I'm back. A little sore, plenty sun-burned, and recovering from Sunday's Ironman 70.3 in New Orleans. It was the inaugural race in the "Big Easy" and they put on a nice race. They had over 4000 volunteers on the course and the crowds at the finish line were great.
We had awesome weather on Saturday with sunny skies and coolish temperatures and very little wind. That was Saturday. I awoke Sunday to a light mist falling and high humidity. 99% humidity to be exact. The skies were overcast and the winds were supposed to pick up as the day progressed.
This is the largest 70.3 race in the world according to race organizers. As such there were wave starts. It took 1 1/2 hours to get everyone in the water. My wave was the second of three waves in the 40-44 age group. We left at 8:12 am, an hour and 12 minutes since the pro waves departed. I figured I'd give McCormack et al a head start.
The swim was in the salty water of Lake Ponchartrain. It was a point to point swim that progressed down the sea wall to transition at the University of New Orleans. The water was really nice. It was cool and smooth. I felt like I was making good progress, but my watch said 37 minutes as I got to the end. Not what I had hoped for. After wading ashore and crossing the timing mat my "swim" time had ballooned to just over 39 mins. GRRRR.
The transition area was huge, I decided to take my time at my bike, making sure I took everything with me. I did a quick search for the sun-screen I had forgotten to slather on my white-assed body, but couldn't find it. Still not sure where the sunscreen went. By this time the heat and wind were picking up.
The bike course was an out and back to East New Orleans. The wind was across us and slightly with us on the way out. We followed the hurrican protectin levy along the lake, a concrete paved road with lots of seams and bumps. I saw the pro's returning from the bike course at this point. I gave a shout out to Macca as he went by and saw Natasha Badman. She wasn't smiling. There were a couple of climbs over a draw bridge and overpasses, other than that the course was pretty flat.
We were warned at the mandatory race meeting that we might encounter wild-life out at the far east end of the course. The road travels through the marshes, and it is not uncommon for travelers to see wild pigs, nutria, snakes, and.....alligators. Not the small "cute" alligators" that you see as "pets" or that sometimes find there way into the plumbing in Florida. We're talking Gators!!! Eight, ten, twelve feet in length. One of the locals said they hit them like we do deer here in Central Texas. There was something to look forward to. I'd dodged tumbleweeds in Arizona. Now gators in LA. Unfortunately, there were no gator sightings.
The race course passes by a Folger's coffee roasting facility. So for about 1/2 mile we were treated to the smell of roasted coffee. Not bad. The wind was in our face coming back in. All the same it wasn't the type of wind we've been dealing with here the past month or so. The new Felt B2R sliced through the wind nicely and I was off the bike in 2:38 (21 miles per hour avg). I can live with that. Now off to the run.
I left transition for the run, a point to point course that finished at Jackson Square in the French Quarter. As I came down the chute, I was greeted by my lovely wife, Diane and our son Benjamin cheering for me. Our hosts for the weekend, Angela and Darran were there as well. That gave me a boost. In the first mile, I saw a guy applying sunscreen to his wife/girlfriend as she ran. I came along side and asked if I could have a squeeze (no...not of his wife). He gladly agreed. I now had some sun protection.
I went through the first mile in a little over 8 minutes. That's good, I usually pick it up as I get my legs under me. The legs never responded. I continued to slog along at 8:30 / mile pace. The miles seemed really long. We got a little shade in the city park and some more coming down Esplanade into the French Quarter. A turn on Decatur and on to Jackson Square. I didn't have much left at this point, but managed to run it on in. Finished in 5:16. 42nd out of 283 in my age group. 344 overall. Top 15%. I had hoped for closer to 5 hours, but considering I ran 20 miles the weekend before, I'll take it.
Now we continue on to Idaho.