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Coach Troy's Ironman Buffalo Springs Lake 70.3 Race Report 2009

Race Splits

Swim: 32:18 (1:40/100 meter pace for 1.2 miles)
T1: 1:44
Bike: 2:45:45 (20.3 mph for 56 miles)
T2: 1:23
Run: 1:35:38 (7:18 per mile for 13.1 miles)
OVERALL Finish Time: 4:56:50


This was a fast and furious trip for Tonya and me (boys only made part of the trip with us to the grandparent's house in Brady). After driving up Saturday morning to Lubbock, grabbing some lunch at one of my local favorite places from college, we hit the expo and packet pickup. All things went pretty smoothly and a much better expo than 3 years ago when I went. Unable to check-in to the hotel until after 3 PM, Tonya and I decided to go drive the course to remind me of a few of the hills and their locations since I have forgotten a lot in the past 3 years. No real surprises, got checked into the hotel, and despite one minor glitch with having our dog at the hotel, we got settled in. (A special shout out to a good friend that helped us out with our dog Maggie for the night and helped us avoid a very expensive incident.) On to a carb loading dinner that evening and a good night's rest.


Standard breakfast routine about 3:25 (yes earlier than normal) (my swim start was 6:40 AM), did a light warmup, and normal routines. Drove to the race site with Tonya and a friend from Brady doing the race also. Wow…storm blew in overnight, VERY cloudy, EXTREMELY windy, and some light sprinkles but you could tell it had rained a lot the night before with puddles everywhere. I got my bike tires pumped up, fluid and gels on the bike and just tried to start playing the mental game with the race and walk myself through each stage. Before I knew it, race time had arrived and you could barely see outside with the cloud cover and the sun hiding behind the clouds. Choppy waters and I knew this looked to be an interested swim.


What to say about this swim. First, I hate beach run starts. This proved to be my worst beach swim run start I have ever experienced (and yes that includes when I did IM CDA last year with 2200 of my closest friends LOL). The first 200 yards was nothing short of brutal, choppy waters, no clear water anywhere, and to top it off the water was EXTREMELY warm to me. I am not sure why it felt so warm to me b/c it is supposed to be spring fed waters but I literally thought I was going to have a heat stroke in my wetsuit and could feel my sweat. I spoke to several others that felt the same way about the water temps. It definitely slowed me down when I was finding difficulty breathing b/c of the heat but I finally got into a rhythm and just tried to make the most of what was left. I am not sure what is harder to site for the buoys: tinted goggles glaring into bright sun or very lightly tinted goggles in extreme cloud cover. Either way I was having trouble finding the buoys in the choppy waters once I made the 2nd turn and think maybe a few more orange markers would have been nice to help that. I was slightly off my time from 3 years ago, but didn't expect to have a great time once I started getting hot. I knew my time would not be a record like I had hoped for. I finally exited the water and knew my day couldn't get much worse than that (or so I had hoped). Swimming is not my strongest sport but I have come to REALLY love it the past 2 years and this is the first time in awhile that I was happy to be out of the water for fear of failure if I didn't exit soon.


Nothing big, grabbed my bear, headed out, jumped on the bike and started strapping my feet in the shoes before I hit the first major climb in about 40 yards or so. For those not familiar, there is a pretty steep short climb almost straight out of the transition area. Right near the bottom of this hill, I noticed my race number belt hanging on my bottles behind my saddle…whoops…was supposed to strap that. Well I have 2 options now – 1. Stop and put it on and have 0 momentum going up the hill or 2. Grab it and hold on to it until I topped the steep climb and then stop to put it on at the top. I chose #2 for fear of not getting up that hill if I had to stop at the base of it to play with a race number belt. I tried to buckle one handed but that just doesn't work.


This was an interesting leg of the race for me. I started not trying to blow out my legs on the first section knowing I have several big long and some steep climbs. They are not climbs that worry me, but when you put them all together it can make for a tough race. I have ridden tougher climbs in the past but you can really blow this race in the beginning if you use it all up before hitting the tough hills. I also had the strong N/NE winds in the back of my mind the entire time wondering when those would come into play for the day. I exited the park area (about 4 miles or so) and immediately turned N and knew it would be a tough day. I tried to stay strong and hold a high cadence not to burn out my legs too early. My first turn South and I stayed pretty steady at about 35 mph on the flat sections (NICE TAIL WIND) and about 45-50 downhills…FUN! Then the hairpin turn to go back – WOW…I think I just ran into a wall. And I did, a wall of wind that was blowing somewhere between 20-35 mph I am guessing. For awhile it was like that, head south and you have a nice tail wind, east and a strong cross wind, then turn north and you face brutal winds making the uphills going north even more difficult. I made it through all the hills with only one left that was right back near transition. I felt like I had it whooped and could continue this. Unfortunately, around mile 40-42 I knew I was in trouble when the rain started pouring down. I was riding in a constant stream of water on the road like a small creek in the rundown parts of the highway. Can't see out of my glasses, but I can't take them off for fear of getting pounded in the eyes with down pouring rain. My legs are starting to feel the effects of the rain, the hills, and no doubt the winds. The last 15 miles were really tough on my hip and ankle that I have been seeing Physical Therapists for over the past 8 weeks. I just seemed to have no power left in my legs and my hip and ankle just wanted to lock up and stop churning the cranks. I knew if I could ever get to the turn before the park I would be fine with no more headwinds or angled cross winds and somehow to my thinking it might help me a bit. Almost home to T2, still raining, I hit the last hill and man was it a beast. I didn't remember this one being as steep as it was, but alas it is what it is and I somehow got to the top. Heading down the other side I knew I needed to start hitting breaks early b/c there is a VERY steep downhill going into T2 with nowhere to slow down unless you run over the barricades. Knowing my wheels and breaks are wet I just cruised down the hill comfortably and took all my corners a little extra carefully. I was going to be very happy to hit the run today b/c about that time it stopped raining and I was seeing some partly cloudy and blue skies. The temp was still only about 75 outside so it was near perfect outside for running. I looked up my old race results from 3 years ago and for some reason thought I had biked 25 minutes faster than what I actually did. So the entire day I was thinking I should be able to ride it in near that time again. Well I guess it worked in my favor b/c I ended up reading incorrectly and was off by about 23 minutes. Either way I beat my time from 3 years ago by almost 10 minutes on the bike. Considering the conditions I am definitely happy about that!


The last 15 miles of the bike all I could think about was T2 and how I was thankful I thought ahead. That morning as I was setting up all my bike and run gear at T2, I was thinking it is most likely going to rain some, I was just not sure how much. I thought, “How can I make this a better situation for me in case it does?” The best thing I did all day was to put my running shoes and socks UNDER my transition bag before I started the race. When I ran into T2, racked my bike and took my helmet off, I looked at all my stuff and everything was about as wet as if you dropped a towel in the bathtub and then picked it up. I grabbed my shoes under my bag and they were COMPLETELY DRY! WOW I AM pumped to run in dry shoes and socks. Who cares about the wet hat, I doubt I will even need my other sunglasses but I'll take them just in case. On my way to the 13.1 mile run…IN DRY SOCKS AND SHOES! How many other people took those precautions I am not sure, but I am very thankful I did.


The run started in typical fashion, my quads felt like they were going to cramp up with each step. I know I nailed my bike nutrition but hoped I never got stomach (GI) issues like I did 3 years ago. A little history here. In 2006 this was my 2nd Half Ironman distance race ever. My first didn't go well on the run and this was a chance to get some pride back. I came out of the swim in PR time, I was very happy with my bike, but within 1 mile on the run I was having severe stomach/GI issues and was in search for the nearest restroom or port-o-john. That pretty much sums up my entire 13.1 miles in 2006 at this race. I walked A LOT that day and there really wasn't much running, maybe a few jogging steps until my stomach acted up again. Since that time I have changed my nutritional products that I consume on the bike, when I consume them, and how much and my races have changed in a major way. So onto this year, I called this my redemption run. I had to somehow get back a little of that I lost in 2006 and see what I could actually do today after a pretty difficult bike. I saw a few guys drop to the side of the road within the first 1-2 miles and start “viewing” their breakfast. I felt sorry for them having been in a somewhat similar position in the past and knowing how hard that is for them. I was feeling good by mile 3 chalking off a few sub 7 minute miles. I started seeing A LOT of the pro men around mile 2-3 and started telling them their stats and how far behind they are (bet they were pleased with me doing that LOL). I loved seeing how fast and easily they are moving through this run course with strides about 2 times the length of mine. Amazing…that's about the best way to describe professional athletes..just amazing! By the time I had hit mile 1 I decided to start counting people that I was passing to help preoccupy my mind off other things. It gives you something to think about besides any pain you may be experiencing and it gets you excited to start chipping away at men/women in front of you and trying to catch them and put another check in the box. I knew I had been passed by 30-40 people on the bike so my goal was to try to pass that many on the run. At the 5k mark you hit your first hill, short but steep. Through that and still feeling good, down a major hill (that is also the last hill you come up on the way back) and then up another long/not quite as steep hill. Once you top that hill you are around 4.5 miles or so and you hit “Energy Lab II Dr” which is basically a long flat stretch of highway with nothing out there but you and the runners on the other side of the road already coming in. By the time I hit the turnaround (6.55 miles) on Energy Lab II Dr, I was at about 14 people. Not a bad number but not sure how many more I could catch on the way back into the finish. I stayed focused on my nutrition also trying to keep the leg cramps at bay b/c they have never really seemed to let up on me. I feared if I ever stopped running it would lock my legs up in a cramp that I would never get out of so I just kept truckin the best I could. I went back down the one long hill and then backup the really long hill (my last hill). One thing my coaches top me was to always run the tangents. For you mathematically challenged out there, that means if you have a turn, make it a straight line instead of following the curves of the road. This can save you bundles of steps and time over the course of 13.1 miles and amusing to watch the other people not doing this thinking they HAVE to run on a certain side of the road. At this point, I had hoped to break 5 hours and knew unless I fell apart the last 4-5 miles all I had to do was not walk and I could finish sub 5. Thinking I was feeling good and holding a strong pace, I figured I had around 28 minutes on the last 3 miles. Surely I can hit some 9 minute miles to get under 5 hours. When the guy at the aid station told me only 2 miles to go, I looked down and realized I just ran an 8 minute mile (that was part downhill). Now I started getting worried that maybe I wouldn't make it. I dug deep and there was nothing at the bottom of the barrel left to give. The last 2 miles of the run felt like the longest and hardest 2 miles of any run I have ever completed. I first tried to imagine running with Tyler on the trail (he rides his bike with me) or maybe running with Maggie (our dog) but my mind constantly went back to “where in the world is that 12 mile marker”. Finally, the 12 mile marker and I had about 10 minutes to go so unless I got run over, passed out, blacked out, or just gave up; I SURELY should be able to knock out the last 1.1 miles in less than 10 minutes. Bare with me, this was my rationale for the day. I never looked at the clock but I know when I crossed the line and sat down my watch said 4:58:08 and I knew I started my watch about 1 minute or so before our wave started the race. I did it; I managed to knock out a good run on a course that previously ate me for lunch. It was a tough run course but the temperatures really were nice. To answer some of your questions, I passed 26 people in the run, this was my second fast half ironman run split ever, but my bike and swim splits were not in my top efforts ever. I am happy with my results and I managed to shave off almost 40 minutes from my overall time from 2006 on this course!! YIPPEE!


I am done, I found Tonya after visiting with a few finishers in the medical tent and I gobbled lots of fruit and drinks. I was ready for some salty tex-mex at this point and really just wanted to lie down for a long time somewhere. We picked up Maggie and Tonya was SO nice to drive to Brady to pickup the boys and home that night so I could stretch my legs out in the backseat. Not sure how that would feel to sit in a cramped bucket seat for 6-7 hours. What an amazing Woman! That is of course after I got my fill up chips, salsa, and fajitas. I am sure I have missed a few details, but for the most part it was a tough course, tough weather conditions, but I am extremely happy I made it through without any major issues, crashes, flats, or stomach issues. I had a good race and am happy with my results and the fact that I get some rest now. For those of you that have not done this or ever want to, I would say this is actually one of the LEAST spectator friendly races I have EVER done. Tonya is always very good informing me of what is good and bad from the other side of the fence and the biggest problem with this race is the location of the transition and finish line. When you put the transition area up, the medical tent, the finish line, the food area, and everything else they need for the race, there is virtually NOWHERE for spectators to go. There just isn't enough room for all the spectators and I heard this from more than just my wife. God and I both know that she is the most amazing, supportive, and wonderful wife in the world to have sat out there and waited on me the entire race in the rain and cool temps. I don't know that I would ever be able to do what I do without knowing she is at the finish line somewhere. I constantly look for her on the course and transition areas and that beautiful smile always brings me in stronger than ever. The course is great, what I consider one of the tougher courses on the circuit b/c of the hills, the winds, and usually the temps but this time the rains. I will probably do it again one day b/c I love to go back to Red Raider Land anytime I have the chance, but mostly b/c this is a good course to really challenge yourself and see what you can pull out at this distance.
~Coach Troy


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