The Texan’s report on TriCoachGeorgia Ironman 70.3 Augusta Training Camp

Full text taken from The Texan’s SwimBikeRunJourney Blog here: Tri Coach Georgia Augusta Camp aka 95 miles of training

Tri Coach Georgia Augusta Camp aka 95 miles of Training

I almost don’t even know where to begin to write about camp because there is so much to tell but, I want to start with thanking Tri Coach Georgia, Tri Augusta  & Savannah Riverkeeper for everything they did to make this camp a success. They worked hard to make sure we had great training and treated us to some classic southern hospitality 🙂 All the people in town and at the restaurants showed us the same hospitality. Augusta is a very gracious city to triathletes even though we clog their streets and sidewalks. Even if you do not race the IM Augusta 70.3, any triathlete would find this training very useful & you can’t find nicer people to train with! I left with such a grateful heart.

Travel Day:

Steve and & I flew into Atlanta then rented a car to drive to Augusta. We both forgot what a nightmare that airport is lol plus we had heavy rain getting to Augusta. We didn’t arrive in enough time to pick up our bikes from Outspokin but, that was not an issue as we had plenty of time to pick them up Friday before camp started at noon. We shipped my road bike and they put it together for me and they rented Steve a super nice Felt road bike. I was jealous of his high end gears on that Felt  while I was stuck with Tiagra  – more on that later but was missing my Ultegra gears on my TT bike!

Friday we picked up the bikes from Outspokin – great shop! Reminded me of our own Handlebar Cyclery here in Katy – great folks!

Camp Day One:  Bike & Swim

Camp kicked off at noon with a 31 mile bike ride on the back part of the 70.3 bike course. We rode with some really nice people and Tri Coach GA had a nice stop for us to refill our water bottles etc. In fact a little shower came down just as we pulled up ha. It didn’t last long though. By the time we refilled our bottles it has almost stopped. Bottom line, for this flat land girl these hills were no joke! Between the hills, the heat and the wind it was quite challenging but, happy to report I didn’t run out of gears lol. I was pretty relieved though when the coaches and some experienced cyclists of this course told us that was pretty much the worst the course had to offer. However, I had no illusions that Sunday’s ride of the full course would be any less challenging.

After the ride we went for a practice swim in the Savannah River, which was quite humorous as they had us swim upstream first then turn around and swim downstream. I swam upstream for 11 minutes and downstream for 2 minutes ha!! I was quite happy that Gatorfest the next day – 1.2 mile swim of the course would be all downstream.  I tested out my 2 piece Desoto wetsuit with add on neoprene sleeves. The water temperature was 69 degrees. This would be the coldest water I have swam in ever. But, once I was in the water after about 50 meters it felt rather refreshing. To my surprise this water was no more murky than anything we swim in here in Texas, in fact maybe nicer than some things we swim in here lol.

I was happy to have the practice swim under my belt as the end of day one of camp.

We also met a very nice couple Bev and Kevin and throughout the camp we were usually training close together as we were about the same paces. One of the nicest thing about camp was all the nice people we met & I could finally meet some Facebook friends in real life!

Camp Day Two:  Gatorfest swim & Run

Day two started out with Gatorfest – 1.2 mile swim of the Augusta 70.3 swim course.  This was a swim race for the real swimmers for me it was practice haha.  I can’t lie – I was very nervous. My before and after swim picture tells that tale almost better than I can write it up! I ran into a friend from Katy – Susan who is an accomplished triathlete and swimmer. She suggested that I pour water down my wetsuit before the start to help warm up. It worked like a charm.  By the way, she ended up winning  our AG. She’s amazing.

So my wave was called and I sat on the deck waiting for the gun to sound and when it did I slithered into the water. Didn’t hesitate as I figured it was like a band aid – just rip off !! Once I cleared the docks and started swimming straight to go under the bridges I had a pretty good rhythm going. It’s a point to point to swim so you swim straight until the turn buoy to the swim exit at the end of 1.2 miles. I was doing pretty well until I cleared both bridges and sighted too far ahead. I say that because it made me realize how far I had left to swim and I started to have some breathing issues. But, I took a deep breath and started counting my strokes to get my mind off it. For a while after I cleared the bridges I couldn’t see a buoy, a kayak or even a house on the shore plus I started swimming into the seaweed lol. At that point I just repeated keep swimming Dory just keep swimming. I never had to stop my free style stoke – just kept moving forward and my breathing settled.  There was a point where I honestly wasn’t sure I was going to make it but, I pulled it together and told myself you have done this distance in training a million times only you can stop you from getting to the finish. So I moved on with determination but, I can’t lie when saw the boathouse I knew I probably only had another 3 -4 minutes of swimming tops a sense of relief washed over me.  I was beyond thrilled when I exited the water. I honestly couldn’t believe I made it and I had only been in the water 30 minutes. I was expecting to be in the water 40 -45 minutes even with the downstream push as my last open water time trial it took me 55 minutes to swim it.

In retrospect I was swimming way too fast for my ability and that is why I had a bit of a struggle in the middle. I would have had a difficult time finishing if I needed to be in the water 50 minutes. I think the excitement and the fact I made the mistake of sighting way too far ahead too early gave me an adrenaline rush.That said, the water did not feel too cold in my wetsuit with the add on sleeves. That De Soto wetsuit is the Da Bomb and worth every dime I paid for it!

To my amazement I finished 13/24 in my AG , 56 /135  females & 106/221  overall with an official time of 30:40.  It was nice to feel like a real swimmer for the day. 🙂

The Ironman 70.3 swim will be far more crowded and more combative as the fast swimmers in the next waves catch up to me. Race day I will plan to slither in just behind everyone in my wave and try to stake out some ground. I suspect my time will be closer to 35 – 40 minutes race day due to those conditions and I will be beyond thrilled with that – hooray downstream swimming.

Next up the Augusta 70.3 run course.  I decided to do 7.5 miles, which was just a little more than one loop of the two looped course. Thus, technically I ran the entire course.  It was 11:30 am by the time we started the run so it was warm. But, I guess all my heat training is finally paying off, as I never left heart rate zone 2 – mostly stayed in heart rate zone 1. I could have run faster but the course was not closed so the sidewalk and roads were uneven in addition to crosswalks and parked cars. I decided to take it easy so the legs would be fresh for the 56 mile bike ride the next day which was a wise choice! The course race day other than one quiet section will be awesome as it is very spectator friendly and I know we will have a lot of people out there cheering us on plus an aid station every mile. For the practice run we had two aid stations, which was very helpful and appreciated! Race day I would like to finish this run in 2 hours 30 – 2 hours 40 but, anything under 3 hours I should be good as far as cut offs if the bike goes reasonably well.

Next up after a shower – clinics by the coaches:

The lectures were very useful and covered topics such as injury prevention and course tips.  We also received several good tips from table mates at the lecture.

Swim Course :

Higher turnover instead of full force pull. This hit the nail on the head for me because I truly felt I was using to too much energy pulling in a downstream swim.

Swimming in the center of river will yield the fastest time but, can be crowded (I will have to judge race day where to put myself as I will  have waves coming behind me swimming over me lol) Sight every 6-9 strokes. Buoys on the left shore to the right.

Bike Course:

T- 1 – Advised us to take it slow – mount the bike well past the mount line. Just settle in!

Bottom line the first 1/3 of the course is the “easiest” but, still challenging. This is the time to start settling into to the ride – get your nutrition in and don’t use too much power as you will need energy for later. This will indeed be my game plan. Best Bike Split has a cheat sheet on how much watts I should be pushing when and that will be taped to my bike.

The next 1/3 of the course there are some climbs and some very rough roads. (That vibration on he road bike did indeed make my hands very numb. Still feeling the effects in two of my fingers even today. )

There is one climb that lasts about 5 miles and it’s very deceiving as it almost looks flat but, it’s not.

The last 1/3 things start to get a little flatter after the last hill which I have named dead man’s curve  & it was where I dropped my chain on Sunday I shall be very careful there.

I found both days the back part of the course to be windy as well.

The coaches suggested taking the last few miles to spin the legs take care of nutrition needs and get mentally ready for the run.

Run Course:

It will be hot – that’s a given. They suggest to take the first mile very easy – run at a slower pace than you hope to end up with & start working on hydration and nutrition.  It is a two loop run so a mental challenge in places. The coaches suggested just take things mile by mile. The good news is the run course is very spectator friendly and they told us we will have a lot of people cheering us on as well as an aid station every mile. The best quote of the camp was in response to a question regarding training to run in the heat Coach Slayer said ” This is the Ironman, not the Pussyman.” Yes I realize some might find this offensive but, I loved it and it summed it up just perfect. Coach Slayer also suggested we have a mental mantra during the run and maybe write it on our arm.  Mine will be this quote for sure and I will write it on my arm! As he said it’s going to be hard that’s Ironman 70.3! But, as I have always said nothing easy is worth having though so – suck it up butter cup I say and let’s roll!

Last but, not least they encourage us to enjoy the finisher’s chute! That is truly my plan if I’m blessed enough to avoid mechanical and body failure and make it there.  No sprinting in for me unless I’m close to the cut off. Otherwise I plan to celebrate in the chute as I don’t know when I can realistically train at this level again anytime soon.

Day two of camp completed & it was a great day of  meeting new people and great training.

Camp Day Three:

Time to bike the entire 70.3 Course! As most of you know I train with power on a TT bike. But, I had the road bike at camp so I had to pace myself a bit differently. Luckily my heart rate zones are fairly close to my power zones & the person that tested my zones said my perceived exertion is pretty close to what is actually happening with my body. All pluses for pacing this ride.  However, my hands and feet did not take this ride very well on the road bike. My right foot became numb and painful after mile 30 and never let up. The hands were numb by mile 25 and that never let up either and my ring and pinky finger on the left are still a bit numb. It should pass though from what I read online about this. But, otherwise despite the challenge of this ride – trust me this course was no joke – I enjoyed it. The Tri Augusta group have 4 lovely stops for us to get water etc. What a great bunch to stand in the heat to serve us so we could ride the course.  Steve had a flat right at one of the stations and Alex helped him changed it so it went quicker! So nice and Alex also checked on us along the course to make sure we made it back ok. He came upon us when I dropped my chain on dead man’s curve and offered help but, Steve and I had it back on by then with no issues.

My goal was simply to learn the course and keep the heart rate around or just below tempo. Except on the steep climbs I managed that. I sure missed my TT bike with her good gears & power meter though so hope those things are functioning well race day!!

I learned a lot about pacing – when to push when to hold back and hopefully learned a lot about how to pace my nutrition on the bike. I also know I need to practice changing tires a lot before race day & learn how to put my chain back on!!

The computrainer was fairly accurate in terms of grade etc of the hills. However, you have to practice bike-handling skills outside. Steve gave me several tips on how to shift better etc. It is a bit scary coming downhill and I think race day it will be even harder as there will be so many people on the course. Steve is much better at gearing etc. so learned a lot from him on that. However, I am cautious and I don’t see that changing so I will focus on have a steady but, safe ride race day.

Bottom line – we stopped at all 4 aide stations, changed a flat, put back on a dropped chain and stopped one extra time for me to mix up UCAN (road bike can’t hold all my nutrition mixed up the way the TT bike can) and we still made it in 4 hours 19 minutes. Actual pedal time was 3 hours 37 minutes – ave of 15.34 mph for the entire course. Basically being a flat land girl that is cautious, anything under 4 hours for my bike split I would be happy with race day but, hope for 3:40< split.

There was a great after party when we came back from the ride – good food – good company. We sat with Bev & Kevin to eat and enjoyed discussing all things camp and look forward to seeing them back race week.  All and all a great ride on the bike course.

In summary, I enjoyed every minute of the 95 miles at camp this weekend. As the Tri Coach Georgia motto  says “ Chase Your Dreams – Slay Your Fears” – this camp helped me do just that!

Can’t wait for race day meanwhile, I have a lot of training left to do – game on!