Ironman Louisville - TriathlonFull Ironman

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Louisville, Kentucky
United States
World Triathlon Corporation
94F / 34C
Total Time = 13h 58m 17s
Overall Rank = 1009/1975
Age Group = M30-34
Age Group Rank = 157/260
Pre-race routine:

This is a story of kicking it HTFU-style and one that I can look back on with satisfaction only now that I have finished and that I am not still out there on that run course. I have tried to be detailed in order to answer questions I had while reviewing last year's reports in prep for this race.

My wife and I arrived in Louisville late Thursday night. We stayed at the TownePlace Suites in Jeffersonville, IN, which is about a mile from the Galt House and transition area. I recommend this place as it has decent rooms and full kitchen with fridge and freezer, but be sure to book early!

On Friday morning, I did the practice swim. This starts from the swim finish/transition area (not the swim start). I had a great swim, felt good, and proceeded on to the Galt House for registration. There was little to no wait and I was in and out within twenty minutes.

Everything was going well, the training had been good, taper seemed to be working, and I was pretty confident going in that I could go sub-12. That is until my wife and I set down for lunch. Out of nowhere, the summer flu virus that I had heard was spreading around my hometown hit me like a wave. Within the hour we were eating, my throat had closed up, the sinus drainage had started, and I started running a fever.
Trying to stay positive, I took it as a good sign that the bug had come on so fast thinking it would move through quickly. I spent the remainder of Friday and the entire day Saturday, save the bike check-in and dinner, in bed trying to sleep it off.
When 4:00 a.m. Sunday rolled around, I felt a little better, but I did not want to race, period. Had it been a training run or ride, I would have bagged it, but I decided to give it a go and see what happened. Fortunately, I had no problem eating Sunday morning and was able to get my planned breakfast of Kashi GoLean cereal, bananas, and coffee.

Based on last year's race reports and advice from last year, I arrived at transition just after 5:00 with a view to get to the swim start early and be towards the front of the line. The transition are was failry spacious and not overly chaotic. After pumping my tires and heading on the 3/4 mile trek to the start, I found myself about 20 yards past the portapots in what turned out to be the middle of the line, i.e. the AG timetrial start began at 7:00, I would go in at 7:23, the last person was in around 7:40.

Event warmup:

3/4 mile walk to swim start from transition followed by sitting for about two hours.
  • 1h 12m 52s
  • 4224 yards
  • 01m 44s / 100 yards

I am not a huge fan of the time trial start in any triahtlon, but there is no room to do it any other way at this venue. With that said, the officials did an excellent job of getting all 1975 athletes in the water by 7:40. I was somewhere in the middle and am a pretty good swimmer, so I spent most of the trip to the turnaround trying to get by other people. I tried to stay close to the bank of the island (left hand side of the coures) where the current was weakest and believe this worked well, though I had no one to use for a draft. My stroke felt good and I did not feel as ill as I had earlier in the morning, so I believed I would post a good time. I rounded the turnaround in about 27 minutes and veered out as far right as I could go to get the stronger downstream current. I probably spent more of my swim in Indiana than Kentucky; however, I have doubts as to whether this actually paid off. At one point I was a good 100 meters or more from the rest of the field. I felt like this was a good strategy and believed I was going to break an hour on the swim, so I was fairly shocked at my 1:12 time. I took this as meaning that this was probably not going to be my day or day for PBs, so I needed to focus more on finishing than finishing fast. However, I did get wrapped up in my lower than expected swim time and I started to feel sorry for myself. This negative, nonproductive attitude continued the remainder of the day.
What would you do differently?:

I do not know. I thought I was quicker than my time, so I must have erred with my navigation or mid-river swim strategy.
Transition 1
  • 04m 54s

T1 was the highlight of my day. I cut a good 3-4 minutes off my last IM time here. The tent and grass lawn were wet and somewhat muddy from the dew overnight and people coming in from the swim.
What would you do differently?:

  • 6h 32m 30s
  • 112 miles
  • 17.12 mile/hr

The characterization of this course as rolling hills is wholly accurate. The hills are relentless, not in their difficulty, but in their presence one after another after another. Miles 1-10 and 102-112 are the only flat sections on this course. At mile 10, you start climbing, leveling off, climbing again, leveling off, short downhill, climbing again, etc. You get some breaks on the downhill, but they are shortlived. From around mile 80 or so, you start netting a descent rather than ascent and it is pretty much all downhill from mile 90.

I spent most of my ride coughing and clearing my sinuses. Over the course of the next 6:30, I perfected the snot-rocket aero technique, so I had that going for me, which is nice.

My nutrition plan entailed one serving of Perpeteum per hour (mixed in 3x concentrated bottles) with water and an Endurolyte or two depending on feel. I did not adjust for being ill and the additional water I needed for that as well as the heat and suffered as result. Nor did I take in enough Endurolytes either and, consequently, had hard a hard time absorbing anything after the bike. I got dehydrated here and this significantly screwed my run.

As far as the bike goes, I did what I could do given how bad I felt. I really held back for most of the ride and was passed by a lot of people. From about mile 30 on I became concerned about pushing my legs too hard and really held back in order not to get too much of a burn to early. My goal was to make it to mile 90, knowing it was a descent from there to the end.

The road surfaces were OK, some were great, others not so good. The out and back spur before the Lagrange loops is a scary section given the speed of the descents and condition of the bridge at the bottom. Luckily the guys behind me at the swim start had marked arrows on the only smooth spot at this bridge, but I believe there were a couple of accidents here. I saw a lot of people fixing tires and blown tubes on this course, particularly on some sections of the loops. LaGrange is awesome and is on a decline, so you cannot help but look strong going by the crowds there.
What would you do differently?:

More Endurolytes.
Transition 2
  • 05m 34s

I felt like I had a good time here and am not sure what I did for five and a half minutes. I changed out of my bike shorts into run shorts, tried to pee (for only the second time since the swim) and get on with it.
  • 6h 02m 29s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 13m 50s  min/mile

By this point, I really did not want to be there. My attitude had gone from bad to worse and I was having the biggest pity, woe is me party in my head that I can ever remember. After seeing my wife and friends coming out of transition, I started up the incline to go over the bridge with the idea that I would settle into the run and to just make it aid station to aid station.

Halfway across the bridge, I started walking. This was huge setback for me mentally as I really try to not walk unless I planned to do so. By the time I came back into downtown, I saw my wife and friends again and stopped to talk. Nearly every bit of me wanted to call it a day. My wife and friends told me to keep going and I knew I could not quit in front of them, so what did I do, I started crying. I can remember crying two other times in my life, once at my wedding, the other when I was 12 and got ejected from a baseball game after throwing a wild pitch and getting into a fight with the guy who stole home on me (that was bad day!). Accordingly, I was mentally spent by this point and really feeling sorry for myself for being sick and not posting great swim and bike times. I somehow soldiered on, knowing I could finish but also knowing I probably had a good 6-7 hours left.

After another mile or so, I finally established a strategy of walking through the aid stations, running the 1/4 mile to the mile marker, walking a litte more, running to the next aid station, repeat. This worked for the rest of the race and kept my mile spits at sub-14 minutes miles as opposed to 18+.

I knew I was dehydrated and that I needed to keep on with my nutrition. My original plan was to drink gatorade and water at each station with a gel every 4 miles. By mile 4 I could tell this was not working and that I was not absorbing any water, despite all of the walking and low HR. I switched to Coke and started taking more Endurolytes, but it was too late.

At mile 8 I knocked down another gel and proceed to spew the Coke and water mixture from my stomach. This was the turning point of my day. As the liquid came out of me, I thought I was finished. I tried to keep moving, dry-heaving and all, but really felt like I was going to pass out. After a couple of minutes of this, I decided to start running thinking that running while dry-heaving is pure HTFU. It worked, my attitude started to improve, physically I felt better without the liquid in my stomach and my focus turned to how to finish.

I met my wife and friends again a mile later and got a good boost from that. I saw them again at the mile 14 turnaround and was able to consult with my wife about how to get some calories down given the state of my stomach. She suggested a salt tablet under my tongue, which sounded like a great idea. I bit it open, applied and, again, projectile vomited more water onto the side of the road. As I start to move on a nearby cop asked if I was OK, which I responded with a "yeah fine" in the middle an ensuing series of dry-heaves. Again, I got another boost from being able to continue moving forward.

At mile 17, my wife was standing on the side of road with two tubes of glucose tablets, a quick remedy for insulin deficiencies used by diabetics that absorb through your mouth. This saved my race! Now these things only have about 15 calories per tab and 4 grams of carbs, but I managed to keep a steady flow of them and immediately felt better. My run had become about survival and these tabs were key.

By the mile 20 turnaround, I knew I was going to finish, but kept the plan conservative to keep from bonking or doing myself in through more exertion than necessary. From mile 25 I managed to maintain my run through the finish. I did not care about my time, I was just happy to have survived a terrible day where nothing went well and to have finished.
Post race
Warm down:

I felt pretty good going through the finish area and wanted more than anything to get out of running shoes and into some clean clothes. As my group started to head towards the convention center, I saw a bench and set down. That was it and I had had enough. Luckily my friends were staying at the Hilton at the finish line, so I went back to their room to sit and shower while my buddy and wife went to retrieve my bags, bike and car from the convention center and transition area.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

The flu combined with the heat.

Event comments:

1. Foremost, this was an exceptionally well run and organized event. At both registration and bike/gear bag check-in we were assigned a volunteer that walked you through the process. I had little to no wait at either of these event. NAS could learn something from the way WTC puts on an event, just saying.

2. While the race is only 140.6, be prepared to add on a couple of miles to that. The walk to the swim start is about .75 miles. The walk from the finish to the convention center to the transition is another mile or more. Having a friend to retrieve your bags and bike and save you from the trip back to transition is invaluable.

3. I would highly recommend this is for any returning IM veteran given the challenge of this course. I will say that I am glad I had the experience of another IM going into this one given the difficulties I encountered.

4. If you are doing this as your first, make sure to have multiple contingency nutrition plans in place and now how to deal with difficulties like dehydration, calorie absorption issues, etc. and be ready for tough conditions on a challenging course.

Last updated: 2007-12-20 12:00 AM
01:12:52 | 4224 yards | 01m 44s / 100yards
Age Group: 67/260
Overall: 360/1975
Performance: Average
Suit: BlueSeventy PointZero3 SwimSkin
Course: Ohio River
Start type: Dive Plus:
Water temp: 84F / 29C Current: Low
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Average
Breathing: Good Drafting: Bad
Waves: Navigation: Average
Rounding: Good
Time: 04:54
Performance: Good
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: Yes
Getting up to speed: Good
06:32:30 | 112 miles | 17.12 mile/hr
Age Group: 134/260
Overall: 773/1975
Wind: Little
Course: Rolling, relentless hills, one after another after another after another comprised of out and back from town, a 5 mile out and back with two steep descents and climbs, and two 30 mile loops.
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence:
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Average
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Not enough
Time: 05:34
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes Good
Jumping off bike Below average
Running with bike Good
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
06:02:29 | 26.2 miles | 13m 50s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/260
Overall: 0/1975
Performance: Below average
Course: Flat, hot, little shade. Two loops out and back. The song "Highway to Hell" comes to mind, especially on the non-shaded outbound legs. Not overly pretty, but not overly boring either. The volunteers and aid stations were awesome!
Keeping cool Average Drinking Not enough
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Ok
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 5