Ironman Augusta 70.3 Recap

HIM (Half Ironman) Augusta was September 24th. Shortly thereafter, I wrote up my experience, mostly to use as a reference as I begin training for IM CHOO, but to share with a couple friends, as well as the Women For Tri Facebook group.

But, It deserves to be shared here as well.

I put together a “little” recap for my experience at Ironman Augusta 70.3…

Our “70.3 or bust” journey started just after 4 AM on Friday. We hit the road, and made it into town just minutes after Athlete Check-In opened its’ doors.

Upon walking into the Augusta Convention Center I was flooded with (self) doubt.

“What are you doing here?”
“You don’t fit in.”
“You didn’t train enough.”
“You’re never going to reach the finish.”

I was freaking out! I tried to remain calm, but on the inside I was screaming.

But, I still had to get checked in. First, we grabbed the waivers to review and sign, then we had to turn those in, next it was bib and packet pickup. This is where you are given your Ironman wristband- your passport for the weekend. Next it’s shirt and swag bag pickup, and finally- at the Village threshold- timing strap pickup.

Before hitting the expo, we took in the first (of many) athlete briefings. Most everything covered were reiterations from the Athlete Guide, but it was worthwhile to hear some things explained in greater detail.

After the briefing, it was time to shop. The expo was a madhouse- especially the official Ironman merchandise- but it was so cool. The expo itself was much smaller than ones I’ve attended for foot races, but I really enjoyed it.

I had planned to attend a practice swim, but a monsoon-like thunderstorm came out of nowhere as we were preparing to leave the expo, and instead we got stuck at the convention center/Marriott until that cleared up.

By time that happened, we needed to get over to our hotel to check in and unpack. There wasn’t enough time to make it to practice swim after that.

I woke up Saturday feeling so pumped for the race on Sunday. Every last little bit of doubt I left at the expo on Friday. I was ready!

I wanted to have the bike at transition at 10:00. This is mandatory that all bikes be checked in a day prior. I parked over by the Convention Center, then rode the 1.7 miles over to transition to do a last minute once over of the bike. Once she was safely racked, and once I let a little more air out of the tires (to avoid popping), I ran the 1.7 miles back. It was a nice way to shakeout my legs.

I made it back to the Convention Center just in time to grab a cup of coffee before the Pro Panel started. I love getting to hear from the professionals! There is always so much to learn from them!

I also made sure to stop by the TriAugusta booth to pickup tickets for the St Paul’s Pasta Dinner. St Paul’s Church (also downtown, about three blocks up from the Convention Center) welcomes athletes, spectators, friends, and family by welcoming them with open arms. Each year they put on a big pasta dinner the evening before. Tickets are only $10 each. They serve pasta, meatballs, salad, bread, cookies, and water/tea. The money goes towards a great cause, and it’s so refreshing to see the entire congregation come together to welcome the event.

After dinner, we drove the bike course. I’m so glad we made time to do that! It was nice getting to see firsthand the hills, and some of the more technical/sharper turns.

Back at the hotel later that evening, I checked out my gear one last time and made sure everything was packed up the way I needed it to be. Then it was off to bed!

Surprisingly, I slept pretty well! Since I had such a late swim wave, I didn’t need to be at transition right when it opened. I woke up a little past 5:00 and was at transition to setup by 6:00. I got my gear laid out, and my bike tires pumped. And then it was time to wait.

We headed back over to St Paul’s church. They opened their doors at 5:00 that morning to welcome athletes and their family and friends with coffee, water, and refreshments. Most importantly, they had clean restrooms and a place to grab a seat to relax.

The swim start was pretty much directly behind the church. We were there for the National Anthem and to watch the pros take off, then we headed back into the church to relax a bit more.

I was shocked at how calm I was feeling. I just kept telling myself whatever happens, happens. I was going to go out there and give it my all.

Before I knew it, the hot pink swim caps were lining up. From that point, it all just happened so fast.

The gun went off, and we were in the water. The temperature was so refreshing. For about the first 250 meters or so, it felt very congested. I let it overwhelm me a bit and was struggling to find my rhythm. Once we passed the first bridge, things cleared up and I was able to get comfortable.

My goal for the swim portion was 35 minutes. I came in at 31 minutes. And looking back, had I not felt overwhelmed at the start, I could have easily pulled in a sub-30.

Transition was a breeze, and now it was off to ride 56 miles. I very quickly realized I should have spent more time hill training. Though I was never forced to unclip and walk up a hill, so I was proud of that. But those hills kicked my butt! My speed definitely reflected that. Though I did get off at the first aid station to refill my Speedfil, and again at the second aid station to use the port-a-potty. At around mile 40, it dawned on me that I was not on target to hit my time goal. I caught a second wind and really started to pick up my pace. That was also about the time I ran out of nutrition. I took a few sips of water at the third (and final) aid station and then pushed through. As the bike finish neared, I was flying. And I was feeling good. So good that it never even crossed my mind that I might be disoriented. Well, I was. I fell off my bike dismounting. In front of everyone. It was pretty funny and I couldn’t believe I let that happen. Unfortunately I fell on the money side of my bike.

I got a little scuffed up when I fell, so I walked into transition. I quickly changed shoes and prepared to start my run. I stopped by the sunscreen table to reapply, and then I was off.

The run course was beautiful. Full of shade, amazing volunteers, and tons of spectators.

I’m a Galloway runner, so for almost all foot races my strategy is to do my normal run/walk and then walk through the aid stations. In a regular foot race this doesn’t add up to much walk time. In an Ironman event it does. The aid stations here are crazy! There is so much to choose from! There’s a water table, a Gatorade table, a snack table- with GU, Clif Blocks, bananas, oranges, chips, and pretzels, then there’s usually another Gatorade table, another water table, then Red Bull, and Coke. And finally, ice and sponges, and if you’re lucky, sprinklers! Heaven!!

The course was two loops through downtown, which gave my family plenty of spots to see me. It was super nice and distracted me from noticing just how warm it was.

The last couple of miles were tough, and mentally I was ready to be done. Once I turned the corner and could finally see the finish just a few hundred feet in front of me, I took off.

I finished in 7 hours and 32 minutes. Two minutes past my goal time, but close enough to not even matter.

Crossing that finish line is a moment I will treasure forever.

So, looking back, what did I learn? Or what will I do differently next time?

1) More hill training
2) More run-off-the-bike training
3) More strength training
4) Start my swim in the front of my wave- I’m a strong swimmer, I need to quit doubting myself and I probably wouldn’t get so overwhelmed
5) Carry extra nutrition on the bike regardless of if you think you will need it or not
6) Wear sleeves- underarm chafing is the WORST!
7) Don’t wait to apply sunscreen
8) Know what you want from each aid station- grab it and go

Augusta Finish

2017 Reflection; 2018 Goals.

Holy #$%@

2017 came and went! It sure did make for a good year; albeit, a quick one. A lot happened. Let’s take a look on back.

  1. I coached a handful of runners, and got them to the finish line of their goal races
  2. I completed the Gasparilla Distance Classic Michelob Ultra Challenge
  3. I competed in my first ever triathlon
  4. I got pneumonia
  5. Went to Rhode Island
  6. I ran my third full marathon, and got to be there every step of the way for my baby sister’s first full
  7. Got to spectate the Boston Marathon
  8. Participated in the Walk to Cure Arthritis- Tampa
  9. I competed in a handful of short distance triathlons
  10. Overcame my fear and got back on a horse, 17 years after being thrown off
  11. I turned 30
  12. Fell in love with red wine
  13. I signed up for Ironman Florida 70.3
  14. I coached myself all the way to the finish line of Ironman Augusta 70.3
  15. I signed up for Ironman Chattanooga 2018
  16. I bought a Tri bike

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I appreciate all that 2017 gave to me, but I could not be more excited for what I have in store for 2018. It’s gonna take some hard work, but I’m prepared to give it my all. Some of my goals for the new year include:

  1. Work on doing a better job of getting in early morning workouts
  2. Track my daily food intake, and better understand my nutritional needs
  3. Meal prep weekly
  4. Make strength training a regular part of my training
  5. Bullet journal consistently
  6. PR my marathon
  7. Do 10 REAL pushups (don’t laugh!)
  8. BECOME AN IRONMAN!!!!

And, while I’m not making it a “goal”, I would like to do a better job about tracking (and sharing) my journey-to-Ironman.

Here’s to 2018! Let’s do this!

Today is the day, and “oh and…”

Today is the day…

Today is the day I take my test to become a certified running coach. I am beyond excited for this new chapter in my life, and cannot wait to help others discover their own love of running.

Oh and… I’m becoming a certified running coach.

A couple months ago, after much consideration, I applied for the Marathon Running Coach certification program through the NAASFP (North American Academy for Sport Fitness Professional.

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While I plan to do a full recap of the certification program after completion, I opted for this one over, say RRCA (though I do eventually plan to become dual-certified with both organizations), because it is a more intensive program and takes a minimum of 22 weeks to complete. There are three components to the NAASFP program, the written test is the first. Next I will have to create a training plan for a hypothetical client, and finally the third tier, will be to train a real-life client through a 18-week marathon training plan.

Oh and… did I tell you I got a second job coaching?

Early Fall, Fit2Run Tampa (finally) adopted a Galloway-method training program. I immediately volunteered to be a “coach”, and have loved every moment since. In November, the store was looking to hire an additional coach for the training group, and things just lined up correctly, and it just kind of all worked out.

So, while I had to dust off my decade-old retail-world shoes, I am so thrilled for the opportunity to do what I love- and to get paid for it.

Oh and… did I tell you I’m running again?

I FINALLY, in October, got cleared to start running again. It took me a good couple weeks to actually start trying. It’s scary being injured. Still to this day, I have to ask myself, is what I’m feeling in my leg, or just in my head. But, I will get there!

Oh and… did I tell you what I signed up for?

IRONMAN AUGUSTA 70.3!!!

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I may be crazy, but I’m also determined. For these next few months, I will be gradually increasing the number of workouts I do weekly, and once I complete my next Marathon (April), that’s when training will kick into high gear. I’m looking at 6 days a week, with some days days being 2 workouts a day. I’m such a dork, but I cannot wait!

Oh and… my next marathon is in April

I’ll be running the Newport, RI Rhode Race in April, and… MY BABY SISTER WILL BE THERE TOO!! Since dad is living in RI until June, I figure it’s a great time to check off RI on my states-to-run-in list, and to spend some time with dad. The whole family is making  a vacay out of it! 🙂

Oh and… speaking of races.

Last month, I did the Hot Chocolate Run in Tampa.

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I had registered for the 15k pre-injury, and while this was the first race I could do some running in, I still had to walk the majority. But, almost my entire Galloway group did it too! And they rocked it! 🙂

And, then of course there was Vegas! Pre-injury, I registered for the Rock ‘N Roll Las Vegas Marathon as a charity runner for St. Jude’s. We also planned out a week-long vacation around it. I eventually had to drop-back my registration to the half marathon, and decided I would just walk the half. And, I did!

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Word to the wise: walking a half marathon is not fun. It hurts. A lot. 😉

But… we had an amazing time in Vegas! We got to see Celine Dion (OMG!!!) as well as “O” by Cirque Du Soleil. And, while I didn’t strike it rich playing roulette, we will definitely be back.

So, there you have it. The last few months summed up. I can sit here and make excuses for why I went MIA, or I can just try to be better. And, that’s what the new year is all about, right…?

Happy running!