IM Louisville Race Report

The day finally arrived!

On race morning I woke up at 5:20 AM to stretch out and have a small breakfast of boiled eggs, yogurt, and an uncrustable before I headed out to the race.  I carefully applied body glide to all my *ahem* sensitive areas, gathered my gear, and headed over about 6AM.  It was a warm morning, about 71 degrees, which was OK because the weather was due to drop temperature in the afternoon when I’d be on the run.  There was also some rain in the forecast during the bike.  Again, I was OK with that so long as it didn’t create an unsafe condition.

More on that later.

I got to the transition, put my bottles on my bike, handed my special needs bags off to the volunteers, and did one more walkthrough of the transition.  Then we started a roughly 1 mile walk up the river to the starting area.  It was extremely pleasant, but a wind was picking up from downstream.

Louisville has a rolling start, where you self identify your anticipated swim time and then get in the water with that group.  This is to avoid as much as possible fast swimmers behind slow ones.  I had done a 4K swim in 1:17 in training, and planned to go easy, so I selected 1:20-1:30 to be safe.  While waiting in that line, I realized I was not nervous.  Then I started to get nervous about NOT being nervous, as in, was I not respecting this enough?  This is how you get yourself worked up!  I told myself I would be fine and to calm down.

Meanwhile, the gun went off and people started lining up.  Laura and Scully stayed with me a while, then left to get to their volunteer station on the bike course.  The line to start meanwhile winded around down to a boat dock, where they had everyone go on two different platforms and jump in from there (no diving!).  I ended up getting in the water at just before 8:00am.

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The swim course starts you upstream, but you are next to an island that shelters you from the main current.  On the left, the island sits there covered in trees and not much else.  On the right is clearly where rich people keep their boats.  Once you come out from behind the island you are exposed to the current, and have to fight it to the red buoy, then turn and come the rest of the way downstream.

Sounds like the easy part is downstream, right?

Well, maybe most days.  On this day the pleasant swim was behind the island.  Very calm and beautiful in the morning twilight.  Once out from behind the island you got slower, but not too bad.  Then we turned…and suddenly I was in ROLLING waves from the wind. I mean, 2-3 foot waves like being in the ocean.  Luckily that only lasted about half of the way, but it does make for a tough time breathing when waves smack you in the face.

In all my reading the night before I picked up a fantastic tip.  Once around the island you can see downtown Louisville from the water, but you can’t see the finish.  One coach had pictures from the course and gave a specific building to swim towards while in the water.  This was fantastic because I never had to try and figure out the next buoy or anything–just keep swimming to the building. It worked great, and I felt confident swimming in through the rest of the course to the end.

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Getting out of the water you navigate some iron stairs to the bank and then run about a quarter mile to the transition.  Volunteers guided me to an area to the side and yanked my wetsuit off, and more volunteers asked me if I had any needs.  This was a theme throughout the day–hundreds of volunteers, all taking the initiative to help the athletes in a way I’ve not seen before.  Huge shout out to them, as at different parts of the day I was physically steadied, had my bike held while I went to the restroom or stretched, had extra help finding any specific items I needed, had help clearing away my gear bags, one even opened my 5 hour energy drink for me and threw the empty bottle away!

Checking my watch entering the change tent I realized I swam the swim in 1:10:45, MUCH faster than I thought.  I took my time in transition getting my gear ready: compression socks, energy shot, food, shoes, and used the restroom.  Then I hopped on my bike for my 112 mile trek.

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The bike course starts out flat for about 10 miles, then starts climbing as it gets away from the river.  At the river, you can see huge, old plantation style buildings that are just gorgeous.  Once you turn from there, you are still in nice homes but much more recently built. I spent a lot of time telling myself to keep to the plan, which was about a 6:30 bike.  I had to have enough juice for a marathon, after all.

At mile 12 I encountered my first accident, a bad one.  There were a number of potholes that had been outlined in orange paint to help bikes avoid them (I’d rather they just filled them, but whatever) and this stretch had a number of them.  I can only assume this biker hit one and the 4-5 bikes behind him couldn’t avoid him.  I passed by with him face down and unmoving on the concrete.  I hoped he was OK, but the first responders were already racing to the scene (they were luckily nearby at the time) and there was really nothing I could have done had I stopped.  I pressed on.

The next part of the course was rolling hills through some of the prettiest horse country you can imagine.  Huge stables and fields filled with horses.  I had a bad experience with a horse when I was small so they make me nervous, but I still enjoy seeing them.  At mile 21, you turn and do the first of 2 loops.  This part of the course was challenging, because rollers became steep climbs and drops.  There was guidance before the race to not clump up and keep 6 bike lengths between each other, but nobody listened.  In fact, there were several points where people were talking to one another that I had to pass three bikes abreast just inside the yellow line.  Keep in mind the road is NOT closed, so this can be pretty dangerous.  It’s also dangerous because any mechanical or human failures will lead to wrecks.  I saw multiple times someone threw a chain or had an issue and another biker plowed right into them.

Also at this time my bar tape started to become undone.  It wasn’t a big deal, but it annoyed me and was a mental distraction the whole ride.  I found myself trying to hold it in place and tuck it back together at various points.  It never really held, but I was able to finish with it still useable.

At mile 25 (mile 60 on the second loop) there was an aid station.  I stopped and ate some nutrition, stretched my legs, and got back on feeling really good.  We wove through several small towns where I swear the whole town came out to cheer us on, some of them in just their underwear (not sure what that was about).  At one point, a guy in a pirate speedo decided he was going to give the bikers who passed high-fives.  In the middle of the road.  Not wanting to encourage this, I tried to ride past but he slapped my shoulder and patted my saddle as I rode by, nearly knocking me over.  NOT COOL.  If you ever come out to spectate, don’t touch the competitors unless it’s mutual.  Don’t be that guy in the speedo (easy enough for most of us).

At mile 38/73 I saw Scully and Laura on the course, which was also a nice lift.  I saw them again on the second lap.  Scully was a trooper, but she looked pretty bored.  We got her out for some extended frisbee the next morning to make up for it.

Meanwhile, the wind was starting to pick up.  We turned back on the last leg of the loop with the wind right in our face.  I thought to myself about all those times I was training back in Kansas on hills and realized that I was ready for this.  SO glad I did that.  It was very mentally challenging as it was, and I heard many athletes comment on it later.  But I pushed through, stopping at another aid station for a quick bite about mile 50.  I was ready to get to my special needs bag at mile 60, which had chips, cheetos and M&Ms inside!  I stuffed the M&Ms into my back pocket, swallowed the chips while stopped, and put the cheetos in my front pouch.  This led to some funny moments the next 20 miles as I munched cheetos out of my front pouch and wiped the cheeto fingers on my leg.  I saw many riders glance at me, realize what I had, and get a little jealous (or disgusted, they look about the same at that point).

At mile 62 I said to myself, just one more half-century to go.  No problem!  Then I laughed at how ludicrous that sounded. I think I was a little loopy by then.

By the time we got back to the turn home the second time the wind was really, really strong and the rain was coming in full force.  It was a torrent by the time I passed the mile 50/85 aid station.  I had planned to stop, but the wind at that point was so strong it was blowing the volunteer tents away.  I mean literally, right as I passed they were toppling into the road. That, plus the fact it was at the base of a hill and I didn’t want to try to regain momentum in those conditions uphill, led me to just push past.  This means I couldn’t eat the nutrition out of my back pouch, so I decided to eat the M&Ms.  This posed a challenge however, because the wind was blowing EVERYONE all over the road, and it was all you could do to not veer 1) off the road 2) into someone else or 3) into oncoming traffic, which was becoming pretty steady.  I could not get the ziplock bag open to save my life, so I improvised and tore a hole in the corner with my teeth, and spent the next 5 miles sucking them out of the hole one by one.  It worked!

The last part of the ride was really dangerous because the roads were slick and it was mostly downhill with lots of speed.  This especially becomes a problem when you are trying to not plow into either oncoming traffic or slower riders, but you don’t want to give up speed either because that lowers the energy you have to output.  It’s a tough balance.  Branches and other objects from overhanging trees were everywhere and tough to avoid.  We tried to point them out to each other as we saw them, but the rain had clouded my glasses to the point I couldn’t see very far ahead.  I heard a story later about a branch breaking off and taking out 2 riders.  Pretty scary.  Plus at this point my back derailleur was acting up and not shifting clean, probably from my hitting a few pieces of debris.

I stopped at the mile 100 aid station and had a scary moment when my hamstring cramped up on me as soon as I stood off the bike.  It went away after a few seconds, but my race flashed in front of my eyes.  I had some more to eat, cleaned the rain off my glasses, and carried on.

As I rolled back into town I was glad I was going to make it out of the bike without a true mechanical issue–many, many other bikers were not so lucky.  Laura reported a van filled with bikes of those that didn’t make it, and I saw at least a dozen myself by the side of the road on the course.  I finished in 6:37, which was a great success to be only 7 minutes off my goal, considering my many stops and the weather.

When I got back to the transition a volunteer took my bike and racked it for me, which was a first for me in 50+ triathlons.  I had the feeling they’d all been coached that we would be on the edge of exhaustion and need all the help they could give to avoid unnecessary movement.  My spirits were high, because I knew I had this–I came in at 4PM, and had 8 and a half hours before I would not be allowed to finish (We had 16:30 to finish from our start time).  I joked with the guys in the tent that “I think we may have overdone our warmup for this marathon!”  After putting my bike stuff in the bag, an attentive volunteer tied it up for me and whisked it away.  I set out to see if I could add a marathon to everything else I had done so far.

It was a really neat run course.  A few miles were downtown, then into a historic district with beautiful homes, then into the University of Louisville, then past a slightly seedy area to Churchill Downs, then out into suburbia to the turn around.  We did two laps like that.  It was enjoyably flat.  It was also cool, in the high 50s, and the rain had mostly stopped.  Perfect running weather.

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I had hoped to make a 9-10 minute mile pace when running, and was prepared to walk a lot of it if needs be.  My target was 5 hours.  I’d run marathons in 3:40, but I knew this wasn’t like any other marathon I’d ever ran and I needed to not expect that kind of time. I set up my apple watch to track the run and realized by mile 1 I was rabbiting, so I slowed the pace up considerably.  Still, the whole trip out I had plenty of energy and no issues at all running a comfortable 9 minute mile.

I kept telling myself to slow and remember I was running a marathon AFTER 114.4 miles of other stuff.  I started playing a little game mentally.  Since the bike was fresh in my mind, and the run was roughly 1/4 the distance, each time I came to a mile marker I multiplied by 4 and thought “this approximates the same distance on the bike”.  I remembered where I was on the bike and it kept me aware just how much I had to go.  It also gave my mind something to do.

After the turn I cruised back and mentally started checking off landmarks I had passed on the way out.  “There’s the purple bus on the side of the road”.  “There’s the fish sandwich joint”.  “There’s the aid station populated entirely by sorority women from UL”.  “There’s the burger joint in an old streetcar”.  “There’s the guy dressed as a slice of bacon”.  Etc.  Doing that shortens the run in an odd way, since you aren’t running 26.2 at once, you’re just running to the next landmark.  Oh the games you play to keep your mind off what you are doing.

And by the way, never come to an IM dressed as a slice of bacon.  I might have been willing to kill to have a slice of bacon at that point.  Very, very dangerous.

At mile 11 Mark joined me.  Mark was a veteran of Ironman and we chatted for about a mile and a half about prior races and such before he veered off to the restroom.  It was a nice break from the internal monologue, but I was also glad when he left because I knew the second half of this run I would need my focus.  But meanwhile, as I turned towards the finish line only to veer off for a second lap, I knew I had it.  I had walked only through aid stations and only by design, never by necessity.  I had plenty of energy.  I had enough time that I could walk the last lap if needs be.  I was going to be an Ironman.  I just had to keep moving.

After the turn for lap 2 there were the runner special needs bags.  I grabbed my snacks out of it and wolfed down the M&Ms inside.  This is where my body started to shut down.  All along the course I had seen people cramping up, vomiting etc.  I knew I had been on point with my hydration so cramping wasn’t an issue, and I didn’t need to vomit, but I realized that I felt very bloated and I think it was because my body was no longer digesting properly.  This meant I had to be very, very careful the next 12 miles.  I had to keep putting stuff into my body, but if I did too much I could cause a serious problem and derail my race (vomiting can absolutely wreck you at that point of an event).

I tried to eat a few chips at mile 17 along with some water, and got them down, but the feeling of bloat just got worse.  I tried gatorade, red bull, orange slices, anything for a few calories that wasn’t solid. I wanted to burp.  I wanted to do anything to relieve the pressure.  I carried on since it wasn’t really affecting my run.  I was starting to feel pain in my feet from the pounding, and stiffness in my knees.  At the mile 19 aid station I for the first time had trouble going back into a run after walking it.  But I was able to do it.

By mile 22 the slowing down of my nutrient intake was taking it’s toll.  I started telling myself to reel in the next mile marker, the next aid station, then I could walk a bit.  I started repeating to myself what I wanted so bad to finish this: to make all the training worthwhile.  To get the tattoo.  To get my finisher shirt and hat.  To be able to wear the stuff I bought at the expo without guilt.  To be an Ironman.  To not have to explain to everyone “what happened” if I failed.  Anything I could recite as a reason I started reciting like a mantra.

Meanwhile, I was WAY ahead of the 5 hours I had planned for the marathon.  I was crushing it.  I was OWNING it.  But that last 4 miles was tough!

Finally I passed mile marker 26 and ran the rest of the way.  I could hear the music.  More and more spectators were cheering.  I could see the finish in my mind from when I passed it a few hours earlier.  I was ready to be done.

I got it in sight and I really don’t remember much.  I started to cry a bit as I ran down the carpet.  I cry a bit now thinking about it.  There were hundreds of people down there, cheering, pounding the walls, yelling us home.  It was all the adrenaline I needed to finish.  A few people passed me and I let them, because I wanted to cross alone.  It was MY moment.  I got to the end in 12:29:26 (slightly before 8:30PM), raised my hands in the air, and knew I was an Ironman.

Good thing I knew it without help too, because in all of it I never heard “George Widenor, you are an Ironman” from the announcer.  Probably best.  He said my name wrong from what I understand.

Sigh.

A great volunteer wrapped me in a foil blanket, got me water, fetched my medal, hat and shirt for me and walked me over to take my picture.  Very friendly and a nice way to guide disoriented folks to where they needed to go.  He was awesome, like all the volunteers.  I got some hot post-race food (beef stew, cornbread, fries), headed back to the hotel, and then the body started to not cooperate.  I couldn’t stand up properly.  I couldn’t shower.  I needed help taking off my stuff.  I couldn’t even walk.

It didn’t matter.

I was finally an Ironman.

Cheers!

(PS: I will append this with race pics when they are available!)

12 hours from the start

It’s 7:35PM as I start to write this.  Swimmers will start hitting the water at 7:30am tomorrow.  I won’t be in first, but somewhere in the next 45 minutes I’ll be there.

I spent yesterday touring some of bourbon country.  It was traumatic (for me) to leave Scully in doggie day care, but she did fine.  Meanwhile, I visited some of my favorite distilleries in Four Roses, Wild Turkey and Buffalo Trace.  We did tastings at two of them and a tour at Buffalo Trace.  It was a really neat experience!  Even if you don’t like bourbon, its neat to see the history.

Four Roses was under construction so we didn’t do the distillery tour, but instead did a short tasting event out on the veranda near the visitor center.  We tried all 3 of their products, which was fine by me, since I love them all.  They let us keep the glasses afterwards too.  It was really kinda neat, and we picked up some tips on other ways to use bourbon (but I doubt I’ll be pouring it over a bowl of M&Ms, as one suggestion went).  Here are a few shots from there:

Next up was Wild Turkey, and there was a long wait to get a tour so we didn’t do that, just poked around the grounds and visitor center.  I love this shot with the warehouses in the background–there were photos inside that were 100 years old that had the same buildings.  Tons of history here.

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Last was Buffalo Trace, where we did a tour and tasting.  Free tour, and really neat also.  It finished with a tasting of two bourbons, bourbon cream, and bourbon chocolates.  We ended up buying 3 bottles of the bourbon cream.  I think Baileys is officially dead in our house.

On the way back we stopped by a highly rated local liquor store, where I picked up 4 bottles, all things I can’t get back home.  All in all an expensive but fun day.

Today started with a big breakfast taken out from a place called Wild Eggs.  I highly recommend it if you come out this way.  HUGE pancakes and excellent breakfast fare.  Then it was a practice swim in the Ohio River.  I was able to get in the water and see what the current would be like.  It’s probably about 1-2mph, not a ton, but still a little bit of a boost.  The swim is mostly downstream and I feel confident about it.  Scully got nervous about what I was doing, but was happy to see me come out of the water.

The rest of the day was mostly rest and bike/gear check in.  I got out on my bike for a few miles JUST to be sure the mechanics did a good job.  It feels great.  It is now sitting on the rack waiting for tomorrow.

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Both my bike and run transition bags are there too, waiting for me to go through.  Along with 5000 other bags.

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I spent tonight looking through some tips, and I am about to read all of my cards again.  I’ll be up at 5:30 to head down to the transition with a few last-minute things (like my water bottles) and my special needs bags.  Then, it’s off to wait for the swim.  The swim is a rolling start, so faster swimmers go first and slower go in the back.  I imagine I’ll be somewhere in the middle.

My strategy is simply to go slow and try to enjoy the experience.  This is my one time doing this.  I want that tattoo.  I want that finisher shirt.  All I need to do now is not do anything stupid and gut it out for 13 hours or so.  For the swim, I plan to take it easy, kick only enough to stay level to save my legs, and use the current to my advantage.  For the bike, I read some great advice which said “If I think I am going too fast, I am”.  This is easily the riskiest part since I normally ride very hard on the bike.  I need to take it slow.  Painfully slow.  Take breaks.  Eat the ride in about six 17-18 mile chunks.  Keep up my nutrition and remember I have a marathon to get to.

It may be a bit challenging because of the rain in the forecast, but in a way it’s a blessing because it will keep it cool and encourage me to stay in control on slick roads.  But stay cool and forget the clock.

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For the run, I am already planning on running about 5 minutes and walking 1 minute the whole time.  This will keep me on a reasonable mental schedule where I am taking good breaks and not trying to jack-rabbit.  Stay within myself.  Walk when I need to.  Enjoy the atmosphere.  Smile.  Say hi to people.

I guess what I am trying to say is my focus is on really, really LIVING this experience and not trying to zip through it.  Not only will that be more likely to fail, but it will defeat the whole point.  Slow down, look around, live this 13 hours like I’ll never live it again.  Because I won’t.  And that means if it takes 14 instead of 13, that’s not a failure.  It may even be a success.

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If for some god awful reason you have nothing to do Sunday, you can track my progress at this link.  I am bib 2309.  If you have a spare second or two, throw positive thoughts my way.  It will be the toughest and best day of my life if all goes well.  Let’s hope it does.

See you on the flip side.

Cheers!

Greetings from Louisville!

Here I am, less than 3 days until I find out if I am an Ironman or not.

It’s been a whirlwind week. Monday I started the process of laying out all of the things I would need to bring.  It’s times like these that you realize: I have a lot of triathlon crap.

Of course, not all of it needed to come on this trip.  And some things that I wouldn’t bring normally would need to be in the bag.  So the only real good way to pack is to take EVERYTHING out, catalogue what I have, and then put everything I actually would need in the bag.  Turns out it is a LOT of stuff.  It filled the whole dining table.

Here’s what the before looked like:

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And somehow, yes, I did manage to get everything in the bag.  Here’s the proof!

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We also had to take Scully.  It’s not like this is a bad thing at all, but it adds a ton of logistics and also, she’d never really travelled before.  It was hard to say how she would react to a 9 hour drive and a stay in a hotel for a week.  Shoot, she’s never even been in an elevator.  But, it’s all part of the adventure eh?

Anyway, we got everything loaded up in the car and took off Wednesday morning.  It was a very long drive, but Scully was a champ.  We took breaks every 90 minutes and she never complained once.  We got a chance to run around with her and do some ball tossing in some really odd spots, it actually made it even more fun.

We got to Louisville about 8:30 at night.  We are at the Galt Hotel, which is right on the Ohio river.  Very cool, classic hotel.  I took a few pictures out of the window:

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And, Scully seems to be happy so long as she has her toys!

img_0074Today I spent time walking the course, checking out transition and the IM check in.  I was able to see the chute where we will come out of the river, the run up to the bike, my bike rack position, and basically do a walk-through of the transition.  Then I went to the athlete check in and got all my gear, attended the athlete briefing, and had them check out my bike for any last minute adjustments.

Here are some shots from around the transition and course:

I can’t tell you how impressed I am in general with the athletes here.  It’s a reinforcement of what this community is: there’s a lot of really, really nice and encouraging people who are spending their own nickel and tons of time to put themselves to the test, and all of us have nothing but respect for each other’s journeys.

It’s neat to be here.  It’s even neater to feel like I belong.

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My bike is ready to go!

Also, there’s a lot of cool swag.  Check this out, and I didn’t even get all of it in the picture!

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I was also able to drive the bike course, or some of it.  It’s a lot of rolling hills which is exactly what I train on.  It will be a tough course, but I feel prepared for it.  I’m not as prepared for the possibility of rain on the course that day.  Rolling hills, heavy traffic and no shoulder is not something I want to deal with on slick roads, especially if it gets windy. I’ll have to keep tracking this throughout the next few days, but it is what it is I guess.  It’s not like I’ll go home if it’s pouring.

As it stands I’ve yet to have a single drink in Louisville.  Oddly enough, having a dog with you makes it unlikely you’ll get to go to many bourbon bars.  We are going to drop her at a doggie day care tomorrow and do some tours of distilleries for a few hours.  Hopefully that goes well….we will see!

58 hours to the start to go.  I will become one: my wristband says so.  Cheers!

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The taper pain is real, and card explosions

Tapering….enough said.


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Seriously, single digits.  Single. Digits.

Everything I heard about the taper?  So far it’s true.  I’m in this odd place right now.  Firstly, my plan has 11 workouts during week 1 of a two week taper.  That’s more than I would normally have.  What it means is 4 days this week I had 2 workouts, and I had no rest day.  That’s grindy, especially coming off the longest workout of my life Sunday.  I mean, they are SHORTER workouts, but there’s a lot of high intensity intervals in there.  I know it’s overall less volume, so I’m sticking to it.

But now, I find it harder and harder to stay focused on it.  I don’t know whether the extra workouts are a factor, but mentally, I just don’t care.  I don’t want to get up at 4:30 am to workout anymore.  I don’t want to do intervals in pitch black.  I find myself 9 days out thinking “Is any of this going to matter at this point?”.

It’s amazing to me that it’s actually HARDER to stay motivated this close to this thing than it was when it was 180 days away.

Not that I am not motivated to IM.  I just want to go DO it already.  I’m tired of working out.  I’m tired of explaining the IM race.  I’ve answered at least 15 people over the last day “What day is your IM again?”.  I’m tired of it.

Can I please just start now?

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It hasn’t helped that with 2 weeks off from work this week of work has been hell.  I feel like I’ve worked 8 days this week.  We had a work retreat all day Tuesday, I took a 3 hour exam Wednesday, I’ve been wall to wall meetings trying to get things in place before I go, etc.  It has been a very difficult week.

Which is why this card explosion meant so much.  See the below pictures?  That’s my office, covered in cards and memes and inspirational quotes.  All those cards are signed by family, friends and coworkers.  All of them have inspirational messages and quotes.  This was all orchestrated by my wife, and I am so grateful because this was a fantastic lift at a time I REALLY needed one.

However I haven’t read but half a dozen of them.  I realized I can’t read them at work because I read like 3 and in the emotional state I am in, I broke down and started to cry.  Sooooooooo…….we’ll wait and read them closer to the race.  I may even take some and put them in my special needs bags so I can have some inspiration on the race.

Very seriously considering it.

Meanwhile, 2 more workouts tomorrow and 2 more Sunday.  Then it’s time to start packing and actually getting to Louisville.  The IM I got.

But the taper is hell.

Cheers!

Against the wind (and the trains)

October 3, Day 234

Recent Personal Bests:

  1. Longest bike ride (6 hours, 103 miles)
  2. Longest workout (7 hours)
  3. Most mileage in a week: 163

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Into the dreaded taper we go.

Apparently it’s dreaded.  I’m sort of looking forward to not having to start a workout at 7:15am that I don’t finish until after 2:30pm.  Seems like a legit concern.  However, a lot of IM folks talk about an emotional rollercoaster between not exercising as much as you are used to and tension building up to the race.  I’ll see what it does for me.

Good week last week, although my leg still hasn’t healed fully.  It’s getting there.

Thursday’s 3 hour run was a little different, in that I started it after work.  That was actually a good thing because it got me out in the sunshine and afternoon heat like it will be during the actual event.  It was a 3 hour run which at the pace I am supposed to run at came in at 18.4 miles.  IM training has made everything slower, but that’s because this marathon is a little different than any other I’ve run.

Anyway, I was 14 miles in and headed on the home stretch when this happened:

That’s a train.  A train that is stopped and stretched as far as the eye can see.

Damn it.

I froze a few minutes wondering what the heck to do.  Climb under it?  Yeah, cause you know the moment I get there it will start moving.  Climb over the coupling?  Same issue.  Wait it out?  Every moment I do that cuts into the biggest run on my schedule.

Luckily I was able to run back another way and get picked up.  As far as I know, that train is still sitting there.

Friday night’s 4000m swim was great. Once again I felt fantastic other than the fact 77 minutes of swimming in a pool is mind-numbingly boring.  Physically though, I wasn’t even winded.

Of course, the big one was Sunday, a 6 hour bike ride with a 1 hour transition run.  It was the biggest workout on my schedule and my biggest one ever, really.  I was focused on doing a full century and still having legs to run 6 miles afterwards.  If I could do it, I knew I could do the IM.  See, that would basically account for the bike, I know I can crush the swim, and then if I still have energy to make a 10 minute mile?  Gold.  I  don’t even need to run the whole marathon.  If I have that much in the tank, I know I can cross the finish in 16 hours.

So, while I was nervous, I got out early with a little extra support from Scully:

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It had been threatening thunderstorms all week but happily those stayed away.  I enjoyed the cloud cover through most of the ride which kept it tolerable cool throughout.  All in all it was a perfect day for a ride.  Here are some shots of the Kansas hills I ride through.  You can kind of see the light level shift as I took short nutrition breaks throughout the ride.

Ah, nutrition.  Determined to follow advice and not get behind the calorie curve, and also to try things out before the race, I had an assortment of junk food to help me: gu energy gels, gatorade, honey stinger waffles, potato chips, cheetos, even a smuckers uncrustable.  Basically any calories I could get down and tolerate that would still be relatively portable.  I ate 2700 calories between breakfast, that stuff, and a recovery subway sandwich after I finished.

And I still needed another 2500 to break even.

The ride was tough because of only one factor: the wind.  It was 20-25 mph straight in my face coming back through the last 20 miles.  At one point it actually blew me over with a strong gust as I ate a snack.  Other than that I felt like I had plenty of energy.  I was able to plow through, which again gives me confidence for Louisville if I have to deal with wind.

When I got off the bike to run, I walked a good 100 feet then started to jog.  OMG that hurt for a bit.  My back was not happy after being on a bike that long to be upright and take the pounding of running.  Happily that worked itself out within a few minutes, otherwise I don’t think I could have run.

I had a route planned on a nice trail but ended up having to adjust that on the fly because of a downed tree.  What is up with blockages and me this week?  In any event, I ran the entire hour at my goal pace and could have continued.  I actually felt pretty OK afterwards although really tired.

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Riding home in the backseat with my legs out the window.

Now for the taper, and logistics to get my butt to Louisville.  I’ll try to blog more as I get closer, I’m sure I’ll have more to say as the event gets close.  But we are in the home stretch now.

Cheers!