Boulder Peak Recap

Photo: Cliff Grassmick,Boulder Daily Camera
There are two ways the Boulder Peak triathlon could have ended. After not finishing two races this year, it could have been: three strikes, you’re out or third time is a charm.

The last 8 months have been filled with frustration and false starts, whispers that it was time for me to retire, and moments of self doubt. Through it all, though, I had the utmost belief that things would turn around. In addition to my own conviction, I have been fortunate to have allies dedicated to helping me reach my goal of returning to the playing field in top form.

My family, Coach Phil, training partners and friends have been instrumental in helping me regain physical and mental health.

How did things finally come around, you may wonder. And, why did I decide to race seemingly so quickly?

A visit to Orlando to consult with Chuck Wolf, an exercise physiologist who has helped me through a multitude of injuries, led to the beginning of change.  He revamped my gym program to incorporate functional exercises that focused on rotation and help get the abdominal muscles firing again.

I spent so much time in the Flatirons Athletic Club weight room one of the trainers actually said that I spent more time there than he did!

In addition to the gym workouts, Phil modified my training. No hard efforts. None. Everything was about feeling good and staying pain free. My Garmin collected dust in a drawer. My Power Tap was now being used to moderate efforts.

After two weeks I noticed a change. I felt stronger. My run stride changed. My pedal stroke was different. My body was responding to the gym workouts. Phil added in some volume and then we tested the intensity (albeit, at a lower level than before).

I knew that my injuries were improving because I no longer feared having pain during workouts. The stabbing pain underneath my rib cage was gone. I could take a deep breath during my efforts. The steeper climbs no longer left me gasping for air. There was no residual soreness from training.

I had no intention of racing so soon. But, last Tuesday, after a series of good workouts (according to my mom that means I had one consecutive day of feeling well), I called Phil.

We had the following conversation.

JZ: I have a crazy idea. Are you sitting down? Maybe you should lie down.

Phil: Oh no. What?

JZ: I want to race Boulder Peak this weekend. I have been feeling good and this is a perfect opportunity to test things out.

Phil: Really? Ok. God bless.

Wow, that was easy!

My plan for Boulder Peak was simple. Swim hard, bike over the horrible hill that is Olde Stage as easily as possible and still move forward, hammer the downhill section of the bike and build into the 3 lap run. The plan was executed perfectly. Until the last lap of the run. This being my longest run off the bike since the Austin 70.3 in October, my legs did not have their typical durability. But, with only 2 miles to the finish, I was able to keep going and cross the finish line first. Yes, the third time was a charm.

Some questioned the wisdom of racing at home in front of so many people I know. I figured, I passed out in front of the home crowd last year, so whatever happened yesterday would probably be much less dramatic. And, the boost from friends and supporters could only be helpful (it was!). Besides, I needed a new swim cap and race shirt.

I know that my recovery is not complete. I will still spend time in the gym. I will still have to be careful about the efforts during training. This victory has reiterated that I am on the right path. This victory has reiterated that you should never give up on yourself.

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14 Responses

  1. Nicole says:

    Great seeing you win out there yesterday!!!

  2. Christi says:

    Congratulations on a great race! I am so glad to hear that things are looking up for you.

  3. MarkyV says:


  4. Charisa says:

    Awesome – congrats!

  5. Luis Oliveira says:

    Just make sure to keep good records (this blog is actually a great idea.) It will come in handy when you sell the rights to the film about your AWESOME comeback.


  6. misszippy says:

    Good for you–happy to hear you can still tear it up!

  7. Jeff says:

    Congrats! It was an awesome sight to watch yesterday. You looked great.

  8. Billy the Kid says:

    Plus, you had to sport the new sweet kit for a finishline winner's photo.

    That thing is bad-ass with the world champ rainbow incorporated into the flowers and stripes.

  9. just getting started at 50 says:

    I came across your blog after reading an article on AOL. Congrats on your accomplishments. i started doing triathlons last year at the young age of 50. Finished 4th in my first ever. I'm now hooked and on my 4th race this season with Irongirl Columbia coming up in August. So far all sprints but shooting to go up to Eagleman 70.3 then who knows. And you are so right-I am a woman and at 51 I'm still improving not only fitness but speed!!!!! I wish I had started this long ago-but it's never too late. Keep up the great work.

  10. Lisa is Raw on $10 a Day (or less!) says:

    Wow, awesome blog! I also ran across your story on AOL and love that you're busting the myth that it's all downhill after 40!

  11. TriBoomer a.k.a. Brian says:

    Congratulations on your first post-accident win! I have a suspicion it's the first of many more to come. Cheers!

  12. Just Tri It says:

    Great job, Joanna! So glad to hear you're pleased with your results and it sounds like you're more relaxed and even enjoying your training. May many more expectations be realized for you.

  13. lisabentley says:

    Hurray – well done Joanna! so proud of you and glad to hear your healthy and maintaining good health. Keep up this healthy happy training.

  14. Brandon says:

    When are you going to write a post about the race I want you to do? 😉 There are many entertaining transcripts you could put up for that.