Race Report: Ironman Louisville, 2010 for Joshua Williamson
City: Louisville, Kentucky
Race Date: August 29th, 2010
Temperature: Low: 73 F High: 97 F
Times: 12:59:58; Swim: 1:18:31, T1: 8:41, Bike: 6:05:17, T2: 10:33, Run: 5:16:56
Incredibly long Race Report version:
This was my first Ironman ever after having first started triathlon’s back in 2007, I kept doing longer and longer distances and finally pulled the trigger on the Ironman Louisville signup. I wanted to find a race that my parents from SW Virginia could drive to and watch, so I went to support Phil Schmidt and Laurel Brown last year and see if it was a course that I wanted to race and pretty much decided that it was.
I particularly liked Ironman Louisville because it doesn’t have 4 or 5 loops on the run, and the bike is moderately hilly, but not insanely steep. The run is flat as a pancake and only two loops. Most of all the race isn’t in an icy cold lake where it’s 60 degree’s and you risk hyperthermia. Yeah, it’s a hot, humid race usually but I knew I can handle heat, some can’t and would never even think of doing a hot humid race like IM Lou but this was going to be my battleground like it or not.
I started six month’s out from the race using the Endurance Nation’s Beginner Ironman Zone training plan pretty much following it to the letter, taking off days that conflicted with my schedules, eventually changing my diet completely to just be able to have the energy for the workouts and to facilitate weight loss as well. Cutting back on starches and breads and more raw foods seemed to work best for me but not until I started cutting out Alcohol consumption is when I really started to lose the weight. I would highly recommend this training plan and I know others have used it with success sas well. You have to put your trust in the training plan and after it’s all said and done the Endurance Nation plans are one’s that if you actually follow them, they won’t steer you wrong.
I started my training living in Winston-Salem, NC but moved back to DC at the beginning of July so nothing like a change of location to discombobulate you and your training. I would say that I probably did 98% of all of my training by myself, which is just the way it worked out for me. Not that group training is good or bad and trust me, on some of those long bike rides that last 5+ hours you start to talk to yourself a bit. Thank goodness there are iPod Shuffles with Podcasts and cell phones that work out in the sticks.
I drove down from Washington, DC that Thursday(10 hours), checked into a cheaper hotel outside of the downtown area and attempted to find something healthy to eat, a salad a Ruby Tuesday’s was the only thing I could find. Hilarious. Woke up and drove into town to get some breakfast and check-in. I stood in line, they weighed me on one of those scales that measures your PH levels and Hair Density and all that mess, and it surprised me greatly to find out that I was 170lbs and 8.5% body fat. I asked her to measure again and it read the same. Wow, as I probably was easily 13-15% body fat back in February when I started all of this training. No wonder none of my clothes fit me anymore. More signatures and bands and junk in a bag that I threw most of it away. Closed my eyes and walked right through the expo, bad luck they say till after your race….you know afterwards when all the medium sized items are sold out. ?
Later that morning I met up with some DC Triathlon folks for a pre-ride of the first 20 miles of the bike course and just did some easy riding and got an idea of what to expect. This was a good thing as it got rid of the nervous energy I was exuding the entire week of tapering. I got some lunch and wandered around downtown Louisville just doing tourist stuff before meeting up with some of the IAMTri(Triathlon web site) meet and greet happy hour thing at a local bar on Fourth Street Live that Adriana Anderson and her husband told me about which was a fun thing to do. I left that event and met up with my family and we went to the Expo to eat some food while listening to the speeches which were inspirational, but kind of long. I headed back to my budget hotel and went to bed at a reasonable time although somewhat nervous.
Saturday morning I checked out of my budget hotel and into the Fairfield Inn Suites one closer to the finish line, then my sisters and father met me in the lobby to walk to the practice swim. Yep, it was wet and the water was bathtub warm, not very eventful but necessary to calm the nerves. Back to the hotel to change and then lunch with the family then napping and waiting in the hotel room alone in the cool air conditioned air, noticing the baking sun outside that was quietly mocking me. I met my family for dinner at Bistro 31 a nice restaurant that Laurel Brown had chosen for a pre-race dinner the year previously. I highly recommend getting reservations and eating here for pre-race food. Off to bed early with my food all laid out in my hotel and my sister meeting me in the morning to take my bike pump and bag.
5:30 wake up, two alarms, having shaved and showered before going to bed all I had to do was eat and put my clothes on, grab my morning bag and bike pump.
• Starbucks Italian Roast Coffee packet (those Via things)
• (2) Quaker Low Sugar Instant Oatmeal Maple and Brown Sugar
• Mushy Banana (ripe one’s have too much starch)
• One Glass of Endurox Fruit Punch Flavor
• Sipping on GU 2 O Orange flavored electrolyte drink until start.
Met my dad and sister in the lobby and walked to the transition area where I pumped my tires, wiped off the dew on the seat and placed my Garmin 705 onto my bike after turning it on to get a good signal then off again, swinging by the all important Port-a-John before leaving the transition area. We walked the mile to the start, then walked another mile to the end of the starting line that never seemed to end. My folks brought two lawn chairs to sit in while we all waited in line in the dark, trying to relax and calm my nerves.
They announced that all family members were to get out of the line and we stood up and started the slow crawl to the start. Nervously talking to a couple from Long Island and some other guy I haven’t a clue, but just talking to keep focus away from our long day. I sucked down a plain flavored GU about 30 minutes out and managed to jog down the dock, cross the timing mat and jump off the dock into the water to swim the 2.4 miles in the Ohio River.
Not coming from a swimming background but being able to swim normal enough to lifeguard etc. I never really thought about distance swimming as so difficult, but to swim properly and efficiently it takes time and lots of YouTube videos and books and lessons to swim that 2.4 miles and not be worn out from it. I had to really perfect my technique, and apply patience with endurance to my swimming style.
So waiting in line then finally jogging down the boat ramp to cheering people I crossed the timing mats and jumped feet first into the bathtub warm water. I have never in my life been attacked more in a race than in this one, maybe it was the non-wave start of it but it seemed like I was on the defense the entire first mile, elbows out to fend off other spastic swimmers and strategizing on what part of the river to swim on and more importantly whom to draft off of. My game plan was to avoid humans, especially those that kick you in the face and knock your goggles off which happened three times having to re-adjust and drain the water out due to some hand or foot kicking them off, definitely not fun, but part of the race and that’s the way it is.
I was surprised that one little section had a sand bar on it that I could actually walk across and take a 15 second break in swimming until it went away and back to swimming. Once we were out around the island and into the main channel my strategy was to get out towards the center of the river where the current was strongest. So I did that and I actually got into a nice groove of drafting off of people and strategizing a little bit, but it was exhausting still. I kept telling my arms, “just push through the being tired part and I won’t need to use you again ok?” Which is kind of true, but not really while one is biking. The swim eventually was over with and I came out at 1:18 at a pace of 2:00 minutes per 100 Meter which is pretty damn good for me, I guess that river current helped a lot. I had no idea what my time was though, I was just glad to be out of the water and ready to get on that bike.
I have no idea what went on in T1, it was a blur to me. I imagine there were women screaming and babies crying, something on fire perhaps? People running here and there, it felt a little like Christmas time at the mall where you can’t focus on anything or you’ll get dizzy. I had done 30-50 practice transitions in my life up to that point, everything fit right, everything was tightened up and on as it should be. I turned on my Garmin computer and slowly jogged out with my bike, mounted it and headed off into the sunrise. Damn you sun!
Having spent the most effort within my training by focusing on the bike I was very excited to get out there and ride. The first 22 miles are flat and watching my cadence and heart rate I was averaging about 22-24 mph and was comfortable with that speed although a little too fast logically, as soon as the hills started I slowed down a bit. All summer I had been practicing staying 100% in the aero position which over the years has gotten easier to do and mostly using my hamstrings on the hills and keeping an 85-90 cadence. The course had a little section that spurs off from the main route and is probably the steepest, although nothing compared to North Carolina Hills nor even Virginia and Maryland’s either. Around 35-40 miles in a headache started to develop which wouldn’t disappear pretty much until the run started.
My nutrition was Infinit, the custom formula, Protein Carbohydrate etc. Company. My strategy was to take two sips of it every 15 minutes the entire time and my Garmin timer was set to go off to remind me to drink it. Two scoops per hour in two bottles for six hours biking really worked out perfectly, although the sweat rate was a little higher than what my training was for some reason, I consumed a little more than I brought towards the end had to resort to GU’s that I had as backup. I drank ton’s of water as staying hydrated was the highest priority and it was pretty well planned with the water stations spread out. The town of La Grange is a cheering area for spectators that we pass by twice and riding through that area was phenomenal although the smell of Hamburgers grilling would drive us all crazy while we were sipping on our liquid meals. I did bring about six Fig Newman’s in my Bento Box and that worked out as a high calorie snack of something “solid” to munch on.
Around miles 60-70 the sun was just baking us out there. High of 97 degree’s apparently, and everywhere you looked you’d see bikers laying in the shade due to overheating. Kind of demoralizing, but I knew that I had trained in the heat, and as long as I drank water and took my nutrition it’d be done soon. The last 25 miles is pretty much downhill’ish so I decided it’d be good to speed it up a bit and just hammer what I had left, mostly avoiding using my Quad’s and using the Hamstrings more, saving my Quad’s for the run. Probably the biggest issue I had on the bike was the second to last water station, when I rolled through they said they were out of water, so with hands in the air saying “you’ve got to be kidding me” I took two bottles of the Powerbar Perform they had PLENTY of for some reason. I sipped those sticky Gatorade Endurance tasting bottles down, they went down pretty easily and I thought everything was good, I have one of those Iron Stomach’s that don’t usually give me problems so I didn’t think much of it. Little would I know it would result in being water logged as my stomach refused to digest it.
Finally coming in I was stiff and ready to get off that damn bike. The volunteers took my bike, and I sort of jogged into the transition tent glad to be upright again ready to get this run done with.
I came in off of the bike pretty anxious to get off of it, like I said a little stiff and excited that I was feeling good, just like I should be feeling. The transition I took my time, and just made sure everything was fitting right and comfortable. Body glide, cleaning my glasses, making those shoes fit just right. I had made some Nutella and Jelly on wheat sandwich squares and placed them in a plastic glad Tupperware box, so I snacked on those for a while talking to Christian Lewis who was in the tent as well. Wished him luck and headed out of to ask the ladies to rub me down with something greasy (sunscreen).
Getting the legs going is always dependant on the amount of Brick’s or actual run’s you did after each bike ride in the past. Luckily I was feeling pretty good except for the rumbling in my stomach of Yellow’ish Powerbar Perform liquid that started to come back up. This is why you should train with the course drink, but of course I wasn’t planning on the second to last water station on the bike course to run out of water and have to resort to the Powerbar Perform drink. After mile one, I got into the running groove, taking my time and hitting each water station, lots of cheering from the crowd around the bridge. My nutrition plan was flavored GU’s every 45 minutes and my goal was a 9:30-10 minute pace and I was holding it for the first 8 miles I’d say, belching/ throwing up Powerbar Perform the entire time, still attempting to drink water at the same time, hoping to water it down.
I found and ran with Kelsie Beebe(DCTri member and newly turned Professional Triathlete) for about 3 minutes at a blistering 7:30-8:00 minute pace (for me) and finally let her go on her way to her 5th place Pro women finish.
The run course started off hot, and eventually with ice cubes and staying wet with pouring water on myself it cooled off to a manageable 90 degree’s. A walk/ run strategy developed, walking the water stations and mileage markers and then running between them. The volunteers were amazing, and worked extra hard to try and make the run easier for us anyway possible with food and drink. Half way at mile 12 or 13 the magical elixir of Chicken Broth started being distributed at the stations which really helped in rejuvenating me and my throwing up of yellow Powerbar Perform liquid. I ran with various people and talked to them to keep my mind busy, I saw Ashley Wolff and Christian Lewis out on the course too, all of us suffering in one form or another.
I had a pretty good attitude during the run, there was nothing more I could do to go faster and it was just a mental game of pushing yourself to keep going and go beyond the pain like everyone out there does. I even managed to yell “we’re going streaking” past the drinking fraternity party that was on the college campus portion but didn’t get many laughs from them. With the last few miles in site, my sister joined in her flip flops and excited fandom to run with me to the finish line where I was greeted by thousands of cheering spectators at the Fourth Street Live street area. After I crossed, I was smiling ear to ear glad it was over. I was surprised I could still stand and be relatively coherent. I later joined my family and we walked a bit after much congratulating from them. I walked back to the hotel, showered and my sister went and got some beer to celebrate, still excited after the whole thing. I got some congratulatory phone calls and tried to keep from cramping up too much when I finally went to bed.
I wasn’t feeling that bad in the morning, a little stiff as expected, but no real aches or pains to be worried of. I was very lucky not to be injured, but that’s why I trained so much, so I wouldn’t get injured. I had breakfast with the family at the hotel and they drove back home afterwards, I went to get a massage and attempt to purchase what was left over from the expo(nothing). Decked out in my finisher’s shirt and hat everywhere I went the locals of Louisville congratulated me for having finished the race, which was a very pleasant thing. Later that afternoon I started Louisville’s “Urban Bourbon Tour” with some people I had met, but it turned into a solo expedition (Most Triathlete’s aren’t big drinkers funny thing), of attempting to get my Bourbon Passport stamped at various bars that they had on the tour to get a T-Shirt. I eventually finished the required Bar visits somewhere around 11:00 later that night, having enjoyed many types of Bourbon…and maybe some Guinness or three as well but also meeting many a pleasant bartender that had lots of stories about Louisville etc. which was fun. I drove back to DC the next morning to sunny skies and the feeling of accomplishment for being an Ironman finally.
Equipment & Clothing Used:
Swim: AquaSphere Kaimen blue lens
Bike: 2009 Cervelo P2C Triathlon bike with 7900 Dura Ace, ISM Adamo Typhoon Saddle, Sidi Tri Shoes, Keo Look Carbon pedals, Garmin Edge 705 with cadence meter and Zipp 808 race wheels. Giro Pneumo Helmet, coolmax sweat band and Tifosi Vogel Racing Red frameless sun glasses. XLab behind the saddle water bottle mount and Profile Design Aero water bottle.
Clothing: DeSotto Forza Tri Jersey with Skin Cooler with DeSotto Skin Cooler Arm Coolers. DeSotto Forza Tri Short 4-Pockets and DC Tri Coolmax Socks.
Run: DCTri Headsweats Visor, Newton Sir Isaac’s Running shoes & Asics Kayano running socks.
This is a great blow-by-blow of the basically perfectly-executed race. Your ability to adjust to the changing conditions and to continue to push through is the esssence of a great race. I'm very impressed you did that thing in the heat/humidity. Doing 140.6 isn't easy on a cool day.
Great work. Which one are you doing in 2011?
Thanks Phil, your commitment to training and pushing yourself is of course inspirational as well....I guess that's why you're doing Kona World Championships in a few days. Kick ass man!
I thought seeing you just before the finish at IMLOU '09 was random....until you magically appeared beside me at mile 21 of IMLOU '10!! Having someone simply show up and say my name and talk/distract was such a welcome change to the death march, you have no idea. I remember saying you should run with me because you just arrived - poof! - like you had caught me from behind plus you were breathing so easily. I was sad when you went away :( but I'm so glad you ended up having an enjoyable and successful experience :)
Yes, tell us which you are doing in 2011 so I can plan to randomly see you again on another IM run course.
Kudos on a great event in the heat. We didn't have nearly those high temps last year.