Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Race Report: Augusta 70.3

This is another delayed race report, the details long faded into the irretrievable depths of my overfilled memory.  Only the highlights (long-winded as they are) are easily accessible.  I suppose that's a good thing - too many awesome memories taking up space.
The main purpose of this race was as a tune-up before Ironman Arizona.  Two guys from my company, also doing Arizona, talked me into it.  Being 8 weeks out, the timing was perfect.  But being located in the southeastern portion of the country, while I reside in the northwest, was a tad less than ideal.  Since my registration-happy trigger finger doesn't know the difference, we made the trek to Georgia a few weekends back.

After a semi-stressful packing of the bike into the bike box, we loaded up, and made our way through 12 hours of airport travel.  My procrastination in purchasing plane tickets resulted in some hefty fares, as well as a random route and lengthy layovers.  We ended up in Atlanta, stayed the night there, and then finished up the trip with a 3 hour drive to Augusta the next morning.  Pre-race day was packed full of standing in line, tracking down CO2 cartridges (can't take those on the plane), driving the course, and navigating the crowded town.  I think it was the most exhausting pre-race day I've had to date.  By 9:30pm we were finally checked into the hotel, bellies full, and settling in for a well-earned night of rest.

After a restless sleep, the alarm sounded around 5am.  I don't know if I'll ever get used to that.  Shower, eat, hydrate, and load up to head to transition.  Every single race in the last 5 years has been cold at the start.  So out of habit I dressed in long pants over my tri shorts, a jacket over my tri top, and a knit hat.  I even had gloves packed in my tri bag.  And arm warmers for the bike.  And sweats for post-race.  Hot cup of coffee gripped between my hand, we stepped out of the hotel... 70 degrees.  80% humidity.  And only 6am.  That probably tells you how equipped I was to deal with the impending heat facing us that day.

The logistics of Augusta are challenging, and frankly, quite annoying.  Especially when you are of the mindset to get in, do what you came for, get out, go home.  This venue is the largest Half Ironman on the circuit, with over 3000 athletes.  The swim is down-current, and while that makes for some really fast swim splits, it means that the start line and transition are a mile apart.  So add in shuttle buses and confused spectators to the huge quantity of people and small town roads.  They do a decent job managing the chaos, but there seemed to be a background noise of frustration for me the entire weekend.

I'll skip through all the admin stuff of the morning.  After watching all 21 other waves go before me, it was finally time for my age group to file into the water.  I jumped off the dock cannon-ball style (would you expect anything less?) and swam up towards the front of the group.  A few people back, smack in the middle.  I like to be all up in the business for the swim start.
The horn blew, I swam, I finished.  Nothing really interesting happened in between.  The quality of the Savannah river leaves a lot to be desired, but it was down current and wicked fast.  And I didn't get eaten by alligators.

If you're new to this blog, you should know that of all the triathlon events, I don't mess around in transition.  I take my T1 and T2 times very seriously.  It might not be the most glamorous of the events, and certainly not one that is going to get me on the podium, but I take pride in it nonetheless.  The Augusta swim-to-bike transition includes a run up a steep hill out of the water, a long run around the transition area, and then through the other side.  It's long, but it's also carpeted and grassy and well stocked with porta-potties (should you need them).  They also had wet suit strippers.  Everything went well for me here.

The bike course is described as "a one-loop, hilly bike course through Georgia and into South Carolina".  It wasn't exactly flat, but it wasn't necessarily hilly either.  One thing it DEFINITELY wasn't?  Cold.  I swear, it felt like I had a hot, wet blanket over my head the entire day.  I stuck to my plan, managed my pace, kept on top of my nutrition and hydration plan, and sucked down the salt tabs like candy.  I came into T2 feeling like I nailed the bike, but I was very much overheated.

Nothing special to report here either.  Rack bike, helmet off, socks on, shoes on, grab everything else and get the heck out of there.

By now it was close to 90 degrees and 90% humidity.  I was told by other athletes that this was mild weather and I'm lucky it wasn't hot this year.  I tip my visor to you folks.  I don't know how you train/race in that climate.  Unless we move to that region, I think this is my last time signing up for a race in the southeast.  Do you hear that, Mr. Pointer Finger???
But back to the run.  The first half was a suffer-fest.  My method was to run the sunny sections and walk through the shade to maximize my time out of the sun.  Those streets are lined with trees, but in the middle of the day there isn't much shade.  Only hundreds of 3-4' sections of shade.  So I would "run" for about 30 seconds and then walk for 3 seconds over and over again.  No doubt this annoyed the hell out of everyone around me.  And while it wasn't the fastest way to get from point A to point B, it still got me to point B.  I guzzled water at each aid station, stuffed sponges under my bra straps, and dumped ice into my sports bra and down my shorts.  I knew that calories weren't going to stay down, so took coke and Perform when I could.  Want to know how to cool off quickly?  Smoosh about 5 ice cubes against your bits.
And then the most glorious thing happened.  Thunder and lightning rolled in.  And it started RAINING!  With the drop in temperature and constant cool moisture hitting my body, I was able to start running again and didn't stop until I crossed the finish line.  I ended up with a decent negative split and finished strong.

After navigating back through the chaos to pack-up and get out of town, we made the drive back to Atlanta.  And the next morning repeated the process of connections and layovers to get back to Portland.  Overall, this is a great venue and good course.  It fit the bill for what I needed, and while the weekend was certainly better than I expected it to be, I'm not sure I would sign up for it again.  We really are spoiled out here in the west.  Sometimes you just need a little reminder to appreciate what you have.

Swim - 0:31:33 (1:40/100m)
T1 - 0:03:47
Bike - 3:17:53 (16.98 mph)
T2 - 0:02:00
Run - 2:58:08 (13:36/mi)
TOTAL = 6:53:21


TriMOEngr said...

Awesome! Better late than never is my theory on a RR. Heat and humidity are totally awful. Glad you persevered and mother nature helped a little too.

Ara said...

Way to go!!! That is awesome!!! What do you eat when you're on the bike to keep your nutrients up?