Tuesday, April 7, 2009

New Orleans 70.3 The Novel – Part II

It was race day – finally.  I didn’t get to sleep until midnight and slept maybe 2-3 hours best.  I mulled over taking a tylenol PM the night before but probably should have done that both Thurs and Friday instead…

We were scheduled to give Macca a lift to the race at 5am – so we got our stuff together and headed over to the hotel to get him.  What I was surprised to see is how little junk he brought to transition.  I saw a pair of flats, some food, water and a wet suit – no bottles of sunscreen, tubes of anti chafing cream, or any of the other junk we age groupers bring. 

Lesson 1: less is more = less to carry and less to worry about

Got to transition, got marked and began off-loading my junk.  At about midnight before the race Marc sits up and yells – then he asked me – hey did you get a timing chip?  No.  I figured we’d deal with it in the morning –turns out, we got our timing chips about 2 mins before hopping into the water.

I didn’t warm up – because I had just walked 1.2 miles.  Why?  Well, they were running shuttles from T1/T2 to the swim start – but with 3,000 athletes trying to get to the same place at once – there wasn’t enough buses.  So they said, walk it.  So I did.

Oh yeah, they had 15 toilets in T1/T2.  The other 30 were at the swim start. 3,000 athletes, 15 toilets.  Sweet.

Got into the water which felt perfect – went to the front on the far left and went.  The swim was along the waterfront – which sort of meandered, snake like.  I tried to swim as straight as possible and around as many folks as I could.  I never once stopped and never got boxed behind anyone.  I passed a lot of folks and didn’t feel like I was passed by too many others.  My best swim ever – except the last 10 mins or so my left arm HURT.  Below is a chart of my HR in the swim.  You can see where T1 was. 













On the run up into T1 there was this blue carpet over the sand (not sure why we couldn’t run on sand) – I hit a bit of a hole and tripped, smashing my toenail and bending my toe.  It hurt and there was instantly blood spurting.  Cool.  I wasn’t last in my division – but around 33rd percentile.  About 7 mins off my estimated time.  Crap.

I got to the bike, put on the loaner helmet and got out onto the bike.  The race plan from my coach was to go EZ.  I usually go hard and die on the run – so I was supposed to keep it in Z2 and rarely could I go over 158.  I settled in and felt ok, but not great.  There was a light tailwind – but nothing helpful.  I cruised around 23mph and passed through 40k in 1:06.  It was hot and by about 50k I had finished 2 bottles of water/food.  Then we hit the turn around and went smack into a headwind.  This headwind lasted for the next 40k.  In the chart below you can see where we had some short climbs over bridges (around 15 mins) and then when I hit a headwind section around 32 mins.  You can then see where I turned into the wind at 1:27 and where the suffering began. From 1:27 until the end I went from 23mph avg to 21.4.  It was so windy that sitting 6 inches behind someone’s wheel wouldn’t do any good. 













Lesson 2: a flat course means a lot of pedaling and a good chance of wind.  Be sure to do some long efforts on the bars.

Below you can see my HR for the bike:















By about mile 50 I was pretty cooked – in both spirit and in body. 

I finally got into T2 –never happier to start the run, that was until I started running.  I felt ok and immediately began passing guys even at the sloth-like pace I thought I was going. 

We ran along the water – sort of in the middle of nowhere – fully exposed in the hot hot sun and wind.  Around the 3.5 mile mark I felt pretty bad.  The heat and sun were getting the better of me and my mind left the race.  I grabbed some water and Gatorade – took a quick restroom break and figured I could settle down and collect myself and get back into the race. 

It didn’t help. 

I ended up walking and running the next 7 miles.  My foot hurt from smashing my toe and I was compensating for it and ran a bit awkward which put my left hamstring into fits. 

It turns out I wasn’t the only one.  Out of 300+ men, I was 95th – with mostly WALKING.  Out of 3,000 competitors, I was 509th.  It wasn’t easy.  Ben Greenflield also had a similar run – so I wasn’t the only one beat down by the sun and heat and wind. 

Some thoughts about the run:

  • They had aid stations every 1.5 miles.  They should be every mile in a warm place like that. 
  • There were no sponges and I didn’t get any ice until about the mid-point – maybe it was there in earlier stops but I didn’t see it.
  • No coke.  I’ve never done a race that didn’t have flat coke.  Shame on PEM. 
  • The race course was point to point – making it hard to have spectators along the way.  There were times where it was pretty desolate and I hated that. 

I finished up by running the final 5k of the race.  Mentally I didn’t want to finish by walking.  I wish I had that resolve sooner in the race.  Below is my HR from the run.  You can see I started off and just fell apart about 30 mins into the run. 















The finish line was historic and the last 800 meters were packed with people – but nothing like I’ve seen at Timberman or Oceanside.  After the finish Scott and Macca were waiting for me.  I also caught up with Marc who suffered a similar fate as Ben and experience death at miles 8-13.

Below is the bike course – which runs along the very boring coastline of the lake that flooded New Orleans.  I noted the area that was destroyed by the flood – but based on our trip – most of New Orleans was impacted.  It reminded me a lot of seeing Yellowstone after the big forest fire – a lot of dead trees there and no life. 


















Lesson 3: run more.  run in a tough environment  - like on a treadmill where it’s as tough mentally to do the work as it is physically.

Lesson 4: read about the on-course nutrition support and plan for it.  I should have known where the 3.5 mile mark and known there weren’t sponges and Coke. 

I’ll conclude my race report soon.


Sarah said...

Ugh. It sounds like a LOT of people had a really rough day out there. Good on you for sticking it out. Falling in transition sucks - it happened to me last year at Oceanside.

I can't say New Orleans sounds like a race I'd really ever want to do after all the pleasing experiences I've read about. :P

Kathleen @ ForgingAhead said...

That sounds downright brutal. No wonder you want to start a book club. Totally normal reaction.

Ben Greenfield said...

Good story. I expected to see some sort of rapid heart rate spike at the boiling point for you on the run, but it just kinda stayed high from the get-go. I wish I would have saved my HR to see if mine was similar and started high or if it just went sky-high as soon as the overheating began. Ah well, either way, I agree - ice would have been nice. Give me a holla if you're up in Spokane. I like the Macca logo!