My Longhorn 70.3 Report

Longhorn 70.3 in Austin Texas was an “A” race for the year.  Jason and I packed up and headed down in his truck, with our support crew of one, Lance Cull.  The race was on Sunday October 25, 2009.   We left at 5am Friday morning and arrived in Austin around 9:30pm.  It was a long drive!


Saturday morning, we woke up and headed out to packet pick up at 11:30.  We then rushed back to our hotel to prepare our transition bags.  There were two transitions, located in different areas of the course.  We had to pace everything we needed for T1 and T1 into to separate grocery sized plastic bags.  The transition areas were what they call “clean transitions” meaning that you cant lay anything on the ground, everything has to be on your bike or in your bag.

After running around like a chicken with his head cut off, we finished up right at closing time, 4:30. On the way back to the hotel we grabbed some food and went back to relax.  Our alarms were set for 5am, with the intent of leaving at 6.

The alarm went off, I don’t think I slept a wink.

We drove to the course and boarded a bus that took up to the swim.  At this point we headed to the porta-potties and lost track of each other.  It was still dark, but I needed to get ready.  I wanted to get in a swim warm up before the pros went off at 7:30.  I started looking through my morning dry bag and couldn’t find my swim cap.  I started thinking…. I don’t even remember seeing it… I do remember getting it at packet pick up thought.  I quickly ran into T1 and checked my bag.  Nothing!  Fuck!

I stopped by the morning bag drop off, they sent me to volunteer sign in, who finally sent me to the swim start.  There was the lady with an envelope of colored caps.  I told her I totally forgot it or lost it.  She pulled one out and gave it to me.  What a sigh of relief.  She was a life saver!


I finished getting my wet suit on and headed into the water.  The water temp was actually warmer than the air.  I swam out to the first buoy and turned around.  I was ready.

Standing around for the next half hour or so, kind of sucked.  I was trying to stay calm and enjoy the moment.  I eventually bumped into Jason and said good luck.

The horn went off and we started swimming for the first buoy.  It was crowded and I took my fair share of arms and legs.  My stroke was solid and I kept a pretty good line.  The last couple hundred of yards was full of seaweed.  Every stroke, you caught a handful.  I actually found my self keeping my elbows event higher than normal to avoid grabbing so much.  My time was just under 40 minutes, I was 5 minutes off my predicted time of 35.

I ran up to transition, stopping to have my wetsuit stripped. then remembering where my bike was.  Row E, half way down this football field transition area, I found my bike, got my helmet on, put socks on, and packed my pockets with nutrition.  I then had to get my wetsuit back in the plastic bag.  I then trotted out of transition.

Heading out on the bike, I and quickly got in a rhythm.  Then a second later, I remembered to take it easy.  I didn’t want to go out too hard.  There were riders everywhere, and I would have to do a lot of passing, while making sure I wasn’t drafting.  The officials made their point clear about drafting and the last thing I wanted was a 4 minute penalty.


A mile or so into the ride, we came upon the steepest climb of the day.  I stayed in the big ring, but shifted all the way to my 23 and had to get out of my saddle to make it to the top.  I heard later that people were falling over, and walking up this hill.

What goes up must come down, and there was plenty more rolling hills through out the course.  With a course this hilly, I took it as easy as possible up every single hill.  I got passed myself up plenty of them, but I powered down the backside.  At one point I hit 39 mph in my tuck.

Besides the hills the wind was also starting to pick up.  I found myself loving the headwind.  It was those cross winds that you had to deal with keeping your bike on the road.  And with my deep dish HED’s I had to put in a little more control with my upper body.  But I am sure they made me faster.  I am glade I didn’t ride a disc.

I the last 10 miles or so,  the crowd let up, I think I was towards the front of most of the age groupers, it was kind of nice.  But soon I was playing can and mouse with 4 others.  people would pass and then slow down once in front.  The wind and even the slightest draft can play tricks on how strong you are and you don’t realize how hard it is at the front.

The final few miles I was able to shake most of the group, and found myself speeding up just to make the 2:30 mark.  I finished in 2:30:40 with a 22.3 mph average.


I ran into transition found my bag and empty spot. It almost seemed like slow motion.  I put my shoes on and ran out.

Once again I jetted out of transition, only to remember to start of slow.  I dropped the pace and let people pass.  My legs at this point felt great.  My bladder on the other hand needed a break, so I ducked into the potta-potty at the first water stop.

I felt like a million bucks after that, and started running.  This was all downhill til the corner. When you turned you hit a long climb, this was one of the worst hills, and I would have to do it 3 times today.  I was having trouble with my splits and the mile markers. My splits seem slow for one and then fast.  I think some of the markers were off.  So I could never get a solid read on my pace.  I wish I had a Garmin on. After running through the park, we headed back down that giant hill, and turn right back to the finish area.  Another long climb.  These sucked and were killing me.  At the top, a water stop.  I took my time through every water stop, walking a few seconds and taking in some fluids.

I completed the first loop, and saw Lance (support crew) cheering me on, with hundreds of others.  This really lifted my spirits. Two laps to go. The second lap, all I could think about was the mile markers for the third and final lap.  My legs also started feeling all those hills.  I put away most of my endurolytes and I couldn’t tell if I was starting to cramp or my legs were just hurting.  So I made sure I took in as much gatorade as possible at the water stops.  I was determined to finish this run strong!


The final lap I passed Lance again, holding up my finger (no not that finger) saying “one more”, I was getting kind of emotional at this point, just thinking that I was going to finish.  I kept my pace, walked through the stops all the way out. On the return, with just 2 miles to go, I tried to step it up a notch.  But there wasn’t as much there.  I did my best up the last hill and sprinted to the finish.  At the turn around point there were two shoots.  One for lap 2 and 3, and the other for finishers.  I was the only one in my area headed towards the finishing shoot.  It felt so great!  Emotional once again, I entered the stadium and and did a loop inside before the actual finish line.  I heard my name on the loud speaker.  “Dan Billingsley from Springfield Illinois”.  I put my arms in the air (I deserved a good finish line!) and crossed.  I finished the run in 1:45:39 with a pace of 8:04.

Immediately people started handing me stuff, a hat, a water bottle, a towel, a medal.  It was way too much.  I just wanted to sit.  I grabbed a Gatorade (I was really wanted a coke) and sat against a wall on the floor.

The emotions just hit me. (Yes I started to cry…)  Thank God they gave me the towel.  I took some deep breaths and tried to recover.  I really did it!  All the stress, time and training, all paid off.  5:02:37.  I had to be happy with that, I didn’t break the 5 hour mark, but came close in my first attempt and I had an almost perfect day.


Like all the races I have done, I immediately started thinking about my next race.  A race twice the length of this one.  Ironman Wisconsin is going to be tough, and I have no clue how I will finish it.  But with the right training and nutrition. I will finish it too.

So here is the breakdown of my race: (my results seem to be changing all the time. so here is the latest.)

Swim: 39:19
T1: 3:41
Bike: 2:30:40
T2: 3:18
Run: 1:45:39
Overall: 5:02:37
Place: 213/2091
Age Group 35-39: 33/340

View all the results

View all the photos Lance took of Longhorn 70.3 (Thanks Lance!)