The road to Ironman Louisville actually started over 18 months ago. No, I'm not that good at planning ahead, but that's when it was determined that I would participate in Ironman Florida, 2014 and I started this blog. And of course how I got to IMFL through a social media contest, and this was before Ironwilled!
Most of you know about the "ironbrick" instead of triathlon that occurred at Ironman Florida. That's right, they canceled the swim. No, it was not a duathlon. It was a modified race because of safety concerns for participants, volunteers, and safety personnel. I completed the race that was presented to me (not everyone did) and considered myself an Ironman. Most of the people in the triathlon world that I look up to and respect felt the same way. But, there were many that disagreed. Some of these people were crass enough to express their disagreement not just out loud but directly to the athletes impacted. Others were couth enough to keep their opinion to themselves. Some who were very vocal had never completed an 140.6 event (either they had never toed the line to start or they started and DNF'd (did not finish). The 2 sides got into heated debates. This was my take on it (and I still feel the same way).
Moving on...I felt incomplete. I did view myself as an Ironman, but in my head, there was an asterisk. Because I acknowledge that my life is very uncertain, I wanted to fill my PERSONAL void while I knew I had the time. I signed up for Ironman Louisville and since it is a river swim, there is no reason to think the race wouldn't go off as planned... unless green slime invades.....
Now that you all are on the same page, let's talk about my IRONMAN LOUISVILLE.
The months and weeks leading up to IMLou, I was a mess. I was constantly worried about not finishing before midnight. The bike caused heart palpitations and tears. Legit (only in my head) fears of a DNF for time. Irony: the only part of the event I wasn't worried about was the swim which is the only leg I had been worried about in Florida. 4K Fridays for the win!
Hear me out on why I was so worried about finishing IMLou before midnight. As I mentioned in another blog before I registered, it was already announced the race would start at 7:30, not 7. That meant there was 16.5 hours to compete the event IF you are the first person in the water. But IMLou is a time trial start (swimmers entered 5-10 at a time). I could have not started my race until 8:15/8:30am. What does that mean? Worst case I get a total of 15.5 hours to finish instead of 17 hours. So what? Rule of thumb is to take your 70.3 finish time, double it, and add 1-2 hours to estimate your finish time for a full. My most recent 70.3 was Lake Logan where it took me 7:25 to finish. Simple math: 7:25+7:25+2 hours = 16:50. See, based on arithmetic, I could be in trouble.
I knew I could do the 140.6. I had trained. I was ready. I was fearful that I wouldn't time qualify and I would disappoint my friends, coach, Ironwilled women and I would embarrass myself. It took till almost race day to come to grips that the handful of people who would be tracking me and hoping for my failure just didn't matter and that the hundreds of people who were pulling for me did.
|Compliments of Jeanette|
Friday I went to check in, attended the athlete's briefing and did a little shopping. As I'm waiting for the athlete's briefing to start, I see this group of women walking towards me.
THE SWIM WAS ON! (whew.)
Friday night we headed out to dinner with a small group of solo travelers from the group and Kelly who is local and the volunteer captain of the finish line. She provided a lot of insight for the race.
Saturday was the practice swim. I wanted to get in the water, but Coach really didn't want me in the water any sooner than necessary. Even without the green slime warning, the Ohio River is not known for it's cleanliness and there are many that end up sick from it. Since I was already dealing with some allergy issues, I followed his urging and skipped the swim. However, I did get to meet a few more IW women.
|It was a bit brisk that morning.|
|Vallee and Katie, just 2 of my many incredibly talented teammates.|
The rest of Saturday was running errands, racking my bike, turning in my transition bags and meeting up with my folks for an early dinner. Oh, and mess with my coach some...we might have sent him a text that said, "Tomorrow's race plans have changed some." He wasn't amused and I couldn't keep up the joke. He called in a panic and I caved almost instantly telling him I was completely fine.
|Mom has limited mobility so we learned from IMFL last year, rent a chair to help her get places faster/easier.|
Sunday morning, way before the sun was up, Stacy humored my race anxiety and had me standing in line for transition (drop bottles on my bike, add air to the tires, turn in special needs bags) by 4:55. In and out of transition as quickly as I could and then she drove me to the swim start about a mile away.
I made friends with the people waiting around me (I know this surprises you...) and settled in for a 2 hour wait. Remember I said I was irrationally worried about cut off times? Solution: Get as much time on the course as possible.
Eventually we put wetsuits on and headed down on to the dock.
|photo cred: Kelly's family|
The first part of the swim is up river in a mostly protected cove. I didn't really feel like I needed to fight any current and settled in to my swim. There was a little contact that I was prepared for, after all I'm a mid pack swimmer jumping in ahead of much faster swimmers. But it was nothing like the washing machine I have heard about in others' reports. Oddly enough, it wasn't until we were in the HUGE river that someone insisted on swimming into me a few times. After the cove broke, then I felt like I need to push and fight a little to progress up the river. And then, there was the lovely red buoy! (The turn buoy was the first benchmark for me as far as relaxing into the race) That's the one we turn around to head back down river. It was definitely a down river swim, but the current did not seem overpowering.
I swam right up to the steps where 2 volunteers grabbed my hands and pulled me right up to dry land and then coming out Katie spotted me and said hi.
In sum: FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC swim: 1:22:46 (25 minutes faster than what I thought, spot on for Coach's estimate.) Fueling: I remembered to eat the Gu before the swim.
|photo cred: Joana|
|photo cred: Dynamo Betty & Ernie|
|As it warmed up, I just slid my arm covers into my pocket, photo cred: Joana|
I passed my bike off to one of the volunteers and began my walk in to transition. I wasn't in a rush. I had plen-TEE of time. I grabbed by bag and Karen came running screaming my name. Funny one she is, I saw her in Augusta running her race and she wished me well on my upcoming race.
|photo cred: Karen|
Stay Present. Don't project forward. Don't harp on the past. Stay in a 5-second window: the three ahead of you, the second you're in, and the second that just passed. Make decisions in a 5-second window and live here for as much of the day as possible.
|photo cred: Felecia|
There are so many people to thank I'm going to miss someone and in advance: I'm sorry.
The coaching staff at Dynamo: Maria for not getting frustrated with me and my faulty steering wheel and flat tires; swimming is hard. Shanks for answering questions and helping me work with Champion Systems for Ironwilled. Haley for being awesome. Matthew for patiently waiting for me on the long rides at camp and letting me cry and then not saying a word when I got back on my bike and pedaled away. Thank you Matthew for the email and text around race weekend and for encouraging me and for making me feel just as significant as your athletes you train who podium.
The Dynamo triathletes I got to meet in Chattanooga and Pine Mountain: Thank you for welcoming me into your family. Canada Cat and Linda for showing me that teammates help teammates reach their goals.
|photo cred: Vallee|
Stacy: Thank you for encouraging me to join the Dynamo Family. I used to not like when you would tell people, "Shawna isn't the fastest athlete, but she has more heart and determination than anyone you'll ever meet." I now know what an incredible compliment that is. Thank you for being an amazing friend and mentor. #womenbeshopping
Eric: For many many long rides.
The Louisville Smack talk group: For many many laughs and for allowing me to be a fly on the wall of the men's locker room.
Ironwilled: Women Who TRI: My tribe. Y'all are awesome. Period.
My family: I know you think I'm completely nuts but you love me anyway.
What's next? I am taking a year off from 140.6. This had actually been determined Labor Day weekend. No matter what happened in Louisville, I was cutting back on distance to focus on some other things. Am I returning, who knows? Let's see what life brings my way. Maybe I'll start dating again, I know y'all miss the stories and Facebook posts. I also have some personal things I need to spend some time focused on.
What I do know is this: I am sticking with Dynamo and I'm staying on Team Brent.
Much love and respect and thanks to everyone who played even the smallest part of me reaching the finish line at Ironman Lourisville.
I had: If you have gotten this far wow....but instead, let's end with: