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Ironman 70.3 Augusta 2015 Race Report

Created: Sunday, 27 September 2015
 
Checking into my first Ironman event!
My first 1/2 Ironman distance race was a success! After a season full of success and blunders, victories and panic attacks, all the hard work and sacrifices have culminated in this, my biggest race thus far. I finished with a strong time just under 6 hours, actually it was 5:59:47. This report will give a quick race summary, followed by a much longer more detailed report.
I arrived into Augusta on Friday, 2 days before the race. After taking my bike to a local shop to fix
Bike is ready in the transition area.
my wheel, I practiced swimming the course down the Savannah River with the gracious Augusta Triathlon Club. On Saturday, I picked up my bike, then picked up race packet and I checked in my bike. Then got plenty of rest for Sunday’s race.
My swim wave was #2. The race started at 7:30, I was in the water at 7:34. My goal was not to be the slowest swimmer in my age group (AG). I finished in 39:47 after a couple anxious moments. At a 02:03/100m pace, I was in 309th AG place.
 
 
I experienced my first strippers in T1! Following advice, I skipped all the frail women and went to burly guy that would quickly rip my wetsuit off me! Unfortunately, we banged foreheads. *Ouch* Time: 4:04
Practice swim down the Savannah River.
The Bike is my strongest event. After the straightaway, I was averaging 21 mph, and felt great. After lots of hills, and dropping my chain once, I finished the 56 mile bike ride in 3:03:40 while averaging 18.29 mph. I moved up to 257th AG place.
T2 went smoothly. Time: 3:04
The last leg was a 13.1 half marathon run. This was the first time I ever ran 13 miles. I started at a 9 min pace, then slowed down to settle at mostly a 10 min pace. When it was done, my final run time was 2:09:12 with a 09:51/mi pace. Moved up several more slots to finish in 216th AG place.
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Day 1, 2 days pre-race:
Ironman Expo
Now for the detailed Race Report filled with what really made this weekend special! After the 3 hour drive from Atlanta to Augusta, my bike wheel snagged on my gear as I was removing it out my car. *POP* What was that? Dangit!! A nipple snapped off my spoke wheel. I perform my own bike maintenance, but I didn’t feel like stressing myself out trying to true the wheel (straighten it back out)
Crazy long line and I should be off of my feet.
before the race. So I head to the Ironman Expo to see the bike technician, only to find that they don’t have one. WTH? So I head to a local bike shop and drop it off.
As I mentioned earlier, the Tri Augusta club is awesome! I attended a practice swim with 100 other eager racers. I was worried about seaweed, but it mostly cleared away. The wetsuit made the water temperature comfortable. I completed the swim in 38 minutes. Since it was just a practice, I intentionally didn’t swim hard, and even stopped twice. Once to check on a friend, and a second time to clear my foggy goggles. There was one moment near the end where a bunch of bubbles came up from the depths that got me rattled.
Race Ready
After the swim, I met up with a few other athletes that part of the Black Triathletes Association. It was great meeting new friends. There was one bad moment. I have been dismissing any talk about alligators in the river as a myth, so that I could stay calm in the swim. I’ve had too many panic attacks in swims to do otherwise. The dinner conversation basically confirmed that there were gators in the water somewhere. My calmness has now vaporized. It was a great dinner, and stayed relaxed when I wasn’t overthinking the water creatures.
Day 2, 1 day before race:
Anxious, I woke up early. I met up with some friends to find breakfast. I had no idea it would be so hard to find a good omelet! My hotel’s “breakfast” was awful, and I didn’t want to get sick trying to eat it. I searched online, and the only decent breakfast spot was inside a YMCA. We checked it out, and decided to keep searching. After walking all through downtown and
meeting other athletes that were in same predicament, the conclusion was we wait an hour to eat at the only open diner downtown, or head over to the Marriott. I needed a good breakfast soon without waiting, so we enjoyed a very hefty breakfast buffet at the Marriott.
Afterwards, I picked up my registration packet, and headed to the bike shop to pick up my bike. Just my luck, the spoke was fixed, but the tire was flat. After making it clear who’s fault it was, they installed a new tube and I was good to go. I asked the guy how much, he said there’s no cost. Satisfied, I left. I then headed to the transition area to check my bike in. Now it’s time for the pre-race meeting. The only news noteworthy was the IM no drafting rule which requires a 5 bike distance from the cyclist in front of you. I knew that would be challenging on a crowded course.
Even though I had practiced cycling the bike course in July, I wanted to get very confident on varying terrain. I grabbed a map of the course, jumped in my car, and drove the course. My phone rang, it was the bike shop. They said I still needed to pay, and the worker was only saying that the tube was free, but I still needed to pay for the labor. *sigh* I could have ignored them, but I gladly went ahead and paid over the phone. I didn’t need any more drama before the race.
My mom, my aunt, and the Tri Twins
My mom and her sister came down from Cleveland and Detroit to watch me race for the first time. We met up with about 30 other Black triathletes and their supporters for dinner. We are such a small percentage of racers, this was a beautiful sight for us all to be together and supportive. I met some incredible athletes.
 
 
Back in my hotel room, I made sure everything was ready for race day. My Zoot Race Ultra 4.0FFor more about my races, visit http://///d DerrickB.com////////shoes with the Boa system was ready. I love these shoes! Not only does it make for fast transitions, they are very responsive on my feet. My Zoot race kit was hanging, ready to keep me comfortable and at least looking fast. *Ha!* I filled 4 water bottles. 3 for my bike, one for pre race. Hammer Perpetuem was in 2 of the bike bottles, and Hammer Heed in the other. I trained and raced with Heed all season, and used Perpetuem on my really long rides. My bento bag had a pill bottle filled with Hammer Endurolytes and Anti-Fatigue capsules. I meant to also include a flask filled with Hammer Gel, but I left it at home. Instead, I put in 4 Gel packets, plus 2 more in my run belt. 2 of the packets in my bento bag I opened up for easy access while on the bike. Time for a long night of sleep, after I set my alarm for 4:30 AM.
Race Day
Of course, I couldn’t sleep. So I’m up at 3:30 AM. For breakfast, I ate some fruit. Sprayed some anti-fog in my goggles and sun glasses. Packed my transition bag, and I was now race ready. I felt more anxious than anything. I arrived at the transition area at 5:30. I saw some friendly faces, which kept me relaxed. Pumped up my bike tires, set up my transition area, I was all set. With 3,000 bikes, and the largest 1/2 Ironman in the country, I was feeling very excited, and enjoying the moment. I caught a shuttle bus over to the swim start at 6:15. There were several other racers already there. It was going to be a very long wait for a lot of folks. The last wave started after 9:00. At 7:00, I stretched and warmed up. At 7:20 I put on my wetsuit. In line ready for my swim wave #2 to start at 7:25.
Swim 1.2 miles
Sun is up, ready to race!
There were not that many folks in wave 1, which consisted of amputees, military relays, and other folks. My wave had about 150, and we jumped in right after the first wave cleared the dock. Most folks treaded water before the loud canon went off. I held on to the dock. *BOOM* The canon went off. I was thinking, I’ve only seen a canon at race start on YouTube. I started my Garmin, and off I went behind the crowd. I really wanted to keep up with the other swimmers in my wave. Even draft off of someone. There was no chance. They all left me. That’s fine too, I just swam in my own element. I knew at some point wave behind me would catch me, so I tried to pick it up to prevent a third wave from doing the same. I passed a couple purple caps from the 1st wave. Then it was all yellow caps passing me from the 3rd wave. I had a few anxious moments, but I was able to stay calm. The river flow was faster towards the left, the middle of the river. I noticed that the current was not as strong as it was Friday, or when I swam the river in July. I just kept on swimming at a steady pace, trying to implement all the proper
I survived the swim and I wasn't the slowest!
swim techniques that I learned. When doubt tried to creep in my mind, I reminded myself that I had done this before, and that I’ve come way too far to stop now. Just keep on swimming. I did see several folks from the 4th wave. I just hoped I wasn’t the slowest.
Eventually, I saw the exit inflatable and orange buoys that guided us to the boat ramp. I did it! Before the swim, I reminded myself of the Atlanta Multisports Magazine article that featured my article with the caption, “I’m Ready”. This theme stayed with me through the swim exit, and I was gratified to know that I really was ready, my training worked, and now it was time to have some fun!! Aggressive Goal: 31 mins. Conservative Goal: Don’t be last! Actual: 39:47 02:03/100m AG Rank: 309 - Gender Rank: 1523 - Overall Rank: 2446 I talked to several other swimmers, and they also experienced slower swim times. So I’m convinced the river current was slower. There were 327 AG swimmers, so I wasn’t the slowest!!! Before you clown me, I was the slowest in just about all my races this year.
T1 Swim-to-Bike The ramp was crowded with other swimmers, so I tried to hurry past them as I pulled off my goggles and swim cap. A volunteer opened the back of my wetsuit and unzipped me. THANK
Trying to mount the bike without falling.
YOU!! I pulled the wetsuit off down to my waist, and headed to the wetsuit strippers. These are volunteers that would quickly pull the neoprene off the swimmer in just 2 seconds, versus the 30 seconds it would me to do it myself. Advice I read earlier warned not to go to the pretty girls, but rather the biggest guy you see. Sure enough, there were a line of women volunteers and only a few guys. Since I ran past the crowd on the ramp, I had my choice, and went straight to the biggest guy. This was the first time I used a stripper. Instead of going straight on my back, I bent over at the same time as the guy, and we banged foreheads... HARD!! *OUCH* I was already dizzy from quick swim-to-run action, this didn’t help. After I fell back, he ripped my wetsuit off in 0.75 seconds. I easily found my bike. I put on my shades, put on my helmet, and I was off! As I was leaving, I realized I forgot my bike shoes!!! I laid my bike down, ran back, put on my shoes, grabbed my bike again, then I was off for real this time. Goal: 4 mins. Actual: 4:03 This includes losing 30-45 seconds because of my forgetting my bike shoes. The fastest guys were out at 3 mins. So I’m very pleased with my time.
Bike 56 miles
Beginning of the bike course.
This is my favorite part of the race. The temperature was very comfortable. Although the air was filled with mist, the roads were dry. Since I scoped out the course, I had a detailed strategy. I broke the course up into thirds. The first third was flat and fast. The middle section had rollers. Third section had climbs. My plan was to average 19/20 in the first section. I averaged 21. The beginning of the bike course was very crowded. The officials emphasized the 5 bike length no-drafting rule. It was impossible to abide by, or enforce in this section.
 
The No Drafting rule is apparently not enforced.
When I got to the second section, one thing was very clear. Since I started in wave 2, EVERYONE that I saw at this point was a beast on the bike. I excel on the hills, and I passed lots of folks. But there were tremendous number of folks that smoked by me. Every single one of them had a tri bike. Most had race wheels. Half had disc wheel in the back. I was on a standard road bike with aero bars installed. Somehow, the lap button was pressed on my Garmin 920xt. Maybe when I stood up to gain momentum. I looked at my watch, and I saw a strange screen. No speed, no distance, just an overall time. I soon realized that it was in transition mode. *Arghhh* So I finished the latter 2/3 of the ride without any data.
 
Thanks for the sign!
There was another weird moment. A guy pulled up to me and complimented my calves. I responded, “Thanks! But sorry, you’re not my type.” I didn’t realize that there were a bunch of cyclists around us (it was crowded on up hills), and several broke out in laughter.
On the third section, I was starting to see a lot of carnage. Flat tires, cyclists with legs cramps, others that were just struggling to keep their pace. I was pleased to see that my nutrition plan was keeping me strong. No cramps. But I did shift poorly on one hill and my chain came off. I fixed it quickly, but I lost my position with the guys I was leap frogging with. I felt like I had a very strong bike leg, and saved plenty of energy for the run.
Goal: 3 hours at a 18.5 mph pace. Actual Time: 3:03:40 18.3 mph pace AG Rank: 257 - Gender Rank: 1119 - Overall Rank: 1516
T2 Bike-to-Run
Beginning of the run, my 1st 1/2 marathon.
I found my transition area easily. It was good thing I practiced finding it in the morning. Bike racked, bike shoes, helmet and shades off, Zoot shoes on, grabbed my TriSports.com visor and my run bib, and I was off. I put on my visor and bib while I was running out. I noticed that Hammer Gels I installed were upside down. Oh well.
Goal: 3 mins. Actual Time: 3:04
Run 13.1 miles
Heavy legs off the bike.
This was the 1st time I have ran this distance. I’ve been running 10 miles in training, and a couple 12 milers. After getting off the bike, my legs felt heavy. But according to my splits, My first couple miles were my fastest. I started at a 9 min pace, and settled in around a 10 min pace.
I saw a few friendly faces at the transition area, which was great! But then the run course got very lonely. After 3 hours on the bike, I was looking forward to seeing some smiles. Soon, the course led into downtown Augusta for 2 loops. Downtown was crowded with folks cheering everyone on! It was great. But I still felt lonely since I didn’t know any of them. And it felt weird to have them call my name since it was on my number bib.
Happy to be running strong!
About 3 miles in, I started hearing familiar cheers. As I approached, I was amazed at all the familiar faces I saw! Lots of training partners came down from Atlanta. As I approached the intersection, I felt like a rock star. A mob of friends were cheering me on, and it filled me with great emotions. The support meant a lot to me. Thanks BTA!! I now had all the motivation I needed to continue running strong.
I found folks to run with at my same pace, and that also helped a lot I ran strong and steady for the rest of the race. I kept feeling pain at waist. It took me a few miles to realize that it was from my upside down Gel packets. The bottom corners were sharp, and cutting into me. I took my first Gel at 5 miles, and a 2nd at 10. The run course had mainly water and Gatorade Endurance. Occasionally, there was Red Bull and Coke. I tried the Gatorade, and it was way too sweet or something. I started getting GI issues. So stopped and stuck with
Sprinting to the finish line!
water for the rest of the course and I was fine. I’m used to drinking Heed, which is mainly maltodextrin. Whatever sugars that are in Gatorade, it’s hard for me to digest while running.
The second lap was much more crowded then the first lap. I did a lot of zig zagging to dodge folks. I was thrilled to see another Team Zoot racer form Florida. A mile from the finish, I found a burst of energy, and my pace returned back to my starting pace of a 9 min mile. I rudely left the lady that was pacing me without warning, and made my move to have a strong finish. Two turns led me to the Ironman finish chute. I continued strong through the finish, then received a finishers medal, cap, and more Gatorade.
Goal: 2 hours. Actual: 2:09:12 Pace: 9:51/mi AG Rank: 216 - Gender Rank: 880 - Overall Rank: 1181
Finished Strong - 1st 1/2 Ironman!!
I saw my friends cheering me on, but I couldn’t talk. One had champagne for me! But I couldn’t drink it at the moment. I needed a cold wet towel. I was spoiled in my Challenge race when I got one. I found some much needed food, and a chair. It was at this moment I was able to look back and enjoy what I just accomplished.
I went from being unable to swim 2 years ago, to swimming non stop for 1.2 miles in the Savannah river without getting eaten by any gators! I trained for all 3 sports without a coach or a training plan. I did do a lot of reading, research, and sought advice. I went from being clueless about the sport, to receiving sponsorship from Zoot, Hammer Nutrition, and TriSports.com. I was even featured in the Atlanta Multisports Magazine. Despite the several races in the past where I got cozy with the kayaks and life guards, I persevered through the 1.2 mile swim. Mission accomplished. I finished my first 1/2 Ironman in under 6 hours.
 
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