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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.