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San Francisco, California and, Carrboro, North Carolina, United States

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

AUGUSTA 70.3 -- 6th Professional -- 3:59:31

Augusta 70.3 is one of my favorite races.  The swim is fast, the bike is a challenging rolling one loop course (but fast), and the run takes you around downtown with the streets lined with cheering spectators.  Simply put, it's a fun race with a great atmosphere.  

Coming into the race I was a little nervous.  I've been sick for the last 10 days (a sinus infection) and had no idea what to expect from my body and what would happen in the race.  I drove down to Augusta Saturday morning, still not feeling great, but hoping the body would come around.  Unlike most pre-race nights, I had an awesome night's sleep and awoke ready to go.    

Swim exit, the bike group is all right there.
Swim: 20:01
I knew this would be a fast swim.  Last year I came out of the water in second and I thought that I had a shot of having the fastest swim time this year.  

The goal for the swim is the same in each race, swim well, come out with the lead group, and start the bike with or ahead of all the main contenders.  I lined up near the buoy along the shore and when the gun sounded I quickly took the lead.  For the entire swim, I kept a descent but not too strenuous pace.  Three athletes swam about 5-10 meters off my feet and another two swimmers were about 30 or so meters behind.  I led the swim for nearly the whole race.  The reason I did not win the swim, I swam past the swim finish and kept going down the river!  That mistake cost me about 20 seconds (unfortunately it also costs the 3 swimmers that were on my feet, and the two swimmers that were to the right of us passed our pack).  I exited the water in 3rd position, happy to swim well, but a little bummed to have made such a careless mistake and miss out on my first swim win.

Bike: 2:10:36
Six of us quickly formed the front pack out of the water.  The six of us consisted of Kiwi Guy Crawford, Americans Ian Mikelson and Nick Waninger (and me), Brazil’s Marcus Ornellas and Ukraine’s Max Kriat.  Among our UN coalition of athletes, I knew Max and Nick were great runners, and Crawford and Mikelson were strong cyclists.  I knew I stood in the middle of everyone, both on the bike and run, not the strongest in either but not the weakest.  My plan was to stay with the first group and hope to sneak away with one of the stronger cyclists over one of the hills.  However, without a pre-race bike plan between athletes, it would be hard to put together an attack.  The group worked well together, with Mikelson and I doing good deal of work for the first 30 miles.  I was riding within myself, trying to get my nutrition right and hoping we could break one or two of the strong runners from the group.  Around mile 40, Crawford put in a strong move and Waninger fell off the pace.  One runner down.  Our group was now 5 and we flew the final 16 miles.  We put in almost 4 minutes on Nick (of course he made them all back on the run).  I took a few pulls over the final miles and with 10 to go, Crawford made another strong move.  I was able to go with him, put a gap on the three behind us, but unfortunately I could not provide much help and a few miles later the three rejoined us.  Mikelson threw down the hammer the final two miles, nearly breaking off my legs, but the group stayed as one and we came into T2 together.  I was happy with the ride.  A 2:10:36 is a respectable time.  I also think I did my fair share of the work.  Lastly, I can write that we all rode honestly.  We had an official with us for the 56 miles and we impressed him with our ability to ride clean.      

Run 1:25:22
After a sub-par T2, I lost about 30 seconds to the group, I came out onto the run with the goal of running a 1:20.  Being sick, I had no idea what to expect.  In the first few miles I felt ok, not great, but ok.  In between the first and second mile, I moved into 4th place catching and passing Crawford.  Just up the road I saw the Ornellas, and by mile 3 I had caught and passed him.  I was running in 3rd place and feeling ok.  I thought this is awesome, if my legs come around, I'll have a good shot to finish on the podium.  I was not feeling great, but I averaged a 6:07/mile pace through the first 4 miles.  Milkeson was up the road by about 30 seconds, but Max was already out of sight.  I wanted to try to move into second.  However, in between miles 4 and 5, a fast moving Pat Evo caught me.  He was running well and I tried to run with him, but fell off his pace after a few minutes.  A strong Jay McCurdy was the next athlete to catch me.  He too was running a little too quickly for me.  When a flying Wanniger came by, I did not even try to run with him, he was running 5:30/mile pace and there was no way I was going to stay with him.  By mile 7, I was running in 6th.  I had a descent size lead over 7th and 8th, but I was not feeling great.  Nonetheless, I tried to close the gap on the athlete ahead of me and move into 5th.  By mile 9, I had moved the gap down to just under one minute.  However, I  really struggled over the next four miles and lost another two minutes.  Over the final 4 miles I averaged a 6:57/mile pace, which cost me any chance at a top 5 finish.

Coming down the finish chute was quite fun, lots of fans to high five.  I was running trying to give as many kids a high five as possible, when I looked up and saw the race clock.  I assumed I had missed my goal of going under four hours, but to my surprise, I saw 3:59:20.  To play it safe I picked up the pace the last 50 meters, and crossed under 4 hours.

I did not have a great run, but I was pleased to come in 6th, pick up some valuable points towards 2013 70.3 World Championships, and finally have a sub 4:00 race.  

Looking back at the race, I've gained some confidence.  I finished in a good position, even with a sub-par run.  I know I'll figure out the run shortly and when I do, I think I'll find the podium. Thanks to my better half for cheering me on.  It's always wonderful to have her out there.  I'd also like to thank ParCycles for all their help and my coach Dave Williams.   

And thanks to everyone who read this.

Up next is Rev 3 Anderson, October 14

Another well earned 70.3 hat.
Time to get some breakfast!  

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