Monday, June 10, 2013

Buster Britton Memorial Triathlon

Watching the 3rd place baby fly!

Saturday I raced in the Buster Britton Memorial Triathlon in Birmingham, Alabama. It was my 12th time to do the race which was the very first one I did in 1999 when my son was seven years old. I have raced it every year except two over that 14 year period. (read about last year's race here and here)

Over the years they have shortened the swim from 600yds to 400yds and shortened the bike from 16 miles to 13 miles and moved the transition area up the road a bit until now it's at the very last picnic area before you start up the barely paved rough road that winds it's way up the mountain to peavine falls.

That's where the run takes place. It goes gradually uphill out and then mostly downhill back except a couple of small uphills. It's not bad though. The bike ride is the same. Going out is rolling but mostly uphill and coming back is smoking fast downhills with a couple of uphills.

There's a reason it's called "Oak Mountain" State Park.

In line for swim start... adjust the googles.... it's important!

The swim start is not a mass start. Everyone lines up by race number and goes in the water every 3 seconds. It use to drive me nuts to stand in line and wait, but after last year being at the end because I registered late, it doesn't bother me at all. I even got to the race at 6:30 instead of my usual 5:30 a.m time and parked a fairly long distance away from transition and that was fine. This was my husband and chief athletic supporter, staff photographer and food and beverage coordinator that broke me of the my OCD habit of having to get there at a certain time, park in a certain place, do everything in a certain way or have complete meltdown.

I actually race better now!

There was one small moment of panic when I couldn't get my bike in transition area before the race start because I wasn't wearing my arm band. It was way down the street in the car because I hate wearing those things! We have to have our bike racked by 7 a.m and I only had 5 minutes to run back to the car and grab it and get back. I had also forgotten my bike pump and had pumped the tires a little before we left Pensacola on Friday, but I knew they needed more air.

I rode the bike to the car to get the arm band and then went by the Bike Link tent to get the guys to pump air in my tires. Good thing because the back tire only had about 65psi and I usually race at 100psi. Luckily, there wasn't a line and I got my bike in transition right at 7 a.m with tires full of air.

Image from -Team Magic photo

Ready to go!

The water as usual was very warm and very brown and squishy at the bottom. The ramp is slippery but they had us going in next to the ramp with a carpet down. I wish the carpet had been extended all the way into the water until it was deep enough for me to start swimming though. It was squishy.

Thinking if I lean back far enough it will postpone going into the icky brown water....

Finally in the water swimming around...
It was very foggy at the start of the race and my googles were a little foggy too so I had a little trouble seeing where I was going. I think I stayed on course though. My swim time was only a few seconds slower than last year at a little over 9 minutes. Two minutes slower than I had wanted though.

Buster Britton transition area... you can't come in without your wristband... don't forget the wristband! Trust me!

The camera battery died right after the swim start so the Murph couldn't take any other pictures of the bike and run portions of the race. I got the awards ceremony photos off of facebook. The President of the Vulcan Triathletes Club took them. I missed the group photo with them though. I usually do! Now I am a member of both the Vulcan Triathletes and the TriGulfCoast club in my new home city. I guess this will be my last year as a Vulcan Triathlete. 

I will miss that too even though I haven't been training with them much the last couple of years because I haven't been training much at all the last couple of years! That will change now that I'm training for a 70.3 race.

Transition area

Award ceremony

I felt a little flat on the bike and I don't really know why. It was the first time this year that I've used the race wheels. I didn't use them in the other two races I did last month so I thought I would feel faster but nope. I was a minute slower on the bike than last year which was disappointing since I've been on the bike more than last year.
Buster Britton Finish line... always a welcome sight!
My run was much faster and I that's because of all the 5k's I did in April. I've been working on speed and keeping my long distance runs under 13 miles. Long distance has always slowed me down.

Overall I was about 3 minutes faster than last year and placed first in my age group same as last year. This year we stayed for the award ceremony so I could get my award. I'm glad I did because I also got a bag of all kinds of goodies such as running socks, bike tubes, water bottle, bike co2 pump, power gels, etc. It took a very LONG time to get to my age group though because I'm so old. The Murph was somewhat patient and I appreciate it. He even broke down and used the port-o-potty, something I thought he would never do.

Also, new this year was that everyone, all the race finishers, received a very nice finisher medal. After all that hard work everyone deserves a medal, especially the ones on the course in the heat after the 2 hour mark. They deserve something more than the top finishers and now they get some hardware too.

At packet pickup Friday I ran into the psychiatrist my son has been going to for ADD meds since he was in 6th grade. The same psychiatrist who diagnosed the Boy with Asperger's when he was in 8th grade and changed our lives for the better. He told me he was racing and that Buster Britton was his first triathlon. I didn't see him during the race, but as I was heading over to look at the results after the race I ran into him again and asked him how he did. He kicked butt! He placed 6th in his age group and was 6 minutes faster than me.

I have to admit I couldn't find his results because I thought he was much younger than he is. When I first took my son to see him many years ago, I even remember thinking he's so young that he probably just got out of school. "How much experience does he have? He's barely older than the Boy." Of course, I immediately realized he was very qualified and I shouldn't be so quick to judge. After seeing the race results I realized he's older than I am! Oh, well, sorry I thought what I thought! I'll never tell though!

The race is named after Buster Britton, a Birmingham area triathlete who died while doing a fun run a couple of weeks after doing the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii about 25 years ago. Buster Britton's family was there and his daughter spoke about what a great legacy this race was for their family. This was the first time I had seen the family and I didn't realize that Buster Britton's daughter was pregnant with his grandchild when he died. The granddaughter had never met her grandfather, but his legacy lives on in the triathlon which is one of the longest running ones in Alabama.

That was very touching. I hope that I can continue to do the race in the future even though I'm not living in Birmingham. Oak Mountain use to be practically in my back yard and was one of my favorite places to train. I will miss it.

Another pic of award ceremony.... babies still flying!
Except not the icky brown water part!


  1. Great blog, greater tri! Nice pics, too. David.

    1. Thanks David! Wish we could have gotten more pics before the camera died! It is a great tri!

  2. Congrats on your finish and your improved time. It's amazing that you're able to excel at racing. Your dedication is incredible, especially since I would've turned back upon seeing the brown water.

    1. I haven't been in a lake since this time last year and have gotten use to being able to see underwater with goggles. Couldn't do it in that water!