……racing that is! I have raced up here at altitude once before in the Boulder Peak Olympic distance triathlon back in 2006 after living in Colorado Springs for 6 months. Fast forward 6 years and only 2 weeks of living and training at altitude makes quite a difference! While I do think 2 weeks was enough time to adjust to the 5000ft of altitude, getting the job done today was a whole different animal compared to racing at sea level.
While I was warming up for the swim I remember thinking “I feel like shit” (in my exact words!) and it was then the word “altitude” flashed in my mind. I chalked my less than great warm up to feeling fairly normal considering a lack of oxygen and realized that my lungs would be on the edge of combustion for the entire race. After the race I talked with some locals and learned this was pretty ‘normal’.
The race itself saw Liz Blatchford take to the start, who is essentially a new comer to the 70.3 distance. Liz has spent the last 6 months focusing on Team Great Britain selection for the London Olympics. Unfortunately she missed out on qualifying due to a debatable decision on “discretionary” slots, and therefore Liz understandably had an extra big fire in her belly today with the Olympic Triathlon event falling just days before this race.
When the gun went off for the swim start at the stunning Boulder Reservoir, it was no surprise that Liz took off like a bat out of hell. And I went right with her. I sat on her feet the whole way. I left T1 a little down because I had the slowest transition on the planet and I had to play catch-up! I spent the first 10 miles chasing Liz down on the beautiful, rolling, two lap bike course. I went by and I tried hard to shake her off. But Liz knows how to dig deep, and she held on to me for the next 20 miles. In the end, all I managed to put between us was a gap of about 2 minutes as I lead into T2, with Melissa Hauschildt a further 2 minutes back.
The run was two laps on a dirt path/road around the Boulder Reservoir. I felt significantly better than my previous race in Vineman 70.3 after getting in a good amount of running back in my legs post injury. I managed to hold off Liz until mile 4 and Melissa until mile 8. I did not have anywhere near the speed of Liz or Melissa, who have been living and training in Boulder much longer than myself. It was a great race between the three of us as we pushed each other the whole way, which ultimately saw us finishing within 2 minutes of each other, while 4 th place was 10 minutes back.
It’s a wonderful feeling to be back on an Ironman 70.3 podium. I still have a little ways to go before I can say I am 100% fit again. However, things are right on track for the Ironman World Championships in Kona. My next race will be HyVee 5150 at the beginning of September. THANK YOU to all my terrific sponsors for being………..terrific: Driscoll’s Berries, K-Swiss, Pinarello, Pacific Health Labs, Trisports.com, Giro, Easton, Fuel Belt, Blue Seventy, Tor Hans, TriBike Transport, Skins, ISM, Computrainer, and Oakley. AND a BIG THANK YOU to my family, friends and fans for your on-going support. I love racing high!!!