It really has taken me quite a while to ‘learn how to train’ here in Boulder (Colorado), which has an elevation of 1655m above sea level. I am glad I have given myself quite a long period of time, and quite a few races, to learn what my formula for success is. One thing that I overlooked in my first couple of weeks here was, the importance of recovery time in between tough training sessions. I knew the equation…higher altitude = less oxygen in the air = less oxygen to muscles when recovering = slower recovery time. But, I did not quite realise just how much this would affect me.
I did the ‘Boulder Peak’ Triathlon as a little hit out on July 9th. It was an Olympic Distance Triathlon (1.5km/40km/10km), two weeks before my targeted race – Calgary Half Ironman. I had been training well leading into the Boulder Peak race, but unfortunately I did not consider the extended taper time required when living at altitude. Lets just say Boulder Peak was an ugly two hours, but a massive lesson learnt.
Fast forward two weeks and I was in Calgary, feeling relaxed and eager to race! It was great to have Moya come on the trip with me, it means so much having her around.
The 1.9km swim was wetsuit legal in a freshwater, man-made lake. It was a stunning location to swim, one of my favourite swim courses to date. I swum with Chris Kemp, we emerged from the water together in second place, 75 seconds down on Josh Amberger.
On the bike, I was feeling quite relaxed, certainly a lot better than I felt two weeks ago at the Boulder Peak Triathlon. Kempy got a flat tire almost as soon as he got on his bike, so I was solo with 75 seconds to Josh and a minute gap back to third. I am still learning my limits on a 2hr bike leg, but I was pushing some modest power numbers while still feeling quite in control. I had Jonathon Shearon of USA catch me on the bike with about 10km to go. I rode with him until the end of the bike leg, with Tim Rea only 30 seconds back in fourth place.
Once I got onto the run, Josh had built up a lead of a couple of minutes. I was in a battle for second with Shearon. I took out the 21km run quite hard and was able to open a nice little gap. Looking back, I certainly took it out too hard and paid for it in the back end of the run. But again, another nice little lesson to learn, and this will help me execute a more even run leg in future races.
I was over the moon to finish in 2nd place – my first International Professional podium! Even with so much to get right for future races, and knowing I really did not race to my full potential, this was very encouraging!
A huge thank you to my amazing homestay hosts, and now good friends, Morten and Dana. They truly went above and beyond in making our experience of Calgary one to remember.
Next up for me is Steelhead 70.3 in Michigan on 13th August.