Ironman Louisville - TriathlonFull Ironman

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Louisville, Kentucky
United States
World Triathlon Corporation
85+F / 29C
Total Time = 15h 27m 25s
Overall Rank = 1995/2600
Age Group = 45-49
Age Group Rank = 217/256
Pre-race routine:

Since I am a very, very slow swimmer, consistently at the end of my age group, I got to the swim start at Tumbleweed very, very early, about 3:30am ... yeah, I know, but I wanted that early start in the water. I wasn't really sleeping anyway. So I was 7th in line, and since I brought my blanket, I took a long nap on the sidewalk. I woke up when the line was moved over to the north side and never really slept again. I will remember listening to my mp3-player and feeling all the excitement and tension in the air. When I stepped out of line and went up to the bathroom, the girl in front of our line had thrown up all over the floor--lots of nervousness to go around. Then we moved down to the docks and waited some more, and we spoke with one of the women pros who was also just waiting to start. She was very humble and friendly, and everyone felt more at ease. I remember seeing her pass me later on the first bike loop near LaGrange. Some people in line asked some of the houseboat owners if they could use their "head," and many were not refused. More evidence that the Louisville community was really behind the whole event.
Event warmup:

Ah, ... none, other than walking down the ramp. But that's ok ;-)
  • 1h 47m 51s
  • 3862 meters
  • 02m 47s / 100 meters

I knew I was going to be a very slow swimmer which was one of the reasons I got in line so early so I could have some extra time. This is the main area of tri where I need to improve something ... stroke cadence, technique, strength, bi-lateral breathing ...? Probably all of the above, and more. I didn't have the $ this year for extra coaching in this area of technique, but next winter, I'll probably get some observation from some much better swimming friends, including my daughters who are natural swimmers, like my wife.
What would you do differently?:

Looking back on it, I wouldn't be so early in line again mostly because I was "swum over" quite a bit and jostled here and there in the first 1000m. Still, I was ready for that, and all the "beating up" doesn't bother me too much--it's become part of the whole tri experience for me. However,what left some bigger scars and bleeding was from folks with sharp fingernails--ouch! Please keep your nails short, if only to protect slowbies like me from the gashes of your stroke. So sad to hear that a man died on the swim segment. It was a very sobering event and a reminder of how pushing ourselves to the limit can be risky.
Transition 1
  • 10m 39s

Not much need to rush anything in T1 in a full IM, eh? I just wore my pool swim suit, so I changed to my dry tri top and shorts and socks and shoes. I liberally applied Assos chamois cream and some body glide around the arms of the tri top and, uh, other strategic locations. This was WELL worth the extra effort since I ended the race with no more chafing than I would have on any long bike/run brick. It was fun speaking with the guys next to me in T1 as no one seemed in too much of a hurry, and the volunteers were ready at arm's reach to get a drink, help with getting clothes, shoes, etc., on and off. I do remember that it was incredibly steamy, and my glasses kept fogging up. I walked to the bike and jogged up to the mount line. I was feeling very good and ready for the long ride day ahead.
What would you do differently?:

Well, I supposed I could have worn my tri shorts in the swim, but then it would have been more difficult to apply chamois cream on wet skin. I notice many folks who wore white tri suits came out of the water looking brown--yuck. The suits acted as a kind of filter for all the sediment and material in the Ohio River. I wonder how much of it I "drank" during the swim? Oh, well. Some extra minerals and fiber, perhaps?
  • 6h 59m 24s
  • 112 miles
  • 16.02 mile/hr

Out of transition, I intentionally held back quite a bit, keeping my pace at about 16mph until that first out and back section with the steep descents and climbs. I enjoyed that stretch though I will say I'm very comfortable descending at high speeds and letting the bike go. I lived in Colorado for 20 years, and all the riding I did on mountain passes is still more difficult that anything the midwest can dish out. Where I struggled was with the pace on the flats and my aching neck over the long hours. Keeping my head up for such extended periods hurt so bad, even more than my time on my bum in the saddle. I might need to reset my position of the bike a bit more to get more upright. Maybe. I enjoyed chatting with folks as I would race by them on the downhill or pass them on the uphill only to have them race by me again on a flatter stretch. That sometimes happened six or seven times with the same person, and we would always laugh and try to think of something funny to say each time we passed, until they eventually moved on past me.I enjoyed that course though I will say I'm very comfortable descending at high speeds and letting the bike go. I must have sped by the man who crashed on that section since a young lady I rode past just after that asked me if I had seen what happened. I sure pray that he's ok. Crashes like that are brutal if not fatal. I've completed many tricky, fast, and technical descents, but quick, steep, and twisting descents in traffic can be awfully scary.

Climbing wasn't too difficult for me though at mile 80, I soon realized that I would not be able to run the entire marathon.

I only dismounted the bike twice: The first time was on the first lap when I came down the steep hill into the tight, righthand hairpin turn and dropped my chain from poor shifting. The second time was in front of one of the high school aid stations approaching LeGrange. A very, very helpful volunteer held my bike while I dashed to the porta for some welcome relief. Enjoyed seeing all my girls, Mary and our daughters, if only in that brief blitz on the two laps through LaGrange.
What would you do differently?:

Where I struggled was with the pace on the flats and my aching neck. Keeping my head up for such extended periods hurt so bad.

My bike is about as fast as it can go with the basic wheels it has. I built it myself, so it's strong and sturdy but not as fast as I would like. That will probably be an eventual upgrade, but I can't really afford a $1,000 wheelset. Oh, well. Maybe I can just put a custom disk cover on one of my training rear wheels and then get a decent front aero wheel. As usual, it seems like the bike grabs a lot of my tri. Also, I don't think my bike fitness was really where I thought it was. I need to do many more longer bike/run bricks.
Transition 2
  • 09m 31s

Again, I didn't worry about running off the bike into transition. I walked it up to the line and was so glad that a volunteer would rack it for me. Another volunteer handed me my bag, and I changed into fresh socks and my Brooks shoes. I drank a bottle of water as I headed out. It's amazing what dry socks and some cold water can do!
What would you do differently?:

I don't think I would do much of anything different. Yes, it was a pretty slow transition, but given how long the day was, I didn't worry about it. The man next to me was there drinking a water bottle when I arrived in a chair, and he was still comfortably sitting there when I left. No rushing T2 for him, and I can't say that I wasn't tempted to stay longer.
  • 6h 20m
  • 26.2 miles
  • 14m 30s  min/mile

This was obviously the most difficult part for me. I was jogging pretty well for the first 5 miles, but then it turned into a walk/jog until the turnaround on Fourth Street, and after that, it was just a brisk walk.

Still, the run was the most pensive and thoughtful part of the whole IM experience for me. Plenty of time to think about the day, all the months of training, and that I was going to make it!

I really appreciate all those brief conversations I had with people along the course. Lots of encouraging words from volunteers and spectatosr were also great. I remember a group of guys at one corner who would cheer every time a runner/walker would hit the intersection exactly on the green light. I was afraid I wouldn't make the cut-off, since my head was getting foggy and my time-calculating ability was very blurry. I do remember feeling so elated when I made it around the cut-off point of the second lap and was head firmly back towards town. The best thing I did was change into fresh socks on the first lap. It's the only thing I put in my special needs bag, but it helped tremendously! A lot of water ended up in my shoes when I first started picking up soaked sponges or spilled drinks. I later figured out to "tip" my body more when I received those items so my shoes stayed dry. I HIGHLY recommend a sock change to slower runner/walkers like myself, but it would probably benefit just about everyone. With my speed laces, it took less than a minute. Gettin up out of the chair was painful, but another volunteer pulled me forward so I could make a quick porta stop. From that point on, I never stopped going forward. A younger woman passed me somewhere along that stretch, and she was running so well I said, "You go! You look like you could easily run 10 more miles!" She actually slowed down and told me something I'll never forget: "Thanks! But ANYONE whoe finishes this race is an Ironman, whatever the time is. You're going to make it, too!" Then she trotted off into the darkness. Wow, she was right. I watched many people still moving toward the turn-around even though they knew they weren't going to make that cut-off. Though I felt bad for them, I also envied their determination and endurance. They were Ironmen, too, in my eyes.

By far the best part of the last four miles was seeing my youngest daughter Katie running towards me and telling me that I would definitely make it, even at a slow walk. She probably walked with me almost a mile before giving me a hug, and then I watched her jog easily back north towards the finish. She had probably run five miles just to come see me. I have great kids!

When I got to Fourth Street, I saw that "light at the end of the tunnel," so to speak, and was literally pulled forward by it like a moth and ran the last 200m or so. When I stopped, my legs just wouldn't work, and the med tech made me sit down until my wife and three daughters appeared with hugs and helped to the recovery area at the convention center.
What would you do differently?:

Well, my bike and run fitness were not nearly what I had hoped they could be, but as I said earlier, I don't think I did enough LONG bike/run bricks in training either. That's something I'll need to work on much, much more for my next IM.
Post race
Warm down:

Staggering, mostly, with shoulders supported by my daughters. So this is what it's like to be an old man ;-)

What limited your ability to perform faster:

I should have blood-doped and taken every performance-enhancing drug I could think of ... just kidding, of course! As I said previously, my run fitness must improve by a large factor in order for me to even jog the whole marathon.

Event comments:

Would I do it again? Yes ... and soon ... but ... not ... quite yet. Next year I'll probably do the American Birkebeiner 55K XC ski race since I'm really a XC racer at my core (I've been doing it since the early 1980s), and maybe the One Day Ride Across Michigan (about 152 miles), and perhaps a couple of 1/2 IMs plus some of my favorite Olympic distance races that my wife and I enjoy doing together. Most of all, I hope to do some more volunteering at tri races, something I skipped doing this year but really missed. I would pass that along to all of you: Spend some time helping out at tris. Your experience, knowledge and enthusiasm will help others out much more than you'll know! Thanks, everyone, for taking the time to read such a long novel-like report. Tailwinds to y'all! -Todd

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Last updated: 2011-04-12 12:00 AM
01:47:51 | 3862 meters | 02m 47s / 100meters
Age Group: 258/256
Overall: 2362/2600
Performance: Below average
Suit: Basic (non wet suit)
Course: We went upstream on the shoreward side of Towhead Island, and then we turned north around it and headed downstream for the remainder of the course.
Start type: Dive Plus: Time Trial
Water temp: 0F / 0C Current: Low
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Below average
Breathing: Good Drafting: Below average
Waves: Navigation: Good
Rounding: Good
Time: 10:39
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: No
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed: Below average
06:59:24 | 112 miles | 16.02 mile/hr
Age Group: 225/256
Overall: 2010/2600
Performance: Average
Wind: Some with gusts
Course: Well, the bike course was certainly as roly-poly as I thought it would be, and then some. I was glad that Mary and I drove it the day before. We couldn't believe the number of IM participants we saw along the course, less that 24 hours before the race. Some that we saw were 40+ miles into it! Wow. I know I'd be burning up a lot of fitness and saved energy if I did something like that so soon before the race, but I did admire the high cycling fitness level of many people out there on race day.
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence:
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Hard Drinks: Just right
Time: 09:31
Overall: Below average
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
06:20:00 | 26.2 miles | 14m 30s  min/mile
Age Group: 217/256
Overall: 1995/2600
Performance: Below average
Course: Glad the run was as flat as it was, though I did find the second loop maddening, especially when it took us so close to the finish line only to veer off to the right for a second one.
Keeping cool Average Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5