“Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know that there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle.” ~Christian D. Larson
“Your playing small does not serve the world…We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.” ~Marianne Williamson
Many say it starts between the ears, but I believe it goes deeper than that, from the very depths of our souls, when we shove aside the doubts, fears, criticisms, and our own limitations we set on ourselves. When we believe and our conviction cannot be shaken, we set ourselves free. Liberating us from the parameters that others, or even ourselves, set upon us. When this happens, the possibilities are truly endless.
I was afraid and in awe of Buffalo Springs 70.3 for as long as I can remember. It was a race described by others as challenging, epic, and hard as hell, but also you could hear the reverence in the voices of those who had conquered it before as they gave you the play by play of their adventures there. A race with a local feel, a race loved by many, and a race that should never be underestimated. My original plan after getting my feet wet at Longhorn 70.3 in the fall was to do IM Texas 70.3 in Galveston in early April. Waited too late to register, and it ended up selling out. I was sad at the time, but you know what they say about God’s timing. Not long after it sold out, I caught the flu, so training came at a pretty solid halt, which would have been at the point I would have to have been ramping up the mileage, so it all worked out. Instead, I took a deep breath, and signed up for a race I had been wanting to do forever, but approached with a bit of trepidation. The moment I hit that enter key and received my confirmation email, I knew I was all in, and there was no turning back. Fast forward four months later, and I was on the road to Lubbock to a race that I absolutely could not wait to do. I was eerily calm, which was strange for me, but I took it as a good sign. I was ready. I would hold nothing back and go for it. I was told beforehand that the Buffalo Springs course was unique and I should throw time goals out the window, and I was well aware this would be a much different 70.3 than I had ever raced. There was no doubt, I not only was ready to do this, but I would go into it with an open mind, and ”no limits” would be my mantra for this race.
Race Day - SWIM
I loved being able to set everything out in transition area like the days of old triathlon, instead of everything in baggies. This still didn’t seem to help me much, seeing that I am slow as molasses in transition, but I am planning to work on that! I was still extremely calm race morning, and had to use the port-o-potty line twice because I could not go the first time, which was again, strange for me. I had my transition set up with plenty of time to spare, so I spent the extra time visualizing the day. Soon it was time to head down to the beach where we would start the swim. On the way, I ran into my amazing friendy Kris, and her Big Sexy teammates, which was a great way to start the day! We took a quick pic, then her group was up first. Told her I was coming for her and to have a great race! My group was only three minutes behind, so soon it was our turn to run off of the beach and dive in the lake to begin our 1.2 mile swim. I have to be honest, usually the swim is my favorite part, but for this race, I felt like the swim was the portion I just had to get through, and I could not wait to get to the bike and run. I had been hitting some solid splits on my 100, 200, 300, and 400m pace sets leading up to Buffalo Springs so I felt confident that I could post a fast swim split, and actually wanted the fastest split in the field. I could never seem to find a good rhythm though, especially at the beginning. I was swimming over people, people were swimming over me…this didn’t bother me really, playing water polo in high school helped me become immune to being dunked, pulled, swum over, etc. Mainly I just felt like as soon I got going I was running into more bodies, and at a couple of the turn buoys I got all caught up in traffic as well. By the last 800 m or so, I finally felt like I was finding my stroke, and I could see the swim exit just ahead. As the volunteers grabbed my hands and helped me out, I could see another pink cap out of the corner of my eye…and kudos to my competitor for hustling across that timing mat. Note to self…next time move faster! As I ran into transition, I felt like I hustled, but apparently I did not. According to my super slow transition times you’d think I was having donuts and coffee back there! Holy geez I need to work on those!
SWIM: 28:27 T1: 4:22 (yuck!)
The hill out of T1 was no joke, and everyone had told me beforehand to make sure I was in my small ring, and they were not kidding. This course hits you with it right from the start coming out of the gate. No mercy. As I started the climb it was not fear that I felt, but rather, exhilaration to be out there on this amazing course. I spun up the hill, then we went down, over the bridge, and were climbing again. Things flattened out as we headed out of the park. We had a bit of tailwind for a bit then headwind as we were on a stretch headed towards the canyon. As we approached it looked amazeeeeee!!!! Down we went, then a short flat section, then it was time to climb out. I knew climbing was my strength, so I worked those sections, passing as many people as I could, then back to a harder gear to take off on the flats. As we finished the first climb I saw my Smash/Tri-Belief teammate Julia and we both exchanged “great job!” and would leap frog each other again on the run. We went down the road a bit, then turned around and came at the canyon from the other direction. I was super stoked to see Kris as I was heading for the turn-around section and she was coming from it! We yelled at each other and it gave me a boost! I was not crazy about the turn-around sections on this course, always felt like I was going to wipe out, but it is what it is. Another skill I would need to work on! As we headed back for our return trip down the canyon I felt strong on my descent, I had been trying to work on them more since I knew descending was one of my biggest weaknesses on a hilly course. They were still not as fast as I would like them to be, and I knew I would have to make up time on the hills and flats. As I hit the flat section of the canyon for our return trip, I felt a little sluggish, and my cadence had slowed as well. I knew if I kept pedaling it would pass, because how you feel one moment seems to change like the winds in these events. As we climbed out and were back on the flats headed towards the switchbacks, I was in awe of the sky and the dark storm clouds in the distance…I thanked God for this beautiful day and couldn’t wait to see what else He had in store for us. We rode out on the farm roads, and turned onto a chip seal like section for a few, which was my least favorite section. I kept checking my bottles to make sure they were not being launched out of their cages. Somewhere in here my friend Lexa had caught me, and I while still holding steady, I tried to not let her get too far ahead. Finally we made it to this forest section that encompassed the road, a section I had been told to watch for by several people, and when it came into view it literally took my breath away and gave me wings! I bounded through wishing I could stop and take pictures of all of this! I mentally took snap shots throughout this ride! After the forest we headed up the first switchback, and it was so much fun!!! As I bounded up and passed some riders, I made sure to hug my side, because others were screaming down the other side and it’s a pretty narrow road. After cresting I rode down a little ways towards the turn around, and I saw Kris again! Two for two! I looped around and headed back to descend the switchback, then rode over to switchback #2! Again, so much fun, reminded me of a very miniature Mt. Lemmon, which happens to be one of my all-time favorite rides, so I was in the happiest of places climbing these switchbacks!!! Rode out to turn around again and three for three for seeing Kris! As we descended the switchback we headed back to the forest section and climbed out of that as well to get to the flat roads that would take us back to the park. At this point, I settled into aero, played Motley Crue’s “Kickstart My Heart” on loop in my head, and hit it. The last 15 miles flew by! Before I knew it, we were turning into the park and heading for transition. Then it was down the hill, across the bridge, and up one last big hill before descending into T2. That very last hill climb seemed the toughest out of all of them since it was right at the end when our legs were already trashed. There was some cramping that took place as I climbed that hill, and at one point I just hoped I wouldn’t fall over because of it. The struggle was definitely real on that hill. After cresting, it was smooth sailing downhill into transition. I hopped off and checked the watch, and OMG I just PRed the bike!!!! Was all smiles as I racked my bike and put on the run gear. Again, not sure if I stopped for lunch or what in transition because holy smokes how long can it take a person to put on some shoes?!!!! Seriously, some transition work is absolutely in order!
BIKE: 3:08:55! T2: 5:11 :(
I was absolutely beside myself to get to the run portion of the race. I wanted to see what my body could do on trashed legs. Although I had some strong long run sessions leading up to this race, I knew that I couldn’t really simulate how the legs would feel on race day, and it would be interesting to see how it would all play out. The run was two loops, with a big nasty “dream crusher” hill in the middle of each loop. I was told to run up that hill no matter what, DO NOT under any circumstances, walk it. So off I went on my first loop in my happy place, clicking off the miles, and holding a steady pace. I figured if I could average between 9:30-10 min miles, then that would put me somewhere close to 2:10 or a little under, which would put my total time at 5:56ish, and I would break 6 hours! So I had it all planned out, and my body did fairly well the first loop, I even ran up the “dream crusher” hill, and saw my friends on the out and backs which was awesome and really gave me a boost! After coming down the hill, the last part of the loop winds you around for what seems like forever (especially feels like the LONGEST LOOP EVER the second time through), and by the time you hit the turn-around point, you can see the bridge in the distance and that’s what you are running for. By the time you get to the bridge, you either stay left to finish, or stay right to go for your second loop. As I headed into my second loop, my times started to slow down a bit, and it was a struggle to WANT to look at the watch (to hopefully see I was on pace)/to NOT want to look at the watch (to see that I was in fact, ACTUALLY falling off pace). This continued the first half of the loop until I came upon “dream crusher” hill, and it was more of a slow shuffle up this beast the second time around. A few of us joked as we worked our way up the hill that it seemed so much longer the second time! And steeper too! We all laughed and continued our sufferfests. I saw friends Holly, Lexa, and Kris coming down the hill at separate intervals, and those high fives really did give me wings! I saw Julia at the top, as well as another Smash teammie that I had seen for most of the run, and we gave each other head nods, waves, and yelled "Go Smash!!!" At about this time after I had crested “dream crusher” hill for the second time, I looked at my watch and knew it was going to be close, and I’d have to go like 9 min miles for the last 3.5. Challenge accepted. I pushed the pace on the flats at the top then headed down the hill for the last section of the loop. While I would not consider this run course super hilly (except for “dream crusher” of course), I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s flat either. It has some good short rollers that seem like doozies at the very end. As I came down that hill and headed into the last section, the wheels finally came off, and…IT. WAS. GLORIOUS. To be here in this moment, fighting for the sub 6, fighting for a PR on this course of all courses. Up until this last September, I had not run for 2.5 years. During my pregnancy I couldn’t run (due to my hip dysplasia although I did not know that at the time, I just knew it hurt), so I stopped running at 9 weeks…fast forward when baby girl was born I squeaked in a couple of 2-3 milers before the hip went…then it was hip replacement surgery in March 2016, and 6 months later I could put feet to pavement. But even then, I did most of my runs on the Alter G, pretty much most of my run training for Longhorn was done on that machine. As I headed into a couple of half marathons in early 2017, I hit the road more, and was amazed how well the hip was doing. So here I was, with about 8 good months of run training under my belt after a 2.5 year hiatus, and I was in the ballpark to go sub 6 and set a new PR?! I was ecstatic. I was grateful. I was euphoric. I thanked God and hoped that this would continue to be part of my journey, part of my story. That He would use me through sport for His glory. And I ran as hard as I could. My legs were done, trashed, toast, whatever you want to call it they were through. They were ready for a nap. But I pushed on. I saw my friends coming back the other way after the last turn-around and I shouted “let’s finish this!” as we passed by each other one last time. My legs were lead at this point but I was determined to finish this race strong. As I rounded that last turn-around, I ran for that bridge. Just one foot in front of the other. The bridge got closer. One foot in front of the other. Still closer. Not going to make the 6 hours. That’s ok, the PR is still up for grabs! The bridge was right there! I was crossing the bridge! The volunteer was giving instructions as he had before, left to the finish, right to head to the second loop. He asked if I was going left and I said “Heck yes!!!!!” And as I turned left and headed for the chute, there was nothing but a big smile on my face. I snagged that 10 min PR and I could not have been happier. No tears for this one. The tears for Longhorn was the closing of a chapter. This finish at Buffalo Springs was a beginning. And it was pure joy.
RUN: 2:16:43 TOTAL: 6:03:36
Thank you as always for reading, and for all of your support and cheers along the way! What a journey it has been! Looking forward to all new adventures ahead!
|The new RFA Smash Kit gave me wings!!!!!!|
|Such a treat to race with my friend Kris!!!|
She never ceases to inspire!!!
|Hahahaha! Forgot about that cap for a moment!|
|I LOVED this bike course!!!!!!!!!!!!|
|Digging deep on that second loop!|