Ironman Louisville 2016 Race Report

Ironman Louisville 2016

October 9, 2016.......Ironman Louisville took place and for the first time in a long time I was not sure how the day would unfold. This is my race report and will not be too detailed with regard to the course and will provide that in another blog post.

Prior To Race Day

My buddy Goat and I left Dallas on Wednesday for the long car ride to Louisville. We decided to break up the ride and stop in Memphis. This was a really smart move as we got into Louisville on Thursday afternoon and had plenty of time before bike check-in, practice swim, bike ride and run. All the things you need to do before you toe the line for a long day of racing.

We rented a house in the Audobon section of Louisville and it was gorgeous. The FW Tri Club had 5 athletes racing and 2 Sherpas staying in the house. We all had our own rooms and bathrooms so that we were not in each others way. My friends Jeff and Annie came out to Louisville to cheer Kevin and I on. Kevin was there with his wife Jennie and son. There was going to be plenty of support on the course with all the athletes and sherpas. This could shape up to be a fantastic day but the reality of it was that I was tired. I was tired of training. I was tired of triathlon and Ironman. I wanted this race to be over as quickly as it could be. Having the support around me that I did made a world of difference.

With bikes checked in, bags turned over, nutrition bottles filled, and dinner consumed we went to bed around 9:00pm. I laid in bed thinking about everything and could feel myself not being able to sleep. This is the first time in a long time that I can remember not falling asleep easily the day before a race. I had a lot of things swirling in my head. I was thinking about work and phone calls I had to make. I was thinking about my wife and where she would be and how she would manage on race day. I thought about the race and the goals I set for myself. The nerves were there and this was unusual.

I think the biggest stressor was the goal I had set for myself. I did not tell anybody, not even Karen what I expected as I did not want to have those expectations grow to become unreasonable but there is one person that knew exactly what I wanted to do. Ever since I met Taylor after his completion of Ironman Arizona in 2013 we have had this ongoing routine of texting each other our race goals. The day before the race I sent him the text message of what I thought my body could do and some might say it was spot on and that I know my body well.

Ironman Lousivlle_triathlon_race times

Swim

Ironman Louisville_Swim

I have anxiety when it comes to the swim of an Ironman event but having raced Ironman Chattanooga in 2014 this rolling start was exciting to me. I knew I would be able to jump in, pick a line and swim. Despite the conversation about swimming upstream for 1,400 yards I was more than happy to exchange that for the mass swim start of races past.

We dropped off bikes and got in line. We had about a mile walk to the swim start but knowing that the lines move fast I did not worry about this. We got in line and started chatting with our neighbors and the tension that normally accompanies the start of this race was gone. I pee'd in my wetsuit twice on the walk and noticed that the entire concrete area was wet despite the fact that it had not rained in days in Louisville. I laughed with my teammates and was starting to feel very loose. The tension and stress from the night before was gone.

We hit the pier area and I tapped Goat to wish him well. PUshed my goggles on tight and as I was about to jump in I noticed another athlete coming at us. The look of fear on his face with no goggles and no swim cap. I could not worry about it as I jumped in an began swimming. The line was clear and I very rarely touched anybody. I could see the buoys and got to the tip of the island in no time. I was actually surprised how quickly I got to the tip of the island. I knew I had another 500 yards until the turn around and when I got there the typical contact began as everybody bottles up around the turn buoys.

As I turned I got kicked in the face and had to stop to adjust my goggles but that would be the extent of the major contact. I wanted to swim free and clear and was away from most but as the buoys came up I found myself right on top of them. I could not figure out why I was so close but just went with it. Every now and again I would have somebody touch my foot or swim across my face but this was a relatively clear swim.

The buoys went by quickly and I was able to swim right up to the stairs and exit. Once under the swim out arch I looked at my watch and saw 1:17. Me? 1:17? Holy cow. I immediatly knew I had 8 minutes on my predicted time.

I flopped on the ground like a fish and had my wetsuit ripped off. Grabbed a cup of water on the way out and then began the run from to the transition. I yelled out my bag and they handed it to me as I made the turn down the rows of bags.

T1

I pride myself on being in and out of transition as it is still part of the race. I always choose not to go into the tents as there is nothing but ass and balls in there and they are typically very hot. I was outside the tent and put my shoes on when I heard a volunteer yell to a lady she was going in the wrong tent. I looked up and told her that she did not want to go in there.

Once my arm sleeves were on I ran through the tent and handed my bag to another wonderful volunteer. Through the tent and some sunscreen that burned like heck. I realized I had gotten a wetsuit hickey and it burned when the sunscreen went onto it.

Out to my bike where I noticed most were gone but this did not phase me as I got into the water around 8:05am which is rather late.

As I grabbed my bike and began to run to the bike out arch I was ready to ride. That is until the volunteers yelled that the mount line was further up. What I did not notice was that by further up it was about a 1:00-2:00 run to the mount line. By the time I got there I realized my transition was close to 10 minutes and thus all the swim time I gained I just gave back.

Bike

Ironman Louisville_Bike

I saw Karen, Annie and Jeff immediately and that was a good feeling. The first 10 miles from bike out are relatively flat but I had looked at the weather and knew it was a 4-7 mph wind out of the North-North East and that is exactly where were headed so we had a light headwind. Nothing too noticeable but it was there.

During these 10 miles I was just getting accustomed to the bike and I noticed that my feet were freezing. While the water was 73* the air temp was about 50*. I put on full-finger cycling gloves but my feet would suffer for the majority of the ride.

After the 10 miles you start the climbing. This first climb is steep and I had another athlete say to me, after we crescted, that he was good on that hill but was now done for all the others. We had a good laugh. I was now ready to settle into the ride and knew it would be a lot of gear shifting, climbing and descending.

This bike course is relentless for a Texan. The average gain per mile is a tad under 50ft. In Dallas-Fort Worth, we may average 35 ft/mi if we are lucky. That 15 feet does not sound like much but over 112 miles that equates to nearly 1,700 feet of climbing we do not experience here. If you climb for :30-1:00 and descend for :05-:07 there is no chance to really recover and all this adds up throughout the ride. I decided to ride to NP instead of average power because for every climb there would be a descent and thus the average power numbers would be off. I have typically ridden the DFW area to an NP of 176w but trying to stay conservative I decided to stay between NP of 155-160w.

When I finished the first loop in three hours I felt a 6 hour bike finish was plausible and my power was right where I wanted it. My mindset changed when I realized that the fatigue was building and that I had another 20 miles of climbing. I adjusted my goal mentally to 6:05-6:10 on the bike and would still be happy with that. As I passed other athletes that were bombing the descents and then incapable of climbing I was gaining confidence and realizing that I had more in my legs than I thought. I had to stick to my goal watts and pay attention to cadence on the climbs.

One part of the bike course that is phenomenal is when you ride through the town of Le Grange. There are fences and boards up lining the street and they are yelling loudly. You feel like a rockstar going through this section and it reminded me of Chattanooga. Every Ironman race should have this setup.

Once through Le Grange and the short out and back I knew I had 33 miles back to downtown Louisville. I figured I would have a tailwind at this point and tucked in. I noticed that my power was exactly where I wanted it at NP of 155w. This was going to be a good ride that would set me up for a run......until things changed. On the ride back to town I noticed that I was not pushing my watts and that I had only pee'd once on the bike. Was I losing energy? Was I dehydrated? I started to worry but then the 5.0 mile notifications went off and they were sub-15:00 which means I was riding faster than 20 mph. Oh well, could not worry about it now.

At the last aid station I took a handup of Gatorade and drank the entire bottle in less than 10 miles because I wanted to make sure I had tried to be as hydrated as possible at this point.

As I went past the swim start  I slipped my feet out of my shoes and prepared to dismount and run. When I got to the dismount line I noticed that I had ridden the second 56 miles just a bit faster than the first 56 and my legs felt like they could run. This was going to be a good test of my fitness.

T2

I handed off my bike and ran down the 'alley' to the gear bags and yelled out my number. I turned the corner and did not see it but that was because a volunteer further up the aisle had it ready to hand to me. I grabbed as I ran past and again go dressed outside of the tent. Run shoes on, hat on, and loaded up my nutrition flasks into my pockets. Race belt on as I went through the tent and then additional sunscreen. Time to run!!!

Run

Ironman Louisville_Run

I had a goal of running a sub-4:00 marathon two years ago and ran 3:58:59. I had that same goal but I felt my run training was solid and a 3:50 marathon was more than feasible. The first mile ticked off at sub-9:00 and then I saw Karen, Dave and Annie and it was an awesome sight. I was on cloud 9 as the next few miles ticked off under 9:00. I had to tell myself to be smart about this. Holding back in the first 5-6 miles would help me get to that 3:50. The reviews of this run course was that it was flat but what I noticed after we past through the University of Louisville was a short sharp descent and my quads began yelling at me. After 5,000 ft of climbing on the bike my legs were somewhat shocked to be running and at this pace. At Mile 4 I caught Goat (typically do not catch him until mile 20) and I was surprised. A slap on the ass and a fist bump and I was off. 

Since this is a double loop that is straight out and back I figured that the turn around would be at mile 6.5. That was a wrong assumption. The turn around was until mile 7+ and it was a false flat all the way to that point. Once you turned you could feel the slight descent taking hold. My watch was beeping at every mile and nothing was slower that 9:30 and that was with walking through aid stations. I was excited but I could feel my quads yelling at me. It felt as if they were at the end of the Rocky Raccoon 100 mile race.

Toward the end of the first loop I ran under the Red Bull arch and saw Karen. She took pictures and asked me how I was feeling. I told her I was hurting but could not muster much else. I had to keep running if I wanted to reach my goals and I was gone. I noticed that I ran the first 1/2 marathon in 1:56 and if I could repeat that I would finish in 3:52. The miles ticked off and my feet were moving but my walks through the aid stations were taking a tad longer than I wanted. When I reached the final turn around point I knew I had 6 miles to go and with 10:00 miles I could be right at 4 hours. I did not want to chance it so I made a decision that there would be no walking through aid stations. I had to grab water/coke/gatorage on the run.

As each mile ticked off I had saved :30-:45 seconds over the 10:00/mi pace. I was moving and my determination kept growing. I was doing math in my head an thought I could run a 3:55. Off my goal but still an IM marathon PR. When I had only 1 mile left to go it was time to do the gut check. Could I keep running and not break down. With about 0.75 miles to go I knew I had the run of a lifetime and began smiling. I took my sunglasses off and hung them from my jersey. I ran about 0.5 miles and they fell out. Oh shit!!! Stopping to pick them up would cost me time plus the idea of bending down to pick them up was intolerable. I did turn around and grab them. I looked up and kept going and sure enough I saw a teammate up ahead around the Red Bull arch. I came up on him, slapped him on the ass and wished him well as he headed off on his second loop.

As I started down the chute I saw another friend, Erin, who took one of the best pics of the night. The lights and sounds of the finish line were calling me. Heading down the chute my smile grew bigger and bigger. I crossed the line of my 6th finish and nearly collapsed as I had no energy left. Dehydrated, overwhelmed with a 3:56 marathon and a fantastic day at the race. I saw Karen and the tears welled up in my eyes. These race finishes are always emotional for me as I reflect on the sacrifice, time, energy that I put in, that my family puts in, that my friends put in. They are never easy to get to. They are never easy to cross but when you do it is a state of euphoria.

Finish Times

Swim - 1:18:02

T1 - 8:06

Bike - 5:54:36

T2 - 5:08

Run - 3:56:20

Overall: 11:22:12

 

Ironman Louisville_Finish Line_4th Street Live

 

Thank You

To my family and friends for dealing with me over 16 weeks of training. To the volunteers for being fantastic all day long. To WTC for putting on a first class event. To the city of Louisville for hosting us and showing us what it is like for a community to embrace Ironman weekend.

 

 

 

 

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Jason Bahamundi

About the Author:

I grew up in New York and lived there for 34 years until I got divorced and moved 1600 miles to my new home in Texas.  I love New York and miss it but that does not mean that Texas hasn’t been great to me because it has.  It was here that I discovered endurance sports and specifically the sport of triathlon.  Triathlon has given me new life through all the challenges it presents.  I no longer look at life the same way and I can say that is in part due to my endeavor into this sport.

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