IM Louisville 2011 Race Report - Pre Race and Swim

I'm still not sure I'm really ready to write this down yet, but I might as well get it over with...

On August 29, 2011 I raced Ironman Louisville. I was trying to qualify for Kona. I went into the race with the most positive outlook I'd ever had for a race. I was confident and calm, focused and ready. I had support from so many people and in so many ways. I was ready for this race. Finally.

I drove up to Louisville on Thursday with Ron, a friend of my husbands that I hadn't met before. Ron was doing his first Ironman and as fellow triathletes we had plenty to talk about. We fell in to easy conversation and before we knew it we were in Louisville!

Over Thursday and Friday we were able to get the lay of the land and figure out where we were in relation to everything related to the race.

On Friday evening we attended the Athlete dinner and athlete meeting. I'd heard so much about these events as being part of the whole IRONMAN experience; I didn't want to miss out. The athlete meeting was actually very informative and I was glad I went. I used a lot of the information on race day!

My family arrived late Friday night, I went with them for a late dinner at TGI Fridays at Fourth Street Live and it was cool to see where the finish line celebration would be. LOTS of smoking though, which I can't stand, so I think Ironman night is the only night I would go back to 4th Street Live.

Saturday morning I attended the practice swim. A chance to try out my new TYR Tourque skin suit (LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!!!). We were able to meet up with friend of the family Jeff (alex was bringing him a Torque he's ordered from all3sports). Jeff is an IM veteran (I believe Louisville was his 13th finish!!!) and he told me the Louisville course and transition area layout was once of the best he'd seen at an IM.

After a quick chat with Jeff, I hopped in the water or a quick 10 min swim. I swam up against current for 5 min and since I heard the current wasn't strong turned for home... ended up swimming back in 3:45. Yeah! we might have a good current for 2/3 of the swim! Best part of the day was Alex (who had been with our boys watching me swim) said "did you mean to swim so fast?" "No, I was just doing an easy swim" "Well, you were passing people like that were standing still"

My thought: YIPPEE!!!

I did my 10 min run as the boys were walking back to the hotel and after we took the boys to Einstein Bros Bagels for breakfast!! where we ran into Gerry Halphen and I was able to hash some race strategy with Gerry which was great.

The rest of Saturday was pretty low key. We took the boys on the free trollys that run through downtown Louisville.

They love this kind of thing and I GOT TO SIT DOWN :D :D.

The sign says "Louisville, Possibility City" I liked the sound of that.

In the afternoon while Jason went to the Louisville museum with Ron's wife and kids and AJ and Alex slept in our room, I finally hooked up with my teammate Andree (we'd been kind of on different schedules all week till this point) to rack our bikes and drop off out gear bags. Being with Andree was great, she's got this IM thing dialed in and she is a very relaxing person to be around. She helped me with the lay of the land and it made me more relaxed knowing I'd be with her on race morning.

As we were walking back from gear drop off, Andree told me their dinner plans. I'd been wondering all week where I'd be able to find a restaurant that would have grilled chicken and a sweet potato for me to eat (my pre race dinner of choice). Andree said they were going to Outback! Whoo hooo! perfect! So we all (my family, ron's family and andree's family) headed over to INDIANA (just across the bridge really) to go to Outback steakhouse. It was a great dinner and we actually talked very little about the race.

As we said good night, Andree and I agreed to meet in the morning at 4:30 am to head down to transition and then to the swim start.

Race Morning

After hanging out on a street corner for 5 min with all sorts of Lou riffraff at 4:30 in the AM, Andree and her husband Chris come out of there hotel (right next to mine) and meet me at the aforementioned street corner. Good times.

Transition area was fairly uneventful, we had a plan and followed it. I had my "cheat sheet" that I had written with EVERYTHING I needed to do in the morning. Yes, it even had "put chip on". We had a small issue with getting air into my rear tire, but Andree had the magic touch and before we knew it we were heading out of transition. We stopped by the pro racks to wish our Trakkers Teammates Chris McDonald and Hillary Biscay good luck. Hillary was super cool and asked us what our kits looked like so she could cheer for us out on course. I thought that was very cool of her.

The walk to swim start line up is long, but it was actually very nice. Once we got to swim start the line of racers just kept going and going and going... I couldn't figure out how so many people had gotten there before us! Eventually they condensed the line and one of the volunteers told us we were fairly close to the front.

The portapotty lines were SUPER long and I eventually just opted for the "water the bushes" approach to my potty needs. Me and about 100 people all in line around me. Andree and I were both pretty low key, chatting a little, but conserving our energy for day.

When I'd imagined this moment all year, I thought I would be nervous as hell. But I wasn't anymore nervous than I had been for Cedar Point last year, in fact, probably less nervous. I did feel extremely focused. I kept going over my race plan in my head, but also chatted with the folks around us. Andree and I put on a little TriSlide demo for everyone when it came time to put our swim skins on.

We were pretty funny, talking about how great TriSlide was and then how much we loved our TYR Torque skin suits, and our TYR goggles, etc. The best part about it, was even though this is all our sponsor stuff, we weren't saying it because they are our sponsors, we were saying it because we really just like using this stuff. So awesome to have amazing sponsors with products you really believe in!

Before we knew it actually, we heard the cannon marking the Pro Start and then 10 min later the cannon for OUR START!! Go time! A toast of our 1st Endurance Pre Race shots and we packed up our stuff, adjusted our goggles and about 15 min later we were heading down the dock ramp and jumping into the Ohio river!!

The Swim
The swim was more congested than I had expected, but definitely less than a traditional IM mass start. I gave as good as I got and quickly fell into a great rhythm out there. I did so much work on my technique this year that I usually just concentrate on form the entire swim. I did feel for the first time that I actually raced the swim. Everytime I looked up to sight, I'd see pink caps and go after them. It didn't matter that I didn't know if they'd started 2 seconds or 10 min in front of me, I was going after 'em!

I felt like I was passing more folks than were passing me (just perception) and it gave me a big confidence boost. It seemed like it was taking a long time, but I just kept telling myself, you are going to be swimming for over an hour, it IS going to feel like you are out here a long time.

As we got into the open Ohio river after the turn around, things got a bit choppy and I did feel a little "bobby" out there. My least favorite part of the swim was tasting the diesel fuel in the water. The worst was as you swam under the bridges. It was like breathing car exhaust.

I kept my steady stroke, the image of Dynamo Masters coach Maria Thrash in my head. I thought about all the stuff she'd taught me and just swam. The final TYR bouy came into site and I knew I was done with the swim!! YIPPEE!!! 1 2.4 mile swim done, NO panic attacks! yes!

I didn't have any trouble getting my feet under me as I ran into transition. I passed by some folks and ducked under the arms to two guys running side by side and chatting. "excuse me guys!" I said and I heard from behind "you go girl!" Gotta love that!

Swim time: 1:07 (hoping for 1:10)

A good start to the day!


  1. Awesome job on your swim! Can't wait to read more about your adventure! Go Trakkers!

  2. WOW!! What a great start. Can't wait to read the rest of the race recap! :D

  3. That is wickedly fast! I am SO impressed!

  4. amazing start!!!! im so jealous you are as calm and collected as you are at the start of IM - i am a wreck!!!

  5. Thanks everyone!!

    Kim - I don't know if this will help, but someone once told me "There is nothing fast about Ironman" and this always helps me think of race day as one big long training day. I also hardly ever think of the whole day at once. For example at Lou, the swim I broke down into, three sections, before the turn around, after turn around before the bridge and after the bridge. I never thought about the next section until I got to it. This works extremely well on the bike and Lou has a lot of natural "breaks". On the loop you have before LaGrange, after Lagrange, Ballard School Road, the pretty horse farms, and turn to Sligo. It helps with nerves on race morning, because I'm really just thinking about the swim. :D

  6. I'm on pins and needles waiting for the next section. So jealous though you got to hang with Andree. I bet she is a wealth of knowledge!! So glad the swim went by with ease. What a great feeling

  7. I can hear Cris laughing now at the "Andree is a relaxing person to be around". YOU make a great race buddy and no one I would have rather shared the whole experience with-before, during and after. We were definitely in synch and it all made for suach a fun day!! I am SO super proud of you!!
    Oh, and I think we need to hit up Outback for some sponsorship coupons or something...

  8. Oh man a "too be continued"? Your killing me!!

  9. Awesome stuff. Proud to know you and looking forward to reading more.

  10. I'm reading all three parts right now... off to a great start! ;)


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