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