New Orleans Ironman 70.3 Race Report

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Well, I've officially had a week to recover, and it really did take that long. I ended up taking a nap nearly every day this week, and not just 15 minutes here or there. I'm talking about 1-2 hours a day plus my usual 7 or so hours at night. I think a late night out on Bourbon St Sunday combined with 2 short plane rides that allowed for no napping just totally wore me out. Plus, as you may have seen or heard, I got incredibly sunburned, and I think it actually led to some sun sickness. My hands swelled up, I was totally wiped out, and even some lymph nodes in my neck reacted to the burn. I haven't been burned that bad since I was 12 or so and fishing with my grandparents. I never want to be burned like that again. I may need one of those little wraps that keeps your arms covered. I can never seem to use enough sunscreen.

Steve, as usual, has posted all of our pictures. If you haven't checked them out, head on over to his blog. He's got a 3 part race report!

We left Minnesota super early on Friday morning. My poor sister is awesome for taking us to the airport HOURS before she would even have had to get up. Thanks Steph! We had a layover in Memphis. The whole airport smells like meat. It was Steve's kind of place! All of that taking off and landing combined with the 2 short flights did a number on my stomach, but before I knew it, we were on land again in New Orleans. We picked up our rental car and waited for TriSara Tops' plane to get in. A few hugs later and we were heading into town to meet up with Team Evotri and some super cool pros! Stu was doing an interview with Desiree Ficker, Chris McDonald, Linsey Corbin, and Heather Gollnick!! Steve and I aren't officially part of Team Evotri, but we've been friends with most of them since the first WIBA in 2006 while I was training for my first Ironman. Over the years as more members have been added, we've gotten to know them as well, and let me just say that they are one of the coolest, most dedicated, and down to earth groups that you'll ever meet. Plus, they're a blast, and like I said in my earlier post, I literally laughed all weekend. After ogling the pros while they had their interview, we went to check in, grabbed some tasty Cajun food, and went back to the house where we were staying. We had some pretty sweet accommodations! There was plenty of room for the nine of us, even with our bikes and gear. We spent most of Friday and Saturday checking in, getting our gear ready, picking up remaining team members getting into town, and eating tasty tasty food. Saturday we had beignets at Cafe Du Monde (a must when visiting NO) and some pre-race pasta later in the evening. Lights out early Saturday evening - we were racing the next day!

On race morning, I stepped outside and let out a big sigh. It was MUGGY. Just as the weatherpeople had been predicting, Sunday was the warmest temp that they'd had in a while down there. In the end, I think it got up to around 83 degrees, NOT exactly Minnesota weather in April. We piled in the team van yet again. Did I mention what a great navigator/team supervisor Robby B is? He never got us lost and always knew where we needed to be and when. It made doing an out of town race SO much easier. Thanks Robby! Transition was buzzing as usual. I arranged my stuff and made sure to slather on plenty of sunscreen. My skin hadn't seen the light of day since our trip to Cozumel in January! When we got to the line for the buses that would take us to the swim start, they informed us that we'd better start walking because we wouldn't make it on a bus. Dang. Oh well. It was actually a nice walk, and since it was so warm, walking in bare feet and my tri outfit wasn't the least bit chilly. We got to meet up with some other bloggers on the walk, too - added bonus! The porta potties at the swim start were all out of TP. Live and learn, I made the rookie mistake of not bringing any... Steve and Trisaratops' waves were before mine as were Sweet's JP's and Robby's. Rural Girl, TriCajun, his wife Lisa (who is hilarious!), and Stu were all after me. My wave left at 7:52.

The Swim:

We had done a practice swim in lake Pontchartrain the day before, my first open water swim since Square Lake half in September. I'm glad I did. It took a couple of minutes to get used to the initial cold and the slightly salty water. The practice swim prepared me for the shallow start, which meant we really couldn't start swimming right away. When I did finally start swimming, I got kicked in the face once, but it wasn't a bad one. It took just a bit for us to spread out. Since it was a point to point, we were swimming between the shore and the buoys. I usually stay super close to the buoys during races but decided to keep closer to shore this time around. I did have a couple of episodes of veering. I guess that's to be expected this early in the season. For the most part, I was actually surprised at how few swimmers I ran into. There were 3000+ people registered! A local woman in the porta potty line had told us to watch for the big lone tree, so that's what I did. It certainly helped to have a point of reference! The swim was otherwise fairly uneventful, and it was NOT even close to my PR, but my time in the pool was pretty minimal so far this season, and with barely one open water swim under my belt, I'll take it! Total time: 47:13 (included a run up to T1).

T 1:

It was a pretty long hike up to transition, and transition was HUGE since the field was so big, but I was in and out in 3:35.

The Bike:

I knew this could be a super fast course if the wind stayed calm, but no such luck. It was picking up at a considerable pace. There were several out and back little juts, and the first one was against the wind. It was short, though, and for the first 25 miles or so, we mostly had the wind at our backs. I had a pretty stellar average for the first half of the bike, but I kept telling myself, "You are not a rock star. Take it easy. You'll be against the wind on the way back." I tried to keep it conservative for the first half, especially since this technically was only my 3rd outdoor ride of the year. I looked around a bit and enjoyed the scenery. I actually thought the bike was really pretty. It was mostly flat except when we were going over levies. The majority of the bike was out in the bayou, and I have never seen so many dead snakes in my life. I must have seen 30 dead snakes (and one live one) smushed on the road. We got to see some houses being rebuilt, but my favorite part was all of the green! Everything is still very brown here right now. On the way back, that beautiful tailwind came at us straight on. I continued to try not to push too hard, but I was passing people right and left (clarification: I was passing on the left!). I think all of those nasty trainer rides I did this spring paid off. It really can't replace outdoor training, but for this Minnesotan, it did the trick! Total time: 3:16.17, just around a 17mph average.


When I got to T2, I realized that I had probably eaten too much on the bike. Usually I don't eat enough, so I tried really hard to eat more. That combined with the headwind for 20 miles left a lot of food in my gut. I slowed it down in T2, visited the porta potty, and made my way to the run - 5:36.

The Run:

We had a nasty headwind for the first 3 miles of the run. One woman and I even drafted off each other for a while! She would run in front till she got tired, then I would take over. I've never had to do that before, but it works swimmingly. My food wasn't digesting. After the first mile, I took a few walk breaks to try to get the food down. It was either that or it was going to come back up. Option A wasn't working, so I started hoping for option B. I knew that at least then I'd feel better. I don't think the heat helped anything. A fifty degree temperature swing is a lot to ask of your body. Just to illustrate the difference, it snowed in MN the day before the race. They didn't have any ice until mile 6, but that was my turning point. I was able to cool off, I had a tailwind, and I felt great. My legs actually felt great for the whole run, but at that point the rest of my body finally decided to join them. I met a woman named Marian at around mile 9 and we ran the next 4 miles together. She was from Puerto Rico and cute as a bug. My splits were as follows:

First 2 miles - 21:05
Miles 3+4 - 23:06
Mile 5 - 15:08 - yikes! That was a nasty one, food still not going down...
Mile 6 - 12:06
Mile 7 - 10:21 - food was starting to digest
Mile 8 - 12:19
Mile 9 - 11:02
Mile 10 - 11:01
Mile 11 -11:13
Miles 12 + 13 - 22:24
Total: 2:29:48

None of those splits were great, but given the heat and the GI issues, I'll take 'em! I negative split the run by nearly 3 minutes! The last mile of the run was AWESOME. One guy shouted to Marian and I that we looked way too fresh to have raced as far as we had. I laughed and shouted, "Well, I don't smell so fresh!" I kept picking it up, and when we hit Jackson Square, the crowd was going crazy. I sprinted to the finish line! Half Iron Distance race #5 was a blast!

Nearly everyone from our group had finished, except for TriCajun and Lisa. They were doing the race together and had started behind me. I was a sunburned soaking wet mess (from all of the ice and dumping water on myself). We traded war stories, and the general consensus was that the swim may have been a bit long, it was horrible that the bike course aid stations ran out of water and gatorade, and for a bunch of midwesterners, it sure was hot! I loved the race, though, and if it weren't so expensive to fly down and ship our bikes, I'd do it again in a heartbeat!

The Numbers:

Swim: 47:13
T1: 3:35
Bike: 3:16:17 (PR)
T2: 5:36
Run: 2:29:48
Total: 6:42:29 (PR by 5 minutes on "official" courses)
Placed 3/9 in the group "female medical professionals" (the race is sponsored by a hospital)
Placed 362/650 women

The Aftermath:

After picking our stuff up in transition (we just had to drop our bikes off with the bike shop), we made a mad dash to get JP to the airport. The rest of us got ready for some debauchery on Bourbon St! Well, as much debauchery as a bunch of tired triathletes who have to get up early the next morning for travel can have anyway...

We said our goodbyes Monday morning, and we're already looking forward to WIBA at the end of June, when we'll get to see everybody again for a weekend of training, friends, and fun.


I really did like this course and would recommend this race. For it being an inaugural race, it was well organized. I was VERY disappointed that the aid stations on the bike ran out of Gatorade and even MORE disappointed that they ran out of WATER. If you're going to let 3000+ people into a race, you'd better have support for them. I was also disappointed to see that very few of the aid stations on the run had ice or sponges. It was a hot day and even the locals were melting!

I'm not sure if it was because this was an Ironman 70.3 or if it was because this was the inaugural event, but there were a lot of big name pros there, and it was fun to be out there with them. The ones we did get to interact with were very personable.

I would do this race again in a heartbeat...if the logistics of bike transport and plane tickets weren't included. It's just too expensive for us to make this a regular thing. Registration in itself is a pretty penny. We have so many great local races.

This sure wasn't my fastest race. Technically, it's a PR, but that's just because Steelhead was changed to a du last year and Square Lake's bike was 1.5 miles too short. Overall, it ranks somewhere in the middle as far as times go, and I'm OK with that given the fact that it was an early race. Sure it wasn't fun to be stuck indoors training, and mentally, it's a lot harder to know what you'll be able to do once you actually get out there, but I did notice something about this early season training... My mood was much better this winter, and I attribute it to all of the exercise. Normally I sort of go into hibernation in the winter. I eat crappy, work out much less than normal, and generally feel pretty gross. It sort of becomes a downward spiral that doesn't go away till the end of the winter. This year was different. It's really hard to force yourself into lots of exercise when you don't have anything to train for. I'm going to have to figure out how to work more exercise/training into next winter.

What's Next:

It's kind of funny. Normally by this time of year I have my whole race schedule figured out. This year, I was so busy training that I haven't had time yet! I love the 70.3 distance. I think it's my favorite distance, and I learn something each time I race one. I love the challenge, and since I'm REALLY not built for speed, I think it's a good fit. I know I can do this faster. There's a 70.3 race here in June that I'd really like to do. I'm also planning to join up with my buds at WIBA. I've got a couple of dus coming up, and of course, Twin Cities Marathon #10 will have to be on my race calender. I'll have a post later with the official calender! I'm going to keep training. I'm excited to get outside some more now that we've hit 50s. I need to work on getting to the pool more, and there will need to be some weight training. Yikes I've let my upper body go! Usually during the winter I focus more on strength training which takes a back seat during tri season. This year it took a back seat early, and it shows. Bicep curls here I come!



PR on the bike and negative splitting the run...that is what I call a good day, girl! :) 70.3s are just so much fun! It was even more fun having you guys there!

Can't wait for WIBA!

Oh, and if you find one of those arm thingys, let me know! I think I may invest in one, too...even with sunscreen in T1 and T2 I still got burned a bit on my back! Boo! That sun was KILLER! Hope you feel better!

Steve Stenzel

Oh, I forgot to mention how great that "one lone tree" was for knowing how much of the swim was left. That lady REALLY helped us!!

You did SO great out there!! Congrats Hunnie!!

Yeah, I've lost a little muscle this winter too, so "Bicep curls, here we BOTH come!"


GREAT work out there Pharmie - it sounds like all of you had a pretty great weekend with a race wedged in there somewhere. :) Good work getting an early, hard 70.3 in the books. Can't wait for the rest of your '09.

Lisa Parsiola

You rocked that thing, sister. I was there and you are sooooo positive cause I thought the wind freak'n sucked badddddd. Yet you rode like a machine - thanks for coming down - sorry about the sunburn - see ya at WIBA, wild child!


NICE bike PR chica, you were killing it out there in spite of the wind! It was so awesome to hang out with you guys again, I can't wait to see you again soon!


Great job Sarah! I mean tot ask about this earlier but I didn't want to leave Steph and/PT crying on the porch wondering where I was.

I'm glad you had a great time even with the heat.

I'll see you later in the week!

And TCM?!? Maybe...

Jim Smith II

Great job Pharmie!

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Hey guys! Ma’am, great race report! I am doing this race in a couple of months and wanted to thank you! The tip about sighting off the big tree is great advice. Thanks for paying it forward! Well, good luck on your future events.