Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Buffalo Springs Lake Ironman 70.3 Race Report

It's a long one. I apologize in advance.

As mentioned previously, I signed up for this race because it was close, it fit in the schedule and I thought it would be EASY. WRONG!!!

We drove to Lubbock after work on Friday and got into town around 12:30am Saturday morning. Surprisingly, the drive only took 8.5 hours – we were quite proud of ourselves. We slept in, had some continental breakfast (I cannot resist unlimited amounts of Fruit Loops…I had 5 bowls), I took a nap…and around noon, we showered and headed out for the day.

We drove to the race site because we wanted to drive the course and then ride the first hill or two just to see how tough it was. I was wearing a maxi dress, so I just stuffed the skirt into some yoga pants and tested out my skills on hill #1. It was tough. Really tough. 8.9% incline for about a half mile. I averaged about 6mph and a cadence of 55rpm…not so hot. But I knew I would survive…hopefully.

After we tested out the hills, we set out to drive the course. The first two miles of the course are uphill/downhill/uphill…all about 9% grade and curvy. Then, you finally have a chance to let your heart rate come down, eat a snack and settle in for the long haul. Basically, you go up and then down and then up and then flat for about 8-12 miles…then down and up and flat for about 8-12 miles…you do that a few times. There were a total of 8 treacherous uphills that could leave a grown man in tears. It’s out and back so you ride everything twice…if it was fun going down, you knew it was gonna be hell going back up.

On the way back, we stopped at the casa of Natalie’s parents for some beergaritas…speaking of, Natalie, send me that recipe!! They have an amazing house overlooking the canyon and it was gorgeous day for porch sitting and drinking…we were sad to leave!!

The 6 of us went to Orlando’s for dinner where Tommy and I fearlessly shared a large cheese pizza…this went well for me and not so well for Tommy the next day.

Tommy and I fell asleep early with the alarm set to wake us up at 3:30AM. That’s early. Even for us.


We woke up, showered, packed the car and drove out to the canyon. Transition opened at 4:30, race was scheduled to start at 6:30 (before the sun came up!). For some reason, I had a bad feeling about the day…I don’t know if it was the lightening, the wind or the cold that scared me, but it wasn’t good and I was soooo not excited. We were kind of expecting the swim to get cancelled because there was so much lightening, but it didn’t. Boo!!

We each set up our transitions and for once I got a great location. I had a long carpeted run in from the swim, a short run out and in on my bike shoes, and a long run out on the run. Best location there is if you ask me…unless you get all the way out of transition with your bike helmet on and you have to run all the way back…but that’s a whole different story.

Then we started the peeing process. I got a gold star for super fast peeing. GO ME! Everyone has to excel at something.

We did some last minute set ups on our transition area and headed down to the beach to watch the pros take off. We ran into James who was blissfully unaware of the hills that were ahead of him. Tommy and James were in the wave after the pros, so they got into the water and headed out! I waded in to pee (again, yes) while another wave got started. The outside air was freezing and windy, but the water was nice and warm…like baby pool pee water. Totally gross.

The swim start was a beach start – we had to run in the water for about 20 feet before we could swim. I’ve never done that before and I was a little concerned about my pre-race pee schedule getting messed up…I usually pee while treading water when I am waiting for the gun to go off. I usually pee before the gun and then once mid-swim…both of these would not happen and it would prove to be painful on the bike later. I also hadn’t decided which goggles to wear (I’ve been having goggle issues lately)…so I took my new Aquaspheres and my old crusty moldy goggles to the beach. I figured I could wear one and stuff the other into my suit. Done and done. I opted to risk it with the Aquaspheres…they were great with minimal leakage!! There are some great pics of me digging the other goggles out of my suit after the swim though. Lovely.

The Swim:

I started on the far left of my wave but at the front. Apparently the bad omen I had about the race was mostly just about the swim because my swim was ridiculous. I couldn’t sight and I couldn’t swim in a straight line for the life of me. I was so far off course that a kayak ran over me. I probably swam 1.5 miles instead of 1.2 (and looking at the numbers, the course may have been long anyway – the pro times were quite slow as well). The bouys were really far apart and small and I couldn’t find them and for some reason swimming in a straight line (which is not normally an issue for me) was impossible. I tried to pee mid-swim but I think the crash with kayak freaked my bladder out – there was no peeing to be had. I am normally a front-of-the-middle to a middle-of-the-middle of the packer…but no, not this time. I was 17 of 24 in my age group. This was probably the one chance in my life to beat Tommy on the swim and I decided to swim like freaking Rainman. Ugh. So pissed.

Swim Time: 45:29, Pace: 2:21/100m – 17/24 in my age group


I knew my transition would be slow, despite my primo location-o, because I was trying a few new things – I put on a heart rate strap (I could have swum in it, but since I never had, I figured this was safer), I had to start my new bike computer/heart rate monitor, put on my Garmin, but not start it, stuff sunglasses into my outfit (it wasn’t sunny yet, but it would probably GET sunny later and I didn’t want to be without), etc etc…it was just a lot of stuff that I don’t normally do.

T1 Time: 2:53

The Bike, Oh, the Bike:

We drove the course the day before so I knew what I was in for…kind of. When the race was over, Tommy said he was impressed with my times – he said he thought the hills would chew me up and spit me out (I did too!). There were 8 “challenging” hills (which means 8 super fast downhills!!), that were each about 7-9% grade and about ½-1 ½ mile in length…the rest was totally flat. I was hoping to average about 18mph.

Right out of transition there is a little mini hill that is just before a monster of a hill. I was prepared and had my bike in an easy enough gear to get up the mountain, but a hard enough gear to get some speed up ASAP. It was my first real ride with bar end shifters and dear lord, they are amazing. I just kept shifting into an easier gear (while remaining aero) to keep my cadence up and I actually felt pretty good on Hill #1. I was slow, but I was still in the saddle which is important for the running portion of the day.

Then came the first descent. Holy crap. I tried not to ride the brakes too much because the speed is nice, but at about 36mph, I started to freak out and needed to pump them a little. This would actually be the only downhill I got to enjoy because shortly thereafter, the rain started…and when the rain starts you can’t fly down hills with reckless abandon.

Hill #2 was slightly more challenging. About ¾ of the way up, my chain fell off due to stupid gear shifting (Obviously I should be able to shift both the big and little chain rings, up and down, all at the same time…poor Rocky took some serious abuse. It wasn’t his fault.). So, I am ¾ of the way up a mountain and I have to stop to put my chain back on. At this point, there is no way I can possibly get enough momentum up to get up the hill, so I had to walk Rocky to the top. It was degrading. But then it was okay when I flew by all those suckers later. Muuuuhahahah!

After Hill #2, it was flat for about 10 miles. I finally got to get my heart rate down, get into a rhythm and start eating. I got settled into an 80rpm rhythm (I know I’m supposed to do 90, but it just doesn’t feel natural) and had some Clif Blocs. The road in the park was crappy, but the road just outside of the park was crappier and the road past that was even crappierER. I hate to think of how Tommy felt on his bike because I felt horrible vibrations on a full carbon bike…it was painful. My fingers were numb so I didn’t really hold the handlebars. It hurt too much. Luckily, once we turned off of 50th St, the road quality improved some. I ate a granola bar around mile 10, before the next big downhill. I was still able to enjoy this downhill some – it was straight and the rain hadn’t gotten the roads too wet yet. But once again around 35-36mph, I start to freak out and slow down…but only a little, I didn’t want my tires to explode!

And then, at the bottom, I was staring into the face of Hill #3. Basically, this went on for the next 3 hours, so I’ll spare you the details. Once the rain started, the downhills became quite unsafe and I wasn’t able to build any considerable speed. The 18mph wind was brutal, but it wasn’t really gusting, just a constant painful 18mph wind (headwind, crosswind, etc…the tailwind was mahvelous though!), so it wasn’t too bad. It’s the gusts that really get to me. We had a great tailwind one way, a terrible headwind another way, and an irritating crosswind another way. So, I was able to make up some time when I was with the wind, but the crosswinds just make things more challenging!!

As you all know, drafting is illegal in USAT, but a group of us got stuck behind a cattle car that was going about our speed so we drafted that for a little while…we discussed it and decided it was legal.

And since I had not peed during the swim, as per my usual plan, by mile 30 I DESPERATELY needed to pee. It’s hard to keep up a decent cadence with a full bladder. But alas, there was not a single port-o-potty on the course. Not a single one! Peeing in the bushes is not only illegal, but it will also get you DQ’ed from a race. I cared not. I found some small bushes (it’s West Texas man, it’s not like they have proper foliage!), and showed my bare bottom to the world. And I felt like a million bucks afterwards.

On the final haul to the bike finish, another guy and I were really pushing it. My average speed had only been about 16.7mph and I was really hoping to be able to get it to 18mph by the end…I hadn’t done the math, but I was hoping that 20 miles would be enough time to overcome my deficit. Anyways, me and “29 - A” were really pushing it home – we kept passing each other and working our butts off. When we crossed the dismount line, they gave 29 - A a medal for finishing the Aquabike. WHAT? I just kicked my own butt to beat a guy who wasn’t even running afterwards?? Effers. Apparently, 29 – A is 29 years old and in the aquabike division. Terd.

All in all, I felt great on the bike. I definitely need a new saddle, but other than that, I pushed myself to my limits (which I never do!) and rocked the bike as best I could. Thanks Rocky!! I conquered the hills!!

Bike Time: 3:28, Speed 17mph – 18/24 in my age group


As typical of me this day, I was ridiculous in transition. First of all, it had rained so much that water had collected in my running shoes – I had to dump them out before putting them on. So, they were soaking wet…awesome. I didn’t bother re-bodygliding them…I figured it was too late for that. All my stuff was soaked, but the rain had passed and now the sun was shining his little head down on me!! I got all the way to the Run Out before I realized I still had my helmet on…and I had to go back and take it off. Idiot. And so I began running…squish squish squish.
T2 Time: 3:33 (judging by the times, no one else forgot to take their helmets off).

The Run:

First a stop at a port-o-potty and a break to find some ibuprofen…and now the run begins! When I headed out on the run, the clock said 4:45, so in my calculations, I should be passing Tommy around mile 3 (math is great to do while running). The first 3 miles were through the park, around the lake, in a nice shaded area. There were some small hills, but overall, it was a pretty course. Just after mile 3, you are greeted with a monster of a hill. Ugh. Haven’t we done this enough today? I tried to make myself run it, but it just wasn’t in the cards. Even walking it I couldn’t get my heart rate down. I saw Tommy at the top of the hill – we started cheering and he asked how I was doing. I was like, “Dude, I was doing great till this beast!!”. Haha.

At the top of the hill, I got back into running form (or slow jogging form, depending on your opinions…) and forged onward. There was a big downhill, but what goes down, must come up, and at the bottom of the hill I was greeted with a mountain. I didn’t even attempt to run this one…I just gave in and started power walking. Everyone was walking. The shade was gone now and the sun was out…things were starting to heat up. I made the turn onto the Energy Lab II – a 3 mile, straight as an arrow, flat as a board, no scenery, no shade, no nothing except the buzz of electricity from the power plant down the street. It suuuucked….but I was feeling pretty good.

I had this strange desire to beat 2:26 on the run. No idea where that number came from, but that was my goal. I hit the turnaround at 1:15, so there was a chance, but I’d have to pick it up (the way back only had one uphill so I thought this could save me 2 minutes?). Nonetheless, I headed back to the park, feeling pretty good considering and finished with a decent half marathon.

Run Time: 2:32, Pace 11:38 – 21/24 in my age group (I SERIOUSLY need to work on my running)

Buffalo Springs Lake Triathlon Ironman 70.3 – 6:42:17

All in all, I felt great through the whole race. I felt like I really pushed myself and did the best that I could. I’m a little disappointed that my best was only a 6:42, but I know that I did the best I could that day (despite the swim, but really, that would have only saved me five minutes) I got my nutrition down – I felt fueled, hydrated and strong through the whole race and I didn’t get sick afterwards.

The next day my legs were tired and achey, but not too sore. My lower back, shoulders and neck were really, really, really sore though. I did some stretching on Tuesday and an easy bike/run that felt pretty good.

Rocky was great. The bar end shifters are to die for amazing but for goodness sake, my hoo-ha needs a new saddle and I need to mount my aero bottle.



Wednesday – Mac and Cheese
Thursday – Sushi
Friday – Edamame for Breakfast, PB&J for dinner, beef jerky, popcorn, grapes, granola bars, Now and Laters, in the car
Saturday – 5 bowls of Fruit Loops, banana, English muffin for breakfast. Beef Jerky, popcorn, granola bars for lunch. 3 slices cheese pizza for dinner. 2 glass of wine and a beergarita.
Sunday – Race Day!
4:30am - Peanut Butter Sandwich and a Diet DP
Gatorade throughout
6:30am race starts
6:45 – 3 Clif Blocs
7:15 – My wave start
Mile 2 – 3 Clif Blocs
Mile 10 – Granola Bar
Mile 20 – Granola Bar
Mile 35 – 3 Clif Blocs
Mile 45 – 3 Clif Blocs
Mile 1 – Gatorade and pretzels
Mile 2 – Water
Mile 3 – 3 Clif Blocs and Water
Mile 4 – Coke, Water and Pretzels
Mile 5 – Water
Mile 6 – Gatorade
Mile 6.5 – Water
Mile 7 – Water
Mile 8 – 3 Clif Blocs and Water
Mile 9 – Coke, Water and Pretzels
Mile 10 – Water
Mile 11 – Water
Mile 12 – Water


Sorry Thomas. I know this isn't what you were going for. Someday, my pet, someday.


Love and Puppies, Christy said...

Sorry Allison! I had it written, but it was so long I was embarressed to post it. You probably didn't even read down this far...that' how long and ridiculous it was.

Allison said...

I totally read every word!!! Even down to the water, water, water, water....

:) Congrats! Sounds miserable... I'll stick with sprints!!!

You are a rockstar and should have something named after you...

Love and Puppies, Christy said...

Haha - that's why I keep you around. I need a little ego boost now and again. :) It was surprisingly fun...despite the pain!

I doubt I'll be getting anything named after me...ever. Or maybe I'll get a gerbil....

Anonymous said...

4 beers of your choice (hi quality-Corona, lo quality-miller/bud)
1 frozen concentrate of limeage
2 shots of tequila (or how much you dare)


then fun!