This weekend was the Buffalo Springs Lake Ironman 70.3 in Lubbock Texas. After a good block of training back in New Zealand and a steady 10 days in the heat of Los Angeles I felt ready for a good race. My fitness had taken a big step up since my last bloke of races and I was excited to get out and see what I could do.
The race kicked off and the start of the swim was fast. I felt comfortable for the first few hundred meters then I am not sure why but I started struggling a little. I just didn't feel right in the water. Maybe because it was of wetsuit legal temperature and the water temperature and air temperature made for pretty warm conditions. I chose to wear my Aqua Sphere wetsuit as it is always quicker to swim in a wetsuit than without due to the buoyancy.
Aside from the gun swimmer Clayton Fettell the group of guys got out of the water together. Out of transition and straight up the steepest hill on the course I felt like I left my legs in my transition bag as a group of 4 guys made climbing this hill seem easy. Soon I was on my own but I wasn't worried. I knew the shape I was in and I knew once my heart rate settled down a little I would be back in the game. Sure enough at mile 2 things started to look up. My legs had caught up with me and I felt strong for the first time in a while. My Felt bike was humming in part thanks to my Zipp wheels, SRAM group set, Profile- Design cock-pit, Giro Helmet, Sidi Shoes and Prologo Saddle. I quickly got into my rhythm and started working my way back into the race. Slowly I reeled in the leaders. As I was approaching 2nd and 3rd place I moved to the left to get ready to pass. I entered the 10 meter draft zone behind 3rd place, fellow kiwi and good friend Mark Bowstead and was making my way through the pass when Mark, not knowing I was there decided to surge and pass the athlete in front of him. With the rules the way they are you have 25 seconds to pass an athlete once entering their draft zone, you are not allowed to drop back once entering their draft zone. My wattage increased from the 300 watts I was pushing to 500 watts so the draft marshall would see I was moving forward through the pass. Unfortunately I had no more gas to move any quicker and by the time I had passed Mark and the other athlete it was 40 seconds. Instead of using common sense or the theory that I passed 2 people within the 50 second allocated period the head official decided to give me a red card (4 minute penalty at the next penalty tent). I was furious but knew there was no changing her mind so I got back in my zone and forgot about it. I was ready to stop at the penalty tent a few miles up the road. Unfortunately the tent was not set up by the time we passed so I would have to wait until much later in the race to take my penalty.
Sorry for dragging this on, I will move through the race a bit quicker now. I soon made my way past the leader, Luke Bell and was feeling great. James Bowstead, caught me with about 20 miles to go and we stayed within a few hundred meters of each other for the remainder of my race. The penalty tent was going to be with 10 miles to go, I would stop relax for 4 minutes then finish the remainder of the bike with good effort and smash the run with everything I had. 2 miles before the penalty tent the head official decided I was drafting again because I was not 5 bike lengths behind James. I was and James will vouch for me. And by the way they rule is 10 meters from front wheel of the rider in front of you to your front wheel, not 5 bike lengths, that is used as an example in briefings.
Oh well, I was still in the zone and I figured we would sort it out at the tent where I was stopping for 4 minutes anyway. I got there and quickly lost my focus and got really frustrated that she could not use common sense to see through the first penalty where after the over taking dilemma I immediately road away from the other guys and with the second penalty that she did not know the rule was 10 meters not 5 bike lengths (not a big deal but a bit of a worry when the official doesn't actually know what the ruling states), makes you wonder. Maybe she just didn't like how good I looked in my 2XU race kit…
I lost my cool and cracked, I had 8 minutes of penalty time and thought it was ridiculous so I through in the towel. Immediately after making that decision and starting my journey back to transition I knew I had reacted impulsively and made the wrong decision but it was to late as I had given the official back my timing chip… I wanted to make my point. My race was over and instead of dealing with the consequences and moving on from them I reacted emotionally and made the wrong decision. I hurt deep down the whole way home and am still burning inside, what makes it worse is that the leaders of the race blew up big time and the guys who were 8-9 minutes back where victorious on the day. I am not saying I would have won, but I am saying that I should not have pulled the pin as it as a long and hot day and anything could have happened out there. Besides a good tempo run would have been good for the training!!!
A big congrats to Michael Lovato for regaining his title here and coming from over 8 minutes down on James Bowstead off the bike. There were also a lot of other races out there this weekend so congratulations to all the winners and also to those who competed and made it to the finish line.
I learnt a big lesson today, one that hopefully I will remember. It doesn't pay to be emotional and make emotional decision. I have never strategised what I would do in a situation like this and that was my fault. If I knew what to expect and how I would feel emotionally going into the penalty tent I may have been able to handle the situation better. So big learning to be made today.
Next stop for me is Portland where I will base myself for the next couple weeks before competing in the Portland Rev 3. I am looking forward to hanging out with some good friends in the area as well as my bike shop sponsor Athletes Lounge.
A big thanks to Shari and Randy Holloway for putting the Bowstead brother and me up in their house this week and making us feel at home.
Also, if you are up for a way out their story, check out Andrew Starykowicz's blog. He raced the Abu Dhabi tri in March and has been locked up for a hit and run on his bike during the race for the past few months.
Thanks for your support
Until next time,