Ironman Louisville - Triathlon

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Louisville, Kentucky
United States
World Triathlon Corporation
75F / 24C
Total Time = 13h 57m 14s
Overall Rank = 1526/
Age Group = F35-39
Age Group Rank = 66/
Pre-race routine:

On Thursday morning, Lisa drove up from Wichita, we hooked up the bike rack that my swimming friend loaned us, loaded the bikes & my gear, and set off for Louisville. Stopped in Columbia, MO for Chipotle, and then drove the rest of the day until we got to Louisville just after dark. We had rented a condo that was just 0.4 miles or so from the finish line at 4th St. Live.

On Friday, we took our time getting up and then went for a short run north up toward the river/transition area to get our bearings. Things started to look familiar (we did this race in 2011 as well). After running, we went to the Great Lawn to check in and get our Ironman swag, then hit the Troll pub for a drink on our way back to the condo. Had dinner that night at the Bluegrass Brewing Company and spent the rest of the evening prepping bags and relaxing at the condo.

Saturday we had a small BT coffee meet-up - always nice to meet new triathletes. And then Lisa dropped Dave and I off at the Lawn to attend the "mandatory" pre-race meeting and check in our bike/run gear bags while she picked her parents up at the airport. The meeting didn't really have any revolutionary info, and once transition opened for gear check-in the line was horrendous, so Dave and I just walked back to the condo with our bags. Didn't want to wait in line 2x b/c we still had the bikes to check-in later. That was a good mile walk, but it wasn't too much for the day before a race I guess.

After having a light lunch, we drove back to the bike check in with all our gear, and there was no line by then. Sweet! We got a personal tour of the transition area from a very helpful volunteer and then went back to the condo for some more down-time. Went to a Mexican place for dinner downtown, and had a fantastic time with our little group. Back to the condo and I took a shower and was in bed by 10pm.

Event warmup:

I slept terribly before this race. Even though this was Ironman #4, and I kind of knew what to expect, I could feel my heart beating in my chest for hours and never felt like I actually slept. I know I did sleep at some point, because I had some sort of Ironman/race nightmare (of course!), and it was actually a relief when I noticed my phone said it was 4:09am and I could get up. We made some coffee and I ate some instant oatmeal, and we were ready to go by 5am. Dave drove us right up to the transition area since we knew we'd have a long walk to the end of the swim line.

We tried to be quick in transition by not messing with our bike tires (pumped the day before) but we were still so far back in the swim start line. I timed the walk from transition to the end of the line this year and it took us 35 minutes. And we weren't even at the end, although we were probably 3/4 of the way back. They didn't snake the line around in that grassy area this year; it just went out and out and out to some boat marina. And there weren't any port-a-potties within probably a 15 minute walk from the end. That is not acceptable for a race like this IMO. We truly didn't think we'd have time to walk all the way back to the potties and find our spot in line again. So I was basically agonizing about that while we waited in the cold & dark for one hour. Not really fun. It all worked out ok in the end though: we both decided to make pit stops when the line finally came back by the potties after the race started. Thankfully there wasn't really any wait there, so we didn't lose much placement in the line, but that was a lot of pointless worrying on my part that really shouldn't have had to happen.

  • 1h 18m 24s
  • 4224 yards
  • 01m 52s / 100 yards

This is by far my favorite swim in a race EVER. There was a lot of debate about whether the swim would even happen (hello, toxic algae) but the river was cleared a couple days before the race and I am so glad. Yes, the river tasted a little funky right after we jumped in, but what river water doesn't? Right away, I felt good, like I was gliding on top of the water, and I just focused on staying really calm and smooth, and having a long reach & glide. Smoooooth. I didn't feel like I was working hard at all, and my goggles felt comfortable and didn't fog up. Earplugs worked great, too, so I never felt cold or dizzy.

I knew the upstream portion is about 1/3 of the total distance, so I was hoping to get to the big red turnaround buoy before 30 minutes, and I was amazed to see something closer to 25 min when I made it. On the downstream section I drifted a little farther to the right of the buoys so that I wouldn't be in the mass, and I think that was a wise decision. I had very little contact during this race. One guy tried to swim over me just before the turnaround, and it got a little crowded and bumpy towards the exit, but that was it. And I think maybe there was a little more current out there, because this was a swim PR for me.

What would you do differently?:

Nothing. Nothing, nothing, nothing.
Transition 1
  • 14m 57s

When I came out of the water and saw 1:18:xx on my watch, I couldn't believe it. I was in the best mood ever. I had the hugest smile on my face as I got wetsuit-stripped and ran to the change tent. Awesome.
T1 itself was just ok. I took quite a long time: 3-5 mins longer than other IMs. I had swum in my sports bra & tri shorts, and wanted to get as dry as I could, since it was only 46* that morning. I put on my dry short-sleeve IMOO jersey, struggled some arm warmers on, and sunscreened whatever skin was left exposed. I know I took a lot of time being so thorough toweling off, but I just wanted to be comfortable on the bike, so I guess I'm ok with the long T1 time.

  • 7h 07m 2s
  • 112 miles
  • 15.74 mile/hr

I was really excited to see how I'd do on the bike. This year, I've felt like my average paces weren't that great, but I almost always rode hills. And not just rollers, but several big 150-200 ft hills, on every long ride. And even my standard AM weekday ride has a long, slow climb. I averaged 55-60 ft/mile on just about every ride I did this year, and the LOU course has only about 40/mile average, so I was cautiously optimistic that I would surprise myself. My big goal was to average 16 mph or better on the bike, but I didn't really know if I'd be able to do it, because every long ride here was in the 15-15.5 mph range. But I also make tons of stops in my normal training, since it's all in the city, and thought with police blocking the intersections in the race, that might tip the scales in my favor.

I started out feeling good right away. I was averaging around 16.5 for the first flat section, and just like last time at IMKY, I got passed and passed and passed. I had to keep telling myself not to worry about any of those people, and just do my own race, and stick to my planned paces. But once we hit the first hills, I started passing people. I was feeling really strong and confident, and the hills just didn't seem that challenging. I know they are, but I was totally prepared. When I got done with the out-and-back section (biggest hills on the course) my average pace was down to 16mph, but I was ok with that. And besides a couple very short but steep hills after LaGrange, nothing felt hard at all. I just kept up my Z2 pace, and my final moving average was 16.2mph, which I was thrilled with. I had stopped a couple times to pee & reapply sunscreen, etc, so my total average comes out to 15.7, but I'd planned for around 5 min of stops, so this really was an ideal ride for me. And I finished strong. The last 20 miles are net downhill or plain flat, and there was only about an 8 mph headwind, so I was able to pick up my pace quite a bit, and still finish feeling good and with a huge smile on my face.

The only downside to this bike, and it is a HUGE one, was that my friend got hurt. As I was coming out of the out-and-back section, Lisa yelled at me from the other side of the road. She was sitting there, and I was really confused. I yelled to ask if she was ok, and I thought she said she was just waiting for mechanical - and she waved at me to go on. I assumed she had a flat tire or something, and I kept thinking I should have stopped to help. After all, she stopped to help me when I was feeling bad on the bike last time at IMKY. I kept thinking I should go back and just waffled on the decision too long. Finally, I realized it was too late to go back, and figured she would be ok. I didn't learn until halfway through the run that she'd broken her ankle and was out of the race. I felt terrible and really wish I'd at least have stopped to learn that and give her a hug or something. :(

Transition 2
  • 10m 45s

T2 was pretty simple. Rode in, handed off my bike to a volunteer, then took my bike shoes off, and ran in my socks to get my bag and go into the tent. The ground was quite muddy by this point, so it was kind of slippery. I had the BEST volunteer in T2 - she helped me with a full change, put sunscreen on my back, and mixed my Gatorade/water into my handheld bottle. Then it was time to run!
  • 5h 06m 6s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 11m 41s  min/mile

When I first headed out for the run, I was really worried about my right big toenail. There was a sharp pain with each step, but it was still runnable. I kept thinking that this might be the time I finally lose a toenail, but the pain eventually went away after a few miles. Weird.

I also had a lot of stomach gas. This has happened in each of my IM races, so even though I thought I had figured out the cause and eliminated wheat/gluten from my diet before the race, I packed gas-x in all my bags. Just in case. And it must be caused by something else (swimming position and swallowing air perhaps?) because it started fairly early on the bike, just like in all the other races. I had taken ~6 gas-x pills on the bike, and had two more in my run bag, along with other assorted meds (tylenol, ibuprofen, pepto bismol). I took the remaining gas pills within a few miles of the run start, and the stomach pain seemed to go away for a while.

I felt very consistent on this run. I have trained all year with a run/walk strategy: 3:20 run, 0:40 walk, and had an interval timer on an armband, so I didn't even have to think about it. I would occasionally adjust the time, when an aid station was coming up, so I could walk there, but for the most part stuck with the intervals on the timer. My splits did get progressively slower, but it didn't feel like it at the time.

By mile 8, the gas was back in full force, but it had, um, moved along the digestive system, and I wasn't sure if I just needed to fart or if I had to poop. And you know what they say: "Never trust a fart during an Ironman," so I stopped at a potty, just to be safe. I had probably the loudest, most powerful fart of my life (!) but immediately felt better and decided that I would trust them after that. It still felt like a gamble, but I couldn't afford to keep stopping, so I just ran and farted merrily along my way. I tried to do it when people weren't right by me, but didn't hold back either if I needed to let it go. LOL At least I wasn't the only one having issues. I heard all manner of burps and farts from other racers.

I kept expecting the wheels to fall off at some point, but I was keeping my pace pretty well, and hit the half marathon point at 2:27 if I remember correctly. I'd been doing the math in my head all day, and knew that if I could keep close to my current pace, there was a chance I could achieve my ultimate goal of a sub-14 hr finish.

All along the run back towards downtown, I was looking for Lisa - I really thought she would be just two or three miles behind me, but I never saw her. Then, when I got up to the area where our condo was located (it backed up to the run course), I saw her sitting on the curb with her parents and Dave. This was when I found out she'd broken her ankle on the bike and was out. I was so bummed for her, because she was so ready for this race, and I'm certain would have PR'd it by a huge amount, but I was really impressed that she was still out there, with a positive attitude, cheering the rest of us on.

After running through the downtown area just shy of the finish line (the ultimate tease), I started back out for my second loop. It started to get dark out and cooler, but there were still a lot of people out on the course with me. I got a glow necklace, and enjoyed the warm chicken broth at the aid stations. YUM. I was getting tired of all the sweet stuff I’d had all day, so that was a nice change. By mile 20, I knew I was going to PR the race, and possibly achieve my goal time, because I was still feeling good. The gas finally went away and I couldn't stand the thought of another shot blok or banana, but I had packed some shelled pistachios in my special needs bag (best idea ever!), so those got me through the last hour.

When I hit mile 24 and still had a half hour before 14:00:00, I knew I was going to make my goal, and I started to feel really, really good. My feet were definitely hurting by this point, so I took another ibuprofen (I'd had maybe 3 plus a couple Tylenol all day) but mentally, I was in great shape. I was talking with other racers, encouraging them to run with me, thanking all the volunteers profusely, and just enjoying the experience. With a mile and a half to go, I decided to just run and build up my 14 hr buffer as much as I could, which was a good idea, because my paces had actually fallen off quite a bit, and I didn't have as much time as I'd thought. Still, when I had a half mile to go with close to 10 minutes to spare, I knew I had it. This was the best part of the race for me, high fiving people along the course, smiling nonstop, and oh so happy. I turned the corner to 4th St. Live and it was so bright & loud - so many people! I ran down the chute - saw Dave and Lisa right there on the side cheering me on - and crossed the line with almost three minutes to spare. :)

Post race
Warm down:

My finish line catcher was a very sweet grandmotherly lady who put my medal on, got me through the timing chip removal guys, put a mylar blanket on me, and gave me a hat, shirt, and some cold water. I got my picture taken, and then went over to the Chipotle that we agreed would be our post-race meet-up spot. Dave showed up first and then Lisa and her parents came over, too. Poor Lisa was on crutches and I know was in a lot of pain, but I really appreciated having her there.

We made a plan for me to get both of our morning clothes bags, and Dave went to get the car to take Lisa back to the condo with minimal walking, and then he & her Dad went and got our bikes and bike/run gear bags. I went into the convention center, used the restroom, and then grabbed a couple slides of pizza. Caught up with Jillian who also had a great race and a PR and met a random guy from KC with a Bicycle Shack jersey. Then I picked up our bags and walked back to the condo. I was a little stiff, but it was probably good for me to do that walk. Took a hot shower and got in some comfy clothes back at the condo, and then talked with everybody in the living room until maybe 11pm, before going to bed after this long day.

Event comments:

This is a great race. The location is good, the swim is easy, the bike is on a challenging but beautiful course, and the run is pancake flat. There are plenty of volunteers, and it is well run. The new October race date also provided us with ideal weather for an IM race. The only complaint I have is the lack of port-a-potties along the swim start line.

Last updated: 2015-09-08 12:00 AM
01:18:24 | 4224 yards | 01m 52s / 100yards
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/
Performance: Good
Suit: ProMotion sleeveless
Start type: Plus:
Water temp: 69F / 21C Current: Low
200M Perf. Remainder:
Breathing: Drafting:
Waves: Navigation:
Time: 14:57
Cap removal: Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
07:07:02 | 112 miles | 15.74 mile/hr
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/
Wind: Little
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence:
Turns: Cornering:
Gear changes: Hills:
Race pace: Drinks:
Time: 10:45
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
05:06:06 | 26.2 miles | 11m 41s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/
Keeping cool Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5]