Archive for the ‘Race Reports’ Category

Watch Bob Butler enjoying the 2011 Triangle Ortho Triathlon in Raleigh.  He says he is hooked.

Sophie EvansI have been reluctant to write a “race report” … always struggled to believe anyone would actually want to read it  However, for those who know me and my horrific memory, I figure it would be something I may regret not doing.  So, I am writing it down so that I can always remember what it was like to complete my first Ironman….

My Ironman experience started several days before the actual gun went off at 7am July 25th … packing alone was stressful enough to get my heart rate up.  I did my best to create a list of everything I needed, but also benefited from the wisdom of those more experienced than me by checking out what I could find online.  I came across one particularly detailed list that included over 200 items … crap, I need a bigger car!  I was sure to pack a couple of days early, but the benefit of my advance planning was canceled out by the sleep I lost when one of those damn lists would pop in to my head and I needed to confirm I actually had packed everything I needed.

The car was packed up with three bikes (Blake’s, Nas’, and mine) in tow. Blake and I began our long 14+ hour drive up to Lake Placid Wednesday at 6am.  An uneventful trip with the exception of the lunch stop at Friendly’s (first time I had ever eaten at this fine establishment)…It came back to haunt me within 30 min of consuming it – nuff said!  We’re sticking to Subway next time Blake!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday morning started with a quick walk over to Mirror Lake for a test-drive around the swim course with Blake and Nas.  I am not a fan of open water swimming to start with but this water FREAKED me out!  I panicked the first outing (30min) because the water was this deep black abyss.  The buoy line, a supposed “highlight” of the Placid course as it allowed swimmers to keep a straight course without regular sighting, actually made things worse because it skewed my depth perception … mid-swim hyperventilation was not in my race plan?!  The only way I made it through was to keep my eyes closed when my head was in the water and open to sight only!  This was not good and I was beginning to get a bit worried … at least I would get to share the experience with 3000 of my closest friends – not very reassuring!

Friday morning I went out for a short bike ride.  I didn’t get very far because my front derailleur wouldn’t shift out of the big ring and i was heading up hill from the start of the course.  I was pretty sure I was going to need all my gears for the hilly course.  So back I went down the hill to the house…so far this was not going well!   Bike went to the shop for a couple of hours while I did the athlete check in.  I managed to skip a station at check in and leave without my transition bags (of course I did!).  So back I went!  Stephanie, this is where I think your business model would work perfectly…for idiots like me!!!!!!  Later that day I went for a short run and I couldn’t help notice the way my fellow triathletes had suddenly taken over this sleepy town.  I also became very self conscious when every guy I saw had smoother legs than me! argh, I had a date with my razor later!  Friday night was the mandatory race meeting.  I don’t think I heard a thing because of the not-so-little voice in my head that kept repeating – “holy crap, all these people are starting at the same time in that small area at the start!”

Saturday morning started with a quick test of the bike… all good!  Then back to the water for one last pre-race swim, gulp!  Not quite as much hyper ventilating but still not comfortable!  Things were moving in the right direction!  Then back to the house to fill up my transition bags/special needs bags, which is more difficult and stressful than one would think!  Next it was time to drop off my transition bags and bike at transition area … bye bye bike!  I walked back past the pro section and gawked at the bikes … who knew you could fit that many gels on a single bike!  The rest of the day was spent eating, walking around town and relaxing.  Saturday night meant final preparations for the morning, including special needs bags then off to bed ….sleep was minimal!


My alarm went off at 4:45am, wow I did get a bit of sleep!  I forced myself to eat breakfast (porridge, 1/2 banana, and some coffee).  With some calories in my belly, I shifted focus to dressing and working on my race-day hair.  Yes that’s right I said hair!  I had just cut it significantly shorter a few days prior so the usual ponytail wasn’t going to happen and it was long enough that I couldn’t keep it down.  Elastics and hair clips is torture under a helmet for 6+ hours!  So some creative braiding was in order….not so cute but functional!  Blake and I left the house at 5:30 to walk the 1mi to the transition area to check our bikes and transition bags again.  Then it was another mile to drop off our special needs bags.  Yes, we were complaining about that 1 mile before heading out on our 140.6 mile adventure!  But before that adventure started, we had a challenge to find a port-a-potty without a 30 min wait (so we walked again)!  A few minutes before the start I put on my wetsuit, handed my bag to my mum and kissed her goodbye.  I was then walking into the starting shoot and there was no turning back!  We found Kerry Troester and we all swam across to far side away from the buoy line and closer to the front.  Coach Marty said this would be the best place for me to start even though every part of my body wanted to stand on shore until everyone else went in first.   It’s 2 minutes before the start and I am floating in the water, no treading water needed in the wet suit!  I am having some terrible thoughts at this point because I cannot figure out how I am going to swim when there are so many people around me that I cannot even stretch my arms out.  Then I notice I don’t see another woman other  than Kerry, just big muscular men….oh jeez this is gonna hurt!  Then it’s the national anthem and whoa was that the gun?!  I guess so because EVERYONE is going!  I dog paddle a few strokes and swim with my head above water for a while until I have enough room to stretch out.  It was rough and I was kicked in the chest, gut, and shoulders quite often.  I kicked much more than I normally would only to keep people from pulling at my feet!  But to be honest, it wasn’t nearly as horrific an experience as I thought it would be.  The good thing was i didn’t even think twice about the deep black abyss!  I came out of the first loop of the swim with the clock at 44 min.  Slower than I was hoping for but at least I was on track to make the cut off!  Then back in I went.  The first few meters I was excited because I noticed that i was swimming side by side with Kerry!  But it wasn’t long before I lost her while trying to dodge all the other swimmers.  The second loop was much more pleasant and significantly less stressful!  Getting out at the finish of the swim I looked up at the clock, 1:10 … whoa how did that happen?!  Big smile on my face as I head up to the famous wet suit strippers!  Side note:  I had bought a sports bikini bottom that ties up to wear under the wetsuit so that it would not be pulled off with the wetsuit.  However, when I saw the lengthy run from swim to transition area, I ditched the bikini and pulled on a pair of shorts!  Heard a funny story after the race about a Japanese man several years ago who clearly didn’t think through the process and wasn’t wearing anything under his wetsuit!!!!!

OK, back to the race…  I was running to transition with wetsuit in hand and belly nice and distended, I must have swallowed 1/2 of Mirror lake and a whole lot of air while I was hyperventilating!   I located my transition bag, ran into the change tent and found a chair in the dark to observe how everyone else transitioned!  And get this, they had ladies there to help you undress and dress!  Before I left I made sure to pop a couple Maalox to deflate my swollen belly.  Over 10 minutes later I went to find my bike.   Shortly after I mounted my bike I noticed Blake zoom by me down the hill!  Don’t think I’ll be catching him.  A quick wave to my amazing family and I was outta there!

I settled in on the bike and notice right away that I have to pee. Mirror lake has made it down to my bladder all ready, ugh?!  Oh well, let’s see how long I can hold it!  So, a bit of climbing out of town and it starts to rain, oh s*@#%!  I say that because I know what is coming …. the LONG and very fast descent (7 miles of it?!).  I have never been so scared and out of control in all my life.  I think I got a couple of looks because I was screaming the entire 7 miles!!!!  By the time I reached Keene (the bottom) my inner thighs, shoulders, and triceps were screaming from clenching so tight!  And to think I would have to do that again.  After Keene I tried to take in some calories but it was a struggle…maybe because I was bloated?!?!?!?!?!  Oh well, I forced it down.  I settled into my steady zone 2 pace and enjoyed the scenery immensely.  I was however having an inner conflict as I watched rider after rider pass me.   I kept referring to my mantra “zone 2 zone 2 zone 2″…. that’s what Marty says!  Good thing I had my heart rate monitor on because I would never have stayed in zone 2 without it!  By the time I got to Jay I was desperate for a port-a-potty.  I had seen a couple but not until I had passed them and it seemed dangerous to stop and turn around.  Luckily I did see one at the beginning of the out and back and decided to stop on my way back out.  That out and back took forever!!!!!  After dangerous weaving through several other riders I stopped and got off.  There was a sweet little old lady there to hold my bike and we exchanged pleasantries.  Back on my bike and I felt sooooo much better and ready to eat and drink!  I have had quite a bit of difficulty transitioning to long distance training after years of short explosive fast twitch training.  This is why I turned to a coach (Marty Gaal) in January to help me transition over.  I have also discovered that I am not mentally made for distance training.  I find it quite boring and I lose focus very easily.  During the race I found myself slowing down at times and sight seeing:  “ooh, that would be a great place to eat; those trees are beautiful; oh, i like her bike; Oli would love North Pole we should check it out; I cannot believe people ski off that jump!”…perhaps I have a bit of ADD?!  In any case, it’s a beautiful course with lots to see.  On the way back into town I noticed the wind really picking up.  This is also where the most climbing comes in.  The biggest of the climbs, Papa Bear, was fantastic because you could get a small sense of what the Tour riders must feel as it was lined with spectators cheering the entire way up.  Then it was back into town to find my special needs bag containing my own drink mixes and snacks.  It was a bit hairy to find the guy who had my bag.   I could have had a cocktail at this point with amount of time I spent setting myself up…I think the guy holding my special needs bag was beginning to get impatient with me!  Ok, downed a couple of Cosmo’s and off I went to start another loop!  This meant 2 things:  the good was that i was able to see my wonderful family again but the very very very bad was that I had to do the descents again!  This time it was dry BUT the wind had really picked up….I feared for my life and again I screamed the entire way down!  The second loop was fun because I found myself passing a few people especially on the flat out and backs.  I was experiencing some significant discomfort in both knees by mile 70 … not good!  I tried to recruit more hamstring through the pedal stroke to help reduce the pain.  However, I worried a bit that this might come to bite me in the you know what later during the run.  About 15-20 miles away from town I hit a small hole and heard a strange noise from the rear of my bike, oh no!  The biggest fear for me on the bike (besides the crazy descents!) was getting a flat on my tubulars.  So I stopped to check the tire…a bit soft but not flat.  Got back on and hoped for the best, which turned out to be good enough as I made it to transition with just enough air in the tire to keep me off the rim.

This part is a bit fuzzy but I think I remember giving my bike to someone and then went to get my transition bag.  I was out of there quickly with some help from a fantastic lady, thank you!  Stopped at the port-a-potty on the way out and walked a bit to stretch out my achilles, and don my watch and belt.  After a few minutes I was on my way.  Stopped half a mile out to kiss and hug my family.  The 10 mile section out of town was a bit lonely because there were few spectators.  On the way back into town I finally caught up to Blake and walked up the first big hill back into town.  I had met my goal on the run and that was to run the first 8 miles without stopping, yippee!  The run section in town was fantastic!  The spectators made it the most fun I have ever had running!  I love that our names are on our bibs so spectators can call out your name and make it more personal.  Reading my name, some of the French Canadians assumed I was French and would encourage me in french, awesome!!!  I skipped my special needs bag for the run and went back out for the second loop.  I stopped to hug and kiss my family and get in a little stretch!   I wasn’t looking forward to heading back out for another lonely loop; however, I was excited with the thought that I was almost done (in the grand scheme of things).  The second loop I planned to stop at all or every other aid station to hydrate.  At one of the first aid stations going out I decided I would try the cola.  I normally do not like the taste but at this point I was sick of sports drinks!  I have to say that it was yummy but it did not sit well in by belly.  Hmmm, I think I’ll wait for the last few miles to try that again!  Back to water, sports drink and Gu, blah!  I was surprised at how well my injured achilles was holding up.  What worried me was that the one on the other side was starting to get a bit angry. I shifted the timing chip and guess what…relief!  In the later miles my muscles were getting incredibly sore and tender (even to the touch) with my hips really fatiguing.  I was indeed doing the marathon shuffle!  I was amazed that this run was feeling soooooo much better than the marathon I had completed earlier in the year.  The entire way back I was trying to calculate what i needed to run to finish before the 12 hour mark…I felt confident I could make it assuming I could keep up the pace.  Coming back into town was incredible…I had a smile plastered to my face despite the enormous amount of pain I was feeling.  I had underestimated how the hills would feel the second time around and I was forced to walk them all, which set me off my goal for under 12 hours!  At mile 23-24 there was a young guy, maybe a coach, running along side a racer up ahead of me, cheering him on to pick up the pace slightly to make that 12 hour mark.  So, I decided to go with him!  Boy did that hurt but I managed to pick it up slightly until I reached the entrance to the speed skating oval at which point i ran as fast as my legs could go to get there before 12 hours….my time was 11:59:10!  Only 2 or 3 competitors behind me made it in under the 12 hour mark

I’m an Ironman and it hurts!  When I stopped running I could barely stand and every single muscle and those I didn’t know I had hurt!  I have to say that I seriously doubted I could complete this race while I was training for it.  My physical make-up is not made for distance racing (parts of which are paying for it now) and I lack the attention span for some of those long workouts (perhaps  a small case of ADD???).  Before July 25th, I was quite certain that I would never attempt another Ironman again. However, I will eat my words and say that I would love to do another when the timing is right and when my body is healthy going into it!

One of the main reasons for writing this is to give a very special thank you for everyone who help make a dream come true!  Thank you to my wonderful boys, Scott and Oliver, who have been so patient and supportive during the long hours spent training, I could never have done it without you!  Thank you to my wonderful family who came to support me during the race.  Thank you to a fantastic coach, Marty Gaal.  And of course a special thanks to the best training buddies: Blake, Nas, Mike, John, Sarah and Stephanie

photo borrowed from Pez Cycling

Ben King road away from the best pros in the U.S. and stole the US Pro Road Race Title.  He will be wearing the stars and stripes for the next year.

Here is his race report:

I counted myself one of the twenty odd riders who had a prayer of upsetting the cycling celebrities until I attacked in the first mile of the race. Too much coffee? Too much techno and dancing in the room with Taylor? Suicide. Scott Swisanski, Daniel Holloway, and I would bake into the asphalt and be crispy road kill when the field overcame us. We didn’t concern the peloton, and they gave us an enormous 17 minute leash. Suicide attacks have value in a team dynamic. When a select few caught us from behind, I could help Phinney- my only TLS teammate- or one of the RadioShack guys. My job was to delay that catch as long as possible. That’s why on the third of four times up Paris Mt. I left Swiz and Holloway. I felt guilty for violating the unspoken early breakaway code- stick together as long as possible- but our time gap had fallen five minutes to 12 minute in one lap. Those were my minutes, and I hated watching the field take them back. My style is to go out with a bang. Fight to the death. People on course seemed to think I could win, but they don’t know how these things work. With 50 miles to go, I would get caught. Regardless, I tried to match their energy on my bike. Each lap they cheered harder, more shirts came off, people holding “Go King!” signs for Ted King ( began shouting “Ben King.” I took a beer feed from a fan the third time up Paris Mt.- I’m trying to steel Lance’s Michelob sponsorship- and the next lap they had a keg for me which I ignored.

Alone there is less to think about. Solo, there is no second place. You either win, or you don’t. At the top of the climb I had 9 minutes. I paced myself like a marathoner to certain check points. I told myself, “try to make it to the start finish again.” Announcer, Dave Towle, stirred the crowd into a frenzy. At sign-in before the race he asked me if I could make the selection. I said, “Either that, or do something crazy.” My coach told me to be patient. Then he told me, “everything you do is a time trial.” These thoughts and the people behind them brewed in my head. My dad and sister, Hannah, on course. Keep it going for them. I prayed and thought, “God must have something to do with the situation I’m in.” Keep it going for Him. At the base of Paris Mt. for the last time, I lost only one minute to the chasing pack. At the top of the climb, the gap was 6:25. Is that enough? I tried to do the math, but my brain stalled. My legs began to cramp. I tasted salty. I focused everything on turning over the pedals. Four cruel four mile circuits around the start finish waited. I labored onto the first circuit with just over three minutes advantage. Like a marathoner, I had paced myself to these circuits with nothing left to complete them. My legs cramped. I disintegrated in front of 80,000 people. The road blurred. My hearing blurred. Lactic acid filled in for the oxygen I needed. People leaned over the barriers and yowled with enough passion that veins bulged in their beet red necks and foreheads. It was a glorious nightmare.

Three more laps. Half an hour in the fire. Quitting never occurred to me, but I feared a loss of consciousness. Then the RadioShack team car pulled alongside me. They saw my agony. From the exhilaration in their voices, I know they wanted to pedal for me. The intensity of the pain felt unjustifiable. Jose Asevedo, the director, talked me through it. “They take thirty seconds from you per lap. You start the last lap with two minutes and you win.” Sports physiologist, Allen Lim, rode shotgun hyping me up. “You deserve this. This is for the jersey. Its yours. You’re making history. This is history!” History sounded pretty important to me at the time, and I visualized this moment as history to remove myself from it. I rounded into the finishing straight with 500 m to go, zipped up my jersey, and put my hands over my head.

It’s never been about winning for me. I said in my L’Avenir blog that I don’t do it for love of the sport. Its about the people. Reporters called this “the most inspiring human drama” they’ve ever seen in cycling. It didn’t start so inspired, and I think part of the reason it was inspiring is that I interacted with the fans throughout the race. When I won, we won. We did it.

The weekend started with a leisurely drive up to Topsail Beach Friday afternoon.  We’ve had a small place up at Topsail for a few years now so the logistics of this “away” race are convenient and even though it’s out of town I still get to sleep in my own bed.  I stopped in at the pre-event briefing Friday evening to get checked in and as always, the Setup Events team had everything well organized.

For anyone unfamiliar with this event, the course is relatively short, even for a Sprint, with a bike course that’s only 8 miles.  In addition, it’s a little “funky” with the bike and run split in two, so it’s a swim, bike (4 mi), run (2 mi), bike (4 mi),  run (1 mi).  Lots of transitions….damn, needed that transition workshop we have planned for the long weekend one week earlier.  I’m not sure if it’s because of the shortness of the course or not, but in addition to some of the more competitive athletes, there are a lot of “first timers” in this race.  In fact this was my own “first ever” triathlon last spring so it was fun to participate in something a second time around where I knew the course and could refine my race strategy a little and also compare my progress in race results.

Race day was a stereotypical spring/summer day at the beach with a moderate sea breeze from the southwest and temperatures in the low 70s.  Our condo at the beach is close enough that I could ride my bike with to the race site to warm up a little and avoid having to find a place to park.  After getting my gear set up, timing chip strapped on, and body marking done, I wandered over to the beach to check out the ocean conditions.  It’s here where the morning got started on a bit of a tragic note.  A couple of volunteers were in the process of placing the buoys in the water for the swim course and were towing a float out thru the surf on a Sea Doo.  On the way out a wave ripped the large float out of the hand of the volunteer and somehow opened up a vicious gash down his arm.  The driver brought the volunteer straight back to beach where they ran him up and over the cross over where we could see that he’d cut his arm from wrist to his elbow right down to the bone…….yikes.  Fortunately this event is staged at the Surf City Fire Dept location and EMS was close by to treat his injury.  Not an auspicious start to the day.

To say the least this was a little disconcerting, but I headed back to transition to suit up (wet suit legal event, 68 degree water) and then head back to the beach for the start of the race.

The swim course is rectangular where you swim out 150m, turn parallel to the beach for 450m (with the current/wind), then swim the 150m back into the beach.  There were 5 waves to the swim start and I was in wave three.  The injury described above was a bit of a tip-off to the ocean conditions, and while I’ve certainly seen the ocean rougher, it was a bit of a challenging swim leg with 3-5 foot seas.  While I’ve not done a lot of open water swimming, this was certainly the most challenging conditions I’ve swum in while competing or practicing.  I knew it wasn’t a good sign when I saw a couple competitors in the wave in front of me turn back before they reached the first turn buoy and head back to the beach.  When we got started it was clear early on that the strategy for this leg was simply to “get it over with”. It was a bit of a challenge getting thru the breakers and with the buoys only 150m offshore, the larger waves were still breaking as you made the turn up the beach.  Once around the corner conditions improved somewhat and you could get into some sense of a swim rhythm, but it was anything but a normal swim.  It was also very challenging to site your line given the swells/rollers and as a result I was a little all over the place.  Even coming back into the beach was challenging.  With the breakers crashing it required a bit of coordination to take a peak at the waves coming in behind you and time you next breath so that it didn’t coincide with the next wave breaking over your head.  The rest of the race was much more mundane. 

As I mentioned the bike course is short, only 8 miles, it is split up into two 4 mile out/back loops – the bike really is a “sprint”.  While my swim strategy went out the window with the ocean conditions, my strategy with the 2 bike legs was to try and negative split the two loops which I did and managed to cut a few minutes off last years times.

While the bike legs went well, the run portions were pretty average, although again a little better than last year.  After competing in 5 triathlons events now, it’s becoming painfully obvious where my weakness lies… running basically sucks.  My swim, while not great, is usually in the top 30% of the field, I hold my own on the bike, and then drop like a stone in rankings on the run – today was no exception.  While this trend continued it was not unexpected and I simply have to run my own race and try and do my very best (maybe I need to do relays and let one of you run). In the end I finished in 1:10:57 ……. 62 overall out of 131 men, a little better than last year (115 out of 151).

All in all a good day and I certainly enjoyed the “fruits of my labors” with a few cold beers in a lawn chair on the beach during the afternoon.

On to Kerr Lake…

My White Lake Race Report


Caravanning down to White Lake were Dan, Scott, and Jen in one car, Me and Maria in a second car, and Kevin with all of Maria’s luggage that didn’t fit in my car.  We hit alot of traffic, but still made it to the race site for packet pick up, then off to check in at Langston’s Motel.  Jen secured what are probably the best and most luxurious accommodations in all of White Lake: beachfront, 3 bedroom, 1.5 bath, and huge living area.  We are definitely renting this again for Club Wars!


Jen, Kevin, and I headed out to the race site for chip pickup and body marking at 5:30 am.  We hung out in the transition area for awhile- met a few of the other relay teams, who were all really nice.  After alot of waiting and bathroom runs, it was finally time for the relay wave.  The swim was wetsuit legal, but Jen opted to swim without.  About 5 minute before the start, Jen suddenly realized the swim was 1.2 miles, not 1.0 mile.  Not the greatest discovery right before a race, but it certainly didn’t slow her down any. 

After her swim, she sprinted into the transition area, and Kevin transferred the chip to me, and I took off running with my awesome super bike.

The bike ride was really fun at first.  I was averaging over 20-mph up until about mile 15-20, and felt great.  Then we turned and hit the headwind.  Everyone talks about it, but you always think they are exaggerating, but no- there is actually a headwind for the majority of a circular route.  Go figure.  Anyway, it wasn’t horrible, and it wasn’t really gusty, but it did mean that I couldn’t stop peddling at all without dropping significant speed. 

It was the longest  bike ride  I have ever  done without stopping – 3 hours and 12 minutes of pedaling, as there were no hills, no rest stops, not even a red light.  Just pedaling.  I’m not complaining – it was just different.  By mile 45 though,  I was cursing out loud, and had decided to pull my entry from B2B, but that passed, and I finally saw the beautiful white fence of the gated trailer park community indicating I was only a mile from the finish.  I rode in and handed off the chip to Kevin who took off for what would be a fairly unpleasant half marathon. When all was said and done, I think I averaged about 17.5 for the ride, which I was happy with. 

Kevin performed admirably on the run, even stopping to give his hatful of ice to another runner who was succumbing to the heat.  And as bad as it was with the heat, humidity, and complete lack of shade on the course, he still came across the finish line all smiles. 

Back at the “resort” (or as Scott called it- “Martha’s Vineyard for Fayetteville”) Jen made a fantastic pasta dinner, and we all turned in at 9pm to prepare for a second day of racing. 


Everyone was up and ready to go by 6:30.  Maria and I were doing the sprint. Jen, Dan, and Scott were doing a relay, and Kevin was the official cheerer/photographer/Sherpa. 

Maria was the first to go.  Jen had been mercilessly trash-talking Maria about how she was the better swimmer.  This apparently really spurred Maria on, as she turned in the best swim of the group.  This may or may not be due to the fact that Jen swam the wrong way for  a good 100m during her leg.  Who can say?  Only the next triathlon can determine who is the ultimate TFM swimmer.

I started about 30 minutes later.  The swim was good, although I had never swam in choppy water before so it was different.  Not as fast as I had hoped but I came in 68th overall in the swim.  Transition was fine and the bike didn’t feel nearly as bad as I expected it would.  I averaged a little under 19mph, and came out of the bike in 64th place. 

I am a crappy runner, and I was tired so I wasn’t expecting much, so I wasn’t disappointed   It actually went much better than I expected though thanks to Jen who felt that the swim wasn’t enough workout for her, so decided to keep me company on the run.  Jogged the majority of it with occasional walk breaks, chatting the whole time, which I’m sure didn’t help.   Part of the fun was seeing Maria, Suzy, and Shannon on the run. 

Anyway, the run moved me down to 154th place overall (guess we know what I need to work on).  My final time was 1:48.  I was hoping for under 1:45, but it was still my best race by a minute.  Without the bike ride the previous day, I think I could have performed better, but it was worth it.

It was really fun to stay for the awards ceremony and see all of the TRI for ME people  accept their prizes.  We had one of the only teams that showed up multiple times on the awards stand.  People definitely recognized the name by the end of the weekend

Anyway, sorry for the long report, but it was so much fun, I just had to share!  Can’t wait to do it again!

All Jazzed Up

Just about a month ago I headed down to the wonderful state of Louisiana for a little taste of southern style 70.3 racing with my favorite new travel/training/racing buddy Shana. We flew in Friday night, did a little pre-race recon on Saturday, Raced and Relaxed Sunday, and flew back on Monday. “Top 5 Lists” were a theme of the weekend, so I’ll stick to that format here:

Top 5 Goals Leading up to the Race:

  • Rock the Swim! Master practice should be paying off. Push it a little and see what happens

  • Chill on the bike. Only 4 prior outdoor rides on the season, and nothing close to the long flat 56 miles I was in for on race day. No need to kill myself

  • Own the Run! My primary goal for the race was to NOT repeat the disaster that was the Duke 70.3 last year. No blowing up on the run this time! Steady and strong.

  • Something in the 5 hour range would be awesome, but unexpected. Finish considerably better than in Duke, and set up for a great season.

  • Enjoy NOLA!!!

Pre-Race Top 5:

  • Breakfast for Dinner Friday night at the local greasy spoon, The City Diner with the delightful Mr. Corey.

  • ALI-FRIGGIN-GATORS on the race course when we pre-drove on Saturday. Seriously. Gators.

  • Scott the diabetic school teacher from Texas who we had lunch with randomly on Friday (Shana has a knack for starting conversations with strangers) and who told us about some great local places for food and coffee post-race

  • CLAIRE! I haven’t seen my friend Claire since we sailed together in the Schooner Timberwind 5 years ago in Maine; and guess what…she was a race volunteer!!

  • Pedicures. Who knew? Thanks Shana! New pre-race tradition.

5 Bullet Race Recap:

  • Swim felt really good! Split was 32 min, which isn’t great for me, but the walkout of the water was long and slow. Probably only swimming for 28-29 minutes, which is about right. (Note to spectators: if you’re watching a triathlon, please refrain from smoking cigars. You may not realize it, but the swimmers in the water can actually smell them and it’s completely and utterly disgusting.)

  • The woman yelling from the bed of her pickup truck in the StopNGo parking lot RULES! She was hooting and hollering when I rode by at mile 5 and still going strong almost 3 hours later when I was dragging an anchor at mile 50 of the ride

  • No gator attacks on the bike! I rode well, but it was definitely the weakest of the three legs. (Headwinds for the last 20-25 miles is absolute misery and will really get in your head. Tough tough tough way to bring it home – Also, stopping to pee at mile 30 was a bummer

  • Run! I felt like a superstar on the run. Felt really good coming off the bike and was ablet o get the legs turning and put in some pretty solid miles right up front. Someone turned the thermostat up around mile 9 and it got really tough to hold form and focus from 10-13. Again, the spectators were fantastic and really picked me up, especially coming down the finishing straight.

  • Nutrition plan was quite successful and I was able to get off the bike and feel strong on the run. (Water Only at the 3rd bike bottle handoff when water and gatorade is advertised, along with no aid station at T2 made for a long go without some needed electrolytes and calories)

Top 5 Things to work on:

  • Bike fitness. Without a doubt the weakest of my 3 legs. With “minimal” bike work, I can easily get 10-15 minutes off the bike and be under 5 hours; with a reasonable amount of work it’s not even close.

  • Learn to pee on the bike (and on myself). Stopping to pee is not a good racing habit.

  • Mental focus. I definitely lost it a little toward the end of the run. I need to learn to race without a “carrot” in front of me pulling me along.

  • Warm up. I was cold at the start of the swim. I have a tendency to tell myself “you have al day to warm up” but that’s just not true. I can swim better if I set myself up to be successful.

  • Guaging effort. I’m not sure I could’ve gone a lot faster, but I do feel like I had an awful lot left in my legs at the finish. I’ve always believed that if you are capable of sprinting the finish, then you didn’t race hard enough. I sprinted the finish. I need to hold myself to that same standard.

Post Race Top 5:

  • “I’m just a dude, dressed as another dude, pretending to be a different dude.” If you get it, great. If not, don’t worry about it.

  • Coffee and Croisants from Cafe DuMonde and Croisant Dior. The breakfast of hungry triathletes…like Saul Raisin

  • “Canadian Fish”

  • (Massage Line: twice. Massages: zero. This is not Top 5 but needed mentioning.)

  • The fridge map at the airport bar informing whoever was about to open the fridge where they could expect to find the hotdogs (apparently 8 can be stacked neatly on the top shelf) and frozen pizzas (about 6 on the lower shelf). This was apparently to save curious folk such as myself from having to open the fridge…or to help me identify what I was looking at after opening the fridge in case “hot dog” and “pizza” weren’t readily identifiable. I’m not sure which, but the chicken panini was good.

Well, that about does it for IM 70.3 NOLA. Fantastic trips all around. New Orleans is a great city, and I definitely want to go back very soon when I have a little more time to explore and enjoy the cuty itself. Great to see and catch up with an old friend, and great first race of the season!!

Y’all come back now, ya hear…

Today’s 400+ was by far the biggest race I have done…. but I just looked at  next weekend’s White Lake sprint… 680 WOW!!!!  So anyway, back to today…
Got there early enough to get everything done…. but still managed to forget to eat the bar I brought.  So I ate a gel right before the swim… this gave me some kind of acidy feeling in my throat the rest of the race but was tolerable.
The swim was fast and I think I beat my Roanoke Rapid time so that was great!!!  The bike was hillier than I thought and longer than I thought.  They sent out an email saying it was cut to 12miles but it was the full 14.  I purposefully used my right leg more to keep from overusing my left knee.  This is what slowed me down, especially on the hills.  But knowing I was racing again next weekend, I didn’t want to risk really hurting my knee today.  That said, I still pushed it as HARD as I could on the bike today… it just wasn’t enough.  The run was great…. really HOT!  And the first time I ran in the heat this year.  It was hilly but not up, down, up, down like Roanoke Rapids.  It was all down then all up, with some flats along the way… perfect really because it gave you time to recover from the bike (and getting the running muscles loosened) before you had to run up the hills.
My times, by my watch, were:
swim 5:55
T1 1:53
bike 48:03
T2 1:07
run 26:21
Total 1:23:21

A Bad (well, not Bad just did not go well) Triathlon is Always Better Than Staying at Home…..

The plan, to get up Friday morning have breakfast and take a leisurely drive to Lake Anna, pick up my race packet and case the course, head to the hotel, have a nice dinner, watch a little TV, and go to bed. Then wake up have my normal pre-tri breakfast, have a leisurely drive to the site, set up, relax, get a warm up swim in, have a good swim with the normal 1st 100 yards of hell followed by settling in, nice bike ride, and run my normal 4 min run 1 min walk intervals and finish a comfortable slow Laura race …

What really happened, Otis (my quadruped child) had a cyst rupture late Thursday afternoon and had to have surgery Friday morning. At the insistence of my mother I was still going to go to “That” Triathlon and she would take care of Otis but, I decided I would not leave until I picked up Otis and everything was ok. Everything was OK, so off we headed to Richmond in 5:30 Friday afternoon traffic. Got to Richmond about 10:00ish and checked into Hotel, having had a Subway on the road for dinner, not recommend as a choice pre race dinner. As always had trouble sleeping. Lucky the race did not start until 10:00. Woke up and had my normal oatmeal and blueberries, coffee, and sports drink pre Tri breakfast.

We made our way to Lake Anna. Wow! what a beautiful day I could not have ordered better weather. Oh did I mention there is only one gas station between I-95 and Lake Anna and we almost ran out of gas! But we made it! Arrived and went through the regular hub-bub packet pick up, body marking, transition set up.

Ok I was ready. I did my wetsuit dance and got into my wetsuit (no easy task) and then at the advice of a friend I poured tepid water into my suit before getting into the water (slows the cold water entrance and your skin is already wet and the lake water does not feel as cold, it helped I’ll do it again) the Lake was 60 degrees it took a minute to get used to it and then I got my warm up swim in.

Headed to the starting corral. 4th wave and I was off. Pretty normal swim for me took a while to get into a rhythm but, when I did all was well and I was on my way. It was going to be a good day. I made it to transition and Had a little trouble (well a whole lot of trouble) getting my wetsuit off my lower legs had to sit down and have a little tug of war but, I escaped. And, I was off on my bike…then my legs started to cramp but, after a few miles they decided to give up and feel better so that the arches of my feet could cramp up for the rest of the day. I could barely push down on my pedals without feeling like railroad spikes were being driven through my feet. Finished my bike ride pulling up, only, on my pedals for the rest of the ride….arrrggg I knew I was in trouble for the run. Back to transition… My feet hurt so bad I had 2 options; 1 call it a day or 2 take a nice 6 mile walk ……and since quitting is not an option and finishing is….only 1 option I was off for my walk on the outsides of my feet. I still had hope that the cramps would give way….they did not even after tightening, losing, taking off my shoes trying to massage my feet….an hour and 40 mins later I crossed the finish line.

Feet hurting like a SOB and they still do but, in Laura’s world Finishing is Winning and Did I mention the weather was beautiful and Its always better to have a not so good day on the Tri course than to stay at home!!!


I did this race with, and on the recommendation of, some friends … it was not on my original plan but figured it would not hurt and would be fun.  I was right!!!  This was the 2nd year they did this race, and the idea is to bring the level of support and meaningfulness of an IRONMAN to a small race. 


And folks, I kid you not, they pulled it off.  For such a young race it was extremely organized and very well laid out.  The course was just challenging enough, and there was support everywhere you might need it.  The coolest thing they did was set up bleachers along the “shoot” and held up an IM like finish line for EACH athlete to break thru!!  Another nice touch was that every finisher got a medal to wear and their picture taken in front of a “Finisher” backdrop. 


Pre Race:  The packet pick up was in a gym, and the set up was so similar, I felt like I was back in Lake Placid, NY hanging out with my IM friends as they picked up their packets.  By the way, the race is still fairly small right now so there was no line for the INDOOR bathroom  :o)


The Swim:  300 yards in a 6 lane pool.  Which meant up and back in the same lane before crossing over.  I was skeptical at first but it went off without a hitch.


The Bike:  14.8 mile out and back.  Some rolling hills but nothing too major.  The biggest issue was 1) dealing with the chilly weather- it was about 48 degrees when we emerged from the aquatic center, and 2) the wind- the entire ride out, was into the wind.  But of course, that means the entire ride back in, was GREAT!!  


The Run:  3.1 mile loop through a nice neighborhood.  This is where the hills really came into play.  They were short, steep-ish, and plentiful.  It made it fun but, for me, it made it difficult to find a good rhythm.  There were two water/Gatorade stops on the course, if I had to guess they were at mile 1.5 and 2.5.  There was one last hill right before you ran the last .1 of a mile (flat) to and through the shoot.


Post Race:  There were medals, pictures, oranges, bananas, bagels, cookies and the list goes on!  There were also funnel cakes, but they weren’t free  ;o)  For the award ceremony they had an actual 3rd/1st/2nd place podium for the athletes to stand on, and a picture was take of each group.  By noon, the day OF the race, I had an email in my inbox that detailed my entire day- where I placed and how I paced, etc… I was VERY impressed with this!!


All in all this was a really fun race to do.  I did this race report because I want to help get the word out … this is a great race to start the year off with.  If you can, spend the night and plan a nice long ride the next day over in the lake Gaston area…. it is absolutely gorgeous up there!!


Happy Racing!

Aneis Andreoli

Hillary Bicay’s IM MOO Race Report – 8 hours ago
It was very difficult to contain myself and not just start sprinting at mile one of the marathon with the deafening cheers from the crowds which lined the