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Ironman 70.3 Buffalo Springs Lake - Triathlon

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Lubbock, Texas
United States
BSLT Triathlon/World Triathlon Corporation
95F / 35C
Total Time = 5h 40m 42s
Overall Rank = 158/800
Age Group = F30-34
Age Group Rank = 5/24
Pre-race routine:

St. George 70.3 was my early season A race (May 3rd); my friend, Gwen, was planning to race Buffalo Springs 70.3 and had been trying to convince me to register for it. I told her I'd consider it depending on how I recovered from SG. Turned out that the immediate recovery was pretty good, so I registered for this race in early May. I was not treating it as an A race, but the course, itself, appears easier than SG, so I thought I'd be able to PR coming off my SG fitness, with a mini build for this race (though, admittedly, my build was not ideal -- I did a decent amount of weekly run volume but very few (like one) long runs, I didn't do any race simulation riding or bricks, and spent one full weekend doing bike TT's and another weekend doing a sprint race....but again, this race was about getting experience and having fun, not an A race).

Flew into Lubbock Friday afternoon, picked up my bike from Chris who had driven it and 14 other bikes from Houston. I went for a short run that afternoon -- it was HOT and my legs felt crappy....started wondering if my taper was going to be a bust this time around. Drove the bike course on Saturday while waiting for the Sprint/Oly races to finish so we could ride and swim a bit.

Gwen, Kevin, and I were going to do a ~20 minute ride to make sure the bikes were all working fine and to preview the start/end of the bike course. I ended up flatting and they said they'd just come back and pick me up in a car rather than having me spend the time/energy changing the tube (since I was going to put a new latex tube in before race morning anyways). Despite my better judgment, I agreed to this -- when they got back, they realized they didn't have keys and couldn't find anyone who did, so they totally ditched me and went swimming while I stood out there baking in the sun waiting for my ride to come pick me up. WTF? It was only like a mile out that I flatted, so one of them really should have been considerate enough to come back and let me know that they weren't going to be able to pick me up. Whatever, after waiting for WAY too long, I finally decided "fuck it, I'm changing my tire and going to ride back." Got back, found them, gave them a sufficient amount of shit, and then went for a short swim -- swim felt pretty good....plenty warm enough without a wetsuit, but if it was going to be legal, I was gonna wear it.

Took it easy the rest of the day and went to bed early as the alarm was set for 3:30am....ugh! Ate a bagel with peanut butter, packed up the car, headed to the race site, got transition set up....ate a banana, tried to find Gwen and Kevin but without luck.
Event warmup:

After setting up transition, I realized I'd forgotten my banana in the car, so we walked up the big hill to the parking lot....I consider that part of my warm-up ;)

There was also a little bit of room to get in some swimming before the race start. It was wetsuit legal, so it was good to be able to check if I'd gotten the suit on well enough that my shoulders had good range of motion -- they did, so I was happy with it.
  • 33m 17s
  • 2112 yards
  • 01m 35s / 100 yards

I went out reasonably hard at the start of the swim to find some clean water and see if I could find some feet to sit on. I found clean water, but no good feet. The start of the swim had us going toward the sun (it hadn't yet risen, but it was lighter in that direction) -- I couldn't actually find the buoys, but everyone was swimming in the same direction so I decided I'd follow caps till I could find the buoy. This worked out reasonably well and once we turned 90 degrees, I had no problem finding buoys for the rest of the swim.

I was never able to find a good set of feet for the swim, so I had to go solo. When doing long, continuous swims, I sometimes get into this, "I've been going forever, when's this gonna be done?" funk -- I was there on this swim. There was nothing particularly bad about it, but I was just feeling impatient and ready to get on the bike. The water was quite warm, but my upper body felt surprisingly decent even in the wetsuit....for some reason, my lower body felt overheated and was ready to be free of it!

We finally came to the end of the course and people were standing up and walking in when they were still in waist-deep water. I continued till my fingers scraped the ground and finally stood up in calf-deep water. The wetsuit strippers were right at the swim exit (I think before the transition mat even, if I remember correctly), so I barely had time to get my 910 off my wrist before they were trying to yank my wetsuit off!
What would you do differently?:

Find some feet and work hard at keeping my mental state where it should be (on the task at hand, not about when it's going to be over)
Transition 1
  • 02m 24s

My wetsuit got stuck on one of my wrists, but we were able to remove it fairly quickly. The stripper I went to was small, so she wasn't quite as strong or fast at getting the suit off, but no big deal....should probably make it a point to find the biggest, strongest looking dude to strip me anyways ;)

Ran to my transition spot, dumped the swim gear, half-ass wiped my feet off, shoved my feet into some socks and shoes, grabbed the helmet, bike, and we were off. The mount line (mountain lion, if you're Gwen!) was a bit of a cluster, but I found my own little space and clipped in quickly and took off
What would you do differently?:

Pretty smooth transition, reasonably happy with it
  • 2h 59m 26s
  • 56 miles
  • 18.73 mile/hr

Leading up to this race, I hadn't really done any race simulation rides....I'd done quite a few leading up to SG, and since this wasn't an A race, I decided to just do fun group rides for my long rides (in addition to a couple TT's). At SG, my plan was to ride low-150's NP/AP -- I ended up doing mid-140's instead and ran well off it. So for this ride, my plan was to try to ride mid-150's NP/AP and see how I ran off it.

Coming out of transition, you hit a steep, short uphill, followed by a steep, slightly longer downhill (which at the time I didn't realize it, but coming back at the end of the ride, this was the steepest hill on the entire course -- that's just mean!). At this point in the day, it would be so easy to throw down some big power numbers on this first hill, but as with SG, I told myself to keep my shit in check....race my own race and don't worry about the people who crush the hills because I don't need to follow suit and burn matches.

On paper, this course looks quite a bit easier than reality, it was not. This area has the potential for strong winds and/or intense heat. We were lucky enough to get strong wind and intense heat! I don't know what the actual wind velocity was, but I've heard anywhere between 15 and 25 was coming straight out of the south. The course runs directly north/south or east/west, which meant we got to feel the full effects of the wind. There was one particular east/west road where there was absolutely no protection and everyone was riding at ridiculous angles just to stay upright. Even for someone who trains in wind all the time, this was rough....I was grateful that I am very comfortable staying in aero even in a crosswind like this as so many people were up fighting it. I rode my Flo 60's with a disk cover in the back....I was getting tossed around in the wind, but it was manageable. I fully suspect I'd have been getting tossed around on my training wheels too, so I have no doubt that my wheel choice was correct for the course.

There were some fun climbs and descents on the descent was straight down (I hit almost 50 mph!) and then went straight into a climb, so no need for brakes. There were some others where climbs/descents were on switchbacks, so brakes were a necessity on the descents....of course, these ones were somewhat sketchy with the wind and whatnot, but I'm fairly confident in my descending skills, so it was mostly just fun for me (though getting around people who were braking the whole way was kinda sketchy, especially coupled with the wind that could easily move people multiple feet in one direction).

The entire course is chip seal -- no overly rough areas (i.e. no potholes or anything that I noticed), but certainly not smooth, fast roads. I have a bottle cage zip tied between my aero bars....on one of the twisty/turny descents over chip seal roads, my bottle worked its way out -- I noticed it just before it came all the way out and said, "Oh, shit!" but didn't quite have time to grab it. Bummed to be one of "those people" who loses a bottle on the course -- no issue with the rear bottles, just the one you wouldn't expect to ever lose. They had four (I think) aid stations on the course, so I was able to grab another bottle (I'd already drank more than half of that one anyways). I grabbed water at all the aid stations and doused myself before drinking a bit and tossing the bottle....till the one bottle that I actually kept.

Through the first 15 miles, my NP was right where I wanted it -- sitting at 157. From there, it started dropping. By the end, I was at 147/142 NP/AP. I'm not sure why it is that I can't hold my target power. This happened at SG as well, and I thought it was because I didn't account for the number of downhills that I'd be putting down low/no power....but I don't think that was the only factor in this race. By the end of the bike course, I was "content" holding high-130's to low-140's, even though my original target had been mid-150's. I don't know if I was just exhausted (mentally?) with dealing with the wind, or if I was getting burned out with the heat....or if maybe I just don't have the fitness to actually hold that kind of power for that long (though I was able to do it a number of times in my SG build, but that was on flat rides). This is one of those things I need to figure out -- why am I able to hold my power target for a while, only to have it eventually fall off (quite significantly)? I don't think I'll ever be one of those people who over cooks the bike leg as I'm clearly not able to hold the power that I do in training on race day. I don't know if I'm subconsciously holding back for the run?? As with SG, I'm somewhat disappointed with my bike split time, but I'm not overly disappointed as what I did resulted in a run I'm (mostly) happy with.

Nutrition-wise, I ate 2.5 Honey Stinger Waffles (400 calories) and drank 2.5 bottles of Skratch (300 calories) -- for roughly 230 calories/hour. My body tolerated this just fine....curious, though, if it's not enough as my run suffered right at the end
What would you do differently?:

Not quite sure yet -- I wish I understood why I'm not able to hold my power targets throughout the entire ride, but at the same time, I'm somewhat grateful that it slid as the run could have been something brutal if I had over biked

Oh, and about mile 45, I realized I was going to have to pee before I started the run. I decided, since I was on a tailwind section and going 30 mph, that I should try to learn to pee on the bike. After three people (guys) passed me, I said, "fuck this!" and decided to just go on my way out of if I could change anything, I wish I could do this efficiently!
Transition 2
  • 02m 16s

After pulling my feet out of my shoes WAY too early at my last race, I paid attention to when I should do it for this race. I loosened my shoes up at the top of the hill leading into transition and pulled my feet out right after I got to the bottom. Dismounted quickly, ran into transition and racked the bike reasonably well, and put my shoes on while grabbing my hat/belt/Gu on my way out. I had thought about changing my socks, and maybe I should have, but I suspect it wouldn't have mattered with the amount of water I was going to dump on myself during the run anyways.

As mentioned above, I haven't figured out the art of peeing on my bike, so I had to make a quick pitstop in the porta potty on my way out. Still had the 5th fastest transition in my AG, so I'm not too disappointed
What would you do differently?:

Pee on the bike :P
  • 2h 03m 21s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 09m 25s  min/mile

The run has always been my weakness....has always been where I watch my hard work slide away. I've committed to a run focus this winter so that it doesn't have to always be this way (or at least so I can minimize my losses). But courses like this (and SG) play to my strength....I'm not fast, but I'm really not much slower going uphill than I am on the flat, so when we reached some of the big climbs on the course, I just kept plugging away, passing tons of people, which is always motivating.

I didn't preview the run course, but I had somewhat of an idea of what to expect. Coming out of transition, I told myself to take the first mile need to throw down a fast first mile or two only to blow up later in the run. I kept myself in control (first mile was probably a hair too fast, but nothing excessive).

The first ~3.5 miles are within the Buffalo Springs park area, along the lake. There's some shade, but not much in the way of wind. After exiting the park, I knew I had about 3 miles out, 3 miles back, and another 3.5 miles in the park again, so I mentally broke the race down into manageable chunks. The 3 mile out and back section has been nicknamed the "mini Energy Lab" as it's long, straight, unprotected, and has no crowd support other than aid stations.

At each of the aid stations, I was taking water, ice, and the cold rags that they were handing out. At this point, it didn't matter to me how much of this water ended up in my shoes as my primary concern was to keep my body cool and able to continue running. Of course, I'm paying for that feet are a mess! I guess they're not too terribly bad....I have two blisters (only one of which hurts at all).

At mile 6, I took the one Gu I had planned on eating on the course....washed it down with water at the aid station, and shortly after that, hit the turn around point. At this point, I said to myself, "Time to bump it up a notch." The next few miles went really well and I was quite pleased with my pace.

Just before entering the park again, Chris was out riding his bike and came up to me to see how I was doing and give me some friendly advice (finish this big climb, then you get a nice descent, then it's flat for a little bit, then one more short climb, and then it's all downhill from there....use the downhill to your advantage!"). I thanked him and told him I wished the rest of the course could just be a steady climb as the downhills hurt my toes! He laughed and then I mentioned that Kevin was only a few minutes back, so he started making his way to him. Just as Chris was leaving, a guy told me that I'd "been his inspiration all day long" -- that was the nicest compliment I've ever received in a race. It made me feel so good and gave me that extra little boost.

On the downhill entering the park, my big toes were screaming at me....not sure if my shoes are too big or what, but my toes were smooshed up in the front of my shoes (and the right big toe is lightly blackened now!). As I was passing a guy, I said to him, "I think the downhills hurt worse than the climbs!" And then I said, "Who needs toenails anyways? Shit, not me!"

Up through mile 10, I was feeling great. At this point, I said to myself, "Just a 5k left....let's pick it up a bit" and then things fell apart. I'm not sure what happened, but mile 11 was a dark place. This was the only aid station on the entire course that was not right at the mile marker....I went into a slight panic and had this feeling of desperation sweep over me. I needed that aid station....things were feeling really bad very suddenly. I was willing myself to keep running for the last two miles...."less than 20 minutes, you can run for 20 minutes no problem, right??" I watched my pace starting to slip and my mind going to places it shouldn't be going....I had a thought of, "I can't imagine doing a full Ironman....I would never want to do a full Ironman....hell, I don't even ever want to do another HIM at this point!!"

That 11th mile stretched on for what felt like forever....once my GPS notified me that I was on the 12th mile, my mind felt a bit more at ease. I was still ready to be done, but I was no longer in panic mode. I picked it up, hit the 13th mile, saw the finish line, and finished strong. At this point, I had no idea what my time split or for the whole race....I didn't care, I was just glad to be done and to have felt like I did pretty well. I felt really strong through 10 miles and never had that "oh god, when's this gonna be over" feeling till right at the end. I'm not sure if it was nutrition, heat, mentally dealing with a long, hard day, or what -- but I'd be lying if I said I was disappointed with my run. Sure, it's not great to go to that dark place, but I think it'll help me in the future -- a) I know I have dealt with it and can manage to get through it, and b) I'm hoping I can figure out what caused it and learn how to prevent it in the future.

Oh, and for what it's worth, I had a solid negative split on this run course. First half was run at a 9:35/mile pace and the second half was at a 9:14/mile pace. So even with hitting the wall, I still had a pretty strong second half. Maybe such a disparate negative split is what caused me to hit the wall?? Maybe I should work toward a more even / slight negative split??
What would you do differently?:

What was it that made me hit that wall hard at mile 11? The fact that I went into panic mode and started feeling desperate makes me think it may have had to do with nutrition. Maybe 100 calories is just not enough for the run leg of a HIM?? I've not yet had gut issues, so I tend to think I could probably eat a bit more and be okay. Maybe try a Gu at miles 4 and 8 instead of just one at the half way point??

I don't think it was a hydration issue as I was keeping on top of that really well. I also don't think my body was overheating as I was doing a pretty good job of keeping cool.

As mentioned previously, I didn't really treat this as an A race, so I only did one long run (11 miles) in the eight weeks leading up to this. Though I don't think hitting the wall was truly a physical thing (and I never thought about the fact that I didn't do many long runs while I was out on the course), a better race build may have prevented this as well.

If anyone has suggestions or ideas as to what may have caused me to smash into the mile 11 wall, I'm all ears -- I want to learn from this experience and put it to good use in my next race
Post race
Warm down:

As I crossed the finish line, the nice girl who caught me asked how I was feeling. I said I was pretty good but that I thought I needed to sit down. She gave me some water and brought me to the med tent and put three ice cold towels on me (two on my legs, one on the back of my neck). There were four other glasses of water sitting on the table next to me and no one was drinking I helped myself :)

After a few minutes, I was feeling good enough to get up (honestly, so many people were coming straight to the med tent from the course, and I didn't need to take up that space when I was feeling pretty good). I headed over to the massage tent to sign up....and then into the lake to cool down.

When I learned that I'd come in 5th in my AG, I thought maybe there was a shot of me getting a 70.3 WC slot, so I committed to going to the awards / roll down ceremony. The girl who took 1st was nearly an hour faster than me (2nd - 5th were all fairly close), so I figured she'd already gotten a slot and it would roll down at least one. The girl in 2nd took her one in F45-49 took their slot, so they gave it to our AG and the girl in 3rd took that slot....figured I was done for, but then they announced that there was one more slot for our AG and 4th didn't come to the ceremony, so when it got to me, I was super excited and ran up to claim it! The slot was originally allotted for F70-74, but no one took it in that AG. So even though it's not a "legit" qualification, I'm not above taking a huge roll down slot!! I'm super excited. This was my stretch goal....and even though I'll be BOP at 70.3 WC, I'm going for the experience and the course....and one day, I hope to be a real contendor for a legit qualification :)

What limited your ability to perform faster:

There are a number of things that limited my performance:

1) This was not an A race and was not treated as such....I don't think it's truly possible to peak again only eight weeks after an A race -- though 70.3 WC should be an A race for me, I don't know that I can truly do a strong build and peak in 10 weeks either

2) Race day conditions were tough. This is the hardest race I've done so far. I thought I would be ~20 minutes faster than I was, but I truly am not disappointed with my performance on this hard day

3) Need to work through my bike power issues -- what's causing my power numbers to slip throughout the bike leg? Is this a fitness issue? Am I targeting an overly aggressive number?

4) Need to figure out what cause me to hit that wall at mile 11 on the run course -- nutrition, mental strength, fitness, pacing strategy?

Event comments:

Challenging race, but I would certainly consider doing it again

Last updated: 2014-05-06 12:00 AM
00:33:17 | 2112 yards | 01m 35s / 100yards
Age Group: 5/24
Overall: 0/800
Performance: Average
Suit: Hurricane Cat 5 Full
Start type: Run Plus: Waves
Water temp: 75F / 24C Current: Low
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Average
Breathing: Average Drafting: Below average
Waves: Navigation: Average
Rounding: Average
Time: 02:24
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Average Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Yes Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed: Average
02:59:26 | 56 miles | 18.73 mile/hr
Age Group: 4/24
Overall: 0/800
Performance: Average
Wind: Strong
Road: Rough Dry Cadence: 87
Turns: Average Cornering: Average
Gear changes: Good Hills: Average
Race pace: Hard Drinks: Just right
Time: 02:16
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes Good
Jumping off bike Good
Running with bike Good
Racking bike Average
Shoe and helmet removal Good
02:03:21 | 13.1 miles | 09m 25s  min/mile
Age Group: 5/24
Overall: 0/800
Performance: Average
Keeping cool Average Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 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: Below average
Race evaluation [1-5] 4

2014-07-01 3:25 PM

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Houston, Texas
Subject: Ironman 70.3 Buffalo Springs Lake

2014-07-01 7:30 PM
in reply to: #5020217

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Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Buffalo Springs Lake

Awesome job and great RR.  And your WC slot is as legit as it gets.

2014-07-01 8:32 PM
in reply to: #5020217

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Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Buffalo Springs Lake
Great race and terrific write up. Congrats on the PR and the WC slot. Jason's right....totally legit. Look forward to seeing how you race in MtT. Good luck!!!
2014-07-02 2:53 AM
in reply to: #5020217

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PEI, Canada
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Buffalo Springs Lake

Awesome job Nicole!  I also agree with Jason, your slot is totally legit.  

You'll do awesome in MT!

2014-07-02 9:13 AM
in reply to: #5020217

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2000500100100100100 home in The ATL
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Buffalo Springs Lake
Great race, Nicole - way to hang in here when the going got a little rough at the end. That experience will leave you even more prepared in MT - you will do great! I'll echo the others - your slot is as legit as anyone else's - that is the way the rules work. You should be very proud of your accomplishment and know that your commitment and focus to the sport are very motivational. Hope you get a little time to relax and relish the weekend and recover a bit, but not too long - you have a BIG race to prepare for! ;^)
2014-07-02 9:53 AM
in reply to: TankBoy

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Austin, Texas
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Buffalo Springs Lake

Terrific race!  Congrats on the WC slot (which you TOTALLY earned, so x-whatever on agreeing it's 100% legit).  No apologies allowed on that one!

The wetsuit stripper comment cracked me up.    Sounds like you enjoyed the majority of the race (mile 11 is a bugaboo for me, too - and I had the exact same thoughts about how people do IM's at the same point in my HIM a month ago!).

Like Rusty said, you now have a big race to get ready for - enjoy the process!  Can't wait to hear about WC race!


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