Ironman Boulder Bike: race report

The first thing I did as I rolled out was to glance down at my heart rate and it was 150, a number that I almost never see.  And I thought of Sonja saying whoaaaaa okay let's get that puppy down.  I spun easy up the little rollers out of the reservoir road, easy out onto 36, easy easy easy.  I finished the bar I had started in transition, started drinking, got down into my bars and settled into cruise. 
My stomach felt a bit off, right away.  Not an off that I recognized, I almost never feel sick on the bike and if I do it's because something is trying to get out the bottom.  This was more of a sea-sick nausea funky weirdness.  I got going into my nutrition anyway, knowing that deviating from the plan could be a far bigger disaster in the sum total of the day and knowing that I've been on the OSMO "food in the pocket, hydration in the bottle" plan for long enough that I trust it, it works, it has never failed me.  My salty balls were repulsive, that was odd, the only time I haven't been excited for them was when I accidentally dumped in about 1/4 cup of salt and then tried to eat them anyway so they wouldn't go to waste.  I put one down anyway at the thirty minute mark, with plenty of fluid, and tried to reassure myself that my gut would calm down and come around if I was patient and didn't get upset (waving at Sonja up 36, this pic stolen from Twitter, thanks Son!).
I spent the whole first ten miles trying to settle my heart rate, and it came right down because I am built like an rhinoceros, and then there isn't much to say for about sixty more miles.  I saw some friends on the out-and-back down St Vrain, it was nice to see people there that I knew (and it gave me a bit of a gauge for how my swim went).  I kept an eye on heart rate and made sure I wasn't spiking power.  When it was time to eat, I ate; when it was time to drink, I drank.  One of my athletes caught me around mile 45, it was nice to check in and see that he was in a good place, smiling and focused and working well (and I was pretty pleased that I held him off that long because he is beastly).  When we made one of the many turns to head dead east, there was a small headwind, and that made me happy because I knew that if the winds stayed put - a gamble any day in Colorado - we'd have some gentle assistance coming back to town.

By about 1:45 into the bike I was frustrated that my gut was still unhappy.  Nothing about my nutrition had been even slightly different than in training, not the days before, not the morning of; every moment had been a perfect replication of the nutrition I'd been working all year.  Since the race, I've heard plenty of rumors about the state of the reservoir following three days of heavy rain bringing run-off down from the mountains, and I'm not going to repeat them here, but with how many people I know that got sick early on the bike (and later on the run), I have to wonder if there is some truth in those rumors.  I suppose I'll never know for sure, but what I knew, in the moment, is that something dismal was happening, I was not coming around and I was not okay.
I braked and then unclipped for special needs, and as soon as I put my foot down my stomach lurched and cramped HARD.  I swapped out all my bottles and filled my pockets, but before I did, I took 2 TUMS from my emergency bag and chomped them down.  I also opened up the bar I had put in my bag, ate it, and then told myself, no nutrition for an hour, let's see how that goes.  I felt like I was riding well, steady, spreading out the peanut butter across the day, as Sonja likes to say, my gut wasn't really preventing me from riding at an appropriate effort but I was far more concerned about how it was going to feel once I started banging it up and down on the concrete.

I headed out across the eastern side of the course and kept a closer eye on my heart rate, trying to allow my stomach time and room to figure shit out.  By mile 70, I still wasn't feeling better so I eased off the effort, only a bit, hoping that the few beats of heart rate that I brought down would help me digest and process.
About 90 minutes after special needs, I gagged down one more salty ball but knew that was the end of those.  Since I was starting to get close to the end of the bike, I waited about another 45 minutes and then put down a pack of chews and then things really started to get ugly.  My intestines revolted.  I spent the rest of the ride looking desperately at the side of the road for a porta-potty, not finding one, breathing deep to try and ease the cramping, and pedaling as hard as I could manage for transition.  I got my feet out of my shoes early and coasted all the way down Folsom home.
Nutrition: 1220kcal (2 bars + 5 salty balls + pack of chews) & 192oz of OSMO, ~203kcal/hour and 32 oz/hour.

Bike: 112 miles, 5:54:00, 14th AG/50th F

By the time I got to the dismount line, I could only think about dealing with whatever the hell was going on in my body.  I dismounted and got into the long line of people slowly walking their bikes into transition, clomp clomp clomp.  After a few seconds of this, I dodged around to the side and off the sidewalk, saying excuse me excuse me coming through! as I ran past.  Someone took my bike out of my hands and I burst out onto the track, asking every volunteer I saw, porta-potty?  please? but there were none.  I ran at least a half-dozen steps towards my bag before I realized that the hot black mortar of the track was burning the living fuck out of the bottom of my feet.  There was nothing to run on and I didn't have time to stop and put on my shoes, I kept running, saying ow! ouch! ow! OW! as I went.  I blew into the the changing tent and asked again for a porta-potty, someone pointed and I ran that way, but then they said wait you have to change first, so I sat down and was probably quite desperate as I said please help me, please, quickly, I am having an emergency here.  I glanced down only long enough to see that the bottoms of both feet were burned bright red and blistering, and then let it go with a quick well, can't do anything about this right now which was easy based on the other 5-alarm fires blaring in my head.  The volunteers were fantastic and I was grateful, they got me into my socks and shoes (although my socks ended up on the wrong feet, damn you Feetures for your R L insanity), I gathered up all my other shit, tore out of the changing tent, over the mat for transition exit (why no porta-potties inside T2, just wondering), threw everything on the ground and launched myself into the nearest bathroom, where I collapsed on the seat and exhaled as my body finally released.  Everything.  (I know this is disgusting but we've already established that triathlon is real fucking classy and it's my day so just keep scrolling).  

I sat there for about five minutes, unhappy, breathing deep, thinking, trying to figure out what to do and knowing that there wasn't much.  I finally got an Immodium out of my emergency bag, it wasn't ideal but I felt cornered by my gut and I took it, along with two more TUMS.  I slowly put the rest of my gear on, opened the door, and headed out on the run.
T2: 6:09


  1. Sounds like my Placid was your Boulder :( Sorry love, no fun at all!

  2. Wait, so you rode a sub-six on the hills of Boulder while in GI distress? Forget your client, it is YOU who is BEASTLY. Seriously though, that really SUCKS.

  3. I'm with that person ^^^. If I could ride what you rode with stomach cramps, I'd be kind of a badass. I'm sorry you had mega stomach issues. I didn't hear that about the water, but I only know 1 other person who did Boulder and she had other issues. Good for you on pushing through it and trying to figure it out. I'm always impressed at your skills for tummy problem solving while during these events. Thanks for including your nutrition b/c I'm still tweaking mine a bit.

  4. Ugh. Not much worse than doing an endurance event with stomach issues.

    One of the reasons I have never done OWS or a tri is that I read an article about 10 years ago about a bunch of people who got REALLY (lasting effects) sick after a tri where rainstorm/runoff into the lake was the culprit. I have never forgotten that article and I know that is probably not logical to fear but there you are.

  5. You have my heart rate elevated above 150 just reading this horror! Love these so far :)


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