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Ironman 70.3 Buffalo Springs Lake - Triathlon

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Lubbock, Texas
United States
BSLT Triathlon/World Triathlon Corporation
66F / 19C
Total Time = 5h 14m 50s
Overall Rank = 146/686
Age Group = M40-44
Age Group Rank = 20/95
Pre-race routine:

This was my first HIM. I started triathlons this year and have done one sprint and two olympics, so I’m still very much the newbie.

I drove from Dallas to Lubbock on Friday, and also drove the bike course to get a feel for the hills. I definitely recommend doing this, as I felt much more comfortable on race day knowing what was coming. During a Thursday run I had felt some mystery pain in a gluteus muscle, so I took Friday and Saturday off from training to be safe. I usually like to get in at least an hour ride the day before a race, but not this time. Fortunately I had no issues with that pain during the race.

I went to sleep around 8:30pm. I woke up at 1:50am because I felt my race bracelet break when I turned over in bed, and never went back to sleep. I got up around 2:30am. I ate oatmeal with raisins and a cliff bar at 3:45am, a banana around 5:30am and a Gu around 6:20am. I sipped on 24oz of Perform throughout the morning and took one salt stick tablet. I think I ate too much the day and night before because I wasn’t hungry and was having to force the food down. This was a bad omen.

The forecast had called for 40% chance of thunderstorms and it rained overnight, but it cleared up while setting up in transition and we raced under sunny skies and very moderate temps.

Event warmup:

I just stretched everything.
  • 32m 56s
  • 2112 yards
  • 01m 34s / 100 yards

The water temp was announced as 74.5. It was a wave start with AG waves going off every 3 minutes. There were 180-200 in my wave (M18-29 + M40-44, 5th AG wave and 8th wave overall), which went off at 6:48am. It’s a one loop counter-clockwise swim, right hand turn to start as you leave the channel, then left hand turns the rest of the swim. Swim entry and exit are on opposite sides of transition, it’s a nice setup.

The swim is my weakest event, my endurance is fine but I’m just not that fast and don’t seem to ever get any faster. This was my 3rd OWS in a race and 4th OWS overall, and I’m still not very comfortable with them. But I felt this was by far my best OWS. I started up front on the far left to try and avoid the traffic jam and that worked out well. I suffered only marginal contact and it was my far my best sighting of any OWS. After a turn I sometimes couldn’t immediately pick out the next buoy (especially when sighting into the sun after the first turn) but I’d just follow the crowd and would soon find it. I don’t think I ever went off course and thus felt it was a very efficient swim, virtually no zig-zagging. So I found myself being able to relax and concentrate on my form and pull. That being said, I think the swim course might have been a bit short, as I’m not a 1:42/100m swimmer, even in a wet suit. If somebody swam it with a Garmin, I’d be interested to hear what it had for the distance.

I’d read race reports from past years about how the swim exit was rough as you had to step over big rocks at the foot of the ramp, but I did not notice any of this. There were plenty of volunteers in the water helping people out.

What would you do differently?:

The swim went really well for me, so I can’t think of anything I would have done differently during the race. As far as improving my swim, I just need to line up some coaching to help with my form and see what improvements I can make. I also need more OWS practice.
Transition 1
  • 03m 3s

I had them unzip me but not strip me, as I can get out of my sleeveless wetsuit easily. It was maybe a 75 yard run to my bike and I got out of T1 without any problems. I wear socks and cycling shoes, so I know I give up a small bit of time there. I took my time to try and settle my heart rate a bit before the 2 climbs immediately out of T1.

What would you do differently?:

  • 2h 42m 8s
  • 56 miles
  • 20.65 mile/hr

Cycling is my first love. I raced bikes back in 2000-2002 and am still trying to figure out how hard I can/should go in triathlons. I find I can hammer in an olympic and still run a good race, but also know a HIM is quite different. I also freely admit to struggling a bit with cyclist ego, which is not a triathlete’s friend.

I suffered stomach cramps for almost the entire bike portion, and I am not sure why. I don’t feel I swallowed much lake water so it must have been nutrition related, although I tried nothing new on race day and tried to avoid fiber the day before. Maybe I swallowed a bit of air during the swim. I’ve been training with EFS liquid shots, Perform and salt stick tablets with no problems. I forced in liquids and calories to try and stick to my plan, but it grew increasingly difficult and so I ended up short on my caloric intake and liquids. I started with only a single BTA bottle (PD Aero HC) and grabbed Perform at the aid stations.

It’s a nice and challenging bike course. Immediately out of T1 are two very steep climbs, and there are five more climbs out of canyons. Outside of that it’s quite flat. There are some rough roads, but most were ok. FM 3523 and Hwy 400 are quite nice. Winds were moderate, ENE I think. The last climb is immediately before T2 (which was after a headwind section for us), so I got to T2 quite gassed.

I climb fairly well and just spun up the hills in my 39x25, never getting out of the saddle. But the hills still take their toll. I had trouble keeping my HR down the first 10-12 miles. I’d try to go easy on the tailwind sections, but ended up with an average HR of 146bpm. That’s definitely higher than I wanted so the blame lies squarely on me there. I don’t have a power meter. So I probably went a bit too hard on the bike.

I saw a couple of guys in the penalty tents, but didn’t see much drafting at all, just a few cases. The hills help to break things up.

One amusing (in hindsight) little story…Because of all the rain the day and night before, there was a low spot in the road at the bottom of the spiral staircase climb which was filled with muddy water, about 8 feet long and 3 inches deep. Coming off that descent I hit that water just as a pickup truck was coming the opposite way. It couldn’t have been timed any better (and by that, I mean worse) as I caught the full splash wave of nasty mud and water from the truck, which didn’t even slow down. It drenched me and just covered my helmet and visor with mud and brown water. I was scared that if I tried to wipe the mud off I’d just smear it all over my visor, so I just fought through it the last 17 miles.

What would you do differently?:

Ride more hills in training, and just build up even more bike fitness. Figure out pacing and nutrition. I also hope to be able to fund a power meter at some point in the future. I also need more practice getting bottles into the gorilla cage behind my seat while on the go, I struggled a bit with that.
Transition 2
  • 03m 17s

You’re gassed getting into T2 on this course due to the late climb. I took my time and just tried to relax. I put on my FR110, race belt and hat. I also hit the porta-potty on the way out as I haven’t yet mastered the art of peeing on the bike. No matter how hard I try, I just can’t get it flowing.

What would you do differently?:

Learn to pee on the bike. Beyond that I think I'll get faster with experience.
  • 1h 53m 26s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 08m 41s  min/mile

My Garmin said it was 82.6 degrees when I started the run, so we really got lucky on the temps. I ran a 1:36:32 standalone half back in March and ran most of my long training runs in May and June in 80-90 degree heat to acclimate, so I was targeting a 1:43-45 here. That ended up being a naïve prediction.

I started off too fast as usual but settled into a 7:50 pace over the first 3 miles. I tried a gel at mile 2 and had to fight to keep it down, and that was the last thing I tried to eat. The stomach and I were just not going to be friends on this morning. Then I hit that first climb out of the canyon at about the 5km mark, and found myself walking about 1/3 the way up. My legs just said “hell no”. That thing is like a wall, and I just never recovered after that. I basically started running 8:45-9:00 miles immediately after that first hill and just tried to keep it steady at that pace. I resorted to Coke and water at the aid stations, and the Coke seemed to help. I’d grab the cold wet towels and ice, and walk a bit at the aid station to get the liquids in. The volunteers were fantastic. Miles 11-13 were actually better than miles 8-10, so I finished about as strong as possible. I even felt like I could have kept running at that pace, so I tried to look at that as a positive.

But as bad as my run felt, I was surprised to see that I ranked higher in my AG in the run than in the swim or bike. That made me feel a little better, it seemed to pose a challenge to most. But I know I can run a faster HIM.

What would you do differently?:

Include some hills in my run training, although I’m not sure where to find hills like these in Dallas. I guess I could try running up the outside of a 20 story building to simulate that first one. I just need to figure out the run-after-bike thing, especially for the HIM distance. Would 10 minutes slower on the bike have given me 10+ minutes on the run? I just don’t know, but need to figure it out.
Post race
Warm down:

My stomach didn’t feel like taking any food, so I just had some water and found some shade. Outside of that, I felt ok. I did some stretching and just went back to the hotel. I didn’t pee again until about 2 hours after the race, proof that I didn’t get enough liquids.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

The two biggest factors were whatever caused my stomach issues (which had a snowball effect) and not saving enough for the run, especially given the hills. I need to pay more attention to food the day before the race and perhaps not eat as much.

Event comments:

The volunteers were in abundance and were all really great. The organization and execution of the entire event was also great, kudos to the Mike and Marti Greer. It’s a challenging course, I can only imagine what it would be like on a 100+ degree day. It’s a WTC and IM-branded event, but has a local race feel to it. I really like both the cotton t-shirt and finisher’s tech shirt.

I have a lot to learn, but for it being my first HIM I was happy with the result.

Last updated: 2013-03-12 12:00 AM
00:32:56 | 2112 yards | 01m 34s / 100yards
Age Group: 30/95
Overall: 241/686
Performance: Good
Suit: Sleeveless wetsuit
Course: One loop counter-clockwise swim in Buffalo Springs Lake
Start type: Run Plus: Waves
Water temp: 74F / 24C Current: Low
200M Perf. Average Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Below average
Waves: Navigation: Good
Rounding: Good
Time: 03:03
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed: Good
02:42:08 | 56 miles | 20.65 mile/hr
Age Group: 23/95
Overall: 155/686
Performance: Average
Avg HR 146, Max HR 165
Wind: Some
Course: Modified out and back with 7 steep climbs
Road:   Cadence:
Turns: Cornering:
Gear changes: Hills:
Race pace: Drinks:
Time: 03:17
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike Good
Racking bike Good
Shoe and helmet removal
01:53:26 | 13.1 miles | 08m 41s  min/mile
Age Group: 20/95
Overall: 146/686
Performance: Average
Course: Out and back with 3 steep climbs
Keeping cool Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 4

2013-07-02 8:58 AM

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Subject: Ironman 70.3 Buffalo Springs Lake
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