Buffalo Springs Half Ironman
The wife and I arrived in Lubbock, Texas on Friday with 48 hours to spare until the race. The drive from Houston is pretty easy and we finished it in just over 7 hours. I did all the driving, and my wife did her usual “auto-narcoleptic strategy.” A few hours from Lubbock I got this strange feeling that I had left my bike shoes at home. This strange feeling was correct and that meant Saturday was going to be spent finding the same brand I use (Sidi.) When you have done as many races as I have you start to accumulate a list of “things that can go wrong in a race.” This was a new one for me amongst the list of flat tires, dropped water bottles, mechanicals, GI distress,etc. I was fortunate enough to find a pair of Bontrager’s that fit nice and narrow and would suffice for the task at hand.
The course at Buffalo Springs has the reputation for being a hard course and this being my 30th 70.3 distance race I have always loved tough courses with hills, heat, wind, etc. The swim is held in a lake outside of town and is typically wetsuit legal. The bike course has several small climbs of 1/2 mile to just over a mile in length. The run has a few small hills where athlete’s will also battle warm temperatures.
Race morning came and we made our way to the race site. I always allow plenty of time to get a short warm-up in and was able to get about 10 minutes of light swimming in before my wave started. Based on my current swim times, I felt confident I could swim between :30 and :33 minutes. My swimming has had to change dramatically the last several years due to different shoulder injuries I have had. I used to breath on my right side and now I breath on my left (imagine writing with your non-dominant hand !) The gun went off and I maintained a comfortable effort in my sleeveless wetsuit. I felt like the water was a tad warm and wonder where they get the measurement to make it wetsuit legal! I exited the water in a comfortable :32 minutes and made my way to my bike. My bike plan consisted of STEADY zone 2 effort the first 28 miles and to pick up the pace to MODERATELY-HARD the back-half of the distance. I also planned to take in 3-4 bottles of hydration consisting of a total of 640 calories and 1200 mg of sodium. My goal time was 2:35 and once we got out on the course I realized the small hills weren’t as hard as I had remembered ( I did this race in 2008,) but never decided to pick up the effort at the half way point like I had planned. I biked conservatively knowing I would still have plenty of gas to run a fast 13.1 miles and finished in 2:39.
I arrived in T2 and felt great knowing I could run a sub 1:30 half-marathon. The run is a 2 loop course and the first loop I split :44. As I started the second loop I realized I needed a few more weeks of long bricks to make this effort possible and I started to fade a bit finishing the run in 1:33. We hung out for a bit after the race chatting to a few folks and then headed back to Houston. Once in the car, I realized just how dehydrated I had gotten due to the dry heat we encountered during the race. I got in 3.5 bottles of fluids on the bike, but probably needed another full bottle to sustain my run pace. I had thought about running with a bottle, but relied on the aid stations on the run. My salt intake could have been a tad higher also so next time I will have to correct these things. The most important element of this race I learned was that I had fun. Having raced several years as an elite triathlete when I was younger and getting burn out in the process, it is nice now to focus on having fun and staying healthy in the process. Being 42 years old, having kids, different priorities, etc. you start to realize that years of training for triathlon can take a toll on the body and several studies have prove this point! At the same time, I have enjoyed getting back into racing and have several triathlon’s planned for the next several months. Thanks for reading….