Ironman 70.3 Boise was the first Half-Ironman for both Melissa and I. We were really looking forward to it because it is shorter than a full Ironman and it was our first race since Ironman CdA last year. Arriving in Boise Late Thursday worked great. We were able to get some of the check-in stuff done on Friday and then go take a look at the course. The weather was also fantastic, mostly sunny and in the upper 60’s with only a slight breeze. If this could hold up we figured it would be a great race.
The Boise 70.3 was in it’s first year of existence and we learned there were about 1200 competitors. The course looked to be a fun one from our scouting out on Friday. The swim was up in Lucky Peak Reservoir just outside of town. The reservoir is created by a huge dam that we got to ride across during the race. The one loop swim only has one drawback, it was freezing cold. Water temperature was below 60 degrees on race morning. The bike course had a slight loss in elevation. After leaving the transition we rode across the dam and down a large hill towards town. A couple miles in we climbed up near some neighborhoods and then rode out past the airport. From there it was up a little out and back section over the most technical part of the course. This was mainly due to a technical descent off of Flying Hawk Lane. After the out and back there is a climb through the quarry and then a flat loop through the local countryside. On the way back in you need to climb and descend back through the quarry and then there is a fast descent into the downtown (Bodo) of Boise where the run transition is.
The run course is definitely the jewel of the race. Boise has a the Boise River flowing right through town and they have created a park system with trails all along the river. It is really great. The run is a two loop course along some of these trails. They are paved and have a bunch of bridges across the river. Melissa and I ran and rode along this trail on Friday to sightsee and get a feel for it for race day.
On Saturday we went for a practice swim in the reservoir. Let’s just say, fortunately they are letting us where booties and neoprene caps. The water was cold but with booties and a neoprene cap I was not as bad. Hopefully I will not be in the water too long. =) When I was checking my bike into T1 I realized that the top of my front tire was rubbing on the bottom of my brakes. Not good, I was able to adjust it but was not to confident in the whole process. This bike, my Aegis, was out of commission for the CdA race and I was stoked to have it for Boise. Not so stoked about finding an issue the day before the race though.
Race day started early like it always seems to do. We were up and out the door for a 4:30 bus ride up to the swim start. This was not even the first bus. Up at the reservoir we were greeted with a familiar friend from Couer d’Alene, the wind. Not as bad as in CdA but there were some definite waves out there. To go with below 60 degree water, we were not too psyched for the swim. They say the wind normally dies when the sun rises, it eventually did die down but not until well into the bike portion of the race. As for the swim it was a wave start which was nice change. Not a melee at the beginning and also gave me an idea on how I was doing. Every wave had different cap colors so I could tell what wave was passing me by the caps I saw. Crazy as it was, I even passed a couple people from earlier waves too. The swim was not too bad. I felt better than I did at CdA and was slightly faster, but only slightly. The water was not too cold either, after a couple minutes I did not notice it. Swim time, 56 minutes and some change.
Transition to the bike was painless but cold. My wetsuit had kept me warm but now the cold wind and immediate downhill section off the dam was very chilly. I started to warm up on the uphill to the airport and the other hills out on the out and back but never really felt hot during the ride. The weather for the ride was okay, getting up into the low sixties with some sun and passing showers. Fortunately I was off the bike before the heavier showers, Melissa was not. My bike ride was good though, not super fast but not a suffer fest like CdA. I felt good and was pushing some descent speed throughout the ride. Only out on the far reaches of the loop did I feel a bit tired but gained some momentum on the climb back up to the quarry. Knowing this was the last climb it gave me a mental boost. It was a good 8 miles of mostly descending down to T2. Best thing about the bike was that I had no mechanical issues with my front wheel and brakes. Bike ride was 2 hours, and 58 minutes. Under my 3 hour goal.
At T2 I quickly transitioned into my running shoes and was off. I figured I needed to run about 8:45 miles to reach my goal for under 6 hours. Out of the gates I started quickly, felling good, and wanted to create a buffer for later on. I ran the first couple of miles at 8:00 to 8:10 pace. Just cruising along and passing people. Each person I passed just gave me more confidence and even though it hurt I was trying to keep up this pace. The crowd support also helped greatly. For a first year race, I thought it was great. It had now warmed up to nearly 70 degrees with a little bit of sprinkles still out there. They actually felt good as I was working so hard the rain kind of cooled me off. After the first loop I started to feel the pain. My pace had slowed a bit and my stomach was not liking me as much. It was a bit more of a struggle over the last 5 miles but I was still holding on to my goal. Slowly but surely the miles kept ticking off and at about 11 miles I realized that I should be able to finish under my goal. I let off the pace a bit to avoid some pain. My pace slowed to about a 9:00 minute mile but I held steady there until the finish. I ran 1 hour and 51 minute half and came in at 5:56:56 for my total time. I beat my goal!!
Boise was not the fastest race but it was a step in the right direction. Especially after Ironman Cda. Melissa had a descent race as well. Unfortunately she missed her goal by a couple minutes and came in at 7:04:00, but she did run the whole half which is great. We really enjoyed this race and the city rallied behind it well. We would like to come back and do it again but we will have to see how it fits our schedules. Nice thing is it is only a 6 hours drive from home so that is not too bad!