Augusta 70.3 Race Report by Coach Brother John – TriCoachGeorgia

2018 Augusta 70.3 Race Report Blog by Coach Brother John

Coach Brother John is a busy man. He has several irons in the fire including owning and operating Hill on Wheels in Richmond Hill, Ga. at any one time so training time is limited. And he has dealt with injuries in his build to Augusta 70.3. He felt very empowered by his race day experiences and wanted to share his race report because he believes there is good that can be taken from it by others. Have a read and see how he did his job.


I usually don’t take time to write public race reports. I typically journal notes about the day, what went right, what to change, etc. This was a different race and worth putting some thoughts out there which may help others.

I have patellar tendonitis in my right knee. For those who have experienced this, you know the challenges. If you have never had this issue, PT is a sharp pain just below the knee cap. The feeling is that of a nail going through your knee when you apply force such as walking up a stair or hard pedaling a bike. Sitting down or getting out of a car after being in it for extended periods made it difficult to walk until blood flow returns to the knee.

I noticed this issue right after camp and like a stubborn guy, I ignored it and kept up with the race build thinking it was just a nagging sore spot. I iced it plenty after each workout but I should have backed off at that point and rehabbed it. Lesson learned is to listen to your body, be humble enough to reduce the volume, and take what you can do each day and be satisfied of the progress – rather than push through pain and prolong the injury.

Pre Race:

After visits with my physical therapist, I was instructed to take it easy. I chose to back off and get as healthy as possible realizing that fitness may be off somewhat by race day (3 weeks out). I did have some good base mileage in me during the build and thought that I would be fit enough to show up and give it a go. I got in some soft pedal training to see what race day may look like with longer soft pedal workouts. I felt after a few weeks of this I could make a go of it but had to restructure my race plan accordingly to put me in the best position to at least finish the day, represent my team as good as possible, and glean what I can for future races.

Race Day:

After a few weeks off I showed up to Augusta fully tapered, quite hungry, but very realistic about what this race would be about. Being around friends on the team helped me manage the nerves and I was excited about the turnout we had at the race. My mind was in a good place and I though I was not sure how it was going to go, I thought it would be better than what I thought it would be a few weeks prior.

The Swim

The Swim was 32:56. I enjoy rolling starts and did not have any issues. I knew I needed to keep max energy for the rest of the day, so I took a nice pace and just enjoyed the swim. No need to get in a hurry and it really didn’t matter if I made any time on anybody because I expected to give it all back later. I took longer time in transition to lube up my knee with bio freeze and apply the knee strap.

The Bike

The bike was so much different than past race days. I had a goal of 18mph with no efforts over 70% ftp for the entire course. This was drastically different than camp but I practiced this leading up to the race and was able to get a long effort of 42 miles in without any real pain. I was not certain the knee would hold up with the elevation but was prepared to walk the hills if need be. The first few miles were what I thought they would be, lots of bottle ejected and other gear on the roads. This course is rather rough up front but gets better as you go. I used the small chain ring for all hills, spun them out, and just sat back and watched people pass me. I then jumped to the big ring and took advantage of the descents. Oh, how I love to go fast down those hills!

To make the hills go by I starting whistling the Andy Griffith show tune and other melodies. I decided to have fun with it all and not let my condition get the best of me. Some probably thought I was an idiot but it made the miles go by. I did have one guy come up beside me and say “is this where it sucks to be a good swimmer?” I said “no, see you on the run”…which I did, and as I passed him asked if he over biked the course…no response! I treated the rest of the bike as an easy recovery ride with my buddies. I was surprised with how little I was sweating but kept pounding the fluids and I even stopped 3 times at the stations to pee pee! 3:07:54 @ 18mph and was exactly as I planned. Much slower than during our Augusta 70.3 team camp but no pain! Heck, I felt really good in T2.

The Run

I knew the run would be where the rubber met the road. I caught myself early churning out a faster pace than the plan, so I slowed myself down as I knew the day could be a long one. Sean Summers, aka BetterMan, passed by and I gave him some kudos – he was moving and was sweating profusely. I planned the Half n Half method of half mile run – a short walk – then run to the aid stations. This kept the knee in good shape, heart rate under control, and allowed me to fuel with ease. I usually know by the time I get on broad if I fueled improperly, over biked, or both. Nope – I felt really good! I heard the TCGa spot before I even saw it. I could hear the yells and I could feel the vibe as I approached. I had my shop kit on so they didn’t recognize me but that allowed me to cop a few feels as I passed by the tall devil. I thought about my team and hoped they were having great days out there. I was having a great day too. I had no pain so far and I felt really strong.

By mile 6 I realized I had not ran that far in several weeks. I was wanting to break loose and push the pace but held steady in the plan of letting that happen after mile 10 once I felt I was in the clear that I was going to make it. I was reeling those fast bikers in one by one and having a good time with those cheering us on. After my last pass of the tent, I let it out and pushed it into 7:30’s and felt really great. I had so much bio freeze on the knee I didn’t feel anything anyways. Time to rock to the finish! 2:17:28 and I felt I could go longer! I was very happy about my slow run.

I really focused on my nutrition for this race and I feel like I really nailed it. I took a few hits of coke and red bull around the turn – shouldn’t have as it made me burp and upset the gut with the added sugar. I won’t do that again. Outside of that I felt great, no gastrointestinal issue, and no cramping.
Final time 6:09:08


In conclusion, I want to say that this day was dramatically different than any race I have ever participated in. Though this was my slowest 70.3, I felt like this was my best one. I executed a plan based on taking what was there with my body and making the day mine. A few weeks prior, I didn’t even think I would make it. Even felt like pulling out and spectating…or perhaps being a no show. I noticed more at this race than any other. I was energized by watching others suffer, the spectators cheering, my team having a good day, and the thought of what would become when I crossed the line. I was able to see some of my local team complete their first 70.3 and was there to hug them at the end. I thought about those who may never get to do this and how lucky I am to be able to do so. I’ll need to take some time to rebuild and heal.

Mentally, I am very pumped! I grew as an athlete in being humble in the moment, accepting the issue, but making the best of it. No quit, no surrender. Show up and do my job! I learned that when the body gives a warning, to heed it rather than push it. I learned that a proper plan that is trusted and executed on race day feels like I found some gold. I also had fun. To me, this race was extra special and one that I will cherish for the rest of my racing career. I’ll be able to take what I learned and help others and that is what makes this gig the best.

Run Across Georgia – A Race Report Diary by Coach Angel K – TriCoachGeorgia

I ( Coach Angel K of TriCoachGeorgia )joined an 8 person relay team to run 260 miles of backroads from Savannah to Columbus over 37 hours without stopping – Run Across Georgia. I ran about 29 miles in 6 legs of varying length (between 3.1 and 7.5 miles each for me). I think a combination of sleep deprivation and physical exhaustion puts you in this strange frame of mind where emotion and your senses are heightened. I ran through Claxton where mom and dad came to see me and it meant so much. I ran down dark highways into small towns. One town was having a big party at their municipal building with music and fireworks. A young guy ran along side me for a minute to ask where I was running and offer me a can of beer. I ran at 2am past farms where the only sounds were the frogs, whip-poor-wills and my feet hitting the ground. The smell of night jasmine came in waves. At one point either car lights hit them just right, or electricity acts in ways I hadn’t considered, but the powerlines overhead glittered in a row like shooting stars.

I rode in the back of a truck sometimes and watched the pecan groves and cornfields roll by. Sometimes I sat back there with new friends and laughed, sometimes I just soaked in the scenery. One morning I sat there as the sun was rising over a pristine farm field while a flock of white birds flew into the air. I became almost overwhelmed with the beauty of it.

The running got hard sometimes but each person on our team was really dedicated to racing as best we could. I think everyone nailed almost all of their paces. We had an equally dedicated support crew who made sure everyone was where they were supposed to be at all times and had everything that they needed. We cheered for other teams and had fun with all of them while we waited for our runners together.

As I ran my last leg into Columbus (the only one that wound up being scary due to traffic) I saw Eddie and the kids drive by cheering with big signs they made for me in the windows. I ran across the bridge with the huge statues and flags that mark the entrance to Fort Benning. It seemed very fitting since this was Memorial Day weekend and this race is in part a tribute to the soldiers who gave everything for their country by being an important fundraiser for House of Heroes. My family was waiting for me at the checkpoint. I hugged my sweet kids who were smiling and hugging me back so tightly and Eddie who had worked really hard to find me in the right spot.

Our team met up and ran all together to the finish line on Broadway. My friends and family were waiting for me. I have felt loved and supported by my running/triathlon community for some time and this felt like an incredible celebration of that. We hugged each other and couldn’t stop smiling.

I fell a little more in love with the country and all the people around me. We raised a ton of money for 2 great charities in town. And when I came home to Columbus, I’ve really never felt more at home.

Coach’s Training Considerations

My overall average pace for this event was a little over 8 min/mile, which is roughly my half marathon pace. Had I not been still somewhat recovering from Ironman 70.3 Gulf Coast 2 weeks prior, I would have targeted a pace in between half marathon and 10k since you do get significant periods of rest in between legs. Walking a little and stretching/foam rolling after completing each leg kept my muscles from getting stiff and helped prevent injury. Fueling can be tricky for those with sensitive stomachs, since in a race this long you need at least a few actual meals. As a big believer in “training your stomach” I brought along the fuel that I use for ALL of my long runs (currently Clif bloks) and drank Gatorade each mile on the course. I did consume caffeine, but no more than I would on a typical race day. I ate a few sandwiches, popcorn (and pretty much anything else I could get my hands on) in between runs and had no GI issues.

I did not do any real race-specific training for this event. I stuck to my triathlon training for Gulf Coast. A key product of any good triathlon training program is the ability to run on tired legs. For non-triathletes, building some 2-a-day runs into your plan is a common way to achieve this. Some people try to train for the fatigue aspect of this event by getting up in the middle of the night to run. While not a bad idea, I also don’t think it’s necessary. You can’t fully predict how your body will respond, taking into consideration factors such as adrenaline, effective fueling, heat, etc.

I would recommend this type of relay race to any serious runner who would like a little variety on their race schedule. I really enjoyed the team aspect of it and found it to be a most interesting challenge- part endurance race, part adventure quest.

Ironman Texas: A spectators recap by Coach BlackHeart – TriCoachGeorgia

Saturday April 28th I had the pleasure of attending and spectating The North American Championship at Ironman Texas. Up at 4 and at swim start by 6am. The energy was electric. My best cheer mate, Susie Lane and I both had the race day jitters even though neither of us were racing. While we had 6 teammates racing, we were only able to locate our coach Chuck Sims and fellow teammate Bradley Odom. The cannon firing off the pros sent butterflies in everyone’s stomachs and we knew it was the final countdown. After a few photos, some well-wishes and hugs, we sent the boys on their way. Once we got them in the water we walked over to swim out in effort to watch the pros come in. It’s ALWAYS exciting to watch the pros. They spend the whole year honing their craft (their bodies) in preparation for the event in effort to earn their slot to Kona, the Ironman World Championship. This being a famously fast course, they are here to make potential records.

Pros were out of the water and on the bike in a flurry. Naturally we hung out to see all our teammates out as well. Once we got them on the bike it was chill time till the run course. This made things interesting. Hauling a 100lbs tent to a place that doesn’t allow tents on the run course was challenging. Fortunately, Texas is part of the south and everyone was so kind. The Woodlands Rangers were nice enough to hint where one might put a tent up if need be. Need be’d! It was HOT by noon and that Texas sun is relentless. By the time we got breakfast, bought our camp out groceries for the day and set up shop, the pros were on the run course. This is where is gets exciting!

The IMTX run course is not only 3 loops, but mostly through blaring sun and completely on concrete (the most unforgiving surface to run on for your joints…as if running wasn’t hard enough on your body). Starky (Andrew Starykowicz) , the leading pro male off the bike, had just thrown down a lightning fast 3:54:59 /112 miles. However, he is known to overbike and suffer on the run, today was no different. Matt Hansen caught him pretty quickly and his marathon was only good enough for 8th place. The women were out shortly thereafter. Adopted team mate Mel Hauschildt (not really, but her pro coach husband is available for hire on our team) was lagging on the run for the lead, but not by much. By the 3rd mile she had passed her competitors and was never caught. I was able to watch her come through past our tent several times and she looked strong and relaxed the whole way through. Having just come off the Aussie summer, she was already heat acclimated and the Texas sun only fueled her fire. It was a pretty exciting thing to watch. As the women worked their 2nd loop the age groupers started out on the course. Now the pros and the amateurs are on the same field. Susie and I were ready to take our positions to cheer.

This is where my story takes a nostalgic turn.

As we are tracking our friends and pros, screaming and jumping and yelling and making crazy noises, we were swallowed up in the cacophony of cheers from all over the field. For hours and hours, complete strangers were cheering for complete strangers. In this arena, everyone is united under a pure desire for the success of others. Where can you go that a group of THOUSANDS scream and cheer and smile and hang out in the heat for HOURS in effort to see those they love for only a few seconds and rally behind other folks they’ve never met and will likely never see again and support them wanting nothing but their success? No one wants to hear someone has crashed or is injured or panicked in the water or overheated or injured on the run. We all want the same thing. To get every participant across the finish line. In any fitness competition, but especially in Ironman, months and sometimes years go into preparation. The training is long and demanding as you prepare your body for a 10-17 hour day of nonstop motion. Some have sacrificed jobs, family time, relationships, vacations, money and countless other things that would normally be a priority in effort to achieve this dream of crossing the finish line after 140.6 miles.

After several hours of cheering with her megaphone, Susie’s wrist had finally given out and I was happy to take a shift. I was asked by strangers around me to yell the name of their loved one coming up the sidewalk and chant for them. Yelling across the canal at runners suffering on their second or third loop. Of course we all erupted in screams every time we saw one of our own, but I was inspired by the coming together of so many strangers. People I know I will never see ever again. I even made some new friends (thank goodness for social media)! Looking forward to seeing them at Augusta 70.3 this year!!

The moment it hit me I couldn’t keep it to myself. I was yelling through my smile “This is why! Whenever anyone asks me why I do this, why I do these crazy distances and train for Ironman, THIS IS WHY! All of us coming together to cheer for strangers. This is exactly why! Triathlon, you complete me! It only took 3 sports to do it, but what can I say? I’m a complicated woman.”

Shortly thereafter when I knew my voice was on its last leg, we saw our last athlete for the last time and ran to the finish line. There is NOTHING like an Ironman finish line. It is ELECTRIC! So much energy and positivity! People coming into the finish shoot, the culmination of so much work, so much determination and such a long, hard day. Tears are hard to fight back. Athletes who may have walked for a majority of their marathon are now finding the strength and courage to push past their pain and fatigue to run the chute. Still yelling into the megaphone, we continue to scream for the strangers and give high fives when they’re close. We get our last athlete in through the finish line and a collective sigh of relief is exhaled.

The day is over. A lot of athletes won’t get to see the finish line in all its glory. The rumors and pictures to follow were filled with images of large peletons and packs of drafters which led to some nasty accidents and injuries. Our hearts go out to the injured and their families and hope they are able to make a speedy recovery. It’s terribly unfortunate when these things happen but we do know that the risk is part of the sport. Even when we race clean and play perfect to the rules, others do not and we may fall victim to poor sportsmanship. All we can do is race our own race and be as prepared as possible.

This weekend solidified in me why I do this crazy thing called endurance sports. Why I love being on my bike for hours on end, why I run crazy distances and why I swim in open (often gross bodies of) water. This in turn also made me hungry for more knowledge about how I can keep this body going in sport as long as possible, leading to research on nutrition, recovery methods and lifestyle habits to support it. The embers that have been sleeping warm under the cloak of winter and the “off season” have been restoked into a flame of excitement and positivity for the 2018 season officially underway.

Cheers to all of you out there going for bigger, badder and more kick ass goals than ever before this year! I hope to have a voice in the crowd loud enough for you to hear me scream for your success!!

Coach BlackHeart

Facing Facts – Reaper Rick Pruett – TriCoachGeorgia


Triathletes are people too, and they have trials and tribulations. Some have more challenging ones than others but each of them have something to overcome. The coaching staff at TCGA wanted you to learn about one special situation that a lot can be learned from.

Grandmasters athlete and honorable Reaper Team Member Rick Pruett is a wonderful man and a strong triathlete. You always get some good words of wisdom and solid results from him at races. Behind each good man oftentimes is a good support system, many times consisting of a spouse. Always, right there with Rick at races was Vicki.

Vicki has been dealing with severe medical issues in the last year or so. This has been devastating and challenging for Rick. We wanted to give you a look at how she is doing and how this has changed things for him.

Rick and Vicky’s Story

“Honey, I’ve got a pain in my abdomen that’s getting worse.” And so it began, on Aug. 31, 2017, we headed to the ER around midnight. What we thought was an attack of appendicitis turned out to be a kidney infection. Having only one kidney, the doctors decided to treat this aggressively and admit my wife, Vicki, for IV antibiotics. How was I to know what all this would lead to?

During the normal blood testing, they discovered Vicki had a very low hemoglobin level. So low they decided to give her 2 units of blood. The staff did some diagnostic work to try to figure out why there was a low red blood cell count, but came up with no answers. After 5 days in the hospital, the infection was under control and the blood count was acceptable. We were sent home and I thought maybe we could resume our normal lives.

Turn For The Worse

While at the hospital before discharge, however, Vicki had developed a mild headache. No big deal we thought; it was probably due to the antibiotics. Headache is a common side effect of Ciprofloxin. After getting home, the headache continued to get worse over the next few of days. A week after being discharged, Vicki stumbled and fell while walking to the bathroom.

I helped her up and asked what happened. She couldn’t quite put the words together to reply. I started thinking stroke and went thru the F.A.S.T check. That’s Face drooping, Arms raise in unison, Smile symmetrical and Talking. When I asked her to repeat a sentence after me, all I got back was word salad. It had to be a stroke so I called 911. I knew then this meant triathlon would have to take a back seat to life and I was glad to prioritize her needs, but who knew how long this was to take place?

We went back to the hospital; this time in an ambulance. After an MRI, CT scan and lots of blood work over two days, the doctors diagnosed severe migraine headaches. Based on that diagnosis, they provided some medications, she took them and we headed home on that Saturday. By Monday, unfortunately, the headache was so bad we called our primary care provider (PCP) and he got her right in.

Our PCP spent four hours examining her, getting some labs and consulting with multiple neurologists. Their diagnosis was Temporal Arteritis. They prescribed prednisone and sent her home with some optimism. Two days later, the headache had still not subsided and Vicki was bedridden. Things were getting worse not better and I was a bit freaked out!

Could Be Even Worse

The grandkids were over and they wanted to see “Gramma.” You couldn’t blame them, Vicki treated them like a million dollars. She said it was ok for them to come in to her room so they went upstairs to see her. When they said hello, Vicki looked in one direction and said hello. There was no one in that direction. She was now blind and didn’t know it!! (Cortical blindness). And now she couldn’t hardly walk either. We knew it was time for another ambulance ride to a different hospital.

At the next hospital, an MRI revealed lesions in both occipital lobes of the brain. We spent a month at the hospital where Vicki underwent numerous MRIs, CT scans, ultrasounds inside and out, lumbar puncture for spinal fluid tests, EEG, EKG, and finally a brain biopsy. All of this was because the stroke was not caused by blood clotting, but by inflammation of the blood vessels in the brain. With no definitive cause of the “vasculitis”, Vicki was discharged to go to rehabilitation.


During the month in the hospital, her vision was starting to come back but walking was a skill she no longer possessed. We went to Shepherd Center in Atlanta for rehabilitation. If you ever need rehab from brain injury or spinal trauma, this is where you want to be, so I was relieved! For 7-8 hours a day, M-F and four hours on Saturday Vicki was Doing Her Job! She made great progress and after four weeks of intense therapy her vision was back to about 50%, memory about 80% and she could walk about a hundred yards with a little support.

Vicki was discharged from in-patient therapy to an outpatient day program of intense therapy. She spent 4 weeks in this program. We had a discharge date set for Dec. 15, 2017. We had made some progress and I was hopeful of a return home with some ongoing improvements. My employer, thankfully, had been very understanding.

Not to Be

During the last two weeks of therapy in Atlanta at Shepherd, we noticed a gradual change in Vicki’s personality. Initially this was nothing to be concerned about the first week, but by the second week she was starting to get way too expansive, chatty, and outgoing. It was like she had a few glasses of wine, was feeling great and wanted to tell the world! It was starting to become disruptive to the therapy sessions and I was not used to this version of Vicki at all.

The doctors were thinking this might be a reaction to some of her medications and were adjusting them. Nonetheless, we decided to go ahead with the discharge plan and return to Augusta. Vicki was becoming unhappy with being in therapy everyday and she was missing her grandkids. Maybe some “grandkid therapy” would improve her mood?

Over the next few days at home, her condition became worse. From being overly happy and talkative, to agitated, to finally, violent. It was time to get back to the hospital. She was now losing her ability to walk and her vision was regressing. A new MRI revealed new lesions in the brain caused by the vasculitis. Apparently, the prednisone they were treating the vasculitis with wasn’t working.

After a week in the hospital and many more tests, we were sent home to await the results of a lumbar puncture for spinal fluid analysis. The results were inconclusive. On January 5th 2018, Vicki finally started on a drug to treat the unknown autoimmune disease that is causing the vasculitis. We are monitoring her progress in this regard at home and I have some home care professionals to help me.

Summing Up

It’s been a very long and frustrating journey to this point and we’re still not sure where this goes from here. Hopefully the chemo-type drug does the trick and rehab starts over and we can see more of the old Vicki and the grandkids can see their Gramma and we can live happily ever after, but I have to admit I have my doubts and it is VERY frustrating not having a clear diagnosis.

Lessons Learned

Yeah, it’s been a pretty tough 4 months. Devastating is more like it. In my early 60’s, we were planning on a fun and relaxing retirement in the near future. I was wanting to travel and to have a serious ironman training year and with the support of my TriCoachGeorgia teammates and TriAugusta club mates energy I was planning to have a go at some lofty goals as I aged up. This situation was something neither of us had in our plans. While I still worked, Vicki had just retired in May. She was just starting to enjoy being able to take off on long weekends and spending more time with grandkids.

So, how does this relate to triathlon and endurance training? While training for an Ironman, or marathon, or any activity that requires months of dedicated work, you learn a lot about yourself. And you change. If you’re going to be successful, you’re going to be doing things you don’t feel like doing sometimes. But everyday (well almost), you put in the work. You lace up your shoes, you pump up your tires, you hit the pool or lake. It seems to be physical, but there’s a huge mental aspect as well. You’re learning patience. You’re developing discipline. You’re becoming mentally tough for a long haul. You’re learning that you can go farther and do more than you ever thought possible. You’re changing in many ways.

You’re also learning that things don’t always go as you planned. Maybe you forgot your electrolytes and have to improvise. Maybe a kid got sick and you can’t get that workout in. Maybe you got sick. Either way, you’ve had to adapt, make changes and keep moving forward. Your goal wasn’t something that was going to be easy to achieve anyway. The dedication and hard work pays off.  It’s this training that will carry over into your life outside of endurance sports.

Past Ironman achievements, my team and my club have been a great help to me weathering these changes in my life the past 4 months. I know I’ve got the strength and support to keep going. I know I can adapt. Sure, it’s not what I planned or wanted but it’s something that’s not going to beat us. Don’t let life events beat you either. Do the best you can with what you have, make allowances for important things, and realize that your quality times may be limited so face your fears and take your chances when life allows.

Final Words

Thank you all for the support, prayers, and for reading and asking me about things. It’s hard to keep everyone up to date but we certainly want you all to know how important you are to us. And someday hopefully soon, I’ll be back out there with you. Now, go #DoYourJob and reap the benefits for all you will face in life!