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. 

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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. 

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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:

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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. 

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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. 

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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.

3 comments:

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!