I raced in the New Orleans 70.3 a few weeks ago. I did this race because I ‘could’ but not because I was ready to race. Once again, I took a huge break from running this winter. Prior to New Orleans, I ran for 4 weeks in the past 4 months – that was about 16 runs in total. So I was not completely run fit but I was run hungry and race hungry. And I was swim fit and bike fit. And so, I made my way to New Orleans eager to see what 16 runs in 4 months could do!
First, I must say that racing and visiting New Orleans was a very educational experience. To be in a community that was ravaged by such destruction was incredibly humbling. The race director, Bill Burke, did a wonderful job closing down the entire bike course. And staging the finish line in Jackson Square right in downtown New Orleans was truly spectacular! I applaud the race organization and the community for welcoming a bunch of lycra clad athletes to play ‘triathlon’ in their city.
I arrived in New Orleans on Friday night and hurried to figure out the logistics of the event – finding and driving the bike and run courses, locating the transition areas and swim start and finish area, finding a bike mechanic to fix a ‘travel induced’ braking issue with my bike, locating the registration, my hotel, groceries and places to eat! Whew – I was exhausted before the gun even went off. I was very excited about racing and that was evident by my sleepless Friday night and my 2-hour sleep on Saturday night! Honestly, the racing part is simple – the waiting and the organizational stuff – the thinking part – well, that is the worst!!
As soon as the canon fired, all remnants of my sleep deprivation were gone. I had a great swim and lead the second pack of swimmers out from Lake Ponchatrain. Exiting with me were Kate Major, Heather Gollnick, Linsey Corbin and some other speedsters. In one way, it was great to get to ride with so many women, but it made the ride very challenging since we have a 10 meter drafting rule and we only get 25 seconds to move through that zone and complete a pass of another athlete. That may sound like a lot of time but we are all riding around the same speed and for me to go from 35 km/hr to 36 km/h to complete a pass requires so much energy. When I was trying to pass another woman, I would see my watts jump up to about 280 watts. That is huge for me! By the time I got past the athlete, I was so tired, that my watts would drop to 150!! My normal time trialling watts is around 200 watts. Oh yes, it is fun to have women to ride with, but it was tough work! I did have a great ride though in spite of losing 2 bottles of my electrolyte drink and my salt pills on a huge bump at 5 km into the ride. I finished the bike in the general area of Kate Major and Heather Gollnick – both great riders – but I had lots of fast women still ahead of me that needed to be caught.
I started the run about 20 seconds behind Kate thanks to her blistering transition and I gradually bridged that gap and moved passed her into 7th place. I felt pretty good running and I was careful with my nutrition since my lack of run training meant that I was likely not as efficient with my calorie burning and I might need an extra Power Gel (I usually take 2 Power Gels) on this half marathon. Kate caught back up to me at around mile 3 and then we ran the next 7 miles together exchanging the lead. Kate has placed 3rd in Hawaii several times so I was quite pleased to be running with her given my lack of run preparation.
At about mile 9, I had already taken in my 2 Power Gels and I knew that I would need one more. Kate was gradually gapping me and I got pretty desperate for some calories. I usually carry all of my nutrition with me even though the aid stations stock Power Gels. But when I yelled for a Power Gel at an upcoming aid station, they didn’t have any!!! Uggh – I guess not all the aid stations have Gels!! That is lesson number one that I give to any athlete that I coach – always carry your own nutrition – don’t give that control away! And here I failed to ‘practise what I preach!’ Finally at either mile 10 or mile 11, I got a Power Gel and I felt a great surge of energy. I ran as hard as I could to the finish line but I just couldn’t catch Kate or any other women for that matter! I ended up running 1:29 for the half marathon which is about 5-8 minutes off of my usual pacing but not too bad considering that I am in the re-building phase of my run training.
The best thing about this race and this season so far is that my heel is pain-free which it has not been in over 5 years! And I am finally back to running in my favorite racing flats – the Saucony Fastwitch – which I have not been healthy enough to run in for 2 years! These are small victories but victories none the less!!
When I returned home, I did a day long photo shoot with one of my new sponsors – Hydropool Hot Tubs and Swim Spas (www.hydropoolhottubs.com). They are launching a brand new swim spa equipped with wide stream swim nozzles that project a non-turbulent water current allowing swimmers to swim and do other aquatic exercises against the resistance of the current right at home! It was a long day (which began with a 3 hour computrainer bike session first) but a great day! The Hydropool team is passionate about their latest aqua trainer and I am so proud to be able to work with them!!!
This weekend, I will be representing Saucony at the Oakville Running Company meeting people and promoting Saucony!!! So stop by if you are in the neighborhood this Saturday around noon!
My next race will either be the St. Croix 70.3 or Florida 70.3. Our dog, Brunswick, has been ‘less than 100%’ for the past 3 months and I am not sure if I can leave her for 5 days while I go to St. Croix. We are working on making her as comfortable as possible but there have been many sleepless nights and lots of tears. She is not suffering – we are making sure of that – some days are fantastic and she is chasing squirrels and licking dishes in the dishwasher and other days she is lethargic. But I will be racing at least one of these two events. If I don’t race St. Croix, then I will race the Sporting Life 10 km run in downtown Toronto.
And lastly, in terms of my health, I am still doing my inhalation therapy to get rid of that nasty pseudomonas bacteria. It is quite time consuming – 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the evening but I have just bought a car adaptor so that I can do it while I drive or while I am a passenger. I have always been a great multi-tasker. One side effect is that the breathing burns calories and makes me very hyper and so I have lost 5 lbs since February 23rd when I started the treatment! Now before everyone signs up for this therapy in an effort to lose that last 5 lbs, I must now take that calorie burning into account when I am training and racing. It is all one great big life balance, isn’t it?
I will be updating my website with a similar note to this one and with some photos if you are interested.
Take care and thank you for your continued support!