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|2010 New Orleans 70.3 by Jim Dicker|
It’s still cold back in Wisconsin.
The New Orleans 70.3 weekend could not have happened without two formidable personalities, Jesse Leblanc and Joe Lotus. Jesse is the proprietor of the Green House Inn, and a developing triathlete. Joe is...well JOE, triathlete, bike mechanic and impresario extraordinaire. Jesse and Joe managed to herd cats all weekend and get a talented and inspired group of athletes to and from workouts, meals and the race. Many of us were coached by Training Bible Coaching or had some connection with it. Those racing included Joe, Sam and Liz Hill, Ramon Macias, Susan Phillips, Keith Bowersox, Erin Finnegan, Erin Finnegan (not a typo, but sisters-in-law), Keith Morgan, Andy Nesheim and me. There was also a large contingent of supporters including Kelly Murawski, Amber Macias, Ramon’s and Amber’s cousin and parents, Mike from Dallas, and Jay Finnegan, Erin’s brother and Erin’s husband. Now, you can understand the almost impossible job of cat herding accomplished by Jesse and Joe.
From this relatively small field of competitors emerged 5 of 50 qualifiers for the world championships in Clearwater. Not a bad showing considering that over 2500 people raced. Keith, Joe, Andy and I will be going, and Erin, (sister) has greater challenges to meet and declined the spot. Two others were doing their first 70.3’s and had great races. Erin, (sister-in-law), doing her first triathlon finished in 5:30. Look out for her in future races. I think there’s a trip in Kona on the horizon. Kevin had a fast bike leg, and with his running talent will be a force when he learns to balance all three events.
New Orleans is still recovering from Katrina, but it’s made amazing strides. Magazine Street in the Garden District is a thriving mix of restaurants and shops as well as home to the Green House Inn. The French Quarter, site of the race finish, appears to be all the way back. Unfortunately, there are many other areas of the city that are still suffering. I was told that the population is only half that of pre-Katrina levels. As other disasters continue to occur around the planet, we should not forget our fellow countrymen and women that are still in need down in NOLA.
Now for the important stuff. Let’s try to remember that as my amazingly supportive wife Polly says, “It’s all about me.” I was a bit apprehensive going into this one. During the process of tying to improve my running form, I have been experiencing a series of calf issues. For the eight days leading up to the race, I had not run a stride. I was advised by my coach, Adam Zucco to skip the whole thing. My PT, Kathy Howell felt that we were making progress, and that it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try. So there I was in the 11th way, starting almost an hour behind the pros. The water was rough. Even Andy Potts, perhaps the best swimmer among all pros said it was a bit daunting out there. He was almost 3 minutes slower than normal. I was a bit slower than that.
Once out of the water, I was quickly out on the bike and into the wind. This was not all bad news, it meant that I would probably be blown back on the return to transition. I never felt right on the bike. I could not keep up the power, but I kept passing people. Given that I started behind so many groups, this really was not indicative of anything. The course is very flat and heads out from the shores of Lake Ponchetrain to the bayous east of there. The roads are almost dead flat with the occasional overpass resulting in slight grades or accidents, (just check out Joe Lotus’ Facebook). I felt a bit better as I made the turn for the final dash back to T2.
I was quickly out on the run. I did not feel too bad a first. I felt the usual stiffness in my right calf, but it never really effected my performance. The sun was pretty hot. My inability to train the run consistently since last October were the cause of a very uncomfortable day. It is amazing how the proximity of the finish line can change everything. My last quarter mile was the fastest of the day. I just wanted to get it over with. I was expecting to find Joe and Jesse at the finish, but they were no where to be found. When we finally met up, I quickly realized what had happened. Joe had suffered an awful crash at mile 50, but he managed to get up, finish the bike one handed, and completed the run, qualifying for the World Championships at Clearwater...all with a separated shoulder. Over an hour after I finished as we were walking to the awards ceremony, Polly called with congratulations. I asked why. She thought I was kidding, but I had not seen any results. It turned out that I had won my age group by 26 minutes and qualified for Clearwater.
The most amazing aspect of the this whole experience was waking up on Monday morning with absolutely no stiffness or pain in my right calf. I guess that whatever was the evil calf spirt was exorcised in New Orleans. The world is a strange and dangerous place