Chris and I arrived Thursday evening after 8 1/2 hours in the car, but the drive was really fine, light traffic, and we got into town around 5:30pm, just in time to check into the hotel and get some dinner. I chose for us to stay about 10 minutes north of the Augusta downtown race venue, in North Augusta, SC which I’m glad we did. While I now see the convenience of staying at the host hotel (The Augusta Marriott) our hotel was close, MUCH
cheaper, and had everything we needed. It was also nice to be able to get away from the race environment, as I was pretty nervous and being surrounded with super fit athletes, bikes, and nonstop Ironman-ness only adds to that! We grabbed dinner at a place called Farmhaus which had amazing burgers and fries, and a crisp hard cider beer that really hit the spot. I looked across the street and spotted a “Welcome Ironman” sign. So exciting! Friday we headed out to breakfast, ran a few errands to pick up a few things we needed, and then headed to the Augusta Convention Center for Athlete Check-In. This was exciting, and really when it all started to sink in… we were actually doing this after training for months!
We got our athlete packets, signed our lives away on our waivers, received our swim caps (green for him, pink for me… as always!) and picked up our ankle strap with timing chip. Then we got our official Ironman backpack! Pretty sure my face says it all! We also got blue Ironman wristbands applied, which we were told had to stay on throughout the weekend. This serves as your pass into transition and other athlete-only areas. We then decided to drive the entire 56 mile bike course. Chris navigated the maps, while I drove. We both were pretty nervous about these “rolling hills” we had been hearing about, as we come from flat-as-a-pancake Florida, so our hill training consisted of riding bridges. Over and over again, yes, but still… not the same as rolling hills! After driving the course, my nerves settled a bit. It was definitely hilly, but nothing crazy, and they seemed really manageable.
We then headed over to check out transition, where Ironman had set up all bike racks, ready for bike check-in the next day. This was definitely the biggest race we’ve done and it was overwhelming seeing the sheer hugeness of it all. We also checked out the swim exit, where a lot of athletes were exiting the river after a practice swim. We put our toes in the water and it was refreshing and clear. Like almost every other athlete in town for the race, we were checking for water temperature updates daily. To be
“wetsuit legal” water temperature must be 76.1 degrees or below, and it had been 77+ in the days prior. It also had been hot… 90 degree temps daily, which certainly wasn’t cooling off the water at all. I was comfortable whether we could wear wetsuits or not, but a wetsuit is always a nice little neoprene buoyant “safety net” so to speak, so I was hoping we would get lucky and get to wear them. (Spoiler alert… we did not!).
We went to bed that evening with a little peace of mind. The hills on the bike course weren’t huge and scary like I’d anticipated, and the river water was surprisingly clear and nice. After a week of pre-race anxiety, I was just a little bit more calm.
The next day, Saturday, we sorted out all of our gear in our hotel room, and tried to get organized. We also put all of our race number stickers where they needed to go. I was thankful I had thought to bring a few household items, because the clear plastic packing tape saved me! Our packet came with a tiny race number sticker, meant to go on our aerobars on the bike, but it didn’t stick. I took a
piece of tape and circumferentially taped it to my bar. Whew. Crisis averted. We then made our way over to bike check-in and racked our bikes which would be waiting for us the next morning in transition. We racked our bikes without incident, took some video and a few pictures, and then decided to make the 1 mile walk back to the convention center for the mandatory Athletes’ Briefing. It was hot, and we were both trying to be conscious of drinking a ton to get plenty hydrated and ready for a rough race day the next day in the heat. The athletes’ meeting was helpful, nothing much I hadn’t already read in the athletes’ guide that came out in the week prior. And then we headed back to the hotel. Our goal was simple… put our feet up, rest, hydrate, eat plenty, and get ready for the day ahead of us tomorrow.
We had thick pan-crust Pizza Hut pizza for dinner (chicken veggie… my fave) which has been a pre-race carbohydrate favorite for a while now. I laid out my race clothes, charged my Garmin, and packed my transition backpack. I mixed my 3 bike bottles with CarboRocket liquid nutrition, which I’ve recently started using in the past 6-8 weeks or so, and I was hopeful it would serve me well the next day. I had picked up a bag of ice and I put as much of that into our tiny hotel freezer, in order to chill our bike bottles the next morning. Finally I put on our TriTats which are amazing temporary tattoos you apply for your race numbers the night before. They have some serious staying power, and no messy sharpie marker the next morning. And with all tasks done, it was our last sleep before the big day! Stay tuned for the race report…