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My First Half Ironman. Not too shabby.

Race: Augusta Ironman 70.3
Location: Augusta, Georgia
Date: September 25, 2011
Distances: 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run
Result: 12th place in division, 95th Amateur (out of 3100)(Top 3%)
Products used: GU Roctane and GU Brew, Synergy Adrenaline Wetsuit, Cobb V-Flow Plus Saddle, Jamis Xenith T1 Tri Bike, Rudy Project helmet.

IMG_1331

There were a little over 3000 athletes in the race, which was surprising as most of the races I have done are only a couple of hundred.

Since I am a mountain biker and not much of a roadie, I don’t own aero wheels.  So, a week out from the race, I took a look at the weather report and it was forecasting 10mph winds with 25 mph gusts.  Not wanting to be blown off the road, I decided to forego a disc, 808s or whatever.  Instead, I secured a pair of Reynolds Assaults (~45mm) wheels.  Of course, to my disappointment, the forecast changed and there was no wind.  Arrrgggh.  Too late to get anything else.

It being my first Ironman race of any sort, I was very, very surprised at how organized and smooth flowing the check-in process went.  Smooth as butta.  Despite the number of people there, I was checked-in and had everything ready to go in about 10 minutes.  It took me longer to find a parking spot than it did to get through the check-in.  The transition area was huge and there was an endless sea of bikes (the port-a-pottys in the pic below should give you some perspective, not to mention the swim and run in arch in the distance).  I walked around transition a bit to get acclimated with where everything was and some point of references to where my bike rack was located.  I got everything in place, kissed my bike goodnight and headed to the hotel.

IMG_1326  IMG_1327

Race Day:

One hassle/disappointment was the fact that since it was a point-to-point swim, we had to check our bikes into transition which was 1.2 miles away from the swim start.  Made for a bit of a hectic race morning, but it would be the only hassle of the day.

AugustaSwimStart

I don’t know how many swim waves in total there were, but I was in number 12.  My age group, Men 40-44, had 504 competitors in it alone.  So for only our age group, there were three waves of swimmers.  It was broken alphabetically and I was in the first wave of our group.  People lined the bridge we would swim under in order to watch the swim.  Hanging from the bridge was a HUGE American flag which was very cool indeed.  We slowly made our way to the river and with the sound of a horn were off.  In usual fashion, it was a bit of a washing machine start.  Since we were swimming down-river, I decided to swim as close to the buoys (as far from the shore as possible) in an attempt to catch as much of the main channel current as I could.  Several times, the current tried to pull me further out into the channel, but with a slight correction, I was back on course.  By the time I reached the swim exit, I had caught up with the tail-end of the previous waves.  I was one of the first swimmers in my wave to exit.  I would later find out that I was ranked 37th in my age group for the swim with 25:05.

AugustaSwimExit

Again, the transition area was HUGE and after running what seemed like forever to get all the way around transition and then to my bike rack, I finally realized why there were 5 and 6 minute T1 times.  I came in at 3:59  Ugh.

Not having raced a 70.3 before, I wasn’t quite sure what kind of goal to set for the bike.  I had done a few calculations to figure out where I would be at in the standings (based on last year’s results) depending on what average speed I maintained.  As the bike leg progressed, I just maintained as hard of a pace I could while still maintaining something in the tank (leg-wise) for the run.  I spent the entire leg of the race passing folks in previous waves and was passed by a few in my age group.  The country-side was absolutely stunning and there were often people sitting in their driveways clapping or cheering you on.  One exception was some greasy-looking fella standing in his driveway holding a sign stating, “Go Home.  Get off this road.”  I guess he didn’t like us bringing all of the economic stimulus to his community.

AugustaBike

Every water stop was well-manned and had a ton of opportunities to grab water, other fluids or gels.  There were at least 15 or 20 volunteers in a row holding something out.  They did an outstanding job yelling out what they had to offer.  I took water at two stops and they were passed off perfectly without having to even slow down.  I think it helped that I would look right at the volunteer and point to them to signal I would be taking their offer.

I maintained a pretty steady pace without over-doing it.  Even with all of the passing going on, I only lost 3 spots on the bike and dropped to 40th in my age group with a time of 2:32:43.

Again, a long run through transition after a speedy change at T2. 1:47

AugustaRun

The run is usually my strength and this would hold true for this race.  I was off onto the run, again just trying to maintain as fast and consistent pace as I could.  I figured consistent was probably just as important as speed. About a quarter-mile into my first of two laps, I was passed by Amanda Lovato on her second lap.  Was kinda cool to see one of the pros run by.  I didn’t even attempt to keep up with her.  I joked however and said to her that if she was going to pass me, she had to at least throw me a tow-rope.  She chuckled slightly, but I could tell she was pushing pretty hard.  I maintained a 7:20 pace for the first lap and was pleased.  My goal was to maintain the same pace for the second lap.  As I came into a water stop at mile 8, I grabbed and chugged a cup of water and began to choke a little.  I stopped to walk it off which proved to be a bad, bad thing.  Before I knew it, I had walked through the entire water stop, wasting valuable time.  I told myself to get moving and was doing fine until I got to the stop at mile 10 (or so).  I grabbed ice and a sponge and fiddled around with trying to get the ice down the back of my suit, again wasting valuable time walking.  I got moving again and quickly returned to my 7:30ish pace.  I would finish up the second lap at 8:26 pace bringing my entire run down to 7:53.  The good part is, I managed to pass 28 people on the run in my age group bringing me up to 12th place.  If I would have maintained my 7:20 pace, I could have gotten 9th.

Primary lesson learned:  Keep running.  Do not stop at the water stops and get your business done on the run.

AugustaFinish

Time 4:46:56
Placed 115/2784 Overall, 12/504 Men 40-44
Swim: 25:05, T1: 3:59, Bike: 2:32:43, T2: 1:47, Run: 1:43:22

Full results

My athlete tracker

Be a Warrior!

Marcus

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One Response

  1. Good job, Marcus! Awesome write up too.

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