Tuesday, June 26, 2012


On Sunday I raced in the Buffalo Springs Ironman 70.3, located in Lubbock Texas.  The race is put together by Mike and Marti Greet, who have been running it for 23 years.  The race is a gem but don't be fooled, because it is not for the faint hearted.  Last year at this race I got owned by the course, and I ended up calling it a day at mile 4 of the run.  After having to take the 6 hour drive back to San Antonio alone last year, I vowed to come back in 2012 for REDEMPTION.

At Buffalo Springs, the rough hills and wind definitely make the bike and run courses more of a challenge, but the hardest obstacle for any athlete can be the heat.  For those of us who are aspiring to make it to Las Vegas or Kona, this can most definitely be a great training race, but sometimes at the end of the day the heat can be the biggest challenge on the course.  On a side note I would like to give a shout out to Martin Mudoon, who made the long trip from Ireland to compete in this years 2012 Buffalo Springs race.  Martin got an early birthday present when this race was over, as he will be competing at Kona this year and proudly representing Emerald Racing Team.  Congrats again Martin and all the other age group qualifiers!

For me the start of this year had not been going well, race wise and I was stuck in a rut. I needed a break and a starting point ot build on. My first starting point came at Kansas 70.3 two weeks earlier, when I had an average race performance, nothing went wrong and overall I raced my race. In the week that follwed I knew I was ready to step up my game and race to my fitness levels and training.  Luckily I have some amazing training partners and a superbly supportive wife to me strivign to reach my dreams, and perform to my capabilities.

On race day the weather was pretty good for a Texas summer sunday, high of 97 and a low of 73 (or 36/22 for my Irish readers).  The winds were low and the stage was perfectly set for a great day of racing.  At 6:30am the Pro field sprinted into the Buffalo Springs Lake, and the pace was hot from the gun.  I jumped straight in and started to form a group with some of the other guys.  I felt great in the water and I got out in 28:22.  I knew I was ready for the swim after I had a great swim set on Thursday, I was ready to swim sub 1:30 pace.  After a quick T1 I charged up the hill and got into a solid groove on the bike.  As I approached the first turn around (mile 17ish) I counted myself in 11th position and within striking distance of some guys ahead.  I pushed hard on the hills and I noticed I was still holding a fast pace when I rode into the headwind on the way back.  With a long way to go I wanted to remain patient on the bike, since last year I blew up in the last 18 miles (which is all into a head wind on dead roads).  As I climbed the famous spinal staircase I caught two more guys and was still feeling strong.  I kept thinking "maybe this year I won't have to suffer the last 18 miles", and that is exactly what happened.  As I was riding I started feeling better and with every guy I caught my confidence just kept growing.  Looking back now I can say that I had a more controlled ride, which I think ultimately helped my overall finish on the bike.  I ended up getting off the bike in 6th position and was told that the leader was 7-7:30 mins p the road.  As it turns out he was the fastest bike split of the day, his 2:10:55  to my 2:13:25.  To give a better perspective on the bike course, Chris Lieto holds the fastest bike split with a 2:08:04, and that man can ride a bike!

Out of T2 my legs felt good but I reminded myself of last year and just to stay in control.  At the 2 mile split I had 10:59 on my watch and had already passed two more guys.  I was feeling good but I knew the hills were coming in a mile, so I decided to chill and get ready to climb.  I could see that Joe Umphenour was just ahead and Michael Lovato, who I had passed in the last 5 miles on the bike, was chasing me down.  I set a goal not to push until I got to the turn around and could see where I was.  At the very least I knew I secure  Top 5 position.  Lovato came rolling by me at mile 5 and set off for the other guys.  I knew he was a veteran of this race and when he passed me I was at a bad patch and just couldn't step up to his race pace.  At the turn around I saw the leader, and he looked like he was hurting pretty bad; his once 7+ minute lead on me was closer to a 3 min lead now.  I knew in my head that I could run him down, however just ahead of him the two veterans of the race (Umphenour and Lovato) were in a dog fight for the win.  With 2 miles to go I caught the long time leader, who put it all out there and made us all chase.  I must admit that my favorite part of the race was seeing all my friends as I headed toward the finish and they were in the middle of their run.  I got a great shout out from Martin who was in the mix and running guys down hard.  My good friend Carlos Miranda was so happy for me as he was climbing the biggest hill on the course, that he later told me it was easier since he saw me.  I got a high five from Dawn and even saw a fellow Snapple jersey on the course; turns out that it was Courtney Fulton, who made the trip down from my old hometown of Arlington, VA.  I decided to relax my pace and savor the last mile as I knew that my position was secure.

 When it comes to racing we all set out goals and expectations, as athletes we aim high and dream big.  The great thing about racing is that there is always another day for you to hit your goals.  As long as you stay focused and positive you can achieve your dreams.  Since I switched over to Triathalons in 2009, I knew in my mind that this day would come. I couldn't have made it here without all the people who have been there to support me and help me on this journey. Thank you to everyone who has been there for me!   With this 3rd place finish under  my belt it is time to get back at it and continue to build for the next race.
Just for fun I looked up the results of my first triathalon and it was pretty much 3 years go to the day.  What a difference 3 years can make! If you're interested feel free to check it out.  http://athlinks.com/time.aspx?eventid=94409

Up next is Muncie 70.3 in IN. 

Thanks for reading !

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