Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Ironman - The Race - Prequel

Given my epic adventure at Racine (see The Training link), I was extremely concerned about the weather at Louisville. Ironman Louisville was in its sixth year and has had a history of brutally hot temps and is statistically one of the toughest Ironman competitions in the world. All the "easier" Ironman events sell out very quickly, so it's no surprise Louisville is a first-time event for many Ironman competitors. 

When I signed up I knew Louisville would be hot and not wetsuit-legal (if water temps are at above 83.8 degrees you cannot wear a wetsuit, which has floatation qualities). I don't love swimming in wetsuits, but I do love that they help you float, so if you panic you have a safety mechanism. This was a big concern to me, even in the week of the race.

I spent a lot of time researching and communicating with seasoned triathletes about how to deal with nutrition in hot and humid conditions. I got some excellent information, much from one person (who I won't name but he knows who he is if he reads this) who had gone through similar issues before, so I began diligently planning my nutrition for Louisville.

There is so much planning for an Ironman, it borders on ridiculous. As if the training wasn't hard enough, you have to plan for so many things for race day, and even the days before the race. 

I live 10 hours drive time (with stops) from Louisville. It's a fairly uneventful drive, but still pretty long. For an Ironman, which most are on Sundays, you have to be checked-in by 5pm Friday. Given my distance, it was best to travel Thursday to ensure being able to do check-in in case some logistical problems occurred. 

My wife traveled with me to this race. She doesn't normally go to my races, but with the significance of this one, she decided to go with me. I was so happy with this words cannot explain. 

It was a good trip over to Louisville. Early Friday morning I went for a run and then a bike to ensure the legs still worked. They did and well.

We walked over to the host hotel and got checked-in and fought the merchandise crowd in the expo. Spent a bunch of money and loved it. Such cool stuff to be bought at race expos! Drove the run and bike courses and did some shopping.

Swam in the Ohio river (the race course) early Saturday morning. This was a huge mental boost for me. I was stressing in a large way about the swim, but doing this practice made me feel comfortable I could finish the swim portion of the race. And if I finished the swim portion, I WOULD finish the entire race and become an IRONMAN.

For an Ironman, you have a lot of gear to deal with. You have your bike, bike gear (helmet, shoes, spare tubes, etc.), run gear (shoes, socks, hat, etc.), swim gear and special needs bags (special needs bags are specific bags that you can retrieve at the halfway points of the bike and the run. For example, in my "run" special needs bag I had a change of socks and shoes). This all is a lot of details you have to organize.

Not only does this have to be organized, you have to turn most of it in on Saturday before the race. This meant that I had to get everything organized and turned in well before the race. I felt like I had a good handle on this and was able to get everything turned in early Saturday, which left the rest of the day to do nothing but relax. We shopped and ate. That's a pretty good day.

I got a good night's sleep (for me) and woke up at 4am to start eating.

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