Blow Me: My 2010 Boise 70.3 Race Report

Blow Me: My 2010 Boise 70.3 Race Report

Hey, check it out, it’s my 2010 Boise 70.3 race report! I know, I grumbled last year about how I probably wouldn’t do the race again due to a multitude of factors (crappy weather, annoying late start, double transition), but wouldn’t you know it, I found myself once again driving 8 hours to Boise for another year of crappy weather, an annoying afternoon start, and the double transition. I must be a glutton for punishment.


The reason we decided to do Boise again this year was because, timing-wise, it worked out well as a good race to do before Ironman Canada. I wanted to get a half Ironman under my belt before the main event in August, and since I was too poor to join my buddies in Hawaii to race the Honu 70.3, I decided to slum it up in good ol’ Idaho instead. This time around I signed up well in advance and was more mentally and physically prepared to tackle the race. The weather couldn’t possibly screw me two years in a row, right? (More on that later.) I also thought I’d give race wheels another try and rented them through Speedy Reedy.

Traveling to the Race
As per usual, Jas and I loaded an obscene amount of gear and fuel into the Subaru and trekked across I-90 at a glacial pace thanks to various construction areas and generally crappy traffic. We stopped in Yakima (the self-proclaimed “Palm Springs of Eastern Washington,” which means that either Palm Springs is a total dump or the entire town of Yakima is severely delusional) for lunch, and when I checked my email I noticed a message from someone who reads the Mediocre Athlete blog and had signed up to race Boise this year. Hooray, another fan! Pretty soon I’ll be autographing people’s gu packets and reading celebrity gossip about myself (“Rebecca Kelley Caught Skipping Workouts, Pigs Out Instead”).

We continued on for a while before stopping to get gas. When I got out of the car, I was nearly blown over by strong gusts of wind. It was at this point where I thought, “Hey, this sucks…I hope this wind dies down before the race.” [Insert ominous foreshadowing here]

Pre-Race Preparations
We rolled into town and checked into our hotel. The next day we stopped at a bike shop so Jason could get his front brake wire replaced (he noticed it was out of commission during our drive over and had a momentary freakout until we got it fixed), then headed over to the Expo Hall to pick up our packets. We got ushered from section to section until I got corralled over to a volunteer to confirm medical details. When I looked at the printout of my information, I started laughing. A couple months ago, when I had signed up for the race through, I quickly grew irritated by the incessant onslaught of required questions I had to answer before submitting my race entry. As a result, I filled out some silly and stupid answers that I had forgotten about until I was asked to review my race information:

I like how my jokey answer is juxtaposed with the serious response to the “medical allergies” question. The best part is that the volunteer who reviewed my sign up sheet didn’t even notice.

Finally I got ushered over to pick up my race packet and was given my participant’s t-shirt. The upside was that this year we got an actual performance shirt, whereas last year we were simply given a cotton tee. Unfortunately, the race organizers must have ordered this year’s shirts in child sizes. My size small shirt would have comfortably fit a ten-year old but looked decidedly less flattering on someone with my adult stature.

A bit tight for my taste (notice the full-on cling in the jelly roll midsection area)

My "fat guy in a little coat" impression

After we picked up our stuff, we headed to T1 to drop off our bikes and to meet our teammates for a swim. Race officials wouldn’t let us swim in the reservoir, so we resorted to practicing in the park area below the race start. It was cold, but I rocked the thermal cap and was able to get in a decent pre-race swim.

Yes, I'm the only one with my eyes closed. Go figure.

After meeting with the group, we headed back to the hotel, grabbed dinner, and prepped for the big race by organizing everything we were going to need.

Sugary goodness for the race

Race Day

I got a good night’s sleep and felt pretty confident about the race. We grabbed breakfast and I was able to eat more than I did last year. I had some stomach issues but didn’t hoark up any foamy vomit, so that’s an improvement over last year. We headed over to T2 and set up our run gear, then hopped on a bus to get shuttled over to T1, having learned from last year that it’s better to take the shuttle bus (even though they shamelessly charge athletes $8 to ride it) instead of relying on Jason’s dad to try and navigate through multiple closed streets and drop us off at the race start seven minutes before transition closes, as we had done last year.

We arrived at the race start with plenty of time to spare, so we set up our transition area and hung around in what little shade we could find. It was a warm, sunny day with a slight wind (notice how I say “slight” at this point since it’s only 11 am and the race doesn’t start until 2).

Seeking refuge in the shade of a giant truck. (Don't ask me why one of my pant legs is rolled up -- I'm guessing it's a pathetic gang sign or I was just being dumb)

My bike at T1. I managed to score a sweet end spot on the rack.

This year we had to put up with a “clean” transition, meaning we weren’t allowed to have anything laid out of our assigned transition bags. This was a considerable change from last year, where we were allowed to lay out our shoes and other items and just had to make sure that we didn’t leave anything out before taking off from T1. The modification meant that athletes were going to have to dig in their bags for their shoes, helmet, and glasses, and would then have to shove all of their swim gear inside before leaving. It was going to slow people down a little bit for sure.

It’s Go Time
As with last year, I was in one of the later waves. The race started at 2:00 but I wasn’t scheduled to go until 2:30ish, and Jason was once again in the last wave at 2:45. I stood around baking in my wetsuit, my feet burning on the hot pavement, watching wave after wave take off and start the race. As I waited, the wind started to get stronger and stronger. Much like last year, I had the distinct pleasure of watching helplessly as the weather slowly but surely turned to shit, only this year it wasn’t a rain and hailstorm and frigid temperatures that we athletes would have to endure, but goddamn wind gusts. Joy!

Swim Summary

By the time my wave got into the water, I was so hot from waiting around in a neoprene sausage casing that the cold water felt pretty good. We started swimming and I felt pretty strong swimming to the first turn buoy. My group was pretty rough, but I followed the advice of my teammate Connie and fought back whenever I got bumped or kicked (some douchette who was kicking like an epileptic frog nailed me in the ribs at one point, but I shook it off and swam over her).

When I got to the first turn, the water got considerably choppy and it became harder to navigate in a straight line. I was blown off course from the wind and the chop and didn’t take the straightest route to the final turn. I eventually rounded the bend and swam to shore at a decent pace before emerging to finally peek at my watch and see how I fared.

Goal time: Anything that started with a “4”
Actual time: 47 minutes. I was pretty stoked by my time. Loyal readers (all four of you!) know that I’m a craptacular swimmer. In three years of triathlons I hadn’t broken 50 minutes in a half Ironman swim until now — my previous best was 52 minutes for 1.18 miles at Victoria, and last year’s Boise swim was 57 minutes thanks to the stupid storm. I think I could have swam a 43 or a 44, but since the wind churned the water a bit and threw me off course, I was a bit slower than I think I could have gone. Regardless, it felt damn good to finally escape the 50’s. I’m still a painfully slow swimmer, but I’m happy to have graduated from “tragic” to truly “mediocre.” Huzzah!


I tried out the wetsuit strippers for the first time in a race, figuring I’d give them a test run before Ironman Canada. It felt weird to run up to someone and lay down at his feet expecting to be disrobed, but the process was relatively quick and painless. T1 felt slow due to the “closed” transition rule. Last year I blew through T1 in 2:34, but this year I had to rummage through my bag and dig out all of the random crap I’d need for the ride, so that slowed me down a bit.

Goal time: Mid-2’s
Actual time: 3:07. Oh well.

Bike Summary

I’ve been putting in more bike time this year to prep for Canada, so I was prepared to bust out a much-improved time over last year. Unfortunately, the wind blew a major wrench into my plans. As soon as I started riding, I could feel the gusts man-handling me all over the road. The worst thing is that the bulk of the ride was spent battling a side wind — I could have probably dealt with a head wind since it would have been frustrating but safer. The side wind, on the other hand, was absolutely brutal.

Within ten minutes of the ride, my left hip flexor cramped up and I had to stand up to stretch it out. By mile 30 the top of my hamstrings and my butt were aching and screaming for mercy. My forearms were getting sore from the constant death-gripping of my handlebars whenever a gust blew me four feet to the left. The wind never relented — we got a tail wind for probably about five minutes of the race, but that was about it. Even the descents were pretty pathetic due to the gusts — when you’re only going 18 mph down a steady decline with a cadence of 73, you know something is seriously wrong.

This was the second year in a row where I felt like an idiot for getting race wheels. A couple pros with disc wheels actually got blown off their bikes because the wind was so strong, and one guy even got blown off a freakin’ bridge (it was a bridge that crossed over a pedestrian footpath so he only fell about 7-10 feet, but still…). I would later find out that Chris Lieto, arguably one of the best cyclists among the pro triathletes, stated that this was the toughest bike leg he’s ever raced, and that it was worse than any year he’s raced Kona (the World Championship bike course is known to be very windy). Of course, I didn’t know all this at the time; all I was thinking about was how horrible my race was going and getting more and more discouraged about Ironman Canada. If I felt this miserable riding 56 miles, how was I going to survive 112 and a marathon?

When I was nearing town (right around the spot where I almost creamed a squirrel last year), feeling shitty and wanting this stupid race to be over, I saw another racer pull up beside me. The guy looked at me and said, “You wouldn’t happen to be the bloody shoes girl, would you?” I laughed, surprised that he was able to recognize me, and said “That’s me!” Wouldn’t you know it, I ran into another reader of my blog. He told me he loved Mediocre Athlete and that I was part of the reason he was racing today. Then he paused and joked, “I hate you” (presumably because he felt as great about the wind as I did at this point), and we both laughed and pulled into town. He found me at precisely the right moment in the race — just when I didn’t think I could hate life any more, this guy came along and perked me up when I needed it the most.

Goal time: 3 hours or less
Actual time: 3:27. I was eight minutes slower than last year’s bike time, despite the fact that overall I’m a stronger cyclist this year. My teammates (along with most of the other athletes racing, I presume) also biked much slower than expected, with many people finishing a half hour slower than usual, so I guess 8 minutes isn’t too bad in comparison.


T2 went pretty well — I was in and out in 2:01. This time, I made sure to pull on some socks so I wouldn’t have torn up feet this time around (although since it wasn’t pouring rain this year, it probably wouldn’t have been an issue but I didn’t want to take any chances).

Run Summary

Most of the time when I race, I don’t typically run into nutrition problems unless the weather is exceptionally abnormal (like in Cancun when I battled 98 degree temperatures, obscene humidity, and unrelenting sun). During the bike I battled both the wind and the heat, so as a result I don’t think I fueled properly while cycling. When I got to the run, I had the dreaded bloat belly. I was also uncomfortably hot — it was in the 80s and sunny, and I tend to run warm even when the weather’s mild, so the heat combined with my little Somalian stomach made for a less than ideal run.

I came up with a relatively good strategy to deal with the heat. At every aid station I’d grab a sponge and shove it in my top, then take a cup of ice and pour that down my shirt. The ice/sponge combo would last me a couple miles until I’d eventually replace them with a new sponge and some more ice. I’d also dump water on my head and guzzle Gatorade and water every so often (in hindsight, the guzzling probably didn’t help the belly bloat — I think I have to reassess my drinking habits for Canada).

At the end of loop one, I rummaged for my Endurolytes and looked up to see my non-racing teammates cheering and yelling at me, which made me grin like an idiot:

I'm such a dork

One of my teammmates/friends shouted out, “Show us yer boobs!”, which snapped me out of my race lull and made me laugh and go, “What?” I don’t think my sweaty, nasty chesticles were something anyone wanted to see at that point.

Speaking of nasty, I’ve never seen so much carnage on a run before. The ride really must have taken its toll on the athletes, because I saw people puking, hunched over, walking with dazed looks on their faces, you name it. I saw people on stretchers, people lying on the ground waiting for medical assistance, people shaking — it was a rough day. Craig Alexander, who won the race two years in a row, ran 11 minutes slower than last year. That big of a gap for a pro indicates how tough things were this year.

Jason caught up to me halfway through loop 2 and we ran together for about 4 miles before he took off in the last mile so he could unchivalrously (yes, that’s a made up word) cross the finish line before me (kidding — he was ahead of me in time, anyway, since he started about 14 minutes behind me).

Nearing the finish and getting high fives from my team

Goal time: 2 hours or under
Actual time: 2:08. My best half Ironman run to date, but I know I can do better. Damn that gut rot!

Goal race time: 6 hours or under
Actual race time: 6:29. Sigh. I really expected to PR by much, much more, but considering how difficult the race ended up being and how I was one of two people on my team who PR’d at all, I’m happy I at least managed to shave off 9 minutes from last year’s time despite the tough conditions. Still, it’s a hard pill to swallow when I think about how I won’t be able to do another half Ironman until next season. Oh well, I guess that means I have another year to train hard and finally achieve that sub-6.

After the Race

Jas and I headed back to the hotel to shower so we could meet our teammates for some late night pizza. I inspected my feet and saw that the only real damage done this year was a blood blister that ended up healing pretty quickly:

Gross, but still a marked improvement over last year's carnage

The worst souvenir I got from the race was a nasty chafe burn from my race belt. Here’s what it looked like when I finished:

And here’s what it looked like a couple days later:

The scab is gone now but I have a dark mark on my side that will probably end up leaving a scar. It looks like a doctor with questionable credentials removed my appendix. Blerg. Also, thanks to racing in the sun all day, my weird forearm tan I picked up in Penticton evened out a bit but, unfortunately, the watch tan continued to grow even stronger:

Final Thoughts

Okay, I gave Boise another try but honestly (and I mean it this time, damnit!), I’m not going to do the race again next year. Maybe one day I’ll do it again, but I really dislike the afternoon start time. It throws off your pre-race nutrition and, more importantly, it leaves too much time for the weather to turn. Both years, the weather was much better in the morning. If the race had started at 7 am (or even before 11 am), most athletes would have been off the bike by the time the wind got really bad. After talking to some locals, I found out that they often have strong wind gusts in Boise, and that the wind gets worst by mid-afternoon. Why the hell would race organizers plan a race to start at the worst part of the day? If they want it to be a challenge, why not just make the race in December so we athletes can battle snow and freezing temperatures?

I know that there’s really no such thing as a perfect race and that the weather is definitely something organizers can’t control. However, if you know that weather conditions tend to worsen as the day grows longer and you still opt to plan a race that starts at 2:00 pm, you’re often screwing athletes out of a decent race. Since I have no control over what time the race starts, my only option is to skip Boise next year and shoot for a different race instead. I’ll likely come back at some point just so I can try and end on a high note, Costanza style, but for now, Boise, I think we need to take a break.

7 Responses to “ “Blow Me: My 2010 Boise 70.3 Race Report”

  1. David Mihm says:

    Hey, what do you know…we’re both allergic to Bactrim. Also, nice watch tan…who do you think you are, Phil Mickelson?

  2. Rebecca says:

    Wow, another Bactrim allergy. It’s not one of the more common drug allergies, although I like to think of it as the most sensual of them all, much like pastrami of the cured meats 😉

  3. teresa says:

    Girl, you amaze me! Your humor, your hard work, your PR and the tough days and the fact that YOU make ME laugh as much as I make you work out! Love you tons!!!


  4. Sara Keogh says:

    Great post, Rebecca. You did a fantastic job.

  5. Maggs says:

    Just found your blog through TN. Great race report and congrats on a PR. I want to do Boise some day, but I’m not a morning person, so I’m pretty sure the late start would suit me. Good luck in Canada.

  6. Rebecca says:

    Maggs, I hope Boise will fare better for you than it has for me. I like the course alright but am just a bit tired of the temperamental weather.

  7. John says:

    Sweet and super funny report Rebecca! Congrats again to you and Jason!!

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