This race was my first Pro race back since the string of 70.3 races that I did in the Spring. I’ve made a lot of changes since then, and I was excited to get back on the line with some super fast guys! Between having a more stable job, a healthier diet, and working with my coach Jesse Vondracek, my training has been going better than ever leading up into this race and Ironman Louisville in 3 weeks. This was the 9th year of Augusta 70.3 and I actually volunteered for it back in 2012 when some of my Collegiate friends, Dan McMahon and PJ Pelaez, raced it. The course plays to a lot of my strengths as an athlete with a fast swim, rolling bike, and flat run. Although the run does tend to get warm as all Southeastern races do.
It was nice to be able to stay at home since we live only an hour away, though sleeping in my own bed before a big race seemed a bit strange! We woke up just before 4am and finished packing to make the drive. Setting up transition went flawlessly and before too long they were calling the Pro Men to the dock for a quick warm up. Immediately after jumping in it was apparent that the river had a good current that would assist us as I started floating down the river on my back. It wasn’t insanely quick, but definitely noticeable and would make for a fast swim. After a short 5 minute delay, the horn sounded and we were off!
I lined up towards the left of the start with some swimmers I had hoped to key off of to my right. My swim training has been much improved lately, and I could notice as I held steady with what could be considered the 2nd pack of swimmers. It was an interesting swim that included some synchronized swimming with Jesse Thomas, getting whacked in the head a few times by Matt Russell, and an elbow to the face from Thomas Gerlach. Overall I was very pleased to find that my swimming has progressed enough to be in this group without ever feeling like I was overexerting myself. I ended up coming out of the water in a current assisted 22:19 at a pace of 1:09/100 meters.
The first transition was blazing as everyone wanted to get on the bike quickly to get away. I lost a bit of time here and started the bike watching the main group about 15-30 seconds up the road. I pushed hard to attempt to close that gap, but I knew that it wasn’t sustainable and I was making minimal progress. Eventually, I pulled the plug and backed down to a more reasonable pace but my legs were already not liking what had just happened. The rest of the ride was largely spent with 1 or 2 other athletes around at any given point. I focused on trying to take in as much nutrition as I could and keeping the speed up. I ended up averaging 25.4 mph for the ride with my body really not enjoying what had just happened. I was ready for the reset button that comes with the start of the run and the possibility of chasing some athletes down!
My legs felt a little tight starting out, but I was able to hold right at a 6 minute/mile pace without putting out too much effort. The first 5 miles passed by relatively quickly right around or just above this pace without any issues. Over the next few miles though, the pace began to get a bit slower and the effort quickly got a lot higher. By mile 9 I felt like I was just trotting at times and had a few miles that were over a 7 minute/mile pace. With a little under a mile to go, I picked it up a bit as fellow Epix Gear athlete Steve Rosinski was coming from behind. I ended up holding him off and crossed the line in 11th place Overall in 4:02:24 with a run split of 1:24:37.
While this isn’t the race I dreamed of, it stands as my best placement in a Pro race so far. I can tell that I am improving, and to be even getting close to the guys that I looked up to from the start of racing is exhilarating to me! Next up is the Toughman SC Half in 6 days in Greenwood, SC followed by Ironman Louisville 3 weeks from today.
Congrats to everyone from the Columbia area that competed in this race and Ironman Chattanooga this weekend! It was great getting to see people I knew on course and not having to leave super early to get home. I didn’t get to see everyone, but I’m sure we’ll see each other out on the roads training soon!