Ironman Louisville - TriathlonFull Ironman

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Louisville, Kentucky
United States
World Triathlon Corporation
76F / 24C
Total Time = 11h 39m 2s
Overall Rank = 519/2315
Age Group = M45-49
Age Group Rank = 48/224
Pre-race routine:

Dropped off bike and transition bags at transition. Scoped out the flow through transition. Made mental notes of which rack my bike was on and which row my t-bags were in.

Race Morning
Up at 4am. Ate my usual Cliff Bar, OJ, coffee and Ensure. ~600 calories. Drove ~15 minutes to race site. Went to transition to put fluids on my bike then walked 3/4 mile to the swim start. I aired up my tires the day before so I wouldn't have to bother with that on race morning.
Event warmup:

None. Except for the run down the sidewalk to the ramp leading to the water for the swim start.
  • 1h 19m 13s
  • 3862 meters
  • 02m 03s / 100 meters

This swim start is unique in IM. It's a time trial start. After loading fluids onto my bike I walked to the swim start area. I got there about 5:30 am and already there was a long line at the swim start. I walked about 200 yards to the end of the line then sat on the side walk to wait for the start. Eventually I laid back on the sidewalk and watched the stars. It was beautiful morning; cool, clear and no wind. Some people complained about having to wait for the swim start but I found it relaxing and an opportunity to focus on what lay ahead for the day. I reviewed my race plan in my head and visualized the day - siwm, T1, bike, T2, run, finish.

At about 6:30 the line started moving as the athletes inched closer to the start and the supporters and spectators left the line moving off to the side. A gauntlet of people formed along the sidewalk leading to the swim start. At 7am the gun went off. About 5 minutes later we were running down the sidewalk single file to the swim start. Running through the gauntlet was exhilirating. The spectators were screaming, the music was blairing and Mike Riley was on the PA. Eventually I found myself on the ramp switch backs and headed for the water.

Jumped into a muddy Ohio river, went under and all became silent and dark...just like an hour ago when I was laying on the sidewalk. Came to the surface, heard the noise and bubbles and started swimming. Game on!

The swim behind the island was easy. Not much contact at all. I was passing other athletes and faster swimmers were passing me. It was difficult to find a draft so I just swam.

As we exited from behind the island I sited and saw people standing up. Huh? There was a shallow bar just beyond the island. I stood up and this gave me an opportunity to clear my goggles. They had fogged up. Goggles cleared and continued swimming. Made the turn bouy and headed down stream.

I was feeling very comfortable swimming - breathing every other stroke and sighting about every 5-6 strokes. I stayed about 50 yards off the bouy line out towards the center of the river. Just kept on swimming, nothing too special about this part of the swim.

Hit the swim exit. Easily got out of the water quickly. Thought to myself that was easy. Passed the timing mat and looked at my watch: 1:19. Ughh. I was expecting 1:10. I was pretty disappointed but just kept on running through T1. Nothing I can do about it; it's in the past.
What would you do differently?:

Swim with more intensity. I think I swim too easyily. When I have my best swims my HR is in the 150's.
Transition 1
  • 07m 13s


Slow T1 because I hit the pot-a-let. I had my tri top and shorts under my speedsuit. Stripped off the speedsuit; shoes on; helmet on; race belt on; volunteer sprayed me down with sunscreen. Off I went to the port-a-let and then my bike.
What would you do differently?:

Maybe leave my shoes and helment on my bike. Might have saved 30 seconds.
  • 5h 53m 44s
  • 112 miles
  • 19.00 mile/hr

Before I write anything else...I loved this bike course! It was so much fun!

I drove the course the day before so knew what to expect. The last 30 miles or so of the course are a gradual downhill and if the wind is right, it will be at my back.

My plan was to ride 0-30 miles in HR zone low to mid steady-state; 30-60 mid to upper steady-state. At 60 miles if I'm feeling good then ride 60-90 in upper steady-state to tempo. If still feeling good then ride 90-112 solid tempo zone. In addition, I was to stay seated and spin up all the hills.

I headed out from T1 on the 10 mile flat section. I was constantly being passed by other athletes. My HR was 115-120; low steady-state. I continued to cruise letting the 'hammer-heads' who were passing me go on and knowing that it was very early in a long day.

The first hill is at about mile 10. It's steep but relatively short. I just spun up the hill in my 27 cog. From there the course turns onto a 4 lane highway and a screaming descent. That was fun and cold. I was still wet from the swim and the air temperature was cool. From this point on the course was rolling hills. We were either going up or going down. There was very little flat road, except the road through La Grange.

Next we came to road 1694. This is a short out and back with another screaming downhill section. I hit 40+ mph on this downhill, then spun up the other side to the U-turn. There was a guy dressed like the devil on the climb. I was spinning passed other athletes on the uphill climb. This went on all day. Big guys would pass me on the downhills and flats while I would pass them back on the uphills.

I watched my HR closely the entire day. On the uphills I was very careful to limit my time in my tempo HR zone.

Turned onto the loop through La Grange. Same story, more rolling hills. The ride through La Grange was inspiring. The streets were lined with spectators cheering and screaming. I caught a glimpse of Michele and my in-laws in La Grange. They really enjoyed hanging out in La Grange.

Next came the 'school' roads. When I drove this section, it seemed very technical with lots of turns and narrow roads. But on a bike these roads aren't too bad. More ups and downs. At mile 45 is a short very steep hill. Stopped at an aid station here to pee. More turns and twists and eventually back onto hwy 42 that leads to the finish. But, I had one more loop through La Grange.

At mile 60 I was still feeling good. Decided to take my HR up to upper steady state, except for the hills where I would go into tempo zone. At this point I noticed my nutrition wasn't going down as well as I expected. I was using Infinit. The problem was the temperature was too mild. I had to force myself to drink even though I wasn't thirsty and had to pee often. The main problem was that all of my planned nutrition was liquid (Infinit). Decided to switch to GU gels and Cliff bars. I had these on me as a back up plan. Started picking up plain water at the aid stations to wash down the GU and Cliff Bar.

Went through La Grange again. Saw Michele and the in-laws. They had a great time in La Grange. That town really does support IM. At mile 75 I hit that short steep hill mentioned above. This time I had to stand to make it over the hill. Nothing serious but just felt like I needed to stand instead of spinning up the hill. This did make me think maybe I was pushing too hard, but I really did feel fine.

At some point in this ride I saw some of the pro triathletes. They were amazing. Most of them would stand and jam up the hills; flying past me.

Turned onto Hwy 42 for the final push to the finish line. From about mile 85 to the finish line the course is a gradual downhil with a few rollers. I knew this and planned to pace myself in order to take advatage of the downhill. In addition, we had a crosswind to tailwind on hwy 42.

At mile 90 I was still feeling good. Nutrition seemed to be OK. Decided to take my HR to tempo for the rest of the ride to the finish. This was fun. Downhill, tailwind, rollers, I was in cycling heaven. Started passing lots of athelets.

I made a mental error at mile 90 and passed up an aid station without getting any water. A few miles later I remember the bike coordinator talking about no aid stations between mile 90 and 110. Why would you put an aid station 2 miles from the finish? Anyway, I rode for 20 miles without any hydration. Luckily the temperature was cool and I don't think it affected me. At mile 110 I picked up a bottle of water and hit a GU.

I rode into T2 feeling good. In my past IMs I've always felt like I was ready to get off the bike - tired, aches in my butt, etc. Not this time.

What would you do differently?:

I may have ridden this ride too hard. Looking at my HR data, my avg HR is 137 which is into my interval zone. Although, I don't think it affected my run much.

I need to evaluate using Infinit. In a race where the temps are low, having all of your calories tied up in fluid becomes a problem. I needed to drink 6 bottles of infinit to get all of my calories. With the temps in 60-75 range there is no way I could down all that fluid. I think I'm going back to water, Gatorade from the course, GU and bars.
Transition 2
  • 07m 20s

Left my shoes on the bike (didn't do a flying dismount) and handed it off to a volunteer. The T-area for IM Lou is easy to navigate. I found my run bag and headed to the change tent. Helmet off, socks on, shoes on and out the door. Got some sunscreen from a volunteer. Then hit the port-a-let. If it wasn't for having to pee so much, my transitions would have been much faster.
What would you do differently?:

  • 4h 12m 31s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 09m 38s  min/mile

My legs felt great heading out on the run - no stiffness or fatigue. I planned to run the first 8 miles easy; around a 9:30 pace. I had to really hold back to make that happen.

The weather was still beautifull. The temperature was probably in the mid 70's. I kept running easy and taking in something at every aid station. I would walk through the aid stations for 20-30" to drink then continue running.

At mile 8 I started picking up the pace. This worked OK until about mile 10 when my stomach started cramping. Huh. Never had that happen before. I had some Tums with me so started chewing on those hoping that would calm my stomach. Miles 11-15 were pretty bad. I kept running but slowly and enduring the stomach cramps. I stopped at a port-a-let at one of those miles. That helped some. Then I started on the coke and chicken broth. Magic. That helped a lot.

Started running again, but at a slower pace than I wanted to because my stomach was still bothering me.

At some point I saw Michele's cousin. He was walking so I walked with him for a few seconds. He had the same problem - stomach cramps. I wonder if swallowing too much of the Ohio river had something to do with his and my stomach cramps?

Made it back into downtown, passed within 200 feet of the finish line and then started my second loop of the run course. That's just not right to make us run soooo close to the finish line but still so far away! Because of the way the run course is laid out, the loops are not 13.1 miles. They are more like ~10 miles. So I knew I was pretty close to finishing.

After dowtown I saw Michele and the in-laws. I stopped to give her a kiss like I always do. Told them my stomach was cramping but my legs were still working. And continued on.

The second loop seemed to go by faster. I knew where I was running and what the landmarks looked like. My stomach was feeling better but my legs were becoming tired and aching. I just kept telling myself the faster I run the sooner I'll finish.

Turned the last corner and saw the finisher chute. Finishing at 4th Street Live is pretty remarkable. Lots of cheering spectators. Heard Mike Riley say "From Frisco, TX, Tommy Johnson you are an Ironman." Then he went on talking about the other races I had finished say something like "Tommy has also completed IM Florida and IM Arizona". That was kind of neat.

After crossing the finish line I started looking for Tiffany. She was volunteering as a catcher. But I didn't see her. She was probably busy with another athlete.

As I was walking with my catcher I could hear someone calling my name. I knew it was Michele but I couldn't find her. Then she said "Look Up". I looked up. She was on a walk over that crosses the street from one building to the next. She had a great view of the finish line from there. She also got some unique pictures.

Easily found Michele at the end of the chute. Told my catcher thanks and that I was OK. Michele said "You look pale". I just needed to get some food and drink and warm up. I was freezing after stopping. Put on my finisher t-shirt and wrapped up in a space blanket. Then sat on the curb for a few minutes.
Post race
Warm down:

Walked to the Convention Center to get some food. They had the usual pizza, bagels, etc. Before eating I got a massage. The wait was only about 20 minutes. Sat a talked to several other triathletes while waiting.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Probably nutrition. I need to figure out why my stomach cramped.

Event comments:

I've done IMFL and IMAZ. IM Louisville is now my favorite IM. The organization was just incredible. My supporters, who have been to IMFL and IMAZ, agreed.

Profile Album

Last updated: 2008-09-01 12:00 AM
01:19:13 | 3862 meters | 02m 03s / 100meters
Age Group: 69/224
Overall: 717/2315
Performance: Below average
Avg HR: 143
Suit: Zoot Speedsuit
Course: TT start behind an island in the Ohio River. The swim goes up stream behind the island then turns into the Ohio and continues down stream to the transition area.
Start type: Dive Plus: Time Trial
Water temp: 82F / 28C Current: Low
200M Perf. Average Remainder: Below average
Breathing: Good Drafting: Below average
Waves: Navigation: Average
Rounding: Good
Time: 07:13
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed:
05:53:44 | 112 miles | 19.00 mile/hr
Age Group: 54/224
Overall: 587/2315
Performance: Good
Avg HR: 137 FIRST BIKE SEGMENT 22 mi (1:14:44) 17.66 mph SECOND BIKE SEGMENT 37 mi (50:36) 17.79 mph THIRD BIKE SEGMENT 67 mi (1:39:02) 18.18 mph FINAL BIKE SEGMENT 112 mi (2:09:22) 20.87 mph
Wind: Some
Course: Out and back course with 2 loops out around the town of La Grange. The course is flat for the first ~10 miles then the rolling hills start. It is a beautiful and fun course.
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence:
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 07:20
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes Good
Jumping off bike
Running with bike Good
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
04:12:31 | 26.2 miles | 09m 38s  min/mile
Age Group: 47/224
Overall: 567/2315
Performance: Average
(mile, avg hr, pace) 1, 139, 9:22; 2-3, 139, 15:28; 4, 143, 9:10; 5, 144, 9:09; 6, 146, 9:19; 7, 147, 9:34; 8, 147, 8:50; 9-10, 147, 18:11; 11-15, 138, 53:10; 16, 146, 9:22; 17, 145, 9:48; 18, 143, 9:32; 19, 146, 9:26; 20-22, 142, 29:20; 23-24, 140, 20:20; 25-26.2, 140 24:04-----FIRST RUN SEGMENT 3.38 mi. (28:42) 8:29/mile SECOND RUN SEGMENT 8.25 mi. (44:29) 9:08/mile THIRD RUN SEGMENT 13.1 mi. (50:09) 10:20/mile FOURTH RUN SEGMENT 15.33 mi. (22:24) 10:02/mile FIFTH RUN SEGMENT 20.19 mi. (46:20) 9:32/mile SIXTH RUN SEGMENT 25.04 mi. (47:59) 9:53/mile FINAL RUN SEGMENT 26.2 mi. (11:35) 9:59/mile
Course: The course leaves the transition area and heads to downtown after a short out and back on a bridge. 2 loops course through dowtown and out into some neighborhoods. The course is flat except for a short out and back on a bridge.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
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