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Ironman Louisville 2017 Race Report

Created: Sunday, 15 October 2017
Ironman Louisville was all about redemption for me. Although I finished my first Ironman in Chattanooga last year, I wasn’t pleased with my performance when I succumbed to the extreme heat that day. I want a strong Ironman race, and was determined to make it happen this year.
Then, life happens. My job assigned me to work in the desert in California (I live in Atlanta). Since January, I’ve been trying to find ways to train while traveling 1 - 2 times a month while living in an unfamiliar area. Not to mention, it stays hot as hell in the desert! So training was very tough. I increased my swim skills by joining a local Masters swim class. I purchased the Zwift membership to ride on my trainer in my hotel room since the roads were unfamiliar and dangerous. Runs were all short, since it was just... too hot. Add in vacations, and it was clear that I was under-trained this year. The weekend before the race, I was actually in South Africa!! Through it all, I continued to train hard and I felt ready for the race despite not having biked a single century (100 mi) or long run (over 14 mi).

Pre-Race

 
All checked in and met up with some great racers!
I arrived the Thursday before the race, with an hour by hour detailed itinerary. The practice rides, runs and swim increased my confidence to have a great race. It was most important to me that I get a feel of the nasty water in my Zoot Prophet 2.0 wetsuit beforehand so I will be comfortable on race day. No surprises! Race preparations included making sure all my nutrition and hydration needs will be in place. Learning from last year’s mistakes, I had a Plan A, B, and C. My main fuel would be Hammer Perpetuem and Hammer Gel. As a backup, I carried Hammer Bars. And just in case, I taped several capsules of supplements to my bike consisting of Endurolytes, Endurolyte Extreme, and Anti-Fatigue capsules. My Special needs bags were filled with much of the same. I was not going to have a nutrition or hydration problem!!
 
Transition and Special Needs Bags Packed!
Check in went smoothly. The pressure didn’t build until it was time to pack up my transition and special needs bags. If I screw up any one of those bags, it would be a very, very long day. My mom, aunt and my snowboarding friend, Anisha, came down to cheer me on! I recruited Anisha to be my personal Sherpa, and assist me through the weekend. Oh, was she a life saver! On race day, I forgot to bring my Special Needs bags with me to be dropped off. Instead of panicking, or going for a 2 mile sprint to the hotel prior to the race, she took an Uber to grab my bags, then Ubered to the race to save my day! Thank You!!
 
 
 

 

Swim

 
The swim was a rolling start, based on the swimmers self-seeding themselves based on their estimated swim time. I’m a slow swimmer, and appropriately joined familiar faces in the 1:20 - 1:30 finish time. I ensured I had plenty of fluids while I waited. Before the start, I fueled up with Hammer Bars and a Gel. When the line started moving, I got dressed in my Zoot wetsuit, and I was soon at the dock ready to jump in!
 
Survived that rough swim!
The water was chilly, but wasn’t bad. Right away, the swim became very uncomfortable. There were 3 docks that folks were jumping from, creating a very crowded swim in the narrow channel that lead upstream, against the current. There was a lot of contact. One time, I was wondering if someone was intentionally hitting me repeatedly! I didn’t want to turn to look. My manta, “No matter what happens, just keep swimming.” The swim became a test of the skills I have learned. I had to protect myself, both from getting swam on top of, and allowing my mind to go into panic mode. When ever someone touched my toes, I kicked feverishly to force the swimmer to go around me. I had to sight more often to swim around those in front of me, and to find some space. To stay calm, my inner DJ kept the karaoke songs spinning! One point, a lady stopped swimming right in front of me. There was no room to go around her, so I pushed her out the way gently on her back. It sounds bad, but in open water it really isn’t. It just creates separation, and I was able to continue on. She did look back at me with a concerned look. Nothing I can do to help. Sorry (in case she reads this)!
It was a 0.8 mile swim up river between an island, and a bunch of boat docks. After about a 1/2 mile, the swim was less crowded, and I was able to settle down and focus on my form. I approached an orange buoy, and it confused me. The turn around is a red buoy. I followed the swimmers straight to the next buoy, which was the red one. Now I know, the orange is second to the last buoy. Everything changed when I reached that red buoy.
 
Volunteers were great, helped me out, and then stripped me out my wetsuit.
When the open river was reached, the temperature dropped drastically, it was cold!! On top of that, it got very choppy. The wind had picked up, and water would not allow a relaxing swim. There was no issue with bumping into other swimmers, but I did find myself very far from most of them. I had drifted to the right, while most swimmers were way to my left. When I reviewed my Garmin data, my line was very good, so I just perceived that I was out of line. There was one guy that was swimming perpendicular to me. Literally, I’m swimming straight down the river, and he’s going from Kentucky into Indiana! Where the hell is he going? To avoid a collision, I stopped, let him pass, then continued on. He’ll figure it out.
The first bridge indicates 2/3rds of the swim. That’s when I started to veer left to swim with the rest of the group. It was hard to spot the swim finish, so I mostly followed the other swimmers. Why they had an all black arch to indicate the finish during the sunrise (low light), beats me. I made it to steps, volunteers pulled me out. I was so relieved. The hardest part of the race was done!
Course Distance 2.4, Actual: 2.55 mi Time: 01:29:43 Goal: 1:30 Pace: 02:19/100m AG Rank: 275 Male Rank: 1452 Overall Rank: 2135

T1

Wetsuit strippers yanked my wetsuit off, then I ran to grab my transition bag. The volunteers were awesome! Well, it wasn’t hard to find my bag, as most of the swimmers were already finished. No worries. A volunteer handed me my bag, and entered the changing tent. Put on my bike shoes, helmet, sunglasses, stuffed my back pocket with Hammer Bars, and I was off to grab my bike. This had to be the longest trot to the mount line I’ve seen!
Time: 7:28 Goal: 10:00

Bike

 
Blazing up the bike course!
This is my strongest and favorite event. I had a strategy to crush the course based on driving the course the day before, and reading other race reports. There are 3 segments, the 1st 25%, middle 50%, then the last 25%. The middle consisted of 2 loops, and loaded with hills. The first 10 miles is flat, I was averaging 23 mph, passing everyone. Miles 10 - 31 is all climbing, I was conservative. I kept my conservative approach through the first loop, then pushed a little more on the second loop. Then the weather decided to act schizophrenic. The nice calm weather was replaced by dark clouds, and strong winds. The rain came, and temperature dropped from the 70s to the 50s. Now I’m wet, and cold! The wind picked up even more! Now I’m freezing. Found out later that the wind gusted up to 45 mph!
 
Sharp turn!
I still had fun on the bike, despite the weather challenges. Most of the bike, I spent flip flopping with Rich Reed. He woke me up went I got lazy, and passed me up. And he surely didn’t let me let when I passed him. This went on for 80 miles. Funny thing is, we were also side by side throughout the swim according to our Garmin data. We were both crushing the bike course, then things went very wrong for me.
First, my chain dropped. No big deal, fixed it, kept on rolling. Then I was losing a lot of power. I didn’t think anything was wrong, I just blamed it on my lack of long bike ride training. This was about 20 miles to the finish. I knew the course was a net downhill, so my pace should be picking up. It wasn’t. I was losing more speed. I looked down at my tire, it looked fine, so I kept on rolling. 10 miles in, I knew something was very wrong. I got off my bike, inspected my tires again, and kept on rolling after it looked fine. I was really struggling to keep my speed, and my average speed was plummeting. Everyone I had passed were passing me now. I was on track for an 18+ mph avg, but I was only rolling at 13 mph downhill. With 5 miles to go, it was no question, I had a flat. At this point, it was all about finishing. I had rolled this far, so....
 
Enjoying the ride! Thumbs Up!
As I neared the transition point, I had to take a hard right turn. Something you can’t do with a flat tire. I was going 15 mph (per my Garmin) and attempted to make the turn. Since my tire had no traction, it slipped right underneath me, and I crashed hard! I’m clipped in, as I turn to the right, my rear wheel went to the left, and then I found myself skidding on my left side. I flipped all the over! I landed on my left hip bone, and skidded on my left elbow. I asked a spectator to help get me on my feet. The wing on my bike broke off, that contains my spare (unused) tubes and CO2, and adds to the aerodynamics. Everything else seemed OK. I gave my wing to a spectator, and tried to ride the bike to the finish, but a spectator alerted me my tire was blown. I grabbed my bike wing back, picked up my bike, and ran some 200 yards to the transition line. I was in a whole lot of pain.
Distance: 112 mi Time: 06:33:21 Pace: 17.08 mph Goal: 17 mph AG Rank: 191 Male Rank: 967 Overall Rank: 1233
Peace!

T2

 
With every step, the pain was jarring up my left side. Arghh!!! A volunteer grabbed my bike, and I picked up my transition bag as I headed into the change tent. I couldn’t bend over. While sitting on the chair, I got my Zoot Ali’i shoes on with a lot of pain. A few racers asked about my condition. A volunteer came and helped me finish gathering my things, and escorted me to the medic tent. The doc did a bunch of tests, and confirmed that it was a bruise. Nothing was broken. He asked me if I planned on continuing the race. Without hesitation, “Definitely!” He gave me some Advil for now, and another dosage for later. I headed out for the run, and all I could do was walk. I was so frustrated and in so much pain.
Time: 14:49 Goal: 10:00

Run

I wanted to run, but I couldn’t. I was hurting, and the pain wouldn’t let me put more pressure on my hip. A few minutes later, I was able to run. I’m sure it was a combination of walking, warming up those muscles, and the pain medication kicking in. At this point, there was no stopping me, I was running the rest of the way. I was planning on running at a 10 min pace, but I couldn’t manage more than 13. That was fine, I maintained that.
 
Struggle Run
This was about to be my first 26.2 mile run! I don’t count Chattanooga, since I walked most of it after suffering from the extreme heat. The two loop run was broken up into 4 segments. I didn’t think about running the whole race, but rather completing each segment. The pain never went away. In fact, after an hour, the pain got much worse. Remember, I was also wet from the rain earlier, and now the temperature continued to drop. It was very cold. My fingers were near numb. At a water station, I asked a nice volunteer to open the Advil for me. That dosage did not help the pain go away. I was told the next medic station was at the Special Needs tent, but I didn’t see it. I just kept on running.
My favorite part of the run is seeing a racer wearing a Black Lives Matter message on her jersey. I gave her a High Five!
The second loop was just as tough as the first. All the racers and volunteers were very friendly, and made the race enjoyable. As it got colder, I was wishing I had packed my arm warmers in my transition bag. Instead, they wee in my hotel room. Lots of runners were receiving shirts, jackets, and gloves from their family/friends. That’s against the rules. The warm chicken broth was definitely a highlight of the run. It felt so good to have something warm when I was so wet and cold.
I was getting used to running with pain. Finally, I only had 2 miles to go. I gave it my all, finish strong! I wanted to walk so bad, but I wouldn’t let myself even consider it. I ran all the way through to the finish line, pumping my hands in the air in victory! After receiving the medal, I know I needed the medic ASAP, and ice if I’m going to be functional. I was whisked away to the medical tent, so I didn’t get to enjoy the exciting finish line vibe.
Distance: 26.2 mi Time: 05:30:51 Overall Time: 13:56:12 Pace: 12:37/mi AG Rank: 221 Male Rank: 1154 Overall Rank: 1657
 
I did it!!
In the medic tent, I became extremely lightheaded, and was about to feint. I laid down, feel elevated, until I was better. Eventually, I received my warm clothes, and found my way to some food. Thankfully, another lesson I learned from last year is to write down cell phone numbers on the back of my bib. I was able to reach Anisha, because no would know where I was. After I ate and hydrated, I was much better.
I am extremely pleased with my results, but very disappointed in my rookie mistake not to change my tire. I easily lost at least a half hour on the bike, and another half hour on the run due to this bad judgement. I should have physically inspected the tire. I have fixed countless flats on my road bike. I never had a flat on my TT bike. The race wheels gives the tires a different look, and I just didn’t recognize the low tire pressure.
I didn’t accomplish this goal of becoming a 2 time Ironman myself! Big thanks to my sponsors, Zoot Sports and Hammer Nutrition. Also to the Zoot partners, Smith Optics, Speedfil, and Garmin. Before my mishap, I have to admit that my bike, a Quintana Roo PRsix, perform wonderfully! It’s aerodynamic advantage was very clear on the road. Thanks for the swim tips Tom Otto while taking Masters Swim Classes. And big thanks to everyone that trained with me.
 
2 Time Ironman Finisher!
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