Kona, here she comes: Nancy Peters, 60, goes from last to first in four years to win her age group at Ironman Boulder
In just four years, Summit County resident Nancy Peters has gone from last-place at a local quarter-triathlon to first-place at Ironman Boulder and an Ironman World Championship qualifier.
The 60-year-old Peters won her age group, 60- to 64-year-old women, at the June 10 Ironman Boulder 140.6-mile swim, bike and run triathlon. Racing in hot conditions on a familiar course, Peters finished in 13 hours, 22 minutes and seven seconds to punch her ticket to the annual Ironman Triathlon World championships in Kona, Hawaii, on Oct. 13.
Kona will be Peters’ third Ironman triathlon after the then-59-year-old lifelong distance runner finished with a time of 13:40:50 at October’s Ironman Louisville.
In her 60-64 age-group victory at Ironman Boulder, Peters ran away from the competition, with a time more than one hour and 17 minutes faster than the nearest competitor.
Heading into Kona, with Summit County-based triathlon coach Abby Crew of Balanced Power Coaching continuing to work with her, Peters has her eyes set on breaking the 13-hour mark and contending amid the global field at Kona.
“She’s a very dedicated athlete,” Crew said of Peters. “Her attention to detail is exceptional. And with a triathlon, especially an Ironman, the devil is in the details, and she focused on that. She’s quite hard on herself and she expects to have instant improvement.”
Peters says the leaps and bounds in all-around improvement she has made have only been possible with the help of Crew’s meticulously detailed training programs.
While most of Crew’s clients are based far away from Summit County, with Peters, Crew’s has a dedicated athlete from the same place. In the highly competitive world of Ironman Triathlon, daily remote digital instruction from coaches is common, while communication takes place via training data uploads, downloads and email exchanges.
Peters found Crew via the popular TrainingPeaks.com website and its “Coach Match” feature. To make the final decision about bringing Crew on as a coach, Peters asked to meet in person.
“I wanted to feel a certain comfort with her,” Peters said, “and probably one of the most important questions I asked her was, ‘what is your experience working with senior athletes?’ She said she had worked with senior athletes and had some at a championship level, and I told her that I thought I could finish a full triathlon, but what I really wanted to learn to do was compete.
“For me,” Peters continued, “just finishing isn’t as satisfying as actually competing at this stage in my life. I don’t want to race more, I want to win more.”
LISTEN: Kona-bound Nancy Peters, 60, of Dillon shares what helped her win her age group at last weekend’s Boulder Ironman triathlon and speaks on the importance of not overdoing it as a senior athlete.
Peters’ “win more” mentality paired with Crews’ knowledge of what builds successful senior triathletes quickly progressed Peters, namely in her two weaker legs of the triathlon: swimming and biking.
Crews’ advice that rest and recovery is more important with senior triathletes has been at the core of Peters’ improvement. Especially considering Peters’ competitive drive to constantly work on her swim-bike-run game.
“It’s manage and overload and recovery,” Crew said of senior triathletes. “Many of them don’t want to recover, and that’s my biggest challenge with Nancy. Preventing her from overtraining. And that’s my research, I have Ph.D. in sport psychology, so we talk a lot about what’s going through her head at any given moment and what she’s telling herself out there.
“We frame things in the positive,” Crew continued. “We come up with mantras she feels are very true for herself. Everything is personalized.”
Both Crew and Peters credited the 60-year-old’s success in Boulder to her detailed preparation heading into the race. Living in Summit County, Peters almost had a homefield advantage in Boulder. She was descending several thousand feet in elevation and taking on a course she previously biked and ran a half-dozen times.
Peters and Crew also literally mapped out where on the course she’d be doing things such as using the bathroom or consuming calories. When she did eat out on the course, her “magic elixir” was the homemade family peanut butter and peach jam sandwiches sent to Peters by her sister Lynn.
Before the race, Peters felt good and thought she had a shot at qualifying for Kona when looking at historical times. During the race she had no idea of her success until her sister hollered at her from a shuttle bus while on the run leg.
“And I was surprised,” Peters said.
With knowledge that she was the first out of the water for her age group, Peters fought through heat fatigue on her strongest leg, the run, Kona nearing with each step. She only walked once on the marathon final leg, at the 15-mile mark, as she attributed her “sauna protocol” to her ability to fight the heat.
With Kona’s potential heat and strong winds of its own to get ready for, Peters and her coach know improving her biking further will be the key to competing at that highest level.
“We are always looking to increase power at threshold on the bike.” Crew said.
“The most challenging part will be the bike, again,” Peters said. “Kona is very famous for having strong winds that are very tough to ride in. So I think that will be the biggest challenge.”
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