Ironman Blues and Emerging from a Dark Place to Tackle Haute Route

By Bill Plock

Do you have the Ironman “blues”? Do they happen or even exist? I’ve decided the blues are a result of losing a very predictable slice of life in the form of calculated training replaced by general life with full unpredictability. Now we are left with a void of something known transformed into the unknown and the anxiousness that happens. Is it that??

Each race, each event teaches us something. For me, Ironman Boulder came with a few surprises and one dark moment that almost resulted in a DNF next to my name. An unusually relaxed and well navigated swim led to a good start on the ride. But then the wheels fell off.

About 65 miles in, I just wanted to lay down and sleep. I kept looking at each shady spot on the side of the road like it was the most amazing bed to ever greet my eyes. I became obsessed. I slowly crawled into a dark space of quit and craving sleep. Just quit. Go away. Be quiet. Rest for another day. The bike is where I usually do my best. My legs wouldn’t push, my heart began to slow. My speed dropped.

Then my guardian angel, and as it turns out, a baby was born to her only 7 days after, saved my race.

 

303’s long time ambassador and Kona qualifier Kirsten Smith, obviously quite pregnant, stood on 65th just north of Nelson road. She greeted me with a cheer and uncharacteristically I stopped to say hi. Just an excuse to stop, I was looking for any excuse. She crossed the road and grabbed my shoulders felt my gritty hot skin caked in salt but with no moisture at all and told me to get going—emphatically! I think she wanted to slap me noticing I had a bottle and a half of water on my bike that could’ve been used to douse my body. The next aid station wasn’t that far so why have so much water? She urged me to continue and use that water. She shook me from delirium and onwards I went. I clipped in and continued, head pounding and feeling frustrated but so thankful for Kirsten’s intervention.

This is where the dry air deceives you. I was hydrated, but with humidity of less than 10% and 96 degree heat with a hot wind blowing in our faces, our sweat immediately evaporated starving our bodies of any way to cool naturally. I decided to stop in the shade and took all that water and drenched myself. Then I started to ride. I started to cool and feel more normal. The next aid station, an oasis only a couple of miles ahead greeted me. I loaded up, drenched myself more and continued on regaining my normal pace. I had done it, I crawled out of the hole and knew, even if I had to walk, my day would finish hearing Mike Reilly proclaiming my name as an Ironman.

 

I’m confident I now have more confidence when adversity strikes. Now I have Haute Route in three days with its daunting week long, 523 miles and 52,000 feet of ascension staring me in the face. The ride starts in Boulder, heads to Winter Park, then to Avon, off to Breckenridge with a final stage riding up Pikes Peak.

Seven days of early starts, possible cold rain, steep roads, and who knows what else will greet us. I’m hoping my “dig out” from Ironman’s pain cave will push me through any difficulties and hopefully I won’t need a guardian angel, but if so, I hope there is one somewhere. Kirsten is a little busy being a first time mom, with all kinds of unpredictability!

 

 

We at 303 send her our best wishes of course and I’ll sprinkle those with an amazing amount of gratitude I’ll never forget!

Onwards….and upwards! Stay tuned for daily coverage of the Haute route and a course preview in the next couple of days

Behind the Lens at IRONMAN Boulder

By Khem Suthiwan

As a four-time IRONMAN finisher, I’ve really enjoyed being on the other side of the proverbial “fence.” Not only does it give you a way to experience the race without all the training, but the change in perspective gives you a true appreciation of all the moving parts that makes race day happen.

Being behind the lens and capturing so many special moments, you realize there are stories with each grimace, smile, sigh, and hug. One by one as they crossed the finish line, I couldn’t help think about how they’ve been through hell and back…and not just on race day. But every day since the submit button on the registration form was pushed. Because of this I feel some level of responsibility in capturing as many moments as I can, and because of this I thought it would be a good idea to put these thoughts to paper (well, the internet in this case) and share with you all some things I’ve learned and experienced as an amateur race photographer. So here are a few considerations, including some that I’ve shared with the athletes I coach, for the next time you race, spectate, or volunteer at an event.

This guy clearly didn’t get the memo regarding finish line smiles
See! This guy knows how to smile!

Smile. Especially if a camera is pointed at you. You’ll soon forget about all the pain, even if it’s for a quick moment. Otherwise, you’ll have this not so pleasant look in all your race photos and someone will probably hijack it and incorporate it in a meme, or ship you some Metamucil for Christmas. You don’t want that, do you?

Finish Line Catchers. If you’re waiting for your person at the finish line, give them a few moments alone in the spotlight to celebrate their accomplishment before rushing in to hug them. They’ve earned it. Plus, your backside will be forever etched in your friend’s finish line photo, ruining a perfect moment they spent the last 6-8 months training for. Don’t be a dream killer. There were a few times I just gave up and couldn’t take any photos because there were so many people congregating with an athlete. More is not always better in this situation. A volunteer actually heard an athlete tell their friend who was hugging her while jumping up and down, “I’m going to throw up on you if you don’t get off me.” So there’s that potential biological hazard to worry about too.

Sprinting to the Finish Line. Athletes, before you get to the finish line, look in front and behind you. Allow the person in front to have their 5 seconds of fame. Don’t go sprinting to the finish (which means you had way too much gas left in the tank, but that’s a different discussion). You’ll end up ruining finish line photos of two people. Your fellow athlete and YOURS! In this case, photo-bombing is not cool, so don’t do it. Unless you’re okay with being THAT guy…or in my case, that girl from Japan who sprinted past me in the finish line chute in Kona only to hear Mike Reilly call my name first, and then hers as an afterthought because she couldn’t wait. She will be forever known as THAT girl. Choose wisely folks.

This guy, partied a little too much at the finish line. Last call was 2 hours ago. Nice photo bomb buddy.  #FacePalm (pictured here – Meredith Botnick)

Celebrate and Get Out of the Way! If there’s another athlete finishing behind you, be courteous and do your end-zone touchdown dance and clear out. The person behind you should also have the opportunity to celebrate their finish…WITHOUT you in their picture. A set of triplets crossed the finish line at IRONMAN Boulder and spent what seemed like an eternity dancing around the finish line arch. A friend of mine along with several other athletes, were completely robbed of their finish line moment because of these three guys. She was only planning on racing one IRONMAN, so there’s no redo. Thanks guys, thanks a lot.

Distractions. There is nothing more fun at a race than seeing so many friends out racing and spectating. However, there is a time and place for catching up. Working media at a race is an entirely different beast. Not only are we tracking our own friends, but we are also keeping tabs on professional and notable athletes. Time is of essence and we are constantly looking at our watches and athlete trackers. Figuring out where to be and what part of the course. Sometimes we have a short window to use the restroom or grab a quick bite. If we seem distracted and not paying attention to you, it’s not because we don’t care. We have a job to do and don’t want to miss out on capturing special race moments. At IRONMAN Boulder, each Colorado-based athlete had a 303 sticker on their race bib (we hope to continue this tradition). Our mission was to take as many photos of these athletes along with many others. Being ready to point and shoot while two people are chattering in each ear takes sensory overload to a different level.

This is what happens when you leave the Garmin alone. An awesome finish line photo! (pictured here – Justin Maples)

Look Up and Leave the Garmin ALONE! No one on Strava is going to care that your Garmin went over by 20 seconds. Your official finish time will be based on your timing chip, not your GPS tracking device. And if you are wearing a cap or visor, look up. We can’t see your pretty/handsome face if you are looking down at the ground. There’s nothing there but red carpet, concrete, and puddles of puke from the last person whose friend wouldn’t stop jumping up and down and hugging him. Eyes up folks!

Even with all these tips, sometimes the best photos are those capturing the human spirit. You might think you look awful, but someone else might be inspired by that image. Try to look beyond the ratty hair, salt stained clothing, and sunburnt limbs. Because behind that crusty and rough exterior is an awesome story of how that person woke up one day and decided they were going to be an IRONMAN.

You have one shot at an epic finish line photo. Aaron Pendergraft obviously has a lot of practice perfecting this valuable skill. Way to go Aaron!!!

Khem Suthiwan is a 4-time IRONMAN finisher (Canada, Lake Tahoe, Arizona, and Kona), triathlon coach with Mile High Multisport, IRONMAN Foundation Ambassador Athlete, and staff content editor/media correspondent with 303 Endurance Network. In addition to triathlon, she also races for the Palmares Racing cycling team in road and cyclocross. She’s an avid skier, SCUBA dives, and as a Colorado resident since January 2001 – enjoys all things Colorado. On December 31, 2017, she reached Everest Base Camp (elev. 17,600′, 5,380m) after trekking for 8 days in Nepal. If she’s not racing, you can find her out on the course supporting her friends.

IRONMAN Boulder and IRONMAN Boulder 70.3 Is Here to Stay Through 2020

Having IRONMAN Boulder withdrawals? Well, we have good news to share! Clear out and make room in your race calendar for the next couple of years!

IRONMAN BOULDER AND IRONMAN 70.3 BOULDER EXTENDED THROUGH 2020

Boulder to continue to host exceptional race experience for an additional two years

TAMPA, Fla./BOULDER, Colo. (June 6, 2018) – IRONMAN, a Wanda Sports Holdings company, in partnership with the City of Boulder and the Boulder Convention and Visitors Bureau, have agreed to extend their partnership with the continuation of the IRONMAN® Boulder and IRONMAN 70.3® Boulder triathlons through 2020.

“Boulder is a city that provides a tremendous amount of support to the triathlon community while embracing the IRONMAN spirit,” said Tim Brosious, Race Director for IRONMAN Boulder. “We are thrilled to continue our partnership through 2020 and grow the rich culture that the sport has instilled in Boulder. We are looking forward to this weekend’s race as we continue IRONMAN events in this area.”

Located at the foot of the Flatiron Mountains, Boulder provides a central vacationing and training location for triathletes. The city’s health-conscious culture, refreshing weather and picturesque Colorado mountain views provide a sensational venue for athletes and spectators.

“We have been a proud sponsor of IRONMAN Boulder for five years,” said Tom McGann, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Boulder Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Our working relationship with IRONMAN and the City of Boulder have only strengthened and grown during this time, and we are happy to announce the Boulder Convention and Visitors Bureau has committed to continuing our sponsorship of this event for 2019-2020”.

The 2018 IRONMAN Boulder will take place on June 10, 2018, while the IRONMAN 70.3 Boulder will be held on August 4, 2018. Over 4,000 athletes are registered for the 2018 events and approximately 20,000 spectators are expected to attend the races. A dedicated team of over 2,500 volunteers helps to make the event successful. The IRONMAN Foundation will distribute $60,000 in charitable giveback to non-profit initiatives and groups in the Boulder region in 2018.

“The City of Boulder is excited to continue to host both IRONMAN and IRONMAN 70.3 events over the coming years,” added Michael Eubank, Special Events Manager from the City of Boulder. “We look forward to what’s in store with this established partnership that brings race participants and our community together.”

Since first debuting in 2014, IRONMAN Boulder has become a staple in the IRONMAN race circuit. The race begins with a one-loop, 2.4-mile swim in the Boulder Reservoir, followed by a multi-loop, 112-mile bike course contained within Boulder County, featuring several pronounced climbs. Athletes then embark on a 26.2-mile marathon run from the Boulder Reservoir through residential neighborhoods to downtown Boulder and onto the Boulder Creek Trail, winding along the creek and through city parks. The finish line is on Pearl Street located in the heart of downtown Boulder.

IRONMAN 70.3 Boulder also provides athletes with a scenic and challenging course. Participants begin their journey with a 1.2-mile swim in the Boulder Reservoir, followed by a fast and flowing 56-mile single loop bike course through north Boulder County. The two-loop, 13.1-mile run course begins and ends at the Boulder Reservoir.

For more information, please visit www.ironman.com/boulder for the IRONMAN event and www.ironman.com/boulder 70.3 for the IRONMAN 70.3 event. Athlete inquiries may be directed to boulder@ironman.com and boulder70.3@ironman.com. For media inquiries, please email press@ironman.com.

Weekend Preview: Early Edition

Triathlon Events

Thursday June 7th

 

BAM OWS

Boulder


SwimLabs Grant Ranch OWS

Littleton


IRONMAN Boulder – Ride with the Pros

Boulder


Stroke & Stride: Week #2

Boulder


The Man with the Halo – Tim Don Documentary

Boulder


Nottingham Lake OWS

Avon


Friday June 8th

 

Boulder Underpants Run

Boulder


Saturday June 9th

 

Mt Evans Ascent

Idaho Springs


USAT Off-Road National Championships

Waco, TX


Sunday June 10th

 

IRONMAN Boulder

Boulder


USAT Clydesdale & Athena National Championships

Grand Rapids, MI



Cycling Events

Thursday June 7th

 

BVV Thursday Night Racing

Erie


West Longmont Cruiser Ride

Longmont


Friday June 8th

 

GoPro Mountain Enduro

Vail


Saturday June 9th

 

Ride the Rockies

Breckenridge, Edwards, Steamboat Springs, Grand Lake and Winter Park


Gowdy Grinder

Laramie, WY


Salida Big Friggin’ Loop

Salida


Death Ride Tour

Silverton, Telluride, Durango


Lookout Mountain Hill Climb

Golden


EPIC Singletrack Series: Granby Ranch

Winter Park


Scott Enduro Cup Series: Angle Fire

Angle Fire, NM


Women’s No Drop Road Ride – Liv Summer Vibes

Boulder


Coffee + Bicycles with the Founders of  THESIS

Boulder


The Palmer Divide – CANCELLED

Palmer


Sunday June 10th

 

Ride the Rockies

Breckenridge, Edwards, Steamboat Springs, Grand Lake and Winter Park


Scott Enduro Cup Series: Angle Fire

Angle Fire, NM


Death Ride Tour

Silverton, Telluride, Durango

Ironman Boulder – Ride With The Pros

Boulder

 

What’s better than riding bikes? Riding bikes with friends! And how about when your friends are Pro Athletes!?

Come ride sections of the IRONMAN Boulder course with some of the Boulder Pros!

Come for the coffee, the pro tips, the pastries, and the SWAG…

And don’t forget to follow that night, Tim Don Fast coaching “Man With The Halo” premiere at Boulder Theater.

Full details and Pro Lineup to be announced soon.

 

Details here

Tri Coach Tuesday: IRONMAN Boulder – 16 Tips for Race Day Success

by Dave Sheanin, D3 Multisport Coach

 

Boulder is the perfect place for an Ironman, of course!  It’s home to some of the fastest professional and age group triathletes in the world, and the 18x collegiate national champion CU Triathlon Team.  Who wouldn’t want to race here? Nobody. Of course, you want to race here. Following is a course preview that includes specific tips I have gleaned from my experience on the course both racing and training.

 

PRE RACE

  • Remember that Boulder is at 5,430 feet above sea level–even higher than Denver, the Mile High City.  The air is thin up here and if you’re coming in from out of town, be sure to stay up on your hydration and don’t forget the sunscreen.

  • A big change for 2018 is going from two separate transition areas–to a single transition area at the Rez.  You’ll still take a bus from the high school to get to the Rez on race morning. This is the only way to get to the race start.  Ironman has a ton of buses and there usually isn’t much of a wait, but my strong recommendation is to arrive at the high school first thing.  Better to have a little extra downtime out at the Rez than be standing at the high school waiting for a bus.

SWIM

  • This is one of the best IM swims on the circuit!  Not because the water is crystal clear (it’s not) and not because it’s an ultra-beautiful venue (we locals think it’s just fine).  No, what makes this an awesome swim is that you swim north, then west, then south–in a single loop. What’s the big deal? Let me remind you that the sun rises in the east.  You’re never swimming into the rising sun.

  • IM uses a rolling start in Boulder so you’ll self-seed by time per the normal procedure.  In the past, this race has been held in August and the Rez typically heats up to or above the wetsuit threshold temp, but in June, I would expect the Rez to be in the mid-60s and wetsuit legal.

  • The course is very well marked and only has two turns (both lefts).  You’ll exit on a boat ramp then make a right to pick up your T1 bag and a U-turn to head into the change tents.

  • Do not skip the sunscreen volunteers as you exit the change tent and head to your bike.  It only takes a couple of seconds to get fully slathered–you’ll want that protection in the Colorado sun.

Complete article here

Team Colorado: Join Us for this Special Ride

The next Team Colorado event/ride will be May 20th at Tom Watson park.

This is a special event as we pay tribute to a well known, and well loved Colorado triathlete, Joe Vrablik who recently passed away. He was coached by D3 and good friends with Michael Stone, owner of Colorado Multisport. Both organizations will be present at this meeting and would like to share a few moments and stories with you at the ride briefing. Joe had just qualified for Kona through the legacy program. His story is well documented and subject of a couple of IRONMAN special videos. Tim Brosious, race director of IRONMAN Boulder will be on hand as well. This is what Team Colorado is really all about, the community and supporting each other, please come join this last meet up before IRONMAN Boulder.

 

We will ride, and D3 will have coaches on hand to help us break into groups and try to sort of ride together and finish about the same time so we can enjoy a picnic/tailgate. We are working food details and park accommodations so stay tuned–it very well could be a byoe–bring your own everything- but we shall see.

Afterwards will be a great time to chat with coaches and get some last minute training ideas if you are doing IMB and to ask Tim about anything to do with the race and meet your “neighbors” and people sharing the course with you!

The ride:

Arrive at 8, briefing at 8:15, wheels down at 8:30

Return approx 12:30 with routes following the IM Boulder course with at least one loop, possibly two or a modified second loop. Depending on the group and how we split up we will accommodate all levels.

 

Check out this video if you want to learn more about Joe

Calendar event here

Here It Is, the 2018 IRONMAN Boulder Bike Course

by Bill Plock

As the fifth Ironman Boulder approaches, about 40 people gathered at Colorado Multisport for the unveiling of a new bike course. There are many changes from last year.  In general this course should be a little bit faster with about 500 less feet of climbing and longer stretches of uninterrupted straight roads than last year.

The course is also two loops instead of three and very little of Highway 36 will be used. The notorious false flat of Jay road has been eliminated and riders head west on Neva road and east (downhill) on Nelson road, the steepest part of the course the last couple of years. There is an uphill section on St. Vrain road and an out and back on Hygiene road both of which aren’t as steep as Nelson.

 

The biggest change came by utilizing Hwy 119 (the diagonal) which is a divided highway. By working hard with transportation officials, Race Director, Tim Brosious was able secure the entire southbound lanes for a 12 mile, straight, out and back start to each loop before heading west toward the foothills. By having this road open only to racers, athletes should see good time splits with ample room to get into a good rhythm on this flat stretch of newly paved road

 

Race courses need to provide a fun, challenging and safe experience while impacting the community as little as possible. It would appear that in its fifth bike course version, those goals are being met better than ever. Longtime Ironman race director, Dave Christen said, “this is my favorite course so far and I think we will have a good chance at keeping it for a while.”

 

Please keep in mind that the course outlined in the video is not the full course as the last few miles in to town are being finalized at how it will connect to the run. The run is anticipated to stay basically the same and utilize Boulder Creek.

FB Live video here

Weekend Preview: Weekend Fun

Triathlon Events

Friday Jan 19th

 

IRONMAN Boulder Bike Course Reveal Party

Boulder

 

Join IM Boulder Race Directors Tim and DC for the unveiling of the 2018 IM Boulder bike course.  This new course will be exciting, challenging and fast.  If you can’t make it, be sure to check it out FB live on both the IRONMAN Boulder and 303Triathlon pages.


Saturday Jan 20th

 

Polar Bear Plunge & Run

Ft. Collins


Sunday Jan 21st

 

LifeTime Fitness Indoor Triathlon

Parker-Aurora and Westminster



Cycling Events

Saturday Jan 20th

 

Amy D. Foundation 2017 Celebration & 2018 Kick-Off

Louisville