Monday, June 26, 2006

Buffalo Springs Tri-raider, race report

My Goals for this race:
1. Power up the three hills on the course (aka, not walking my bike up the hills this time, like I have had to at the Buffman and Squeaky and the Ransom Canyon triathlons)
2. Beat a time of 2:15, for reasons that I will explain later.

As we pulled into Buffalo Springs Park Lake at 5:am, there was lightening to the east on the horizon, and the wind was gusting strong.
Ugh. This did NOT bode well.

We drove slowly, in the long line up the hill to the parking area, with the wind rocking our little Honda, and I was reminded of 1) how punishingly steep the hills are, and 2) how much I hate wind.
After an hour or so of anxiety, the wind died down and the storm continued moving east, away from the lake. (I found out later on that race director Mike Greer was so freaked out by the weather he didn't sleep. ) After grabbing our stuff, we walked down the hill that I knew I'd be climbing in in a couple hours, and I was really beginning to wish I hadn't told everyone my goal of getting up those hills without walking.

Over the next couple hours, I: set up my transition area, drank a Sobe power drink, watched the Half-Ironman participants' start (that race was going at the same time as the sprint), drank a bottle of Heed, and went to the bathroom. A lot. When I'm nervous I have to pee.
In between, I tried doing some positive visualization, remembering what powering up and out of the saddle had felt like in spin class. I chatted with a few familiar faces (Marianna, Jane, Carol) and some new ones, most of which were perfectly delightful people. Unfortunately, I suck at names, so I don't remember the rest. (I remember Chantel's, though, because she beat me!)

It was crowded - about 1400 participants overall. First, we watched the menfolk/boyfolk take off in the first wave, and chatted (okay, well I babbled, as I often do). I had already taken a brief warm-up swim and found the water nice, and the sun was coming up.

Just as we crossed over the mat to activate our timing chips, a man came charging down the beach and leapt into the water, taking off after the males. He'd somehow missed the wave. He headed off, swimming like crazy, trying to catch up with the other men.
"That would suck," we all agreed soberly.

The swim was not my best, I think around 13 minutes. I'm not sure why, but I kept swimming off in crazy directions. At one point I was swimming along and reached out to touch something, which turned out to be a canoe and a volunteer waving me off toward the next buoy, as I was headed in a direction completely perpendicular to the rest of the swimmers (No, Misty, THAT way...) For some reason, my chip didn't activate, and I forgot to punch my watch until I was into the swim, so I only know that my T1 and swim time combined were 17:43. I'll guess my swim to be about 13 or 14 minutes because I think my T1 time is always pretty long after an open water swim.

<--This is an elevation profile of the bike course:
I grabbed the bike, helmet, et al and started up the first hill: a 7.5% grade hill. I dropped gears and got up and out of the saddle on Wunderfrost (my new name for my bike). My heart rate soared. Around me, some people were pulling over and getting off their bikes and walking. I was weakening as I crested the hill. I rolled forward on pure momentum, gasping like an old smoker. Then I pedaled out across the flat toward the next downhill portion, which was back into the canyon and across a small dam.

I was trying to get up enough momentum to get up the next hill, but my heart rate was still elevated, and I was breathless. About 2/3 of the way up the 6.7% hill, I finally gave out. I just had to catch my breath, so I walked for about ten yards, and then got back on the bike, crested, and headed out onto the flat.

BTW, The course claimed 20K, but my cyclometer registered 25K. I'd like to know if anyone else had similar experiences.

In any case, after the turn around, I felt a small gust and looked up to see one of the Pros from the 70.3 pass me on their way back to the lake - it was probably Natasha Badman, who got top female pro in the Half Iron. They were going so fast that I couldn't tell male, female, what - I caught a glimpse of a "P" on the back of one of their calves. There were many more gusts like that - on the bike, on the run. After a bit, I started seeing some age groupers, headed back from their 56-mile ride.

I headed back down into the canyon, across the dam, and then started back up the last hill: an 8.9% grade. By this time I'd caught my breath, but about halfway up, out of the saddle, I starting to weaken again - I couldn't get enough movement out of each stroke to get anywhere. That's when it occured to me, "this isn't the way it felt in practice. My cadence is too high." I powered out a couple of strokes to gain some momentum, and then shifted up a couple gears to a larger ring, and then powered it up to the top of the hill. I was so exhausted I immediately stopped pedaling a the top, just rolling forward slowly while people wizzed past me, gasping and breathing heavily. This is where my heartrate peaked, I think. My monitor told me later my peak heartrate was 180. I went sailing back down into the canyon, and transitioned to the run. Bike time: 1:09.
The run was uneventful except that 1) I was passed by Jeep Fleeb, who does events while carrying a huge American flag; 2) I rescued a baby turtle (2" across) trying to cross the road, and 3) there was a guy that set up a sprinkler in his front yard at the top of a ladder. My run time was apalling, my legs were worn out from those hills, and I had to take some walk breaks. I had a run time of 41:20, but I felt pretty good, and was able to walk around and chat after coming across the finish line. I immediately went down into the lake and paddled around for a bit. Ahhhhhhh.


  • I climbed 2 of the 3 hills on bike. I have now replaced the shameful picture of myself walking the bike up a hill in my blogger profile.
  • I chose 2:15 as my target time because I had looked at the times from last year and noticed that nemesis/friend Helen (Hi, Helen!) completed this event in 2:13 She's much faster now, but since it's my first year I wanted to see if I could beat her time last year. My final time: 2:12. The race results are posted here
  • I was 1st in the master's category, and 2nd Athena overall. My award was a curved clear lucite picture frame with the race logo inscribed on it. I've attempted to take a picture with my tiny little camera, so hopefully you can see it.
  • Mini-me (15-year-old son) ran this, and did it in 2:05:16, coming in 4th in his category.
  • Sweet Baboo (formerly known as Husband) did the half-iron Aquabike because of his fractured hip: 2000 meter swim and 56-mile bike, and completed it in 3:26, coming in 2nd in the 39-and-under category and 3rd overall.
  • Sweet Baboo was also registered as part of a relay team so he got two cool trophies, a small white buffalo (relay) and larger brown buffalo (aquabike) We also got a bottle of Llano Estacado Vinyards wine.
  • Sharkbait, aka Miguel, ran the Tri-raider sprint triathlon, and THEN tagged off with Sweet Baboo, ran back out onto the course and finished the 13.1 miles of the half iron race. Iron Miguel was awarded Grand master champion in the sprint, and as a male relay team, they placed 2nd.
  • Other race reports are here: TriGreyhound Part 1 and Part 2, Myles, and Dread Pirate.

In all, I was extremely happy with my performance in this race. I had fun, and I enjoyed it, and it was the first race I've ever had in which I didn't repeat the words, "What the f&#* am I doing this for?" repeatedly. I felt like to gave it my best shot, and that I was definitely feeling improvement in this, my first triathlon season. Wahoo!


  1. Congrats! Maybe I'll try this one next year. Mind if I use your time as a goal? - That's assuming I have a non-mountain bike by then.

  2. I would love to be someone's nemesis. It is my dream.

  3. You are correct, it was 17.6 mile bike course.

    I'm sure I signed up for a 20K. The trophy even says 20K, but I'll be darned - the website now confesses to a 17.6 mile bike course.

    I thought it felt like more than 12 miles!

  4. Hey Congratulations! Great times and great attitude!

  5. Fantastic!! Congratulations!! Great hardware, too!

    I've found I have to have a positive mantra in my back pocket to pull out to drown out those negative voices in my head. But maybe the voices in my head are louder than yours! Doesn't always work, though.

  6. WOW...GREAT JOB!!!

  7. Congratulations on a great race and bringing home HARDWARE to boot! I have often thought about Buffalo Springs half IM as it is an IM qualifier...(maybe still? It used to be!) Yes, I have heard about those hills...whoever thought Texas was flat should think agaain! Great start to a great season!


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