I went into Buffalo Springs 70.3 this year with one goal in mind. NO PENALTIES. After receiving a stagger penalty at Wildflower and then a blocking penalty inKansas(which has now caused much commotion on how it was handled by officials) I was prepared to do whatever it takes to avoid further penalties.
I’m now in the heat of racing season and I love racing a lot, so the longest break I get between events is two weeks. I finally started feeling recovered fromKansason Thursday pre race.
Buffalo Springs is known for the extremely hot and windy conditions not to mention the hilly bike and run courses. 2012 was no exception. Temperatures were expected to reach well over 100 degrees (nothing compared to last year maxed out at 115). Water temperatures were also high, far exceeding 80 degrees. Per usual the swim was called wetsuit legal at 75.9 race morning (I’m a firm believer they should lower the water temperature for pro’s to 72). Knowing Buffalo Springs likes to keep their race wetsuit legal I came prepared, wetsuit in hand.
Race morning went smoothly; my bike was operating perfectly (thanks to James at Colorado Multisport!). I’ve been having issues with my Di2 for 2 weeks but CMS replaced my derailleur and wiring which corrected the problem. After setting up my transition area I confirmed with officials all my gear was aligned properly (avoid penalties at all costs). I wished a few friends fromBouldergood luck. I caught Michael Lovato stuffing his wetsuit with ice packs. He told me he’d done this race so many times he knew what to expect. Ugh, we were in for a hot swim.
After the pro men took off, the women toed the line. I asked a girl how many turn buoys we had, she responded with 4. At the sound of the start gun we ran into the water together. I took off the front left while Amanda Stevens took off to the right. We quickly left the group behind as I tried to stay on Amanda’s feet. I’ve been working on my front end speed in open water so was content with my position. As we rounded the first buoy I stayed with her but Amanda picked up the pace after making the turn. I lost her feet and was now swimming alone, my pace slowed slightly due to the boiling water we were tearing through. I was swimming through yellow caps since all the men had shed them trying to cool off. As I reached the 2nd turn buoy I caught and passed 3 pro men. Then reached the 3rd buoy cruising right along, Amanda was no longer in my field of vision so I was on my own for sighting.
I saw the 4th buoy way off in the distance, I headed towards it thinking in the back of my mind it seems wrong. I trusted my sight of the 4th buoy and continued on. After some time I saw a kayaker chasing me, she told me that I had missed a buoy and had to back track. I had gone severely off course. There were actually 5 buoys, OK just chill out, I learned from my experience at Kansas to roll with the punches. Mistakes happen; all I can control now is how I handle the situation. I swam to the real 4th buoy just as the chase pack of women were reaching it. I passed them by and headed towards the last buoy. Problem was, we were now heading straight into the sun, I was so concerned I’d go off course again I kept lifting my head trying to sight. A stand up paddle boarder approached me, I told her I couldn’t see a thing. She instructed me to follow her. She lead me right into the finish. Finally I was exiting the water. OK brush it off and move on. As I ran into transition I heard the announcement that I was somehow still 2nd out of the water, although 2:30 behind Amanda.
I mounted my bike and wrapped my head around this ride. Jessica Meijers was on my heels exiting transition. We rode the first 20 miles going back and forth passing one another. Each time she or a guy would pass I’d completely sit up and give them the 5 bike lengths necessary. I even got a thumbs up from the official riding next to me (OK maybe I’m being a little too cautious). The roads were quite rough too, everyone was riding in the center of the road. I knew better though, I rode all the way to the right no matter how many potholes or bumps. It wasn’t worth the risk. Eventually Jessica pulled away from me. At the first turn around we got to view positions, I was now 4 minutes back from Amanda Stevens and there was a large gap behind me and the next woman.
The waves were very close together, race organizers wanted to get all participants on the course earlier to avoid the heat mid afternoon. So the amateur men were right in the mix. I struggled with some men passing me and then immediately slowing down. I started sternly warning each guy after making the pass to keep up his pace, otherwise I had to slow way down to give them 5 bike lengths before passing them back. Again, I was not willing to accept another penalty so this was my only way of informing the men. I saw some familiar faces out on the course, at mile 40 teammates Tim and Bruce went whizzing by me, I warned them to break it up. (must be nice to get a sweet draft off SuperMan).
The last 10 miles of the bike were a challenge, we were hitting direct headwinds and my legs were fading hard. More men passed me as I continued trying to pick it up. Unfortunately my legs just didn’t have anything left. My watts were declining, mentally I need to work on these last 10 miles. I need to learn to rise above and push through the pain. Jessica Jacobs passed me at mile 50 and I just couldn’t hang with her.
Even though I was feeling depleted I was ecstatic to finish the bike with no penalties. Throughout the season I was riding in the hot pink Rudy Project aero helmet. I developed a theory the helmet was like driving a red sports car. So Rudy sent me a new white aero helmet which I used inLubbockfor the first time. It seems my theory was correct because I escaped penalty free.
I exited T2 in 4th position, my legs began coming back as I paced with some men for the 1st few miles. The run course goes around Buffalo Springs lake then up a steep incline. I ran up on Bruce, unfortunately he was experiencing calf pain and was now walking up the hill. I asked if there was anything I could do, he requested my legs. I said no but was happy to give him a push like in Triple T. As I passed by I said I couldn’t wait for him this time.
I was feeling pretty solid and seemed to have hit my nutrition again, I turned the corner onto what they call the Energy Lab II (similar feeling to the energy lab in Kona). Just as I’m heading down the straight away Amanda Lovato passed me. I tried to pick up the pace but just couldn’t hang onto her. I saw Jessica Jacobs was now ahead of Jessica Meijers. Meijers was looking pretty worn out so I continued pushing my pace hoping I could catch her and move up another place. I ran back up and down the 3 large climbs cheering for others heading out on the course. As I ran back around the lake I had a view of the women ahead of me. Jessica Meijers had maintained position and Amanda Lovato had 1.5 minutes on me. I ran it in happy to lock in my 5th place position.
Buffalo Springs is my 4th Pro race. It seems I either receive a penalty OR land myself on the podium. Here’s hoping for more podium finishes and less penalties in my future.
Congrats to friends & teammates Drew Scott 1st overall amateur, Michael Lovato 1st pro, Amanda Lovato 4th pro, Nick Thompson 8th pro, Gavin Anderson 9th pro, Tim Hola 3rd 35-39, Barry Siff 7th 55-59,Bo Parrish 11th 30-34, and Bruce Genarri 12th 45-59.