Monday, October 1, 2012

2012 Augusta 70.3 Race Report

Susan and I left Atlanta on Saturday morning.  Our neighbors were watching our dog Max.  My fellow Southern Crescent Cycling club members Neal Hamilton and Carlos Talbott were also competing.  Carlos and his family were also arriving in Augusta on Saturday.  They were be staying with family.  Neal arrived on Friday and was staying at a hotel on Washington Road.

During our three hour drive to Augusta we decided to stop for coffee at exit 88 (Almon Road/Crowell Road N) on I-20 just east of Atlanta and west of Covington, Georgia.  There was a BP gas station on the left and a Liberty gas station with a McDonalds on the right.  We stopped at the BP.  Susan went to use the facilities.  She later said it was the most disgusting restroom she had ever been in.  We got no coffee at that pig sty and drove across the street to the Liberty gas station hoping for cleaner facilities.  It was only marginally better.  It is amazing to me that these places are allowed to serve food in such a filthy environment.  I got a medium coffee from the disinterested McDonalds cashier before we again headed east.

Susan and I arrived at our hotel, the Partridge Inn, around noon.  The hotel allowed us to check-in early.  We were all loaded up and in our room before 1pm.  This was our first time staying at the Partridge Inn.  During the 2010 Augusta 70.3 we stayed at the host hotel the Marriott.  It was nice, roomy, and modern.  Two thumbs up!  The Partridge Inn was reminiscent of the the Stanley Hotel in The Shining.  It's an old hotel with some charm but not so much charm as to make it charming.  Our room was located down a long narrow hall with lots of turns.  Our room was the last on the left.  Our window overlooked the three level parking garage.  Parking was free but limited and v-v-very tight.
Our room at the Partridge Inn
Our room at the Partridge Inn
Our room was clean, quiet and small.  It was like half a room.  Susan was not too pleased.  Although the bedding was nice, the staff friendly, and we were only three miles from the venue.

With our accommodations for the night secured, Susan and I decided to go for a short bike ride.  The neighborhood behind our hotel is quaint and quiet with lots of beautiful homes and lawns.  It's also very hilly.

Check-in and Packet Pick-up
After our brief bike ride I called Carlos and we decided that I'd pick him up at his aunt's house and we'd head on down to registration and drop our bikes off at the transition area.  The line in front of us at the Marriott was about sixty people long.  I had expected worse.  It took us longer to find a parking space and walk to the venue that it did to check-in.  The volunteers were efficient and fast.  We were all checked-in within a few minutes.  We bought a few items at the Ironman store before heading out.
The line to photo ID and USAT card check-in
My view of Carlos.  At 6' 4" I can get a pretty good shot of his nostrils. 
Me getting the sign here, here, and here waiver instructions
Carlos getting his race packet
We parked on Forsythe Street near the transition area, unloaded our bikes and walked with the masses the final 1/2 mile to check-in out bikes.
The flood gates on the way to the transition area
The road to the transition area
The Savannah River with the swim course buoys in place
The entrance to the transition area
Carlos at bike check-in
Me at bike check-in
Carlos and his family were having a big reunion at his Aunt Jan's beautiful home on Walton Way, so Neal, Susan and I decided to go to Carrabba's Italian Grill on Washington Road for an early dinner.  Neal's wife Cindy was unable to make the trip from Atlanta to join him so he was flying solo.  Apparently, 5:30 pm is not early enough on a Saturday to go to Carrabba's.  The line of triathletes and locals was 50 minutes long.  The food and service were great albeit slow.  They were packed.  As we left the restaurant a lady in the lobby was having it out with what appeared to be the restaurant manager. Apparently, she thought that she should be moved in front of all the other folks that had been patiently waiting.  What a nasty person!

Back at the hotel, the alarm clock was set for 4:00 am.  It went off as set.  That isn't always the case.  Susan and I got up and set about getting ready for a long day.  I drank a smoothie and ate half of a peanut butter and honey sandwich.  The lack of a kitchen had some impact on what was doable.  The condo we rented before Ironman Florida last year was ideal.  A cardboard box would have to do on this trip.

The weather forecast for Saturday was a low in the mid-60's and a high in the mid-70's.  The forecast was a bit off! The temperature was 76-degrees Carlos, Neal and I setup our transition areas.  I'm sure the projected humidity was right at around 80%.

Susan went with Carlos and I to setup our transition areas and body marking at around 5:30 am.  We met up with Neal there.  My swim wave start wasn't until 7:44 am and Carlos' at 8:32 am.  Neal's swim start was right after mine.

The BodyGlide was put into action there on the streets of Augusta as we prepared for the short walk to the river. Carlos wanted desperately to put some BodyGlide on my nipples but I wouldn't let him.  I did it myself.  You can't be too prepared!
Pre-dawn Spandex in the street
Neal, Carlos, and I before the race
With our timing chips in place and our wetsuits in hand the four of us drove to somewhere near the swim start.  Susan took a few pictures before leaving us to head back to the hotel to finish emptying our room of our belongings before checking out, having a real breakfast and coordinating her day with Carlos' wife Carla, their daughter Loren, and Aunt Jan

As we arrived at the swim start at around 6:00 am the port-a-pottie lines were already forming.  We found a bank of port-a-potties closer to the river that were as yet undiscovered by the masses.  Over the course of the next 60 minutes the SCC crew would visit this area twice before donning our wetsuits.

Of the reported 3,400 registered participants and 3,000 actual participants, the professional men and women athletes were the first to start at 7:30 am.  Each wave afterwards was separated by a few minutes until all the athletes were in the water.  One advantage to being old, maybe the only one, is that I got to start before the younger athletes.  That would allow me the opportunity to finish the race before the rain came in.  

My wave was ushered down the ramp to the dock and the swim start.  With my swim cap and goggles in place I waited for the horn to blow signaling that my race had started.  Special thanks to the fellow M50-54 racer that returned my dropped goggles to me as I was putting on my wetsuit.

The horn blew and I was off.  Just like in 2012 my race started with; swim 100 feet, try to seal my goggles, and repeat.  The water was clear but choppier than I remember.  I could see the weeds growing up from the river bed below.  Sometimes my hands would brush through them.  The weeds were just feet below the surface.  I eventually sealed my goggles and corkscrewed my way to the exit 1.2 miles away.  I'm not an efficient swimmer.  I swam right up to the ramp not attempting to stand until my fingers touched the bottom.  I was out of the water in 28 minutes and 56 seconds.

I have one lesson learned for other athletes about the swim.  The current is stronger in the center of the channel so swim there if you can.  As a middle of the pack (MOP) swimmer, I turned to the right and swam nearer the shore in the slower current way too soon.  As I did I had to endure colliding with other racers.  It was not an ideal scenario.

I ran up the carpeted swim exit ramp with one thought in mind.  I was looking for a big strong burly hunk of a stripper man.  A line of 10 or so volunteers were stationed just outside the transition area.  Their job was to help the racers remove their wetsuits as quickly as possible.  With that job in mind I didn't need the gentle action of someone timid.  I wanted someone that would pull so hard he'd either remove my wetsuit in one swift pull or lift my butt off the carpet trying.  I ran passed the 7 or so young ladies to the last of 3 guys at the end of the line.  He did his job well and tossed my wetsuit back to me.  I says thanks, turned around and ran to my racked bike.  I had already made a mental note of where my bike was.  I had gotten confused and lost my bike once before and with 3000 bikes in transition I knew this would not be the race to do it again.

I ran down the row of racks to find my bike.  There was one other racer already there and a second right behind me. We were three peas in a pod.  I heard the second racer yell out for me to move over as I sat on the ground to get ready for the bike.  I tried to accommodate my competition as much as possible before sprinting to the bike mount line.  I passed the mount line and hopped on my bike.  I already had my bike shoes snapped into my pedals.  Slowly riding along the water front I had my left foot in my bike shoe within a few seconds.  My right foot took another 30 seconds.  I haven't perfected that yet.  With my feet strapped into my shoes I headed out onto the bike course.

With 3000 racers on the bike course a drafting or blocking penalty was a real concern.  Fortunately, I was not blatant enough as to incur the wrath of the referees.  I really did want to be legal.  My bike was setup with three large Gatorade water bottles totaling 72-ounces of fluid. I also had 2 packets of loose GU Shot Bloks and Endurolyte tablets in my bento box.  Two of the bottles had water mixed with Perpetuem and chocolate flavored protein powder.  The third bottle was just water. My plan was to throw way one bottle at the two bike rest stops and keep the third bottle through to the bike finish.  I had almost finished the first bottle of mix at the first rest stop.  Away it went.  At the second stop I tossed an almost full bottle of water.  The clouds and cool weather made riding much more comfortable and the need for fluid less of an issue.  The last 10 miles or so of the bike course seemed to be slightly downhill as my average speed slowly increased on my bike computer.
Me on the bike course (photo taken by Lisa Hobart - Thanks!)
I had decided to leave my Garmin 910XT watch at home knowing full well that I'd spend much of my ride distracted and fiddling with my watch.  I also saved over 4-ounces.
My Garmin 910XT
I loosened the Velcro on my shoes and removed my feet as I neared the dismount line for the bike leg of the race.  I hopped off my bike ahead of schedule.  I'd had a good ride.  I ran to my transition area, put on my shoes and ran out the back end onto the run course in good time.

I was on the run course now and the final leg of the run.  This was what I'd been waiting for.  I love the run.  During most of my races this is where I pass the most people.  I knew right way that today was going to be different.  I felt a biting pain in my ribs.  It was a side stitch.  I ran the first three miles in agony.  As I saw Susan along the course I ran up to her and doubled over.  More than once I'd thrown-up in my mouth and choked it back down.  I continued to run along stopping only for water and flat coke.  Another racer suggested the coke might help.  I suffered through the run occasionally seeing Susan and Carlos' family on the roadside.
The view from the corner where I joined Susan to cheer on the other racers
The Finish
The finish line couldn't have come too soon.  It was not my finest moment but I didn't quit.  A check of the race results showed that I finished 29th in my M50-54 age-group out of 193 and 605 overall out of 3335.  I finished the 2010 race 37th in the M45-49 age-group out of 287 and 471 overall out of 3121.
The chute to the finish line
Thanks to our families, the spectators, and the hundreds of the enthusiastic volunteers that made this race possible.  I saw a t-shirt that summed up the efforts of family members into one word.  It read "TRISHERPA".  Sherpa comes from the loyal burden bearers for mountain climbers in the Himalayas.  Without the Sherpas few climbers would make it to the top.  The same is true for triathletes and much like the mountain climber; the Sherpas can't carry you to the finish.  That's something you've got to do yourself.

My 2012 (2010) [difference] race results were as follows:
Swim: 28:57 (28:12) [+45 seconds]
T1: 4:02 (4:49) [-47 seconds]
Bike: 2:35:34 - 21.6 mi/h (2:43:26) [-7 minutes and 52 seconds]
T2: 1:23 (2:57) [-1 minutes and 34 seconds]
Run: 2:01:35 - 9:16/mi (1:42:30) [+19 minutes and 5 seconds]
Overall: 5:11:31 (5:01:54) [+9 minutes and 37 seconds]

Before the run I was 9 minutes and 26 seconds ahead of my 2010 results.

Neal, Carlos, and I after the race
Carlos finished in 5:29:30 besting his 2011 time by over 30 minutes.  Neal finished this his first 70.3 and his second triathlon in 6:16:18.  Good race guys.

Kudos to my neighbor Leslie Momper who also competed with a very respectable 5:50:12 finish time.

Next up, the Ironman Miami 70.3 on October 28th, 2012.  I guess I'd better start my training plan with 4 weeks left to train.

Thanks for reading.