Ironman Louisville: Bike Report

When we last left off… (uh, a week ago! Thanks Maggie for the reminder to finish the race!) I had just gotten out of a fantastic swim at Ironman Louisville!  After wiping off my face, I got my bike shoes, cooling arm sleeves, sunglasses & helmet on, and headed out to the bike!

One IM Louisville tip: the volunteers do not get your bike for you, so you should practice to see how to get to your bike from the changing tent.  I definitely didn’t think to do this and lost my bike… and almost had to get someone to help me find it!  Oh well, T1 total time of 10:09.

The Louisville bike course starts out pretty flat, and it was nice to cruise along super easy.  When I started, it’s almost funny how easy I was trying to ride.  I so did not want to blow up and find out I’d ridden too hard at the beginning.  I let a million people pass me (that may be only a slight exaggeration).

IMLOU Bike Course

I did find out I had forgotten about certain slight inclines, and yes, one of them came up on the first route up toward Route 1694.  Then we came upon the fun part:  a windy, shaded one-lane road that Ironman lore has as the scene of many an accident.  I was just hoping I wouldn’t get in one, nor anyone else that day.
I love riding fast down hills, and this was going to be the most fun time to go.  I really did take the downhills well, and tried my damnedest to go SLOW up the hill.  Thankfully I made it there and back without a problem.  I also successfully executed a U-Turn (the only one on the course) and also my bottle exchange without any issues.

Then I did it again!  This is the little “stick off the lollipop stick” when you look at the Ironman Louisville course.
After that, you head out for the loop, which I felt like was familiar territory having ridden it twice.  I knew where we were going and when to get into the small chain ring.
For one hundred & twelve miles, things can get a bit boring.  My highlights:

  • riding along a farm and hearing another cyclist go “neigh” like a horse!
  • learning that my body may not like the pre-mixed perform (and what a stomach cramp REALLY feels like).
  • Eating 3 bonk breakers, 3 gels, 3 baggies of pretzels & 3 of swedish fish. And probably 25+ salt tabs.
  • Cooling arm sleeves are the bomb!  You pour water on them and they cool you down — especially as the air breezes by!

I saw my family and friends around mile 65:
And by mile 95 my neck had decided it had had enough of aero.  I started bargaining with myself to stay in aero (so I could stay faster while on a net downhill toward the finish) of 1 minute in aero, one minute out.  What I’d get to do after the race.  Then it was 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off.  I also saw other cyclists with the same issue.  Mimicked a couple of them who started riding with their hands on the aero pads.

And then we were back at transition!  Time to run!

Ironman Louisville Race Report: Swim

On Sunday, August 24, 2014 I became an Ironman!

It started early that morning, with a wakeup call at 4 AM to eat breakfast and begin hydrating for the day.  After getting dressed, Mike & I headed out to transition so I could add my bottles & nutrition to the bike, and then head over for the swim start.  I brought my race plan with me so I could not worry and just check things off the list:


Ironman Louisville is a time-trial start, where athletes jump into the water like lemmings (2-3 seconds after the first one) off of two piers.  It takes about 45 minutes for all athletes to get through, so you line up first-come, first-serve for your spot in the start line.  We got there about 5:20 and after securing my spot, I headed to the port-a-potties to “let my nerves out.”  My teammate Katrina met up with us and joined me in line; I’m glad we got to start together!  

Once the pro’s started, the line started moving and we got ready to race!  Swimskins (speed suit) on, cap & goggles.  Last stuff into the morning gear bag that we gave to the volunteers.  Once you’re on the piers, you’re jogging to the start, hold your goggles & jump in!

IMLOU Swim CourseAt Louisville, you’re swimming in the Ohio River, first upstream and then after about 3/4 mile, you turn around and are carried downstream to the swim finish.  I had set my garmin up to vibrate every 1/4 mile, so I had an idea of how far I had been going.  When we hit the turnaround, I took a peak and saw 37 minutes.

In a normal triathlon, that’s not an awesome time for me for 3/4 of a mile.  But this was upstream, and we’d be turning around to go downstream! Overall I found the swim not too crazy or combative.  I spent more of the 2nd half (after the turnaround) focused on staying on course toward the swim finish and not getting swept out to the middle of the channel.  I did a good job siting/aiming as I stayed very close to the buoys the entire time!

As I approached the swim finish at Joe’s Crab Shack, I did find other swimmers got a bit more aggressive but we were all aiming for a small & narrow spot.  You get to the finish and the volunteers essentially pull you out of the water, and you’re onto Transition!


In Transition #1, I initially walked and then got caught up by a few people running and started to jog toward the Great Lawn.  When I got to the stairs, I walked down them and then picked up my T1 Bike Gear bag and headed into the tent.

Inside the transition tents, the volunteers are incredibly helpful.  They will help you change fully if you need to.  I had my tri-kit on, so I only needed to get out of my swim skin, get sunblocked, and then bike shoes & helmet.  After that, you head out to get your bike (IMLOU tip: you need to get your own bike, so walk the tent to bike to remember where it is!) and head out!


Swim 2.4 miles:  1:13:18    

T1   10:09


Ironman Louisville: Pre-Race

Thanks for being patient as I processed all of the events that occurred last weekend!  I’m finally ready to share!

Wednesday I left for Louisville!  Mike was out of town for work last week, so he was going to meet me directly in Louisville from his work trip.  I was splitting the drive between Wed & Thurs so as not to have a full 5 hours of driving all in a single day.

I am glad I stopped along the way to fill up on gas… I realized I’d left my driver’s license at home with my swim lap  pass (darn that Chicago Pools requiring photo ID!).  I ended up driving back home and out again… making my 3 hour drive for the day 5.  But no need to worry now about my ID.

Thursday morning I arrived in Louisville early, and checked in for Ironman!  My teammate, Katrina, was doing Louisville as well, so once she got in we headed out to drive the bike course.  I’d ridden back in July, so I knew pretty much what we were in for, but it was good to drive it again and refresh myself.  Once back, I also did a short bike ride to recall the road conditions and stretch out my legs.  I’m glad i did it outside as my last two rides had been indoors on the trainer.

IM Louisville backpack

Friday was the ultimate rest day.  Katrina and I went to brunch at Wild Eggs, and then separated for the day.  I napped (my favorite post-brunch activity) and then headed to a movie.  After that, I picked Mike up from the airport and headed back into town.  Lousivlle isn’t huge, but there was significant construction on the highway going on.  We then headed out to dinner with Katrina, her dad, Mike & I at the Old Spaghetti Factory.  Early night again.IMG_3804

Saturday Mike headed out for a 5K race (in which he came in 2nd overall!) and I went to do a practice swim in the Ohio River.  Let’s just say we all came out with chocolate milk mustaches and it highlighted the opportunity for a lip wax… dirty river. I did a short run, and then cleaned up.  My dad arrived in town, and Mike got back from his race.  My dad and I went to the race expo (again) so I could return a shirt and also pick up a gift for someone.  We grabbed lunch at a favorite from our previous trip (Grumpy Troll Pub) and then headed back to prep the bike & transition bags and deliver them before the rain came.  That was good, because later that afternoon it rained like crazy!

Later that afternoon, we headed out to a gastropub to meet up with my fan club (aka family & friends who came down to cheer me on) and spend some time relaxing before the big day.  Since I knew that some would have to leave Louisville before I finished, I wanted to make sure we spent some time together on Saturday.  It was nice to see my Dad, Mike, Sandy & Dave, and Peter & Aaron all down there!

We finished dinner and got back to the hotel for me to be in bed by 9 PM!