Monday, April 18, 2011

New Orleans 69.1

S - 6,750 yards
B - 106.1 miles
R - 27.5 miles

Time - 9.89 hours

Whew, this week was easy!  Well, until you consider the pain that Sunday brought with it...

Monday and Tuesday were pretty normal days for me this week since my "taper" didn't start until Wednesday.  Normal (albeit shorter) swim with the group on Monday then a normal run Tuesday morning and a bike ride with some short (but sweet) intervals.  Starting Wednesday my volume reduced dramatically in prep for the race on Sunday.  Thursday was a (glorious) 11 hour travel day and Friday/Saturday workouts were very short and most of my accomplishments revolved around making sure I was race ready from a logistical standpoint.

New Orleans 70.3 Duathlon

Well, there's nothing quite like rolling into transition area to the first big "A" race of the year and hearing over the loudspeakers that "Due to high winds and inability to set up the course the swim has been canceled this year and we're doing a duathlon of bike + run!"  Needless to say, I was pretty disappointed.  But instead of whining about how much work I've done on the swim and how I was hoping to show some progress (wait, I did just whine...oh well) you've got to adapt to the new situation and move on; which is what I tried to do.  It seemed like a lot of people were getting bent out of shape, but from looking at the water and seeing how windy it was in transition I can't say I WANTED to jump in the water.

So the day really began with just sitting down and waiting.  Luckily I ran into Tara Flint in transition so I had someone to hang out with while we both waited for our wave starts.  She may be a member of the "evil" Triangle Multisports team but luckily (for her) we went to college and raced bikes together so it was ok to hang out and chit chat.

Bike 56 miles in 2:16:52 (24.55mph), 4th fastest 25-29
Relatively quickly the M25-29 wave was called to the "start" so I saddled up and joined the line.  It was actually relatively chilly since the sun hadn't really warmed things up yet and the wind was pretty stiff so I was eager to get on the bike and start working.  They were starting groups of two every two seconds so my turn came up and away I went.  The course started in a westerly direction down Lakeshore Dr (with the wind) so the first 3-4 miles were quite fast to the turnaround point.  It was EXCEPTIONALLY crowded and I was a little over my wattage goals for most of the ride as a consequence.  After the turnaround we headed back down Lakeshore and dead into the wind (this road is completely unprotected from the lake and the wind was really, really strong here), which would be a common theme for the next ~20+ miles or so.  The course was definitely more crowded this year and there were some definite "packs" that had formed.  It wasn't so much a drafting pack but at times there were maybe 6 passes happening at once so on several occasions I had to swing a little wider than I normally would deem "safe" to complete the pass.

Well, time went on and I continued my way towards the first turnaround spot (the course was shaped like a "Y") down in Venetian Isles.  At this point I was getting slightly uncomfortable in one specific area so I was looking forward to the opportunity to stand up on the pedals out of the 180 degree turn (since unless I have to I try to stay in aero position as much as possible...for better or for worse).  Made the turn and had a super awesome tailwind for the next bunch of miles.  Along this stretch I was averaging 26+ mph and I took the time to make sure I was caught up on gels and water.  Made the right turn onto the other part of the "Y" and unfortunately back into the wind.  This slog continued for a while before hitting the final turnaround and heading back with a tailwind for good.

At about mile 40 I began to feel a bit tired but knew I had it in me to finish off strong and so continued to push and raise my average speed all the way back down Haynes Blvd and closer to the Lakefront area.  Without much interesting to report I took my feet out of my bike shoes and headed into transition.

For the sake of showing how windy it was, here are my 7 mile bike split avg speeds:

23.9 (mph), 21.4, 23.4, 21.8, 26.0, 26.3, 27.1, 27.7

Transition "2" in 1:33

We had a slightly longer run into (or rather, around) transition this year.  I made my way around, put my bike back and grabbed one of my gel flasks.  Then put on my shoes, took my helmet off and grabbed my visor before heading out onto the run course.

Run 13.1 miles in 1:21:32 (6:13/mi), 4th fastest 25-29

Heading out onto the run I had mixed feelings.  Given my time and the wind, I figured I may have ridden too hard to run fast but I stayed (pretty closely) within my wattage targets so I was optimistic.  The weather was nice too, albeit a bit warm.  Lots of sun and a stiff breeze made it feel cooler than it was last year.  I had set my garmin to show "current lap time" and "current lap avg pace'' (on 1 mile laps) so I could properly pace myself or know if I was slowing down too much.  My first mile was a bit fast but I kept trying to slow down (and failing!).  The first couple of miles wound around the Lakeshore area before heading into City Park at mile 4ish.  The aid stations were incredible this year, with volunteers all over the place trying to pass out water/perform drink/coke/sponges etc.  At every aid station until my flask ran out I took a hit of gel and a ltitle water.  I actually carried the flask in my hand the whole time as opposed to in my pocket as in days gone by just so I'd be sure to take in the calories and not "forget."  I kept rattling off miles that were much faster than I thought I could run but I didn't feel like I was working overly hard and I felt I could maintain pace so I just kept going.  I went through 5k in just a hair over 18 minutes and through 7.5ish miles my pace was quite similar (a bit slower, but only because I didn't have that rogue first fast mile in there).  Once out of city park it became a mental game as at this point I was definitely working hard.  There weren't as many people out on the roads (spectators or participants) so it was a bit more of a lonely affair.  Once onto Esplanade I knew I was getting close but that road is so miserable (last real road but it's completely flat and straight so you can see ALL the way down! And the road surface is terrible) that I was starting to doubt.  I did slow down a little bit in the 2.5 miles on Esplanade but I was experiencing some minor cramping in my calves (where a muscle would fire like it was going to cramp but then subside) so I was a bit worried and when that happened I slowed down for a bit before picking it back up.

Once I turned onto Decatur I finally let myself realize that I was going to set a ridiculous PR for the 70.3 (errr, 69.2) half marathon.  Last year at New Orleans I ran just a hair over 1:32 so to run this fast was a revelation for me.  It just goes to show that all the work I've been putting in has been paying off!  Very exciting stuff.

Mile Splits
5:55 - 6:04 - 6:10 - 6:14 - 6:09 - 6:05 - 6:13 -
6:12 - 6:09 - 6:14 - 6:18 - 6:25 - 6:23 - 5:58 avg for .18 miles

To race like that and come in 5th place in my AG just goes to show how many fast people showed up to race today.  I can't be disappointed with that.  Not that I was, I was just surprised.  It's hard to even say how I feel about that run.  It was SUCH a huge breakthrough.  In the back of my head I dreamed about running 1:24-1:25 so to blow the doors off that was just incredibly surprising.  Not all races can go this well, of course, but knowing that adding on a relatively slow swim + t1 (31:30 ish) puts me in ~4:10 half ironman shape (on a similar course to NOLA of course) is very inspiring.

I'm very pleased with the direction Brian seems to be pointing me!


mainers said...

great race James. Congrats on the massive Half PR!

brian said...

You better be feeling pretty damn good about that run. I am.