Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Buffalo Springs 70.3 Race Report

For all of you that have attention deficit disorder and love to Twitter, the last post was for your enjoyment. However, for those of you that like to luxuriate with a good tome and like to put yourself in the shoes of the protagonist of the story, this post is for you. I was due for a race and I always like a challenge. Buffalo Springs 70.3 was challenging, and as always, I slowly made my way through the course to the finish line. I will try to keep some organization to this so that I don't ramble on and on about something that is really not worth talking about. Here is my outline:

I. Preparing to fly to Lubbock, TX
II. Pre-Race Day Happenings
III. Pre-Race on Race Day
IV. The Swim
V. T1
VI. The Bike
VII. T2
VIII. The Run
IX. Finish Line and Post Race
X. Awards Party
XI. Post Race Musings

So grab a bag of microwave popcorn and hunker down in the sofa and get ready for a long winded account of this race through the eyes of a turtle who likes to go out and play with the jack rabbits.

Preparing to leave for Lubbock, TX

I had put off making flight reservations for this race because I did not know how I was going to get to Lubbock. I could go to the major airport near my house and take a direct flight out on a little commuter jet that would not take bike boxes or drive 35 miles across town to the other airport and take a flight that had a stop over in Dallas and would be able to carry my bike box. Both flights were the same cost, I just had to weigh the hassle. I also had to account for the cost of flying the bike out there or shipping it. I ended up using a bike transport company who came to my house, loaded up my bike and also took a 20 pound gear bag for $195 round trip. I did not have to take my bike apart and mess with that. Also, I would have had to pay $95 each way on the plane for the bike box and an additional $35 for a piece of check luggage so I think I came out ahead on that deal. Once Darrin Scoggins of Tri Bike Express pulled away from my front door on Thursday evening, I could relax and take Friday easy and get my other stuff thrown in a back pack and not feel rushed. On Saturday morning, I met up with Greyhound at the airport. It felt strange only carrying a back pack with a change of clothes and my tooth brush in it to a race. There were a few other triathletes on that flight. I kinda doubt that the men with shaved legs were flying out to Lubbock to investigate the sorghum cooperative or to visit the Buddy Holly museum.

Pre-Race Day Happenings

Johnny Tri and his buddy Tuggle picked me up at the airport and as I was waiting for them, I was amazed at how great the weather was. It was already in the mid 80's, but there was very little humidity and it was very comfortable in the shade. There was a good breeze and I took note of that. It was a nice change from the 100+ degree weather we have been having in Houston. We went to the host hotel so that I could do packet pick up and found out we were early. I filled out paperwork to get a renewal on my USAT card because I left it at home and it was due up in August. We took a quick zip through the expo and I got a nice Zorrel tech shirt for $25. We had time to go get some lunch so we met Greyhound at the Furr's Cafeteria. Furr's is not a usual choice for me but we all figured that we could get a salad, veggies, chicken, and a tall glass of water there and it was close to the hotel. After lunch we went back so that I could pick up my packet and then I met Darrin out back of the hotel to pick up my bike and gear.

Our hotel room was not ready yet so we piled in the car again and picked up one of Tuggle's friends, Mike, and we headed to Buffalo Springs Lake to go check out the course. It cost us $6 per person to get into the lake which was a bum deal, but we made sure that it was free for us the next day. We drove down into the canyon where the lake was and realized that on the next day we would be running up and down this hill...SUCK!!! The drive around the lake was nice with plenty of shady areas. People were camping and there were houses down there as well. It was nice. We got to the Transition Area and climbed out of the car to go down to the beach and check out the water temp. It was cool, but comfortably cool on a day where the temp had gone up to 99 degrees. Lots of people were saying that they were going to forgo the wetsuit. Heck, I was going to wear it for the floatation. I need every advantage I can get. We did a quick 10 minute run and we all agreed that the heat was going to kill us the next day. We saw Greyhound speeding down a monster hill towards us. OMG! We were going to have to climb that hill right out of transition in the morning!!??!! No going around the lake for the scenic view. It was going to be a suffer-fest right from the start of the bike.

We headed back to the hotel to get checked in and to start getting things laid out. As I was organizing my gear, I could not find any of my nutrition. I know that I had packed it and I took time to count out the number of S-Caps that I would need. How could I have left that at home??? I had John drive me back to the expo and and spent $50 scrounging for Shot Bloks (not margarita flavored ones :( sob!), Enduralytes, Sport Legs, and water proof capsule holders. SUCK!!! How could I have made a mistake like that. I knew that I had packed them and I did not remember seeing the bag sitting in the kitchen or in the front hall.

John and I went to a local Italian joint for dinner and met up with his friends from the New Mexico Outlaws. I met Brian, Misty, Debi and her husband Hartley, and Jim. We were also met by my buddy Mitch who went to Clearwater in 2007 with me and Jane from Austin. When I was catching up with Mitch, I remembered where the blue bag with all of my nutrition was. It was in my helmet bag that I had left in Tuggle's room when we dropped stuff of to wait for our room to be ready. Doh! At least I will end up using all of that stuff over the next few weeks in training. After my grilled chicken sandwich I headed back to the room with Johnny Tri and we got our stuff laid out and tried to go to sleep. Let's just say that I did not fall asleep easily.

Pre-Race

The alarm went off at 4:00 am and Johnny Tri got dressed and headed to the Denny's in the parking lot for breakfast (ugh!). I thankfully had some quiet time to get ready without commotion. John said the Denny's was crowded with the people getting out of the bars rather than athletes. We loaded up the bikes and headed out. The temp was 66 but it was really windy (24 mph recorded winds!) and it felt cooler. I was glad I had a zip up track jacket.

Once we got into the park we had to deal with long lines of traffic to get parked and then fumble in the dark to pump up tires and get our gear. The wind was really whipping up at the lake and I was chilly. We carried our bikes out to the road and then we had to go down that nasty hill that we would be climbing out of transition in about two hours or less. It was pitch black out so we could not really see the lake but the wind and the intermittent drizzle was not a good omen. We had 30 minutes to the Pro start. I don't know why, but I was really nervous about this race and my stomach had not just butterflies but flocks of swallows that were diving and looping and swooping. I hate that feeling. I don't know why I was so nervous. This is not my "A" race.

I got marked and racked my bike and started to lay out my stuff. I didn't have much time to get it together and grab my stuff. I put my running shoes and socks in a Target plastic bag and tied it up so that if it rained, at least my shoes would be dry. As I was standing in line for the port-o-can, I realized that I still had my rings and earrings on. I always take them off for a race for fear of loosing them in the water. It was too late to go back to my bag because the Pro racers had already started. I jumped the fence after my pit stop and headed to the beach so that I would not be late. I just hoped that I would not loose my lucky dolphin.
My lucky dolphin ring. Made by the silversmith who was commissioned to make these rings for each member of Jacque Cousteau's crew on the Calypso.
Notice in the top picture that at the Pro start, the safety boats still have their lights on. Visibility was not the best it could have been. The Men's wave that had red caps had as much trouble sighting on the red buoys as I had sighting the yellow buoys in my yellow wave group.

The Swim

Being the second to the last swim start stinks. That is all I am going to say about it. Last to go, last ones out on the bike course, and last out on the run. It STINKS!!! Mike Riley, the voice of Ironman, was out for the race and he was getting everyone off on their starts. That was fun. I was so glad that this time around I was in a wave that had a swim cap other than the color pink. My wave got going right at 7:00 a.m. The water was super choppy from the wind and it seemed to not be dying down. The cloud cover was heavy and I was glad that I had my clear goggles for the swim. It was going to be hard enough to see. I felt comfortable in the water and my nerves were gone, but I did not feel fast. I was doing ok, but I knew that I could have been doing better. I was regretting the fact that I was happy to be in a wave with yellow swim caps because the course buoys were yellow and every time I thought I had the buoy in sight, I would look up again and it was gone. It had been some one's head. I was able to pass some of the slower swimmers in the wave ahead of me but the fast gals 40-44, the fast Clydesdales, and fast relay swimmers were all over me. I kept going and kept up a steady pace but the waves were tough. I was happy to see the swim exit. I kept checking my fingers with my thumbs to make sure I had not lost my wedding ring, my Aggie ring, or my lucky dolphin ring from my mom. I was still feeling good, but feeling slow. Swim time: 43:01, 2:14/M Blech! SLOW! I found out later that the swim course was long from the buoys being blown off course and that people were being pulled out as conditions got worse.
Out of my way!!!
1.2 miles down...69.1 to go.
T1

The volunteers were great helping us up the boat ramp and unzipping wetsuits. I even had one guy ask if I wanted a wetsuit strip. OH YEAH! One flop on the ground and my suit was off. It was easier to do that then try and do it at my bike and loose my balance and fall over. People were not moving fast so I had to dodge around people to get over the timing mat. I had a long way to run down to the far end of Transition because my bike rack was near the bike exit. I swiftly got my stuff in order and stopped to gather my thoughts and prepare for that monster hill right outside of T1. Normally my shoes are already on my pedals but not this time. I had put the bike in the small ring and an easy gear and put my shoes on to not lose time once I crossed over the mount line. T1 time = 2:42

The Bike

Right out of transition it was up the Monster Hill that was probably 600-700 meters long and at a 7.5% grade. UGH!!! So much for keeping my heart rate around 140 bpm for the bike ride. I was up at 168 bpm and crawling like everyone else. The top of the hill flattened out before falling back down to the lake. There was a bridge at the bottom that had a a rough lip on it. I heard a "THWACK" and quickly looked back and I thought that I had lost my bottle of Gatorade Endurance off the back Aqua Rack. DAMN! Oh well, I would grab a bottle at an aid station and hope that an official did not see me littering off the bike. I did not have much time until I hit a longer hill at a 6.7% grade. Again everyone slowed to a crawl and we were going up hill and into the wind. The wind became even more intense at the top of the hill as the road wound out of the park and turned directly into the 14 mph wind. I was passing people but was struggling to figure out why my SRM was not working. It was not picking up heart rate, speed, cadence...nothing! That was a bummer, but I decided to just go off heart rate and keep things around 140 bpm to have something left in the legs for the run.
Notice the shadow on the ground from the flash. It was still not very light out at this point after the first Monster Hill. Yes, down and behind me is the lake we swam in. Also notice the shrubs blowing wildly in the background.


I could feel some rain drops when we took a right turn to head out to hit the other hills. There was no thunder, just dark clouds and a lot of wind. At least the temps were nice and in the high 60's. 87% humidity, but nice. I made sure to keep up on the hydration and margarita flavored (3x the sodium) Shot Bloks and not be fooled by the cooler temps and ease of the work. The cross wind was better than going into the wind and the next right turn would put the wind at my back. The last song I heard in Transition was Katie Perry's "Waking Up in Vegas" and it was now running on a loop in my head. There was a long down hill leading up to hill #3 and I was even passing people on the way down. I am not sure if it was my aero helmet, race wheels, and tight tuck or that other people were hitting the breaks. On hill #3 I started to see some of the hand cycle competitors. They were toughing out on Hill #3 and the 4.9% grade. A huge amount of respect goes out to them. Once the hill topped out, the road leveled off and I got to see Johnny Tri and then Mitch who were heading back from the turn around. Once hitting the U-turn it was into the wind and there was work to be done and S-Caps to take. I passed up Tuggle and wondered if I could catch up to JT and Mitch. JT had a swim start 15 minutes ahead of mine and I was very proud of his progress. His work in the hills in Vegas and in California really helped him on this course. I had to start working back up that hill with a 4.5% grade but the wind felt like it was trying to push me back down the hill. At the second aid station I decided to grab a bottle of Gatorade Endurance. I took several swigs and went to stick it in the Aqua Rack and could not get it in. I slowed, sat up and looked and lo and behold I did not loose my bottle off the back. I emptied the bottle of Gatorade into my empty aero bottle and kept going. Right around mile 20 or so, the first place male racer passed me heading back in. That was depressing. I still had more than half of the course to go.
The course turned right again and the cross wind was better than a headwind. Soon the course took another right turn and the wind was with us. The road surface was a little rough and the rain had left little puddles in ruts that could rattle your teeth if you rolled over them. I raced down another long hill as people were making their way back up. Now the crowds heading back in were getting thicker. The course went past a turn off for another out and back that I would hit after the out and back I was heading into. Hill #5 was a nasty 6.1% grade hill with three switchbacks. It was a good half mile long. Things leveled off at the top and JT gave me a "GO ZARD! GO ZARD!" I really appreciated that after that hill. There were people crawling up it and people racing down it and you had to stay focused so that an accident did not happen. The road was damp with rain but not enough to cause spray off the back wheel. I saw Mitch and he gave me a thumbs up. I had passed the 30 mile mark and I was feeling good on the bike. My heart rate was 135 bpm. I could have pushed harder, but again, I really did not want to. I had no idea of my speed and then, looking down at my computer, I realized that I had forgot to plug it in to the sensors. Doh! The pre-race nerves had really gotten to me and I was forgetting a lot of small details. The U-turn was ahead and I started slowing down. It was going to be tight and crowded. I made sure to look for the timing mats so my wheel went around the turn and not into the shoulder, but the gravel grabbed my wheel and for a split second, I took my eyes off the timing mat. CRASH!!!

HFS!!! OUCH!!!F@#K!!! The two cowboy volunteers who had been sitting on the tailgate of a pick up were over in a flash and telling people to slow down and watch the gravel. Hey, that warning would have been great...15 seconds ago. They untangled me from the bike as I was still sprawled out in the gravel. My hands, elbow, and knees were stinging bad. I managed to get up without taking anyone else down. I am not sure what hurt worse, my wounds or my pride. I gave a once over to my bike and saw it was ok. One of the volunteers brought over a bottle of water to wash out my wounds. My hands were bleeding and my elbow was already starting to swell up. When the volunteers started pouring that cold water over my hands and scraping the gravel out of my skin, I felt like my hands were on fire. I am sure I was cussing again. I needed a stick to bite on. They asked if I was ok (no not really) and if I was able to get going again. My palms looked like I had taken them over a cheese grater. I got on my bike and took off. It hurt to hold the handle bars. It hurt to put my elbows down on the aero bar pads. It was excruciating to shift gears. And I had that nasty set of switchbacks with the 6.1% downhill grade to deal with. I sat up and painfully grabbed the handle bars and breaks to feather them on the way down so that I did not kill myself or anyone else on the way down. I was yelling and screaming in pain all the way down that hill.

Once at the bottom of the hill, the course took a right turn for another out and back and I found out soon that it contained hill #6 and hill #6 was another 6% grade climb of 4 more switchbacks. I was already in my small chain ring because it was too painful to change back to my big ring. I just kept up the cadence up the hill and then saw a guy laying in the grass at the side of the road just before the drop off into the canyon. There was someone else with him and it looked like he had crashed on the way up or down on that hill. Scary. At least I didn't crash like that. I saw JT as I went up around the last switch back. I worked my way to the top and the road leveled off again and we had about a half of a mile until we hit the U-turn. I saw Mitch again and was thankful that I had not dropped back too far after the spill in the U-turn. I was going to go easy on this turn and as I was slowing down, a guy in front of me laid it down in the turn. He bruised his ego as well but at least he was not bleeding where I had blood all over my aero bottle and handle bars. I told him not to worry and told him I had done the same thing. Now I had to prepare for the twisty turvy downhill. Again, in lots of pain, I was feathering the breaks and as I came around the corner I was confronted by the two medical vehicles in the next turn working on the guy who went down. It made it hard to see the turn and to see who was coming up and around the corner. I was screaming obscenities into and through the corner and for a split second I though I was either going to crash on the road or not be able to turn and I would go flying of the road and down into the canyon. That was scary as hell. ( I have a better word to use, but I am sure you can fill in the blank.)

I made it to the end of the out and back and turned back into the wind and started a long grind uphill on hill#7. It was only 2.9% grade but it lasted a good mile and a half or more. No one was doing any passing and I was happy that I was at least inching up on the people in front of me. When the road leveled out at the top it was time to hydrate some more and start working back to the lake. I could smell the rain in the air. The roads got progressively wetter and even though I never got more than occasional sprinkles, I was wet after pedaling over the rain soaked roads. The last 7 miles were super wet. The urge to bail out the bilge was getting stronger but I also had to literally and figuratively drop a few friends off at the lake and I did not want any fail moments.
I had one last super fast downhill before I hit the backside of the Monster Hill. I used the speed from the downhill and tried to build up as much momentum to hit the 8.9% quad crusher. I got up it and had just enough time at the top to catch a few breaths and to wince through changing gears before the steep downhill back into T2. It did not help that spectators were lining the road and walking up and down it. I had another one of those "Please don't crash" moments. I was over three hours. Not thrilled about it but with the crash, what could I do. Total bike time: 3:21:54, 16.6 mph average. Bummer.

T2

I got into transition and took a little longer to pull my DRY shoes and socks out of the Target bag and secretly use the beach towel of the person next to me on the rack to dry my feet before getting on my shoes. My rack was still missing quite a few bikes so that made me feel better. After grabbing my Fuel Belt, hat, and new cool Oakleys I headed out and heard, "GO LIZARD!" It was Greyhound rolling into T2 behind me. I saw the port-o-cans but I didn't want to make my T2 time any longer. There had to be a port-o-can on the course. T2 time = 3:00. It was digging out the gear from bags and drying off my feet. Still, it was too long.

The Run

The Pro men were finishing the event as I was running out for 13.1 miles of run fun. It was depressing. I kept thinking that they were looking over at me and thinking, "Sucks to be you!" O.K., yeah it sucks but I am gonna get this thing done. There were lots of puddles and mud from the heavy rains that hit the lake while we were out on the bike. I saw Mari, who I coached last year. She had come to the race with Terry who is doing IM Cozumel with me, JT, and Greyhound. She cheered me on and that got my spirits up. Greyhound passed me up around mile one. I knew that he would do that quickly since he is a faster runner than I am.

I wondered when I would find a bathroom. I knew one had to be around with all of the people who were camping. I found one at mile 2 and I was so happy that I did not even care that there were no doors on the stalls and I had to ask a little girl to get me TP from another stall. No drop offs, just lots of gas. I was feeling great and was ready to get running again.

Things were warming up and I made sure to keep up with my Margarita (3x the sodium) Shot Bloks and fluids. I saw my buddy Terry heading back in for his last two miles. Go Terry! The aid station at mile 3 had ice and I grabbed a big cup and threw it down the front of my sports bra. Ahhh! That felt good. After the aid station the road looped around and then did a quarter mile climb out of the canyon at a 7.6% grade. I ran it until my heart rate hit 150 and then I walked it. Everyone else was walking up it as well. I felt good on the run when it leveled off at the top and I was able to run the downhill. The fast people making their way back in were almost all walking the last long 6.5% grade hill. I paused and grabbed more ice and fluids and picked up the run again until my heart rate hit 150 bpm again on the next hill. I was power walking up the hill and it kept my heart rate around 146 bpm and I was passing a few people. The wheelchair atheletes were working hard on those hills and everyone around gave them lots of encouragement. Once I was near the top it was time to run again. We headed down Energy Lab Rd. for an out and back.

The sun was trying to peek out from the clouds and the humidity from the rain evaporating off the pavement was thick now. The recorded temperature was 77 degrees and the humidity was at 71%. I felt good running. Sure, it was work, but I had a good rythm going. I was starting to see how the distance and the new warmer temps were taking a toll on people. I saw people walking more and stopping to stretch. I saw some gal puke up her orange Gatorade Endurance in mid stride. Nice. I kept a watch out for Johnny Tri. I knew I had to catching up to him on the run. I saw one of Buddy's swim coaches, Coach Alan as I was just past mile 5 and he was near mile 8. I saw Greyhound soon after that. I saw Mitch and noticed that he had passed up JT on the run. Mitch hollared to me to catch up and I told him I would do my best. As I was zoning out and I had Michael Jackson's "Gonna Be Starting Something" running on a loop through my head, I saw JT on the other side of the course. He said something, not sure what and as I looked down the road I could see the turn around. There was an aid station at the turn around and I grabbed more water and ice and took off to reel in JT.

The sun was out and the heat was making the cow poop from the cattle yard at the side of the road stink. The cows were mooing a lot, but I got no cow bell out of them. I had to keep looping the Michael Jackson song in my head. I saw Debi from the New Mexico Outlaws, who I had diner with the night before and she told me to go catch up to JT. I had a guy ask me if I was from Houston and if I had done the Longhorn race last year. I told him he was correct on both accounts and then he said that I had run with him on part of the Houston Marathon course when he had hit the wall and I had kept him going. Wow, that was kind of cool. I had forgotten about that. He said I was looking good and he wished me good luck as he kept on going. I kept trotting along and at the next aid station I caught up to Johnny Tri. I told him about my crash, but I could tell from his lack of response that he was in his own little world of discomfort. I told him that I would see him at the beer tent at the finish line. Funny thing was, the guy running next to me piped up and said, "There is a beer tent???" I told him Hell Yeah! Micholob Ultra shows up at all of these events. There is always beer to be found. Even if there was not a beer tent, if you looked pitiful enough, one of the spectators might produce a can out of a cooler. He looked pretty happy about the information I had revealed to him and he picked up his pace. As I turned off Energy Lab road I saw Tuggle and gave him some encouraging words and ran down the hill that would lead to my last up hill on the run.
On the way downhill, I ran into Jim who I sat next to at diner the night before. He was happy to see me and asked if we could run together for a while. It was nice to have some company and we were able to do a little chatting. We got more ice and fluids at the 9 mile aid station and cold wet wash cloths for our necks. That was great! One last hill to go. Jim and I were walking just like everyone else was and we had no shame in our game. He saw me pour ice down the front of my bra top and asked what I was doing. I told him that the bottom band on the sports bra and the heart rate monitor strap kept the ice in place and it felt good. I do believe that it helps to keep my core temp down a bit. He threw ice down his tri top and it all came out the bottom. We were both laughing. He joked that he should have worn that jog bra we were talking about the night before when everyone was commenting on the rule that no bare chests were allowed on the race course.

We were running again at the top and we had our last downhill to the lake. Jim was moaning about the downhill, but I felt good. At mile 10 was another aid station and we picked up another chatting buddy. It was a really nice gal who told me she had done Team in Training in the past and she really liked my TNT tri clothing. We ran together for about a mile and then she ran through the aid station when I stopped for more water. Jim had dropped off the back and told me to go on. I thought that I saw Mitch ahead and I picked it up again to check it out. It was Mitch and he said he was bonking. He told me to go on ahead and save him a beer.

As I was moving on, I saw a gal in my age group walking in front of me. I thought for sure that she would pick it up when I passed her, but I didn't hear any footsteps behind me. She was in a Team Avia kit. I briefly wondered who she might be, but then I caught a glimps of Greyhound up ahead. I kept up my pace to catch up and see if he was ok. When I pulled up next to him, he said he was having some cramping right along the edge of his rib cage. I told him of my crash and said I would see him in the beer tent after I got my hands cleaned up in the med tent.

I was running off that last mile and a half and I had a good tempo going. As I was nearing the last turn in the road before I knew I would see the finish line, I looked up onto the canyon wall and noticed a network of caves and open holes in the side of the canyon. It was very cool looking. Strange things you see on your runs. I made the turn in the road and then all the spectators were there. They were cheering us on and I could hear Mike Riley calling out the names and home cities of the finishers. When he called my name I threw up my fists in the air. I was bummed out by my swim and bike, but I was really happy with my run considering the growing bruises on my legs and arms and the torn up condition of my hand and other areas of my legs.
Run Time = 2:22

Overall Finish Time = 6:33:32 Probably my worst 1/2 IM finish time, but I am not too upset about it.

Post Race

I got my Finisher's Medal and waited for Greyhound to run it in. As soon as he finished I told him I would meet him by the beer after I got my hands cleaned up. I walked a few steps into the Med Tent and showed the gals my hand and they winced and got me a chair and ran off for supplies. I was surprised by the large number of people in the Med Tent with IV fluids being pumped into them. They all looked spent and pale. Greyhound found me a cold can of beer and brought it over to where I was. I am not a beer drinker, but on Sunday afternoon, that Coors sure did taste good. The Med staff cleaned up my hands with some hydrogen peroxide (OUCH!!!) and bandaged them up and then cleaned up my legs and elbow (Ouch! Not as bad as the hands). We walked over to the lake and waded into the cool water. It felt good on the legs. I saw Johnny Tri when he finished. He made some comment that he did not know if he was going to be ready for his 50 mile run in 5 weeks.
Me and my buddy JT!

I was very excited that there were still size small finisher's shirts left. Normally I get stuck with the left over XL shirts that look like a dress on me. When I went to go pack up my gear and gather my bike, my back tire was flat and the bead of the tire was over the rim in a spot. Had I rode in on a flat??? I couldn't have done that on a down hill. How did that happen??? Jane found me in transition and offered me some salt and vinegar chips. They were yummy. Somehow, I had missed the food at the finish line. After looking very pitiful trying to carry a bike that would not roll and my big transition bag with my banged up body up the Monster Hill to find Darrin and the Tri Bike Express tent, I had a fellow racer offer to help me. She was really nice to help me with the bike. Monster hill was steep enough that we had to stop several times and take a break and for her to change sides with the bike. We got to the top and could not find the tent. Someone told us the tent was at the bottom of the hill near the finish line. DOH!!! I felt so bad that this gal had carried my bike all the way up the hill. Well, we made our way back down after Andrew from Tri on the Run tri shop in Houston got the bead of the tire back on the rim so we could roll the bike. With my hands all torn up and bandaged up, I did not event want to attempt to do it because of the pain. I will have to bake Andrew some cookies and take them over to the shop. I dropped off my bike and my gear bag and headed back up the Monster Hill to find Johnny Tri who was waiting for me in his car.
Once back at the hotel, Johnny Tri made a bee line to the Denny's for a hamburger and I made a bee line for the shower. I was hungry, but Denny's did not sound very appetizing. As I was finishing getting ready and making plans to meet Greyhound and Mitch at the post race party, I went looking for my wallet and realized that I had left it in my transition bag back at the lake with Darrin. Oh CRAP!!! I called him and found out that he was still at the lake loading bikes and that he would be there for a little while longer. I got JT to give me his keys and $5 before he collapsed on the bed for a nap and I headed back out to the lake to get my wallet. I had to have it since my passport and driver's licsence was in it and I would need those to get on the airplane the next morning. I stopped by a Walgreen's and ran in to get a cold bottle of water to take out to Darrin. I was so happy to see him there, lucky that the guy at the gate to the lake let me in without paying the $6 entrance fee, and thankful that I didn't see any cops while driving out there. I filled up Johnny Tri's empty gas tank as a thank you for letting me use his car and then I drove over to the post race party to meet Greyhound.

Awards Party
The diner and post race celebration was at an icehouse. If you have never been to an icehouse, you probably don't live in the south. An ice house is a corregated steel building with garage doors. Just roll up the garage doors, turn on the neon beer signs, open the bar, and the party is on. There was a live band that was way too loud, grilled chicken and pulled pork coming off the grill, and margaritas with plenty of salt. Once everyone gets cleaned up, we all look like a pretty hot crowd. Hot in the fact that the ice house has no air conditioning, but Hot due to the fact that the ice house had the largest concentration of very athletic and fit people in the city of Lubbock in one place and probably in the whole county. I sat with a bunch of the people who were from Houston and we all caught up on each other's race. I checked my Polar to see how many calories I burned during the race...
I soon realized that it was really 3330 calories that I expended on the race. Hey, that was still good enough to earn me my Margarita! Mike Riley started with the awards ceremony and the handing out of the Kona and Clearwater slots. There were gals that were passing up Kona slots! Their friends were shouting at them to take the slot but they vasilated until Mike Riley told them they had 5 seconds to say yes or no. One gals response for not taking the roll down Kona slot was that she had been to Kona before. Mike Riley told her it was ok to go again. HELLO!!! When are you ever going to get a Kona roll down slot again??? At the very end there were slots that no one had claimed and there was a women's slot to Clearwater that Mike Riley was trying to give away and no one was around to claim it. It hurt me to not raise my hand for that slot but Clearwater is only 18 days before Ironman Cozumel and I didn't have the money to pay for the slot. I am sure that many people passed on slots due to the money. Some had to pass on slots because they had Ironman Arizona or Ironman Florida in November as well. After the party was over, I had to head back to the hotel and get some rest so that I could be up early to get to the airport.

Post Race Musings

Remember how I commented in the very beginning of this blog that I often feel like the tortoise that goes out and toes the line with the hare. Well, if you remember the end of that story, the winner of the race was a bit of a surprize. It is not about being fast but it is all about persistence. So to give you proof that the story of the Tortoise and the Hare is real, I ask you to also recall the gal in my age group wearing the Avia race kit that I passed on the last mile and a half of the run. I will not reveal her name because that is not important, but I want you to look at her splits....

Bib Chip Time Name City/State Divis Rank Age Swim Pace T1 Bike Pace T2 Run Pace
177 06:33:32 Elizabeth Garcia Houston TX F 35-39 26 39 126 470 43:01 2:14/M 02:42 636 3:21:54 16.6mph 03:00 573 2:22:53 10:54/M
1159 06:36:22 W---- M---- Fort Collins CO F 35-39 27 36 128 15 28:38 1:29/M 01:51 182 2:46:19 20.2mph 01:44 801 3:17:48 15:06/M

My swim time and pace = 43:01 2:14/M
Her swim time and pace = 28:38 1:29/M

My bike time and pace = 3:21:54 16.6 mph
Her bike time and pace = 2:46:19 20.2 mph

My run time and pace = 2:22:53 10:54/M
Her run time and pace = 3:17:48 15:06/M

My finish time = 6:33:32
Her finish time = 6:36:22

So who crossed the finish line first? Why the slow little tortoise of course.

This was far from being my fastest race and it may have even been my slowest 70.3 race. There were low points and high points. It was not the best of my races, but it was one of the most rewarding races in the end. It taught me that no one has it easy out there on the race course but you have to make the best with what you are given on that day. It taught me that a solid hydration and nutrition plan can make the end of the race so much easier and the post race not so painful. It taught me that no matter what the weather dishes up, everyone else is dealing with the same crap weather as well. No whining about it. Accept it and move on. Go against the grain. I guess it can be summed up by the Nickleback song that is playing on the radio right now...
video

Well, there you have it. Once again I got carried away and typed too much. Much more than the average person would ever want to read. If you got to this point, then I guess you are above average! I had to take time off from the pool, weights, and the bike to let my hands heal up and now they are itching like crazy as the skin knits back together. This morning I am going to attempt a 4th of July ride for a bit and see how my hands do. Have a great holiday weekend and thanks for stopping by to read all my rambling thoughts.

Later Gators,

Liz

Friday, June 26, 2009

Buffalo Springs 70.3

Sorry there are no exciting pictures. I have them, I just really have no time to get them up. I will do that when I get back.

I head out tomorrow for Lubbock, TX for the race on Sunday. Tri Bike Express picked up my bike last night and it should be waiting for me at the host hotel when I get off the plane. I have been doing a lot of workouts in the gruling Texas heat and I feel ready. My plan is to finish hydrated and feeling good. If that means I take longer than normal to finish a half IM, then so be it. It has been over 100 degrees here for the last week in Houston and I know that I will have to slow my pace down on the run.

I have been hard at work getting my kid's triathlon off the ground. There are some interesting details about that, but I will have to save that for another post. Being a Race Director, even for a little event is not an easy job.

Ok, I have to get to bed so I can be up early in the morning to head to the airport and meet up with Greyhound. They have not given out race numbers online so if you happen by Ironman.com and look for the athlete tracker on the Buffalo Springs 70.3 race you will just have to look me up by last name--Garcia.

I will get a race report out on Monday or Tuesday.

Later Gators,

Liz

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Happy Birthday Buddy!!!


I cannot believe it has been eleven years! And sorry, no, I still have not forgotten how excruciatingly painful it was. Ironman was easy compared to that. But hey, you were worth it.

Love you lots!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Dang it is HOT in Texas!

There has been a huge high pressure system sitting over Texas and Mexico for the last week and a half. What that means is that there has been some record breaking heat in Texas for June. It gets hot here, but we usually will see that heat in August and September. It was hot two weeks ago when I did that fun brick out in Austin with Carrie (Tri to be Funny), her hubby Shawn, and Greyhound. This past weekend it felt like I was standing at the gates of Hades.

Last week on Thursday I had a 2 hour run to put in the books. I got Buddy off to swim team practice and "Camp" and I headed out at 10 a.m. It was hot, and I expected that. I had been hydrating well and filled up all the bottles on my Fuel Belt. As I headed out, I focused on just a nice steady pace and making sure I kept up with my sodium intake. An hour into the run I was almost out of water and far enough away from home that it would be a while for me to make back if I had to bail on the run. I ran up to an office building to grab some shade at the front entrance and thought that I could run in and find a bathroom or a water fountain but looking in the windows it seemed like it was set up more like a bank lobby rather than a professional building that just has the elevator near the front. I scratched the idea of going in and having all the people sitting at desks looking at me like I was a sweaty alien.

I kept rolling with the run and as I was attempting to cross the street and the traffic had a red light, the light turned green and the idiot in the white Mustang revved the engine and started moving and I had to jump out of the way to avoid getting hit by him and the mini-van mom next to him in the left turn lane who I had to end up running behind. Hello!!! Get off your phone A-HOLE!!! My heart rate was high after that and I had to work on getting it down. As I was plodding along the street I saw a faucet spigot on the side of a building. WATER!!! I was saved! I filled up all my Fuel Belt bottles and slurped down one bottle while getting a chance to stand in some shade. At this point it was now after 11 a.m. and it was getting hotter and the shade was disappearing because the sun was almost directly overhead. I was doing good with staying up on the fluids. I was still sweating and I still had saliva. I go to the end of the road about 2 miles later and found some more shade. I was feeling like all of the cars that were passing me were thinking that I had lost my mind to be out running in the heat. I kept going and ran under the highway and past the jr. college. There was no side walk and I felt like I was playing Frogger jumping up on the steep curb and back down on the street to avoid the cars that would not be polite and give me some space on the road.

When I got to the high school I found some more shade and took a heart rate break. It was getting harder and harder to keep my heart rate down even though I was keeping up with my sodium and fluids. I hit the road again and had another 2 to 3 miles to get home. I was starting to get tingling in my cheeks and once I got the chill/goose bump phenomena rush all over my body. I had to end this run! I want to be home! My pace was not much more than a goofy shuffle but my heart rate was up at 160. As soon as I got home I started throwing frozen berries and banana chunks in the blender with a scoop of protein powder and a little can of pineapple juice. It was not blending easily and that had me concerned because I have a new Kitchen Aid blender. I added a little water and it got things moving. I was dripping sweat all over the kitchen. My recovery smoothie drink ended up the consistency of soft serve ice cream! I had two tall cups of strawberry banana soft serve smoothie as I sat out on the back deck under the umbrella so I would make a sweat puddle on the deck rather than the kitchen floor. I checked the temperature and it was 93 degrees out. Wow it felt hotter than that. I then checked on the humidity and it was at 57%. That made the heat index rating 101 degrees. The heat zapped me for the rest of the day.

On Friday I took it easy and got a short swim in and then we went to go see Star Trek that evening. I am not a "Trekie" but I did enjoy the movie. Saturday morning was another swim meet for Buddy. He had stiffer competition this time. He was able to drop some time on some events but only hit second and third pace in his events. I was in the heat all morning and about 4 p.m. I had to take a nap and ended up sleeping until almost 8 p.m. Buddy had come in and crashed with me and was not waking up for anything. I got up to grab a sandwich and some water and got Buddy moved to his bed and I was back asleep by 9:30 p.m.

Sunday was BIG BRICK DAY and it was a test to make sure that I had my hydration and nutrition dialed in on the bike and the run for Buffalo Springs. I got up early and drove out to Chapell Hill to find some hills and lovely chip seal roads. When I pulled up to the parking area there were already a few people there unloading their bikes. After running to the bathroom I had to get my bike out and get going. The people next to me were unloading two beautiful Cervelo bikes and pumping up the tires. I started pulling out my Kuota with the booger green fork. "Wow! What a sweet bike! That is beautiful. It looks fast." Huh? You talking to me??!!?? I said thank you and proceeded to continue to pump up the tires and get the bottles on. Another dude in a Honda Element pulls up between my Element and the Cervelo crew and as he walks around to the back of his car he sees my bike. "Whoa! Look at that! It looks like the cockpit of the Starship Enterprise! I bet you really know how to ride that bike. How far are you going today?" After my thank you and trying to slink back around my car I mentioned that I was headed out for a 3 1/2 hour ride and I had an hour run. These guys looked like good cyclists, not those dudes with the beer guts that ride a bike for a few charity rides and then hang the bike up when it gets too hot. I was not expecting all the love for my red Kuota with the green fork.

I headed out before they were ready to go and I made it a point to get moving down the road so that I would not see them for my 3 1/2 hour ride. My other goal was to keep my heart rate at or very close to 140 bpm on the bike to not poop myself out for the run. I had the wind at my bike and I thought about how it was going to feel coming back at the end when I was tired. I did not see anyone on the roads after passing two people who had headed out before I left my car. The chip seal was sucking power out of my wheels when I hit Wiedville Church Rd. I also was receiving a soaking from the fluids that were jumping out of my aero bottle. I got to some smoother roads, but they were still chip seal. Once in Independence, TX , I pulled over momentarily to go pick up something I had dropped off the bike. I was going to be heading back into the wind soon. There were some spots on the road that had been repaved and it was like rolling over smooth glass compared to the chip seal. I really enjoyed those little spots.

Once back into the wind I just kept thinking about a few people I know who always complain about the chip seal and I told myself that I was stronger because I was willing to do the things that other people were not willing to do. It was not until about mile 42 or 45 of my ride that I saw someone on a bike ahead of me. She was pedaling with a high cadence and I soon found out that she was not moving really fast down the road. We were also headed into the wind at that point. I knew from her pink and flowery bike shimmel that she was not out there by herself. I knew that there was someone to hunt down! I started the push. I kept my heart rate in check and over the next hill I saw the second rider about 1200 meters down the road. I kept up the pace and after a while I was able to move on past him and keep going. When I hit the corner to head back to the car to take a quick look over my shoulder and he was just coming over the top of a hill, two hills back.

I knew that the last 7 miles were going to be tough. I was back on that rough chip seal, there were three challenging climbs, and I would be going into the wind the entire time. I had taken three bottles plus the fluids in my aero bottle and I was down to the last few swigs of Gatorade in one bottle. I rolled up to the car a little short of three and a half hours, but I was close enough. I ran loaded up the bike and ran to the bathrooms. I love the fact that Chapell Hill has come to expect that a lot of cyclists like to leave as a starting point from town and they have built public restrooms on the "town square". I headed back to my car to get my Fuel Belt and take off when the Cervelo riders and the other Honda Element driver rolled up on their bikes. "Look, there she is with her Newtons on and she is off on the run!" I waved as I ran off. I should have asked them why they were not going to come run with me. As I ran out of town and headed down hill I passed a man who was tending his day lilly garden who saw me on the bike when I headed into town. He commented that it was kinda hot to be running. NO DOUBT! It was 11:30 a.m. and there was no shade and only hills in front of me.

I focused on 30 minutes out and 30 minutes back in. On another down hill I came around a slight bend and before I saw the house, I saw it's swimming pool. Was it a mirage??? Would the owners mind if I went and jumped in it??? Was there an attack dog that would get me first??? I had never seen this pool before but then again on a wicked fast down hill you tend to look at the road and not at the scenery. I had to slow things to a walk on one up hill so that I could keep my heart rate in check. I was trying to keep things at or around 160 bpm. I am sure that every crew cab doolie pick-up truck that passed me probably thought that I was suffering from sun stroke to be running in the heat. I found an area where there were two big oak trees that had grown a shade canopy over the road and I decided that the shade would be my turn around spot. I did not care that I was only at 24 minutes. I downed more S-Caps and water and I was off like a herd of turtles. I enjoyed the downhills but the uphills were tough. I made it back to the car mixed up a bottle of Endurox with cold water I had in an Igloo jug and drank it down fast. Why does Endurox taste better than Accelerade? Is it due to the fact that I usually have cold water with my Endurox? It reminds me of a bunch of Sweet Tarts crushed up in my bottle. Accelerade on the other had does not taste anything remotely like that.

I headed on home to eat and get a shower. After cleaning up I put on my 2XU compression socks that I won at the last Houston Racing Tri Club meeting and put my feet up to rest. I think that I have the hydration and nutrition down for Buffalo Springs. I am not going full guns on this race only because it will be hot and I don't want to experience a melt down. I will be racing smart and watching my heart rate. I do not want to see the inside of the Medical Tent on this race. It is all about pacing.
I feel like a nerd in these socks. We will see if they really work.
Watching WIPEOUT! and seeing contestants eat it on "the Big Balls".
Enjoying recovery time!

Well, there is other interesting stuff going on but I will save that for another post.

Good Luck to Carrie (Tri to be Funny) and her hubby Shawn, Formulaic, Kathleen W., and Rick who attends my spin class as they take on Ironman CdA this Sunday. I will be keeping track of their progress after my long run.

Later Gators!

Liz


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Kinda Caught Up

Ok, I am out of my funk and I am attributing it all to a massive drop in serotonin. Nothing that chocolate could not solve. I have lots to post about and lets see if I can get it all done.

The fantastic Fleet Aquatics Center


Swimming: I have been doing well with keeping up with my workouts. I have enjoyed swimming at my kid’s aquatic center pool. Everything is in long course swimming now and I really like it. It seems that I have to do less counting and that is a good thing. I have been doing some sets with fins and it has been pooping my legs out in a good way, but I feel like I am getting better at using my legs when I am swimming. Buddy has been doing AWESOME with his swimming. Last year he missed qualifying for one of the invitational meets by 2 one hundredths of a second on one of his events. There was only butterfly that he would have been eligible for. This year he has qualified at the higher of the the two qualifying times for freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, and the 100 IM event. He swims butterfly this weekend to qualify. I am very proud of him and even though he complains about having to swim two-a days right now for Dolphin Swimming and Fleet Swimming, he is smoking fast. Now if I can get him to agree to swim a few of the meets for Fleet which are Jr. Olympic meets. It is a big hurdle, but I am confident that he would do well.

Ready to Rock n' Roll!!!

Aaron Piersol, watch out!

25 yd. Backstroke, 21.05 seconds

He is in no danger of getting kicked off of Dolphins. Ends up, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and some kids from the other team fingered him as the candy thief when it was another kid. It is all good. Anyway, the team would really miss him scoring in the top three spots at his events and getting team points.


Milestone: Last Monday was awards night and recognition for the 5th grade class. Bud is not the stelar student, but neither was his mom at that age. He did however get a nice certificate for being on the yearbook staff and for completing the D.A.R.E. program which is a drug and alcohol resistance education program. Someone forgot to turn down the air conditioning in the cafetorium. It was standing room only and way to warm for comfort. The students behaved better than the parents and guests did. Several times the teachers and principals had to ask the audience to please hold their applause and cheering until the end so that each student's name could be heard. The worst offenders??? A Hispanic family who's daughter was one of the straight A students and perfect attendance award winners. This little girl was called up on four different occasions and her family was out of control. Strange how the student with the best grades has a family that cannot follow directions. The extended family was there and all 15 or 20 of them were very obnoxious. Hey, just promoting the stereotype Ese!

Buddy heading up to get his award....


Cultural Growth: Last week was the last week of school for Buddy and I took the opportunity of my day off on Thursday to take him to the Houston Museum of Natural Science to go and see the Terra Cotta Warriors of China exhibit. I had seen a great show on the National Geographic channel about the archeological find that was made back in 1974 and the various pits or rooms of the necropolis of the first Emperor of China. It is amazing to see these Terra Cotta Warriors up close. The amount of detail on the statues is really incredible. Shoe laces, strands of hair, and fingernails are intricately detailed on each statue. Some of the statues still have the paint on them. Originally, once the statues were uncovered, the paint dried out and flaked off the warriors. The archeologists have developed a solvent that they apply all over the warriors as they are unearthing them. This solvent saturates the original paint and keeps the moisture in it so that it will not flake off the statue. I was not supposed to take any pictures, but I managed to accidentally hit the button on my camera as I was moving it from one pocket to another.

Each one of the warriors is different. No two are alike!

I was jealous at this point because Rainmaker got to see the lions and zebra for real on his last trip and I had to settle for the stuffed version behind glass in a museum.



After seeing the exhibit, we took in the new Ben Stiller movie, Night at the Museum: Battle at the Smithsonian at the HMNS IMAX screen. It is great that the museum was showing a movie about a museum. The movie is great for kids and gives them a little bit of learning as well. After the movie, we went across the street into Herman Park and took a ride on the new Herman Park train. The train has been a popular fixture at Herman Park for many years and about a year and a half ago, the Houston Parks Department started building new tracks and a new depot to go along with a new train. Everything is finished and it is beautiful.

A beautiful, but warm day in the park.
Enjoying the train ride and getting off of our feet.


Training: Last Friday as soon as work was over, I packed up the bike and some gear and headed to Austin. The boys were off to go see Indy car racing at the Texas Motor Speedway and I was off to meet Greyhound so we could get some good hot hill training for Buffalo Springs. We were guests of Carrie (Tri to be Funny) and her hubby Shawn. It was so nice to roll out of their drive way and to instantly be on roads that had bike lanes and wide shoulders. We headed across Town Lake and onto Mopac so that we could hop onto Loop 360. It was hills from the get go and the wind was only getting gustier. Since there are no hills in Houston, this was a quad buster of a ride, but it was just what I needed. After crossing over the river again up north, we pedaled a few more miles before turning around and heading back. On the way back Greyhound headed back to the casa to get his run in and I went with Carrie and Shawn out on Bee Caves Rd. for more hills and wind. We were flying! Carrie was riding her new Kestrel Airfoil that she got for being a part of the Erin Baker Breakfast Cookie Team. She was leaving me in the dust and I got behind at some of the stop lights. I think that she has decided to ride the Kestrel for Ironman CdA next weekend. I could tell on the way back to Loop 360 that I was behind in my fluid intake. The inside of my upper lip kept on drying out and getting stuck to my teeth. It hurt to pull it off if I did not use some water. I was using a new aerobottle (post on that later) and it is almost impossible to fill on the fly and I was down to only a bottle of hot Accelerade that smelled yucky. Carrie and Shawn dropped me off at the drive way and took off to get 3-5 more miles in and I switched into run mode.


By this time it was 11:30 and it was HOT. Greyhound was showered and gathering his gear up. I set off for a 45 minute run to see how long I would last before blowing up. I felt good and it was nice to run. Austin provides hills on the run as well and I made my way down to the trails along Town Lake. I was enjoying the patches of shade from some of the trees and trying to keep the hydration up. I got to my turn around time and started heading back. I saw some other hot (sweaty) triathletes out on their run as well. Man, it would be fun to live in Austin for a few weeks and train. On the way back, I was keeping pace with a gal in front of me, but I could feel that my heart rate was starting to elevate. My Polar has a dead battery and I need to send it off FAST to get it repaired before Buffalo Springs. I had to stop and hydrate under the Mopac Bridge and I found myself alternating between walking and running to get back the last 15 minutes. It was after noon and it was so freaking hot and humid by now. I made it back and loaded up my bike, dropped some ice in the bottle of Accelerade and started working on it and hit the showers. Greyhound had to head on back and I followed him back to town as soon as I got cleaned up.


It was a great learning day for Buffalo Springs. Here is what I learned: 1. I CANNOT get behind on my hydration on the bike. 2. I will find something other than Accelerade to drink on the bike. I used Accelerade with good success at Arizona and in the 2007 race year. I was sad when the pre-mixed bottles were pulled off the shelves and it went back to the powder mix. The mix smells putrid. 3. My tummy handled a nut and seed based bar well. This is how I am going to have to get my protein in. 4. It is time to toss the Enduralytes to the back of the training bag and go back to S-caps. They have more sodium and I am a salty sweat monger. 5. Buffalo Springs is not my “A” race and I should not race it. I have to use it as a measurement of my fitness and how well I am hydrating and fueling during a workout.

Taking a cool dip in the Barton Springs Pool. Average temp is about 68 degrees.


On the way back home, I had to stop at the new outlet mall and I bought a few items of “Real People” clothing. I don’t do this too often, and it was about time to update a few things in my closet and drawers. I managed to pull out more items than I bought and put in. I stopped by Chipotle and picked up some yummy soft tacos and dropped into Blockbuster for a few movies. Home alone! What a treat.


I slept in and took the day off like my training schedule said to do on Sunday and picked up around the house after Church. It was very relaxing to do absolutely nothing.


The early part of the week is speed work for me so I have put in my track workout in the mid day heat, done my intervals on the trainer ( I need to start moving it out on the driveway), and got my 100 M swim repeats in along with some cross training. Tomorrow is a two hour bike ride. Buddy is participating in a Day Camp up at the pool so it leaves me plenty of time to get my workouts in. He also likes the fact that he does not have to go to work with me on most days.


18 days to Buffalo Springs! I am hoping that sitting out here in the heat at the swim pool while Buddy swims helps a little bit with my heat acclimation.


Later Gators!


Liz

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Super Funny!

I usually don't like pranks or making fun at someone else's expense, but this is a classic bike race prank.

More to post about later.  Lots of fun stuff and a trip to Austin are on the blog list to come.

Later Gators.