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Jensine Fraser: New Orleans 70.3 Race Report

When my alarm went off at 3am on race day. I went to turn the light on - no power. The winds were crazy and it had taken out power in the neighborhood. Not only did the lights not work but this would also mean that I had no coffee. Nooo!!!!

I didn’t panic. I just took a couple deep breaths, used the light from my phone and started getting ready as best as I could see. I got to transition early and parked. I was very close to transition which is exactly what I wanted because I would need to go back to the car to drop off my stuff. I set up my area and got in and got out. At this point it was announced that the water temp in the lake was 77 degrees it would be not be wetsuit legal. Chaos ensured and the riots began. I can’t believe how many people rushed over to the Ironman official telling him that he was wrong about the temp in the lake. Calm down people! I was just happy I remembered to pack my swim skin. 

I want back to the car and took about a 20 minute nap. I got to transition around 4:30 so I had about an hour to kill before I needed to go back to transition to leave my car keys. The winds were whipping. 
When I went back to transition with about 20 minutes before it closed I was so happy that I didn’t spend much time in there. You could cut the tension like a knife. 

As I stood in line for the porta potty - the Ironman official started giving updates on the swim. The winds were pounding and the safety boats were having a hard time making it to the swim course. The city had given the race permission to start late to see what the water would do. Everyone headed towards swim start and we waited for more announcements. The decision was made to not cancel the swim but rather to shorten it to 600 meters. Again, more complaining. I was just calm and ready for anything. I trust the officials and if it’s not safe, it’s not safe. These same people would have complained if the swim was cancelled. 

There was an athlete next to me with his wife and mother. The mother was kind and asked me if I was cold. I told her I was ok. She than asked me if I was here by myself. I responded yes and she made a really sad face. “no one is here to watch you?” I told her No but that I was ok. They were from Miami so they were really cold. She reminded me of my grandmother. 

Fast forward to the point where I’m jumping in to the water. This was a seeded start so I walked out to the platform and GO! I jumped in the water. The swim course was easy. Head to the first buoy and take a right, straight to next buoy and right to the swim exit, easy peasy. Getting to the first buoy was fast and I was feeling really strong until I rounded the buoy. HOLY.SHIT.

The waves here high and the whitecaps were pounding. Doing freestyle was difficult because you were just getting crushed by the whitecaps. I started to breaststroke pieces along with everybody else. I could only laugh at how hysterical this looked. I kept aiming towards the buoy making great time until I turned to my left.

A woman’s head was bobbing up and down and there was extreme panic in her face. I almost moved forward but something wasn’t right and I couldn’t. I stopped, treaded water, and turned to her. 
“Are you ok?”
“No”
I went to move forward and paused again.
“Do you need help”
“Yes. I can’t breathe”

She started to sink and couldn’t hold herself up. I couldn’t leave her like that as people passed her. I swam toward her, grabbed her under her arms and held her in a lifeguard hold while I yelled for the kayaker. 
“Thank you” she whispered as best as she could in my ear. I waited for the kayaker to come to us and I kept telling the woman to breathe.

As soon as she held on to the kayak I took off and finished the course. The current was so bad that the volunteers at the swim exit were coast guard and were pulling people out. 

T1 took me longer than I would have liked. I think I was still in a little shock to what happened out in the swim course. I got my shit together and made my way. I had a hard time clipping in to my pedal and I did some breathing. I finally got on and took off. The first 5 miles were fast. I was feeling really good and fired up. This was going to be epic. Until...

Boom. All of a sudden I felt like I was pedaling through quicksand. There was the 20 mph headwind. My mental game was here. I took everything as it came. 20 minutes it took me to go 5 miles. Yes the course was flat but damn those winds. I started telling myself that this was what the sport was about. I can’t compare race to race as the conditions are different so just give it all you got. I made my way through the headwinds, took advantage of no wind and flew on the tail wind. This was going to be 2 loops so I had to make the best of it. I knew nutrition was important but I also knew that I had to take in more on this race. It wasn’t that hot but the sun was fierce, the winds were strong and there was no shade. I drank every 5 minutes taking advantage when I could as you would be tossed around at times . I played cat and mouse with a few athletes that would pass me for than me to get out of draft zone and take them over. This happened for most of the course. The course wasn’t particularly beautiful but it was a closed course and parts were on the highway which I had never done before so that was cool. I missed the first aid station because I still had full bottles. At that point I forced myself to take big drinks every 5-10 minutes and each time it was safe. I grabbed gatorade at every aid station after the first and didn’t stray from the plan. 

My HR was slightly higher than I would have liked but I really tried keeping it under control and move with it. I finished the bike in about 3:05 which is slightly longer than I had hoped but I was ok with it. I crushed what I could and let up when I needed. I didn’t let EGO take over which was really easy on this bike course. There were some bridges but mostly flat and good roads. I didn’t let my mind tell me anything because it was all about stillness and that is exactly what happened. I couldn’t stop peeing on the bike. I was really bloated but I think it is because I take in so much fluid and I can’t pee it all out. I actually peed while pedaling and did a little happy dance - never done that before. 

I got in to transition - racked my bike and grabbed my ziplock bag. I took out my race belt first - got that one - and slowly got the rest on before getting to the first aid station. I was really focused on just finding rhythm and collecting myself on the first mile. I threw out my bag, grabbed ice and threw it down my back and grabbed some gatorade. 

First mile - 9:23. I was shocked! I mean I was feeling good but I wasn’t feeling that I was at that pace but I checked my HR and carried on. HR was all good so I went with it. I kept my HR at mid z2 for the first couple of miles and my paces were on point and I was really excited. I than realized that the aid stations were really spaced far apart - I want to say about every 3 miles which really was not cool. I was tip toeing my HR at the top of z2 unit mile 6 - that was the plan. I pushed it a bit harder. The sun was beaming. Again it wasn’t that it was hot but the sun was intense and there was no relief. There was no shade, no ice at aid stations and to top it all off - the run was an out and back  twice and they used the same aid station for both directions! The aid stations were a cluster and chaotic and you were running in to people. The volunteers were doing the best they could and I’m not placing blame but it was hard for them to keep up. I used water down my back and in my hat and that is all I could do. 

My paces kept getting better and better and I just kept repeating “solar powered,” whatever it takes” and just really positive thoughts. I had done this in training - I can do it now. Mile 8 - the alert on my watch went off - PICK IT UP!. I started bringing my HR up - crap - now I have a side stitch starting to form. I told it to SHUT THE F UP and after a few minutes it went away. I saw Averi on the run and cheered her on. The run was mostly flat with some hills and a big bridge that we had to go over twice. I took it one step at a time. I was determined at this point to hit sub 2. Whatever it takes. I was about at 1:40 when I really started digging deep. I was almost there, only a few miles left. It started to hurt. It hurt real bad but I zoned out. I wasn’t going to miss this by a few seconds.

Over the bridge and brought it home. I could hear the finish line and I was hot and my legs hurt and but I kept digging and I had just flew.

1:57.  I couldn’t believe it. I crossed the finish line and couldn’t believe it. My knees collapsed from underneath me and I grabbed the chair and sat down. The guy next to me was talking to the med team saying how cold he was and they were actively trying to get him warm. I turned, gave him a weird look and said “How you are cold, I’m SO HOT.” 

One of the paramedics looked at me and asked if I was hot. I said yes and he took me in the tent out of the sign. He asked if I had anything to drink and I told him yes. 

“Are you feeling nauseous?”
“Yes”
“lie down, get her some fluids” and the needle went in.

I was down for about 15 minutes with an IV with fluids and they kept asking if was starting to feel cold. I wasn’t and than I was freezing. They brought me back in sun and I felt so much better. They let me go. 

I was so happy and in shock. My boyfriend texted me how proud he was for breaking that 2 as he has seen my struggle but all along has told me I can do it but I just wasn’t pushing myself hard enough. 

I slowly gathered my things and made my way to the car. I hung out for a bit and reflected on the day. It was amazing. I made my way back home, grabbed food, showered and went back to the French Quarter for a haunted tour, because when in New Orleans you can’t leave without a haunted tour. I grabbed a quick slice of pizza and after the tour went to dinner with another woman I met on the tour. 

What a great way to end the season. Not only did I travel to a new place but I did it myself. I proved to myself that I was able to push it without having people there with me. I’m happy no one was there, actually, because the course was so boring for spectators and there was no shade. 

Now on to 2019 and what that has in store. I proved a lot to myself this season and the confidence has really kicked up. Now that I’ve hit sub 2 now it’s about keeping it there and moving forward. I know I can do this and I’m not done. 
 

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