Perpetual motion

Can't stop learning…

Great expectations

Short version: Best race I’ve had yet, despite an awful swim.


For reasons you’ll soon understand, I was not super excited about this race. Part of it is the normal pre-race/pre-travel jitters that I get (will my bike fit in the rental, will my hotel be decent, should i really be racing twice in two weeks). I’d waited until the week of the race to book my hotel room (at the La Quinta downtown in New Orleans, which ends up being a really nice hotel).

Packing the bike is typically not a big deal. Typically. I should have remembered how difficult it was to take off the pedals before IMC, because lo and behold, I couldn’t get the pedals off my bike again. They’d been wrenched on so hard that it took standing on the allen wrench with the bike upside down to get the threads moving. Time to figure that out? About an hour. Aside from that, packing was pretty uneventful.

Getting to and from BWI is a pain in the ass. It’s ~50 miles from NoVA, and at the right time of day is a 45 minute drive. 2:30PM on a Friday is not the right time of day, ever. I had figured it might take an hour and a half to get to the airport leaving me two hours to grab a decent meal and just in general have a calm day of travel. HAHAHAHAHA. What’s that they say about the best laid plans? That they’re typically shit when it comes to acting on them? Right. The drive ended up taking 2 hours and twenty minutes, and since I’d ended up leaving 15 minutes late, this meant I had about an hour to park, check the bike, get through security and maybe get some gummi candy (candy du jour lately has been sour patch kids), which are infinity times better when they are soft then when they have been sitting out for a while.

Pre-race registration was only odd in that my line to check-in was super long. Typically they group something like V-Z in one line, but at NOLA, it was ST-V. Which means the line was significantly longer. Saw Chris “Macca” McCormack on the way to registration. For some reason I always thought he was like 5’7 or 5’8, but it turns out he’s 5’11, so I was surprised at how big he was.

Bike check-in went as expected. Got in a short check-ride on the bike, a short check-run in on the shoes (still going with the Mizuno Wave Mushas as I have not been thrilled with the Asics DS Racer 9). Shoe aside: The DS Racer is a solid solid training shoe I think. But the Wave Musha feels faster and seems to fit my feet a bit better. Got to look at Lake Ponchartrain. It’s enormous. Not what I expected, but then again, I didn’t have any expectations. Lake P, being the lake that it was, was flat as glass.


I met up for dinner with my buddy Jeff from Princeton. Ended up at The Gumbo Shop. Had some Abita beer, jambalaya, red beans and rice and I can’t remember what the last part of the meal was. Nice to catch up with a friend outside of reunions. Got back to the hotel, tried to go to sleep. As before most races, I probably got a total of 3-4 hours of sleep, which was oft interrupted by the drunk/louad/obnoxious college students in the hotel room next door or the hallway. Woke up at 4 AM. Go downstairs, wait for my car to get pulled around, and witnessed two very drunk incidents: one guy, after fighting with his cabbie, tries to go in through the automatic door, which just so happened to be locked. He stands there, waving his arms at the door, getting angrier and more frustrated, shoving away the cabbie when he tries to show him that the other door would work. This went on for three minutes or so. Other incident? Girl meets boy, girl and boy get hammered, boy and girl get in a fight, girl storms off mad and kicks over newspaper console and then punches a road sign. Awesome.

Get into transition, have some wheat thins (breakfast of champions), some Gatorade, set up my area for the day and use the portopotties. 4 times (oddly enough, before starting triathlon, I had NEVER used a portopotty. My hand to god. After it gets sanitized first though). Transition closed at 6:45, but my wave didn’t go off until 8:20 (last wave, yes!). Anyhow, I had to do my business again, so I snuck back into transition to use the potty again. While I was putting my wetsuit on, I found my goggles from IMC in my sleeve. Left them on the levee as I couldn’t figure out where to put them. I was hoping I could go back after the race and get them, but it was not to be.

The swim:
At NOLA, it’s a beach start which ends up being waist deep water for about the first 100 yards. I was hoping to get on the feet of someone fast, but the beach start kind of ruined it. In fact, I felt that by the time we got to the turn buoy (~200 yards) I was already at the back of the pack. Not only that, but the glass-flat Lake P from Saturday had turned into a washing machine on a runaway spin cycle. This was like nothing I had swum in before (but tasted better than either the Potomac or the Hudson). Anyhow, I didn’t feel like I was going fast, but I didn’t feel like I was going slowly. I just didn’t ever get in a good rythym and didn’t get comfortable. I think it was a good learning experience, but I’m really disappointed in the swim. Never thought I’d swim a 38:42. That’s my slowest open water swim, ever. 10 minutes slower than my slowest IM swim.

Time: 38:42 (2:00/100M). 530 OA/57 AG


I had trouble getting my wetsuit unzipped after getting out of the water. I was waved over by some wetsuit strippers (not strippers wearing wetsuits) and despite a small snag in getting my left foot out of the wetsuit, they did a good job. Ran to my rack (opposite side of transition from the swim exit) and got to my bike. Instead of putting my bike shoes on and running to bike out, I left them on the bars and ran barefoot to bike out. Only snag was forgetting that my sunglasses were in my bike shoes and having them fall out on the run over. Maybe lost 10-15 seconds there. I can’t reiterate enough: If you’ve got a long way to run in transition and you aren’t doing a flying start, run with your bike shoes in your hands or on the bars. You’ll run much faster and you can put them on at the edge of transition (usually there’s a fence you lean your bike against).

Time: 2:28 32 AG


Goal here was to take it relatively easy. Max sustained watts should be 200, but I didn’t want to hit that at the expense of heart rate, which I wanted to keep around 152. For the first 10 minutes or so, I was above on HR but below on Watts, but that’s not unexpected with me (I get super excited to be on the bike, so my heart starts beating fast with adrenalin even though I’m just moseying along). The first 5 miles or so had heavy traffic on narrow roads, but once we got towards the highway things got spread out and I was able to take off. I was able to stay aero for most of the ride, but my concentration really wasn’t as good as it could have been. For the first 60km or so, I kept on swapping places with a guy who ended up finishing well behind me on the bike ride. Whether he was pushing too hard or I was being too lazy could be debated, but I think I was being lazy. In the headwinds, I wasn’t putting in a lot of effort (almost being TOO conservative), but in the tailwinds I was opening up the throttle and taking off. I’m pleased with my position on the bike (I’ll have pictures soon) as I feel like I am getting a lot of free speed there. Anyhow, I need to keep my concentration up and allow a bit of discomfort (too much sitting up and fidgeting in the second half of the ride).

Time: 2:37:15 (21.37/mph). 336 OA/28 AG. 181W average/188W NP (1.03VI). 148 BPM Average


Aside from almost dropping my bike at the dismount line as someone blazed past me (I really need to relearn the flying dismount), T2 was unventful. Noticed there weren’t that many (maybe 10) bikes on the racks near mine (I thought all M25-29 were there, but apparently not). Got 3 of the 4 gels I had left in my shoes out before I put them on (got the 4th one out when I got my foot halfway in the shoe, realized there was a gel in there, and took it off). Grabbed my watch and I was off. That’s my transition. No hat to grab, no race belt to grab. Just get the bike on the rack and go. Turned the watch on as I ran to run out.

Time: 1:47 22 AG


In the run out chute, I noticed that a few more people were at the racks near mine. Now, I had no idea how bad my swim was, but I was thinking that I was in a pretty good spot. After a 2:37 bike, that’s not really going to be in podium contention, but I was thinking a top-10 might be in reach given that there were not too many bikes in transition. I don’t know if running scared is the right word for it, but I think it might be apt here. I really didn’t want to be caught from behind by someone in my AG.

Goal for the run was to run easy. I wanted my HR to float around 162 (preferably below 162) for about the first 10 miles. Given that it was hot, I didn’t know what pace that would translate into. But I really didn’t care. I figured it would be around 7:30-7:45/mile. The watch acquired GPS signal after about a third of a mile (half a click? sure, why not). The first mile (on the watch) ticked over in 7:24. Passed a guy who had flown past me on the last third of the bike (not in my AG). Told him he was really flying on the bike, he said he flatted, and I related my story about flatting at the Dextro DC race last year.

The miles started ticking by quickly. As I passed people, I’d give them words of encouragement, especially if they had a team name (or city on the back of their gear). A guy in Hammer Nutrition got me saying how his gear made me think of U Can’t Touch This. After giving some encouragement to a woman by naming whatever team she was on, she said “Good job Team… red and black.” I really need to think of something clever to put on the back of a trisuit. I passed the owner of a NOLA tri-club, and he invited me for a beer post-race at his team’s tent (I couldn’t find their tent, but it was a gracious offer). I passed three women running together, gave them some encouragement, and then they asked if I was being sarcastic, to which I replied in no uncertain terms that I meant what I was saying. You’ve probably noticed that I’m not talking much about paces or anything here. Well, there’s not too much to say. I was running between 7:24 and 7:35 for most of thea day, and up until mile 9 or so, I didn’t really feel like I was putting a whole lot of effort in. At 3, 6, and 9 miles I had a Gu (Vanilla Bean is the best flavor, ever). At the aid stations, I’d take a water, a cup of ice (or ice water if no ice) and a sponge on occasion. The ice/ice water would go down the tri suit for cooling, the water you go in or near my mouth and on my head, and the sponge was placed at my neck. At mile 10, I walked an aid station as I was concerned that I was not getting enough liquids (I wound up, as you can see later, running a 7:34 for the 10th mile, despite walking the station). Once we got onto the neighborhood streets (~mile 10.5), I noticed that pacing was becoming a lot more difficult. I just didn’t have much of a kick to run really really fast at that point (the plan had been 10 miles easy and then all bets are off for the last 3.1 miles). There was a guy with an age of 2? on his leg in front of me, and thinking he might be in my AG, I decided he was my rabbit, so I would try to close in on him. At mile 12, after drawing even, I walked the aid station again and ran my slowest mile of the day (7:40), followed by my fastest mile of the day at 7:09. I caught up to the rabbit, thanked him for being a good rabbit, and let him sprint the last half mile into the finish. The finish line, which runs right through the French Quarter, was a welcome site. As I entered the chute, I gave all the little kids with their hands out high fives. Crossed the line with a total elapsed time (since the first wave) of 6:15, which meant I was definitely under 5 hours (I figured 4:55).

Oh, and the neatest part of the day, which I realized when I downloaded the data off of my watch? I even split the first and second half of the half-marathon to the second. Not all of the best laid plans go to shit, apparently.

Time: 1:37:42 (7:28/mile) 99 OA/9 AG (2 seconds off half marathon PB stupid walking aid stations) 159 BPM Average
(map and splits here. Splits match course marked miles after mile 4).
Total time: 4:57:54 152 OA/15 AG (Top 10% AG)

Final thoughts:
Aside from the swim, the day couldn’t have gone better. Bike was right where I thought it would be time-wise, and run was faster than I expected. Never felt like I was in serious discomfort (except on the swim). Top 10% of my AG has been a goal of mine. Don’t know if I consider it the pointy end of the race, but it’s definitely close. There’s a lot of work to be done still as I was 40 minutes back of first place and 30 back of third. But it’s definitely an improvement over previous races and it’s motivation to work even harder.

See you again in 2 weeks. It’ll be hard to top this race.

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