I raced Ironman Louisville on Sunday. Louisville would be my last race of 2017, and an opportunity to bounce back after a disappointing finish at Mont Tremblant 8 weeks earlier. Overall I was really happy with my race. The day started with a disappointing swim, but I had a strong bike, and a solid, steady run. I stayed within myself, raced my own race, and finished in 8:49 for 13th place. Big thanks to my homestay, Steph and Robert, for the hospitality all week, as well as the photos and videos.
Been a while since I’ve done one of these because I’ve been doing the weekly videos instead. I decided I’d do a race report that is a little more on the technical side.
My prep leading into Ironman Louisville was amazing. As I eluded to in one of my videos, I did the best ever 4 week block on training in my life. I got to Louisville Wednesday night, and Thursday I did a short brick workout. I didn’t have a ton of pop in my legs, but the effort was coming easy.
Saturday I tried to do the practice swim, but there was a Breast Cancer walk going on in Louisville and I wasn’t able to get to the swim in time. Not a big deal, but I would have liked to of gotten in the water before the race.
Race morning I was up just after 4. I had a bagel with Cookie Butter and worked on some Gatorade. I got to the race site around 5:45, pumped my tired, set up my nutrition, and was ready to go around 6:15. I ended up eating a second bagel with Cooke Butter because I was a little hungry, and then had a donut (now a pre-race ritual) about 45 minutes before the start.
The swim start was a bit of a mess. We were suppose to get into the water at 7:20, but they did the national anthem at 7:20, so it was closer to 7:22. The race started at 7:23! It was still pitch black out, and for the first few hundred meters I could feel a lot of contact but I couldn’t see anyone. At this point I just tried to find space.
The swim is about 1.3k up stream, and then 2.5k downstream in the Ohio River. This should have been a quick swim for me but it wasn’t. I didn’t feel like I got into a good groove until about 2/3 of the way through and I got the sense I was well behind. Also, my right hip flexor was bothering me in the swim. Fortunately it didn’t persist throughout the day. I did manage to find Matt Shanks, and we swam together for a lot of it.
Swim – 58:01 (28 of 37)
Rolling through T2 I wasn’t surprised to see most of the bikes in the pro rack gone. It was time to put my head down and go to work.
T1 – 3:20
I focused on just racing my own race. Not chasing, not getting caught up in anyone else’s race, just being steady. The Louisville course is a lollipop. You have an out, do two loops, and come back. The out and first loop were great. I was riding well, on top of my nutrition, and feeling strong. The course is always undulating and I could just focus on my power. I was surprised at how spread out everyone seemed to be. At Mont Tremblant the field was half the size, but it seemed like everyone was together moving forward/backwards in the field. Here I was alone most of the time, and when I caught anyone they always seemed to be alone too.
The second loop of the bike wasn’t nearly as fun. The roads were really crowded with AGers starting their first loop. Most of the race takes place on narrow 1 lane roads with rumble strips on both sides, so there was a ton of congestion. Also, the roads were open to traffic, so cars were getting stuck or moving very slowly along these roads. There was never a time on the second loop that I wasn’t passing other athletes, and it made for some very tense moments.
Early on in the second loop I had a minor mechanical problem. I dropped my chain when I was going down a hill. I was able to get it back on while still riding, but it was stuck in the small ring and was making a horrible clicking sound. After 4-5k of fiddling with the derailleur as I rode it finally ‘fixed’ itself. I’m not sure what the problem was or how it was fixed, but I was glad to keep moving.
The final 50k of the bike was into a pretty stiff headwind. Around this time (3:30 into the bike) my power, and energy level, began to drop. It was hard to stay focused, and there were a couple strong gusts that were pretty demoralizing. I didn’t fight it and let my power drop, hoping I’d gain a second wind. The final 33k of the bike was the ‘back’ section, so I was relieved to have made it through the second loop. I managed to catch 2 guys in the final 33k who I’m sure were feeling just as demoralized by the wind as I was. I went through spurts where I held good power, and other times where it wasn’t go great. I was happy to get back into Louisville and I was ready to get off my bike.
The goal for the bike was for me to hold a steady 245 watts. I managed this throughout the first 3:30, but I had long segments in the last hour that were closer to 200-220W.
One big change for me nutritionally on the bike was taking salt pills. I took one every 30 minutes. This was in addition to about 1L of Gatorade Endurance per hour, and a 1/2 waffle every 15 minutes. I stopped eating waffles at 3:30 and meant to take 2 gels in the final hour on the bike, but only took 1 (around 4:25) because my stomach was pretty full.
Bike – 4:37:20 (19 of 37), 239AP, 244NP STRAVA
I was a little slow in T2. i had trouble getting my shirt on.
T2 – 3:28
This run would be made a heck of a lot easier by the fact that I was so far out of the places (top 6). Right from my first step I focused on keeping my pace under control, my cadence high, and ensuring I got in proper nutrition.
I was a little stiff in the first mile, but quickly got into a rhythm. Louisville is essentially 2 very long, straight out and backs. It was starting to really heat up so in addition to Coke at aid stations I was also getting ice to put down my shorts. I was taking salt on the run too, I took either 3 or 4 salt pills throughout the run.
The weather throughout the run was wild. When I started running it was heating up, and got really hot. And then when I got to about 12k it suddenly got really cold and the wind picked up significantly. Tents flew across the course, barricades came down, and a lot of trees lost their leaves. The rain moved in as well, but it was only light, and didn’t last more than 30 minutes. The temperature was significantly cooler for the rest of the run.
I crossed halfway in 1:32 and although my pace was slowing I was optimistic about a 3:05 marathon. I got a boost seeing Steph and Robert, my homestay, out on the course cheering when I finished my first lap. It wasn’t until about 28k or so when things started to get tough out there. It seemed to take forever to get to the far turnaround, but I was happy to be running for home. I did my best to stay in the moment and tick off kilometers. I felt like I picked it up the final 5k, my splits say otherwise, but I did my best to finish strong.
Run – 3:07:35 (13 of 37) STRAVA
Overall – 8:49:54
All-in-all I was happy with this race. It was really satisfying to learn from my mistakes at Ironman Mont Tremblant, and apply what I learned. I felt better throughout the majority of the race, as well as after the race, than I’ve felt in any previous Ironman. Going into the race I wasn’t chasing sub-9, but I’m glad that I got it. It’s time for an offseason to recharge my batteries after a heck of a lot of racing in 2017.
I want to say a big thank you to everyone that supported me. This includes my sponsors: Dare2Tri, Skechers Performance Canada, and Velofix Toronto. Also, all the incredible homestays I’ve had throughout the season. And everybody that has sent me messages of support, watched my videos, or given me advice/feedback throughout the year. I’m really optimistic about what 2018 can have in store.
It’s Ironman Louisville Race week, which is a chance to look back on the training that got me here. My prep for Louisville included the strongest 4 weeks block of training I think I’ve ever done. I trained for 71-hours, I ran almost 300k, swam about 46,000m and did 3 IM sim rides on the trainer. I was consistent, I hit my key sessions, and I worked out some nutrition problems. I’m really excited to see how I do at IMLou on Sunday. You can find (almost) all the workouts I do on Strava: https://www.strava.com/athletes/7329576/training/log
This past week I had a nutrition breakthrough, and it was salt. I know, I know, how is this a breakthrough? Well, I had never given any consideration to salt, nor had I taken a salt pill before this past week. I didn’t even know about salt pills when I started, and once I learned of them I figured I hadn’t used them to that point, so ‘if it aint broke dont fit it’. Well at Ironman Mont Tremblant it broke, and I learned one big difference in that race from previous races is that they used Gatorade and not Gatorade Endurance (which has more sodium). All of this is to say, my takeaway from this that could be helpful is just because something seems to be alright doesn’t mean it’s the best – don’t be afraid to experiment with your training and nutrition to see if a ‘better’ exists.
Running when you travel is not only a great way to maintain fitness, but also explore a new place. I’ve had the opportunity to run in big cities like New York and Los Angeles, and small rural towns in Southeast Asia. I’ve put together 6 tips on running when you travel to have a safe, enjoyable run exploring new places. 1. Bring cash and ID. 2. Check Strava for popular routes. 3. Run out and backs. 4. Explore on your run. 5. Find a group to run with. 6. Smile.