I had such a good experience racing the Olympic Distance (5150) race in New Orleans that I decided to book a flight back two weeks later for the 70.3 race. It wasn't on my schedule, but I knew I was ready to race a longer distance and I was offered a free hotel (thank you Oschner!) which would allow me to stay an extra few nights to see the city. New Orleans is a fascinating place and with our great friend and native New Orleanian Rod being in town to show me the city, I knew I would have to go back!
As I mentioned, this time I stayed three nights instead of one. That allowed me to prepare and rest a bit before the race Sunday. Bec and I were both racing 70.3s the same day and went into these races with a new plan of attack. One of the main things I did differently was my nutrition leading up to and during the race. I wanted to ensure that I would finish strong and run fast - not walk myself to a 1:53 half marathon like I did in Panama. In these races a fast run most of the times means a winning run. So that is what I was going for.
Fortunately the temperature in the lake and air was much warmer than the last race. We started a few minutes late to pay respect to the two men who were hit by a truck prior to the race. The widow of Frank Guinn actually got up and spoke to us which was very moving. Bill Burke, the race director, also gave a very heartfelt tribute and I am pretty sure all 2000 people there were thinking of Frank when they jumped into Lake Ponchartrain.
The water was perfect but I managed to have another slow swim. Good thing is I know exactly what went wrong and that will be fixed for next time. I came out of the water about a minute slower than normal - ugh, needed that minute! It left me solo on the bike for a good hour and 15 minutes until a train of people passed me. I was very focused on following my plan (see above) and decided to keep my effort level the same. This coincided with a big headwind and I felt like I was going nowhere.
Finally I got to the run and I had no idea how far back I was. I stuck to my plan and held back the first few miles. I couldn't believe how great I felt after having properly fueled and hydrated on the bike. I tried not to let myself work too hard at the beginning but once I got a glimpse of the girls ahead of me at about mile 6 I turned it up a notch. Somehow I just started feeling better and better and at about mile 11.5 I moved into 4th place. It was too late, but I realized that I could actually catch or make things close and just went for it. My last 1.4 mile split was 5:55 pace...faster than all but a couple guys and faster than I've ever run after swimming, biking and running for 4 hours. When I crossed the line I was very happy even though I ended up in 4th. I was amazed that I still had so much energy and nothing hurt (when does that ever happen??). It gave me a sense of how I should run and fuel in my next Ironman and how to race from behind in a half ironman. Important lessons!
I was definitely left with some could/should/would feelings after the race, but after dwelling for a couple hours, I went to the French Quarter and erased all of that. Fourth is actually the best I've ever finished in a half ironman race, so I will take that for now.
Next up is the St. George 70.3 in Utah. I hear there a few hills involved in that one.
Thank you to everyone cheering for me in New Orleans. Our U-Verse show was very popular in the New Orleans region and I got to meet a bunch of people who saw it and were inspired to race. So cool and people from the south really are NICE!
Congratulations to everyone who races and thanks again to Premier Event Management and race sponsor Oschner Hostpital. And, last but not least, thank you to all of my friends and family, fans, blog readers and sponsors for the support - going for above 4th in the next one!!