IM Louisville 2011 Race Report - the Run

I feel like that title should have sinister sounding music after it...

"The run" dum - dum - duuuuuuuuuummmmmm!

But let's not get ahead of ourselves...

Transition 2

When we last left our intrepid warrior she was screaming into the city of Louisville feeling invincible!! 

It was a great feeling let me tell you!

and then I got off my bike... stiff, sore, all to be expected.  I started running with my bike shoes on and quickly decided that was silly so I took 'em off and running became much easier.

Then I took the turn to get my gear bag... I went down the wrong lane... okay not a huge deal, the volunteer ran it over to me and then I headed into the ladies change tent... a little annoyed that they women's tent was further away than the mens.

I found the nearest chair and just collapsed into it... in the matter of a minute I went from feeling awesome to hellish.  It was as if once I no longer focused so intently on my bike I realized all the other sensations that I was feeling.

It seemed like I was the only other person in the tent.  The volunteers dumped my bag and asked me what they could do.  I just looked at them as if I didn't even understand them.  I didn't know what they could do... I just didn't know what I was supposed to do next.  Our conversation went something like this:

Vol:"What can I do for you"
Me:"I don't know..."
Vol:"well, do you want your socks?"
Me: Yes, I want my socks, I'm going to put my socks on
Vol2: can I get you anything? Water? Perform? Cola?
Me: (pearking up a little) Yes! Cola! (said as if I was accepting nectar of the gods)
Vol1:do you want your visor?
Me: Yes (speaking slowly) yes, I want my visor... where there pink sunglasses in there? I know I want my pink glasses (side note: they are lighter weight than my cycling glasses and I like them better for the run)
Vol1: yes, they are right here! What about this nutrition, I've got a flask and some gels and...
Me: just stuff it all in my back pockets... yeah, just stuff it all back there...
Vol1: what about this? holding up my DeSoto wing coolers
Me: YES, I need that, can you help me put it on? It's like a shrug. (These ladies totally understood shrug and got thing on me in no time)

it went on like that until I was able to get myself standing up, race # belt clipped on and headed out to run.

While I was running out I thought, I should use the porta potty... but for some reason I ran by it... no idea why...

So I head out on to the run... I'm starting to feel a bit better, especially helped by hearing the cheers and specifically someone calling out my name (I'm pretty sure this was Meredith my trakkers teammate! She is getting ready to rock it out at Rev3 Cedar Point FullRev in a little over a week. Thanks for coming to cheer us on Meredith!!!).  My legs actually felt pretty good, but I wasn't moving very quickly and I still really had to pee.

I changed my watch to read total race time and when I saw 7:07 on there I was a little freaked out. I really wanted to be right around 7:00 at this point.  For some reason that extra 7 min was really upsetting to me.  I'd always told myself not to worry about my time, to take each section as it's own piece of the larger puzzle.  But I DIDN'T do that here... all I kept thinking was "you aren't running fast enough, why aren't you able to run faster?"

The first little section on the bridge was uneventful.  There was a lady in yellow compression socks in front of me and it looked like she was running great, I was just focusing on her and letting her lead me around.  I saw Andree as I got off the bridge which was awesome because I knew that meant she'd had a great bike and was on the run without incident. yippee!!

As I ran off the bridge I saw Gerry Halphen.  He asked me how I was feeling and I said not great.  I wasn't hot, I just wasn't able to run very fast and I felt upset about that.  I also had to pee and while I tried to do it while I poured water on myself at the aid station, I just couldn't relax enough to get it done.  Gerry told me that I needed to relax my shoulders a bit and that helped a ton.  I started to just focus on my form and remind myself that it was a long run and the speed would hopefully come around.

I saw Alex and the boys around mile 3? maybe? not sure...  Alex told me that I was in 6th place and looked great and "go get 'em".

This is a still from the video he shot while I was running past.

I finally stopped to pee and was a quick as I could be about it... but it was like I'd let niagra falls loose.  Soon after this I started getting cramps in my stomach muscles... then I had these searing pains run through the lower half of me...

I walked the next aid station, trying to get some cola in me and get ride of the gassy feelings...

Running again and things started to feel worse... finally I stopped into the next porta potty and well... I did my business :)

I kept thinking that I would feel better after each stop... and I would for about .5 mile or so and then it would all come back...  and I still wasn't running much faster in between each stop....

At every aid station I'd take my sponges and ice and then I'd get the cola and walk for a bit to drink the cola without choking on it...  I could see on my watch that my pace was getting worse and worse and my gas/pain/GI issues weren't getting any better...  finally around mile 14 or 15, I'm not sure exactly, I went in for another porta potty stop...  and instead of getting my business done and getting out, I just sat there...

and I thought about quitting.  I thought, well, there is no way you are going to Kona now... and I'm not even sure I can go another 12 miles.... Maybe I'll just stop right here and sit on the side of the road.  I am just so very very tired.

I wish I knew what made me get up again. but the important thing is I did.

I got myself out of that place and I went outside, accepted another cup of cola and walked for about 15 feet.  And then for no other reason than that's just what I did, I started running again.

Just running.... I just kept thinking about the next half mile, and then I started thinking about all the reasons I needed to keep running (self respect being one of them there was no reason for me to not run... my muscles were still working after all).  Eventually, I made my way into the city and to the turn around.  I saw Meredith cheering near the finish line and then I looked up and saw the finish line.

and I made the decision that it didn't matter how, I was going to run down that finish chute.  After all, it's just 10 more miles!

As I rounded the corner I saw Alex.  He asked me how I was doing and I just told him that things weren't good in my tummy.  He just said... "you can do this, there are people in front of you, go get them!"

And so I tried! I ran steady, not super fast but steady.  No more potty stops needed... I just plugged away at the next miles.  I was walking aid stations in an attempt to get more coke and keep cool.  I tried to thank the volunteers as much as possible, but I know my voice was weak.

One really nice moment was around the 17 mile aid station.  The cola girl handed me my cola cup and said "You have the best hair out here" That made me smile. I never have the best hair :D Maybe she was saying it to everyone, but hey, I'll take it!

Another thing to mention the Dynamo folks and my coach Laura were all over the run course.  Telling me I looked great (I knew it was a lie, but I went with it).  I want you guys to know that your cheers ment SO much to me, even though I wasn't really able to acknowledge it at the time!!

right around mile 20, I realized that I was catching up to people that I'd started the run with.  And the lady in her yellow compression socks wasn't that far in front of me at the turn around...  It gave me a bigger boost to know that was feeling stronger as the day went on.

Right around mile 23 I did some calculating and realized that I could still finish faster than 11:25 (my time at Cedar Point last year) and I thought that was something worth fighting for... so I kept running and stopped walking aid stations.  I stopped one last time to try to pee, which was silly and nothing came out anyhow, even though I felt like I really needed to go.

The city came into view... things stalled for a bit as I kept expect to come to the left hand turn that was right before the finish... it wasn't there, it wasn't there and then finally I saw these little orange cones in front of me.  I thought they were a mirage for a moment but then I realized people were taking a left turn... I ran down that street, and knew just one more right hand turn and then you are at the finish.

I thought a lot about what that meant during those last 3 miles.  I wanted to really enjoy the moment. So I ran down that chute, I high fived anyone with their hand out and I raised my arms in triumph!

I really made a show of it!!
I did it!!  I finished another Ironman!!! and at that moment I didn't care about Kona, I didn't care about my time, I was just so happy to cross that finish line having completed all 140.6 miles of the day.
IRONMAN! One of the best feelings ever!

Run Time: 4:12

Total Time: 11:20 - 11th W35-39

The Aftermath

After I crossed the line I found the true meaning of the word "catchers".  I will volunteer for this job someday soon to pay it forward (Take note Rev3 folks, I'm your girl at CP in 2012). My catchers were spot on!  These ladies walked me over to the chip folks, collected my medal, shirt and hat for me.  I think they were about to send me on my way when I saw my training partner Adrienne, her husband and a bunch of dynamo folks off to the side.  I went to give Adrienne a hug and went I stepped forward I started to fall.  My catch was the only thing keeping me from kissing the pavement.  A woman who seemed like the "judge of who needs to go to medical" came over to me.  She looked at me and with no room for argument said, you need and IV and I'm getting you a wheelchair.  I think I nodded mutely at her.  I literally had no ability to stand on my own.

They put me in a wheelchair and took me over to the medical area.  On the way there I saw my coach and when I saw her I just started to cry.  I said "I'm so sorry! I tried as hard as I could".  She had nothing but positive things to say to me.  Eventually she had to let them keep moving forward with me.  Once I got into medical they laid me down on a cot and took care of me.

so that made it 3 for 3 races ending in the med tent this year.  Time to turn that trend around.

One of the things that stood out to me was that everyone around me was talking about Kona.  It seemed like we were a room full of "kona-could-a-beens".  I laid there on the cot with the IV fluid dripping into me and stared up at the ceiling.  I just kept trying to figure out what the hell happened out there and then I started thinking about how I was going to get to Kona - someday.

I still have no idea how, but somehow by the time I was done with my IV and they were evaluating me for release, Alex found a way into medical and came and sat next to me on the cot. (seriously, Mdot is very strict about family in medical, I don't know how he got back there) and then I cried for the 2nd time. 

We had sacrificed so much as a family to try to get me ready for this race, so that I would be in KONA QUALIFYING shape for this race.  We changed a lot at home, I'd spent money and time and my focus for every decision had been KONA for so long.  I had to take a moment to grieve.

A few days later with some perspective on my race I'm almost more hopeful than ever about someday qualifying for Kona.  Coach Laura and I have run the post mortem on the race and come up with a strategy that we think will have me arriving at the next IM even stronger.  That IM will not be until 2013.  I need some time to focus on something other than myself for a long time.  We (including my family in this because it impacts them) have been training for 140.6 for almost two years now.  I went from having not attempted Ironman to having completed 2 Ironman distance races in less than 1 year (Sept 8, 2010 in Cedar Point at Rev3 was my first).  I'm not going to stop doing triathlon (in fact I plan on doing a sprint in about two weeks) but we are taking a break from IM to help fill some holes in my abilities before building up to that distance again.

So like I said, I am filled with hope again.  The journey to Ironman World Championships will be longer than originally planned but I'll get there.

Pizza and potato chips! and a banana :D

No one gets to the finish of an Ironman alone.  My next post will be all about the FINISH LINE MIDNIGHT CELEBRATION and all of my thank you's to the people that helped me get to the IM Louisville 2011 finish line.


  1. What an amazing post. You are an incredible athlete and a truly admirable person. I am proud to be your teammate.

  2. Just a BIG Hug!! Love you :)

  3. Great RR and incredible race! Congrats!

  4. I lovedlovedloved following you that day. You had a great race. Kona will always be there and someday it will be yours. You have great perspective to step back, take some time for yourself and your family, and will be back with greater spirit and drive in 2013. Congratulations again!

  5. what a fantastic race report. your run is so amazing bc you caught up to all those people you started with. congratulations on an amazing day and battling out the demons. you will get that kona slot. it's waiting for you!

  6. I am so proud of you, Jill! What a joy it has been to follow your journey this entire year. And while I know you are disappointed that Kona isn't happening THIS year, I believe that all things happen for a reason, so embrace this time with your kids and family and know that you gave it everything you had!!

  7. This is the REAL deal Jill! So honest. You are one tough, badass woman! This post is a must-read for anybody who thinks they might want to do an IM. Clearly, it's no joke. I will remember a LOT of this post when I get to IMFL in November for my first IM. Inspirational stuff.

  8. I bet when you were in the porta potty and thought about quitting you somehow thought of those cute little boys of yours and how they were waiting at the finish line for mommy!

    And for the record, you DO have the best hair! Always!!! I am SO jealous of your hair....I have no clue how you manage to run so fast and keep it so pretty.

    You are an incredibly strong athlete who has done amazing at both er 140.6 races! I have no doubt that one day you will be on your way to Kona!

  9. Yeah! Way to go Jill! So fun seeing you out on the course. You were always smiling and cheering for me on that run - I never would have known you were having stomach issues! I have no doubt you'll be back, stronger than ever, in 2013!!!

  10. I love the fire that kept you going when you wanted to quit. You did amazing and you will in fact get to Kona... keep following that dream! I loved your smile as you crossed the finish line and know that you fought hard that day. Congrats my friend... you did amazing!

  11. ok thank you for the cry session Jill! :), I am trying to explain to my kids why their mom is crying her little heart out while staring at the computer... such a cute image :). Seriously, LOVE the post, I felt like if I was right there with you and like if I could change the outcome I was cheering you on. You put a heck of a fight out there, believe it or not your thoughts on the run reminded me of my run in Augusta (including Gerry's input as he passed me). I was so mad at that Garmin that I have not run in a race with the screen showing the pace since. But the difference is that you were able to come back on your last loop, which says a lot about you. You will be back and you will make it to Kona. Again congratulations on a kick a$$$ finish!!

  12. Congrats on your finish! You were strong and stuck with it which is what matters most. I am always in awe of those who can push themselves beyond their limits because I strive for that myself. You are an inspriration for moms out there. I am a mo of 3 and home to complete an IM some day. My next goal for right now is doing a half IM but I need to get myself back swimming first. Familynlife has taken over and let my busy schedule get out of hand.

  13. You're awesome! Congrats on your race, and being so hardcore. Kona will be there in a few years, and I can't wait to watch you run down that finishing chute

  14. Love the report. You rocked it, but I know that it must have been tough. I know the next year will get you ready for 2013.

  15. Finally got some time to read such an awesome race report! I cried reading this:

    "I just sat there...and I thought about quitting. I thought, well, there is no way you are going to Kona now... and I'm not even sure I can go another 12 miles.... Maybe I'll just stop right here and sit on the side of the road. I am just so very very tired.

    I wish I knew what made me get up again. but the important thing is I did."

    Takes a lot of courage to go all in. You did it. So what if no Kona! You have earned self esteem for life. Grief comes from your heart being in it and the Poon family ultimate sacrifices. I am proud to be your friend.

  16. So I'm a little behind in catching up on reading your IM race reports, but they were great! I love your writing and am so inspired by what you did, all the work and emotions you put into it. I know it hurts that you didn't get Kona, but I admire your determination and honesty. Heck its perfectly normal to cry after a race like that. Still think you did great, love following you! Hopefully those adjustments helped out along the way too. See you soon.


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"To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift"
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"No quit in this body. No quit in this Mind"
- Jill Poon (inspired by Jason Overbaugh)