I think you did incredibly well having never done ANY kind of triathlon before. Have you done any other type of endurance event? like a marathon? Also, reading the comments after your blog post, one person mentioned that you 'learned how to swim'. How long did that take?
Thanks, Christy! I had two marathons under my belt, but couldn't make it 50 yards across a pool without gasping for air. I also hadn't ridden a bike since I was 7 years old, let alone knew what clipless pedals were. So I bought my first road bike in October 2010, as well as a lap pass to my local pool and got to work. I trained with a team and great coaches, who provided a lot of encouragement, but I also had the steepest learning curve among everyone. I trained for 10 consecutive months and put my focus on enjoying the journey, because every training weekend was a new milestone! And low and behold -- I am a tri-virgin no longer. I had been saving myself for the Ironman and have zero regrets ;)
Hi Maria, I haven't read your whole report just yet but I feel so terrible that you made it all the way to mile 21 before having to drop! That is truly inspiring and amazing that this was your first triathlon ever. When I signed up for IM I had also never done a triathlon (and had just bought my first bike since high school, and could not really swim either :) but I did a Sprint and Half this year during my training. Hope to see you in Louisville again, and hopefully the ending will be less "bitter" and more "sweet"!
WOW Maria!!! IMLV for your first triathlon!!!! I thought I was the only crazy one! I think you did AWESOME!!! You did what even experienced athletes do not, you planned your race and raced your plan to the end.
Congrats on your accomplishment. What are you planning next?
Thanks, Jay! I appreciate it. Well, the cool thing is that the sky's the limit now! I haven't ruled out the possibility of going for another full Ironman again ~ but unfortunately, won't be able to commit the time to a full-fledged training program for a while. There are just several other things I'd like to focus on, and knowing me (and my previous experience), I'd make training my #1 priority. So, we'll see. The prospect of something like Lavaman in Kona sounds pretty exciting. For the venue and of course the now familiar humid conditions :) Of course, I'd have to overcome my fear of clear water first!
At this point, I'd love to at least maintain the fitness I've grown to develop, so that might mean joining a local tri club and going out for shorter (high intensity?) workouts on the bike and in the water.
Do any of you have some helpful tips on how to maintain the fitness, yet find balance in your daily work/life routines (that is, when you're not training for an upcoming race)?
We arrived Thursday around 10 am. We went to the expo at the Galt House and began the registration process- we got weighed, got our numbers and swim cap, chip, strap, bag, poster and bracelet that would identify us as participating athletes.
We checked into the Brown hotel around 1 pm and rested for a while. We met Marlene and Bruce in the lobby and headed out to the yellow lot to meet others for a ride. We were joined by Ray, Michael and 2 others. It was everyone’s first time doing an Ironman. We rode along the course for about an hour and then headed back to the Brown hotel. I was very nervous. We were supposed to run, but it was 7 pm and we were starving. We went to TGI Fridays’ for dinner – very good “dragon fire” chicken. We went back to the room and watched an episode of 24 and went to bed.
Friday, Aug 24
We got up around 7 am and had breakfast in the room. We then went for a ½ hour run. (ooops- sorry Jane- I was only supposed to do 20 minutes but I couldn’t find my training schedule and thought it was 30 ) We went back to the expo for a while and then went back to the room to rest again. At 3:30 we met up with over 100 other “I am tri”ers for a get together. We talked to many people. I talked to Barb who had also been nervous about the bike course, and we kept bumping into each other throughout the weekend. We got free T-shirts, a water bottle and samples of race fuel. We talked to Trevor (also first timer) and a girl who had missed the swim cut off in Cours D’Alene. We also met Hal Anthony who actually lives in Louisville.
At 5 we headed to the Welcome Banquet. Our group had several tables reserved at the front of the room. We sat with Hal, a couple and 2 girls that weren’t from our group. Mike Reilly talked and we had a race briefing. Barb ( she lost 65 lbs) and 2 others (90lbs and 141lbs) were called on stage for having lost the most weight while training for the Ironman.
We headed back to the room, watched 24 and tried to sleep. I barely slept.
Saturday, Aug 25
We again had breakfast in our room, and then drove down to the swim exit area to do a short 10 minute practice swim. It was very crowded- we had to wear our official swim caps and timing straps. We bumped into Hal there. I recognized a few people from our group.
When we were done we wandered around the transition area. We then headed over to the “Belle of Louisville” boat where the Underpants Run was going to be held. There were over 240 runners, included a few children. Several people wore Ironman- the movie, underwear. We ran about 1 and ½ miles along the riverfront. We got a few funny looks and many people were taking pictures of us. I must say it was a bit weird taking off my shirt and running in a bra and the little shorts I had made. Mike wore hockey team boxer shorts. I chatted with Barb a bit after the race and we also saw Hal again.
By now we were starving so we went to TGI Friday’s again for lunch. Then we walked back to the car and got our bikes and gear bags to drop off in the transition area. It was extremely hot out, and the line to drop the bikes was quite long, but it moved quite quickly. Everyone had their own volunteer who took them to the bike rack, then for a tour through the change tents and took us to the bag drop area. They explained what would happen race day and showed me where the special needs bags would be dropped off in the morning. I walked through transition again on my own- everything was well marked and easy to follow. Now it was time to go back to the room to rest. We went again to TGI Friday’s for an early dinner and ordered the same chicken, but asked for lots of extra rice. They didn’t charge us extra.
We went back to the room and were ready for bed by 7:30. I was nervous and had a hard time sleeping.
We got up at 4 a.m. We gathered our morning clothes bags and pillows and headed out to the car. We parked on the road across from the transition area. We checked our tires- fine- and filled our water and perpetuem bottles. I lost Mike so I handed in my special needs run and bike bags and started the ½ mile walk to the swim start. Somewhere along here Mike found me. We went through body marking and headed for the end of the line. We sat on towels and had a pillow to rest on. I ate some rice crispies and ½ a protein bar. I also had a gel and some juice right before the start. We seemed pretty far down the line, but once the cannon sounded it only took 10 minutes to get to the start and jump off the dock into the water. The line moved very quickly and we actually ran alongside the docks.
The swim started off quite well. As soon as I was in the water all my nervousness disappeared. I swam in between the docks and Tow Head Island slightly to the right. Near the end of this section I got whip kicked in the breast, which hurt! Other than that, the contact was minimal and fairly gentle. I felt I was doing a fairly good job at sighting and tried to keep to the right of the heaviest area of swimmers. I did a bit of stronger kicking at the end to try to avoid the nausea I sometimes have and it worked. I was helped up the steps by a volunteer and slowly jogged to the transition. Swim time- 1:35:02. A volunteer met me with my bike gear bag. I ran in to the change tent and another volunteer helped me on with my tri top. Once I was changed a volunteer put away my swim gear and took my bag back to it’s spot. I ran over to my bike which was easy to find as my spot was in the third row from the exit, so I didn’t have to walk my bike very far to get to the mount line. Time in transition- 12:07. I was on the bike at about 8:45.
Heading out on the bike was fun- there were a fair number of people around, but I was able to stay to the right most of the time and was riding very comfortably. I was really thirsty after the swim. I sipped some water during the first 20 minutes of the ride. At 20 minutes I took my first perpetuem, then again 20 minutes later, and then some cliff bloks 20 minutes after that. I was mostly able to follow that for the first few hours of the race, only having to adjust for a couple of hills. The out and back, which is supposed to be the hardest part of the course, didn’t seem nearly as bad as it did when we came down for the training ride. I was a bit nervous going through though because I was going pretty fast on the down hills and passing many people who weren’t taking advantage of the hills. This road is also fairly narrow and windy. At the bottom of the longest windy hill there was an ambulance. I made it back out without incidence. On one of the bigger hills in this section, a man dressed as a red devil led me up the hill. During this time I started swapping positions with some other riders. They would pass me on the down hills and I would pass them going up. After the first loop I seemed to have lost most of them behind me, and the riders were quite spaced out. At this point I noticed that my shorts were covered in salt! Going through LaGrange was fun- they had a festival for the Ironman and had closed off part of the main street so they could all come out and cheer. It was pretty cool coming through the second time with them all cheering for just me. I tried to acknowledge as many of them as I could.
About an hour and a half into the bike I started to feel nauseated. I tried to drink more and then my stomach started to hurt and became bloated. Another rider heard me ask if anyone had enduralites and he offered me some of his salt tablets. I took 2 and he offered more to take with me, but I didn’t want him to not have enough so I said no and thanked him. I stopped at every aid station and poured water in my aero bottle. I took a second bottle and drank what I could and then poured the rest on my head, front, back and down both arms. Volunteers filled the holes in my helmet with ice. During my first loop I made it up the steep hill on Old Ballard road, but I had to come out of my saddle at the top. This drained me for a few miles. I decided next time around to walk up it. I was really pleased with how my legs felt- I didn’t really find any hills hard until well into the 2nd loop. Within the first 2 hours I started to see cyclists down. A few with flats and some that were lying in the grass. A girl ahead of me started to cramp and was lucky to be near a volunteer who caught her before she fell off her bike. After I got to the top of the first hill that I walked (the steep one) someone started calling for medical. Someone had only made it ½ way up the hill and crashed. I used the porta pottie and crossed the road to be hosed off by a little girl. A red sports car came speeding down the road and the volunteers started to swear and screamed at him to stop. He was headed right for the person on the road but he managed to stop. The bloating in my stomach was better but I still didn’t feel well. I also started to feel a bit dizzy. I forced myself to take my gels even though I didn’t feel like it. I took my 2nd perpetuem bottle from special needs but threw away the chocolate and jujubes.
I knew I was well under the cut off time, so I was taking my time cooling off at the aid stations, and I also walked up part of 2 hills. One hill I had to walk as there was an ambulance in the way. I was hearing sirens all day long. One aid station had run out of water so they filled my bottles with ice. Shortly after that there was a man who lived on the course giving out cold bottles of water! There were several people out who lived on the course and they were very supportive. At the spot where someone had painted Ironman with an X over it last year (it was sprayed over this year) girls were yelling “We love Ironman!” Where cars were lined up waiting for us to pass, children were hanging out of the car windows screaming encouragement. Towards the end of my ride, women were cheering from their cars as they passed me. The last few miles were pretty easy- slightly downhill and nicely paved roads. I wasn’t thinking too clearly though as I was only focused on the bike. I hadn’t really considered how much time I had for the marathon. I got off the bike easily (I thought my legs would be dead, but they weren’t) and handed it to a volunteer. I was tempted to tell her to throw it in the garbage- at this point I wasn’t feeling well and thought I would never do this again. Another volunteer gave me my run bag and I headed to the tent. It wasn’t as crowded this time. I sat by a giant fan and a volunteer stayed with me and helped with whatever she could. I changed into running shorts and reloaded my pockets. Outside the tent a woman reapplied my sunscreen and massaged my neck. (or maybe it just felt like she did because it hurt so much!) My bike time was 8:51:59. My bike computer tells me I was moving for 8 hours and 35 minutes. It was 5:37 pm, so I had beaten the time cut off of 6:20 pm.
I walked around the tent on the pathway that started the run course. Everyone was walking. I tried to walk quickly. It was now 5:49. The walk across the bridge was long. From this point I saw a lot of people throwing up. It had started at 80 degrees in the morning at 5 a.m. and had reached 95 plus humidity. I took an immodium, which seemed to stop the pain in my stomach. I was still a bit light headed. After the 2 mile marker a spectator said I’d need to average 12 minute miles to make it to the finish before midnight. I knew I didn’t have a chance. I decided I would walk as far as I could- I wanted to see where Mike was, and being 2 out and backs, I should see him more than once. I finally saw him when I was at about mile 5.5. He looked fine. During the walk I still didn’t feel like eating anything. I had a cookie, and I took Ironman perform. I caught up with a man that was walking at about my pace ( most people seemed to be walking) and we walked together for a few miles. He knew he wouldn’t finish either, but wanted to do what he could. I lost him for 2 miles because I tried to get water. They had run out of water and cups. They tried to hand me ice. What was I going to do with that? I ended up being given a full bottle of Ironman drink. Two young guys came up on either side of me and we walked together for a while. One was only 26, from D.C. and doing his first Ironman. They headed off at a run as this was their 2nd loop. I finally caught back up to Matt and walked with him to the finish. I mentioned that I didn’t feel well and he said I should try some chicken broth. It went down well and seemed to settle my stomach a bit. I asked for it at every station, but some were out of it. I saw Mike again and he was running and still looked great. I finished my 14.83 mile walk at 10:30 pm. Walking towards the finish was hard- I went up on the sidewalk and walked along as others crossed the finish line. I went around to the back of the finish chute and went in to give back my chip. I got some water and found a chair right behind the finish where I waited to see Mike finish.
For the rest of the night I felt weak and light headed. It was fun seeing the faces of the finishers though. Mike came in around 11:30 pm. (16:07:20 chip time) He crossed the line and looked pretty out of it. His face was grey. A medic took him to a chair to assess him. She went to find a wheelchair. He threw up. I went to find another medic and they said they had run out of wheelchairs. Once they found one they took us to medical. I made sure to get his finishers shirt and hat as we passed by. Once we were in the building, Mike was taken into the triage area. I had to wait outside. The volunteers took very good care of me- got me a space blanket and Mike’s and my morning bag when I said it looked too far to walk. I was thirsty and hungry now. I had a piece of pizza. Around 12:15 am, someone announced that everyone that still needed treatment would be moved to the area hospitals. I overheard a nurse say that they thought someone was having a stroke. A man was screaming in pain. One person was wheeled in quickly while everyone was told to get out of the way. People were being brought out the door to waiting ambulances. I tried to find out what was happening with Mike. A volunteer went in and came back and said he wasn’t in area “A” as he was listed. She said that maybe he had gone to the hospital, and she just left me there. Then they ordered everyone that wasn’t sick out of that room to the lobby. I sat on the floor as there were no chairs. A few minutes later someone came out and said that anyone with a sick athlete should go in and find them. Mike was still pretty out of it, but he was sitting up. It seemed like it took forever to get him out of there. I had to carry most of the bags. We found a taxi to take us to the van. We were told we could pick up our bikes and gear bags the next day at lost and found. We were back in the room at 1:30 am. Mike lay on the floor in the bathroom and I nibbled on some food. After another ½ hour I was able to get him into the bed. I had from 2 am. until 6:30 am to sleep as we had to go to buy Mike’s finisher gear in the morning. I took him back to the room and then went back to the Galt House to get his free picture, and then back to the transition area to get both bikes and the four gear bags. We had a great dinner that night at the Outback Steakhouse. By now I could tell Mike was feeling better as he wouldn’t stop talking!
It was fun and went as planned. I started at the back of the swim as I wanted to. I volunteered at the start so I didnt have to wait in line. Then jumped in the line at the last moment. No more than 10 folks went after me. Considering I had to swim through the hordes 4th place was pretty good for this old man and I wish I could of swum with the pros.
T1 was different as I was not used to so many people in the transition tent. BUTonce out it is was great on the bike to be able to pass folks and not just get passed. I was having blast. The new bike was very fast and the KY course is awesome!
I was cruising. But at mile 80 disaster. I went in to the aid station and dropped my bottles as is the practice going in. I called out "water water!" The cry came back "were out!, but its coming.." I yelled out "but I am going!" Thus had to ride 20 more miles in the heat with no water. It killed me.
I did get water at the last stop. But I was fried by then I coasted in. I was quitting... almost did but figured my wife would kill me. Thus I rolled in. Got my run gear and walked home in the marathon.
SWIM BIKE RUN OVERALL RANK DIV.POS.
48:36 6:07:56 5:49:59 13:05:50 807 68
It was fun, but will wait five years before I do it again.
I wanted to post the report earlier but I have been waiting to get done with the pictures and videos. Here is my race report, you can find it at www.golfprofitness.blogspot.com .
I am uploading the video as I type this. I have pictures and short vid from Sully's and Coach Mo and of course, Bob.