Augusta 70.3-Pre race recap


Never in my life have I over analyzed or stressed about a day the way I did about my first 70.3.  From the day I signed up in early spring, in addition to the usual training, I read, re-read, highlighted and studied the athlete guide, pelted veterans with questions, took copious notes, followed blogs, joined Facebook groups, and printed articles from USAT emails, trying to anticipate anything that could possibly come up.  I drove my family crazy with my nonstop chatter and worrying. By the Thursday before Sunday race day, the following race day necessity checklist on my phone was twice its normal size: 
·         Flashlight 
·         Wet suit
·         Cooler (for race day breakfast)
·         Water
·         Pain reliever
·         Spare tube/kit
·         Ride glide
·         Sunglasses
·         Race belt
·         Running shoes
·         Goggle defogger (baby shampoo)
·         Visor
·         Flair (as in something to spot your bike in transition)
·         Goggles
·         Extra goggles
·         Honey stinger waffles (3)
·         Rubber bands
·         Chap stick
·         Bike tools
·         Infinit bike and run mixes
·         Ziplocs
·         Bandaids
·         Garmin/charger
·         Inhaler
·         Body glide
·         Trash bags
·         Tri suit
·         Bike shoes
·         Towel
·         Socks
·         Extra socks
·         Chain lube
·         Sunscreen
·         Swim cap
·         Tire pump
·         Helmet
·         Flip flops
·         Aero bottle
·         Water bottle (2)
·         Deodorant

I think this list shows how nervous I was that some disaster would happen to completely negate the 6+ months and some thousand odd miles of training…. I have never ever carried some of these things, like bandaids, extra socks, or a spare tube kit, with me before.  Needless to say, my small transition bag was now rendered useless.  I could barely fit everything in a large duffle which I struggled to carry at half my weight. The only thing not on the list was my bike, which I actually almost forgot in my early Saturday morning, pre-coffee fog.
Once Jason and I had everything loaded in the car Saturday morning, we left for Augusta in time to get there by the time check in opened. We were disappointed when we got there right at the 9:30 opening and there was STILL a line. However, the whole process was super efficient and the volunteers were wonderful and knowledgeable.  We were a little disappointed in the size of the expo, but by that point, Ironman had put a pretty decent dent in my wallet anyway (got there early enough to score a super sweet, HUGE! coffee mug that later sold out, woohoo!)

After sitting through one of the athlete meetings, we then decided to ride our bikes to the mandatory bike check in at transition to familiarize ourselves with the area.  It took me at least ten minutes and some very silly circles to finally find my spot in the dozens of rows of bike racks.  But finally, there it was, at the very back, second row from the porta potties (yesssss!!!), and directly in front of the swim entrance. My bike was the first rack and about 5 bikes in from where we would enter from the swim. I couldn’t have picked a better spot!!! Since I was super worried about getting lost in a three thousand plus bike transition area, this really helped my race day jitters.

Best spot EVER? That's the entrance from the swim
And I had the best race number ever as well, 3113 (my lucky number is 13)
The swim exit
Looking out from the finish to the second half of the swim,
which would be along the shore to the left.
Some of the buoys are already out.
After we had our bikes checked in, we went to go check in at the hotel. Womp womp womp. No check in until 3. This was a major bummer, and we definitely learned our lesson here. In the future, we will 1) plan farther ahead and stay at the host hotel, 2) get early check in if we don’t go a day early, and 3) stay the day after the event. So we wandered back downtown, and had fun walking along the river and checking out the run course.

Finishing chute!
Once we were able to check in, we had to make a couple of room changes because the room smelled like a basement bar, so I definitely learned to specifically ask for non-smoking in the future. Once we were settled in, I unpacked, checked, and repacked my transition bag. I laid everything out in the room, just as I wanted it in transition. I know this is crazy, but at this point, I was so out of my mind, I was trying to do whatever I could to put my mind at ease.  Saturday night, somehow, I got the best night of sleep I have ever had before a race.  I have no idea what that was about (my mom’s prayers probably had something to do with it), but I was so thankful!
When we woke up Sunday morning, the outside temperature was PERFECT! Again, more prayers must have been in effect, because we could not have picked better weather. Morning temperatures were in the mid sixties, and would top out in the high seventies. The sky would remain overcast all day, with a decent breeze, which was a bit of a struggle on the bike, but a God-send on the run.
Prior to the race, I had been dreading the rumored parking nightmare downtown,  another source of my free-floating anxiety.  Therefore, we planned to get downtown by 4:30 Sunday morning.  We hoped this would give us time to get a space in the garage by the host hotel and catch the first shuttle to transition.  As it turns out, we were one of the first five cars in the garage. Maybe that was a bit overkill, but when we got down to transition, set up, and hopped on the return bus to stow our extra stuff, bike pump, etc., in the car, we were so very happy we had gone early.  The line for the shuttle was now around the block!

Eek! It's official! I'm doing an Ironman o_O
 I actually did some new things in my transition area this time around that, at first were probably extremely neurotic and further evidence of my insane anxiety, but they worked out pretty well, so I’ll lay it out.  I was really unsure of how chaotic a 3,400+ bike transition would be, so I expected my stuff to be strewn everywhere. In my experience in sprint triathlons, you never know where you are going to find your stuff after the race. 

1) My wet suit has taken a beating in the past, so I decided that for this race, I would bring an extra cloth bag to stuff it in when I got into T1. Mind you-I wasn’t going for any transition records this race! My plan was to take as much time as I needed, so I wouldn’t forget anything and I would feel relaxed going out on the bike and run.

2) Rain chances were 20%. That’s pretty much every day in Georgia, but I didn’t want to take a chance!!! I put everything in baggies.  And I mean EVERYTHING.  By now, you have probably realized I am a little OCD ;) All the little things I wanted to bring with my on the bike (chap stick, inhaler, stinger waffle), I put in a Ziploc to keep together, and placed inside my helmet, along with the usual sunglasses. Then I had a Ziploc of little things to stuff in my jersey for the run (bandaids, ibuprofen, more stinger waffles, etc.). I put my running shoes in a large bag with my visor, race belt and bib number.

As a result, everything was quite safely tucked away-from rain and other athletes- and with my run and bike baggie system, I felt a little less nervous about forgetting something small that I probably wouldn’t need anyway, but wanted to take just to be safe!

One thing I did NOT know was that the race provides gallons of water in transition on race morning for you to fill your water bottles. This would have saved me a lot of hassle, as I carried several super size bottles of water in with me race day morning.
That's Jason and a lot of bikes...
Ultimately, this is what worked for me. I realize this is major over kill for most people, but all of these steps were things I did to relieve my pre-race jitters at the time. It wound up working wonderfully-for me. For months, I worried about every little thing that could happen, then came up with a plan to prevent it. I would up being extremely over prepared, but come race day, I honestly had no worries. I knew that now I just needed to let my training do the work. 

Sunrise over the river.
By 6:15, Jason and I both had our bikes checked in and our extra gear safely in the car. I still had 3 hours before my start time in the 3rd to last, 26th wave. We used the time to find a place on the hill over the water, watch the sunrise, and reflect on all the time we had spent for this moment.  It was a very surreal, yet peaceful feeling. It was also a bit of a sad feeling, because Jason and I had, for the most part, completed the whole journey of training together up to this point, and now it was time to go run our own race.

Sunrise over the starting area


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