Sunday, April 19, 2015

IRONMAN New Orleans 70.3 -- 2015

No swim warm up? I cant even get wet before the race!  Those first few minutes of a swim, my shoulders start screaming as they begin to ignite and the burning gets all my focus.  I absolutely hate it and  getting that little bit of agony out of the way sure takes the edge off.

I qualified for my USAT elite license at IRONMAN Chattanooga, but I had also qualified to race the amateur world championships in Chicago and in Kona.  By the time I finish those races, my qualification will have expired.  I am not sold on racing as a pro next year, but I like the idea of having the option. So, I decided to try to re-qualify at IM NOLA 70.3 in the beginning of the season.  That meant I needed to finish 3rd overall amateur or better.

As I stood in the queue waiting for my chance to jump off the pier and into the fire of Lake Pontchartrain, I tried to move my thoughts away from my shoulders and towards what I could control.  As soon as I hit the water, I realized I hadn't bothered to seal my goggles.  I was too busy pouting about not having a warm up to spend my attention preparing for not having a warm up.

I stopped the leak, but I didn't clear the water from my goggles. I figured I could just chase toes and not lose any time.  To my surprise, I was moving up quickly and found myself in clear water. Sighting was a challenge, but I didn't realize how much of one until I arrived at the wrong buoy.  A kayaker sent me back across the lake and back on course.  Maybe I lost a minute.  Maybe it was 90 seconds.  I just told myself I had spent my only mistake and to tighten up and get out of the water faster.

The bike was uneventful.  It was actually terribly uneventful. I was alone for the entire ride.  We had a huge tailwind going out and I averaged 37 mph to the turn around.  I knew it was going to be a tough go getting back.  Occasionally, I would get to move passed a female pro, but for the most part, I was on an island out there with no prey or predator in sight.

Strava Data -- 2:15 split -- 250w Average Power

I arrived into Transition, 2nd in my wave.  The staggered start meant that I actually didn't know where I was in the overall field.  Running out of transition, the announcer called my name and the name of the guy behind me.  I recognized it; he had beaten me at the 2014 Nationals in Milwaukee.

Strava Data -- 1:25:55 split
He ran up beside and we did the race tango for a few minutes countering each's mini advancements.  Once we made an aid station, I decided to pull up for grub and water as he kept going.  After 4 miles, I was out of contact with him, and I started mentally checking out.

Officially: 4:10:49 -- 4th Amateur -- 24th OA -- 1st M35-39
Its an interesting little turn in psychology that happens with perceptions during the race.  Tactics can seem so important, but I always just stick to the facts.  I know what I can do and I do no more, it seems.  I wonder if I should be more aggressive? Am I sacrificing winning opportunities for podium scraps? Or am I brave and cunning, racing with perfect execution of my fitness?  The lonely front of the NOLA race gave me plenty of time to debate myself.

I made the turn around in 43 minutes shocked to see I had made up all of the gorund I lost early as I made the pass into the lead of my wave. I turned up the throttle and went on to set a new personal best 13.1 mile time of 86 minutes and seal up my age group win.

I crossed the finish line as the first age grouper.  Unfortunately, as the later waves trickled in my placing started dropping until I was bumped to 4th overall, just outside of elite qualification.

70.3 World Championship qualification
slot roll down party.

Meet Blick and test drive
 a Dimond at your next race!
Sister Madonna asked if these
goggles came from Kona.
She should know!
Overall, I think its a big plus.  I set new bests across the board and finally had the run I wanted.  Missing the overall podium stings, for sure, but just as I said after Chattanooga, if I am good enough to be pro, I will re-qualify.