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IRONMAN LOUISVILLE 2013: Race Morning and The Swim

This is the first part of my IMKY race recap. As a brief prologue, with the help of about 50 donors, I was able to raise a grand total of $2,570.80 for Louisville-based charities! $166,566 was raised by all Ironman Foundation-Louisville athletes, blowing last year’s ~$60,000 mark out of the water! This was my first time fundraising with that large of a goal and I was overwhelmed at the response. Thank you to those of you who gave! If you weren’t able to support me this time, don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll fundraise for another race in a year or so.

The race did not go quite as I’d planned it (that’s a severe understatement, haha) but this is often the case with Ironman. This was my first Ironman I did following CrossFit Endurance training protocol so I knew it was an experiment going into the race. More on that in the race report though! Rest assured that I am in good spirits and grateful for the finish.


My race morning alarm went off at 3:30 a.m. as usual and I was up and ready to go in no time. My dad picked us up from our hotel at 4:15 and we were waiting outside of transition in the pre-dawn darkness by 4:40. Louisville is unique in the fact that it’s a time trial-style swim start that begins about a mile up the river from transition, so all 3,000 of us Ironman Louisville-finisher-hopefuls lined up in a single file line starting around 5:00 a.m. There is no seeding system so it’s first come first serve, which made things kind of interesting. The pros were sent off at 6:45, our cannon blast went off at 7:00 a.m. and I was in the water by 7:02 AM. The Ohio River was almost bathtub warm at over 80° but since the air temp was still below 70° that morning, it wasn’t too bad. As we all know, the great Ohio River is known for its clear blue waters and thriving aquatic ecosystem; it almost reminded me of the swim course at Kona…NOT!  In all reality though, it wasn’t as bad as everyone was saying and I even took a few sips just to make sure.

I was very curious to see how my swim would turn out since I had only been swimming twice-a-week at most since May and only about 2,000- 3,000 yards each each time. I had focused primarily on my technique with lots of intensity. There were many training days of 20x100yds, 200yd repeats or 3×1,000yds and the longest I’d swum continuously was about 1,500m. I believe that all the Olympic lifting, pull-ups and muscle-ups from CrossFit played a huge role in my swim performance. I quite enjoyed the swim and really felt like I was holding back most of the time. I wasn’t able to find anybody’s feet to draft off of but settled into my own rhythm and was able to avoid being kicked or punched as can often happen. We swam in a channel for nearly a mile before coming around an island and reaching the turnaround a few hundred yards later.

The sun was peaking above the horizon as we headed back so I was glad to be wearing my tinted TYR goggles. I had flashbacks to IM Arizona as we crossed under two bridges on the return trip and I felt good. There’s a saying in triathlon that goes something like, “You can’t win the race in the swim, but you can lose it.” It’s a long day out there and the swim typically makes up about 10% or less of the total race time. You don’t need to be a hero in the water, if you know what I mean. Just hit a decent pace and keep it under control. I was in my groove and within sight of the Swim Exit when I glanced at my watch that read 56:00. I turned it on for the last half mile and came out of the water in 1:08:47, feeling fresh and ready to drop the hammer on the bike course. This is going to be a good day, I remember thinking as I jogged down the chute to transition, grabbed my Bike Gear bag and ducked into the change tent. A volunteer helped me pull on my bike jersey and another one slathered me with sunscreen before I sprinted down to my bike, waiting for me at the end of the first row (one of the perks of being an Ironman Foundation Athlete).

SWIM TIME: 1:08:47


BIKE (To Be Continued…)