I spent the past 2 weeks dropping my overall volume to do a mid-year taper in preparation for the Buffalo Springs 70.3 Half Ironman in Lubbock, Texas. Gina and I came here to do this race 2 years ago as we stayed with our friends Deb and Wade Wilson who live in the town and are invloved in helping with the event . We met them 5 years ago when we did a race in St Croix, and enjoyed our Texas race visit the last time we were here. However, Gina was unable to make this trip so it was MC solo. The weather here has been simply HOT and WINDY. Plain and simple. I’m talking 105+ all week and will be that this weekend for race day Sunday. No rain either. Not a drop. Wade was doing the race again in his preparation for Ironman Arizona and he told me before I left that it was indeed a scortcher even for Teaxs standards. We have had a few days of hot and humid here in NYC so I kept the intensity up as I tried to start tapering, while not loosing a lot of weight in focusing on hydration tactics. Mentally, as soon as I boarded the airplane, I started to dial in. I would simply have to stay collected and manage a game plan once I got a feel for the weather.

I got picked up by our trusted taxi driver from Glen Belle – Charles Christ and seriously, with that name, and the fact he’s been the driver for our last 3 trips to the airport – meant this trip got off to a good start. The flight was uneventful (no wait, no checked bag, easy security) as one advantage was the lack of items I had to pack due to the weather forecast. Having shipped my bike UPS, the less hastle the better. With a one hour time difference and the early flight, I didn’t have an appettite other than an Odwalla bar until I arrived.  Deb picked me up in her red Avalanche and I quickly donned my Texas Tech hat. I got here around 12:30 and it was already 100. The southwest wind was noticable at 15-25mph and would be a factor to mentally remember. The Wilson’s are awesome hosts. It’s basically open door policy and once I arrived, Deb had the staples already set out for me – diet pepsi, peanut butter, bananas, and Wade’s specialty homemade pancakes and bagels (he use to work his family’s bakery). The bedroom was cool and comfy as Deb doesn’t skimp on the AC. I had a nice sandwich and as she watched tennis, I told her I was going to go in for a 20 minute nap, since UPS hadn’t delivered the bike yet, and Wade was to be home at 5. Well, that turned into a 45 minute power/heat release as I awoke and was so super charged. Wow, granted I had been up since 4am, but I obviously needed that one.

Once the Black Widow came, and thanks to Gina’s new bike case, I was able to assemble it with everything all intact. I took it for a quick spin to make adjustments which resulted in an OK for blast off. Wade had now come home and we quickly went to work on catching up while Deb took a nap. We grilled some fresh trout they had caught on a recent vacation and were joined by his daughter’s boyfriend Corey for dinner. The sun here doesn’t set until after 9pm so I was all good and awake. It was a nice day to get settled, relaxed, and focused on the race after a hectic travel day. I was able to bring our little PC and Skype Gina in on a call with the 3 of us once Deb joined us. That was great and made it feel like Gina was in the room with us.  The Wilson’s got a good batch of Sheridan’s frozen custard (another MC request here and Wade’s favorite) and once we finished a good bowl of that, it was lights out.  

Wade and I got up and were out for a run by 6am. We went for about an hour and got a sense of some “cool” 70 degrees and a nice sunrise (6:30am) while touring the old neighborhood loops. They are building up nice here and what’s funny about coming back to a place, even after 2 years, is how familiar it quickly becomes even after returning less than a day. As he prepared his pancakes, I did some stretching, brewed some java, and played with their daughter’s dog, Bear. Hilarious. Big, cute, playful, a new addition to the family. Wade went off to work for a few hours and we were to go for a bike ride, then swim at Texas Tech for the afternoon. A real test feel for the weather. I relaxed, watched tennis, read the paper, washed dishes, and such. Just a chilin’ house guest.

We set up for a 45 minute ride at 11:30 and he took me on his other loop to get a feel for the heat and wind in all directions. Man! It was indeed hot (96) and the wind was something to be seriously considered. I realized I needed to make adjustments to my aerobars settings or I would be knocked off the bike since I had my Flash Point deep aero rims and it was challenging to maintain steadiness in the crosswinds. The plan now called for a conservative pacing on the bike to set up my run. When we got back, I made the needed adjustments to the aerobars – making them a bit wider apart and felt more comfortable with more steering control. I absorbed the heat a little more and it was managable, given the lower humidity here, but knowing NO rain was forecasted made for the race plan and hydration to be dialed in perfectly as possible.

We relaxed for an hour before heading to the pool. Now Texas Tech’s facilities are amazing and I loved the last time I got to swim here. Since it was 2pm (and now 110 on a thermometer by the pool), I planned on getting a good hour swim in since I haven’t been in the water since last October in Myrle Beach. Seriously. All UBE. It didn’t take long to get the feel back and since the lanes were empty, I had no hastle focusing on my stroke while cooling off. Wade and I had some fun by then spending time in the Lasy River section where a current dragged us around the swimming complex some 20 minutes. Awesome. Talk about a place to spend a HOT afternoon! Then, one jump off the diving board and I was ready to just hang. I was confident with the swim ”neural retraining” and all chlorined up. Wade bought us smoothies as we headed now to packet pickup.

We met some of his friends and got our stuff, weighed in (126) and the amount of stickers for this race by far was the most I had to ever put on. They had tatoos now for numbers (439) and a sticker for every part of your bike, helmet, and even clothing. A heat advisory was put in place. Mike/Marti Greer organize a top notch race. They got the staff and volunteers (even Amanda, one of the Wilson’s daughters) in force to help out. They take pride in what they do and don’t disappoint at all. Big time!

Once that was done, by the time we got back it was almost 6pm. Deb had made a huge lasagna and after a nice cold shower, it was just all chillin out – until Wade was boasting about his ping-pong game and how he dominates the family. I haven’t played in a year, but I managed 4 close, exhilirating games, even a 25-23 match that required us to sweat and sit our legs in the jacuzzi afterwards. We didn’t break anything either which is possible in the small game room. Everyone sat and watched the Mets/Rangers baseball on TV – and ice cream of course to finish the day. Now all the more important to dial in a little more. I was tired and ready to crash by 10:30, but a nice phone call with Gina made it feel like she was here with me. I do miss her on these race trips without her, but this time, I have the benefit of a ring on my finger that I will constantly twirl during my time here and the race to remind me of her.

This morning I slept in until 7am and then went for a 30 min run and a 30 minute spin to finalize everything. The weather was warm and wind still gusting southwest. Iced coffee this time with breakfast. Eat light, but frequently today. Shave down even more if need be. Wade cleaned up his bike and seeing how he goes about his race business is always a pleasure and reminder of how fun is the name of the game, but still be serious. A true family man, his training today was mowing the lawn and strumming his guitar as I write this.  I am ready to rip as a big challenge awaits before me. It will be a great test in what I have done up to this point, and what I need to work on for the ITU Worlds. Hook’em Texas style.

A good run/walk race shout out also to Gina, the Colvins, and Matt Rivas as they do the Katie’s Run 5K tomorrow in New Hyde Park, NY. YO!!!!!!!

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