Ironman Louisville 2018
"A SMOOTH SEA NEVER MADE A SKILLED SAILOR"
Always earned, never given
Ironman Louisville was my 2nd Ironman. My first Ironman was in Madison in September of 2017. I have finished in 12:38. We had almost perfect weather on that day in Madison. While training for Madison, I learned a lot and applied it in my training for Louisville Ironman. I had a great training season. I was going into the race strong and well prepared to race under 11:30. That was my ultimate goal. I needed to shave 20 min off each leg and 5-8 min in transition.
I will start by saying that Louisville Ironman is a great course and it is worth racing. Volunteers were amazing! Race organization, venue, bike and run course are great.
I cannot thank enough each and every volunteer that were on the course in rain and cold and helping us to have a great day. It was a tough race for me personally, but some of it was because of the choices I made or did not make.
Ironman is a tough race. After it is in the name IRONMAN. Ironman is 140.6 miles of continuous moving transitioning from swimming to biking to running a full marathon. Louisville Ironman was not just a tough race for me, but it was also a rough one. Mother Nature has added an additional layer of challenges testing me physically and mentally at each leg of the race throwing different obstacles at us .... rain showers, 45F, freezing wind, and strong currents in Ohio River morning of the race.
We had a drastic change in weather from 80s and sunny 2 days prior to the race to 40s and raining on race day. I wish I was more prepared for a cold and windy bike ride and wore a right gear. I mentally was not ready for a drastic weather change. Weather forecast showed that I would warm up to 60s by mid day. I was hoping that I will stay warm since I will be biking hard and running and will stay warm. That was a wrong assumption ... rain, wind and cold temps make the core temp drop and it is hard to stay warm. It was a lesson that I learned. This one is on me.
I had 2 moments during the race, one at mile 30 on a bike and one at mile 17 on a run when I a thought of DNFing had crossed my mind and I did entertain the idea of dropping out for good.
My Louisville Ironman results:
Swim: 0.9 mile/17:01
Swim was one of the areas I worked on this year and improved since last year. I was ready to put all training to the test. My goal was to shave off 20 min of my last year swim time and swim under 1:20.
My morning was going according to my plan. I woke up on time and felt great. Had my pre-race breakfast, stretched, rolled, and dressed. It was 40F outside and raining. My goal was to stay dry and warm for as long as possible, I had 3 layers on to keep me dry.
Got to the venue on time, parked 5 min away from the transition!! Prepped my bike, checked my gear bags, got body marked and right at 7 am started to make my way down to the swim start. It continued to drizzle, but not too bad. I put my wetsuit on and lined up with 1:10-1:20 total swim time group. 30 min before an anticipated start I drank pre-workout, 15 min before the anticipated start I had a cookie. I was ready to go. I tried not to look at the river.
As start time got closer and we still have not moved, I knew something was up. That is when we learned that the currents are too strong to swim a full course ( up the stream for about 1 mile and then downstream). The course will be shortened to 0.9 mile and it will be a straight shot down the stream and the start is delayed by 30 min.
Swim in Ohio River was causing me anxieties since I volunteered last year and decided to race Louisville. All the recent changes have added to my anxieties. But I tried to stay positive and was chatting with people around me, encouraging first timers. And then we started to move. It took us 1 hour to get to the starting blocks and there were still a lot of people behind us. In total it took almost 2 hours for all athletes to start their swim.
I jumped in and felt the current taking me down the stream. I tried to relax and just swim. I saw first buoy and made my way to go around it. The current pushed me into the buoy and I was fighting it trying to get away from it. Finally, I was able to get away from it and continue to swim downstream. There was no certain path to swim, people were all over. I started to look out for the next buoy and started to swim toward it. I was fighting the current to get to the buoy. That was the first time I started to panic. But I calmed myself down trying to remember my training swim a day before that was perfect and I loved it. I did some breaststroke to calm down and to sight. I made it to the next buoy and once again the current pinned me to the buoy and I kept fighting it to get away from it. A kayaker approached me and told me not to fight the current and just swim downstream to the exit ramp. I looked around and I was alone at that buoy. Once again a panic started to set in. I talked myself out of it. I found the exit ramp and started to swim toward it. The currents kept pushing me down the stream and away from it. I started to kick as hard as I could to make my way to the exit ramp. I grabbed the ramp rails and pulled myself out of the river. .9 mile in 17 min, just over 1 min per 100 yards. I was so happy to be out, adrenaline was pumping, I was ready to get on the bike. I dropped in front of the wetsuit strippers a few seconds later I was running toward T1.
Louisville Ironman Oct14'18 - Bike: 6:08/112 miles/18.3mph
I ran through the transition, grabbed my run bag and rushed into a changing tent. Day before, when I was checking my bags in, I made one vital decision that basically kept me in this race on race day. I added a long sleeve shirt and gloves to my bike bag.
It was still raining, but river water was warm, so I felt pretty good and was still actually debating if I need long sleeve and gloves. Weather forecast was calling for 60s by mid day.
The transition tent was pretty packed already. I found an empty chair, dropped my bike bag and pulled out my biking gear. My skin was wet and I had to wrestle a little with my longed sleeved shirt. Floor was sandy and my feet were covered in sand. I asked a volunteer for a cup of water to wash it off before putting my socks on. I washed it off one foot, just to step into that sand again. I decided not to waste time and pulled my socks up on sandy feet. Ran out of the tent, grabbed my bike and off I went.
I love biking on hills. Overall it was a perfect course for me. I was looking forward to the bike ride. I wished we had a different weather and I could enjoy it and push myself to see what I can do. Last year in Wisconsin my bike time was 6:22, my goal was to go under 6 on this course.
I drove the course day before. I knew that first 10 miles were flat. I started out conservatively, it was raining and I needed time to get used to handling the bike on a wet and slippery road. We were shielded by trees in our first 10 miles on the bike. I was wet; it was cold, but not too bad. Miles 10-30 were the worst miles of the day. We approached rolling hills area, it was more open to the winds. I would warm up going up the hill and freeze going down. Wind and rain was punishing me on every downhill when I was going fast so I slowed down a little. My only goal was not to allow for my core body temps to drop. I needed to consume calories and to stay hydrated. I noticed that people were stopping on a side of a road and at the medical tents to warm up. I started to shiver at mile 25. I was 1, 5 hours in, a thought of biking for another 4,5 hours made me want to DNF, I did not think I had it in me. My family was waiting for me at mile 30 and I had to make it to at least mile 30. I biked through a cheering zone, saw my family and it lifted my spirits.
Thankfully next 15 miles were in an area shielded from the winds, it also stopped raining, it drizzled, but it got warmer. I was so thankful for that. I enjoyed the rest of the bike. I got stronger with each mile. I stayed hydrated and was consuming calories regularly and stayed with my nutrition plan. A couple times I was almost wiped out by fellow bikers, who were getting tired and were not alert, but I was able to maneuver around them and get myself to the bike dismount area. In 3 of my last training rides I practice getting out of the shoes while still on a bike. I was hesitant to try it in the competition. It worked great. As I jumped off the bike, a volunteer grabbed it, I was cheered by my training partner and it gave me a boost of energy as I tan into transition 2.
every minute counts - prepping to get off the bike
Louisville Ironman Oct14'18 - Run: 4:24/26.2 miles/ 10:05 pace
Finally off the bike
My goal was to run under 4 hour marathon shaving 20 min off last year time. I ran Berlin marathon as a long run 4 week before that in 3:33, going into a race I knew I was in shape to run a solid under 4 hours marathon.
Rain pretty much stopped by the time I got to the transition. My clothes were dry, I was still a little cold and I was looking forward to the run. I changed out of my cycling gear, filled my water bottle, popped into a porta potty and was on my way in 6 min. I felt pretty good and was so happy to finally be running. Course is 2 loops. Roughly 4 times 6.5 miles through downtown Louisville. I like that type of course; you can easily break down your run into smaller increments and attack them one by one. When you turn around at about 13 miles you can see the finish line, there is a sign Finish to the left and second loop to the right. SUCH A TEASE!
First mile 8:30, second mile 8:30. I deliberately slowed down, I needed to run under 9s. We all know what happens when you start too fast. Miles 2-9 were perfect 9 min average pace. I have not stopped at all. I would just grab water and keep running. I had nuun with me and my stinger gels. I was on schedule with my nutrition and hydration. I was feeling great.
Ironman is hard work
Mile 10 I started to get lightheaded and cold, it would come in spells. I walked through water station and took chicken broth - 11:25 mile, mile 11 - same happened, lightheaded and cold, I drank chicken broth to warm up and it helped again - 10:43 mile. I was getting close to a turnaround where my family was waiting for me. I was slowing down to 9:30s but I ran consistent miles 12 through 16. But I was feeling that trouble was brewing. Lightheaded, cold, bloated, exhausted...and still 10 miles to go. Next 4 miles were rough, like real rough. I have never experienced that before during the race. It can be because I was eating too much to stay warm on the bike or unfamiliar food like Chicken broth, which I loved by the way, it kept me warm on the course. It is hard to say, but I hope I will never experience it again.
Only half marathon to go
I was running from one porta potty to another porta potty. Mile 17 - 11:47. Mile 18 was the mile I was ready to stop my misery and just stop running and call it a day. I found myself banging my head on the door of yet another porta potty and feeling sorry for myself. Mile 18 was the slowest 15:54. I had to remind myself that this is an Ironman, I have only 8 miles to go and I can walk until I cannot. I can do it. Nobody made me do it, I chose to. I was dehydrated, I was lightheaded. I assessed the situation. I did not think it was dangerous, if it was becoming dangerous I would stop at a medical tent and ask for help, until then I would keep going.
Mile 19 10:52, mile 20 10:43. Last turnaround, only 6 miles to go. That is when I met my angel. Girl about 7 years old. It was past her bedtime, Sunday almost 8 pm. She looked a little tired, but she kept cheering on each runner. Ironman gives you bracelets to give to a volunteer that made a difference in your race to thank them. I stopped to give my bracelet to this little girl. I hugged her, and said "Thank You" through tears. I turned around, she waved at me and said "Good Luck". That was the moment that I knew I could not stop and I will finish what I started. 10:52, 10:43, 10;09. Mile 23 was all about collecting myself for the final push, one foot in front of enough. Mile 23 - 11:23 mile. Mile 24 - 11:01. Mile 25 10:30 and mile 26 was under 10. Last turn and finally FINISH LINE! I made it! I am 2 time IROMAN! I achieved my goal. I was thinking that I can be in top 10 based on my training, placing 8th was great.
Ironman is a tough race that is why it is call an Ironman. We train for many months in hopes of having a beautiful day on a course, all stars aligning perfectly and achieving a personal goal whatever they might be. We see ourselves crossing that finish line with your arms in the air, receiving medal and going out to celebrate.
Thank you volunteers
Ironman takes all you have to give
Behind the scene
And then you get to a start line and you already know that it will be a tough race. Mother nature decided to add an additional challenge, like 140.6 miles is not enough of a challenge. Then you remember all the cancelled bike rides when it was cold and rainy. I don't remember looking outside and saying: Awesome, it is freezing and raining, let me go for a long bike ride. Nope, usually it is goes the other way: It is freezing and raining; I am going to bike inside or move to a better day. You remember the runs on treadmill because it was raining outside or cold.
One of the main lessons I learned that it is important to train in any weather so you know what it feels like and can make a right gear choice on a race day based on the weather prognosis. Stay positive and roll with punches.
10 months of training to earn the MEDAL and 8th AG placing