Green Member: Jason Ross
Event: Ironman 70.3 Buffalo Springs, June 28, 2009
Location: Lubbock, TX
Class (yours): M 35-39
Results: 5:39. 0:41 swim, 2:45 bike; 2:06 run; 335/901 overall; 45/105 in AG
Local Knowledge and Conditions: Going in, I had none. This was my first time to even drive through Lubbock. Everyone thinks Lubbock is flat. They are correct. However, this race starts and finishes about 10 miles outside of Lubbock in a canyon. Most of the bike leg is out of the canyon, and it is flat. There are 8 climbs and 8 descents in and out of the canyon, several are fairly technical. The run has a mix of good sized hills, small rollers, and flats. Weather is a huge factor in this race: The race is usually hot, arid, and has strong South winds. This year, it was totally opposite. A front came through during the race. It kept temps in the low 80s, but we got a lot of rain during the last 15 miles of my bike leg. Winds were 20-25 mph from the North until about 10 am, and it settled down. Once the rain and wind stopped, it got humid. If it rains, the water has no place to go and just sits on the roads. So you have to push a lot of water out of the way on the bike, and if you are still doing any of the descents, it could get treacherous.
Pre-Race Strategy & Warm Up: This was my second IM 70.3. I wanted to do this one in 5:15, with splits of 0:35 swim, 2:35 bike, and under 2:00 on the run (which I expected to be difficult given the usual hot conditions in Lubbock). I drove the bike and run course the day before the race, and scouted out the swim course from the shore. Warm-Up: Morning of the race—pee, pee, pee. In my first IM 70.3 at Vineman, I had a total system shut down from late in the run from lactic acid build up because I did not pee early and often enough. I wasn’t going to make that mistake again.
Psychology: I wanted to go 5:15. I could care less how I placed in comparison to others. I wasn’t racing for a Kona spot or a Clearwater spot, just myself and 5:15 to take 30 minutes off my last 70.3. Disclaimer: This was also a combined family vacation of sorts to Carlsbad Caverns in NM and the mountains in Ft. Davis, TX, so I wanted to feel good enough to enjoy those activities with the kids in the days after the race. As such, this was not a “leave it all out there” race for me. My last IM 70.3 was Vineman in 2007 and I turned in a 5:45. The first 70.3 was just about finishing and hitting 5:45, which I did. This time, I wasn’t worried at all about “finishing” the 70.3, just wanted to hit my splits and feel good about a 5:15 and after a 5:15.
Lessons Learned (Or Re-Learned): Sleep is important for a half-ironman or above. Much more important than for a sprint or Olympic. Don’t stay at any hotel (including the host hotel here) that has a crappy bed or a noisy in-room AC. It was like a Hartley starting up every 30 minutes or so all night long. Also, don’t sleep with your kids the night before the race, especially if they like to knee you in the kidney and groin all night. That doesn’t help either.
Future Goals (include skills executed well and skills needing improvement): I need to sight more often in OW swims. I’m sure I lost time not sighting often enough and looked up to find myself off course. I started doing a quick sight every 5 strokes, and that worked well. I did not mess with flying mounts or dismounts here. You can certainly do a flying dismount on this course, if it is not wet (which it was). A flying mount was strictly “VERBOTIN” in the words of the head referee from Germany, due to the tight bike exit chute they use and the immediate climb out of transition.
Fitness (endurance, nutrition, hydration): They do a good job here of handing up water and gatorade every 10 miles or so. As it turns out, I needed it. My freaking hydro-tail with two full bottles of my primary nutrition and supplement (Amino Vital a/k/a elixir of the gods) fell off on mile 1. The hydro tail is not as important to forward momentum as the crank, so I kept going. After all, these pro-soap jersey pockets aren’t big enough to hold two bottles, so it made no sense to try to go back and retrieve the bottles. I had an incident with this thing a few weeks ago, and the bolt was somewhat stripped from that. I thought I had it tight enough, but I may have jostled it mounting my bike out of transition, or someone may have hit it while they were running through transition. Whatever caused it, the whole thing just fell off immediately out of transition. No Amino Vital for me. 2 servings of it, gone. That took a toll later on in the race. I really could feel not having that stuff in me. This is Lubbock, and hydrating is important. I did the whole race with just the Speedfil Hydration tank, which I initially just had filled with water and Nuun electrolyte tabs. Thank God for that new invention. I was able to grab a bottle of Gatorade on the fly at the aid stations and refill the Speedfil using the side port. I highly recommend a Speedfil for any triathlon distance 70.3 or above. It is $99 at your local bike shop, not counting the tria-prosoap team discount.
Something funny that happened: I’m on mile 4 of the run, which is an out-and-back run. The women pros are starting to come back towards the finish, which is about mile 9 for them at the point where we are meeting. One of the women pros, who shall remain nameless, demonstrated the definition of what it means to do something “pro-style.” As I’m nearing one of the women pros, she suddenly veers a few steps off the road, and stops right across the road from me. I thought she was going to hurl. I didn’t want to see it, because I thought it might make me hurl. But, before I could even process this enough to turn my head, I see her pull down her shorts and squat…presumably to have a blowout right there. She didn’t even bother to turn around, and had her butt facing the road. I saw her bare bottom and figured I knew what was coming (I myself have had to look for a construction site port o pot a few times while training). I tried not to look. In fact, I managed to collect myself enough to look away at the moment of impending discharge so as to not turn to stone or a pillar of salt. A few seconds later, I turned my head back around and she was already back on the road in full flight. As my son says, “Well that’s something you don’t see everyday!”