As as I sit on this AirTran flight to San Juan I will try to bring back to fresh memory what happened 3 days ago at the Augusta 70.3 ironman race. It was a great day for me that started way before I landed in Atlanta. I felt lucky that my bike was flying for only $79, it was a welcome surprise after last year’s $300 round-trip rip off on American airlines.
I arrived in Augusta at 6pm on Friday, very tired from the trip but mostly just from dragging my bike case around the airport. If you’ve been to Hartsfield Jackson international you know what kind of a monster it is. After some grocery shopping and putting my bike together I went to bed expecting to be feeling good by Saturday morning.
On that day I just wake up feeling kind of beat up with sore shoulders, had breakfast and went straight to the Marriott hotel downtown for athlete checking and registration as well as a short tune up workout. Every thing went VERY smoothly from finding parking to checking in, even doing some shopping at the ironman store was hassle free. I made a good move by going in early as I only stand in line for 45mins approx. before registration.
After that It was time for swim course inspection and wetsuit testing. I got on that thing meet some nice dudes from Florida and dip into the 74degree water with them. The place was beautiful and current; well it was even more so. Going down that thing you felt effortless as if you were Michael Phelps. Now when the time to swim back came OHH OHH swimming against that thing really took some effort probably twice the time as the way out. In the end it was probably close to a 15min splash.
Wetsuit off in a minute and off the street for 10min of running at moderate pace, boy did I felt great running there! Only thing concerning me then was the temperature. I came to Augusta dreaming of 70degree weather and all I had while running was 90degrees and I was drenched in sweat. From that point I was just hoping that I had stayed hydrated and ready for some heat. Bike testing protocol was completed and dropping off the bike at transition was a Breeze. All that was left of day 2 were a shower, a visit to olive garden (I don’t think I’ve ever eat that much a day before an event, I am talking, lasagna, spaghetti and meatballs plus chicken parmesan all at the same time)-setting up bottles and equipment and a bed crash.
I beat my 4.30wake up alarm by about 10mins, had my usual breakfast of champions, 2 very pleasant bathroom stops and headed downtown. Here is where I was a little bit confused. I didn’t knew where to park, all streets were closed, it was dark and I was disoriented. After some foolish standing around I finally found someone walking my way and ended up having a nice chat with him during our LONGGGGGGG walk to transition. I had parked by the finish line apparently.
Upon entering transition and getting body marked I was standing face to face with Heather Jackson,one of the athletes that I follow and part of Wattie Ink. A sports management corp with athletes like Joe Gambles and Ben Hoffman on their roster. Had a long chat with heather and wattie as they were interested in SAN Juan 70.3 course and travel info and I delivered. I then wished good luck to her (she ended up 3rd) and proceed to setup my transition area which was a walk in the park and didn’t took longer than 10-15min. Out the door, in to the trolley back to swim start and chillaxing time until 7.48am.
While waiting for my wave I had a nice chance to see how PRO’s prepared for their events. I was standing next to them and they did a LOT of stretching before getting into their wetsuit in about 2 min. It took like 8 minutes for me to get into that thing but it was comfortable. Last minute port a potty stop, morning bag drop off , hammer gel 10min away from start and before I know it I was on the water and getting the final countdown.
I made a pre race plan on placing myself to the right of the field at the start. I know from training that I tend to drift towards the left side when swimming and my navigation skills well; are not top notch. Next thing you know I was Wayyyyy to the left at the middle part of the swim. I tried looking for a steady set of feet to fallow but they were all to my right (were I was supposed to be). I was staying very easy to this point but even though I had clear water for myself I knew that getting some extra draft would be beneficial at the end of the day. Finally tired from been by myself I made the cross move to the right and swam with a group for a couple of meters. Next thing you know I was alone, AGAIN! good thing I was now just 50meters for the swim easy. With a couple of punches and pushes as I approached the boat ramp I was out of the water in 26min and change. My expectations for the swim knowing that it was fast and wetsuit legal, were for a range of 26-28mins with a 25 been a stellar day. In the end I think my lack of navigational skills and zigzagging could pretty much ended been the 41 seconds to go sub 26, but it is what it is.
Into T1, no wetsuit strippers for me and I was out of that thing in an eye blink. Flying mount start and I was in aero position by mile 1. Head low and keeping the RPE very easy were my goal. It is difficult for us mortals to understand YOU HAVE TO PACE THE BIKE IN ORDER TO HAVE A GOOD RUN. Only strong-ubber-supper bikers can go very hard and feel normal after the bike. I learned this the hard way with both Miami and San Juan 70.3 ending with a death marsh of almost 3 hours. Negative split for me was the key for the day even if I had to ride 17-18 mph in the first half. I decided to divide the race into 2 halves of 25 miles plus the last 6 miles. I would go very easy in the first 25 miles staying behind slower people if It was necessary .The first part of the race is very flat with almost no need to get out of aero position and I only find the wind to be slightly noticeable.( 1rst 25miles 1hr20min). After been passed a LOT in the first miles the last part of the course had a variety of false flats and rolling hills that makes getting into a rhythm kind of tricky. For this segment I knew I had to make a move in order to be under 3hrs for the bike and I did, while maintaining a stable HRT and feeling under control even though my quadriceps were starting to feel fatigue and some lactic acid accumulation was present. (2nd 25 miles 1hr 16min) After getting past mile 50 I was ready to get off the bike, I was stretching a lot but maintaining the hammer down to close out the bike segment in style. I have a 15.46 for my last 9.6km split on the bike which tells me I was moving along well. On this bike ride I had drink more than I’ve ever done for a half, I am talking a good 55onz of fluid replacement drinks and about 20 oz. of plain water mostly to wash my mouth after a gulp of EFS gel. After 2hrs and 53 minutes I was done with my steed.
*Getting off the bike I was thinking only on one thing, Will I cramp? Had I drink enough and put enough sodium on me? As I put one feet out of the shoes and onto the ground next thing you know my hamstring was pinched. One good thing it wasn’t completely locked and I had a normal and speedy transition 2. I had been trying to pee on myself for the last 40 miles of the bike so going into the port a potty at T2 was mandatory. What I didn’t took into consideration was the fact that I was wearing a one piece suit which took some work to take off, almost a full minute. Finally drained and happy I was out into the run. Immediately into the run course I knew I could be going for a personal best, Why? see I was holding back and my hammies were cramping mildly but my HRT was dead stable at 172-175bpm (zone 2-3) which I had unable to control at any race. I started passing people and a guy next to me mentioned we were running 8.45’s Oops let’s put the brakes on. And so I did taking in gels and switching between coke, water and perform I continued to hold back during the first lap. my GOALs HERE WERE Mainly 2 a.negative split the thing and b.avoid walking. I am proud to say I was very closed to doing both almost perfectly. At the end of the first lap I knew I was running mid 9.30’s and feeling good. As I started the second lap the women were starting their run. I was surprise to see my pace consistently under 10min mile pace and felt happy that I wasn’t cramping that bad and forced to walk. From that point on my pace slowly got worst but I was fighting and still running-shuffling . I had made a plan to go all out in the last 2 miles if I was feeling good. I did indeed felt good but by that time my hamstrings were just shot, that is one thing I came away with from this race, I got to strengthened my hamstrings, core and shoulders. In the last 2 miles I had to take a couple of walk breaks until the last 1km or so when I just HTFU and ran until the finishing chute where I tried sprinting but it wasn’t happening, barely able to hobble across the line. I was done 5hrs 36min ARE U SERIOUS? A 37min personal best!!!
I feel like I came away learning a lot about myself, my body, how to race and what it takes for me to be race ready. The work is not done yet, I have a large room for improvement. Technique and strength work will yield great results in both swim and run while going longer in the bike will take me to above average status. In the end I lived up to my own expectations, I HTFU , I proved myself I can do this. I beat my fear and do this solo. To all of those who supported, motivated and encouraged me Thank You, but a bigger THANK YOU goes to all those who doubted me, who make me an underdog, who were not available to answer my questions to ride/swim or run with me, YOU MADE ALL THE DIFERENCE IN THE WORLD AND I HOPE TO CRUSH YOUR DREAMS ON MY NEXT RACE…
Morning breakfast: (total 550cal aprox)
I bagel 110cal
1 teaspoon peanut butter 100cal
2 apple sauce 200cal
20onz of powerade 150cal
Bike data from cateye:
max spd 61.1khr
Race data from Polar watch
5hr 36min 48sec total
max hrt 184bpm
avg hrt 157bpm
Swim split 26.41
bike 1rst 25miles 1hr 20min avg hrt 141
2nd 25miles split 1hr 16min avg hrt147
last 6 miles 15.46 avg hrt
mile 1 8.56
mile 6 10.03
miles 7 9.47
mile 8 9.42
mile 9 10.15
mile 10 10.07
mile 11 10.19
mile 12 10.52
mile 13 + .1 =10.25