NOLA 70.3... Amateur Champ!
I was looking forward to this race for quite some time: in my hometown, the OCD sherpa would be spectating and being in New Orleans, this course is as flat as can be! A few days before race day, I packed up and packed Lucy into my car to make the 7-hour drive East. It was my first "hometown" race in quite some time and I was excited to make it count.
Usually I could say that it was so nice "sleeping in your own bed" but my parents are in the process of moving to NC from New Orleans so my "bed" was an old mattress on the floor with some sheets thrown on top. This meant Miss Lucy - normally not allowed on the bed - was sneaking into our shared, glorified dog bed in the days up to the race. While I loved my cuddle buddy, a squirmy puppy probably isn't the best sleeping companion!
Come race morning, I drove to the start nice and early, pumped up the tires and then spent what felt like ages hanging around the start. The good news was this meant I got to meet some of Dawn's coached athletes, including Kris who found out she would also be traveling to Norseman this August thanks to BlueSeventy!
It was a TT-start, meaning the pros went off bright and early and then we had to wait as groups of seven hopped off the dock, into murky Lake Pontchartrain and then make their way around the zig-zag course that slightly resembled an "M". I wasn't excited about the TT start... but I really wasn't excited about swimming in Lake Pontchartrain. It's better now, BUT growing up it was considered unsafe for swimming! Now that they've stopped the dredging, the water quality has improved considerably, but I still got some lovely taste of diesel fuel at one point swimming in the Lakefront harbor.
The TT start also meant I had NO idea where I was in the whole situation. So even when I ran out of T1 when a sub-par swim time (for me, 30:49), I shrugged my shoulders and decided to get to work.
From there, it was a slight incline out of T1 as you crossed a bridge and then it was flat flat flat. My power was dropping out and just seemed off so I made it my mission to pass as many of the AG men who popped out of the swim before me as possible. I had started at the back of my AG wave hoping this would mean more people on the bike to "ride up to and then past" for a little bit of legal draft benefit but the entire course was dead, only a handful of folks out ahead of me within striking distance. I told myself this is just a little preview of pro racing and put my head down and tried to push the watts as best I knew how. People later complained about headwinds and the heat but Texas has me jaded so I just soldiered on ahead and tried to floor it as best i could.
The bike took you out past New Orleans East and headed towards the Bayou. One of my favorite signs was about 200m in front of an oncoming speed bump and said "Gator, or Speed Bump?" which made me laugh, especially being down in the bayou for the race.
I wish I had more to say about the bike but there was literally no one in front of me and no one to see at any of the turn-arounds and I was clueless given the TT format so it was just about getting in the zone and cranking on the pedals. The aid stations were also oddly spaced, which really didn't affect me but did throw me for a bit of a mental loop since they seemed to show up out of nowhere (and then not show up for forever...).
I came into T2, grabbed my shoes and bib and got out of there. Coming out of the gates, I saw the OCD Sherpa about a mile in. He had the very uncertain "I think you are first in your age group" news but between the TT start and the reliability of the IronmanLive tracker, I felt like I really couldn't trust his intel. I did have a slightly positive feeling I was in first overall from the turn-arounds on the bike and stages of the run but really could not be certain. I tried to latch onto some of the faster age group men and use them as rabbits on the section along the flat and fast Lake Shore Drive.
It was flat and fast but I started to make bargains with myself... not good, Maggie, not good. Okay - cruise until mile 3 and then build by 3 miles until all-out 5k. Okay, cruise until the turn-around and then build from there. Okay, cruise and then City Park means "all cylinders go!". It wasn't like I was going slow but I was not running like my normal woman-on-a-mission self.
Around mile 9, the OCD sherpa rolled up on his bike. He had been shadowing me the entire bike course and occasionally stopping to cheer me on.
"Do you know who I am?!" he asked. "What's my name?!"
I guess after the Kona incident, I cannot be trusted.
I gave him my most angsty eye-roll possible, responded "David" and continued on.
After the LONGEST finish chute in the history of triathlons (really, a straight shot for half-a-mile makes it seem FAR longer than it really is - total oasis in the desert type of feeling), I came across the finish line, ecstatic and happy to be done.
I caught up with my dad, who let me know that "it seemed" i was in first in the age group, but we couldn't really tell with the Ironman Live Tracker being wonky per usual and with the funky TT start.
But I was happy, and walked with him to pick up my gear from the (separate T1) and the celebrate with some of the free Abita beer provided at the finish (good call, Premier Event Management, good call). Due to a relay getting included in the final results, I ended up thinking I was in 2nd overall for most of the day - and it wasn't until getting home hours later that I realized...
I *JUST* won my first 70.3 outright! (for all age groupers) and just so happened to do it in my hometown! First overall amateur has been on my bucket list for quite some time so this was HUGE and while there was a delayed reaction, I couldn't have been happier with the race and the final outcome.
Spicing things up, I also decided to stay for the Age Group 70.3 World Champs roll-down to see if one of Dawn's athletes made it, as well as two other girls who were hoping to claim a spot. I have decided not to race at the Tremblant 70.3 champs (due to CDA, Norseman, time off work, monetary reasons, etc.) so in a #humblebrag kind of way, it was cool to see some other 25-29 female's day made by earning her slot during the roll-down. I earned my trip to Vegas that way in 2012 at Eagleman so it was nice to return the favor to another lady triathlete.
I couldn't have asked for a better day at NOLA 70.3 for my first amateur win and a new PR of 4:37. I think the run could have been faster with a little more "gritness" but given the circumstances and being my first "real" all-out race back since Kona, I couldn't be happier with the result.
Finally, I can't thank Rev3 enough for supporting me these past 3 years as I've climbed up the amateur ranks - both the company and the rest of my awesome team members. Thanks to Rev3 and their partnerships over the years, I rode the fastest bike split on my Quintana Roo CD0.1 (would have been the 5th fastest bike among the female professionals), loved every step of the NOLA run in my Pearl Izumi kit and shoes, got to rock the BlueSeventy Helix and made sure not to bonk in those final hot, sweaty miles with the help of PowerBar. HATS OFF to the products that help make magic happen!