So I’ve had two days to think about my race, and encapsulate a year-long journey and a day-long experience in a couple paragraphs for your reading enjoyment.
Louisville is a wonderful city, one of the best I’ve ever been to, and I would highly recommend this race to anyone, partly because of the city, and partly because of such a great course.
I traveled across to Louisville on Friday with Matt Wolak, and we were able to split the driving and keep each other company on the 8 hour trip. Once we got there, I was overwhelmed at how many incredibly fit people there were in one spot. For 6 months I trained with an awesome Master’s group at the JCC rec center three times a week, ran with the Colonial Road Runners group Tuesday and Thursday mornings, and biked with the Bikes Unlimited group Wednesdays and whenever I could with the 3Sports guys up in Richmond. Other than that I was pretty much training solo. It’s cool to think that there are so many people that are going through this journey across the world and they’re all converging on one place at one time!
A huge thank you to everyone that pushed me day in and day out and provided encouragement along the way! Without you, this would not have been possible.
The swim took place in the Ohio River, and due to stronger-than-expected currents, they had to change the course at the last minute from an up and back to a J hook. Since the starting spot was only about 30 yards wide, they could not start everyone at once. Instead, they implemented a time trial start (for the first time in IM history I believe), where the pros started at 6:50am, and then at 7:00am, they started the age groupers, one per second. They said it would be first come first serve in terms of where people would start in the swim, and by the time I got to the start line at 6:15am, just about everyone was staked out in line. So I started the race right around 7:31am and had roughly 2000 competitors strung out in the water ahead of me. The first .8 mi. of the swim was against the current at about .4-.5 knots, so it took a while to get to the turn around, but once I turned the corner, it was all downhill from there. I decided to swim a little bit further out into the middle of the Ohioto catch a stronger current, and every once in a while I would pass someone, but there weren’t too many people out where I was swimming. I’m still not sure if that was the best idea, because I don’t know how much stronger the current was out there, but my finishing time was 63:48, less than 20:00 after the first swimmer, so I was REALLY excited about that split. I figure the current helped some, but there were no wetsuits because the water temp was 85 degrees, so I figure they cancelled each other out. I was 217th after the swim.
Not too exciting, just got my bag and my bike, and headed out. There was close to 200 m of running with the bike from the racks to the mount line, so times for T1 were pretty slow all around. Plus I’m an idiot when it comes to running with my bike, so I took my time so I wouldn’t spill any of my food, drink, or God forbid, fall in front of the hundreds of spectators lining the transition area.
Well I had a mishap right when I tried getting on my bike. The T1 area was muddy from the T-storm that hit the day before, and I got mud stuck up all in my cleats. When I tried clicking in, I couldn’t so I had to dismount about 50 yards later, pick all the mud out of my shoes, and then get back on. The course was extremely honest, with a flat 20 mile section into a slight headwind to start, then a couple decent climbs, then 2 30 mile looks of almost all rolling hills, then a 30 mile flat to downhill to finish. I took it very easy for the first 20 miles, averaged just under 20mph. The second (and thankfully last) mishap was a dropped chain when I got to the top of the hardest climb on the course right around 27 miles. It took me a minute or so to get it back on, and then I was rolling again. Did I mention I started out behind about 2000 people? I was passing people nonstop the entire way, and it really did a good job of building my confidence. I felt great on my Orbea. At around mile 50 I started having stomach issues, and I realized my body was not digesting some of the solid bars I had eaten earlier on the course, so I threw the rest of those away and started taking in only gels. That helped my stomach out a lot.
Other than that, the bike provided me with a wonderful continuous line of competitors to hunt down and catch. With 30 miles to go I was feeling great, so I threw the hammer down a little and finished the bike strong. I was 55th after the bike.
Again, long ways to run with bike, and then I had to visit the restrooms. At least I was hydrated.
I was really excited about the run. Obviously this has been my bread and butter, and I was hoping to take some good chunks of time out of the guys in front of me. I started off so strong that I had to calm down after the first mile in 5:58. It was starting to really get hot outside, and during that time of the day, there was little shade along 3rd Street where the run course went up and back on twice. I coveted every little piece of shade I could run under, and at every aid station started packing ice in my hat, down my back, in my shorts, sponges everywhere, it didn’t really matter. It was hot. I lucked out on my first loop, as I caught up to Craig McKenzie, the second place overall. He was already on his second loop, but he and I were able to work together from about mile 6 to mile 11. Once he started getting closer to the finish he took off and I let him go. I continued to run about 6-50-7:30ish pace depending on the terrain until mile 16 or 17, then I started having some problems, the biggest being that I didn’t eat nearly as much as I needed to earlier on the run. I was still passing loads of people, but now my pace had slowed to a meager 8:30ish, and I was in a world of pain. I caught Nina Kraft who was also on her second loop, and worked with her from about mile 17-23, but it was about mile 23 when the wheels just fell completely off, and I was reduced to a disgusting realization that I was bonking and there wasn’t a whole lot I could do about it but try to keep moving from aid station to aid station. So Nina took off en route to finishing second overall and I started walk jogging the rest of the way in.
It was about this time that a couple of the aid stations ran out of ice, and I don’t think I’ve ever been so upset at people I didn’t even know. Besides the fast that the last 5k of my run seemed infinitely harder than the previous 137 miles of the race, I persevered and finally made it to 4th street live, which was an awesome finishing area. I don’t think I’ve ever been happier to have accomplished something in my entire life. I know why people do these IM races every year, because that last 100 yards is unbelievable.
I finished and was ok enough where I was able to stagger over to the side where my parents were waiting for me. Because of the TT start I wasn’t quite sure how I had done, even though I knew I had passed just about the entire field throughout the course of the day.
As it turned out, I finished in 25th place, the 8th amateur and 2nd in my age group with a finishing time of 9:48:03. I earned a slot for the 2007 Kona IM, but decided to let my slot rolldown to the 3rd place finisher for a couple reasons. First, I am excited to compete in my hometown in the World Long Course Duathlon Championships in October. Secondly, I’m not sure if I can recover and put forth another great IM in 6 weeks. I certainly want to race in Kona, but I need to schedule my races so that I can qualify and then peak to have my best race inHawaii. I just didn’t think that would be possible after how my race went on Sunday.
I was extremely happy with how the day went for my first IM, and now I have a gauge for future races. I know what things I need to do differently and I know things that worked well for me. Obviously if I had eaten more on the bike and the beginning of the run, I wouldn’t have bonked quite so hard and may have saved myself upwards of 15-20:00 on my run split. I also was too conservative on the bike I think, and I took the run out too hard in the first 4 miles, which may have cost me several minutes in the last couple miles.
Sorry for the mass email, but I figured this would be the best way to put this out. If you are receiving this, then it’s pretty much my way of saying thank you for everything you’ve done for me over the past year (or 2 or 3 or more) to get me to the point I’m at right now. I’m looking forward to representing the USAwell in Richmondon October 22nd.