The Buffalo Springs Lake Triathlon was held on Sunday June 30, this year in the canyons of Lubbock. I rode up to Lubbock with Nicole “lead Foot” Ferstl on Friday afternoon and we stayed in the host hotel Holiday Inn.
We unloaded the car and noticed that our room did not have a fridge. I thought all hotel rooms had a fridge and a microwave these days. We were kinda bummed since you want your water bottles and beer cold and we had both brought various food items including fruit and all natural strawberry jelly which we would have to eat at room temperature.
We grabbed a late dinner (salmon and rice) and went to bed and I slept like a rock waking up refreshed and to the sound of thunder. The next morning they held the shorter distance races (the sprint and the olympic) amidst a torrential thunder storm and at some point had to pull all the athletes off the field and cancel the end of the races, which is a bummer for those triathletes. Thing is, I didn’t even think it rained at all in Lubbock.
The weather for Sunday was predicted to be a high of 88 degrees which would be amazing as this race is usually arid and well over 100 degrees. We’ll see. I was not entirely convinced as the weather guy has lied to me before.
(Little did I know it would end up being 108 and windy.)
(Weather guy was wrong)
(You don’t know, you weren’t there!)
A group of us (Vicki and Kenneth Betts, Lynn and Ed Sparks, Kim and Bob Hanford, Carolyn and Tom Marek, Mohamed, Nicole, Kim Burkhart and I) all went out to an early Italian dinner on Saturday night. Most of us had some sort of pasta with some sort of red sauce, while a lot of our spectators also enjoyed some alcoholic drinks.
We went to bed early and I slept for sh!t which isn’t great, but really isn’t that bad. Then got up at 4:15am, and made a warm PB&J on a wheat bagel*. I got dressed but really didn’t feel right. I didn’t think I felt sick, but I certainly didn’t feel right.
*I still don’t know if an open jar of all natural no preservative jelly can go bad in 3 days or if the pasta and red sauce was responsible for the remainder of this race report.
I thought that maybe it was because I didn’t sleep or maybe pre-race jitters (even though I really don’t get pre-race jitters).
We loaded up the car and set out to the race course, got parked, walked down the big hill to transition and set up my T1 area. I used the restroom… twice, then headed down to the beach to put on my wetsuit.
After donning my wetsuit I determined that I probably should have used the restroom again, but I was out of time. I stood on the shore telling myself “Calm down. Breathe. Your gonna be fine.” A woman asked me if I was ok. She told me that it was probably just pre-race jitters and I would probably be fine once I got in the water.
There were only 5 or 6 wave starts and soon we were off. Soon upon entering the water I determined it was not the pre-race jitters. I could not get my heart-rate under control and actually had to stop swimming so that I was bobbing like a cork and talk my heart rate down, “Calm down. Breathe. Your gonna be fine. Breathe.” I determined that I would just swim casually and be cognizant of my stroke form instead of worrying about my time on the swim, because I could make it up on the bike, but nothing good was going to happen if I tried to go fast.
I got my goggles knocked off twice by the passing guys who started later. I get swimming fast, guys, but the course wasn’t that crowded that you have to swim into the slower swimmers and punch them in the head. I also had to stop again to chill.
Inexplicably, my swim time was 36:17 at a 1:52/100m. So either the swim course was short or when I try to swim fast my form goes to poo, and I just splash more and get tired.
I had my wetsuit stripped, used the restroom, then ran over to my bike.
I had set my bike up in a small gear as there was a big ass hill just out of transition. My legs felt good on the bike but my tummy did not. Once I got through the first three hills (2 up, one down) and settled into my pace, I took a sip of Gatorade. Immediately my stomach cramped. I spent the next several miles surveying flat landscape for a port-o-john. Every time I took a sip of Gatorade I would have to wait for stomach cramps to subside. I was killing it on the hills and riding well, but I knew I would have to stop when I saw a port-o-john. So I stopped at the first port-o-john, but it was a false alarm (although in retrospect, I shoulda grabbed some TP).
At mile 20ish I decided I really needed to eat something and took a gel, then spent the next ten miles frantically looking for a port-o-john. At the first turn-around point, shining like a beacon I saw the pot-o-john. Yay! After doing my business I determined there was no TP. None. Not a square. There was an empty roll, which I pulled off then peeled into layers to use as toilet tissue. Good times.
For as badly as my tummy felt, I was actually doing very well on the bike. I just couldn’t eat or drink anything. Somehow over the course of the ride I managed to get down one full bottle of Gatorade, andat mile 40 a second gel. I was fairly certain I was going to bonk before the end of the bike ride, but I figured I just ride on until the wheels fell off (figuratively).
The wheels never fell off, although I did stop for at least one more bathroom break on the bike course (there was TP!).
I finished the bike strong in 3:04:05 at 18.25 mph (but my moving time and speed sans bathroom breaks was 2:53:06- 19.4 mph. how crazy is that?).
Racked my bike in transition, got on my running gear and headed into the all familiar port-o-john. At this point I determined that I was empty. Which was good since I would not have to go to the bathroom, but was bad because I would be starting the run this close -> |–| to a bonk.
I grabbed a cup of water leaving T2, ran passed the finish shoot, then out onto the course. The course goes about a 1/4 mile before you turn into a kind of shaded neighborhood park area.
I got about .2 miles from transition not even to the first turn when I had the worst asthma attack of my life. This was surprising since I DON’T HAVE ASTHMA! Ok, I sort of have exercise induced asthma, but it had only happened to me 5 times before in my life and never this bad.
I stopped jogging and was heaving breaths unable to speak and unable to catch my breath, so I was also kind of hyperventilating. Good times.
A very nice gal* who had been spectating walked over to me and started telling me to breath out “like you’re blowing out candles” and “don’t breath in, just breath out.” She said that she had asthma, too. I wanted to tell her that I didn’t have asthma, but I still couldn’t talk. She talked me down for several minutes, then told me to just walk and practice blowing out and to continue doing that until I could run again. I tried to explain that I didn’t have asthma between wheezy breaths, when she said that she was giving me good advice and she was an Olympian.
*I am fairly certain she was Laura Reback Bennett, Triathlete Olympian 2008, USAT Elite and ITU Champion (multiple years).
I gotta say, having an asthma attack at mile .2 of a 13 mile run was not at all encouraging. I just wanted to cry (which is generally a sign for me that I am seriously depleted, but even without the asthma attack, I kinda knew that). I didn’t want to walk 13 miles, but I didn’t want to quit again. I was hoping maybe one of my friends would come up behind me that I could do the run with. I was hoping I would see one of the spectators I knew at the race because I really need a hug and some encouraging words. I was disappointed and utterly defeated and I couldn’t believe I still had the entire run ahead of me.
I had to stop and walk several times during the first three miles. At each water stop I took a cup of water, then a cup of whatever else they had: coke? Gatorade? A gel at mile 2 (WTH is blueberry pomegranate, I mean besides disgusting?) A cool rag so I could cover my face if I started crying.
I ran as much of the flats as I could, then alternately walk/ran the first hill. I was able to run down the hills, then run most of the flats to the next water stop where I would stop and load up on water, electrolytes and ice. I did a gel every third mile from mile 2, and electrolyte Metasalt pills every third mile starting at mile 3. I was pretty much in my own head until I got to the Energy Lab leg.
Energy Lab is an 3.5ish mile out and back, flat, treeless run where all you can see is the heat rising off the road. You do get the opportunity to see your friends since you pretty much pass everyone in one direction or the other. But it is a soul sapping 3 1/2 miles. So I try to be as encouraging as I can to the other runners.
Mohamed ran up along side of me and asked me how my race was going. I was running a 10:30ish minute mile at the time and I gave him the Readers’ Digest condensed version of my race and told him I was going to try hold that pace. I was actually beginning to feel not awful. Mohamed ran on (looking strong).
After running about a mile into Energy Lab I could make out “stuff” among the rising heat squiggles ahead. Squinting, I said “I think I can see the turn around. I see a CONE!” to no one in particular. The guy closest to me just started laughing, but indeed, it was the turnaround less than a 1/2 mile ahead! Mentally, knowing I was 1/2 way through with the run was very encouraging. At the turn around I did one of those Turbo Caffeinated Gels. I needed the calories and the caffeine didn’t hurt. Within 5 minutes I was feeling better (well, better than just this side of awful, but it was a huge improvement over defeated and crushed).
Leaving Energy Lab I saw Kim B and shouted to her to enjoy the Energy Lab (and apparently she did but she can tell you that story). Just outside of Energy Lab I saw Kim H, also looking good, kick some hill booty! We high-fived.
As I ran down the hill, I gave some encouragement to the folks going up the hill on the opposite side of the street. Just beyond the bottom of the hill was the mile 9 Oasis rest stop. I grabbed some ice, a water and a Gatorade. I was at the base of the last hill. As much as I would like to say my renewed coming-out-of-bonk energy carried me up the hill, I walked the hill with a guy in a Tri 4 Him jersey and we made small talk about the day, that race and the hill. But I wasn’t crying nor did I feel like crying. Winning!
At the top of the hill was where we wold reenter the park. I said good bye to my hill buddy and started running. I can say that I ran the last three 1/2 miles to the finish (briefly stopping at each rest stop to take in fluids).
I was finally able to break a 10 minute mile at mile 10, then knock that down tot a 9:15 for the last mile. During these miles is where a lot of folks were starting to fade, but I had spent the first 10 miles of the run trying to get out of a bonk, so now I felt like a freaking rock star!
As I passed a spectator, he said “Dang, your flying.” “Yeah, I perk right up at mile 12!” I called back.
If you look at these splits, you can see how badly things started off, but a huge improvement at mile 10:
As I ran the last of the final mile, I saw the gal who helped me through my asthma attack. “I made it!” I yelled, “Thank you!”
Finished the run, and was whisked into the med tent (so apparently I didn’t look all that good).
13.1 miles 2:28:04
After taking in IV fluids I felt a LOT better (but still didn’t have to use the restroom for another 4 hours. Eek!)
My overall time was a 6:17:29 – by far the worst I have ever done at a half, but I DID IT!
Now I have to figure out WTH is going on with me and reevaluate my goals for this year to have a better year in 2014 (yes, I am pretty much throwing in the towel on this year after several disappointing races).