Posted by: bradhammond | June 14, 2010

Boise 70.3

I have training quite a while for the Ironman 70.3 Boise race.  I didn’t have a good race!  I want to figure out why, so that I can do better in future races.


It was a hot day, and the start time at Boise is 2 pm.  Also, the start is many miles away from downtown, so I was taking a shuttle up there.  I was on a fairly early shuttle – not much else for me to do – and I got there by 11:30.  After they wrote numbers on my arms and leg, I put sunblock on my face and everywhere that I expected to be exposed during the race.  After I set up my bike stuff in the transition area I still had a couple of hours to wait.  I had half a bottle of water with me, but I didn’t have an extra hat or extra sunglasses to wear while I was waiting to swim.  I think it was in the 80’s, sun directly overhead, and no shade for me.  This long, hot wait was probably not good for me…


My wave started at 2:09, and they were reporting the water temp as 60.  It felt pretty good after all that waiting.  My throat felt tight and I was having trouble getting enough air through – reminded me of when I’ve had allergic reactions.  Might have been nerves or cold water – I don’t know.  The course was a big triangle.  On the first side of the triangle I was mostly worrying about my breathing and trying to keep on course.  I passed at least one blue cap swimmer (previous swim wave, started 4 minutes before me) as she was doing the backstroke, and I ran head on into one of the yellow buoys.  On the second side of the triangle I started thinking about my form some, and trying to follow recommendations that swimming coaches have made.  Passed quite a few more blue caps, started seeing a few red caps (wave after me catching up) and finally found a consistent swimmer to follow and draft off of.  The last side of the triangle I stuck right behind the same guy.  I passed him very briefly when he did a little breaststroke (probably to sight better), but he was passing me back within a minute and I was content to follow him.  In the last 100 yards the swimmers who have been wide right or wide left all funnel together, so it gets crowded.  When I came out of the water, I saw that my time was a little over 38 minutes, so I was a bit disappointed.  I swam about that fast in races 2 years ago, and significantly faster in races last year.  I had been swimming slightly faster in the pool this year, so I thought I could do better than that.


There was a long run into the transition area, and I noticed my head was really aching.  At the time, I was thinking it was like a “brain freeze” reaction to the cold water.  However, as my head got warmer on the bike, the headache got worse instead of better, so my theory now is that the long hot wait gave me the headache.


The bike ride was incredibly windy.  This was my first time using race wheels – probably a mistake.  Whenever there was a cross wind I felt like I was getting pushed all over the road and it was hard to steer.  I also would have been better off with a regular helmet instead of the aero helmet – cross winds affected the helmet, and there was less ventilation so my head got too hot.  When I saw the 5 mile mark I checked my watch, and I knew I was going a lot slower than what I had hoped to do.  I monitored my heart rate – over 150 on climbs, right about 150 on flats, and a bit lower on the down hills – and I felt I was going at about the right exertion level, so I didn’t try to speed up and chase speed goals that might be unrealistic.

There was a long hill from about mile 17.5 to 18.5, and as I was going up I heard this very annoying noise which I eventually figured out was a brake pad rubbing against my front wheel.  I reached down and pushed the lever to move the brakes further apart, and it stopped the noise and got a little easier.  However, this meant I only had rear brakes to stop and slow down with, so I started braking early whenever I had to slow down.

On that same hill, about mile 18, I got an incredible belly ache.  I could ride a bike with it, but I didn’t think there was any way I could run unless my stomach calmed down.  I felt like I had been doing a good job of drinking, eating, and sticking to my nutrition plan up until that point, and I hadn’t had problems with stomach pain on long training rides where I had done similar eating and drinking, but I felt like I had to change something.  From that point on I grabbed bottles of water at each bike aid station to dump into my front bottle.  I started just drinking the water and eating fairly little.  Things calmed down a bit, and I made it through the bike ride, but it was not especially easy.  I think my pace was pretty consistent.  There were several people who passed me 4 or 5 times during the race, and I ended up passing them for good around 50 and staying ahead.


I left my shoes on the bike, taking my feet out in the last 100 yards. I stuffed my bag of stuff to chew into a pocket in case I felt like eating some on the run.  I sat down to do the socks and shoes, but I hurried out of transition knowing that if I could just run 9 minute miles I would be a few minutes under 6 hours for the whole race.


Only one highlight – in the first few hundred yards there are huge crowds of people, and lots of music, noise, etc. from the loudspeakers.  There was a little girl stretching her arm over the rope towards the runners, so I gave her a high 5 as I ran past.  There were aid stations every mile, and the run went through pretty parks along the river.  I made it to the first aid station feeling pretty good, and gladly grabbed a sponge to cool of with and took a small sip from a cup of water.  After another 1/2 mile my stomach started hurting, and I wasn’t sure whether I could keep running.  Then, while I was slowing a bit and trying to make up my mind, my quads started cramping up.  At that point I just pretty much lost my will to go on, and I decided to drop out right there.  I went over to the river and rinsed off a bit, found a bathroom, and eventually walked back to the finish area to turn in my timing chip.



  1. 2 hours of sitting in the sun before any race is horrible, before these races you do, I would think would be a killer. Just shrug it off Bro. you will hammer the next one.

    • Thanks, Paul! I have a couple of shorter races coming up soon, then another try at the 70.3 distance in August. That one is a morning start and within driving distance of our house, so it should be a fairly different experience.

  2. I bet it was the 2 hour wait in the hot mid-day sun. I’m so sorry it was a tough race. I know how it feels, unfortunately. My last (sprint) tri and last marathon were both disappointing and it’s played quite the mental game on me. I’m hoping the rest of the races this summer go better for both of us!

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