Winning races is awesome. Winning races in your hometown is even better. Winning a race referred to as “the pro town throw down” because of the local talent in your hometown, priceless.
My unofficial triathlon career started at the age of 15 here in Boulder at the Boulder Peak Triathlon. I had a recently acquired bike that didn’t fit, a borrowed wetsuit, and a whole lot of competitive fire. Without really knowing how to do a transition or REALLY how steep Old Stage was, I conquered the race and won the 15-19 age group. Now I had already been intrigued by the sport having grown up in “pro town” but after that first time actually in a race I decided I was gonna do that for a career someday. Not long after that epiphany I also decided someday I would win the “big boy” race at the Boulder Peak, and this past Sunday that dream became reality.
It has been three years since the last time I did that Peak, and I was really excited to be finally racing it again. This year Lifetime Fitness moved the date of their race to this coming weekend so instead of declining the insane double that a few of my peers do every year I was finally able to race both. As Friday rolled around I started to really think about how to make this race weekend like all the others, but it was a bit tough considering there was no bike packing, no airports, no restaurant meals and no travel stress. Funny how sometimes its the hard stuff that seems normal. But I did my best to treat each day as though I was somewhere else instead of rolling out of my own bed. Now don’t get me wrong, riding from my garage to the race start is amazing, and packing my bike is my least favorite thing in the world next to painting rooms, but it was a perspective shift.
On the whole I think I did a pretty good job, and when Sunday morning rolled around I was feeling good about the race. Now back that up 12 hours when I got a call from a friend out of town asking me if Old Stage had been taking out of the course due to a rock slide and things weren’t so good. I mean, come on, this is Peak, and I like to ride my bike up hills, you can’t take that away from me! Old Stage was in fact closed for a few hours but before I went to bed I was reassured to hear that the road had reopened so it should be game on.
I did my normal routine, although it was 3 hours later than usual because of the 9:35 start, and headed to the Res at a nice leisurely pace on the roads I ride daily. Once I got there I racked the bike, went a for a jog, and said hi to bunch of people. To be honest, the hands down best part of racing at home, especially if home is a place where at least everyone knows what a triathlon is, is that your friends and family can see you race. My in laws saw me in action for the first time, and my parents got to see me race without having to travel. The only iffy part of the morning was when they informed us that the women would actually be getting a 16 min head start, not the 15 discussed the day before. Seriously! Do they know who Laura and Melissa are? Anyway, nothing we could do so it was time to get into the speed suit and head out for the swim warm up.
Really my only mistake all day was not warming up in my wettie. The race was non wetsuit but the air was chilly and it was cloudy and after my warm up, I was cold again. What can you do, so I danced around, did some jumping jacks and thought about hot things. You know, lava, hot tubs, my wife, hot things.
Once the 16 min wait was over we were off and I got into the position I wanted right on Dylan’s feet almost straight away. Only trouble was after about 500m I realized I was struggling to stay there and was having to really crush myself to maintain my spot. Luckily, about the time I really felt bad at 1000m Joey came around me and towed us the rest of the way back in, almost reattaching to the dolphin that is Dylan McNiece. I had a good run out and a quick T1 and was on the bike in the front. Now everyone knows what is supposed to happen after that. I am supposed to ride really really hard and put as much distance between me and the other guys as possible, and sometimes, like Sunday, that actually happens and life is good.
I hammered out of the Res and up the hill to Old Stage. Now I am convinced that the hardest part of this course is not actually Old Stage itself, but in fact the brutal false flat on Jay and 36th to get there. So knowing that I did my best to throttle the boys there and get a gap before we even hit the real kicker. I was feeling strong and did my best to hammer up the hill as smoothly as possible. Its a big climb so no reason to spike the HR higher than necessary. Once at the top I shifted all the way to the other side of the cassette and began my descent. Things were good until a car made me almost stop completely, but after a very “pleasant” and loud exchange I cranked it back up and got on my way. I did the best I could to be aero on the downhills and hammer the rollers back in on 63rd. Once I got to the Diagonal I saw my coached, also a home race bonus, and he told me I had a big gap, but was still 5 min down on Laura so to keep hammering. So I did just that and tried to gain as much back on the ladies as I could before we hit the pavement running.
I rolled into T2 with a good 2:45 over second place man, but I was still 3:45 down on Laura. Now if you know Laura you know that is a tall order. Or if you know how bad my quads were cramping coming off that ride you know that is asking a lot, but I made a go at it over the first of three laps and got back a little time. However, as I started the second lap my quads threw a hissy fit and to prevent a total seizing up I slowed a bit and tried to take solace in the fact that I still had a big lead.
Coming into the last half mile of the run I knew I had the W, and tried to enjoy the fact that not only were all the people standing around cheering for me, but I actually knew a good chunk of them. I blew a kiss to my wife and baby and grabbed the banner in normal finish line protocol. My only regret is since I had a big lead I should have taken Liam from Natalie and carried his cute little butt with me across the line.
After the race it was great to see some old high school friends, my whole family, and people that I know from around town. Thank you so much to everyone that was there cheering, or has since sent me an email or call congratulating me. Someone asked me yesterday whether all wins are the same. It got me thinking a bit, and I decided no they definitely are not. Some are more prestigious, and some have bigger payouts, but some also just mean more for sentimental reasons. Boulder Peak is a big race with a good pay out, but the win is something dreamed up by a 15 year old kid and that definitely makes it more special!
Now its four more days till we line it up in Minneapolis for Lifetime Fitness, and I am doing my best to get the body recovered and ready to go again.
Thanks again to my family and friends for all the support from 15 until now!