From about two weeks out from this race, when my taper started, I had good vibes about the Ironman in my hometown of Louisville. In the past, I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform well (extra well) while racing in my hometown. Instead of focusing on that, I focused on the advantages I had by racing in my hometown, such as knowing all the rough patches on the bike, having the extra crowd support, and being familiar with the all the places to park downtown on race morning.
My morning started at 4:20. I basically just grabbed all my morning bags and headed downtown. I picked up my fiance on the way. It was a good thing to have her their in the morning to help with keeping the nervous energy down and helping carry a few things to and from transition. We walked down to the swim start and waited from the long day to start.
Fortunately, the pros are able to get into the water and swim for about 10 minutes before the race. The sun was just coming up over the horizon. The water temperature was perfect – about 80 degrees. I looked around for some guys that I wanted to stay right behind on the swim. I knew I had to stay on their feet, especially with the first 1/3 of the swim being up stream. The gun went off and the group was off to begin the 140.6 mile journey. I stayed in the group until the swim started to turn a little once getting passed towhead island. By the time we turned down stream, I managed to be dropped from the group. I did my best to maintain a good body position in the water and get a strong catch. I could tell at times my form was falling apart, but when I made the switch back to swimming properly, I could feel myself speed up and wasting less energy. In a long day, such as Ironman, wasting energy is the last thing anyone wants to do. I exited the swim about 2 minutes behind the leader in a time of 50:48. This is my fastest swim time ever in an Ironman.
The bike started out cooler than previous years. I approached the bike this year differently than previous years. I broke it up into 15-minute increments. I alternated salt tabs and some NAPALM every 15 minutes. It was a great strategy. It broke up the bike ride in my mind to short, incremental steps. I was able to stay on my plan until about the 4th hour when it started getting warmer and my energy was starting to wan. For the first 4 hours of the bike, I had a normalized power of about 265 to 270 watts. This was about 10 watts higher than I wanted to do. Between that, and a couple other mistakes I made on the second loop through Lagrange, I believe the last hour of my bike suffered a little. However, I did manage to hold a normalized power within my overall goal for the race. During the last 50 meters of the bike, there is a small lip from the road to the sidewalk we have to go over. I hit it too fast and ended up getting a flat on the back wheel. I rolled it in and dismounted the bike. My legs felt like jell-o… running to the men’s changing tent was a bit of a challenge.
The run is something that I always tell people to not think about as a 26.2 mile run. However, when exiting the tent, that was the only thing I could think about. I refocused my thoughts to finding a nice rhythm and keeping the turn over high. I also needed to keep my body cool. I stuffed ice in every place I could. On the way to the first turn-around, I felt as if I couldn’t keep the pace without the legs giving out by half way through the race. I knew I could hold a slower pace and probably be able to hold it the entire run. So that’s what I did. I believe the mistakes I made on the bike made my run suffer. At this time, I was in sitting in 7th place. One thing I was told by one of my homestays this year was to never give up because you never know what is going to happen to the people in front of you. I kept hoping the people in 5th and 6th (who were running together) would crack and slow down. I made it to the next turn around and could tell I was gaining ground. Keep plugging away. I ended up passing 6th place around mile 18 or 19. Could I make it to 5th? I didn’t know. Ryan Bates looked strong as he was heading back for the last 10K of the race. I gave everything I had left, but didn’t quite make it.
The finish line was the greatest thing I had seen all day. It was also a dream come true. I managed to finish in the money at my hometown race. I couldn’t have been happier today with all my friends and family out there supporting me. Not to mention that my fiance was able to be down there the entire time I was, bouncing around the course all day being so supportive. The next pictures really captures the day:
After my first wheel chair ride to the medical tent and a night of tossing and turning from being so sore, I was able to end the weekend with being up front with the rest of the fast guys from the week.
Again, I need to thank all my sponsors, my friends, and family and family to be that were all very supportive. I also want to thank all those that were praying for me throughout the long day. God has blessed me!