Part 2! Finally!
As I mentioned in race report Part 1, this is the ‘miscellaneous’ portion of the race report. Topics are as follows:
- Training with Power
- Adjustments to My Training Plan
- Ironman Boulder vs. Ironman Wisconsin
I signed up for Boulder with the goal of qualifying for Kona. Unlike Boston, which is a set time goal depending on your age, Kona requires you to place well within your age group (typically top 3 for the 25-29 age group). So when it came time for me to put pen to paper and write down my goals, I had to balance two things:
- How much could I improve – what was a realistic improvement for me in one year.
- How much would I need to improve – for a given time that I felt was realistic, what is the probability that it would be enough to qualify.
To start, I looked at the results from Ironman Boulder 2014. Top 3 times were 9:23, 9:38, 9:46. My time in Wisconsin was 11:07. In the end, I set my goal at 9:30 and backed into my swim, bike, and run splits from there. This was definitely a stretch, but I figured if I reached this goal I would have a great chance of getting to Kona. And if I missed it, I would still have a decent shot. A few weeks before Boulder, I revised my goals because, well, I didn’t do so hot on the ‘drastically improve my swimming’ front.
|Wisconsin||Boulder – Goal, Original||Boulder – Goal, Revised||Boulder – Actual|
Overall, I was a little optimistic with my run goal, a little pessimistic on my bike goal, and my swim was just embarrassing.
Nutrition wise, I spent a lot of time and effort in the year since Ironman Wisconsin thinking about and working on my bike ride nutrition. In an Ironman event, getting your bike ride nutrition correct is incredibly important. It can make or break your race. Most importantly, you can process many more calories on the bike compared to the run. Therefore, the bike provides an opportunity to “re-supply” the body with energy before getting to the marathon. In Wisconsin, I did not take nutrition as seriously, and it came back to haunt me. I struggled to keep on top of my nutrition during the bike, and then when I got to the run, I had nothing left in the tank.
For me, the solution to my nutrition issues came down to eliminating the barriers to eating. When I’m on the bike, I am incredibly lazy – too lazy to unwrap food. Therefore, I switched to a liquid nutrition strategy for Boulder. There are quite a few different liquid nutrition options on the market. As your typical millennial, I tend to want to research everything to death which usually results in paralysis by analysis. After spending several months ‘researching’ various nutrition options I ended up going with EFS after reading this forum discussion. If it is good enough for a pro, it is good enough for me.
Training with Power
In the beginning of my training, I mentioned I was planning on buying a power meter. Then I changed my mind and decided I didn’t need a power meter. Then I bought a power meter (I didn’t write about this because, well, I felt like I was being a bit wishy-washy).
In the end, buying a power meter was a great investment. If you are serious about improving your bike fitness, have limited time, and don’t mind spending the money, just buy one. Do it. I wish I would have bought one sooner.
Do you need it to be a fast biker? Not at all.
Does it help speed things up? Yup.
All that being said, I ended up buying a Garmin Vector. Why Garmin Vector?
- Good reviews.
- Easy to transfer between bikes.
- I’m familiar with Garmin products…for better or worse.
- They came out with the Vector2 when I was looking to buy and therefore were offering a $300 rebate on the Vector.
I also bought the book “Training and Racing with a Power Meter”. Good book. Very helpful. Tons of great workouts.
In the end, I think the power meter was a good decision. Not only did it help to improve my bike over the last two months of my training, but it also helped me create and execute a plan on race day.
Adjustments to My Training Plan
I switched up my schedule somewhat to spend more time biking. The one lesson I have learned since I started training for my first triathlon – the bike is critical…especially when you are coming from a running background.
It doesn’t matter how fast you can run a marathon if your legs are dead after biking 112 miles. And the best way to improve your bike fitness is to bike more. So I took out some runs and replaced them with biking.
I also completed ALL of my weekday bike rides on the indoor trainer (and a few weekend rides). Yes, the trainer is boring. But it is a much more consistent workout and is also more time efficient.
Ironman Boulder vs. Ironman Wisconsin
Now that I have completed two Ironman races, I am qualified to provide an opinion on which I would recommend! Woohoo! So let’s jump in.
Swim – No competition. Lake Monona was better than the Boulder Reservoir in every way imaginable.
:: Winner – Ironman Wisconsin
Bike – This one is close. Both courses have loops, which I like. Boulder’s course is much faster. Boulder’s course is probably more scenic (mountains and what not). Wisconsin had better course support. The roads in Boulder are better…there is a nasty section of chipseal on the Wisconsin course. The Wisconsin course is well known for being very tough.
:: Winner – Ironman Boulder
Run – This one is also close.
- Boulder. Two loops. All on the Boulder Creek Path. Kind of crowded and difficult to pass in places with all of the spectators. Finish is near Pearl Street which is pretty cool. Shaded. Tons of crowd support. At one point, Tim Don was out on the course cheering. Just a world-class triathlete cheering you on, no big deal.
- Wisconsin. Two loops. You get to run through Camp Randall Stadium. Run along the Lake. Run through campus. Run down State Street. Not nearly as crowded as Boulder since you are running on the road. Very spectator friendly. The course loops back on itself meaning your family can see you several times per loop pretty easily.
::Winner – Ironman Wisconsin for its variety and because Boulder was a little too crowded.
Overall environment –
- In some ways, Boulder is just too triathlon-oriented for its own good. There are tons of pro triathletes that train in Boulder. I only know of one professional triathlete that lives in Madison. As such, the event seems like less of a big deal to Boulderites.
- All hotels within 20 miles of Madison provide shuttles on race morning. I didn’t see any that did this in Boulder. The hotel we stayed at was unaware that the race was going on.
- The energy in Madison before the race was amazing. The energy in Boulder was less so. Then again, this whole ‘energy’ thing might just be me projecting my pre-race energy on the town. Excluded.
- Post-race. Bunches of hobbled endurance athletes roaming the streets…just another Monday in Boulder, CO. In Madison, if you were limping the next day people asked you how your race went…they all knew you had completed the Ironman.
:: Winner – Ironman Wisconsin
For those keeping score…
Wisconsin – Swim, Run, Overall Environment.
Boulder – Bike.
:: Winner – Ironman Wisconsin
I’m not doing another Ironman distance race for AT LEAST a few years. BUT, if I was, I would strongly consider doing Ironman Wisconsin again. Boulder is great, but Wisconsin is better.
- I found this forum discussion to be incredibly useful in my preparation for Boulder. Basically, a guy wanted to qualify for Kona. People said he was dumb. He did it. Fun was had by all. Lots of good details on the process and preparation it takes.