Ironman Kentucky!

Aussie Rob enjoys the marathon

Aussie Rob enjoys the marathon

FOUR (yep, four) SSSMSTers went down to Louisville, KY last weekend to race the Ironman.  Although the race is only in it’s third year, the reputation it has is that it is a H-O-T race.  (I mean, come on, it’s August in Kentucky!!).  This year, however, the weather gods smiled down and made race day a perfect 75 degrees.

In addition to Rob Reddy, Aussie Rob Thompson, Tim Walsh and Paul Lentini racing, I (Brandy Smith) also made the trip to cheer on my teammates.  Several other Cleveland athletes were in attendance – becoming both Ironmen and IronFans.  Second only to Kentucky, Ohio had the most athletes participate in the race with 221. 

Read on for the accounts from Tim and Aussie Rob…

From Tim Walsh, finishing time 12:24:01:

Ironman
Louisville, Kentucky 2009
Teammates, club mates & ironfans, no doubt the lasting impression of IMLOU 2009. In a year where my performance was just not up to par, my A race was salvaged by some really good ‘peeps’.
We couldn’t have asked for better conditions: 75 degrees, a little chop, some mild wind, and cloud cover, totally contrary to the previous year IMLOU’s 90+ temps, yet totally consistent with my previous year’s IMWI. I couldn’t believe I was blessed with two perfect racing days for my IM’s, that’s 2 for 2, and that’s called ‘good living’. The stage was set for some PR’s.
The day started by waiting in the swim line, about 3/4 mile long, approximately 2800 swimmers! The time trial start was new me, as was the sans wet suit. Once that gun sounded at 7 am sharp, the action started. I was positioned about half way thru the line thinking it would be a while before I hit the timing mats, boy I was wrong! They were serious about getting us in that water and one, two, three at a time we jumped or dove into the Ohio River, all the while being screamed at by thrilled fans and pumped up by some rocking music. It was M-dot at its best!
The swim went as I had anticipated, pretty slow. Finished in 1:24 feeling pretty water logged, but thought I wrestled with folks a bit less than the previous year, so I came away a fan of the time trial start.
The bike portion also went as anticipated, medium. I finished in 6 hrs even, and was pleasantly surprised at the lack of congestion considering a record number of racers. The terrain was as billed, rolling; I liked it. I saw a bunch of tire flats and prayed the rosary I wouldn’t flat as a tubular change would have been my undoing. The IRONFANS (Clevelanders such as Mark Durno, Brandy Smith, Tammy Lentini, AJ Baucco, Liz Gilcrest, to name only a few…)made themselves known on the bike course! They traveled in a pack, relocating several times on the course; they hung banners, rang bells, gave high fives, sang our praises, and even offered hydration. They were totally awesome! Coincidently, as was the case the year before in IMWI, Paul Lentini and I were re-united in T2, approximately 7.5 hours after we parted ways at the swim start. Two years in a row, that was pretty cool.
The run portion went as feared, awful. Previous injuries came back to haunt me, and I was forced into salvage mode early. I will say however that the advantage to salvage mode versus competitive mode is that you get to take more things in: we had nearly 20 racers from Cleveland in IMLOU and I engaged with them all, we had a equal number of IRONFANS and I was able to acknowledge and thank the majority of them, and I witnessed a whole bunch of do’s and don’ts from my fellow racers (at some point, you really do witness a different race).
I crossed the finish line 12 hrs and 25 minutes from the time I dove into a body of water that makes Lake Erie look pristine. And just as the year before, regardless of the result, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of accomplishment as I crossed the finish line; I wish that feeling for everyone at some point in their racing career. I ate some pizza, took a shower, retrieved my bike, and met up with Cleveland Ironmen and Ironfans for my favorite form of hydration, as we watched some real determined finishers. I thought it was a very fitting end to my multi-sport season because even though my performance was hampered, this weekend long event reinforced the enormous secondary gain that this sport has provided for me, and that’s a great network of supportive friends. I’m a lucky guy.

And from Aussie Rob, finishing time an impressive 10:41:13:

January in the metroparks standing around with Reddy. It’s cold, snow is on the ground, neither of us want to be there, and we agree that Ironman is the dumbest thing in the world; then we laugh and run some hills. That, more or less, is how this race started for me.

Fast forward to last weekend though and I’m in Louisville still not all that confident. I’m of the opinion that no one is ever really ready for one of these things, because as was decided, they’re dumb (some of you who have done one may disagree, but since you’re dumb too it doesn’t matter, hehe). It was cool to have so many locals down there (three teammates, in addition to what seemed like half of CTC, and a number of FF people) and made it feel a bit like a local race. We all had dinner on Friday night where Reddy was dubbed “Bono’s Dad” for wearing sunnies inside, at night. I did miss not having Marty there to battle (chase) though. Nothing eventful in the day prior, except my two room mates were not racing, but drinking, so that kept the atmosphere loose and fun. I got some sweet wheels too, 1080 rear and an 808 front, shame they were rentals.

Barely slept the night before, alarm went off too early, you know the drill. Got to the swim start and found some CTC friends to jump in line with who had gotten there early (suckers, bless them though) and got in the water at about 7:10 because of the time trial start (of which I’m not a fan). Plan for the swim was to take it easy, but still swim fast…..yeah, I know. Suffice to say the last bit of the swim plan didn’t go so well and I split a 1:19.

On to the bike which I really liked most of the time. The course is scenic and fun, with relentless rollers. I mean it, really, there is no flat the middle 90 miles of this bike ride. It suited me pretty well and I got to pass lots of swimmers (the actual fast guys were already gone never to be seen again, no illusions of grandeur here guys), plus my wheels sounded super sweet….what’s not to enjoy? The bike plan was to build a nuclear arsenal for the bike, then bring a handgun. I executed this pretty well (restraint is a novel concept to me in this sport) and it let me open it up a bit at mile 90 on the net downhill back to town where I got to see some Wednesday night numbers without the Wednesday lactic acid dose; which is always fun. Got off the bike feeling good in 5:26, and after a brief talk with my legs, we agreed we were going to go running now.

Run started great (wonder how many race reports have that line in them?) and I felt really good. Garmin wouldn’t sync for a while when I started so I ran what I thought was my IM pace…..I was way off (on the good side though). When it started working I managed to sit on 7:50 miles and walking some aid stations for about 15 miles. After that I started to slow, and by mile 19 I was running closer to 9’s than 8’s….but still feeling OK. Then suddenly, like a kick in the nuts by a ninja, I was in immense pain…..the proverbial wall I suppose. This is the part of the race where I basically stopped talking, looking around, or anything else for that matter except running (slowly) in as straight a line as possible. People would see me, smile, and yell encouragement. I would see them and accidentally scowl in an attempt to smile back. If you got within grunting distance I would give you one of those. Marathons are far, and while I thought I had a shot at a 3:30, I only managed a 3:46.

Crossed the line, pretended to seem happy through the hurt, and wondered what my actual time was because I forgot to start my watch (the clock started with the pros). Turns out it was a 10:41, which was close enough to my 10:30 goal considering I really didn’t have anything left to give. Trip to the med tent, a cookie and an IV, and I felt much better. After cleaning up went back down to see some friends finish and demolished a giant burger (although it took me over an hour to get one tall-boy of pale ale down).

I have many congrats for all the people that did the race, and so many words of thanks to so many more who have helped me in some way or another this season; you know who you are, and I hope you know I appreciate everything. Hats off to the Ironfan crew too. You’re all a bunch of lunatics and it was always cool to see you guys out on the course. Special shout out to Reddy though. Took me as a fat out of shape guy and really helped me more than perhaps anyone get better at this whole triathlon thing. It was ultra cool to get to do an IM with you finally mate, and I look forward to more….even if Ironman is the dumbest thing in the world…

I had an awesome time cheering for all the Clevelanders that day.  I continue to be amazed at what our bodies can do when pushed so far.  Additional thanks to Mark Durno, Liz Gilchrist, Don Asher, AJ Baucco and Tammy Lentini for making IronFan-ing so great.  We took our bikes to Louisville and rode out to cheer on the athletes after driving to a couple sites along the bike course.  Seeing the marathon up close and personal really illustrated to me the TOUGHNESS that is Ironman.  I’m still awed by all of the incredible athletes!!

Hopefully we’ll get to hear first-hand accounts from Paul (finishing time 14:10:05) and Rob Reddy (finishing time 11:23:19) too.

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2 Responses

  1. Rob,

    Your race report reads fabulous! Congratulations! You are IRON!! Great job to the fans as well!

  2. Way to go everyone! Thanks to all the Ironfans who came out to the race! It was awesome to see all the Clevelander’s out on the course and cheering everyone on! Definitely an experience that will never be matched! I couldn’t have had a better first Ironman experience! Thanks everyone for your encouragement and words of wisdom over the season!

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