Decision Time – Boise 70.3

Boise bannerDecisions, decisions, decisions…disc or no disc…sleeveless or sleeved wetsuit…Vegas or no Vegas.  Ironman Boise 70.3 was full of opportunities to test me and my ability to make decisions and live with them.  Being a Boise State Alum, I was looking forward to racing Boise.  Not only am I an Alum, but I ran Cross Country and Track at Boise State and spent many miles along the Greenbelt.  Once I saw the run course I knew I was going to love this race.  This race report is going to be a little different than my past reports.  To spare you of the details of the race I choose to share a few highlights and some pivotal moments for me in becoming a more confident triathlete.

Decision number one: For those of that have raced triathlons you know how much gear is required and for those of you that have not, well, it is a lot.  Getting everything in one suitcase was a challenge, especially for a girl that likes to have options.  One of the things I wanted options on was my wetsuit, so I brought two.  I watched the water temp leading up to the race and it was consistently at 58 degrees.  I have raced in my blueseventy Reaction sleeveless suit in 60 degree water and been fine; it was definitely chilly but I was okay.  Two degrees less may not seem like a lot but when you are submerged in it, it is.  I planned on doing a practice swim on Thursday before the race to try out my sleeveless to see if I could handle the cold, but in case I could not, I brought a sleeved suit that I borrowed from Triple Sports.  During my practice swim my feet were very uncomfortable but I knew that if I could just get through the first few minutes of shock I would be fine.  I prefer my sleeveless over a sleeved suit, I feel faster and a lot more freedom in the water.  I decided to go sleeveless and I can tell you right now, I am super happy with that decision.  Not only did the water temp rise some more by race day but the freedom I feel in a sleeveless helped me feel less like I was drowning.  Prior to the swim I could see swells building on the lake and didn’t think much of until I was about 10 minutes into my swim and Boise swimrealized this was going to be a challenging swim.  At the first turn buoy I was now swimming with a cross wind and cross current.  I was taking on more water than I’d like to admit and there were a few times where I was thinking, “Good Lord, how long is this going to take me?”  I focused on staying relaxed and told myself these conditions were going to seriously impact several athletes, just stay relaxed, don’t fight it and keep swimming.  It was my slowest 1/2 iron swim to date but I also have never encountered conditions like that.  Not drowning and maintaining a competitive swim time was a definite confidence booster.

Decision number two: Leading up to Boise, my coach, Toby Baum, and I discussed if I should race using a disc wheel.  I’ve never raced a disc nor have I ever ridden a disc wheel on my bike.  Luckily, I was a able to borrow a pretty sweet set up with a Zipp 404 on the front and a Zipp Super-9 Carbon disc wheel on the back.  I was able to train for four weeks with this setup to help me decide if I wanted to race on it.  For those of you that are unfamiliar with what this means, it simply means I was trying a more aerodynamic wheel setup to see if I felt faster as well as simply went faster.  After four weeks of training on them I felt comfortable and definitely wanted to give it a go.  After-all, if you don’t try, you won’t know.  Even though I decided to race the aero wheels, I still traveled with my trusty Ksyriums, which I train and have raced on.

Speaking of traveling, here’s another first, Boise was my first race that I had to fly to with my bike.  Learning how to take my bike apart to fit into a bike box was a learning experience.  And if you have ever watched the ground crew at an airport handle luggage, it is somewhat stressful boxing a bike that you love and hoping it lasts the brutal beating it will get.  I padded everything and cinched it all down. Upon my arrival in Boise I anxiously awaited the arrival of my bike box to find it in fine shape.  The bike box accommodates the bike with one set of wheels, so I stuck my Mavic Ksyriums in with my bike and carried on my aero wheels.  This way I could change my mind before race day if I decided it was to windy and I wanted to race my Ksyriums.  A confidence builder, I put my bike back together and everything was fine.  Simple pleasures, I know, but it felt good to be able to do it.

compliments of Matt Green Photo

compliments of Matt Green Photo

Back to my decision, the wind was projected to be about 12-14mph for race day and the course had enough turns in it that I knew I would have plenty of opportunity to take advantage of the wind as well as have to work against it.  Even though I brought two sets of wheels I was pretty committed to using the disc simply for the experience.  I went into this race with the attitude that I wanted to race the bike.  All of my previous races I was very patient and conservative on the bike to save for the run.  This time around because I had an aggressive wheel set up I wanted to race a little more aggressively.  At the turn around at 10 Mile Creek, I could feel it in my legs but also could see that I was doing well and hanging in there.  The decision to go with the disc was a good one, simply for the experience.  Anyone that has raced in the wind will tell you that it is tough and becomes more mental than anything.  Thanks to my nutrition plan with PowerGels and PowerBar Perform I was able to stay in the game physically.  The last stretch of the bike is a slight downhill into downtown Boise and I was looking forward to rocketing down that with my sweet aerodynamic set up.  Unfortunately, I had a head wind the whole way into town and did not get to have my rocket experience.  At this point all I could think about was running.   As tough as the bike was I was proud of the effort I doled out and was excited to see how it was going to impact my run.

Boise run course

The run course at Boise is absolutely stunning.  First let me tell you that I could definitely feel my bike on my run.  My legs were not as fresh as they have been in the past coming off of the bike.  I could tell within the first mile I was going to have to really manage my pace early on so I did not fade too soon.  Thankfully, my KSwiss Kwicky Blade Lights are super light and comfy.  It is a two loop course and as I was approaching mile 5 of my first loop there was a mountain bike escort for a pro coming up behind me.  I asked her who she had and she said 2nd place female, Heather Jackson.  I was so stoked because I could tell that she was not going to fly by me, so I choose to drop my pace and match hers and stick with her until she headed into the finishing chute and I had to head back out for my second loop.  That was a definite highlight 🙂  I paid for a bit for a mile or two because I was not fully prepared to drop to that pace just yet.  Regardless, it was worth it, she is an amazing athlete.  I finished my run strong and feeling very good about my race.  I left it all out there on the course.  Encountering tough conditions and surviving definitely boosted my confidence as a triathlete.  I ended up with a 5:03:55 finish, 3rd in my Age Group, and 13th Overall, including pros.  Boise was my 4th 1/2 Ironman (3rd this year) and I love that I learn something every time.

Decision number three:  This was my biggest decision of the weekend.  With my 3rd place finish I qualified for 70.3 World Championships in Vegas, an achievement that I am super proud of.  Normally any triathlete would be ecstatic and jump on the opportunity to race at WC in Vegas.Boise podium-medal  I was very excited but had a looming cloud of reality floating over my head.   Let me explain the cloud, for those of you that do not know, I raced Ironman Arizona last year as my first full Ironman and qualified for World Championships in Kona this October.  At the time of racing IMAZ I registered again for this year.  So I race Kona in October and then 5 weeks later race IMAZ.  Vegas is 4 weeks before Kona.  Normally this spacing is fine, it is what you do in between the races that will impact your performance.  This is my second year racing and Boise was my 3rd 1/2 Ironman as well as two major Ultra runs under my belt for the first half of the year.  Kona is very important to me and so is racing on my home turf for IMAZ.  Because I want to be well prepared and ready to race those races I decided to not take my Vegas spot and let it go to roll down and be allocated to someone else.  I regretted that decision the moment it was made and you can read what I think about regrets here.   Who cares if I would have bonked at IMAZ because I raced too much this year, only me.  Anyhow, it is in the past and now I choose to focus on Kona and IMAZ and having a ball racing them.

All-in-all I grew a lot as a triathlete this race.  I learned to believe in my ability to endure more than I think I can, I learned to follow my heart and I learned that I should not take things so seriously and remember I am doing this because I love it and love inspiring people.  The outpouring of support I received on Facebook was unbelievable.  I am humbled by the amount of support I receive from this community.  Thank you to my awesome sponsors, with Rolfs support I am able to race as often as I’d like.  To Wattie, thank you for providing such a great team of support with our sponsors as well as outstanding teammates.   To my coach Toby Baum, thank you for allowing me the space to grow as an athlete yet guide me to make wise decisions.  Lastly and definitely not least, thank you to my supportive family and husband for supporting me to pursue a dream and hopefully inspire people along the way.

Thank you for reading, until next time, happy training!

About sherianne

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is SheriAnne Nelson and I am happily married to my husband Mike. I’m a mother of three beautiful children ages 9, almost 6, and 3, am a passionate fitness professional, and a Star Diamond Level fitness coach within the Team Beachbody program in Scottsdale, Arizona.