Thursday, July 3, 2008

Buffalo Springs Lake Triathlon - 70.3

A big sky lies upon the west Texas plain, it rests on grass. Wind buffets the grass and at one point the grass gives way to a deep canyon carved into the plain by an ancient spring. A lake formed at bottom, when the spring was dammed, and the water is now used for the amusement of men.

Every year a unique brand of Triathlete makes their way to the West Texas town of Lubbock to challenge themselves, and each other on this course, in this canyon.

Often hot, blazing hot, the big skies do open up and when they do, the course is transformed from a hilly blast furnace to one of humidity and “pleasant” warmth, but handicaps the racers by turning the chip-seal road surface from one of “grip” to that of an "ice rink".

The athletes that race at Buffalo Springs Lake Triathlon (BSLT) are much like the weather … they are at opposite ends … extremes. Locals participating for fun, once a year, proud of their namesake event, mix with “slot hungry” racers from around the country and reining age-group world champions and pro’s who choose to race BSLT because the course is hard, the conditions are hard, tests their mettle, and because the locals are as friendly as the skies are big. In Texas, the rules are enforced - the race is clean.

Race day weather was wet, windy (10-30 mph), it even hailed at one point in the day. Temps were great, low 70's on the run ... humidity was high 85-90%. Lightning danced around the course.

I had a good swim, but lost 30+ second, as I swam "hand slap" left, due to a clog of "strugglers", on a straight line/right buoy and had to retrace, by request of a “paddler”, to capture it on the right. (Note: Don't believe this was necessary, no gain, and my heart was right, but why argue when 30-some seconds can heal)

I noted in my Wildflower report that my transitions were slow - rusty. I remedied that between May and June and “T1” was very fast.

The bike was a blast. I rode without a heart rate monitor or watt meter. I do not have computers on my bikes anymore, but added one with 2-sided tape, race morning, to function as a max speed gauge due to the wet (slick!) windy descents and an unwanted leftover from my 2007 accident: fear of crashing which sadly affects me at speed. I really need to find a way to overcome this.

I rode my Cervelo P3C and a Blackwell Research Disk with a crazy deep (fast!) Blackwell Research front wheel, which is winning people over, when I loan it out, for reason of speed and stiffness - my teammate Jason Cruiser is the latest convert. While a little “dicey” in the 10-30 mph gusty crosswinds when speeding down into the canyons, it was a "kick ass" combo in the flat and rolling sections; you could really hang it out there in the wind and just sail along!

I took in 1 and 1/2 bottles of my Cytomaxrace mix” for nutrition thanks to Elite Team, BSLT - race pal & companion “Kim Bruce” who brought what I had forgotten (Duoh!). Luckily she was “over-prepared” as I would have been completely uncomfortable with anything other than my proven mix from my proven supplier! I should note that Kim was one of those “slot hungry” racers who took on some of the best age-groupers in the nation to punch her Kona ticket! Aloha, Kim, Ho'omaika'i Ana!

I was off the bike in 1st AG position – posting the 30th fastest O/A bike split of the day, including the Pro field. I felt I road the course well ... felt happy the entire ride, enjoyed the bonus of “epic” weather, the rain in my face, never went too deep or into debt and therefore came off thing feeling rather smart for the run. Nice to know, with Kona in my sights, that I could have held the same pace for the full distance with little concern.

T2 was also very fast – ran with no socks which is only possible because of Nike’s wonderful Zoom Elite shoes that Marty Breen at Forward Motion Sports had recommended. I pulled my visor down low and ran "out" for a focused effort.

I ran “swiftly/softly” (a mantra from my old mentor Tom Price) at max’ sustainable pace (for this day) the entire run. I took *zero* aid as my Cytomax bike “cocktails” had given me the calories and “oomph” I needed to find the finish. I simply ran from start to finish non-stop.

There is a lonely out and back section in Lubbock that reminds me of the "Queen K” in Kona … you even come to it on the wings of a tough little climb not unlike “Palani”. I ran it as I run the Queen “K”: Eyes closed, staying in a dreamy state, “fuzzing open” my right eye at odd intervals to glimpse the “white line” and make sure I was not getting too sideways while running blind.

My lungs & heart were slightly labored and throttled my pace ... as has been the case in the past BSLT races. The result made my run pace a reflection of my cardio-vascular system vs. my legs. I think this is due to the altitude in Lubbock 3000-3300' ... not a lot ... but noticeable (I live and train at 200') ... interesting that my “AG pals” who passed me (2) ... one at mile 2.5 and one at mile 12 were from Los Alamos (7000') and Boulder (5400’) respectively - they ran very well.

My thought is that I have a lot work to do on my run; and although I still have arm pain, my run has been the slowest discipline to reacquire “pre-wreck” speed/pace/endurance.

I will stay focused and keep on top of my commitment to get back to 100% by time I get to Hawaii in October.

I was happy with an AG 3 finish result as it represented the best I could give to the course, to my family who have given me the gift of "freedom" and "support" to pursue my passion for this sport, and to my sponsors who stayed with me when I was out and doing them little good.

I also want to thank Doc and the TBB crew who have allowed me to "listen in" and take from them a renewed love of racing.

Also gratifying to enjoy a podium finish connected to such a difficult course, contested by such worthy competitors, hosted by this wonderful community, under the wide open skies of West Texas.