Nicole Odell’s Boulder Peak Race Report

2017 Boulder Peak.

It’s been awhile since I’ve raced the Boulder Peak Triathlon…

The last time I raced it was in 2013, but that year the course had to be modified due to flooding so there was no climb up Olde Stage. This meant it’d been six years (along with 2 hip surgeries for labral tears, an MS diagnosis, and a broken elbow) since I’d made that classic Boulder climb. But I was back! I was supposed to be back last year, but two things kept me from the starting line: a recently broken elbow and the fact the race had to be cancelled due to fires nearby. So there I was, finally, back in 2017 to race what was a well-executed event put on by the Without Limits Productions crew.

It was a beautiful Colorado summer morning: blue skies, a great sunrise over the reservoir, and hardly any wind. I arrived to the Boulder Reservoir around 5:15am with my sherpa. (Yeah! First time in a long time to have someone help me transport my gear!) My boyfriend was excited to be there to watch me race and help me with my stuff and this was his first time seeing me race.

My morning routine was nice and relaxed. I got set up in transition, went for a bit of a warm-up run, made one final check in transition and then headed out to the beach for the pre-race announcements and swim warm-up. The sun was already starting to feel strong.

Swim: I was in wave 14 out of 17 so my swim warm-up took place when the first waves were starting. I opted to just wear a swim skin instead of a wetsuit due to the warmer water temperature. I was glad with that call, as I felt great the whole time. It was going to get really warm (read: hot hot hot) so I didn’t want to overheat from the get go.

The waves were about 3 minutes apart, which gave good separation. I’m a back of the pack swimmer, so didn’t deal with too much congestion. It was a bit challenging to sight heading out looking into the sun, but clear as day coming back in. I swam nice and steady and was happy to be done with the swim and get on the bike.

T1: Being in a later wave and one of the slower swimmers, it’s always easy to find my bike! Transition also felt a little easier with the speedsuit instead of a wetsuit, and it was my first time racing in open water in the speedsuit.

Bike: My favorite of the three and the Olde Stage beast was waiting! While my goal is to relax a bit and keep things under control until the climb, my heart rate showed I was breathing the whole way. It was a grind, but I slogged it out, 45 rpm and 4mph at the slowest! The gearing on my TT bike isn’t ideal for climbing, and I had to muscle it out. But with some colorful language, I made it to the top! I even managed to smile for Bill of 303 who was taking photos.

I am sure most athletes felt the way I did – spent and really glad to see the top! It is such a nice feeling to start the descent! I’m always cautious coming down (rather be safe than save a few seconds) and once I made the turn onto Left Hand Canyon it was go time! Now I was really having fun again! Nelson Road was fast fast fast and then just a little bit more work to get back into the Reservoir. My legs were burning, and I wasn’t expecting to be speedy on the run.

T2: Not my fastest of T2s, as I took a little extra time here to grab an extra gel off the bike and some salt. It was quite toasty out!

Run: With the heat and probably a little under-fueled, I knocked out about a 10min/mi pace. Thought maybe I’d be able to negative split while starting a little slower than I’m capable, but held relatively steady splits. I ran a 1:02 where at the Colorado Tri I ran a 56 minute 10k. I walked all aid stations and was grateful for the cheerful volunteers with water and ice. I didn’t feel the need to get deep in the pain cave, but rather have a more enjoyable run. With the heat, it was still hard, but we were all out there getting it done!

Finish: I look forward to seeing the tree at the top of the downhill for the last quarter mile or so of the run. I opted to skip the slip-n-slide this time, but it’s sweet that the option is there!  I finished, was handed a medal, cold towel, and bottle of water and got to give Rudy the Sherpa big salty and sweaty hug.

I see every race I finish as a solid accomplishment. I have been able to come out of some “unfavorable” circumstances and still race. I may not have the speed of 6 years ago, but the mental strength to finish is unwavering. Next up: Boulder 70.3!


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