Ran across this old race report from Facebook the other day. Thought it would be fun to share as it was my first participation in a half Ironman as a relay. Fun to revisit and see the progress I have made.
70.3 NOLA Relay-Race Report: 57.2 sticker for me please?
April 19, 2010 at 9:21pm
Sitting in the car on Saturday morning after my morning “workout”, I got a call from Megan, the runner in my relay, that both the bikers that were to replace the original biker we had who ended up having knee surgery had fallen through and I needed to bike. Yikes! Nothing like last minute! So I promptly brought my bike over to Tom at the Bicycle Shop to get a couple adjustments made…wished I had time to get more :(…and a tune up-good thing as I needed a new bracket!
Got down to NOLA for the 5:00 race briefing…second to last one. It was pretty sparse…only about 20 people in the room. They went over the basics. Then went over to packet pick up and hit the IM store. Decided to get a water bottle to commemorate the event since I knew I wasn’t going to do the whole 70.3 I didn’t feel worthy to wear anything with the m dot or 70.3. And after dropping things off at the hotel we went over to drop off my bike…but had to return back to the hotel for my bike number…oops! Walking around transition itself was amazing! All the bikes racked just prove how crazy we are who pursue this sport! All the relay teams were to the right side of transition all together, so we went over to check it out. 2430 was right on the end of the rack…SWEET!!! Pumped up the tires and left the bike and I was ready to eat and lucky for us there was a pizza/pasta joint in the same block as our hotel.
Got back to the room and started packing my transition bag and couldn’t find my goggles…they were not in the bag were I swore I put them. Even now as I type this I have a memory of putting them (two pairs!) in the bag!!! I emptied everything out of every bag I had with me, but to no avail…so I sent out a hail mary txt and got two offers of help. Thank you, Janie and Jeff. I could sleep…or at least try and sleep. I don’t usually sleep well the night before the race, but I did get a good night of sleep Friday, so all was good.
Woke up around 4:30 and ate a granola bar and got ready. Also was able to choke down most of a banana and a spoonful of peanut butter. We left the hotel around 5:30 and drove up to transition. We had a little strategy discussion in the car about what help I needed in transition–definite bonus to being in a relay having your partner in transition at the rack waiting for you. Told her to make sure I had my inhaler and some nutrition. Also talked about the drafting issue…I knew I would get passed a lot on the bike and after you are passed it’s your responsibility to get out of the draft zone. And I’m a stickler for rules, so of course I dwelt upon it. Traffic was crazy! (Note to self: leave earlier next time!!!) But we got to transition around 6:20…got body marked and entered the insanity. I quickly jumped into the port-o-potty line…thank God my insides were moving to get that out of the way! Set up our transition area, got the hand off on the goggles, put the wetsuit on, got the timing chip…OK…ready!!! Really are you sure?!? As I walked out to the swim start in this sea of people I started to wonder…but boy was it exciting!!! I went out in the water to test out the goggles…and they rocked! The water was much warmer than we had swam in before so I was excited. Did find out you have to go out pretty far to get to water the went above my knees…crazy! Before I knew it they were asking for people to get in their corrals. I was in the 4th wave being in a relay…right behind the pro men, pro women, and para-triathlete–all very inspiring to see enter the water!
At 7:12 we were off…all 175 relays! I purposely got a little towards the back and to the right because I wasn’t very excited about swimming in the open water and didn’t want to get trampled over as well! We had to get a pretty far distance out before actually getting to swim…and honestly my initial swim was pretty dog paddlish until we got around the first turn buoy. The buoys were not very big and kind of hard to see from too far away…so I just didn’t feel comfortable until I got to the straight away. The first 10 minutes were a struggle. The waves were pretty big and the trashing of people around you makes the swim so different. I flipped over on my back a couple times just to catch my breath and slow down but kept getting splashed by waves so I abandoned that very fast and just dug in and swam. Got into a good rhythm and started having fun…really I did. I think I might be the only one in the whole race who has said that…but as I rounded the far buoy to swim back to the exit the sun was rising over the water and dancing on the waves and around the swimmers and it was kind of magical for me. I got a little off course towards the end because there was one buoy that needed to be on our right and I was swimming a bit out to the right so had to make up for that. My fear of being swam over didn’t come true…I did feel a couple of people at my feet a couple times and had some close swimmers, especially when the guys heat came barreling thru! But overall it was great…found my feet and planted them in the shallow water and trotted up the chute pulling the zipper on my wetsuit at 48:58. I was honestly just wanting to finish in under and hour but hoping for something around 45 minutes…so I was very very happy with that!
Now on to transition…I bypassed the wetsuit strippers because I had my own in my relay partner…remember those benefits I mentioned before. I also didn’t want to have to lay down because I wasn’t sure if I could get back up again. Put on my sunglasses, helmet, shoes, stashed some food and inhaler in the back pocket had a sip of water. Megan sprayed me with some sunscreen (but i have to say we missed some spots like the spot between my garmin and my bike gloves–totally burned!) and I was off to the mount line. There were tons of people there cheering and heard my name but honestly wasn’t paying too close of attention to who it was from…my mission was to clip in.
In order to get out to the course there was a little winding through the neighborhood which meant lots of turning. I had looked at the bike course on the map and have driven these roads many times before when I worked in New Orleans after Katrina…but let me tell you how different they look on a bike. I was very disoriented for a while because I like to know where I am…I am not someone who finds the enjoyment in getting lost for the most part. There were two or three tough climbs within the first 10 miles which helped to wake up my legs. (Note to self: more work on hills so always take the ferry detour with McCall!) Kind freaked out knowing they would also be in the last 10 miles! Ouch!!! But kept going…and going…and going! Wow! It was long! Got through my first bottle exchange pretty well. Tried to drink early so I would be able to discard a bottle and get a full one. Although it wasn’t completely empty I threw it at the target and grabbed a Gatorade. I was pleasantly surprised about how smoothly that went. Soon after that I heard my name and it was Liz Harris! Yay!! She yelled something at me about Sister Madonna something or other, at least I think that’s what she said. Nonetheless, just great to see a familiar face. When we hit the turnaround out in the Venetian Isles, I felt good…that was about 20 miles…still short of an Alligator Bayou to the split and back ride. I knew I could do more…so I kept going. And you have to understand I was having visions of unclipping and stopping to walk this whole time. It wasn’t until about mile 31 that I started to take these visions seriously. I was trying to look around me and enjoy the scenery–the swamp of the bayou! There were tons of snakes most dead, but “one was alive” which someone pointed out to me as they passed me. That whole just have fun things was kind of getting old, especially with my right foot hurting so much I thought I could have broken it!! Made it to the last water stop, grabbed a bottle of water and stopped at the end of it to take my inhaler as there had been a climb just before that had got my lungs pretty good! After that short break it was off again as I knew I had less than 10 miles to go!!! But I did still need to get back over the bridge which was a steep climb…as I got to the top a volunteer said to me now you get to go downhill…what a relief…I pedaled as fast as I could and just flew down! Gotta love the downhills!!! I got back to transition and my relay partner was waiting for me right at the entrance to transition…she walked me to the rack bc we couldn’t pass the chip until my bike was racked and my helmet was off. Gave her a hug and sent her on her way! And then I sat down and took of my bike shoes and all was right in the world again–i.e. no more foot pain! Goal was to finish the bike in under 4 hours and I clocked 3:51:46. So happy about that seeing as how my longest training ride to date had been 2:52 and 42 miles.
Got to the finish line in time to see Jeff and Liz and Megan my relay partner finish. Our total time was 7:42. It was so fun being at the finish line! I can’t image what it must be like to cross it, but hopefully I will in October at the 70.3 in Austin! I am so proud of everyone who finished no matter if they ran, walked or crawled to get there!