To start, it was a great race. The weather was virtually ideal (for the race portion, at least). Had some great camaraderie on the run, and after the race. The hotel stay was decent, though sort of far. And, most importantly, I met my goals in relation to prepping for Ironman Florida.
- The weather was ideal, partly sunny to overcast for most of the race, with moderate temps. Whereas last year the temps were hot, and then it rained off and on for the run. It did rain this year, but only after the race (for most of us).
- I stayed in the Comfort Inn on the west side of town–somewhat far from the venue, and not the hotel I had hoped to get initially. But they did a good job, and it worked out well. As it turns out, the hotel I wanted, that did such a great job last year, didn’t do quite as well this year (some friends ended up in that one)
- Evidently Augusta is becoming a popular race, and all the cheap rooms were gone early.
- On the run I linked up with a football coach from the Atlanta area and we helped pace each other through the second half. In the final three miles or so, we linked up with another fellow from Florida, whose legs were still fresh, and he helped us with the final push for the finish.
- I finally linked up with my training partners, who it would seem, had put me on ignore going into the race. Ran into them on the shuttle back to get our stuff from transition. Was certainly a boon over last year, where I flew solo the entire event.
- Goals: My main goals were to practice pacing for Florida–primarily to not let the bike hurt.
- I also was able to confirm my nutrition strategy for Florida. Nutritionally, with “Special Needs” bags, I should be good to go.
- My cardio was bullet proof this race. At no point was I sucking wind.
- The area of weakness was muscular endurance. On the bike and the run, it was my muscular endurance that was a limiter, not my cardio.
- This is a good thing (I think) as it would seem that muscular endurance is an easier fix in the weeks before Florida.
- Another piece in the nutrition/endurance aspect was my emphasis on muscular hydration. I had zero cramping issues–Success!
- Flexibility and too much plasma hydration remain limiters, especially on the bike.
Some quick thoughts on the race. I’ll sit down and pound out a more thorough race report in a few days.
Wow. I’ve been on this road for 250 days. Today my hams, glutes, right knee and left achilles are bugging me. The hams and glutes are from a return to heavy deadlifts this week. The knee is from my ride last Sunday which revealed some mechanical adjustments I need to make to my set up. The achilles is a flexibility issue, radiating down into my ankle. I ran 6.8 miles yesterday at 11+ pace. Not very impressive.
Taking all this into account, it doesn’t feel like I’m making great progress. However, when I look at my training charts, I can see that I’m posting bigger everything than I ever have, even the month of 70.3 Augusta last year–particularly when I look at overall effort, which I tracked very simply as calories burned. There are a couple of outlier weeks–like the actual week of Augusta, and the week of Warner Robbins 13.1. On the other hand, weeks of other races, which used to be outliers, Olympic distances, for example, now look like normal training volumes.
The great insight in all this? I couldn’t tell you, really. I do know that according to my volumes, I’m ready for Augusta right now–8 weeks out. My prep for Augusta, is really my full Ironman plan, pushed up by 6 weeks. Thus, though it does not feel like it–I’m on track to be good for Florida.
Maybe the insight is trust the training. What do you think?
I finished the Tour de Pike Century bike ride on Saturday. Sunday, I took some weight & body fat measurements, and was struck by the result. Hence this short update on my progress with the Slow Carb diet.
I began this slow-carb diet going into Thanksgiving, of all weird time frames. Given the one cheat day per week, I simply shifted my chosen Saturday to Thursday for that week, no biggie. The bigger hurdle was that I had to get on the road the evening of Thanksgiving. Maintaining a diet on the road is not easy. Tim Ferris has some helpful ideas.
The other immediate challenge was eliminating sugar from my coffee. I drink coffee black with sugar. Taking the sugar out was a HUGE leap for me, particularly in breakfasts meetings at restaurants with bad coffee. In the end, it wasn’t and isn’t that bad.
The three biggest changes I’ve been able to stay fairly consistent on are a high, mostly protein breakfast right after rising, eating high protein meals for most meals, and eliminating sugar. Eliminating other white carbs, though now greatly reduced, has been challenging.
The slow-carb model meshes well with my other diet protocols.
I also did a 30 day detox cleanse, which I calculate took five pounds of crud out of my intestines and cell tissues. However, my body fat readings for that period were extremely screwy. Two days later they stabilized, around 11-12 percent.
As mentioned (and perhaps revealed in the title), I took my body fat measurements this past Sunday, and registered . . . drum roll . . . 9.9 percent. All last year, I did not drop below 10, even coming out of Augusta 70.3 Half Ironman. Whereas, the sub-10 may be the result of several concurrent protocols–slow carb, ongoing nutrition, detox cleanse, training regimen–The slow carb component is the one aspect I have not done or been on previously.
At any rate, I’m down to my fighting weight (top secret), and below 10% body fat (at last measure). I’m lifting more, running better, and riding harder than I was going into Augusta last year. Take it for what it’s worth.
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As always, your comments are welcomed.
Yesterday was the first training day on my road to Ironman Florida 2012 (3 November 2012). Day 1 of 400–399 days to go. I kicked it off with 200m repeats at the local high school track.
The last day of my 2011 season was the day of my Augusta 70.3. Since then I’ve been in a serious recovery mode. I suspected, and now definitely realize, that I was severely over-trained post-Augusta–Potentially, on the road to chronic fatigue. My weight going into the race had plummeted to levels I haven’t seen since I was actually starving. Post race, I couldn’t get enough sleep for weeks, and my weight only creeped up following the race, despite very low training volumes.
However, I think I have definitely gotten past the over-trained state. Recently my weight has picked up significantly, a sign my body is ready to train again.
I’ve been reading Tim Ferris’s newest read The Four Hour Body, and will be incorporating some of the ideas he presents in this coming year. We’ll see how that comes along. Namely:
- The slow carb diet
- My modified version of the the 5k to 50k program, and
- Polyphasic sleep
On top of that I’ll be maintaining my strength program, and going into a 20 week program for the final push going into November.
Between now and the New Year will be a strength and conditioning phase. Yesterday, my power cleans just exceeded my pre-Augusta levels (after 3 weeks). My power lifts (squat, deadlift, and incline bench) are also back up to pre-Augusta levels, although it took 5 weeks for those.
With the New Year, I will begin Basing, and will divide the time between then and November equally into Basing, Speed, and Race Specific phases.
It should be interesting. I am super excited.
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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.
Please feel free to comment below.
Also, find me on twitter: Twitter.com/Old454
I arrived in Augusta for the Augusta 70.3 Half Ironman 2011 triathlon Saturday afternoon (24 Sep 11). The road to Augusta that day was riddled with delays, traffic, complete traffic stoppages, an ingenious detour on my part, but I finally arrived. Having left late, I relied on my Blackberry GPS & Google Maps to navigate on the fly to the Marriott for check in.
Along the way I had a moment of panic, realizing I left my bike computer in my computer bag, sitting on my desk at home. My laptop was in the passenger’s seat next to me, no bag. Alas, bike “computer” is something of an overstatement for my $12 Wal-Mart cyclometer, more of a suped up Casio. Hence, my panic subsided when I convinced myself I could easily locate one on a local Wal-Mart shelf. Worst case, I could use my wrist watch, and obsess over arithmetical calculations while on the bike.
My focus today was to stay hydrated, continue my carbo-loading plan, keep my stress levels as low as possible, and do what I could to avoid snags race morning. I had booked two nights at the hotel, one check in and set up the night before, (besides I’m not a fan of driving longer distance to triathlon, set up transition and race all in the same morning.) The second because I really had no idea what my recovery would look like, how long it would take to clear transition, etc after the race, and I didn’t want the stress of even a late check out time looming. As it turns out, that was a good idea.
Check in/Packet pick up went smoothly. I parked on the street across the street from the Marriott Convention Center complex, and walked in. There was plenty of free parking in the complex, as it turned out. In some previous race reports, bloggers have pooh-poohed the athlete briefing, but I thought it was worthwhile, worth the thirty minutes or so. I was, however, surprised by the number of questions concerning what constituted a penalty (I would hope someone racing a half Ironman would have raced several shorter triathlons first, and become familiar with the penalties.) They do have a somewhat unique system for tracking and serving penalties, again something you may want to be clear and aware of.
Checked out the Ironman Store and bought an Ironman branded Augusta shirt for the Queen. Suffered some sticker shock, and moved on.
Next was bike check-in. I drove over to the Marina, again parking outside on the street. Numbered up my bike, pumped the tires not quite full, and road down to Transition. I had to retape my handle bars, and gave my bike a quickie spin to see if all was well. I had another momentary panic when I noticed a flat. May have been the railroad tracks past the Transition area (tracks you do not need to cross during the race.) Or it may have been a latent issue with my tube. Regardless, there it was. The bike mechanic guys wanted to charge me $20 to change it, or $10 for a just a tube. And no, I couldn’t use their bike racks. I did not ride down there with any money. Alas, I took my one spare tube out of my onboard tool bag, and put it on. No obvious puncture culprits. The mechanic guys did let me use their pump.
Now two things I needed to buy: A bike computer and a new inner tube. It was already late, and the Ironman Store was closed. So I found my spot and racked my bike. Some genius had racked his bike the wrong direction next to me, and was nowhere to be found–Something to deal with in the morning.
Off to check in at the hotel. The hotel desk clerk was super nice. They were totally ready for this event. Breakfast would open at an early 4 am on a Sunday (just for the race), and there would be a shuttle making round trips to Transition all morning. It is not the fanciest place, but had very nice staff, a clean room, and were completely accommodating–all things which rank high with me when it comes to these things. (Quality Inn Medical Center)
I literally drove to every Wal-Mart in the area looking for a 700×25 inner tube and a $12 bike computer. It seems that with 3500 racers, there were just enough triathletes with my same “El Cheapo cyclometer” mentality, and also somehow didn’t have one. At the last Wal-Mart, one of the stock ladies had just put out the new shipment of cyclometers. Somewhere along the way I picked up a 700×35 tube and apparently the only 700×25 left in Augusta.
Luckily I traveled with my own food for dinner, and didn’t have a great appetite.
I hit the room, and fell asleep.
More to follow. Stay tuned . . . Read Part 3.
Also — What am I missing? Comment below.
Please feel free to comment below.
Also, find me on twitter: Twitter.com/Old454
More than a year in the planning, this past weekend, 25 September 2011, I finished the Augusta 70.3 Half Ironman 2011 triathlon. My longest distance to date, with the longest pre-race training period, the most complex nutrition and carbo-loading plan, longest post-race recovery (though not my most miserable). This was an intimidating prospect, and it is great to have it under my belt.
I will definitely need to divide my race report into two or three parts. My typical race report centers primarily on the central facts, and then some brief description of my experience. That won’t suffice today. I’ll let this first part be just the fundamental race facts: start time, weather, etc. The other parts will deal with my experience, timeline, preparation, recovery, etc.
Down and Dirty
I had a great time (if that’s what it’s called), and would totally do this one again next year. In fact, I had such a great time running this, my first Half Ironman, that I’m seriously considering running this distance a couple of times in 2012, building to a full Ironman.
Distances: 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run. With relay team option, also
Course: 1.2 mile point-to-point down Savannah River;
56 mile loop, out and back from Augusta into South Carolina, and back;
2 loop run throughout downtown Augusta.
Weather: Nice swim start, wetsuit legal. The water was a bit cool. It took me some time to relax exhaling underwater. Got hot & sunny on the bike and for the (my) first loop of the run, the second loop was overcast with some (welcome) sprinkles. We had a good rain going for transition break down. But, alas, we just finished racing 70 odd miles–no big deal.
The Athlete’s Guide recommends acclimating to the Georgia heat and humidity–this is no joke. There were several heat injuries on the course.
- Swim–Downstream, the advantage of which there is some debate. I’d rate it a Slight (not Great) advantage. Like the wetsuit, it’s of greater advantage, the longer your in the water (i.e., to us weaker swimmers).
- Bike–Truly rolling hills, with three to five good hills/climbs/inclines, depending on how you count. Not nearly as brutal as the bike in the Assault on Cherokee Olympic Triathlon in South Carolina, for example.
- Run–Pancake flat. For real. Dead flat run winding through down town Augusta. Some races claim to be flat, but this run really is (aside from one 50 yd climb out of the Marina area).
Competition: Need I say anything here? It’s a Half Ironman–the competition level is very high. There are plenty of “just finishers”, but the majority of people were serious athletes. Every one was extremely nice and supportive. Definitely one of the friendliest crowds I’ve race with.
General Impression: This is a great course, with a good mix of more and less challenging features. Great aid stations, plenty of port-a-potties, great cheering sections. The race was very well run and supported. With 3500 or so racers, the race was very well organized and run. The volunteers were great. The host city, Augusta was extremely gracious and inviting. The staff at my hotel (Quality Inn Medical Center) were extremely nice and helpful, and the headquarters hotel (Marriott Convention Center) was very pleasant.
Room for improvement: Uhh,. . . More swag in the swag bags. More selection in the athlete recovery tent–though the cup of beer was a nice touch!
More to follow. Stay tuned . . .
Please feel free to comment below.
Also, find me on twitter: Twitter.com/Old454