Laying on a picnic mat, staring up through the trees above me.....it's the butt crack of dawn. 45 minutes left before they blow the horn that will send 2400 of us endurance junkies - single file like a bunch of lemmings - jumping into the Ohio River to start this Ironman thing.......and all I can think is, "Oh no, I think I might puke."
John Worden and I before going on a little bike ride pre-race.
It looked like a line to buy Michael Jackson concert tickets. Instead of the usual Ironman mass start, we lined up according to how eager we were to get to the swim start or, maybe more accurately, how nervous we were about actually making the swim and overall cutoff times. One final kiss from Angie, a last minute pee, and the line started moving to Kanye West singing, "I know where I got to be right now cuz I can't get much stronger..." Man, I was pumped when I jumped off that dock and was strokin' by folks from my very first catch and pull. It was tricky veering around all those swimmers, and I noticed a lot of people getting beat up pretty bad in the mayhem.
It seemed like it took forever to get to the turn buoy and start heading down river, but once there traffic seemed to thin a bit. I veered right and tried to make a bee line for the final buoy rather than follow the train of buoys that arced along the shore line. This is where I discovered my first problem....something bad was happening in my "boys." It felt like I had a hernia or something. I hoped it was just the swim skin and that it would go away once I finished the swim and took it off (It did).
Chilling with mom at the hotel room.
Arbitrary competitor's bike in a hotel window.
I exited the water in 1:11:39 and ran into T1 with nothing on my mind except the numbers "5" and "9" - 5 for the row my bike bag was in, and 9 for the row my bike was in. Transition went super smooth except for one mistake I had already set myself up for the day before. I set my bike shoes up on my bike for a quick mount when I would start the bike leg, but evidently I didn't think this through as I had chosen to use my road bike shoes instead of my triathlon shoes. The road bike shoes are not easy to slip into while pedaling. It took me a while to get into them, but no big deal.
Julia Bonner and I and the inviting signage describing where we would swim.
Swim practice: John Worden, Emily Price, me, Julia Bonner, and Kelsey and Carl Bonner clearly up to no good......
Somewhere in those first 5 miles, Coach Lance Leo passed me with a, "There's the man!" for encouragement. He was definitely taking it easy on this first section. We were both moving at about 20 mph through these early flats, but once we started into the hills Lance began to pull away. I noticed a Mexican dude kept overtaking me and then dropping back. He looked like he was laboring way too hard, and I knew it was only a matter of time before he fell back.
Claire Blum is the master at Cheer Prop Manufacturing. She, Angie and the girls put these on our hotel room doors.
Between miles 20 and 30 there's an out-and-back section of the bike leg, and it's here that a couple of the bigger climbs take place. I was still taking it easy through this section, and eager to head back and see if anyone I knew was on the same section yet. Nope. But not long after that, my friend and fellow age group competitor Jon Worden, came by me. A couple exchanges of encouragement, and he was off. Man, he was moving fast.....clearly on good form to have a great race and I was happy for him but wished I could be giving him more competition. Maybe, just maybe, I'd see him again down the road I thought.
I got through the town of Lagrange before Angie, mom, and the rest of the Tricredible supporters were there but knew they'd be there on the second lap. And I was developing a very strong need to pee. At mile 50, I gave one full-on concentrated effort to let'er fly, and was ecstatic to feel a heavy flow of warmth run down my leg. That gave me a burst of new energy, and I decided to pick up the pace for the rest of the bike leg.
I was popping salt tablets and Hammer Anti-Fatigue caps every hour, and had an EFS gel flask to get me halfway through the bike, and another one waiting for me in my special needs bag a few miles ahead.
At mile 60 I hit the second lap of the bike, and soon happened upon Keith (another Tricredible). We had a quick chat and I pressed on. The Mexican dude was just now falling off pace, and I heard a course marshall behind me holler, "Okay guys, I know it's a climb but you guys have to break it up!" Yes! Bust those dudes! It was a little later that I recognized a couple guys in the penalty tent that were on a similar pace to mine.
I got a quick burst of energy through Lagrange when I saw Angie and mom and the rest of the yellow shirted Tricredible supporters. I wondered if I was going fast enough to make up time on John.
After mile 75 it's pretty much a straight shot back to Louisville. I was rolling along rather well at about a 21 mph average. I noticed a TON of people sidelined with flat tires and was deathly afraid of having the same experience. I was running tubular tires and had never changed one in a race - it would not have been a quick fix. All of a sudden, I caught a quick glance of what looked like John changing a flat. Oh man, I hated it for him something fierce, but I mistakingly thought he had clincher tires and would be back on the road in a few short minutes. Maybe John and I would have a foot race after all!
My bike split was 5:28:40, or about 20.5 mph.
My legs were tired as I came into T2, and I wondered if I had enough in me to run a full marathon without walking. I knew I'd run the bridge section, cuz that part just looked like fun, and I thought I could certainly finish the first lap of the run, but after that I figured there'd be some decision making to do. I took off running and the legs actually felt pretty good. I enjoyed the bridge section over the Ohio River, and used the out-and-back to look for John coming up behind me, but I didn't see him.
I was starting to feel hot on the first run loop, but sporadic trees gave a little shade. I ran through the aid stations without stopping, but made sure to grab one or two sponges, water, ice in the hat and down the shorts, Gatorade, and then wash it down with another water. I took a hit off my EFS gel shot every other station, and popped salt tablets and Hammer Anti-Fatigue caps every hour on the run. At about mile 7 I saw Lance again on his way back from the turnaround. I reached the turnaround at 1:05 and began looking for John again. After 1:27 of running, I saw him. He was full of energy - not the least bit tired - as he boomed, "Brrrrruuuuuuucccceeee!" I felt awful for him having the flat tire that clearly cost him loads of time when he was obviously in such good form and would have blown me away otherwise. We exchanged a few words and I pressed on.
Just before starting my second lap, I saw a Tricredible Train starting the first lap: first, Julia Bonner looking amazing rocking her first Ironman, then Bert Kelly smiling and hanging tough, then Lizz Nelson looking like she was enjoying her first Ironman. I ran by Angie, felt uplifted, and set out for lap two. Then a huge blister on the pad of my right foot burst........and it freakin hurt something fierce. I had a quick vision of me walking the last 11 miles, but had the idea of popping a couple Hammer Nutrition Energy Surge tabs - whether they work or not, I'd have been happy just to get a placebo affect.
Then I saw Emily Blum, another Tricredible, up ahead and that gave me a short term goal to shoot for. I gradually made up ground on her, and eventually caught her at an aid station. She grabbed a cup of water from a volunteer, and I grabbed the other one from the same volunteer without Emily even knowing I was close enough to tug on her jersey. Then, and this was actually good timing, I felt everything in my stomach drop straight down to my sphinctor. I ducked into the portajohn mildly frustrated.
With a new lightness about me, I set back out in search of Emily - my rabbit to chase all over again! I caught her again at about mile 18 or 19, and this time ran alongside her. Another big blister on my other foot had now burst and was causing some pain, but somehow or another I didn't seem to care. At some point she suggested I go on ahead, as the pace we were running was maybe a little faster than she wanted to go. I thought she had been setting the pace!
At mile 21 and on my way back to the finish line I should have been falling apart. Emily had kept my mind off of this for the last few miles. Now, as I was scanning the runners behind me approaching the 20 mile mark turnaround, I noticed George Worrel - a phenomenal triathlete and all-around awesome dude. What was he doing behind me?!?! I figured he had one helluva story to tell and was impressed that he was still racing despite surely knowing he was capable of slaughtering me and most everyone else out there.
Then, right behind him, I recognized a guy that dated Tricredible Ellen Hanley. He was a Marine Prowler pilot, which I thought was really cool, but he was a bit of a jerk to my Tricredible friend Ellen, so.........I showed him my afterburners! I told Emily I was gonna try to push it to the finish line, and I sped up. I was not gonna let that guy catch me.
I skipped all the rest of the aid stations, and as tired as I was I felt like I was flying. After the fact, I've since learned that I wasn't, but I was at least maintaining a pace where I should have been breaking down.
I ran a 3:52 marathon, not at all as fast as I had hoped I would do. But it was everything I had. I came down the finishing chute, saw Angie and my mom, and gave them a high five just before crossing the line. This race had taken me 10:40:37. Nowhere near a Kona slot, and I don't know how or when I'll ever get one. But I was happy. It was a tough day and I had given it everything.
I didn't practice jumping in the water with my goggles on. I leaned back so as to protect them from leaking, but this caused the straps to ride up my head and very quickly I was taking on water and had to adjust them.
My swim cap kept riding up my noggin. I'm not sure what causes this.....perhaps no hair? I had to stop several times to yank it back down.
The Point.03 swim skin really crushed my boys. Not sure what to do about that in the future.
The Tic-Tac case I used to hold salt tabs and AF tabs on the bike worked okay, but when the door was slid open the tabs tended to want to bounce out.
The coin purse I used to hold my tabs on the run did take on some moisture. It held the water/sweat off just long enough for me to get the tabs in I needed. I chucked it once it was empty (mile 22).
Not sure if the ATP tablets helped any, but they took my mind off of my blister when I popped them. May as well roll with these even if it's just for a placebo affect.
3 EFS gel flasks was my limit. I took a hit off the fourth one after getting my run special needs bag, but I gagged and tossed the thing away.
The all liquid diet worked superbly. Firm believer that solids are not necessary for this distance.
A last minute decision I made was to stuff an Olbas menthol inhaler in my run special needs bag. This thing was great! What a burst of fresh energy I felt when I snorted it up!