Monday, July 29, 2013

Xterra Indian Peaks

SWIM:  1000 meter/1093 yards
BIKE:  22 km/13.7 miles off road
RUN:  7 km/4.3 miles off road
9400-9646' elevation

Perfect conditions for this year's Indian Peaks Xterra triathlon from start to finish.  Beautiful sunny skies for setting up in transition and for the swim then some cloud cover and cool temps. (60's) for the bike and run.  Couldn't ask for a more perfect day.

I didn't alter this photo at all, sky was really that blue.

Eldora ski resort is a mere 38 minute drive and the race didn't start until 9:30 so I didn't have to set an alarm.

I felt good about this race leading up to it.  Got in lots of solid training and key workouts, been doing well with nutrition,  legs felt good after a 5 day taper, good mental preparation, everything pointing towards a solid race.  There's nothing like sunny blue skies and perfect temps. to put you in a good mood on race day morning.  Especially since right up until race morning they were predicting thunderstorms from 10:00 a.m. on.  I was not the only one who had brought an armoire of spare warm, waterproof clothes to transition in anticipation of bad weather.

Jonny came up to cheer me on and take pictures which was a rare treat.  I don't hassle him to come watch me race because I know it's a long boring day but he offered to come up and I was thrilled to have him.  He missed the swim start because he was tending to the dogs but he got lots of great photos on the bike and run course, even following me up the worst hills on the run, yelling at me to get my buns up the hill.  Was fun to have a cheering section.

Swim:  1000 meters/1093 yards

Last year I was distracted by a huge bull moose at the swim start and I missed my start and had a bad swim so this year I am determined to have a solid, strong swim.  I get to the swim area early so I can have a decent warm up and not be rushed for the start.  Water is supposedly 64 degrees but feels much colder.  Definitely has that icy twinge to it even with a full wetsuit, swim socks and skull cap.  But after a good warm up swim I feel fine and when I get in the water for the start the cold doesn't bother me at all.  There is no moose this year but there is someone swimming their warm up in a rubber hippo mask that covers their whole head but I know better this year and don't let it distract me. 

Given the 9400' elevation (Boulder is at 5430') I start off the swim at a nice easy pace then pick it up after I feel I'm in a good rhythm and have my breathing under control.  The start is a time trial start rather than waves to eliminate congestion on the bike course so we are very spread out and I can't find any feet to draft off of.  I spot a small group of people up ahead of me and try to catch up to them but I can't quite reach them and eventually they disperse.  Still I have a good solid swim, not a moment of worry in the cold water and thin air and I come out of the water in 19:34 mins. (1:47/100 yards), a 1:13 minute improvement over last year.

650 m/711 yard dash

Once out of the water I take off my wetsuit right away and throw on a pair of running shoes because there's a long, steep rocky run up from the lake to transition.  This part has always been a struggle for me but this year it doesn't seem nearly as bad.  I get to transition in 5:37, an improvement of 1:22 over last year.  I'm getting a good feeling about this race so far.


Transition goes smoothly.  I struggle with my gloves a little because my hands are still wet but I still end up with the fastest T1 in my age group by 20 seconds at 1:26 (30 seconds faster than last year).

Bike:  13.7 miles/22 K

There's a steep climb up a rocky gravel road right at the start and it seemed particularly steep this year during the pre-ride but today it doesn't seem nearly as bad.  I'm anticipating that I'll be walking my bike more than normal due to all the rock that's been washed onto the trails with the recent heavy rains but I'm pleasantly surprised by the trail conditions and somehow they're not as bad as they were in the pre-ride.  The earlier racers have worn a line in already or something.  I figure I may have a good day on the bike after all.

Whee downhill on the loose rocky Twisted Tree Trail.  Showing off my meaty man arms.

The end of the first lap.  Here I am chasing down a 50-60 year old lady in baggy shorts who was kicking my ass on the hills for the first lap.  I caught her at the start of the second lap and never saw her again. 

Looking up Twisted Tree.  Hard to show the steepness and looseness of it in a photo and it's even steeper and looser/rockier further up around that corner.  Can't believe I go skiing down it on Nordic skis in the winter.  Sheesh, what am I thinking?

This is the widest trail on the bike course, most of the trails are through the trees but it's hard for Jonny to get to those trails.  There's a guy who has hiked up to the steep rocky single track Rising Sun trail, the most technical steep climb on the course and difficult for spectators to get to, and he's clapping and cheering and encouraging everybody up through a steep rocky section for both laps.  I manage to get up it both times then come off the bike just past him at a big rooty section that I can't quite make it over.  First lap I walk up a good portion of Rising Sun because of congestion on the trail but the second lap I ride all of it except the rooty part.

One of these days I'll get photos of Fatty Mills which is the most technical part of the course.  Steep, muddy, rooty downhill single track with roots and mud and drop-offs.  It's a mud pit this year.  Well it's a mud pit every year I guess but this year is particularly messy.  Have to walk a part I rode last year because both times someone in front of me gets off to walk.  It's so muddy, maybe it's for the best.

Going down Twisted Tree again.

I finish the bike in 1:49:18, 9:30 mins. faster than last year.  Very happy with that.


T2 also goes down without a hitch and again I'm fastest in my age group at 0:59 secs.  Last year was 0:53 but this year I stop for a few swigs of water which is a mistake because it doesn't feel so great when I start running but oh well.

Run:  4.3 mile/7 K trail run

Finally the trail run.  It's only 4.3 miles but they are all either up or down.  I feel good at the start of the run.  Well as good as one can feel 2 hours 15 minutes into a race at 9400' anyway.

Phew, finally a nice gradual downhill.  This is about as flat as it gets and it doesn't last long.

The most fun parts of the run are the bits off trail in the woods marked by little bits of orange tape tied in the trees.  You have to jump logs and navigate big rocks and it feels like Hansel and Gretel following the orange tape bread crumbs through the forest.

However there's an off trail part near the end with some brutal hills.  I start off being able to run some of them.

But I'm reduced to power walking the steepest of them.

The last 1 - 1 1/2 miles of the run is the only part of the race where I don't feel so fabulous.  Not sure if it's due to not enough food/water - had 2 gels on the bike and plenty of water but don't take any food and only a mouthful of water on the run because I'm worried about cramping.  I've been struggling with cramps while running in training but thankfully it's never an issue during the race.  Or maybe it's a little in my head since I know I'm close to finishing.  Or maybe it's the effort and those big hills at the end and the elevation that knocks the stuffing out of me a little.  Anyway, I feel myself slowing and feeling a bit light headed with only a mile or so to go.  I can only guess at how far I have to go because the race director has chosen to mark the course in 2 KM intervals rather than mile markers out of crankiness that Americans don't know the metric system.  Seriously.  This is very irritating because at this stage in the race I can't remember how many KM it's supposed to be.  And even if I did know, I'm too loopy to do the math of converting it to miles and I have only a vague idea of how far 2K is.  I don't mind the KM markers but it would be nice if there were also mile markers.

Nonetheless I make it and finish the run in 59:46 which is 1:43 mins. faster than last year.  Not a huge improvement but the run is my most challenging event and I'll take any improvement, especially on top of a big improvement on the bike.


I end up finishing in 3:17:55, an improvement of 15:35 mins. over last year, am very happy with that.  And the exciting bonus of finishing 2nd place in my age group.  I win a certificate to Fleet Feet running/triathlon store but the race director can't find them and is going to mail it to me so I'm not sure how much it's for.  Still whatever it is it's fun to get something.  I almost never make the podium so that's exciting.  No photos of the finish since I beat Jonny to the finish line and he doesn't stay for the awards so no pictures of that but he does get one at the finish area.

A week or two ago the race director said this would be the last year of this race but at the awards ceremony he was talking about dates for next year so hopefully we'll have it again.  It's hard racing at such a high elevation and it's a tough course with all the hills but it's a kick in the pants and the trails are so pretty I'd hate to see it go.

Can't ask for a more fun, scenic race venue.

Swim:  1000 m/1100 yards, 19:34./1:47 per 100 yards (last year 21 mins./1:54 per 100 yards)

650 m/711 yard Dash:  5:37 (last year, 6:59 mins.)

T1: 1:26  (last year, 2:04)  (fastest in age group)

Mountain Bike:  13.7 miles, 1:49:18, 7.4 mph (last year, 1:58:48 hrs./7.1 mph)

T2:  0:59 (last year, 0:53)  (fastest in age group)

Trail Run:  4.3 miles, 0:59:46/13:54 min./mile  (last year, 1:01:29 hrs./14:18 min./mile)

Total:  3:17:55  (last year, 3:33:34)


  1. Wow, that's fantastic all around! Congrats on your placement and improvement over last year -- that's gotta feel pretty darn good. Fun to get more of a sense of the race through the photos too, so thanks Jonny.

  2. Congratulations! Lovely photos, what a fun looking race!

  3. Anonymous1:49 PM

    I know I posted congrats on FB, but I like to reward the entertaining and clever prose, too. HUGE CONGRATS!

  4. I'm so impressed! 15 minutes better over all seems amazing to me. Congrats on your 2nd place finish and the best-in-age-group finishes on the sections. All that training obviously pays off.