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

In case you missed them:  Pre-Race – Swim Recap – Bike Recap – Run Recap

New Orleans 70.3 Relay Race Report

This weekend had the perfect start to my newest race-cation! (I’ve had a history of these:  Disney Princess, Las Vegas, Amsterdam… to name a few)  This time, New Orleans.  A warm locale was NECESSARY after the ridiculous winter we had.  And with triathlon, especially long course triathlon like the 70.3 distance, a relay was a great option.

There were a bunch of Chicago-ans from two tri clubs that I knew who were in town (go Chicago Tri Club & Trimonsters!) so this felt like a little party down south.



The Ironman NOLA 70.3 expo was what I envisioned from my experience at Racine, although I have to say I was pleasantly surprised at the smaller scale of the event.  It was a nice change of pace and a perfect way to open up the season!

Crawfish Boil


Saturday we did the normal things: Brunch, packet pickup, bike drop-off, and crawfish boil. Just the normal stuff :)  Low key and headed to bed at a reasonable hour.  Dinner:  Crawfish Boil mid-afternoon and a bowl of pasta later.  

Race Day: 

The early morning had pretty much the normal morning.  I brought my favorite cereal with me from Chicago (Panda Puffs, if you care to know!) and had that with almond milk.

I wasn’t too nervous going into the race, although I was curious to see how competitive I’d be in the swim. Our team had originally set out some ambitious, competitive, goals that we modified down as the race got closer.  No- we probably weren’t going to win the relay.  Could we get top 3? We weren’t sure about that either.  I was racing with a really good cyclist and a really good runner, so I was also feeling some of the performance anxiety of trying to keep up their competitiveness.

We got to the site and it was nice that I didn’t have to do any worrying about bike prep or transition space setup.  Just get my swim stuff together and hide my other sh** to the side in a bag.

The swim had an interesting course:



A kind of modified “M”.  Since we were doing the relay (wave 5) I decided to hang with the peeps to watch the pro’s go off.  10 feet from Andy Potts again? Uh, yes please.  I then got in line for my wave, and realized I should figure out how to look at the course and sight.  Uh, race foul by not remembering to do that before the race starts.

NOLA 70.3 is a time-trial start, so even though there were closer to 100 teams in the relay wave, they send only 8 people off every 10 seconds, jumping off of a pontoon in the harbor.  I have the same type of time-trial start at Louisville, so I was glad to have this experience before then!

RaceNOLA Race Morning

Swimming is the most static of the three sports, so here’s what you need to know on my swim:

  • I jumped into the harbor to start my first open-water swim in over 6 months.
  • Water was not as a cold as I’d thought it might be  – good
  • The harbor is a marina, and there was a good bit of gasoline in the water that you could smell and taste – bad
  • I was effective at starting my swim strategy right away (sight every 3 + breathing pattern) – good
  • I did not know how many buoys to the turnaround – bad.
  • I did not get a cramp – good
  • I could not see due to the sun in my eyes for about 600 m.  I should have worn my tinted goggles. – Bad

I finished off faster than my Racine 70.3 swim last year, but not quite as fast as I’d hoped I would .


Post-swim in a triathlon relay you sit around and wait for your teammates to finish.  Dave was out on the bike for almost 3 hours, so there was some napping and chatting with other athletes.  When Mike headed out for the run, we had to skedaddle over to the race finsih since it was not in the same location as the start & transition.
The finish line & party there at NOLA was quite nice — we enjoyed the most thorough post-race massages, red beans & rice, and beer at the end of the race!

FINAL TIME:  41:11 / 5:04:22 (Swim / Overall)

AVERAGE PACE:  1:57 /100yd

NEXT RACE:  13.1 Chicago Half , 6.7.2014

Three Things Thursday

Run with me on June 7 at the Michelob 13.1 Chicago Half Marathon!  Enter my giveaway to win a free registration!

1. I’m done with my big tests for this week! Swim Test, check. Bike test, check. Pretty big improvements on both (although I wonder if I tested poorly the first time on the swim…)
I upped my watts by 10% on the bike, and dropped my swim time by 11 seconds per hundred meters.  I thought it would be good to do a check point on my Ironman big hairy ass goals:

  • I’m 30% closer to my 30 minute swim goal at the half iron distance! The race is in two weeks though, so not sure I’ll get it for the big relay of NOLA 70.3. Perhaps for my June 70.3.
  • Bike speed goal: I am making progress. I haven’t been outside yet (on my bike, this year), and my indoor speeds vary depending on the workout. We’re not focused on speed as much as power & overall fitness. I’m improving on both of those!
  • Training Consistency:  I am making this a week-by-week goal.  This week, goal to complete all workouts unless otherwise dictated by the allowed “Shamrock Shuffle” adjustments.

2. Emma has been “generally unimpressed” lately. With food, with me coming home. Remember when she used to be a cutie and greet me at the door?! Now she hangs out upstairs and just meows when I get up there.


3. I’m so looking forward to the Shamrock Shuffle this weekend! This race has a special spot in my heart (and on my finger!). I’ve decided to race this all out and see how fast I can go right now. I hope to PR (faster than 9:03 pace), and I’d love to go close to a 43:00… Sub 8:51 pace. Eek. I haven’t done a ton of speedy running lately, so this will be an interesting day!.