In the last cliffhanger, I was just getting out the water and although I was thrilled with my time, I had consoled my bruised ego as I assumed I was the last one out of the water.
A small pack of 3-4 women exited the water right before me. As I came up the ramp and turned into transition, I heard a volunteer shouting to someone in the kayak to count the swimmers in the water since there were five unclaimed bikes. Meaning I was fifth to last out the water. Take that bruised ego! This still made for a fairly deserted transition.
Once I got out of transition there was a fairly steep hill to get onto the course an I had set my gears pretty high, since I’d also be on tired legs. I was so so grateful to Time Crunched Triathlete for all the swim-bike bricks I’ve done over the last 8 weeks because my legs felt better than they would have otherwise. This was only my second race on my new road bike and the wind along Lake Pontchartrain had my expectations set pretty low. I was hoping to maintain 15 mph (24.14 kph) for the course. It was very flat which was nice because it meant no hills but it also meant no pedaling breaks.
The course was pretty and went around to the other side of the False River. A few things of note:
1) There was a lot of road kill. Mo said maybe because New Roads is more in the country?
2) People like to give there lake houses funny names, like Time Out, Making Memories, The River Bend. I’m renaming our house Devon Heaven, since it’s more fitting.
3) New Roads drivers must be used to cyclists. Not a single car tried to run me off the road or cut me off. Unlike New Orleans drivers, they just went around, leaving a safe distance. It was really nice.
During the whole 40 kilometer course, I only saw people on the opposite side of the out and back course from me. I didn’t pass anyone and aside from the women who passed me immediately leaving transition, no one passed me. It was pretty lonely. I ate a packet of Justin’s almond butter, not so much because I needed it as I didn’t want to regret not taking it. I also took three salt stick caps. It was cool and overcast for Louisiana so by the time the ride was over I had only started the second bottle of water I packed. I finished in 1:36:57 (watch time), which put me at 15.3 mph (24.63 kph). Success.
My second transition went off well and I was onto the run. Running is my strength, my baby and I really rely on it to gain back some time when some others are slowing down. And I felt amazing on the run. I had planned to run 10 minute miles for the first half and then start dropping the time but I felt so good I just went with 9:30 miles. By the time I reached the aid station around mile 2, I could see at least four-five runners ahead of me that I thought I could catch. Because this part of the course was through a neighborhood park, you could see lots of people at different places. By the time I made it back the the aid station, I had passed 3 people and was looking ahead to the last two.
At this point there was less then 2 miles left in the race. I decided when I made it back to the main road, I would push for a sub 9:00 minute mile. I passed a woman before then and shortly after getting onto the main road passed a man. By that point, I knew I couldn’t hit sub 9:00 because I was struggling to hit 9:30 pace. I also had figured out by that point that the course was short, according to my watch but I wasn’t sure by how much.
Man, crossing the finish line felt. so. good.
Even though the last mile of the run was a struggle, I felt like I had executed this race to the best of my ability. I felt amazingly strong on the run and being tired in the last mile just meant to me I had pushed myself to my limit.
And Eve won her age group! What a beast!
This was a great end to this triathlon season. I already have some fall/winter goals laid out and some triathlons picked out for next year.
Allow me to introduce myself.
I’m Laura, also known as Sweating For It. I’d identify myself as a wife, crazy cat lady, teacher, my parents’ favorite child, and a long time runner.
Now, I can also identify myself as an Olympic distance triathlete. Boom.
I was so nervous for this race. Sometimes blogging about a big upcoming race or even talking about it with friends and family ends up with me feeling under pressure to perform. Not that I’m worried about winning, or even placing in the incredible competitive 30-34 age group. It’s all self induced pressure, but it’s still there. So I told Mo not to make a big deal out of the race but it was important enough I wanted him to come and be my crew.
Big Cajun was in New Roads, Louisiana, about 45 minutes north of Baton Rouge in Pointe Coupee Parish. We stayed overnight in Baton Rouge Saturday night at our favorite hotel. They will give us a first floor room and a super late checkout (2:00!) so it’s a convenient hotel for racing (The Radisson on Acadian if anyone is interested). We stopped at packet pickup on our way into town and I was a little underwhelmed by the amount of information available about the race. It felt a little bit like an insider’s thing. Like either you do lots of triathlons in New Roads and know the way it works or…you don’t. There was a swim cap, but no mention as to whether you had to wear it. Nothing about transition, USAT rules, after party, awards, or an address of the start. Some of this was mentioned in the email sent out two days before the race, but I’m used to a little more information. Packet pickup was at Fleet Feet Sports in Baton Rouge but none of the employees seemed to know anything about the race. It made me really glad this wasn’t my first triathlon because I would have been so freaked out. Of course, maybe the director just figured anyone doing an Olympic tri knew the ropes.
We stocked up at Whole Foods for dinner and breakfast. There was no refrigerator in the hotel room, so I had to get creative, but I had planned on making a race morning fat shake and forged ahead. We used the ice bucket to keep my yogurt and spinach cold all night and I just left the berries and almond butter out.
We got to New Roads right at 6:30. I got body marked, picked up my timing chip, and went to check out my spot on the rack. Racks were assigned to a set of numbers but specific spots on the rack weren’t assigned. I was the last number on my row and claimed an end spot anyway.
We caught up with Eve and Mo took some good before shots.
The swim course was a double loop. It started from a slippery boat launch next to transition. Eve found a beer bottle and someone else found a fork?! I guess because it was right next to a restaurant, but a carpet laid out on the boat ramp would have cut down on the slickness and the other…hazards.
You might remember how nervous I was before T-Gator in July about the open water swim. Getting that first one under my belt was a good idea. I’ve been in Lake Pontchartrain a handful of times since then but I didn’t feel too nervous. The False River looked nice and calm and since it was a double loop, it didn’t look too long. There were also tons of houses along the lake with docks and boats, so it looked well travelled. There were plenty of kayaks. Eve and I did a quick warm up swim to feel the water temp and I felt ready. Mo told me later he saw lots of fish jumping and swimming in the water and thought it best not to mention it til later. He is so smart.
We got going and what can I say? It was swimming, hard, but paced. There were three heats and the last was the women. Most of the pack got away from me quickly but there were maybe four of us swimming near each other. Mo said Eve took off and ended up catching up to some of the men. I kept mentally preparing myself to get kicked and knocked when the men lapped me, but either the did and I didn’t notice or they never did. In the second loop, our little pack got away from me and I was sure I was the last one in the water. When I finally got out, I saw 45:xx on my watch and was thrilled. Later it turned out that according to my watch I actually swam 2106 yards (1925 meters). I must have seriously gotten off course somewhere but that means my pace was even better than I though, so I couldn’t be happier about my swim time.
It also turned out I wasn’t the last one out the water. Given you probably don’t have all day to read my one blog post, I’ll break in two. Coming up: the story of the lonely cyclist and duck footed runner.
Black and Gold to the Super Bowl!
Ever since I did the Saints 5k last year, I’ve been waiting for it to roll around again and get together my friends to run it. Last year it was a pretty big race for me.
1. I PR’ed with a 26:19
2. I met the Steel MagNOLAs at the race and have been hooked up with them ever since then.
3. The race finished on the field of the Superdome, so it was a pretty rare opportunity.
This year I was joined by some fabulous folks for the race.
I wore my new Steel MagNOLAs jersey that I just got and reused my Snow White skirt. I wasn’t totally in Saints colors, but I was certainly representing NOLA.
The Saints 5k is huge but I’d say the majority of the people are walkers out in costume with their friends to have a good time. I appreciate that there are pace signs to at least help people place themselves. I didn’t think I was in shape to beat last year’s 26:19 but I figured I would finish in the 27 minute range, knowing I still had a big swim-bike brick ahead of me. Mo on the other hand was ready to race. Amy and Kevin hung around with us in the 8:00 area and dropped back later in the race.
When we started I was about 100 yards ahead of Mo and then he took off ahead of me. I could see him for some of the race and just hoped he had a good idea of pacing himself so he could hold on.
The course starts in Champion Square outside the Superdome and winds through downtown, making it’s way onto Decatur and turning around near the Bubba Gump restaurant. With about .25 mile to go, you pass the start and even as I was nearing the finish, walkers were still just getting started.
The trick to this race is that when you pass the start you think you are almost done but you have to circle almost the whole way back around the Dome before you go inside to finish.
When you enter the Dome, you get the most wonderful, icy blast of AC before you sprint those last 40 yards on the field.
Mo finished in 25:50!!!!! I’m so impressed by him. He has worked really hard and shown perseverance. Every time he has gotten injured or his training got derailed in the last year and he had to take time off he has come back stronger.
I finished in 26:59, which was totally fine with me.
I woke up Sunday morning for the race and opted not to eat anything. I’d usually eat a sandwich thin with peanut butter but I’ve been cutting bread out of my diet and I was so afraid to eat because I was sure my stomach would give up on me for good. At the race site, I nibbled on about 1/4 of my sandwich thin but I didn’t really need it.
Eve, Tina and I got to the race site (Sam Houston Park) plenty early since it was maybe only 10 minutes from my parents’ house. Lucky break. We were then in plenty of time to take silly pictures.
Despite being a no frills race, I snagged two swim caps and a tshirt. Pretty snazzy. The fact that there was an alligator on the swim cap was less funny to me at this point though.
Sometime during the night before I just decided that my only real goal was to swim in the river bravely. After that I’d just ride and run to be happy. I knew I had and was still expending so much energy being anxious about the swim and that was just life. Besides, hadn’t I entered this race to be my first open water and get it over with?
The start was a treading start which seemed the safest way instead of running down the boat ramp or jumping in. My mom, dad, and sister came to watch the race, mostly because they are awesome. My mom and sister positioned themselves near the start so they could walk most of the way down the swim and my dad was more towards the middle so he could see me get out. They were a great cheering section for all the Steel MagNOLAs!
Once the race started I just put my face in the water and swam. It was a straight shot from start to finish so very little sighting was involved. I wanted to swim the whole way without stopping and panicking. I figured I could swim the 525 meters in around 15 minutes, if I didn’t need to stop. The whole time I tried to stay near a pack and not be last. Mostly because I figured it was the best way to not get eaten by an alligator.
And guess what? I finished. I didn’t stop. I didn’t panic. I kept going right til the end.
Unfortunately all the post swim happy dancing means I didn’t look at my watch right when I came out of the water. So I was almost at transition when I finally looked to see it was around 16 minutes. Which I’m just going to call a 15 minute swim. I moved through transition briskly. Definitely not racing but not strolling either. I made a new goal for myself as I walked to the bike mount: since this was only my second ride on this bike and my first race in clipless pedals, not falling off my bike at all seemed like a solid goal.
And indeed it was. Because I wasn’t winning any speed awards. This was pretty much my slowest bike split ever. I’m not sure if it was from not eating breakfast, being water anxious, or just the new bike, but I could never get my speed together. At some point during the 15 mile ride I was just ready to be off my bike. There were only maybe 23 women in the race (out of 120ish people) and I think I was the 21st woman off the bike. But I didn’t fall. Mission accomplished. And my dad was waiting near the end of the bike course to cheer me in!
The run was my favorite part as usual. Everything hurt by this point and it was humid as hell (July in Louisiana, by a river-this is not surprising). I passed maybe 7 or 8 guys on the road which felt good because the women were the last heat to start. The course turned out to be a little shy of the 2.5 miles it was supposed to be (maybe 2.3?) but I really didn’t mind by that point.
And my mom and sister were waiting at the finish line for me! Although it definitely took me a minute to gather myself and I think I downed an entire bottle of water before I got over to them and at least another bottle almost immediately after that.
It’s now been a month (exactly) since T Gator #3. I didn’t got back to look up any of my splits for the race to right this recap, not because they were terrible (except for the bike split) but more because this was a NSV (non split victory- or a non scale victory to any dieters out there). I rode a new bike with clipless pedals without falling and swam in a river that terrified me. I’d recommend the race to anybody because it was fun, cheap, and a good challenge.
I gave myself a few weeks to let the dust settle and really mull over what direction I wanted to go with triathlon from here. Before the race I was seriously considering sitting out because I was scared of the river, and maybe just sticking to pool only triathlons, which would put big limitations on the distances I could compete in. I wanted to be sure and deliberate in what I signed up for next.
After a few weeks, I signed up for Big Cajun, a short course in New Roads, Louisiana (swim in the False River) at the end of September. Who knows, maybe one of the reasons I like this sport is to get over being scared of things? I want to be fearless with a huge sense of adventure, and that might just mean swimming in a few rivers.
And PS: Congrats to all the Steel MagNOLAs who did T Gator: Eve, Tina, Adrienne, and Anamarie. That was some butt kicking racing.
Have you done anything lately that scares you?
It’s been quite awhile since I blogged. After this last race I took a big physical and mental step back from training which turned into a step back from blogging as well. Next week starts a new training cycle so I guess I’m feeling excited about blogging again too!
T Gator #3 is the third race in an annual series that the Lake Charles Triathletes put on every year. It’s billed as a “no frills” race, with a $35 price tag, no goodie bag, and no awards. You get one t-shirt for the whole series although I did manage to get a swim cap too, so I can quit wearing those obnoxious pink Girl Power ones so much. The race was well organized and fun with a very nice course. Of course, as Eve put it, they didn’t realize New Orleans was coming, and only had a case of beer for the 100+ racers!
Lake Charles is about three hours from New Orleans and also happens to be near where my parents live, so I got to double dip with a visit to them. Before I drove out Friday morning though I had to rectify an equipment issue. Wednesday night my bike broke.
Bootcamp Brian and I had just finished swimming at the pool with Coach C and jumped on our bikes. As soon as I started to clip in my right foot, the pedal fell out. Whaaaaa?
Actually, this wasn’t entirely unexpected. My next post will be all about the Trek’s repair, buying, and then getting fit for my new bike, a Specialized Dolce. For now, here she is.
Saturday afternoon my dad and I set put to Sam Houston Park to check out the race site. I was super nervous because it was my first open water race and I’d never swum in the Calcasieu River before. My heart and my stomach (but mostly my stomach) sank when I saw the river.
It was so dark.
My poor dad didn’t help either, since he was constantly throwing out alligator jokes. I don’t think he realized how freaked I was. But there were actually alligator signs in the area! Eve and Tina came by later and took pictures with them!
After that we drove the bike course. It looked great! Very smooth, gentle rolling hills, few turns.
Until on the way back, a GIANT snake was crossing the road. I mean, I’m talking like a stinkin’ python or something.
You know the scene from a Christmas Story where the kid is helping his dad change the flat tire and drops the bolt thingys? And the whole scene slows way down as the little boy says “Fuuuuudddddggggeeeee?” Except he doesn’t say ‘fudge.’
Well that exact scene happened in the car with my dad when I saw that monster snake. Except I’m 30, so I didn’t get my mouth washed out with soap. Or Tabasco.
By the time we got home and related the whole story to my mom, my stomach went into full blown revolt mode. And every time I thought about that dark water, my stomach fought back and I had to run to the bathroom.
I went to dinner that night with Tina, Eve, and Adrienne. Originally I was just going to have dinner with my parents, but I really wanted to hear some confidence building talk from the girls. It was definitely the right decision. Tina and Adrienne had both done this race before and you just can’t get stressed around Eve because she is so buoyant. Their confidence rubbed off on me and settled me down some.
But that night, I still had trouble sleeping, wondering what could be in that water that I couldn’t see and whether or not I could be mentally tough to overcome this really intense anxiety…
2.1 mile run: 18:21
9.83 mile bike: 47:22
2.1 mile run: 19:02
Same bridge, different style. The next morning.
Saturday June 8 I ran the Crescent City Connection Bridge Run. June 9th was the Bridgeman Duathlon, over the same bridge. Although it’s not part of the Louisiana Bridge Series, I feel like I should get bonus points for this race!
This is another repeat race for me, but it holds a special place in my heart because it was my first multisport race! It was nice to return to this and feel significantly more confident in my ability to get across the finish line.
I picked up my packet Saturday morning at the race start at the Gretna Farmer’s Market. Turns out that an outdoor farmer’s market makes a great transition area. I was pretty pumped about this year’s shirt (women’s fit, nice design) and the really nice bag they had.
And thank goodness I got another koozie! We were starting to run low on them…
Sunday morning I got up super early to load the car and head out. I wussed out on racing with the new pedals on my bike, given my grace, after having visions of myself tumbling over the bridge to the depths of the Mississippi. And since I’m less than confident in open water I opted to let Mo put the cages back on my bike.
The sky was leering at me the whole way to Gretna. Once at the race, the announcer joked that it can’t be the Bridgeman without lousy weather. There is plenty of close parking for this race and although it has sold out both years, the field is kept to a comfortable size. I set up in my transition, chatted with some of the other Steel MagNOLAs (shout out to Hayley, Gel, Dennis, Deirdre, E2, Cassie, Shellie, Dennis, Ashley, Cindy, and anybody else I missed! We really represented!) Even after just a short warm up, I was drenched so I knew it was going to be rough.
Last year the two mile run legs were in different places but this year they were both along the levee so the start was shifted to in front of the Farmer’s Market, which was also transition. The Farmer’s Market made a great covered transition area, but the start was pretty crowded with different waves bunched up trying to listen.
Once we were off the run was pretty, along a running/biking trail next to the Mississippi River. There were a few “New Orleans” hills, so basically lumps. My Garmin timed the course as being 2.1 miles, which after looking at the times people posted, seems accurate, which means maybe next year they can move the start a little so it is less congested.
T1 was pretty standard. Helmet on and go. It’s about 2.5 miles from transition to the Crescent City Connection Bridge. Although there weren’t really any crowds along the course, there were plenty of police officers and the course was easy to follow. We were warned about a large puddle just before the bridge and sure enough, just as I approached it and prepared to move around it, I got passed and was forced to ride straight through it. Wah wah.
The bridge was the same as it was the night before but I’d rather run up a hill than bike it any day. About halfway up I remembered that I swore last year I wasn’t doing this bridge again. Finally I peaked, went downhill for a bit, and then turned around. At the turnaround there were two cyclists who looked like they had crashed and again, wussing out, I took my feet out of the cages and walked the tight turn. I certainly wasn’t going to win this race and I got a lot of respect for heights.
I rode my breaks for a good bit of the downhill because it is intense! The rest of the ride was smooth sailing as was T2. The Garmin measured the bike part as 9.83 miles. The second run was pretty much the same as the first.
Overall I was pleased with my time. I did a good 6 or 7 minutes better than last year’s race and was a lot less anxious. However, after all these bridge races, I might be ready to hang my medals and rest on my laurels!
Congrats to all the Steel MagNOLAs racing and placing!
Saturday 10K run / 56:59 minutes
The Bridge Run is the third in an epic four week block of races I am participating in. Originally, it wasn’t a part of my plan, but I added it in because it is the first race of the Louisiana Bridge Run Series.
A, F, and A’s dad JH committed to doing the series also. The race had a 10K, which was only for runners (you had to be able to run 13 minute miles to do it) and a 5K which was for runners and walkers. A and JH decided to walk the 5K and F had to drop out at the last minute for the 10K.
The 10K started about 5K back from the start of the 5K on top of the levee. If you are not from Louisiana, you need to know that there are tons of man made earthen levees along the Mississippi River and its tributaries throughout the state. In high school, we had a levee for a marina in our backyard. They are fantastic to run on because they are either dirt on top or the city will sometimes pave them to encourage people to walk, run, and bike there. They can be very hot in the summer because they usually are so tall they don’t get a lot of shade. They can also be tricky to include in a race because the tops are narrow, maybe 4-5 feet across.
This 10K was small, maybe 100 people so it was fine on top of the levee. I had a plan to run slow and not race this because CCC10K last week was my PR and next week’s Rocketchixis more important to me. I decided to run the whole thing in 9:30 minute miles.
The race started about 25 minutes late, which was obnoxious. It also started very unceremoniously, since the announcer had regularly been updating us on how long we would be waiting but then suddenly shouted, “On your mark, get set, go!”
The race had timing chips, as usual, but there was no timing mat at the start of the 10K, which makes the timing chips pretty useless because they all start at the gun time. The start was also not well marked so I missed starting my watch at exactly the right spot because I was looking for the timing mat.
Once we finally got going, it was so hard to keep a 9:30 pace and let people pass me! I concentrated on the scenery and holding myself back. The scenery was really pretty. We passed Ormond Plantation, and were running along side the Mississippi River so it was very pleasant. I made a deal with myself that at 4 miles I could run however fast I felt like running.
As we neared the 5K start, I could see that a lot of the race was walkers. This was definitely a community race where lots of families, church groups, or other organizations came to walk in groups and have a nice morning. The race director let most of the 10K leaders pass before starting the 5K. I kept trying to spot A and JH and they said they kept looking for me but we didn’t see each other til much later.
Before the 5k mark, we ran down the levee and onto the road, passing Destrehan Plantation, which is where A had her wedding reception! Between miles 3 and 4 we started the ascent up the bridge and I got really glad I ran slow for the first three miles. We went up the bridge on ramp (going 310 South off of River Road, if you know the area). From there the ascent got even steeper because the bridge went up quite a bit more.
By this point I was running through mostly 5K walkers, which was fine. A bridge run is not some place to PR and everyone was just having a good morning. I didn’t have to do too much zig zagging and even got to see A and JH walking.
We passed the four and five mile mark on the bridge. Coming down the other side of the bridge was fun! I had saved a lot of energy for the descent so I just let myself go. When we reached the bottom of the bridge there was still another half mile and short hill to go.
I was pleased to finish in 56:59 and pick up a medal. I later heard the race had over 2000 walkers and runners. Only the first 1000 got a medal, which was disappointing.
The post race fest was big. There was music, bananas, oranges, water, coke, beer, hot dogs and chips. There were also a few booths for other races set up, including the Huey P Long 5K and a few organizations that had groups participating had their own tents set up too. We hung around for a bit before catching a yellow school bus back to the 5K start where JH had parked.
One bridge run down, two more to go!
Have you ever done a bridge run? What was your very first race?
Saturday 10 whole k’s / 55:24
121/ 1442 (30-34 year old women)
Saturday was the Crescent City Classic 10k, a New Orleans Easter weekend tradition. I ran this race last year with my bestie F and it was very different this year.
Packet pickup was nothing too special. Mo and I went to lunch in the French Quarter (Cafe Maspero’s) and walked to the Hyatt Regency where the expo was. We had taken the streetcar down and hoped to catch the new Loyola line back home but we never saw a single car on the line.
There has been lots of talk about how the race would be organized differently than it had in the past. There was a new start near the Super Dome, a new route, and color coded corrals so that runners could run, walkers and strollers could stroll, and people dragging kegs in little red wagons could roll. This is New Orleans after all.
I’m not speedy enough to get a seeded spot in this race so I signed up for the first corral you didn’t need a previous time to get into.
My friend Allison, who ran her first 5k at the Super Dome in September, met me at my house so we could ride the streetcar together. This was her first 10k and she was so excited! Congratulations Allison on being so awesome.
We ended up catching the streetcar with the group from Louisiana Running Company, most of whom were seeded so their bibs were cool colors like gray and pink. Wish I had brought my phone to take a picture because one guy was dressed as an Easter Bunny and another was wearing a banana costume.
One thing you should know about New Orleans. We love an excuse to wear a costume and drink.
The race started 15 minutes late, which was lame, but the corral system worked decently. I didn’t have to do too much dodging in the first mile or so and everyone around me was at least running.
Interesting Things I Saw During The Race
1. At least three bands. One was playing outside CC’s Coffee on Esplanade and another in front of the New Orleans Museum of Art. Oooh, and a Navy band near Cafe Du Monde
2. The Drago’s Fire Truck: Around 2.5 miles, near the underpass at Claiborne. This truck was there last year too. They were costumed and handing out beer and offering to pour a shot of tequila in your mouth as you passed.
3. Lots of participants spectating: All along the route I saw people wearing bibs for the last two corrals watching the race. Maybe they lived near the route and just wanted to jump in when it got good and walk to the finish party?
4. Lots of community: This race is a tradition and people who live and work along the route come watch, cheer on their friends, and PARTY. There were legitimate tailgating parties going on. Full on cook outs and drinking while wearing crazy costumes (see note about New Orleans above). There were several people handing out beer, donuts, crackers, Jell-O shots, and playing music on speakers loud. It was super fun to take in while running.
There was bling this year! Mo, it’s time to put a new row on my medal rack!
The Post Race Festival at City Park was pretty big. There was fruit, jambalaya, red beans and rice, beer, water, and Gatorade. I ran into my friend Jason who ran the race in 38 minutes?! He is a beast by the way. After that I walked myself home.
And the finish. After a disappointing Mardi Gras Mambo, I was looking for some validation in this race. Last year I ran CCC10k in 64:29, but I wasn’t sure that a race this big was the right one t be looking for a big PR. The corrals paid off for me and I was thrilled with my 55:24 finish.
Now I just have to wait for all the sponsorship deals to rolllllll in.
Swim 300 meters / 7:39
Bike 10 miles / 39:35
Run 2 miles / 17:42
Girl Power was Sunday. This is a very well managed, well organized race, and is a great one to participate in if you are new to triathlons or just in the New Orleans area.
I overslept a little and had my usual rice cake with peanut butter pre-race breakfast before loading the car. I wanted to manage all of my stuff on my own and let Mo sleep so I loaded my bike and gathered my transition bag and post race bag. I am usually more anxious about a race the night before than the morning of, so Mo had already done his support team part in helping me pack.
In my transition bag I had: two towels (one to lay my transition stuff on and one to cover it with in case it looked like rain), water bottle, fuel belt with race bib, three Cliff Shot Bloks, goggles, the Girl Power swim cap, helmet, and my running shoes.
In my post race bag I had a towel, a sundress, a jacket, Toms, a hat and sunglasses.
I got to the now too familiar Lakefront Arena around 6:40 and ran into Eve and Angele from Steel MagNOLAs unloading. We got over to body marking and I realized this was the first race I have done in my new age bracket, 30-34. It really sunk in when the body marker joked about me being ancient.
It’s cool. Whatever.
I played around at my transition and talked to a few other Steel MagNOLAs. I love love love being with this team because everyone is so friendly. I feel comfortable hanging out with any of the girls in red jerseys!
We all made it inside and picked up timing chips. Coach C had fussed and fussed that I needed to get in the pool and warm up until the officials made us get out, but Eve said we were short on time. I’ve never swum a warm up before a tri, just jogged, and I managed to get in 2×50 and 1.5×100 before we had to get out. I ate the Shot Blok that I had swum with in my pocket (not as gross as it sounds) and lined up.
I lined up with the 7:00-9:00 minute group. Coach C made it over and I think, maybe, he was more anxious than me. We talked a lot of strategy and he went over a lot of turning tips as we waited to start.
The line snacked most of one side of the pool and the race organizers were starting women every 5 seconds. It was an out of pool start and Coach C and I had talked about jumping in close to the wall and pushing off.
Once I was in the water, I felt good. Seriously, I wish swimming always felt that good. I passed a fair number of women, Coach said at least 8. At the second turn, I was right on someone’s feet and she was pausing at the wall. I paused for just a second and hurt C’s voice shouting, “Touch and go! Touch and go!” and I was off.
I got to the end of the 300 meters went to get out of the pool using the wall and the lifeguard yelled at me to wait in line to use the ladder. Wha??? Regardless I checked my time at the end of the 300, as opposed to at the timing mat, and it was 7:16. HUGE success.
I forgot to hit the lap button to switch my watch into transition and just pushed stop at the timing mat. I didn’t figure that out til I was almost out of transition.
By the way, this was the race that last time I lost my bike so I had walked the transition area a few times and checked out landmarks which made finding my rack and bike a breeze.
The lakefront was obscenely windy. Like 18-25 mph winds. Boo and hiss. The first six miles were into the wind, and the last four with a tailwind. It was really obvious in the data the kind of effect the wind had on the race. I was however, very grateful for the trainer sessions I did in January and February because I felt better than I expected on the bike.
I took a Blok in T1 and then another on the bike.
T2 was quick and easy. The two mile run was disappointing though. It’s the slowest run split I’ve posted. Mo pointed out though that is a good problem to have, because I already knew that I was light on brick workouts prior to this and I can change that before the next tri.
I was pretty bent on passing everyone I could, but especially passing anyone in my new age group. I ended up 13th out of 48 for my age group and 62 out of 290 overall. For a tune up race, it was a good start to the season!
Sunday 13.27 miles / 2:14:13
Sunday morning started entirely too early. We were supposed to be on a bus from the Art of Animation Resort by 4 am and in our corrals by 5 am. Those are scary early times!
We set our alarms for 3 am and I slept in most of my running clothes. For that evening we wisely decided to sleep mostly a boys room vs. a girls room with A’s husband and cousin Kevin sleeping in one room and me, Mo (who is very practiced at going back to sleep after I get up to run, A and F in our adjoining room. I say wisely since the boys didn’t make it to bed til 2 am.
We hit the bus line at 3:30 in the morning and ate sandwich thins with peanut butter on the way to the start. Everyone was pretty excited on the bus ride. We got to the parking lot and I was kind of shocked to see how many people there were. I mean, I knew there were 26,000 runners in this race, but seeing the waves of people constantly meandering towards bag check and the stage was astounding. It was no doubt the biggest race I have ever run.
After some photos and some hemming and hawing, we started walking towards our corrals. It was about a 20 minute walk from where the bus dropped us off. There were tons of porta potties around and almost every single person was wearing some kind of costume. I was skeptical if all of the wigs and costumes would make it through 13.1 miles. Never have I ever been so grateful for Corrals as I was when I realized that I was in Corral A and there were 26,000 runners. Don’t think that I am some kind of speed demon though: Corral A was for 2:15 and less.
There were big screen TVs up and tons of costumes to look at. Corral A at least was not too crowded so there was room to spread out and sit for a bit. I’m not sure how crowded the other corrals were. I was still very glad that Corral A started at 5:35. F was in Corral G and she said they didn’t start til 6:35, so she had to wait for an hour and a half to start.
This next part was very cool: Disney shot off fireworks as each corral started. How fun is that???
As you can see, it was still dark when I started. The first water stop was less than a mile into the race, which I thought was weird until I realized it was for the later corrals that would have been waiting for much longer by the time they passed. Within the first few miles we passed a marching band, a whole group of Disney princes, Captain Barbosa and his ship and a bunch of other cool stuff. I didn’t stop to take a picture until I got to this group:
I was so glad that I gave my phone to the volunteer to use to take a picture with at the same time as the professional photographer, because this picture didn’t show up on the MarathonFoto site!
The first half of the race was so exciting. We ran through Magic Kingdom and saw Prince Mickey and Princess Minnie, the Mad Hatter, Belle, Buzz Lightyear, Aurora with Prince Phillip, Jesse, Tiana and Naveen, and that was just in Magic Kingdom. Running through Cinderella’s castle was AWESOME. There were tons of people in Magic Kingdom watching and cheering. It was probably the most fun I’ve had in half marathon ever.
Once we left Magic Kingdom, it stayed good for awhile. At the halfway point there were speakers playing “This Girl is on Fire” on repeat. We saw several Mary Poppins characters and outside the Grand Floridian, there were a group of guys in tuxedos holding the glass slipper. That’s a photo opp I wish I hadn’t missed.
After around the halfway point it got tough. The music and characters were fewer and farther between. At 8.7 miles there was a Clif Shot station.
Around the 15k mark, I passed the Disney princes again. They were still facing the 2 mile mark and the very last runners were passing them. I considered crossing the median and getting in line, but the photographers were warning runners that the ‘sweepers’ were coming. Beyond them I could see guys on bikes marking the 16 minute mile pace necessary to stay in the race and tons of vans ready to pick people up as well as several street sweeping trucks to pick up all the trash. I didn’t want to risk getting swept after having run over 9 miles and just kept going.
The last 5k was tough. There were very few characters and most of the race was on highways between parks and included several exit ramps (aka HILLS). The last mile was through Epcot and there was a fairy godmother cheering runners on.
There were tons of people in bleachers set up at the end and more characters at the finish. I got my massive gorgeous medal and went to collect my bottle of water and Powerade and my snack box.
Soon after A and F finished and we got all the necessary post race glow pics:
I was disappointed to find out that apparently the chip on the back of my bib didn’t work so I didn’t get an official time for almost two weeks. My watch time was 2:14:13, but I stopped it a few times to get in picture lines. When I finally got my official time it was around 2:18. But I did get my Snow White picture!
Overall, the Disney Princess Half was a great experience. There was tons of support on the course with water stops at almost every mile and frequent medical tents too. There was a lot of entertainment, although the second half definitely had less than the first half. Magic Kingdom was a blast to run through. There were lots of photo opportunities, but you should take your camera/phone to take pictures with too (the Snow White picture was another one that didn’t show up on the official site). If you can run a fast enough race in the year before, get as good a corral placement as you can. I actually updated my best time with Disney so that I could get a closer corral. I’d recommend it if you have time to make a vacation out of it, or if you live close enough to do it without taking a lot of time off.
Have you ever done a Disney race? How about a themed/costumed race?