Bloody Feet at Ironman Boise 70.3

Bloody Feet at Ironman Boise 70.3

I’m finally getting around to writing my race recap of Ironman Boise 70.3. In a nutshell, it didn’t go great. In fact, everything that could go wrong pretty much did go wrong, except for the fact that I didn’t have any mechanical problems on the bike or any flat tires. Other than that, Boise was a bust but I still managed to PR by 20 minutes.


The half Ironman was on a Saturday and boasted a point-to-point bike course (meaning two transition areas instead of one) and a 2 pm start. On paper that sounded awesome — you got to sleep in instead of getting up at butt crack of dawn o’clock, and you could get a proper meal instead of choking down oatmeal. Huzzah! I put off signing up until the week of the race because I had been having knee problems lately and wanted to make sure my body felt healthy before shelling out a couple hundred dollars for the race. Unfortunately for me, they closed online registration the week of the race so I had to sign up in person.

Traveling to the Race
Jason and I loaded up the Subee, strapped our bikes onto the hitch and drove the 8 excruciatingly boring hour drive through eastern Washington, most of Oregon and into Boise. The drive pretty much consisted of the following:

  • brown nothingness
  • brown nothingness
  • brown nothingness
  • ridiculous thunderstorm
  • brown nothingness

Pre-Race Preparations
We finally got to Boise, and the next day Jason and I headed to the Expo Center to pick up our registration packet. I had to sign up in person and was forced to bequeath my unborn child over to the Ironman brand (Jesus Christ, race-day sign up is so freakin’ expensive). I also decided to rent race day wheels to see what they were like. They were kind of pricey but still tons cheaper than buying a set of race wheels (which can cost $2,000 and up).


Check out those sexy race wheels

After Jason and I finished up at the Expo Hall, we drove over to the swim start so we could drop off our bikes at T1. After a test bike ride, we got in the water for a 10 minute swim, and holy hell was that water cold. I flailed around for a couple meters before running into a group of idiot kids who thought it was a good idea to take a dip in the sub-60 degree water in bikinis and swim trunks. I had the following conversation with one of them:

Him: “Are you still cold even in your scuba suit?”
Me: “Yeah, this water is pretty cold.”
Him: “I’m freezing! How much did your scuba suit cost?”
Me: “It’s not a scuba suit, it’s a wetsuit.”
Him: “Oh…how much did your wetsuit cost?”
Me: “$650.”
Him: “Really? I only have $5…how much does it cost to rent a wetsuit?”

At that point I was thinking, “Screw you, junior, I’m not lending you my suit,” so I swam off and finished my miserable workout.

Race Day

The next morning we woke up and went downstairs to eat breakfast in the hotel’s dining area. I grabbed a bowl of cereal but upon looking down at it, I felt a sudden wave of nausea overtake me so I only managed to poke at it with my spoon and not eat anything. When we got back to our room I promptly threw up. Twenty minutes later I yakked again, barfing up water and foamy stomachy goodness. Jason looked at me with a mixture of empathy and disgust, asking if I was feeling okay and if I should race. I called Teresa for advice.

Teresa: “Was it something you ate the night before? Do you think it’s food poisoning?”
Me: “I don’t think so. If it were, I would have been sick last night.”
Teresa: “Yeah…do you think it’s nerves?”
Me: “Maybe. I’ve never had this happen before.”
Teresa: “Hmmm…you’re not pregnant, are you?”
Me: “Dear God, I hope not.”

(I’m not.)

I eventually managed to stop barfing and was able to choke down a protein bar. We got our stuff packed up and Jason’s parents took us to the IHOP for a pre-race meal. I ordered whole wheat pancakes but had no appetite and couldn’t eat any of them. Feeling miserable, I looked over at Jason and saw him with his head in his hands, looking exactly how I felt at that moment. We were jittery, stressed, and unable to eat.

After lunch, Jason’s parents started driving us to T1. Ten minutes into our drive, I realized that I had taken the computer off my bike the night before and had accidentally left it in my hotel room. I started to panic, thinking about how I needed my computer to check my cadence and ensure that I was keeping between 85-100 rpms, and that if I didn’t know how fast I was going I was gonna go insane. Jason’s parents said they’d go back and grab it for me and would try to pass it off to me when I got out of the swim.

I was already stressed about having puked twice and forgetting my bike computer when we decided to add “getting lost on the way to the race” to the mix. Since a ton of roads were closed because of the race, we had to take this ridiculous detour to get to T1. We finally got there, only to get yelled at by race officials that we weren’t allowed to get dropped off at the top of the hill where T1 was. Jason’s parents had to drive us all the way down to the bottom of the hill and drop us off at a park that was about 3/4 of a mile away from where we needed to be. I started walking up the hill with two armloads of gear, my heart pounding from the nerves, when I heard a far-off voice announce, “The transition area will close in FIVE minutes.” At that point I thought I was going to pass out from the stress.

Thankfully, Jason’s sister caught up to me and offered to serve as my gear mule, helping me carry some of my stuff up the hill with me. I got to the start and got marked in record time, then ran over to my bike and frantically began setting up my transition area and shoving anything remotely edible into my bento box. The entire time I was rushing and getting yelled at to exit T1, I kept thinking over and over how bullshit a 2 pm race start and two separate transition areas were.

Swim Summary

The race started but my wave wasn’t going for another 45 minutes, so I sat around and had the distinct pleasure of watching the waves get choppier and choppier due to the increasing winds and ever-darkening sky. By the time my wave rolled around, the reservoir looked like a washing machine on spin cycle.


Before it got choppy as hell, the water didn't seem so bad

Finally, we were off. Waves were hitting me from the right, which is the side I breathe from, so I immediately cursed myself for not following Teresa’s training instructions and practicing bilateral breathing more often. The swim was by far the roughest I had ever done — not only were there ridiculous waves and wind to deal with, but people were running into each other and throwing elbows left and right.

I managed to get to the first turn buoy relatively “quickly,” but it seemed to take eons to get to the second turn point. I later found out that it was so windy that the turn buoys were drifting further and further out, and the race volunteers were telling some swimmers to just forgo the big buoys to save time (they didn’t tell me this — effers!). I swam and swam and swam, and finally I dragged my half-drowned ass out of the water, having swam probably about .2-.3 miles more than intended.

Goal time: under 50 minutes
Actual time: 57 minutes (wind + waves + drifting buoys = terrible swim time, though I’m pretty sure I actually swam closer to 1.5 miles instead of 1.2)


My T1 wasn’t actually that bad — I managed to bust out a 2:34 even after waddling over to Jason’s sister with my speedplay cleats to grab my bike computer from her and tap dancing the length of the transition area to the bike mounting spot. (I really need to learn how to hop on and off the bike with my shoes already clipped in — these thick bike cleats are killing my mobility.) I mounted my bike, put the atrocious swim behind me, and started pedaling.

Bike Summary

Less than three miles into the 56 mile bike it started to rain. Hard. Really hard. Then it turned into a thunderstorm. Then it started to hail. I was a shivering, snotty mess. Every ten minutes I had to wipe snot from my face onto my tri shorts. My bike was soaked and sticky, and I battled slick roads, pelting rain and hail, and unforgiving headwinds the entire miserable ride. By the end of it my crotch and back were screaming at me to stop and I was actually looking forward to seeing downtown Boise. (I never thought that would happen.)

I was probably about a half mile away from T2 and pedaling as hard as I could when I saw a tiny squirrel shoot across the street. It let out a ridiculous squealing noise right when I got to it as if it anticipated its inevitable demise, but somehow the little bastard managed to escape death by race wheel squishing and barely got out of the way as I barreled down the street. Stunned, I uttered a loud “HOLY SHIT” and the person biking behind me started laughing really hard. (This is not the first time I’ve encountered a creature while racing or training — one time a furry black critter ran across my feet during a half marathon, and during a training ride I almost got hit in the face by a bat. I must give off some sort of pheromone.)

I finally got to T2 and breathed a sigh of relief. Now all I had to do was finish the run and I’d be done with this bullshit race.

Goal time: 3:00 to 3:10
Actual time: 3:19 (Slower than I wanted, but what can you expect when you’re biking through a goddamn thunderstorm. The bike course itself was relatively flat, so I imagine I’d post a better time in less inclement weather.)


Dropping off my snot-coated bike at T2

T2 and Run Summary

I busted through T2 in 2:17 and started the run. I packed socks in case I wanted to wear them for the run, but I’ve raced sockless before and haven’t had any issues, plus everything in my transition area was soaking wet so I figured socks wouldn’t help, anyway, so I ran out with naked feet. The first couple miles felt pretty good, and I was keeping a steady pace through the giant puddles with my wet feet and shoes. At mile 3 my shoes started to rub my feet in certain areas and my feet started to sting a bit. Each mile after that got worse and worse. I knew I had formed blisters and that they had probably already popped from the constant rubbing. Every step started to hurt more and more, and my run deteriorated to a Hillary Biscay-like gait (only much, much slower).

At mile 5 I stopped at a tree and took my right shoe off to assess the damage. To my surprise, the outer rim of my shoe was covered in blood and my foot was rubbed completely raw in two spots. I sighed, put my shoe back on, and limp-ran to the end of lap one. A volunteer was standing between the split (where you either run ahead and finish the race or turn to the right and begin your second 6.5 mile lap), and he shouted at me, “Great job, keep it up!” I stopped when I got to him and said, “I need medical.”

His smile faded and he said, “Okay, okay, we can get you medical attention. What’s the problem?” I told him that my feet were bleeding. He looked down, saw my bloody shoes, and said, “Yeah…um, I have band-aids. Will those help?” I said sure and he started fishing them out of his pack. Then he looked at me and said, “Do you want to drop out of the race?”

I kind of blinked and looked at him like I didn’t quite comprehend what he was saying. I survived a near drowning, rode a miserable 56 miles in the pouring rain, and just hobble-ran halfway through the run. All I had left was one more lap. Why the hell would I quit now? I muttered a “No, I should be fine thanks byeeeeeeeeee” and ran off to begin my second lap.

The band-aids actually did help immensely for a few miles, and I was able to temporarily forget about the stinging pain and focus on running. My optimism was short-lived, however, and I Robo-Cop’d the last couple miles with a single driving force: medical. Unlike Thomas the Tank Engine’s mantra of “I think I can, I think I can,” the only word that repeated in my mind over and over again was “Medical. Medical. Medical. Medical.”

I finally lurched across the finish line, got draped with a space blanket and was forced to pose for a stupid finisher’s photo before a volunteer guided me over to the medical area.

Goal time: 2:00 to 2:05
Actual time: 2:17 (I hobble-ran a 10:30 pace, which isn’t too bad considering the state of my feet)

Time for Medical Attention

Jason caught up with me and gave an encouraging “Good job!”, then grew concerned when I told him that I wanted to hit up the medical area ASAP. I assured him that I wasn’t suffering from cramping or dehydration and just pointed down at my feet, at which point his mom uttered an “Ohmygod.” (I felt pretty bad-ass for eliciting such a reaction.)

We headed into medical and a volunteer came up to me and asked if I’d been helped yet. I said “No,” and she asked what the problem was. I pointed down at my feet and she went “Ewwww…by the way, I’m not a doctor, but I’ll get one for you.” I laughed and told her that I figured that either she was just a volunteer or she was a doctor with the world’s worst bedside manner.


Jason's sister's rendition of the medical area (where it was "athletes only")

The doctor/medical dude cleaned my feet with saline solution, burned the hell out of them with some sort of devil’s liquid, smeared some ointment on them and wrapped them in blue bandages.


It's a good look for me


My bloody shoes (the inserts are pink Superfeet, not bloody soles)


Bloody right shoe (the worse of the two)

After the Race

The funny thing about the 2 pm start time is that the race organizers wanted the finish in downtown Boise so the athletes could enjoy a “post-race party” downtown and eat, drink and hang out. This is a good idea in theory, but since the weather was apocalyptically bad, everyone finished the race and immediately began packing up their stuff to get the hell out of there and change into some dry clothes. Jason and I were no exception. I returned my race wheels and we gathered up our gear and headed back to the hotel (after making a stop at Wendy’s, of course).

Once I finished inhaling my burger, I stepped into the shower and serenaded Jason with a lovely slew of expletives and “MOTHER OF GOD”s as the hot shower water hit my raw feet and stung the shit out of them. We changed and headed over to Teresa and Mark’s hotel to hang out with them, drink, and, of course, scarf down more food. Naturally, Teresa had a kick-ass race and not only took 1st in her age group but was the first amateur female. She’s a mighty good triathlete. Mark also PR’d and did a sub-5 hour race, and Jason PR’d by 40 minutes and finished in under 6 hours. I, of course, brought up the rear and posted the slowest time in our group.

Goal time: low 6 hours
Actual time: 6:38

I’m pretty disappointed with my finish time. I really wanted to get 6:00 to 6:15, with the ultimate goal of hitting under 6 hours. I still managed to PR by about 20 minutes, but I think I could have done up to 30 minutes better if the weather were less ridiculous and if my feet weren’t bleeding. Oh well.

Final Thoughts

All in all, I think that Boise is a potentially good race that turned out pretty shitty for the following reasons:

  1. The 2 pm start time. Like I said, a later start time is good on paper, but 2 pm is too late. I wouldn’t mind a race with a 10 am or a noon start time at the absolute latest, but when you start at 2 you have too much time to sit around and get stressed out and worry about everything that can possibly go wrong.
  2. The two transition areas. Two transition areas is a pain in the ass. You have to run around the day before and make sure all your bags are properly packed and drop them off in different areas, and when you’re racing you have to make sure you don’t leave anything out or it’ll end up getting left behind. Also, Teresa learned the hard way that you can’t trust the organizers with your various bags of gear when she realized that someone had stolen her ring out of her bag. That’s pretty shitty.
  3. The freakin’ weather. The Boise website summarized the day as such: “Participating athletes saw light rain for a majority of the bike and run course, with temperatures hovering in the low 70s.” That’s the most ridiculous euphemism for “torrential thunderstorm and 60 degree temperatures” I’ve ever seen. Granted, apparently Boise averages an inch of rain the entire month of June so it seems like we just had bad luck this year, but still, don’t frickin’ lie about how terrible it was.

I’d probably still do Boise again in the future, but only if they move the start time back to the morning. I can probably put up with the separate transitions and there’s a strong chance the weather has to be better than it was this year, but in my opinion the late start time was a failed experiment. I can’t say I had fun doing the race this year, but at least I learned a lot and can show off my war wounds to everyone.


Cut #1


Cut #2


Cut #3


Cut #4

I’ll probably try and do another 70.3 later this summer as a redemption race. Hopefully it’ll go better than Boise did. 🙂


Artist's rendition of me and Jason at the finish since we didn't get a picture together (I loved medical attention more than my boyfriend that day)

5 Responses to “ “Bloody Feet at Ironman Boise 70.3”

  1. Yura says:

    It’s the food: without eating carbo before the race, it’s hard to race. Weather didn’t help, but it isn’t as scary, if you are strong enough (all the others are in the same conditions).

    Sorry about your feet, socks would help but not by much, if shoes were not a good fit.

    Better preparation (luck) next time 🙂

    • Rebecca says:

      Actually, nutrition-wise I felt great during the race. I ate lots of gus and shot blocks and fueled with Gu20 and water and whatnot. My race went better nutritionally than my last 70.3.

  2. Stacey K. says:

    Rebecca – love your race report! I had wanted to do this race but worried about the 2PM start and you said it all – too much time in the morning to stress out!! I love the sexy picture of your bike – what a difference a year makes! I think you did awesome and your times were amazing based on the conditions. I look forward to reading about how you kick butt on your next 70.3! Hope to actually see you sometime!

  3. Triathlete-Wannabe... says:

    So forget swimming is bullshit, or biking is bullshit, basically Triathlons in general = bullshit…

    That said, ROCK on for bad-assing it with your torn up feet girl! Also, I feel like there is a need in the triathlon world for some serious swimming clnics which I feel I could provide.

    In honor of you, I would call it = Swimming is bullshit, throw elbows or die. Ok, so I’m not set on the name for the clinics yet, but something along those lines.

    I will teach the art of kicking at people as they start to swim over you. How to effectively angle your elbow so it hits the nose of the person who just whompped you in the stomach. Also, will be the ninja skill of hiding in transition area so you can jump the competitor who kicked your goggles off during the swim….

  4. Paul Hough says:

    I stumbled upon your website and got a great laugh at your race report…very funny…and I certainly felt your pain since my feet are in similar condition at the moment! I flew from Tampa to Boise for this race and thought it was spectacular. After doing Ironman 70.3 Florida the past three years in horrible heat and humidity on the most boring cross-country run course they could find, I was hoping for cooler (and drier) weather to hopefully break 5hrs. The scenery was spectacular, and the weather was a refreshing break from Florida. When I was riding into the wind and rain and up the hills, I just told myself “at least you’re not sweating like a stuck pig!” I personally loved the 2pm start and hope they maintain it. In fact, my wife now wants to move to Boise! I missed 5hrs by exactly 1 min (I had a bike issue), but we plan on coming back to this race in the future. I hope you return as well for that sub 6 hour performance! r/Paul

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