1. I absolutely LOVE Ironman Swim Starts. While I was shooting video at Ironman Louisville, the scene brought a tear to my eye. The music, the crowd, the energy . . . all electrifying. Some athletes were loose, some were tense, but all were minutes from a wild ride. I loved it the first time I went to Louisville four years ago, and loved this one just as much.
2. The water looked pretty good (or normal) to me. Hopefully there weren’t any cases of algae fungus or whatever that stuff causes. I could be wrong, but it also looked like a slower current than usual and it sort of played out in the times of people I was tracking. But, who knows with open water swimming. Lines are so important, and as you can see in this picture, straight, isn’t always the first choice.
3. I didn’t go out and watch the bike. It’s kind of a weird thing with me because I love watching the Tour de France and Crit racing, but the Ironman bike segment is always a tough view. I stayed in town and got back to transition just in time to see the overall winner, James Burke, dismount. So, that was cool.
4. The temperatures were perfect for racing, but the sun was out the whole day and there is absolutely no shade on the run course. I thought it was bound to have an impact on some people. I also wondered if some underestimated how hard an Ironman actually is because of the perfect weather.
5. Standing on those downtown Louisville streets brought back a lot of memories, and not necessarily good ones! Something seemed different to me, then I realized that everyone was actually running out of T2. In years past I was always shocked by the amount of walking on mile one. Not only was no one walking, they were smiling . . . and . . . seemingly in good form. Conditions were definitely more favorable than years past, but if I know anything about Ironman, it’s that it’s hard as fuck, and struggles were very apparent on the second loop.
6. It’s been interesting to watch Louisville develop over the last four years. The once sleepy downtown is starting to buzz. There’s a lot of construction and the scene at the Finish Line is dramatically different. Fourth Street Live was once anchored by a few independent restaurants but now there is a TGI Friday’s kind of vibe, and I’m not sure it’s a good thing. Even the overhead bridge that I use for finish line video shots has a full scale bar. Between the perfect weather and the new sports-bar-atmosphere, I think the Louisville finish line was as crowded as I’ve ever seen it.
7. After the swim I walked downtown to get some spectator nutrition for the long day. As I walked up on the corner of 4th and Liberty I saw a group of four cops and asked them if they had any good suggestions for places to eat. The words were barely out of my mouth when one of them took out his gun and pointed it across the street, “Yeah, there’s a Dunkin Donuts right there.” He didn’t really pull out his gun, but the donuts part is true. I ate at Einstein Bagels. Later in the day I stopped back there, but they were closed. As was Starbucks in the Marriott. The one in Seelbach was open, but only until 5. I had a pretty good burger at Gordon Biersch before heading out for my final viewing around 6:00.
8. Earlier in the day I ran into Jason, who I met with his wife (Lisette) while doing Challenge Knoxville. They are the coolest people and drive around to races and spend their weekends in a tricked-out van down by the river with their dogs. Lisette was racing and Jason and I waited in special needs for her to come through. She was having a good race and right on the fringe of a potential Kona birth. Eventually we saw her and she looked good. So, after our burger, we went out to catch her finish. I followed her with my camera through the finish line and was pumped to see her, but she was a little out of it and didn’t recognize me. Ahh, the perils of supporting your friends all day and seeing them sink into a state of delirium. (Sounds like a twisted blog post topic for the future). Lisette finished 5th in her AG and they only had 3 slots.
9. As much as I loved spectating Louisville, Ironman isn’t quite the same without pros in the race. Pro triathletes add a different kind of energy to the game, and it’s just cool to see them blow by you on the course. I would even go as far to say it’s inspiring for the racers to have pros on the same course the same time. I know it is for me. I always do that little fantasy push for about 5 seconds, like I’m going to run or bike with them, when they pass me on their second loop. And it just occurred to me that the last two races I’ve done have had remarkable pro finishes. Last year at Louisville ended in a shaky-leg-death-sprint, and of course this year’s photo finish at Chattanooga.
10. There’s nothing like watching an Ironman to pump you up to do an Ironman. It’s how I got started in this business and it’s how I will continue next year at Wisconsin (which is still open if you want to join me). I’ve come to the conclusion that Ironman is a little like golf in the sense that every time you “play” you always do just enough good stuff that you want to come back and try again. Sure, you slice the ball into the woods and miss a few easy putts, but it always seems like you make a great shot on the last hole. And in triathlon, you make similar mistakes, but there’s nothing that will bring you back to the starting line like running through that arch and hearing a booming voice call you an Ironman. [follow_me]