New Orleans 70.3 Relay Race Report

This weekend had the perfect start to my newest race-cation! (I’ve had a history of these:  Disney Princess, Las Vegas, Amsterdam… to name a few)  This time, New Orleans.  A warm locale was NECESSARY after the ridiculous winter we had.  And with triathlon, especially long course triathlon like the 70.3 distance, a relay was a great option.

There were a bunch of Chicago-ans from two tri clubs that I knew who were in town (go Chicago Tri Club & Trimonsters!) so this felt like a little party down south.



The Ironman NOLA 70.3 expo was what I envisioned from my experience at Racine, although I have to say I was pleasantly surprised at the smaller scale of the event.  It was a nice change of pace and a perfect way to open up the season!

Crawfish Boil


Saturday we did the normal things: Brunch, packet pickup, bike drop-off, and crawfish boil. Just the normal stuff :)  Low key and headed to bed at a reasonable hour.  Dinner:  Crawfish Boil mid-afternoon and a bowl of pasta later.  

Race Day: 

The early morning had pretty much the normal morning.  I brought my favorite cereal with me from Chicago (Panda Puffs, if you care to know!) and had that with almond milk.

I wasn’t too nervous going into the race, although I was curious to see how competitive I’d be in the swim. Our team had originally set out some ambitious, competitive, goals that we modified down as the race got closer.  No- we probably weren’t going to win the relay.  Could we get top 3? We weren’t sure about that either.  I was racing with a really good cyclist and a really good runner, so I was also feeling some of the performance anxiety of trying to keep up their competitiveness.

We got to the site and it was nice that I didn’t have to do any worrying about bike prep or transition space setup.  Just get my swim stuff together and hide my other sh** to the side in a bag.

The swim had an interesting course:



A kind of modified “M”.  Since we were doing the relay (wave 5) I decided to hang with the peeps to watch the pro’s go off.  10 feet from Andy Potts again? Uh, yes please.  I then got in line for my wave, and realized I should figure out how to look at the course and sight.  Uh, race foul by not remembering to do that before the race starts.

NOLA 70.3 is a time-trial start, so even though there were closer to 100 teams in the relay wave, they send only 8 people off every 10 seconds, jumping off of a pontoon in the harbor.  I have the same type of time-trial start at Louisville, so I was glad to have this experience before then!

RaceNOLA Race Morning

Swimming is the most static of the three sports, so here’s what you need to know on my swim:

  • I jumped into the harbor to start my first open-water swim in over 6 months.
  • Water was not as a cold as I’d thought it might be  - good
  • The harbor is a marina, and there was a good bit of gasoline in the water that you could smell and taste – bad
  • I was effective at starting my swim strategy right away (sight every 3 + breathing pattern) – good
  • I did not know how many buoys to the turnaround – bad.
  • I did not get a cramp – good
  • I could not see due to the sun in my eyes for about 600 m.  I should have worn my tinted goggles. – Bad

I finished off faster than my Racine 70.3 swim last year, but not quite as fast as I’d hoped I would .


Post-swim in a triathlon relay you sit around and wait for your teammates to finish.  Dave was out on the bike for almost 3 hours, so there was some napping and chatting with other athletes.  When Mike headed out for the run, we had to skedaddle over to the race finsih since it was not in the same location as the start & transition.
The finish line & party there at NOLA was quite nice — we enjoyed the most thorough post-race massages, red beans & rice, and beer at the end of the race!

FINAL TIME:  41:11 / 5:04:22 (Swim / Overall)

AVERAGE PACE:  1:57 /100yd

NEXT RACE:  13.1 Chicago Half , 6.7.2014

Three Things Thursday

Run with me on June 7 at the Michelob 13.1 Chicago Half Marathon!  Enter my giveaway to win a free registration!

1. I’m done with my big tests for this week! Swim Test, check. Bike test, check. Pretty big improvements on both (although I wonder if I tested poorly the first time on the swim…)
I upped my watts by 10% on the bike, and dropped my swim time by 11 seconds per hundred meters.  I thought it would be good to do a check point on my Ironman big hairy ass goals:

  • I’m 30% closer to my 30 minute swim goal at the half iron distance! The race is in two weeks though, so not sure I’ll get it for the big relay of NOLA 70.3. Perhaps for my June 70.3.
  • Bike speed goal: I am making progress. I haven’t been outside yet (on my bike, this year), and my indoor speeds vary depending on the workout. We’re not focused on speed as much as power & overall fitness. I’m improving on both of those!
  • Training Consistency:  I am making this a week-by-week goal.  This week, goal to complete all workouts unless otherwise dictated by the allowed “Shamrock Shuffle” adjustments.

2. Emma has been “generally unimpressed” lately. With food, with me coming home. Remember when she used to be a cutie and greet me at the door?! Now she hangs out upstairs and just meows when I get up there.


3. I’m so looking forward to the Shamrock Shuffle this weekend! This race has a special spot in my heart (and on my finger!). I’ve decided to race this all out and see how fast I can go right now. I hope to PR (faster than 9:03 pace), and I’d love to go close to a 43:00… Sub 8:51 pace. Eek. I haven’t done a ton of speedy running lately, so this will be an interesting day!.


Triathlon Tuesday: Swim Golf

It’s almost warm enough to golf, eh?:)

Each week I do a few swim workouts.  Two are masters swim practices, and one is a swim technique class with my Ironman training group.  Last week we worked on swim golf.

What is that? It’s a way of finding your sweet spot in terms of how many strokes you take to go the distance as quickly as possible.  Kind of like cadence on a bike or running.  But in the swim, you play the game a little differently:].

Swim golf – or SWOLF – is an interesting drill, intended to measure efficiency in swimming. It’s important to understand how to use it correctly. Here’s the drill (source):

  1. Swim one length of the pool
  2. Count the number of strokes you take
  3. Get your time (in seconds)
  4. Take the sum of (2) and (3). That is your SWOLF score.
  5. Repeat steps 1-4, trying different combinations of stroke rate, stroke length, and effort. Which combinations produce the lowest score?
Don't just power through your stroke - be efficient (source)

Don’t just power through your stroke – be efficient (source)


I found this workout to be challenging, and am still trying to figure out my numbers.

Have you ever played Swim Golf?