#Sorrynotsorry, but you are about to be barraged by all things Augusta 70.3! Aren’t you excited?! Let’s start off with the pre-race recap because it was actually pretty eventful.
This past Sunday, as in 2 Sunday’s ago, not race day, Davey and I did our last big brick workout. We biked 25 miles and ran 6 and it was SO. STINKIN. HARD. We left the Nachez Trace wondering how the heck we would fare when, in just 6 short days, we’d have to swim 1.2 miles before doubling those distances.
During the ride, my bike made weird noises whenever I shifted and I dropped my chain a few times, which totally wrecked my confidence and made me doubt my cycling skills that I had worked so hard to improve over these past few months.
But, at this point, all we could do was trust our training, let this tough workout go and taper. Oh, and carbo load… my favorite thing to do.
On Thursday, I printed out our race day checklist and added a bunch of other things to the list, like breakfast food, pickles for the race, and snacks. We had a few errands to run, but as we were about to leave, our car wouldn’t start. Our neighbor jumped it for us and we took it to the shop and had to buy a new battery.
Although this situation totally sucked, we were both so happy that it died on Thursday and not on race morning. I probably would’ve had a mental breakdown. Important thing to add to your race day checklist: Make sure your car starts.
Once we got that all sorted out, we went for one last swim and called it a day. We had planned to pack on Thursday night so that we could leave at 5am on Friday morning, but, in true Type B triathlete form, we decided to just pack when we woke up. We also decided to break up the 7 hour drive into 2 days, so our legs wouldn’t forget how to walk/run/bike.
On Friday morning, we packed up our gear and Davey worked on my bike. Nothing he did solved the problem, so we decided to find a bike shop in Augusta and see if they could fix it.
Five hours later than we planned on leaving, we finally pulled out of the driveway. You may be stressed just reading this because we’re packing procrastinations and wait till the last-minute to try to fix my bike, but in reality, we’re just practicing our mental toughness and flexibility. At least that’s what I tell myself.
First stop, Atlanta.
To get us pumped up for our race, we listened to profession triathlete, Chris McCormack’s book, I’m Here To Win: A World Champion’s Advice for Peak Performance. It was a really interesting and inspiring book and got us even more excited for our race. While we drove, we drank lots of water so that we’d be hydrated for race day.
The next day, we hit the road bright and early because we wanted to have plenty of time to pick up our packets, find a bike shop, and get ready for Sunday. We arrived at the expo and had to wait in a HUGE line to get in. Luckily, it moved really fast and I was SO impressed at how organized and smoothly packet pickup went.
We were given a paper with our race number on it and 2 waivers to fill out. This is when everything got real. As an ER nurse, I started to imagine all of the potential injuries that I could sustain while swimming, biking and running 70.3 miles and as I quickly signed the form, I tried think of happier thoughts and I chose to imagine what sweet swag would be in our gear bag.
Spoiler alert… the swag stunk. We got a t-shirt and a can of Red Bull.
Since we had already spent a lot of money on the race entry, gas, hotels and food, we decided to walk as quickly as we could through the expo so we wouldn’t be tempted by all the awesome Ironman paraphernalia. However, we had to stop and find our names in the M-dot. Not sure what Davey’s pointing at, but I’m pointing at my name. 🙂
We successfully explored the expo without buying a completely new triathlon wardrobe or new bikes and headed to the mandatory race meeting. After 45-minutes of listening to race officials tell us not to draft and that the race would probably be wetsuit legal, we headed to the bike shop to see if the experts could tune up my bike.
Wellllllllll, my bike was actually worse off than we thought. The shift cable had frayed and blown out and while one of the bike mechanics was replacing that, he noticed my shifter was jammed. One thing led to another and before I knew it, they were asking me to come back in a few hours so that their top mechanic could work on it. At this point, I was still pretty calm because I felt like my bike was in good hands. We also had 4 hours until transition closed for he mandatory bike check-in.
We had planned on joining a bunch of other triathletes for a practice swim at 2, so we headed down to the river. We heard that the water temp was chilly, and since we didn’t bring our wetsuits, we would just have to brave the cold water on race day. We opted not to do the shake out swim because we were both pretty tired and weren’t sure when my bike would be ready.
In case you haven’t heard, the Savannah River is known for having a strong current and since we swim with the current on race day, Augusta 70.3 bestows super fast swim times to all of the triathletes. We were both pretty excited about this, but everyone was saying that the current was the slowest it has ever been. So much for a swim PR.
At this point, we hadn’t heard from the bike shop and we only had 1 1/2 hours left before our bikes had to be checked in and so we went back to see how the tune-up was going. And we didn’t get good news.
My shifter ended up breaking and that meant that I’d have to do the entire 56 miles in the big chain ring. I am not a strong biker and I rely on my easier gears… like, a lot. The guy told me that a different bike shop had a used shifter but he also said they were WAY overpricing it. He was pretty sure that I’d be fine in the big chain ring, but then I started to cry.
I think I cried because although I knew I could survive in the big chain ring, I hadn’t trained that way and I was scared. I knew that if I rode in the big gears for 56 miles, I probably wouldn’t reach my goal time of 3:30 for the bike, and that my legs would be too tired to do anything other than shuffle through the half-marathon. In an instant, it seemed like my 6+ months of training went down the drain.
I was so frustrated that my bike decided to break the DAY before the race. Seriously? Worst timing ever. I tried to pull myself together and the bike mechanic told me to hold on, he needed to go check on something.
When he came back, he told me that there was a bike in the back that someone had crashed and that he could take the shifter off of that bike and put it on my bike for 40 bucks. Yes please. Thirty minutes later, I tested my bike out in the parking lot and it shifted flawlessly. Yay!
Side note: The guys at Andy Jordan’s Bicycle Warehouse are AWESOME. I have never been to a bike shop where I haven’t felt intimidated or judged… until now! They never once made me feel like an idiot for not knowing the names of the parts or for not having a tri bike. Best bike shop EVER!
With 30 minutes left to rack our bikes, we sped off to the transition area and dropped off our bikes. Here I am, having a moment with my new shifter. “They” say not to try anything new on race day, but sometimes you have no choice and you have to just go with the flow, put on your big girl tri shorts, be brave and give it your best shot.
Since we were one of the last few triathletes to rack our bikes, we got to size up the competition. I have one word to describe that feeling: AHHHHHHHHHHH! Now, I love my bike, but was super intimidating to rack my bike next to all of those insanely-aero and expensive tri bikes. Guess I wouldn’t be placing in my age group…
I may never win a race, but I definitely win at carbo loading and luckily, that was next on our agenda. Before we even booked our hotels, I had done some research and I knew exactly where I wanted to have dinner. Giuseppe’s Pizza.
There are a handful of chain Italian restaurants in Augusta but we wanted to support a local restaurant. We knew that with 3000+ triathletes all needing to eat dinner, every restaurant would have a wait. However, once we arrived at Giuseppe’s, they told us the wait was only 20 minutes!
Twenty-minutes later, we were sitting at our table, surrounded by other triathletes, feasting on delicious pizza and pasta. We had the BEST server which just made the whole dinner that much better. If you’re ever in Augusta, you have to eat at Giuseppe’s!
After dinner, we stopped at Walgreens to buy disposable water bottles to fit in our bike cages so that we could toss them at the aid stations in exchange for a full bottle of water or Gatorade. I have an odd attachment to all of our bike bottles and didn’t want to part with any of them, so I was happy that we decided to buy plastic water bottles. More on the bike aid stations in part 2!
Once back at our hotel, we went through our checklist, packed up our gear, laid out our race day clothes, got the coffee maker ready and set our alarms for 4:30am.