Ironman Louisville was magical for me. It was not the perfect race but it was the most fun I have ever had doing an Ironman. I headed to the Boise airport on Wednesday afternoon with my daughter Norra dragging too many backpacks and an unwieldy bike box. We dragged everything to the counter where the guy checking us in encouraged me to sneak an extra bag onto the plane instead of paying an extra bag fee. He charged me $75 for the bike and handed me my boarding pass with TSA Pre. I was off to a great start.
We arrived in Louisville about 10 pm and met up with my second daughter Jenna, and drove to the Embassy Suites downtown which is an amazing hotel just 1/2 block from the finish line and has free breakfast and happy hour. We walked down to check out where the finish line would be at 4th Street Live and I started to get excited.
I went down to the great lawn to check-in and there was absolutely no line. In fact it was almost like a ghost town. I heard the lines were very long the next day so I was glad I arrived early. I stopped by the ART tent to have some work done on my plantar fasciitis and then headed to drop off my bike with Mike over at Old Bikes Belong. He is a super nice guy who was doing his first Ironman but took the time to put my bike together and then box it back up after the race. Thanks Mike!!! I met up with one of my teammates Teresa Morgan for the first time (she is amazing) and then got something to eat at Gordon Biersch Brewery where I stuck to the healthy eating habits I learned from SwimBikeFuel. I went back to the room to get organized.
I woke up and walked to the downtown Y which was two blocks from my hotel and did 1000 yard swim. I was worried about swimming because of my bike crash two weeks ago but I felt amazing. Then I headed out to drive the course with Swim Bike Mom herself, Meredith Atwood and my teammate, Anne Reed and her husband. My first thoughts on seeing the course were holy hell – hills for days. I went to lunch with the rest of my teammates and then met up with my granddaughter and went out for pumpkin ice cream (shhhh).
The rest of my family arrived and we headed to Spaghetti Factory for dinner. Writing this it seems like I did nothing, but in fact I felt like every second of the day was busy.
My granddaughters ran Ironkids and I had the best time running with them. Scarlett loved it so much she did both distances!!! A future Ironman in training??
Then I went to do a test ride on my bike and dropped my bike and gear bags off at T1 and headed back to my hotel to meet up with my teammates, Allison O’Connor, Laura Burnett, Therese Slechta and Cara Will who were volunteering at the finish line. They were so sweet and brought me a couple of gifts. They are all amazing and I appreciated that they drove all the way to LOU to support us. I headed to my room and tried to unwind and go to sleep. I slept fitfully and before I knew it the alarm went off at 4:15.
My wonderful dad picked me up at the hotel at 4:50 and we headed down to T1. I was hoping to get in and out of transition quickly so I could get in line for the swim start. This was not to be as first I couldn’t get the pump to work and then I discovered my chain was off and jammed. I got it fixed, filled my water bottles and headed off on the long walk to the swim start. When I arrived at about 6:15 I could not believe how long the line was. I got body marked and found my way to the back and spread out my towel in the parking lot to rest. I was REALLY glad that I had brought my Ugg boots, gloves, a warm hat and two sweatshirts because it was FREEZING. My teammate Esther Houghland found me and I sat chatting with her and my daughter for what seemed like no time and then the line began to move. I put on my wet suit and began to get butterflies. I made my way to the dock, took a deep breath and jumped in. One thing that I was really sad about is that because I was so far back in the pack I did not get to hear the national anthem or the bugler playing the Old Kentucky Home.
The water felt amazing (69 degrees). It is an upriver swim around an island before making our way into the main channel and heading back. I had chosen to wear new goggles and for some reason they were majorly fogged up within a few 100 yards. I stopped and spit in them and they seemed to clear. I didn’t run into to many people but had a lot of difficulty sighting. I just kept my eye on the shore and kept moving forward. I ran into a little traffic at the turn buoy but nothing too bad. I looked at my watch and got really excited when I saw the pace because I expected it to be slow since we were going against the current. It was not. I was wayyyy faster than I expected to be. I started sighting off the bridge and felt amazing. About 500 yards from shore it began to get really congested for some reason. I felt like I could not get around the huge packs of swimmers that were in my way and I had to stop several times to figure out where I was going. Soon I was at the swim exit with a nasty calf cramp and side ache. A kind volunteer pulled me out of the water and I headed to the changing tent. I was so happy with my swim time because it was five minutes faster than I had ever gone before.
Time 1:08.51 Division Place 7
I headed into the changing tent and it was a madhouse. There was nowhere to sit and there were no available volunteers. I had to ask the sweet girl next to me to help me pull down my sports bra because It was all twisted. I took my time getting dressed and headed out to the bike. After you pick up your bike it is a LONG walk to the mount line. My transition time was very slow but I took the time to completely change clothes. I decided to wear padded bike shorts so I would not be miserable on the bike and I am glad I did. I was worried that it might be cold but I felt fine in my tri top and arm coolers.
Transition Time 16:31
My plan for the bike was to keep it dialed down because all of the race reports I had read from previous years had said that if you push the bike you will destroy your legs for the run. This was excellent advice. I was feeling pretty good averaging about 17 mph and then I hit the out and back on 1694. This was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. Packs of bikes were climbing one way while packs of bikes were screaming down the other side at about 40 mph. Did I mention this was a NARROW, winding two-land road? Holy hell!!! After my bike crash two weeks ago I was still feeling tentative and this was seriously my worst nightmare. I made it to the turnaround, stopped at the aid station to hit the bathroom and headed back out. Then I saw the first crash. It had just happened and the guy was lying in the road. Bikes were slamming on their brakes to avoid him and it was chaos. We went around him slowly and about a mile up the road there was another crash and rider lying on the side of the road. I was about to have a panic attack because I knew I still had the scary, screaming descent ahead of me. I slowed way down and stayed to the right while feathering my brakes and was doing pretty good until I came upon a lady that was going about 10 mph and was not over to the right. I was trying to slow down to avoid her while the speed demons were blowing by me on my left. I was screaming at her to move over but she was not budging. I finally got around her and safely completed the out and back and asked the guy next to me if we had to do it a second time. Thankfully he said no because I think I might have quit right there on the spot. The rest of the bike was a steady stream of hill after hill after hill. The only word I can use to describe it is relentless. I stopped at most of the aid stations and the volunteers were fantastic, filling my water bottles and holding my bike. I passed through LaGrange where I saw my family and fed off the energy of the crowd. I headed out to loop 2 feeling pretty good. I was sticking to Tailwind and water. About 60 miles in I started to feel sleepy. All I wanted to do was lay down and take a nap but I was afraid to rest because I might not finish before midnight. I made it to LaGrange a second time where my wonderful teammates were there cheering. I got another burst of energy that carried me to the special needs station where I had all kinds of snacks like Swedish Fish, peanuts and PEANUT BUTTER FILLED PRETZELS :):) I grabbed those pretzels and inhaled them. They tasted so good and helped with my sleepiness. I headed back out and spent quite a bit of time behind cars who were afraid to pass bikes and so were blocking my lane with no room to get around them. This felt unsafe to me but what do I know. I made it around the second loop and was excited to hit the flat part back to T2 and then HEADWIND – are you kidding me??? I kept pedaling and 1/2 mile from the finish I hit a pothole and my bottle flew out and hit me in the teeth. It hurt and I was just too tired to stop and retrieve my bottle. I headed to the bike dismount and then clomped what seemed like almost 1/4 mile in my bike shoes back to the changing tents. This was not kind to the heel pain I was experiencing but I decided taking my shoes off and going barefoot would be worse.
Time 7:26.28 Division Place 24
I headed into the changing tent and was greeted by a wonderful volunteer who helped me change. I was soooooo sleepy that if I could have found somewhere to lie down I would have tried to take a nap. I got dressed and sat for a few minutes trying to wake up. I had been looking for my teammates all day and had not seen any of them. I looked up after closing my eyes and there was Rebecca Dobbins and then Meredith Atwood. It was good to see them but none of us were very chatty. I think we were all too tired. I hit the porta potty and headed out on the run. Based on my transition time I may have taken a nap that I don’t know about. Wow, I need to practice speed changing.
I knew within the first few steps that this run was going to be a struggle. I also knew I had exactly seven hours to get it done. I figured I could walk that fast but I wasn’t sure. My stomach was bloated and my heel was excruciating. I got an immediate boost as I made the turn onto 4th Street and saw my kids and grandkids who gave me a high five.
I began to walk/jog with a heavy emphasis on the walk until mile three where I was soooooo sleepy that I had to sit down on the curb. My plan was to close my eyes for a few minutes and then get moving again. A volunteer brought me water, ice and talked me into taking some red bull. Thank god he did because I quickly began to perk up and was once again moving forward. I had a gu roctane and then another one at mile 7 in an attempt to get some sugar and nutrition into my system. I had abandoned my fuel belt with my Tailwind because it was hurting my stomach to carry and I was worried that I wasn’t taking in enough calories. I also started using BASE salt which helps. I kept slowly moving forward and taking in red bull, water and occasionally chicken broth. At mile 10 I decided to try another gel and all they had was chocolate. It was disgusting and caused me to vomit but this was apparently just what I needed because as soon as I finished I was able to run. I headed back into town and fed off the energy of the crowd. I felt like I was flying. I stopped at special needs to get some advil for my foot and headed back out. I settled into a walk/run routine by chanting in my head – easy run, all the way, gonna win the race – I made myself chant it 8 times before I could walk. I kept this up to the turnaround and was shocked at the number of people I was passing now that I was feeling better. It is soooooo much more fun to do this race when you can actually run. I have never experienced this in an Ironman and I was so grateful. After the turnaround I started playing mind games like run to the next group of people or run to the next light. I was feeling great until 1.5 miles from the finish when my legs began to cramp. I slowed down a bit and did more walking until I got about 1/4 mile from the finish. The energy was ELECTRIC and like nothing I had ever experienced. People were screaming and high fiving and calling me by name. I headed into the finish chute all by myself and the song Shout came on. I felt like dancing and I high-fived my way to the finish line where my two beautiful daughters and son-in-law were waiting to catch me and place my medal around my neck. I got my picture taken and then started to feel dizzy. I was taken to the med tent where I got two liters of fluid. I negative split the marathon – 3:00 hours for the first half and 2:30 for the second. It was an amazing race and the weather was perfect.
Time 5:32.22 Division Place 18
This was my third Ironman and I had so much more fun than the previous two. I think it was because of all the support I had. My dad was a rock and sherpaed my gear and helped me tremendously. My mom who is always my biggest cheerleader was there to support me. My daughters and son-in-law greeted me at the finish and my beautiful grandchildren spent the whole day supporting me. I was able to race with my beautiful SwimBikeMom teammates and was greeted at the finish by other teammates who were volunteering. I had so much support at home on my Facebook that it brought tears to my eyes!!! The bike wreck I had two weeks prior to this race was truly a blessing because it made me focus on what was important and it was not about the time, it was about the village that helped me complete a dream and for that I am eternally grateful. I love you all!!! Until next time … I AM AN IRONMAN!!!