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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Riders on the Storm: BSLT 2008

Today was my attempt at retribution for the Buffalo Springs Lake Ironman 70.3 Triathlon -- Buffalo Springs or BSLT for short. It was a cold, wet, windy day, and two, maybe even all three, of those factors had a significant outcome on my finishing time. In any event (well, all three, if you'll pardon the pun), today was a good day to race in Lubbock, Texas, and gave me a much fresher and appreciation of what is to come for IM CdA next June.

Just like in 2006, N--- & I stayed at a Marriott property in Lubbock, and, just like in 2006, I didn't sleep for squat last night. Not that I was getting midnight phone calls, but the pool was apparently the happening place to be at this particular hotel. Noises from out yonder dropped me in and out of sleep from ten o'clock until nearly 2:00 AM. When the alarm went off at 3:30, I had little choice but to stay conscious, as I didn't want a parking repeat of last time.

Fortunately, N--- & I got ready, breakfasted, and checked the weather, and it wasn't looking to be too beautiful of a day in the neighborhood: high winds and lots of rain were on tap. We were able to make it to the lake, get set up in transition, and ready to race well before six. I was able to maintain my sunny outlook, even if the weather wouldn't.

1.2 -mile Swim | 34:30
Water temperature at the start was just barely wet suit legal, but, as I was still extremely tired from the night's noises by the pool, I decided to don the Vortex. Unlike my last experience at BSLT, though, I was able to maintain a decent pace in my trek around the lake. Two things I noticed that made me question race standings:
  1. At the start, several (dozen) competitors in each wave, trotted through the water a good 50+ meters from the beach, hugging the shoreline around the lake, as that area was just deep enough to cover the ground below. While humorous to watch, I did feel it was a lot unfair, given their distance from the start and that fact they were supposed to be swimming.
  2. No strippers at the swim exit. There was still a great bunch of volunteers hoisting our weary, wet bodies from the water, but the absence of strippers threw my transition off by a good 20-to-30 seconds.
Even with the above, I still felt calm and comfortable in the water. However, I would, at some point, like to begin this race the sheer feeling of exhaustion that has plagued me the last two times I've been here. On the bright side, I was relaxed out of the water and set up for a good bike.

56-mile Bike | 2:52:04
My main reason for coming to this race again turned out to be the main reason I didn't fair so well in my time. The weather all but refused to cooperate, rendering me an obstinate rag doll to be tossed here and there, due to the deepness of my front wheel. This was most noticeable just after the first turn-around, when a high-speed descent and an equally high-speed cross wind caused my front wheel to oscillate with great rapidity. Fortunately, I was able to get the bike back under control, but the next several miles were difficult at best, given the low gear in which I spun in order to maintain control. Finally, I managed to get it back together, take in some nutrition, and get back up to speed for a bit.

I'd a friend competing in the aquabike event (same distances as me, but no running) who had expressed something short of concern over a section of the bike course known as "the spiral staircase of death." There were actually two sections that could have fit this description, but it was the first one that had my attention, for it was there where I flatted in 2006. No flat this time, but I also took the corners far more conservatively than before, due to the aforementioned instance of maintaining control in the crosswinds, as well as the wetness of the roads. I was able to recover lost terrain on the flats and on the climbing, as several of the competitors and I played leapfrog all the way until T2.

13.1-mile Run | 1:49:54
This was the only section of the course where the wet, overcast conditions were a blessing. Unlike the last time I ran here, I had no issues with overheating and no near-collapses from total exhaustion and lack of nutrition. In fact, despite the horrid weather conditions on the bike, I managed to take in the right amounts of nutrition to keep me motoring along. So, coming off the bike, I felt good. Really good.

My first three mile splits were consistent, around 7:45. Then came the hills. Unlike in 2006, I didn't walk any of them, but they did slow my pace down...a lot. By the time I crossed the finish, I was crawling at 8:23, nearly half-a-minute off of my target pace. Gotta do something about maintaining strength on the run. Of course, it could have had something to do with the fact I really had to pee, but, what's done is now done, and my intended retribution on the course is successfully completed; I bettered my time by nearly 23 minutes.

All Said and Done | 5:22:40
Weather in Texas is completely unpredictable, and in Lubbock, this holds especially true. Overall, it was good to have such an overcast day for such a long race, but I could have done without the gale-force winds on the bike course. In all, it was a fun race, but I'm not 100% sure I'll do it again. Next year is definitely out, as the week prior is CdA, but who knows what will happen in subsequent years.

Much appreciation to all of the usual suspects for their usual support, with particular notes going out to M--- for the awesome wheels, D--- & K--- for a super pre-race meal and good company (great to see you both again; missed you), and, of course, N--- for keeping me company on the long road behind and the even longer road ahead (we leave for Colorado tomorrow), as well as that cheer as I approached and crossed the finish line.

Next race will likely be Small Texan, at the end of July, but, we'll wait & see how I feel after vacation. Regardless, stay tuned to find out how IM prep comes along, how the school year starts up, and all of the other exciting things in my life that make this the best blog on the Internet. As you fall off of your chair laughing, accept my thanks for reading.

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