…Through the virtue of training, Enlighten both body and soul — Morihei Sensei

Posts tagged “swimming

Race Report: Georgia Veterans Triathlon 2012

Georgia Veterans Sprint Triathlon 2012 logo

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:

2010 Race Report

2011 One Year In

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

Race Results

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.

Terrain:

  • 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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–Jalal

Find me on Twitter.  Twitter.com/Old454


20 Week Ironman Training: Road to Ironman

Today will finish out Week 2 of a 20-week build to Augusta.  The 20-week plan is actually a full Ironman distance plan.  My objective is to build 20 weeks into Augusta, take a week off, and then repeat the last five weeks going into Panama City.

For the past several months my focus has been building muscular strength and power, as well as rebuilding my swim stroke.  At some point in my final training stretch I need to cut down the heavy lifts and gym session frequency.  A couple of weeks ago my right knee felt weird doing front squats, which precipitated a break from leg work in the gym.  That on the heels of my back seizure incident, let’s me know the timing for this switch was right.   With double sessions virtually every day, the recovery time needed from heavy lifts and three times a week frequency creates too heavy a training load.

Week one went well, and I capped it off with Jekyll Island Turtle Crawl Olympic Triathlon.

This past week, my local county pool was closed for routine maintenance going into Memorial Day, so that gave me the opportunity to get some extra gym work in. Knees are feeling better.

Right now I am as fit as I was going into Augusta last year.  My specific race fitness isn’t there, particularly in the run.  However, on the bike and in the water, with little race specific training, I am stronger than ever.

For the past several weeks I’ve been repeating the week one training going into the actual 20 Week build.  However,  my recent back incident and Life have made it slightly difficult.  I have however, been able to reproduce the swim side for the past few weeks.

Additionally, those unexpected interruptions have left me feeling stronger.  And if there were any doubt, today in the gym I was able to do five sets of power cleans, where my best to that point has been three.

Strength training wise, I’ll  go down to twice a week in the gym, with a calisthenic & running speed session, for example Tabata protocol, or Crossfit-style “Helens”.

Given the past few races, and recent long sessions these are my emphases for this season:

  • Swim–technique and endurance.
  • Bike–muscular endurance.
  • Run–Muscular endurance, Speed.

–Jalal

 

 


Turtle Crawl Olympic Triathlon, Jekyll Island: Race Report

triathlon swimmers ready for ocean swim start at Jekyll Turtle CrawlThis past weekend I raced in my first Jekyll Island Turtle Crawl Triathlon, Olympic distance.  Jekyll is definitely a beautiful setting.  I had looked at this race last year, but scheduling in May is a toughie.  However, with Ironman Florida looming, and between its Gulf Coast ocean swim, and run/bike terrain, Jekyll seemed like a great prep race.

Before going further, let me say this report is tempered by the reality that a man, Christopher Petty, died during or shortly after the swim portion of the race.

We had vacationed in the area earlier in the year, swimming at St. Simons and Jekyll.  I did not have great confidence being able to execute a decent stroke for any real distance in the surf.  However, in the time since, my stroke in the pool has greatly improved, and a good bit has transferred to open water training (in the lake, albeit).

Down and Dirty

Once we got going, this was a fun race.  The volunteers are all super friendly, the locals are great (hard to be a hard-ass living on Jekyll).  There were some organizational glitches and one outright tragedy.  However, I would recommend this race.

Distances:  1500 meter swim, 28 mile bike, 10k run.  With relay, sprint, and 5k- & 10k- only options.

Course:  Point-to-point 1500 meter swim along the Jekyll Island ocean-side coast;
28 mile loop (essentially) bike, one bottle exchange station; 10k out and back run, two water stations.

Registration:  $85, 95, & 105 depending on how early you register, USAT member.  There is a mail-in option. SetUp Events has an unsecured login and registration page.  One lady assured me the payment processing was secured, but I don’t do unsecured logins.

Host:  SetUp Events

Race Results

Weather:   Weather was beautiful.  When I got on the island I heard the water temps were 72ish, that morning, someone said 74.  Regardless, the water was an ideal temperature–Wetsuit legal.  My second race in  my new Xterra john suit.  There was some rain the day before, but that seemed to only enhance the race conditions.

Terrain:

  • Swim–A long walk down the beach to the swim start.  Wave start on the beach, into the surf, hang a right and swim 1500 meters, hang another right and swim out.  Slightly swimming against the current exiting the water.
  • Bike–Pretty flat.  Some slopes and rises, not even rollers.  The issue is the cross- and head-winds.  It was really a cross wind, so on the way back no tail-wind benefit.  Apparently, good Florida training.
  • Run–Virtually same terrain as the ride.  A paved stretch with the beach to your side.  Dappled shade.

Competition:   Mixed bag of super fast guys, and first-timers.  Given the destination angle of the race, there were a good mix of mid-packers and a more than usual dose of relayers.  The relayers tend to skew your perspective on each leg of race.

My results:  Back of the pack swim, mid-pack bike, mid-pack run.  Giving myself a break on this one, as I still had a cold or something, and was racing after working hard all day, getting on the road late, and only catching a couple of hours sleep.

General Impression:   Fun race.  Idyllic setting & conditions.  Some organizational flaws.  Post-race recovery food was virtually non-existent.  There was a food truck selling food.  The Muscle Milk girls were there.

Room for improvement:   I usually don’t have a long list of complaints, however, I think this list is justified.  Regardless, it does not prevent me from recommending the race.

  1. Arriving at my hotel at 1:30am, necessitated early morning packet pick up.  The packet pickup process was terrible.  The volunteers were not empowered to make decisions to move the line faster, and could only process one person at a time off of a single paper registration list.  This took the already stressful transition setup process, and made it far more stressful than necessary by sucking up all the time.
  2. There was no pre-race briefing.  We were informed via email that all the info was available in an online doc, and there would be no pre-race briefing.  There are several issues with this, one immediate on being that pulling up online docs while on the road is not always fool-proof.  The other being that the briefing has a real purpose to inform participants of changes and new issues right before they start.  The briefing is not a check-the-block kind of thing.  Several niggling annoyances could have been avoided with a good pre-race brief right before the start.
  3. No port-a-potties.  One after the race lady told me she saw one, but I saw none during the race, not at transition or anywhere else.
  4. Post race recovery food was utterly lacking.  There was water and Gatorade at the finish line.  Aside from that, I did not see any bananas, bagels or anything else.  The Muscle Milk ladies were there, and that is always nice, but not quite the same.

Tragedy

There is debate about the ocean conditions and the race’s level of organization.  I noticed one boat assisting a swimmer, however I did not see anyone in actual distress.  I did not find the ocean to be too rough to swim, though I could see how it may have been hard for rescue kayaks to track and get to swimmers.  One of my major criticisms is there were some organizational breakdowns.  From my perspective during the race these were mostly annoying, not deadly.  My initial reading of the reports indicate that the actual responders–the rescuers, EMTs, and State Patrol–all responded quickly and appropriately.  It seems that the after-incident notification & reporting to emergency contacts and next of kin, was an issue, something I can imagine.  I have noted some shortcomings, that definitely need to be addressed going forward.  I don’t know to what extent, if at all, they contributed to Mr. Petty’s death, but the devil is in the details.

Triathlon is a dangerous sport, something that racers and organizers need to keep in mind, and be reminded of at all times.  Many are saying the swim should have been cancelled.  I don’t think so.  The water was not unmanageable.  It is an ocean swim after all.  However, but all steps need to be in place, and taken seriously.

The Race

I mentioned earlier that May is a tough month the schedule, however, it is an important month to get in some test races.  This year, on top of the usual soccer schedules, and end of the year school stuff, we are dealing with graduation stuff.  I did not fully understand the impact that graduation stuff was going to have on my schedule in general.  This race was no exception.

I generally, look at my schedule, consult with my wife, and try to shoehorn in personal race, training, and other stuff where I can.  After doing all that, this past weekend seemed to work.  Mother’s Day was the weekend before.  Graduation was several day after.  The regular club soccer season was over, the high school playoffs were done, and the State Cup series would be two weeks out.  But of course, it didn’t work out like that.

Originally, I had planned to leave around noon Friday, get to Jekyll, pick up my packet early, set up my gear, hit the hotel, maybe watch the sunset on the beach.  Actually, at one point, I envisioned making a mini-vacay with my wife out of this, but that evaporated a long time ago.

What actually happened was I was informed the day before that my son’s signing day ceremony would be at 2:30pm in the afternoon (automatic arriving in Jekyll like 10pm), worked all day, pushing to make headway on projects we are already behind on, had to address some domestic logistic issues, and didn’t get on the road until crazy late, arriving at Jekyll at 1:30am in the morning.  I couldn’t fall asleep for another hour, and then started to trying to wake up at 4:45am.

I got to transition about 6am, which should have been plenty of time to get my packet, setup transition, and do everything I needed to.  With the aforementioned glitches, it wasn’t.  Luckily my transition set up is very straight forward, only needing about five minutes to do.

The walk to the swim start is long–be prepared.

Once in the water, I figured swimming in the breakers would be impossible, so I swam out as I could beyond the breakers, and once in the swells, the swimming was manageable.  I saw people struggling in the breakers.  Definitely swim out to the flatter water.  It took a while, but I was able to settle down to a decent free-style.  Alternating sides.  Timing the swells.  Sighting off of the water towers on shore.  Around the last buoy and back to shore.

T1 was uneventful.  I’m working out how to best deploy my homemade Lara bars.  Packaging and carrying during the race is still slightly awkward.  The wetsuit came off super easy this time.  One fitting, one open water swim, and two races later.  Breaking in is key.

The bike was also uneventful.  Beautiful.  A couple of inconsiderate drivers.  After five miles my legs loosened up, and I was able to push my cadence for the remaining 23.  There was a fairly steady cross-wind on the way out.  It was more of three-quarter wind, needing to actually lean into it at times, and forcing me into aero for most of the ride.  Typically, aero is a big issue for me, causing my back to seize up.  However, I had recently adjusted my set up, going for a shorter, more vertical aerobar reach, and had no back issues.

One other big guy and I were hopeful for a tail wind on the way back, but no such thing.  Only less of a cross wind.

In T2 a lady drug her bike through my towel and space, fortunately, not disrupting my gear too much.  I helped her get her bike situated.  Looking at my T2 split, it might have cost me 10 seconds.  And my gear survived.  No biggie.

The run went well.  I kept my stride short, and maintained my form fairly well.  I could feel my hamstrings on the verge of cramping during the last few miles, so I’m confident that I did not hold back.


Day 157: Road to Ironman Florida

Today is a random day.  Nothing particularly remarkable relating to my, epic-sounding, Road to Ironman Florida.  Of some significance is that I am recovering from another back lockup/seizure episode.  Last Sunday was my first triathlon of the season, Spring Fling Sprint at West Point Lake.

After the race that afternoon, I helped my buddy fix his hot water heater, and helped my son with his AP Statistics homework (well, as I could, its been a long time since college statistics).  I then promptly passed out on the couch.

The next morning, I was feeling great.  Went to work, and hit the gym late morning.  Finished my day.  Ran practice with my girls’ team.  Hit the pool that evening.  Went to bed tired, but feeling good.

Perhaps that was a bit too much, because Tuesday morning, when I tried to roll out of bed, I could not stand up straight.  My back was in full-scale revolt.

This happened to me in the final weeks of training going into Augusta 70.3 last year.  Last year I tried to push through, and ended up on the sidelines for two weeks.  A costly two weeks.  What I did discover, was that my back would loosen up in the pool.

So this time I did two things.  1) I ceased all attempts to push through, or do any work thatmight cause my back to lockup.  2) I went to the pool that evening.

I actually swam more and better this week than I have ever.  I have had several breakthrough moments this week in the pool.  As of today, my back is still tight, but I can walk, get in and out of my truck, sit at my desk–things I could not do at this point in last year’s episode.

Perhaps, this was a forced recovery period.  I have not been cycling my sessions as I know I should (an unload week every third week).  In fact, I’ve been pushing for bigger strength gains in the gym, in advance of my reduced gym time in the weeks going into Ironman Florida.

In reality, this is the ghost of years past–too many hard training days without good recovery when I was younger, too many holes and ditches dug in concrete-hard, drought-dried, August-baked Georgia clay.  A consequence of living a certain number of days, and doing a certain number of real things in those days.  I’ll much rather take it now, rather than in the weeks going into Florida.


Spring Fling Sprint Triathlon: Race Report

I just put my first triathlon of the season in the bag (I have a few more races scheduled)–it was the Spring Fling at West Point Lake, on the border of Georgia and Alabama.  (West Point, Georgia, near LaGrange).  This event actually consists of two races–the West Point Triathlon, an olympic distance, and the Spring Fling Sprint.

My selection of this race was that it was the first sprint distance scheduled on a Sunday.  My Saturdays are impossibilities until after soccer season.  In fact my next race will be the Turtle Crawl Olympic at Jekyll, the first Saturday after soccer season!

Down and Dirty

This is a fun race. The weather was great, the water temp was a tad cool, but I always feel the lake temps are cool.  The people are fun, and the volunteers super helpful.

Distances:  600 yard swim, 15 mile bike, 5k run.  With relay team option, also

Course:  Out and back 600 yard swim in West Point Lake;
15 mile out and back (essentially) bike, no aid stations; 5k out and back run, water at start and 1.5 mile mark.

Registration:  $65, early mail-in, USAT member.  I hate online registration through those thieves at Active.com .

Host:  Georgia Multisport

Race Results

Weather:   Weather was beautiful and warm.  The water was still a tad cool–Wetsuit legal.  I was able to test my new Xterra john suit.  Weather stayed sunny and rain-free all day.  I didn’t notice the heat until after the race.

Terrain:

  • Swim–Start and end on a boat ramp, which is always slightly tricky in terms of toe scrapes.   A simple out for 250-300 yards, hang a left for 50 or so, and back.
  • Bike–Rolling hills.  Somewhere this course was called flat and fast.  It is not flat.  No killer climbs, but don’t look for the flats.  A Pit/Staffordshire mix came charging out on one uphill. Thank you to the sheriff who chased him off.
  • Run–Again, not flat.  Rolling hills, no killer climbs.  I’m sure I negative split on the way back.

Competition:   Mixed bag of super fast guys, and first-timers.  The first olympic distance guy was out of the water in 17 minutes.  The last olympic people were behind me.

My results:  Back of the pack swim, mid-pack bike, front pack run.  Mid-pack overall, back of the pack for my age group.  My biggest opportunity still lies in the swim, but I feel that getting better with every training session.  My next opportunity is in the bike, getting stronger and smarter there all the time.

General Impression:   Fun race.  Close enough to home to get up early and drive to, race, and drive home.  Well supported during all legs, with nice post race recovery food (I did not try, and cannot vouch for, the pizza though)

Room for improvement:   Swag period.  We got our numbers before hand, and the t-shirt.  No swag at all though 😐

I woke up at 3:30am to get ready and leave for the race.  I had done minimal preparation the night before (which I regret).  My aim was to be on the road at 4:30. I finally got going pushing 5am.  From my house it was right at 2 hours to get there.  Definitely load up all your stuff once your parked, and head down to transition in one shot.  the closest parking is 1/4 mile.  Where I ended up parking is 1/2 mile easy.  You don’t want to make that round trip unnecessarily.

Once I got parked, unloaded and down to transition, transition was technically closed.  (One reason I recommend you stay the night if this is your first race.)  I set up transition fairly quickly, copped a squat in someone’s chair, and squeezed into my wetsuit.

With a little time to kill, I hit the bathroom (no, not the port-a-potty).  By the time that was over, the Olympic distance had already started.  I slipped into my start wave and waited.

The swim was uneventful, except I need to work on my wetsuit adjustments.  I had not hoisted the crotch enough, and it ended up pulling on my shoulders, chest and legs.  I think this is an adjustment issue, not a sizing one.  Although, I’m finding the triathlon sizing charts are made for skinner guys than I, and I’m not a bulky guy.

Bike transition went smooth.  Slightly slow, as I carefully eased the wetsuit past my ankles.  The bike ride was also uneventful, one Lincoln buzzed me and pushed my bike number into my wheel spokes and I had the annoyance of that flapping sound for the last six or seven miles.  I passed some folks and lost them on the hills.  The pit/Staffordshire mix came charging out right before the 7.5 mile marker. He had his sights set on a cyclist in front of me, but a deputy ran him off.  I tested out one of my homemade Lara bars.  The bar worked great, but my wrapping, and deployment needs some help.  Definitely not as simple as ripping open a gel.  No sports drink for this race, only water.

Run transition was super fast.  Rack my bike.  Take off my helmet. Slip on my running shoes.  Zing my elastic laces. and I’m gone.  Nothing else to it.  I hit an espresso gel at the .5 mile or so.  After the 1.5 mile turn around, the gel hit, I kicked it in a bit, and finished with some fast guys, making me look a lot better than I am.  The finish line sneaks up on you a bit, and is in a slightly different spot than the transition area.

Muscle Milk, cookies, bananas, water and a Coke for my post recovery stuff.  There was a ton of other stuff.  I wasn’t really craving anything else, and those hit the spot.  Talked to some local racers for a bit, and headed home.

Got home in time to help my buddy with his hot water heater, and my son with his AP Statistics homework!

It was a good day.


Race Rep Part 3: Augusta 70.3 Half Ironman 2011

Augusta 70.3 Half Ironman 2011 Finisher Medal

Augusta 70.3 Half Ironman 2011 Finisher Medal

Part 3 of my Race Report.  Read Part 1.   …  Read Part 2

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

Transistion area the morning of Augusta 70.3 Half Ironman 2011

Transistion area the morning of Augusta 70.3 Half Ironman 2011

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.

–Old 454

Please feel free to comment below.

Also, find me on twitter:  Twitter.com/Old454


Race Rep Part 2: Augusta 70.3 Half Ironman 2011

bikes racked in the Ironman Augusta 70.3 transistion area the night before

Ironman Augusta 70.3 Transition--day before

Part 2 of my Race Report.  Read Part 1.  and Part 3.

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.


–Old 454

Please feel free to comment below.

Also, find me on twitter:  Twitter.com/Old454