|Hot Air Balloon Time|
The boys and I drove down in the morning. We ate lunch across from the convention center at Subway, and then headed over to the expo to get my Packet. One nice thing about this race is the huge parking lot that the convention center has, so there was plenty of room to park the Explorer with the popup camper.
|Entrance to the Expo|
We cruised around the expo and there were not a lot of people there. This was about 12:30pm or so. I went to the packet tent and they had the bib numbers posted, so you knew which line to get in to get your packet. Got my wristband and all the numbers and headed over to the timing chip station. There they took your picture for the finish line jumbotron. Then it was over to the Rev3 merchandise tent to pick up the free Rev3 visor. Just a generic one this time, not the race specific ones I got for Rev3 FL last year or for this race 2 years ago.
|The Rev3 Expo|
|Entrance to T1|
We stayed at Sadler's Creek State Park 2 years ago when I did this race. There is a KOA that is closer, but I kinda like the scenery of this park nestled into Lake Hartwell on the Georgia border.
So after we setup camp, I checked out all the stuff in the bag. I put my stickers on the helmet and the bike (they did not have a stem sticker as most big races do).
|All the stuff in the bag.|
|Ready to Rock|
|Custom Cut Bike Sticker|
Then I had to put on the Rev3 temporary tattoos. Rev3 doesn't do race morning body marking. You put on these temp tats that go on pretty easy and look very cool. The only downside is that they are a major PITA to get off. Washing and scrubbing with soap will not do it. You need to scrub with alcohol. Even then, it takes longer than a scrubbing off a regular marker.
|Right Hand with wristband|
|Branded as an Old Man.|
|Shoulder Tat (and GL with the photobomb!)|
|Set in my Spot|
|Not too big. Only 567 people in all the races|
|Is this enough "culture"? #ironman #boston #betterthanyou|
|Swim Finish (My Fav)|
|Far Turn Buoy (With Balloon)|
Sunday (Race Day)
I woke up at 5am and threw my clothes on. My wife had driven down Saturday night, so we had two cars. I grabbed my water bottle and headed down to the convention center. Its about a 20 minute drive at that time of day. I parked near the end of transition close to the shuttle buses. I put my shoes, socks, visor, and number band into my spot in T2 and covered it with a plastic bag. It was supposed to be nice all day, but you never know.
I hit the port-o-let and then jumped on the first shuttle bus out to T1. The ride isn't very far, but they went pretty slow. We go dropped off at the Huddle House and then had about a 1/2 mile walk to transition (I should have turned on my Garmin to record it). So priority one in any race that you have to check your bike the day before is getting your tires pumped up. They had several pumps at bike tech, so as soon as I got to my bike I dropped my stuff and took the bike to get it pumped up. I only had to wait in line behind one person, so I got it done rather quickly. I'm glad I did, because the rest of the morning, the line just kept getting longer and longer. I usually get to transition on race morning early. Not because I need the time, but to beat the crowds.
They announced the water temp as 76.7 degrees. That's perfect for me: warm but still wetsuit legal. After I finished my bagel with peanut butter, (2) bananas, and (4) fig newtons, I headed out of transition. I found a picnic table and got on my wetsuit. Dropped my morning clothes bag off, and headed for the beach.
Multisport Ministries did a quick prayer that I participated in. Then I did a short warmup swim. Then came the national anthem, then it was time to corral.
40:33, 27th of 45 Age Group, 171st of 277 Overall Men
My Garmin had 40:03 as I stopped when I first got out of the water and 1.30 miles. That distance is pretty typical to most half races, so I don't think the course was long. This is the only race that I've done with a beach start. The gun goes off and you run into the water. It's not really as crazy as you might think. In fact it was pretty calm, as only a few guys were running. I went off to the right and dove in.
My ranking wasn't horrible (60th percentile) just bad. Better than the bottom 5% in Vegas! I tried to push, and it seemed like I was going hard, but in reality when you average 1:54 per hundred yards in a wetsuit, you're really not going very fast. I honestly don't know why I'm so slow. Most of the swim was pretty clean as far as contact. The dark red turn buoys were pretty difficult to see with an overcast sky and blue tinted goggles. When I saw the 2nd to last red buoy, I thought it was the last one, so that bummed me out some.
|Mapping shows the beach start|
When I did get past that last turn buoy and I was 200 yards from the finish, all of a sudden the swim got super crowded and there were people everywhere. Some were from the wave that started ahead of me (I know, it doesn't seem possible but it's true). It was crazy. I got bumped around more that last 100 yards than the start of any race I've done. I got kicked in the face really hard, and I have a nice upper lip bruise to prove it. That knocked my goggles off. So I went onto my back and had a heck of a time getting them back on without being full of water. After that I literally couldn't take a stroke without hitting or kicking someone. I was glad (once again) to get my feet back on solid ground.
I had a little trouble getting the wetsuit off my second foot. I hadn't worn the thing in 5 months. Other than that I was pretty smooth. Got everything stuffed in my bag and I was off.
2:28:04, 4th of 45 Age Group, 19th of 277 Overall Men
My Garmin had a 22.3 average. I had wanted to average 23, but I really didn't push it in a few spots. In the back of my mind I didn't want to blow up like I did in Vegas. I had heard this course was hilly and had a lot of turns. It did not disapoint. I had 3,566 feet of elevation gain, which is pretty good. It's definitely more than what I typically train on. The big difference here is that there were plenty of rollers. You didn't have to totally exert yourself on every hill.
What I didn't expect as much was all the rough and bumpy roads. Doesn't make for a lot of fun. It played havoc with my Torpedo mount. I had to constantly reattach the velcro straps that kept coming off. Dear X-Lab: The straps you provide are not long enough. It gets a little interesting when you hit a bump at 40 mph and end up holding your BTA bottle because 3 of the 4 straps came off.
|Definitely didn't kill myself|
I took a gel at the 15M and the 45M aid stations. The volunteers were great. At 45M, I yelled 'Gel!' as I came up to them and they communicated it down the line to the gel table. Then the lady kinda ran along with me for a good handoff. The first 15 miles seemed to take a while, but then it seemed all of a sudden I had less than 10 miles to go.
My dismount was flawless and I even got a "Wow" from one of the spectators on that. Pretty happy with my time given that I had to put my socks on.
|Relatively small transition|
1:26:07, 2nd of 45 Age Group, 10th of 277 Overall Men
I kept telling myself to slow down that first mile. I usually feel so good coming out of T2 that I blast that first mile and kinda kill myself. I kept looking at the pace on my Garmin and slowing down as much as I could. Even then I ran a 6:28 first mile. But I felt good. 2nd mile was 6:35 and I felt like I could run that all day long.
|2 Lap Out and Back Course|
The course was pretty much constant hills. I had 904 feet of elevation gain. Actually less than what I usually run on. They were shorter hills (not 2M long like Vegas). You could get some speed on the downhills and attack some of the uphills. Even so, as I approached the 9 mile mark, I really started to feel terrible. I has halfway through an uphill, and I could feel my pace falling off. I hit the mile split and it was 6:55. I thought, oh crap. I had flashbacks to Vegas where I averaged 8:28 miles for the last 4 miles there. So a 1/3 of a mile later I was at the crest of a hill. I told myself: I not going out like this. You can hold this pace. Last race of the year, don't blow it here.
|Just a hill every mile or so|
So I took off on that downhill. I concentrated on picking my legs up and having long strides. Just before the 10M mark I grabbed another gel and stuffed it in my pants. My next mile split was 6:42 and I thought man, I can do this! I struggled a little to get to the turnaround (highest point in the course), took the gel just before the 11M mark and split 6:50. But then I just had 2 miles to go and I just pushed and pushed. I closed with a 6:35 and 6:40, to average 6:42's for the last 4 miles.
That last hill by the hot air balloon field was excruciatingly painful. I was happy to finish with a 1:26 run and average 6:38's. This may have been my best run in a Half Iron tri yet. Yeah, I was 7 seconds per mile slower than Augusta, but Augusta was pancake flat. My HR graph shows I was able to steadily push the whole race.
4:37:59, 4th of 45 Age Group, 17th of 277 Overall Men
I was pretty happy with my time. Even happier when I found out that the overall winner was age 42. So that bumped me up to the 3rd place age group award! Full Results here.
|Free Stuff !!|
As I live in South Carolina, I think the SC on the arm is pretty cool. After the race we kept our tradition of eating the post-race meal at a local (non-chain) restaurant. Here we ventured into Patron's Mexican Restaurant near MLK and Main Street. The Pollo Fundido was excellent and the Coronas were even better.
So I feel good to close out the year this way. Vegas left a pretty bad taste in my mouth, so I was happy to redeem myself. Hopefully someday I will swim faster. I think I could have biked faster on the day as well. The guys in my age group ahead of me all biked much faster than me. The two guys immediately ahead of me both biked right around 2:23. (The overall winner just killed everyone as he finished the race in 4:12!!). So those two guys were 5 minutes faster than me on the bike. But looking at the run, I beat one of them by 9 minutes and the other by 12 minutes. So between the bike and the run I beat them by 4 minutes and 7 minutes respectively.
As I said, I could have biked faster, but would I have blown up like those two guys did and my overall time be slower? It's not out of the question, and that makes triathlon races interesting. I ran the last 4 miles here 7 minutes faster than Vegas. So I know what it feels like to hammer a hilly bike course only to blow up on a hilly run course. Pacing the bike is something I have to delve deeper into as I embark on my first full Ironman next year.