Buffalo Springs 70.3- Lost in Joy

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Another 70.3 in the books! Happy to say we all finished with smiles on our faces! You know it’s a successful race when you come through the finish line saying, “I’ll do this one next year.”

Friday, June 23, 2017

We were very fortunate to be lent an amazing vehicle for travel! Our friend Jorge Puig, who created the application Spornado, let us ride up to Lubbock in comfort and style. A huge plus was that all 4 of our bikes were able to ride inside the van with us. No worries about outside elements messing with our trusty steeds as we traveled!

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The drive, which by our maps projected to be about 10.5 hours, took us close to 12 hours because we were “hydrating” the whole way up. Plus, we stopped for lunch in Kerrville at this wonderful spot called Grapejuice.

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When we finally rolled into packet pick up, we were happily surprised to find a few more Brownsville friends who were signed up for the race as well.

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Checked into our hotel and then went to BJ’s for dinner. We went back to the hotel and relaxed, preparing to get a nice long sleep.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Woke up to a cool front that had blown in overnight. It was in the 60’s out! I wasn’t preparing for this weather and had not packed any clothes to keep me warm; only one long-sleeved top. We had planned to drive out to the race site and get a nice short practice ride on our bikes to get a feel for the hills.

As we approached the Buffalo Springs Lake park, the nerves started to creep up in my tummy. We were driving up and down some pretty steep and winding hills, so I started silently praying for confidence and courage.

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We parked at the “parking lot” which was located at the top of the first hill we would climb right out of T1 the next day. I was shivering from a combination of nerves and chilly weather. I told myself to suck it up, I’d be fine, and that I needed this practice to have confidence for the race the next day.

Without giving myself any more time to think or worry, we clipped in and pushed off.

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Climbing the first steep climb took all of my gears in the small chain. When we reached the top of it and came flying down the other side, I was no longer cold. It sure was fun! We ended up biking to the park entrance (about 3 miles out) and turned around to head back. Many other athletes were doing the same thing we were; getting a feel for the terrain we’d be tackling the next day.

When we got off our bikes back at the van, I was very happy we had done that practice. I felt much more at ease knowing what to expect (at least at the beginning) of my bike ride.

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Since we had brought our wetsuits with us, we figured we’d hop in the lake to do a short swim and get that “open water feel”.

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Cristina and I only swam out to the 1st buoy (which was probably 100m) and back, but we just wanted to feel the water temperature, current, and practice in the wetsuit. We were happy with how the water felt; refreshing, and calm.

Once our little bike and swim were done, we made our way back to the hotel to freshen up and then head out for lunch. We ended up eating at a good brewpub (even though we couldn’t enjoy any brews!) and then went back to the hotel to rest/ nap.

That evening we got to meet up with the rest of our Big Sexy teammates who would be racing. I was so happy to see Kris again, and Chris McDonald last minute decided to enter as a relay! We had a great meal at Chili’s and enjoyed each other’s company.

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The sun doesn’t go down til a little after 9:00 in Lubbock, and so it felt early even though it was getting late. I didn’t have a nervous stomach, I was just anxious that I wouldn’t get enough sleep. Luckily, I was able to close my eyes by 9:30pm.

Sunday, June 25, 2017- RACE DAY!

Alarm went off at 3:30am and I instantly checked the weather. No rain and a high of 80! God blessed us with a cool and cloudy day (ideal conditions for a race in the summer).

Got ready and made sure we had everything we needed. We were out and on the road at 4:30am exactly. Transition opened at 5:00, and we walked our bikes and all our gear down the steep hill in the dark.

I always say this, but I really love setting up my transition area. It gives me such a sense of peace and calm; I just focus on what I’m doing in that moment and that time. Then I take time to visualize my T1 and T2.

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Once we were all set up, we got our wetsuits on and made our way down to the swim start.

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Now this swim start was called a “wave start” which means you and your age group are to run into the water, theoretically “dolphin dive” in and begin swimming. I have never had a wave swim start, so this was going to be a bit out of my comfort zone.

SWIM:

Cris and I were in the same wave start (thankfully) and we were the 3rd wave to go in. We didn’t have much time to think as the gun went off and all hell broke loose.  At least that’s what it felt like to me. Imagine: being thrown into a washing machine full of smacking, punching, and kicking limbs coming from every angle.

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I instantly knew my mind could go one of two ways: have a panic attack and quit (like I did in Kemah 2014) OR remind myself that it all pans out and we will get through this and spread out and everything will be okay. I chose the latter mindset, and yes, after about the first 200m we were more spread out and things calmed down.

Unfortunately my goggles fogged up almost instantly, and I didn’t want to stop to try and clear them up, so I struggled to sight the upcoming buoys the whole time. In my mind, I was weaving off course and thought I had completely lost Cristina once we had started our swim. But as I finally made my way to the swim exit and took off my foggy goggles, there she was right beside me! I knew this was a good sign and hoped we’d be able to stay the rest of the race course together like we did at IMTX 2016.

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Ran up the ramp, stripped off my wetsuit and made my way into T1. My bike was located in a very convenient spot and I was at the mount line with my bike in no time.

BIKE:

We were told to have our bikes already set in the small chain ring because that first climb would come up so quickly we wouldn’t have time to make adjustments. I had heeded that advice and let me tell you, this first hill (which we had not gotten to practice on the day before) was no joke. Not only was it steep and windy, but it was LONG.  So I had to make sure I spaced out my gears to be able to make it to the top. Slowly, steadily, and breathlessly I made it up.

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The first half of the bike course was varied with smooth straight shots of road, followed by short and steep up and downhills. Cristina caught me around mile 6 or 7 and I was happy to have her take the lead because she paces me better than I pace myself.

When we hit about 23 miles in, we turned off onto a farm road which was full on chip seal (meaning, bumpy and uncomfortable). My seat and legs were vibrating and I started to see Cristina drift farther and farther ahead. No matter what I tried, small chain easy gears, small chain heavy gears, big chain easy gearsmy legs would not respond with enough power to catch back up with her. That’s when I told myself, “My race, my pace” and didn’t let it bother me that I would continue the bike alone.

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I will say, once we got off of that godforsaken chip seal road (which we had to come back on for 10 more miles, mind you) the sharp and curving up and downhills were a welcome challenge and change. It was so cool to see what my body and little bike could do.

My butt had had it with the bike and I was ready to get off. I was so happy to see the park entrance again and actually looking forward to getting out on the run, because I knew I’d get to see familiar faces.

I sped down the final hill into T2 and left my signature mark as I transitioned into my run gear. Read my past race reports and you’ll know what my “signature mark” is ;).

RUN:

My legs and butt and back were so happy to be off of that bike. Even though the temperature was creeping up to 80 degrees at this time, there was no humidity and so it felt nice and comfortable.

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I started trotting along and decided to look down at my watch to see what my pace was. As usual, I had forgotten to click something or other, and my watch was not tracking my run so, oh well. My HIM run plan is always to run until I hit a water station and then walk the station.

This run course was 2 loops of 6.5 miles. Since I had never done this run course before, I just took it as it came. The only thing I knew was there was some “crazy steep hill” I would have to conquer twice, and I was told to do my best not to walk it.

There was no way I could mistake that hill. I saw it in all of it’s glory (almost reminded me of Mile 12 in the Austin Half Marathon). And I was determined not to walk it. I’ll tell you, I bet I was passed by people walking it, but I didn’t walk once. When I reached the top, I was about 4 miles into the run, and finally saw Cristina. We still had quite a gap between us and I wasn’t sure if I’d catch her, but I was happy to know I’d get to see her at the turn arounds.

Before I knew it, the first loop was done and I was heading out into my 2nd loop. At about 8 miles in, I finally caught up with my girl. I was so happy to know that we were going to have another finish line pic together.

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The rest of our run defined my mantra, “Tri With Joy“. We run/walked, but we did every step together and were so happy that our race was almost done and that we’d accomplished another amazing goal.

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We had about 2 miles left when we spotted our Big Sexy family! That definitely put a pep in our step!

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And then there she was, the finish line!

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Crossing with the biggest smiles of satisfaction. That feeling and rush of adrenaline and energy and accomplishment and pride. That is why I love triathlon so much.

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We had crossed the finish line with the exact same race time; down to the second! Even though our bike, transition, and run times had been different. That soul-tri-mates right there.

We all attended the awards dinner that evening where Chris McDonald and Mike Ramirez (the relay team) took a 1st place award!

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I am so grateful to have met such amazing people through this sport, and more specifically, through this team.

Buffalo Springs Lake 70.3, I’m pretty sure I’ll be back for you next summer!

TRI WITH JOY!

Jenna

 

Ironman Boulder Trip

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Hello Summer! FINALLY, my favorite season is here. Mike & I have just returned from an amazing trip spectating and cheering on our Big Sexy Racing teammates at Ironman Boulder.

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I have to say, triathletes are some of the best people in the world. Not only can they do physically amazing things, but they have the biggest hearts. Completing a triathlon (no matter what the distance) can be an emotionally overwhelming experience. To have support with fellow athletes as well as sherpas on the sidelines makes it such an incredible experience.  You find the strength you didn’t know you had, and can push yourself as well as push others to complete a goal or dream that you have set for yourself.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Mike and I arrived in Denver and our good friends (and fellow teammates) Kris & Trent were at the airport to pick us up. They were both signed up to race Boulder and still were so kind as to let us tag along and stay with them. They both seemed cool as cucumbers as we made our way to packet pick up.

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We had fun at the expo checking out all of the tents. If you’ve been to an Ironman expo, you know it can be very easy to spend your moolah on all of the gadgets, apparel, etc. I had fun decorating a sign at the Base tent for Kris & Trent that would be placed somewhere out on the course.

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After the expo, we drove around a bit, and up a mountain. The beauty of Colorado in the summertime is breathtaking (as it is in the winter, as well). I did have a little bit of an adjustment to make to the altitude (hey, I’m a sea-level girl!) Afterwards, we made our way to the Big Sexy meet up dinner at Wapo’s Mexican restaurant.

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I was exctied to meet all of the teammates that I had only spoken to or seen through Facebook. As I was saying previously, triathletes are some of the best people you’ll meet. Everyone on our team was so humble and friendly. I also got to meet Big Sexy himself, Chris McDonald, and his wife Erika. They are the most down-to-earth, cool, and welcoming couple.

After dinner, we stopped at a brewery in Denver and Mike enjoyed some brews.

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Really getting that Colorado vibe going.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Woke up still on Texas time, so Mike and I looked up an Orange Theory Fitness class nearby. I seriously love those workouts. Felt the elevation while running on the treadmill, though.

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We headed back to Kris & Trent’s and had breakfast with them as they were getting all of their gear bags ready. I know what and ordeal this can be, but these two had it all down to a science. Once they were ready, they loaded up their bikes and we all drove back into Boulder so they could drop off their bags and bikes at Transition.

Mike & I had packed our swim gear just in case we’d get an opportunity for an open water swim, and since T1 was at the Boulder Reservoir, we were lucky enough to hop in the water.

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Let me tell you, it was windy when we got there and the water was COLD and CHOPPY. However, I appreciated it because it gave the feel of a real open water swim. There was only a 200×200 square roped off to swim inside, so it was a little tricky to get much distance in. We probably ended up swimming about 500m, but I was okay with that.

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Kris & Trent had taken their bikes out for a little spin while we were swimming, and met up with us afterwards. They still had to go to T2 to drop off their run gear, and since we were in separate cars (they graciously lent us one of theirs) Mike and I went exploring.

I had seen this beach/park with water skiers, stand up paddle boarders, etc, on the way out of Lakewood, and since we were already in swimsuits, we made our way over. By the time we got to Bear Creek Lake Park, it was packed with families (because it was a 90 degree day) but we still managed to rent a paddle board and paddle around for awhile. I had a blast.

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We got back to the apt and showered up. Kris and Trent got back from an early dinner and were going to wind down for the night. They recommended the Breckenridge Brewery, and so we headed out to find it. On our way we turned into a winery called Carboy and stopped for a glass of rose. That’s more my speed anyway ;).

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We finished off the night at the Breckenridge Brewery and enjoyed a delicious elk burger and a beer.

Then it was back to bed to get a good night’s rest before race day.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Since Lakewood is about 50 minutes away, Kris & Trent told us not to worry about waking up to make it for the swim start. We had arranged with the McDonald’s to meet at their place around 8:30am and help get the BSR trailer together and set up at the run course.

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During this time I got to meet all of the BSR cheer crew we would be spending the day with. Everyone was so nice. We had a perfect spot on the run course to set up; about 1 mile into the first loop and about a 5k from the finisher chute. We got to see each athlete about 6 times during their race, which was awesome.

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We had the music blaring, and some great kareoke singing from Erika (song of choice, “Baby Got Back”). There was so much energy and positivity; everyone was having a great time.

Before long, the pros started their run. Let me tell you, I was starstruck to see Tim O’Donnell come flying by, and not long after, Heather Jackson and Rachel Joyce! I have watched so many Ironman Kona NBC specials with them racing and now here they were right in front of me!

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And when Tim was rounding his way to the finisher chute, his wife Rinny (my favorite triathlete) came riding by on her cruiser bike! I didn’t have my phone ready for a pic, but I totally geeked out!

 

The rest of the day was full of cheering, laughter, and fun as we sang, danced, ate, drank, and encouraged all of the athletes on the course.

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There’s Kris with her big smile 🙂

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Both Trent & Kris are amazing athletes and had awesome times! As the sun began to set and the nighttime finishers began to run by, we had to pep up our cheering. These people have ben going all day and they need that encouragement. I’ve been there; everything hurts- it hurts to run, it hurts to walk. But when you’re so close to that finish line, your body can withstand it.

What an experience! The camaraderie and uplifting of others; that’s what it’s all about!

Monday, June 12, 2017

This was a day of relaxation and recuperation (and we didn’t even race!) When Kris woke up, she was a bit sore and stiff (as would be expected) but invited us to join her for a “shakeout swim”. We went to the local rec center pool and swam an easy 1000m.

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After we cleaned up, we all drove back into Boulder to the McDonald’s house for the team celebration BBQ. Turns out Big Sexy Racing team won first in their division! That’s some badassery there!

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After the BBQ, a few of us made our way into Downtown Boulder and walked up and down Pearl Street. Stopped at a couple of bars including The Lazy Dog. We all got to know each other better and share stories and each other’s backgrounds. I really enjoyed that.

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Drove back into Lakewood and turned in for the night.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

What supposed to be our “travel back home” day turned into an extended stay. We were able to change flight tickets for Wednesday, and so more exploration was ahead for us this day!

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We got to visit the Coors brewery which was awesome! It was a free tour and ended with tastings!

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Then we headed down to the Red Rocks, which I’ve always been dying to see. Turns out there was a Doobie Brothers and Chicago concert going on at the amphitheater, but it was sold out, of course :(. We still enjoyed a rooftop deck and some delicious burgers.

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As we were heading back, the sun was setting and it literally took my breath away.

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What a perfect ending to our trip!

I am so grateful for this wonderful experience and for all of the loving and kind people God has brought into my life! I am so proud and happy to be a part of this team and am now pumped up to take on my next race in 10 days, Buffalo Springs 70.3!

TRI WITH JOY!

Jenna