We made our way to Louisville (for those that have not been there you actually don’t say Louis its more of a “mouth full of potatoes” said lou-ville)… checked in and made our way to registration. Once through registration, a seamless procedure I might add, they pushed you into the merchandise area where of course you can buy anything and everything you could ever think of with an ironman logo on it. After acquiring the prerequisite swag (including the spousal support t-shirt), I changed and rode the run section of the course…so far so good. After exploring the city and attending the mandatory athlete’s meeting (just really wanted to know where the port’o’potties were located…as did most, judging by the exodus of people after they announced it) we had dinner at Lilly’s on Bardstown Rd (highly recommended) and hoping for a decent nights sleep, called it a night. Saturday morning, I was up at 7:30 and out for a practice swim in the mighty Ohio River (a feat that does not go unnoticed by the locals; seems no one in their right minds would swim in the river which at best feels like warm bath water, is clear as pea soup and tastes of a cross of diesel fuel and raw sewage). We then drove one loop of the bike course (more on that in a moment), dropped off the bike and gear bags, had dinner at Proof on Main (check out the “Museum Hotel” it is situated in, if you ever get a chance to go), took a final look at the finish line on 4th St and called it a night.
Sunday morning, the alarm went for 445 and we headed out the door for the mile plus walk to the swim start. After a brief stop at the bike to drop off nutrition, my garmin and to put air in the tires, we met up with Pat (and Brook) and David and got ourselves ready for the start of the event. We were able to situate ourselves fairly close to the front of the line, as it’s a time trial start with one person at a time entering the water, where we had a good vantage spot of the beginning of the race and watched as the pro’s jumped in the water and started on their way. Within ten minutes of their start, the first of the age groupers was in the water and we found ourselves running towards the timing mats and into the water…
I got off to a good start, stayed to the outside as much as I could to avoid plowing over the slower swimmers in front of me. Although we were swimming upstream I was able to keep a strong steady pace and continued to catch and pass a large portion of the swimmers. The course took you up stream about 1/2 mile, around a large island then back down the other side of the island and eventually into the exit area about a mile ½ down stream. I have been training for months for this, so the work wasn’t really the problem, it had become the sheer boredom of swim that started to get to me and I couldn’t wait to get out of the water…Finally the exit was close; I turned into the exit and was surprised that the cross current was much stronger than I anticipated and I had to swim hard to get there. Once on land I felt really strong and ran through to T1, grabbed my bike gear, into the change tent and out onto the bike.
The first 10-12 miles of the course followed the river and was absolutely flat and fast. As I knew there were hills to come, and 110 miles to ride, but wanting to complete the bike portion in 5hrs 30min, I pushed along the first section around 40k/hr. The first hill was a long ascent at about a 7 or 8% grade , then onto what I thought were going to be mostly rolling hills. The next 8 miles or so proved to be just that, but as you will recall, we had gone on a scouting mission the day before of the bike course. We had decided that as it was an out and back section of the course and the course so far had been fairly “rolling” and there wasn’t a need to see this part of the course…this proved to be one of the most technical parts of the race (along with the other area of the course that we decided we didn’t need to see!!) with a 5 mile section into and out of a bowl with a 10% or better grade… once through this section I knew what to expect going into the first loop of the ride. We made our way through a small town, where they had bussed many of the spectators and then back for a second loop. On my second loop, around the 65km mark, I was given a red card for drafting (on an up hill) and was forced to stop at the nearest “Penalty Tent” with a 4 minute violation. This of course is sheer hell, watching not only the riders you have been with the whole time go past you but all the other riders you worked hard to get past. Once back on the road I was back through the small town where the spectators had been bussed. Somewhat buoyed by their applause (ok, it was likely more for the wheelchair athlete…but I needed the morale booster), I pushed through and caught up with a couple of riders that I had been with before the penalty. I saw the 33 mile marker back to the city and held as much of a steady pace as I could through the rolling hills. I made my way back into transition, those of you who have competed in shorter triathlon events will appreciate this, the volunteers take and rack your bike for you so you only need worry about getting your gear and changing. I quickly got through T2, stopped to pee, a good sign after that much time on the bike, and out onto the run course. I still felt strong and went out determined to run a negative split 3:30 marathon.
The course was mainly flat except for the very beginning where they routed you over the 2nd St bridge towards Indiana and then back into the city, through the downtown core and past the University of Louisville for a two loop up and back route. From my recent marathon experience I knew I had to keep my pace to a 5:20/5:30 km split to have any chance of finishing and finishing within 3.5 hrs. The first 23-26km went by without incident, I stopped at all the aid stns (approximately one mile apart) I felt strong and was keeping cool and hydrated. Around the 8 mile marker I saw Pat as he was making his way back from the turn around and was about 2 miles or so in front of me. Buoyed by this I pushed forward determined to close the gap. I made it back down and into the city, for the second loop. One of the most demoralizing parts of the race had to be this section. As you come around for the second loop you go by the finish line and you can hear the announcer say so and so you are an Ironman…oh man that hurt… I continued on knowing I only had another 18 or so k to go... and then it hit. There was starting to be nothing left in the tank, I could feel myself becoming dehydrated and weaker. I could no longer take in any water or electrolytes and I was slowing. The next few kilometers were pure hell and I had to tell myself to run, I had to force myself to keep moving forward and not just call it, I could see my 3:30 marathon slip and there was nothing I could do… I forced myself through the next few miles saying if you move now you can get in under 11 hrs (my ultimate goal!!!), but my body wouldn’t respond!. Finally with three aid stations left and seeing the 24 mile mark, I summoned every ounce of strength I had and pushed through to the end. I pushed through the crowds (an amazing feeling) saw Monica and Brook cheering me in, let a couple of guys get in front of me so that I could go through on my own and finally heard the words I have been training for, for more than a year “Jodie, you are an Ironman”
The Ironman experience is amazing, from the moment you arrive to the end of the race. This is a well run, professional event, staffed and volunteered by dedicated people. This was most evident at the end of my race, where I was ushered through the “backstage” received my medal, shirt and finishers hat, got my picture taken and was escorted to the medical area under very watchful and compassionate eyes. Throughout the entire event the doctors, nurses, massage therapist, administrative staff, aid station workers, bike handlers, change station aids and countless others, did an outstanding job.
In the end, although I didn’t break 11 hrs and didn’t have the run that I wanted I am thrilled with the experience. It couldn’t have been possible without the dedication of my wife and kids (putting up with the countless hours of training), my wife for monitoring and uploading the information to friends and family around the world in real time on face book (and my sister for helping her via BBM and Ironman Live), my friends for supporting me and following me throughout the day from around the world (how cool is that!!!) for Pat who pushed me into this in the first place, Brook for support both before and during the race, and for the many people who supported a cause that is very dear to me, the Unison Benevolent Fund, and helped raise well over 8000.00 for the cause.
Also a huge congratulations to both Pat and David for amazing performances on both their parts!!!
Whose up for Roth Germany in 2013