New Orleans and Texas 70.3's

6th Pro New Orleans

9th Pro Texas

New Orleans 70.3 looks good” said I, to my coach Lubos, “but so does Texas 1 week later: which one should I do?”

“You do both.”

We arrived in New Orleans to my hotel of choice: a mingballs Super 8 motel overlooking a 3-lane turbo-charged highway. A notoriously light sleeper, I used silicone earplugs combined with headphones that warbled out heavy rain ‘ambience’ to shut out the noise. It kind of worked.

Due to my questionable selection, we nearly missed the true spirit of New Orleans entirely. Thankfully a couple of days later we stumbled across the French Quarter and our perceptions changed completely. Art, live music, street performers on every corner, voodoo, good food… an abundance of serious talent resides in New Orleans, alongside the all day drinking culture! Link to photos here

New Orleans’ French Quarter

It’s a seriously amazing place that I would recommend to anyone. People are vibrant, living to enjoy life and doors are wide open.

First up on the agenda for me was New Orleans 70.3. I finished 6th with an ok showing in all 3 disciplines: despite my best intentions, nothing seemed to click on the day. After initially coming to a halt due to various intense aches, my run got faster and faster every 5k… A sign of strength perhaps, but that’s also like doing the last rep in training super fast because you’ve skived all the rest of the main set! I vowed to really push on next time.

It was pretty uneventful; quite a lonely affair as many of these races are becoming. 6th place was reasonable. Not a disaster but not setting the world alight. On to the next one!

I knew to do two 70.3’s in 7 days was a tall order for me, despite my coach’s belief that women can recover faster than men! I’ve always been slow to recover. Last year I couldn’t walk for days after every race. I knew self-management would be critical in order to pull this off. Using 'Nutrition X' as my main source of recovery fuel, alongside supplementation such as glucosamine, fish oil, msm, magnesium, zinc and BioKult pro biotic, I armed myself as best I could. Rest, massage and small swim/bikes were also the order of the day.

Two days out from the race was the earliest I could reintroduce running. It did not go well – 21 minutes of stop/start shuffling, but it was important to force the issue and get things moving a bit.

We took our time road-tripping on to Texas 70.3, held in the watery, windy region of Galveston. A totally different vibe to N.O. but a very cool place to stay for a few days – surrounded by sea and surf.

I checked the start list a few days before. Like all things American, it was BIG!

My recovery was as good as I could have hoped, and I went into the next race relaxed and ready. The swim improved – I was just 2 mins down on the big hitters instead of 5! It was non-wetsuit and I have really enjoyed training in my Xterra speedsuit: they do make a significant difference compared to normal cossies, so it was good to test it under race conditions and bank my first non-wetsuit swim for around 9 years!

The bike was ok: some women are just too strong right now but I wasn’t totally ridiculously awful.

It was a straight line: 28 miles out, 28 miles back; one of those courses where you look forward to turning round to get out of the headwind, only to turn and get a stronger headwind! Gurr. I could’ve sat in a bit (being 12 metres behind someone, which is the minimum gap allowed, still provides a pacer and some drafting benefit) but I wanted to push on and give everything. I was flat starting the run but in good spirits. I have been tired before and had amazing runs, so you just never know.

On the run: Texas 70.3

Pelting out at sub 6 minute mile pace – my attitude being far more gung-ho than the week previous – I lasted all of 1 mile before my leg seized up again. After a bit of walking, I eased back in, but you simply cannot afford any silly mincing about in a pro 70.3. Thankfully, given my ultra running experience, I know I CAN keep going. Of course, the legs came back but I was very empty despite fuelling well. In my zombified state, I drip-fed energy drink and ticked off the miles. My boyfriend looked concerned. He even ran a few paces beside me to check I was ok (Darren does not ‘do running’). “I want to get my finish medal” I squawked, as he contemplated pulling me. You dream of podiums and glory, but when reality smacks you in the face, simply finishing is what it’s all about. It did get better.

Time ticked on and I kept plodding onward. Some women even came back to me. I was 8th out the swim, fronting a pack making up 9th-12th on the bike, and finished 9th at the end of the run. My swim was the best bit – come again??

Sitting down beside the women’s winner of New Orleans, Sarah, who finished 5th in Texas, we concluded that our plan was veering towards crazy, but good Ironman training!

Two top 10’s and a similar showing in the second race. Lots of positives to take away.

So far this year, I am not enjoying blitzing up races like I did this time last year. Admittedly they were cherry picked for victories, but there is no doubt I was running better.

Here’s the thing.

I was destroyed after those races. It took 2-3 weeks to get back to running properly. My swimming was poor and my cycling was dodgy. If someone had told me to race again the next week I would have eaten them. This year, I am filling in those blanks: in training, swimming is finally going better than ever, and it’s just starting to show in racing, now that I am getting used to the open water again (which is a different kettle of fish). Cycling feels unquestionably stronger too, but that comes with a temporary price to pay, and my running is flat.

My recovery time is faster than ever: the strength is there, and that’s exciting. To race Ironman you need to be a complete athlete, and to have a career, you must be strong and resilient: you cannot race sparingly.

Racing two in quick succession also meant I was too tired to drum up that nervous energy that typically builds a few days beforehand. I had it an hour before the race, and that is all that’s required. It can be a bit destructive. I am positive I will be a tougher, more unaffected racer from now on. It’s a long road to being a top pro!

It has been a great trip, a real learning curve once again, and I look forward to the next one.

Many thanks to my sponsors for making this happen. Not long now!

Check out: EntryCentral, CurrexSoleUK, Evo Tri Club, Gould Publication Papers, Jackoatbar, Dassi Bikes, Walker Bros Wheels, Drummond Clinic Physiotherapy, Xterra Wetsuits andNutrition X who are all amazingly supportive and have plenty to offer. If you like the look of anything you see, get in touch at alicehectortraining@live.co.uk and I can offer advice and should be able to offer an ‘Alice special’ promo/discount code.

Alice Hector / alice tri / alicehector / Triathlon / Uncategorized

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