Twenty one athletes are here in Augusta with Peak Racing ( http://www.peakracingteam.com ) participating in the training camp for the 70.3. Most of us arrived on Friday evening August 1st, and we ran into several of them along with the coaches as we were all unloading our vehicles. A welcome dinner was scheduled at 7PM at O’Charley’s for those who arrived Friday night, so as soon as we unloaded, we were pretty much out the door to dinner.
Dinner was a fun evening with a good chance to get to know the coaches a little bit better before the long weekend. As we arrived, we were each handed a folder with the weekend schedule, all of the coaches’ cell phone numbers, and maps of the courses. O’Charley’s was able to seat us pretty quick, and we all ordered dinner. While we were waiting for dinner, Tony Hammett gave us an overview of the weekend’s schedule and explained more about where we were meeting for the swim in the morning, and how the day’s activities would play out. He also introduced the other Peak Racing coaches – Chuck Sims, Josh Stephens, and Valentin Alvarez- as well as the support staff for the weekend. Eedee Frascella from All3Sports ( http://www.all3sports.com ) was there. She would be driving the All3Sports van for SAG support, and Kat Hammett would be driving a vehicle with nutrition if needed as well. At the end of dinner, we were all given goody bags with some pretty cool swag including a gender specific tech shirt. After dinner, we all headed to the hotel to get a good night’s sleep for our early start at 6:15AM in the morning.
At the hotel, I packed up everything I’d need for a swim, bike, and run, and measured out my nutrition into bottles, so the next morning I could just fill them with water and go without much thought since I don’t think very well at 4:30AM. I didn’t sleep well, but that’s par for the course for me for any big event, so that 4:30AM alarm came EARLY! I filled my bottles with water, poured them into my Speedfil and xLab bottle on the bike, ate a protein bar, got dressed, went downstairs and grabbed some weak coffee (I needed extra caffeine and this didn’t cut it), and headed back up to my room to grab my stuff and head down to meet Wayne to ride over to the transition area.
We arrived about 6AM. The river pretty much stays wetsuit legal all year, and today wasn’t any different. The water was somewhere around 70 degrees we were told, and we had been told to bring our wetsuits ahead of time, so everyone had theirs ready except 1 person. He had accidentally grabbed his wife’s wetsuit, so be sure the one you grab is yours if you have more than one at your house! The transition is at the swim exit since it is a down river swim, so we all had to walk a mile to the start. Everyone grabbed their stuff and carried it to the start, and Peak had a truck at the start to take our bags with our shoes and stuff that we didn’t want back to transition for us, so we didn’t have to walk barefooted. The Peak staff sprayed everyone with TriSlide and helped us with our wetsuits, then we all entered the water along with Tony in a kayak and Josh on a paddleboard in case anyone needed assistance. The swim was a little cold, but with my wetsuit, it didn’t feel bad at all. This was the first time I had ever put my wetsuit on outside of All3Sports when Eedee fitted me for it, and I bought it. It was snug, but Eedee did a great job fitting me, and the suit didn’t limit my reach or chafe. We didn’t quite swim the full 1.2 mile course due to not being able to enter at the normal start of the course, so we ended up with just under a mile swim. I completed it in 20:35, so for race day, I should be under 30 minutes.
As we exited the swim, Kat had brought all of our bags down to the boat ramp and laid them out, so we could grab our bags and shoes to walk to our cars. We had to park in a lot about 300 yards away instead of the official transition lot due to an event in the other lot.
Tony went over a little bit of information about SAG vehicles and the course before we split into groups. Shari, Clay’s wife, was there and volunteered to be an additional SAG vehicle for us, so we’d have 3. The forecast was calling for rain….and thunderstorms, so we went over what we’d do if there was lightning, and then we were off in our 3 different groups. The first group was an 18-20+mph group, not me. The 2nd group was 16-17 mph, not sure. The 3rd group was 13-14 mph, sounds leisurely. 😉 When we signed up for the camp, we were asked about our paces for running and cycling. I had put in 16 mph, and I usually average somewhere in the 15.7-16.4 mph range, so I wasn’t sure exactly where I needed to go. They had created the group paces based on what everyone had entered, and I had entered 16 mph, but I really fell in the middle of the two groups. Coach Chuck said to go with group 2, so I did, but I told him I wasn’t sure I could keep up for 56 miles. Of course, he assured me I could as he always does…..I don’t know why he has so much confidence in my pace when I don’t myself, but I guess coaches are there to reassure you and push you when you doubt things, and he definitely does.
About 40 minutes into the ride, the rain set in, and we started seeing lightning, so we were directed by the coaches to head to the BP gas station where we hung out for about an hour as the storm seemed to just sit right on top of us. The coaches kept a close eye on the radar, and they had to make a call to either move out and try it or turn back. The radar didn’t look favorable, but the lightning was gone for now, so they made the call to continue on. Now that we were all cooled down, naturally the hills started. It took a while for my legs to warm back up, and my body as well since I was soaked, and it was still pouring on us. We were also getting to the point on the course where the turns kicked in, so the SAG vehicles would leap frog each other and sit at practically every turn we came to, so no one would get lost. The next 20 miles were fairly hilly, so I started falling behind a bit, but I always had a SAG vehicle or a coach in sight at the turns. I didn’t want to push it through the hills since I needed to finish 56 miles today and my longest ride was 45 just last week, so I was glad that they made sure I didn’t get lost, but since I had fallen behind by myself, and I was an idiot and decided at the BP station to hit the lap button and set up auto laps on my watch. I had NO CLUE what mile I was at for the last 35+ miles. In hindsight, it was probably a good thing because I couldn’t ever really push my pace too much since I had no idea how many miles I had left. Finally, we crossed the river and I knew I had to be within a couple of miles of the finish, and I was feeling pretty good. My legs weren’t shot, and I didn’t feel exhausted. We pulled into our transition area, racked our bikes on the cars, changed shoes, and were off.
The run was just a short transition run today. Coach Chuck had 20-30 minutes on my training schedule, so I ran 15 minutes out and back. I started too fast considering I haven’t ran under an 11 minute mile after any of my bike rides, but I was able to maintain the pace fairly well for the 3 miles. I wouldn’t have been able to maintain it for 13.1 though, so I’ve got to remember to start SLOW!
After the run, we were to head back to the hotel, change and shower if we wanted to, then meet the coaches in the conference room for lunch and debriefing.
At the debriefing, the coaches went over some tips for the swim and bike as well as what to expect with the Augusta 70.3 on the day of the event. They also covered some things they saw some of us doing on the course today that we might want to work on as well as answered questions that athletes had, and they even quizzed us and had some giveaways.
The water was cold. The day was wet. The roads were slick, but no one got lost and no one crashed. Everyone finished the swim, and I feel a LOT better about where I’m at in training for the Augusta 70.3.
I’ve got about 40 minutes before dinner and more discussion with the coaches, then an early morning 10-13.1 mile run tomorrow. Looking forward to the rest of camp.