This was my second 70.3 but after a three year break, it felt like my first. This race was going to be a test race. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy or fast. The River Roux bike course is hilly compared to the flat course of New Orleans so I knew a PR wasn’t in the cards but I was hoping to come close to my 7:32 finish in 2010.
sunrise over False River
Race morning I was surprisingly calm. I had practiced staying positive and staying in my own headspace. I had my few key phrases picked out and ready for when the negativity committee decided to put in their two cents. David, Kaci and I arrived in New Roads and quickly picked out our spots in transition. I set up my bike, double checked my bags, and placed them in their designated spots. This race had two transitions. You had a morning clothes bag (white), a swim to bike bag (black) and a bike to run bag (red). The race volunteers were in charge of making sure your run bag would be at transition two. Your job was to make sure you put the right stuff in the right bag. I had nightmares the night before that my run shoes were in my bike bag and my bike shoes ended up in my run bag. I’m a little OCD lol. Since David was racing too, I was also worried if he had his right stuff in the right place. It was cold so I went ahead and changed into my wetsuit. At least I could be a little acclimated to the air temperate. David on the other hand, left his sweatshirt on (over his wetsuit) until about two seconds before the cannon went off. BOOM…..the first wave of men start their day. David was in the second wave and I was in the last. I kissed him goodbye, said see you at the finish and his wave was off. Now it was my turn. My swim started great! I quickly found my groove and was focused on sighting and counting off buoys. Before I knew it, I had made the turn to head back. Seven buoys down, four to go. I passed two green caps (men from the second wave) and was pumped when I came out the water and looked at my watch. 43 minutes. 1.2 mile swim-check. On to the bike.
The bike course takes you out of New Roads, over the Audubon Bridge, through hilly St. Francisville and back. All my training rides had been on the hilly portion of the course. The last few didn’t go as well as had wanted so my focus was to just stay in my positive headspace. Even if I was the last cyclist in. I just kept reminding myself that this was a discovery year and a discovery race. It’s all about testing what I can handle. I had the bike course split into 4 sections in my head. I took it easy on the hour out of town. Section 1 check. The next section was all about getting to JVC. It’s the half way point of the St. Francisville (hilly) portion. I finish JVC and I’m right on schedule for a 4 hours bike. Check. Next is the back half of the St. Franny loop and back over the bridge. Check and check. I even passed a guy going UP the bridge! I was feeling great and really wanted a sub 4 hour bike so I pressed on. I was keeping my heart rate in check, ate and drank on schedule. This was going to be great ride. Ride into transition with a bike of 3:55. 56 mile bike-check!
The run was a three loop course. I wasn’t sure if I wasn’t going to like this. I generally don’t like multiple loops when training. If I pass my car or house, I’m done! I did all my long training runs with muti-loops just to be prepared and I hated them. But on race day, it was awesome! You saw so many people on the course and I didn’t feel like I was out, alone, in no-mans land. My friend Kristin joined me with the intentions of just doing the first loop and maybe the last. I ran until mile 1 and it wasn’t pretty. My heart and lungs felt fine but my legs hurt and weren’t happy. Guess that bike went a little too well. Time to change to plan B. Walk a 1/4 mile, run 3/4 to the mile marker. That lasted until the end of the first loop at the 4 mile marker. Kristin stayed with me as we started loop two. It was all walking and I started to develop a hot spot on the ball of my left foot. I ran when I could and walked when I couldn’t. My legs hurt to run but the blister would hurt to walk. I was now walking on the side of my foot to avoid the blister. We finish the second loop and I refused to look at my watch. I knew I wasn’t going to be anywhere near my 7:30 goal and I wasn’t sure if I was going to make the cut off. I decided to ask her the time but she wouldn’t tell me. As we started loop three, I see my friend and fellow teammate Jeff G pull up in his truck and out pops my coach Pat. I’m not gonna lie. I almost burst into tears because I thought for sure I was being pulled off the course. At that point, I had 4 miles to go and I really wanted to finish. I even asked Pat if I was getting pulled. He simply said no and asked what my running strategy was. We would run 3/4 and walk 1/4 and when that wasn’t working, I switched to 1/4 on 1/4 off. Somehow we ended up talking about songs we hate getting stuck in our heads. Pat decided to sing TOTO every time I took a walk break….I’m still singing “Rosana” and “Africa”. One mile to the finish and a truck drops off Kaci. I now have 3 people running with me, encouraging me, distracting me and I could not have been more grateful. If I had been alone, the negativity committee would have had a revolution. At some point, Scott, shows up and I am so grateful for my entourage lol. We turn the corner and I hear Liz call my name to cheer me in. I ran the last quarter mile in, passed David as I entered the field and sprinted as best I could to the finish. I was the last racer across the finish line. 3:44 half marathon-check. 8 hour 32 minute 70.3-check.
I owe a huge thank you to Kristin for sticking with me for 13.1 miles. Big thanks to Pat, Kaci, and Scott for bringing to the finish. I needed y’all more than you know. I am proud of my performance but not satisfied. It wasn’t the run I had hoped for but I gave it all I had. It was a test day. It has been a test year and I learned so much in those 8.5 hours. I have come so far and my future is bright. I have big goals, scary goals, and I’m excited to see how they will play out. Stay tuned kids. there is much more to come…
Kaci, Pat, and me