BUFFALO SPRINGS PART 2 – QUALIFIERS!!!!

Saturday was your usual day before the race type of routine. Early workout in the morning, relax, read papaer, then go to pickup you race stuff.
Deb had been out and about all morning so Wade took us to the expo. Small and a bit cramped, but we were in and out all set up in about a half hour.
The had a nice quilt displayed made out of all 20 tshirts from each year of the race. G and I registered to be bone marrow donors, she made me get a new tool bag for the back of my bike (my MacGyver’ed bag was constantly questioned), but I did get to refuse her urge to get an insulated water bottle. Heck if it’s hot, I can drink it hot.
From there it was back to the house for just chillin. Wade likes to do nothing pretty much the day before a race and were more than happy to join him. Deb was back and forth and she really puts her all into assisting the race director in the event. We went to church which was all of a 15 minute walk, followed by a small dinner with the Wilson’s and a movie.
I highly recommend Gran Torino. Hilarious, good plot, and I came away with my new race day motion – the hand pistol. We got to bed late, but knew we were not getting much sleep anyway.

What turned out to be a hot humid weekend became a welcomed surprise to most Texas residents and racers. It got really breezy overnight, stayed in the 70′s and was overcast. It rained a bit, but when we left after 4:30am, it was dry and comfortable. I didn’t sleep much and I was not hungry at all or thristy. Gina was ready with her VIP pass and Wade, though he knew he was underprepared, seemed to have his race mode on.
It was bit crammed in transition area as I set up my stuff. Deb mentioned the rain was on its way – just when was another story. So I placed my sneakers and bike shoes in a bag and that was my stuff. Minimal. I didn’t have to worry about what to wear since it was not suppose to get above 85. So if it did rain, it would be comfortable. I got bodymarked (Deb’s daughter is in charge of this station and she had shirts made up that said “Drop Your Pants”), and we headed to the beach. I don’t know how anyone walks in those toed sandals.
The water was super warm too. But they still let us use the wetsuits. I was to go off in the 4th wave at 6:45. It was a quick right turn about 100 yards from the beach so it could get physical since it also was a beach type start where everyone runs into the water at once. I gave a kiss to G and into the water I went. No rain yet. 

As my wave got ready I decided I’d stick way left and wait until after the first turn to speed up and clear out. Must have been over 150 in my group. Three deep breaths and I was ready. About to find out how tough this course really is.
After 10 seconds I knew I should have started elsewhere. I got tied up in the slow dudes and needed to throw a few elbos to finally just make clear before I got trampled. And this is BEFORE the first turn. I found daylight and off I went. Navigating wasn’t too bad since there was no sun. I had clear water right away and soon made up the stagger on the 3rd wave, then the second wave. One woman was doing a backstroke.
Nice and smooth. Nice and smooth. Good rythm, fast around the turns, and finding the exit, sped up a bit. They had volunteers who pulled you from the water, then stripped off your wetsuit. Quick and easy.
Had no idea what my time was so I just made my way to the bike, quick transition and off I went. No rain. The 1.2 mile swim took 34 minutes

Wade warned me about the big hill as soon as you leave. And big it was. What a way to start. Welcome to Buffalo Springs brotha. Then it was off. Got into a good pace, heartrate was steady and up there, but this is what I have been practicing on. We hit some good flat patches where you could crank it, but it is a winding course where you go out and back in certain sections. The hills were tough. I climbed most of them with no problem, but they were long and came in chunks. But the worse part was the wind. I did make another secret mix in my GelBot and that came in handy starting at mile 20. Mix a gel of both AccelGel vanilla and Espresso gel. Boiiinggggg!!! 
The flat sections were just like climbing. The wind was 15-20mph in your face or off to the side and you had to really find the right gear to keep going. The Black Widow was more than up for the challenge. Then the rain finally came after 30 miles. It was gradual, not a downpour, but enough to make the roads slick and with puddles. It was indeed a wet ride all the way back to the lake. Get back to the lake was the mode. I saw Wade on some turnarounds and he was catching me. I made ground on a good bunch the last 10 miles since that also is hilly. Motor on in and get on the run. I think it took about 2:52 for the 56 miles and averaged 19.5 mph which I was pleased with.     

I was well hydrated so when i got onto the run, I was ready to crank. After the first mile, I kept pace since my heartrate was high, the rain had stopped, and now it was just sticky humid. No sun though. This is the kind of weather we had in St Croix when we met the Wilson’s too. Now the run course goes around the lake then out to a power plant which is termed “the energy lab”. It’s reminissent of Hawaii where it is a long flat stretch of nothing and can drive you bonkers. But first we had to get beyond 2 big time hills and I mean big. granted you get the down section on the way back, BUT going out you also realize the big one you hit coming back to the finish.
Man, what a course. Once I got out to the energy lab, man that was dull. You can hear the buzz of the electrical wires above and it is 1.5 miles of vast nothingness. Well, that and other runners thinking the same thing. I was more than comfortable at this point and just waited to get to the turnaround. to amuse myself I started to hand pistol anyone I could to jack me up. At the turn point, it was time to play Pac-Man.
I sped up some more. I saw Wade on my way out of the lab and he looked good. I didn’t bother drinking anything from here on since I was ok and needed to “drain” myself a bit to keep the speed up. At the big hill on the way back I cranked. Once up and over I was 3 miles from the finish and just let it rip. Down the stretch and through the chute  Bang! The course was conquered!! The 13.1 mile run took 1:25.

I finished in 4:56 and 95th overall out of 1500 racers, which based on the course and conditions I’ll take. Met up with G and gave her a big kiss and hug. Even though I was sweaty and nasty, she was wet too. Turns out they got the wrose of the rain when it came and got soaked! She said it was cold too and people scattered. But she hung in there and conquered the day as well!
I got back to my stuff to keep moving around and we shared stories. I made my Monster Bash mix to rehydrate and recover (tally was 4000 calories burned just during the race – so G is now on the ball counting everyone I eat) as we made our way back to the finish to wait for Wade. I gave Deb the update and she was still abundle of energy going strong since 3am. The sun actually started to peak out. It was very warm still and a dip BACK in the lake was appetizing. Deb got a bit worried after a while, but I assured he he looked ok and I’m sure he was coming through.
Sure enough he came in, though with his worst time ever at the event, he made it and did well. We took our time gathering things and making our way back to the cars. We got a life from Deb in the big truck up the hill again where the cars were parked. Wade and I were sitting on the back and getting looks from other athletes who had to walk it back up. Yo!

Driving back it was apparent Wade was nauseated and dissappointed at his race. About a mile from the house he had to turn into a street and yaked. He couldn’t drink or eat much after the race and that’s probably why. I drove back to the house and we made sure he was ok after that. He was fine after a shower and all, but we were still concerned. G and I stretched a bit, took a shower, and just relaxed until Deb got back. Wade was fine and icing himself with BioFreeze after I made him try it (I was covered in it).
by 5pm we made our way back down to the dinner party. They had a live band that cranked out “oldies” for an hour and were really good. We had a nice dinner and the place was filled with other athletes and families just having a good time rehashing stories. Then came the wards and covertted Kona and Clearwater World Championship slots.

They started with the oldest age groups and worked their way down. Amazing athletes indeed. Though both Deb and G had a bet one woman was certainly NOT her age, the ones in the 60+ groups were phenomenal. As the slots came down to Wade’s age group, they kept calling names and no replys. For all Championship Qualifiers Worldwide, rules state that you HAVE TO BE PRESENT in order to claim your slot. Not one person after the 5th place was around and it rolled down all the way to Wade! He made it to Clearwater and the World Championships in the 70.3!!!! Deb was excited and jumping for joy. I gave the guy a big hug because he actually won, despite feeling his worst. He’s been to Kona several times, but never Clearwater. He was going!
By now we were all happy and crazed. We got even more crazed when the womens’s 35-39 age category went 5 deep before someone claimed a KONA SLOT. No joke. Where were these people? Not only that some even turned it down!! Unreal! Gina was hoping my group did the same, but I came in 17th in my age group and it was a lot stronger and probably greedier.
After the announced the winners in my group, the 2 Kona slots went quickly. There were 4 spots to Clearwater in my age group and the first one went quick. Then the names were read off. And three more (they give you about 10 seconds to shout out YES!!!). And another three. And a few more.

G and I looked at each other. Sure enough, MARK CARBONE – we jumped for joy again!  I got the third slot and now we all were going!!!!! Good thing I ran my a$$ off cause my 1:25 half marathon split was one of the fastest and helped place me that high. Hugs all around and we were heading back to the World Championships in Clearwater!!!!!!!!!!
As Wade and I walked the few blocks to where the processing of the slots was being held, we just couldn’t believe it. We were going to meet up again in a few months and race together. A blessed moment. We got home and all had some frozen custard and by 10pm were were gone dreaming of Florida.
Today I rode the Black Widow around the hood just to shake the legs out and recapture our trip. We loved every minute of Lubbock and today we will just pack up and be ready to head back first thing tomorrow. We are going out to dinner tonight and I think the ladies will be kicking back the margaritas in celebration – and good for them. They are our rocks and we won’t ever deny that one.
G and I can’t thank enough the Wilson’s for their hospitality this week. They’ve been great in everyway – even if I puzzled them by eating peanut butter and banana sandwiches. It was fun getting back together after 3 years and now we will do it again in a few months. 

CLEARWATER – WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP 70.3 in November – here we come!!!!!!

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