I decided (or perhaps it was decided for me) to start off the race season a bit later this year at New Orleans instead of the typical Oceanside - Wildflower pattern I've been doing the past few years. I've been putting in the work this winter, but much of it has been on the tready or trainer in our garage/dungeon due to a myriad of reasons (injury prevention, rain, cold weather, lack of daylight, did I mention rain?) I actually told Pataky before this race that I felt prepared and excited to go out and get the work done on race day. I don't usually verbalize such thoughts, but felt it was about time to own it.
Anyway, my time in the swamp was awesome. I stayed with my Louisiana celebrity friend John Fell in his hood near Lafayette on Friday night and then we drove down a few hours to NOLA the next day for the pro meeting and all that jazz. Other than forgetting my swimskin, all the pre race stuff went off without a hitch. (Although we did manage to find ourselves roaming around the french quarter for an hour looking for race morning bagels. Note to NOLA city planners: add additional grocery stores that contain more than beads and booze). After a bit of UFC fight channel indoctrination, I headed to bed...which ended up being the floor of the sound proofed bathroom at midnight as countless numbers of cars drove past my bedroom window with drunken people singing such gems as: "making love in the club," among other songs.
The swim was an exercise in not drowning. We ran for what seemed like HOURS to get to deep enough water for swimming. I was cruising in zone 10 and by the time we were able to actually swim, I was pretty much wasted. I managed to keep a pack of girls in sight until the turnaround when the waves and interesting buoy setup made sighting less than easy. After having to retrace some swimming, I finally made it to shore and tried (successfully) to put the swim past me.
The bike course was great. I haven't ridden a flat race course for awhile, so it was nice to put the hammer down and just go. I passed a couple of girls and was then passed by another. The wind was bad on the way out but we had a great tailwind on part of the way back.
I was pretty much alone on the run course. Other than the awesome aid stations, it felt like a typical solo training run (although I was running faster, in a swim suit with a race belt, and had vanilla powergel plastered across my arm and legs...with the occasional photographer capturing unsightly facial expressions. On a side note: don't you find it odd that these photographers always get you at your worst...like when your shoulders are clearly not where you told your coach they would be...or you have that look of death on your face?!) At the mile 10 marker, swamp celebrity John informed me that there were girls within striking distance ahead and that I was currently in 7th place. I picked up the pace on the homestretch (which was awesome.....shaded....crowds....etc..) and ended up running my way to an unprecedented 5th place finish!
I really enjoyed RACING and am ready for more! The race venue and support were awesome and I definitely plan to be back. Thanks to John and his excellent stand-in sherpa and motivational skills. Also thanks to Coach Paulo for throwing down some creative training schedules to get me to the start line healthy and Darrell at FRONT OF THE PACK for dealing with my 500 last minute bike issues......and thanks to Matt for walking the dogs, cooking, etc.. and not making me feel too guilty. :)
We went to a post-race crawfish boil at John's parents' house...a virgin crawfish experience for me! I learned how to rip the tail off the poor creature and pull out the meat. Killer.
On the podium..apparently contemplating the fact that I am holding a check.