Finally 140.6! by John Stevenson
A friend of mine just completed his first full Ironman. He didn’t just complete it of course… He destroyed it!
Below find his personal account of the race. Enjoy!
Sunday (Race Day!!)
My race almost never happened.
My alarm was set but I never plugged in the charger into the outlet, so my phone died. Luckily, Abby got up at 4 am because well she couldn’t sleep. So she came out and realized that it was 4:30 and I was still sleeping. I was almost screwed…only lost 15 minutes of planned eating. After realizing I still had plenty of time I just started to eat as fast as I could. Bagel with peanut butter, milk, mix1 chocolate, banana, coconut water, and half dark chocolate bar (thanks for the tip from Jordan Rapp…high calories and high fat in small package). I was so nervous…it was so hard to get the food down. Abby drove me down to transition, while my parents got a few more hours of rest.
Rocking the Blue Seventy and Rev3
Transition went very smoothly. In and out in 20 minutes. Tires pumped. Wheel cover tight. Fluids together. Transition bags done. Special needs bag dropped off.
Abby and I made our way to swim start, which is about 1 mile from transition. The swim at Louisville is the only one of its kind in Ironman events. Most events have a mass swim start that athletes compare to being in a washer machine. Louisville is a time trial start, which an athlete jumps off the dock every second or so with two lines. The athlete does have a dilemma though, do you wake up early and wait near the front or arrive later and wait in line. I was planning on the latter and hopefully I can get lucky.
Ok…so how do I get out of this?
I already finished my bottle of Powerbar Perform mixed with salt tablets. Trying to get loose with leg swings and eagles. Finally, it was time to put on my Blue Seventy PZ3TX with some help of SBR trislide to reduce any chaffing. At 6:50 am the pro cannon went off and it’s game on! The line started to move and a group of guys invited me in so hells yeah! I know that’s not kosher but oh well. I gave Abby one last kiss and now I was even more nervous…almost freaking out. All I wanted was to be to see Abby one last time, but couldn’t find her. I finally realized that I’m doing this and I need to focus. My whole rationalization that morning was to just think of this as a training day. I’ve done the training; now just put it together for a long day. I don’t know if that is what you’re supposed to think about, but it got me through the morning. The line was moving pretty quickly. I had no clue if I was going in early or late so once I got to the dock…I was like damn I’m going to have lots of open water. I got to the end of the dock and the clock read around 7:05…score! The swim is really basic. You go north for about 1/3 of the 2.4 miles and then turn around and head south for the rest. I’ve read that the current goes south so Louisville has somewhat of a fast swim. I really had little issue navigating around other swimmers, but I was passing a lot!
I hear Abby…where is she?
The only bottle neck was at the turn buoy but once I made the turn I tried to pick up my pace. I figured I can pull hard and glide when heading south. I felt comfortable the whole swim. My heartrate and breathing was never out of control and I kept on picking people off. I was very pleased with my effort. I exited the water and the clock was at 8:08ish so doing a little math my swim was 1:03-1:04 and I heard Abby (couldn’t see her, but heard her)! Very respectable and within my goal time. I definitely could have gone harder but I probably only would have gained 1-2 minutes and probably not worth it.
19th in AG
For me, T1 was all about getting my legs awake and making sure I don’t forget anything in my bike bag. The run was a little rough into T1 but heck I just swam 2.4 miles. Also another benefit with very little number of swimmers around…volunteers were so eager to help. The guy was awesome! He rolled up my arm coolers and placed all my swim gear in my bag…the volunteers were so awesome throughout the day! Got to my bike and legs were awake
Coming out of T1
As mentioned before the bike plan was to basically keep watts at 200-210 and not go over 300 on the hills. I needed to constantly tell myself that I still have a marathon to run. My plan for the first 30 minutes was to keep the watts below 200 just to warm up. I was able to do this because basically the first 10 miles were flat and then you get to the rollers. My nutrition plan was to eat a lot in the first half of the bike and then keep topping off the tank with gels and perform.
2 bottles that had 400 calories of Powerbar Perform, 3 Powerbar gels (2 Kona punch and1 Berry blast), and 3 salt tablets.
3 Powerbar Café Late gels
Flask of gels that contained 400 calories.
The first 30 minutes seemed like it couldn’t get here fast enough. I guess that was good because I was constantly checking myself to stay below 200 watts. The first hiccup of the day occurred when my flask slipped out of my pocket at mile 8. I knew things will go wrong and you just have to adjust. That is the reason for the 3 extra gels. I did get about 100 calories of it.
Other part of nutrition…staying cool. At every aid station, I wanted to get a water bottle to sip and cool my body by splashing my arm coolers and neck/back. This was very successful and I didn’t miss one aid station.
I got to the out-and-back and was so glad I rode it the day before. I knew exactly where the bumps were and knew if I could get aggressive on the downhills. I stayed aero the whole time and picked up great speed. I took the uphills cautiously in my watt range and those 10 miles went by in a breeze.
Riding into Le Grange
The 2nd hiccup occurred: on the first loop I was pretty much alone with a few riders. One guy and I kept on going back and forth taking turns at the front. Not because we were working together but just because of the nature of riding with someone and not trying to draft. We were heading into an aid station at about mile 30 and he pulled ahead and moved to the right so now I am in his draft. He started to slow down so I begin to soft pedal. We were about 100-200 yards from the aid station, so I didn’t want to steam pass him and slam on my brakes, so I just waited behind him about 3-4 yards to get some water and perform. I got my goods and left the aid station. An official comes up next to me to show me a red card for drafting!
Her: “Back there.” (she pointed back)
Me: “I was in the aid station.”
Her: “Right before it.”