Thursday, April 22, 2010

New Orleans 70.3, the full race report. UPDATED! With HI-RES pictures!

(including updated HI RES images! I am VERY happy with the race photography @ this race!)

I will be comparing this race a lot to Timberman last August because these are the only two Half Ironman Races that I have done. I hope to spell out the mistakes I made at Timberman and how I fixed them for this race, which led me to a much faster and more positive result.

Timberman '09: 5:55:47
New Orleans: 5:32:22
Time difference: 0:23:25

PreRace: Nerves got the better of me a few days ago. Today, I was calm. No dreading the 3:30AM alarm clock this morning. Food went down well. I even drank a beer last night with dinner! Went downstairs and was the last one on the 5AM bus and off we went. Tons of time to prepare which makes the nerves calm way down.

The pro men went off first and I later learned that my triathlon idol, Andy Potts, arrived for this race! He is an ex college almost olympian swimmer turned olympian triathlete and 2007 70.3 World Champion and the winner of Timberman last summer. So guess who KILLED everyone on the swim? Yeah, that would be Mr. Andy Potts. So I staked out a nice spot and watched Andy and Macca all run up the swim shoot to T1. There is your inspiration to get the day started!

Swim: 40:50
I was the very last wave to go, which I didn't really think much of since the water was so calm for the Pro wave to off. Yeah, that changed! The wind kept picking up and I was sorta cold standing on the beach waiting. When my wave lined up, we looked out and the water was NOT calm anymore. There were frigging 5-6 foot swells out there!

A relay swimmer who had finished earlier plopped down by our wave, exhausted and said, "I have done over 200 triathlon events and this was a slow swim for me by 6 mins for this distance."

GULP! Well, at least I knew what to we go. We basically ran halfway out to the first buoy. When we did get swimming, the chop and the swells put the brakes on our momentum. At the first turn buoy the 5-6 foot swells had me down, and another guy waaay up above me. Then I was way up, and he was way down. It was crazy and you just can't swim through that! Mostly I treaded water until there was clear water to go forward.

After turning and going parallel with the beach, the swim got better and I relaxed. I went into autopilot mode until the turnaround point. That's when things started to suuuuck. The swells were now to my left and coming at us. I couldn't see the buoys and my navigation ceased to exist. I started to swim towards the wrong buoy! A kayak had to stop me and tell me where to point. I thought I was onto the right buoy but I went for another wrong one! I was starting to get pissed and wanted outa the water. Fortunately the last turn buoy came and the swells brought me back to shore.

Haven't found my sea legs yet. Look at that chop!!!

Not a great was 4 mins slower than Timberman. Not a great start...

T1: 3:24
Wetsuit strippers are awesome! Putting sunblock over your body is not. But I learned from Timberman that a severe sunburn all over your shoulders and back is NOT fun. So I took the extra time and applied it liberally. Still missed a few spots I later learned...

My time was a little lengthy, but I did have to run to the opposite corner of transition and I think I ran almost 1/4 of a mile with "stupid" legs :)

Bike: 2:47:53 / 20MPH avg

The mantra went as this: TAKE IT EASY(er) ON THE BIKE! Yeah, I put up a nice first time bike split @ Timberman, but I ate it on the run. As long as I stayed in the 150-180 wattage range, I was going to make it back for the run with fresh(er) legs.

By mile 6, the Pro men were at mile 50. So cool to see Andy Potts KILLING it on the bike with Macca (Chris McCormack and 2007 World IM Champ) chasing. I still had 50 more miles to go so that inspiration lasted not long.

Getting into the zone

I was stayed in autopilot mode until about 1:15 into the bike when my sit bones started to ache. So at one of the numerous turnarounds I would stand and stretch out my back. Then my right glute muscle started to cramp up. OUCHY OUCHY OUCHY! I was able to mentally relax the muscle just enough to get comfy.

So between a sore back, sore butt, and a cramped glute muscle, I just basically sucked it up and went. Hey, this is better than hitting mile 28 @ Timberman and not being able to ride in the aero position for the rest of the ride due to a REALLY sore back.

Stretching the back out...

Which brings me to my next point. The bicycle itself. I am probably going to catch a lot of flack for this, but I will write it anyways:

For anything shorter than a HIM, I think you can get away with modifying a road bike frame to be a TT bike. But when you are out there for almost 3 hours, being comfy and doing it right on a specific TT frame makes such a HUUUUUUUGE difference! Yeah, I was achy, but man I was so much more comfy than my road frame built to be a TT bike.

Which brings me to my next next point. Being in that more correct position on the specific TT frame does in fact save your legs for the run. My hamstrings were pretty shot and sore by the end of the bike and I was really wondering how the run was going to go down. By the start of the run, my legs were fine! It was kinda eerie actually. But I will take it!

BEST race photo! Getting this one framed!

Back to the bike. The course was great. The out and backs got a bit annoying, but the road surface quality was 95% perfect pavement. It was flat time trial heaven out there!

Then there was the wind. This is what made the ride difficult. On the way out, especially the first 10 miles or so, I was only going 16.6mph and pushing almost 200 watts, which was way too high. Not good. On the other hand when you did hit the tailwind, pushing 23 mph for a consistent stretch was INCREDIBLE! I averaged exactly 20 MPH, which was my goal.

Like most races I am passing everyone on the bike and was only passed a few times. Its always great passing people running disc wheels :) That is why I am still on the fence with aero wheels. If I am going to run aero wheels, I want to make sure that they are in fact going to give me an upper hand and will be a considerable investment that pays off. I still think tuning up the engine (i.e. legs) will ALWAYS be the way to get faster (duh!).

Last bridge to climb. I posed for this one :)

In terms of nutrition, @ Timberman, it was eat when I felt either obligated to or when I felt hungry. In this ride, I ate every 30 mins like I practiced alternating between Gu and bars. I sipped on my 50% Gatorade and 50% water fluid every 10 mins, sometimes 5 if I felt extra thirsty. I did run out of fluids with only 15-20 mins left, which was fine, since I had some Gatorade at transition to hold me over until I hit the aid stations on the run.

The Speedfil? AWESOME! No getting outa the aero position to drink. I HIGHLY recommend getting one, especially if you are on a flat course where you want to minimize the amount of getting out of the aero position.

I felt like I executed the bike portion perfectly, even if I felt that my bike fitness could have been better.

T2: 4:11

Again, I took the time to apply lotion. Its funny, this transition "felt" faster, but it surely wasn't!

Run: 1:56:06 / 8:51 pace

Mile 1: 7:54
Mile 2: 8:35
Mile 3: 9:10
Mile 4: 8:35
Mile 5: 9:24
Mile 6: 8:47
Mile 7: 9:09
Mile 8: 8:57
Mile 9: 9:01
Mile 10: 8:56
Mile 11: 8:33
Mile 12: 9:15
Mile 13: 8:54

Wow, what a turn of events for me! Overall, I placed the best with my run. That NEVER happens! Its usually my bike is always my best leg, followed by my swim, then the run is waaaaay off. Instead, I placed 431/1649 participants. Wanna know how that happened? Well, when you train the hardest at something, guess what the result will be? Probably an improvement! haha!

And an improvement it was! I went from a 2:23:xx run @ Timberman to a 27 min-ish faster run. I feel like this was a complete race because of this.

My legs felt surprisingly good starting the run. There was none of that "throbbing,"why did I get myself into this feeling in the legs." I was hurting, but it was different, and I liked it. I kept telling myself to "reset" my brain and think of this as just a training run, which means go slow. I credit the position on the bike for saving the quad muscles for the run.

Immediately coming out of the run out shoot, there was no shade and I felt the heat and humidity, which I couldn't feel on the bike due to the winds and speed. I knew that I had to suck-it-up-upcake and deal with it. The first mile wasn't bad. It was actually quick, but I think that was because it was actually short. NO way I can run the first mile that fast. Maybe they did that to make you feel fast?

We were meandering through these neighborhoods and you basically ran until you saw a patch of shade and you aimed for that. The difference between the sun and shade was like entering a freezer! Another big difference maker was wearing the visor. It keeps your face from frying but just keeping that feeling of the sun off of your face does so more more than UV protection. It literally makes you "feel" cooler in temp.

Unfortunately I felt some nasty rubbing above my knees in my inner thighs by the end of mile 1. Ouch! That went away after a few miles, but when it was rubbing.....MAN....OUCH!

Between miles 1 and 2. Still hadn't found my legs yet...

Miles 2 and 3 just went. I stopped at all of the aid stations and took sips of gatorade and water and dumped water over my head and down my back. Dumping the water helped sooooo much! It rejuvenated me! If they had ice, I chomped on a few pieces and dumped the rest on my head.

At mile 4 is when the lady with the thick southern accent suggested I take the ice and "stick it where the sun don't shine." Thanks for the tip lady, but I think that might HURT?!?!? I passed...

Around mile 5 we started the enter the park. This is no Central Park. This park is big, grassy and offers not too much shade. The humidity offered alot of atmospheric perspective to the landscape. THATS how muggy it had gotten! The parts that did have shade were great, but heading out to the 10K timing mat / split you ran on this wide open desolate section that was definately the hardest part of the run in terms of direct heat melting you down.

Hot out there!

My legs felt good at this point, enough to try to speed up slightly. I was in autopilot mode at this point. Miles 7 -10 just went. Funny how I passed a guy who I blew past at mile 2 who was walking. He was now near mile 10, walking. Yeeaaahhhh, um, nice job cutting the course buddy! I was having a good race and I didn't let that put me down. He blew off the 10K timing mat marker. Guess whats coming towards you! DQ! No, not a sundae, but a YOU CHEATED! Have fun living with yourself!

Anyways....actually that bit of anger made me feel better and sped me up a bit....

At mile 10 is when we hit Esplanade, which was 5K from the finish. This is the make or break part of the run. I knew I had less than 30 mins until the finish and that this was the final main road and that this entire section was SHADED! Unfortunately the road condition on this stretch was less than ideal and really beat up my feet.

At mile 11, my right lung felt like it was getting a side stitch. Yeah, that was painful! Thoughts of walking starting to enter my head. I got those demons out pretty quickly, but this stitch wouldn't go away! I had to slow the pace down a bit and it did eventually disappear. It was strange though. I have had side stitches before, but never near my right lung. Weird....

Almost there!

At mile 12, I knew the end was near. I knew we had to make a right turn onto Decatur, but I couldn't see where that turn was. Finally I saw the sign for Bourbon street. I was in the Quarter! Made the turn onto Decatur and the finish line was waaaaay down there. There is nothing worse than being able to see the finish line almost 1/2 mile away. The crowds were pretty thick at this point and everyone could see the pain on your face. It helped me speed up, but my legs were so shot at this point. I had just enough gas left to get across the finish line and I was COOKED!

The clock was my time plus ~1:20:00 and happy to be finished!

I have regrets about the swim only. I executed the bike perfectly and the run perfectly. During that swim, despite its rough conditions, I could have sighted better, even though it was tough. You can always just follow the pack! Chances are the pack won't get lost.

Maybe I could have gone faster during the transitions? I am happy that I took the time to apply extra lotion. The few spots that I missed did burn me with some nasty, but small, red marks. So, no regrets about the extra time taken.

HOWEVER! We are all endurance athletes here and have dealt with some uber strange chafing, right? The strangest one was the bottom of the zipper of my tri suit rubbing up against the outside of my belly button. OWE!!!! lemme repeat....OWE!!!! hahahahaha! gotta remember that spot for next time....

Yeah, you never really know where you got rubbed or burned the worst until you get into the shower. The water always tells you where it hurts :)

7 weeks till the next one! Thanks for reading!


  1. Again - congrats on finishing and crushing your previous time! Great race report! That picture of you on the bike is awesome!

  2. Very cool picture of you on the bike! I read your report on, but Ilike this one better with the pictures. This gets me excited for my first HIM in Sept! I HOPE to do as well as you did, and I hope the water is not nearly as choppy!

    Great work!

  3. Great Job Jon and Great RR! That side view pic on the bike is one of the best race pics I have ever seen. That photog needs to come to my races!!!

    You northerners are always so cute when you talk about the heat down here. I am still wearing jeans and long sleeve shirts! Come back and see us in July and August now that is some heat. Not much racing going on then!!

    Congrats again on your excellent finish. The next question is when are you doing a full course? I'm thinking IMCOZ 2011 ... we could get a big blogger group to go!!

  4. Great race report! Congrats again on your awesome finish! I can't believe how many race pics you got! I always only have like 1 or 2, but you have a lot of good ones to choose from!

  5. Ok, was that bike fit comment for me? (you're so vain, you probably think this song is about you). Cuz I kind felt like it was. hmmm.

    awesome job. I had butterflies reading this. That bike photo is definitely frame worthy. I can't even believe your run splits, wow.

    I've taken away some good advice from this too. thanks. way to go!

  6. Jon,
    Congrats on your race!!! also Great report...I'm about 10 weeks out from my first HIM and am now even more overwhelmed! just kidding - great info very helpful...keep the good workouts rollin!

  7. Congratulations! Your race pics are's not about how you feel, but how you look :)

  8. Awesome race report, and you have to frame that picture!! Seriously, you have some awesome race pictures, I never have good ones. That swim sounds like hell by the way. Holy crap, what a way to start. Your bike and run splits were awesome too - congrats!

  9. Hi little bro,
    Woo hoo for another PR!! You did awesome:) Look at all of those fantastic pictures from your race! How come I never get pictures that turn out that good? I love the have every reason to be smiling:) You did great kid!!

  10. You don't seem the type to draw attention to yourself, so I'll help you out.
    Just above your finish line picture you wrote. "The crowds were pretty thick at this point and everyone could see the pain on your face. It helped me speed up, but my legs were so shot at this point. I had just enough gas left to get across the finish line and I was COOKED!"
    You should add. "But check out my Quads in this picture!!"
    Ha ha!
    Great race and report. Congrats!

  11. WOW. I'm speechless. Great recap and way to cut time!

  12. Awesome report, it will help in my preparations for my big race in July. Congrats again on the PR, it is great to hear that all your heard work paid off!!

  13. This is a great race report. Sounds like you had a great race. Congrats.

  14. Loved this RR. Congrats once again on shaving a good chunk of time off Timberman. I totally agree with you about the road bike with aerobars vs. TT bike. I used the roadbike w/aerobars prior to getting my TT bike last July and wow what a difference the position makes. You definitely know it when you go to run after. The picture you are getting framed was my favorite. What a great shot!

  15. I love that bike picture...that definitely deserves a frame!

  16. omg! u r a champion!
    that race photo is amazing!!! i cant get over how good it looks!
    congrats, congrats!

  17. Great race Jon! I'm betting you were on cloud NINE all day after the race; probably still there? I'll have to look back at your training logs, but it would be nice to see total volume of each discipline leading up to this race. Might help some of us wanting to make that jump from Oly to HIM. Great race report, and great job on the race! Thanks for sharing.


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