2010 Augusta Ironman 70.3 Race Report

     I recorded a "DNF," which in the racing world is short for Did Not Finish, last weekend in Georgia at the Augusta Ironman 70.3 It is one of the worst feelings in racing to DNF, but sometimes you have to make smart decisions for your racing career and let go of your ego. I am not happy at all with the result of my racing last weekend, but I'm doing my best to shake it off and move on with the season. Every athlete has bad days, and one bad race does not define the season. So, I'm standing up, brushing my shoulders off and getting on with what I do best!

    From the days before the race, to the starting gun, until I pulled the plug on the day at mile 4 of the run, my body had nothing. I've never felt more flat physically in a race, ever in 7 years, than I did on Sunday. Even the day before on my warm-up run, I felt worse than ever before. My legs felt like they didn't have anything to give. I try not to make judgements the day before the race because my body can fluctuate day-to-day with rest, travel, and activity.

    After the race, when examining my race, it really wasn't completely surprising as to my physical performance because of my last month. At Ironman Louisville, I raced hard and dug deep. That takes a lot out of my body. There are many people in this sport who seem to bounce back quickly after Ironman races, but I really don't know how they do it. Are they not racing hard enought? I'll never know. So my body was totally flogged after Louisville. Then two days after I returned home from the race, I had oral surgery. The surgery further set me back, required me to take more time off and rest, and put me on antibiotics for a while. The antibiotics are horrible for your body in terms of training (good for killing infection, bad for training). Because of complications with the wisdom tooth root almost breaching my sinus cavity, I had to stay out of the pool for a while. After Louisville, I went almost 2 weeks without swimming on doctors orders, the longest I've been out of the water in several years. After the surgery recvoery, I had only 2 weeks before I came to this race. Not enough time to get my body firing on all cyclinders and then rest for the race still with an Ironman in my body. The 10-days before the race, I really tried to get myself back on track. I probably forced it a little two much. After all of that time out of the water, I was swimming horribly in practice. My running legs in training felt bad, but my cycling seemed to bounce back pretty well. So going into Augusta, I really didn't know what to expect. Mentally I was excited to race and wanted to go out and hammer, but my body just wasn't ready.

     Hind sight, I should have looked objectively at the Ironman, surgery, and the calander to really determine if it was smart to race. But what's done is done. On with the rest of the year. 

     I really loved the course in Augusta. I have to say that I think from the racing standpoint it may be my favorite of the half-Ironman distance courses I've done. The swim was point-to-point downstream in a river so the times were crazy-fast. Then the bike was flat-to-rolling and fast through the woods across the border South Carolina. It poured rain on race day, so we were not quite as fast as we could have been, but it was still a really fun bike course! The run course was amazing. It was flat and wound through the downtown streets of Augusta. Spectators could watch you pass, then walk a block to see you pass a mile later. By traversing a couple blocks, spectators could see you something like 9 times on the run course!!

    From the gun, my body didn't have anything. I had no "go" on the swim. I didn't feel like I had that high end gear I needed to swim the 70.3 fast. I felt like I had the gear I have on an easy swim training day. I was just plodding along without being able to go hard. I still didn't lose too much time on the lead groups out of the water. Once on the bike, my legs were lactic right away. The first 15 miles of the bike, I felt like I couldn't push any gears. After about 40 minutes, I got into a good tempo and my cycling legs felt okay, not great, but decent. I came out of the water in 21st position and started slowly rreeling guys back in. By mile 45 I caught the second chase group of 4 guys. I moved to the front and started pushing and they all sucked on to my wheel. One was clearly drafting off of me, I won't say who, but without a draft marshal around to serve penalties, there was no reason for him to ride legally. Getting off the bike I felt horrible. I pulled the group of 4 guys into transition, getting off the bike in like 12th or 14th place. I knew in the first few strides of the run that I had nothing. All the guys that I pulled in ran by me and left me in the dust. My running pace was slower than my first 18 miles at my last 2 Ironmans!!! Instead of clocking the 5:50 per mile pace I can run in 70.3s, my pace started at a 6:25 and then quickly went to a 7:30. Again, that's slower than I run my long easy distance runs. I had nothing. By mile 4 of the run, my feet were killing me. I looked down to see blood spots on my shoes. My feet were already bleeding with blisters. I had worn these racing flats in St.Croix 70.3 without any blisters, but today by mile 4 my feet were hamburger. 

At that point I had a decision. Stick it out and fight for around 20th place while tearing my feet up so bad that I wouldn't be walking for a week, or call it a day, recover quickly (like in 2-3 days), write off the day and move on with my season. So I chose the latter. I think it was the smart move. It never feels good on the ego, but that's it, just the ego. The professional side of my brain said I made the smart move. 

  So that's it. I stepped off the course at mile 4 of the run with my parents, turned in my timing chip, and watched and cheered my buddy and training partner Richie Cunningham on as he ran himself into 2nd place. I was so happy for him. He needed this race. He's had a rough year in his racing and it was great to see him back on his form. He got the monkey off his back for the season. I walked away from the race frustrated about my day, but actually feeling really happy because I could see my good buddy doing so well! Yesterday over lunch and coffee, he and I planned out the next couple weeks of training to prepare for the end of the season races, and I can tell you that I'm chomping at the bit to go at it.
                                             
    I really want to thank Little Caesars Pizza for their support of me and my racing this year. Their belief in me is so important for me be able to do what I'm doing in this sport. Jack and Adam's Bicycles in Austin are always there to help support me and my racing. Champion System Clothing provide me with the best race and training clothing. Quintana Roo's CD 0.1 is one fast machine. Xterra Wetsuits are providing me with the best wetsuits and speedsuits in the sport and Advanced Rehabilitation in Ausin helps to keep me healthy for training and racing. PowerBar and SBR Sports Inc's products are also a great help for racing and training. Also I want to thank my family and friends for their unending support for me. Without these people and sponsors, I would not be able to pursue this dream.

Thank you,
Pat

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