Thursday, October 25, 2018

Ironman 70.3 New Orleans



It all started in Williamsburg when Alexis a.k.a. Dr. B Badass said, "Let's go home to race Ironman 70.3 New Orleans. I don't know why she asked, but my answer was, "I hate you!... Okay, you sign up first and I'm in".  I really doubted that she would sign up in advance, as  Alexis is known for rolling into town, signing up for a race the day before, racing, then ending up on the podium or something. She is badazz like that! Then, one day about a month later, she posted on Facebook that she signed up. She didn't text me or anything, knowing that I would see her post and figure out that we were racing this thing. So, I kept my word and signed up immediately, after checking with my coach. For some reason, my coach is always down for me doing something crazy, like 2 races in 2 days or in this instance, racing 2 Ironman 70.3 triathlons within 4 weeks of each other. Now, in her defense, I did tell her that I was just starting to get my consistency in order and wasn't ready to  end my season after Ironman 70.3 Atlantic City. So, I was IN!!! Alexis said that we could stay with her family that lived right off the course, we would share the cost of a rental car and this race eventually had the Tri Bike Transport service, so we could ship our bikes. However, this race wasn't at an ideal time, as my friend Shayla's Cancer Free Party was that weekend and  my God sister's wedding was about 3 weeks prior {My God sister is really my ex-sister and law that showed up to my race with my brother. I recently changed her title because she is so amazing and a God send}.  I figured out a way to make it happen, as this was the 10th anniversary and final year of New Orleans having this race. How awesome would this be to go home to race and have family support? I was STOKED. I promised myself that I would stay consistent with my training, so I wouldn't have my family out there all dang day and have Alexis thinking that I had a problem on the course or something because I was taking so long. Mission accomplished: I was race ready when it was time to travel! LET'S GEAUX!!!!!!!! The Ironman 70.3 New Orleans triathlon was set to be my 2018 season finale triathlon!!

Friday:

My travel to New Orleans was uneventful. Alexis met me in the airport and off we went to Ironman village. We chatted about how we had not received ANY emails or FB notices from the race director and how this race was drastically different from a PR perspective than other 70.3 races. After recently racing AC 70.3 with the awesome Delmo, my expectations were very high for a race director. When we pulled up and saw transition set up, I breathed a sigh of relief, as this was a sign that a race was indeed going to happen. We were expecting an AMAZING Ironman Village and lots of awesome 10 year anniversary race gear. Sadly,  the race director did not order anything with 2018 on it, except the t-shirt with athlete names. Most of the gear had 2017 on it, we were falsely told that it was all discounted, and it looked like they had just gotten the un sold gear from Kona the week prior. The expo was extremely sub par and the entire race expo/registration just seemed low budget/small town and definitely not of Ironman quality. Most times, we are assigned a swim cap with a color to correspond to our age group or something, but at this race, they told us to just pick what ever color cap we wanted. Huh? There weren't many vendors there. The whole feel to this race was just "different".

I wanted to attend the athlete briefing, as I was confused by the swim course map in the athlete guide. It was supposed to be the shape of a M, but I wasn't seeing it. Well, we were told that the swim course had changed  and so did the bike and the run courses. When the race director got up to talk, he told us stories about Hurricane Katrina 13 years prior, information on the water pumps for the city, where to dance on tables in the French Quarter, how he saved money by making us ride in circles and how he spent so much money on 900 lb stairs for us to enter/exit the swim. He told us goodbye before he ever talked about the swim course, until I inquired. He showed us the map that was in our race packet which had been changed from the athlete guide and used his finger to quickly draw an imaginary line on the map on where/how we would swim. Okay? Alexis asked a follow up question about the color of the buoys and turn buoys and his answer ended with, "I think". Oh boy. This was all a sign of the race potentially being a shit show.

The facial expression when you realize you traveled to a race that wasn't properly organized


Alexis and I got some good traditional New Orleans food at Acme Oyster House, went shopping for race day essentials and ended the evening just hanging out on the couch relaxing while we could.

Saturday:

We went out for the practice swim, which was uneventful and then took our bikes for a pre-race spin to make sure all was in good working order. We tied up some other pre -race tasks and her family cooked a pre-race meal for us. I just LOVE my New Orleans people!! They took very good care of us! I was in a bit of a panic all day because I could not find my watch. Once I realized that I indeed did not have it, the panic set in pretty profoundly. I texted my Tri Tribe and Coach and everyone just encouraged me to race "naked" (meaning, without a watch). I was petrified! How was I going to race without a watch and have no metrics to know how fast/slow I was going and how I was doing on time, as there are cut off times? I was racing at home, so I could not get a DNF (Did Not Finish/Disqualified)! I have never DNF'd at this distance.... well, I did pull myself out of Poconos 70.3 the 2nd time because I didn't feel well and then there was that time that I missed a turn at Ironman 70.3 Cozumel, but I never did check to see if I got disqualified.... I knew that I was trained to finish the distance, but not having a watch made me feel VERY uncomfortable. Like, I was moved to tears and had heart palpitations. I am the chic that wears a watch even when the battery is dead, because I don't feel dressed without a watch. To race with out a watch? THE HORROR!!! I called every bike store, every sporting goods store, every store on the Garmin Store locator, and NO ONE had the watch I wanted to purchase. I started to slowly try to wrap my mind around racing naked. I put up posts on FB for happy/successful stories and texted with my coach, Tri Tribe and friend until I started to be able to visualize myself racing watch less and finishing. I was determined to start AND finish. I was determined to go fast when I could and take it one sport at a time. I was determined to not be bothered by the pending cold front and winds that were developing over night. I was determined that I could and I would do this!! WAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!

Practice swim COMPLETE

Shake out ride!


RACE DAY/SUNDAY:

I was awakened before my alarm by the sound of the WIND. Oh boy. I knew there was a small craft advisory, so I anticipated a delay or cancellation of the swim. I was determined to race the race that was laid out for me that day. I raced in the pouring rain in Atlantic City, raced in Cozumel with winds on the back side of the island, I  swam in choppy water before. I knew I could do the distance and was determined to finish in the allotted time, regardless of race conditions.

Fresh faced and ready to race!!!


Swim: 1.2 miles (planned)




Driving to the race site, I looked away when I saw the white caps on  Lake Ponchartrain, as I knew that we were swimming in a protected marina. I was praying that it was really "protected". I stayed positive and focused on being a finisher that day. The announcement came that the swim would be delayed because the water safety personnel could not get to the marina, because they were coming from the big lake and battling 4-6ft waves. I called BS on that, as I knew that the water safety personnel would not likely to be out there with the small craft advisory, and I think the boats are usually in place the day prior. But I stayed positive and got on the ground and started stretching. I sent a few texts to my Tri Tribe to get the thoughts out of my mind, but I was good. Eventually they told us that the swim was not wet suit legal, because the water in the marina was warm, unlike the big lake. We were FREEZING, so it was hard to believe this. We decided to wear our wetsuits and get in the very last wave. Halima was there volunteering and she is so pleasant and calming that we were un bothered as we waited forever to start the swim. They shortened the swim to 500 yards, and had 2 turn buoys and only 2 kayakers out there to assist 1100 athletes, if needed. This was sounding dangerous. We finally started and were swimming through 2 rows of boats, so it was fine. When we made the 1st turn, it felt DANGEROUS out there. The waves were huge, we couldn't see and my only thought was "I didn't want to swim this bad! They should have canceled this swim altogether!". Reportedly, some athletes saw a woman calling for help, but the kayakers could not get to her and they saw her go under. God, I pray that she is okay. I made the 2nd turn, where the water was calmer and headed back to shore. Halima was there cheering as I jogged to transition.



Bike: 56 miles. 2 loops

I knew to expect a windy course and WINDY it was. I had no idea of my pace, so that was probably a good thing. While going over bridges with side winds, I am sure my speed was super slow and would have been demoralizing had I known my actual speed. I was just going to go fast when I could and not burn my legs out when I had a head and/or side wind. The wind WHUPPED my butt. I started to think about going back to transition after the first loop. I started to write my race report in my head and how I was going to explain that the wind won that day. How I decided to be a quitter. I planned a brunch spot to take my friends and family to if they came out to cheer me on. I was planning to quit and was wrapping my head around that. I wasn't tired or ill, I was just tired of getting beat by the wind.... until the tail wind came. YASSS! I started to say, "I DON'T QUIT WHEN IT'S HARD, I QUIT WHEN I'M DONE!... I DON'T QUIT WHEN IT'S HARD, I QUIT WHEN I'M DONE!!. I repeated this over and over and picked up my speed. I started to pass people on the bike. I had no idea of my speed, but felt like I was flying! When I had the choice of going to transition and being a quitter, or going on the 2nd loop, I decided to go on the 2nd loop. I was NOT going to quit today. I had been through the torturous winds once, so I could do it again. I just vowed to go as fast as I could when the winds died down. I'm not sure if it was the winds in my face or crud I picked up in the lake, but my nose was off the CHAIN. I had to stop at a porty potty to get tissue and blow my nose. I put some extra tissue in my shirt for later and had to stop twice more on the 2nd loop to blow my nose and apply some cream to my girl parts (OUCHH!! I must have been riding differently trying to stay upright on the bike with the winds, and my girl took the brunt of it). I was right behind Alexis on every turn, but these 3 stops put me further behind her. Ugh.... But then, I finished the bike course!!

Run: 13.1 miles. 2.5 loops

I wasn't tired. I wasn't hurting. I vowed to run 1 mile, walk the aid stations and repeat until I got to the finish line. Yeah. That plan was upended when my legs told me, "After what you just put me through on that bike, what we WON'T do, is run today!!". My legs were beat! Before I hit the 1st mile marker I saw my brother and his ex wife/my lovely God sister (new title for her)!! What the hellllll???? I stopped to give them both a hug and told them that I would be back. For most of my run, I tried to come up with a story about how they ended up there together to cheer me on. It made me so happy that they could put whatever differences they have aside to be there together to support me. That's love bruh. That's love for ME! I was very happy!! My legs were really tired and I could not get any speeds like I had recently seen on my runs. I vowed to do what it takes to become a stronger and faster athlete. There were people that passed me on the bike and run that were clearly stronger and faster so I knew the race conditions were not debilitating. I am just not the best athlete that I can be at this time. The run was 2.5 loops, so there was plenty of time to see and encourage/be encouraged by other athletes. I saw Alexis a few times. She was hanging out with a senior athlete and seemed to be doing just fine. I saw an old college friend that I hadn't seen in years and before long I saw MY COUSIN SIMONE!!!!! I could not be happier!!! I gave her a hug and she said that she would see me at the finish line. Oh man, I had to hurry up and get to the finish line! I ran, I walked, I sang, I gave high fives and encouraging words to others, I joked with the volunteers and before long... well, after a very long LONG time, I was crossing the finish line with my family there screaming for me!!! Actually, my brother picked up an orange cone to use as a mega phone and told me that it was about time I finished! Ha!!! Whatever!!  I know he was proud! Halima was there too calling my name, just as she did after the swim and bike! {That Halima is some kind of awesome!} I ran through the finish chute, they gave me a Gatorade, took my timing chip..... and then took my name down and told me that they would mail me my medal. UM... WHAT???? No medal???? Oh, I LOST IT. I called for the race director, PR person whomever they needed to call RIGHT NOW that could figure out how I was going to get a medal TODAY. I raced TODAY and wanted my medal TODAY. The race director came over with his lying, sorry, disorganized self and gave some lame excuses and I was NOT having it. Another athlete crossed the finish line after me and it was his first triathlon ever, but no medal. His wife lost her shyt. Another athlete came over and told the race director how this has been the most low budget Ironman event ever. We were NOT happy. They never produced a medal for this year and tried to give us medals from 2017. After nothing was happening, I snatched the medal out of the race director's hand, snatched the MAGA looking non athletic hat they were giving and headed out to see my family. I was MAD, SAD and extremely DISAPPOINTED! I am still disappointed days later.

These were the medals from the canceled race LAST YEAR

This is the finisher hat. Do you see the word "FINISHER"? It wasn't even a running hat. It was cheap, thick cotton


At the end of the day, I FINISHED!! It was a very hard day, but I came, I raced and  I conquered my goal to be a finisher once again. What could be more awesome than setting a hard goal, battling defeating thoughts, lost gear, challenging weather and finishing despite it all in the allotted time?  That's a wrap for the 2018 Triathlon season and I could not be more proud. I DID IT!!!! Let's see what 2019 brings. I pray that I am able do the work to become a stronger and faster athlete.



Mi Familia! My God sister, cousin Simone and big brother Mark!!


Breakfast the morning after the race with Alexis and Halima


Love,
Tri Becca


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