Ochsner Ironman 70.3 New Orleans - Triathlon1/2 Ironman

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New Orleans, Louisiana
United States
Premier Event Management
68F / 20C
Total Time = 6h 35m 43s
Overall Rank = 237/400
Age Group = Athena 39-
Age Group Rank = 2/8
Pre-race routine:

I would have been 27/47 if I had raced AG.

Hubby and I traveled down to NOLA on Sat. I got up kinda early so my sister could do my hair in French braids. We left about 9 o'clock. We got there a bit before 3. I made it to the 3 pm race briefing. I learned that the drafting rules were more strict than the typical USAT rules. I then got stamped and picked up my race packet. I had to actually weigh in to prove that I was Athena eligible! First race where I had to do that. I got my official NOLA IM 70.3 wrist band that allow me access to athlete only areas. Then I walked to our hotel which was 0.6 miles away. And then we went to go drop off my bike at transition. When we got there, they told me that I had to have my number on my bike to drop it off and I had left that at the hotel. So we drove back to the hotel and then drove back to transition. About an hour later, I successfully dropped off my bike. While we were there, I walked around the insanely huge transition area. I mean, I knew that it would be big. I knew how many athletes there were competing, but somehow I hadn't put it all together in my head so when I saw just how big transition was. I felt just a little bit overwhelmed. I mean, it was a whole big field. More bikes than I've ever seen in one place in my whole life. It was incredible. I stood at my bike location, looked around, made sure that I knew where it was in relation to all the entrances/exits. I walked the different paths from swim in to bike out and then bike in to run out several times. I went down to the water side and somehow just looking at the water and standing on the sand made me feel at peace. I knew I had done my best to train. I had done all I could. I was ready.

Then we headed to Mandina's to eat dinner. We were too late to eat with the main group from BT thanks to my bike number mix up. But I did get to meet some people as the group was still there but finishing up. Then hubby and I ate with GaryRM because he was also running late. I had a light dinner of chicken, potatoes, and green beans. It was a good dinner and thankfully on the small side. I don't think I could have eaten much more because nerves were starting to really get to me. I wound up having to tell myself that it really wasn't a race at all, that I was just there with other people to have a good fun day of doing the things I love to do. I kept telling myself that riding and running and swimming by myself is SO boring but tomorrow, I get to do those things WITH other people. It's going to be so much fun. All the positive self talk actually really improved my nerves and made me feel a lot better.

We went to bed really early that night. I think 9:30ish. I took some Benadryl partially because my allergies have been absolutely nuts lately and partially to help me get to sleep. Sleep came easily.

Woke up at 4:00 am. Wow, that is early. Ate my typical oatmeal and PB. Nerves weren't too bad, but I was glad that I was done with eating for a while because eating can be so hard when I have any kind of nerves going on. We drove down transition. Parking was actually really great. I was impressed. One less thing to have to stress about on race morning. We got there about 5:30. I got body marked, and went to set up my transition area. I borrowed another girl's pump to do one last check on the tires and I discovered... my back tire was FLAT!!! I have no idea how that happened at all. When I left it there on Sat, it was good. But I kept my cool, and they had bike maintenance help there in transition. A very nice man, took care of it within minutes. Then after he had fixed it up and gotten everything good to go, he said, the tube is $6, please try to come back after the race and pay us. How cool is that. They helped me out before they even asked for money. My hubby was standing there next to the transition fence. I yelled at him to kindly pay the man $6. Haha. :) I've never been so happy to pay $6 for a tube in my life. I was so relieved to have the bike back in race condition. Whew!

Okay, back to my area. Set up everything. I went back out of the transition area to use the portapoties because they said they didn't want us to use the ones in transition yet. A tip for next year, at least double if not triple the number of portapoties. There was quite a wait. But I used the bathroom and then I got hubby to spray me down with sunscreen. I gave him one last hug and kiss and headed back into transition. I got my stuff ready and was headed down toward the beach when I realized, oh crap, I need to crap. Haha! I look over at the portapoties in transition and I guess people said forget it we've gotta use the bathroom because they were now in use. So I stood in line for those. The announcer started telling us that it was time to start clearing transition. Then at 6:45, I'm still in line and he's like seriously, time to get out of transition. but I along with everyone else still standing in line was like, not until I get my pre race dump in, okay? Haha. So I finally get to use the bathroom at like 5 till 7. When I get out, they're doing the national anthem, and I run up and over the little hill separating the beach and transition, just in time to see the pro men head out.

Whew, okay so I'm on the beach, I've used the bathroom. Now it's time to wait. I'm in wave 13 which starts at 7:48 so I've got a while. I started with my age group wave btw. There was no wave for Athenas, we just meshed in with our various AGs. I stand around and talk to various people on the beach and watch the various waves start. I do a bit of dynamic stretching. About 5 waves to go, I decided it was time to get the wet suit on. I ask a nice lady on the beach if she would mind letting me lean on her while I get it on. We start talking. I find out she's 6 months pregnant!! Craziness! That's really cool that at 6 months she's still able to do triathlon. She had her doctor's approval and was fine with having to walk most of the run. It was a good thing for me to see that you can still be active when you are pregnant. I'm not saying that I'm going to do a HIM when I'm 6 months pregnant, but she at least showed me what is possible.

So I get the wet suit half way on. We chat for a minute. Then we were called to come get in the "corral" when we were 3 waves away from starting. So I go head down to the waters edge where other people were waiting (not the "corral" area) and go ahead and get one last pee in before the race start. I know that water had to be half urine because there were a ton of people in there up to their wastes. Gross! haha! So then I head to the corral area and get into the rest of the wet suit, put in ear plugs and swim cap. Finally it's our waves turn. I get the goggles on and kinda sneak around to the front on the end and the horn sounds. We're off!!
Event warmup:

Just a bit of dynamic stretching on the beach. We weren't supposed to get into the water until our wave started.
  • 44m 22s
  • 2112 yards
  • 02m 06s / 100 yards

I would have been 31/47 if I had raced AG.

I know my pace looks pretty terrible, but the water was super duper rough. I saw someone else describe it as a mixture of the ocean and a washing machine. It is the worst swimming conditions I've ever experienced. Some participants actually opted out of the swim which means that they still do the bike and run portion, but they aren't eligible for any awards. I actually felt my stomach turn over a few times, and that has never happened to me in a swim before.

I set out and ran ahead of some people. I was feeling okay, getting used to the rough water. I started out fast. The first buoy was a grope fest as usual. Nobody means to, of course, there are just so many of us trying to be in one spot at the same time. So we round the buoy and I try to get my rhythm going. I think I was pretty far ahead of most of the people in my wave. It was extremely difficult to sight with the chop. I was just sighting off of the people in front of me for the most part. I realized a few minutes in that I had forgotten to start my watch at the horn. So I quickly tapped the start button and kept swimming.

I soon noticed that I wasn't seeing many more green swim caps (my wave's swim cap color) and I was seeing some pink and yellow. I was catching up to the slower swimmers from previous waves. Sweet! I kept catching up to feet and drafting a bit, then passing. I was feeling pretty good.

At just past the half way point, I took a swift kick to the left eye. The dirty water was making it difficult to see plus my goggles were really foggy at this point and we were headed directly into the sun so I didn't see the person until his/her foot made contact with my face. Miraculously, the seal of the goggle with my face didn't break and I managed to just adjust quickly without even taking my face out of the water and keep going. About 2/3 of the way through, I was really getting tired of being battered and started really looking forward to the swim being over.

Finally, I saw the last yellow buoy and started to swim in. I glanced around at one point and saw that no one was in my close vicinity and used the opportunity to empty the bladder. Finally, I made it to dry land!

I checked my watch and was disappointed to see 42 minutes, which I knew really meant more since I didn't start my watch on time. I knew that sub 6 was almost certainly out of reach at this point. The sub 6 goal meant that each leg would have to be great so I didn't let go of it right away, but I knew that it was extremely unlikely, but I was okay with it. The water conditions were far from ideal, and I had no control over that.
What would you do differently?:

I don't really think there's any way for me to practice such rough conditions. If I were a pro or something, I suppose I would figure it out, but since I'm not, I'll just roll with the race day punches.

I could have used some more open water swim practice. With my fear of being alone in the water, this is pretty difficult. Most of my buddies around here that would go open water swimming with me, don't have wet suits so they won't go this early in the year. I've been trying for 2+ years to get over it, and it hasn't happened yet. I guess I'll keep working at it.

It would have been nice to have more sighting buoys especially with all the chop.

Overall, I think I was as prepared for the swim as I was able to be. Things out of my control made for a sub-par pace for me, but I was still in the top half for the swim portion.
Transition 1
  • 02m 55s

I ran up and over the hill into transition. I managed to get my wetsuit down to my waist and my goggles, ear plugs, and cap all off by the time I got over the hill where the wet suit strippers were. I quickly laid down on the ground and kicked the guy in the face! I felt really bad. I said "oh my gosh, I'm so sorry!" He said, "No problem" and yanked my suit off in 2 quick jerks. I was up and off. I left the guy with mud on his face. Haha. I ran directly to my spot without getting lost, threw the wetsuit and other stuff down. I wiped my feet off a bit with my hands before pulling socks on and putting on my shoes. Then on with the sunglasses, on with the race belt, GUs into my back pocket, helmet on, and off I go with my bike.

I had the 2nd fastest transition in my division. I was 130/400 overall, and I would have been 14/47 if I had raced AG.
What would you do differently?:

2:55 was a bit slow, but not too bad. The enormous size of transition was really the only thing that slowed me down, and I was off in the corner so I had pretty far to go. I did what I could and it went smoothly.
  • 3h 16m 54s
  • 56 miles
  • 17.06 mile/hr

I would have been 28/47 if I had raced AG.

The first 10 miles or so were really rough. The wind was pretty brutal at that particular angle plus the roads were very rough. I was very happy to turn out of the direct head wind. Then there were 3 overpasses. I did just fine on the hills. I live in AL so they were pretty much nothing for me, and I passed a lot of people on them. I had been only expecting one hill from last years race reports so even though I handled them fine, they did slow my average speed down a bit.

I hit the first bottle exchange at mile 16 I think, and I didn't need anything yet so I just flew on through. I did my best to follow the drafting rules, but I did break them a few times. It irks me when people give it everything they've got to get past me, so they're going fast then they pass me and immediately slow it down to like 14 MPH. Then it's my responsibility to get 7 meters behind that person within 20 seconds so I have to drop it on down to like 12 MPH. I only did that like once and then I just started re-passing them without dropping out of the zone first. Then there was difficulty with so many people being close together at times. Some one passes me while I'm in the process of passing 3 other people. I am actively passing them, but I've been in his drafting box perhaps for more than 20 seconds, I don't know. It was a bit tricky and fortunately, I didn't get caught on some of my little mess ups, but I really was trying for the most part to follow the rules. It just seems rude to power out in front of someone and then start free wheeling.

Anyways, the miles stretched on. I took GUs starting at 1 hour in, and continued taking them every 45 minutes as planned. I had 1 bottle with water and 1 with G2. I was having a pretty good time. Pretty early on, my inner upper thighs started hurting. This surprised me quite a bit because I've been on many long bike rides and I didn't expect any kind of leg aching until at least mile 35-40. It wasn't horrible, but I really can't explain it. I focused on round pedal strokes since only the "mashing" part caused pain, and well, I should have been focusing on round pedal strokes anyways. :p

I think at mile 30 we had our second bottle exchange, and I needed both water and G so I tossed both of my bottles and thanked God for my softball skills because I had no trouble snagging the bottles without slowing too much. The miles continued. I skipped the last bottle exchange.

I passed mile 45 and realized that I had never ridden my bike this far before. Then I decided I had really better pee before I get off the bike. (For those of you who are unfamiliar with cycling/triathlon, I know this sounds gross, but it's actually really normal. I saw a LOT of people peeing on their bikes out there.) So I'm like okay, and.... here I go!.... nothing. Okay, that's alright, you weren't really focused. And let it rip!.... nothing. Hmmm. I had never peed the bike before so I guess I just thought it would be easy. I can pee in a lake while swimming so I mean, I figured peeing while in a seated type position would be nothing. I was really starting to get frustrated and I was trying to recall every tip I'd read on BT about peeing the bike. Hose down shorts with water, check. And pee!.... nothing! Dang it! Finally I got it. It was extremely difficult though! Haha! I was happy for that because I did not want to have to pee in transition. I hosed myself down again.

I passed a bunch more people going back in over the 3 hills. I really felt very good about my bike ride. It was not much slower than I had been shooting for and considering the addition of 2 unexpected hills and quite a bit of wind, I felt quite pleased with my performance. I didn't push super hard and I went at a fairly comfortable pace, not like an easy peasy pace, but I thought it was a good race pace for me.

I made it back down the last stretch of crappy road and back to transition. Yea! :) Kevin was there just outside of transition taking my pic and saying cheering me on. :) Total I consumed 4 GUs on the bike.
What would you do differently?:

I felt really good about my performance until I looked at my position in the overall results. I wasn't even in top half. Bummer. I guess I just have to chalk this up to my first longer race and stiffer competition, not to mention I still have a lot of extra weight compared to most of the athletes I saw out there.
Transition 2
  • 02m 10s

I finally learned how to jump off of my moving bike for this race. It was a lot easier than I expected. I only found it necessary to practice this a few times before the race. I undid my right shoe, but left my foot in the shoe. Then I undid my left buckle and slid my foot out of the shoe and put it on top and continued pedaling to get the remaining ~100 feet or so. Then I slid my right foot out of my shoe and swung that leg over onto the left side of the bike, and right before the dismount line, just step off and onto the ground. Again, another time when I am glad for my athletic skills developed in childhood/high school. :) One volunteer actually said, "Go girl!" Haha!

So then I run into transition in my sock feet. I attempt to quickly rerack my bike, but somehow I wasn't lifting it high enough and wasted a few seconds with a couple of slipped reracks. Then I go to put on my shoes and I realize I have about a million stickers on my feet. Carumba! You know, the little vecro-like bramble things that fall off of trees. So I quickly rake them off, some I have to pick off individual. By this point I'm like FREAKING BRAMBLES!! Ahhh!! But I get my shoes on, off with the helmet, tuck some more GUs into my back pocket, grab my sweat band, and off I go!

I had the fastest transition in my division. I was 87/400 overall, and I would have been 12/47 if I had raced AG.
What would you do differently?:

Perhaps, I this would have actually been a good race to keep the shoes on in transition instead of doing a flying dismount considering all the brambles/stickers/whatever they're called. But I didn't know that, and overall it went pretty smoothly.
  • 2h 29m 24s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 11m 24s  min/mile

I would have been 31/47 if I had raced AG.

As soon as I started running, before I even got out of transition, I could tell that I had obviously missed a bramble on my sock. So I figured I might as well stop when I get back to Kevin who is just outside of transition so I can see him for just a sec. So I run up to him, and he's like "what are you doing?" when he sees me stopping. Haha! I tell him about the bramble, and quickly take off my shoe and pick it out. Then I tell Kevin I love him and I'll see him at the finish line.

The first 3 miles went really quick. Honestly, I could hardly believe I was already at the 3rd aid station. I was like okay! Let's do this! I drink water at every station and at the 3rd I take one of my own GUs since I'm so picky about my vanilla GU's. I decide to walk the 3rd aid station because I am kinda thirsty and I want to make sure I get water in my mouth not just sloshed all over me, plus my legs are feeling a bit tired. But at this point, I'm still feeling great.

I'm talking to people, making conversation. I know probably several people out there probably had the thought, "wow, that girl is crazy!" but it's a good way for me to keep my mind off of any kind of discomfort I'm feeling. I'll take this opportunity to mention how absolutely fantastic the race support was. Aid stations were very well stocked. The volunteers and the people who had come out to watch were extremely friendly and encouraging. There were probably 4 different people out in front of their houses spraying us with hoses. One kid and his mom were passing out water balloons. Great times.

Over the next 3 miles, I walk each aid station, but I'm still feeling pretty decent. Although, my stomach decides that no more GUs are to enter. I'm starting to feel a bit of stomach upset, but I can deal. In hind sight, I should have started shoveling other types of food at the aid stations down my pie hole, but I thought I would be okay. I'm think, I've got this. Then somewhere just past the 10k mark, I really start to bonk. I'm slowing down. If it weren't for the people cheering us on at most of the corners, I don't know what I would have done. I just got so slow and so tired. As each mile progressed, I was walking more and more and running slower and slower. I was trying to talk to people to take my mind off of how much pain I was in. It worked some. I'm not sure I can remember a time in my life where I was in so much pain for such an extended period of time. My calves hurt, my feet hurt. It didn't help anything that my shoes were filled with water from pouring it over me at every aid station. It certainly kept me cool but my feet were starting to feel like I had bricks attached to them.

At I think it was maybe the 9 mile aid station I took about 1/3 of a peanut butter power bar which seemed to help a little bit. In the last 5k, I was barely trudging along. Walking much more than the aid stations. Starting back up to my super duper slow run took every bit of motivation I could muster. All I wanted to do was to just stop moving. Several women towards the end really helped keep me going. Somehow we managed to be together on and off toward the end and we just somehow kept each other going. We past a parade at one point I think. That was sort of random and it only had like 1 float. I'm not really sure what that was all about but it helped keep me going. I finally asked a random by stander, "how much farther???" She says "6 blocks! You can do it!!" So I'm running slowly and telling myself, just 6 more blocks, you can do this. And I start counting it down, 5 just 5 more blocks, 4 just 4 more blocks, 3 1/2, oh I really really want to walk and I don't see the finish line what if the lady was wrong?? No! Almost done! 3 more blocks, 2 more blocks, still can't see the flippin finish line!!! 1 more block?? Um, okay and now I turn down another road... still slowly running and dying. Where's the freaking finish line???? I want to walk!! But by this point there are way too many people watching me and I don't want to be that girl who is walking with like 3 blocks left, but I don't know how much farther. How much more can I stand?? Then people start yelling at me, "almost there!!" "you've done more today than I have in the month of April!" "let's go Rachael!" Apparently, my name was on my bib and I didn't even realize it so that kinda through me for a loop at first. Finally FINALLY I see the finish line about 4 blocks down. I decide that the lady must have meant 6 blocks to the final turn, but whatever, praise the good Lord that I can see the finish line. People are yelling, I'm kinda scanning the crowd for Kevin. I try to pick up the pace a bit, but really I've got nothing left. I raise my arms in triumph and cross the finish line!! A volunteer puts a finishers medal around my neck. I've never been so relieved in all my life to cross a finish line.
What would you do differently?:

I guess I need to alter my nutrition plan because I quite obviously bonked and bonked hard. My stomach just could not tolerate the sugary GU any more. I've never gone more than 3.5 hours in a single session before so I've never had the chance to try the GU over such a long period of time. For the next one, I'm going to look into some solids to take during the race. The Power Bar seems like it would probably be a very good option.
Post race
Warm down:

After I cross the finish line, a volunteer takes my time chip, and honestly it's a bit fuzzy. I walked the wrong way because there really weren't any signs pointing us toward the food. Finally, I turn around and Kevin is right there. Apparently, he's been trying to get my attention. I stop and just lean against a barrier for a few minutes, take off my sopping wet shoes and he tells me that he forgot to bring my post race bag. Bummer, but at that point I really didn't even care. He later told me that I was extremely spacey at this point. He helps lead me toward the food which was like 1/4 mile or more from the finish line. I get to the food tent and I start feeling extremely sick to my stomach. There are all kinds of spicy type foods, and the smell is really getting to me. I say no can't eat that, nope can't eat that. Finally they have some bread and a wrap. Then as I'm heading over to get something to drink (still in the food tent), the smell just really starts to overwhelm me and I just have to stop and lean on my knees for a minute to compose myself. A sweet volunteer asks "Can I help you get something?" I just respond "No, I just -lurch- need a minute." Finally I get it back together and grab a water and a Diet Coke. Kevin and I head over to the little area where the awards are going to be done. I sit down and manage to get some super dry bread and the wrap down. Then I start feeling a bit more like myself. While I'm eating, we see Andy Potts, the overall winner (finish time 3:43:44!!!!) accept his award and his slot to Clearwater (HIM championships). That was pretty cool. After that the awards ceremony got extremely disorganized. I took forever for them to finally get to young athenas. I finally find out that I got 2nd in my division. Yea! I go up and get my award. Yea! Now, finally time to go back to the hotel. It was a 1.5 mile walk back to the hotel and during that time I realized just how much everything hurt and just how extremely overwhelmingly tired I was, plus how very many things were chafed. o_O Eek.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Well, this was my first longer distance tri so I didn't have as many miles as the more experienced athletes. And then there's the ever present weight factor. The run is a great example of how much weight can affect performance. Even with my horrible bonking experience, I was still first in my athena division. I was way on down the line overall. If I'm okay with being good at athena then I'm fine, but if I ever want to even be in the top half of competitors, I'm going to have to drop more weight. This is one of those times where I get really impatient. I have to remind myself that I've come a long way and that I'm still headed down. Just use this as motivation and not demotivation.

Then of course, there's the issue of not taking in enough calories to sustain me on the run course which led to the bonk. Chalk that one up to inexperience.

Event comments:

Like I mentioned in the run section, the volunteers were awesome! I do not have one single complaint about any of the volunteers. I don't think there's any way to even praise them enough. Every single one was nice, polite, encouraging, doing everything they could to help the athletes out in any way they could. Absolutely fantastic.

Aid stations were well stocked and plentiful - ice, power bars, water, G, sponges, pretzels. I may be wrong, but I think one might have had beer... but this was after the bonk so I might have just imagined that. The people of New Orleans were an absolutely fantastic host.

I only have 2 complaints on the entire race and that is 1) post race food. I know some people will think I'm crazy, but all I really wanted were bland foods, apples, cookies, sandwiches. I could not eat most of what they had because it was just too spicy at that point for me to tolerate. 2) The awards ceremony was pretty disorganized and took forever, which I know is kind of a part of having 1,654 finishers not to mention those who didn't finish. But I guess I was just really tired and cranky at that point.

But seriously, other than those 2 small things, awesome. I would absolutely recommend this race to anyone.

Profile Album

Last updated: 2009-12-02 12:00 AM
00:44:22 | 2112 yards | 02m 06s / 100yards
Age Group: 3/8
Overall: 190/400
Performance: Average
Suit: Zoot Flash Full
Course: Sort of an L shape, 1 - perpendicular to shore - 2 parallel to shore, 3 - come back parellel to shore - 4 come back perpendicular to shore. Very very rough water.
Start type: Run Plus: Waves
Water temp: 73F / 23C Current: High
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Good
Waves: Navigation: Average
Rounding: Good
Time: 02:55
Performance: Good
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed:
03:16:54 | 56 miles | 17.06 mile/hr
Age Group: 3/8
Overall: 247/400
Performance: Good
Wind: Some with gusts
Course: Out and back, 3 different turn arounds, flat except for going over 3 overpasses at the beginning and then again at the end.
Road: Rough Dry Cadence:
Turns: Good Cornering: Average
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 02:10
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes Good
Jumping off bike Good
Running with bike Good
Racking bike Below average
Shoe and helmet removal Bad
02:29:24 | 13.1 miles | 11m 24s  min/mile
Age Group: 1/8
Overall: 254/400
Performance: Below average
Course: Flat, point to point, not a lot of shade.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 5