Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Augusta 70.3 Re-cap...

Clearly I need to trust my training more...  I went into this race feeling good but not expecting to improve anything over last year.  This was after all supposed to be a "normal" training day.  Ummm yeah.

I loaded up and hit the road to Augusta on Friday.  My packing method was throw everything on the checklist in a big box and sort it out when I get there.  I had some extra time on Saturday so this worked out well.  For B2B, I prefer to have everything sorted in bags before hand so I just transfer items from my bags to the official bags but for this race, the "toss it in a box" was the way to go for me.  Augusta is about a two hour drive from home so I was easily there in time to check in on Friday.  A great call as there were NO LINES.  I got all signed in and bought the obligatory shirt with my name on the back.  I ran into Summer as she was buying her merch and hung with her for a minute then sought out Jennifer and J.C. as they were waiting for the athlete's meeting.  Summer and I ditched the meeting before it started (we apparently are too cool for school).

Earlier that day, I had seen a cool print on FB painted by another athlete.  She had made up some prints and was selling them on Broad Street so I went to pick one up. 

Let's pretend this is not sideways. I tried to fix, I don't have the energy. Tilt your head please :)

It really is pretty awesome, when I get more organized (someday...maybe 20 years from now...), I would like to frame it and hang it with my medals. 

Spoiler alert.  I got a medal.  Here it is proudly displayed with the others in my nightstand drawer.  
I seriously need a rack of some sort to display them all.

Saturday involved a whole lot of nothing other than dropping off my bike.  I was so glad I opted to get there on Friday as it was so much more relaxed this year as opposed to last when I did it all on Saturday.  I rolled through the expo again and picked up a couple of shirts that were marked down and spent the rest of the day chillaxing.

I didn't get to sleep until what felt like way too late and then woke up way too early.  For some reason my eyes popped open at 3:30 way before the 4:15 alarm and that was all I needed to get the race day thoughts going through my head.  Got up, ate, loaded up the car, checked out of the hotel and made my way to the shuttle.  I felt like I was getting there way too early but if I was then so was everyone else as there were hundreds there already when I arrived.  I rolled through body marking, aired up the tires, loaded up the bento with snacks, laid out my transition area and set off to find friends.

See previous note about tilting your head. Hi Meredith!

I knew Summer and Meredith were right next to each other so located them easily and just ended up attaching myself to them for the rest of the morning.  My friend Charlie was kind enough to fold himself up in the cargo area of Meredith's car so I could ride with them to the start.  We talked about time goals on the way over.  I had mentioned that I had a 6:07 last year and would like to at least get 5:59:59 but I really didn't think that was possible.  I really was planning to just go out there, finish the race and hope for the best but had no plans to PR.  The expert found a spot to park in the field and we all piled out of the car.  Meredith gave her parents last minute helpful hints for spectating and we made our way to the portopotties at the start. We ran into so many people that we knew at that point.  I got to meet Meredith's coach, finally saw Beth and her crew along with Summer again for one last good luck before we hit the water.

Summer, me and Beth.

The waves for this year's swim were set up so that the over 40 crowd went off in the first 13 waves with the 18-24 women being the last wave before the relays.  I was in wave 13 and behind me we various waves of 18-39 year old men.  I wasn't worried about it on the swim but I knew before too long on the bike, waves of guys were going to be flying past me.

but first things first...  the swim.  As the groups of waves started to form, I left Meredith and the Expert and got in line.  As luck would have it, I knew one of the racers (she is my triathlon idol from my Swim Atlanta days) so we chatted the whole time we were waiting.  We walked down the ramp to the dock and got in.  The water was chilly and I immediately remembered how much I loved the extra float you get from the wetsuit.  We bobbed around in the water for about a minute and we were off!  I am not sure why but both years at Augusta I have never felt overwhelmed by people around me.  Within 30 seconds, it seemed like everyone kind of found their space and I was on my own.  Those weeds and plants seemed a little higher than last year as I swam over the top of them.  My wetsuit felt like it was choking me, my goggles were fogged up as always and I kept swimming.  The swim seemed to go on forever.  Last year it felt like it went so fast I think I had high expections for it to seem as fast this year.  It did not.  I kept seeing orange buoys thinking they were exit markers.  They were not.  My foggy goggles weren't really helping the situation.  Eventually they funneled us off to the right.  It was odd because it didn't click that this was the swim exit, I just thought they were trying to get us to swim further over to the side of the river.... until people started standing up.  DUH.  Oh look we are getting out.  It didn't feel faster than last year but apparently it was faster.  I happened to notice the clock coming out and I realized my swim was in the 28 minute range.  I 'll take it.

Swim 28:06  (last year was 28:30)
I shut my eyes a lot in pictures.  Or maybe I am just watching my step.

Ran up the ramp, unzipped the wetsuit, got rid of the cap and goggles and plopped down in front of the wetsuit strippers.  I don't know why this always make me nervous but it has to be faster than me doing it myself.  I parked myself in front of the only guy there (yes, I am picky about my strippers...) That wetsuit came flying off in less than a second - clearly they had been practicing!  Wetsuit in hand, I took off running up to my bike rack.  My rack was 2nd row from Bike Out which made me extremely happy - less time to run with the bike!

Garmin, helmet, shoes, sunglasses, go!

T1:   4:34 (last year was 6:09)

I felt good immediately on the bike.  I was a little worried that I might be going too fast.  The first part of the course is flat which can bite you when you get to the back half which is a little more rolling.  I was passing people and being passed and just enjoying the ride.  This was my 5th time in the last 2 years riding the course so I was extremely comfortable.  I alternated 1/4 of a bonk breaker or two shot blocks every 15 minutes with Skratch labs to drink and every hour I took a salt tablet.  I drank 40 ounces of the Skratch Labs mix from T1 to the 2nd water stop.  At the 2nd water stop around mile 38 or so I grabbed water and dumped it in my aero bottle for the ride back to the finish.  I feel like I nailed the nutrition on the bike for the first time ever.  It was easily 15-20 degrees cooler this year as compared to last.  Had the temperatures been higher, I would have needed to take in more fluids.

I kept leap frogging with a girl named Stef on the ride, I would pass her, she would pass me.  It was good to see a familiar face throughout the course even if I just met her that day as we were riding.  Another bit of randomness - there were sunglasses all over the course.  The day was misty so people were sticking them in their helmet and they would fall out.  I saw a couple of nice pair and was tempted more than once to stop and pick them up.  If I host a giveaway for sunglasses on this blog, you will know where they came from :)

Bike:    3:01:07 18.55 mph (last year was 3:12:29 17.45 mph)

... hallelujah I get to stand up!  That is what I think my butt said as I rolled up to the dismount line ...  Again, can I tell you how awesome it was to be on the 2nd bike rack???  A short jog from dismount with my bike and I was slipping on shoes and my hat.  I shoved a couple of gels in my pocket, stopped at the portopotties (I did consume 60 ounces of fluids after all...) and I was out of there!

T2:   3:45  (last year was 4:57)

Just like last year, rounding that corner out of the transition area onto the road felt great!  My run plan for the races has been to run a mile walk a minute.  I have been doing that since late 2010.  It seems to work for me and for this race especially I didn't want to use up everything I had as I do have a 140.6 on the 20th to think about.  I got to mile one and was feeling pretty good so just kept running until I got to the first waterstop, took water and walked through it.  Got to mile 3 and was still feeling good so decided to walk for 30 seconds just in case I did blow up at the end I wouldn't look back on this decision not to walk and be irritated at myself.  I kept that up for most of the race, walking the water stops and the occasional mile markers for 30 - 45 seconds.

I wish I could remember the mile markers specifically because the miles that were on Broad Street were the best miles on the road.  There were people cheering from one end to the other.  You couldn't help but gain energy from their enthusiasm.  Miles 7 - 8 were a little quiet but once you rounded that corner were the runners were coming back out of T2 it was game on with spectators again.

I kept looking at my watch and my pace and really just couldn't believe how good I was feeling.  I was doing the math in my head.  Let's see, 28 minute swim plus a 3 hour bike...   I knew if I could do the run in 2ish hours I would definitely be under 6 hours.  I could not have been happier at that point.  The miles are ticking off.  A little before mile 11, I saw Meredith running along and remember thinking she must be having a great race too because she was about an hour behind me (her wave started 45 minutes to an hour behind mine).  I gave her a big cheer across the divided highway.  I made the turn at the end of Broad and knew this was the last stretch to the finish.  It was also the stretch last year where my dehydration caught up with me.  I was nervous for what this last stretch might hold but was feeling good.  I soaked up the energy from the crowds and kept running.  I saw Dave from Decatur Bikes, Meredith's parents and tons of people from Atlanta Triathlon Club.  As I neared the split where you turn off to the finish, I caught with Meredith again and we gave each other a cheer.  I wanted to chat and see how her race was going but had tunnel vision since I was so close to the end and wasn't exactly sure how close I was to that six hour mark.  I mean I figured I had not take 30 minutes in transition but one never knows....

I snaked my way to the finish and spotted Jess the Superstah Sherpa (Beth's sherpa, I'll have to get my own).  The next bit is a blur as I ran like a maniac to the finish.  Done and done solidly under six hours!

Jess the Superstah Sideways Sherpa 

Run:  2:04:53 (last year 2:15:52)

I might have been a little excited.

Overall:  5:42:25 (last year 6:07:57)

I have a habit of passing out after races.  It seems like a dehydration issue but could be low blood pressure too or a combination of both.  Either way, I think I got it right this time which was a HUGE relief going into Beach 2 Battleship in a little over two weeks.  My blood pressure is pretty darn low normally so my theory is the dehydration makes it that much lower which leads to Karen on the pavement.  Anyhoo....  so I had promised CR I would go the medical tent after the race for a few minutes.  They weren't super busy so they were glad to check my BP and chat with me as I drank some Perform.  My blood pressure was actually higher than normal (guess it was all that salt I had been taking) so after I drank down the perform I checked out of the tent and went to grab my clothes bag.

I was anxious to get to my bag because I wanted to check my race time.  I don't have the latest greatest Garmin so I can only piece together what I think happened by extrapolation of the times I had throughout the day.  I really wanted to see it from the source.  I didn't have to look far as the minute I turned on my phone, there was a congratulatory text from CR with the time.  CR doesn't spend a ton of time on the PC so I didn't even bother to show him how to track my progress.  Dude googled it all up that morning and tracked me throughout the day at work.  I was quite impressed!



Over the moon about the PR!  The cooler weather played a huge part and I am oh so thankful for those overcast skies! I loved seeing so many people I knew at the race.  Some had great days, some struggled but all finished with smiles on their faces.  You really are just battling yourself out there.  I am not racing to stand on a podium.  I am racing to prove to myself that I am capable of anything.  Training takes a whole lot of determination but nothing is better then that sweet dash to the finish line known as race day.    




Molly said...

Congratulations!!! Solid race all around and a big PR! :)

Molly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ajh said...

Huge congratulations! That is awesome how much better you did in each thing and overall! The weeds in the river......ewwwww.l

Kate Geisen said...

What a great race! Congratulations on the PR, and what a wonderful feeling to come through the race feeling so strong. :) Very cool that your husband figured it out on his own!

Ransick said...

Spectacular race! Congrats on a huge PR, solid race execution, and not passing out at the end! Cool blogger meet up too.

Suz and Allan said...

Congratulations on a great race and a huge PR!

Angela @ Fit Fun Mom said...

Congrats on a great race! I love your finish line photo.

Meaghan said...

CONGRATS!!! What an AWESOME day for you - I could feel the excitement in your post.. Awesome stuff friend!!

B.o.B. said...

You are my hero. And also, now my neck hurts from all the damn tilting. lol! Congrats again chica. You kicked major tri butt! KDUB FOR PREZ!

Anonymous said...

Great race report and congratulations on smashing your previous race time!

Swim Bike Mom said...

My gosh. You made me wait FOREVER for this race report and THEN you make me tilt my head to look at pictures?!? Yoda. :)
Loved your report. You are such an inspiration. I loved your finish photo -that's the best. And what a FAST run. I am not worthy. After B2B you must help me get faster. And kick my Diet Coke habit. Thank you for being such a great, wise triathlon friend. My mom said, "I really like that Karen. She is a class act. So humble. And nice. ANd just plain beautiful." I tend to agree. Can't wait to hear about B2B - you are locked and loaded (like my reference?) and you are going to have an amazing day!

Unknown said...

What a great race Karen. And yay for not passing out. Always a good thing! Definitely seems like you have your nutrition spot on!!!

Congrats on a huge PR! B2B better watch out!!!

Char said...

What a great result! Improvement in every leg and even in transition. You really did a fantastic job.

Katie said...

dude! congratulations! so are going to have a great day in NC!

Matthew Smith said...

Woohoo! That was an awesome race! You rocked it! And, you got a HUGE PR! Way to go!!! Good luck at B2B!

Lindsay said...

wow! great job karen! solid, solid improvement from last year on every piece of the race. i chose to hold my laptop like a book so i could see the photos better, but made for harder reading. and typing this comment.

gajkelley said...

Great race report! Congratulations on your super finish and your PR!! You're going to have a great B2B.

Leah Smith said...

Great race report. Augusta was my first attempt at a half ironman. I had a blast ! Any chance you have any info on where to find that print? I would like to get one and I can't find out any information on it. Thanks!!