The Louisville Ironman Challenge

Well, it’s been a while since I last updated.  A lot has happened in between now and then.

My main event in October 2018 was Ironman Louisville.  This race was certainly a mixed bag.  Everyone was saying that it was a  terrible event to have been doing a first Ironman race and believe me I can understand why.  I would say that about 300 dropped out before the race even began and another 300 during the race.  It was raining hard, around 45 degrees and windy.  The Ohio River was so swollen that they cut the swim in half and we only did the down river portion.  It took about 2 hours waiting and freezing before our group was able to start the swim.  I got out of the water feeling pretty good – time was first in my age group.  Got to the transition and there again had the fastest time.  After that things got a bit dicey.  Like I said many athletes didn’t even start.  My age group there were only 5 of us with 1 no show.  I was excited to head out on the bike even though it was raining like crazy.  I was going along at my projected pace of around 15 mph and heading into mile 30 when it happened.  All of a sudden someone came up on me and clipped my rear wheel and we both went crashing.  Evidently he was one of the elite riders.  I’m not sure where these people came but all of a sudden he seemed like he was surrounded by people.  They had helped him up and someone called over to me to see if I was alright.  After I was on the ground I looked up and everything was blurry and running together.  So I said, not really.  The next thing is really odd because tri people are usually very supportive people and look out for one another.  No one came over to help me.  It took me  a few moments until I realized that no one was coming.  I worked myself up off the ground, picked up my bike and walked over to the side.  It didn’t take long and the other athlete was on his was.  I gathered myself together and didn’t noticed anything broken.  I did know I was going to have a huge bruise, hematoma on my right hip but there was no way I was not going to continue or at least try.  The rest of the ride was sort of like a blur.  My hands were so cold I could not feel my fingers when I tried to pick out my nutrition from my little bike pack.  I just had to scoop with my fingers and hope I picked something up.  People were dropping out left and right.  I stopped at one of the aid stations and while waiting in line to use the restroom the woman in front of me asked if I was still racing.  When I said yes she said to go ahead of her because she had dropped out.  For me that was not an option I was actually surprised to know people were doing that.  Evidently there were bus loads being returned to the start.

I kept peddling, peddling, peddling and finally made it to the transition area.  I was all by myself for most of the last portion.  Even though I had known that someone would be there to take my bike for me I just hung on to it for a few moments and they had to explain that they would take it from here and I should just go down to the transition area.  My mind was just not working up to speed.  My finish pace ended up being 13.60 mph.

After I handed over my bike I headed down to the transition tent.  It was like a muddy, sandy mess.  The volunteers were amazing though.  Someone came up to me immediately to help me out.  My hands were so cold I could hardly make them work to get any of the changes made.  That’s were the volunteer came in and practically did everything for me.  The tent was not really busy at all.  I finally got things done and headed out of the tent.  I was the only athlete around.  As I was heading out I spotted the supporting face of my hubby standing alongside of the fence.  I stopped and told him all that had happened on the bike.  I know you are not supposed to have outside help but they were not really enforcing some of those rules due to the weather.  They had allowed us to get into our special needs bag twice if needed on the bike.  Ted gave me a dry jacket to wear, we hugged and off I went.

Once on the run course I spotted a woman, Rhey, who was speed walking.  Since that is what my plan was I sped up to catch up to her and we hit it off and ended up walking together and supporting one another.  The time went by fast.  We kept asking the volunteers what the cut off times were but no one knew.  With the swim start different it made it very confusing as to what the cut off times were.  Rhey and I came around the first loop and headed directly past the finish line where everyone is roaring and cheering.  I think that Louisville has one of the best finishing chutes in the country.  We were so excited to be starting the second half of the marathon and be part of all the festivities.     Well, we rounded the corner to head back out for the last 13 miles only to be stopped by one of the officials who said that the course is closed and that we could not go any further.  We were in disbelief.  We begged him to let us at least try.  Like I said the cut off times were not clear at all.  They ended up taking our timing chips off and that was the end for us.  If we had not been pleading with him I think we could have said ok but kept on going.  I could see in the results that there were some that finished around the time we would have.

To make matters worse, the next morning I had an email saying that I owed about $90 because my timing chip had not been turned in…   It was all very anti-climatic.   But I do not regret competing – it was an experience and I feel learned from it.

One final note is that when I got home and ended up looking at my helmet we noticed that there were about 5 cracks all the way through the inside core.  Thank goodness for helmets!   I’ll just save it as a souvenir.

Now onto Ironman Santa Rosa in a week!

My Road to Kona at age 66

I called my boss back in January and told him about my plans to retire at the end of the year.  I started working at JUGS Sports on a 2 week temporary job which turned into 34 years. He asked what I plan on doing with my time afterwards.  I told him that I will then have the time to do my training for the Ironman that was on my bucket list.

The following day he called me and said how impressed he was hearing of my lofty goal. He then went on to say that if I did qualify for Kona he would pay all of our expenses associated with the trip!  There’s my carrot.

I spent a lot of time researching the different qualifying races to see what would be my best fit.  I do not do well in the heat so that was a factor, the time of year was important so my husband could attend.  His busy season is in the spring.  I wanted somewhat of a challenge on the bike and a fairly easy run portion.  The swim wasn’t too much of a factor.  So, Louisville 2018 here I come.

The chances of qualifying are very slim but you never know who else will show up at any given year.  I followed along with my age group this year and there were 3 finishers out of 5.  Top time was 13:25 (no way can I best that), 15:34 (there’s a possibility) and 16:02.  I am thinking my only chance to qualify is to have it roll down to me.

Who knows what lies ahead in the next year.  I’m so excited to begin this journey.  My biggest challenge is to stay away from i-n-j-u-r-y.  I hate to almost say the word.  I have had my share of set backs.  But I plan on doing things right with this.  I searched out a coach, Gary Walleson, here in the Portland area.  I had heard that he works well with the older athlete.  We have met up a couple of times already and am excited for our  next get together this week to lay out my winter plans.

Gary has already helped in many ways.  Advising me to do a LOT of hiking and he means a lot.  He says it builds up the small muscles that are important for running.  It has already paid off.  I haven’t really been running a lot but doing a lot of walking hiking) and raced a 5K this past week and felt sooo good through the whole race and ended with a good time for me of 9:09 min miles.   He also sold me, at a really amazing price, a set of Zipp 303’s with a power tap hub.  I am soooo excited about having these on my bike!

I’ll update after we meet as to what my winter conditioning and workouts will look like.


Getting Started

I have wanted to start this blog for quite some time now but am just going to dig in.

A little background.  I am not ashamed to say that I am 65 years old which means that I graduated from high school in 1969 which means before Title 9 came into effect.  That being said there was zero and I mean zero athletics of any kind for girls.

About  11 years ago at the young age of 54 I was at one of my son’s high school cross-country meets.  I found I was running here and there to try to get a glimpse of him so I could cheer him on as he quickly went by.  One of those  times the idea occurred to me “why can’t I start running?”   The seed was planted and so it began.

It did not start out well though.  I started running a bit around the block, nothing too far but kept plugging along off and on through most of the summer.   I got enough courage to enter in the open race they hold before the first cross-country meet of the year.   Something else I should tell you about me is that I am very directionally challenged so being in the back of the pack was not a good place for me to be.  Actually it was me and an 11-year-old girl.  We were far enough back that the  helpers marking the way had already taken leave of their posts. So it was just me and an 11 yr old girl.  We started blazing our own way litterally making this a cross-country race.  A couple of my sons friends were off at a distance and noticed us traipsing through the woods and tried to yell at us saying which way to go.  It seemed like we kept going and going and going, I’m sure we added ‘miles’ to our run (or so it seemed).  I was just about to say forget it and walk back but the young girl kept going.  I thought if she is going to keep at it so can I. We finally made it in to the finish line.  Evidently word got out that Andrew’s mom was bushwhacking her way through the woods totally lost.  Sometimes it’s just a mothers job to embarrass their children.  We still laugh about it to this day.  But the fact is – I finished!