This is my third year in a row doing this race and there's just something about it that keeps me coming back. The heat, the wind, the vibe - it's just an old school, gritty, honest race that to me is what triathlon is all about.
Going into the race I think everyone knew we were in for the full Buffalo Springs experience with forecasted winds of 20-30 mph and a high of 104. I tried to embrace the tough conditions, knowing that how smart you race would be at least as important as fitness level. Races like this are opportunities to find yourself way up the leaderboard and punch above your weight if you play your cards right.
The swim was uneventful which was just what I was hoping for, I came out of the water 6th in my AG which is surprisingly high for me. I knew that how I rode the bike would dictate how the entire race would go so I did my very best to stay on top of nutrition and hydration as well as being patient in the winds and keeping my HR as low as possible. One occasion where I had zero control over my HR was hitting over 54 MPH on one of the descents! That was terrifying! Despite a relatively conservative bike ride I managed to gain one spot and come into T2 5th in my AG.
I came off the bike feeling strong and hoping to negative split the run. It quickly became apparent how unlikely that would be as the heat started to skyrocket. After the first trip up "heartbreak hill" it turned into survival mode. I spent the rest of the race trying to maintain a steady pace and keep it together. It felt pretty slow at the time but I wound up splitting the 3rd fastest run in my AG. I crossed the line in 4:54:02 - 4th in my AG, 15th overall, and just 86 seconds away from accomplishing a long time goal of landing on an IM 70.3 podium.
Yesterday was what this sport is all about. 600+ athletes showed up to put it on the line in absolutely brutal conditions with smiles on their faces. Everyone who crossed the finish line yesterday had to fight like hell to get there. If you haven't yet experienced this race, it's definitely one to put on the list. I for one can't wait to get another crack at it next year!
Another amazing shot captured by photographer, Scott Flathouse!