Thursday, October 1, 2009

Augusta 70.3 Race Report

Ok here it is....the good, the bad, and the mostly ugly about my race at the inaugural Augusta 70.3.

We arrived on Saturday afternoon about 2pm and made it into the pre race briefing just as the doors were closing. The emails and phone calls that we had received in the weeks prior to the race stated that we wouldn't be able to pick up our race packets without first attending the mandatory pre race briefing, so naturally I assumed that there would be some important last minute instructions or something to that effect. In reality it was a rehash of the information that was already on the website, but the meeting didn't last too long so it wasn't a big deal. Packet pick up was relatively easy and we were out of there fairly quickly. After packet pickup it was off to the transition area to drop off our bikes. I was pleasantly surprised at how big the transition area was and how much room we had on the racks for our bikes and gear. One of my biggest fears coming into the race was that we were going to be jammed in like sardines on the transition racks since there were almost 3500 people registered for the event. After racking the bikes it was off to one of our friends father's house for dinner (you know who you are and thank you again for having us over!). Now this is where the story gets interesting, I was invited to stay at said friends father's house on Saturday night but had called the hotel to and made a general inquiry about cancelling my reservation and was told that I had to give 24 hours notice to cancel. Since I was already paying for the hotel I returned to Augusta and went to check in only to be told that they had no reservation for me. I checked with the other hotels in the area to make sure that A) I hadn't made an error and gone to the wrong hotel and B) to see if I could find a place to stay for the night. Well there were no rooms available at this particular cluster of hotels so I was about to call back over to our friends house to see if the invitation still was available, but it was after 9 pm and I thought everyone might be in bed already. Now if this wasn't already bad enough it had started to monsoon outside AND I was missing the Georgia game. About 9:30 I found a room at the Super 8 off I-20. It wasn't the greatest place but I was thankful to have somewhere to sleep. Since it was the Super 8 I didn't think that they would have ESPNU on their cable selection and I was right so I listened to the rest of the UGA game on the little clock radio that was beside my bed. The Dawgs won and I went to sleep.

Race morning started out well, I woke up in plenty of time and had my plain bagel with Nutella for breakfast. When I walked out of my hotel it was still pouring rain, but eventually stopped before I got to transition. I parked with no problem and walked down to transition and began to air up my tires and set up my transition area. I was one of the first people into transition so I was able to set up my area and then relax for awhile until it was time to catch the shuttle down to the swim start. I went down to wait for the shuttle to the swim start which was down about 1/4 mile from transition. There was a pretty good line already forming so I stood there and chatted with a few friends that were also waiting to board. The first few buses came and went and the line seemed to be moving at a fairly good pace, then for some reason the busses started stopping before they got to where we were waiting (which was by the sign that said shuttle bus stop), so we waited for someone to wave them forward but they continued to stop short of the sign. By now it was getting pretty close to swim time for me and so I walked down to where the busses were stopping and got back in line. The next group of busses went to the original sign (where I had just walked from) so I walked BACK down there and was able to get on the next bus. It sounds like a lot but it really wasn't a big deal and I actually remarked that if this was the worst thing that happened today then we would all be OK. I got down to the swim start, hit the port o potty for the last time and put on my wetsuit.

SWIM-The swim started off of a dock in the river at the Marina. The pro's dove in for their start but we Age Groupers had to jump in and put our backs against the dock until the horn sounded. I jumped in and was able to take a few practice strokes before we started the race. The water was a cool 69 degrees so the full wetsuit was a good call. The gun went off and we started down river, with the 1/2 knot current, in wetsuits, on an (allegedly) short swim course. If you didn't PR this swim you have some serious issues! The water was surprisingly clear with the exception of some river weed (you can't really call it sea weed since it's in the river) and I got into a groove and felt great the entire swim. The swim exit came up really quickly and I looked down at my watch and saw 26 minutes for my time (which is just ridiculous since my 1.2 mi PR is from 70.3 Worlds last year was 33 minutes). I ran up the boat ramp and around the corner to transition ready to have a great bike. Total Swim Time- 26:25

T1-Transition was good. Wetsuit came off easily and I was able to get in and out with no problems. T1 time-3:10

Bike-I knew the bike was going to be an adventure since my training for this event was less than optimal (and I am being kind here). My plan was to really hold back on the bike and have a good run. I thought that since I was undertrained for the race that I would experiment with some pacing ideas and see what happened. In the past I have had a pretty average swim, super fast bike, and then hang on for dear life on the run. At Cardinal Harbour in July I was forced to hold back a little on the bike due to the difficulty of the course and that resulted in a 1:40 run off the bike which is a PR by 10 minutes. Even though this course was not very difficult I knew that my bike fitness (or lack thereof) would not permit me to hammer out a sub 2:30 bike which is what I am always going for at this distance. The bike started off flat and on good road surfaces so I was able to settle in to what I thought was a sensible pace. I had let one of my athletes borrow my Garmin 305 so I had my 310XT on my wrist as my only means of speed/HR etc. It quickly became a pain to roll my wrist over every few minutes to check HR so I decided to go by feel and pace that way. I felt like I was holding back the entire ride and was very pleased at how effortless the bike was feeling. When we hit the hill in front of the Savannah River Nuclear site I shifted down and easily rode up staying in the saddle. I did this for every incline on the course and was feeling like I was going to have a great run off. The last 5 miles were kind of rough because of the headwind out of the west, but I was still holding a good pace and my legs felt good. I really enjoyed this bike course and can't wait to ride it again next year when I am actually in good shape. Total Bike Time-2:36:38 (21.45 mph)

T2-After I got off the bike my right hamstring cramped up, but it did that at Cardinal Harbour also and I had a great run so I didn't think too much of it at the time. I was in and out in a flash. T2 Time-1:28

Run-I exited T2 at an elapsed time of 3:04 which was the fastest I had ever done the swim/t1/bike/t2 portion of a 70.3 race (to be fair the swim was 7 minutes faster than my PR and 3:06 at Gulf Coast was my previous best). I knew that if I had even a moderatly crappy run that I would break 5 hours which has been a goal of mine for the last 3 years. I could not have anticipated what would happen next. I started off at a good clip (~7:20 mile) for the first mile and slowed to about a 7:30 mile for Mile 2. Then the wheels fell completely off and I had to walk at Mile 3. After those first two miles by body decided it was done for the day eventhough I had another 11.1 miles to go to the finish line. The run became less a matter of turning in a good time and more a matter of just surviving to the finish. The run being a two loop course was both a blessing and a curse. It was great to see friends on the course cheering for you twice, but at the same time it was a bit humbling to be walking in front of them. I thought my legs were going to come back to me about Mile 7 but that lasted for about 1/2 mile then I was done. Mercifully the run was finally over and I crossed the finish line. Total Run Time-2:13:49

Total Race Time-5:21:30

Post Race-Right after I crossed the Finish Line one of the medical personel asked me if I was alright. I told her I was but I don't think that she believed me so she followed me over to get my medal. I started feeling a little light headed and so I went over to the med tent and sat down. They took my blood pressure and found it to be 60/40 (which is evidently not good) so I had to lie down on a cot and elevate my feet. After about 45 minutes and an IV bag of fluid I was feeling much better and my blood pressure had returned to 94/60 which is normal for me. I went over to the NAMC tent and sat out in the sun for about an hour until I started feeling better.

Overall this race was about what I expected from a performance stand point. My monthly totals for September look more like weekly totals normally. I thought coming out of T2 that my run fitness would at least allow me to run a 1:50-1:55 but I guess I burned up too much energy on the bike. After hearing about everyone else's massive PR's on the day I was angry with myself for not preparing better and embarassed at how I had performed. Needless to say this is what is going to get me out of bed to go to Masters when it is freezing cold outside or motivate me to push a little harder on those Power Intervals in February. Never again will I allow myself to be that under prepared for a race.

The race itself was fantastic. I can't say enough good things about the city of Augusta, the production of the race or the race course itself. I highly recommend this race and will definitely do it again next year.

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