Race Reports

Ironman Louisville Race Report

In my run gear bag

It has be been a while sine I wrote a race report. Actually, since my last Ironman which was almost a year ago. I’ve been getting lazy with these reports but I do like to write them since I tend to go back a read them to see what went wrong and what I did right.

In this race, many things went right, even though I was hoping for a much better time, I am satisfied with my results. This is the first full Ironman race I did where I felt like I am starting to figure this damn race out.

Preparation for this race wasn’t that bad. I felt my body was starting to get used to the volume and beating. My training been very consistent throughout the year and it felt like I just added 30min to my long runs and couple hours to my long bike rides.

I tried to do all my long rides down in the Brecksville and Medina area and get as much elevation as I could. The area here look very similar to Louisville so that was nice. Our hills seem to be steeper and shorter than Louisville though.

Final Taper Week… trying to be Greg Louganis:

Why am I bringing this up? On Saturday, one week before the race, I took my 2 boys to the swimming pool. I usually go and just keep an eye on them but this time I decided to get in the pool with them and have some fun. They were going up and down the diving boards so I decided to join hem.

Now, I have done these simple dives many times, like 10+ years ago. I went up on the 10-foot board and decided with no warm up, or practice jump to just go head down.

I thought I looked like this

I thought I looked like this

Apparently I didn’t do it right and entered the water wrong. The water pressed hard on my chest from the impact and bent my back. I felt like my back cracked into pieces. Doggie peddled my way to the side of the pool and stood there for like 10-minutes trying to catch my breath and see if I can still move my legs. I thought I was done for sure and probably my endurance sport career was over. The pain was unbearable.

but I think looked more like this

but I think looked more like this

I had a 3-hours bike ride the next day. I wasn’t sure if I will be able to do it so I decided to stay indoor and see what I can do. Surprisingly my back felt fine on the bike. A lot of tightness but managed to get the bike ride done and was very happy with that.

On Tuesday, I did my first run since the accident. It was easy 20-minutes but felt like I had cracked pieces all over my lower back and everything was just out of balance. Decided to head to the chiro the next day to check things out and eliminate any disc issues with my back.

Luckily nothing serious, just some bruising, tightness and possibly some tears to muscles tissues. With some KT tape, I felt somewhat better.

Few days before the race, I made some changes to my bike fit. Earlier this year, I switched from the S-bend aero bars to ski shape and felt bunched up. After looking at some photos of me I realized I needed more reach so added another spacer and bam, felt like magic. The bike suddenly feel very comfy.

Travelled to Louisville on Friday morning and made it there around noon. Checked in, met up with some friends and drove the course.

In my run gear bag

In my run gear bag

My Race Goals:

Swim: 1:00 – 1:05
Bike: 5:15- 5:20
Run: 3:40-3:45

Pre-race:

On Friday night, had a large pizza and basically stuffed myself. Saturday morning around 8am, met up with Ben Meer at Sunergos Coffee. A great local coffee shop and just talked racing. This guy is a stud. Maybe one day I will be as fast as him. Then met up with my friend Ryan at Wild Eggs downtown Louisville and stuffed my face with pancakes. Highly recommend this place.

Then met up with my coach Heath Dotson and rode the out and back section of the bike course and talked some strategies. That section was freshly paved and felt great.

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Race Setup:

  • Bike Gear Bag: Arm warmers, bike shoes, small towel.
  • Run Gear Bag: Newtons distance running shoes, running hat, race belt, sunglasses, 4x gels.
  • Morning bag: Bike helmet (left it on bike morning of race),Roka Maveric Elite Full wetsuit, goggles, 1xPowerbar Strawberry Banana Gel, 1x clif bar to eat while waiting in line for swim start.
  • Special need bags: Nothing.

Sunday Morning:

The morning of the race, I set the alarm around 4am but I didn’t need it. I was up around 3:30. Ate my almond butter and coffee. Walked out of the hotel around 5:30 and was in T1 a little before 6am. Dropped off my helmet and added a Gatorade bottle to my run gear bag. I thought I might want to carry it with me during the first few miles of the run.

Headed to the swim start line and that was probably over a mile long. Once they moved the family away from the line, the line got a lot shorter and I think I was lined up somewhere in the middle. Once the line started moving, things got moving very fast and was in the water around 7:45am.

Swim 1:03:24:

You start the swim against the current in a semi protected area. There is a little island to the left so I tried to swim as close to it as possible to shield against current. Made the first turn and we started to head back and now the swim was suppose to be with the current. You can feel some of the current but it wasn’t as fast as it was in previous years as I was told.

Midway through the swim, before going under the first bridge, I came behind a slower swimmer. I tried to pass him on the left but he kept going left. So I decided to change direction to go to his right and as I was doing that, I got kicked really hard on the nose. At that point I started seeing stars. I kept swimming and tried to shake things up and my nose was bleeding. Nothing I can do but keep swimming so I just kept swimming and slowly  the pain started to go away. I thought I was close to an hour and probably sub 1-hour for the swim but I wasn’t that far off.  I had my watch to vibrate/beep every 10-minute but missed one alarm so I thought I was coming sub 1-hour. But  I was fine with 1:03.

T1: 7:05:  T1 was a little long. Just ran through it and grabbed my bike gear bag. The temp was in the low 50s and sunny and was suppose to get up to the 70s. I was planning on putting on my arm warmers but talking to Heath the day before, I decided to not use my arm warmers and that was a good decision. I didn’t feel cold at any point of this ride. It was just perfect.

Bike 5:31:27:

The plan was to go through 2000 calories. Probably that’s a little high but I trained for this and that should leave me with good energy for the run. I had 300 calories in my BTA bottle, two powerbars wafer (which I love), and 900 calories of Powerbar Kona Punch gels in one bottle and one Strawberry Banana for the caffeine. The plan was to use Gatorade for the rest of my calories from aid stations and I drank a total of 3.

Bike Nutrition:

  • BTA: Carbo Pro (200) + EFS (100)
  • Power Bar Kona Punch (800).
  • Powerbar Wafers x2 (280)
  • Powerbar Strawberry Banana Gel w/caffeine (100)
  • Gatorade x3 from aid stations (640)

Total: 1960 calories

I kept my efforts very easy for two reasons. I wanted to run well off the bike, and didn’t do a long ride since my back injury and I wasn’t sure how riding 5+ hours will impact it.  I trained all my long rides around 200+ watts  and my goal was to do this ride around 185-190 and the lower the better. I would rather make up for any lost time on the bike during the marathon.

I had my Garmin to auto lap every 7 miles. That will break up the distance evenly to 16 laps. The first lap I kept the effort very low and finished around 168 and averaged around 23mph. I didn’t care how low it was. I knew I will make up for it once we start hitting all the rollers.

After that, I started averaging between 190-200 and just kept telling myself to take it easy. In some sections I was getting frustrated. I don’t get why so many like to smash the hills and then have to repass all of them on the downhills. This trend kept happening over and over and I was starting to get really frustrated but kept telling myself to just race my race. I will eventually drop them once things flatten out.

Unfortunately I did burn few matches and hit 450+ watts almost on every lap in the first 1/2 of the ride. Once I made it to Rt 42 things settled down a bit and started dropping everyone until we started back in the 2nd loop. Hit more traffic from the slower riders and it got really congested on 42 until the turn for the 2nd loop. That’s when most turned left to continue with their 2nd loop and I started heading back to town and it was only me and few other riders.

I was feeling good and really didn’t start hating my bike until about mile 105. That’s when my neck started to bother me and just overall fatigue from riding in aero for 5+ hours. Legs were still feeling great and no cramping what so ever. Peed 4 times on the bike. That’s a record for me.

Finished the ride at IF = .66 and VI = 1.08. TSS = 243. That’s very low for me. More like recovery efforts. I could’ve pushed this ride harder but I was fine with this.

The last section was windy so it was slower heading back to town. Finished the ride and untied my shoes and got ready to dismount barefoot.

T2 5:54: Ran barefoot with my bike on really hard cement. I felt every bone in my feet. A volunteer took my bike from me and ran ran to grab my run bag. Put on my Newton Distance and Sunglasses and race belt and started the run.

The run 4:02:29:

Started the run slow and in control until the first mile. My back was feeling tight but felt I can run through it. Picked up the pace to what felt really good and comfortable and that was around 8min pace in the 2nd mile. I really wanted to pick it up more to about 7:30-7:45 but held it back and told myself to make the first half then see how you feel.

My stomach felt full off the bike but good. Decided to skip eating anything for the first couple miles until everything settles. Just took some water from the first two aid stations.

Around mile 4 I took my first gel and followed it up with water. Then grabbed a banana around mile 6. Stuffed it in my mouth and kept running.

I did feel the urge to go to the bathroom for #2 but decided to keep going and that feeling might go away. Made the turn back to town and was still running in the low 8min pace and feeling good except that urge to go to the bathroom just kept getting stronger. Found a porta john around mile 11 or 12. Got out of the porta john and my pace started dropping after that. Stupid porta john.

Kept running and my pace didn’t match my effort. I felt like I was running low 7s but in reality I was running low 9s. Around mile 18, the wheels came off and walked for a little bit. Ate more from the aid stations and took some chips and coke. Walked some more until the last 10k when something kicked in and somehow my legs came back.

At each aid station, I slowed down to a jog and grabbed water, coke or Gatorade. After mile 20, I decided to try out Red Bull which wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Took some chips at some aid stations and those were awesome. I am going to do that more often next time.

I started picking people off and ran all the way back to town and toward the finish line. I slowed down and savored every minuted and high fived everyone and crossed the finish line in 10:50:19.

I was somewhat disappointed that I didn’t meet some of my goals but I am also somewhat ok with it. I felt I am no longer intimidated by the ironman marathon and now I know how to get after it next time. It took me few tries to figure out the 70.3 distance. The full is a little more intimidating and I think I am figuring it out now.

At this point, I am not sure I want to do another full next year. I might take it off and just work on getting faster in the 70.3. I will do more 70.3s next season and if I am up for it, I will see what Ironman distance left open by the end of the year and might see where my fitness take me.

For now, time to get the body healed, and enjoy some time off.

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