Another great day at the Georgia Veterans Triathlon (Sprint). I managed to put up a personal best for this race, despite sucky swim and bike conditions.
My previous posts for this race:
This may be my last prep race before Augusta 70.3 and then, Ironman Florida. My main goals were to test some recent equipment changes, some transition tweaks, and nutrition strategies. From those respects, everything went very nicely.
Down and Dirty
I really enjoy this race. It was my first triathlon. This is my third time doing it. The swim, swim transition, bike course, and run course are all very friendly, and conducive to the first-timer, or the vet looking for something fun. This time around, the weather was less than friendly with recent thunderstorms creating choppy lake water, and wet bike pavement. There was a slight drizzle for the swim start, but it was gone by the time we got out of the water. The roads were wet for the bike, making navigation on the older road beds tricky. However, the roads had dried a good bit by the run start. I put up a personal best on this course, despite these issues. It was a good day.
Distances: 400 yard swim, 13.6 mile bike, 5k run. With relay team option, also
Course: Loop 400 yard swim in Lake Blackshear;
13.6 mile loop bike, no aid stations;
5k out and back run, 2 aid stations (can hit them going each way).
Registration: $55, early mail-in, USAT member. I hate online registration through those thieves at Active.com .
Host: Georgia Multisport
Weather: I could see thunderstorms in distance on the road to the race. It had clearly recently rained, and the race start was delayed 30 min, due to the delay in clearing the course from the recent thunderstorms. (good thing too, because a tree had evidently needed to be cleared from the bike course roadway). It was drizzling as we waited to start the swim, but that ended before we got out of the water. The wind did, however, create the choppiest swim conditions I’ve seen to this point. Even more difficult than Turtle Crawl. Good training though–we can’t predict what race conditions will be for any future race, and it is necessary to train and be prepared for all sorts of things. Same goes for the bike. The road was wet, and at least one guy I passed got some road rash. He stated all was good, though. My front tire was skipping on the older eroded sections of asphalt. Perhaps I could have taken a few pounds of pressure out of the front tire, but then again it was fine on the smooth sections which make up maybe three-quarters of the course. Weather for the run ended up being ideal, and I was blowing past people at a high rate of speed.
- Swim–Start at a sandy boat ramp. A simple out for 150 or so yards, hang a right for 100 or so, and back.
- Bike–Fairly flat. The first third to half is twisty and mildly technical. A couple of slow risers on the second half. Virtually dead flat on the last stretch.
- Run–Fairly flat also, a couple of short rollers between mile 1.5 and 2.5. Punch it after the last turn.
Competition: Mixed bag of super fast guys, and first-timers.
My results: Mid pack on swim, Mid pack on bike, and front on run. An improvement for me all things considered. My greatest opportunities still lie in the swim and bike. Need to work on muscular endurance for swim to better overcome tough swim conditions. Once warmed up on the bike, I was able to build speed and hold it. On the run, I kept my strokes short, and continued to build speed after first mile.
General Impression: I really enjoy this race. It is well organized. Safety, especially on the tricky portion of the bike is a priority. There is roadway traffic, but it is light with no jerks. Nice looking t-shirt.
Room for improvement: No complaints.
This time I made the three hour drive from home race day morning with no hotel stay. This year it is important that I control my expense with two very expensive races on the calendar. The previous two years I’ve spent the night before in a local hotel. Also, with more experience, for these shorter races, I can wake up early, make the road trip, bust a race, ride back, all in one day. Trick being, as with all races, to get a really good night’s sleep the second night before. How many races can you really get a good night’s sleep the night before anyhow?
My goals were to test some things in preparation for Florida.
- I had recently installed an new wheel set, which works beautifully, however the new gearing had some kinks to work out.
- I’ve been training in Vibrams, but don’t want to race in them for a couple of reasons, hence I recently bought some Saucony Hattoris and wanted to test them in a race scenario.
- New water bottle configuration, and homemade sports drink.
- New bungee swim goggle straps, which have been working great in the pool, also worked great in the lake.
I woke up about 3am, got packed, out the door, and on the road by 4am. Arrived at the venue right at 7am, set up transition, chilled out for a while. Got a good warm up swim. Bust the race. Ate some post race food. Saw I had no chance of medalling, and made the three hour drive to the princess’s soccer tournament. After the tournament, drove home one hour. Showered and made it to Keb Mo / Aaron Neville concert not too late.
Such is the life.
It was a good day.
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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?
Yesterday, I finished my second Museum of Aviation Half Marathon, on Robins AFB, in Warner Robins, GA. It was a cold day, but not quite as cold as last year. I was hopeful, as last weekend was almost balmy, but then the weather took a turn mid-week, and I knew the weekend would be blustery.
My goals for this race were:
- benchmark the 5k to 50k (modified of course) running program I’ve been following.
- test out my pre-race & race nutrition changes
- test out some equipment.
From those perspectives, it was a successful run. I was about 30-40 seconds off pace from last year, but given my training volumes, some recent ankle twinges, I am happy with the result. (more in a future post)
Location: Warner Robins, Georgia
Gun time: 8 pm
Distances: 5k, Half-Marathon, Marathon
Course: 13.1 mile loop around airfield
Registration: $20-5k; $40-13.1; $50-26.2.
Host: Robins Pacers
Weather: Sunny, Clear & Cold (26 deg) Running shorts, Mid-length sleeve compression shirt, Short sleeve technical Tee, Arm warmers, Double layer Gloves (took outer shell off at mile 6), Fleece headband (took off at mile 6), Bandana, Nike Frees.
Terrain: Fairly flat, a couple of rollers, and a couple of creepers (inclines that don’t actually look like inclines). All asphalt with some nice looks at the airfield, for those with that connection.
Competition: It is a Half-Marathon, so most folks are going to be in decent shape. But it is a good mix with good company the whole way. Top men’s time was 1:16, top women’s was 1:27. Last year times were 1:12 and 1:23 respectively.
General Impression: This is a nice race. Definitely show up early because there is no early packet pick up due to security considerations, thus 1200-1500 people picking their stuff up at once can create some bottle necks.
Packet pickup and post-race recovery food is in the covered and heated Museum–very nice. Good recovery food. Nice folks.
Room for improvement: Water stations were a little behind the power curve. Would be nice to have bottled water at the finish line, just from a volume perspective.
Four years now at the ATC Resolution Run (my son and & I)–The Queen and Princess graced us with their presence this year. The race is basically in the same area as the past several years, but with a new route. I personally feel the new route is an improvement. Still true rolling hills, but with more variety in the hills, and interest overall. The biggest benefit is you don’t have to watch all the super fast runners coming back while your still going out on the old out-and-back section. I also feel the hill variety is better. However, both the start and finish are uphill–not super grades, but enough to notice on cold or tired legs.
My first race of the year (obviously), having this race on the calendar keeps one motivated during the dietary and activity disaster zones that are Thanksgiving through New Year’s.
Location: Kennesaw, Georgia (exit 269 Barret Pkwy)
Gun time: 11:10 pm (11am–5k, 10:30–fun run)
Distances: 5k, 10k, kids fun run
Course: Two separate 5k loops throughout office parks. Twice round for 10k. True rolling hills.
Registration: $25–5k & 10k; one-mile fun run–$10; Tiny Trot–Free
Host: Atlanta Track Club
Weather: Perfect weather. About 56 degrees at start. Showers had just passed before we showed up at 9:45 or so.
Terrain: New route has more variety than last year. Rolling hills. Often courses are described as rolling hills but are really Hilly. This one is actually rolling hills that some may not notice much. One or two hills to motor up, but not bad. Office parks and industrial lawns. Some insignificant traffic.
Competition: A little for everyone. Walkers, midpackers, and the usual speedy ATC crowd.
General Impression: Port-a-Potties were abundant, with a moderate line only just before the 5k start. Not a soul in line just before the 10k start. The wave start was good in the respect of removing the initial crush between pure runners, joggers and walkers. New route is an improvement.
Room for improvement: Recovery food was better than last year (thanks), with good bagels, Powerade, and some type of fruity granola bars. Still would have liked bananas. The largest issue (as it is in many races) is I think more emphasis can be made on asking people to observe some race etiquette–not seeding yourself up front if you know you’re going to go slow, check over shoulder before you step out to pass someone, check behind you before you decide to come to a dead stop in the middle of the road.
I love this race. Will be back next year.
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I am officially registered to compete in Ironman Florida 2012!
It’s somewhat surreal committing to such a big event a full 12 months out.
That is all.
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.
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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.
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