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Ironman Louisville

It’s been a couple months since I’ve posted.  Training has been good and I have been focused on IMKY.  There hasn’t been much to report until this point, but this might prove to be a long post.

This has been my first foray into the triathlon world, and I have loved it.  Triathletes are a special kind of crazy, so I fit right in 🙂 Up to IMKY, I have not had any huge setbacks.  My training, while sometimes intermittent, stayed on track.  I was disciplined and excited to see how far I could push myself.  I got so much encouragement from everyone around me, even if they thought I was crazy for ever attempting an Ironman, let alone in the first year of my triathlon career.  No matter how hard I tried not to, I put a lot of pressure on myself to make this a great race.  Unfortunately, it was not to be.

Arrival and Expo:

I flew in to Louisville two days before the race.  I was unbelievably excited to get there and race.  I went to the expo on Friday to get checked in and see what they had to offer.  The check in process was moderately painless.  We got wristbands, got weighed and our body fat was measured (13% – not too bad for now!), and got our bags (pretty sweet SWAG).  The expo itself wasn’t huge, and there were so many people there!  I have to say that, although I love the triathlon expo, marathon expos are much better.  There is a wider variety of products and people to interact with.  I know this is because more people run than tri, but I wish the expos were a little better.

I didn’t spend too long at the expo.  I bought the obligatory t-shirts, the M Dot decal and the 140.6 decal for the car, and went on my way.

Saturday:

After checking in my bike to transition (and having a good conversation with a volunteer from England who is racing IMFL) I took the day off.  I went and saw The Expendables thinking it would be a good movie to get me pumped up before the next day’s endeavor, but it was kind of a dud.  I should have seen Inception.  My pre race dinner was Qdoba.  Not great, but they didn’t have Chipotle, so what can you do 🙂

After setting up my bags and laying out my kit, I got to bed.  Of course I had trouble sleeping, but I got to sleep knowing that I had to be up in a scant few hours to take on the biggest challenge of my life.

Race Morning:

I got up and had my normal bowl of cereal with almond milk (I need to write a review of Bear Naked soon – absolutely my favorite cereal).  I added a bagel with almond butter and a banana to the routine, knowing that I needed all the nutrition I could get before the race started.  I showered to get my body warm and then headed to the Great Lawn to race!

Dropping my transition bags off was a different experience.  I have never been in a position where I couldn’t set up my own transition and know exactly where everything was and how to get to it.  Trusting the volunteers to get my bags to me in transition was going to be challenging, but I figured they knew what they were doing and I just needed to go with it.  After dropping off the bags, I walked the mile to the swim start, found my teammates, and settled in for the wait.

Swim:

The swim was a time trial start with athletes going in the water every 2-3 seconds.  The line to the start snaked for quite a ways back from the dock, but we were fortunate enough to get decently close to the front.  As the sun rose in the east, we heard the national anthem played.  It was one of those experiences that gives you chills.  The cannon went off for the pros, and you could feel the excitement/tension continue to build.

The line started moving forward and I looked at my Global Trainer (another review waiting to be written) and saw my HR was already in the 90s.  What can I say, I was pretty excited 🙂

Once we reached the end of the dock, the volunteers told us to put on our goggles and jog to the entry point.  From that moment, there wasn’t really anything thinking to do, you just ran and jumped in!  It was probably good that way.  I didn’t have any hesitations, or if I did it happened so fast there wasn’t any time to think about them.

I found myself in the water and quickly got into my rhythm.  I felt good during the swim.  I was trying to push a little bit but no so much that my shoulder would start hurting.  I remember at several points looking up to sight and thinking I was close to the last buoy and realizing what I thought was the red buoy was really an orange buoy in the shade.  I didn’t get discouraged though, and just kept swimming (and singing the Nemo song in the process, I’m sure) 🙂

As I came out of the water, I checked my time.  I had been shooting for a 1:45 swim and looked at my watch and saw I was in with a 1:34.  I was ecstatic!  This was the part of the race I was most concerned about.  I did not want to DNF at the beginning of the race, and I had shattered my previous expectation!  I really loved the point to point swim.  While the straight away once you turned around the island seemed interminable, it really was a good swim in the river.

Bike:

After a quick transition (and seriously, I keep getting better at my transitions, even in this instance), I was out on the bike.  My plan was to go out at a moderate pace, not getting caught up in the adrenaline, and hammer at the end.  I failed.  I flew out on the bike and, for the first 10 miles, I was averaging almost 23 mph.  This was a HUGE mistake, one of many to come.

They advertised this course as a rolling course.  Maybe it is.  I’m already signed up for IM CdA next year, which is supposed to be a hilly course, so we’ll see.  There is an out and back in the first part of the course that is particularly challenging, but I tried to moderate myself as much as possible.  I was still doing alright and had eased up on the speed through that point.

As I went through LaGrange the first time at mile 35 or so, I felt good.  I was staying on top of my hydration and nutrition, and the crowds in LaGrange were awesome.  It definitely lit a fire and I drew strength from them as I passed through.  Through the mile 57 aid station, I was feeling good.  I stopped there to stretch and replenish my water and sports drink and I was off again.

It wasn’t long after that aid station that things took a turn for the worse.  I was in the middle of the two loop section and was so focused on the hills that I stopped eating and drinking.  I knew I was falling behind on my nutrition, but I desperately wanted to be done with the bike and figured I could catch up once I was done with the hills.  That didn’t happen.  I just kept digging myself into a deeper and deeper hole.  By mile 100, I was struggling to keep going.  I stopped at the last aid station at mile 105 and had to sit for a few minutes before I could go on.  The last few miles seemed to drag on forever, but I finally finished in 7:15.  Not a great bike, and the deficit in which I put myself was more than my body could ultimately handle.

Run:

T2 took a little longer, both because I had to put on my vibrams and because I needed the extra time.  It was 5:20 in the evening, and I knew I could still make the midnight cut off if I just got going and kept a decent pace.  As I walked out of transition and started running, I knew immediately I was in trouble.  My body felt heavy and my left IT Band was hurting, which had never happened before.  I jogged to the first aid station and ate a banana, an orange, and had water and gatorade, but I knew I still had a ways to go to make up for the nutritional mistakes I made on the bike.

I slogged my way through the first half of the run.  I would run as much as I could before my leg needed to slow down, but I was keep about a 13:00 pace.  Not at all what I wanted, but finishing was the goal.  As I passed the 13.1 mile mark, I knew things were getting dangerous.  My body still hadn’t caught up and I couldn’t eat enough to fix it.  My stomach hurt so there were aid stations in which I didn’t eat anything.  There was a turn around at mile 14, and at that point I started to consider the fact I might not make it.  I felt the tears well up in my eyes, but wiped them away and vowed that nothing short of collapse would stop me.  Little did I know how prescient I was in that moment.

Miles 15 through 18 were more running followed by walking.  I kept checking my watch, knowing that I was running low on time.  It was just past the mile 19 aid station when it finally happened.  My body, which had been trying to tell me to fuel it, finally gave out.  I was shuffling on about 100 yards past the aid station when I collapsed.  I caught myself with my hands, but was on my back.  Two volunteers came up and asked if I was alright or if I needed the SAG van.  I told them no, got back up, took five steps, and fell back over.  I dragged myself to the curb and told them to call the van.  It came and took me to medical, where I got a saline drip and was able to moderately recover.

Total Time: DNF

There is a part of me that is ashamed to have to put DNF anywhere near my name, actually it’s a pretty large part of me.  People keep telling me that it’s alright, that most people don’t even try something like this.  I understand what they are saying, but that isn’t a consolation.  I wanted to finish.  I will be back to Louisville.  I will stay on top of my nutrition and I will conquer that course.  As it stands now, I am signing up for another iron distance race.  I am doing the Redman Full Distance Triathlon in 24 days.  I will finish that race, even if I have to drag my no good carcass across that finish line 🙂  This is a setback, but not a fatal one.  I know my limits, and I haven’t reached them yet!

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