My first Triathlon
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Ironman Louisville - Triathlon
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World Triathlon Corporation
= 13h 26m 46s
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n August 2011 I finished my first Ironman, Ironman Louisville. The race absolutely broke me, but it was my first Ironman and I was truly happy I finished
(finished in 14:17
). After that I said to myself “I really think I can finish that race in under 14 hours”. In 2012 I took the year off 140.6 to focus on the 70.3 distance and I had a great race year. In 2013 I decided to go back to Louisville in pursuit of sub 14.
My intentions were there and I trained hard, but I was still living in coastal Georgia, a very flat area, Louisville is a hilly bike course. Once again, I trained hard with what I had. I did hill repeats on overpass bridges. I ran in the heat of day, I started working with a swim coach. I had a bad day at Florida 70.3 but put it behind me in preparation for Ironman Louisville. I showed up to the start line in Louisville trained and ready for a sub 14. The day did not go as planned; I had issues from the start of the race. I started the run absolutely annihilated and by mile 2 I was walking. I was crushed, I knew sub 14 was out the window and since I was dry heaving at this point, I would be lucky just to finish. I finished in 14:16 and I was devastated. I worked so hard, I wanted that sub 14. I felt I did everything right and I still crumbled. I went home feeling absolutely defeated. I told myself I was done with this race, next Ironman I do will be a different course.
In January 2014 I ran my first 50k. I had not planned 2014 in terms of big races yet, I was going to choose my long distance triathlons after the 50k. At this point I didn’t know if I wanted to try another Ironman or focus on 70.3 again. I finished the 50k in 5:09 and place 2nd female. With the 50k over and done with I began planning my 2014 tri season. Little did I know my season, and my life, was about to change. On January 17th 2014 I woke up at 2 a.m. in excruciating abdominal pain. Joel rushed me to the hospital where we learned I had a hole in my small intestine, and I was dying. During the 50k, I had become so dehydration an ulcer in my small intestine ruptured and fluid, food, air, and blood had been leaking into my body cavity for almost a week. I went into surgery right away where the hole was repair and my body cavity was cleaned out as much as possible. Antibiotics would do the rest. My life was saved.
I spent the next 4 days in the hospital. Initially I was told I will never be able to do anything more than a sprint triathlon for the rest of my life. A few days later I was told I could go back to long distance, I would just have to stay on top of hydration. That was an answer I could accept. I honestly didn’t know when I would see 140.6 again. After I recovered, I slowly went back to training. 2014’s tri season was all sprints and one Olympic. I had registered for Augusta 70.3 in late September, but once again my world was about to be turned upside down.
In mid June 2014, while he was away as a service school, Joel notified me that we were moving, soon. We had to be in Northeast Kansas at the beginning of September, only 3 weeks before Augusta 70.3. At this point Augusta 70.3 was out the window and I was devastated, not to mention being out $375 for a race I wouldn’t be doing. I tried hard to stay positive but I was mad and upset. In September 2014 I left my friends and my wonderful running and tri community, not to mention nice weather you can train outside year round in, for the Midwest.
Upon arriving to Kansas and realizing just how hilly it is, I had the thought that after training here I could probably do well at Ironman Louisville. The terrain was similar, rolling hills. Around this time Ironman announced that Ironman Louisville would be moved from August to October, causing the brutal August heat to not be a factor in the race anymore. Shortly before this time I was given a spot on the Swim Bike Mom Ambassador Team for 2015, and several of my new teammates were registered for Ironman Louisville. With my new training environment, and the race being moved to October, I got the spark back that I could finish Ironman Louisville in under 14 hours. I told Joel all this, his response was “register for it”. So that was that, I would return to Louisville for a third time in pursuit of the sub 14.
We arrived in Louisville the Thursday before the race. In the days leading up to the race I got the chance to go to lunch with some of my teammates, go to the YMCA with my friend Nikky that lives in Louisville, and have coffee with some tri buddies. I was feeling ready as ever.
After the buildup of having to be in Louisville days before the race, I finally woke up at 3 a.m. on race day. I had been eerily calm in the days leading up to the race. Now I was feeling nervous. I had a good feeling about the day but I knew anything could happen. As I sat drinking my coffee I went over my race plan in my head again. Joel and I had a plan to get me toward the front of the swim start line. I have been at the back and the front of this line, and I prefer the front. Not because I was worried about meeting the time cut off, but because I like to be surround by a large crowd on the run to stay motivated. Not to mention I don’t burn a lot of nervous energy when I get in the water right away. Joel dropped me off near the line to get into transition. When it opened at 5:15 a.m. I quickly pumped my tires, put my bottles on my bike, and turned in my special needs bags. I left transition to look for Joel on the street. He had been circling the block waiting for me. I hopped in the car and he drove me to the swim start. Arriving close to the swim start I wasn’t the only one with this plan. There were several athletes jumping out of cars and heading to body marking. After getting body mark I joined the swim start line. Just like in 2013, I was probably somewhere between 50-70th person in line. Already a good start to the day.
Joel parked and joined me for the long wait for the race to start. I was getting really nervous now. I was so nervous I couldn’t eat my pre race breakfast of a Monster Java Light and Clif Bar. I knew when my feet hit that water, I would be going all day long. It was cold, in the 40. After about an hour and a half I put my wetsuit on, the water temperature in the Ohio River was 69 degrees. So many thoughts rushing through my head at this point, all jumbled. My disappointing race in 2013, nearly dying last year, moving to Kansas, my love for Joel, Loraine’s mother who had passed away only a month prior, my girls at home with Joel’s mom, all the training time I put into this. All these thoughts were flashing through my mind as if someone was rapidly pushing the button on a projector. A bugle player played “My Old Kentucky Home” near the swim start dock and then the National Anthem. The start cannon went off. The line was starting to move. I kissed Joel goodbye and he gave me good luck wishes. I said good luck to those around me. I put my goggles on my eyes and marched down the dock like a MMA fighter entering the arena. This was my day.
1h 26m 56s
02m 17s / 100 meters
I hit the timing mat on the dock and jumped in, my race had started. I hurried to get away from the dock to keep someone from jumping off it and landing on me. I had learned a lot about open water swimming since the last Ironman. I stayed calm and went slow instead of being frantic. Wearing a wetsuit meant I didn’t need to kick as much. Its no secret I don’t enjoy the swim, I tolerate it as it is part of Ironman. But I will say, after the swim nearly being cancelled this year, I was happy to be in the water actually getting a swim and getting the full 140.6. I made it to the turn buoy not feeling as worn out as in the previous two times, but I still had a long way to go. I was keeping a steady pace throughout the swim. After all the efforts to flush the algae out of the river I was surprised there was no current, I would have figured they would have opened up the dam, but I’m no biologist. Every ten minutes or so I would glance at my watch to see where I was at and I was making great time
(well, for me
). At 1:20 I saw by my watch we had already surpassed the 2.4 mile point and we still had a ways to go to the swim exit. Oh well, everyone had to do it so I just kept swimming, really tired of swimming at this point and I was anxious to get on my bike. Finally I passed the last swim buoy and made my way to the swim exit stairs where a volunteer in a wetsuit extended his hand to guide me to the steps. I climbed out of the water and hit the timing mat. 2 minute swim PR for this course
What would you do differently?:
Nothing, decent swim for me
Unzipped the wetsuit and got the shoulders off and went to a wetsuit stripper who pulled it right off. Headed to transition to get ready for the bike. A volunteer handed me my bike gear bag and at that moment I saw one of my teammates volunteering, I gave her a quick hug
(covered in Ohio River yucky-ness
) and headed into the changing tent. It was a sea of humanity. Being a slower swimmer at the front of the line the tent was very crowded at this point. Women from the front of the line who were slow swimmers like me, and all the good and average swimmers who were in line behind me were in the tent right now. An older woman came in holding her bag looking around frantically for a chair; I got her attention, and patted the empty chair next to mine. She thanked me for looking out. It was in the low 50s at this point. Since it would warm up at the halfway point of the bike, I decided I would just go with a fleece headband, arm warmers, and toe warmers and just be cold for awhile. The pockets in my tri suit weren’t very big and whatever you take out on the course with you, you have to carry it. These few items I wore to stay warm would easily fit once I needed to take them off. For this race I decided to use my road helmet instead of my race day aero helmet. I made this choice because after doing this race twice, I knew I would realistically only be in the aerobars roughly 50% of the ride so any time savings would be diminished. For this reason I went with the comfort of the road helmet. I didn’t wear socks because of the time it would take for me feet to dry completely. After leaving the tent I made a porta potty stop and got sunscreened up before grabbing my bike. I was ready to ride. Hit the timing mat and then the mount line. I could hear Joel cheering for me
What would you do differently?:
Nothing, the way transition is set up its bound to take awhile
6h 51m 8s
I was anxious for the bike. This would be my first time doing this bike course being hill trained. The first 10 miles are flat. Many have a tendency to hammer this section as the adrenaline is pumping from getting out of the swim. I did that my first time in Louisville. Once the hills start at mile 10 they don’t let up until mile 102 when its flat again. The first 10 mile stretch I got comfortable and spun, going about 18 mph. I was cold but I could still feel my finger and toes. Around mile 14 I ate 2 Clif Shot Blocs, but while chewing I bit the inside of my mouth twice hard and had a bloody mouth. Interesting start to the bike. Once again the out and back section terrified me. Screaming downhills with riders flying down at 50+ mph. Only this time the climbs didn’t kill me. Twice before these hills zapped my legs early in the ride. I got up them and thought “what I ride at home is worse than this”. We had to make a U turn and I was overly cautious as that’s how I fell and ripped my ankle open a month ago. After we hit the timing mat at mile 22 we hit our first aid station. I refilled my water and grabbed a banana and ate it quickly before going down another screaming downhill.
A long, somewhat steep climb was waiting for us. I got up it and was relieved that this out and back section was almost over, it’s the worst part of the bike course in my opinion. After this it was rollers lots of them, up and down. The way I felt at this year’s race during the bike was so dramatically different than how I felt my first two times here. I could handle it, the hills weren’t killing me. I didn’t want to cry, I felt adapted, like I was back home in Kansas on a ride, riding the same terrain I ride every day. I was going to be able to run, I just knew it. I had never ran past mile 2 here before, that’s when the race always turned into a death march, but today would be different. At mile 36 at the aid station I had to make a choice. I had to pee really bad
(I can’t pee while riding a bike, I just can’t
) as I had been hydrating like crazy, but doing so would eat into my bike split. I decided to go pee, comfort is important in a 112 mile bike ride. Visited the porta potty and felt worlds better. For some reason going pee gave me a boost and I was able to put more power to the pedals, but careful not to blow up my legs. I went into the small ring for the hills and got up and over them, one at a time. Around mile 40 the bike course rode through the spectator area at LaGrange but I didn’t see Joel and Nikky. Turns out they were out there, they saw me but I didn’t see them.
I had been occasionally eating shot blocs but felt the need for something solid. At the next aid station I grabbed a Clif Bar and a Banana. I wanted to set myself up for a good run, so throughout the bike I consumed as much calories as I could without overloading myself. I drank the on course Gatorade for electrolytes, much better than the Perform drink they used previously. I was having a good ride. I hit the halfway point of the ride still feeling good looking forward to special needs as I had a Starbucks espresso shot in a can in my special needs bag. Made it to special needs at mile 65, a volunteer was standing there with my special needs bag opened up. I grabbed the payday bar and put it in my tri suit pocket for later. I grabbed the Starbucks espresso shot, opened it, and chugged it. The volunteered laughed and said that’s a first for today, I laughed and told her its my secret weapon. I had a can of spray sunscreen in there too and she sprayed my back, neck, and shoulders for me. I thanked her for all her help and before heading back out on to the bike course I joined the porta potty line. I knew if I went now I could probably get through the rest of the bike without going again, if I didn’t I would have to stop again later down the road. Since I had already stopped for special needs I figured it would be better just to go now. My first 2 Ironmans here I didn’t drink enough so I wouldn’t have to make potty stops, which I payed for on the run. I felt super hydrated at this point a little over halfway through the bike. My legs still felt good, I already had a feeling I would be able to run.
After the potty stop I got back on my bike to finish the ride. Once again going potty gave me a boost and I could put good power to the pedals again, not to mention the shot of espresso. I knew we would soon be rolling through LaGrange again and I hoped I would see Joel and Nikky. I ate half of my Payday bar around mile 68. I had been gradually eating the Shot Blocs I had brought with me. I felt I was doing good with nutrition. Hydration too, I never felt thirsty on the bike. The course rolled back into LaGrange to start the second LaGrange loop. I rolled through the spectator lined road looking for my people. I didn’t see them and the crowd of people was thinning out. Just as I was starting to get bummed they weren’t able to get out here, I saw them! They had set up about 30 feet from the end of the big crowd. Joel, Nikky, and some of my teammates who had made the trip to Louisville to support those of us doing the race. They were in their team kits and tutus. It was so great to see them. I gave them smiles, shouts, and fist bumps. Seeing them gave me the biggest boost of the day. Time to get through the next 42 miles and back to transition.
Out of LaGrange I ate the second half of my Payday bar. Its fairly calorie dense so I told myself water and Gatorade only for the next hour to give my body a chance to process it. More hills, up and down, I made sure not to let my heart rate spike too much. I don’t wear a heart rate monitor, but I can tell if I am pushing too hard while climbing. I was encouraging the people around me, but several of the women seemed cranky. I didn’t take it personal. I was riding far on the right side of the road, almost touching the white line, and a woman yelled at me to get over. I wasn’t sure where she wanted me to go, if I got over any more I would be on the rumble strip. Finally the sign came into view, straight to finish, left for second lap. It was a nice feeling to go straight knowing the bike was almost over, and I still felt good. Yes, I was tired, but I still had plenty left in the tank.
Mile 90 came and went, I told myself “ok, only 12 more miles of hills, then its all flat”. As much as I wanted to hammer up the hills in the big ring these last few miles, I had to remind myself that I made it this far without blowing up or having a meltdown, stay patient. I took this time to load up on my remaining fluid to set myself up for the beginning of the run. Got up and over the last hill and smiled knowing the bike course didn’t destroy me this time. Rode the 10 miles on River Road back to transition between 17-18 mph, still fighting the urge to hammer. Approaching transition I could hear the music, I was getting excited. I was right where I hoped to be time wise. I felt like I would be able to run but was still apprehensive given my history. At the mount line I unclipped, dismount the bike on wobbly legs, and walked my bike over the timing mat
What would you do differently?:
Nothing, was happy with the bike
Walking down the path to T2 my legs felt tired and wobbly. After all, I did spend almost 7 hours riding a bike. A volunteer took my bike and I was able to pick up a bit of a jog
(tough in cycling shoes
) to where the run gear bags were. A volunteer handed me my run gear bag and I headed back into the changing tent. A sea of humanity again. Lots of women who only had a marathon to go on their way to becoming an Ironman. The tent wasn’t nearly as crowded at this point. A woman named Chris grabbed my bag for me and dumped it out to help me prepare for the run. She got my shoes and socks ready, grabbed me some pretzels and water, and put my bike gear into the bag. She truly was my T2 angel. After she saw me put anti chafe under my bra line, she suggested putting some on the bottom of my upper arms. Later on in the run I wish I could have hugged her for suggesting this. In the tent I didn’t even think about it, but when she suggested it I had flashbacks of Muncie 70.3 where I rubbed my under arms raw on the run. Put the anti chafe on my under arms, put on my shoes and socks, ate some pretzels
(so yummy at this point
), drank some water, put my running hat on, snapped on my race belt, thanked Chris and gave her a hug, and left the tent. Made a potty stop before getting suncreened up for the last time. Walked/jogged to the timing mat that started to run. Hit the mat and started the run. Run and done, just a marathon to go
What would you do differently?:
Nothing, I felt ready to run from taking my time
4h 43m 14s
10m 49s min/mile
Out of T2 the first .20 of the run was spectator lined. I couldn’t help but to smile. All these people, most of them here to support just one athlete, are cheering on every person starting the run. I spotted Joel on the left side of the road; I wasn’t just going to smile and wave this time. I stopped to give him a hug and a kiss. He said “I love you” I said it back, and continued onto the run. I’m a fan of Newton running shoes. A few months prior I had switched from the Gravity III model to the more forgiving Fate. In training I loved them for long distance, and I developed a strategy for this Ironman run. The rubber lugs on my shoes allowed me to bounce, and in training I learned that if I did this sort of bouncing running style, I can run for a really long period of time around a 9:30-10 minute per mile pace. I knew if I could hold this for at least half the run I could get that sub 14. I was excited so it was tough, I kept yelling at myself in my head to slow down. My plan was to walk through all the aid stations, and to run to the next one. I broke the run down in my head 1 mile at a time. Made it to the mile 1 timing mat in 9:55, right on pace. At the next aid station I ate some pretzels and drank some water. Solid food tasted so good right now. After walking the aid stations, I would start a slow gradual bounce into a run as opposed to taking off. So far it was working. I made it to mile 3 surprised I was still running. I was feeling surprisingly good, but I was on guard as feelings during an Ironman can change fast. Heading out to the lap one turn-around there were 2 large dips in the road. I ran up and down both inclines but made a mental not that on the way back, and on lap 2, to walk up the inclines to save energy. Other than the 2 dips the run was flat.
At the lap 1 turn-around there was a timing mat for mile 7.3. I was still maintaining an under 10 minute pace, and surprised I was still running. To keep my mind off the pain I smiled at all the spectators, thanked the police officers keeping us safe, and encouraged my fellow competitors. I was feeling good for being on an Ironman run, but I was still hurting. Kind of hard to explain. I knew I felt much worse at this point in my first 2 Ironmans here. I was drinking 2-3 cups of water at every aid station, and 1 cup of Gatorade. I ate a few Shot Blocs occasionally. I felt like I hit my nutrition perfectly on the bike because my stomach felt fine at this point and I didn’t feel hungry. I was at mile 10 and I couldn’t believe I was still running, I was really surprising myself. I was hurting but the pain was manageable, I wanted that sub 14 so bad. It was in the low 70s and I didn’t feel the need to dump water on myself or grab any of the cold sponges, so my feet stayed nice and dry and blister free. I wore my one piece tri suit so I wouldn’t waste all that energy constantly adjusting my clothes, and I could tell a big different. Typically, if I am wearing a 2 piece tri kit, I have to adjust my clothes 8-10 times a mile, in an Ironman that adds up to a lot of wasted energy. The extra time at the potty stops was worth it to not waste all that energy during the actual run.
At the half marathon point I glanced at my watch and saw I ran the first half in 2:15. I told myself if I can manage to not blow up or have a meltdown I may be able to run this marathon under 5 hours. Only a half marathon to go. Ran into the downtown area and saw Joel, gave him another kiss, and then saw my teammates cheering for me. I gave then lots of smiles and told them I felt pretty good. I came upon the sign that says “straight to finish, right to 2nd lap”. This sign pumped me up as I could see the finish line up ahead, but I had to turn right and just run a half marathon and then it would be my turn. At special needs I stopped briefly to grab my can of Monster Java Light. For a split second I didn’t know what to do. Special needs is just special needs, its not an aid station and there are no trash cans. I had a plan for special needs, but I honestly didn’t think I’d still be running at this point on the run. I had planned on walking with my can of Monster and sipping it, but since I was still running I didn’t want to break the momentum. I grabbed my can of Monster in my left hand and ran with it all the way to the next aid station. At the aid station I popped it open and chugged half of it and threw it away, and then got in the potty line. I was staying hydrated and had to pee. After getting out of the porta potty I took off again to the next aid station down the road.
I slowed my pace down a bit, I wasn’t cramping but my legs were aching, Ironman is a long day. At the 2 dips I walked up the inclines and kept on running after them. The volunteers at all the aid stations were amazing and encouraging. As this was my last lap I made sure to thank all the volunteers. At the mile 15 aid station I ate a Clif Bar to have something solid for the last few miles. At the mile 17 aid station I drank some coke which my stomach didn’t like, I ate some pretzels after that to combat it. I was taking in a lot of fluid at all the aid stations. Hit the lap 2 turn-around, which is mile 20, feeling a bit loopy but relieved the race was almost over and I was still running. It was getting dark outside, and with a 10k to go and still running I got the chance to think about a lot of things. It was the projector effect I experienced before the swim. I was on triathlon mode on my Garmin 920xt, I pressed the button to see my total race time and saw that unless I had a total meltdown and stopped moving, I was safe for sub 14 hours. Mile 23, about a 5k to go. When I got to the mile 23 aid station, I decided to take in water only at this point. At mile 24 I was a few minutes into 13 hours. My hamstrings started to seize, so I took a longer walk break after leaving the aid station to rub them out a bit. At mile 25 I was exhausted, but 1 mile to go. I drank some water, and just went. I was hurting bad. I told myself don’t stop until you cross the finish line.
I could see downtown up ahead. This was my day; I couldn’t believe I pretty much ran the whole marathon. I was going to do it, I was going to finish well under 14 hours. I turned the last corner and started shaking and crying, yelling out loud “I did it! I did it!”. Four years of work, all came down to these few seconds in time. I followed the arrows “to finish line” and I lost it. Tear streaming down my face, at this point I didn’t care what my finish line pictures looked like, I achieved my goal that was so important to me, that meant so much, that I worked so hard toward. As I approached the finish line, I started yelling and shouting and pumping my fists, along with the tears. I cross the finish line and landed in the arms of two of my teammates, who were volunteering as finish line catchers. One of them donned a finisher’s medal around my neck
What would you do differently?:
Nothing, I was thrilled to run under 5 hours
I was a crying, wobbly, blubbering mess talking to my two teammates. Tears down my face I told them “I finally did sub 14!” They shared my happiness after seeing how much it meant to me. Joel was waiting at the finish line exit gate for me. As soon as we made eye contact he shouted “13:26!” I said “what?!” I couldn’t believe the time he said, he said it again and I lost it. Sub 13:30. I was in shock. I cried in his shoulder. I got a long hug from Nikky who told me how proud she was, she also know how much this meant to me, especially after seeing me fall short in 2013. After I got some chocolate milk, a massage, and chatted with some friends and buddies, it was time to go back to our hotel on the outskirts of town. I said a “see you later” to Nikky and took one last look at Fourth Street. Such an electric place on Ironman day. This was my third time crossing the finish line on Fourth Street, but it still captivated me. This place will always hold a special meaning in my heart. I finally got my sub 14, I know it will be awhile before I see this place again. I can now move on to a different Ironman course. I got my sub 14 I always felt I was capable of.
What limited your ability to perform faster:
Not being a swimmer, only having 1 year of hill climbing experience, not enough run volume. But still so thrilled to get sub 13:30
Ironman comes at a high price money wise, but they put on a great race and you get your money's worth
Last updated: 2014-11-01 12:00 AM
01:26:56 | 3800 meters | 02m 17s / 100meters
Around an island and down river
69F / 21C
Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
06:51:08 | 112 miles | 16.35 mile/hr
2 loop lollipop with and out and back section
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Shoe and helmet removal
04:43:14 | 26.2 miles | 10m 49s min/mile
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Lots of volunteers?
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5]
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