Race Report – Ironman Louisville

Ironman Louisville Race Results: 15:10:37

Swim: 0.9 mile (yeah, more on that later): 00:16:04 minutes

Bike: 112 miles. 07:59:24

Run: 26.2 miles. 06:18:48

Ironman Louisville was my second full Ironman, first was Ironman Mont Tremblant 2016 (Race Report, click here). This race had many similarities and lessons learned. Seven racers from Pasadena Triathlon Club flew out for this race. Bob, Lynda, Steve, GT, Danny, Alvin, and me (Joe). This was Steve and Bob’s first Ironman full distance. Very exciting. We had been all training together for this race and very excited about the big day. Also, in our gang was Laurie, Steve’s wife, who was a terrific sherpa and fan. Also, Coach Scott came to cheer and sherpa. Bob flew in separately from a trip on the East Coast.

We did tons of stuff before the race. Thursday to Saturday. For Pre-Race fun see post here.

Sunday: Race Day

Set Up:

Drizzles started in the early morning. Put on wetsuit up to the waist at the hotel. Hoodie and Rain coat. Morning bag. Googles, cap. Nutrition for bike and run. We walked down the transition and loaded up the nutrition on Bike. Then dropped off nutrition in Bike Bag, Run Bag. Then, dropped off Special Needs Bike Bag, and Special Needs Run Bag.

Race Start / Swim: 00:16:04 minutes

We walked along the river to a park, where we lined up by Time Split, expected swim time. It will be a rolling start, jumping into the river from the boat dock. It was drizzling and we were waiting for a long time (~1 hr) and finally heard that the swim was changed and delayed, due to a heavy current in the river. The original swim route is upstream along an island in the river, then upstream for a couple buoys, then a turn and then down stream. The current was too high for the Pros, during their practice swim. The swim was reduced to 0.9 mile swim and all down stream. Wahoo! For rolling start the men and women can line up together, and you can line up with your friends. There’s less climbing over each other. I like it a lot. So, Bob, Steve, GT, and Danny lined up at the 1:20. Lynda and I lined up at 1:30. We jumped in at ~9:00am. The water was super murky. The buoys were floating down stream with the current. The kayakers were giving conflicting directions. Some were yelling “Hard Right”. Others were yelling “Hard Left”. Other kayakers had buoys on their kayakers. It was very confusing. I just headed to bridge and then to the stairs at the Tents. It was super fast swim. 18 minutes for me. Wet suit strippers, fun. Gave the lady a hug. Fairly long run, up the ramp, over the bridge, down the stairs, around the Bag pickup, and to the changing tent. I saw Scott and Laurie. Hugs.

T1: 15:25

Due to the short swim, the changing tent was full with guys and gear, and bare butts. I got a chair near the exit and started dressing for long rainy ride. I toweled off to try to make dressing a little easier. Took off my tri shorts for cycling shorts. Cycling jersey, vest, sleeves, rain coat, full finger gloves, socks with plastic bags. Helmet with shield, beanie. Grabbed bike and set out. Still drizzling and cold.

Bike: 07:59:24

Long and hilly. Wet and cold. Rollers were relentless. Lollipop route. 10 mile ride out of town, and then two loops.

Mile 0-10. Socks and shoes didn’t work. Feet were soaked and freezing. Miserable. Stopped at Aid Station one to fix bags, but didn’t work.

Mile 24: Stopped at Special Needs Bike. Fresh socks, new bags. Worked all day long. Much much better.

Mile 50-70: Lots of crazy rollers. Relentless. Some were steep. Scenic rolling horse country. Probably really pretty when it’s not raining. Roads were open to traffic. Several times waiting for cars, who were waiting for slow riders. Risky to accelerate down and carry your momentum on the slick roads. The Bike Special Needs had tents filled with shivering riders, waiting for a ride home. The overall DNS and DNF (Did Not Start / Did Not Finish) rate was 17.9% this year. Steep steep dip and steep steep climb. First time through, there were riders walking up both sides. It was hazardous to accelerate down and carry momentum up. Lots of rider traffic there.

The rainy, cloudy day, made it hard to tell direction we were going. Many of the turns looked the same. I kept hoping I was getting to the second loop. For nutrition, I had to stop and take off my gloves and open the waffles and pills and PB&J sandwiches.

I kept taking adrenal support and BCAA pills. Overall, I didn’t have many dark moments. The pills and staying warm really kept me in a good place. But, during the dark moments, I thought, I’d really have to crash hard in order to not finish this race, but that’s a bad idea too. Overall, I had a good head space. Compared to Ironman Mont Tremblant, this is a huge lesson learned. Better nutrition and warm dressing leads to better mental state.

Mile 90-112: End of loops and headed back to town. More traffic, more rollers. Big puddles. Still raining.

T2: 20:56

Changed all my clothes. Very difficult to get wet gear off, especially wet socks off. Changing tent was a mess, but not as crowded. Fresh undies, shorts, socks and bags. Running shirt, rain coat (same as biking). Nutrition in pockets. Full hat, gloves.

Run: 06:18:48

Still raining. Surprisingly, I had more run in me than expected. I thought that I would have been worn out from the bike. But, I had a good trot in my feet for about 6 miles. Run course is a two loop course, down and back. It’s fairly straight.

Mile 0-6: Surprisingly good run. Target was 15 min/mile. Got 14’s and 13’s. Nice. I saw GT, Bob, Lynda, Steve, Alvin on the out and backs on the run. High fives. Mostly, each was fully concentrating on keeping moving forward. I kept in a surprisingly good mental state throughout the run. This was a lesson learned from IM Mont Tremblant too. Focus on the run, and don’t kick yourself about the bike. I felt I had done my best on the bike that I could and it so, there was no regrets there.

Mile 7 – 13: Fast walking. Targeting 15 min/mile.

At the turn around, you loop around a few streets downtown and end up on Fourth Street Live. You can hear the crowds cheering and the announcer. Then, at the very last moment, you are split off for Lap 2. Bummer. But, I saw this at Mont Tremblant and was not as bummed this time around. Lesson Learned. Since this was a two loop course I knew it would be going back. The second loop was lonely. Very few runners. I saw Scott and Laurie cheering. I saw Alvin turning in for his finish. And unbeknownst to me, Danny was just behind me, for his finish.

Mile 14 – 20: Fast walking

When is the race cut off?

At the start of the race, they said the race cut off is 16 and 1/2 hours from the time you jump in the water. So, during the run, I ran out of gas at mile 7-ish. Since I jumped in the water at 9:01 am, I plotted a target time of 16 hrs, which I calculated at 1:00 am. I was fast walking / shuffling to keep 15 min/miles. In order to hit the time. On the second loop, at the final turn around at mile 20, I noticed there was nobody else coming up. There were very few people behind me. I asked at several runners what they thought the cut off was, but they were clueless, and tired. I asked the volunteers at the aid stations and they didn’t know. At mile 23, the aid stations said, the cut off had been set at 12:45pm. Total race cutoff. What!!!! I wasn’t going to make 3.2 miles in 45 minutes. I had to pick it up if I wanted to get a medal for this crazy race. The last aid station confirmed the 12:45 cutoff. I was so close, but would have to hit 13 min/mile pace to make it. At mile 24.5, Coach Scott was on the side of the road cheering me. He told me I had time, I could make. I pushed it hard. I was mad that they changed the cut off time and didn’t tell the runners. Geez. I ran and walked and ran and walked. I didn’t know if could make in time. All the crowds on the corners were gone by now. I was trying to make all the right turns at the end. I saw the final turn and knew I had made it with at least 1 minute to spare. The mileage was off. My Garmin had 26.0 at the end. Whew. I made it. I could see the big video board and the announcer. I stripped off my rain coat for the pictures, and soaked in the excitement of finishing.

Finish: 15:10:37

At the finisher’s chute, I saw Lynda, Danny, Steve, Laurie, and Bob. Alvin was already on his own adventure. I’ll let him tell his story. I picked up my Morning Clothes bag and changed into a dry shirt. I apologized to Coach Scott for yelling at him about the cut off time. It was definitely not his fault. We waddled back about a mile to the hotel. I got to hear all the crazy stories for Bob, Danny, Lynda, Steve and GT. I would hear Alvin’s story the next day.

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Post- Race

Monday morning, Lynda went to the Awards Breakfast and picked up her AG 1st Place trophy and punched her ticket to Kona 2019. I went to find my bike (see below) and then shop at the Village for finisher merch. It was raining pretty hard and soaked us again. We went back to the hotel and packed all the wet gear for the ride home. We stuffed the gear bags and dropped them off to TriBike Transport and kissed our bikes g’bye. See ya in ~9 days in Burbank. We squeezed in a quick lunch at a great local restaurant Doc Crows. We had two flights of Bourbon and whiskey, which is the biggest thing in Louisville. Yikes! That stuff is strong. We hustled back to the hotel and then dashed off to the airport, and eventually home. There was more whiskey and lots of eating during the airport waiting and delayed flights.

Funny / Not Funny stories

A guy in a van down by the river

On Friday afternoon, I was walking back to the hotel from Ironman Village and saw a white van with a WETSUIT REPAIR in his windshield. My wetsuit had sprung two leaks, one under each arm. I figured it’d be great to get patched up before the big day. The guy Keith was pretty nice; he said it’d be $50 to patch up both places. I said I could wait, but he said he had a bunch to do and wouldn’t be available until 5:30pm. I could pick it up tonight or tomorrow morning. I got his number. I said ok, and left my wetsuit with him. Well, everyone was getting together and going to dinner at 5:15pm and so we left for an amazing dinner. I went to sleep happy. Saturday morning, the day before the race, we eat breakfast, and I get down to the Guy, In a Van, Down by the River, and the van is there, but no guy. I call and text. No answer. I wait around in the freezing cold. I figure he’s getting some coffee, he’ll be right back. I wait a half hour and nothing. I leave more urgent messages and texts. I go completely crazy waiting. I don’t know what to do, so I walk back to the hotel and quietly melt down. I wait about a half hour more and walk back to the river and look for him. He’s there and it’s a fine. But, I was completely freaked that he took my suit and the race was all over for me. I was about to go to Ironman Village and see if ROKA had any wetsuits on sale in my size. Whew.

Where’s my bike?

During the race, after the bike portion, you can designate friends to pick up your bike. You hand them a special ticket with your race bib # and it authorized them to pick up your bike from transition area. Scott volunteered to pull my bike and drop it off at transition. After the finish line, Scott says, ‘hey, can i talk to you about your bike?’ He says that when he went to pick it up, it wasn’t there. It was probably re-racked in the wrong place, but they couldn’t find it at that time, and to come back later or tomorrow morning. Or maybe, the numbers fell off in the rain and they didn’t know where to put it. I was like, ‘huh, you gotta be kidding? this is going to be a very expensive race.’ So, after the race, I was slightly freaked out. Nothing I could do about, so go to bed and look in the morning. I went down to transition right after waking up in the morning. It was there with a few other bikes. So, so happy to see my bike. I walked it across the lane to TriBike Transport and kissed it good bye. They took the pedals off and I took off the water bottles and Garmin. Whew.

[I’ll upgrade the quality of the pictures after I buy the Ironman package. Thank you to Laurie and Scott for race pics.]

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5 thoughts on “Race Report – Ironman Louisville

  1. Congratulations on a crazy race! (I’m in the pink cap in front of you on the swim exit, post wetsuit stripping) They tagged you in one of the photos I bought of the swim so I can send it to you if you want. It’s the one in your wetsuit with your arms up in the air post swim.

    The story about the wetsuit repair guy cracked me up.

    I would have freaked about my bike too. Although when I handed mine over to the volunteer , I probably said something like burn it down.

    Congrats! Hope the next one has better conditions.

    1. you’re great. thanks for reading. and sure, you can send me the pic. that would be awesome. i may end up buying the pics, cuz who know how many more of these races i have left in me.

  2. Wow! Great Story! Congratulations on an amazing accomplishment! Your perserverence through the elements, unwanted surprises, and other trials & tribulations is quite impressive! I learn a lot by reading your race reports (especially about weather gear…ha!). The more I read, the more Ironman gets in my head. I am really looking forward to my first year of triathlons in 2019. Maybe a big one in 2020???

  3. Congrats, congrats!!! I’ve been reading your blog since I found your documentary, and I’m happy to see you survived Louisville. What IS it with you and crazy weather at Ironman events?? Oh, and so many warm congratulations to Lynda, who is my hero for making Kona 2019!!!! Fantastic blog and great race report. I have watched the documentary a few times as inspiration for my upcoming HIM in Waco on the 28th. Hoping for the best despite the crazy weather. Best wishes to you in future events!

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