Thursday, August 25, 2011

First triathlon of the year is always a scary one!

Ochsner NOLA 70.3 Ironman

My husband and I got to New Orleans the day before race day. Boy, New Orleans is one of a kind! We stayed in a very unique B & B in the French Quarter. The B & B used to be slave quarters and I don’t think they updated it much.

The Ochsner NOLA 70.3 is an interesting course. You start at one place, then finish miles away in the middle of the French Quarter.

Race morning, there were gusts of wind. Just doing my run warm-up in the head wind was a challenge. No surprise that the race officials cancelled the swim and turned the triathlon into a duathlon. They couldn’t get the safety boats out where they needed to be, because of the large waves. We had a time trial start, starting with the bike portion. Within our age group, we’d take off two at a time, every 3 seconds. It didn’t spread us out too much, but the race directors did as much as they could with how many participants there were.

The bike was difficult, due to the strong wind. We had head wind going out, but had some great tailwind coming back in. My Smith sunglasses were a big help, protecting my eyes from any flying debris. The roads were quite bumpy and uneven. I saw a few bike wrecks, not sure if it was from the gusts of wind or the bad roads. My coach has taught me to go by heart rate, rather than speed, so I never knew my speed. I felt pretty good, though.

Starting the run, I didn’t feel that this was going to be a great race for me. My husband, who was watching along the run course had informed me that there were at least 5 girls ahead of me. I just did not know what to expect from my legs. As I was running, I found I was picking them off one by one and I was feeling overall better. My Spira Stingers came through for me once again. Those shoes are awesome!

The finish line was in the middle of the French Quarter. There were lots of people cheering and that has always been a big motivator to finish strong. Once I crossed the finish line, I was in 2nd place. Unfortunately, with a time trial start, you can’t be too confident that you are going to hold onto that spot. There could easily be another that started a couple minutes behind you, but ended up with a finishing time that is faster than yours.

Oh, happy day! I did in fact hold onto that 2nd place spot, with the fastest run in my category. Not only that, I was fortunate enough to qualify for the World Championship 70.3 Ironman in Las Vegas this fall.

It’s so great to get one underneath your belt and it went better than expected. My wonderful Snapple Champion System gear kept me comfortable and cool in the heat. Speaking of hot, my next stop, Gulf Coast Triathlon in Panama City Beach, Florida. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

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