My first pro race turned out better than I had imagined. Whether it’s fatigue or improper recovery from back-to-back racing weekends (Hyvee and Vegas), the legs just haven’t felt great. In fact, I wrote Eric last Thursday after some short tempo sets – that were way below par – to express my frustration. In short, I wasn’t optimistic. Going into this race, I wasn’t confident I could even finish. I hadn’t imagined I could run myself into 4th place from a distant 8th off the bike. Whether I was fortunate or things just came together well, I’m not certain. But I’ll take it. Here’s the report.
Homestay. Race directors often arrange a place for pros to stay with locals. Evidently these were filled up, so several weeks ago I put out a Facebook message asking if anyone was willing to house a starving athlete at his or her home. Almost immediately Andrew Shanks of Georgia State shared my message, and soon after I had a message from Brittany Banker offering her spare bed. Then somehow I weaseled my way into bringing my wife.
Regardless, it takes a pretty special person to accept two strangers into their home. But as I came to understand, that’s exactly who Brittany Banker is. Some of you have no doubt heard of Brittany. She’s a cancer survivor, a mother, and an Iron(wo)man. Check out her inspiring blog posts at Okonalife and a full write up about what she’s overcome.
Race Day. I felt ready and awake on Sunday morning. I was excited to try my new breakfast routine – one inspired by Jordan Rapp’s pre-race nutrition reports that he and Brian from PBN post on Slowtwitch forums. Yes, my morning breakfast was half a dark chocolate bar, some granola bars, a banana, coffee, coconut milk, and several salt tablets. As I normally do on race morning, I consumed First Endurance products: Ultragen, Optygen HP, and two MultiV vitamins. Breakfast totaled about 1000 calories.
Set up in transition was uneventful. I had an excellent racking position – right on the end – which unfortunately hasn’t happened all year. My stomach wasn’t overly full from breakfast, so I managed to down half a serving of EFS and Prerace mixture on my way up river to the swim start (I later learned that the other half of this yellow mixture had spilt on to my dry cloths and shoes).
Swim. It’s hard to be disappointed with a 21:18 swim of 1.2 miles, but considering about a 1 knot current, it probably really wasn’t that great of a swim. There were only 15 or 20 male pros. I was never going to be first out of the water, but I had been told to swim as hard as I could. So I did, and it put me in the second pack. I was out of the water in 8th or 9th position. The water was much clearer than I had expected, so it was strange to see the bottom of the Savannah River – something we’re not accustomed to in the Southeast.
Bike. I heard several guys giving splits to the leaders. I think I heard 80 seconds and 90 seconds, so I knew I had some work to do. I went to work hoping that others would get together behind me and eventually we would work together. That did not happen. AJ Baucco evidently had a mechanical sometime after I passed him at mile one. Not sure who else was back there other than Patrick Evoe, who I eventually rode with for about 15 miles and who was 3rd at the finish. We rode by Nick Waninger at mile 50; he later went on to run the race best 1:13 half marathon to take him to second. Even though I could see the leaders for most of the race, I never caught them. In the end, I rode a 2:11 bike split on anything but fresh legs.
Run. I was 8th coming off the bike, so I was a little down on myself. I did however have in the back of my mind that I felt good and that of the 7 others in front of me, at least a couple probably did not. And so it was. I was less than two minutes off of the lead when I got off the bike, and once we entered the first downtown city streets, I could see every single one of them. I ran a little too eagerly at the beginning (averaging 5:50’s for several of them), but I kept it under control for the most part.
Towards mile 8 I had a good talk with myself and decided to “go for it,” which turned out to be a poorly timed decision, cause I had missed an aid station with energy gels just a mile or two back. I desperately needed the calories, so I was already starting to crack, and to “go for it” did not help. In the end, I adjusted my strategy, backed it off until the last couple of miles, and finished with a 1:20 half marathon and a blistering – for me – 3:55 half ironman split.
Hopefully I’ve got two more races in me. Next up is Rev 3 Anderson, which is sure to be a packed pro field. Then I’ll be going to Ironman Florida for my third-ever full distance event.
Onwards and Upwards, I hope.
Things you may not have known about Augusta and Augusta 70.3. There were tap dancers in the finishing shoot (about two dozen of them). I got to give some little girls high-fives as I entered the shoot, then out of nowhere, tap-dancers.
Augusta was founded in 1736 by James Oglethorpe, who named it after Princess Augusta of Wales – later mother of the future King George III of England.
James Brown is from Augusta.
More about Jay can be found on his website: www.jamesdmccurdy.com