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My First Ironman
I decided to do the 2013 Ironman Louisville as my first long course race. This blog serves as my diary to capture training highlights and struggles along the way. Race day is 25 Aug 13.

Based on my experience at the half-iron distance and borrowing liberally from Don Fink's "Be Iron Fit", I have developed a 30 week training program to get me to Louisville.

Race Day - 25 Aug 13

Mojorad2009by Mojorad2009Aug 27th 2013
Race goal: Swim- 1:30, Bike - 6:00, Run - 4:10 Overall - 12:00

Up at 0415 and began to get ready. Ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for breakfast with a small cup of coffee to get some caffeine. Out the door with Kristin at 0500 for the half mile walk to the transition area. Set up aero bottle with the initial bit of PowerBar Perform, pumped up the tires, and did a quick ops check of the bike. Next we walked the 3/4 of a mile to the swim start for body marking. After an absurdly long toilet line, I finally started walking to the end of the swim start line. Louisville offers a time trial swim start with swimmers entering the water one after the other at two different points. The order is first come, first start. So, at 0625, I started walking towards the end of the line. And kept walking for over half a mile until I finally saw the end. I settled in to wait for the start, ate another PB&J and finished my pre-race Perform. The two guys behind me were also Georgia Tech alumni, so we spent some time talking all things Tech. At 0700, we heard the cannon for the age group start and began the slow walk toward the start. As we approached the starting dock around 0730, we started to run towards the jump in point. I chose the lane where Kristin was volunteering and got a quick kiss before jumping in the Ohio River for my first Ironman.

The water was warm and not too crowded. The first 900 meters of the swim was in a channel between an island and the river bank. The current was slow here and I made good progress, swimming pretty straight for me. After the island, we had about 400 meters against the current to reach the turn buoy. I felt pretty good and made steady progress, finally rounding the buoy in 39:00. Once I started swimming down stream, I felt like I was really making headway. I tried to swim straight but didn't do too well as I got more tired. I continued on, slow and steady, until I finally got out the water at 1:24:54, slightly ahead of schedule. I was 2008 out of the water (out of about 2550 athletes).

I tried to stay calm and focused in T1, taking the time to catch my breath and make sure I was ready for the bike. I ate some Honey Stinger Chews, drank some Perform, got a liberal application of sunscreen, grabbed my bike and made it out of T1 in under 10 min.

I started out on the bike feeling strong. I tried not to go out to fast on the flat first 11 miles. Within 30 miles we knocked out the two biggest climbs on the ride. There were a few more good size climbs on the course but also a whole bunch of smaller hills. The whole course was rolling hills where we were either climbing or descending. I can't remember very many long flat sections. Fortunately, I like to climb and found myself passing lots of other riders. The course had a 30-mile loop that we did twice and by the second loop, I was tired of climbing. I kept my speed up and on track to meet my 6:00 goal but I was getting tired. I stuck to a schedule for eating, alternating gels and Bonk Breaker bars every 10 miles. I drank at least a liter per hour, mixing Perform and water. Side note, they served melon flavored Perform. I had trained with lemon lime and quickly got sick of the melon flavor but had to keep drinking it for the calories and electrolytes. I also took a e-tab about every hour. I kept climbing and passing other riders but I was working pretty hard. Finally, we hit the final descent to the River Road and I hammered out the last 11 miles. The view was beautiful as we rode along the river towards downtown. By this time, the temperature was probably in the high 80's F. Finally, I rounded the last corner and entered T2 at 6:04:54, right on target. I had ridden up to 1053 place overall.

Once again, I took my time in transition to make sure I was comfortable for the run. I ate a gel, drank some Perform, got more sunscreen and headed towards the Run Out banner in under 9 min.

As I always seem to do off the bike, I went out too fast. I quickly knocked out the first two miles in 14:30 but knew I couldn't keep it up. I started to slow down and quickly realized that I would have to walk long before I had hoped. Starting with the third aid station, I began to walk for a minute or two at every aid station. I would then run to the next station. The rest of the race was really 23 1-mile races. The course was hillier than I expected, with a few long grinders to wear us down. My low point was probably miles 10-12 as I just felt beat down. This was turning out to be the hardest run in my 28 years of running. Fortunately, around mile 13, I began to drink Coke at every other aid station and my energy started to return. The second loop on the course went much better than the first; not faster, but I felt a lot better. At the last five aid stations, I drank water and Coke. I was sick of melon flavored Perform and my stomach was a mess so I didn't want to eat anything. I kept pressing, drawing energy from the crowds and other athletes. Finally, I hit the big crowds with a half mile left. I was getting very excited to finish and as I rounded the last corner, I cut it too sharp and tripped over the curb. I somehow managed to keep my balance on my noodle legs and kept running. I high-5'd Kristin and several others in the finishing chute. I pumped my arms a couple of times, crossed the finish line and heard "Rodney Radcliffe, you are an Ironman!" I finished the run in 4:31:45, with an overall time of 12:20:57. Slower than my goal but within my target window of 12-13 hours. I ended up in 697th place overall.

My volunteer turned me over to Kristin to head towards the post-race food. This was the only disappointing part of the whole experience. A few bananas, oranges, and Little Ceasar's pizza. Very disappointing but I really didn't feel like eating. Kristin helped me walk the 3 blocks back to the hotel and then she picked up my bike and gear bags. After a quick shower, I proudly put on my Finishers shirt and we went back down to the finish to catch some of the later finishers. The excitement of the athletes and supporters was palpable. We just absorbed the moment for a while and then grabbed some food at a restaurant near the finish. I talked to family and friends on the phone and was overwhelmed by all the support I had received on Facebook. I tried to extend the Ironman experience as long as I could, but by 2230 I needed to get to bed and put a close to one of the greatest experiences of my life.
 
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