IRONMAN Louisville Race Report
After coming down with Campylobacter 3-4 weeks leading into Ironman Louisville, saying I was nervous was a bit of an understatement! You can just ask my friends (Betsy, Kelly, Charles, Scott), family (John, Becky, thanks for listening) and coach (Nick Brodnicki, Endorphin Fitness) as I became flooded more and more with self-doubt coming into the race and worried my goals that I had had for years merely fall to shambles just because a dumb chicken truck drove in front of me during a rainy bike ride. True story…not worth the crazy details.. but lets just say that the odds were ever in Me, Charles, and Andy’s favor that day. HA!
So to start out this race report I want to say THANK YOU. Everyone has been tremendously encouraging, supportive, and just amazing through this whole process. Coming back to a phone and email full of messages of letters of ‘Congrats’ and videos of me crossing the line was way cool, so THANK YOU from the very bottom of my heart!
Louisville is a Time Trial swim start, meaning first come first serve. Transition opened at 4:45am and closed at 6:30am to allow the participates plenty of time to make the 1 mile walk to the start line up river.
A couple days before the race, my two friends who were racing Mike and Robbie said they would probably just show up to transition around 6-6:15 set up then make the walk over. My friend Robbie had done the race 3 times now and the thought of all the hurry and panic did appeal to him much, neither did it to Mike who was all about going with the ‘Flow.’ So that was the plan….until I ran into another athlete, SOAS Ambassador who was gunning for a KONA slot and advised me to just get there early, set up, and get to the middle to one-third of the front of the line. Yeah, that sounded way better to me! Passing people on the bike would be pretty dangerous on miles 20-25 on the out-and-back part of the bike, so to get that part over with was my new plan.
As my Husband had a long day ahead of him (only his second time spectating an IM event.. or a triathlon in general), I let him sleep in and had Scott Koch drop me off at Transition around 5am. I set up all my nutrition, put my TIMEX RUN TRAINER in my run bag, and pumped up my tires one last time before making the walk up the river.
I was in line by 5:30, almost the top 33% of the group in line. Perfect positioning for me. The guy from Churchill Downs did his whole trumpet thingy, the National Anthem was playing, and at 7:08 I entered the water with 2,500 of my closest friends on my journey to become an IRONMAN…x3.
I set my TIMEX watch to repeat every 10 minutes on the swim. I love to know my time and keeps me focused as I hear the alarm go off. It’s a trick my sister-in-law, Becky, taught me a long time ago when we first started triathlons and I’ve done it ever since!
The swim is 1/3mi up river, which took me about 28-30minutes, through the gross Ohio River. The sun wasn’t too bad as it stares you right in the face but I was more focused on trying not to swallow any of the fishy smelling water-So gross. Anyways, as soon as you make the turn and head down river all the people were spaced out and I never touched one person the entire time! I was having side cramps during the swim, so I focused on my 3 R’s (Rhythm, Relaxation, and Range). As I hit the first bridge I had found just that. I heard my watch beep at what was the 40 minute mark and increased my turnover rate.. I knew I had a shot at a sub 1 hour swim if I just kept my focus.
Swim Time- 59:20 (1:32/100yds) 10th in my Age Group, 41st Female.
**COUGH COUGH.. also a new family record… sorry Kyle, Adam, and Becky… 🙂 **
I stripped off my xterra speedsuit, running my way into transition while yelling “197” at the volunteers. I grabbed my bag and ran into the women’s changing tent. I handed my assigned volunteer the sunscreen as I put on my bike shoes, aero helmet, and stuffed the second half of my bike nutrition into my pocket. The volunteers were amazing, they put everything back in my bag from the swim for me and I was off to find my bike!
It was pretty overcast as I started out on the bike, so I was really excited! With the anticipation of a heat index over 100, I gladly took in the cloud coverage. I turned on my TIMEX CYCLE TRAINER 2.0 and remembered I forgot to sync my HR and GPS before the swim start. It took a good bit to find a signal but once it did, I was good to go! River Road wasn’t nearly as bad as what people made it out to be (is it ever?!). The Railroad tracks were covered by a mat, which was really nice of the race director to do, so no problems there.
The bike was pretty unremarkable. I stuck to the power and watts my Coach gave me until mile 70, where I could increase my power, as well as at mile 90. I remember climbing up a long steady hill going into LaGrange being so thankful I could finally ‘start’ my race at mile 70 on the bike! That’s always a good sign!
Only two mishaps happened on the bike-
1). I dropped the second half of my nutrition bag that I stuffed into my pocket around mile 60- if it weren’t for Scott, who reminded me minutes before the swim start to always go back and get my nutrition, I probably would have left it and who knows what would have happened?! So I lost a couple minutes there, just trying to find all my stuff on the pavement but it was time well spent.
2). I was stuck behind stand still traffic. Yep. This happened to me at IMTX but never at IMFL. So this was a bit frustrating. I couldn’t pass the truck because the oncoming traffic lane was backed up as well. So I just had to sit there until whatever was causing the traffic stop to clear. Also very frustrating but I couldn’t yell at the man.. the truck driver was a Retired Veteran- ‘Thank You ‘Sir’ is all I said. I just took in more Perform and caught up on nutrition.
I think (no analysis from my Coach as of this blog), I nailed my bike to the best of my ability due to the circumstances leading up to the race, so I’m ‘ok’ with this split.. not really but I have to come to grips with it. MUCH more room for improvement which means you know where I’ll be this offseason….bike trainer 🙂
Bike split- 6:05:06, 18.41mph. 6th in Age Group, 48th Female
The dismount line was quite far from transition so I felt like I was running my bike for forever until the volunteers were able to take it! Thankful I did a flying dismount and left my shoes on my bike, made it much easier.
I yelled at the volunteer once again “197”, grabbed my run bag and headed to the tent. Same thing different verse, handed the volunteer my spray sunscreen put on my running shoes, grabbed my TIMEX visor and sunglasses, and first half of run nutrition and I was off! And no, I DID NOT put on deodorant in T2… I accidently put it in special needs bag or else I would have 🙂
I started my TIMEX RUN TRAINER and headed on my 26.2 mile journey towards the finish line! On my way out, I saw a lot of familiar faces- Charles and Kelly, who drove up that morning from Knoxville just to cheer me on, and John who found his way to the race sight.. also a miracle in itself!! Pretty sure they had beers in their hand but whatever keeps them going hahah.
I took the first 3 miles pretty light, as most of us know running off the bike makes it easy to run sub 7’s or sub 8’s with what feels to be little to no effort at all.. only to find yourself ‘blowing up’ later on in the course. With the heat now out at full force, the race very quickly showed who had patience on the bike and who was about to have fortitude on the run.
Patience- Quiet, steady perseverance.
Fortitude- The mental and emotional strength in facing difficulty and adversity courageously.
(side note: these are also the two words my Coach, Nick Brodnicki, had chosen for me during the day… wise words!)
At each aid station I dumped more and more ice on me to attempt to cool my core temperature down, as well as taking in 2-3 cups of Perform. My stomach began to hurt and the thought of chewing one more ‘Shot Blok’ made me gag, so I had to improvise and change my nutrition plan quickly. I began taking in my Tangerine and Cafe Latte Powergels every 4 miles as well as taking in Perform, Coke, and water every aid station (every mile). This suited me well.
At mile 7, Robbie- a friend of mine, caught up with me and with little words we pushed through mile by mile together. His quick run cadence was a steady reminder in having a good turnover rate which later helped us pick off the competition one by one. We walked the aid stations, dousing ourselves in water/ ice/ more water and consuming tons of flat coke.
I felt like miles 13-20 felt like forever.. the turnaround to come back to the city had never seemed so far away! At the turnaround, I had seen some of my competitors in my Age Group. I knew I could pick them off, if I just maintained a steady pace. With Scott giving me the run down on my competitors at my 20 and mile 21, his encouragement pushed me through some dark moments where all you want to do is stop and take a nap! I saw my Husband.. yes JOHN made it to the run course, at mile 23 and told me 5k to go. I didn’t recognize him at first, sort of surprised me he was that far out on the course but nothing motivated me to finish more than to see him and hear his words!
The 5K was a blur of emotions as I turned onto 4th Street Live so see the finish line and hear the crowd getting louder and louder as I made my way onto the final chute. Truly one amazing experience. I saw Kelly and Charles and gave her a High-Five until I crossed the finish line and heard those words…”Elsie Gallegos… YOU are and IRONMAN”
Ehh Elsie.. Elyse… close enough. ONE day they will get my name right! Yep, girls at work definitely call me that now.. thanks IRONMAN Announcer man.
Run Time- 4:11:51, 9:36min/mi pace. 4th in Age Group, 33rd Female.
OVERALL TIME: 11:24:39, 4th in Age Group.. PODIUM BABY!!
Overcoming a sickness weeks before Louisville and placing in my Age Group was something I had never thought would happen. I had pushed myself mentally and physically to its fullest capacity. I can honestly say I had never worked so hard at any IRONMAN 140.6 race to this date. Given the crazy heat, humidity and other crazy conditions that were thrown at me that day, I can walk away saying I have no regrets! And that, my friends, is the best feeling ever!!
I have a lot to work on this off-season and can’t wait- after a 2 week hiatus of no training, of course- to start back again. I ended up being one spot short of Kona Qualifying.. still stings a bit actually. But this only fuels the fire within my heart to keep pushing harder and harder towards my goal of competing against the World’s best triathletes on the big Island.
Things I’ve learned:
- Self-doubt gets you nowhere . NOWHERE. You have trained for this, you’ve got this. Stop reading what the other guy is doing or how many miles someone else is logging, the pace of ‘That Guy’ who you are competing with… yeah it’s all dumb. It all mean’s nothing in an Ironman.
- You better have a ‘Plan B’… and for that matter, a ‘Plan C’ and ‘Plan D’. Ask any Ironman athlete, a race never goes as planned. Adaptation is key.
- Have patience- yes, you will get passed on the bike about a billion times, either by A. a person who is way overweight and/or B. someone who is super ripped AND in your Age Group. HAVE PATIENCE. Let them go. Stick to your numbers (Watts, HR, Perceived Exertion).
- Fortitude- Overcome and dominate that run. All those people who passed you on the bike, are probably walking on the run. Pass them all! “If it’s hurting you, it’s killing them.” -S. Kienle, IMWC 2013
- Becoming an Ironman is great, but without your family and friends by your side it means nothing!! THANKS YOU GUYS!