Ironman 70.3 Lubbock

Feels pretty cool to be in the one and only Scott Flathouse’s backyard!

Seven weeks after Ironman St. George, I toed the line at Ironman 70.3 Lubbock. I picked that race because I could drive there, minimizing the amount of time I’d be away from the summer swim team I was coaching, and because it was the last weekend that qualified for the 2022 Ironman 70.3 World Championships in St. George. My primary goal was to execute the race, but tucked right up in as a semi-primary goal was to qualify for the World Championships. No time goals, no direct placing goals, just go and race and race with confidence.

Now, a disclaimer. I ended up racing on day 3 of covid symptoms. Did I know this? No, not at the time. Do I regret this? I mean, a little – I was fatigued for far longer than I ‘should’ have been post race, but that was paired with covid recovery. Ultimately, I got lucky – I had planned for a 10-20 day ‘off season’ following Lubbock, I didn’t end up with severe or long term symptoms, and everything turned out ok. Would I recommend this for anyone? No, absolutely not. I should have caught that I was starting to get sick, but I blew off the symptoms as pre-race anxiety. When I crossed the finish line, though, I knew something was wrong, and so did the volunteers. I was asked by every single volunteer I passed if I needed medical assistance, and I always replied, “No, I’m ok, just really tired!” So to everyone that was in close contact with me, I truly and sincerely apologize and I hope I didn’t share any germs with you.


Ok. Back to the race.

I went down to Texas for business. I drove from Boulder to Lubbock on Friday in a straight shot, taking my time and eating and drinking with intention. It was a long but uneventful drive – these north-south trips really make you realize how vast this country is. I went by myself, and found out on the drive down that some friends from the wide-world of social media would be there too! An awesome surprise, and got to get breakfast with one on Saturday before packet pickup.

Having never been to Texas before, I really didn’t know what to expect other than…flat, hot, windy. And that’s pretty much exactly what we got! I picked up my packet, dropped off my bike, just took care of all of the pre-race stuff that needs to happen. It was easy, straightforward, and really low-stress. I did end up driving the bike course – all 56 miles! – which I was glad to have done on race day. I find it to be really helpful for landmarks. I knew where the turnaround was, where the turns were, and when there were houses or other interesting things to look at besides spent cotton fields.

I call this my “Ask me about St. George” outfit

Race morning, I took the shuttle to the swim start – I actually really enjoy shuttles, they help me get into race day headspace. We hit a MASSIVE pothole about 3 minutes away from drop off, and every single person on the bus was airborne – how was that for an adrenaline rush?! Besides forgetting my bike computer in my car and the predawn sensation of flight, the morning was straightforward and easy. I had plenty of time to set up transition, add new fields to my watch (since I was computer-less), and make my way to the swim start. With this being my first non-wetsuit race, the swimskin went on super easy and made me think I should probably swap it for a smaller size!

At the swim start, I started in about the 10th wave of 3. I still managed to pass almost a dozen people quite quickly, and then swam by myself for the rest of the swim. I do think I got clocked in the chin at the swim start, because I had a mystery bruise under my chin, but definitely didn’t notice until well after the race. The sighting was easy enough, and with clear water (as in, no one around, not clarity – swimming in Texas lakes is like swimming in mud) the buoys clicked by and I was at the finish before I knew it. The swim was slow across the board. I swam a 31:08, a minute slower than 2021’s St. George 70.3, and no one was much faster than that. But, I really don’t pay too much attention to overall or even split times while I’m racing, so I was blissfully unaware of my ‘slower’ swim split.

No one in front, no one behind. Kind of a lonely swim. Finisherpix

Swim Stats: Time – 31:08, 2nd AG, 3rd Gender, 13th OA

I ran out of the swim exit and into T1, hearing that I was ‘third woman’ coming out of the water. That was a great boost, but I knew with a rolling start it didn’t really mean much until the finish line. I did have a very speedy T1!

That’s transition at the bottom of the hill. Finisherpix

The bike starts up the lone hill on course, which looked intimidating but was over in a flash. We had a forecast of winds coming out of the northeast, and knowing that the bike course was an out (east) and back (west), the first half of the ride was going to be challenging. I knew my normalized power target goal (180w), and just stuck with it as best I could. Stubbornly sticking to that, even when faced with a massive headwind, turned out to be the right call. I was passed by a handful of athletes, including some women I ended up leapfrogging with for the entire ride, on the headwind sections. But holding my same power target with a tailwind, I blew by these same people on the return trip. This ride was a total mindset game – I had to trust that my fitness would be there and that my bike handling was sufficient to allow me to confidently ride at 27 mph on the return trip.

Do the oil derricks seem like bike legs to anyone else? Scott Flathouse

There were a few moments where the crosswinds scared me, or the time that the GIANT tumbleweed made me think I was a goner, but for the most part, I rode confidently, with great power, and no regrets. Each turn could have made my mood shift drastically, but I told myself with the headwind that there was a tailwind waiting for me, rather than beat myself up over how long it was taking.

This shot was from a series of 14. Not used to having this much attention from the photographers! Finisherpix

Ultimately, I rode a strong bike leg, but not stronger than it needed to be. As I approached T2, I slowed down and rode the brakes – after the disastrous crash at the Santa Cruz Olympic in 2019, I will forever be a cautious dismounter and I don’t really care. I’ll just ride the rest faster!

Bike Stats: Time – 2:38:12, 2nd AG, 9th Gender, 113rd OA

I don’t know that this has ever happened to me before, but my T2 was SLOWER than my T1. Maybe because no wetsuit? Maybe because we had to run on carpeted grass in cleats? I dunno, but I left T2 with the two women I played leapfrog with for the whole ride.

The run course is what I spend most of my time studying. I am still very intimidated by running, and the amount of time locked in your head is a challenge for me. Contrast this to the swim, which is like second nature, and the bike, where you have power targets and technical skills and drafting rules to follow, and the run is an exercise in meditation. Not my strong suit. The run here was half point-to-point and half loops. The point-to-point from T2 to the Texas Tech campus had hills – long drags and short and punchy – and many turns. Upon arriving at campus, you did a lap through the football stadium (rumored to be super hot), and then two loops through campus. Fortunately, this helped me break the run up very simply: first 10km (point-to-point), next 5km (loop 1), and last 5km (loop 2).

Unintentional Incognito – it was bright! Finisherpix

As we ran out of T2, the group of three women converged. One sprinted up to an aid station for a porta potty, and I ran with the other for a bit before she started to pull away. The pit-stop runner caught back up to me, and we had a quick conversation about where we were in the race. I was fairly sure we were 3rd, 4th, and 5th women – turns out I was right – and she tried to rally me to go with her to chase down first. “Oh, um… no. I’ll blow up if I go any faster and I’m probably going to blow up anyway” was my response, because we were running about 8:20/mile pace. So off she went, and I hope she crushed her race.

I kept trying to slow down after I realized I’d been running at that super-hot pace, and nothing I did stuck. I know that the tailwind was helping me, but frankly it was such a mental boost to see the paces I was holding and feeling like it was easy and in control! And then, about 5km in, my watch alerted me that my heart rate monitor’s battery was low – so pacing by HR was no longer an option. So I just kept running by feel. I walked the aid stations (there weren’t a ton), grabbed water, ice, and gels as planned, and just put the accelerator down each time I left.

I am not joking when I say there are 22 photos from this 50yd section. They took so many pictures I had time to wave twice. It was a little intimidating being in this stadium with just one other person! Finisherpix

I didn’t get passed by a woman outside of our original group of three until just before we hit the campus, and I passed a different woman shortly after that (which, by the way, was not something I’ve consciously done in a triathlon before). I did not know this, but I was in 6th overall heading into the second half of the run. Having the loops on campus was fantastic for me – I knew where spectators were, I knew exactly where the aid stations were, and I knew exactly how much the quiet half on the backside of campus sucked. But I also knew what to expect from the course, like what the turns looked like and the pattern of what remained. The first loop on campus felt so strong. Turning back toward a headwind after almost 9 miles of tailwind was tough, but I didn’t lose much from my pace.

The second loop on campus was a different story. I was fighting for every step, pushing myself to keep going and fighting even though my legs hurt and my shoulders hurt and it was so very hot. I had come to Texas for a Worlds slot, and I told myself I wasn’t going to give up on that goal by slowing and walking. I thought about my coworkers, my swimmers, my friends – I knew they were tracking me and I knew that I had to keep going.

Fresh into the last loop. This guy was running with me for a while! Finisherpix

At mile 11.5, on the back of campus, with no one around, I slowed to a walk. My run form was falling apart, my right medial quad was shooting pain with every step, and I just wanted to be done. I looked at my watch, walked for 15 seconds, and went through the mental gymnastics to convince myself to suffer for just a little bit longer:

You just have to get to mile 12, and at the pace you’re running, that’s only 4.5 minutes. And when you get to mile 12, your mind isn’t going to let you walk with just a mile left, so then you only have another 9 minutes after that. Just keep going. Don’t stop. Build. Go. Go. Go!

This is the moment where you’re pushing as much as your body forward as you can and leaving the rest of yourself behind! Finisherpix

It hurt. But I replayed the turns I had left in my head: right, left, right, right, left. Then it became left, right, right, left. And as it became right, right, left, again, I was rounding the last 90* turn, passing folks, and then leaving racers behind as they veered left for loop 2 and I veered right for the finish. All that remained was turning left onto the red carpet for the finish line, and it took everything I had to run hard. I had to! With a rolling start, I would have been crushed if I had been pipped at the line by someone I never even saw during the race.

As I approached the finish banner and the race clock, I read 5:06 as an elapsed time – and holy smokes my whole being was THRILLED.

And this is as I screamed crossing the line! Finisherpix

Run Stats: 1:53:22, 4th AG, 16th Gender, 172nd OA

I ran through the line and then as soon as I stopped, it became pretty clear that something was wrong with me. Every volunteer I passed asked if I needed first aid or the medical team, and my response was always the same, “No, I’m just tired and I’ll be glad to sit down!” To me, I had just run the race of my life. Forgetting that there was a swim and a bike ahead of that, I had never run faster than 2:10 in a half marathon, let alone sub-2 hours or sub 1:55! So, duh, of course I was tired. In retrospect, its because I was actually on the cusp of being super ill and I had just pushed my body to extremes, but… I had raced hard!

Honestly these photos are best as a series. The most elated raw emotion I’ve felt crossing a finish line in a long time. Finisherpix

I saw my friend at the finish line, and he was headed back up to Colorado. I was jealous because I was ready to be home, but needed to stay for awards. I picked up my morning clothes bag and pulled out my phone to see a bunch of messages wishing me luck, and good vibes, and then…congratulations.

Race Stats: 5:05:59 (no joke), 2nd AG, 7th Gender, 78th OA

I feel like I maybe need to run faster in training (the 400m is DEFINITELY wrong)

2nd Age Group? Top 10 overall? This was an even better result than I thought was possible. This race actually published their slot allocations pretty quickly, but I had enough time to compose myself, hobble to my car, shower (at a Flying J – highly recommend), and pick up my bike, before it was posted on the app.

Women 30-34 was allocated TWO slots, not to mention the Women for Tri slots. I had accomplished what I went to Texas for, and without the anxiety of waiting for a rolldown. I qualified for World Championships!! And, I had executed extremely well in the race itself – nailing nutrition, pacing, and confidence. Positive reinforcement does amazing things!

Fast women!!

I killed some time at a brewery, sitting with another sole-traveler athlete, and we headed over to the banquet and awards. He was hoping for a Worlds slot as well, but it didn’t roll quite far enough for him – missed it by 2 spots. I got to go up as part of the podium for Women 30-34, claim my slot, and pay Ironman a crap-ton of money. I got lucky and convinced an audience member to take a photo of our podium, and it is one of my favorite pictures – the women I was standing there with look so strong. No one looks frail or like a strong breeze would blow them over. These women are athletes and I felt like one of them, and felt so lucky to share the podium with them!

All of that being said, what a very cool experience at a race with so much history! Thankful as always for my friends who support me through these dumb endeavors, but especially to the Dolphins, the summer swim team I proudly coach and the rest of our coaching staff who stepped up when I was out for a whole week longer than expected (3 days turned into 10 days thanks to covid).

And here’s all the stats from the day!

Swim Stats: Time – 31:08, 2nd AG, 3rd Gender, 13th OA

Watch Data: 2,095 yards, 1:27/100 yd

Equipment: race cap + latex underneath, Speedo Vanquisher goggles (light tint), Roka Viper swimskin

Bike Stats: Time – 2:38:12, 2nd AG, 9th Gender, 113rd OA

Equipment: Giro Aerohead helmet; Cervelo P2 with Shimano 105 ca. 2016; Stages left side powermeter; Speedplay pedals; Wahoo Element Bolt computer; XLab BTA and BTS bottle cages; Custom Bike Xcessories frame box; Flo 60/90 wheels; Continental GP 5000 tires

Watch Data: 56.2 miles, 0.79 IF and 178 NP

Run Stats: 1:53:22, 4th AG, 16th Gender, 172nd OA

Equipment: Topo Athletic Cyclone shoes; Roka Phantom sunglasses (nosepieces superglued on frame); cheap hat from large online retailer

Watch Data: 13.0 miles, 0.98 IF (again, I should probably run harder in training, I guess)

Race Stats: 5:05:59 (no joke), 2nd AG, 7th Gender, 78th OA

Equipment: Roka race kit; Roka sports bra; Garmin Forerunner 945 watch; Wahoo TickrX heart rate monitor

What a day. Thank you. Scott Flathouse

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