Buffalo Springs 70.3 (Part One)

I didn’t think it was possible to sum up my weekend and half Ironman race in one blog post, and once I started typing it out I decided to split it up into two posts. I’ll post the rest of it later this week, since I now have some free time on my hands. There was a lot to it, and I want to do my race justice with my recap! I’ll start by saying the race itself surprised me with the parts I expected to struggle with were actually the smoothest part of the day.

We headed out on Friday the 24th. Two adults, three kids, two bikes, all in a loaded down VW.

My husband just loves the camera!

All smiles! Well, mostly.

It was a family trip to go see family, with a nice bonus of me putting in 70.3 miles on Sunday. With a little over a six hour drive to get to my brother’s house, the scenery headed west just couldn’t be matched. (Ha!)

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Hey, kids, look! Another windmill.

When we got to my brother’s house we talked about the race, and what our plans were for the next day. My sister-in-law had done a little bit of research and my brother had actually been out to the lake several times to fish the past year, and even ran a couple of road races in the area.

Side note: I’m a football coach’s daughter, and my brother is a football coach. Sports were, and still are, a big part of our family. As kids, my brother and I were always brought to each other’s events because my parents wanted us to support each other in everything we did. To show up at my brother’s house for a triathlon, and to see their excitement about the race meant so much to me.

Saturday morning we loaded up two vehicles and drove in to Lubbock. My brother, his wife, their three kids, and the five in my family all descended on the expo for packet pickup. I was excited to find my name on a shirt.

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…but not my size…

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After we ate lunch,  my sister-in-law took all the kids to a movie, while my husband, brother, and I headed back to the expo for a Q&A I wanted to go to. My nerves were pretty much building throughout the day. After listening to some of the questions and discussion about the hills (where the word “treacherous” was mentioned about one of the descents), I was basically a knot of nerves. We headed out to drive the bike course so I could see what was up. Or down.

I knew going into this race that there would be “five challenging hills.” But all throughout my training, I imagined climbing – not descending. I also spent so much time worrying about getting my swim pace down, that I didn’t consider much with the bike. Until we drove the bike course, and all swim worry got tossed out the window.

No, I’m not kidding.

I am still a beginner when it comes to cycling. I’m a chicken on the downhills. I slow considerably to make a turn. I’m not very fast. But I feel like I have one strength on the bike, and that’s climbing. I like to think my running background helped with that, because of all the hills I run. But these hills were nothing like I’ve tackled in my training. Not even close. And it wasn’t the climbing that worried me while driving the course; it was two of the descents that scared me. I was thankful that we drove the course though, because I knew what I’d be facing and tried to mentally prepare. My husband reminded me to go slow, use more pressure with my rear brake, and I would be fine.

The rest of the evening, my nerves were on full blast. I had trouble sleeping, imagining coming down the hills. As silly and irrational as it seems now, I couldn’t shake it. It kept me awake until after 11 pm. Then I woke up at 1:30 – a full hour before my alarm was set – and couldn’t sleep any more.

Race morning was a different story. I had a lot of people praying for and thinking about me. I felt calm and purposeful. I had all my gear together, and my husband and I loaded up early to get to the park before transition opened at 5:00. My brother was going to come when the race started at 6:30 and my sister-in-law was bringing all the kids later.

Even though we left so early, we were not the first ones there by any means. I thought we had the early arrival down, but this was no running race. Triathletes take it up a notch on early mornings. We parked and loaded up all the gear to trek down the steep hill (climb number one on the bike).  I got my area set up in transition. I noticed someone tied a green shoelace on the end of the rack, and I made a mental note to look for it coming in to get my bike.

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The swim was “barely wetsuit legal” (75 degrees) and I knew I’d probably get hot, but I needed all the help I could get with buoyancy. So my husband helped me into it, and I headed down the steps to the lake for a little warm up.

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It seems like the time before the race flew by. I couldn’t believe it was already time to start! I was in the third swim wave, and the first two went quickly. The time cutoff for the swim was 70 minutes from the last wave (which gave me an additional 15-20 minutes). Surely I could make that! The weirdest part was not being able to see the layout of the swim because of the way the lake was, but the instructions were to turn left at the yellow buoys.

THE SWIM:

Once in the water, I settled into a rhythm. The water was calm, and I focused on really stretching out my arms. When I get in open water, I tend to forget about my stroke because there are so many other things to think about. My goggles started to leak a little, so I flipped over on my back to fix them. I had trouble with them fogging up during the whole swim, even when I tried to fix them again. Whenever I got frustrated, I would somehow spot a buoy and knew I was still on track. The only other hiccup for me was the guy who slowly passed me who made such a big splash every time his arm entered the water. I couldn’t get around him so I slowed until he finally pulled ahead enough not to give me a face full of water. I glanced at my Garmin once and couldn’t see the time, so I knew I messed it up somehow. I shrugged it off and just kept swimming until I saw the last turn and people getting out on the dock. One of the main positives was that this was the first race for me that the buoys were on the left. I’m a left side breather and it made sighting much easier. Since my Garmin was messed up, I didn’t know how long it took me to swim, but I knew there were people still coming in behind me and no official stopped me with “I’m sorry, but you didn’t make it in time.” 🙂

I was grateful for the volunteer who helped me get out of my wetsuit. There is no gracious way to do it, but she was awesome! Then I ran to find my bike. It’s a good thing the racks were numbered, because I forgot about the green shoelace. Unlike Texasman, there were still quite a few bikes in transition. I ate half a Clif bar, reset my Garmin to start biking, and then headed out to face the hills.

Out of transition, beginning the first climb on the bike, I heard my name and saw my husband and brother cheering for me. I smiled and called out, “I made it!”

My first hurdle – the swim – was done.

 

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Cowtown Marathon Recap

On Sunday, I completed my fourth (and fastest to date) marathon. This was my first time running the Cowtown Marathon and I will do what I can to come back again next year. I had a great race experience, and it started by following my plan. It also helped that I had great support and encouragement along the way. My dad, my husband, and my Ironman friend were there at the start, along the course, and at the finish. What a difference that made!

The size of the race was ideal for me with almost 1500 finishers in the marathon. At this stage in my running, I need the support of other runners around me. Even in the first ten miles before the half marathon split off, the course didn’t feel crowded. The temperature was nice enough for this easily overheated runner to wear short sleeves and shorts. My $1 throwaway gloves were off by the second mile and tucked in the back of my iFitness belt. I put my earbuds in place, my playlist on shuffle (a first for me), and I was ready to go.

Focused and ready to run!

Focused and ready to run!

I stuck close to my pacing plan (five miles at a time) and it went smoothly until miles 17-20 when the wind started to affect my pace. My plan was to run negative splits up until mile 20, when I would use whatever I had left in the tank to finish. It was pretty close, but the last 10k did take its toll on my body. There were a few more hills than I expected, but fortunately I train on hills, so my legs powered up on autopilot. A fun little bonus was when I reached the top of the big hill around mile 9, the theme song from Rocky came on. I couldn’t have planned it any better.

While I didn’t quite make my time goal, I did take ten minutes off of my PR from Oklahoma City last April. Also, for the first time I completed a marathon without walking at all. I knew that if I stopped once, then it would be easier to stop again and that would impact my finish. No tears were shed, and I even managed smiles at the finish. My friend and husband both agreed the throwaway gloves needed to be thrown away, so I guess it’s time to hit the clearance to stock up some more.

My splits:

5k – 30:56 (pace 9:57)

10k – 1:01:14 (pace 9:51)

Half – 2:09:02 (pace 9:51)

20 mile – 3:16:40 (pace 9:50)

Finish 4:22:12 (pace 10:00)

Proud of my 4:22:12

Proud of my 4:22:12

Finding Inspiration From Others’ Success

Yesterday, a friend of mine became an Ironman.  What a huge accomplishment!  The thought of swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles, and then running 26.2 blows my mind.  Just running a marathon is a big deal to me, and I my mind can’t process the other two sports.  I’m proud of my week if I manage to spend an hour on my stationary bike for cross training.

But back to my friend.  This is a goal she has been working a year to complete.  We keep up with each other’s training, so I know how time consuming it has been.  She is a mom of three.  She sometimes coaches their sports, and she works outside of the home.  I can’t imagine what it must have felt like to cross that finish line.

I am so proud of what she has done with her goals, but I could make myself feel inferior with what I have accomplished in my goals.  I only run, after all.  But you know what?  Those are my goals.  I am sure there are people who could feel the same way if they compared their running to someone else’s.

I have different background and future plans.  There are other factors that affect my training.  I’m glad to participate in an individual sport.  Emphasis on individual.  My friend’s accomplishment has inspired me to push hard in my own goals.  As it should.

You can do that too.  No matter what your goals are, even if just to get up and move off of the couch, go for a walk, or lose a few pounds.  Let someone’s achievement be the motivation to move you.

Final thought:  Who has inspired you to move lately?