Boise 70.3 – All About That Action, Boss

Boise 70.3… a match up between two of Arizona’s finest looking 25-29 year olds.

The Champion- currently ranked #1 (USAT) in the nation as a 25-29 year old with recent podium finishes at Ironman St. George and Oceanside; he vows to “break people” at any cost; weighing in at a bulky 160 lbs with an undefeated streak against Elliot of nearly three years… Adam “DRAGO” Folts.

The Challenger- an up-and-coming star, the Asian sensation, a huge Vegas underdog but adored by all… he’s short, but has a heart of a lion and an aerobic engine of a Lamborghini… Elliot “ROCKY” Kawaoka.

It was war.

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The smack talk began early and often. Adam told me to bring tissues at the finish line; he brought up past race results; suggested bringing diapers to the race; and said to move up an age category. At times his hurtful words almost made me cry.  For most of race week, I kept my mouth shut.  As Beast Mode said:

I ain’t never seen no talking winning nothing.

All of Drago’s foolish words were just fueling my fire.

———————-

I had my usual meeting with Nick before the race to go over my strategy.  Going into Boise, I made up my mind that I wasn’t taking a Tremblant worlds slot.  Boise was a tune-up and test for my big race in July, Ironman Canada.  I suggested to Nick that I wanted to go out hard from the start and see how long I could hold on.  I wanted to race on the very edge of my physical and mental capabilities, without cracking.  Nick liked the idea, but still said to race within myself.  He reminded me that its an unpleasant feeling cracking and shuffling through a triathlon run.  I was there to do everything in my ability to win. I had to race smart.  Having a one week taper, my body felt refreshed and ready to fire on all cylinders.

I was diligent in studying the course and my competition, and plotted out when I was going to take my risks.  After doing research on my competitors, the top end of my age group was stacked. I jotted down a list of my top five:

Lavery – 9:45 Kona, 8:58 IM Florida, 9:25 IM Wisconsin

Mallams – 4:10 IM Austin 70.3

Deakyne – pro-caliber swimmer, competed in Kona and Canada with me

Kalmus – 2nd place at Boise last year, 1:13 half marathon run at Rock n Roll Arizona

Folts – #1 USAT 2014 M25-29 ranking; cocky SOB

I definitely had my work cut out for me if I wanted to get on the podium.

———————-

I flew into Boise Thursday night and stayed with my uncle in downtown Boise. Seeing blue skies and warmer temperatures was much more pleasant compared to my last Boise visit in 2010.

Boise

I slept in till 9 a.m. Friday.  Derek and I went for a ride and my front tubular kept going flat!  I began to panic, as I knew that it was highly unlikely a bike shop would be able to swap out a tubular in a day.  I called my friend, Bryan Dunn, and he suggested using Hutchinson Fast Air.  I’ve brought Fast Air or Pit Stop with me at every race but never used it.  Miraculously, the FastAir sealed the puncture and I rode several miles until I was confident to ride on it race day. On the way to bike drop-off, I bought two extra cans of Hutchinson Fast Air… just in case.

Bike drop off, Lucky Peak Dam:

Lucky Peak

Saturday (Game Day)
Being a late race start (12:51 p.m. wave), I slept in till 7:30 a.m. and got 10 hours of sleep.  I ate breakfast #1 as soon as I got up – greek yogurt and granola, with blueberries, strawberries, and a banana.  I brought breakfast #2 with me to Lucky Peak Reservoir – a bagel with peanut butter and strawberry jam.  My uncle and I arrived at the lake at 9:45 a.m. Nervously walking over to my bike, I let out a huge sigh of relief when I felt my tire and the pressure had held overnight.

I had nearly three hours to kill before the race start.  The M18-29 wave was the very last wave.  My Durapulse teammate, Laurel, and I found a shaded area away from all the madness and relaxed.  It was her first road triathlon, so it was funny answering all her rookie-league questions.

Me, Laurel, and Stacey waiting for our waves to start:

Swim STart

Four-minutes to the race start, I was one of the first athletes in my wave to enter the water. I knew my body would take some time adjusting to the cold water temperature (high 50s).  I wanted to get the initial cold water shock out of my system before the gun went off. Coming from Arizona, my body wasn’t accustomed to such cold temperatures.  I peed in my wetsuit to keep me warm for a few seconds. After a couple minutes of extreme coldness, I was ready to go.

Swim:

Swim STart

I got my breathing under control as the start gun sounded.  I lined up in the front, right behind Adam. My plan was to swim to the first buoy hard, then find a good pack to work with.  I’m not a great swimmer, but it always amazes me how fast I catch the waves ahead of me.  By the first turn, I was constantly having to sight and avoid swimming into people back-stroking, floating, or doggy-paddling.  It got more and more congested the further I got into the swim.

The majority of the swim I spent chasing and hanging on someones feet with a fluorescent yellow swim cap.  I thought it was Adam. Upon exiting the water, I looked over at him… not Adam Folts.  I looked at my watch and saw 31:55. Damn I’m slow! I was hoping to go 30 flat.  I thought I was way behind.

Swim summary:

32:09 (1:39 100m), 4th AG, 77th OA

Running up the boat ramp, I began calculating where the big players were in the race.  Bruce Deakyne was probably in the lead with a mid 20 minute swim.  I looked at the bike racks and I counted five bikes in my wave that were gone.  I also recognized Lavery, a sub 9 Ironman Florida finisher, who was putting on his helmet when I got to my transition area.  T1 went by quick as I put on my helmet, threw my wetsuit in my bike bag, and was off.

As I was running my bike to the mount line, I knocked over a girl who stopped right in front of me to put on sunscreen. She called me a jerk.  Beast mode stops for no one.

T1: 2:14

Bike:

The bike course contained a short, screaming descent once we left Lucky Peak Dam.  There were rolling hills throughout the entire 56 miles. The first 45 miles was an out-and-back south of the aiport.  The last 10 miles were on roads leading into downtown Boise.  The entire course contained just under 2,000 feet of climbing.

Bike

Checking the weather forecast before the race, I knew the winds were going to pick up throughout the day.  Starting at 12:51 p.m., I was expecting the winds to get stronger throughout the ride.  To most triathletes, any type of breeze rattles them; many have very poor handling skills and don’t take any kinds of risks in less-than-ideal weather conditions.  I used this to my advantage.  I tucked down on the descents, got into my biggest gear, and sat on my top tube to become as small and aerodynamic as possible. Descending fast wasn’t scary; weaving in-and-out of the clutter going 40+ mph took some balls.

Ian Mallams flew by me early on.  My coach told me to take risks but Mallams was on another level on the bike.  He went 4:10 in Austin last year, with a 2:10 bike split.  I waved good bye.

Ten miles into the bike, I felt great and looked over my power numbers.  They were really high… higher than any of my longer tempo training rides.  Thoughts raced through my mind:

I have to make up at least six minutes on the bike to catch Bruce.

Mallams just flew past me and will put a good chunk of time on me on the bike.

Folts is ahead of me and I didn’t even see him in T1. I can’t let him beat me.

I’m so far back!

Having no idea where I was in the race, I made a gut call to continue riding hard hoping my legs would hold up for the run.  I wanted to win and knew I had to continue grinding away on the bike to still be in contention on the run.

Making a pass:

Biking

I never saw Folts. There was a long out-and-back section where I looked ahead for Adam to go zooming by… I never thought about looking behind me. I continued flying past hundreds of people in earlier waves.  It was a big confidence boost passing so many people.  Though I was completely clueless on my age group placing.  I saw only two 25-29 year olds the entire ride.

I held fairly consistent power on the ascents and descents through the first 45 miles. Nutrition consisted of a caffeinated gel every 30 minutes and one Honey Stinger waffle at miles 25 and 40.  I carried two bottles of water on me at all times, grabbing a new bottle at every water station.  I went through six bottles of water throughout the entire ride.

The last 10 miles into town hurt. It was mostly flat or downhill, but the headwinds were brutal.  I backed off my power as my legs were beginning to feel like jello. I got as low as I could to cut through the wind.  With 1k left, I dumped the rest of my bottles over me to prepare the engine for the run.  I rode on top of my shoes the last 200 feet and was excited to get off my bike and do what I love. RUN.

Bike summary:

2:29:22 (22.49 mph), 5th AG, 45th OA

Run:

The discipline where I destroy dreams. My strength.

I set out at a blistering pace, still not knowing where I was in my age group.  The Boise run is a flat, two-loop course.

Run

I said to hell with pacing. I’m just gonna go for it! This was something very new to me, as I’m usually a very calculated racer.  Having zero spotters throughout the run course didn’t help. I tried holding on to six minute miles for as long as I could.

At mile two, I saw Bruce Deakyne.  I passed him quite easily and glanced at his face.  He wasn’t breathing hard and looked relaxed.  I was grunting giving it everything I had. One mile later, I looked back and he was out of sight. I checked him off my list. Later, I found out I made a big mistake…

After passing Bruce, I didn’t see anyone in my age group for the rest of the run.  I had no clue where Drago was… probably way ahead of me, I guessed.  It was time to just race as hard as I could for myself.  My body hurt and I was extremely uncomfortable running such a fast pace.  Yet, I knew I had a lot on the line, and tons of family and friends were following me. I wasn’t going to disappoint.

I could feel my engine starting to sputter and overheat around mile eight.  My legs got really heavy and my heart rate was creeping up. I ran with my head down, closed by eyes, and grunted in a world of hurt.  As I approached a water station, I pushed a guy to the side who decided to suddenly stop right in front of me to grab water.  He shouted, “What are you doing asshole, trying to win this thing?!”  Yes, dumb ass, I’m trying to beat Drago.

Starting from mile nine, I really starting to fade.  I saw Ben Bigglestone along the run course, coach of Bruce Deakyne.  He informed me that Bruce was close behind.  I thought he was joking.  I glanced back and… holy cow, Bruce was 50 feet back!  I beat him handily in Canada and Kona, but I can tell he put in some quality training this year.  He learned how to run.

This made the race a lot more interesting.  I finally knew where I was in the race as Ben told me I was in 3rd.  Thoughts and strategy began racing through my mind again:

Should I save a little bit of energy and let Bruce catch me, and try to out sprint him at the end?  

Should I not allow him to make the catch and try to pick up the pace now?

I was completely gassed and had a minor side stitch, so I let Bruce make the catch around mile 11.  All I could think about was the 2010 Kona showdown between Macca and Raelert.  Macca proved that you can still win once a caught was made late in a race. Bruce never took the lead as he ran on my heels.  My stomach started feeling better around mile 12. I tried my best to hide the pain from my face and not breathe loud.

Then, the biggest bone-headed mistake of the day… completely zoned out and tired, I took a wrong turn.  Instead of going towards the finish, I decided I was having so much fun on the run course that I’d go out on my THIRD loop!  D’OH! I never saw the “to the finish” arrows.  Bruce yelled at me that I was going the wrong way.  By the time I got back on course, he had put a large gap on me.  Mustering up the little energy I had left, I gave it everything I had to try to catch up.  I fought, but the gap wasn’t budging.  I crossed the line, a little disappointed and spent.

Finish

Run summary:

1:25:32 (6:31 min/mile), 4th AG, 29th OA

Overall Time:

4:30:45 (PR), 4th AG, 27th Male, 29th Overall (out of 1,295)

I was bummed I made that wrong turn.  At the end of the day though, I can tell myself I left everything out there.  Three athletes simply outperformed me.

I congratulated Bruce for a well-executed race.  He beat me at my own game. Well done, sir.

Bruce

I looked around the athlete’s food and massage area… no sign of Folts. Then, I heard the announcer call out his name.  It was a classic beat down. Silly Drago shoud have known… Rocky always wins.

Beatdown

 

I met one of my idols after the race, Craig Alexander (Crowie). He told me I looked fast.

Crowie

Winning locally is fun, but being on an Ironman podium with competitors from all over the country is the greatest.  I was proud of myself for fighting to the very end. I let my racing do the talking and finished with a 70.3 personal best. I was all bout’ that action, boss.

Podium

 

—-

 

EK

 

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