I did it! I finished IRONMAN Augusta 70.3!
Happy finisher! All photos courtesy of my dad.
This report is going to be long, so settle in.
I was really well trained for this race. Really well trained. But I just didn’t know what was going to happen on the race. I wasn’t worried about any of the individual legs, just how my body would handle that much working out all on one day.
First off, the people of Augusta are awesome. Everyone was so friendly. The local tri club was even inviting people to a practice swim on Friday night. It was only semi-organized, but it was nice to know that around 5pm, there would be a bunch of people in the water.
Liz and I drove in on Thursday so that Friday, we could sleep in and hit the expo. At the expo, I managed to hold back from buying too much. After all, if I didn’t finish, would I want a bunch of Augusta 70.3 merchandise? So I got a t-shirt, a pint glass, and a water bottle. We sat through the athlete briefing and felt pretty darn prepared for the race. I definitely recommend going to the athlete briefings. Even though I knew most of the info already, it felt great to have that reassurance.
We went to the practice swim at the river. Wetsuit on, I jumped in and swam the whole course. It wasn’t easy, with a giant cheeseburger still in my stomach, but the current felt fabulous. When I finally hauled myself out of the water (with the grace of a walrus), my watch read 29 minutes and change. 1.2 miles in 29 minutes. AMAZING. So I knew that come race day, I could easily do it in under 35 minutes (giving myself some extra padding for crowds, etc).
Saturday, we drove the bike course. Definitely a good idea. It was great to get an idea of what we had ahead of us. And it wasn’t bad at all. I was expecting worse hills. So I was feeling pretty darn confident.
Race morning dawned bright and early. We opted to park at the garage near the convention center and take the shuttle (school bus) to transition. While on the bus, we started hearing rumblings that the race was no longer wetsuit legal. People were panicking. I didn’t really care either way, but waited to hear the word from the officials. As I started to setup, there it was. The water temp was 77, so there would be a wetsuit wave.
I figured this would slow me down, but I wasn’t too worried. I was certainly not waiting for a wetsuit wave. My wave started at 8:20. The wetsuit wave was an hour later. My biggest concern was the heat on the run, so I wanted to get off that course as early as possible. There were definitely a few people around panicking though. A lot of people choose Augusta because the swim is easy with the current. This was the first time in 8 years of the race that the water was this warm.
We found Anne and then headed back towards the start line and stood on the hill to watch the race start. Those pro women are fast! Finally, it was time for Anne and I to head down to the swim start. When it was our wave’s turn to get into the water, I jumped in and treaded water. It would have been nice to hold onto the dock, but it was just too crowded. The current wasn’t as strong as I thought it might be, so I wondered how slow this swim was going to be.
Finally, the horn blew. And my hours and hours of exercise began. The swim was really nice. A bit crowded, but I started to pick off men from the wave before. What surprised me was the amount of plant material. There hadn’t been quite this much the evening before. At one point, I ran into a stick that was at least three feet long. I popped up to tread and move the stick out of the way. Swim swim swim and there was the ramp to exit. I got out of the water and glanced down at my watch. So much faster than I anticipated.
So happy to be out of the water
The run from the swim exit to transition was SO LONG. When I got to T1, I made sure my feet were somewhat cleaned off before I got my socks on. No need to have a rock in my sock for the next 56 miles. I also took the time to put on my cooling wings, which I kept on the entire race.
Onto the bike. I had decided that for the first ten miles, I was just going to ride comfortably. Push, but not too hard. I’m not used to flats, so I wasn’t sure how this was going to go. Ultimately, I was riding way faster than I anticipated. My first 5 miles were 15.5mph and the second 5 were 16.4mph. Yes, that was a good clip. But it was also a bit of good padding for the upcoming hills. I ended up stopping at the first water stop to refill my water bottles and then at the second stop to grab some more water and use the bathroom. It was hot out there and I was working hard to stay hydrated.
Even with the detour on the route, the hills weren’t bad. Certainly no worse than the hills I had trained on. In fact, I think they were a bit easier. So I felt like I was flying through the course. Of course, I have a lot of room for improvement on the bike, but I was really pleased with how I was doing.
T2 wasn’t anything exciting. Put my bike away, watched some poor girl completely unable to find her rack. She just couldn’t figure out how to match up her number with the numbers on the rack. That’s what stress does to you.
By this point, I knew I was going to finish under 8:30. And I was delighted about that fact. I also knew I would see my friends and family on the run, and that was awesome too. This course is awesome for spectators. There are so many options for them to see you.
This was somewhere on the first loop, I think.
The run was definitely hot. The first mile or so was brutal. I wasn’t sure how I was going to get through, but once I got some ice and cold water, I felt a million times better. There were water stops a little more than a mile apart, and they were incredible. Water, Gatorade, Coke, Red Bull, Clif Bars, Clif Shots, pretzels, chips, bananas, and oranges. Most stops had ice, though some ran low, which made for some disappointed runners.
By this point, I knew that if I kept my wits about me, I could get a sub-8 finish time, which would mean meeting every single goal I set for the race. So I pushed the run, but not too hard. I wanted to run around 14 minute miles. But the heat made that easier said than done. I stayed close to it until around mile 10 when the sun really started to beat down. I realized that my run pace was slowing significantly, so I opted to power walk, which wasn’t terribly slower and felt a million times better.
Check out these awesome cheerleaders!
I also had an amazing fan club. My parents and my sister flew in to watch me race, and Nikki and Jenny came in to cheer as well. It was so fun to see them out there. There were so many awesome fans out there, but mine were the best.
Finally, the finish line was close. It was amazing to turn that last corner and see the finish line straight ahead.
I can see the finish!
Total time: 7:49:25. All goals reached!
This race was so incredibly worth all the work. It was hard, but it felt so great to cross that finish line. I’m really proud of everything I accomplished and not giving up when things got hard. And a huge thank you to everyone who supported me along the way.
Now, what’s next?
Happy finishers who really need showers.