The Crawfishman Triathlon in Bush, LA is a fun, locally focused race in a beautiful part of the extended New Orleans metro area.
This year was especially fun for me because I got to race with Joseph, my 15 year old and his teammate Rudy, 14. Joseph and Rudy are both on the Nth Degree Youth Triathlon team.
I tend to be a little over-cautious about being on time for races — I’ve never had any issues, but perhaps my worry has made that reality — so Joseph and I left the house around 5, arriving at the race site, Grande Hills Estates in Bush, LA around 6.
Grande Hills Estates is a beautiful subdivision in Horse country with a nice lake in the middle. The land on which the bulk of the race’s fixed operations sit is owned by a family who has been supporting the race for years. In fact, the barn looking structure where one picks up their packet and where they prep the awards seems to be their RV garage. It’s a pretty enviable home site. You just have to want to live an hour or more from downtown NOLA.
I really enjoy the community and camaraderie of the New Orleans triathlon scene. There are a few small to midsize teams, and some of the brands who sponsor have pretty good contingents out at most races. Today we were racing under the banner of Nth Degree, but I was sporting the GNO Tri kit.
Other teams and brands we see frequently include:
There are plenty of open group training events, and a lot of fellowship among the teams. One interesting note: there are no teams on which I don’t see people of all sizes and shapes.
OK. So back to the race. Having completed Ironman 70.3 Florida only 6 weeks ago and having had some good training since I was feeling pretty good to push my pace a little in Crawfishman.
1000 Yard Swim
The race starts with a 1000 yard lake swim which this year was self-seeded by planned completion time. I lined up between 2:15 and 2:30 per hundred yards and Joseph and Rudy headed up to the fast area — around 1:30 / 100 yards.
The swim was uneventful and fun. I managed a 2:21 / 100 for a total of 26 minutes. Oddly this is 20 seconds longer per 100 than in the 70.3 even though I felt like I was working a lot harder – must have been the wetsuit in Florida. This will warrant further analysis.
Oh! Two aggravating things about the swim: 1. There are little pokey burrs in the grass on the way to the lake. So, you have to softshoe your way to the entry to keep them from sticking. And, 2. On entering the water, it’s a small hop down into the mud and knee high water and then about 10 feet in it drops off, and then another 10 feet further on it gets knee high again. It’s manageable but a bit of a pain if you’re not ready for it.
Aside from that it’s a beautiful lake which, even when you have a leaky goggle, as I did, doesn’t burn your eyes.
I can’t wait to see the official results, but both of my transitions on my watch were both around 1:15 minutes.
18 Mile Bike
Like Ironman 70.3 Florida, the bike starts on a slight uphill so it pays to be in an easier gear when you start.
And, as always, if you’re going to start with your shoes already clipped in the straps have to be arranged in an easy-entry way. In other words, mine weren’t so getting my left shoe on while on the move was a bigger pain than it should have been.
Once on the course, the roads are smooth, and the ride takes you through nice rolling hills, none of which has a grade big enough to require your small chainring.
I went back and forth a few times with some other riders, but was mostly passing. My final average speed was 18.3 MPH which meant I finished the bike in under an hour, which was my goal. I definitely caught myself pushing a few times and I might have gone a little too hard as evidenced by my run time 🙂
In all, my ride was just shy of 59 minutes.
4 Mile Run
If ever we’re talking about triathlon, please say to me “remember, Will, go out easy. You’ll have a better run that way”. In other words, my first mile was 11:54, my last mile was 12:01 and in between was a sh*tshow. My overall average, per Garmin, was a 12:55, so you can do the math. And, given the disparity between my watch and the course markers, the last mile was actually a sub-12, too (my watch said 4.05 miles with the last split, i.e. .05 miles at a 9:34 pace).
The worst part was that at those times when I could feel myself slowing I would do an inventory and ask myself what was going on. I couldn’t come up with anything particularly good aside from my heart rate being a little high.
Like I said, I think I just went out a little too fast and then lacked the intestinal fortitude to keep it up.
In the last mile, however, I started searching for what I needed to do to keep going and wound up with this: this, every race, and every training event between are part of my journey to Ironman. And as I discovered in an event last week, there are a couple reasons why that matters.
And then, at the very end, Caleb met me on the course and ran me in which is always the best!
So, why triathlon, and most particularly why Ironman:
One: I’m setting an example for my children.
Two: I’m doing something really hard, which requires a lot of work, and for which I can delegate nothing. It’s all me. OK. It’s not really all me. I couldn’t do it without Angie’s love and support, without good coaching and good fortune. But when rubber meets road, literally, that’s me.
This is a beautiful location for an after-party. As is often the case at races, vegan options weren’t abundant, or even present, really. And, with Michelob Ultra as the premier sponsor, uh, you know.
It was great to race with these kids. Rudy is a pretty amazing athlete, and Joseph is getting there himself. He was running on an injured achilles tendon or he would have beaten me by more I’m sure. This was the first race in which he’s beaten me. It was by 4 seconds, no kidding.
You see those cups in their hands? Those were the “medals”. Joe and Rudy each took their age group. OK, they were the only participants in their age group, but hey! I didn’t get a cup.
In short, my lessons learned on this one were: toughen up! And, go easier in the first mile of the run. And, of course, I’m an incredibly lucky guy to be able to engage in this sport with my first-born. And in July, with our second-born, too at the Bay St. Louis Triathlon, for Caleb’s first non-kid tri.
Thanks to all of you who are reading this. It means a lot if you got this far. Please give me your feedback and share this. Keep in mind, that my path to Ironman started with open-heart surgery and I’m hopeful that other people my age can see that there’s always a better way.