IM Louiville

IM Louiville
Bikes racked at Ironman Louisville 2010

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

IM CDA Race Report 2006

This race was in June of this year. Comments on this report is what prompted me to start the blog. Enjoy.

The morning of IMCDA came very quickly for me. I was surprisingly calm all the way up until I put my wetsuit on. As I was getting ready to walk to the water, I gave my husband a kiss, he wished me good luck and I told him I felt like I had to puke. The nervousness finally set in. It was time to go.
Unlike Ironman Wisconsin, where you are treading water before the start, IMCDA is a beach start. So here we have 2300 people in wetsuits, standing on the beach ready to enter the water any second. The thought of getting all those people horizontal in a very short period of time made me shudder. With about 5 minutes before the start, I ran in the water ever so quickly, just enough to get my hair and goggles wet…it’s a habit I developed way back when I started swimming. I jumped back on the beach and wished Bernie good luck.
Then the cannon went off. It seemed a slow start as people walked in much further than you’d expect before they started swimming. I was all the way in waist-deep water before I took one last push from the bottom of the lake and hoped for the best! Within seconds, I lost sight of Bernie. There were arms and legs flailing everywhere!! I got hit in the back. Then the head. Then my arm got tangled up with someone on my left. Then my arm got tangled up with someone on my right. This continued for at least 300 yards and I wanted to cry. I was getting the crap kicked out of me at what was supposed to be my strongest event. I was yelling underwater for people to quit it, but they couldn’t. Just as I couldn’t move to my left or right, I figured neither could they. I swam tarzan-like for almost the entire first length of the rectangle-shaped course. With the Swedish goggles I wear (ones with no foam), I knew that if I got kicked in the face, I was going to get cut.
Though the day before during my swim warm up, I complained of how cold the water was, the 62 degrees were the least of my problems on race day. I didn’t even notice the temperature. I finally realized I was about 15 feet from the buoys on the course and decided to change my strategy back to the one I used at IMWI – go WIDE. I just needed to get away from all these people hitting me because I was getting so angry I was wasting energy on it.
Instead of turning at the buoy, I kept going straight…to get out of the crowd. Worked like a charm. Now there was absolutely no one to my right and I was far enough away to keep from making contact with people on my left. I drafted off some dude I thought was Bernie…until I saw how sloppy his stroke was. Sloppy, but it worked enough for me to draft, so I followed him. This swim course requires you to get out after one loop and cross a timing mat, then you jump back in. Talk about losing momentum! I went back to the outside and had a fabulous, strong remainder of the swim. In fact, in the last 200 yards, I decided to actually "push" a little. The rest of my swim was mostly at what I would call "warm up" pace.
I got to the water’s edge, got to my feet and ran to the wetsuit strippers. Very clear these volunteers were new as they practically dragged me along the grass trying to get the wetsuit off! I pushed it down further past my waist and yelled "go, pull it now!" It came off easily that time and I ran to find my T1 bag amongst all 2300 other ones. I found it quickly and ran into the changing tent. Once again, the inexperience of the volunteers was obvious as they kept moving my things around until I finally said, "please, stop touching my things!" while I was still trying to catch my breath. They were no help at all, which made me realize how spoiled I was at IMWI.
I ran to my bike grabbed it and started running when a volunteer yelled that I was going in the wrong direction! I thought to myself, "Thanks dumbass, why didn’t you tell me BEFORE I started running the wrong way!" I mean, it was NOT crowded when I got out of the water. That’s the one positive of being a strong swimmer…I should have been catered to at that point.
I ran to the mount line and it was like beginner-city. Two men in front of me fell off their bikes trying to get on in a hurry. One lost both water bottles and apparently decided his time was too important to stop and pick them up. Hey, people, it’s a freakin’ IRONMAN, not a sprint, get your crap together, take your time and get on your bike without getting hurt! "What’s with these people???" I thought. How could that guy leave all his nutrition at the beginning of the bike course!???! Whatever, I got on my bike and rode off.
My whole Ironman plan was centered around just one thing: a consistent heart rate on the bike, around mid-zone 3 for me. I had worn my HR monitor through the swim and had strapped my watch on the bike. I hit the start button as I rode through the small town of Coeur d’Alene and waited for the number to show up. One little problem…the number wouldn’t register. The watch read 00. I fiddled with the watch and with my chest strap, wondering if maybe it would start reading when the chest strap dried out. I kept telling myself to just calm down, it will work. Just stay focused.
Then I noticed I couldn’t see out of my left eye. I kept blinking and sure enough, my contact popped out! At mile 12 or so, I stopped to put it back in. I was a bit embarrassed as spectators asked me if I was OK. Man, I’d BETTER be OK considering as I’m only 12 miles into a 112 mile ride! Sheesh! The contact didn’t feel so good, but it was in and I could see, so I took off. Played more with my watch, not working. Mile 15, contact came out again. WTF! Pull over, tell the spectators I’m fine, and ride off. Now it’s stinging, probably from the salt on my fingers getting into my eye. Whatever, I got a ride to do. Between, mile 18 and 19, contact pops out again. YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME! So I rip it out and continue the rest of the ride with just one contact in. Who cares, I’ve done this before!
After 2 hours of playing with the stupid watch and HR monitor, I gave up. "I’m just going to have to guess at what my HR is" I told myself. Not the best plan, but I couldn’t think of anything better. I felt sorry for myself as I thought about all the time and training I put in to this race and now it was all screwed up! My only goal was to stick to my heart rate in the bike, and now I couldn’t do it. WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME!???
The course was absolutely beautiful and did take my mind off how frustrated I was. There were hills and trees and farmland and it was breathtaking. People kept passing me left and right on the bike, but that’s typical for me and I worked hard at not "chasing" them. There were 2 tough hills, rather close together, and I got through them the first time OK. I had all my calories with me on the bike, so I only took water at the aid stations, and I grabbed a bottle of water at every aid station. I felt fine after my first loop and was happy with my time so far.
Then it got hot. And it got windy. Damn, this is just like what happened at IMWI! I’m sorry, 90 degrees is just too hot for a strong Ironman performance! But you know, everyone had to compete in the same conditions, so I kept riding, just a bit more slowly! A good friend, Joe, passed me around mile 62. I caught him quickly and asked him why he couldn’t say hi, and we rode together for just a minute or two before I told him to go on. He was having a phenomenal bike and as much as I would’ve loved the company and to stay with him, I knew that wasn’t in my plan and I didn’t want to hold him back.
"Special Needs" are on the bike and run courses, about half way through. They are bags you can put whatever you need to get you through the race. People put in there spare tires, shoes, food, drink, you name it. I rolled in to get my bike special needs bag and yelled out my number. The volunteer yelled back "It’s not here." I’m like, what do you mean, it’s not there, and I yelled my number again. She ran around, looking like a chicken with her head cut off and apologized, but my bag was nowhere to be found. Dejected, I pulled away from special needs and decided today just wasn’t my day.
The second time through those 2 hills was extremely tough and I thought about quitting. I was already off my game by not being able to follow my plan, I lost a contact, it’s too hot out here, they lost my special needs bag and I hate hills. I thought to myself "I’m stopping at the next aid station and I’m calling a SAG wagon. Screw this, Ironmans aren’t for me!" But one I got over the hills and got to enjoy the scenery and the downhill, I felt better. I passed a few people back towards the end of the second loop even though I was very uncomfortable and wanted to get off the bike. Well, I guess that’s what 112 miles does to you.
I slowed down to the dismount line where they take your bike. But, I forgot to stop! I couldn’t unclip and I ran into 3 volunteers and apologized profusely! I was really wobbly when I got off the bike and ran to find my T2 bag. THIS time, a volunteer stood there for me, bag in hand. "Now THIS is how it’s SUPPOSED to be" I thought to myself!
At this transition, I had 2 volunteers helping me. The first thing I did was rip through that bag to find the extra contact lens I put in there. They asked if I needed a mirror…yeah, right! The new contact went in, no problem, and felt comfortable. I made a full wardrobe change, put body glide everywhere and I was on my way.
My husband saw me immediately as I came out of the changing tent and yelled to me to ask how I was feeling. I was afraid to look at him because I thought I might start crying and I just shook my head. I was still frustrated and ticked off about all the things that had gone wrong so far and still thought about just stopping right there. I thought if I could just get into a groove on the run, I’ll be OK.
I looked down at my watch to note the time, since I had to down a gel every 30 minutes and, DAMMIT, NOW MY HEART RATE MONITOR WAS WORKING! WTF! I wanted to whip that thing into the crowd at that point! Where were you when I needed you on the bike??! That’s it, Polar and I need to have a little conversation!
The run was more like a walk/run (emphasis on the walk). For those of you that haven’t done an Ironman, it’s a very long, tough day, and you start to wonder what the hell you’re doing out there. Can’t it just be over now? For those of you that have done an Ironman, you know what I’m talking about. And you know you can’t just quit unless there is some pressing reason to! I mean, how could I look all of you in the face and tell you I quit because I just didn’t feel like going anymore??
The times I ran, I felt strong and my run times were right on my expectations. I passed the time by looking for my racing buddies on the out and back. I saw them all, several times and spotted Angie (former Black Sheep, BAAA) looking just fabulous! Every time I saw her, she was smiling and running strong. The Ironman Gods shined upon her this day.
Unfortunately, my stomach doesn’t like Ironman races and decides to shut down on me. I know I tend to drink too much, so I just asked for ice instead of water. Right after Mile17 and my required gel, I yacked it right back up with a ton of liquid. I HATE PUKING! That’s it, no more gel for MJ. But I have too far to go to survive it on water alone. Here’s where the cola came in. Normally, I hate regular cola, but that day, it tasted like gold and I couldn’t get enough. I kept getting an ice and a cola, dumped the ice in the cola, waited a few seconds and chugged the cola like someone was going to steal it from me. After a huge belch, I started to feel pretty good! LOL! It became routine for the next several miles.
The run on the IMCDA course has many miles along the same lake we swam in. There were lots of little piers with some people swimming, some boats docked, and others just bare. I kept thinking, if I could just jump in the water for a minute or two to cool down, I’ll bet the rest of this race would be a piece of cake! It was so tempting.
And now, the sun is setting and I’m shocked to see myself actually passing people. Apparently, the heat wasn’t affecting me as bad, or because I hadn’t "blown my wad" on the bike, I was able to keep moving strong. At mile 21, I looked at my watch, did a couple of calculations and realized I could break 14 hours. Your mind tends to play games on you when you’re going for that long and I didn’t realize I had plenty of time to break that barrier. So I ran. And I caught another runner….and another one…and the momentum built…and I started to feel so good. I wondered where this feeling was earlier on in the run. The spectators cheered for me as I was one of the very few people running at that point, and that just gave me more energy. Everyone calls out your name because they print it on the bib, and it really does a lot for me. I pushed as hard as I could for that last mile and, no matter how fast or slow I was going, in my head I was flying! I felt smooth and comfortable as I hammered my way into the finish.
When you hit that final half mile and there are spectators lined up 5 and 6 people deep on both sides of you, they cheer for you like you’re winning the Olympics. It doesn’t matter if you do a 9 hour race or a 16 hour race, the spectators truly make you feel like you’re a hero. Many kids AND adults held out their hands for me to slap them five as I ran into the chute and I hit as many hands as I possibly could…and I remembered to smile. I cannot believe how rough the day started for me, but I kept going, and now it’s over.

IMCDA 2006
Will there be another?

1 comment:

Steven said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment, MJ.

I enjoyed your IMCdA RR since that was my first IM when I did it in 2005. I loved every minute of it and loved the venue. I went 11:29 that day and I hope to improve upon that time at Canada next year.

Congrats on gutting it out on a tough day.