Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Augusta Race Report

Save the Best For Last

The final triathlon of the season was my biggest and longest of the year. I guess that is how you want to end the season. I'm not sure why I signed up for the Augusta 70.3 Ironman but I'm glad I did.

The Drive Over

Driving into the Atlanta metro I look in my mirror and see another car with a nice looking tri bike. I always check out bikes I see on the road like this so it got my attention. It turned out to be a bike I see quite often, my friend John and his wife Katie. Together we drove through what I can only guess was like Hell if Hell was filled with terrible rain storms and idiot drivers. We stopped for dinner out Outback before parting ways. I sort of have a spread out family and whenever possible I'll plan trips that allow me to take advantage of free lodging and a chance to catch up. On the way over I stopped and stayed with my brother and his wife. I short stay but nice since I got to see my nephew Drew. He is just 3 months old but already turning into a character.

Check in

I figured getting to packet pick up early would be a good idea since I didn't really know what I was doing, this was a good call as it was very crowded and slower than I thought. I caught a break when they decided to open transition area early so I was able to check in my bike and avoid the really bad traffic. My lodging for the race was with my Aunt and Uncle in Aiken, SC, just about 25 minutes from the race start and about 2 miles from part of the bike course.


So I don't own a wetsuit and I figured I could wait till 2010 before making the couple hundred dollar plunge. In the pre race meeting the race director mentioned the water temperature at 69 degrees. That is much colder than I thought and while I was concerned, I figured I'd be ok. At dinner the night before the wetsuit comments finally got the best of me. "You don't have a wetsuit?!?!", "I'm glad I have my wetsuit", "Kyle you might want to get a wetsuit". I went to the expo and got a wetsuit, got a great deal too.

Race Day

The morning was indeed a bit chilly and overcast. I was thrilled to be wearing a wetsuit. John and I were in the same wave so we were able to calm or enhance each others nerves depending on how you see it. There were a lot of people there, it was a little overwhelming and I really had to go to the bathroom.

Swimming in a Wetsuit

It is probably all mental but I had some trouble swimming in the wetsuit. The first 7 minutes went great, then I started to feel like the wetsuit was suffocating me. I had a minor freakout and looked at a kayak. I thought I'm done, but then a realized that even treading water I was going way faster than I ever swam upstream in the Black Warrior at the USAT Age Group Championships. I refocused and actually had a good swim the rest of the way. I was out of the water at 30 minutes, faster than I had hoped and just in time to see John leaving transition as I entered. That was a huge lift of confidence to know that I only moderately sucked.

Not as Flat as Advertised

So word had it that the bike course was pretty flat. Now it wasn't Birmingham hills, but it wasn't flat either and there were a lot of turns most of them seemed to come right after a downhill and right before a hill. Just past half way I thought I saw John's distinctive orange jersey. Indeed it was him, that made me feel like I was putting in a good bike leg and also gave us a chance to ride together and chat a little bit. We rode in together for most of the ride. The last 10 miles were tough, my lower back was hurting and I still had to run. I turned in a good bike split, just under 2:40:00.

A Terrible and Great Run

I had just a few minute head start on John. Now he's a far superior triathlete to me so I do kind of use him as a measuring stick. If my strength is my bike, his is probably the run, although dude can bike too! I never saw him again till the end if you want to read his race report check out this blog. The first mile is always tough and you have to gut it out. I made up my mind that I would run the first mile and I did, but barely. My calf and lower back were in bad shape. It was here that John flew by and yelled a few words of encouragement. I'd like to say it helped but I was in bad shape. The plan was to finish the run in 2 hours, new plan just finish the run. I would set a goal of running for 4 minutes then walk a minute, then build on to that longer run intervals. It took me till about the 5 mile mark before my body started to feel better. By this point I was knocking out about 9:30 miles. I got to half way and decided I might still have a chance at the 2 hour goal. I would need to do sub 8:30's and my math skills aren't near good enough to figure out how close or not I was. I fell short of the goal, but managed to turn in a 8:47 pace for the second lap. I true negative split and a run that I was proud of even though it was slower than my original target.

The Final Numbers

So the goal going in was to finish in less the 5:30:00, I crossed the line in 5:16:58 with a huge smile on my face. Surprisingly, I felt like I could have kept going, probably not much longer but I didn't feel like dying. The race was great and while Augusta may not be the best city in the South it was a good course. Not the most spectator friendly, but still a pretty fast course. Next stop for me October 3rd in Chattanooga for the Stump Jump 50k, another race I'm not ready to do.

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