Friday, April 25, 2014

New Orleans 70.3 2014 Race Report

I don't think I've ever had so much fun on a trip whose main purpose is a race! I'm not sure how much of this will be race report and how much will be food and related shenanigans report, but we'll see.

A bonus on this trip is that the drive goes through Lake Charles, LA, where my brother and his family live. We got to stop and have a delicious lunch at Steamboat Bill's and catch up with Adam and my adorable nephew William.

Carb loaded on crawfish etouffee stuffed baked potato. O M G.
Back on the road and we arrived in New Orleans before dark at the race's host hotel, the Hilton Riverside. The hotel was fabulous and with the IM group rate it was $200 less expensive than the other hotels in the area. I recommend it, even if you read on TripAdvisor that there's a train that goes by, we hardly noticed it. The location was close to the French Quarter and convenient with the packet pickup in the hotel and the morning shuttles to the swim start.

Couldn't even wait until morning to head over to Cafe du Monde for beignets!
I felt calmer on race morning than I ever have. We took the shuttle down to transition and got everything set up. Got to meet superstar Haley Chura, who asked to snap our photo! Squeal! How much fun to be matchy matchy with a pro! ;)

Me, Haley, Orissa, Aixa
The time trial swim start was a lengthy process and my age group went off an hour after the pros. We jumped 10 at a time off a dock and started swimming. Due to a constricted area within a marina, the swim was zig-zaggy in an "N" shape. We started in one part of the marina and climbed out on the other side next to the transition.

The bike course was flat and windy, just as predicted. I enjoyed chasing my friends who I could see on the two out-and-backs. Although the prediction was for headwind on the way out and tailwind on the way back, because the bike course was kind of star-shaped, it didn't really feel that way. If there was a time I had to dig deep at this race, it was on the bike. Racing with a power meter for only the third time, I pushed to hold the prescribed watts. I really enjoyed being able to use watts as a guide and I think it made for a pretty even bike split that didn't leave me drained. I even got a little bike split PR. 

The point-to-point run course had been changed at the last minute from a run through the scenic French Quarter because of the French Quarter Festival that happened to be going on the same weekend. As I ran out of transition, guys started passing me left and right, and I thought, ugg, here we go. But within the first mile was a highway overpass, and to my surprise, many of them started to walk. I passed several people as I ran steady up the bridge and gained confidence with every step. 

I really enjoyed running along the waterfront. The volunteers were great and it was fun talking to other people on the course. I felt like I was running fast and I was having a great time. Around mile 8 I began to feel tired and started thinking of Norseman and how badly I wanted to go and how I needed to run fast to prove to myself that I deserved to.

Besides the ~6 hours I spent racing, every 5 minutes I was checking the status of the contest. 
A smack on the butt from Coachie at mile 11 sped me up as well, and I gutted it out the last 2 miles and down the half-mile straightaway into the finish line, turning heads with my lady-tennis-player-like audible breathing. I left it all out there and I was so proud of myself, and because I had forgotten to start my watch before the swim, I didn't even know what my time was. It turned out that I got a PR - the six minutes that I cried about last October at Longhorn when I was digging mud out of my cleats - I picked them up on the bike at this race. Woo hoo!

I mean when someone in a BOOT is chasing you and screaming, what choice do you have but to run faster?
Using everything I had left in the final stretch.
Usually after a race I'm wiped out and crying to Robert to carry me home. But this time we hustled back to the hotel, got cleaned up, and went out for delicious food at the Red Fish Grill. Met up with Coachie to get her that hurricane that she'd been craving, and had a ridiculously fun time with new friends on Bourbon Street refueling on hurricanes and hand grenades rather than protein shakes.

Gumbo at Red Fish Grill. Delish!
Coachie with a hand grenade. There's a guy inside that costume.
Bourbon Street shenanigans. Too much fun!
In namedropper news, I got to be a tiny little part of two pro race reports - Wes Anderson and Haley Chura. Now how much fun is that? Read them to see what goes on at the pointy end of the race!

My next race on the schedule was supposed to be Buffalo Springs but in planning for Norseman only 3 months away, Dawn and I have agreed that that weekend should be used for training rather than racing. So my next race is Norseman, August 2. I can't imagine that it will have anything in common with this flat race at sea level in New Orleans, but if my head can be in a similar place, I think I'll be in good shape.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

I'm Going to Norseman!

The winning photo, taken by my hubby, Robert Cordova, at Ironman Arizona 2012
First - a thank you to everyone who gave suggestions on Facebook for renaming this blog. I decided to keep it simple and go with my name - what better way to say who I am? Siri Lindley posted on Instagram today, "You will believe what you hear yourself say, more than what anybody else says about you." I'm taking this as a sign that changing the name from "Snails are Faster" was a good idea, because I need to believe that I'm strong enough to succeed in my next adventure.

Now, about NORSEMAN!!
I won the Blueseventy Norseman 2014 contest! I'll be jumping off that ferry in Eidfjord, Norway, in August! I just have to say again how incredible it was to watch this contest unfold the way that it did. I cannot thank everyone enough for helping me to win this amazing prize; it's truly a dream come true. Within one day of the contest when my friends started to repost and tag their friends, I became overwhelmed by the understanding that other people - even people I didn't know personally - wanted to help me achieve a dream. I had friends and relatives and their friends and family on five continents spreading the word about this contest and my desire to jump off that boat and climb that mountain. The support that I received in this effort really did bring me to tears and I hope that everyone gets to feel the love of a community like this at some point. It's a powerful thing. So again, a most heartfelt thank you to all of you who made this happen.

Robert and I were standing in line at a cafe counter in New Orleans, the day after racing the New Orleans 70.3, when I received that amazing little email telling me I had won. I was already on Cloud 9 after achieving a new personal best time at the 70.3 distance on a difficult day. I had a fantastic race because I was focused the whole time on proving to myself that I deserved to go to Norseman if I won the contest. In fact, as I crossed the finish line and collapsed in a chair, when asked if I was okay, my reply was "I just want to go to Norseman," as I started crying. The next morning in the cafe, the other customers looked on with curiosity and amusement as I stood stunned staring at my phone, then squealed, then put my face in my hands.

Why is this particular race important to me? I grew up in quite a few places as the child of a (now retired) geologist working for an oil company. I was able to see much of the world in my early years, and I spent 4 of them in Stavanger, Norway. As an adult-onset athlete, I've also spent time in the shadow of my amazing Dad, a sub-3 marathoner, a Boston qualifier who makes it look effortless, a guy who climbed to Everest Base Camp, a man who follows his dreams and makes them come true.

A year or so ago, Dad brought up Norseman and commented that he and Mom would love to be my crew if I ever went. I was already fascinated by the race, and was amused that he had heard about it too. We joked about it because it's so hard to get into, and so far away, and almost just a fantasy to consider going. And then this contest came up. And I thought, why not try? What's the danger in dreaming big? Then it happened. Wow. I'll follow in my Dad's footsteps of chasing dreams - and how much fun to have him, Mom, and Robert with me as we take on this adventure together.

It's also not lost on me that a photo taken at Ironman Arizona, a race where I had a devastating DNF, is the reason that I'm getting to embark on the adventure of a lifetime. To me, this is just more proof that everything happens for a reason, even though you may not understand at the time. What if I had finished that race and been a "one-and-done" Ironman? That's fine, but for me, it became so much bigger. I am just so grateful for what this sport has given me.

One day after receiving the news, I got a text from Coachie, who had already returned from New Orleans. "Have you come down off the cloud yet?" she asked, "let's plan this." In the middle of the night last night, I realized that the race is only 3 months away. I somehow thought I had 5 months to train. So yes, now I'm down off the cloud and ready to get to work. Here we go!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Help Me ReTitle My Blog

Ever since Michelle Simmons, who I hold in highest regard, barked at me in a comment that I should change the title of this blog, I've been thinking about it. I think her actual words were, "F that, Snails are NOT Faster!" I've had this blog for years and at the time I created it, I thought it was a cute, self-deprecating title.

But the time has come to change it - this isn't who I am anymore. Somebody who throws her hat into the ring for a Norseman slot cannot also claim to be slower than a snail. Plus it just isn't true. It wasn't true at the time I created the blog, and it certainly isn't true now.

The problem is that I can't figure out what to call it instead. Does anyone have suggestions? Maybe I'm overthinking this. Help! :)

Oh and also, please vote for me in the Norseman contest if you haven't already. Voting ends on Monday and I'm still in the lead! xoxoxo

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Shameless Self Promotion - Norseman Blueseventy Contest 2014

What you need to know:
Please go to Blueseventy's Facebook page, vote for my photo and help me win an entry into Norseman!

The photo looks like this and it's labeled with my name (Kris Cordova):

Additional details:
Blueseventy is holding a contest in which the lucky winners (one male, one female) get a coveted entry into the Norseman Triathlon, a sold-out iron distance race in Norway in August where you get to start by jumping off a boat into a fjord and end at the top of a mountain. I've been stalking the contest and it appears that I'm in second place for the female this could happen! OMG!

This race has always been on my radar as "something I'd like to do one day." But then this contest came up. And then, right before the deadline to enter last weekend, I raced the Tyler Tri and one of my roommates, Maggie Rusch, casually mentioned that she is already entered to race Norseman this year! I took this as a sign that clearly it's meant to be, and I rushed home and entered this photo into the contest.

The contest required a photo that inspires you. I'm inspired by this one because it holds that moment before the start of a race (Ironman Arizona 2012), where the athletes are getting ready to start an amazing day after an incredible journey to get there, and their supportive loved ones look on from the bridge. At that moment, anything is possible.

Thank you in advance for your vote! xoxoxo