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

 

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