I wasn’t originally planning to do this race, I was originally planning on doing Ironman Canada. Thanks to some stupid choices earlier in my life (DUI) I wasn’t able to really gain access into the country of Canada so I transferred to Louisville. I didn’t read any race reports for the race and didn’t really do any race surveillance either. My thought process was to have fun, I’m not a Kona qualifier and I really just wanted to enjoy the destination (that’s why it’s called a destination race right?). So my plan was to go out there on Wednesday to settle in, and then Thursday take a trip down to Hopkinsville (3 hour ride south) to visit my dad’s grave for the first time (I hadn’t seen him since 2000) and last spoke to him 7-8 days before he passed. Then have Friday/Saturday to focus on the race. Corine flew in Thursday so we got to handle the personal trip and meet one of my dad’s best friends while I was down there. Kentucky does have some of the best scenery in the country and the road trip was a blast.
Louisville really was a great host city in my opinion. The village was right next to transition on the waterfront close to parking, places to eat, and plenty of distilleries to sample some bourbon. We stayed in an amazing Airbnb condo with a full kitchen, washer and dryer, and a king size bed. All new Ironman events I do I’m going Airbnb for this reason. Building up to the race several of the athletes (who stress out about everything) were making a big fuss about the naturally occurring toxic algae in the river and how they might cancel the swim. I paid no attention to it for a few reasons, first it was 2 months before the race and second it’s something we cannot control, so why worry about it. It’s a river it’s not going to look like a swimming pool so please just get over it. The bike I knew was going to be out in the countryside which is what I really looked forward to, and the run in town well… it’s in town.
By now I’ve been really metabolically efficient thanks to my metabolic coach Jessica at Baxter Performance. She put together my nutrition for the day. Eggs, bacon, and a sweet potato 3 hours before the race start #runonbacon followed by the UCAN 30 minutes before the race and I’m good. The drive down to the transition was all of about 10 minutes and it was 45 degree’s outside. In transition we got to see the final finishers from Kona coming across the finish line and hearing Mike say “You’re an Ironman” was a good moral boost for the first timers. The swim is a point-to-point swim so we had to walk down to the docks which were about a mile away. I could feel the excitement building from everyone as we got our wetsuits on and started forming the line. It’s a rolling start so everyone line’s up on a first come first serve basis. Well I kind of just cut in and stood my ground (everyone was looking the other way and talking) but no one even noticed it. I just was not going to have to wait 30-40 minutes to get in the water. As we shuffled down the start shoot some people started to get nervous while others including myself were calm, collected, and ready to go. Finally it was go time, the cannon went off “BOOM” and we were like penguins getting into the water.
Once we got to the dock we could jump in the water, so once I turned the corner I jumped in and started swimming. You could see the fog coming off the river which made for an eerie yet calming swim. Unlike IMAZ where it was a washing machine the entire swim I stuck towards the right side of the shore and gradually moved to the left almost in an arch to the turn around. Being able to sight and see the shoreline with all the tree’s was actually pretty darn cool in my opinion. At the turn around we got a big clearing and you could really see the Ohio River open up and get an interesting view from the water line. Barge’s on the island stowed there, large boats on the other side of the island, and the bridges off in the distance. There wasn’t much of a current that morning which I didn’t mind (I was having fun!). We swam pretty far off shore once we passed the island and made our way under the 3 bridges to the swim out which didn’t scare me in the least bit, but the buoy’s seemed so far from each other it was hard to spot them. Got to the swim exit which is a set of stairs and the volunteer’s did a great job of trying to help everyone up. The run to transition is pretty awesome to since you run up the ramp then over another smaller bridge with spectators on both sides so close. I gave a few hi-five’s to some kids and had no clue what my time was. As I hit the tent my buddy Jeff who was there volunteering helped me out and got me on my way. Thanks Jeff!
It was cold so I had on my cycling jersey and a pair of tube socks for arm warmers, and going out it was pretty flat with little wind. The ride along out of town was great with all the big houses and riverfront scenery. People out in their drive ways cheering you on as you wiz by. Now I had done this course on the computrainer so I thought I had a pretty good feeling about it…. WRONG. Once you’re out of town it starts to be a roller coaster of rolling hills… up and down, shifting up and down, out of saddle, in saddle of sorts. I tried my best to keep my power in my 70-75% FTP range for everything but on the climbs it just wasn’t happening. The ride through La Grange was awesome… they had the streets lined with the residents cheering and even in some of the remote spots of the bike loop there were people out on their lawns cheering you on… it was great. Made it through the 1st loop no problems, hit my special needs for my nutrition refills and this time the winds started to pick up a bit which made of the climbing not so fun. I saw a lot of people walking up some of the sharp inclines, but again I just did my best to stay calm and relaxed and not push myself as I realized I did on the first loop. I really took in a lot of the scenery here and enjoy a place that if I didn’t do this race I would have never ever have gone to. I wanted to have a great run since it’s been my weakness. I stopped to use the bathroom a few times since I refuse to pee on my bike… again I’m not qualifying for Kona so if I spend an extra 45 seconds-1 minute going pee so be it. Rolling into town the energy was off the charts it was a great pick me up. I grabbed my run bag and got changed. Took some time to get a breather and some sunscreen and I was on my way out to the run.
Here I am, the final leg of the Ironman distance. Energy levels are great, right hip was starting to bug me a bit, but kept going nice and slow. Start out slow for the first couple miles and settle into your pace. First 6 miles was cruising 11:00 min miles (stick to my metabolic pace 10:30-11:00) min miles and you’ll get through it in no time. I hit my UCAN at the 30 min mark and hitting my Base Performance Electrolyte Salt ever mile. You run along one of the main streets, 3rd I think it was and the houses up and down the streets were huge! Spectators on both sides clapping and cheering you on. Mile 6 had the Base Tent with some of my Basemates which cheered me on. My girl was there cheering for me and we chitchatted for a bit while I was jogging it out. I felt really good at this point I was astonished… but then around mile 7 my right hip totally locked up and I fell face first on the ground. Might have said some choice words and the medic’s who happened to be riding on their bikes helped get me to my feet and made sure that nothing was broken and I was ok. Told them what was happening and they gave me 3 choices. 1.) walk and deal with the pain. 2.) run and deal with the pain and risk tearing muscles. 3.) They can pull me off the course. Well, I didn’t come to Louisville, see my dad’s grave, and I for sure wanted my finishers jacket. So I figured I’ll just shuffle it out for a few miles and see were it goes. Well after the turn around and some of the slight down hills the hip started to throb more and more and around mile 12/13 I seriously thought about quitting. Mile’s 9-12 I had let some of that negative self-talk in about how I was supposed to be running this instead of walking this. Started to question if this distance was even right for me. As I crossed the mile 13 sign on the verge of saying F this… my hip wasn’t feeling right, I was in a dark place mentally there was this DJ guy blaring some 80’s song that made me start laughing He yelled out… “Yeah Christopher, you’re going to be an Ironman today with that laugh… keep it up buddy you’re doing great.” It helped get me back on the positive side of things and we made a left turn and right turn with streets lined with people. I could see the finish line, the red carpet, the crowd cheering. It was what I needed to get my head back in the game/race. You’re right up on that carpet before you start the 2nd loop, I could taste the finish, I could see myself getting to it. I had less than 13 miles to go, 3 hours of misery and I can do this. I hit my special needs and got my hoodie and 2nd bottle of UCAN… Although not much need for it now, and I stretched and started on my 2nd lap. By this time some of the people were just starting the first loop and I cheered them on as some of them passed me. At this point it was all about supporting others and enjoying the experience. Unlike IMAZ where I felt like total crap from the stomach issue’s I felt great. I found that cheering for others as they passed going in on the finish or starting the 2nd loop was fun. Hit the Base Tent again which had some great beats and the girl and I talked a bit more as I was walking towards the turn around. Slowly chipping away at the miles I could feel the hip kind of numbing out a bit so I picked up the pace more and shuffled here and there before it started to hurt again. Mile 22-23 the girl and I talked and she gave me some pick me up’s and agreed that I’d see her at the finish. Three more miles to go, it’s around 8:45PM I totally got this. Mile 25 to 26 seemed like an eternity.. by this time some of the streets were clear of spectators but there were still plenty of people out there cheering you on when it was dark and starting to get cold. I made that left turn followed by the right and the finish line was in site.. the streets were lined with people so much that it was a good .2 miles of solid crown 8-12 people deep. I picked up to a run and tried to keep plenty of space from people so that I wasn’t in a crowd coming across the finish line. Just like that I was a 2 x Ironman finisher.
~Race Finish: 14:21:57
After crossing the line (it was much more memorable this time than from IMAZ) a volunteer pretty much had me and got all my stuff that I wanted. The girl found me and we chatted and I was a 2 x Ironman finisher. She did a great job of making sure I was ok and taken care of… she even went back and got my hoodie that I had ditched cause I wanted it. Followed by a “DO NOT go passed the Chipotle sign”. The woman who volunteered left me right at the end of the finisher area and let us know where to get the coveted Ironman finishers pizza. After the girl returned we got some pizza and some brownies. Couple days before I got the finish and fly package from TriBike Transport so I didn’t have to pick up my bike or any of my gear bags. The following day my super Sherpa got up early and got my finishers jacket for me, so that I could wake up to it.
This really turned out to be a great race all around and I had a blast. The city of Louisville was great, especially the Wild Egg’s Bananas Foster Waffle the day after. I highly recommend this race to anyone who wants a bit of a challenge on the bike, and a kick back run. It was a little more than a race trip since I took a road trip down to see where my dad was buried, we had some words and I was on my way. None of this would have been possible without the great support system I have