Tuesday, July 6, 2010

70.3 Buffalo Springs

I started my trip to Lubbock, Tx with a little snag. I was flying out of Laguardia airport in NYC and I had a very quick connection in Houston, Tx scheduled which would have been great if all went smoothly. However, a mechanical issue delayed my first leg of the trip, which meant that I would be staying the night in Houston, Tx. This little delay actually worked out well as I was able to get a good nights rest in Houston before jumping on a puddle-jumper to Lubbock on Saturday morning. These things happen and its much easier to just roll with it, then get all upset with the little stuff.
Once I arrived in Lubbock, I started putting my bike together and soon realized that I had left my rear cassette at home. Fortunately, my friend Mike Zinn had a spare cassette and I was able to quickly get my bike set-up. I was really looking forward to this race. This was my first half 1/2 IM of the year and second race of the season(1st race report to follow). I had purposely scheduled a later start to the race season this year as I needed to really focus on my new businesses: Personal Training Professionals of Southport (ptpsouthport.com) and Lifesport Coaching (lifesportcoaching.com).
My fitness levels felt pretty good, but I was anxious to see how it would come together in a serious race with tough conditions. My coach, Paul Regensberg, laid out the game plan for race day. I needed to swim smart and try to find good feet to follow in the swim. Then start the bike out a bit conservatively in low Z3 heart rate and try to build the second half's effort. The run was to be a similar approach since it was my first long race of the season and the temps were going to be in the mid to high 90s.
Pre-race was fantastic as I was able to hang out with 7 fellow Timex Athletes: Andrew, Alex, Cindi, Dennis, Laura, Tim, and Barry. I also got to catch up with former teammate Curt Chasney. The amateurs were greeted with the news that the swim would be wetsuit legal. I squeezed into my Aquasphere suit and headed down to the murky water to start the first leg. My wave was the 5th of the morning and as we started out, I was surprised how congested things were for the first 400 meters. I tried to find my own space and get into a rhythm. About half way through the swim I had a guy in my wave slide past me. I knew this was my opportunity to hang onto some good feet and I worked hard to get behind him. The rest of the swim was pretty uneventful with the occasional swimming over (sorry Dennis!) and getting swam over. I quickly headed out onto the bike and tried to stick to the plan. I was triangulating (not sure if this is a word) my effort by using my Timex Global Trainer to monitor my heart rate, speed, and power. I kept my stats under control and kept my new Orbea Ordu rolling along. I had my high points and low points during the bike. Everyone has different tactics that they use to get through the tough times. I always think of my three boys to help me get through the low points while racing. I had to draw on their thoughts a lot during this race. I would say that this was one of the hardest 1/2 IM's I've done in a long time. The combination of a very deep, talented field with a very challenging course and the heat rising well into the 90's all played into a tough day. The bike course has several out and back sections and at the 30 mile mark, we had a pretty good tail wind that felt great to ride with. However this same tail wind turned into a head wind on the return trip from mile 46 into the finish. It was pretty brutal, but everyone had to deal with it. I was very eager to get off the bike and start the run. My legs were feeling the effort of trying to push into the wind and I was a bit nervous to see how I would run off the bike. I felt pretty fatigued coming off the bike. Fortunately, I had dialed in my nutrition on the bike and I was able to take in all 800 calories in addition to about 800mg of sodium an hour.
I hopped off the bike and out onto the run with a guy from the 30-34 age group (their wave had gone off right in front of ours). He had a good pace going and I asked what he usually runs. He replied, "sub 1:20". I was running in upper Z2 heart rate at the time and I thought this would be a good pace to hold for the start of the run. So I jumped on his shoulder and tried to settle in. We clipped along for 2 miles until all of a sudden he started running off to the left. I had no idea where he was going until I saw a porta potty ahead, that's racing. Now I was alone and I had raised my heart rate into low Z3. This is right where Paul had asked me to run for the first half, so I kept the effort right there and just made sure my pace was about right using my Global Trainer GPS function. I had to start the cola at mile 2 of the run as I was feeling the bike effort. The run is a out a back course. This allowed the opportunity to see the whole pro race unfold as well as provide an opportunity to see all of my teammates on the course. Its such a huge lift to be able to race with so many teammates, especially out on desolate roads in Texas.
I made it to the turnaround point and attempted to pick up my pace and effort. It felt good to push harder for a couple of miles. Then at mile 10, things started to unravel a bit. I was experiencing some severe GI distress and my energy levels were dipping low. I took my first gel of the day and just tried to focus on maintaining a decent cadence. My form was falling apart and I was just focused on getting to the finish line in one piece. Finally I saw Magali Tisseyre up ahead as she was approaching the finish line. I got across the line in: 4:08:19. My splits were: 24:47(short swim)/2:19:27/1:21:33. I found out later that this placed me as the top overall amateur and I got my slot to Kona! So I'm heading back to the big island for the first time since 2005.

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