Can’t believe it’s been almost two weeks since 106 West Dillon Half Ironman. Enjoy a lil recap of “The World’s Highest Triathlon”!
The day of the race was Saturday, September 10th but I headed West a few days before. I had a place to stay with my friends who live on the other side of Lake Dillon – in Frisco. Love it there! They live right on Main Street and it is such a cute, local mountain town.
Headed down to my favorite spot, Frisco Marina, to mentally prep for what I was getting myself in to.
Of course I had to test out the water. And boy – I got a lil scared.
I headed to the expo to pick up my race packet, check my bike in, and of course – enjoy a tropical drink on the lake ha. We all prep for a race in different ways!
That night my friend Dan got in to town. We checked out the Marina and then he treated me to the perfect four course pre-race meal!
The next morning we headed to the race and I was all sorts of nervous setting up my transition area. I even set it up on the wrong side! EEK!!
Got one last shot before I jumped in the icy water!
Here we go…
THE SWIM: 1.2 Miles
One main reason 106 West Dillon took NINE years to get approved was – the swim. Lake Dillon is Denver’s drinking water and therefore no one has ever been allowed to legally swim in it. After years of back-and-forth it finally got approved. We were all VERY honored to be the 1st ever folks to “play” in this pristine body of water.
One major thing (besides the temps) that I was nervous for – was the altitude. Dillon is over 9k in elevation, which makes it a lot harder to breathe and stay calm out there. I’m glad I didn’t come from sea level and actually have had a few training days in this altitude. Made a world of difference as my lungs were not as bad as I dreaded.
Except it was cold. Like really cold. The reason this water is so clean is because it comes directly from the mountains. Yes – snow melt. Was so thankful I wore neoprene booties as it definitely saved my toesies! When we bobbled over to the open-water start the initial shock pretty much took your breath away. But I really started to get used to the chilly temps and actually enjoyed it. Took comfort in the fact that NO jelly fish would be attacking me as opposed to my 1st 70.3 in Miami. And the waves were not as aggressive as opposed to my 2nd 70.3 in Boulder. This allowed me to relax more and never had a true “freak out” moment.
Maybe I was having too much fun though because there were a few times I went a lil too long without sighting and got completely off course. My bad. This added valuable time but whatever – I made it!
Exiting the water was a true highlight! I am always pretty dizzy, disoriented, and out of it so it really helped to run in to multiple friends! I noticed Dan taking a video and cheering me on. Then Andrea was volunteering as a wetsuit stripper so I gladly obliged by flopping on the floor and letting her do her thing. To cap it off Khem was also there taking sweet footage and she snapped the crazy shot of me heading to T1. Gah – I look happy. And I was.
Off to the bike!!
THE BIKE: 56 Miles
Welp folks – this is one for the record books. Literally. 106 West Dillon is considered the “World’s Highest Triathlon” because the bike beams you up to 10,291 ft elevation. Yah – it was a doozy.
As I left T1 it was so helpful to have Dan taking a video and cheering me on to “get goin!” Off I went!
The ride started heading West around Lake Dillon with a quick turnaround before heading East all the way up to the highness of Montezuma – and back. For the half we did this crazy ride twice.
Body felt great until taking that turn up to Montezuma. Holy incline. This is my downfall. I’ve worked on it a lot since moving to Colorado but still a ways to go.
Every part of my lower body was on fire. Dark thoughts of not completing the race entered my head. When I finally got to the top it was such a relief. Except knowing I had to do that exact same thing AGAIN (and run a half marathon). It was mentally hard to except.
The ride back up was tough – to say the least. My legs were SHOT. With a few miles to go to the summit I had to use my arms to keep forcing my handlebars forward and make up for my lack of lower limbs.
With less than a mile to go I burst into tears. Was I really going to clip out and walk? Maybe I should give up. Considered it many times. I hate living life with regrets and this kept me mentally strong till I saw the top. With a few feet to go before that final turn down my body gave up. I had to clip out and compose myself. I’m sure the people at the top thought I was nuts.
When I clipped in for that final decent down I could not hold back. The happiest, speediest tears were just a flowin! The fact that I just completed something I never thought my body could handle simply overwhelmed me with pride. And man can I zoom. I do not hold back.
The only other element to endure was the wind. That was just a nice lil cherry on top to end a crazy, tough ride.
It was the best feeling seeing Jess and Darin as I clipped out at T2!
Off to the run!!
THE RUN: 13.1 Miles
I was an exhausted mess after that grueling bike ride but Jess and Darin gave me a lil pep talk over the railing in T2 and also informed me I was currently 2nd in my age group. Um what?? I thought I was pretty much in last place after that bike ride. “Well I better hurry up then!!” And off I went.
The run was to say the least – beautiful. And tough. Of course.
We headed West around Lake Dillon and the scenery was epic. Lakes, mountains – yah I’m in heaven.
The course was an out and back (twice for the Half) that meandered through the winding and HILLY forrest right off the lake.
When I was starting to struggle and really hurt I heard “Is that Christina?!” It was my GM at Orangetheory Fitness, Matt! We high-fived and he said “See you at the finish line!” This absolutely reaffirmed my motivation and gave me the boost I needed.
To be honest I felt mentally defeated by the swim and the bike because you had to do each twice but I absolutely loved this about the run. It gave me a chance to not only see the multiple people cheering on but also specific runners a few times. There were certain people I connected with and every time we’d pass we would cheer each other on to keep each other going. Was so cool to see my fav women’s endurance sport brand Coeur Sports represented. Finally got to meet Kristen in-person and we never would’ve put it together if we weren’t rocking our awesome tri kits.
On the second lap I connected with a little group of people and we stayed together throughout those hills. Knowing when to push it and when to cut back and fast walk up the inclines. The only thing we were set on at that point was getting everyone to the finish line.
I really need to give a shout-out and major thanks to all the volunteers at each aid station. They seriously made the run flawless and FUN! Plenty of Honeystinger chews, Nuun Hydration, obvi water, treats, and LAUGHS! They kept my motivation UP and I even got a bite of pizza from a guy who said “523 – you’re my favorite!”
Off to the finish line!!
THE FINISH: 70.3 Miles
As I neared the 106 West Dillon finish line I was overcome with joy – and sweet, sweet relief. The announcer was hilarious and mentioned I was fist-pumping (didn’t even know that!) and obvi throwing up double Shaka!
I had been SO nervous that I would never complete such a tough event. The freezing water. The altitude. My lack of training. Not excuses but realities.
Somehow, someway I completed the “World’s Highest Triathlon” and more than earned my cowboy medal belt buckle! I could not feel more proud of my last HOORAH in the beautiful state of Colorado.
BIG shout-out to one of my fav couples – Jess and Darin! These two came up to Dillon/Frisco to help support me and cheer me on! Multiple videos, photos, and words of encouragement are the main reasons I got through that race. Please know how much it meant to me and I will truly miss you guys! Have a blast on your honeymoon in Italy and cannot wait till you visit Maui!!
If you set your mind to something you truly can do it. It will never be easy as anything that matter should take work. It may not happen over night. But you will never accomplish your dreams if you don’t try. Dive in and just – say yes.
“It won’t be pretty but it will be beautiful”