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.