Monday, July 14, 2008


Saturday (7/12/08) was the 25th edition of the Bottomless Tri. The race is held at Bottomless State Park just outside Roswell, NM. It's a short sprint tri (400 m swim/13 km bike/4 km run). Even though it's short, it's a real workout. Everyone is going all out and you do have a short steep climb coming out of T-1. It's one of the few races that I can finish in less than one hour, and the overall winner will finish in less than 50 minutes.

I car pooled down to Roswell with fellow Outlaw Willy Wonka and a couple of other Clovis triathletes. One of the things I like about this race is they don't start the race until 8:30 in the morning. It's only a two hour drive from Clovis, so we don't need to leave here until 5:00. Sure beats having to drive 5-6 hours to get to some of the races, and you can almost get a complete night's sleep.

It was sunny, fairly warm, and humid. Not Atlanta humid, but pretty sticky for New Mexico. People often feel they aren't sweating because any sweat in New Mexico normally evaporates as fast as it appears. But I was sweating on Saturday.

The swim went off in three waves. Women, young guys, then old guys. I was in the old guy wave. Bottomless Lake is fairly brackish, but it's about as clear as you get in Eastern New Mexico/West Texas unless you are swimming in a pool. I had a pretty fast swim, but I forgot to hit the lap timer on my watch until I got to my bike in T-1. I didn't have a very fast T-1. I cannot run without socks unless I want to get blisters. Although I can bike in bare feet, it's either put socks on during T-1 or put them on in T-2. So I just put them on in T-1. This time, it took forever to get my right sock on. Nothing out of the ordinary. Just clumsy, I guess.

I came out of the water just behind fellow Outlaw Bones and just ahead of Stitch. By the time I left T-1, Bones was well up the road, and Stitch was a few seconds in front of me. I had a fast bike ride and I caught up to Stitch after 2-3 miles. Then I passed Miguel, yet another Outlaw, with about 3 miles to go on the bike. I didn't quite catch Bones on the bike, and he beat me out of T-2.

I was going OK on the run, but not fast enough to hold off Stitch who caught and passed me just after the turn-around. I couldn't keep up with Stitch, and I was never going to catch Bones. It looked to me like I was all alone with about a quarter mile to go. One of my fellow Clovites was just getting started on the run and he gave me a shout out, followed by a shout out for Mark Balsiger just a few seconds later. Wow, how did Mark manage to catch up to me? First of all, Mark is four years older than me, and he's a lot faster on the bike and run. However, if there is a swim, I can sometimes build enough of a lead there to hold him off. Secondly, Mark (along with Flip Lyle) is a key player in organizing and keeping the SWCS going. He's a swell guy, and I certainly don't hold any animosity towards him. But hey, this was a race! I tried to pick up my pace, and I was soon at my redline. Just as I turned the corner with 50 meters or so to go to the finish, I thought I was going to get sick to my stomach. I managed to hold on (and I think Mark was letting up) to finish just ahead of Mark, and then I walked over to the bushes and got sick.

It wasn't my fastest race there, but I was within one minute of my fastest race in 2004. And in 2004 my swim was about one minute faster than Saturday. The swim turn around buoy placement is fairly arbitrary at Bottomless, which makes year-to-year comparisons difficult, but it makes no difference to the outcome of a given race.

Post race, a bunch of the Outlaws met up at Farleys for lunch. I'm not sure Lance Armstrong would approve of our post race appetizer of Rabbit Droppings. Think deep fried cheese balls with Jalepeno peppers. Anyway, lunch was a great time to meet some new Outlaws and to chat with everyone there.

The same folks who put on the Bottomless Tri put on the "F-1 Tri" at the same location on Aug 23rd. This is a "draft legal" race. Although it really burns me up to see people drafting in races where it isn't legal, it's a lot of fun to do this race once a year. The past two years, we have had a couple of good "Team Time Trial" pacelines going with several Outlaws. This year at the Bottomless Tri, we could have had four or five Outlaws in a paceline on the bike. We didn't do this on Saturday, but wait until August!


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

BSLT 70.3

Sunday (6/29/08) was the BSLT 70.3, formerly known as the Buffalo Springs Half Ironman. I was the cyclist/runner on a relay team for three races (2002-2004) and then I did the race "solo" twice (2005-2006). Last year I did the Tri-Raider sprint which they run on the same day in the same location. Mike and Marti Greer are the race directors for both of these races plus a few others. They do a super job putting their races together.

You can usually count on Lubbock, TX, being hot, dry, and sunny in the last week of June. It certainly has been every other year I was there. The sun and the heat take a lot out of me. Throw in the hills on the bike, and especially the hills on the run, and this is a tough race. They have slots for Kona and Clearwater, so you get some of the heavy hitters from all over the United States showing up. I just look for a reasonable time and hope to finish in the top half of my age group.

This year, it was cool (temperatures in the 60's/low 70's), with gray skies, lightning in the distance, winds gusting to 25 mph, and rain. If I had been the race director, I would have been worried about having 1000 triathletes riding bikes on wet and slippery roads getting blown around by the wind. If Mike and Marti ever considered cancelling the race, I never heard about it. Other than a delay because people were late getting parked and down the hill to the transition area, everything went off without a hitch. Sure beat my experience at the USAT Age Group Championships in Kansas City in 2005 where they cancelled the race because of wet roads.

The swim starts in a small cove. There is no way to have a mass start, so everyone goes off in waves of 100-200 or so swimmers. This year, some of the pro's figured out you could run through the shallow water on the south shore of the cove rather than starting your swim from the middle of the cove. This saved them about 100 meters of swimming. Sure enough, the age groupers saw this so every wave had some "runners" at the start of the swim. I didn't want to step on something in my bare feet, so I started swimming from the middle of the cove. I could watch the "runners" and except for the few "runners" at the front of the group, most of them were bunched up behind the leaders so they were just walking. I don't think it cost me more than 30 seconds, and probably less.

The roads were dry at the start of the bike, but then a bunch of showers started coming through. Along with the wind, it made the bike course extra difficult. Some of the corners were really slick. In particular, you come down two hills with some fairly sharp curves after the second and third turn-arounds, and everyone that I saw was sitting up riding the brakes coming down these two hills. I saw one guy who had failed to make one of the 90-degree turns from one road to the next. The EMT's were already working on him, but he had road rash from his knee to his arm pit. I had a fairly slow bike, but I never went down.

The slow bike meant that I had quite a bit left in the tank for the run. It was still pretty cool and the sky was still overcast, so I was able to get in a pretty good run. I had never been able to run a sub-2-hour run on a half IM, but this time I made it in 1:56 and change. That doesn't sound very fast, but given the three hills on the Buffalo Springs run, I was pretty pleased.

I read on Iron "Geekgirl" Misty's blog that races in Texas always start with a prayer and end with beer.

Now that I think about it, in my experience that has been a true statement. Sure enough, this race started not only with a Christian prayer, we also had a Native American prayer (although it might have been a plea for rain). At the finish, the local Miller beer distributor was passing out free beer.

Great race, gutsy race directors, and free beer. What a day!