2013 Buffalo Springs 70.3 [Race Report]

Ironman 70.3 / Race Reports

Turning Lemon’s into Lemonade!

The week prior to the race, several instances occurred that were sub-optimal, and started to affect my mental approach to the race. I celebrated my birthday four days before the race. As a tradition, I had to have a piece of my father’s incredible Carrot Cake; it is my very favorite! My dad went out of his way to make it extra special and tried making it gluten free, to accommodate for my temperamental stomach. I was so excited, however, after I ate one piece I broke out into hives all over my body. I am apparently allergic to almond flour, which is strange to me since I can eat whole almonds and drink almond milk. I do it daily without any problems. Needless to say, this was a huge setback. The hives were persistent and lingered for the next two days.

The day following my birthday, my father and I headed out on our road trip to Buffalo Springs. Once we arrived we went straight to our home-stay’s house. We were truly blessed and had the most incredible family host us in Lubbock, Texas. Scott and his wife Kendra and their two children Lexie and Hillary were absolutely amazing! We also fell in love with their precious black lab, Peggy Sue.

Friday before the race I was still completely wiped out from the hives but tried to stay positive saying to myself that I would feel better race day. Meanwhile, back home, Jeff, my fiancé was at his uncle’s funeral. While grieving from a distance my home-stay family was adorable! They had a party at their house with their Flat-Out triathlon team and made a feast for my father and I. It was so much fun to get to meet their friends! In retrospect, I should have gone to bed a little earlier that night, but I was having so much fun hearing everyone’s triathlon stories.

Saturday I was still feeling off and was really concerned when my bike/run computer decided to completely die. I spent the entire morning calling different bike shops in Lubbock to see if I could get a replacement without any luck at all.

I talked to my coach Simon Lessing and told him my concern and he just informed me that I would have to race old-school, just 100% off perceived effort. I was more at piece after talking to him and just knew I would need to have an attitude adjustment if I was going to have a good race the next day.

Race Morning:

I woke up feeling the best I had all week but still not as spunky as I had wished. I put on my Wattie Ink. kit and then went to have my Core 4 Nutrition for breakfast along with an Ensure. Another fantastic advantage of having a home stay is they know all the secret entrances into the lake. This saved heaps of time by not having to wait in the endless line of cars. I set up transition and then made my way over to the race start.

The women talent toeing the starting line was overwhelming to me. When I saw the first tentative list of professional women I felt pretty confident but once I saw the official list my mentality had shifted. I knew I was going to have a great day to make it on the podium, which was top 5.

As I stood on the shore in my Blueseventy Wetsuit waiting to start, the race officials were making last minute minor adjustments to the buoys. This gave me time to visualize my race one more time and do some Z-Health drills before I was cued to start. The men started 2 minutes before us, which gave me just enough time to see their approach to the start before we were sent off.

Since it was a beach start, we had to run into the water and dolphin dive until it got too deep and then we started swimming as hard as we could to the first buoy. I have not practiced dolphin diving in years, and it showed right from the start. Each dive I was loosing valuable seconds. I did my best to bridge up to a group of girls around the first buoy and was able to hang on for a few strokes but was dropped extremely early in the swim. I had a fellow competitor that had been dropped as well to draft off of for a few hundred meters but once I overtook her I was on my own the rest of the swim, which was about 1000 meters to T1.

Finally, I could hear the announcer from the boat ramp and I knew I was close. I pushed the last 100 meters to finally make it to shore. Thank God for land! I ran up the ramp with the aid of the volunteers who were incredible. I was in 9th place, I had a pretty fast transition time but I was still minutes behind the leaders. I had my work cut out for me on the bike.

Right out of transition, I struggled to get my shoes on which were attached to my Cervelo P3 but managed to squeeze my feet in just prior to the start of the first climb. I jumped out of the saddle, and tried desperately to make up ground on the first few climbs. Thanks to my Friction Facts chain every time I had to shift, which was a lot on this course, it was very smooth. When I caught myself looking through my Smith Optics sunglasses to see my SRM power reading and realize my watch wasn’t there, I would just tell myself to push harder!

At one of the out-and-back sections I tried to count the number of girls in front of me and calculate their lead. I knew I was gaining ground but not enough. I tried to push harder and every time I felt any kind of wind, cross or head wind, I would rejoice and pray that it would increase. I managed to overtake 2 gals on the bike, putting me in 7th place.

Right as I entered T2, I could see two girls just right in front of me and one was Laura Bennett. I became anxious and made a last minute decision to skip putting on my socks to save on time. I ran out of transition downing one of my Vanilla Bean GU’s. I was able to catch up to Laura just a few feet after exiting transition, “Could this be happening?” I asked myself. I knew that if I could run anywhere close to the time Laura was capable of, I would have a fantastic race.

Right as I passed, she ran into the porter-potty. I felt bad for her because I have been there and that is a terrible experience but I had to focus on my race. Shortly, after I was able to pass another gal just up the road. I was feeling really great and pretty excited. But almost as if I knew it was going to be “too-good-to-be-true” I could hear footsteps coming up on me very quickly. I knew it was Laura. So, my new goal was to stay with her as long as I could. I managed about 10 steps at her blazing pace before she slowly started to gap me. Ok, I thought, just keep her in sight. Meanwhile, we were gaining on two other great females. My Dad yelled words of encouragement to me as I headed up the first hill on the run, which inspired me to push harder. Once I got to the top I had the cheering squad of my homestay and their local triathlon team giving me splits and data on my placement.

I loved the run course; it was a true out-and-back course with three long tough climbs and a super hot straightaway section to the turn around point.  By the turn around I was in 5th, but was able to catch 4th within the next mile. At mile 10, was when I lost sight of Laura; she was hauling! Laura would go on to take 2nd place to Angela Naeth, who was in a league of her own on race day. She crushed the course record time with a screaming bike split and just maintained her lead the rest of the race. I tried desperately to catch 3rd place, Amy Marsh, but she had too big of a gap on me before the start of the run.

I was pleased with 4th place in a truly stacked field. I am beyond grateful to Boulder Coaching who is taking my fitness to a whole new level. I am seeing amazing gains each race. One of my compeitiors beat me by over 13 minutes at the start of the season in Oceanside, CA and in Buffalo Springs I managed to close the gap down to 1:40.

My next race is going to be Ironman Lake Placid, which I cannot wait for! I am in a solid two-week block of training before tapering and seeing what I can do in my favorite triathlon distance, the Ironman!

Thank you so very much to my incredible sponsors; it is your faith and support that is allowing me to chase my dreams. Thank you to all my amazing family members especially my father for going with me to Lubbock, Texas; I had a blast with you! I am so grateful to have such wonderful friends and getting to stay with the extremely generous Burris family. Thank you to God for making this journey possible!

Danielle Mack is professional Triathlete residing in Boulder, Colorado. She found her passion for triathlons at a young age. However, it wasn’t until she turned sixteen did she really start training strictly for triathlons. Through various paths God has lead her through the years including Xterra’s and Adventure Racing she discovered her ultimate love, long course triathlons, especially Ironman’s!