New Orleans IM 70.3 (No) Race Weekend Recap
So, this wasn’t the race recap I was hoping to write. In fact, I can’t really call it a race recap because there wasn’t a race to recap. But we’ll get to that. I’ll give you a weekend recap instead, because a weekend we had.
First off, travel triathlons are a huge hassle. You’ll find this statement somewhat ironic by the end of this post, but we’ll get to that too. You may want to take a bathroom break, fill your drink – this is a long one. Anyway, take an already anxious person and add the possibility of flights that could be missed, luggage that could be lost, equipment that could break, a weather forecast that read 100% chance of rain, and a massive physical feat to accomplish – you can imagine I was doing some deep breathing exercises.
Ever wonder what it takes to fly with bikes?
So far so good. We got up Saturday morning, fueled up on iced coffee and breakfast delicious sandwiches and headed over to the Marina to test out the waters and get our bikes racked. The water felt perfect, a bike mechanic was kind enough to look my bike over for free and gave it a clean bill of health, and despite the forecast for rain the weather stayed nice all day.
Yummy breakfast from Krewe du Brew
We ate a healthy lunch and hit up Wal-Mart for supplies to make my traditional pre-race dinner.
We even made it to a Halloween parade!
We lay out all our race stuff and set the alarm for 5:00 am. After pessimistically stalking multiple weather reports all week, I was finally feeling a bit more optimistic.
When our alarm went off, I could already hear rain. This was the first bad sign, since the forecast had predicted it would hold off until at least 10 am. We ate, packed our bags, wrapped everything that needed to stay dry in plastic and set out. By the time we approached the Marina, we could see lighting flashing in the sky. But maybe it would pass, we thought, still holding out hope.
It was pouring on the walk to transition and there was already speculation among athletes of whether the race would be modified. One relay swimmer even said she hoped it would so she could be off the hook (I seethed). Morale was pretty low by the time we got to transition, and they quickly announced a delay. There was lightening all around now, and multiple storms rolling through. I stood by my bike soaked and defeated, but still waiting for the official word. Finally, once they ran out of songs about rain, the race director came on sounding serious and told us that for the first time in his 39 years of experience, they were completely cancelling an event. The disappointment in the crowd was palpable.
There’s nothing like waiting in line to get out of the transition area for a race you never got to start – or a longer line if you want to claim the medal for a race you never got to finish. I found myself struggling to find empathy for athletes who were complaining about the $300 down the drain when we’d spent thousands to get there ($700 AirBnb + $600 flights + $300 to check bikes both ways + $150 for a rental car – oh, and then there’s the stupid t-shirt we impulsively spent $32 on because they had our names on them!). This race was special to us – not only was to be our first, but it fell on our wedding anniversary – why we’d signed up to begin with. When we finally got back to the car, Courtney got down on one knee and reproposed with a beautiful rose gold ring (I have good taste!) – something he’d wanted to do at the finish line. While it would be easy to feel bad for ourselves after all the time and money we sunk into this race, at that moment we decided to focus instead on all we have to be thankful for – in sunshine and in stormy weather.
A lot of athletes were pretty salty about the cancellation, complaining that the race had been called too soon. The thing is, they made the call they had to make in the moment and there’s no doubt in my mind they made the right one. In fact, given the conditions I’m glad they did because I’m not a very confident biker, and had they let us I would have felt I had to try to bike on a wet course which could have had a not so pretty outcome.
Parts of the bike and run course were flooded, and a second wave of storms came in when many athletes would have still been on the course. As far too many know, New Orleans is not the place to play truth or dare with the weather. I couldn’t help but think how many people in New Orleans suffered much, much more devastating tragedy at the hands of weather than a cancelled race, and still the city came back with determination and spirit. We as athletes owe it to New Orleans to do the same.
By the time we got back to the house, the skies had cleared and it was a beautiful sunny day. We still had quite a bit of pent up energy, so we set out on a run to City Park, with no sun screen and no water like the geniuses we are. After much frustration, we finally found what seemed to be the only water fountain in the whole park and proceeded to bath in it. We put in a solid 13 miles, not an easy task in the day’s heat and humidity.
We had a healthy vegan lunch – complete with the most amazing lime-cilantro margarita with pureed avocado – and made our way to the World War II Museum.
Before I’d even booked us a place to stay, I’d made reservations at Coquette – my favorite restaurant my mom and I ate at during our last trip – and was once again completely blown away by the meal. We didn’t have a single course that didn’t elicit an, “oh my god!” a “wow” or a muffled grunt.
Monday we were determined to put our bikes to use, having spent an enormous amount of time and money to get them there. We discovered the Mississippi River Trail, a smoothly paved bike trail that goes for 60 miles or so. The weather was ironically perfect – sunny, with almost no humidity. We rode a smooth but windy 50 miles, ending at Domilise’s where we shared a shrimp and oyster po’boy, Voo Doo chips and two icy cold Abitas.
We had an awesome time at dinner in the French Quarter with my friend Andrea and her boyfriend. They headed home, but we decided to take advantage of the fact it wasn’t a school night for us and catch some live music on Frenchman Street. It was hoppin’, even on a Monday!
Monday, as we were wandering around hopped up on sugar from an obligatory visit to Cafe Du Monde, we finally got the promised e-mail from the race organizers. They didn’t offer us a refund, but they did offer us each a $50 entry into IM 70.3 Austin… which was in five days. After a quick check of the weather forecast in Austin, an generous offer from Team Parent, and a couple conversations along the lines of “would you fire me if…” we bit the bullet and registered. We’re on a plane headed for Austin as I write this, and it feels a lot like Groundhog Day. I only hope my next recap will buck that trend!
Also, here are a bunch of pictures of the ridiculous food we ate at Shaya, after emerging from our beignet coma.