Saturday, April 26, 2014


seemed to lose my NOLA race report so here is a repost....

2014 IMNOLA 70.3 Race Report
April 14th, 2014


Location: New Orleans, LA
Distance: 1.2-mile swim/56-mile bike/13.1-mile run
2014 Triathlon Race Number: 3
Career Triathlon Race Number: 140
Conditions: Partly sunny and humid.  66 degrees at swim start rising to 82 degrees.  Quite windy (15-20 mph).  Water temperature about 65 degrees.

NOLA was to be my 5th race in 22 days (two triathlon sprints, a half-marathon, a 10-mile run, and a H-IM).  This is usually not the best course of early-season action and especially since I was way behind in my training due to my late start in 2014.  I knew this of course, but decided that a heavy race concentration would help jump-start my triathlon training and season so I found my self in mid-April down in New Orleans.

My two pre-season sprint triathlons had gone surprisingly well despite my lack of training and fitness.  I had a sense that I was getting more out of my fitness than I “deserved”, that I was maybe pushing my fitness a bit.  In any event, I had no illusions about this race.  I knew I wasn’t really ready to race a H-IM and I accepted that I was likely to be relatively slow and to suffer while doing it.

Still, I was very excited to do the race.  I was participating once again with Ironman XC and it’s always a pleasure to hook up with that crew.  We had a nice dinner and then a great breakfast with Andy Potts.  The evening before the race Judy flew down and I was pleased to take her around and show her the French Quarter (after attending some of the Jazz Festival).  I went to bed late the night before the race with some tired legs—not really recommended—but eager to awake and have at it.

I had raced NOLA once before back in 2010 when the swim has held out in the main body of Lake Ponchatrain.  Due to a couple of swim cancellations through the years, the swim was now in the protected waters of the marina near the private jet airport (while windy this year, the winds were predominately from the south and east and as luck would have it, the Lake was quite calm on this day).  There were 1708 triathletes that toed the starting line this morning, of which 43 were in my 50-59 YO AG.  I had just one XC competitor but this was not a concern, as I did not intend to go the IM70.3 Worlds, even in the likely event that I won the XC competition.  I did a 5:28 back in 2010 and I figured I would likely be some 10 minutes slower on each the bike and the run on this day.

The Swim

Back in 2010 the XC types went off with their AG waves and that year I started in the 11th wave.  Not so this year.  The male and female pros were up first and then it was our turn at 7:08.  The swim course was a giant sideways Z with a final several hundred-yard swim to the edge of the marina.  The sun was in our eyes so it was a bit hard to really sense the swim course.  Also, the first time I saw it was race morning and with only 6 XC competitors and the pros long gone I knew I’d be swimming on my own on a course I really didn’t know that well.

That said, I think I had a pretty solid swim.  I was very comfortable the whole way (I took it pretty easy) and while I definitely swam further than I needed to I did a reasonable job of navigating around the course.  I neglected to put my Garmin into “Auto Multisport Mode” so unfortunately I don’t have much data on the swim.  I did exit the swim with an elapsed time of 36:03.  This is frankly about what I expected to do.  In 2010 I did a 35:24 here but that was out in the open lake with much more challenging conditions.  I think if I was really fit I would have been around 33:30 on this morning so I’m guessing I’m about 7-8% off of being fit like I know I can be (swim-wise).

As it turned out I was the 10th fastest in my AG (79.1 %-tile vs. 90.4 %-tile in 2010) and I was 412th OA (75.9 %-tile vs. 83.1 %-tile in 2010).  From an XC perspective I was 9:37 ahead.  All in all a good swim.  I felt very comfortable and well within myself this morning.  I obviously have a lot of pool work to do but I’m very confident I’ll be ready as the season progresses.

Transition One

The transition involved a very long run from the marina to the run exit and then all the way back through transition.  Once there you did your T1 thing and then headed out on the bike—the transition this year was not comparable in anyway to 2010 except to say it was a lot longer and slower.  In any event, I executed my T1 in 4:29, which was good enough for 12th in my AG.  Judy and the XC gang were there and we shared a bunch of laughs and I headed out to the bike leg in great spirits.

The Bike

The bike this year was obviously different than 2010 but unfortunately the quality of the road surface for the first 10-12 miles (and the last 10-12 miles) was the same—concrete with lots of cracks and bumps from expansion joints.  Given the amount of post-Katrina funds that have poured into this city it really is a shame that some of the worse impacted parts of the city have not been repaired.

In 2010 I didn’t have a very good ride and ended up averaging just 180 watts and I took 2:37:11 to execute the 56 miles.  I had a hip issue then that took several weeks to ultimately sort out.  This year, while my sprint triathlon bike legs were very encouraging (including a course record at Smithville) I knew I needed to be very conservative on this morning.  My FTP was sitting around 260 watts, which implied I should be able to do 210-220 watts for a half.  I was having none of that and I decided to just target more of a full IM effort (70% of FTP or about 182 watts) rather than the higher intensity I’d usually go after in a H-IM.  I just didn’t have any long-distance rides under my belt and indeed, this was going to be only the second time I’d ever ridden my new TT bike beyond 40 miles.

The wind was a real issue in several places on the course—indeed, at times it was hard to hold 15mph—much more challenging than 2010 in my view.  Also, my lack of long rides was very evident as I was not fit enough to stay aero for the entirety of the course and I definitely felt the wisdom of my decision to ride conservatively with the fatigue I felt after 40 miles.

I took 2:44:56 to complete the bike (20.3mph).  During the ride I averaged 183 watts (NP of 186—very flat course), 142 bpm average HR, and an average cadence of 82 rpm.  I was just 7th in my AG (86.0 %-tile vs. 79.8 %-tile in 2010) and 324th OA (81.1 %-tile vs. 79.2 %-tile in 2010).  These comparisons to 2010 look better than they should as I had a real off day back in 2010—I was much fitter at this point in the season in 2010 than I am now.  Still, the delta in time (7-8 minutes) was most certainly due to the more challenging wind we faced this year vs. 2010.  I managed to put another 6+ minutes on my XC competitor.

The good thing about this ride is it does give me a good gauge of where I am from a Long Course fitness perspective vs. my “potential”.  To give you a sense of that I’ll throw out a comparison to my late-2011 SkipJack ride (which was 66 miles).  This shows pretty objectively (I think) how far I am away from being Long-Course fit:

                      2011 SkipJack         2014 IMNOLA70.3

Avg Power           221 watts                  183 watts
Avg HR               149 bpm                   142 bpm
Avg Speed          22.5 mph                  20.3 mph

So this indicates that I’m about 17% short power wise.  Yet I know my FTP is only about 8% less than 2011.  So I have two issues.  One, my FTP needs to get bigger.  Two, I need a ton of long endurance rides so I can tap into a higher percentage of my FTP—you can see this in part by my lower avg HR—I just can’t stress my CV enough given my lack of muscular endurance.

The good news is that this can be readily fixed—with lots of riding!

Transition Two

I hopped off my bike and immediately felt the fatigue in my legs.  I had already experienced the “slower” part of being undertrained.  I had no doubt I was about to experience the “suffering” part.

Transition was deserted and I didn’t stay there very long.  I executed my T2 in 2:53.

The Run

Shortly after exiting T2 I made a detour for a quick squirt.  I had peed twice on the bike but it’s always easier when you’re back on terra firma.  I felt pretty fatigued and my focus was to try to run pretty easy and consistent.  I thought I might be able to just jog 10-minute miles, which I was very cool with.

It was very warm and humid.  The breeze helped a bit but the lack of shade and clouds led to more heat stress (and a pretty impressive sun-burn).

It was a pretty uneventful (and frankly boring) run.  In 2010 we finished in the FQ but due to the Jazz Festival, this year we finished out in City Park.  I just tried to get through it.  Here are my splits (I figured out my mistake on the Garmin and flipped into run mode for the run):

Mile 1: 9:48/153bpm
2: 10:15/153
3: 10:04/151
4: 10:18/150
5: 10:28/149
6: 10:31/150
7: 10:43/149
8: 10:36/152
9: 10:41/152
10: 11:15/151
11: 10:50/151
12: 10:47/154
13: 11:02/152
.1: 9:14/161

So, I was obviously more fatigued that I had hoped to be and ended up averaging just 10:34/mile as I took 2:17:31 to complete the half-marathon with an average HR of 151bpm.  Back in 2010, despite a sore hip I did 2:10:18 with an average HR of 146 bpm.  I think this clearly illustrates how much work I need to do in the days ahead.

I was 14thin my AG (69.8 %-tile vs. 60.6 %-tile in 2010) and 664th OA (61.2 %-tile vs. 52.3 %-tile in 2010).  These favorable comparisons are hard to understand—it was tougher this year for sure, but I don’t think that much tougher.

For the race I finished in 5:45:47, which was good enough for 7th in my AG (86.0 %-tile vs. 74.0 %-tile in 2014) and overall I was 452nd (73.6 %-tile vs. 74.6 %-tile in 2010).  I won my XC AG pretty easily but turned down the World Championship slot, as I’ll be really focused on my best Kona effort in September.

Andy Potts was at the finish line to give me my medal and then Judy and I went out and had a great time in the FQ—all good.

Post race, I was pretty wiped out from all of the racing and took an easy week.  I’m in the midst of a heavier 10-day training block now.  I’ll be into the meat of my early season racing soon with my May 4th Bassman International.

Onward and Upward!

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