Ironman Louisville 2014 – Race Report

Racing Ironman is nearly as complex as the human immune system, and just like the body, sometimes it’s best not to overthink how it works.

My goal for this race was sub 12 hours and I was quietly confident it would be a reality.  I was pretty sure I’d hit the run with about 4 1/2 hours to spare and that was true, but I was not prepared for furnace.

image_7Pre-Race 

Everyone gathered at the Downtown Marriott at 5:30 and we walked to transition.  I carried a couple of pre-sliced Power Bars, some pretzel bits, and two water bottles.  I had a tech fill my tires to 108 psi then racked my bike.

The age-grouper across from me was getting assistance on how to fill his tires and the volunteer kept telling him to stop pumping.  The racer insisted he rolled at 140 psi and I couldn’t help but think that was asking for trouble in the heat.

Robbie and I decided to start in the back of the swim and waited for the line to come to us.  We watched the pros, then about 1,000 others jump in before going to the top and loosening up.  I’d put in a lot of time on swim and felt pretty good, but starting last had me a little nervous.  You never know with Ironman, you just never know.

My goal was to swim below 1:15 with much less effort than I put in at Wisconsin to get 1:20.

IMG_0526The Swim

At about 7:30, the end of the line finally showed up and we climbed on the back.  I had that eery pre-race calm again, but this time it felt like denial.  A mere 5 minutes before an Ironman, it didn’t feel real.  I didn’t believe I was actually doing it.

I took that as a good sign as Robbie and I walked down the pier completely calm.  We exchanged a hand slap and jumped in the Ohio seconds apart.

I’d been working hard on my swim and my stroke was there from the beginning.  I felt smooth, under control, and in no fear of panic.  But, I had totally underestimated the congestion.

I’m not going to say the contact was like the mass start at Wisconsin, but it was close.  Typically you feel the wake of someone as you approach and either sit in it or move around to pass them, but when they are breast stroking or treading water, it’s a different story.

I’d looked at the channel the day before by bike, so I knew it was longer than most thought, but despite many warnings I underestimated the distance to the turn buoy once you clear the island.

I’d heard stories about the Ohio River.  The channel was just like any other body of water, but once I got out into the river, my under-water-visibility went from two feet to the other side of my goggle lens.  There was about 50 yards when all I could see was brown silt.  It was a little claustrophobic, but went away quick enough.

I’m guessing it’s around 400 yards from the end of the island to the turn buoy.  Once I got around that, it was smooth sailing.

My swim strategy was to go easy to the end of the Island, go hard to the buoy, then find a nice-long-stroke-groove down stream.  It worked nearly perfectly to the tune of 1:06.

T1

image_2I can honestly say this may have been the best I’ve ever felt getting out of the water in a triathlon.  Typically I’m breathing hard, and battling equilibrium, but on this day I was ready.

I jogged up the ramp and into transition.  A volunteer handed me my bag, I put on shoes, shades, and my helmet, then bolted out of transition for sunscreen.  I was about to pull my bike off the rack when I realized I was still wearing my swim skin!

I just started laughing and asked the volunteer if they would throw it into my bag, and of course, they said yes.

I grabbed my Trek and started walking.  Then jogging . . . then naturally hit another gear.  I felt great as I ran through the Swim Out and mounted my bike for a mysterious 112 mile ride.  My time goal was to be at about 6 hours with less energy than I used at Wisconsin for 6:03.

The Bike

My plan was simple.  Take the bike easy, stay in aero as much as possible, and occasionally push myself on the flats.

I was taking it by feel with an overall goal to ride easily through the first loop, work on the second, then cruise the final 25-30 easily back into transition.

I don’t wear a Garmin, heart monitor, or ride with a power meter.  I totally go by feel and for the most part nailed this ride.

There were a lot of hills but none that made me notice or think about getting out of my saddle.  Most of the time I found downhill momentum taking care of the next climb on the many rollers.

I’d talked with a lot of people about this course and by all indications the toughest section was the early out and back.  It was two tough climbs with some fast and hairy downhills.

I didn’t find the climbs that difficult, but the hairiness was real.

Though not as narrow as I expected the road was jammed with people and on my first downhill (which I road in 1/2 aero with one hand on my back brake) I had a difficult time stopping before nearly slamming into a group at the bottom.

Once back onto the main road I thought to myself, if that was the worst of it, I may crush this ride.  Well, it may have been the worst, but there was plenty of formidable challenges waiting.

In all, the hardest part for me was the mere distance.  My longest ride of the year was 80 miles and that’s about the time my fatigue began to show.

It wasn’t so much my legs as it was my back and neck.  It was getting very hard to look up from aero and hurt nearly as much to look down.  It was a constant fight the last 30 miles.

I’d ridden mostly in aero during training, but after some reflecting I’ve decided the nature of my riding (which was mostly on a protected 1.2 mile loop) was with my head down.  There was no traffic or danger of leaving the road so my neck didn’t get the training it needed.

I also swam mainly in a pool and wasn’t used to sighting as much so that awkward neck pain may have started with sighting the swim.

The ride was smooth, if not boring.  Other than LaGrange and one little section right before it, there was virtually no crowd support.  LaGrange helped, but the last 40 miles were barren and lonely.

They were also fast and it was hard to stick to my plan of taking it easy.  Especially the last 15 miles when you’re so close and mainly downhill in the shade.

Speaking of which, the sun was behind clouds most of the bike, which was a huge break.  I didn’t really notice it much at all, but did start thinking about it as I cruised home on River Road under the trees.  I knew it was there, but didn’t want to acknowledge its presence.

I felt strong cruising in at 5:56 and, other than my neck, thought I was ready to finish Ironman Louisville with a bang.

T2

I didn’t hear the part about Bike Dismount being moved to the edge of the road instead of right before the “Bike In” and it cost me.  Instead of leaving my shoes on the pedals 15 yards away from handing off my bike I was now running 100 yards down a concrete path in my bike shoes.

It was not going well and I actually stopped early to take them off and run the rest barefoot.  This, didn’t go very well either, but I made it into transition, grabbed my bag and headed to the tent for round two.

I was rolling the dice with this run.  Nothing was pointing to a good time.  My achilles forced me to more or less take the last two months off.  My longest run in that time was 5 miles.  I upped my bike and swim frequency, did a lot of strength and balance exercises, but not much running at all.  Still, I believed I could pull off a miracle and as I ran out of transition, I thought it would come true.

The Run 

IMG_0542My support crew was waiting right outside transition and gave me a huge boost.  Jim ran along with me for a couple hundred yards checking my vitals and I assured him “I felt great.”  We slapped hands and I was off on a journey I will not soon forget.

I really did feel good.  I had no foot pain and my bruised rib hadn’t bothered me all day.  Could I pull this thing off with virtually no run training?  I would soon have my answer.

By the time I reached the first Aid Station, my fortunes had taken a dramatic turn.  I suddenly felt like I was in a sauna for the last 9:38 (Despite my effort to go slow, my first mile was much too fast).  I couldn’t get enough ice water in or on me.

I was so hot that a mere ten minutes into my run I was concerned about my health.  If I couldn’t get my core temperature under control, there would be no finish line.

This would be my ultimate test of patience.

I held ice in my hands, dumped more in my shorts, and tied a bandana full of it to secure on my head.  I was a moving melt down.

imageMy Garmin band broke in T2 so I was resetting my chrono watch at every mile marker.  My vision was playing tricks in the heat, but I was becoming more disappointed by the moment as I kept seeing 11+ minutes for my pace.

I’m sure a minute of that time was being spent walking through Aid Stations.  I mean, I was loading up with ice.  I couldn’t get enough.  I was walking through all the sprinklers and even crossed the road to have a guy to hose me down front, back, and sideways.  It was desperation mode and I had no answer.

Adding to the discomfort was a stomach cramp for which I had no solution.  This was all new territory for me.  I was digging into my gut trying to release that pressure.  I tried yelling it away, drinking chicken broth, Coke, downing salt, all to no avail.  It was fruitless, and on top of it all I felt like there was not enough water in the world to quench my thirst.  I pounded water, which I’m guessing only fueled the cramps.

My first 13.1 miles were around 2:15 and if I could have repeated that feat, I would have hit my goal of sub 12 hours.  But as I limped halfway into the Finisher’s Chute, I could think of nothing in the world I wanted to do less than run that loop again.  I was an emotional wreck as volunteers held out my Special Needs bag, which I regretfully declined.

In reflection, I cannot believe I did not change my socks at that point.  In fact, in the future I will have a spare pare of insoles waiting too.

My feet were soaked and dry socks may have been a huge relief, but I was still in cooling mode and knew I would pour water on them at the next Aid Station.  It all seemed hopeless as I headed out to another “turnaround” that seemed like it would never come.

Everyone I asked about this run course said there was “zero shade,” and I was finally starting to believe them.  It got to the point where I would see a 10 foot patch of shade from an overhanging tree and get an erection.

I ran the entire way (other than Aid Stations) to mile marker 16 but there was something about that number, and more specifically the fact that I had 10 miles left (and had to run them all at 10 minutes or less to hit my goal) that ruined me.  I started to run/walk.

I honestly didn’t know if I could make it.  Ten more miles seemed unreasonable and frankly not worth it.  My core was still hot, but now it was the blisters.

image_6At mile 20 I sat on the side of the road to take off my shoe because I thought a toenail had fallen off and was lodged under my foot.  That was the sensation, but my toes were “fine.”

I was highly disappointed in myself for walking.  I have never understood or been a fan of walking the marathon at the end of an Ironman.  In some ways it seems like a failure to me, like you don’t deserve to be called an Ironman.

But even walking was hard.

My walk/run plan was 2:00 of walking followed by 4:00 of running.  It was holding up fairly well, but somewhere around mile 22.5 a guy in my age group walked next to me and said, “I want to run right now, but can’t really think of any good reason to do it.”  I agreed with him and that was my longest walk section of the day, probably a half mile.

He was right.  It didn’t seem worth it.

It is very cruel to watch your dream dwindle away while the clock is still ticking.  I knew 12 hours was long gone and even 12:30, but I did not want to flirt with 13.  So with roughly 3 miles to go, I wished him luck and decided I was done with Aid Stations and walking.  I would run this home.

Shortly thereafter, I surmised that it was now less painful to run than walk.  I focused everything I had on consistent, short strides and barreled ahead.  That is what I wanted to do for the entire race, but for some reason, I couldn’t get it straight in my mind.  I didn’t want it bad enough.

Now, I just wanted it to be over.

I was nearly 140 miles into my journey and I was running.  This sport is so mental.

The finish line tugged at me and I no longer needed water or ice.  I just needed to be done.

When I turned the final corner and saw the majestic Louisville finish line, I was temporarily ready to do it again.  I zipped up my jersey, straightened my visor and floated down the chute.  Where was this energy 10 miles ago?

I was all alone as I ran down the carpet, scanning the crowd for my team.  And right before I crossed under the arch, I saw them on the left and veered off for a quick hug.  It was perfect, and I stood on the finish line 12 hours and 42 minutes after I started.

The hardest thing I’ve ever done, was over.image_4

Ironman Louisville photo

My brother, Rebekah, and my mom. The best support crew on the planet!

image_5

Me with Pete who drove down from Wisconsin. We’ve stayed friends since freshman year of college.

 

Me and Robbie celebrating after a tough year.

Me and Robbie celebrating after a tough year.

10 Thoughts On Ironman Louisville #IMLOU

1.  Ironman Louisville was extremely organized and well supported.  There was never a time when I felt out of sorts or had to wait.
2.  I hated that Saturday’s practice swim gave the river a “huge current” label.  There’s no question is was strong, but the fastest swim time (46 minutes) was not out of line with previous years.  In fact, two years had faster times (2009 and 2010) and two others had the same fastest swim time (2007 and 2023).
3.  The swim channel was very congested and full of contact.  It’s also longer than I thought after watching for two years.  I clocked it on my bike the day before and it’s at least a half mile just to get to the main river channel.
4.  Despite multiple warnings, I still underestimated the distance to the first turn buoy.  I’m guessing it’s around .7 miles or close to 1/3 of the course that is virtually upstream.
5.  The roads on the bike course were actually very nice.  I’d heard how rough they were but I didn’t experience that (except for a few times when I tangled with the rumble strips and coming back on River Road).
6.  I didn’t think there were any really hard climbs on the bike course.  It was all rolling stuff that I mostly covered with downhill momentum.  That’s not to say it isn’t difficult.  There were more hills than I expected and the heat makes a big difference.  The out and back is dicey, but the road wasn’t as narrow as what I expected from the horror stories.
7.  They moved the bike dismount this year and (by my fault, I’m sure) I missed that information.  That was a brutally long run in bike shoes (I stopped halfway to take them off).  I was fully planning to leave my shoes on the bike, but by the time I realized we wouldn’t take that corner there was no time.  For the life of me, I do not understand why the city or Ironman doesn’t pay a handyman a couple hundred bucks to fix that lip coming off the sidewalk onto the road.  It’s been like that since I started watching 3 years ago.
8.  When your friends tell you there is no shade on the run, believe them.  It’s really quite comical when you see a 10 foot patch of shade from an overhanging tree and you think it is heaven.
9.  The finish line is great.  The proximity of everything to downtown is awesome.  Loved ambling about in Louisville.
10. Conditions were very difficult, not only by Louisville standards, but for any Ironman.  Consider this post on SlowTwitch by 3rd place pro, Patrick Evoe: EVOEQuote

Why My 2nd Ironman Means More To Me

I’m trying to pull together a race report for Ironman Louisville, but it’s not coming easily.  My first race at Wisconsin was off-the-charts excitement, but round two was much more Zen.

Wisconsin was a “prove it” race, while Louisville was more grabbing a lunch pail and going to work.  My finish was faster the first time, but in many ways I feel better about the second because of when it happened and how I got there.

It has been a wild year that’s brought on many changes.  I’ve become more selective, disciplined, and finally put a boot on the ground in pursuit of real passions.

I finally got the courage to walk away from a job that paid me well, but drug me through the mud.  And I slowly built my health to a place that resembles what I envisioned when I started running two and a half years ago.

Real change takes time, and I’m far from finished.

I turned so far inward over the years that most of my social behaviors were muddled in lies or contorted behavior just to fit in for the moment.  Everything was starting to seem fake.

I thought Ironman Wisconsin was the turning point, but it wasn’t even close.  I was on an extreme high for a few weeks, then hit a ugly low.

I signed up for another half-triathlon a couple months later and it was a terrible experience.  It poured gas on the fire and I was starting to lose faith in my path, but thankfully I remembered one of the most powerful things someone ever told me, “Big breakthroughs in life always happen right after some of your toughest times.”

It’s true.  Nothing worthwhile comes easily.

We are always being tested by the universe and from Wisconsin until about two months ago I was fighting a tough battle.  I had a bad race in New Orleans this Spring and almost threw in the triathlon towel, but something was telling me to hang on.

In May I signed up for Louisville.  It wasn’t something I really “wanted” to do, but felt like I had to make another big commitment to drag me to the other side.

Sometime In June everything started clicking.  I began to truly understand what my job was doing to me, and at the same time began to regain confidence the corporate world had stripped.

I started to really believe that life wasn’t all about making money.  Then one day I wrote this line in my journal:  I would rather starve following my passion than go through the rest of my life numb.

From that point on, I felt the stress melting from my bones.  I started to enjoy training and felt healthier, all while letting go of the pressure I felt at work.

I’d made a breakthrough and began the process of closing the door on a job I’d held for 15 years. I let go of the symbolism of my “title” and focused on my soul.  I wasn’t exactly sure what I should be doing next, but knew I couldn’t discover it without starting.

So I walked into the wild without a map.  All I had to remember is one direction . . . forward. And that’s pretty much the strategy I took into Louisville.

Maybe all of this is teaching me how to have faith.

Ironman Louisville Volunteers #IMLOU

I’m not sure what Ironman puts in the tonic they feed race volunteers, but it should be a staple in the diet of humanity.  I have been to endless charity functions and goodwill events, but not many cultures detach from ego like Ironman volunteers.

They deliver the perfect balance of calculation and compassion.  It’s the ultimate example of respecting the walk in someone else’s shoes.

This was my second Ironman and I can tell you with 100 percent certainty this is not a fluke.  I was humbled at Wisconsin, now I reflect with a deeper faith in the evolution of consciousness.

From check-in to medal-distribution, the volunteers felt like a seamless extension of myself. They asked important questions with complete sincerity and served humility as an endless commodity.

On Saturday, the Louisville sky opened wide and the nicest woman patiently walked me through transition procedures in pouring rain.  I couldn’t help but chuckle as she finished the speech with flat hair framing her face.

She stood in mud with a wide smile providing the most mundane details and it seemed like the happiest moment of her life.  Just then her son walked up and she introduced him as a future Ironman.  They both said they’d be cheering for me out in LaGrange and I believed them.

The Swim Start ran as smooth as a Swiss watch.  The body markers were plentiful, and the guides were pointing out potential hazards on our way to the Ohio. When in the water, there didn’t seem like one time when there wasn’t a kayak in sight.  It was all quite remarkable.

My first trip into the transition tent was an eye-opener.  A sweltering, sticky mess of half-naked men preparing for a 112 mile bike.  I simply can’t fathom how anyone could spend more than 5 minutes under that canvas, but these guys were incredibly patient and cordial, not to mention coming out of the woodwork with the precision of German engineers.  Who makes these people?

Helmet, shades, shoes, check.  I gave my bag to one of three guys begging for it and headed to my bike.

The sunscreen-volunteer-position has always puzzled me.  On one hand, it’s a sloppy mess, on the other, you get to rub people’s bodies all morning.  They were tactful, proficient, and professional in their technique.

I pulled my bike from the rack and something felt wrong.  That’s when I realized I was still wearing my swim skin, which would have made for quite a story, but an awkward ride.

My first thought was to run back to my bag, but no less than two guys were there to do it for me. The skeptic inside thought my ROKA was a gone for good, but sure enough, it was resting peacefully in my bag later that night.

The aid stations on the bike course were absolutely perfect.  Super long and full of expertly placed volunteers that knew how to hand off a bottle.  Long arms, loose hands.  I took water at the start, doused myself on the way through, then grabbed another for my bike at the end. Never came close to having a problem.

My second trip into the tent was just as pleasant (other than the fact that I had a marathon on my brain).  I de-cleated, grabbed my visor, handed my chrono watch to the volunteer and he gave me my Garmin.  I clasped it tight and the band broke.  The volunteer casually held out my chrono and I put it back on for the run.

Oh, the run.

I am going to go on a limb here and say the Louisville run course volunteers may collectively be some of the most patient and well adjusted people on earth.  From mile one, I was a complete mess and somehow they knew my language.  They were plentiful in their praise and gracious in their actions.  Whatever I needed was mine without a hint of hesitation.

Over the course of 26 miles the aid stations were oasis’s in my desert.  Those orange shirts were the most welcome site of the day.  They numbed the pain and gave me hope.

And the young lady who “caught me” at the finish line.  Perfectly in tune with my disorientation.  I stumbled, handed out hugs, forgot my train of thought.  The whole time, she waited.  She was with me until I took my picture and hobbled out of the chute.  A perfect ending to a storybook romance with my new extended family.

Regretfully, I don’t remember the name of one volunteer, but if I run into one on my travels I will give them a resistance free hug to let them know how much I appreciate, not only their support, but the way they choose to live their life.

Ironman Louisville Volunteers

Ironman Louisville In The Rear View Mirror #IMLOU

Louisville to Nashville isn’t that far by car, but, as I shifted around in my seat to subdue the pain in my ass and hamstrings, it occurred to me that I nearly covered that 177 mile hike on human power alone just a day before.  It’s quite a testament to the capability of the body, mind, and spirit.

One hundred and forty point six miles in the hot Louisville sun.  It was both excruciating and lathered in bliss.

It was great to be surrounded by family and friends while I loosened up to jump in the imposing Ohio River.  I have scanned those waters for years by bridge and shore, now I was about to be smothered by its aura.

The bike ride through horse country waited as a mystery.  I knew it would be tough, but wasn’t quite prepared for the reality of another 112 mile ride.

And the marathon sat waiting as hot concrete in downtown Louisville.  The final test of grit and strength.

In the final days before an Ironman, you rest.  You hope to infuse recovery into the muscles you have uncerimoneously shredded for months.  A nervous energy builds as you somehow try to prepare your body and mind for what they are about to face.

Even moments before the swim, I was not fully aware of the implications.  It was almost surreal.  Circling my arms in a swim skin, watching as one by one, people jumped from piers to innagurate their day of pain.

I felt good.  I was relaxed.  A truly remarkable transformation in two years.  Over the next 12 hours and forty two minutes I would go through heaven and hell.

Race report coming soon.

Ironman Louisville Transition

Love the look this guy was giving me.

 

 

 

 

 

Any Other Night of My Life #IMLOU

So, I’m living most men’s dream come true.  In a downtown hotel with a bachelorette party in the next room.  Too bad it’s the night before my Ironman.

I ran into the mother of the bride and told her the deal and she suggested I meet the girls.  I explained that I have spent a lot of years in their shoes and don’t want to be a dick about it, but just wanted to know their schedule.

They assured me they will be going out fairly early, coming home late and passing out.  Last night they were true to their form.  I actually woke up around 3:30 and heard them coming up the hallway going, “Shhh” to each other.

Pretty cool… in reality, if I get to sleep early enough and they come home around 4:00 that would be a perfect way to wake up.  I’m still weighing the option of trading rooms with my mom, however.

——–

We’re headed to transition soon to cheek our bikes and drop bags.  I hope to have a pre-race report after dinner.

One note, we did a practice swim, bike, run today and the most noticeable factor is the current of the river.  It rained like mad last night so the current is pretty strong for the down stretch.  Swimming into it, however, is no picnic.  Luckily most of that .6 or so miles up stream is protected.

It is definitely hot, but appears it won’t be the reported 100 degrees.  I am serious when I say this, but I truly think I would rather be biking or running in this heat rather than walking.  Yeah, I say that now.

Until tonight . . .

My Bro rockin' the video for Crushing Iron with Allie directing

My Bro rockin’ the video for Crushing Iron

The Simple Things In Ironman Are . . . 5 Bucks #IMLOU

I had a minor panic attack the other day when the clasp of my Garmin broke.  I called all over town to see if any of the running stores had replacement bands.  Nobody had anything in stock.

Today I was holding that same watch in my hotel and a wild thought crossed my mind.  “Maybe I should try taking it to a watch repair shop.”

Ha . . . yeah, right.  Watch repair shops went out of style in the 90′s, right?

I sheepishly asked the Concierge if there happened to be a watch repair shop in the neighborhood, and without missing a beat she started running her highlighter over the local map, then drew a big “X.”

“Yep, right here.  You’re about 4 blocks away.”

“What?”

This sounded too good to be true.  I took the map without asking for the name or address, and looking for the old theater this “watch repair shop” was next to.  I fully expected it to be some kind of surf shop/indiglo hipster place selling disposable neon watches, but then I saw it with my own eyes, “The Watch Shop.”

photo 2A tear dropped on my cheek as I swung open the door and heard it knock against a real bell.  Within 4 seconds an older gentleman with one of those telescope deals on his eye had sprung to his feet and was graciously asking how he could help me.

“Well, sir, this could be a long shot, but I broke my running watch and I was hoping maybe you could help me out for my race on Sunday.”

“Let me see what ya got there, son,” he said with the confidence of a brain surgeon.

He quickly deduced I had “broken off my tongue” and matter-of-factly asked if I cared what color the new one was.

“Heck no, any color is better than duct tape.”

He neither found that comment funny or annoying.  My baby Garmin was already under the bright lights of surgery.

Then he got a phone call and was rattling off “watch lingo” faster than an auctioneer.  He laid out 3 different scenarios to his inquisitive customer.

“You could go gold plate, or imitation, or 20th century gothic . . . ”

I scanned the room and all I saw were . . . watches.  This guy had brand focus down cold and I knew I was in good hands.

Suddenly I felt almost petty in his world.  Here I am bringing potentially the finest Watch Surgeon in the South a rubber wrist band and asking for a tongue replacement?  What a joke, he must have thought.  He was surely more caught up in his conversation about Gothic and gold.

Two minutes later he approached the counter, “Well, I can still talk on the phone and work.”

photo 1He handed me my watch and it felt like I was holding a priceless relic coming from his hands.  The man who has built and repaired watches for Louisville’s finest citizens.  I didn’t have to ask, but knew for certain he had repaired watched for Muhammad Ali and maybe even Colonel Sanders himself.

“Five bucks,” he said looking at my Muncie 70.3 shirt.

“Muncie Cardinals, huh?”

“Yeah, I said, but we all know the real Cardinals are in Louisville.”

“Yes, they are,” he said handing me my hand written receipt, “and they fly for the first time of the year on Labor Day.”

I fastened my watch, then heard the clang of the bell when I opened the door before turning around, “Sir?”

He stopped in his tracks, “Yes?”

“There are some fine establishments in Louisville, but from what I have seen, this is on top of the list.”

He waved, sat down, then started repairing another watch.

photo 4

 

 

 

Let Go Of Control #IMLOU

I’m staying with my friend Sarah, her man, and her two very large dogs.  We had a great time talking about our days back in Rockford, Illinois (where we met), design, and watching my dog feel out the giants.Ironman Louisville

Around 11:00 I went to the spare room and found a bed straight out of the woods, literally built from tree branches.  “Damn, this is like being at the cabin!”

I sat down, laid back, then realized we might have a problem.  While the frame was badass, the actual mattress felt like I would be sleeping on a piece of white bread.

For a brief moment, I gazed over the edge and considered sleeping on the floor.  The paranoia is stupid crazy the week before Ironman and I feared I’d wake up with a sore back.  But, I decided to give ole Wonder Bread a shot.

I did my best to relax, and melted into the mattress like Peanut Butter and Jelly.  The traditional scurry of thoughts about the swim, bike, and run rushed through my brain, then I drifted off to sleep until I woke to soft cries from my dog and her new friends at 7:35 am.

Not only did I sleep well, it may have been the best sleep I’ve had in months.

For years I worked in an industry that was fueled by conflict.  The argument, the fight, and good versus evil.  Slowly, I have been remembering that life is much easier when you go with its flow.

I am all for healthy discussion and search for the truth, but instigation and agitation are dead end streets.  I really believe that news, and talk radio are built to stoke your anxiety and reinforce conflict in society.

Over the last few weeks there is a building sense of calm building inside me.  Not only about the race or my lifestyle, but everything in the world.  Sure, there is a lot of fucked up shit going on, but the more I realize it’s out of my control, the better my mindset and more good I find in people.

And what’s the number one thing that is out of my control?  The weather.  News holds this one over you big time.  “We’ll keep you safe!  Be prepared! Blah . . . ”

The weather is what it is.  I knew this race would be hot.  5-10 degrees won’t make a difference.  I need to ingest a lot of fluid and make sure I don’t forget sunblock.  Other than that, it’s all pretty much what I expected, and out of my control.

And now I’m seeing reports of potential storms.  Bring it on!

Last night I didn’t have control, and this morning I couldn’t be happier about it.  I’m gonna carry that attitude into Sunday and accept whatever Mother Nature delivers.  I’m kinda even hoping Ironman adds a little burning coals section like those Spartacus races.

IMpatient

I Have Arrived In Louisville #IMLOU

I had only been running for about 8 months, I had done one Sprint triathlon, then watched Ironman Louisville.  I registered for Ironman Wisconsin two weeks later.

Now, I am back to where it all began.

photo-2

I remember the first time I looked from this angle.  Jim pointed to the Island just beyond the white bridge pillar and I just thought that sounded ludicrous.

“You swim out and around that island, then back to here,” he said with first hand experience.

I love moments like that because it truly seemed impossible to me.  I was so excited to see people do it in front of my eyes.

Today, I walked up to the same place as bib number 379 and stared into the distance again.  It’s funny how much difference a couple years make.

It still seems far, but I could feel my blood boiling inside.  It was all I could do to stop from jumping in just to feel the water on my skin.

I also remember the first time I saw this bike transition full.  It’s the kind of site that drops your jaw.

imageToday it was eerily silent.  Patiently waiting for frantic activity the next two days.

And there was this.  That strange, indecipherable gear-bag area to those who don’t understand.  It was a tad muddy, but I’m certain it will dry out by Sunday.

photo 1And yes, I am checked in.  Thursday is totally the way to go.  It took about 5 minutes to get my chip, which they tell me I will need at the practice swim on Saturday.

photo 2So now it is time to rest.  I’m pumped to see everyone tomorrow.  Please say hi if you recognize me.