IM Augusta 70.3 2013 Race Report
By Kevin Wright
Posted Ocober 2013
I approached my A race for 2013 with little in the way of expectations. It had been a good enough year, in terms of training and racing, but I had not put in the kind of hours in the pool and on the bike that I did in 2012. I was also coming into my first ever 70.3 race, having only completed TTT Ohio for any precedent. The clock stopped for me at 6:09 on that third consecutive day of “racing” in those punishing conditions. I was asked a few times about where I thought I could land at Augusta, to which I responded with “sub 6” or “5:40…ish?” I honestly would have been fine with such a result and successful navigation of the course to set a baseline.
Swim – 24:00
The point to point swim at Augusta was without question my all-time favorite tri swim. It was entirely with the current in the Savannah River, which was so strong on the morning of the race that the original in-water start was modified to a seated push-off from a floating dock. I had the pleasure of starting in wave 27, the latest and final wave. This set up a crowded course throughout the day for me, but the swim was surprisingly not so. I was able to find some open water, put my head down, and not worry too much about sighting. After surely the fastest 1.2 miles I could ever swim, I located the boat launch and sprinted up to T1.
T1 – 3:56
The first transition was a lengthy one between the wetsuit stripping, running to my spot at the back of the area, and getting out to the mount line. I always wonder how crazy I look while I run across transition with my bike hoisted in the air, but I have found it easier than rolling it on a bumpy, grassy surface.
Bike – 2:41:32
If I had one mission for this race, it was not to 'underbike'. As a triathlete with a self-proclaimed run focus, I am notorious for holding out for the run. Needless to say, I thought this to be the first time I felt like I did not and therefore the best bike split for me to date. The course suited me well- no crazy descents or technical areas with perfect weather to boot. Having started at the back of the race, there was no shortage of competitors to pass. When I was not dodging oncoming traffic, it was a huge psychological boost to be constantly passing. I was only passed a handful of times in return.
I did my best not to “burn matches” before the 30 mile mark in order to ride evenly or potentially negative split. Once past that point, I turned it up to Olympic pace/effort and worked hard to get back to transition.
T2 – 3:06
As I headed into T2, I knew I had a good chance at smashing the 5 hour barrier if I could keep it together on the run. I took off to my spot at the back of transition after dismounting and managed to stuff down a banana and half of a PB&J while getting myself run-ready. I was feeling pretty depleted after ingesting only 3 gels and three bottles (water/G2 mixture) during the bike, so the solid food was welcomed. I strapped on my race belt and hit the road.
Run – 1:24:03
The run course was no different from the bike in that it was full of racers that had a good head start on me. I spent the entire 13.1 weaving and passing, surely adding to the total distance in the process. Based on how I felt for the first few miles, I hoped to run close to 90 minutes and have a shot at 4:40. The first 7 miles went by very quickly as I was trying to stay smooth and keep it comfortably hard. By mile 8 or 9, I started hurting and the miles seemed to get longer. I got into damage control mode for the last couple miles, but managed to hold on and cross the line ahead of what I thought I could. The only damper came in the last 400 meters of the race. With several athletes in view left to pass, I was kicking to try to get as many as I could. One of these competitors was wearing calf sleeves that masked his age (I was not). After seeing me come around him with not much race left, he came back to get me before the line. Of course he was in my age group, and bested me for fourth place in the 18-24M category. Had I seen his age while approaching him, I would have sat and waited to make my move. There could be a racing ethics discussion in there somewhere… but I was still elated with my performance.
Post-race – 4:36:37
I finished 89 OA/out of3341 and 5 AG/out of 43. In typical fashion, I notched the slowest bike time in the top 150 finishers, but a top 20 run time. I still felt like it was a good mental step forward for me in terms of pushing myself on the bike and not worrying so much about the run. The focus for next season will definitely be on increasing bike fitness and power while maintaining my swim and run.
Overall, I could not even imagine a podium finish at this race and felt very fortunate to land there. It was great experience for me to get another big race under my belt and come away with some confidence. I should however pass on some words of advice here before concluding this report. After finishing the race, Coach Shelly pulled up the results to see that despite being listed initially I was disqualified due to my chip not registering on either the swim in or bike out mats. This was incredibly strange as my chip had remained in place on my ankle like everyone else throughout the race. It became a maddening scramble to get my name cleared in time for the awards ceremony and rolldowns. Although in the end my DQ was lifted, had we not been on top of the results we would have been completely blindsided when my age group award was given to the sixth place finisher (which did happen). It was a valuable lesson that I will not soon forget.
I will look to build from this race heading into the 2014 season with my first full IM (Chattanooga) looming on the horizon.