Ten months ago I signed up both Mike and myself for Ironman Louisville (aka IMKY). Starting soon after I began my training with Mikeâ€™s guidance â€“ getting in more, and more quality, training than ever before. A week ago it was time, and we travelled out to Kentucky for the big day. Vineman 70.3 had been our only big race day of the year, and with Mike getting hit by a car he was definitely unsure how the IM race would play out. In fact, if I hadnâ€™t been signed up as well, he would have skipped it. That same Vineman 70.3 race had brought me an hour and 24 minute PR at the half distance, so I was eager to see how ironfit I really was!
We arrived Thursday and got checked in, and realized we had an awesome hotel spot: our room overlooked the finish line! Friday morning I woke up in pain: I somehow managed to pull or strain one of my lower ab muscles while sleeping. It HURT: I couldnâ€™t move to sitting up without help, and I felt it each step I took walking. Gotta keep going though, so it was off to a swim practice, to get our bikes from TriBikeTransport, and to go for an easy spin along the run course. I could feel my side during the swim, but soon had a new worry to compete with it â€“ the current! I didnâ€™t think Iâ€™d make it 2.4 miles in the cutoff time with that kind of current! Luckily the race directors were prepared and changed the course, making it start in waters a bit more protected, and also as a time-trial instead of mass swim start. Happy to have that fear a bit subsided, I was free to move back to the pain in my side. Luckily during our test ride on our bikes it felt ok after about 5 miles, and each morning was a bit less sore, to be only a dull ache by the time race day rolled around.
The bikes felt good, so back in the hotel we got them and our TA bags set up. Gels taped to the bars, aerobottles ready for water, and 2 bottles of super-concentrated Carbo Pro on the frames. Shoes, race belts, sunglasses, and tri tops into the bags. Our helmets would be placed on the handle bars race morning. This prep was fast and easy for us, as Vineman had been a successful test of the planning. We had time for bonus napping and relaxing, watching random tv, lying around, and generally being lazy and sleeping early. Saturday came and we went for another easy swim, a short run, and got our gear and bikes checked in. The volunteers at the bag and bike check were great: they took us through the whole TA and made sure we were ready for how that part of our day would go. We had a nap, and were woken up by crazy thunder and rain and lightening! But it soon stopped, and then it was an early dinner at TGI Fridayâ€™s, some chatting with our waiter, and early to bed.
Sunday came fast, and next thing I knew I was standing on the dock as the sun came up, holding Mikeâ€™s hand, nervous, and ready. No wetsuit with the 85 degree water: but hey it was the same for everyone out there. The line began moving, and soon it was a final kiss, a jump in the water, and we were off. Mike quickly pulled away, and I settled into my rhythm. I had a few sections of not-so-great sighting, but in general I felt comfortable and like I was moving well. Relaxed, and just pulling. Keeping my cadence a bit higher than usual and my glide time a bit shorter while I fought the current seemed to work well. Made it out around the turn with only a bit of contact, and then enjoyed the swim to home. I wasnâ€™t wearing a watch, and I wasnâ€™t sure what time Mike and I actually started, but after the race Mike let me know I had PRâ€™ed: 1:18:16 for the 2.4 miles.
The transition area at this race was LONG: from the water we had about a 200m run up a slight incline, over a footbridge, and to the transition area. I just kept a relaxed jog, got handed my bag by another great volunteer, and had my own personal volunteer in the changing tent. She dumped my bag, helped me pull down my tri top, and made sure I got all I needed from the bag on before sending me on my way and packing up my swim gear for me. T1: 5:18.
Out of the changing tent, right to my bike rack, grabbed the bike and kept my easy jog right up the sidewalk and over to the street for the mount line. A bit of shakey legs having been horizontal so long in the swim made it take a second to get clipped in, but I did and was off. Nice and easy, I kept telling myself. There was going to be plenty of time on the bike. I sipped water from my aero bottle, got comfy on my bars, and just got it done. Slowed down, thanked aid station volunteers, and kept that aerobottle full of Gatorade, water, or a mix of them. I cruised the downhills, and went just a bit harder than I should on the uphill of the rollers. My stomach felt a bit off, and I realized the Gatorade was just not working that day. So I switched to water, glad I had put some eCaps (electrolytes) in my jersey pocket just in case, and felt just fine. My Carbo Pro mix bottles worked great as always: a sip every 30 minutes, plus a gel at about half way and another at the end of loop two were all I needed. I peed a number of times on the bike (wooo stinky shoes!) and feel my hydration and nutrition on the bike was pretty good. The only issue was the 2 times I was out of water for a mile or two. The section through La Grange (done twice) was a blast: I felt like a superstar as people were lining both sides of the street, screaming and cheering and cowbelling like it was the Tour de France. Just after it on the first loop some bug stung my lip, but I spit him out, found it wasnâ€™t swelling, and just forgot about it. There were miles of beautiful land, and even some horse farms. A number of the locals were out and cheering, or had marked the sections of broken pavement right by their homes. Part of the loop had a bit of wind, and got a bit tough, but the second loop when it was even tougher I knew that the end of the loop had a bit of a tailwind, great pavement, and was that close to being done pedaling! So I just, well, got it done. The last 10ish miles heading back to the TA were awesome new pavement, mostly downhill, and just made for flying. So I relaxed and brought my heartrate down a bit, stretching the legs a bit to get them ready to run. Back in town, I hopped off the bike, jogged the long stretch back to the changing tents, and handed off the bike. On the bike I had my Garmin, so I knew this one was a PR! 6:22:09 for 112 miles.
I just kept right on moving through T2: I had another great volunteer taking care of all my needs, and I swapped cycling shoes for runners and socks, and my helmet for a visor, and I was off. I found I had a slight blister on the back of my heel, and was hoping it wouldnâ€™t get too much worse with running. Another long jog back out to the street where the actual run would begin: 5:16 (my only split where I beat Mike).
As the run started I was feeling really good. In fact, the first mile was sub-9 although I kept trying to slow myself down, knowing there were plenty of miles to come. I was still feeling good around mile 3 where the first loop reconnects around mile 14. And right as I get to that intersection, who should come around the corner but my wonderful boyfriend! I threw my hands in the air â€“ â€œthatâ€™s the one I love!â€ and got a jogging kiss â€“ it was one of the best parts of the day. He was starting to hurt, and had been about ready to walk. So he ran with me for about half a mile or so until an aid station where he walked, and I actually passed him! It wouldnâ€™t last though â€“ he said later that he couldnâ€™t let that happen so had to get moving again. He passed me back a few minutes later. For that I take the credit for keeping his time sub-10 :). The rest of the run got tougher. I was soon walking the aid stations, but keeping a smile and moving in between them. I was shivering and goosebumpy around mile 4, so I gave up on my plan of not chaffing by staying dry and started dumping ice down my sports bra and pants. I came back from it, and kept focusing on the white aid station tents, playing number games with myself. â€œItâ€™s only 20 more miles. Thatâ€™s just a long run.â€ â€œItâ€™s only another 16 â€“ you did that with a sore foot earlier so this will be easy.â€ â€œOnly 2 more 8 milers, and those are just regular weekday runs.â€ At the turn around Mike wasnâ€™t out yet having recently finished, and I missed my cheering squad that had supported me at all my other IMs. But I kept going, and finally it was â€œOnly a 5k to go!! Youâ€™ve got this!â€ Unsure of exactly when I had started, I thought based on the time of day that Iâ€™d make it sub-12:45, but I wasnâ€™t sure about the 12:30ish I had as my â€œall goes wellâ€ goal. My legs were hurting â€“ each time I walked an aid station I had to start running again right at the end of it, or I knew Iâ€™d really slow. Rich (watching on his bike) let me know Mike had finished: 9:52 and 4th in his AG â€“ probably good for a Kona slot! He also gave Mike a call, letting him know to get to the finish line and that I was coming in! And I just kept at it, my legs burning, exhausting, and leaving the last bits I had out there. And then I was at the 26 mile marker. It was still light: I was going to finish in daylight for the first time! Another runner was near me, and I asked him if it was first or second lap for him. Second, he said. But you go firstâ€¦ youâ€™ve passed me all day. So I went for it. I turned and could see the chute. I was running down it, the announcers completely drowned out by the screams and cowbells of the crowd. It brings tears to my eyes even typing about it now. There was unbelievable energy and spirit and it pulled me in. I had done it: across the line, right into the arms of my finish line catchers.
Swim: 1:18:16 (32/50 W25-29, 158/356 women, 824/1703 starters)
T1: 5:18 (8/50 W25-29, 48/356 women, 300/1703 starters)
Bike: 6:22:09 (17/50 W25-29, 86/356 women, 781/1703 starters)
T2: 5:16 (5/50 W25-29, 26/356 women, 113/1703 starters)
Run: 4:39:50 (11/50 W25-29, 69/356 women, 440/1703 starters)
Total: 12:30:47 (14/50 W25-29, 68/356 women, 498/1703 starters)
Amazing, just amazing race. I couldnâ€™t stand on my own, but I was so proud and happy! I knew it had been a successful day, and that I had dug deep. One of my goals was to really push my limits, and I did â€“ at IM AZ I was pretty fine when I finished, and just went about on my own. Not so this time, and I ended up needing help to get to the massage area. But at the same time, I didnâ€™t injure myself or take it too far: itâ€™s been less than a week and although Iâ€™m still a bit stiff Iâ€™m feeling pretty good. Sure, I had heat rash pretty much everywhere, and my chaffing is a bit scary, but I didnâ€™t even get really sunburned. Mike got our bikes back to TriBikeTransport while I showered, and then we went back to the finish line.
We grabbed food at TGI Fridays (right at the finish line) again, and our waiter from the day before came by. He had seen us when we were running together, and had cheered for us! He had also been curious what happened or if Mike was a lap ahead, since he remembered that we expected Mike to be a good bit faster.
Monday we went to awards (Mikeâ€™s first IM award!) and signed him up for his Kona slot before heading home. Take 2 triathletes. Add little sleep night before the IM, and 3 hours the night after. Now put them in a hurry, sore, cranky, and in an airport. In a plane. Switching planes and having to cross the largest airport ever. Getting into a low car and driving home. Getting out of the car, hauling luggage. Man we were nice to each other , but the pillows were welcome that night!
Iâ€™d recommend that race to anyone. Insane energy, and tons of community interest. Our taxi driver to the airport the next day was full of questions, and said it really hit home what an Ironman meant having it local. Heâ€™d seen the Kona shows, but they were over in an hour. He said it was something else when it went through areas he knew and when the local news was still giving updates at midnight. Very nice hotel setup, and I appreciated how prepared the race organizers were. The volunteers were the best ever: they were full of energy, jogged to get people the water they asked for, and were on top of everything. Iâ€™ll also remember the two girls dancing like crazy to the â€œI like to move it move itâ€¦. I like to move it move itâ€ song â€“ a racerâ€™s kids, either at the swim start or hanging out at one of the many pre-race activities. But just having fun, and giggling, and oddly thatâ€™s what I remember about that race. 🙂