IM Louiville

IM Louiville
Bikes racked at Ironman Louisville 2010

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Rockman Half Iron Race Report

It was a chilly 58 degrees race morning and the weather forecast showed 90% chance of rain at 9am. The high for the day was only to be about 67 degrees so I was already not looking forward to this race. On the positive side, the water was said to be about 70 degrees and the lake was smooth as glass.

After struggling with the cold in Memphis last month, I decided that it would be worth the extra time in transition to throw on armwarmers, a buff to keep my head and ears covered and long-fingered gloves. I even considered a cycling jacket. Transition times aren't quite as important as in a Half Ironman and I wanted to be comfortable for that 56 mile ride. I also made sure to put my run shoes and nutrition in a plastic bag for they were surely to be soaked before I made it to the run.

Once in the water, I was pretty cold but I knew I'd warm up once we got going. This guy in the clown suit on the right in this photo is the race director. That way you knew who the "Clown in Charge" was for the day. I'd heard about this before, but it's one of those things you have to see it to believe it!

I scooted my way to the front. This race was a bit unique in that all half iron competitors started at once. It was a small enough field that this shouldn't be too crazy and the space was nice and wide. A few second countdown and we were off! Within 10 seconds, I something was hitting my face. "Weeds!" I thought. I had been warned from friends who did this race last year that it was very weedy. I shook my head and dipped it lower than usual a few times to get this weed off my face. It wouldn't go away. So on my next stroke, I took my left hand and grabbed the weed and yanked it away from my face. AAAAAGGGHHH!!! It was my goggle strap! Now I start hyperventilating and my goggles are around my neck. Those of you who wear Swedish goggles know you have one strap that loops twice behind your head. Apparently, one of my straps snapped. I know using just one strap won't keep the goggles on securely enough and I can't swim without them because of my contacts. I panic for a second because I'm gasping for air, trying to tread water and tie the goggles on and there are swimmers flying by me left and right.

I regain some composure, turn around to face the oncoming swimmers (pretty interesting sight) and do an egg beater kick while tying my goggles back together. I'm struggling for breath and think about quitting. Here I was screwing up the best part of my race! I thought about swimming over toward shore where at least I could stand up and do this and decide this would take too much time. After what felt like an eternity, I got the goggles secured and turned on to chase everyone. But by this time, my heart rate was through the roof and I could not get my breathing under control. I swam very slowly and methodically to get back under control. It took maybe 200 yards and then I had to swim just a bit harder than normal to get out of the pack of swimmers and try to make up for lost ground.

Out of the water, I was feeling a bit exhausted. That little goggle fiasco played with my mind and I thought my race would be a disaster. I got to my bike and it was already raining. I tried to quickly pull on my armwarmers (impossible), put on the buff and struggled to get the long-fingered gloves over my half-numb hand. Put the rest of my things on and ran out to the mount line - which was way past where you exit transition. It was a decent uphill, so I guess they didn't want people trying to get on their bikes on the uphill.

As soon as I was on the bike and moving at a decent clip, I wished I had opted for the cycling jersey. The rain coming down and the frigid temperature made me question why I was even doing this race. But I kept going, being overly cautious on the wet pavement. A few significant hills in the beginning helped keep me warm, but then I would shiver on the fast downhill. A couple of uncontrolled intersections with no volunteer to stop traffic caused me to get off my bike once to let a car go by. This was an out and back - at the aid station furthest from transition, I was handed a bottle of water. I filled my aerobottle and took a swig before tossing the bottle aside - well water! YUCK! Nothing I could do, I needed water. I tried pushing hard on the straight sections, but the pavement was slick so I slowed down considerably at each turn. I knew this was costing me time, but I just wanted to stay upright!

Disappointed with my bike split, I ran in transition, struggled again with those stupid gloves, ripped off the arm warmers and buff, grabbed my things and headed out to the run. There was no one in front of me and no one really pointing anyone in any direction. I just had to hope I was going the right way.

Almost immediately, the hills came flying at me. I was breathing hard and wondering where the aid station was. I felt like I was running forever, so I glanced behind me....was I even going in the right direction? Surely I should have passed mile 1 by now, right? I did have a runner behind me, but how do I know I wasn't leading this guy off course? Well, I just kept going and FINALLY I saw a mile marker - 2. Sweet! But where is the aid station? I needed to take in a gel. Get to an aid station, take in my gel and continue on. The hills were some of the toughest I've run, but my legs felt pretty good due to having taken it easy on the bike. Unfortunately, there was not one other mile marker on the entire run course. I don't run with my Garmin, so I have no idea what kind of pace I'm running. I just tried to keep the heart rate under control and slow down on the hills. Several out and back sections gave me an opportunity to see some of my friends out there on the run. I thoroughly enjoyed running on the paths through this state park, just wished I had mile markers.

On the way out of the last out and back section, several runners asked, "when is there water"? The aid stations were few and far between on the course. When I got off that path and back on to the road, I asked a volunteer, "How many miles left?" I wanted this over! I had 1.5 miles to go and it got really hilly again. There was one part, up hill, turn left, that felt so steep, I thought I could have walked it faster than run it. I focused on staying upright and finishing strong. Soon I recognized turning on to the street toward transition. A few spectators were there and I saw a few friends. They chose to take pictures on yet another long, slow uphill section so I look like I'm moving so slowly...and I was! That hill seemed to never end! When I got to the parking lot near the finish, no arrows, no volunteers pointing you where to go. I just hoped the guy I could see up in front of me was doing it right! We had to run all the way around the parking lot to get to the finish. I was able to finish the run strong, with still a little left in the tank. Not a strong performance for me, but feels good to have my first half iron distance done for the season.

1 comment:

Adrienne said...

Yowsers! I feel so spoiled after having done such a well organized race in CT and then reading your blog. Weeds and well water are some of my least favorite making it a point not to do this race - EVER. Way to rise above the mental games though and power through!