It was another tough day on the the 70.3 circuit, this time in Lubbock, Texas. I have raced at Buffalo Springs twice now, and in the words of race director Mike Greer, "this is old-school triathlon." With a challenging course, plenty of "varmint roadkill," and the potential for a lot of heat and wind, it's certainly not easy.
I don't know what this is, but I think I saw one or two of them on the bike leg...
I opted to drive down from Durango with a couple triathlete friends, leaving Friday and arriving in the evening with plenty of time to register and get settled before dinner. The only downside to the drive was that our AC broke right as we rolled into the heat of southeastern New Mexico and then Texas. The last 2 hours were quite the sufferfest. Of course if I had known what we were in for that night at the hotel, I wouldn't have complained much about feeling a little dehydrated in the car...
We booked the room a little late, and being a major destination for age-groupers with its Kona slots, Lubbock didn't have many rooms left. We ended up at the Red Roof Inn, which was quite entertaining. Our first sign of impending doom was how difficult it was to reach, despite being right next to two major highways. The next bit of fun came in the form of a small "hallway party" taking place outside our room on Friday night/Saturday morning, replete with cigarette smoke wafting under our door. The only real blessing of the place was that it had AC, so we spent a fair amount of time avoiding the oppressive weather in our room. Saturday night we had a low rider car convention/wedding that took over the hotel, and another small party where the theme seemed to be leaving as much trash as possible in the hallway. This time I put a towel by the crack in the door to keep out the cigs.
Despite not getting the greatest rest or tapering much, I felt okay going into the race. Not chomping at the bit like I would prefer, but decent. Water temps were high, around 81 degrees, so definitely a non-wetsuit event for the pros. Miraculously, the water temp dropped 4 full degrees overnight, so amateurs were permitted wetsuits if they felt like wrapping themselves in a plastic bag and jumping in steaming water was a good idea before riding their bikes and running. After nearly breaking my leg in a gopher hole in the dirt parking lot, I walked down, set up the transition, and got in a little warm-up swim.
Once the gun sounded, I got out well with most of the leaders. Consciously trying not to go too deep early, I monitored the heartrate and tried to stay comfortable and relaxed. As much as I know a wetsuit helps me, it felt good to be swimming without one. After about 500m, a strong swimmer came around me and pushed hard toward the leaders. I jumped right on his feet and stayed there the rest of the swim, coming out a little over a minute behind. Quite a good swim for me.
I could see TJ in transition, so I tried to get out as smooth as possible, knowing that he is riding well right now. I caught up to and passed him on the second hill about 2 miles in, and pushed towards the leading group of Terenzo, Lieto, Hackett and Cotter. It didn't take too long to catch Hackett and Cotter who had popped from Lieto and Terenzo, but I barely caught onto the leaders before I came off again. I used a lot up getting near them, and I had to settle back into my own pace. I ended up riding about thirty seconds to a minute behind Terenzo for the remainder of the ride, coming off the bike in 4th. 3rd fastest split.
It was another race where I could tell that the run would be a test of guts after a hard bike, so I just made sure to get my legs rolling without going to fast out of the gate. By 3 miles I had TJ in my sights, and I made the catch for 3rd place around 5 miles. I pushed into the headwind until the turnaround, and then gave one hard push to distance myself from the pursuers until about mile 9. The last few miles were just hanging on, but I got some nice encouragement from Crowie with a mile left, and I kept it together to the finish. 3rd place in 3:58:32, about 3 minutes back of Lieto, and 1:30 or so down on Terenzo.
Afterwards, I had a nice stay in the doping control tent trying to build up a pee, and then Jesse and Molly and I hit the awards ceremony, where by virtue of the top 2 being gone, I made a small speech. We capped the night off with a couple Red Roofy's (yes, I'm serious.... sweet tea vodka and cranberry juice), and enjoyed the only night of relative quiet at our hotel. By 5 we were up and out of Texas, on our way home to beautiful Durango.
Now it's a little more dedicated Ironman training for Lake Placid, some tubing on the Animas river, and resting up for the big event. Check back for some more updates soon...