Perseverance Pays Off at Ironman 70.3 Augusta by Cameron Thomas
Lindsay and Cameron post-race at Ironman 70.3 Augusta
This has been a great year of training with Team In Training for Ironman 70.3 Augusta which has brought me to my next challenge, the Ironteam. I did not have the best race but I thought I would share it with some of you who were not on the Team and who might be on the fence about joining the Ironteam. Ironman Tempe Arizona will be my fourth TNT event and I cannot wait until the season starts. Here is my race report from Augusta. Go Team!
Friday, September 24th
This was a busy day at work although I have to say everyone at my office has been very supportive of my training and my fundraising so it was nice to get all of the good luck wishes from everyone. I think everyone knew I was excited and ready to get to the race. Some of them probably were tired of hearing about it and were ready for me to get it done, so I would shut up about the event but as I said I could not have a more supportive work family than I have. That evening I got home and began to lay out all of my gear on the kitchen table. I am not sure if any of you have ever competed in a triathlon but there is a lot of gear from swim goggles to running shoes and my kitchen table was completely covered. I slowly packed my gear while running through my transitions from the swim to the bike to the run to ensure I had everything. I packed my bags and did a quick check over of my bike to ensure it was ready to go. I finally went to bed at 11pm, but didn’t fall asleep until 2am.
Saturday, September 25th
I woke up around 4:30am to double check all of my bike gear and get ready to leave. I drove up to meet Lindsay and Chris so we all could carpool to Augusta. We finally got our bikes and gear loaded and left around 8:30 for Augusta. We arrived in Augusta around 11am and checked into the hotel and went to check in at registration. At that time I could not believe the amount of people competing in this event. (Later on I found out this is one of the largest half ironman’s.) I completed my check in and then went back to my room to get ready for a team swim at 2pm.
I made it to the team swim and thank goodness I brought my wetsuit with me. I never expected the Savannah River to be cold but it was around 70-74 degrees. Most everyone at the beginning seemed a little intimidated with the course because we could not see the end of it from the start. The orange swim buoys are what helps guide us to the swim finish. I finally jumped in and got my swim completed and felt I was good to go but little did I know what was in store.
The next event for the day was bike check in. If you ever competed in a major triathlon you know you have to bring your bike to the transition area to be inspected and checked in the day before the race. This is also the time where you figure out how you come in from the swim and where you enter and exit on the bike and run. I was amazed at how big the transition area was and how many bikes was in this area. I checked in my bike then headed back for a quick nap and to get ready for the inspiration dinner.
If you have ever completed a Team In Training event then you know one of the highlights of the weekend other than the event itself is the inspirational dinner. This year Trey’s Father gave the inspiration speech how much help The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society has benefited his family and helped save his son’s life. Every event I go to the inspiration dinner seems to be one of my most memorable times because it reminds me that all of my fundraising is truly paying off. Just to let everyone know that Team In Training raised over $340,000.00 for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society which is amazing. We had a team meeting after dinner to review the rules and regulations of the race and then I went back to my room to try and get some sleep.
Sunday, September 26 (Race Day)
The alarm went off at 3:30 am and I knew this was race day and I could not wait to get the race started. I woke up, did my usual routine of getting ready and headed down to the lobby to meet up with the team at 5:00 am. The team all met up and you could feel the excitement and energy. I knew there was going to be times during the race where it was going to get tough so I decided to write my honored hero’s names on my forearm as inspiration. We made a couple of pictures and then loaded the shuttles to go to the transition area. We arrived at the transition area at around 6:00 am and I began to set up my gear the way I wanted to ensure my transition times were as quick as possible. After setting up my gear, I grabbed my wet-suit and headed to the start.
I was in the 5th swim wave which was starting at 7:46 AM. I made my way to the swim start with my usual group (Lindsay, Chris, and Katie) to begin the process of sitting and waiting. I was ready to go, but we had about 45 minutes to just hang out and stretch. Then as the weatherman said, it started to rain which would be no big deal as long as I made out of the swim and to my shoes so I could put my socks on before they were soaked. There was only one other person in my swim wave named Chris. I met up with him close to the start and we made our way to the swim start. I jumped into the cold water and that is when I started to get nervous about the race but before I could really think about it any further we were off. I made my way through the swim with little issues until I went to exit the swim and then I felt something pull in my right calf muscle. I remembered making eye contact with one of our coaches and saying this is not good. At first I thought it was a cramp but little did I know it was something much worse than that. I hobbled up and got my wet suit off and found my bike.
1.2 mile Swim time 29 minutes.
I pushed my bike to the beginning of the transition area where I finally got on my bike in pain. I luckily had a friend named Brenda at the start of the bike ride who provided a load of encouragement to complete the tri. The first 10 miles of the ride I tried to stretch my calf out thinking it was just a leg cramp but the longer I was out there the more I realized it was not a typical leg cramp. I pretty much made my mind up about half way through the ride that I was going to push the bike as much as I could because I knew I was not going to be able to run. Unfortunately, I only had one good leg to push with so it made it even harder. I owe a huge thanks to some of my teammates who helped encourage me as I pushed on the bike. (David, Tushar, Alec, Sasha, Mike, and Monica) I made it back to the transition area where I said to myself we are about to see how bad the pain really is. As soon as I dismounted from the bike I could hardly standup and basically had to use the bike as a walking cane to get me back to my transition area. I sat down put on my tennis shoes and looked down at my forearm where I had my honored hero’s names listed and thought to myself if they can beat cancer then I can finish the race. I got up and headed out for the run.
Completed the 56 mile bike course in 3 hours and 1 minute.
RunAt the beginning of the year I was ready for the run since I just completed my 2nd marathon but I didn’t expect to be dealing with the issues that were given to me. At the beginning of the run, my coaches were standing on the corner cheering me on. I want to say I really appreciated the support I received from Mike, Mary, and Darren at that time because I was in a pain like I never have experienced but I was determined to finish. For the first time in a long time I was forced to walk and slow jog the half marathon. Throughout the run I received words of encouragement from fellow teammates who could tell I was in severe pain. I have to say that if my teammates, friends, coaches, my parents and the inspiration I got from thinking about the honored heroes I am not sure if I would have finished. I completed the 13.1 mile run in about 3 hours.
My overall Half Ironman time was 6 hours and 42 minutes.
I have always told first time marathoners that they were going to learn a lot about themselves during the run and I have to say the same goes for a half Ironman. I have always been taught to never quit anything that you started. I might not have had the best time but I learned that I know how to adapt and overcome when things do not happen exactly the way you want them to. If you are wandering why I am sitting down in my picture it is because my leg was swollen I could hardly stand. I have to say thanks to all of my awesome teammates for their support. I cant wait until our IronTeam training begins.
Cameron Thomas first joined TNT in 2009 and ran the Marine Corps Marathon with the Team. After running the 2010 Rock 'n' Roll San Diego Marathon also with the Team, he transitioned to triathlons and is now on the 2011 IronTeam squad.