Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Augusta 70.3 2014 Race Report

If you've been following my blog for awhile then you probably know I've raced Augusta before.  Every year since 2011 to be exact.  You can read my race reports from 2011, 2012,  and 2013.  Last year Adam and I made the trip and both raced -- I think he loved Augusta as much or maybe even more than I do.  There wasn't much hesitation or discussion when registration opened for 2014 - we signed up and convinced some friends to join us for a fun and fast weekend.  If you're planning on going to Augusta read this whole report -- if you want just the race details scroll down to the actual race report.

PRE-RACE: Friday and Saturday

We hit the road very early on Friday morning.  The drive was mostly non-eventful and we made pretty good time.  We drove straight to the Queen Anne Inn so we could unload our gear and bikes, catch up with some friends who were a bit ahead of us, and check out our home base for the weekend.  After 3 attempts of finding good lodging in Augusta when I found the Queen Anne Inn (located at mile 1 of the run course) I quickly reserved the 3rd floor for our group.  The Inn was about 1 mile from transition and 1 mile from race check-in.  Val, one of the owner's of the Bed and Breakfast, was amazing and
Awesome Good Luck Graphic from RosePT!
very sweet.  Our bikes were welcomed right into the living room, breakfast was perfect (even on race day morning!) and the location couldn't be beat.  After checking out the B&B we headed over to race check-in.  It was more-or-less non eventful.  We heard the water temp was about 68* and we were looking at an almost definite wetsuit legal swim.  We headed outside to the riverwalk to take a look at the swift current we'd be swimming with on Sunday.  Not so fast - the river was standing still!  We left with faith that the current would pick up by Sunday morning.  After some rest and getting our bikes ready back at the B&B we headed to Farmhaus on Broad St. for dinner.  If you're headed to Augusta and you're looking for a great burger/sandwich definitely try Farmhaus.

Saturday morning was nice and relaxed with a good homemade breakfast and no rush to get anywhere.  Once everyone was up and fed we headed over to the swim start to take the river for a ride (we hoped).  Yes, indeed the current was kicking and we were swimming much faster than normal, about 20-30s/100m faster.   We swam to the boat launch near the 2nd bridge and had such a good time that we walked back to the swim start to go for round 2.  This time we decided to attempt swimming to the first buoy and then turning around and swimming against the current back to the floating dock.  Once we made it back up river we headed back to go for a short bike and run.  Mr. felt great on a short 20 minute spin and my legs felt ready to race during my shake out run.  A much different feeling than the sluggish taper legs I had during Thursday's workouts.

Saturday afternoon involved resting prepping bikes and rolling them down to transition for bike racking.  This was the first year Ironman had separate racks for AWA athletes.  I got to rack just 6 spaces down from Adam, which was cool and convenient, but it also meant I wouldn't know where I stood within my age group during coming out of the water and coming off the bike.  Obviously not a huge deal since the focus of this race was nailing the plan, and the plan had nothing to do with where anyone else was on the course.

We took in a taste of the local restaurant scene for dinner.  A few blocks form Queen Anne Inn is Luigi's Italian Restaurant.  We walked over and had no wait (around 5:30) for a table of 9!  We were happy athletes.  Service was good, food was good and people watching was excellent.  We encountered a group of Irish Travelers from just outside of Aiken, SC that apparently eat at Luigi's every Saturday night.  If you are not familiar with the Irish Travelers Google Image search them and then read the Wikipedia page.


Earl AM at the B&B
We had an early start to the day on Sunday morning.  Breakfast was my usual pre-race meal of chex, granola, banana and lactose free milk along with apple sauce and toast+nutella.  I actually saved the toast+nutella to eat after going to transition while I was waiting the 2+ hours before my wave would
actually start.  We walked over to transition and had plenty of time to set up before taking the shuttle back up to swim start.

They do an excellent job with the National Anthem every year at this race.  The past couple years it has involved a paratrooper target demo team jumping out of an airplane - the last one with a very large flag.  It's a pretty cool site to see standing atop the levy near the Savannah River.   Soon after the pro's were off and age group waves were lining up an filing down the ramp to the starting dock.  I camped out on the curb since I still had more than an hour before I even needed to think about getting my wetsuit on.  Once some of our friends started to head off for race start time seemed to fly by.  In no time at all it seemed like the youngest of us were getting our wetsuits zipped up so we could start our race.

THE SWIM - 1.2 Miles - 28:14
I've been working on my swim and I've been practicing executing a race plan that involved drafting and swimming straight.  For the most part it came together in Augusta!  I was able to execute my start plan, find feet and maintain those feet for a better portion of the swim.  We were catching people from the wave before us before we hit the first buoy.   I was able to sight regularly and maintain a mostly straight
path to the finish.  The swim was relatively contact free.  As we got near the last 400-500 meters or so we were hitting a lot of slower swimmers that were just treading water.  Navigating through some of the crowds from the waves before was a little tricky but soon the final buoy was right in front of my and I was headed to the boat ramp.

T1 - 3:03
The run up from the boat ramp to the wetsuit strippers and transition area is a decent length which gave me plenty of time to get out of the top half of my wetsuit and wiggle it down to my hips as I ran.  The wetsuit strippers were fantastic and I continued on into transition.  Bike shoes, helmet, and sunglasses on and then I was off with Mr.

THE BIKE - 56 Miles - 2:39:00
I started off on the bike with a high cadence and tried to stay relaxed to let my HR come down.  I was passed soon after by a girl in my age group literally standing up and hammering.  I just stuck to my plan, knowing I'd most likely see her again.  Just a few miles into the bike course I saw the lead male pro on his way back in.  No one else was within sight of him.  Less than 5 miles into the course is the first steady, gradual climb on your way to South Carolina, here is where I saw the girl who went blowing by me just a few miles earlier.  She was standing up and hammering again, and once I passed her she really hammered until she passed me again.  For a brief I got slightly worried that she was probably an uber bike and even better runner.  I reminded myself to stick to my plan and let the cards fall where they will.  I couldn't control anything else about the race other than what I was doing and my execution.  After the first 20 minutes or so I made some adjustments to the plan to account for the humidity that was present and I started in on my nutrition and hydration.  I ended up going through 4
bottles of Osmo Active Hydration which was one more than I would have thought I'd need but I pee'd don schedule and felt strong the entire time.  The aid stations on the bike course were excellent adn all handoffs went off without a hitch.  Since I started in the 2nd to last wave there were a lot of people who seemed to be riding to the left and got good practice with "on your left" - it may have come out a little stern a few times.  The first half of this bike course was more windy than it's ever been over the past few years.  Luckily, it didn't slow me down too much compared to last year.  I really love this bike course and have enjoyed it every time I've raced on it.  Rolling back in to Augusta I was feeling strong and ready to run.  I even got some applause from folks at the dismount line for my flying dismount sans shoes.

T2 - 2:45
A quick run in and helmet off, sunglasses off along with socks and shoes off and we were good to go.  I grabbed my race belt and visor before heading to Run Out.  As I was running down the chute toward the timing mat I noticed a girl in my age group that I hadn't seen yet.

THE RUN - 13.1 Miles - 1:48:32
As I exited T2 with the fellow age grouper, I thought to myself 'I wonder if she's part of a relay because her hair looks too great to have just been sweating under a bike helmet for 2.5+ hours.  I stayed controlled and settled in for the first few miles.  At about mile 2 the fellow age grouper fell behind never to be seen again.  I was feeling great, and thanks to the late start wave I was passing way more people than were passing me.  My run time wasn't blazing fast, but it was the most well executed, as well as fastest run I've had in a HIM to date.  I ran with a small fuel belt hand held bottle and started with Osmo Active Hydration in it.  Once I had finished that I refilled with cold water at a few aid
stations.  The weather was pretty nice, only slightly warm, but there were cold sponges and cups of ice at most of the aid stations which helped to keep me cool.  Around mile 8 I had to really focus and enter a little bit of the pain cave to keep bringing my HR up dropping the pace.  I kept asking myself if I could give 1% more to keep myself going and to keep pushing.  With the help of some caffeinated Gu I was able to nail my run plan.  As I was nearing the finish line I knew I'd be close to breaking 5 hours and close to the front of my wave, especially since I hadn't seen anyone else in my age group (or the younger age group) since mile 2.  Adam was able to get to the finish line area and even capture some video as I mustered what energy I could in an attempt to raise my arms in celebration.

I connected with Adam and some of our friends in the athlete celebration area.  Adam was signed up for a massage and very kindly let me swoop in and take it!  It was great to have an almost immediate post race massage.  Right before the massage we checked the results, my finish result wasn't updated yet, but we did find out that I'd come off the bike in 2nd place.  While I was on the massage table Adam got the final results and had our friend/Snapple teammate, AJ, tell me how I finished!  It was an utter surprise and something I did not expect at all.  One of the best parts was that seconds after finding out that I'd won my age group, they told me Adam had also won his! Decision time...

Adam and I had been discussing whether or not to take a slot to 70.3 World Championships if we each earned one.  We were thinking more likely in the case of a roll down, which would have been a long shot with the limited # of slots this year, but not out of the realm of possibility.  Since we both won our age groups we a couple hours to decide if we'd be going - and because we had the opportunity to travel to Austria and compete together we couldn't turn it down.  It'll make for a crazy and busy 2015 race schedule, but a fun and challenging one fore sure!
Signed, sealed, delivered...Going to Austria!

Finish Time: 5:01:22 (25/987 Females include pros, 1/96 age group)

Top 4 Women 25-29
For anyone who is looking for a first 70.3 I highly recommend this race, it was my first in 2011, and it has been over the year's a number of friends as well.  For anyone else who if possibly considering racing at Augusta, do it.  It's awesome and the atmosphere is really great.  You'll have a fast swim, great bike, and almost fully crowd supported run course.  Unfortunately I won't be racing Augusta in 2015, but instead start my day off with a 2.4 mile swim the Tennessee River and rolling 112 miles through mostly North Georgia.

Thank you to an awesome coach, Kim, from Fuel Your Passion, for setting me up with a great season of training and racing as well as controlling my habit of over training.  Thank you to my sponsors Snapple Triathlon, DC Tri Club, Osmo Hydration, Louis Garneau, Rudy Project Helmets, TrainingPeaks,  and Rose Physical Therapy Group.  Thank you to a wonderful group of friends to share this experience with Angela, Kenn, Ryan, Jess, Lee, Angela, Kevin, AJ and of course to the most supportive boyfriend and family I could ask for.