen and shun you? I can’t imagine. But she rocks and I freakin’ love her. She’s the lamb and the lamb is nothing without the tyger. It’s not always just about good (or great) and bad. At the crit you were David. You knew this. You’re smart and you learned from it. Today, be the tri-Goliath you train for and are. And win for Wojdan. Because without women like you she, and progress, never happened.
3) “Tyger! Tyger! Burning bright,
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?”
- Blake (he’s an honorary Sewanee alum)
4) Oh. And 3=$150, 2=$300, and 1=$500 to the charity of your choice. It ain’t much and I’m not trying to bribe you… It’s just a “choose your own inspiration” situation. Just be you and kick ass today. I’ll be watching online. And your website is live, ma’am
After that … tell me how can you not be inspired! And trust me … I had to channel my inner “tyger” a lot to get through the run.
Swim: Everyone told me I would notice the altitude the most on the swim, but I really can’t say that I did. I almost wish I had that to explain my lack-luster swim split. I got out to a good start, but soon found myself in the usual scuffle. At one point I felt like I had so many people swimming around, on top of, and right behind my legs … that there was a vortex … pulling me backwards ! Not the direction I needed to be going in. The course turned into the sun, making spotting a little tricky on top of navigating the other swimmers from the age groups before us. The swim was deemed a wetsuit swim, but I think it was pretty close to the cut-off because I certainly was hot out in the reservoir in my long sleeve wetsuit . Needless to say … I found myself in a familiar position .. freakin’ ready to get out of the water as soon as possible! I ended up 8th out of the water.
Bike: The bike was a 2 loop course that was wide open, full of long, steady rollers and some good downhills. The wind can get pretty gnarly coming over the mountains, and we definitely had some on race day. I tried to keep it in the big ring and keep my momentum going, but not leave too much of my legs out on the bikes course. I came off the bike in 3rd place for my age group.
Run: I was hoping for a much better showing than a 1:39 and change. The honest truth is I knew it was going to be a tough day when I was struggling mentally and physically by mile … (wince … sigh) … mile 2 :/. This two loop course around the reservoir is somewhat rolling and WIDE OPEN and there is no shade to be found anywhere. Thank god for frequent aid stations and the support from my parents, little brother, and friends on the course. Coming off of a hamstring injury that has been a very literal pain in the rear for a good bit of my season, I am happy to report my run was pain free (at least from that respect) … and that is huge! Many thanks to the physical therapists and trainers at Eskridge and White Physiotherapy back home in Birmingham !
Check here for Full Boulder 70.3 Results. I finished the day 2nd in the women’s 25-29 age group and 4th overall amateur. Not a bad day, but not what I was hoping for either. I know what I need to work on to be where I want at the 70.3 World Championships in Vegas in September.
After the race it was on to one last amazing dinner on Pearl Street with my mom, little brother, and amazing Boulder friend/host/race cheerleader … Charles. Thank you so much !!!
One last thought on how cool Boulder is … one of the many bike stores in the city, University Bikes, has a 24 hr bike vending machine … offering tires, tubes, allen wrenches, assorted ride food and gels … and other stuff … really, how cool !!!!!
Thanks for reading my (ridiculously long-winded) race post … and check out more on my website www.hallieb.me