Hello, my name is Chad Soileau and this is my account of
swimming, biking and running the Rip Van Winkle Triathlon in New
Iberia, LA. The distances were 400m swim, 14 mile bike and
a 2.25 mile run. They listed the run as 2 miles but I'll
be damn if it wasn't 2.25 miles! At least that's what my
watch said. It's been wrong before but only on
Beth, the kids and I woke up at 4:30AM on
Sunday morning to make the 90ish mile drive to New Iberia.
We were all still recovering from the previous day where her son
Garet participated in the Wild Kidz triathlon in Alexandria.
As the sun started peeking over the horizon around 6AM I started
to get a little apprehensive if they were even going to have the
race. The weather forecast called for scattered
thunderstorms but from my view the clouds looked like they were
situated directly over New Iberia. As the lighting
struck over and over in the distance and the rain started to
come down in torrents I was sure that at a minimum the race
would probably be converted to a duathlon.
The rain slacked up considerably when we got
to the race site at Rip Van Winkle Gardens. Hints of blue
started to poke through spots in the dark clouds. Maybe
we'd just get to have the triathlon today. After
going through registration and getting body marked I walked back
to the car to get my bike, helmet and gear bag. The rain
was still coming down but it was rather light at this point.
It's a triathlon and last I heard you may get a little wet in
the first event anyway.
This would be my first race on my new bike.
A good friend and accomplished triathlete, Llew Hughes, gave me
the deal of a lifetime on a brand new Trek Equinox TTX 9.5.
It was really an offer I couldn't refuse and it is SUCH a sweet
ride. This is IT. This IS my Ironman bike and
I absolutely love it!
I had plenty of time to lay out my gear in
transition, go to the bathroom and scope out the swim course.
While laying out my gear I noticed that one of my aero bar pads
was gone! The velcro tape that stuck to the metal
base was a little iffy in the first place and I guess the
torrential rain we drove through on the way to the race site
didn't halp matters. So, I had to improvise.
Since my ordeal at TriAmerica I ALWAYS bring extra socks.
I wrapped a couple of my socks around the metal base of the pad
holder. I looked around for something to fasten them to
the base. I found a tie wrap but it wasn't long
enough. Hmm... I need some tape.
The volunteer that was checking bikes and helmets of
participants as they entered transition had a roll of tape.
Just my luck that the freakin' tape color was
Thinking that my comfort was more important than the color of
the tape I reluctantly shuffled over to the volunteer and asked
for a piece of tape. I wrapped the tape around the
socks and I was set. I asked around to see if anyone
had any rainbow, unicorn or fairy stickers to even things out
but I was out of luck. Oh well, I figured I would be in
aero for most of the race so maybe nobody would see?
7:50 AM rolled around and the race director
announced that my wave, 35 - 39 should be getting in the water.
The water was chilly but I adjusted quickly and waded over to
the narrow boat ramp which was the start. Since I am
very slow in the swim I always try to get on the outer right
side of the pack. That wasn't to be for Rip Van
Winkle. I was in the thick of everyone, right in the
middle. We had a 5 second warning before the
starting buzzer blew. This swim of Rip Van Winkle
was by far the biggest UFC brawl to the first buoy that I had
been in yet. I guess that was inevitable since we
were all starting in such tight quarters. I took as much as I
gave in elbows and kicks. I know one kick I
administered to a poor guy was a good one. I know
that my heel 'felt' nose and cheek as I administered the blow.
I stopped and popped my head out of the water to apologize but I
didn't see him. The pack spread out by the time I got to
the first buoy and I was able to establish a rhythm.
I swam off course 20 meters or so on the way to the second buoy
but for the most part I felt strong for the entire swim.
I swam freestyle for the entire race only switching up to
breaststroke to navigate and see exactly how far off course I
I exited the water at 7:49.42 and ran up the
steps of the slippery dock. My first triathlon
swim time in Athens was over 10 minutes, in a pool and 100m less
than this course so I have improved considerably. I'll
I got out of T1 relatively fast but that
didn't matter because I dicked around trying to clip in for the
first 100 feet. I almost fell off my bike twice during the
ordeal before I finally got both feet in. The only
complaint I have about the bike course is that each time I built
up speed we had a 90 degree turn left or right.
Usually this isn't that big of a deal but today, with the roads
so wet I slowed down to a crawl to take the turns. I
didn't want to fishtail and crash my new bike so that was
probably a good idea. For the first time I wasn't passed
by ANYONE! I passed 10 - 12 bikers but nobody passed
me. My watch didn't pick up my bike sensor so I
didn't know how fast I was going but I figure it was at least
21mph average. My final results showed 19.1mph
average but that included my wasted time getting out of T1.
I made it back to T2 with no issues and no crashes. I felt
good and the bike performed amazingly.
I quickly dropped off my helmet and slipped
on my running shoes. I got a few steps out of T2 and
realized that I left my Team 464 jersey in my transition spot.
It cost me a few seconds to go back and grab it but I haven't
run a race without it this year and this wasn't going to be my
first so I ran back and grabbed it. I slipped it on
as I headed out onto the run course.
The run course was through the nursery area
of Rip Van Winkle Gardens. I was slow starting out
as I got my legs back. I increased my pace to 7:45 -
8:00 minute miles at around the half mile point and I held that
for at least a mile. My watch never had me going less than
8:45. Most of the course ran through areas where
greenhouses and potted plants stretched out into the distance as
far as you could see. The only issue I had is a 300 yard
stretch of the run ran through the "manure mountain" area which
smelled like a cow pooped out rotting crawfish that had been in
the sun for 6 days. I finished strong with a
sub 8 minute mile pace and crossed the finish line in just over
an hour and eight minutes.
I enjoyed Rip Van Winkle and although I would
like to do the 2nd race in the series I have another race on my
schedule the day the 2nd race in the series. I'll
try to hit them both next year because it was a well organized,
Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed
reading my report as much as I enjoyed writing (and living) it!
Until my next race...
Best of luck on YOUR life journey!
May you reach all your goals and achieve all your dreams!