Next to Hawaii, this now has become the most difficult race I have ever done. No joke. Granted Gina and I were here in 2009 under cool, some rain, but comfortable conditions where I did a 4:54 for the half ironman, and granted this course is no joke – hills and hills. But today, I think I managed the best race plan execution and stuck with it to “survive”.
Saturday evening I had went to Mass a few blocks away at Holy Spirit Church and had to take the Wilson’s car instead of walking. It was 105 degrees – at 5pm. It was nice to reflect and go over what lie ahead for me. The pain, mental doubts, the anticipation of overcoming it all and finishing strong – all that comes with racing. But also for Wade – giving thanks to his family for hosting me again and being able to getaway having some fun (heck I even ate deer sausage that they gamed!).
He and I had some pasta dinner when I got back, and prepped our gear. As we sat relaxing at 9pm, it WAS 109!! We both knew the winds were going to be a factor, but it wasn’t going to let up in temperature. We discussed our individual plans and expected to depart “bright and early” at 4:15am.

I hardly slept. I was anxious. I wanted to just go, race it now. Wished the race was on a Saturday. I went to bed around 10:30 but got probably all of 2 hours of good sleep. I missed Gina too.
I finally got up at 3am and headed to the bathroom. I was well hydrated and got a jump start at getting dressed and ready. It was 80 degrees, so I didn’t need extra clothes for sure. We weren’t hungry and the two of us put the bikes in the back of the Avalanche and made the 20 minute drive to the lake.
The only thing hoppin’ was the IHOP halfway there which had a full parking lot. Hilarious. We got to Buffalo Springs Lake and were parked before 5am. It’s a long walk DOWN the big 8% grade hill to the transition area and in pitch black darkness, only the stars above were shining down on us. It was really comfortable, but the wind was already gearing up for us.
We each went through our pre-race setup and the Black Widow looked ready to roll. The water temperature was 74 and with the wind, would only cause a cross-current against us towards the end. By 6am, the crowds were in force and the excitement of race day was now seen as the sun inched its way over the mountain. We put on our wetsuits and jumped into the water to test it out. Nice and warm. Since they were starting everyone early some 30 minutes due to the heat, they decided to lump the wave starts.  
Instead of certain age groups going in their own in 3 minute “waves”, they lumped 2 age groups. Now that made for an extra 200 people in your group angling for a bouy turn some 200 yards away. Sharpen the elbows.

Wade’s wave was to start after the Pro’s, so we each gave each other a hug. We were both without our Ironsherpa’s as his wife Deb has a tooth infection and taking antibiotics so she was not to be out in the sun. Off he went and I quickly tunneled my focus.
I started a few rows back, but the span of my wave stretched across the beach line. I stayed left. I looked forward. I took three deep breaths and twirled the ring. 

Bam, right away I got hit several times, then swam over, and it really ticked me off. I struggled with my breathing and after another series of twaks to my head, I had to pull to the side to regroup, then do some ass kicking of my own. Once I got past that first bouy, I put my head down and churned, getting free and claiming my ground with the slightest touch.
I got into a nice groove and talked to myself. Smooth. Warm up. Stroke it. The sun caused no glare and the current did provide a challenge coming back to shore, but nothing severe.
I exited the water, had 2 dudes yank my wetsuit off, and I made my way to the Black Widow as I activated my RS800.
By the time I got on the bike, it was near 90. AND a 20 mph SWest wind. Out of the Lake, you meet 3 big time hills – each with a 8% grade at least. No chance to settle in. I had my CS600 on the bike giving me readouts and tried to time my hydration every 20 minutes. After 15 miles, you got hit with the brunt of the wind as the course flattens, then climbs, then flattens. You never got a true consistent pattern off of the wind. That forced you to ride in an easy gear to maintain your spin and sanity. The crosswinds at some points had me leaning some 20 degrees off tilt. And it never let up. Sometimes it was at your back (which you cranked to gain time), only to be BACK in your face at a turn. The last 16 miles were all sucking that wind. By now it was 95. No clouds.
I had to remind myself to be calm. I expected a slow time, but the plan was to be rhythmic and stay in the right gears. Don’t melt. I lost a water bottle half way through and only consumed 2 gels and my main drink over the 2 hrs and 55 minutes. But I wasn’t in trouble. I twirled the ring each time I wandered. I had seen Wade twice on the course and he looked like he was doing well. I executed my bike plan the way I wanted to, even speeding up the second half, and now had time to make up.  
I got my run gear on and quickly headed out twirling my ring. It was 95+. No clouds. I expected to feel the heat right away. After 2 miles I felt it. Like an over door opened up.  Though I was at 6:20 mile/pace, I had to slow down. This run course is just as brutal with 3 big climbs and the wind was in our face on the way out!! The race directors and volunteers did an awesome/superlative job as each aid station had ice/water/drinks. After mile 4 and the big climb into the Energy Lab, I repeated at each station: cup of ice down the top/shorts, water over the head, and an occasional sip of drink. All I could muster – I was too focused on staying on pace and in my head.  
You melted. You wanted to anyway by giving up and walking. As long as you played it smart, I knew I would come out of it ok. Keep going, pass people. Get to the turnaround. From there the wind was at your back and you could now pick up the pace. I saw Wade and he was walking into the Energy Lab. His legs were cramping.I gave him a high-five and pressed on.
Now I knew I had it, just speed it up. I passed almost 20 people alone in my age group. One mile to go. I see the finish and bust through it. I did it – 4:58 and broke 5 hours. It was 100 degrees.
Elated, I quickly got something to drink, doused 3-4 cups of water on my head and posed for a finisher’s photo (can’t wait, it’s funny). My head was burnt. I got my finishers tshirt from Amanda, Wade’s daughter, who had been helping at the event all weekend. I gave her the status of her Dad, and told her we had about an hour before he finished. I met Marti Greer and thanked her for organizing and directing another superlative event under such conditions. I quickly then jumped right back into the water. It was soooooooo nice. A free soak. Heck, there were like 20 people already in there. 
After feeling cooled off, I made my way to the bike and phoned Gina. She had been following on the tracker and gave me the stats. I didn’t care (but was really happy about them) as all I wanted to do was hug her and give her a kiss. She reinforced the Sherpa rules and I made my way back to the finish. I did decided to take another dip and of course forgot I had my phone in my pocket. I think it’s fried. I didn’t care, I loved the water.
I sipped on some recovery drink, some diet coke, and continued to ice myself down when possible. The medical tent was buzzing like crazy!! Nurses were getting dehydrated. One racer in there was said to have lost 16 lbs of water weight. My RS800 later calculated a 4500 caloric loss. And that was just the race.  The fact it was sooo hot now you didn’t want anything to eat other than a banana (and ice cream).
As the time got to over an hour/half and closer to 1pm, we got a bit concerned about Wade. We got an update as a friend of his finished and said he was 2 miles back. I got to stay under the tent where Amanda was handing out shirts but you still felt the heat. Everyone was cooking. It was now 105.
Wade came in and he was disappointed at his run but more so, he was exhausted. We both gave him a big hug and watched his every move. He finished. He wanted to quit 5x he said. He bypassed the IV and went for a dip in the water, tried to drink, and himself, cool down while rehashing his race. We both were happy we stuck to our race plans. We slowly got our stuff. I must have put 5 layers of sunscreen on.  Amanda had already left for home to alert Deb of our conditions.

We had to walk up that same hill to the truck with all our gear (no cars allowed down into the area), when Wade started yaking. Two people parked next to us were kind to cool him down with a drink while I packed the bikes/gear into the Avalanche. I jacked up the AC and I took the wheel to drive home (felt like a real Texan!) YES!! He yaked 4 more times on the way back. He was in bad shape. He tried to take a nap, but decided a few hours later to go with Deb to the hospital for an IV.
I stayed in the AC the rest of the day. Deb’s a good Ironsherpa in here own right as she made me stay put. I CARBONATED with my drinks while I snacked on an Odwalla bar and stretched. The cold shower felt good. BioFreeze made it colder. Ate some frozen custard too. It’s currently 109 at 7pm. The sun won’t set until 9pm. I plan to eat dinner shortly, but am awaiting their return from the hospital – turns out Wade needed 2 IV’s. 
It was a real testament to everyone who raced today – and finished. Some dropped out, but I bet 90% finished. Full stats can be seen at either or and select Buffalo Springs 70.3 but I broke the top 100 and top 20 in my age group. 4:58. Hook’em. Managed the following stats:
1.2m Swim – 30 minutes
56 m Bike -  2:55
13.1 mile run – 1:28
17th in the 35-39 age group, 99th overall out fo 1300.

I will take the Black Widow for a shor spin tomorrow before packing her up and return ship UPS. My flight leaves at 1pm and I used the afternoon “under house arrest” to launder my race clothes and pack most of my stuff up. My phone and battery is in a bag of rice hoping to be revived.  I look forward to returning home – big hug and kiss for Gina and Holmes awaits. It was a great race test to see what things to tweak as I now take a week to “chill” and go over plans with Gina for the ITU World Championships in November. The distance is longer, and course similar, but these conditions have only made me stronger.  Twirl the ring. 
I am now planning on staying up till 11pm and relishing the day. Who the F cares how hot it is.  I am sure not to have any problem sleeping tonight. 
Thanks to Madonna Buder for signing my Texas Tech hat for good blessings!!!!

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