Hello, my name is Chad Soileau and the following
is my account of running the 2008 Louisiana Triathlon in New Roads,
Louisiana. Just over 2 years ago I weighed 464 pounds and running a
triathlon, much less 10 feet would have been an impossible task for
me. I've always dreamed of running the Louisiana Triathlon and today
I would get my chance.
I met a quite a few guys I hadn't met before at
the BR Tri carbo load / new member social on the Thursday evening
before the LA Triathlon. One conversation stands out in my mind. I'm
by no means a veteran or an expert on triathlons. I have 5 under my
belt now including the LA Triathlon but one of the new members asked
me a very interesting question and I thought I could offer a pretty
"I've been swimming in the pool at the Y now
training and LA Tri will be my first triathlon. I've never done an
open water swim. Is there much of a difference between open water
swimming and the pool?" he asked.
I calmly removed the smile from my face and told
the poor lad that he was going to drown. Heh heh. Not really. I
bestowed my experiences on him and hopefully gave him at least a
little bit of an insight into the differences between open water
swimming and pool swimming. The only comparison between the two is
that both activities are done in a liquid substance. The comparison,
at least for me, ends there.
I prepared my transition bag, checked my bike and
loaded up before bed Friday evening. Little to no sleep for my
pre-race night is the standard and who was I to mess with tradition
for the LA Tri. I got a couple hours of sleep but nothing more than
I arose at 5AM, dressed and was out the door for
5:15. The drive to New Roads took 45 minutes and I arrived just as
transition was opening. I picked up my race packet and was pleased to
find that Kenny Dunnaway, the race director for LA Tria, had honored
my request and given me 464 as my race number for the day. Thanks
a fellow BRTri member who was volunteering for the race scrawled 464
in black marker on both my arms and my right leg. I found a good
spot for my transition area and began laying out my gear. I forgot
my earplugs again. Actually I forget my earplugs at every race so I
guess it's now tradition to leave them at home. I chatted with Beth
and the BR Tri members until it was time to get into race mode. They
opened the water to warm-up at 7:30 and I took advantage of this
time. I swam out to the first buoy and back with no effort. Could my
swim today be different than my other open water race experiences?
8AM was upon me before I knew it and unlike my
other races we were given pretty much no starting warning. I was
still on the top of the ramp talking with Beth and fumbling with my
wetsuit when a countdown from 5 was started. I was in the first of
three waves so this was my start. I rushed to the bottom of the ramp
trying to stay as far to the back of the pack as possible. The race
was officially on!
first 200 meters were tight and I had little room to swim. Just
before I got to the first buoy I got double kicked in the chest and
head. It was nowhere near the impact of Athens and it really didn't
bother me at all. The guy that kicked me even apologized. Never
during the swim at LA Tri did I ever panic. I struggled but not
nearly as much as the other races. Dare I say that my confidence in
the water is improving? I alternated between breaststroke and
freestyle for the entire swim and exited the water after 22:34.
Pretty slow but that's OK. The fact is I'm getting better at the
swim and that's all that matters.
I exited the water to see my parents, Beth and
her son Garet cheering me on. After a quick wave and hello I
shuffled into transition yanking at the zipper of my wetsuit. I
tugged and pulled on the neoprene beast to what I am sure was an
amusing 'wetsuit dance'. After a little more effort I was finally
able to free myself. I grabbed my Team 464 jersey, slid on a pair of
shorts and sat down to put on my socks and bike shoes. I've noticed
a lot of guys don't wear socks when biking and running. I still
haven't been brave enough to do that so I slipped on a pair of socks
which I'm sure cost me 30 seconds of T1 time. I buckled my helmet,
donned my sunglasses and clippity clopped in my bike shoes out of
The start of the bike course goes up a VERY steep
hill to the actual road course. Prior to the start of the race BigP
(Pat Keenan) was kind enough to help me gear my bike accordingly to
prepare for the hill. As I left T1 I chickened out and decided to
run it up the hill to avoid a fall that I'm sure would hurt my pride
more than anything else. As soon as I turned onto the course my
buddy Hunter was on the right side of the road cheering me on and
wishing me luck for the race. Hunter was supposed to run the
Louisiana Triathlon with me this year but he injured himself running
a couple months ago so he couldn't train. Hopefully he'll get his
first taste of an official race at T-Gator #2 in Lake Charles next
first 3 miles of the bike course were on very smooth, scenic roads
that skirted False River. I wish I could say the same about the rest
of the course. The scenery remained but the road was riddled with
potholes. More than once I swerved to avoid a tire popping, bike
tumbling crater in my path that would have surely sent me crashing
to the pavement. I saw the leader of the race coming the opposite
way when I was around 4 miles from the turnaround. Man was he
flying! There was nobody within at least a half mile of him. The 180
degree turnaround point at around 9.5 miles was the only time that I
almost fell during the race. Slowing to almost a dead stop while
clipped in is never a good thing. I was luckily able to generate
just a little forward momentum after the turn to prevent the fall.
It was close and I guess I learned that I need to work on
directional turns. The ride back to transition was uneventful.
Avoiding the massive road craters, I passed quite a few people that
smoked me in the swim. Before I knew it I was back on the smooth
road and headed back into the city of New Roads and the transition
area. I sped down the hill and was hollered at by the volunteers
because I didn't get off my bike prior to the dismount point. I
guess I had my mind on other things such as unclipping and not
falling over at 0mph like I did at Lone Star in Galveston. I rolled
my bike into transition and prepared for the run. <BIKE 1:01:02>
During the entire bike my stomach was grumbling
and I had already planned that I would visit the port-o-jon before I
went out on the run course. I went to an internal medicine doctor
that treated me after my RNY surgery and talked to him about my
special nutritional requirements for my racing and training. Lately,
when I hit 30 - 45 minutes into training or racing I am running for
a bathroom for bowel explosions. Some of my issues has to do with
carbohydrate gel packs (which I no longer use) but some of it has to
do with my compromised digestive tract. The Lone Star triathlon in
Galveston was a perfect example of my issues because I spent 37
minutes of the run in the port-o-jons. He advised me that of the
2000+ RNY patients that he has treated this issue has never come up. In his words,
"Nobody has been crazy enough to do what you are doing now!"
He ended up prescribing some IBS medicine that I can take at will
before training and racing. I'm still experimenting with
different substances such as peanut butter and other proteins to
maintain energy levels during the race instead of using carbohydrate
based products. The Louisiana Triathlon wasn't a long enough course
to experiment so I only hydrated for this race.
Thankfully, when I got off my bike the feelings
subsided and I decided to go out on the run course without visiting
the port-o-john. I have my backup sheets of tp in my race belt 'just
in case' so I can hold on to my supply of socks. If you ever happen
to see me running or biking with one sock on... well... I had to
make an emergency pit stop.
run start goes up the same hill that I went up earlier to get to the
bike course. It's a very steep hill but thankfully the ONLY hill
during the race. I started on my trek towards the finish line and
the completion of my first Louisiana Triathlon. Surprisingly, I
still had my legs after the swim and bike and was able to maintain a
pace of just over 8 minutes per mile. For me, that's quick. Just
before the 2 mile mark I passed Pat and Neil, fellow BR Tri Members,
who were volunteering for the race by directing traffic. Both were
screaming words of encouragement as I approached and passed them.
They don't know how much that helped me as my pace quickened to pass
the racer that I had been trailing for the last mile.
As I passed him he said, "Humph, I wish I had a
fan club like you!"
At the two mile mark I passed another BR Tri
member Double-H (Hunter) and his family who were volunteering for
the race. I don't think I'd ever met Hunter before I turned the
corner but you'd think I had known him for years. That's the way the
support structure works in BR Tri. He and his family offered words
of encouragement and pushed me along to the last leg of the race.
thought it was quite cruel to see and pass the finish line of the
race and then realizing that you had another 3/4 mile to go before
finishing. The course runs right along the side of the finish and
then around a big loop to the 'real' finish line. I saw my parents
and Beth cheering as I made the turn onto the loop. I quickened my
pace to 7:30 - 7:45 for the remainder of the race and finished as
strong as I could. I felt the emotions welling up inside as I
thought back on my journey but I held them back as I crossed the
finish line. I ended up having a pace of 8:14 per mile! You must
understand that for me that is running like lightning!
Overall Time - 1:53:36
The Louisiana Triathlon will be an annual event
for me now. Having so many Baton Rouge Triathlon members
participating and volunteering made it all the more special.
I hope you enjoyed reading my race report for the
2008 Louisiana Triathlon as much as I enjoyed writing (and living)
Next up, the May 4th Crawfishman in Bush, LA!
Best of luck on YOUR life journey!
May you reach all your goals and achieve all your dreams!