Boulder Peak 5150 Triathlon July 10, 2011.
The 10 second count down began with 30 of the fittest athletes in the world ready to spike their heart rates and attack a 1.5k swim in the Boulder Reservoir. The race announcer’s countdown, “3, 2, 1…” mirrored an elevated sense for each athlete with blood beginning to flood into the muscles. Instantly, the calm waters churned to a boil as the triathletes sucked the oxygen out of the air. Kevin Everett took the early lead and felt the water rush by with his body balanced on an imperceptible line, riding high. It felt for an instant like a video game when one obtains a power boost. The speed seemed effortless and the form flowed from years of struggle to perfect. At 36, and being a distance swimmer for almost 30 years, he just recently learned through increased awareness and focus, how to sprint better. This is fun!
Not wanting to lead the very strong swim pack, after a few minutes he was on the leader’s feet Stephen Hackett sharing them with Brian Fleschieman. The draft proved to be a beautiful ride and the confidence soared; projecting this for the makings of a great race.
Running to T1 in 3rd position with the usual sense of urgency Kevin noticed the difficulty in spiking the heart rate and trying to recovery whilst still racing. Managing to mount the bike virtually in the lead with both Brian and Stephen he proceeded to create a gap. It didn’t happen. Tim O’Donnell and Paul Matthews did create a gap. Then, Kyle Leto, Matt Reed, Greg Bennett and Joe Gambles gave chase and left Kevin climbing a hill feeling like he needed to stop. It felt like death. The muscles were OK but the lungs were inadequately feeding them with precious oxygen. To compensate the heart worked overtime and pumped blood at full capacity. The heart muscle itself does not have any feeling sensation however, the explosion of activity in the chest cavity gave Kevin the impression of a split open, disintegrating, and rupturing heart. Add a torrent of asthmatic like breathes and this doesn’t bode well for racing bikes up steep hills against a talented group of athletes. No, watching the Tour de France did not help Kevin’s climbing ability in the mountains of Colorado.
This eruption of pain would usually amount to a few moments of ‘holding back’ while still racing to recover. Alas, racing at elevation forces this recovery to take much longer if at all. Respect racing at elevation by not red lining unless you’ve had 10 days to 2 weeks to acclimate.
By the time Kevin got to the run his body had been dealing with a blow up 6 miles into the bike and never fully recovering. The body just started shutting down on the run. Most noticeable were the lungs feeling like swiss cheese and breathing through a straw while trying to run. For the next race at elevation there will be a mandatory 10 day acclimatization process. A disappointing result (18th pro)but a valuable lesson is gained through the experience.
Thank you, Will Murray for the wonderful homestay! Boulder is a fantastic place to spend some time and all the more rewarding when meeting great people.