Thursday, May 19, 2011

NOLA 5150

"For sale: Wetsuit.  Never used.  Purchased by New Orleans triathlete for 2011 race season.  Still has tags on it."

I get the feeling that posts like this one will be popping up on Craigslist in the coming days, in the wake of yet another New Orleans tri-turned-duathlon.  That's right, the organizers once again decided that the swim portion of the race was simply undoable, and the NOLA 5150 became a 5321.  To their credit, the conditions were a bit worse than last time, with gusting winds that actually strengthened as the morning progressed.  So the wetsuits were put away (yeah, they actually had us walking to the water's edge when they finally made the decision to cank the swim) and the race started with a two mile run.

Run number 1:
The race started with multiple age groups taking off in mass starts separated by two minutes.  The course was a simple, impromptu out-and-back.  As one would guess, the masses went out quick and I did my best to stay in the pack without burning out early.  My HR was just south of 180 as I approached the turn-around.  I did my best to keep it under control and bring it down without slowing my pace too much.  The return mile was a slightly easier version of the first, keeping my stride right into transition and up to my bike.
Goal time: 30 min swim   Actual: 16:09 (8:05/M)

Prior to the race, my coach scolded me for my previous transition times, sighting that I was giving up minutes to my competitors who were quick changing while I spent ages moving from event to event.  Realizing that a six minute T1 demonstrates a certain lack of seriousness, I promised to improve my efficiency and transition quickly between events.  Mission Accomplished.
Goal time: Sub 5 min   Actual: 1:57 (Now it looks like I'm trying)

The Bike:
The course for the 5150 was quite similar to the first half of the 70.3 that we suffered through just a couple of weeks ago, complete with the abnormally strong northerly winds.  I had been looking forward to some redemption on the bike after my humbling experience in the NOLA 70.3.  This time I was free from the pressure of sexy race wheels and was able to simply ride my own race.  There was significantly less drafting going on than I've seen in recent races (perhaps because there was only 400 of us out there?).  The wind was still a factor, though the predominantly East-West course minimized the amount of time we were pressing straight into the 25 knot gusts.  In all, the bike was a success.  Though I had hoped to keep my pace right above 20.0, I'm content with simply feeling good on the ride and being a couple of mph faster than my last race.
Goal time: 1:15:00   Actual: 1:16:36 (19.4mph)

Same story.  In and out.  No taking time to take pictures, stretch or have a snack.
Goal Time: Fast   Actual: 1:11 (Look out Macca!)

Run number 2:
The run was a shadeless out and back along the lake shore.  My strategy was to make it to the turn around with my heart rate around 170 and then pick up the pace on the return trip.  The good part of the simple out and back was that I could see my friends passing in the opposite direction.  Occasionally as they would pass by I would give them a short shout of encouragement or a low-five.  After the race a friend of mine noted that she thought I could go a great deal faster if I was quieter, basically noting that if I shut up and ran the energy I saved might give me some better times.  Perhaps this goes to show that I am not quite 100% into the competitive mode of triathlon yet.  Does any one else hoot for their mates out on the course?  Or do you save every last breath?  Regardless, I picked up my pace over the last three miles, finding my limit just shy of the finish line.  As I made my way up the  little hill prior to the final turn the small cramps in my quads that I felt with each step expanded and I semi-buckled  a few stride away from the final stretch.  I quickly opened my stride and had a string finish to a good day of racing.
Goal time: 53:00   Actual: 52:29 (8:28/M)  
On the race in general:
- The obvious topic of interest has been the swim, or lack thereof.  Some folks are angry with the organizers for canceling, others just blame the abnormal May weather we've been having.  I still think the lake looked calmer than most ocean swims I've done.

- I guess it's tough to estimate the turnout for an inaugural event, but the parsley showing for this one was disappointing to entrants and organizers alike.  For instance, check out the pre race "expo":
- With that in mind, I can't imagine that next year's event (assuming there is one) will be highly attended.  While that might make for a race with less frills, it also means less competition for those who are looking to qualify for the HyVee Championships.  The top ten spots in each age group qualify - and some age groups barely had ten entrants!

- The swim decisions aside, the race was well organized and supported.  There were plenty of aid stations and the volunteers were great (aren't they always?).  Plus, I for one like races that end where they start - no shuttles and complications getting back to your stuff.
This was actually the last race on my calendar until IM FL this fall.  I'm sure I will pick a couple of sprints throughout the summer to keep my engaged and break up the training, but for now my orders from the wife coach are to just enjoy some crossfit time (there's a new crossfit gym just a few blocks from my house!) before the real race prep starts in June.  

Hope everyone is having a great week.  Good luck to everyone doing IM Texas this weekend.        


  1. As a race director its gotta be a b**** making a decision like that. Its one of those lose-lose situations. Someone is always unhappy.

    And lastly, I like yelling at races - but mostly at people I know.

  2. I'm sure Macca's already altering his training! haha (wouldn't that be nice!)

    Awesome job on cutting down your transitions. Six minutes to under two for both is awesome!


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