Monday, May 21, 2007

Buffman Squeaky Race Report

It wouldn't be a complete story if I didn't include what I did the two days prior to my first ever international distance triathlon. The course consists of a 1500M open water swim, 40K bike with freaking steep hills, finishing with a 10K run along the lake.

Updated with photos and links


My friend & I at some point in the past few months apparently lost our minds momentarily and decided to meet up with some athletes who were training for a 70.3 at this same venue later next month. So, we found ourselves in Lubbock waking up before the sun came up to 51 degrees and rain, went over to the lake, and proceeded out on what was my longest and most miserable bike experience ever. First off, we had not packed for 51deg and rain. When we left town the day before, the forcast said 68deg, partly cloudy, chance of afternoon thundershowers. Secondly, Our intention had been to ride a good bit of the course, but turn around early (it was a triple out and back) and cut it short by a good 20 miles...we didn't know the course well enough and ended up completing all but 10 miles of it. Let's just say I was shivering cold and a weeeee bit cranky when we got back to the car after 46miles in the cold rain.

After the ride, we went back to the hotel, took a warm shower, ate some lunch, and climbed into bed for a nap that was WAY too short.

Back to the lake in the afternoon to talk about transition, put on the wet suits, and splash around in the water for a half hour. For the three of us ladies in the photo, this was to be our first time in the open water wearing wetsuits. Don't let the forced smiles fool you, we were FREEZING. The goal was to get used to being in the water with the wetsuits. It was really cold and we didn't stay in too long or really do much swimming.

Afterwards, back to the hotel, another hot shower, dinner, and an early lights out.


Another early wake up call. Back to the lake to run the course. Everyone else ran the full half marathon course, I cut it short at 7 miles. It was a balmy 55deg, no rain, and actually nice for running. When I got back from the run, I went back out with my camera and took a few photos around the lake.

By now, the race directors and volunteers were beginning to set up the course for the race the next day. I remember thinking, "Oh yeah, I have a race tomorrow."

We spent a good half hour practicing transitions. Then it was time for open water swim practice.
Wetsuits back on. Off we went with the goal of swimming across the lake and back two times.

Then it happened. My first open water anxiety attack. I can't rationally explain what happened, but I can tell you that it resulted in flailing, splashing, coughing, flipping over to my back, counting to ten, flipping back over, flailing again, splashing, flipping over...and this went on and on and on. I eventually made it across and back...once...then declared myself done.

While the others were gliding effortlessly across the water, I made a teary phone call to Husband telling him that I was in the wrong sport. I wasn't sure I would make the swim the next day and even if I did it was going to be a long morning and I was looking at a 4 hr projected finish at this point. He told me not to worry. He didn't care how long it took me to finish or if I finished at all. He just wanted me home in one piece. I walked over to the water, forced a smile, and cheered on the others as they finished their second loop.

Then we left for a late lunch, a pep talk, packet pick-up, and called it an early night.


It was maybe 57 deg and hazy when we took off to the lake for the third day in a row. Found a spot to rack the bike, got set up, body marking, etc. Spent a little time chatting with Misty. Got the wetsuits on and walked over to the water. Decided to get in and 'swim' a little and discovered that I could kind of swim with my head above the water which was a good learning. Walked to the beach and waited for the horn.

Counted to five after the horn went off and then started in. In less than 30seconds, I was back to the flailing, coughing, freaking out, flipping over, I can't do this, what I am here for, splashing nonsense that had plagued me the day before. This went on for a good 800M. A guy on a boat stayed near me and asked if I was okay. "I'm fine, just let me swim," I snapped back. I'm sure he was thinking...okay lady, then DO IT! I thought about swimming to boat, jumping in, and calling it a day right then and there. But I remembered what Bubba told me - just keep moving forward - and I realized that I WAS moving forward albeit not very gracefully or quickly. And then I guess I finally decided to swim. It was so much easier and faster than the flailing, splashing, coughing nonsense and I started passing the others at the back of the swim pack. From that point on, I was determined to be a finisher. I was amazed at how quickly I found myself at the shore once I started swimming.

With that pathetic performance behind me, it was time for my 'weak link' - the bike. I was glad that I had ridden 46 miles in the cold rain a few days earlier, because 25miles didn't seem so bad even having to face 5 hills in a noticeable amount of wind while being exhausted after wasting so much energy in the lake.

Some of the athletes from the day before screamed "WooHoo!! You made it out of the water! You can do it!" as they saw me going out while they were coming in. Triathletes rock.

I'm pretty sure that everyone who was behind me on the swim eventually passed me on the bike, but I didn't care. I was determined to be a finisher and I just kept moving forward. It's kind of nice being dead last on the bike. Nobody else passes you, and you get your own chase crew. :)

Coming in, one of the volunteers said, it you still want to run, head out toward the porta potties and around. Are you kidding?!?! Heck yeah, I wanna' run!!

The run was amazing. Within a quarter mile, I passed someone. Most of the runners were finishing were shouting encouragement. By the turn point, there were now three people behind me. Volunteers were commenting that I looked good and was smiling. I kept moving forward.

I love this picture that my friend shot just before I turned into the finish chute. I have been working on my running form and it seems to be paying off.

I was really happy when I made it across the line.

It's kind of a blur after that. People were talking to me, but I had a hard time processing it. I kept forgetting what I was about to do next. I had to lean on someone to put track pants on over my shorts. I couldn't bend down to pick up and pack up my wetsuit. Somehow we managed to pack up, shower, and head home.


  1. Nicely done, Lisa. I am SO with you on the anxiety thing :-) You learned a valuable lesson here though. You can do the 1.5KM swim distance. It sounds like once you got going, you had a great time. Good for you! I hope this effort spurs you on to tri another! Well done!!

  2. That sounds like a good experience and strong finish for your first one. And you did a lot of training 2 days before...usually I taper down to nothing by then!

  3. Great job! Glad you made it through the failing portion, you earned a great finish. You did put in a lot of training right before the event, I'd be hanging out for two days- certainly not putting in a 46 mile ride in the rain! Thanks for sharing the report, you did awesome.

  4. You are so cool, Lisa, with your slightly self-deprecating, subtle humor, that can't conceal how well you did, and what a great accomplisment this is.

  5. Awesome! YOu face a challenge and conquered it! Now, as I asked you at the finish line, are ya ready for a 70.3???

  6. Great Job! I cheered you on at the finish line with the others in the stands. The B&S is a tough Oly but a good one.

    Looking forward to seeing you finish many more.

  7. Really well done Lisa! And don't fret about the anxiety thing, my mates b/f who's doing an IM had a "moment" at a recent Oly distance and he's done loads of OW, so it can happen to anyone. But you know what YOU DID IT - you got through - REALLY, REALLY well done!... and on the back of all that training too!! You gotta be smiling :o)

  8. Great job and wonderful post! There is nothing natural about swimming in open just takes experience to allow you to relax. The first time I swam in open water, a boat had to fish me out to keep me from drowning...that was 30-something races ago. So don't fret about it. It does get easier with practice. Before you know it, you will be going without the wetsuit because it slows down your transition time. ;-)

    Be proud of what you did. Most people wouldn't have even tried in the first place.

    You rock!!!

  9. great job, lisa! i am with you on that open water anxiety thing. i panicked during my first open water swim too. i remember looking toward shore and my coach was there saying - you can get out if you want to - but i was going to finish, i was determined, and so were you, obviously!!

    GREAT effort, can't wait to hear about the next one!!

  10. Wow! Great job! Nice report. Despite everything you hung in there and finished with great form.

  11. Fantastic, Lisa!
    Now THIS is a perseverance story. You should be so proud of yourself. Like Chad said, few even attempt, and you attempted, and comquered. Even after way too much pre-race "warming up" and an anxiety attack in the water. I'm very proud of you!

  12. Great job Lisa, I felt the same way during my 1st Oly swim...

    You pushed thru it and you made it, way to go "Endurance Athelete", very proud of you..

    You are getting pretty hard core, training sessions right before your race..

  13. Way to go Lisa! You hung in there tough girl! Yay!

  14. I am overwhelmed with the support and encouragement that I have received both from telling the story and from those who were there.

    Misty was one of the first people to greet me at the finish line. Myles and others were cheering in the stands. So many fast athletes took a moment to encourage me when they saw me on the course or in transition when their race was over. The volunteers and race directors were awesome. My blog friends have nothing but positive things to say.

    THANK YOU ALL!!!!!!!

  15. Congratulations! It looks like you have great running form. I am totally with you on the swimming. It takes a lot of courage to get out there and do it in the first place. I am not ready to tackle my fear of the open water so kudos to you. I am sure you will only improve.

    Enjoy your accomplishment!

  16. WOOHOO! Great report! And congrats on your 1st O.D. Tri! Mine is coming in about 10 weeks so it is extremely encouraging for me to read your race report. Thanks!

    Now you are past that anxiety thing, it is all downhill (if there is such a thing as downhill in swimming). :)

    Very good job especially considering the training volume and psychological trauma from the 2 days before. So when's the next race?

  17. Lisa, great race! You did it, despite your distracting swim. It happens to everyone, so don't worry about that. The immportant thing, which I'm sure you know, is that you finished!

  18. Great race report! You did wonderfully!!