Race Report:  2017 IRONMAN 70.3 Augusta

“We are defined more by our response to something than what happens to us.”  – Samantha Gash

Race Report

After a good night’s sleep, I woke up around 4am to have plenty of time to eat and generally get ready for the day. I had already packed everything I needed for the race the night before so there was no stress on that front.

I brought 2 frozen waffles for breakfast but without a toaster they were difficult to get down. Even with applesauce and a bit of peanut butter. Ate about 3/4 of both. Filled in the gap with 3 fig newtons smeared with peanut butter and dipped into the applesauce. Not ideal but it did the trick.

I drank a 24 oz bottle of Gatorade Endurance on the shuttle to T1 and back to the swim start. While at T1, I laid everything out I needed and the order I needed it throughout the race. Pumped up my tires at the rack instead of making the long haul to bike tech – the line was long and slow.

Stayed off my feet while waiting for my swim start. Hung out with my family and enjoyed watching the Pro’s start. A good distraction from thinking too much about what was to come.

Grabbed my cap and goggles and made a b-line for our group and walked the plank down to the dock. Once I was at the dock everything moved fast. Just enough time to get my googles ready, eat a GU and swim out 15 feet and back.

Would have preferred to start on the far left but that side of the dock was slammed packed. My goal was to cut through and make my way over to the left side of the river during the swim – which I did.

During the week I set a 30 minute goal for myself. To keep a steady pace without pushing the heart rate in the beginning. After about 20 minutes I felt strong and could’ve gone harder but just stuck with the plan – what was not in the plan was the floating seaweed. Had a nice little salad in my face at the last turn. Yuck. Even got dunked once and some dude tried to hold onto my legs. Crazy.

Out of the water and running up the hill to T1 I got a little dizzy and walked until I got my feet underneath me.

T1 went as expected. Slammed a Salted Watermelon GU with 20mg of caffeine and was off. About 30 seconds or less after I mounted my bike I noticed something was off. Little did I know it was a flat. My adrenaline was rushing, so I just pedaled harder until I made the turn onto the course and the rear wheel started to slide out to the right.

My stomach dropped.

I pulled over and a nice guy ran over because he heard the wheel rubbing and bumping on the road. Well, after a fiasco with the air cartridge we tracked down a mountain biker who gave us another one and a Spanish gentleman (who was bike tech – no DQ for me) stepped in and had me back on my way. Thank goodness for the kindness of strangers. (I did have all the right gear. We just wasted a air cartridge trying to get it fixed).

It took me awhile to settle my nerves after the 20 minute delay and then it was all about keeping speed and fuel. I packed 2 bottles of Gatorade Endurance with 4 scoops in each, enough GUs and Bloks to rotate every half hour. Finished both bottles before the 2 hour mark. Grabbed two more at the Aid Station and took off.

They say the course is flat but it’s sneaky. The hills were gradual rises that continued for a good clip. Most of the riders didn’t believe in the go easy up the hill – or their easy was my fast. Who knows.

Everything from this point was going as planned. Except my ass was hurting – mental note to train in my tri kit to feel comfortable with a thinner chamois.

Quick body update – hamstrings were super tight which pulled on my lower back. Tried to stand in the saddle a few times to stretch it out and that seemed to help some. I need to pay attention to fixing the hamstrings during the offseason. Also, my fit was off. Feet were killing me for most of the ride. If it wasn’t the fit then I need to move to a different brand of shoe. Either way, it wasn’t enough to affect my performance.

Now on to the second flat of the race. I had just ascended a hill, took a left and then made my way down a slight long downhill – the road was bumpy as was most of the course. And then I felt it again. The rim riding the flat rubber of the tire.

Fuck.

I pulled over into what was to be an asphalt driveway onto farm land. I think I had 19 miles to go. Not sure.

No spare tube or air. I thought my day was shot. After quite sometime, a nice man (Phil Butcher) stopped and gave me a tube, air and tire levers. I was pumped except the valve stem was too short for the 808 and the extender didn’t fit – and to make it worse, the extender slipped into the inside of the rim. Swell! At least I killed another bottle of GE during the wait.

Roughly an hour later a motorcycle showed up, called bike tech (Les Welch) and he and his wife were on it. I asked him if he could at least get me going so I could finish the ride. He assured me I could finish the race. I was pumped. Fixed up and off I went….Valve extender rattling inside the well of the wheel. A not so subtle reminder of my day.

Around the corner was an aid station so I grabbed another bottle of GE and then I was off. Kept my head down, drank, ate and drank. Killed 5 bottles of GE before I pulled into T2. Oh, and I was Base Salting the entire time. Very helpful.

Let’s Talk Attitude

So, during this entire fiasco I kept thinking to myself – “You can’t control this. The only thing you can control is your attitude about it. Don’t let it ruin your race.” At that point I knew I was at least an hour or more behind where I had anticipated I would or should be. If I rushed it and tried to keep to my initial time I would cramp, burn too many matches and God knows what else. (At least that’s what I thought) I was just thrilled to be back in the race. I didn’t train all those months to quit now.

Came out of T2 to see Beth smiling and relieved I was ok. I saw my folks, gave them both a hug and was off. Started a slow jog but my legs were wobbly. Decided to walk a bit with a guy I came out of transition with. My first mistake.

From this point on my running was sporadic. I didn’t follow my 5 and 1 plan – I regret that I didn’t adapt to something like 3 and 1 or even stop to refocus by having “THE CONVERSATION” with myself. More on that later.

At every aid station I took GE. No water or coke. Kept up with my Bloks too. After mile 6 or so the slosh gut settled in. All that fuel was wreaking havoc on my gastro – And finding a Porta-John on the course was like trying to find Waldo. Using it was harder. Hot as hell.

From this point it was more of the same. Run and walk. More of the latter than the former. And this is where I completely screwed up. I was under the impression as was Beth that I had more time on the clock to finish the race. It wasn’t until I saw Beth at mile 10 that she came up to me and said I had 30 minutes to cross the finish line. Well, this freaked me out because at that point my legs were dead and there was no way I was going to hit 10 minute miles. (See first mistake)

Well, what else was I going to do? I just started running. Not fast and not always far but I kept moving forward. After what the day handed me earlier I was determined to finish this race. I didn’t care if they rolled up the red carpet I was going to cross that finish line. A lot of emotions came out during that last 3 miles and this was when I had “THE CONVERSATION” with myself.

I had a lot to learn about this sport and even more to learn about myself. I saw all the mistakes I made during training as I got closer and closer to the finish line. Missing strengths days. Not pushing myself harder. You know the rest. You’re a good coach. You don’t miss those things.

Once I made the last turn I could clearly hear the announcer and see people along the route yelling and waving. The joy I thought I would feel wasn’t there – at least not all of it. Because I knew I had not given everything I had on this day. Because I wasn’t spent. Sure, I stayed positive after what might have caused most others to quit. But that didn’t matter to me. I took for granted something so precious in this sport – time.

When the announcer called my name and they placed the medal around my neck – which I feared they might not –  I did not feel a sense of victory. Maybe I wasn’t supposed to feel that way? I don’t know. But what I was feeling wasn’t something I particularly liked. And it immediately stirred in me “revenge.” I know that might not be the proper word but that’s what I wanted. I wanted revenge in a bad way. I wanted another shot at that race – I wanted to get it right. I wanted to leave it all out there on the run and I didn’t do that.

Once we gathered up my gear and got in the car, Beth reminded me that I set out that today to enjoy the experience of the race. To have fun. And I did that. Except for the brief feeling of failure at the end, I truly did have fun.

And then in the car driving home, I looked online. Found my name in the results and saw three letters that made me sick to my stomach.

Did Not Finish the Race

DNF. Did not finish…..

Well, technically it was, “DID NOT FINISH. OVER THE MAXIMUM ALLOWED TIME TO COMPLETE COURSE.”

Even as I typed that just now, the anger came back. Not regret. Anger. That feeling of revenge.

There are a lot of lessons learned but I get the sense they would all be beating myself up at this point.

Do I feel sorry for myself? Hell no. I finished and showed GRIT. Which I hope paid respect to the sport and the other athletes.

I WILL get another shot to do this right and I am not talking about race day – To give it my all during training. Less talk. More work.