I went to Augusta, Georgia to race the Augusta 70.3 this on September 25th. This was a last minute addition to my schedule, as an alternative to the Rev 3 Anderson Half Ironman that I am unfortunately no longer attending. The Augusta race gave me another opportunity to race, timing made sense after Louisville, and the ease of flying in and out of Atlanta and having a place to stay just outside Augusta made this race make sense to have in my schedule.
I stayed with the Phillips family just outside Augusta – they where great hosts, and a big thank you goes out to them!
The Augusta 70.3 is a unique course with lots of positives. The swim is in the Savannah river, which has a nice current that we all swam WITH – leading to super fast swim times!!! Before the swim start, we all had to tread water backwards in order to stay behind the red buoys marking the starting line, as a result of the current. Fun! The water is relatively clean and a very nice place to do a half ironman swim. I had the best swim of my triathlon career, coming in below 25 minutes. T1 went smoothly. My legs felt a little bit sluggish at the start of the bike ride, so I decided to take the first 10 or 15 minutes easier and give the legs a warm up, hoping that that would be all it would take to find my power. I felt happy and confident at this point. After 10 minutes, still felt sluggish… after 15 minutes, still felt sluggish… so tried as best I could to find an effort that I felt okay with, and that I knew that I could maintain for the bike ride, and tried not to worry so much about “the numbers.” About half way into the bike ride, I felt like someone was pouring a bucket of water slowly over my head over and over again… I was sweating that much!!! The heat in Augusta was unbelievable. It was 77 degrees Fahrenheit at 7am.. and it must have been 85-90 by this point on the bike. I knew I wasn’t ready for this heat and would not be able to carry enough fluid with me on the bike. At this point, I knew I wasn’t going to be “in the race”, and so I decided to make sure I enjoyed myself in my last race of the season, do what I could and have a good workout!! So I put on a smile and rode my way through the 56 mile bike course. And a nice bike course it was! The course starts in Augusta, but quickly takes you across the state border into South Carolina, and stays in South Carolina for most of the bike ride. The roads are smooth for the most part, rolling hills, and often through the countryside on the outskirts of town. I made a point to look around and think about how lucky I was to be down there riding my bike. Into T2, I kept smiling and headed out running. I knew I was dehydrated right away, and so I stopped at the first aid station and consumed as much fluid as I could as I walked through, dumped a few cups of water on my head, and headed on. At aid station 2, same thing.. walked through, drank as much water and cola as I could, and then kept on going. I ran through most of the other aid stations on the course, stopping at the odd one just to get a little more into me. By this time it was 95 degrees fahrenheit. THANK YOU to the families who had their sprinklers and hoses out to hose us all down as we passed by on the run! My goal at this point was the same – to keep going, get to the end of that race, and be able to say I enjoyed myself despite not having a great “race”. I think it’s important to give yourself permission to do that sometimes, as our bodies are not going to always be ready to give 100%, as much as we’d like them to. That’s what I did! The run was a two loop course that took us through the main streets of Augusta. What was great about this was that this meant there were spectators along the entire course. Lots of crowd support! As I rounded the final turn heading into the finish line, I smiled and kept running through. The clock said 4:52, and although I did not have a personal best race or a great day out there, I was happy to know that a “bad” 70.3 for me was now significantly under 5 hours. It’s important to recognize improvement and how you grow as an athlete. I am happy with this race, knowing I am able to plug through and “not give up” just because I’m not feeling 100%. And, knowing that my “bad” 70.3 is close to my personal best not long ago.
So, now the season is over, and I am excited to be able to take a couple of weeks OFF training, and then start to ramp it up again towards next years goals!