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2010 Ironman Augusta 70.3 Race Report

This race marks my fifth race at the 1/2 iron distance triathlon, but my first of the Ironman-branded variety. I personally had a tough time with this some years back, because an Ironman is a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and a 26.2 mile run. But there are some people that do these Ironman 70.3 races and then call themselves an Ironman. Whatever – that’s between them and their conscience. With Lake Placid and Wisconsin in my rear view mirror, I decided it was time to take advantage of the big crowds and support crew of these bigger 70.3 races.

This race also marks my first under a new coach. I hired him last month and have only been through roughly 4 weeks with him, so I assured him that if this race resulted in a poor outcome that I fully accepted the responsibility. Once this season ends in late October, I will post more about my thoughts on my coach and the future. But let me say that his past experience at this race greatly helped keep me focused on what I needed (and didn’t need) to do in the few days leading up to the race.

I arrived at the race site on Saturday afternoon and was greeted by a huge line for athlete check-in. The line was occupied by many non-athletes, but once you reached the actual check-in point they weeded all those folks out so it wasn’t congested where the actual work was taking place. It is funny what a matter of a few minutes makes – at 4pm the line wrapped around the corridor. At 4:45pm it was about 1/3 its size. After picking up my packet, I took my bike down to the transition area (roughly 1 mile away) and checked it in. The logistics of this race really bothered me up until I went to sleep Saturday night.

Sunday I awoke thinking to myself “Self, this isn’t fun any more.” I had always told myself once it stopped being fun I would stop doing it. Of course, saying this to yourself once does not really mean anything. If I said that over and over for a year I would have to give it serious thought. I shaved, showered, packed the Xterra (I wouldn’t be coming back to my room after the race) and began the walk with my transition bag down to my bike. This all went smooth. Light drizzle began to fall at 6:30 as I was leaving the transition area.

Savannah River – Ironman Augusta 70.3
Originally uploaded by Iron Mike Schubert

Swim 1.2 Miles – 30:10

It’s raining now. Not that it matters – I’m getting wet anyway. The physically challenged athletes went off a few waves in front of mine. Of note was a blind guy and a guy with one leg. I saw them both later on the bike course and was thankful that I am able to compete with no physical impairments. This event is a river swim and while you don’t feel it, it is definitely there. There was the usual jostling for the first 1/4 mile or so but then everyone found their place and just swam. The only sighting issue I had was at swim finish. The buoys were still way to the left and it was not obvious that I should be turning right. I think I wasted an extra minute or two here. No big deal though – I’m very happy with my time.


My Bike in Transition Area – Ironman Augusta 70.3
Originally uploaded by Iron Mike Schubert

Bike 56 Miles – 2:46:36 (20.2 mph)

It rained. The entire time. The bike course is great – rolling with only 1 or 2 real climbs that I recall. Early in the ride, I hit a hole in the road that was filled with water (that’s why I didn’t see it) and my sippee cup flew off my bars and landed in the road. Evidently I had missed a hole or didn’t double the strap back when securing it in the dark this morning. Of course, that was all my fluids for the first 19 miles, and I hadn’t drank anything yet since I had just gotten on my bike 15 minutes ago. So already I knew this would be interesting.

Mile 19 came and I was very happy to get water and dump in some of my concentrated Infinit. Nutrition began flowing instantly and I was feeling great. I guess holding my mouth open to catch the rain was a good strategy. Had it been warmer that day, I would’ve been screwed. As it was, I was able to maintain over 20mph across the bike course and have good legs to run on.


Run 13.1 Miles – 2:09:53 (9:54 / mile)

The run was pretty flat. There was a gradual grade that was virtually unnoticeable. Fortunately, it stopped raining when I hit mile 2. Unfortunately, I did not have dry socks in my bag in transition so by mile 4 my feet were starting to blister. And oh by the way, I found that my Garmin 405 had frozen at 9:25 am while I was out on my bike – so I was flying blind on the run. Yikes! 

When I ran past the finish line the first time I saw the time clock say 4:45:00, so I knew getting in under 6 hours was within my reach. I felt like I was dragging on the run and would be cutting it close. Without my watch, I really had no way to know. The second loop I walked a few times, but once I hit mile 11 I started motoring. When I came around the corner into the finish chute I looked up and saw 5:58:10 on the time clock and knew I had blown 6 hours out of the water. That clock started with the pros and I was somewhere between 20-24 minutes behind them! I was so overjoyed and overwhelmed that I was near tears. After crossing the line, I turned around to look at the clock again just to make sure it said the same thing on both sides!

Overall time – 5 hours 38 minutes 27 seconds. My best at the 70.3 discipline.

Parting Thoughts

A lot of folks sit back in retrospect and look at what went wrong. This race represents a lot that went right for me. Speed work on the track on Wednesday nights. The Thursday night hammer fest in Roswell after work. A decent amount of time in the pool and practicing in open water. And above all else, a well executed game plan. I was concerned that the logistics of the race would stress me out. Losing my fluid & nutrition for the first 19 miles was almost my demise, but a huge lesson learned as well (even that needs a plan B on the bike). Not having a watch to pace my run presented a huge challenge. Having a mental plan (or formulating one on the fly) and then executing to it made me very successful on this day.

Would I race Augusta again? Probably. It gets dogged because of the river current. But fine, add 10 minutes to my swim time and I’m still well under 6 hours. Triathlon is about more than just the swim. I still had to propel myself over the open road by bike and foot.

Do I love this sport? Definitely. I shouldn’t take myself too seriously at 4:30 on a race morning!

Race Weekend Coming Up!

Here are my pertinent details:

648   SCHUBERT        MICHAEL         M 35-39   7     SILVER       7:54

My coach has me well prepared. I have my mental game plan laid out and in general know where I am going. Now I just need the weather to be nice. This weekend is not a defining moment, it’s just a benchmark. A ‘B’ race. A training race. I will post a race report on Monday.


SC HIM Training – By the Numbers

This is quite possibly the last time I’ll write prior to racing in the South Carolina Half Ironman. It’s an exciting time for me. This time last year I was only swimming 400 yard repeats and getting geeked up for a sprint – the Emerald Point Triathlon that I recapped here. Many people are hitting my race recap now preparing for the 2nd running of that event this October, so I re-read it just to see what kind of bad advice I was giving people :). I’ve often wondered why I post this blog and share my pictures. If nothing else, it gives me an easy way to look back on where I was and help my appreciate where I am.
But enough of this memory lane crap. At the end of that race recap, I posted two things that I wanted to take forward into the off season – 1) was more swimming and 2) was more bricks. It is with a smile on my face that I say I accomplished that. Those fruits were actually beared back in June when I ran the Rock & Roll Man 1/2 iron distance event in Macon (race recap). Since that time, I have focused more intently on all 3 sports and am excited to see what Sunday will bring.
OK, now for the numbers.
The following compares the 17 weeks leading up to each event. It’s measured simply in yards for the swim and miles for the run and bike (I was not confident in some of the time data entered in February and March since I didn’t start using Training Peaks until April and had to manually fill in the previous months’ data). The first set of data is the most recent, starting the day after the Macon race. The second set of data begins 17 weeks before Macon, and does not (at least I think it does not) include the Macon race itself.

Week	Swim	Bike	Run		Week	Swim	Bike	Run
6/4/2007	2700	0	4.3		2/5/2007	3500	0	16.75
6/11/2007	8350	0	15.44		2/12/2007	4650	0	30.2
6/18/2007	6600	17.12	22.8		2/19/2007	5000	0	0
6/25/2007	7700	12	15.3		2/26/2007	0	0	0
7/2/2007	2500	22	16.71		3/5/2007	4900	12	2.6
7/9/2007	7000	75.5	14.5		3/12/2007	3000	11	15
7/16/2007	6450	35	16		3/19/2007	3200	11.4	26.2
7/23/2007	7500	61	23.25		3/26/2007	1800	60.9	4
7/30/2007	5908	57	8.35		4/2/2007	5500	0	23.33
8/6/2007	4500	75	24.7		4/9/2007	5900	23.05	10.2
8/13/2007	0	116.2	26.63		4/16/2007	3500	0	18.35
8/20/2007	3950	54	8.5		4/23/2007	6625	45	4.35
8/27/2007	6750	87.11	22.2		4/30/2007	4490	50.1	15.18
9/3/2007	3500	115	20		5/7/2007	5200	47.3	13.15
9/10/2007	7100	86.82	21.66		5/14/2007	4750	67.7	25.8
9/17/2007	2600	132	16.95		5/21/2007	5900	47.05	8.2
9/24/2007	3750	28	2.12		5/28/2007	3740	0	7.91
86858	973.75	279.41			71655	375.5	221.22
% Change	21.2%	159.3%	26.3%

My bike mileage went up signifcantly following Macon. At least 1 session a week was a brick. A signifcant number of miles were accomplished on an indoor trainer, but an equally signifcant amount was experienced on the road. The week with the 0 pool yards in February was following my knee injury at the Austin Marathon when I decided to take a week and a half off of everything. The goose egg in August was the week (plus 1 day) that thepool was closed. I missed 4 swims because of that, but the timing was ok. Otherwise my swim volume would have increased roughly 25% as well.
All in all I am very pleased. It’s the journey that defines you as a triathlete, not a single event (although we’ll see what tune I’m singing after I do an Ironman). This reminds me of a Sun Tzu quote:

Thus it is that in war the victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won, whereas he who is destined to defeat first fights and afterwards looks for victory.

My training will assure me victory. This Sunday is the battle. Thanks to all that have supported and participated in my journey. The next post you see should be details of my 2nd half iron distance finish! Good luck to everyone doing this race with me and my buddies doing the Two Bridges Triathlon in Cumming this weekend!

2007 Rock & Roll Man 1/2 Ironman Experience

Today I completed my first 1/2 iron distance event. That’s a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride, and a 13.1 mile run – all in succession. My overall finish time was 7 hours 7 minutes and 39 seconds (male results female results). Here are my splits:
Swim: 50:56
T1: 4:15
Bike: 3:18:26
T2: 6:42
Run: 2:47:22
Saturday started off uneventfully. I left home around 1pm for the 2 hour drive to Macon. About 15 minutes North of Macon, it started raining. It did not stop raining until 5:45 am Sunday morning. This wouldn’t be that big of a deal except that half iron athletes were required to rack their bikes in transition by 7pm on Saturday. So my bike sat in the rain for roughly 13 hours. I picked up my race packet, attended the pre-race meeting, scoped out the swim course, and headed for Carraba’s for some carbs.
Overnight I did not sleep well. I guess my body was actually pretty well rested. Heck – I’m sitting here writing this after a 3 hour nap and my eyes are wide open. I assumed the on again, off again sleep Saturday night was due to my obsessing over the weather conditions. There was only a 30 percent chance of rain, and that equated to occassional downpours and a constant rain for 14 straight hours. If race day turned out this way it would’ve been miserable.
I arrived at the race site around 5:45 am this morning. After a quick jaunt to the port-a-johns I aired up my wheels and lubed up the drive train. I methodically laid out my cycling and running stuff in transition so that I wouldn’t have to think about what I needed on each when I got in there, I could just grab and go. If you call a 6 minute transition grabbing and going, that is. 7:15 arrived before I knew it and it was time to get out of the transition zone to avoid a 4 minute penalty.
The event was a little late starting. Presumably the late break in the weather did not give them ample time to set the turn buoys. The swim course was triangular. You were to swim out roughly 620 meters and turn right. Swim another 650 meters and turn right. Then swim a final 630 meters back to shore. As I’m watching them put the buoys out, I realize that we’re burning into my water stores and I did not bring a water bottle down to the beach.
Note to self: Take water bottle to beach and sip all the way up to race start
My wave starts and I go out a little too fast. It wasn’t too bad and is a fairly common occurrence. After about 600 meters I settled in and life was good. All except for the calf cramp in the final 400 meters. I pulled up and started doing breast stroke just to figure out my options. USAT rules say you can hang on to anything non-motorized that isn’t moving. So, I could’ve held on to a canoe for a few seconds to gather my bearings and alleviate the cramp. As it turns out, that was unnecessary. A few minutes of breast stroke and I was under way towards the finish. You’re already in a hydration deficit coming out of the water, but I knew I was beyond normal and would have to immediately work on it.
Once in the transition area, I grabbed a spare bottle of water and drank roughly 2/3 of it. I dried my feet off, put on my socks and strapped on my Shimano cycling shoes. Gloves, sunglasses and Gu packets were all in my helmet. I headed out to the mount line and hopped on for a three hour tour, a three hour tour.
The weather started getting rough, the tiny bike was tossed. Ok, ok… enough Gilligan’s Island. If you had told me I’d be in a headwind for 3 hours on a LOOP course I would’ve said you were crazy. But the swirling winds the low pressure system known and tropical storm Barry put off gave me just that. I averaged 17 mph on the bike, which I was pretty happy with. My goal was to not blow up. There was a lot of elevation change on the course. At least 2500 feet according to rudimentary GPS mapping. I’m happy with my time – it was roughly 8 minutes slower than I planned but I didn’t plan on the wind.
Back in transition, I changed socks, shoes, donned a hat for running and took in more fluids. A couple of my friends were in there and said I was looking really good. I was feeling really good and was totally happy to see them. I came in shouting out the Kramerism “Who wants to have some fun??!!”. They had done the sprint and I was looking to see if either wanted to go run a bit of a half marathon with me. I had 1 taker and was on my way.
I was able to get my legs under me pretty quick and tried to run between aid stations. That didn’t always work out. It turned out to be a sunny and hot day in Macon on a course with little shade. I love my hat. The cold rags helped bunches too. As did the ice in the gatorade. My nutrition plan worked out as best as possible, taking GU with water every 45 minutes and drinking mostly gatorade endurance other than that. I saw a lot of people doing a slow death march down the lane line on the pavement. Death probably isn’t the best word to invoke there – it was just a mindless movement of one foot in front of the other with the lane line as a guide. You don’t have to be a marathoner to do an 1/2 ironman, but it sure does help.
Around mile 10 I came up behind a guy and checked out his calf (your age is marked on your calf). He was 33. I checked out how he was holding his head and tried to figure out whether he was going to care if I passed him. I knew that once I passed him, I wouldn’t be in last place in my age group, but I couldn’t say the say for him. As it turns out, there were quite of few in our age group behind us, so it didn’t really matter. After the mile 11 aid station, I ran the last two miles (walking through the mile 12 aid station) and I can’t tell you what a thrill that was. There were still a lot of specators in the crowd yelling “go 347 – you’re looking good!” And I was looking good. I still had some in the tank and my run split would’ve been sooooo much better had the blister in my right arch not developed a blister of its own. But all in all it was a beautiful day. I ran through the cheers, crossed the finished line, and got a really cool finisher’s medal.
1 man. 7 hours. 70.3 miles. Anything is possible.

2 Days Out / May Recap

I’m 2 days out from the Macon Half Ironman. Really it’s just 1 day and a wake-up. Am I ready? You betcha.
Things that are out of my control:
Other participants
I often wonder whether I’m physically ready. This is the worry of the self-coached athlete. You get lots of advice, read lots of books and articles, maybe even use a plan from Training Peaks… but you just don’t know until you get out there. My training in the month of May looked like this (with the last week being a taper week, thus the avg weekly mileage won’t look exactly right if you do the math):
Swim 22330.42 yd (roughly 12.6 miles)
Bike 212.15 mi
Run 61.09 mi
48+ hours of total training logged, for an average of 16 hours each week. Again, that weekly average is a little skewed due to reduced volume this week.
All in all I feel ready. I’ve got my checklist. I think I have my A-game. I have my sunscreen. I have four marathons under my belt. And I have 8 hours to finish if it turns out to just not be my day. Since it’s my first half-iron distance event, I won’t obsess over time. I’m just going to enjoy my day and relish the fact that I am able to swim – bike – run a distance that most people don’t even want to drive a car!