The road to Ironman Mont-Tremblant went through New Orleans this weekend. As many of you know, that follow this blog, Janet decided to go to Galveston and I chose New Orleans for our early season half Ironman. I chose New Orleans because last year in Galveston, I had a really hard time staying upright while biking into a 30 mph head wind. I thought New Orleans would have better weather! God has a sense of humor!
New Orleans Ironman 70.3 was in a word - windy! Crazy, insane windy!! It was also only 67.1! The wind caused the race director, Bill Burke, to have to cancel the swim for the second year in a row. I actually felt bad for the guy since so many people were so upset, but when we got down to the water on Sunday morning, it was obvious that drowning was a risk given the 5 foot and higher waves!
We actually did a run-bike-run triathlon, which was much better than what they did at the Poconos 70.3 last year. At that race, after cancelling the swim, they attempted a time trial start of the bikes starting participants 3 seconds apart. This sounds good in theory, but the roads were very wet and there were crashes all over the place! In New Orleans, they were creative and wanted to keep the relay teams intact, so they made us run 2 miles to start then ride 52 miles (shortened due to road closures) and then run 13.1 miles to finish.
I met my friend Linda, from Arizona, in New Orleans and she was pretty anxious to do her first 70.3. She is attempting Ironman Arizona in November, so she needed a warm up race as well. I made a pact that I would never race without Janet again! Every time I go to a race without Janet, the weather sucks!
The best part of my race was the beginning of the 2 mile run. They started us in pair about 2 seconds apart and I was in the 5th wave (40 and older women). This wave included all the “old” ladies. I started near the back of the wave and was just completing the first mile when I came upon a woman with an “81” on her calf. I glanced at her and then realized it was the “Iron Nun”! Sister Madonna Buder is a Catholic nun who has completed over 400 triathlons and is an inspiration to all at The Ironman World Championships every year! (If you haven't read her book, it will inspire you!) I said, “Good Morning Sister!”, just to make sure it was her and then had a short conversation running along with her. Such a positive person and it was a thrill to meet her. She is still running strong and should be an inspiration to all of us to keep moving! I told her I only hope I am still competing in 40 years!
After the short run to warm up, we jumped on our bikes to brave the wind. Crazy, insane and, at times, dangerous wind! I was trying to maintain 19-20 mph but no such luck. I worked very hard to keep 17.8 mph average into a 25mph+ head wind! It seemed like the wind was in your face no matter what direction you were going in! There were only 4 hills on the entire course, (Louisiana hills also known as overpasses ha ha) and at the top of one of them, a gust practically threw me off my bike. The bike actually felt like it went airborne for a second! I finished the bike in one piece and was happy to start running.
Then someone turned up the heat! The run was a double loop with awesome crowd support and plenty of aid stations! Thankfully lots of water and wet sponges since it was so hot! Very flat with a few small hills but overall a nice rolling course. The casts of characters were out, just like most races. We had 3 Spidermans, guys in jester suits, and my favorite….guys running in their wetsuits with goggles and all, probably protesting the no swim!
I was happy to wave to Sister Madonna on the run and shamefully happy she was on the other side of the road about 5 miles behind me (who wants to get beaten by an 81 year old!!). I finished strong and with a smile. Legs of jelly from pushing hard on the bike made for a slow run, but overall a good day! No pesky plantar fasciitis showed up, so I think I have cured myself with EPAT finally! I have some work to do before I am ready to tackle the mountains in Quebec, but I earned my post-race beer today! Linda finished not so far behind me with a big smile!
Next up….Buffalo Springs 70.3….
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