Before I start, I must admit this this race report is long, long overdue. As in, it’s now August and I completed this race in April, but hey- better late then never!
This was my first 70.3 distance race, so I was definitely nervous beforehand, but I had my parents and The Marine there as my support crew all day to keep me motivated. I had set some goals for race day. The first goal was to finish. The second goal was to finish under 8 hours, but push it for under 7 hours if I was feeling good. My third goal was to soak in the whole experience and try to have some fun.
It was definitely a high energy atmosphere when we arrived at the race start that morning. Usually bikes are dropped off the day before for this race, but the weather was so bad (thunderstorms), that the race coordinators waived that rule and we were able to bring our bikes with us in the morning. We got to transition around 6 am and I set up all of my stuff. Everyone around me was so serious and they were starting to stress me out, so I wandered back out of transition and hung out with my parents and The Marine by the finish line. I made sure to drink a ton of water and Nuun and tried to relax.
The traffic getting to the race was apparently pretty heavy that morning, so they delayed the race start by half an hour to give people time to arrive. Uggghh- that meant more waiting! I was ready to just get going!
Finally it was time to head to the swim start. I was really nervous about the swim because I had such a horrible swim during the New Orleans Olympic Triathlon and this Ironman 70.3 had the same swim course, just slightly longer. It was wet suit legal, which made me feel a little better. I’m not sure why, but the wet suit gives me an added sense of security in open water swims. Luckily I had The Maine to help me into my wet suit, and of course my mother was there to document it all (as mothers do)!
I found the rest of my people with the same colored swim cap as me and joined their group. There were a lot of first-times in the group so we all nervously chatted as we got closer and closer to the dock. At one point I started to get a little teary as I approached the dock, but I squashed it quickly. Just take it easy, take your time, and just relax. It’s an easy swim, I can do this. I jumped into the water and waited for the panic to set in like it did during the previous race, but it didn’t. The water was calmer than my last race and I felt really good in the water. I made it round the first buoy, feeling good. Rounded the second buoy, still feeling good. Off to the last buoy and then I’m done! Woo! I got out of the water feeling great, not shaky and weak like last time. I had no idea what my time was, but I wasn’t too concerned about it. I trotted off towards transition, skipping the wet suit strippers because I knew I was going to take my time in transition anyway. I saw my Mom and The Marine as I got into transition and waved. The Marine tried to yell my time to me, and even though I couldn’t hear him, I was impressed he was keeping track!
So I came in just under 35 minutes for the swim. Considering I was trying to take it very easy and no push myself at all, I’ll take it!
After dousing myself in sunscreen and slathering my lady-parts in body glide I was off on the bike.
I was feeling like a million bucks as I set off on the bike. My swim was good, I was feeling energized and hydrated, and I was ready to tackle the next 56 miles. I decided to wear my Camelbak for the bike portion of the race and I was glad I did. I know it’s not the sleekest or most stylish triathlon accessory, but I was petrified of dehydrating so I felt better having it with me as well as my two bike water bottles filled with gatorade and nuun. I also had lots of snacks- a peanut butter sandwich and a variety of gel flavors.
The weather was great for the first portion of the bike. No wind, the sun wasn’t too hot, and the course was mostly flat. I kept track of my pace for the first half of the bike course and I was flying! (Well, for my standards I was flying!) I was easily averaging 17 mph, which put me on track to come in well below a 7 hour race time. In fact at the rate I was going, and with my great swim time, I was guessing I might be able to come in close to 6 hours if I pushed it hard on the run. I was killing it!
Well, I was killing it until about mile 40 when my bike portion of the race kind of fell apart. The last 16 miles of the race were terrible. There was a lovely 18 mph head wind that had kicked up and I was quickly running out of energy to fight it. My butt was killing me, and my shoulders were sore from leaning over the aerobars. Basically, I hadn’t put in enough miles on the bike before the race and it was catching up with me. Then, about two miles away from transition, my chain came off my bike while I was changing gears up a hill. Are you freaking kidding me?!? I was so close to getting off this damn bike and now I’m stranded on this beast of a hill trying to fix my stupid bike chain. Uggghhh! This is when the tears started again. These were tears of pure frustration. It had taken me almost an hour an a half to do the last 15 miles and I still hadn’t made it back. But, again, I pulled myself together after a few minutes, fixed my chain, and made it the last 2 miles to transition where I could FINALLY get off the bike. I don’t think I’d ever looked forward to running a half marathon so much in my life as I did at that moment. Anything but a bike!
My parents and The Marine were waiting or me outside of transition. “Did you get lost?!” The Marine asked as I was getting off the bike. “No, smart ass, but I had to stop and fix my chain.” I pointed down to my hands and legs that were covered in chain grease and he seemed to accept that answer.
I knew my bike time was shit at this point, but at least this meant I could take my time on the half marathon and not run myself to exhaustion. When I saw my stats afterwards I realized just how bad my bike time was.
My pace ended up being 14.39 mph, which was slower than any of my training rides. But whatever, it was over with, onto the run.
The run was great, because I knew there was no way I would make my 7 hour goal at this point, but I could walk at a snail’s pace and still make it under 8 hours. So that’s pretty much what I did. I enjoyed all of the snacks at the aide stations and made some friends as I walked along. I did run a little bit, but I probably walked more than half of the 13.1 miles.
As I got to mile 12, the Marine was waiting for me. “What are you doing?” I asked. “I’ve come to run the last mile with you,” he said very matter-of-factly. I wasn’t really sure if that was allowed, but I wasn’t going to argue with him. Half way though my last mile I saw my friends who were just arriving to see me finish. Unfortunately the official Ironman New Orleans website had the wrong finish location posted and they first went to the wrong place (grrrrrr!!!), but they made it in time to see me running and hang out with my afterwards.
I ran across the finish line feeling surprisingly not too worse for wear. My “run” time was pretty rough, but like I said, I gave myself a pass after the horrific bike ride.
14.25 min/miles isn’t the best, but I’ve seen much worse.
Overall it was an awesome experience. I’m not going to lie, I did enjoy doing absolutely no exercise (other than walks with Pepper) for a good month or so after the race, but then I was ready to get back into it. I’d like to do this race again next year (with more bike training!) now that I know what I’m in for and set some good goals for myself. I’ve also been kicking around the idea of doing the 140.6 in the Woodlands next May, but ssshhhh, don’t tell anyone yet- I haven’t totally decided 🙂
Total time 7:51:05. I am officially a (half) Ironman 🙂