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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.

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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

TRANSITION 1: 4:39

BIKE (To Be Continued…)

Desert Triathlon Race Report: March 4th, 2012

“Why is everyone swimming that way?” I thought to myself as my arms churned through the waters of Lake Cahuilla in La Quinta, CA, just outside of Palm Desert. During the swim warm up before Wave #1 of the 2012 Desert Tri, one of the paddle-boarding life guards had pointed out a buoy that I thought was the first turnaround point. This was not so, I discovered soon after the gun went off, and I hastily corrected course and fell in behind the other swimmers. Thankfully, this rough start to the race would not be a foreboding for my finish line result.

I got through the 3/4-mile swim in a terrible time of 21:38. There were rumors that the swim was somewhat longer than 3/4-mile, which made me feel a little better about my time. Regardless, I’d only swam maybe a dozen times since resuming training (post-Ironman) in January, so I couldn’t beat myself up too badly. I blitzed out of the water and one minute and fourteen seconds later I was clipped into my FELT AR5 bike and flying across the flat and fast roads of Palm Desert. Did I mention it was a very flat and FAST? The Bontrager HED 9.0 deep dish wheelset, courtesy of my coach last year, Anthony Barton, helped a great deal also. For the first half of the 24-mile bike portion of the race, I was averaging nearly 25 MPH! Being 6’3″ and close to 190 pounds as a triathlete sometimes makes it tough to keep up with some of the smaller guys, but when the bike course is flat, I eat those guys for breakfast, lunch and dinner. My speed tapered off towards the very end as I could definitely feel the fire-like burning of the lactic acid building up in my legs and although I blazed through T2 in one minute flat, my body felt like lead and my lungs were like a forest fire. My bike time was 1:01:13.

I started the run off at 6:30 min/mile pace with my coach, Ariel Rodriguez, running beside me for the first few minutes to spur me on. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t hold that pace for long and it took all I could muster to keep it under 7:00 min/miles foe the remainder of the race. The 6-mile run course was two laps around the lake and mostly flat with a mixture of dirt and paved trails. I finished with a time of 41:26 and an average pace of 6:54 min/mile. After the finish, I cooled down with one more lap around the lake to make it an even 9 miles of running. This was done primarily in lieu of the upcoming LA Marathon on March 18th that I’ll be running.

I placed 1st in the M20-24 age group in what was my last official race in that category since my 25th birthday is this Friday! My official time was 2:06:31 and my closest competitor was 12 minutes back. Here’s the link to the results page: 2012 Desert Tri Results

Pro Heather Jackaon ended up winning the whole race and therefore “chicking” every guy there! Her background is in ice hockey and so that’s where she got her legs! Her bike speed is ridiculous and she can run. She shreds it in the swim too! check out her cover article in this month’s issue of LAVA Magazine: http://lavamagazine.com/features/video-behind-the-scenes-with-heather-jackson/#axzz1oVOl02En.

My friend Jason May got 4th overall and won the 35-39 age group. Another friend of mine, Reilly Smith, won the 30-34 age group and got 11th overall. Friend Tom Burbank won the Clydesdale division and Scott Chaney got 2nd in the 35-39 age group and 6th overall. Another friend and colleague of mine, Curry Michels, got 8th in the 30-34 age group. Overall, it was a great day!

My next race on the calendar is the LA Marathon in 11 days on March 18th. For those of you living in Southern California, it’d be great to see you out there somewhere along the course as I run from Dodger Stadium all the was to the Santa Monica Pier. 🙂