Oh man, where to even begin with this one? First and foremost, I cannot say enough good things about this race. The staff, volunteers, and entire city were incredibly accommodating. The course was absolutely perfect. Everything was easy to navigate and the race was super spectator friendly. I would absolutely recommend this for anyone interested in doing a 70.3.
This race will go down as the most special race I’ve ever done. I knew my life would change after I crossed the finish line, I just never knew quite how much it.
Patrick and I’s waves didn’t start until 8:45 and 9:04. Even with the later start time we still had to be at transition before it closed at 7:15am. Our bikes were checked the day before so all we had to bring was our helmets, shoes, sunglasses, etc.
We stayed at the host hotel that was right on the river and took advantage of the race day transportation to take us from the hotel to transition. Once there I pumped some air in my tires, filled my water bottles and set up my gear under my bike. With that, I was done and ready to race.
Since we were left with a few hours until our start time Patrick and I made the 1.5 mile walk from transition to the swim start. Before I really had time to think about what I was about to do it was time to pull on my wetsuit and make my way over to the corrals.
We ran into our friends and family waiting over by the start. Patrick’s wave was about 20 minutes before mine. With a few big hugs and a few good lucks he was off. I still had some time to wait, I was second to last wave of the day.
I was emotional and excited but not nearly as nervous as I thought I would be. I was ready. All I could do was trust in my training at that point.
Before I knew it it was my turn to make my way down the dock and get into the water.
For the race to be considered “wetsuit legal” the water temperature on race morning needed to be below 76.1 degrees. Official race morning water temperature was 76 degrees flat. We just made it.
This race has a floating start so you begin treading water.
One of the huge selling points of this race is the down river, current assisted 1.2 mile swim. Everything I have ever heard about it was absolutely true. The water moves fast and is totally in your favor. Its straight down stream so there is hardly any siting needed. When I was finally able to see the final buoy I was actually a bit sad that it was over. The swim was incredible and I knew the rest of the day was going to be hard.
Official 1.2 Mile Swim Time: 31:42
Its a pretty short run from the swim exit to transition which was nice. After a quick stop at the wetsuit strippers station (yes, thats a thing) I quickly found my spot in transition. I threw on my socks, cycling shoes, helmet, and race number, grabbed my bike and started to run toward bike out.
It was sprinkling when I got my bike and the sky was grey without a trace of sunshine. I was grateful to not have the sun beating down on us.
Official T1 Time: 4:51
I got on my bike with no issues and was on my way. The first four miles of this race are in Georgia. During the 4th mile you cross the South Carolina state line and spend the rest of 56 miles there.
I knew the bike was going to be the toughest leg for me. Even though I’d trained for the distance I was not as prepared as I would have liked to be for the hills.
The first 10 or 15 miles are relatively flat. Some little hills but nothing major. The first aid station was at mile 20. I got off my bike there, used a port-a-potty and had a Bonk Breaker. I was so glad I made that stop, I felt like a new person after that.
Miles 30-40 of the course were rough for this Florida girl. Thats where all the hills I kept hearing about were hiding. The uphills made my quads scream in protest. The downhills were nice but a little scary if you’re not used to them. I don’t think I’ve ever taken my bike much above 20mph on our Florida roads. I was doing 30mph downhill without even pedaling. The roads were paved but a little uneven in spots. I had a few wobbly moments but overall adjusted quickly.
The weather stayed consistent for the entire 56 miles. The sun never came out and it sprinkled the whole time.
After mile 40 the hills seemed to be easier and more rolling. That was until mile 46. There was a huge downhill with a left hand turn at the bottom. After the turn was, for me, the worst climb of the entire course. My quads were just about shot at the time. I was riding a whopping 8mph uphill. When I reached the top there was an aid station. I looked at the volunteers and through my gasping for air managed to say “holy hill”. The assured me that was the last of the climbs and it was downhill from there. I put my feet on the ground for a minute or two and refilled my aero drink with the ice cold water they had at the aid station.
The volunteers were right. It was pretty much all downhill from there. I was so incredibly relieved to see transition.
Official 56 mile Bike Time: 3:44:17
My legs were shaking and I was nervous about unclipping and trying to walk but I got off the bike with no problems and ran my bike back to its rack in transition. There I dropped my helmet and put on my running shoes. My hair was in the most incredible knot. I tried to loop in inside my hair tie but it was too much of mess to deal with.
Official T2 Time: 2:56
I was so relieved to be on the run. This was my comfort zone. This part was predictable for me.
The run course was 13.1 miles in 2 loops through the downtown. I’d heard how spectator friendly this course was but never really realized how important it was until I was out there. Both Patrick’s and my parents were sitting at the around the 3 mile mark downtown which was also mile 5-ish and mile 12-ish. It was nice to be able to see them 3 times and know where to look each time.
I didn’t wear a GPS but by the mile markers I could tell I was keeping an 11 to 11:30 mile pace. It felt good and I didn’t need to stop and walk at all.
Around mile 8 it started to pour. My shoes quickly turned into sponges and I was getting water up my nose. That gave me some incentive to pick it up and get to the finish.
The rain finally let up around mile 12 and was back to a sprinkle. Mile 12 wraps around the finish line and brings you through the finish chute.
Official 13.1 Mile Run Time: 2:36:10
When I turned the corner and saw the finish line I got really emotional. I had done it. I had finished my very first Ironman 70.3.
Official Finish Time: 6:59:56
I heard them call my name as I crossed through the finish line. In front of me I saw Patrick waiting there with a medal. A row of volunteers was behind him. I remember wrapping my arms around him in excitement. We’d done it. We’d finished the race.
Patrick hung a medal around my neck and told me congratulations. We hugged a few more times. Then he whispered “nice medal”.
When I looked down I saw it, a beautiful diamond ring was hanging on my medal.
To put the next few moments into words would be impossible. I was so overwhelmed with emotions all I could do was bury my face in Patrick’s shoulder and cry in joy.
Patrick put the ring on my finger and the crowd around us yelled “so is it a yes?”. Of course it was!
Luckily, the whole thing was caught on video:
Our parents emerged from the VIP area behind the finish line and there were many hugs and tears. A reporter from the Augusta Chronicle came over and interviewed us (you can read the article here).
Patrick planned an engagement I could have only dreamed of. It was perfectly “us”.
My life changed in so many ways at that finish line. It was an end of one journey and the beginning of another. I feel so blessed to continue it with my soul mate.
Also, check out Patrick’s engagement post: My Side of the Story