Monday, April 19, 2010

New Orleans 70.3 Race Report

Let me just preface this long post with a short summary for those that are curious to know the outcome of this race, but who don't really want to read my long-winded report: I did cross the finish line and receive a medal, but I did not "officially" finish as I was not able to do it within the eight hours. I know that to those of you who do not "do" triathlons and to even some who do, this detail may to you mean nothing less of an accomplishment for me, but for me and many in the "elite" group of true finishers, it is not the same. I am truly respectful of those that finished within the time frame, because it is really quite a feat. I am proud of myself for what I did accomplish, but I do recognize the difference. If the time didn't matter, then there would be no "cut-off". I do appreciate everyone's kudos for my efforts, but please excuse me if I downplay my enthusiasm over having just "finished". Now with that having been said, I hope I can entertain you with my race report, as I had plenty of time to write it in my head during the last three hours of my race! So here goes:

Saturday Pre-Race:

Mary Ann, "Sputnick"

Pre-race day began with an opportunity to join some of the Sputniks (our Rocketchix trainees) for a race simulation bike and run at LSU. It was quite fun to be on the "trainer" side, and not be the rookie for once. These are another group of great girls who seem to have gotten the bug for triathlons. We had a chance to visit, encourage, and mentor some of them for their upcoming race. We are so proud of them all and can't wait to watch them cross their finish line next Sunday!

McCall (i.e."Dazzle") jumped in and helped lead the paceline.
Lizzard took over "safety officer" and transition training instruction. 

Unfortunately we learned mid Saturday morning that Coach would not be able to compete or attend the race, as two of her husband's close family members passed away. I was so sad to hear this news as I knew how much she was ready to compete and how much she wanted to be there to watch her athletes finish. And honestly, I couldn't help but to be a bit bummed for myself as well, because I really wanted her there as my security blanket. Funny how things work out in the end. More on that later.

So, moving forward. We packed up, grandparents picked up the kids, and we left to meet Lizzard and her husband Kevin at Subway for a quick bite. From there we headed to New Orleans to drop our bikes in transition. When we got there it was already packed with people racking their bikes and checking out the transition area. The music was pumping and you could feel the energy in the air. Both Lizzard and I had great spots for our transition. She was right along the swim exit in direct line with both the bike in and out as well as the run exit. I had a good visual landmark as I was right in front of a huge lighthouse and also had a good line of sight to all the exits. We racked our bikes, explored the world of custom painted cycles with $1000 wheel sets and Italian leather saddles, and then walked up to peer over the levee to take a look at the beach.

Lizzard #117 Rockin' the Rack
I figured if I couldn't find my bike racked at the base of this, then I'd need glasses.
Nerves kicking in already Liz? Um, that's the handicapped port o pot...
So we walk to the top of the swim exit and head out onto the beach to find that the water is calm and absolutely beautiful. I immediately feel relief and know that I can pull it together enough to swim in that beautiful water. Just please Lord let it stay like this through the morning.
Then we walk over to the area that will be the swim start to check out the sand and catch the view. It is getting exciting picturing how it will be tomorrow. Already there are swimmers in the water checking out the course, most of the buoys have been deployed, and you can get a good visual on what it's gonna take to complete in the morning.
We decide to sneak down onto the pier so we can view the long part of the course and see just how far the buoys run down the lake. Trust me, they seemed to go very far. We then grabbed our men from the parking lot and our gear and decided to take a dip in the water. We forbid picture taking as it seemed to take a good 30 minutes to get our wetsuits on in the humidity. We hit the water and took a leisurely swim out and back to the first turn buoy. I was nervous, but it felt good and the water was nice, warm even. 
We bumped into Linda when we got out of the water and she and her family agreed to join us for dinner. We also were able to meet up with Dazzle and her husband at our old stomping ground (shout out to the SYC) for a hot shower and a drink. Dazzle gave me a sweet card that helped build me up and it was just a nice end to beautiful day.
The wonder twins showing off their goods...

After a group drink (I stuck with ice water for fear of a headache), we headed to Mama Mea's for pizza since it brought us a good pre-race carbo meal prior to the Rock N Roll Half Marathon. They actually remembered us from last time! And the food was as good as I had remembered.

From there it was check-in at the Ambassador Hotel, re-check my transition bag, and a call to Coach to give me final instructions and encouragement. I actually slept fairly well until about 2 am when I woke up hungry. At that point I went ahead and fixed myself a bagel and started drinking a bottle of Gatorade to get a jump on my nutrition. Then back to bed until 4 am when the alarm would go off for the last time of my 20 week training. It was showtime!

Race Report:

The day begins with another half bagel, some vanilla wafers, and the rest of a bottle of Gatorade I started at 2 a.m.. The plan was to leave the hotel by 5, but I was nervous and ready and had already met my potty quotient for the week, so we left around 4:45. Suprisingly it didn't take us long to get to transition and already it was pretty packed and hectic. I used the port-o-potty another 2 times and then racked my bike and started setting up my transition area. (I will interject my "what I learned" comments in blue at this point and from here out).

Bringing your own toilet tissue, or better yet, wet wipes is crucial in a big race. The people looked liked ants racing around with determination and purpose trying to get their equipment in order. Everyone looked like they had done this before. I saw no sign of fear or nerves in anyone on my rack. It is important to hang your bike with the front tire hanging down on the side of the rack where you number faces outward. This allows all the bikes to fit in with ample room for everyone to set up their transition area. I must have run through my transition in my mind a thousand times. I put everything where I thought I could grab it quickly and efficiently. I chose to leave a few items that I decided were not needed in my carry bag which I gave back to my husband after set-up. If you ever use an inhaler for exercise induced asthma, but think you might not need it, play it safe and put it in transition anyway. I checked my tires for damage and filled them up with my bike pump. If you don't feel like hefting your pump with you to transition, feel free to leave it behind. Everyone else brings one and it is easy enough to borrow one. I shared mine. I took a picture of my area and sent it to Coach for approval, but didn't have time to wait for a response as the clock seemed to be flying at this point and they were closing down the transition area and herding everyone out onto the beach.

At this point I am on my own. I saw Lizzard briefly, I texted Kristin and dropped off my spare goggles for her at her transition area, and gave my phone and shirt to Dazzle at the last minute. I walk to the beach alone and make my way up onto the levee to gather my thoughts and try to drop my heartrate from the absurd to the manageable. It is at this point that Lizzard finds me and happens to ask if I got my timing chip. Never, ever, forget your timing chip if you want to actually get credit for the ridiculously long hours you put into a 70.3 race.

I rush to pick up my chip while I freak out over the fact that if she hadn't said anything I would have raced without it. No worries, still plenty of time, but the clock keeps seeming to speed up. I know it's too early to put on my wetsuit, but I feel like a teenager dressing for her prom date who is already knocking at the front door. I decide to put it on. And my squid lid. And my cap. And my goggles. I look at my watch and realize that even though the race starts in 2 minutes, my wave doesn't go for 30. I take my goggles off but leave the rest.

I listen to the national anthem and a tear slips out. I wish I could say it was because I felt a surge of patriotism, but I think it was sheer anxiety over what was about to happen. I remember I am supposed to sit while I wait for my wave. Please sit while you wait for your won't get another chance except for your bike, which really doesn't count, for a very long time. 

I sit and the support feels good. I try to channel the swim spirit of my dolphin-like Coach. I watch the multi-colored swim caps dance around the levee as all the athletes go through their pre-race warm ups and rituals. I start to feel a sense of calm come over me. Linda has joined Liz and I on the levee. Liz is excited that she saw a famous triathlon nun who is in her wave and this seems to give her a sense of peace. I laugh and say goodbye to my team-mates. Now I am really alone. I watch as the air horn blows and the first wave of pro athletes take to the water. They dolphin dive and high-step through the shallow waters to get ahead of each other. It is a mad rush into the deep water and I am amazed at their speed. The women pros go next, then the para-athletes, then the relay teams. I say a quick prayer for Kristin and her relay team and hope she fares well in that water, which as of this morning is no longer calm, but with a fairly decent chop. I try not to think about the water conditions.

The waves tick off and then I see the dark green hats of my team-mates go forth. Again I wish them well in my mind and then hear my wave get called over into the grassy area leading into the swim entrance. It is 4 minutes between waves, but it seems too fast. Already the pro-men are coming out of the water. The first out is Andy Potts with a 23 something minute swim. Astounding. I look around my wave of 40-45 year old women and try to figure out where I should be. I look into their eyes to see who looks confident and who looks scared. I can't seem to find anyone who has doubt in their eyes. I look at physiques to see if I can find someone slow like me so I won't get trampled. I decide size is a poor judge of speed and talent as I have made that poor assessment in the past. Never assume someone is slower than you based on their size, age, or appearance - it is no reflection on their ability or determination to kick your ass. I finally give up and head for the back third of my wave, slightly left of center. My reasoning is that I'd be less likely to get trampled in the back, the people in the very back might be slower than me, and if I stay slightly toward the left I can follow a more direct line to the buoys but still use the pack mentality to keep me going in the right direction if I have trouble sighting. Never assume that people around you are going in the right direction. Always be ready to adjust. 

The next thing I know the horn goes off and my wave is running into the water. I feel like I'm in a cattle stampede and I have lost my ability to chose for myself. I find myself following along, trying to not think, just do. The water is shallow and requires running for a good distance. Eventually the front of the pack starts to dolphin dive and begins swimming. My mind tells me to hold out on the swim as long as I can. I eventually give in and begin the process. I count. One, two, three, breathe. I focus. I bump into someone who has stopped in front of me. I go around. One, two, three, breath(e). The chop is knocking me around a bit but I keep the focus. I round the first turn buoy. And then for some reason I have to flip onto my back. I tell myself it's ok and don't let it bother me that plan A just went out the window. I remind myself that last year Lizzard did the whole race on her back. I can too. I kick, not even backstroking, just kick. Stay calm. Already I see a few people reaching for some nearby kayaks. Those aren't for me. Not today. Not this time. I will do this.

I'm getting into a groove with the kicking, and although I know it's not fast, I know it can get me out of the water and through this segment of the race. I keep moving and occasionally flip for a minute to sight and then back onto my back. I try to stay calm and look at the sky. And then I take a wave in my face right when I take a breath. I shoot into a vertical position and cough hard to get it out of my lungs. I decide being on my back may not be the best option. I find that if I side-stroke on my left side I can ride some of the bigger crests of the waves and avoid the water in my face. I speed past a few kayaks and keep pace with some of the free-stylers. Ok, so I'll side-stroke it. This works for a while, and then I start to feel the fatigue of swimming a stroke I am not used to swimming. I change to the other side but quickly abandon that as the wind is blowing the waves right into my face when I am positioned to the right side. I revert back to my back and try to time my breathing to avoid the waves hitting my face. I try not to think about how much farther there is, I just try to keep moving. I get to the final turn-around and decide that holding onto a kayak for a minute might not be such a bad idea. I justify it by telling myself that it might give me a chance to cough and expel some of the water that's in my lungs. I make my way over and make sure I verify that holding on won't disqualify me from the race. It feels good to have some support and relief for a few seconds. I catch my breath, cough, and reset my sight on making it back alive. I thank the kayaker and let go and resume my back-kicking. I decide that if I can complete the swim with the aid of less than 5 kayaks I will be satisfied at this point. I have no idea what my swim time is so far, as I failed to start my stopwatch, but I know that I am not anywhere near where I should be. I try to keep moving and don't worry about the rest of the race. One thing at a time. Finish the swim.

The waves have been growing noticeably since I began the swim. There seems to be no system to them and they come at me from all angles. In addition to the waves, I now have the swim waves of young strong men that started behind me that are powering through to the finish. They are not as gentle as the women athletes who have passed me, and tend to swim over or through me to get to where they want to be. I can't blame them since I am veering crazily on my back and giving them an obstacle to their goal. I try not to take it personally and just deal with the aggression. I take on another wave that leaves me gasping and choking on water so badly I kayaker stops to ask if I'm okay. I catch my breath, cough, say I am and refuse the assistance. I get on my back and go some more. At this point I'm just plain tired. I think about how much this sucks and how I just want to quit. I tell myself I will never do this again. This is for the insane. But I also tell myself I will not quit until it is done. Even if they have to drag the lake for me later.

I begin a steady decline in my ability to even stay on my back for any length of time. I'm getting knocked around by the waves, I can't seem to sight because my goggles are fogged up and the waves are so big they block the buoys. I decide instead of just trying to go from buoy to buoy I will instead go from kayak to kayak. It sucks but I have no other option. I am just too battered to finish without the assist. I have so much fluid in my lungs at this point all I can do when I grab onto the kayak is to cough up water and strangely enough - burp. The coast guard members are encouraging and I am not the only one holding on to the kayaks. I watch an older man struggle like I have been and I feel for him. One girl that holds on next to me tells me "We're almost there. We can do this." It helps keep me going.

The last buoy is the worst. It is not marked well and many swimmers are going the wrong way. By this time I am whipped. I take the final turn and for once have the waves behind me. Finally I can freestyle and it feels good to swim normally and I feel fast. Unfortunately I am so tired from the struggle that I still have to stop, flip, and breath in water with each wave. Just about the time I decide I am just going to drown if I don't get to shore now, I go to stand and actually feel sand under my feet. Oh hallelujah, sweet Jesus, I'm on land!! I probably should keep swimming because I am still far from shore but I don't care I just want to walk. I rip off my squid lid, cap, and goggles and hear "You did it Coug!". I look up and see Dazzle and my training partner Ellen with big grins on their faces. It felt so good to see them. I managed a smile and trudged out of the water. I walk past Hill who is filming with the video camera. "You did it! Good job!" There was no running into transition. I just made it to the wetsuit strippers and collapsed and let them do all the work.

Time: 1:26:15, Kayaks held onto: 8, Gallons of water inhaled: ?

Ellen, my training buddy, a sight for tired fogged up eyes

My moment of joy as I realized I survived

Transition One (T1): 
Once the wet suit is removed I make my way to my transition area and sit to put on my biking shoes. The next thing I know I am peeing where I sit and I don't even care. Coach would be so proud. I pour some water over me to wash up and then grab my helmet and glasses and unrack my bike. I feel a little disoriented but make my way to the bike exit. Again I see my cheerleading section and wonder how they got there so quickly. Maybe I am slower than I thought. I can't decide and mount my bike and head out.
T1 Time: 4:35

I try to settle into a rhythm early. My heart is pounding from the swim and I am coughing something fierce. I remind myself to not push too hard the first few miles because it is a technical ride and there are lots of potholes to be aware of. I try to take a sip of water and can't catch my breath to do it. I decide to wait a few miles and try again. As I hit Lakeshore Drive I can already see a steady stream of cyclists on their way back in. I can't believe the rate at which they are racing this course. I am not sure of my swim time, but guesstimate it to be around an hour and a half. That sets me way back and I know it, but I am certain that I can make it up on the bike. Unfortunately I feel like I am riding into a wind tunnel and I can't get any speed. I try not to look at my computer, but I can't help noticing I am riding along at 12mph. I'm not going to make up any time like this. Fifteen minutes in I decide to take a gel. I know I exerted a lot harder than I should have had to with the swim and I don't want to bonk from lack of nutrition. I manage down a Tri-Berry Gu and chase it with some water. I keep coughing a wet hacky cough. I can't seem to get the water out of my chest. I think I inhaled most of the lake.

I try to stick with my plan of fluid refills at the aid stations, and solid nutrition/gels every 45 minutes. I can't catch my breath. I'm wheezy and the more I cough the worse it gets, but if I try not to cough I can't breathe.  Finally I pull over for a minute to try and clear my chest. I put down another gel as the Clif bar I tried earlier wouldn't go down. I drink some Gatorade and get back on my bike. I am being passed by everyone. I start to get a little worried when they begin to pass me and say things like "doing good. Keep pushing." That is usually a sign you are not doing so good. I can't seem to catch a break on the wind. And then there are the three hills no one seemed to mention. Okay, I knew about one of them, but the other two were kinda big. I think in the future I will drive the bike course before the race as I am a very visual person and I like to have an idea where the obstacles are and find things that I can use as landmarks to help me judge distances.

I think about what Shells (a training partner) said about how nice it would be to have 7-8 hours of time just to yourself. I am only about three hours into this ordeal and I am kinda tired of just me. At about mile 30 I am convinced I have a flat but can't decide if it's the front or back tire. I just can't seem to get the bike to go any faster. It feels so slow. I pull over at the next aid station to check. They're both fine. A child offers me her half-eaten power bar that she took off the aid table. I decline but say I'd like the Powerade she is holding. She proceeds to open it and takes a sip and walks away. I decide it's an omen and I get a water bottle from the next volunteer instead.

With about 20 miles left in the ride, an 80 year old man pulls up next to me and decides to chat me up for a while. It is his first IM triathlon. His first triathlon ever in fact. He justifies his illegal drafting position to me by saying that we are so far behind that they probably wouldn't even penalize us for holding an illegal position. I keep trying to drop back to follow the rules and allow him to pass, but every time I do he drops back too. Finally he gives up and goes on ahead. I see him later on the side of the road and asks if he's ok. It seems all is well and he just pulled over to eat. He manages to pass me again when he gets back onto the road. I look at my watch. I realize I am probably screwed. If I don't get back in 30 minutes I will have a very hard time getting 13 miles of run in before the cut-off. I give it all I've got and try to push hard and negative split the end of my ride like I had planned. Unfortunately, I was only getting up to about 16 mph which should have been my average speed to begin with.
Entering T2; Bike Time: 3:58:34; Avg. Speed: 14.1 mph
Transition is kinda empty at this point...
I approach transition and once again see my cheering squad. I hear Hill yell "You got it babe but it's gonna be close! Get a move on!" I dismount and try my best to hustle to transition. I change into my running shoes, stick some sports beans in my pockets, grab my visor, and start to run out of transition. I make it half-way down the exit chute and stop to walk. I can't get a good breath. I grab some boiling hot water at the aid station (as by now the ice water is long gone) and take a sip. I try to run again.
Leaving T2: 2:51

I see Dazzle who is cheering me on and running with me. Again I think I'd hate to get penalized for having a pacer, and then realize that I am probably not the main concern of the judges right now. I think I'm gonna puke. I just want to get the water out of my chest. I stop to try and can only spit. I start to walk. Dazzle is trying to get me moving but every time I try to run I start to feel asthmatic. I decide to try and walk the first mile and then try the run again. I say goodbye to my cheerleader and tell her that she is not really missing out on a fun thing by not doing this race. A mile later I see Hill who is cheering for me to get a move on. At this point I am miserable. I have tried to run and I can't get my chest to stop wheezing. We are still near transition and I ask if he can get me my inhaler. He immediately runs to get it. Two friends are racing together and introduce themselves as they pass. One's a nurse and for a minute I ponder asking how to get the damn water out of my chest. They are so sweet and tell me that they will walk/jog with me the whole way. They raced last year and they reported to know how I was feeling. The kept on but said they'd see me again in a bit.

Number One Fan (and worrier as I found out later)
A little while later I hear my name and stop to see Hill waving from a distance and Dazzle running toward me with my inhaler. "You can do this Coug! You can still do this! Virtual Coach says to tell you baby steps. One aid station to the next. She says there is still time." It's mile 3. I'm wheezy. I take some puffs on my inhaler and hand it back to Dazzle. When you have asthma and need to use your inhaler, and finally get your inhaler, don't give it back to the person who brought it to you when you still have 10 miles left to run. The reality of the situation hits me. I know that unless I run a 10 -11 minute mile pace I won't make the cut-off. I start to cry as it hits me that I'm screwed. And then I become more asthmatic as I get emotional, so I pull it together and thank Dazzle for bringing me my inhaler. I continue walking as I hear her shout "I love you Coug!"

At this point of the story is where I will say the real journey begins. Battling the urge to quit, go to the medical tent, flag down my friends and say screw it, or to just keep moving even though I know it is too late to meet any of my goals. I am not sure what I would have done if they had pulled up in their vehicle, or if I had actually seen a medical tent (as I think they all went home). I made it through a few more aid stations that were serving super hot water and gatorade and that were littered with sponges left by previous racers after they squeezed out the ice cold liquid onto their necks. Finally as I approached mile five I saw a group with a banner calling themselves the Ironman Chuggers with an advertisement for a beer company on it. They offered me ice water (finally!) and I told them that the beer logo was false advertising. They offered me a cold beer instead. I hesitated and then decided what the hell! I wasn't gonna make the time I might as well have some fun! So off I went with my ice cold beer, a glass of ice water, and a volunteer who walked with me about a quarter mile telling me I could do this and still finish strong. I think it was the best beer I've had in my life.

Over the next three hours of walking I had time to ponder. I worked on this blog. I noticed how pretty City Park is. How many of you have ever walked all the way through and around it by yourself? Did you know there is a dog park there? They were having so much fun playing in the fire hydrant. Not a care in the world. I realized that this was just a race. Sure it was disappointing that it wasn't turning out how I had planned, but it was just a race. Did you know there is a horse stable around City Park? I met people along the way. I talked to the volunteers and thanked them. I talked to the police officers. I met Gerald, a guy who lives in Memphis now but got his MBA at LSU. He stayed in front of me most of the way and worked really hard to keep running. I walked and kept his pace but I have a quick walk, so when he would stop running to walk I would catch up. He kept at it and I was proud for him. His family was there supporting him and would position themselves every so often so he could run by them. Eventually I started making them cheer for me too because it wasn't fair that he got such a fan-fare from them and I didn't. They complied.

I pondered whether I would ever do this again. My answer was hell no. From this point on I will stick with smaller more manageable races. I thought about my teammates and hoped they were doing better. I was sure they were fine. I thought about my Coach and wondered what she thought about me not finishing like I had planned. I hated to think I was disappointing her. I knew if she were in the same situation she would crawl across the finish but she would finish. I knew I couldn't finish in the time, but I decided I might as well cross the line however long it took. I felt bad for my friends who were there supporting me and knew that when I crossed that line I couldn't feel sorry for myself. They had wonderful races I was sure and should be able to enjoy every minute of the after party.

There was one point where I thought my friends would get a laugh when I could tell them that at least I beat the 82 year old husband and wife relay team. But then they passed me too and I lost out on those bragging rights. I looked at my watch and it said 3:30. That was my cut-off. I shed one more tear and then carried on. I caught up to Gerald and he decided to walk with me for a while since he realized his running ahead was only a temporary gain on me. At one point he looked at his watch and realized that his eight hours had just passed. I told him I was sorry and gave him a few minutes to reflect before we started talking again.

If ever there was a low point during the race, it would have to be when the race director came around and told us that they were closing the course in 10 minutes and if we weren't through we would need to move to the sidewalk to finish. They were removing the cones and the signs from the street, so they gave us verbal directions to get to the finish line. There were three miles left to go, so there was no way we were doing it in 10 minutes. We acknowledged to each other how this was the pinnacle of sucking. We had to estimate when to make the final run in, as he wanted to run the final mile. He made the decision to leave for his final run, which left me having to excuse my way through a sidewalk garage sale (lowest point really), and then past a homeless guitar player who kept singing to me as I walked by. There were a few other racers behind me, but I don't know if they gave up or just were still far back. One or two made a last ditch effort to run it in. I didn't as I didn't see the point in having an asthma attack as I crossed over the finish line (if there even was one I wasn't sure).

Hill clearing the way for me to get a center path to the finish line
As I got to the end of Esplanade and was ready to turn onto Decatur I see Dazzle and Lizzard yelling my name and racing towards me with big grins on their faces. "Come on! The finish is still up! Hill wouldn't let them take it down! You still get a medal! You finished!" Dazzle hands me her cell phone and it is Coach Canada who has been following along virtually and keeping tabs on my progress through Dazzle's updates all day. I apologize for my finish but she seems satisfied with my effort and having her "virtually" there at the finish was a nice touch.

Crossing the finish line

Me and my new friend Gerald

I think I actually made him proud...

The Coug and Lizzard, with whom I could not have done even what I managed
The spectators are gone, the streets are filled only with tourists, but someone manages to announce my name as I cross the finish line for my friends to take some pictures. I see Gerald at the end with his medal and give him a hug. No ice bath, no massage, no party, but good friends to share the moment with and a nice end to a very long journey.

Will I do it again you ask? The answer yesterday was hell no. The answer today is maybe. I feel like I might need to redeem myself and complete what I set out to do which was to finish a Half-IM in the way it was meant to be done. Can I do it? I don't know. It kicked my butt. It is absolutely the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. The athletes who have completed it are my heros. It is not for the faint at heart. It takes work and preparation. It takes resolve and determination. It could possibly be a life-changing moment for those who undertake the challenge. 

So I challenge you ~ race an ironman and live the journey ~ whether you succeed or not, you will grow tremendously. I challenge you.

A gift from Hill

Finishing Time: 9:20:34
Required Time to Finish: 8:00:00
Time To Reflect on the Journey: A Lifetime


  1. you made me CRY~ I am so proud of you! Brent did 5 of these things and almost EVERY time he said NEVER again and THEN by the next day he was talking about a FULL!! I love reading your synopsis and I think it is such an accurate portrayal of the hardest thing EVER! It makes you know what you are made of! ANd i hope you know you are STRONG!!! thanks for sharing your story!!

  2. I read the whole thing and am so proud of you, even though I know you were disappointed about how things turned out. Why am I proud of you? Because you trained for this thing and stuck it out, even when you knew you weren't going to finish in time. And I can't imagine swimming for that long ... with asthma. And then biking and running ... you are one tough lady.

    I'm glad you didn't quit, because you would have regretted it. And that's no way to remember your first big race.

    You did great, and I have the feeling you're going to do another one of these crazy things ... with much better results!

  3. I'm not gonna lie---I cried reading your story. First of all, you are a great writer. However, more than that you are an amazing woman! I think it's actually all the more special that you did finish after all of the "glory" and fanfare had died down. You finished what you started. What an example to your kids!!! So proud of you and impressed by you!

  4. You made me cry too and I AM SO PROUD OF YOU! I am in awe of you being able to remember all of this and write it down as well! The thing that is the best is that you did not give up! Your kids will never be able to say you don't understand when they want to quit something!

  5. I did a Google search for New Orleans 2010 70.3 to see if others had a tough race of if it was just me and I happend across your blog.

    I did this race too! It was a tough swim! I am a new swimmer and it was pretty tough swim! I almost quit after my first breath when a swell went over me! Thought I was drowning. The wind on the way out for the bike was brutal. The ride on the way back in was tough too! You have what ever other person out there had! The will to finish no matter the time! Even after your 8 hours passed you kept going! That takes a lot! A LOT of will and determination. I’m just going to bet I will see you there next year! From reading your blog, you don’t seem like the kind of person to not finish something you have started. It ain’t over yet! So, in good faith I will say, see you there next year!

  6. Thanks so much for your comment Hassan! I have been amazed at the outpouring of kindness towards my struggle on that day. It gets easier with every day that passes when I think about my performance, but you are right, I can't let it go like that. I am "contemplating" my options for another go at it. Thanks for following my blog and I am impressed with your own journey from what I learned from your profile. Congrats with all your hard work, weight loss, learning to swim, and battling alcohol. YOU are truly inspiring!

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