As usual, it’s been a while! Long story short, I’ve been on a hiatus from structured training and racing since May (a triatus?). We’ll save that talk for the next post, but here’s a “quick” (for me…) recap of Louisville.
Coming into last fall when I was getting ready for IM Louisville, I was struggling with the training and not really enjoying myself. I had almost fully decided I’d take at least a 6 month break from “serious” training and racing once I got that race behind me, mainly just to get back in touch with the roots of why I do it in the first place.
On race day, the Ohio River water temperature was .2 degrees (yes, point two) above the wetsuit-legal temperature. The pro wetsuit temperature is 71.5 degrees, while the age group temp is 76.1. I’d say I’m less bulky than a lot of triathletes, and given the generally lower-intensity effort of Ironman distance and 2/3 of the swim into the wind, this wasn’t a good recipe for me to keep warm. By half way, I started shivering while swimming, and felt a total lack of power in my swim stroke. What should have probably been my fastest Ironman swim due to the majority down-current direction, I came out in a disappointing 1:04:XX and behind of ton of age groupers who started after me. Onto the bike, it took at least an hour to warm up. The bike course is considered fairly hilly (4,900′ gain on my Garmin) compared to some races, and you ride ~20 miles out, do two 35 mile loops, then come back. Around 40 miles, I got a flat rear tire, unfortunately. I changed it fairly quickly as I had a string of recent flat tires in training and was well in practice, ha. Guess I didn’t get it out of my system before race day! This bothered me a smaller amount than I’d expect, but it was demoralizing to see all the people I’d already passed go riding by me while I was on the side of the road. Onto the second lap, it became very frustrating because the back of the race was on the first lap at the same time. The road was also open to vehicle traffic, so you’d commonly encounter cars waiting to pass groups of bikes, so I was repeatedly held up. My attitude dwindled until my outlook was in the sh*tter by the time I got on the lonely 20mi stretch back to T2. In addition to the head wind here, I also started experiencing some cramping in my quads and my attitude became even worse. I was honestly hoping something would happen so I couldn’t finish the race. I simply didn’t want to be there. I cussed my way to transition but told myself over and over ‘just give it a go, see how you feel on the run.’ Off the bike, my legs felt terrible, but after taking a seat and getting into my running shoes, I felt alright starting the run. I thought I eased into the first mile and it was a 6:19. Mind you, it was a pretty good temperature for running. Through half way, the average pace was…still 6:19. Jeez. Didn’t expect that. I thought the wheels must be coming off soon because I believed my training lacked the depth (limited due to a nagging achilles injury) to keep this up for much longer. I honestly did the math on what it’d require to run under 3 hours, despite going through half way in the 1:22s. As I got up into the 17, 18 mile range and still had some miles under 6:25, it became exciting, like wow, maybe I will run in the 2:40s. I kept pushing and felt strong, and I seemed particularly in touch with how I felt vs my fueling. I noticed I was needing to take in gels ~5-10 minutes earlier than planned as I could feel energy wane a bit. I could then feel the gels kick in shortly after having them. Anyway, every mile was under 6:30 except miles 23-25, then mile 26 was 6:19. I crossed the line in 9:00:57 in what turned out to be a new Louisville run record of 2:46:51. That, combined with learning it was the fastest run of the day by nearly 7 minutes, almost completely erased the crappy 6+ hours of racing that lead up to it.
Over a year later, I’m still trying to wrap my head around that run. Was I angry? Did that help? Was it the cool weather? Before this I’d done four hot, humid Ironman races in better run shape but had worse run times. My max run week leading into this race was 35 miles. Prior to IMTX 2015, it was 58 (and I ran 12min slower). Maybe in the past I underestimated just how much the heat would affect my run. Maybe it was the experience and cumulative mileage of 6 prior IMs? But the big lesson learned is that there is always time to turn the race around. Just because your legs feel awful and your mind is in a terrible place on the bike, doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have a bad day. And never underestimate what your body is capable of just because of what your brain is telling you.
But…how do you proceed after deciding on taking a minimum 6 month break from tri but then having the run of your life in an Ironman?
As always, a big thank you to my coach of 14 years now, Bettina, my wife, Janee, my parents for coming down to Louisville(!), TriBike Transport, Pactimo, First Endurance, Rocky Mountain Multisport, Rudy Project.
Strava link: https://is.gd/RINjwn
Strava link: https://is.gd/PuRAAP