Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Augusta 70.3 Bound

This Sunday will be my 3rd time racing at Augusta 70.3.  It will also be the biggest field for a 1/2 Ironman, ever.  I've had my eye on this race since the beginning of the season.  I'm definitely looking forward to a smooth downriver swim.  This course is a PR type of course, but it can be a long day out there for anyone if things don't fall into place.

I'm in full taper mode now - sleep if more important than miles, making sure my muscles feel good with some massage and dry needling, and keeping the engine running with some good eats.  Based on my previous 1/2 iron performances this year and prior results at Augusta I've set the bar high for this race.  I'd be lying if I said I'm not nervous, but I really am more excited to see what I can do and most likely end the season with a great race and great weekend in Augusta (potentially a sprint in October)! 
Favorite swim start!

The week leading up to the race has been a bit hectic - I moved across town, I'm working a long day on Thursday so I can work 7-11 on Friday and then spend the better of the day in the car.  At least I'll have good company and good tunes and a great race to look forward to. 

Feel free to follow me at, bib #3157, race start time of 9:12am.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Nation's Triathlon 2013 Race Report

I may be a bit biased towards this race as it practically takes place in my backyard, it was my first Olympic distance race and there's never a shortage of friends or family around for race weekend.  This was my 4th year in a row racing at Nation's.  Quick recap: 2010 - first Olympic distance race and happy to finish sub-3. 2011 - I had my eyes on the prize, this was the first race my dad was going to come watch me at, I took 2nd in my AG.  2012 - I couldn't fathom not doing this race, so I raced just 2 weeks after my first hurt.  

The week leading up to the 2013 race was a 4-day work week thanks to Labor Day but it seemed to drag on as I was ready to get the party started.  Early in the week you can see the makings of the swim start dock being set up and light and fencing brought in for transition.  I always start to get a little more excited once I see this happening.  I continued to train with a quasi-taper for Nation's as my main goal is Augusta 70.3 this year.  Friday night got festivities kicked off with a visit to the expo, picking up my packet, and stopping by the DCTC tent.  Saturday was laid back for the most part - a short ride and run, racked the bike and made a pasta dinner.  The main topic that everyone was talking about on Saturday was how they were going to get to the race on Sunday morning.  In all of the past 3 years I've never found this to be a difficult task - walk, ride a different bike, bike share, cab.  Personally, as long as it's nice out bike share is great.  There are 3 docking stations within a mile of transition (2 < .5 mile) and so many people seem to be from out of town I've never had a problem docking at a race start.


Woke up early - had some cereal, almond milk, and banana and got ready to roll out.  Nothing to eventful happened.  Adam and I headed over to the nearest bike share station grabbed a couple bikes and rocked some aero-helmets on the CaBi's.  We rolled up to the docking station just south of the Lincoln Memorial (which had about 20 open docks at 5:50 AM).   It was <.25 mile walk to get into transition.  On our commute we saw 4-5 people walking from near the Iwo Jima - that would not be my choice if I was coming from across the river, but to each their own.


I easily got to Mr and re-racked him - I had to rack him by the handlebars on Saturday because he was too short to rest on the ground while hanging from the seat on the bike rack.  I didn't want to risk him falling over night or getting rowdy so I racked him by the handlebars and gave him the flip-er-roo on race morning.  Transition set-up was simple, probably due to the fact I've raced quite a few times this year, set up my bike gear, run gear, and made sure my nutrition was set, before topping of the air in my tires.  I nicely hung my new (to me) CAT 5 wetsuit over my bike as I shook out some nerves and reviewed my race plan in my head.  As I began to look around I noticed there were no other wetsuits around or on anyone.  Time to go check, on Saturday they announced 77 degree water and with the cool evening most had assumed it would be wetsuit legal.  I quickly found out that was not the case.  I packed the wetsuit up and put it off to the side.  I was really hoping for a wetsuit legal race to help me get my 2nd sub-30 swim time.

THE SWIM - 1500m - 32:18

I made a decision about 1 week prior to the race to move up to the elite division.  My finish time from Rock Hall qualified me and after the announcement of the new bike course for 2013 I was convinced to move up.  The elite division are the 1st and 2nd wave to start (males, females) so I was lucky enough to start only 4 minutes into the running race clock.  Another advantage ( I thought) was that the elite waves start with a wave start and not a time trial start like the age group waves.  I knew going into the swim I'd be near the back of the pack in the elite wave.  Oh boy, was I right.  I started strong, feeling great as I passed the 100m, 200m, 300m, 400m, 500m, and 600m bouys.  Then I started feeling slow and struggling and alone in the water.  I hate feeling alone in the water.  I caught myself veering right after making the turn around and got myself back on course.  Men from the first age group wave started passing me - only a few, thankfully.  I tried to focus on technique and eventually I was hitting the 1300m and 1400m bouys before heading to the exit ramp.  I was disappointed that I didn't hit a sub-30 swim, but I have to be happy as this was my best swim at Nation's to date.  I felt strong exiting the water, unlike how I used to feel exhausted and barely being able to run.  I passed a few men as I ran up the swim ramp and was feeling good for the bike!

T1: 2:04

My bike was racked near bike out so I had quite a ways to run through transition before getting to Mr.  Simple transition - shoes on, sunglasses on, helmet on, and roll out.  

THE BIKE: 1:07:49

Oh my goodness, I'm going to start lobbying for USAT to initate a penalty for improper bike mounting.  Some dude in front of my tried to pull off a flying mounth - big fail.  His shoes hit the ground and fell off and he fell to the side.  Somehow I avoided his shoes and him -said something mean under my breath and continued on. The course started out wide, smooth and flat and I found my rhythm quickly - head down, cadence up. This was great until I apparently was in a no pass zone. There was one male in front of me riding
in the left of the no pass zone, so I, unaware we were in a no pass zone kept yelling on your left. He moved just in time to avoid a collision and yelled back that we were in a no pass zone. I was more aware the next time through and was able to hammer before entering and find clear road (partly thanks to starting the bike before most racers were even in the water). My suggestions would be a) try to eliminate no pass zones as much as possible or b) signs 1/2 or 1 mile out from the no pass zone to give better forewarning so athletes can make passes where it's safe.

The last hairy area on the course was the early signage for 2nd lap and finish. 'Finish Keep Right" signs seemed to start about 1 mile away from the finish. I was torn between keeping right and passing slower athletes on the left. It created a strange debacle of "well they're slower and they're riding on my left but I've also got a slow person in front of me - now do I pass on the right of the first person and left of the 2nd? But I think passing on the right is illegal....etc, etc. Here, I'd actually say to not have the signage so far out into the course, or begin coning off the course into two distinct lanes where the signage begins.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with my bike time.  My original goal time was a couple of minutes faster, but with the course change involving tight U-turns and no pass zones I was happy to have a bike split faster than last years.  I let up the last mile or 2 of the bike and spun my legs out as I got ready to dismount.  Moving dismount executed perfectly (winning me some compliments from race volunteers and spectators).

T2:  1:29

Running back through transition with Mr. as people were still heading in from the swim and running out with their bikes was a bit hectic.  I had to stop for a second as a bunch of people were clogging up the lane near my row.  Not happy about that.  Re-racked Mr slipped on my run shoes, stuffed gels down shirt, grabbed my race belt with visor attached and headed out.  

THE RUN: 10k - 47:11

As for spectators on the run course - well they're non-existent if you're starting the run when the majority of athletes are about 1/2 way through the bike course or just starting the bike.  I was able to find a good rhythm early, focused in on what I had to do here.  I told myself I was going to use my Garmin and actually watch my splits to keep me in check.  Mile 1 went by quickly and soon after I saw a fellow DCTC member cheering as I rounded the Tidal Basin.  On to Hains Point, I love this part of the run, I know exactly what to expect and where to expect it.  Mile 2 ticked off  - a saw another DCTC member offering encouragement as he sailed passed me in a gator.  At about mile 2.3 my secret weapon (GU Brew container with salt pills) fell to the ground.  I had to stop run back about 10 feet and grab it before continuing on.  I was bummed this happened because this was right around the time I was closing the gap on a girl in front of me.  I was excited to hit mile 3 as this is where the main DCTC water stop and cheering station would be.  It was awesome - they had a head's up that I was coming and since there weren't many people on the course yet they were all screaming my name.  I need this energy at mile 4.5 or 5 as well.  It was awesome.  I was through mile 3 and onto mile 4...then things got hard.  I decided not to take my planned gel at mile 4 and my pace started slipping.  I was still chasing down the girl in front of my but that gap was opening up again instead of getting smaller.  At this point I knew I couldn't do much except focus on my form, foot strike and breathing.  I didn't know how close I was to going sub-2:30 and perhaps if I hadn't dropped the salt, or I had taken the gel, or I had just looked at my watch during the last mile I may have been able to pull it out.  All in all, I'm happy with this run.  Technically this is a 10k PR for me, as my other PR (45:35) was on a 6.06 mile course.  This is about 3 minutes faster than any other 10k I've done this year.

FINISH TIME: 2:30:48

Overall this was a great race.  I tried some new things - like a braided pony tail and it was awesome.  I almost nailed my run - but still had a great run and I learned some more about my swim and my confidence going into the swim.   I had a minor freak out of feeling inadequate and undeserving of the wave I was starting in shortly before race start.  Lucky for me I had friends at swim start and in the wave before me to help calm the nerves.  I would and will definitely race in the elite wave at this race again.  It was a great experience and made for a wide open bike course.  I'm looking forward to seeing what I can do in Augusta in just a couple weeks and keeping my eyes open for an opportunity to go sub-2:30 before the end of the year.