Monday, September 4, 2017

2017 Ironman Boulder 70.3 Race Report

After my disappointing finish at Chattanooga 70.3, I was pretty motivated for the training for Boulder.  Last year I had decided to do this race for several reasons. My wife and I went through Boulder a couple of years ago, but didn't really get to spend any time here.  It looked great, so we wanted to come back.  I like to do one kinda 'destination' race each year, and Boulder fit that bill for us. I also knew there would be a ton of BSR 'mates out here. This race is also a qualifier for 70.3 Worlds in 2018. And they have 25 breweries just in Boulder. Kinda seemed like a multiple win scenario. Except for the flying and the altitude, it's perfect.  I did not have the goal to win my age group at this race because I really didn't know what the altitude would bring.  So I just had my usual goals of making the podium and qualifying for Worlds. (Oh and strap in. This may be my longest blog post ever.)
Yo, Stop, Collaborate and Listen.
This race report starts early in the week, due to the fact that we were flying to Denver for this race. I've only flown to two triathlons in my life. Those were Las Vegas in 2013 for 70.3 Worlds, and Kona in 2015. So I guess it makes sense to fly in 2017 (every other year). Those other trips, I shipped my bike using Tri Bike Transport.  This time I didn't want to have to be without my bike for so long, so I decided to bring it with me. Like check it as luggage on the plane. I know many people do this like 18 times a year, but it was completely foreign territory for me.
Nathan doing Work
Luckily I have a friend that has one of those Ruster Sports bags that you can check as luggage and not get charged extra. When he said I could borrow it, I was like 'Great, Thanks!' . . . . . uh . . . I have absolutely no idea how to break down my bike and pack it in there.  You gotta help me!! Yeah, it was pretty pathetic.

So I picked up my bike from Inside Out Sports on my way home from work on Tuesday. Yes, because I wanted them to check everything out, and put my ICE Friction chain on there for me. Because, well, I don't know how to do crap.  I think we already covered that.

So Nathan came over that night and we went to work.  And work, and work. I figured we take the handlebars off, and the pedals. But then he's like yeah, and the fork and the derailleur. I'm like, what about the seat. Oh yeah. That too.

We went to work. I took many many pictures and videos on my phone.  Luckily my QR PRsix is very simple to work on. Nathan said so.  Everything was going quite swimmingly until we heard a piece bouncing around in the frame. Some time later it fell out, and it was for tightening the seatpost. Quite important as it turns out.

Then he showed me how to pack the frame up in the one bag, and then the wheels in another bag.  We put the bike frame in upside down as to not bounce on the crank halfway across the country.  It took about an hour from start to finish.  I felt quite a bit settled after we had that done. Then we had some Full Spectrum beer and Green Lightning was ready to go.

This night was spent packing everything else up. I wanted to make sure that everything I needed to race was coming with me on the plane.  We were going to check the two bags for the bike and another duffel bag.  Then my wife and I each had a roller and a backpack.  I easily got all my stuff in the roller.  I finally made good use of all those Ironman Luggage tags you get at every race. At that point we were ready.
We packed lightly
We had an early start as we had a 7:30am flight. We were gonna take the 9:30, but this flight was $250 cheaper for the two of us. We left around 5 am, so it really wasn't much more of an earlier morning than usual.  Normal parking at Park-N-Go, which was nice not to have to lug all those bags around more than you have to. (PNG picks you up right at your car).  I did give the guy a good tip, as we had 7 bags total.
Someone's a happy camper

Got to the American Airlines kiosk, and checked in easily enough. Paid for the (3) bags ($85 total).  As I put the bag with the frame on the scale to check it, another attendent walks by.  She's like, What is that? I don't lie, it's a bike. She's "We have to charge extra for that". I just say that it fits the weights and dimensions. She keeps going on about how it is a bike. Finally she gets a supervisor. The supervisor takes one look, and she goes, it's ok, that's fine. Thank you ma'am.
A boulder in Boulder

West Flanders Brewing

Pearl Street Mall
They seemed to be quite hung up on what is in the bag, instead of just making the weight and dims. Not sure exactly why.  Maybe they are all gunshy by the thousands of bikes that went through the CLT airport the week before for the BMX World Championships.  Then she's like, If its a golf bag, it must have golf clubs in it! Uh, OK.
Entrance to the Boulder Reservoir

IM Village
Another hurdle passed, but many more to go. Security line wasn't too bad, although there was a little girl who passed out in the line in front of us. I'm like cool, less people. I'm kidding! Besides she was OK and got back in line in front of us anyways. Since we had plenty of time we enjoyed a nice sit down breakfast.

Finally it was time to board.  They kinda stopped announcing groups and people just got in line. We were near the back of the line. They then decided that there wasn't enough room on the plane for all the roller luggage. He wanted to give me tag to check it all the way through to baggage claim.  I explained how I had all my gear for the race in there. He didn't care one little bit.  So he gave both me and my wife the tag. I was uber calm and plead my case, but didn't say much. I figured the steam coming out of my ears was enough.

As we get down the jetway. I took as much stuff out of my roller and stuffed it into our backpacks as I possibly could. I did pretty good, and got just about everything except my bike shoes.  Then we get on the plane, and walk back to our seats. Shockingly there is plenty of overhead space to put both of our rollers. Not sure that "pissed" properly describes it.
Mandatory. Ha.
At least one thing went my way: Green Swim Caps
The nonstop flight to Denver was fine, 3 hours in the air. Although I did think about my bike shoes more times than was healthy.  When we got to baggage claim, my original checked bag was first off the conveyor. I felt that was a good sign. I then saw the 'oversized' luggage holding area off to the side, and my bike and wheels were both there.  I didn't have to sweat too long as both of our rollers came off the conveyor. I guess I should put more trust in the baggage check system.
Some Day I will be worthy of M-Dot Ice and Cake

I am worthy of M-Dot Grilling
Took the shuttle to Advantage Rent a Car, and only a 15 min wait for our car. (Suck it Dollar/Thrifty).  The  Kia Sportage was plenty big enough with the back seats turned down for all of our luggage.  We headed straight to the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder. I knew this was an area for restaurants and shops. Although I didn't know it was a 4 block long walking mall.  I thought it was quite nice.

We stopped at West Flanders Brewing for lunch.  I just had a half pint, and the food was good. We walked around a little and checked out the Chocolate store was well.  We then headed up to the Holiday Inn Express there on North Broadway.  It was only 1pm, but they allowed us to check in. Nice to catch a break in this mildly stressful day of travel.
After we got everything unloaded we headed out to the Race site at the Boulder Resevoir. We parked on the dirt to the right just past the entrance (no fee for racers).  It was a bit of a walk.  The Ironman village and transition are strung out, as there isn't a ton of real estate between the road and the water. So when you park on one end, it's over a half mile to transition.

As we walked by Tri Bike Transport, I asked them if they were going to South Africa next year. They said they were and if I was planning on going. I'm like, we'll see, I'm not gonna say that yet. Standard IM checkin. No line so that was nice. I did get a couple of things at the merchandise tent: Visor, Bottle, and a sticker. Pretty well in check I would say. We'll see what happens at Worlds.
There's been a Triathlete explosion in the Hotel Room

We went back to the hotel and I went to work on my bike. When I opened the bike bag, I see that TSA has completely taken the bike out of the back and put it back in - rightside up, opposite of the way I put it in. It took me about 45 minutes to get it put back together. I noticed that the front fork was a bit stiff, but I figured that was just bolts too tight.  But the crank seemed really stiff as well. I wasn't sure if it was the derailleur or the crank.  Both brakes were also pushed to the side. I was able to adjust the front, but couldn't really get the rear.  I wasn't too worried as I had already planned on taking it to bike tech at the race site in the morning. I put the bike numbers on so it was ready to check into transition.
The Mark of the Devil
We headed back down to Pearl Street for dinner. We went to Mountain Sun Pub and Brewery, which was a really popular place. I got the sense it is quite the local hangout as well.  The food and beer were really good. They had a good bit of Mexican stuff on the menu. You can get a drink at the bar, and you don't pay for it then, they transfer it to your table.  Also, they don't take credit cards. Just cash or check OR she said we could send money later. Like after we left. Serious honor system. We paid in cash.  It was an early night. With the 2 hour time change we hit the bed as soon as we got back.
Not too shabby work
I slept in as much as I could, which wasn't even til 6am. I went over to Red Rocks Coffee around 7am for a mocha. Oh, and to meet up with the Big Sexy himself: Chris McDonald. I hadn't seen him since last summer, so it was good to hang out. You don't really 'catch up' because you see everything facebook, etc. I also got to meet a couple of BSR mates Rob and Chad.  But probably most important of all was finally getting to meet La Fabulosa herself: Erika. Wife of Big Sexy, and pretty much runs Big Sexy Racing.  We hung out for a while and it was a lot of fun. I successfully resisted the urge to get a selfie with them and embarrass myself.

After that it was bike tech time.  I was down at the IM village in the bike tech line by 9:15am.  I stood in line and got to the front at about 9:45am.  The "Bikes and Life" Shop owner was quite nice. He got all my info in the computer and I got a text verification.  I explained the issues to him and he said it would be about an hour. I just hung out right there. I talked with a few people I knew, including BSR John. I watched as they put the bike on the stand, worked on it and then took it off the stand by 10:45am. By 11am I still had not gotten a text so I went over to talk to him.
Full Cycle Outside Seating

He said they fixed the front end, and the brake, but weren't really sure about the crank.  We got the bike off the rack and the crank wouldn't turn at all. The bike tech is like, the bearings are all seized up. There's nothing we can do. I thought that now would be a pretty good time to panic. Evidently that was written all over my face. The Bikes and Life guy was was like, "don't worry, I'll call a local bike shop. You can take it down there. Don't worry about making the bike check cutoff. I'll be here really late and you can always leave it with me, and I'll take it into transition for you." I started to feel slightly better, but then he's "don't worry you always can just go over and rent a bike if you have to". That was not the pep talk I was hoping for.
Mmmmm . . . Beer

So he calls Full Cycle, which is right next to the Pearl Street mall and talks to them for a minute. He says they can take care of me. I grab the bike and head straight down there.  I tell them the situation and they put it right up on the stand there. They start taking the crank apart, and yup, both bearings are shot.  They start scrambling around to see if they have any. He finds one in a drawer at the counter and a few minutes later they find another in the back. I'm starting to feel a little better.  Then he explains to me what that need to do, I'm like, whatever . . . you . . . need . . . to . . .  do . . .  to . . .  fix . . . it. Just so we're clear. I don't care what needs to be done. He says it'll take him a couple of hours. I'm like OK, here's my number.
Views on my Wife's Run

I went back to the hotel and then my wife and I went to lunch. We just went to Subway right there near the hotel. I get the call about 1pm that my bike is ready.  Pretty good timing, so I head back down to Full Cycle.  On the way, I get a call from them that I missed and they left me a voicemail right when I arrive.
The Shakeout Ride

I come in the back door and see the guy who worked on my bike. He's like 'I saw your rear cable was frayed and so we replaced that.  Then I took it for a test ride and the chain broke.' Seriously? He's like we can fix it, but I'm not sure it will last. So you think we should replace it? Yes. OK dude, just do what you gotta do.
The Shakeout Run
So I had a few minutes to walk around. Full Cycle is kinda cool in that they have a full bar right in the bike shop. No, not just coffee, I'm talking alcoholic beverages.  I don't drink beer the the day before a race, but if ever I was, today would be that day.  Very tempting, but I was able to resist the urge.

Pretty soon they were done.  I paid up, and took Green Lightning for a little spin around the block before I left. Everything seemed in order, so I put her in the back of the Kia and headed back out to the Res. I lucked out on the parking this time and got into the paved lot right next to the IM Village.  I then went for a real short ride.

I wanted to ride out past transition like we would in the race, but I didn't see anyone going out there. So I just rode back out the main entrance and down 51st street. It was only 3.7 miles, put I tried to crank some watts a couple of times just to see if anything else would fall apart.  Satisfied I came back to the car and got my run gear.  Just a quick 1.2 mile run to kinda shake the stress off.  I felt OK, and didn't really feel the effects of the altitude too much at that point.

I did a quick change and grabbed my bike and made the long walk to transition.  I checked the bike in around 3:30pm.  I checked out the flow of transition, just to make sure I knew were I was going.  My path through transition was pretty simple as I was on the outside row right next to the fence and some boats that were parked there.  For the bike out they had the timing mat at the bottom of this hill, and no mount line marked. I thought that would be a tough start, so I put my bike in the small ring. Satisfied that I had it all figured out I headed out.  I felt much better about my bike and the race at this point.  It is what it is.

Back at the hotel I got all my stuff together and ready for race day.  I really hoped to be able to use my wetsuit.  They had made it sound like it would be close at the race briefing, but I felt like I needed to catch at least one break for this race.

We headed out for an early dinner.  Again we went right near the hotel to Bracco Trattoria and Mozarella Bar.  We got one of the mozarella apps, and I had some, not a lot.  I had the chicken and the food was quite good.  We hit the bed early, but I did not sleep for crap.  I mean, I usually don't sleep well the night before the race, but this was way worse.  I just kept thinking that if I can get off the bike without a mechanical, it will be a win.
Mozzarella Appetizer

Saturday RACE DAY
Obviously then I was up way before the alarm.  I gathered all my stuff and went down at 5:30 to catch the shuttle.  There were 2 buses sitting there.  Evidently no busses had left our hotel yet.  There was just one girl on the bus when I got on.  Then another girl got on, the driver decided to leave about 5:40am. We didn't go down Jay Ave, but swung down around and came up the Diagonal highway.  When we got close to the light there at Jay and Diagonal the traffic was at a standstill.  It was backed way up on the other side of the Diagonal heading south, as well as Jay Street both ways heading toward 51st street.

So we sat, and crept along, and sat, and it was taking a loooong time.  Honestly I didn't feel stressed about it. It gave me some time to eat my peanut butter bagel and a banana and drink some.  We had a lot of conversation along the way.  I'm glad I wasn't driving, because then I would have been freaking out.  We heard on the radio that one of the busses for the other hotel, went to the wrong hotel.  At least we were on a bus.  It was a total mess.  Which I really couldn't figure out. I mean they've had this race for like 10 years.

It is a 10 minute drive from the hotel to the Res. It took us 1 hour and 5 minutes to get there on race morning.  We saw people bailing out of the busses and jogging (with all their gear) to transition. I just couldn't figure out why the didn't have the busses come in from the opposite end.  From what I heard after the race, they usually have a designated bus lane, which they did not have this year. I'm sure they will next year.

We got dropped off at 6:45, with transition set to close at 7:00 am.  I made the walk to transition and setup my stuff.  I saw people with wetsuits have on, so that was a good sign.  Later heard that the official temp was 72.0 degrees, not even close.  I did forget my velcro strap that hold my front BTA bottle on.  I borrowed some electrical tape from the guy next to me and strapped in on there nice and tight.
Is there anything electrical tape can NOT do?
I saw BSR Diane and Terence in transition.  Then they announced that there would be a 15 min delay in all the age group starts.  So now I wasn't starting until 8:05 (the very last male wave).  One guy was still kicking everyone out of transition at 7 though.  So I started making the walk to swim start.  I found a big group of Big Sexies and got to meet a bunch for the first time.

I mostly hung out with BSR Scott and his wife.  They are local, so that was good to get some last minute intel on the course.  They had a section of Res to swim in.  I believe it was the normal recreational swimming area to warmup in.  I did not, but I did wade in to my waist so I could pee. Soon it was the normal IM wave line wait.  We slowly sauntered forward.  We waded in, and it was a stand up start.

38:00 Officially, 46 / 149 Age Group (M45-49)
Garmin had 37:58 and 1.22 miles for a 1:46 / hundred yard average
The water did not get deep quickly. I jogged for 30 yards or so before I dove in.  I was definitely glad to have the wetsuit.  The start was not too congested, and I felt ok.  I definitely felt a little low on energy.  The first leg of this "U" shaped course went pretty quickly.  It got congested a little at the first turn, but not too bad.  There was a guy hanging on the turn buoy, but not really in anyone's way.
Even when you swim as slow as me, you still want to know your time
On the backside, I really started breathing mostly every 2 strokes instead of my normal 3.  Everyone that was faster seemed to take off right away, and then I was kinda hanging with some people and catching a few stragglers from the wave in front, as the faster women from the wave behind were catching me.
Run up from the Res
Soon I was on the homestretch, almost always breathing every 2 strokes. I felt like I had to correct my course a lot more often then I'm used to. I guess 3 stroke breathing does help to straighten out your swim line.  The final stretch seemed really long, as it often does for me.
More run up from the Res to T1
I kinda started to feel a little dizzy. I actually had to tell myself 'keep it together man'. I was thinking, just 10 more minutes of swimming, ok, just 5 more minutes, I can do this.  Finally, finally reached the end. I grabbed sand on a couple of strokes and then stood up to run through the gate.

2:34 Officially, 9th in Age Group
Garmin had 2:57 and 0.21 miles
I saw the 37:50 something on my watch and that was pretty much what I expected.  I had hoped for a 37, so I was just a minute off.  I felt more wobbly than usual coming up the hill. I found some free wetsuit strippers and they peeled me off.  Overall I had a pretty good T1. I put my shoes on and ran with my bike to the inflatable arch.  Everyone was running to the top of the hill, so I guess that's where the mount line was.  Pushed up the hill, got on and I was off.

2:10:25 Officially, 2nd in Age Group
Garmin had 2:09:52 for 54.01 miles for a 25.0 average on 201 watts and 85 cadence
It was the normal expected Ironman 70.3 congestion at the start. A 1/2 mile on the service road and were were out on the Diagonal Highway (DH). This little back and forth on the DH is a little odd. You only go about 2.7 miles and then you take a 'no passing zone' bike path around, under the highway that puts you back on the other side. So now you're North bound, or Northeast bound. And it's slightly downhill, so you're flying.
The Only time it is OK to pass on the Right

I was doing 30 to 35 mph most that way out to the next bike path turnaround just past mile 10. On this path, a dude passes me. Really? What are you gonna do, it's not there is any sort of official out there checking people.

At my first 5M split, I was only averaging 200 watts, but there was a lot of coasting during that path turnaround. On the second 5M split I hit 216 watts, but averaged 31 MPH. I was feeling fine, but the watt average was low. After that path turn, you come back down the DH and make the split onto Jay ave just past the 17 mile mark. That section coming back was mostly uphill. Still, through 15M I was at a 26.5 mph ave on only 208 watts.

It was basically a constant climb to mile 20 (384 feet up, 0 down).  I did ok on the 5M split averaging 213 watts. Watts seemed hard, I mean I still felt good at this point, but it was just starting to feel hard. I didn't see any drafting, just a constant string of people. It reminded me a little of Muncie.  I didn't have to worry about being in the draft zone too long, because as soon as I passed someone, I was in the zone to pass the next person.  Starting in the last male wave (when will this blatant discriminatory Alphabetism stop!) definitely put a lot of people ahead of me.

Pretty much constant passing. There were also quite a few non-racer riders out. I mean in most races I'll see 1 or 2, but there were a lot here. And not just going in the opposite direction. I passed a group of about 6 women, just out on their Saturday ride . . . on the race course. It is a very scenic place to ride.

As I crested that hill, I still couldn't get my watts up, but I was zooming down. On the 10 miles downhill and flat to the 30 mile mark, I could only muster 207 watts, but averaged 28.5 mph. So at the 30 mile mark, I had a 26.0 overall average. The next hill was rough: 561 feet gain in the next 5 mile stretch up to almost 5,700 feet. I was able to keep the watts respectable up that hill. After that the watt wheels kinda fell off. My hip was cramping up, which seemed odd. And later my fingers. Definitely not good signs.
"The Art of the Pass" or "Fancy Bikes aren't Fast when you're not in Aero"
After the 35M mark, it is mostly downhill and flat. I just couldn't pump any watts. The roads are mostly good, so you can cruise. I could barely hold 190 watts over the next 15 miles, but my speed was over 27. I really started to hurt.  Once I hit 50 miles, I just wanted it to be over with.

Based on the times I saw from last year, I figured I needed to avg about 26 on this course. As I made the turn back onto the DH, I was only at a 25.0 average, and I thought, man I'm in trouble. But then I saw the Res and I'm like 'I think that's transition'. Then it dawned on me that this course was short.

So my bike time was right where it needed to be, despite only averaging 201 watts. I was saying to myself that I should be able to run like the wind only biking that average, but I didn't really believe it, the way I felt. I'm not sure why I got so dehydrated. I had 3 salt pills, ate my 3 gels, and drained my bottle mix. Just what I normally do.  I never did pee like usual.

Coming in Hot

1:54 Officially, 9th in Age Group
Garmin had 2:02 and 0.15 miles
I once again had a perfect dismount, and tried to slow my running down the hill. It seemed like a surreal dream, coming down the hill with my bike, dizzy and dehydrated. But I had a pretty good transition and started out on the run.

1:43:56 Officially, 11th in Age Group
Garmin had 1:43:58 for 13.17 miles for a 7:54 average and 165 HR, and 158 cadence
I saw some of my family right at the start of the run. My sisters and cousin had come out to Boulder to celebrate my youngest sis' 40th Birthday.  The first half mile, I felt OK.  I started the run conservative, as I knew I was in trouble with hydration.  I definitely felt like I didn't have it.

At this point, I knew I just had to push and finish. I figured with my swim and bike time I was probably in 5th place, so I just needed to hang on.  I also knew from previous results, that this run is slow. So I wasn't panic'd yet. Honestly, after getting off the bike without a mechanical problem made me feel like I had already won the day.

First mile was a 7:07, and I thought, this wouldn't be so bad. Overall the course is not hilly. There is a lot of packed gravel/dirt roads and trails.  Very little cover from the sun. The temperature creeped up into the upper 80's. Honestly though it did not feel hot for me. But I'm sure that didn't help with the dehydration.

The first 5 miles were respectable at least, averaging 7:25's. Almost a minute slower per mile than I like to do in a half, but whatevs. Just after the 5 mile mark on Monarch Road is where the Big Sexy Crew was setup.  All hanging out eating, drinking, yelling, cheering.  That definitely gave me a bit of a boost.
The Evil Out and Back at Miles 7 and 12
Then you make the turn onto 63rd and you have some pavement, which is nice. Then back on the winding trails with some loose dirt as come along side the Reservoir. So around mile 7 you have this stupid short out and back. You basically go down this steep hill and right back up. It stunk.  But then you're on a causeway and headed back toward transition for the end of loop 1.

I saw the fam at that point again, and then I was back out onto the second loop.  I was doing 8+ min miles at that point just trying to hold on. I took a salt pill every 2 miles, but even then my calves started cramping up pretty bad on that second loop.  I tried to get some water or coke at every aid station at this point.  I only took 2 gels, but I didn't feel hungry in my stomach at all.
Coming down Monarch Road and the Big Sexy Cheer Squad

I walked for like 2 seconds on the hill at mile 9, but then was like, this is stupid, so I just pushed. The BSR crew gave me some energy. That mile 11 was my fastest after the first 5 miles. Then the whole mile 12 I spent telling myself I was going to walk up that stupid out and back hill. When I got to that point of course I did not walk it. I just wanted to finish.
BSR is Family
Those last two miles were slooooow. But with the calf cramping getting worse, I was just happy to hit the grass past transition, hear my name being called and cross that finish line.
Big Sexy Yelling in my Earhole
4:36:49 Officially, 4th in Age Group
Garmin had 4:36:49 (Did a nice job with the start and stop on my Garmin!)
I stumbled around a little through the finish line. Honestly I hadn't felt that bad at a finish since the full Ironman Chattanooga.  The guy helped me, and kept asking if I was alright. A medical person gave me some salt water. It didn't taste the best, but I kept drinking it.

Found my wife and the rest of the family. We all got some pics together. They checked on their phones and saw that I was 4th. About where I expected. They headed out soon after as they had some hiking plans. I wasn't really hungry, but did jump into the massage tent before they got busy. I told her about my calf cramps so she worked on those. Several times they cramped up really bad while she was working on them. She brings another guy over and he asked where I'm from. 'South Carolina' and he's like Ohhh, ok. Like that explains the cramping or something. I didn't know that was a thing.

Evidently the altitude makes you breathe deeper. That may be true. I mean I didn't feel like I was breathing hard or fast all day.  According to some 'experts' you lose water through respiration twice as fast at altitude above 5,000 feet than normally. I guess it was true for me.

I finally started feeling better and grabbed a coke and some pizza. One really nice thing about my wife taking the shuttle over from the hotel as well, was that she got a wristband to access the athlete food tent too. So she was able to grab some soda too.  We walked back over to the bus, and only had to wait about 10 minutes (during which I ran over to the port-o-john).
My Minnesota Family

Showered and changed at the hotel, and then just chilled for a little bit. We headed back over to the race site by 3:30 so we could park and get my bike before the awards started. We had to park in that dirt lot again, so it was a long walk to transition, and back to the car, and then back to the awards area.

I got back with my wife before 4pm. Just in time to hear they were delaying the awards til 4:15p. Luckily the awards were right next to athlete food. I grabbed some more pizza as I was starting to get hungry. They did the Pro awards at 4, and then after that they posted the slot allocations. I walked up to check them out and the slot numbers were exactly as I thought: 2 in my AG. The starter numbers surprised me a little. Younger demographic out here in Colorado, I guess.

They go through the awards, and I am the only one in my AG to show up. I guess the applause was all for me! I get a couple of good pictures and sit down. Then I realized, this bodes well for slots, if the first 3 guys are gone.  I wanted to go to South Africa. I talked to my wife about it last year, and we decided we were in. I felt like I missed out a little bit on 70.3 Worlds in Australia. That race was the year after I went to Kona (and our trip out west), and we just couldn't swing it. When they announced this race, and I did a little research on it, my heart was set.
This only tastes good right after a race
My wife was excited about going as well, so she was a little nervous at the Allocation/Rolldown.  The upper age groups really didn't roll too much. Once they got down to 50, there was some rolldown (one of the women's AG ended up rolling all the way out and got re-allocated to a different AG).
They get to my AG and my wife is biting her fingers off. I didn't really feel nervous. I was confident I could get a slot next year if I needed to. They say the 1st place name. Nothing. Then 2nd Place. Nothing. I just needed 2 rolls, so I got a big grin on my face. I stand up and take a couple steps forward.  I wait for him to say the 3rd place guy. Nothing. Then he says my name and I give a yell and walk up. Triumphant.

I fill out the paperwork and get in line to pay.  The other slot in my AG rolled to 6th, so not too far.  I talked with him in line as we waited. Finally got to pay my $450 plus $36 Active fee (and later the $7.50 daily fee for Triathlon South Africa). I get the coin and the letter and I'm all set.  I ask about the Tri Club awards, but they don't have them yet.  The woman told me to email her, which I did. They sent me the award about 10 days later.  We then headed back to the hotel.

By then it was 5:30 and were meeting up with BSR peeps at 6p. We just 'freshened up' and headed out. We met everyone over at the Rayback Collective. Basically its a tap house with food trucks and outdoor bar games. They had really good selection of beer. We got some food from the food truck with the shortest line.  We had a really good time hanging out with everyone, Especially Big Sexy Chris and Erika.

My BSR Family
After a while a few of us headed over to Upslope Brewing. Chris says that's his favorite one.  It was right next to out hotel, which was nice. After a bit, I felt very tired and we soon headed back to the hotel.

Slept in as long as we could, like til 6:30am. Hung out at breakfast for quite a while, since I could, as my wife went for a run.  Went to work on breaking down Green Lightning and getting it packed back up. Definitely seemed to go smoother this time.

We went down to Boulder Beer for lunch. Again good food and beer. Seems to be a trend here. We went back over to Pearl Street Mall to get some souvenirs.  We parked on the west side and walked in, seeing some parts we hadn't seen before. After that we just went back to the hotel and relaxed before dinner.
Avery Brewing
We had dinner over at Avery Brewing with my sisters and cousin. We ate outside and enjoyed the day. It was nice to catch up with everyone some and be able to talk without chasing kids around. Back at the hotel we finished packing up and we were ready to go.

We were up early, still not used to the time change. So we just headed to the airport even though our flight wasn't until 10am. It's a good hour drive to DEN without traffic, and there is always some traffic. No problems checking the bike this time. I think Denver is much more used to handling bikes than some other airports. We had time for a nice sit down breakfast after we got past security.

Prairie Dogs Everywhere! (I'm told they're protected).
Happy to report no issues with travel at all.  Our bags were the first one's off the conveyor in Charlotte. Shuttle, Car, Highway, Home. Exhausted but happy with a great trip. I'm pretty sure I set a PR by going to 5 different breweries in one weekend. I put my bike back together that evening. It wasn't too bad, and I can see how people do it all the time now. I did take it into Inside Out Sports for a once over before I rode it.

The total tally with bag check fees (both ways), Life+Cycles at bike tech, Full Cycle, and Inside Out, I spent $333 dollars to ship my bike out there and back in working order.  Tri Bike Transport is usually $350 for domestic, and you can usually get a discount if you book early. So I didn't save any money at all. It was nice to be able to ride my bike the weekends before and after the race. Tri Bike is usually 2-3 weeks before and 10-14 days after.  But let's just say I will be using Tri Bike for South Africa.
"The Letter"
That race was hard. I have never been so stressed out the day before any race. The altitude was worse than I thought. So I'm pumped to make the podium and (again) punch an eeeeearly ticket to Worlds.  Races are not fun. I'm not even sure if I like racing. I love training. I love the weekend of an out of town race: getting away, hanging with friends, finding new beers. I like the meticulous detail that goes into all the gear and setup for a race. But from that start gun to the finish line, there is no fun.
TriClub Champs, Qualifying for Worlds, and Making the Podium are Fun.
Sometime during the course of every triathlon swim, I start thinking: this stinks, I don't like this, this is not fun, I don't ever want to do this again. But eventually I finish, and making the Podium makes it all worthwhile. That and qualifying for Worlds makes me forget 4 and a 1/2 hours of suckage. Then, before I know it, I'm suddenly signed up for all these races. How did that happen?
My Account
P.S. Sorry for all the race pics that kinda look similar. This is the first triathlon I've bought the stupid race pix, and I'm gonna use every single freakin' one. Suck on that Wayne Brady!