Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Ironman Augusta 70.3

I signed up for the Ironman 70.3 Augusta triathlon as a birthday present to myself. At the time, I was experiencing some financial difficulties and had to cut back on races this year, but I needed to have something big on my calendar to  help keep me sane. My first two Ironman 70.3 triathlons had its challenges and I just didn’t feel like I did my best. I wanted to race this distance one more time and race it faster and without the mistakes made in the past. I can't say that I accomplished that goal. My friend Tania signed up to race with me and the plan was to drive down and spend an extra night in Augusta. I got a new job and later learned that race day was the same day that I needed to fly out for sales training, so it drastically affected our plans. However, in true fashion of Tania being the absolute best friend, we made it work. Due to work schedules, we couldn’t leave before 5pm on Friday, but thank goodness Tania’s wife came with us so we were able to take the HOV lane to get out of crazy Friday evening DC traffic! The drive was uneventful. Tania drove us the entire way, arriving in Augusta after 3am at a Bed and Breakfast that was right on the run course and walking distance to everything. This place was old with creaky wood floors and would have been a nice place if it wasn’t for the stench of 100 years of dust with all of the windows nailed shut. It reminded us of an old haunted house.
We planned to do a practice swim on Saturday, but that plan got nixed after spending the day walking through a cute little street market, spending some time at the race expo, a couple hours at the bar and then walking back to the hotel taking random photo’s along the way.  We still had to get to the store, get some dinner and try to rest up for the big day. Despite a rough start to Tania's day, she ended up with a 9 minute PR! The highlight of my day was seeing my friend Brigitte’s sister and kids that drove down to cheer me on from Atlanta. They had some time to kill while I was on the bike, so they went to the library and made a sign for me. It was the cutest thing to see 6 year old Josiah holding it upside down as I rode by on my bike!

Swim: 1.2 miles

As Meghan put it, “Current is Love”. The Savannah River has a current that makes any swimmer look like a rock star! The water was 69 degrees this morning, which is much colder than I have probably ever swum in. It took me a few minutes to get acclimated. Against my better judgment and plans, I did not swim in the river prior to the swim. Had I done so, I would have possibly noted the seaweed that could get caught around your dang foot. After getting used to the water temperature and having to summon a kayak over so I could free myself of seaweed and calm down from my complete panic attack, I started to notice how the buoys were coming up rather fast. I didn’t feel the current, but noticed that I was swimming 100 meters at a time much faster than I ever did! No Sunday morning swimming for this chic today! I was a victim of the current’s love and got that swim done faster than ever! The Augusta Chronicle captured me exiting the water with a bright smile on my face! Lesson: Preparation prevents panic. Time: 39:10 (I probably lost 5 minutes freaking out about the seaweed with the kayak guy)

Bike: 56 miles

Perception is reality and most definitely varies from person to person. What one person thinks is slightly hilly with rolling hills; another person may see it as long slow climbs, false flats and the occasional downhill that abruptly ends with a stop and turn. I think to be good on a course; it takes training on a similar course.  Granted, the courses that I trained on have been harder and there were no insurmountable hills on the Augusta Tri course, however it was not at all what I expected. I didn’t train on slow climbs, so when I was on a climb that was freaking continuous like the one at mile 32.8, which had me to drop my speed down to 9.5mph, it was hard for me. This course only had the occasional rolling hill to me. This course was challenging with some fast flats, a few rolling hills with fast descends and long slow climbs/false flats to me. My perception of this bike course was different and not at all what I expected. I am sad that it took me much longer than expected. I thought that I was prepared by riding in Columbia, Southern Maryland and Reston, but I wasn’t. This is very disappointing, because I really wanted a 3:00-3:30 finish time. Nevertheless, I finished... and conquering 56 miles on a bike is no small feat, so I won’t beat myself up about it. Lesson: It is foolish to set time goals for something that I have not previously experienced, as one person’s perception may not be my reality. I really need to work on my cadence on rides to prepare for next year. Time: 3:51

Run: 13.1 miles

The run was just as expected. It was flat and the crowd support was amazing in some spots. I expected to have a tough 1st mile and expected that my Achilles may tighten up until I got it stretched out really good. What I did not expect was the side of my right foot to hurt so much. Plus, I was so fatigued that I considered just running to the finish line instead of going on my 2nd loop.... but, I fought the urge/crazy thought. I would have felt terrible if I had cheated and quit, so I fought back the tears and pushed on for another 7.1 miles. I was really hoping to finish the run much faster since I have been running more to prepare for the Marine Corp Marathon, but my time was only a few minutes faster than the run on my previous two Ironman 70.3 triathlon races. So, I am disappointed in my run time too. Staying with the whole "look on the brighter side" theme: I will just remind myself that just being able to physically and mentally complete this is a blessing. I crossed the finish line, grabbed my medal, said hello to Margo and sped walked to the hotel to get showered up for a flight that was leaving in 2 hours. Lesson: Get aches and pains checked out while in training and not wait until it causes me to lose time on race day. Time: 3:09

My swim to run transition time was 7:39 and my bike to run transition time was 10:38. My total race time was 7:58. Not quite the pipe dream of less than 6 hours or my worse day expected time of 7:15, but I finished and FINISHING IS WINNING.

All in all, it was a challenging day and I did not meet my time goals. I am still very happy that I was able to compete at this distance again and feel that I gave it all that I could, given my preparation. I don't want to make excuses for myself, but I have had a lot going on (new job, family and personal stuff) which impacted my training and mental game a bit.  Since 2010, I have followed training plans that were not specifically made for me. I really want to get stronger and faster. This race confirmed that it is time for me to get a coach that will tailor a plan for me with my goals in mind. This was my 12th triathlon and I could not be more proud of myself! This journey has not been a solo one, as my friends and many people that I don’t know have been great supporters. They really keep me going on race day when I know that they are tracking, thinking of and praying for me. I am one blessed girl.

Next up: My very first marathon! I will tackle 26.2 miles of running in the Marine Corp Marathon in 4 weeks.

In 1 year, I will double the distance of this race and tackle my very first full Ironman Triathlon in Chattanooga, TN! I know if you are reading this, then you will be along for the journey. Thank you!

Tri Becca