Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Ironman 70.3 - Buffalo Springs Lake success!

Six friends and athletes packed 2 cars and headed West to Lubbock, TX with high hopes of a great half-Iron distance race. The 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile half-marathon run is now part of the Ironman 70.3 Series. Our team was Roni, Joni, Jason, Gary, Bryon and I. A bunch of other friends had also traveled separately.

At 5am on the way to the site we were greeted with lightening bolts on the horizon and winds blowing chop across the swim course. The good news was that the swim would be downwind but a surfboard could come in handy! By race time the storms had gone away and we were ready for the unusual standing beach start. In my age group there was a disabled athlete sitting in 3 feet of water asking us to please not run over him at the gun. If we could keep from stepping on him he'd be off quickly. He wasn't kidding and at the gun he was in the lead pack of swimmers. THAT is a true Ironman.

The swim course was not really visible until you swam out of the cove. Then, instead of the single buoy to round there were about 5 more to the right before you could start turning left and downwind on the course. All seemed well but its impossible to tell how you're doing in a swim group. I got encouraged as I passed white-hats and red-hats that started early but discouraged as I saw green ones go by, and sometimes on top of, me. It turned out that, of 79 in class, I was 13th in the swim! Only in the last 2 triathlons has my swim turned out better in rank than my cycling.

A quick 3 minute transition and onto the "hilly" bike course. Now here's where my friends had me all worked up. "Oh man, its really bad..." they'd say, "big hills, and its soooo hot". Well, we train at Cedar Hill. Perhaps the 2990 vertical feet in that workout every weekend dampens the 1007 feet advertised for BSLT but I didn't think this course was bad. There were the 2-3 monsters but the rest of the course was long, straight and hot. My own problem cycling was self-induced; preparing for a 6-7 hour effort I tore into my foodstuffs... I ate a gel every 30 minutes, an Enduralyte every 30 minutes and most of my dried fruits from the bento box plus the Rice Krispy bar. At mile 40 I needed to stop and puke as nothing was digesting and the stomach had no blood for processing. I started thinking oh boy what have I gotten myself into, what a wimp, I feel awful, I'll never make it and I'm only 2.5 hours into this, yaaaaaa! I've not had that bad a mental anguish in a race. I resisted the puke because I thought "I really need that stuff to process" so I backed off to a Z1 HR and cruised for awhile. It worked. I came out of it and finished strong but I didn't know what would happen on the run.

During the bike I saw Bryon whiz by. He's had a great pace and I hung on for awhile (not drafting) as we went up the spiral staircase. As we headed up, a rider coming down locked up his brakes and skidded about 50 feet. When I looked back he had done and end-o and went out of site behind the hill. The bad news is that he bounced back in site for a moment but wasn't on his bike anymore. "Rider down!" and we warned oncoming riders screaming down the hill. One of those riders was Joni; 52 years old and did a sub-6 Half-Iron and is the envy of us all - WAY TO GO JONI!

Another 3 min transition and off to the run. I've got all the stuff I need, got the sweat rag (although it was so dry I got crusty instead of sweaty), got more Gu packs. After 2 miles I'm thinking I feel good, how odd. A hill and lots of athletes walking... and I can run it! Another big hill and again I can run it. Then the long "power company" road but I feel great. This thing must have been 3 miles straight out then you turn around and come back. The miles start clicking off. The support folks were great. On the return, one lady had a dish of ice and water and said "I can dump it on your head"; Wow! That was great! What a jolt and a nice refresher. I saw Roni on her way out and she knew by my "I'm not really a runner" running style that it was me and we high-fived in the middle of the road. She looked great and was running strong. The threat of seeing friends out there keeps you smiling and keeps you going because you can't be looking like the wimp you really are or displaying how you really feel. Miles keep ticking off and the hills came back and I kept running. Go figure... running the hills is faster than walking the hills. Things felt great and I did the math in my head about being very close to the "5-hour club" I didn't know exactly how close because I didn't start my clock until the bike. I picked it up anyway and must have run close to 8:30/mile at the end. Several runners I passed stayed with me as we talked awhile but couldn't hang. I couldn't believe how long the last 2 miles were. Energy was good and pace was as good as I could scrounge but I came up short for a 6:02 finish. I wish I'd known the deficit at 6 miles out and I might have been able to do something about it. As it was, I did not leave much, if anything, out on the course and I'm tickled with 6:02. That represents 45 minutes off of my last half-Iron distance. The confidence meter to finish Iron has now moved to the right!

Every one of our group had a great race. Roni, my Wisconsin training partner, rode a phenomenal ride and had a good swim for a 6:13 total. If she works on that run, then we'll be finishing together in Wisconsin. GO RONI! Bryon, at 200 lbs and half an ounce qualified to run Clydesdale and won 1st place! Another phenomenal bike ride at over a 20 mph average. When I finished, I saw him in the Med tent with an IV in his arm and a big smile. "Dude, I won!" And I said "Dude, you're on a stretcher with an IV in your arm!" A 5:09 would put anyone on a stretcher. Jason ran a 4:56, the fastest of the bunch. I saw him coming in from the power company road and asked how he was feeling; like James Brown, he said "I feel good". Joni, was looking for a Hawaii spot and came close but was 1 place away from getting there at 3rd in her age group. Even if she had not taken the wrong turn on the bike course and gone 3 miles out of the way (after getting all disturbed about the rider down) she would not have gotten 2nd but Joni had a phenomenal swim. From Masters practice I've seen Joni get faster in the last few weeks. She'll be in Hawaii soon. And Gary, apparently having stopped for a beer, trotted in for a 6:44 having not lost a step from last year.

Results from the race are at but there's a much better form at at this link:

  • On the way out there was some road rage. Apparently, becoming upset that we're ALWAYS in front of them, the birds were flying! Obviously, a bunch of cyclists.

    If you're ever in Abilene, don't miss Harold's (World Famous) Pit BBQ! Triathletes are picky about what they eat. Sonic, Wendy's, DQ, Cracker Barrel and the like just won't do. So, we relied on the GPS... according to my wife, always a sure way to GET FREAKING LOST. It said go off the freeway about 3 miles, turn down 13th street and, Viola! Uh, oh, this looks bad, industrial, unmowed, broken down cars and nothing around here open.... except Harold's. This was the best BBQ I've ever had and it was served by Harold himself.

    Next week its the Triple Bypass in Colorado
  • TripleBypassMap
  • for a 120 mile training ride with 10,000 vertical feet of climbing. Uh, I hope some of its downhill.

    This weeks mileage (a recovery week???):
    Swim: 8920 meters (1.2 mi, 3400mt, 3600mt)
    Bike: 110 miles (56, 32, 22)
    Run: 22.6 miles (13.1, 5, 4.5)


    At June 29, 2006, Blogger roni said...

    You're're not a runner, you're a triathlete!
    If I could run...ha! ha! ha!

    At June 29, 2006, Blogger Todd said...

    Nice report. Sorry I could race with everyone. I'll put it on the schedule for next year. Keep up the good work. You'll find the finish line at IMMOO as well.


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