Boise Ironman 70.3- Race Report

The morning began with a 3:45 am wake-up call. I had been tossing and turning for the last 30 minutes but now the day had officially begun. After a quick shower and breakfast we opened up the door to find the amazing surprise. The night before Jay, Michelle, Sheena, Ali and Jessie spent who knows how many hours making personalized signs and then Jay and Michelle went around to each room and hung them up. This has to be one of the coolest things I have ever seen. I knew after seeing that this day wouldn’t end with anything but crossing that finish line.

So after getting everything gathered up we packed up the car and headed to Lucky Peak Reservoir. We made a quick stop for coffee (no it wasn’t Starbucks) and off we went. It was definitely weird driving to the race when it was still pitch black outside.
As we arrived at the reservoir we prepared ourselves for the long trek up the dirt rode to the race start. As we started up the path I realized I had forgot my earplugs and my Tri-Fusion swim cap. I know each wave has its own cap but since I couldn’t fit into Jessi’s neoprene hood, she said two caps would help with the cold water. After a brief explanation to my dad on what I needed he headed back down to the car for my stuff. It was awesome having my parents around as they were willing to help me out with anything I needed. They are by no means experts in this triathlon stuff but they are sure experts in how to be parents.
As my mom and I make it up to the top of the hill I notice that the wind is whipping around pretty good. I really don’t know the weather patterns in Boise but I am hoping that it doesn’t continue through the bike. After getting marked with my number, 1151, I head into T1 to get my area all set up and make sure that I have everything ready for my race.
After a quick check through my stuff, I realize that I couldn’t find my watch. I a smaller race this wouldn’t have been a problem but I felt it would be pretty important to help keep me focused on such a long race. I look through my backpack and all the bags the race provided and can’t find it anywhere. I must have left it in the suitcase which is back in the car which is at the bottom of that DAMN hill. So what do I do, ask my dad if he wouldn’t mind heading back down to the car and see if he could find it. Of course with out hesitation he says yes and asks if there was anything else. I said no and he was off.

With the race start approaching I headed back to my transition area to layout my wetsuit and start to get ready. As soon as I open my wetsuit bag, there is my watch. Awesome, I didn’t lose it, SHIT dad is probably walking down to the car and I have no way to let him know that I have it. After a quick talk with my mom we figure the suitcase isn’t that big and he will be back up in just a few. It turns out he did look through every pocket probably 3 times started back just turned back one more time to make sure he didn’t miss it. Thanks again for helping me out and sorry for being so scattered:)
So I put my wetsuit on and I try to set up my area as best I could. This is not your typical race and they require you to put all your T1 stuff into one bag. They don’t allow you to lay it all out nice and organized. It was at this point I realized that I couldn’t find my race sunglasses. Did I leave them in the suitcase to, or did they fall out of the bag I put them in and are still at the hotel. After a quick check with my dad who informed me there were definitely no sunglasses in the suitcase, I figured they must be at the hotel. Luckily I had my regular sunglasses, that for some reason I was wearing on the top of my head at 3:45 am and I figure I would just use those for the race.
In this race there were 12 waves to start the swim. Each was broken into specific age groups and of course mine was last. This is something I have never had to do and it was pretty weird watching every single athlete start the race as you stand there and wait. This may have been a blessing in disguise because as you watch so many people start my nerves actually seem to fade and by the time my heat was ready to go, so was I.

For this race I had set three goals that were difficult but I thought they were still in reach.
Goal 1- Swim strong and confident. Time: 35:00
Goal 2- Use good nutrition throughout bike and stay in aero. Time 2:45
Goal 3- Run with confidence and good cadence. Time 1:45

I really felt going into this race that each of these goals were not to far of a stretch. I didn’t want to set easy goals or ones that were completely absurd. After Wednesday’s swim I felt good and knew that I was ready to tackle the 1.2 mile loop. I had been stressing about my bike nutrition because this year I have made a switch to using solids for some of my carbs and proteins and was hoping it would get me through with enough energy to run well. Finally, my running has made leaps and bounds over last year and I really knew that I could run a 1:45 if I just stayed confident and just put one foot in front of the other.
The first wave started at 7:00 am with the pro men and my wave was to begin at 7:55 am. Since there was such a long wait I was in no hurry to make it over to the corral. The wind was still blowing and standing in my wetsuit for over an hour really didn’t sound like fun. I was able to watch the pro men go through T1 and all I have to say it WOW, these guys are fast. My dad took this picture and if you notice the guy is putting on his helmet and taking off his wetsuit all at the same time. WOW!
So as each wave started it was getting closer and closer to mine. Finally we were in the corral and it was time to get all zipped up and start the march down to the water. I took my gel about 10 minutes before the start of the race and was feeling pretty good. As I stepped my foot into the water and was expecting a shock of cold, it was a pleasant surprise that the water actually felt warmer. I was pretty sure that the lake didn’t warm up over night but since the air to water temperature was near equal, it really didn’t feel that bad.
At 7:55 am the race begins. As we all start to take off I just kept saying to stay strong and stay focused. I knew there would be quite a few swimmers faster than me and I knew that I would beat a few but really in a wave start like this you just have to swim your own race. I felt myself swimming past a few of the fellow green caps and eventually we were catching up to the waves ahead of us. First it was the red caps and then the white caps. I really felt bad for a few of them because they had been in the water 10 more minutes and even though it felt warm too much time in this water could cause a problem.
There really was no point in my swim that I felt weak. My arms felt good but it was all I could do to not look at my watch. I didn’t want to get all excited if my time was fast and I didn’t want to get down if it was slow, so I just kept telling myself, Just Keep Swimming. As I reached the boat ramp and stood up I took the first glance at my watch and saw 39 and something seconds. Dang, what went wrong, I was feeling so good and was for sure that I would have been faster.

It turns out that the swim might have been a bit long and many athletes’ times were about 4-6 minutes longer than normal. If that were the case then I would be near my goal. Even though the time was a bit longer than expected I was really excited about how good I felt throughout the entire swim. I really think all the Master swims had paid off.
It was about 100 yard run from the water to wear my bike was in T1. My legs were feeling good and for what I could tell my heart rate didn’t feel to crazy, at least not like it did in Elma. I opened my bag and started to pull out all my bike gear. Once the wetsuit was off I grabbed my socks and was relieved to see how easy they went on. Wet feet and socks don’t really go well together when you are in a hurry. Then I started with my bike shoes. It was at this point that I realized I had forgot to open them all up and had to waste a few seconds to get them ready.

I slipped on my right foot and then grabbed my left shoe. As I opened it up for my foot, I found my race glasses. Ohh there you are! This was a kind of laugh at yourself moment but at the same time I still had to stay focused and get out of T1. I gathered up all my swim gear threw it in the bag and took off running toward the bike mount area. This was another 75 yard run.
Finally I was on the bike and didn't have the problem of cliping in like in the last race. SWEET! I had set myself a pretty strict nutrition plan and was really hoping it would pull through. The bike started at the top of the Lucky Peak Reservoir dam which featured a nice 5 mile decent into the Boise valley. As I rounded the corner I decided it might be a good idea to try and eat a piece of my Powerbar. I really didn’t have to exert a ton of energy on the decent and this might be a pretty easy time to get down some food.
As the bike went on I was feeling pretty strong. I was passing quite a few people who were in the age groups ahead of me and as I could tell was only passed by a few racers in my age group. I didn’t really know where I was at in my age group but at T1 there was still a quite a few bikes on the racks. It turns out that I was 27 out of 83 so not to shabby. I did my best to stay in aero on many of the rolling hills throughout the course. I felt really strong on the hills and this is where I passed the most riders. I didn’t follow the nutrition plan I had to a tee but I did continue to feed myself some calories and make sure I drank enough liquids to stay hydrated and at no point did I feel drained. For the most part I was pretty happy with my bike. I really wish I would have spent more time in aero position but I know with the more training I do, this will become easier and easier. My bike time was 2:46:34 and this could have easily been a few minutes faster if I was in aero. I was nervous about riding the 56 miles since I really hadn’t trained up to that distance yet this year. I was also unsure who my legs would react to coming off the bike after such a long ride. I ended up with the 28th fastest bike split in my age group.
T2 which was in downtown Boise. I was able to find my bike slot pretty fast, partly because it was near the edge of a building and mainly because my parents, Sheena, Ali and Jessie were standing right their cheering me on. It was pretty cool to hear your name as you come rolling in after so many hours on the bike. As I emptied my bag I realized once again I forgot to prepare my shoes. This time I had to tighten my race laces but for the most part I was pleased on how it went.

Leaving T2 was pretty crazy. There were people everywhere cheering. People were lined up on both sides of you just waiting to get that 5 second glimpse of there friend or family. It really amazes me how excited everyone is and how helpful that can be for an athlete to push themselves. As I took off for the run my legs felt pretty good. I had my high cadence I was looking for and the fear that I might have pushed to hard on the bike quickly evaporated. My first mile was an 8:17 which even included a stop off at the porta potty and for me to have my first bathroom break over 3 hours into the race, I was pretty happy with that. The second mile was even better at 8:07. I really didn’t want to go out to quick but I really felt strong and I didn’t feel running any slower would help.

The third mile as 8:53 and this was where it all started to fall apart. It wasn’t that my legs were tired or I felt like my nutrition was bad, but I started to have a bad side ache or what they call in the running world as a, Stitch. Now I learned this term after the race and a few methods on how to help get rid of them but during the race there was nothing I could do. My miles began to slow, starting with 9:06, 9:06 and then it passed 10 minutes by mile 6 and I was tired of watching each mile get slower and slower. I quite taking my splits and just tried to focus on finishing the race. I have had side aches before and just tried to change my breathing habits and usually they will go away. Somewhere between mile 9 and 10 I started to feel better and felt like I could actually start to run. I decided to take a quick split from mile 10-11 and see if my pace was anywhere near something that resembled running. That mile turned out to be 8:42 but shortly afterward my friend the Stitch made a come back and I was once again forced to walk/jog.
It was kind of funny how many times I passed the same people over and over. I am sure they were like what the heck is wrong with this guy. I would try and run, pass a few of them and then have to walk. This was repeated over and over until about a quarter mile from the finish where I told myself there was no way you were going to walk to the finish in front of all these people.
I ran the last few blocks at a good pace and was able to finish under 5:35 with a 5:34:23. My goal was to be around 5:15 to 5:20 and I really think I could have made it if I was able to run but that is why you race. There is so much unpredictability in this sport and you never know how your body will react to each condition.
In the grand scheme of things I would have to say that I am pleased with my results. I was happy about my swim. I stayed strong throughout, I felt my form was pretty good and even though my time was a bit slow I never felt fatigued. My bike was good. I felt strong up the hills, my nutrition plan worked pretty well but I know that I need to really focus on staying in aero position.

The one thing I am most disappointed about is my run. I really feel that I have come a long way and I couldn’t show it in this race. I know that it is difficult for all three to come together at the same time but when you wait 9 months for a race and you leave with a sour taste, it sucks. The good thing is that I am not satisfied with this performance which makes me want to get back to work and try harder and next time I will be able to finish the race strong.
After the race I headed for some free food, a shower back at the hotel and then a free massage offered to the athletes. Then my parents and I joined the Tri-Fusion group for the awards ceremony, to watch Vicki and Martin receive their age group awards. We have some extremely talented people in this group and it was good to see everyone down at the race.
We finished the day with a group dinner at a local watering hole and topped it off with a trip to Maggie Moos for some ice cream before our flight home.

I really want to thank everyone who came down to Boise to watch the race. This is not your 30 minute drive to the next town, but a 7 hour road trip one way. Thank you Jay and Michelle for the boards at the hotels, the signs out on the course and the fact you drove all the way back on Sunday to make it to work Monday morning.

Thank you Sheena and Ali for hanging out with my parents and I as I drug you around Boise and the bike course. You guys were super fun and the trip wouldn’t have been the same without you. Thank you to Natalie and Greg for all the tips and information before I even arrived and for all the fun times before and after the race.

Thank you to Matt, Jessie and Matt’s dad for coming to support not only Matt but all of us Tri-Fusionites.
Thanks to Martin, Vicky, Mark, Daryce, and Scott for all the fun laughs after the race. Also thank you to everyone who wished me luck before the race.

Thank you to Steve Kramer for taking the time to haul my bike down to Boise, saving me the hassle of trying to fly with it.
Most of all I would like to thank my parents for taking the time to come down and help me throughout the trip. This trip would have been a nightmare if it wasn’t for all your help and support.
I plan to put the pictures on the forum as soon as I get an opportunity.


Andy said...

Bravo, Steve! Wish we could have been down there to cheer you on as well.

Races are always full of little surprises...both good and bad. If everything was perfect, it would be harder to pick goals for your next race.

Jennifer said...

WOW! What a race! Nice job pushing through the rough points and making it a great race!!! I love all your race photos too!! Congrats on a great day!!!

Tim Swanson said...

Great job down there, even if your run didn't go as planned. Your perspective is awesome...just the right mix of being bummed out and understanding that sometimes, it just doesn't happen. A half is nothing to take lightly, and just getting to the finish is an accomplishment in itself. And I love the fact that you can laugh about the stresses of the day, esp saying hello to your missing sunglasses!

Sounds like you learned some things, which is always good, and you got another fire lit to kick butt the next time out.

Super, so now you are going to try harder on the run?? As if you haven't been kicking my ass enough! :)


P.S. Nice threads!

Phaedra Cote said...


While reading your race report, I found myself nodding and saying "I know, I know!". I have had my fair share of really disappointing half iron runs (two 2:04's and a handful that are slower than my first season). I can really appreciate the disappointment that comes along with a run that's gone south. I'm still traumatized! I think it's frustrating too because you don't always know what caused it. I want to assure you, you are most definitely capable of having a solid race with a fast run. So many things can affect the run because it's the LAST leg of the race. Lots of things have to go right for the run to be solid but just one thing can go wrong and have a big affect....especially in the longer distances.
I'm still trying to figure this mystery out. It's a work in progress.

You have made incredible gains on your run and I know you've got at least a 1:45 in you....if not faster!

I really hope you'll consider doing Lake Stevens to "work the bugs out" and try another half.

It'll be fun....and I know the course!

Looking forward to team superstahhh racing together at Blue Lake! And maybe Lake Stevens? :)

Great Job! Congratulations on a really great race. And props to you for an awesome swim and bike! Very impressive. I'm glad you have a lot of positives to take away from that race. You have a lot to be proud of.

Way to rock it!

Tiffany said...

Great race report! I was laughing at all of the things you thought you forgot that kept popping up in random places - I'm glad you were able to laugh about it too, even in the middle of the race! The best part of it was how willing your dad was to help without any hesitation. I love that he walked back to the car to check for your watch one last time before coming back. It is just awesome that your parents made the trip to be there to support you.

I'm so happy to hear that your swim went well and that you never felt fatigued! That is great! Sounds like you and P-dub did a pretty awesome job too!

I'm sorry to hear about your run. Things like that that are out of your control just plain suck, especially when you have worked so hard at your running. I know how much you beat yourself up about these types of things so I'm really happy to hear that you have such a great perspective on it all. Bottom line is that you completed the race and felt pretty dang good while doing it (minus the stitch!). That is a HUGE accomplishment and you should be very proud! Way to go!

Hundrey said...

Thanks for the kudos we did it for all you guys because you are such dedicated folks and great friends.
We had so much fun with everyone, and the poster party with the girls was fun too.
Jay and I are so happy that you all liked our idea it was fun to surprise everyone.
Bummer about the stitch those suck... You looked great at T1 and getting out on the bike. We really enjoyed cheering you in.
You really have taken the bummer parts and turned them into a lesson.
We Loved you talking to your sunglasses. Jay and I were rolling cause we do that too when we loose stuff. Ok ok when I loose stuff Jay is too organized to loose stuff he just forgets things at home.
Keep up the hard work see you at Blue Lake!
It was awesome meeting your parents they were really fun to hang out with.

Michelle and Jay

Trish said...

This was a great race report Steve. I am glad that you were able to reflect on all of the good things that happened, as well as the things that you would like to have go better next time. I am TOTALLY impressed that you can race 1/2 irons and your time seems amazing to me!

You rocked it on the swim and bike! Nice work! I know the run was dissapointing, but it is one of your strenghs, so you know it will go better next time! I love that you had such an amazing cheer section as well. You deserve it! I'm sad I wasn't there to watch you race, but I hope I can see you do a 1/2 iron someday!

I agree with Tim, my favorite part of the post was when you said hello to your missing sunglasses! Hilarious! I am a firm believer that it is always good to laugh during a race :)

P.S. A 3:45 a.m. wake up call...are you kidding me!?!

jessithompson said...


I am proud of you for all that you took away from this experience. The positives about all that went well, the things you can do to make it smoother next time, as well as the understanding that there is so much you can't control about racing. That's why I never understand people that train for just one race... what happens if you get a flat, a stitch, drop your bottle, wreck your bike (fill in the blank). I agree with Phaedra in that the longer the race, the harder it is for everything to pull together.

The only piece of advice I would give you is that when you make a plan for something like nutrition, stick to it unless all hell is breaking loose. Why? 1) Because you made it with a sound mind that doesn't always accompany you to the race :) and 2)Because if the race goes well, you'll know what to do next time. If it doesn't go well, you'll know what to change. If you wing it, you have no clue either way because you won't really know what you did to change it next time. (Speaking from experience here). You can't always go off of feel, because sometimes when you finally feel like you should eat, you're already way behind. And in the longer distances getting behind on the bike, can bite you in the ass on the run. Not saying that's what happened, just something to keep in mind for next time.

You're a gracious athlete too, to recognize and appreciate all the love and support from so many great people. I especially loved the line about your parents, "They are by no means experts in this triathlon stuff but they are sure experts in how to be parents." Brilliant quote of the day.

Wish I could have been there to cheer you on in person, but know that all of our thoughts were with all the racers down there! Great race report and pics.

You are a stud athlete with lots of talent. Your day is coming! Congrats again on all that went right for your first monster race this year!

Kim said...

Cool report Steve! I have not heard of a stitch but it does not sound good or fun, especially when you were feeling so good!

I hope your next race rocks in all 3!

Sheena said...

Dude, you're awesome. It's great to be a part of such a big thing...and boy was I tired!! Ok, but really...you rocked this thing and it was soooo terribly fun hanging out with your parents! They were great sports and made a fun time out of everything. Tell them I said hello!!

Michael W. Bergquist said...

Hey there Steve. I enjoy the way you lay the race report out. It's been tough keeping up on things back home, but I finally got a bit of time today to cram it all in. The report was entertaining and I'm sure things will continue to get better for you all the time. See you later this month when my global tri-adventures are complete.