Ironman 70.3 Augusta Race Report
As is my usual, this may be a little long.
I have not been 100% consistent posting these. I would like to get better but life, excuses, whatever.
The Race Itself
I had a great race at the Ironman 70.3 Augusta. It was a personal best overall with a really good run improvement for me.
Lionel, and his training videos are inspirational for me. While there is absolutely zero comparison between the race winner and a middle-aged, middle of the pack heart patient, I really appreciate his perspective. Lots of people were getting pictures with him. I opted not to, and instead shared how much I appreciate how publicly he shares his journey.
I then made a point to thank Erin as well since I’m sure she seldom gets recognized for her contributions.
This was my best relative effort ever, 54th %ile for the race overall in my age/gender group compared to 82nd in Chattanooga.
So, the swim: I think I still have some pacing work to do. I felt great for most of the swim.
Per the Tower 26 podcast I ordered a swim skin from ROKA. This was my first time using it, having trained in it only one time. On sale with the USAT discount it was pretty reasonable. And, I think it definitely makes you faster.
The picture above was from near the swim start right before the pros started. No filter, just a beautiful sunrise. Age groupers started at 7:50 and I hit the water right around 8:30 having chosen a conservative start group.
Chattanooga was a shortened, wetsuit swim, downstream with a good current. I picked up a couple percent improvement to the field in a swimskin with less current and a full-length swim.
Around 85-90% in I had a little freak-out and had to backstroke a minute. I got it back together and eased into transition to try and set myself up well for the bike. I didn’t feel like I was working too hard, but I had a couple bumps with other swimmers and tried to get on one’s feet which may have done it.
It’s pretty obvious where I hit that panic point in the image above. Where my pace drops to zero and my heart rate maxes out I was doing a back-float / stroke until I got it together. I was worried I wouldn’t be buoyant enough to just float in the swimskin, but apparently my personal buoyancy was sufficient 🙂
All that said, I think I seeded myself well because I was neither passed nor passing too many athletes.
And even with the momentary freak-out I still managed to be in the 38th percentile of my division on this swim compared to 41st for Chattanooga and 60th in my very first half-ironman.
I credit the program from Tower 26 immensely. I’m looking forward to their upcoming swim camps because I think some one-on-one instruction could really help.
I felt much better getting to the bike than in Chattanooga and focused on keeping it easy to save myself for the run. To that end, my bike split was within a couple minutes of my Chattanooga bike split but my placement was significantly better – 70th percentile vs. 83rd in my age/gender group.
My significant ranking improvement might indicate the course was a little harder for folks.
My bike, a 2017 Specialized Shiv is just about the perfect machine for triathlon. I’m sure the new one is great, but I would have to be convinced to switch. The bike and wheels are used, but I bought the hydration system and cockpit from Profile Designs and added Ultegra Di2. I can’t imagine going back to mechanical shifting.
Knowing how frequent the aid stations were going to be I replaced the big dual bottle holder on the seat I had been using with a single from X-Lab. I went with the Delta 425 since I have an ISM saddle and the Aero 300 pouch which held a tube, tire lever, 3 C02 canisters and an inflator head.
We passed this decrepit warehouse at the end of the bike, just before a cemetary. I don’t know why it appealed to me so.
One of these days I’m going to get decals for my bike which say: “Thanks, Mom!” and “Thanks, Angie!”. My mother sponsored my bike for my 50th birthday, and Angie sponsors everything else!
This was an exceptionally hot day – 95 real degrees with a heat index over 100.
The run was a 27 minute improvement despite the heat and longer swim with a 13 minute overall race improvement. I was pretty shocked to have the run be my second best relative effort.
I came off the bike running and walked only at aid stations for the first five miles. I then ran/walked until a little after mile 8 after which I ran the rest of the way stopping at aid stations. I had a couple extended walks coming out of aid stations and I did walk one block in the shade right before the finishing straight-away.
I was hoping for a sub-12 minute average pace and didn’t quite get there, which considering the heat is probably about as good as it gets.
This was among my top half-marathon finish times even in straight-up road races.
I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of shade. The aid stations were great with lots of ice and enthusiastic volunteers. When you did come into full sun, though it was darn hot.
At the finish I pushed hard but didn’t feel wasted. I sat for about 20 minutes and then had the post-race massage which really helped.
I’ve listened to a few podcasts recently where professional triathletes and coaches are talking about pre-race nutrition which affected my approach somewhat.
One of them, The Work, Play, Love podcast is hosted by the founders of Picky Bars, Lauren Fleshman and Jesse Thomas – former professional runner and triathlete respectively. Not only did I join the Picky Club, but I have integrated Picky Bars and Oats into my pre-race and everyday “fueling”.
In the past I’ve usually had a piece of toast with almond butter, jelly and banana. In other words, I’ve probably been underfueling prior to the race start.
This time, with my coffee at around 4:30 I had two pieces of toast with almond butter and jelly a banana and a container of Picky Oats, Can’t Beet Chocolate. I saved that one because I figured the beets would do me good.
I also packed a blender bottle with the small amount of Infinit which wouldn’t fit in my gel flask, a Nuun and some water. I drank that, along with a Picky Bars, Blueberry Boomdizzle while waiting in line for the bus to the swim start around 6:30
So, I was well fed before starting the swim.
On the bike I waited about 20 minutes to start taking on fuel and hydration. My timer wasn’t working so I had to guess at my usual roughly 20 minute intervals.
I started with no bottle in the X-Lab rear seat holder knowing I’d be able to grab one at the first aid station. I had filled my Profile Labs Aeria Hydration system with ice and stuck it in the freezer the night before.
One of the things I LOVE about the Shiv is the internal fuel bladder. I am able to easily load it with enough fuel for a half distance race so I’m only taking water at the aid stations.
In the Florida 70.3, a year ago April, I tried grabbing a Gatorade bottle, but not having trained with it my stomach wasn’t into it.
I took 1-2 bottles of water at each aid station to top up my hydration system and always have a full one behind the seat.
My race fuel for this and my last 70.3 in Chattanooga in May has been 100% Infinit. I have recently been mixing my “Run, no caffeine” and “Bike” blends because the “Bike” blend is pretty high in protein and caffeine. On my next order I think I’m going to dial the protein back on the bike blend to match how I’ve been mixing it. And I need to get on that since I’m almost out and IMFL is in 4 weeks.
I finished my internal fuel supply with about 15 miles to go and then poured a water bottle into the bladder on the go to get the last of it.
Because I knew it was going to be super hot I had grabbed some salt tabs from the expo and took on 4 toward the end of the ride for, I think, another couple hundred milligrams of sodium, potassium, etc.
I mixed 3 hours of my Infinit “Run” blend which has no protein and a decent amount of caffeine so thick it was almost a gel and stuck it in a 5 oz. gel flask. I took on about a third of that flask before the 4ish mile aid station and another third to half at the 8ish mile aid station.
The run aid stations were not exactly on the mile which was initially annoying. I later came to appreciate the disparity. I took it as an opportunity to live in the moment, accepting the run to the next aid station regardless of the distance 🙂
I took water, 3-4 of the half-cups, at each aid station on the run. At mile 8 I started taking Coke at each aid station as well. I also took on ice at each aid station. Sometimes in my hat which I then put back on my head and sometimes down my top, front and / or back.
My fueling and hydration were about spot-on. I enjoyed a Coke, water and 2 watery beers at the finish line party but I never felt dehydrated.
On a relative comparison, the swim was my absolute best at roughly 38th %ile compared to 70th for bike and 52nd on the run. All of these are a huge improvement over May, and more than an hour improvement over my first 70.3 in April of 2018.
The overall improvement was only 13 minutes or so from Chattanooga, but when you consider the full-length, less current swim was 15 minutes longer it nets to nearly half an hour apples to apples.
The Augusta 70.3 setup is a little funky with transition well down the road from the finish line. This makes for an interesting setup / teardown.
I used TriBike Transport for the first time for this race. I took advantage of the “Finish and Fly” option which meant I never had to go back to transition at the end of the race. It also means, sadly, I’ll be riding my Cyclocross bike 100 miles this friday 😦
I’m also planning to use their concierge service for Ironman Florida so I can avoid worrying about my bike the night of the race.
If you’re ever in Augusta I highly recommend my dinner spot on Thursday night, Farmhaus Burger. They had a great veggie burger and a good selection of beer.
In all I’m really pleased with how this race turned out. I had some anxiety given the heat going in and was therefore really conscious of keeping my hydration up.
The combination of Picky Bars products and Infinit was perfect to keep me fueled and If anybody at Specialized is listening, I’m totally down for that “everyman” sponsorship slot.
I can’t race or think of racing without giving all the credit to Angie.
I could not possibly do this if she were not so willing to support me and everything else in our lives while I’m training and racing.