Race Rep Part 3: Augusta 70.3 Half Ironman 2011
After a not-good night’s sleep, I woke up race morning about 4am before Augusta 70.3 Half Ironmatn 2011. I tossed in bed after falling asleep late. I spent a good bit of my time last night hunting down a new cyclometer (see part 2). I got out of bed about 4:30am and made my way to the hotel breakfast for some coffee, and a waffle. Not much of an appetite, and I had my own preferred early morning. Orange juice, yogurt, banana, P&J (if I can get it down), not too much coffee. It was still a few hours before my 8:16 wave start.
Final equipment check, loaded up my transition bag, lubed up, put on my tri shorts, shirt, running shoes. My first race where a shirt was mandatory for the bike and run. Put on some tunes, and headed to the lobby for the shuttle. I don’t train with headphones, but I do usually listen to Damian Marley or something in the drive to a race.
The shuttle lady was extremely nice, and got us to the transition area very quickly. No parking pain. Extremely convenient. Had no cash for a tip (caught up with her later that afternoon)
I got to my bike about 6am. Transition was already packed with lines of people waiting for the race shuttles (school buses) headed towards the swim start. The space on either side of me was already staked out, and with the wrong-facing bike (guy still no where to be found), I had no space–a situation I promptly corrected. I borrowed a pump and topped of my tires. Affixed my new cyclometer. Did my normal layout. Headed to get in line for the buses.
By 6:30am the bus lines had died down, so we basically walked up and loaded buses. Easy. A couple of minutes later, we were unloading at the swim start.
The swim start was buzzing with spectators, family, racers–very good energy. The training teams were grouped, warming up. I hit the port-a-potty, turned in my swim clothe bag, and made my way to get in line for my wave. Had chance to watch the pros start.
The swim starts from a floating pier, extended perpedicular from the shore into the river. After walking out on the pier, each wave then gets in the water for a deep water start. Here you can feel that the current has an effect, but it is not a significant effect. Hence my point in part 1 that the current is a factor the longer you’re in the water, but not a huge factor. Even with 100 or 200 swimmers in my wave, the start was not that physical.
The swim course is well marked. It’s a straight shot along the shore. The area closer to the shore has some seaweed-like stuff. A little weird, but not terrible. I saw a snapping turtle–definitely something I would not want to surprise.
I came out of the water feeling strong. Hit the port-a-potties, found my bike, a good swig of water, loaded up, and headed out. The volunteers were abundant, and super nice–A constant theme throughout the race.
The bike exit was easy to find. Plenty of room to mount up and get going.
The bike leg exits the Marina and quickly heads out of town onto the freeway. The first third of the bike is
basically rolling hills. The first aid station was around mile 18. Grabbed some water, and hit the port-a-potty. (Need to work on the port-a-potty situation).
My bike nutrition strategy was to get down a bottle of my 6% electrolyte mix, replace that with water on the bottle exchange, then start working on my concentrated electrolyte, alternated with water. I planned to finish a water each aid station, and nurse my concentrated mix.
The stretch between each of the remaining bike aid stations have at least one or two decent ascents, depending on how one feels about hills. However, there aren’t any real killer hills. There are a couple of hairpin turns. One hairpin turn is at the bottom of a steep decline, and then a runs into a good incline. One rider wiped out ahead of me, and I had to break down to a bike stand while he was assisted off the course. Then a nice quarter mile climb out of that. My gearing was high for torque in the turn, but not for the resulting climb. A nice thigh buster.
The last ten miles or so of the course are very similar to the first (as might be expected).
Weather on the bike was hot and sunny. Not so bad on the bike because of the wind etc, and the downhills gave some good cool down opportunities. I topped out at one point at just under 40 mph.
The Run by the time I headed out on the run it was good and hot. Most of the run is in the sun. There are several shaded areas, tree lined sections and a few under passes. Going out on the first 3 miles, expect plenty of sun. Mile 5-6 is cooler on the back part of the first loop, and then back to the sun for the second loop.
The run is dead flat. There is literally only one hill as you leave the marina going through the levy wall.
With aid stations every mile. Water, Ironman electrolyte and gel products, cola, fruit. Very well stocked.
It’s amazing running through downtown Augusta, there are so many people cheering. Hanging out at the bars, having a good time. The aid stations are manned by various groups. There was a rugby team, a group of waitresses, JRTOC.
The split between finishers and second lappers is on the back half of the loop. It was something of a psychological hurdle watching those faster than me splitting off for the finishing shoot, while I was in for another 10k or so.
I had an unexpected second wind on the back half of the second loop, perhaps mile 7 or 8. The whole issue of second winds if baffling to me, and I was very surprised to have one at my longest distance to date. On the second loop there were some clouds and some rain. Both were very welcome, and certainly much better than the heat and sun.
There are aid stations every mile or so. Port-a-potties are not at every aid station, and are sometimes hard to visually locate.
The finish line was finally in sight. Here you should be sure to create some space, and take a good finish line photo, hands raised high, smiling. I got my medal, finisher’s hat, some water. The race over, I was afraid to sit down, lest I may not be able to stand back up. Definitely, the most brutal run of my life.
This is the point I missed my family most, as everyone else’s support crew and family greeted them coming out of the shoot, I felt distinctly alone.
Waited in line not too long for the Athletes Lounge (or something to that effect) pizza, chips, cookies, soda, water and beer. Had a good convo in line. Sat down, finally to munch with a fellow competitor.
I actually gave a post-race breakdown in my first post in this series.
So what next year? Getting psyched for a full Ironman. . .
If there’s some detail I missed, a question you have, or a comment, leave a comment below.
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