Monday, August 26, 2013

Ironman Louisville: 13:13:14

I did it!

Sunday was Ironman #4 for me. My first was in 2007 in Madison (pre-blog, time of 12:51:29), my second was in 2008 in Louisville (13:46:49), my third was 2009 in Louisville (12:21:22), and this fourth one was in Louisville as well (13:13:14). My lead-up to this race was different than any other Ironman I’ve done. Previously, I’ve actually trained for an Ironman, doing such training days as brick workouts (swim/bike, bike/run, etc.) and doing shorter triathlons. This year, however, I raced my bike through August 4 and then began focusing on Ironman.

I knew from my couple long swims and my one long run these last three weeks that I had the fitness for each of the individual disciplines. My plan for Sunday was to take each of them as its own race.
  1. Swim 2.4 miles.
  2. Bike 112 miles.
  3. Run 26.2 miles.
Sunday morning I got up early enough to stop in transition and pump up my bike tires before walking about 1 mile to the swim start. My hope had been to be in the first 1,000 athletes (there were about 2,700), which meant beginning some time before 7:10am. I think I was in the first 500, and I jumped in the water at 7:05:31. Honestly I had to practically run down the dock and right into the water…thankfully I already had my goggles on because it felt like I had little time to realize The race is on! I got in the water, and my goal was to stay as close to the buoys as possible—I have a habit of swimming straight but far away from the buoys/crowds. Then I have to make my way back in and seemingly swim longer, and today I wanted to swim 2.4 miles and no longer. There were a couple times where I had to redirect, but for the most part I was close enough to the buoys to satisfy me and close enough to other people to get some draft (but not close enough that I got kicked or slapped).

Swim exit...the day before

I had seen the clock as I jumped in, and I glanced at my watch as I ran toward transition. I saw 8:19, which told me I was WELL under my previous fastest Ironman swims (1:22, 1:26, 1:24); my official swim time was 1:13:01, a 9:42 improvement over my previous best! I was expecting to swim at a pace of 2:10/100 meters, or around 1:20; my 1:13 was at a pace of 1:53, and I am thrilled about that!

My ride for the bike portion

As I headed toward transition, I started thinking about the bike portion while I ate a Gu. I was beginning a new race in my mind, so I put on my Belladium kit and bike gear, got some sunscreen, stopped at the porta-potty, and hopped on my (borrowed) bike. T1 was 7 minutes, but this included a complete wardrobe change and a bathroom break. I knew transitions would take longer since I opted to change, and I also knew it would be worth it.

Pinned number and everything!

Beginning the bike, I decided to find a happy place. For me, this meant pushing a pace that felt just hard enough to push me and just easy enough to be something I could handle for 112 miles, and it also happened to be a strong place. I began passing people immediately, and I continued passing them. Numerous women from my age group had either swam faster than me (looks like I was 34th of 110 out of the water, so there were a lot ahead of me) or started earlier than me. I remember getting passed by a couple older women, and then around mile 75 I was re-passed by at least two women from my age group. I didn’t want to let them pass me, but I also didn’t want to lose my life. On this second lap, there was more traffic, and the drivers I think were slightly overwhelmed by the number of bikes and were simply unsure where to drive. Too many cyclists passed these vehicles by going around them on the left and over the double yellow line. The time these women passed me was one time when a group of 18 went around a truck, a couple feet into the lane of oncoming traffic, while I stayed behind waiting for a safe time to pass (at least, this felt like 18 because they ALL passed me).

Somewhere around mile 15 I began to notice a slight mechanical issue with my bike. The out-and-back section on 1694 was flat, down, up, turn around, down, up, flat. By the downhill after the turnaround, I felt like I was unable to safely stop pedaling. Every time I took tension off the chain, the chain slackened; that is, the derailleur seemed to come up from the bottom, causing the top part of the chain to drop down onto the frame and into the spokes. I thought that if the wind gusted, it could push the chain completely into the spokes (while I was descending at 40mph) and not only would I go down, I’d cause others to crash. Therefore, I continued pedaling, the entire time, often feeling forced to brake on the descents to keep from spinning out.

Kiki and Lisa were both out in La Grange cheering, and I saw both of them. Happy day! Catherine was also there, but I didn’t see her…I still appreciated them being there though!

The mechanical issue was OK on the first lap, but by the second lap I simply wanted a break from pedaling! I didn’t take one, but I sadly slowed down slightly the second lap (Strava says there was a 15-minute difference: 1:29:51 for the first, 1:44:51 for the second [which included a 7-minute stop, I think]), stopped once for about 5 minutes at mile 87, and stopped again for about 2 minutes at mile 102. The stop at mile 87 I was hoping to find a mechanic to help me fix whatever was going on. But the one who was there was already helping a lady who had just crashed. I wasn’t willing to wait more than 5 minutes, and after a volunteer took a quick look and determined he didn’t know what the issue was, I decided to get along on my merry way. The stop at mile 102 was simply to be able to unclip and shake out my feet. Turns out I tend to coast and like the freedom to unclip, and I was missing that! Once I got back on, I was headed for home and then happy be back in T2!

My official time for the bike leg was 5:48:22, an average pace of 19.29 miles per hour. My previous times had been 6:11:22, 6:31:45, and 6:01:35; this was a HUGE improvement of 13 minutes, including the mechanical, and I was thrilled. It’s hard to say for sure, but I’d like that think that, without the mechanical, I could have been close to the top 10 bike split times. The lady who rode the 8th fastest time is another Nashvillian who I had been jockeying with all day; I caught her initially, on a hill around mile 12, she passed me a few miles later, I’d pass her on another climb, she’d pass me back, and then finally I passed her and didn’t see her for many, many miles…until my stop at mile 87 where I’m sure she flew by. I would have loved to have cracked that top 10. Instead, I was 12th fastest on the bike in my age group and knew that I was close to the front of my AG field beginning the run.

Coming out of T1, saying hi to Lisa

Again, I spent a bit of time in transition (11:42, actually), taking time to change clothes and try to eat/drink a quick something before I began the run. I must not have looked well at all because I had two volunteers all to myself who were offering me anything salty they could find. However, I’d consumed all of the following on the bike and thought I was well hydrated/fed:
  • 4 bottles water
  • 2 bottles Perform
  • 1 bottle Gatorade
  • Powerbar
  • Gu
  • Bonk Breaker bar
  • Clif bar
In transition, I could barely get the pretzels down without also sipping water, but I really wanted to head out. I told one lady that I’d leave at 2:25pm, and she made me go at that time. Nice to have people to push you.

Catherine is moving faster than me here :-)

Starting the run, I saw Kiki and Lisa just before the run-out timing mat and said I knew it was going to hurt. Then I heard Aunt Renee and Lauren cheering, and a few steps down I saw Catherine and Madi! It was so nice to see familiar faces before the start of a long run. My goal had been ~8:40 miles, but the first two miles took me 25 minutes and I was not feeling it. I started jogging around the 2-mile marker and would then walk the aid stations. Around mile 6, I felt like my legs were starting to come around, but I also felt pretty unable to run for any amount of time over about 5 minutes. I wasn’t really taking in any calories (though I tried, nothing sounded or looked good and I’d only take a bite or a sip and then toss whatever was left). By mile 7 I knew I’d be at least an hour behind my goal. By mile 8, every woman aged 30–34 that I’d passed on the bike began passing me, and I was unable to even pick up my pace to try to stay with them for a little bit. It’s not that I didn’t want to, it’s that I felt physically incapable.

Around mile 12, I saw Uncle John and Lisa, who stuck with me for the next 1.5 miles into the city and to the turnaround. At the special needs station, I sat down to change my socks and started crying. I wasn’t completely broken, because I was going to finish (not finishing never crossed my mind), but I was very disappointed that I was not going to come even close to my projected time after having such a great swim and bike. Somehow I got it together (read: drank some water, Perform, and more water) and did not cry the entire final 12 miles…but I did walk nearly 20 of the 26 marathon miles. At least I had good company in Lisa, U John, and other competitors who were also walking (some on their first loop...and I thought my day was long!).

Finish line!

Just before the finish, like within the final half mile, a girl in my age group jogged past me. I had to beat her and thought I could run for a half mile. I did, and I crossed the finish line smiling in 13:13:14 (a time I didn’t even know until my mom, my aunt, and my sister’s mother-in-law told me; I hadn’t been paying any attention to overall time by that time). Ironman!

After feeling like I was going to pass out and sitting for about 10 minutes, I finally got a little food (1 slice of pizza) and began to feel a little better. But it really wasn’t until about lunch time on Monday when I finally felt like I’d actually be able to eat real food, so I ate a lot of it: double cheeseburger, chips, chicken wrap, and lots of water. Then later I had a turkey salad with more water and a big cookie. I think by now (Monday at 8:30pm) I might actually be re-hydrated and filled with food. Time for bed!


Ironman Louisville 2013:
1083/2600 13:13:14 33/110 1:13:01 7:34 5:48:22 11:42 5:52:35
.../599 females

Ironman Louisville 2009:
949/2345 12:21:22 30/91 1:24:53 3:14 6:01:35 4:26 4:47:14

951 340 W25-29 Kailin Acheson BRENTWOOD TN USA 26 F
1:24:53 2:12 1207 56 6:01:35 18.6 820 18 2:10:19 4:47:14 10:58 1226 46 12:21:22

Ironman Louisville 2008:
918/1975 13:46:49 26/64 1:26:07 2:51 6:31:45 5:07 5:40:59

Ironman Wisconsin 2007:
1043/2209 12:51:29 4/21 1:22:42 7:39 6:11:22 5:05 5:04:43

More photos:

This is real!

Welcome dinner

This trip's vehicle

Transition on check-in day

No comments: