Buffalo Springs 70.3 2012
Hot as a billy goat in a pepper patch.
This is one of the oldest half Ironman in Lubbock, Texas, which is why it still has Kona slots. It had been a really rough week with my dad having sudden triple bypass so I my mind was totally not on its best game. My intent here is simply to get a Kona slot. Based on my ability, it should be a given to win my age group if I have a normal race. Nothing to worry about, right?
I traveled down with my friends Will and Margie in a 10 hour car ride. Not much to see on the way, lots of hot dry plains and a few cows. The next day, we went to the expo inside the host hotel. It was a cool indoor pool lobby area, but not much to see. I discovered while checking my bike my front wheel was flat. I was so annoyed and forgot my spares and glue. I found some tubies and some weird brand of white glue. After making a mess on my fingers with the weird glue I was worried because it did not seem to be very strong. Turned out it just needed extra drying time and it started acting like the glue I’m used to. After wrestling an un-stretched tubie on it wouldn’t take air. I pulled off the tubie and saw the value stem was broken. We took the tube to a bike shop and they put in a new valve stem. I wrestled on the tube again, but had the value misaligned so I couldn’t get the extender in. I pulled it off and put it back on a third time. My fingers were a mess by this point and glue everywhere. Now the tubie would only take a little pressure. Even an automatic pump wouldn’t fill it. Eventually, the bike shop got it filled using two CO2 cartridges. That would work for one race. I would have to fix this when I get back home.
After that fiasco, Will and I went to the race site and swam in the lake. It was really warm especially in my Blue Seventy Helix. After a few minutes of playing around I rode my bike a few miles on the course. I felt I was ready as I was going to be and Will and I went back to the hotel. That night I went out by myself for some light pizza at an Italian restaurant.
Race morning, we got there early and beat the traffic. I refilled my front wheel with another CO2 and setup my bike in transition. This time around I would be trying the rubber trick with my shoes on the bike pedals. I’ve already mastered catching the shoes while they swing on the pedals so now this should be even faster.
They sent off the first pro wave with a verbal unamplified “ready, set, go?” I was quite shocked with that kind of unprofessionalism. The waves were three minutes apart and I was wave six of seven. It was going to be a messy swim. I got in the water to get ready and saw my wave leaving! I rushed back to shore and got on the tail end of my wave. Great, now there is no chance to get the lead pack. I took an aggressive approach and just plowed though the people. I must have grabbed over a dozen butts when my hand came down for the stroke. Why can’t I get this lucky with the girls back home? Made it out of the swim and had to dodge around people jumping to the group in front of me for the wetsuit strippers. I didn’t know they had them, but I know I can get my wetsuit off faster on my own now. Great quick transition to the bike.
There were some hills starting out on the bike, but not like Wildflower. Everyone I knew said to be conservative here, but not me. One of my advantages on the bike is I recover extremely fast, so I took the hills hard right from the start. I held a strong steady effort on the bike. My focus here was to hydrate a lot because the run was going to be hot. I had my usual four Nuun in one bottle and Red Bull in the other. I also made two bottle exchanges tossing my empty ones and grabbing new ones at aid stations. A number of times I had passed so many bikers there was no one in sight ahead. I came up to an intersection traveling 30mph and suddenly the cop points to turn. I hit the brakes, skid my back wheel, and turn around losing two places. Later on when I was coming back down a road and the rest of the racers were going the other direction I came upon a tanker truck driving in front of us. The guy in front of me tried to draft off it but fell back. When I got up to it, I went in the left lane and passed it going 31mph and left it in my dust. I was annoyed the dumb truck was there, but it didn’t cost me anything. Nearing transition I passed another age grouper and was in 2nd for the amateurs. Got back to transition, and got on my K-Swiss blades. This time I was trying no socks on the run.
I left transition back in 3rd for the amateurs and chasing down the guy in front of me. I focused on holding my pace and didn’t push it to catch the guy. When we got to the biggest hill, he started slowing and I was gaining. Now it was a hot exposed out and back down the road. I passed him as he began wearing out. I was feeling great and a big smile on my face, just holding my steady effort. Around mile eight my stomach started to hurt. Just after the mile nine marker I went straight to the porta-john at the aid station. Two minutes later I was back in the run, but a different age grouper had passed me. I was feeling dehydrated and tired down. Two miles later I barely made it to another porta-john after begging a lady going the other direction to let me go first. After another two minutes or so, I was back in the run, but hurting really bad. I just had to get across the line which was a mile or two away. The heat was getting to me and there were no more aid stations.
The finish came up around the corner and I composed myself for at least a semi-cool looking finish. I was annoyed yet again there was no race clock! After a few more porta-john stops I wobbled over and found my transition bag where I stashed it and checked my results. I was 12th overall, and won my age group with a PR of 4:15 despite all that mess! Normally, I’m jumping around after a half, but I felt nauseous even into the next day. I can only guess bad lake water or something.
At the ceremony I took my Kona slot and buffalo trophy. I also realized by then I beat Tim Hola, which is Team Timex’s semi-legendary best amateur. Exciting stuff!
Copyright © 2012 Steven Zawaski All Rights Reserved. You may not copy or redistribute any portion of this content without explicit consent from Steven Zawaski. This content is offered "as is" and Steven Zawaski is not responsible for any negative effects experienced as a result of reading this content.