2012 Ironman 70.3 Augusta Race Report

      I was really happy to back racing and put together a solid race as a follow up to Louisville by finishing 3rd at Augusta Ironman 70.3 in Augusta, Georgia last weekend. I finished in 3:52, which was a personal best time for me at the Ironman 70.3 distance with a 22 minute swim, 2:08, bike, and 1:17 run. Although, with the down current river swim, all of the swim times were about four minutes fast, so I'll have to put an asterisk by it only from an absolute swim time standpoint. For me, the victory in this race was putting in a great effort five weeks after Ironman Louisville. In the last two years, I've tried to race a 70.3 between four and five weeks after Louisville. Each time I felt terrible, resulting in drop-outs for those races. Putting in a solid race with the same calendar timing of past failures was a personal victory.

      The difference for me this time around versus Ironman 70.3 Augusta in 2010 and Pocono Mountains Ironman 70.3 in 2011 was that I stayed relaxed going into this race. I didn't stress or pass judgement about how I felt or what I perceived as my fitness level. I feel that I recover a little slower than most of my friends after full Ironmans. In the last two years, with a 70.3 looming on the calendar around a month after the full, I tried to “get fit” or sharpen the blade too much for the race. I didn't trust in my fitness. I tried to jump too soon into speed or intensity sessions. Each time in the past, it left me physically and mentally drained going into the races. This time, I relaxed, got into a training groove and didn't try to force the fitness. In all actuality, in the five weeks after Louisville, besides one set of fartlek strides, I only did one running intensity session. The rest of my runs were all easy to endurance pace runs. On the bike, I did a couple of solid weeks of riding with Richie Cunningham and Joe Gambles as Joe did his Kona preparation rides. So I did have good bike training leading into Augusta. I didn't do any specific bike “interval” sessions. With Richie and Joe, we'd ride long, usually easy out, then hard home. Or during a 4-5 hour ride, we'd push hard for 1 hour up the mountain. But I didn't do any overly structured training. At one point about 8 days out from Augusta, I found myself pretty much in a training hole feeling flat and exhausted, so I dialed back the training and made sure I got adequate rest rather than continue to grind on just for toughness sake or just to keep up with the boys. I really think that relaxing expectations and training for this race while not trying to get specifically sharp or fast really helped. In fact, at one point before this race, I remember thinking that because of dropping out the last two years, anything better than that would be an improvement.

      Getting down to the race itself, the swim in Augusta is straight down the Savannah River 1.2 miles. There is a pretty good current, so everyone swam a good 4 minutes fast. I wasn't happy with my swim, but in saying that, I'm just playing the broken record I do after most races. So let's start after the swim this time.

      I got on the bike and my fiance, Megan, was standing at the bike mount line yelling information to me. She told me I was in 12th place and that I was 3 minutes behind the lead group. That's closer than I'd been out of the water in Racine 70.3 in July. I've learned that “it is what it is” in terms of whatever I hear starting the bike with placement and time back. Since I'd biked well in Louisville last month and my biking had been feeling well in training, I decided to go all-in on the bike. I really didn't have anything to lose. So I pushed hard. I started moving up through the field. I linked up with one rider for a good chunk of the ride. After I passed him, he stuck with me, so I decided it'd be better to work together than to have an ego battle for 8th and 9th place on the bike. We made up a lot of time through the ride. By the end, I could see the lead pack of 6 guys all locked together. I ran out of real estate to catch them, but made up quite a lot on the field. Coming from 3 minutes down, to starting the run with 5 out of 6 of the leaders within sight was a big confidence boost. I finished the bike in 2:08, the fastest bike split of the day. That was one of my best 70.3 bikes ever.

      I really had no idea how my running legs would feel. I had done less “race specific” training than ever before going into this race: no long tempo runs, not much in terms of higher paced running. Also, I'd just really put my effort into the bike portion to try to get myself into a position where I'd be able to have a shot at a good placement. After about a mile of running, I realized that my legs didn't feel that bad and that I actually had some decent turn-over. I started the run in 7th place, but I could see the 6th-2nd place guys up the road on the straightaways. I caught all of them by about mile 4 or 5 (I think) and was running in 2nd. Maxim Kriat was up the road and was putting time into me. Unless I found a lot more or Maxim bonked, I was in a race for 2nd place. Somewhere in the 9 mile range, Nick Wanniger caught me and made a definitive pass. He had come off the bike a little behind us, maybe a minute or so. He was running like a demon. He ended up running a 1:13, for the fastest run split of the day. He stayed in front of me, slowly pulling away over the last four miles. With about two miles to go, it was obvious I wasn't going to catch Nick. I was firmly in 3rd, with 4th place not in a dangerous position. I put the gear shift into “run fast enough to secure my position, but not fast enough to risk bonking” mode.

      After the race, I always wonder if I could have dug a little deeper. In this case, I wonder if I could have dug more to run with Nick. Honestly, I don't think I could have on that day. He was running really fast and I had played most of my hand on the bike. I was really happy with how I ran considering all of the variables. My favorite part of the race was the finishers' chute where James Brown was playing over the speakers (because James Brown is from Augusta). Megan did a great job cheering and giving me information and splits on the run.

      The toughest part about this race was what happened after the finish line. The racing bit was the easy part. We rushed back to the hotel where we'd asked for a late check out. I showered and packed. We checked out, then drove back to the race site (where it was now pouring rain). We walked to a restaurant, ate lunch. Then walked back to the finish for awards. Picked up the trophy in the rain, then we drove to transition. My plan was to pack my bike into the bike box for my flight in the parking lot, but by now it was dumping buckets of rain. We picked up my bike from transition (because earlier transition wasn't open to pick up our bikes). Standing on the side of the road I packed my bike in the box. I was soaked to the bone in blue jeans. We then drove straight to the airport, dropped off the rental car, checked in for my flight, and got on my flight soaking wet. My bike box was so soaked that it weighed over 3 pounds more than it had on the way there with the exact same things in it. The foam padding acted like sponges absorbing all the rain as I packed the bike. Megan flew back to Austin and I flew to Denver. I then drove back to Boulder for the night, getting there at about 11:30pm utterly exhausted. Monday morning, I woke up, packed the car, had coffee and breakfast with Richie and Joe to say goodbye for the summer, then started the 16.5 hour drive back to Austin. I got in a solid 12 hours of driving Monday stopping Sweetwater, Texas. Then finished the last 4.5 hours to Austin on Tuesday morning. Needless to say, those crazy 3 days took me most of last week to finally recover and I hadn't been home in Austin since May 27th (hence why this race report didn't get posted until this week).

     All in all, I'm very happy with this race. Megan and I had fun in Augusta. For now, I've recovered from it and am putting in a big couple weeks of Ironman Cozumel training. Then I'll give myself some recovery, race Austin Ironman 70.3 on October 28th, recover from that, a couple more weeks of training, then taper for Cozumel. The last races are on the horizon, but I'm very happy with these last couple races and how my body is responding.

     I really want to thank Little Caesars Pizza for their support of me and my racing. Their belief in me is so important for me be able to do what I'm doing in this sport. TYR Sports is providing me with the best wetsuits and speedsuits in the sport. PowerBar's nutrition products have been a key part in my training and racing. I'd also like to thank RecoveryPump for their support. RecoveryPump has been a critical aspect of my training and recovery and I truely believe the product has helped to take my training to the next level. Jack and Adam's Bicycles in Austin are always there to help support me and my racing. I want to thank Felt Bicycles for putting me on such an amazing bike, the 2012 Felt DA. HED Cycling has provided me with the best wheels and aerobars on the market. Champion System Clothing has provided me with the race and training clothing that you see in my pictures. Advanced Rehabilitation in Austin helps to keep me healthy for training and racing. Hill Country Running Company is a great help with my running equipment. 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.


   

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