Results: 56:33 / 5th Overall / 4th Place Male Overall / 1st Place M50-54 Age Group
This is the fourth time for me doing this race and it seems to have changed on me when I wasn’t paying attention. The first time doing this race was back in 2011 when I did it with Ben, and I really enjoyed it. 8 miles is a unique race distance, so it was fun to tackle something that I was for sure going to PR in. Race day in the past for this race has been sunny, frigid, windy and wet, thanks to a late October/early November race date. This time around we had wet for sure. The temperature was nice, in the low 50’s with not much wind, but it had rained the day before and early morning of the race and threatened to rain again. Fortunately, the rain held off while we raced, although Kari said she felt some during her 5K.
Which brings me to the 5K. They added one. There never used to be one. And that’s not all they added. The added another whole day. Confused? So was I when I went to sign up. I guess this little race that seemed to fly under the radar had become a little more popular. You could choose to run the 8 mile race or the 5K on either Saturday or Sunday, or both if you are crazy enough. Since we had some Saturday obligations, we opted for the Sunday race. I’m glad I did. Like I mentioned above, Saturday was rainy. I heard a local runner on Facebook say that they hated the race, but I can only assume she hated it because of the weather.
So why did they add a whole extra day of racing? 1855 total participants for this formally quiet little race! Saturday had 818 total runners and Sunday had 1037! That is a lot for this forest preserve limestone path trail. In comparison, in 2011 there were only 466 competitors in the 8 mile only race, 505 in 2012 and 640 in 2014. In 2016, they had a total of 1059 5k/8mi runners. Quite a difference. Did they add the day to accommodate more athletes, or to make more money? That’s a possibility because this race is put on by a company that seems to hold races all over the area. They do a good job for the most part, but you can tell by the way it is run that it’s just different.
Okay, enough with the details of the race. Time for the report! I told Kari that I was signing up for the race and told her that there was a 5K too. She said to sign her up for it and that’s the story I’m sticking to. I set my alarm for 5:45am and got up and ate so we could get there early and grab a parking spot in the spot limited lot near the race. I’m glad we did get there early, because everyone else was stuck with the shuttle bus option. Except for the guy with the huge tow truck. He decided to make me very nervous by parking next to me. The forest preserve police watch this lot like a hawk, and I thought this guy was there to tow people who violated the parking rules or something. This truck was huge, but he was wearing running gear, so my fears weren’t needed. Also parked near me was a guy in a black pickup truck with a Marine Corp sticker as well as a Brown University sticker. He got out and I immediately keyed on him as a potential challenger, i.e. he was old like me, and looked pretty fit. Kari said he was “ripped.” Thanks, Kari.
I brought a few layers along but after a quick warm-up run of about 10 minutes with a long sleeve over my short sleeve shirt, I decided I’d be good without it. I did put on a pair of cheap thin gloves to keep my hands warm and we walked to the start. Others though, they were dressed like it was going to be 20 degrees, not 50.
In the past the start and finish were at the same place, located on the grass track next to the parking lot, but they moved it and I got a little confused. I made my way to the front and waited for the start. For the start you funnel through a very tight space and I didn’t want to get caught up with a bunch of others slow rolling through it. I think when we started, I was probably in the same position as I ended the race in.
When the horn sounded we all took off and made our way quickly to the trail. I felt like I had settled into a nice pace, but I was starting to get passed by some questionable people. At the first mile mark I got passed by a girl who was not questionable at all and mentioned to her that she only had one other girl ahead of her. She replied that she’d give it her best to catch her. At the 1.5 mile mark, she did the 5K turn around and instantly became the top female, as the leading girl continued on to the 8 mile course. I guess that’s one way to take the lead!
After getting past that 5K turn around, things got thin real quick. Thanks to a meandering course through a wooded forest preserve, I quickly lost sight of the leaders and then the next person ahead of me as well. It’s a good thing that the course was adequately marked and that I had run it before, because I was all alone except for the wheezing guy behind me, and I can only assume he was trusting me to lead the way. Speaking of that guy, he was doing that breathing thing that runners do when they are well into Z4, and probably should dial it back a bit. I give him credit, he did hang behind me about 200 feet back for most of the first six miles. He was wearing a bright fluorescent green windbreaker and it was easy for me to keep my eye on him.
At the four mile mark I was just under 30 minutes and decided to start taking small portions of my gel. I’m glad I did because it certainly provided some quick energy for me and made me feel better. Instead of downing the gel quickly, I nursed it from mile four through mile 6, providing me with just enough energy to get to the end feeling good.
I kept my eye on the green jacket guy, but was surprised to see a light blue dressed runner had passed him. And if she had made up ground on the guy behind me, she might be making up ground on me.
But she wasn’t. Nor was anyone else. As a matter of fact, after that girl who passed me at the one mile mark and turned for home in the 5K, I passed no one and no one passed me. Well, that’s not entirely true. At the seven mile mark, I started catching runners walking the tail end of the 5K. Looking at the 5K results, I passed about 23 of them.
I made my way off the trail and hit the horse track for the run to the finish. I had done a warm up on the grass before the race, so I knew that there were some big puddles about halfway down the back stretch. I made my way to the rail and paced my way in. After a quick look back at the turn, I could see there was nobody immediately behind me that could catch me, so I coasted the last 100 yards into the finish. Kari cheered me in, and I was glad to call it a race.
After a short walk cool down, we headed back to the car as it was starting to rain. We changed clothes and grabbed an umbrella and headed back to the awards ceremony. It seemed like the rain was starting to make everyone edgy, even the event hosts too. I grabbed a cup of the “hot” cider I asked the guy with the microphone when the award ceremony would be, he told me just go tell the lady in the tent that you earned a medal. I did, she gave me my age group medal, and we split. Except for the runners still out there trying to finish the 8 miler, all of us were done with being there.
I was surprised to see that I had finished 5th overall. Had the Saturday and Sunday runners ran together, my time would have been good for 13th place overall. I still would have placed first in the M50-54 age group. Looking at my previous finishes, I placed better even though my time was third fastest.
2011 – 57:05 (slowest time) / 17th place (out of 466, top 3.6%) / 3rd place A/G
2012 – 56:13 (2nd fastest time) / 19th place (out of 505, top 3.7% – lowest placing) / 1st place A/G
2014 – 55:56 (fastest time) / 18th place (out of 640, top 2.8%) / 3rd place A/G
2017 – 56:33 (third fastest time) / 5th place (out of 300, top 1.6% – highest placing) / 1st place A/G
So it seems that I am destined to get third place in the age group next time (lol). With only 300 in the 8 mile field on Sunday, I moved up in placement quite a bit, finishing in the top 1.6% of finishers. I guess that makes it a pretty good day.
Okay, I’m bored. My training is over for the season, and it’s raining outside. I was running on the treadmill, listening to my shuffled music playlist and thinking about the names of the bands that I was listening to: Judas Priest. The Babys. Foreigner. So I started thinking which names were just bad and which names were bad ass. Then I thought there are too many names out there to list, so I decided to rank the names of the groups that have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Although I did give a pass to a couple of bands with proper names, I immediately dismissed singular artists and those who went by their names from this list. Although the Jimi Hendrix Experience might be one of the most bad ass names out there, I am choosing not to use proper names. These bands didn’t choose the name, it was given and they probably couldn’t think of a cool name on their own, or they had the “all about me” attitude. So forget Elton John, Billy Joel, and Bruce Springsteen. It’s my list, go make your own. I also omitted back up bands that were second to the main star, such as The Comets, The Crickets, and The Four Seasons.
I ranked them not by how musical they are, or how much I like the band. If that was the case the list would be 1. Rush, 2. Styx (not in the HoF, I know. They’re in mine.) – but more about how I feel the name conveys the spirit of the group. I have tried to include an explanation of the name, which can make their ranking better or worse in some cases. Special consideration is given to how rock and roll the name is. And mostly if it really is bad ass.
Remember, this isn’t about the band or their music – just their names. This might be the most useless list of all time. I probably wasted five hours on this dumb list. I had fun with it though.
FROM WORST TO BEST – MY RANKING OF ROCK AND ROLL GROUP NAMES FROM GROUPS INDUCTED INTO THE ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME
Now for the really bad. The Worst Name Goes to…
85 – THE STOOGES – Year after year my favorite band Rush was passed over, and these guys get in way before them?! I can’t even think of a single song that these dopes even sang. They do absolutely nothing for me, and the fact that it sounds like they ripped off the name from the Three Stooges really pisses me off! WORST NAME ON MY LIST, BOYS. P.S. YOU SUCK!
84 – N.W.A. – W.T.F.? Not rock and roll. Hate the genre, hate the name, hate the fact they are in the HoF.
83 – THE MOONGLOWS – Never heard of them, typical 1950’s era singing group name. At least they aren’t N.W.A.
82 – THE BLUE CAPS – I never heard of these guys either, but I have learned that a whole lot of awesome musicians were inspired by this early rock and roll back up band. The name is a bottom feeder.
81 – THE FAMOUS FLAMES – Never heard of them. Have you heard of James Brown? He got his start here.
80 – THE FLAMINGOS – Inspired by flamingos, apparently. I’m uninspired.
79 – THE DELLS – Not sure of the origin of the name, but the band hailed from Harvey, Illinois.
78 – THE RONETTES – “Ette” anything is uninspiring. Inspired Eddie Money, though.
77 – THE SHIRELLES – Shirley = Shirelles.
76 – RUN-DMC – Again, not rock and roll. Just nicknames.
75 – THE COASTERS – The story is they went from coast to coast.
74 – THE IMPRESSIONS – Sorry, they never left one on me.
73 – THE COMETS – These guys produced the music for Bill Haley, who took all the credit. Not sure why the RnR HoF gave them their own induction.
72 – THE CRICKETS – Buddy Holly’s band. Named for the insect that seems to them to be the most musical. I guess they carried on without Buddy.
71 – SEX PISTOLS – Okay, I’m not going to even look this one up. I don’t want to know. Very punk rock though. I should probably rank them higher, but screw punk rock.
70 – TRAFFIC – They got the idea from watching cars drive by. Boring activity, boring name.
69 – LOVIN’ SPOONFUL – A nod to heroin?! Yikes. In reality, it came from a song lyric by some guy named John Hurt. Do you believe in magic?
68 – THE HOLLIES – Must have thought the world of Buddy Holly. A lot of those in the HoF did.
67 – THE MAMAS AND THE PAPAS – Folkies, whom I would have guessed the Mamas portion of the name came from Mama Cass. But I guess the Hell’s Angels referred to their female companions as “mamas.” Why they would honor that, who knows.
66 – JACKSON 5 – They were the Jackson’s and there was five of them. One was named Michael, I believe.
65 – THE YARDBIRDS – I would have guessed they added “yard” to the “birds” to differentiate themselves from The Byrds, but I guess it referred to hobos hanging out along the rail yard. That little fact alone moves it up a little higher on the chart for me.
64 – THE VENTURES – Suggested by one of the band member’s mother. Negative points for that, dudes. Hawaii 5-0 is legendary though.
63 – THE BAND – When Dylan switched to electric guitar, it pissed off the critics. The Band worked with Dylan at that time and apparently the band known as “The Hawks” were snubbed by the critics, referring to them as just “the band.” Uninspiring name, but they have their devotees.
62 – U2 – Most assume it has to do the spy plane, but apparently Bono says it was about interacting with the audience, as in “you too.” Okay, Bono.
61 – THE POLICE – I couldn’t confirm this, but apparently Stewart Copeland’s dad was in the CIA, and he suggested the name. Great band, boring name.
60 – THE BEACH BOYS – These California boys were supposed to be the embodiment of the beach lifestyle. In reality, none of them knew how to surf. But they nailed the culture for sure.
59 – THE O’JAYS – Named themselves after a popular Cleveland disc jockey.
58 – THE PLATTERS – The name defines the 50’s era groups.
57 – THE DRIFTERS – Apparently, a lot of members drifted in and out of this band.
56 – RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS – They’re red, they’re hot, yada yada yada.
55 – THE (YOUNG) RASCALS – They wanted to be called “The Rascals” but another group called “Harmonica Rascals” said to stop it, so their manager added the “Young” part. I wonder whatever happened to the “Harmonica Rascals?” Actually, I don’t care.
54 – PARLIMENT FUNKADELIC – Basically a combo of two groups, but I don’t care where the name comes from, the name fits the band.
53 – ABBA – The name comes from the first initials of each of the band members: Agnetha, Benny, Bjorn, and Anni-Frid. Is it Ah-baa, or AB-a? I’ll never get it right.
52 – GREEN DAY – Pot plays a roll in this one. No kidding. Originally they called themselves “Sweet Children.” Green Day is a reference to Billie Joe’s first pot experience. Okay.
51 – THE SMALL FACES/FACES – We have small faces, lets go with that!
50 – THE DOORS – Typical of 1960’s era bands, it seems like they just said “Hey, there’s a door! Let’s roll with that.” But actually it came from a book called “The Doors of Perception,” which had some sort of trippy meaning. Far out, man.
49 – CREAM – They considered themselves the cream of the crop. I guess.
48 – NIRVANA – “I wanted a name that was kind of beautiful or nice and pretty instead of a mean, raunchy punk name like the Angry Samoans.” – Kurt Cobain. Talk about taking people by surprise.
47 – TALKING HEADS – A friend of Tina Weymouth’s suggested the name.
The names are getting a little better…
46 – EAGLES – In Steve Martin’s biography he mentions that Glen Frey (I think) was a friend and was starting a band called “Eagles.” Steve questions it and inquires if he means “The Eagles”. Frey was adamant about it just being Eagles. I’m with Steve.
45 – BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD – Took the name from a steam roller parked on a roadway.
44 – R.E.M. – They had some really bad name ideas prior to Stipe randomly picking the name from a dictionary. Thank god. Previous suggestions of “Can of Piss” and “Negro Wives” probably were not in their best interests.
43 – BEASTIE BOYS – My thoughts on the Rock and Roll HoF are that it should only include true rock and roll artists, but that line isn’t clear cut anymore. And even though I kind of dismissed this band as being rap-crap, it’s rap-crap with a rock and roll attitude.
42 – ALICE COOPER – Wait a minute! I know I said no proper names! But who we all assume to be Alice was really Vincent Furnier. Originally they called themselves the Spiders, but decided to change their name from something obvious to something a little more “old lady-ish” to have more shock value, according to Vincent – oops, I mean Alice.
41 – BLONDIE – Pretty obvious that the name comes from Deborah Harry’s bleached out hair. Got into the HoF on the strength of what, two songs? Gimme a break.
40 – GUNS N’ ROSES – Shouldn’t it be Guns ‘n’ Roses? I always heard it was a combo of the names of L.A. Guns Tracii Guns and Axl Rose’s names. This is a band that makes me immediately change the radio station. I’m not sure why. I bought the first album and liked it. Just got sick of it. But the name defines the hard rocking Hair Band era.
39 – PUBLIC ENEMY – Again, not a fan of non-rock and roll. But a pretty good name.
38 – CHICAGO – These guys went from calling themselves the “Big Thing” to “Chicago Transit Authority,” who quickly ordered them to cease and desist. They shortened it to Chicago, playing homage to their city. I’m surprised old man Daley didn’t tell them to knock it off too.
37 – AC/DC – The Young boys got the name from the back of their sister’s sewing machine that was labeled AC/DC. She sewed Angus’s school boy uniform for him. They thought that reflected the power of their sound. Later they were bit embarrassed to find out that it also meant being bisexual.
36 – THE PRETENDERS – Apparently took the name from the song “The Great Pretender” from fellow inductees The Platters.
35 – STEELY DAN – Are you ready for this? It came from a name of a dildo in some book. Dan was Steely, for sure. I would have ranked them higher if it wasn’t for the dildo thing
34 – CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL – John Fogerty had a friend named Creedence Nuball, and the Clearwater part came from a beer advertisement. The Revival was a nod to the numerous changes the band had gone through. It’s a mouthful, but CCR is all you need to say.
33 – KISS – This was the band of my preteen years. I had every album. The best part of the name is the logo. One of the best logos ever.
32 – QUEEN – I took several years of me listening to this band to understand the reference. And I was shocked when it was announced that Freddie had AIDS. Certainly rock royalty.
31 – HEART – Started as Hocus Pocus and White Heart and dropped the unnecessary parts. Great band. Definitely defines the spirit of the Wilson sisters. I hear they are fighting and not talking to each other. Maybe should rename themselves “Broken Heart.”
30 – THE BYRDS – The Birds would probably be at the bottom of the list. Changing the “i” to a “y” = genius. Actually, they were just following what the Beatles did.
29 – FLEETWOOD MAC – I’m giving another pass to a group name consisting of proper names. The drummer isn’t named Fleetwood Mac, or Mac Fleetwood. His name is Mick Fleetwood, and his buddy was bassist John McVie, aka Mac. Apparently Peter Green who was the guitarist in the group at the time coined the name to keep them from leaving.
28 – YES – A simple positive name that was supposed to be temporary. It stuck. One of the best band logos ever.
27 – ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA – From what I can gather, a “light” orchestra was just that, a small group of string instruments. And ELO electrified that concept.
26 – THE ANIMALS – Given the name thanks to their wild stage performances. Easy there, tiger.
25 – THE TEMPTATIONS – This group may own the record for most “previously known as” group names. Another iconic name.
24 – THE SUPREMES – Staked their claim to girl group rock royalty with that name. This list isn’t about my favorite groups, remember?
23 – THE WHO – Apparently they were already going deaf from how loud they played that they couldn’t hear the suggestions of friends. The who? Yes, that’s right. Whatever the name, they should be on Mount Rockmore with the Beatles and Stones.
22 – JOURNEY – They tried a radio contest to name the band, but didn’t click with any of the suggestions. They went from “Golden Gate Rhythm Section” (horrible) to Journey after one of their roadies suggested it. Their “journey’ took them from jazz fusion/prog rock to arena rock kings.
21 – EARTH, WIND & FIRE – A couple of the band member’s zodiac signs had influence on the name. I think it conveys their music pretty well.
20 – PEARL JAM – If I get this wrong, I’m going to hear about it from a buddy. They loved basketball player Mookie Blaylock for some reason, and originally called themselves that. Avoiding possible legal issues they changed it to Pearl and added Jam. Eddie Vedder had a great-grandmother named Pearl, and the Jam part I read came from attending a Neil Young concert in which he “jammed” on stage. I dunno. Cool name though. I should rank them higher, but my buddy dissed the Barenaked Ladies once. There has to be some punishment for that.
19 – JEFFERSON AIRPLANE – One of the members had a friend who gave out silly nick names. The nickname “Blind Thomas Jefferson Airplane” was shortened. I’m guessing they jumped on the sci-fi bandwagon of the late 70’s to change Airplane to Starship. Both are unique and interesting, and fit the styles of music the band was playing at the time.
18 – THE CLASH – Inspired from newspaper articles referring to news about clashes in current events. The name fits the band.
17 – DEEP PURPLE – Ritchie Blackmore’s grandmother liked a Bing Crosby song called “Deep Purple.” No lie. I looked it up.
16 – THE VELVET UNDERGROUND – The name comes from a book about “the secret sexual subculture” of the 1960’s. Whatever. Cool name though.
15 – THE BEATLES – I get it, they got the beat. Actually, they pretty much defined where rock and roll was at and where it was going. For the early 1960’s, it was spot on.
14 – GENESIS – The band shortened the name from “Genesis to Revelation.” I’m glad they did.
13 – THE GRATEFUL DEAD – I never got this band or their popularity, but the name is super cool. Apparently chosen by Jerry Garcia from a dictionary.
12 – THE KINKS – A huge part of the British Invasion, and one that left a mark. Great name. It probably pissed off a lot of Archie Bunker types with baby boomer daughters.
11 – METALLICA – For someone who liked hard rock, I never clicked with these guys at their start. But the name exemplifies BAD ASS.
And now for the Top Ten…
10 – PINK FLOYD – By the way, which one is Pink? Actually Pink is Pink Anderson and Floyd was Floyd Council, two blues artists that Sid Barrett had records of. Was called “The Pink Floyd Sound” for a while, and apparently David Gilmour occasionally refers to the band as “The Pink Floyd.” Iconic rock name.
9 – LED ZEPPELIN – Keith Moon was said to react to the formation of this band with how he thought it would go over. I guess he was wrong.
8 – CHEAP TRICK – Apparently they took in a Slade concert and Tom Petersson commented that they used every “cheap trick” in their show. The band nails the moniker.
7 – VAN HALEN – It’s a last name, and I’m breaking my rule again. But you can shut up. Probably one of the coolest names from bands from my era.
6 – ZZ TOP – Lots of arguing over the origin of this one. Popular is the suggestion that the two most known cigarette rolling papers were Zig-Zag and Top. Makes sense. Very unique name and band.
5 – AEROSMITH – Joey Kramer thought his take on the book Arrowsmith was pretty cool. I agree.
4 – LYNYRD SKYNYRD – If you don’t know the story behind this name, shame on you. Go back to your pop, or alternative, or whatever the hell you listen to. Easy choice to be near the top.
3 – BLACK SABBATH – They started out with Earth, but got told to change it thanks to another band already using it. Geezer Butler was into black magic and the occult, and wrote the vast majority of their lyrics, so there was influence there. But they had seen a 1963 Boris Karloff filmed called “Black Sabbath” and the rest is history.
2 – THE ROLLING STONES – References to rolling stones abound in blues music. Brian Jones is credited with suggesting it, inspired by the Muddy Waters song. Maybe the most iconic rock band name ever. Maybe.
And Number One goes to…
1 – RUSH – The name was given to them by the older brother of the drummer they kicked out of the band. Classic. There was no way I was not putting my favorite band number one. It’s my list, remember?
Ironman Louisville – What a day! After 30 weeks of training, straining, and complaining I have finally crossed the Fourth Street Live! finish line! And what a finish line! And to finish my third Ironman with my teammates once again makes it all the sweeter. Here’s the recap of my week leading up to and my experiences and memories of Ironman Louisville 2017! (Brace yourself – Tons of photos and tons of paragraphs ahead!)
INTRODUCTION:My four other Gunner teammates and I felt a little too emboldened after having a great race at Ironman Lake Placid in 2016, so we kidded around and prompted each other to do another in 2017 until we got serious about it. Louisville kept coming up as a strong possibility. I knew Ironman Louisville would fall around the same time of year as the Chicago Marathon, so I had to make a decision – Ironman Louisville or the 40th anniversary of Chicago’s premier event. When the gang decided that Lou was a go, Alex, Dave, Jeff and I all applied and Ironman Louisville was on our calendars. The only Gunner missing was John, who had just welcomed a new baby to his growing family and would have to opt out this time. He was definitely there in spirit!
Once again, I decided to use Don Fink’s Be Iron Fit 30-week competitive training plan with one major change. I decided that the swim plan was too exhaustive for me, with three swims per week that were mostly 2500 yards or more. My swim technique is by no means something to be proud of, but I think it’s about as good as it is going to get. And after swimming 1:18 at IMLP, I felt that I could cut it back and still do well. So I switched to the Just Finish swim plan of the book until I decided that was too much as well! I ended up doing most of my swim training at home in my own pool, two 45 minute swims per week. I focused on good technique during those swims and figured that if I could swim 45 minutes without being drained, swimming another 30 to 45 minutes in a race would be no problem.
With that major change to the swim plan, I also decided that this year I was going to gun a little harder and step out of my comfort zone in other areas too. I had a full aero disc wheel for my bike, but had chickened out using it in Lake Placid and in other races as well. I finally just said screw it, and threw the dumb thing onto my bike and trained with it. I rode that thing all spring, summer and fall and quickly came to the realization that I was way too conservative of a Ironman triathlete. I’m using the disc wheel, dang it. I almost chickened out using it on race day with good reason, but I held my ground.
The call to the gate has been played! Now, off to the race!
WEDNESDAY: The plan was to caravan as a group down to Louisville. Jeff needed a ride, so he took the train to Mokena and I picked him up and we waited until Dave and his gang pulled into town. A quick trip to Mindy’s restaurant for a dinner and off we went to Louisville.
We arrived in the city sometime after 1am and started to check into our hotel, the Embassy Suites Downtown. That’s when we were greeted by one of Louisville’s finest – 30 cents guy. This guy was asking for money, but the strange thing is he was only asking for 30 cents. “It’s ONLY 30 CENTS” was his request, which he made over and over again. Funny thing is I had 30 cents in my pocket, but there was no way I was giving it to him. Pro tip: If you’re going to beg for money, be nice about it. And don’t be weird and request some stupid arbitrary number like 30 cents. What the hell do you buy with 30 cents anyway?
THURSDAY: After breakfast with the gang, I did a quick 3 mile run. We then all walked to the Ironman village to register and pick up our packets. Seeing that my birthday was coming two days after the race, I decided to treat myself to some early birthday gifts. After buying a cycling jersey, tri kit, zippered hoodie, two t-shirts, a hat, a visor, a long sleeve tech shirt, and two coffee mugs, I decided that was plenty for now and to save some for the finisher’s jacket on Monday.
After exiting the Ironman store, we were just in time for the Athlete Briefing, a course talk that they say is mandatory, but it’s not like they take attendance. It pays to go to it though, as each course is different, and there were some changes to the swim start at Ironman Louisville. Not long into it, we encountered weirdo number two. I wish I had taken his picture, but he appeared to be a somewhat inebriated version of Tulio from “The Road to El Dorado” and Dave Navarro.
This weirdo’s M.O. was to stand on the outside of the Athlete Village and stare at us. He later made entry and stood and listened to the course talk as well, like the drafting rule changes were the best advice he had ever heard. Maybe he was considering a last minute entry into the race. Last I saw of him, he was doing chin-ups on a parkway tree.
We did a little course reconnaissance, seeing that the transition area and the Swim Out was nearby. I kind of wish we hadn’t looked at the water because we saw a bunch of floating logs and debris in the water, and of particular note a group of about six or so fish. Yes, I know that there are fish in the water. But these things were insanely HUGE!!! They looked almost prehistoric, and moved their mouths super slow, almost like they were silently telling us that they planned to dine well on Sunday morning.
After a late lunch at an Italian place on Fourth Street Live (I had the spaghetti pie), we decided to drive the bike course. If looking at the water was a mistake, we should have also skipped the bike course drive. It was not what I was expecting. Rolling hills in Illinois must mean something totally different in Kentucky, because these things were relentless and looked horrible. Nothing we could do about it at this point. It was probably a good idea to see what we were dealing with, but it certainly didn’t look like fun.
FRIDAY:I got up and ran a four mile out and back on the run course and thankfully found it to be pleasurable, i.e. no hills. Now it seemed like Louisville was being taken over by Ironman triathletes and their families. It was getting crowded and the excitement was starting to build. We attended the athlete welcoming ceremony on Fourth Street Live and were treated to a pretty decent band and a really inspirational video about some of our fellow Ironman competitors.
Dinner was at TGIFriday’s, and I stayed up and greeted Kari and Ben who arrived late.
SATURDAY: Kari and I got up early and had breakfast with Jeff. He talked me into doing the optional practice swim and I’m glad I did. It was a simple ten to fifteen minute dip, but it always helps me realize that the swim course isn’t anything to worry about. The water temp was mild, free of debris and man eating fish. Upon getting out of the water, I ran a mile with Ben, who had just returned from his own run.
Upon getting back to the hotel, I double checked my gear bags.
After packing up, our group walked to transition to rack our bikes and drop off our bags. About 3/4 of the way there, I realized that Ben was carrying the Bike Gear Bag, and I had thought Kari had the Run Gear bag. She wasn’t carrying it. Oops. Just like that I had my first freakout of the day. Did I leave it in the hotel room? On the elevator? In the lobby? On a street corner? Kari was kind enough to walk back to the hotel, find it in the room and grab it. All was good with the world again. It’s a good thing I am married to one of the greatest sherpa’s of all time.
My gear bags were in a great spot, third row deep and all the way down at the end, thanks to the row ending with my bib number: 2400. That made it super easy to find.
We stopped at a pizza place for dinner and then headed home to get off our feet and chill out for the night. It was race day eve!
SUNDAY RACE DAY!
The alarm went off at 4 am, and I got up and took a shower. I don’t usually do that, but I took Dave’s advice and let it wake me up. I felt pretty good. I got dressed, ate a bagel and some banana and gathered up my Morning Clothes bag and headed down to the lobby to meet up with the crew.
We shuffled our way to transition and checked our gear – added water bottles, checked the tires, made sure our gear bags were still there – then it was off to body marking. I think body marking is somewhat strange and useless. I guess it makes it easier to identify our bodies if we drown, crash off a cliff, or have a major grabber on the run. Oh well, I try to have fun with it and I requested my usual smiley face on the calf. That’s about as close as I will get to getting an Ironman tattoo.
Getting 2400 written on my arm
My age and disposition.
Louisville had somewhat of a unique rolling swim start that underwent a change for 2017. It was still a rolling start, but instead of a first come/first serve method of getting in line, you self-seeded yourself into a grouping based on your predicted swim finish time. I was overthinking this too much, because my swim PR from last year at Lake Placid would have put me in the 1:20 group, but I also knew and expected that the Louisville current aided swim would make me faster, and I should possibly get in with a faster group. That morning Dave opted to go into the faster group and I played it conservative and stuck with the 1:20 to 1:30 group with Jeff. My thinking was that I would rather swim around and pass others than have faster swimmers swim over me.
As we approached the dock where we enter, I could hear Ben yelling for me even with my ear plugs in. I ditched my water shoes and Jeff and I opted to join the line of the swimmers jumping off the closest dock. “Why should I swim an extra 10 yards?” was my thinking. I waved to Ben and Kari and then jumped in and started my journey.
2.4 Miles > 1:09:18 > 78th in M50-54 A/G > 716th Male > 957th Overall
As soon as I was horizontal in the water I felt at ease and in control. The water was slightly cooler than it had been the day before in the practice swim, but it felt perfect. I reminded myself to dial it back for about 10-15 minutes and make sure I don’t get above a perceived Z2 effort. The course has you swimming upstream around Towhead Island and then a little further into the Ohio River until you reach the turn buoy. Just as we passed the island, it seemed like the water temp dropped about 5-10 degrees. I saw another athlete post a similar reaction, so I know I wasn’t misperceiving that. A little after I made my way over to the turn buoy I felt it warm up again. Not sure what was going on with that. There was a little bit of choppiness to the water in the last third of the swim, but I just made sure to rotate in the water a little more and had no issues with it.
After a little contact turning around that first buoy, I began the remaining 2/3’s of the trip back. I’m terrible when it comes to sensing slight changes in the wind and apparently the current as well, but I could tell that I was quickly closing in on the bridges we had to swim under. It was no time until I got past the last bridge and could spot Joe’s Crab Shack, which was near the Swim Out. I started swimming a little harder in that last 10 minutes and was amazed when I saw my watch time of 1:09, a PR by almost 10 minutes.
The Ironman Louisville swim was without a doubt the most painless, cramp-free, quickest and most enjoyable of the three Ironman swims I have done. There were no fish, no logs, no odors, and nothing that was unexpected. It was awesome.
SWIM > BIKE TRANSITION – T1
After getting out of the water I immediately saw Ben and Kari and most of our cheer crew. I jogged up to the wetsuit strippers and let them do the job. Then it was off to T1 and find my Bike Gear bag and my bike for the next part of the race.
112 Miles > 6:12:14 > 78th Place M50-54 A/G > 698th Place Male > 840th Place Overall
Equipment: Specialized Shiv Pro Triathlon Bike > Specialized Trivent Expert Cycling Shoes > FLO aero wheels 30 front/Full back > Louis Garneau Superleggera Aero Helmet > Garmin Edge 500 Bike Computer > Feetures Mini Crew Light Cushion Socks > Homemade Tube Sock Arm Warmers > GU Salted Caramel and Vanilla Bean Energy Gel in Two GU Energy Gel Flasks > Salt Stick Dispenser with Salt Capsules
The bike ride had been on my mind since driving it on Friday. We had seen the hills on the two looped portion and they did not look all that friendly. But the main player of the day would not turn out to be the hills, it was the weather.
We had been keeping an eye on the weather for a couple of weeks, and it was shaping up to be a hot day in the 80’s until the last few days prior to Sunday. The temps were predicted to be much cooler, which was welcome, however that also meant that a cold front was expected midday, bringing gusts of around 30 mph and strong sustained winds for the day, as well as the chance for rain and thunderstorms. The thunderstorms didn’t materialize, but we did have light rain and strong gusts.
I had made the decision much earlier in training that I wasn’t going to wimp out anymore by not using my full disc aero wheel, and I had racked my bike with that full disc wheel for the race. And even though I managed to somehow stay upright in strong crosswinds, it was not easy. I found myself several times leaning very aggressively into the crosswind, hoping not to get blown off my intended line. It was hard.
Heading out of Louisville was amazingly gentle, a fast ride made possible by a flat road and a super strong tailwind. The first ten miles I had averaged about 21 mph and it was easy riding.
I finally got to the turn for the loops and felt the crosswind for the first time. And then the hills started. After riding them a little I realized that they really weren’t all that bad. Compared to Wisconsin and Lake Placid, these were not as bad. The climbs were pretty short in duration, and there were plenty of screaming down hills thrown in as well. My Garmin registered a top speed of 41 mph, and there were several descents in which I hit 30+ mph.
Upon getting to LaGrange, the weather was warming up. I had tossed the arm warmers in the transition in town and could feel myself sweating a little more. My Garmin said the temperature had risen into the low 80’s, but I don’t think it got that warm. I would say mid to upper 70’s. It lasted maybe thirty minutes and then it clouded over, got cooler and started to sprinkle.
The rain was pesky, never really completely wetting the roadway to the point were I felt it was a concern. But now that it was raining slightly, and the temps had dropped, I went from being slightly warm to being uncomfortably cool. It wasn’t unbearable, but I did regret not keeping my arm warmers.
At Mile 45 I found myself riding mostly alone and got a little concerned that I missed the second loop turn. I finally caught up with the next rider, who was standing and pedaling, and I asked him if he was on his first or second loop. He said he was on his first loop and that the turn for the second loop is still ahead. Immediately after asking him the question though, I realized why he was standing – he was urinating. I almost laughed at him while he was responding to me, but I was able to contain myself. Triathlon is weird.
The turn for the second loop finally came and off I went back toward LaGrange. I stopped at the aid station there and found the toilets (I don’t pee myself, although there were times I considered it). Upon exiting I was greeted by a volunteer who had a table of miscellaneous stuff – pretzel sticks, chips, grapes, and other stuff. But it was the Vasoline that caught my eye. I had forgotten to apply some Glide in T1, so I grabbed a stick full of the goo and stuck it in my pants. I rode pretty comfortably after that. The volunteer said the Vasoline was pretty popular. No doubt. I also stopped at the Bike Special Needs and grabbed the little yellow jacket I bought. I thought I might need it again, seeing that I had already seen the temps drop once.
After getting through the second loop and turning back west, I could see that the weather ahead of me looked awful. And it was really windy at this point. Around the 90 mile marker I passed Jeff and said hello. He said hi back, but didn’t appear to be in the mood to talk. We must of rode a similar pace back because he later came out of T2 right after me.
I pushed a pretty hard pace between 90 and 105 miles or so, but then decided to relax a little on the rougher River Road and spin my legs to recover for the run a little bit. I was pretty glad to come back into Louisville and get off the bike. It was a great ride, especially considering the brutal weather and the challenging rollers, but I was glad to be heading in for the run. Had I not stopped in four of the aid stations, I probably would have saved 10 minutes on that ride. In all, the bike course is challenging and technical, but plenty of fun to ride.
BIKE > RUN TRANSITION – T2
I was amazed to once again see Ben yelling for me there at the end of the ride. He really did a great job making sure to be loud and get my attention and cheer me on. Every time seeing him and the others was a big emotional lift.
I dismounted and started the walk into transition, where along the way I handed my pile of money (bike) off to some kid who couldn’t have been more than 10, and continued my post-ride shuffle into the change tent. I could see the amused look on many of the spectators getting a good chuckle at our hunched over and hobbled walk. I was even laughing at some of the others as well.
In my bag I had packed a large baby wipe and used it to towel myself off. Even if it was just for the refreshing smell, it made me feel better. I grabbed my bib belt, shoved my feet into my shoes, and opted for the visor instead of the hat. I kept the rain jacket in my back pocket, and I am very glad I did.
26.2 Miles > 4:05:07 > 24th Place M50-54 A/G > 341st Place Male > 434th Place Overall
Equipment: Boco Visor > Nishiki Weather/Wind Resistant Cycling Jacket > Hoka One One Clifton 3 > Fuel Belt Bib Belt with Pouch
When I came out of the change tent I was surprised to see Jeff. I had passed him on the bike and never saw him pass me back, so he must have been right behind me. He was trying to determine if waiting for a portable toilet to open up was in his best interest, and I saw him jog off to a set further up from Run Out. But he was right there with me, and I knew he was going to be chasing me down soon.
I was barely out of T2 when I saw Dave’s son Maxwell, who was cheering like mad. He was telling me that I only had a little run of 26 miles to go. Funny kid. Kari and Ben saw me again and I advised them that Jeff was right behind me. They took this bit of information somewhat nonchalantly, and it dawned on me they new exactly where everyone was at. “Yeah, we know he’s behind you. Now get going!”
Kari and Ben had discovered that Louisville has a bike share program and decided to hop a couple of bikes and chase me around the first part of the first loop. I would get up the road a little and then out of the blue Ben would yell “GO Papa!” which usually took me by surprise. He even caught me once coming out of the porta-john, at which I just shook my head.
Right after that potty break, I saw that Jeff had caught up with me. It was then he said he had crashed on the bike! No wonder he wasn’t up for small talk out on the bike course when I had seen him earlier. He said that some dope had passed him and then stopped right in front of him, causing him to crash and being tossed over his handlebars. He ended up with a pretty good sized bump on his forehead, but seemed to be doing okay.
Jeff and I jogged together for most of the first four miles of the first loop out, but my desire to walk the aid stations and multiple porta-john breaks caused him to gain a little distance on me. I had been passing some gas quite a bit, a common occurrence which many of the other racers also experienced from the sound of it. The saying in triathlon is “Never Trust a Fart,” and I had already “trusted” about a half dozen of them, so I was playing it safe by continually wasting my time in the toilet. But after awhile, I must have gotten most of the gas out of me and never felt the need to go again other than pee breaks. I was staying hydrated pretty well, and was content with my hydration and nutrition plan on the run. I was hitting the Coke and chicken broth, and eating the pretzels/potato chips and bananas when I felt like it. I kept up the gel intake at every 30 minutes as well. I never ran out of energy on the course.
Jeff knew that one of his former bosses was in the race and they met up on the run course somewhere around the 7 mile mark. I had started to creep back up on Jeff, and when I saw them jogging together and sharing their experiences of the day, I decided to try to sneak by and pass them unnoticed. But Jeff saw me and gave me some well wishes for the rest of the race. It was at that point that I thought he might be struggling a little.
Up next for me was seeing Alex, and I jogged with him for a little while. I came to realize that he was about 5 miles from being a two time Ironman and I was still on my first loop. We didn’t stride together for long, and he was off to finish.
It wasn’t long until I was also near the finish; however, I had to make the turn for my second loop. It’s somewhat of a sickening feeling when the halfway turnaround point is very close to the finish line. I was feeling really good at this point and figured that if I was still doing well with 10K to go, I would probably start my kick. And that’s what I did. I got lots of “great pace, Chris” and “nice run” from the spectators, who could read my name on the front of my bib. I did like the fact that the fans along the course could cheer for you personally. It freaks you out the first time, and then you figure it out.
The turn at the end of the out loop was near the 20 mile mark and it was now go time for me. I felt really good. I picked up my pace and was running just under 8 minute miles and passing a good number of runners. Around the 22 mile mark I drank a little chicken broth and it wasn’t long after that that it seemed like it wasn’t settling so well. I started to get slightly nauseated, and I burped a couple of times, which seemed to alleviate the nausea. When I hit the 24 mile mark, I was now pretty comfortable. I had ran this out and back on Friday, and had done this run back once already in the race. It was time to hit it. I had set a goal for myself pre-race that I wanted to try to break 4 hours in the run. I knew it would be close because my half marathon split was a little over 2 hours. But I knew that I had pushed pretty hard the second half, and was kicking to the end.
As I approached the finish chute I took a look at my watch and noticed that I was clearly going to be under 12 hours, far exceeding my goal of being sub 12:30. The emotions of finishing started to hit me. I can get a little emotional during the race – finishing the swim, and the start of the run both got me a little choked up. But coming in to this finish line was amazing! It was supercharged with excitement, and I was flying high on adrenaline. As I came down Fourth Street Live! to the finish it was almost a blur. I couldn’t hear any music, or even the announcer introducing me and saying the words “YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!” Just as I was crossing I almost got tripped up on the rug and almost did a complete faceplant! But I was able to collect myself and finish the race, even if I was an emotional wreck.
The Ironman Louisville run course couldn’t have been better. Flat and fast and the volunteers were awesome. A four hour and five minute marathon after biking and swimming 114.4 miles seemed impossible to me. 4:05 is quicker than some of the stand alone marathons I have run. Even I’m impressed. Just like the slogan says, “Anything Is Possible.”
140.6 Miles > 11:46:55 > 43rd M50-54 A/G > 479th Male Overall > 600th place Overall Finisher
Equipment: A cot, a blanket, a bottle of water, Base Salt, and an Ironman Louisville Finisher’s Medal
I ended Ironman Lake Placid 2016 in pretty good shape. I was able to walk, talk, and do other stuff without much effort. This time was the complete opposite. I was a blubbering mess. I wanted to keep moving, but the finisher chute was quite short. My finish line catcher was amazing, and stayed with me while I tried to figure out what the heck was going to happen to me. At some point I saw Ben and Kari and walked over to greet them at the fence. I let it out. The catcher asked if this was “normal” – lol. I handed my hat and finisher’s shirt to Kari and tried to collect myself. But I could tell I was starting to get chilled in the low to mid 50 degree temps. I asked the catcher to walk me to the medical tent.
Once inside the medical tent I was directed to a cot, had my blood pressure taken (110/70, 80 bpm) was told to lie down and had a blanket placed over me. I was now in full shiver mode and from my prone position could see that there was IV bags hanging all around. As I laid there wondering when they were going to give me the IV, I came to the conclusion that they probably weren’t. They had provided me a water bottle, and I still had my Base Salt container, so I figured I might as well start getting my electrolytes up on my own. I started licking the salt and trying to absorb it sublingually, and kept pushing the water. I suppose I laid there for thirty minutes and finally sat up. The shivering was over, and I was feeling better. My nurse Stacy walked me to the porta-john and I knew at that point I was doing much better.
I was allowed to keep the blanket and was very thankful for that as it was 50 degrees out and the wind of the day had not subsided at all. As I walked out, I took a look over at the recovery tent where there was more food and drink, but I could see that Ben and Kari were waiting for me on the other side of the fence. The area where the Morning Clothes bags were being held was nearby and I went over and retrieved mine. I met my wife and son and said lets go back to the hotel.
After a shower and a change of clothes, we walked back to the finish area and had dinner at TGIFriday’s. I needed some salty carbs and protein, so I ordered some soup, a steak and fries. I ate what I could and was feeling much better.
Since this race didn’t have a hard finish at midnight, and the fact that it was cold and my left leg was getting super sore, we decided to pack it in and not watch some of the final finishers. I kind of regret not sticking around for what is usually the highlight of the day, but I had no more to give to the day, and my crew was also tired of chasing me around. It was time for bed.
I was anxious to get up and get breakfast so we could get over to the Ironman store in the Athlete Village. I wanted to get that finisher’s jacket that Ironmen seem to covet for some reason. Kari and I flagged down weirdo number 3, a cabbie who was done with his shift for the night, but decided he could drive us to the Great Lawn where the Athlete Village was located. He was a little strange with his conversations about once owning a yachting jacket like the America’s Cup guys use, but at least he could give us a lift.
I expected that there would be a line and wasn’t let down. It was pretty long, and since we had gotten there late I figured all of the jackets were probably sold out by now. But we decided to stick it out, and since the awards ceremony was about to begin, we had something to occupy our time while we stood in line.
Once inside the store, I found my jacket in my size and we bought a couple of t-shirts for the girls and made a beeline out of there. It was time to check out of the hotel and hit the road for home.
POST RACE ANALYSIS
Ironman Louisville was awesome. It produced another personal best for me and a time that I am really proud of. I’m amazed that I went from being in 992nd place overall after the swim, to 840th overall after the bike, to 434th overall after the run. I had moved up hundreds of places after that awesome run. 600th out of 2,273 finishers is also pretty awesome.
I highly recommend Ironman Louisville for anyone looking to find a fast and contact free swim, a challenging but interesting bike course, and a flat and fast run with an awesome finish line like no other.
Alex: 10:14:57 > 5th Place M18-24 A/G PODIUM FINISH > 155th Place Overall > 2 time Ironman Finisher
Dave: 11:40:20 > 41st Place M50-54 A/G > 548th Place Overall > 3 time Ironman Finisher
Jeff: 12:14:27 > 107th Place M45-49 A/G > 802nd Place Overall > 2 time Ironman Finisher
As usual, I have many to thank. My friends at work, who probably regret asking about my training once I start answering. Thanks Lou, Micah, Jeff, Julie, Mary, Tracy, and the others, and especially my Super Fan, Carl! I’m still not getting the tattoo, Carl.
Thanks go to the Mueller’s, who like us had to sacrifice to make sure Jeff could get his training in, especially with moving to Downtown Chicago, and having a recent high school graduate off to college in late August. Jill, Emma and Charlie, thanks for coming to the race and supporting us and chasing us around.
Without Carla securing our hotel needs for every race we do, and doing such a great job at it, we would probably be staying in a dive hotel an hour outside of town. Instead we had wonderful suites in downtown Louisville, right next to the finish line. Carla, you are the best. And to the other DeForest’s, Max and Zach, and Lizzy and Alex’s girlfriend Kennedy, thanks for cheering as loud as you did. Seeing you guys was great.
To my son Ben, it was a great relief having you there. Thanks for chasing me around the course, running with me before the race, and going and retrieving my pile of money (bike) and gear bags, and putting up with such a long day of Gunner racing. I really appreciate it.
And lastly, a huge thanks to my endurance partner in life, my wife Kari. Thanks for keeping me on task during training, allowing me to go do those crazy long rides all the while we were loading our lives with a new home, a recent college graduate, a second year college student, and a busy high schooler in a competitive marching band who was also learning to drive. Thanks for being there for me as always. I love you.
Thanks for reading! On to my next adventure – my first Boston Marathon in 2018!
Race Week is finally here!!! Thirty weeks of training can be really slow moving at times, but it seems that the final week before the race will just fly by. And looking back on 30 weeks of training is a journey in itself.
Race day is almost here, the weather is looking to be decent enough, and the excitement is building. I can’t wait to join my teammates for another great event – Ironman Louisville 2017!
I will recap the last few days of this week in my race recap after the race next week sometime, but here is a summary of the 30 weeks of training that chronicles my journey to Louisville.
I typically write my weekly Ironman training wrap-up on Sunday, when all of my workouts have been completed, and share something worthwhile during the week that I find interesting in my journey toward my goal of doing a third Ironman race. Usually the long bike on Saturday or the long run on Sunday will give me something to reflect upon. But I find myself typing this on a Wednesday instead, a couple of days after another mass murder in the world involving gunfire, this time in Las Vegas, Nevada.
I have become somewhat numb to these shootings, and I believe most of the world has as well. They seem to have become routine or expected. I guess most people think that it won’t happen where they live. I also believe that I live in a pretty safe place in the world, the south suburbs of Chicago, a place where if you go a couple miles north you are certainly in the urban life, and if you travel a couple miles south you are definitely looking at cornfields. But I’m not fooling myself with that. At this writing, 58 people lost their lives in Las Vegas. The City of Chicago loses that many people in a month to gunfire. September 2017 alone registered 60 people murdered in Chicago(1). Chicago has a Las Vegas every damn month. Let that sink in.
I’m not anti-gun. I’m for protecting 2nd Amendment rights. But I’m also thinking we need much stricter gun ownership rules. I don’t even know what that entails, really. I just don’t want people to lose their minds and have access to guns and wipe out scores of people because they woke up on the wrong side of the world that day. With all the killings going on in Chicago, I have recently thought about purchasing a small handgun for protection and taking the two day concealed carry licensing course. But I haven’t done that, and may or may not. I don’t like to think about having to have to do that. I don’t want to have to get to the point where if I leave the house I have to carry a gun. I don’t want my pre-ride checklist to include water bottles, gels, a helmet, some spare tubes and a handgun.
My father grew up in Nebraska and was a farm boy, so I’m pretty sure that hunting was a common practice for him. I don’t remember my dad having guns around the house, maybe an old .22 caliber rifle that must have been in his family. Our house was on four wooded acres and my older brother Jon had shotguns and would walk the woods and the adjoining cornfields to shoot at pheasants and rabbits, and occasionally I would tag along. He gave me a gun to carry that I’m guessing he thought was perfect for me. It was an over/under type long gun, with a .22 caliber rifle on top and a .410 gauge shotgun on the bottom. I don’t remember ever shooting the dumb thing, but I do recall that it was heavy.
My friends were very avid hunters, and good at it too. I’m not anti-hunting at all, but I guess my path as a kid was more about playing wiffle ball, riding my mini-bike, and listening to rock and roll than it was about killing rabbits in the back yard. One year Jon must have thought that I was big enough now to carry a .20 gauge, and we traipsed once again through the woods. He saw some ducks swimming in the creek that ran through the property and he yelled “SHOOT THE FUCKING DUCKS!” I pulled the trigger and killed a duck. When we pulled it out of the creek we saw that this duck must have lived the high life, because he was huge. Most likely a duck that was fed pretty well by the neighbor to the north. I most likely had killed someone’s pet wild duck.
We were into taxidermy at the time, so my buddies helped me stuff that damn thing. We hung it from my ceiling like he was flying, which in all likelihood he was too damn fat to do, and likely the reason he was in essence a sitting duck to a kid who couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn from 10 feet away. That hanging duck in my bedroom kind of became my albatross around my neck, just like in the Rime of the Ancient Mariner. I looked at it everyday and eventually came to the conclusion that hunting may not be my thing.
After marriage and becoming a father, I just didn’t want any guns around the house. I have a valid Firearms Owners Identification card, but have never owned a gun. I work in non-sworn position in law enforcement and just maintain it in case I find myself possessing a gun for some reason. I’m a rule follower.
So how does the terrible event in Las Vegas have anything to do with training for another Ironman? Well, my group of buddies and I call our team “The Gunners”.
When we decided to do our second Ironman in 2016 in Lake Placid, New York, I thought that since there were five of us doing the race, we should have a cool team name, along with matching tri kits. But there wasn’t any theme or idea that really resonated with us until my buddy John suggested Gunners. That suggestion was made because the youngest of our group, Alex, had a habit of going full throttle in races, gunning for the win as they say. I had heard the term used in sports many times, especially in auto racing. “HE’S REALLY GUNNING FOR THE LEAD!” and stuff like that. And to be honest, I think the rest of our group was highly competitive as well. We all gun for the win. The name was bad ass. Not only did we want to be bad ass, we wanted to be GUNNERS!
I had trouble coming up with a logo, and thought about using a cannon in the design, kind of like Arsenal FC, a soccer club in London, who also went by the Gunner moniker. But I thought, maybe it should just be about the what we wanted the word to reflect, that we were highly competitive, gunning for the podium. In the end, I asked the company that we used to make our team kits if they could assist with a team logo for us, and they came up with the word Gunners in a fast looking script, with three stars above the name. They also suggested a logo having a handgun sticking out of the end of the “S”, but it looked really stupid, and it wasn’t what we were trying to express. So the Gunners logo with the three stars was our choice.
As we rapidly approach Ironman Louisville on October 15, we typically also make some t-shirts for ourselves and our family and crew of supporters that come along. My wife and I designed some cool looking shirts with the Gunner logo and the IM Louisville fleur-de-lis design similar to what they use, and ordered a few hundred dollars worth of shirts. A couple days later a crazed gunman went full gunner in his own way and mowed down 58 people and wounding scores more. What an asshole. He died too. He just got the order of who to shoot first wrong.
So now the question for me is, do I really want to plaster the word “Gunners” on my chest, and parade through 140.6 miles of Louisville, Kentucky? Not really. But yes, dammit, I do. Can I expect that people will understand the context of the word that we want it to portray, or will they look at it and say WTF? Is being a Gunner still bad ass, or just make me look like an ass? I’m not sure I have the answer to those questions. I feel like this guy stole something from me. But really, can I be upset about that when all those people in Las Vegas had their lives stolen from them? The answer to that is no.
I have a week and a few days to decide as to whether I’m going to represent the team name at Ironman Louisville. I probably will. I’m just bummed about the killings. But I know that I am a Gunner, and my teammates are Gunners, and we will all be gunning it on October 15, whether we are wearing it on our chest or not.
2 Swims – 5500 yards this week / 110250 yards total
4 Bikes – 82.5 miles this week / 10571 miles total
I was anticipating that this week would be pretty good. Week 28 is the first of three taper weeks, and after the heat and workload of the previous week, I knew it would be a lot better. But I wasn’t expecting it to be so dang good!
First of all, the weather got better. Temperatures went from low 90’s back to the mid 60’s and it felt great. On Tuesday, I decided to go back to the high school pool and swim what the plan had called for, about 3500 yards of swimming. But I felt pretty good, and once I got started I decided to test myself and I ended up swimming the full Ironman distance swim of 4200 yards. After swimming only two 45 minute swims a week for the past several, I just needed to prove to myself that I could cover the distance and I did.
But the week really turned awesome on Wednesday, when after waiting very anxiously for a week and a half, I finally got the word that I had made the cut for the Boston Marathon, a first for me. It had been a long time in the making, never really thinking that I would ever reach that goal, but it finally happened. I’m still a little in shock about making it into the field, but expect a blog report from me about being accepted soon.
Getting into Boston for the first time was pretty awesome, but the day wasn’t done delivering good news. I went to pick up Rebecca from marching band practice and although all of the band equipment and props were out on the field, the kids were nowhere in sight. When they came out of the building back to the field I could see that they were each carrying a red rose. I knew it immediately – they were going to Pasadena!!! The Tournament of Roses Parade!!! Now this may not seem like such a big deal, but it’s really like getting into Boston. First you have to meet several qualifications just to get in. And getting in means that this band is pretty darn good. But what really makes it special for me is that I marched in the parade on January 1, 1982, and it’s really cool that Rebecca will get to experience that as well. It was an experience of a lifetime for me. One of those special opportunities that not everyone gets. Pretty cool. Looks like I will be traveling to Pasadena in December/January 2019!
I went back to the pool on Thursday, even though I still have my pool at home open. It’s the end of September, almost October, and I still have the pool open, which is pretty unusual. But I am having some issues with the auto chlorinator, and will probably have to replace it in the spring, along with the pump and possibly the heater as well. It seems like everything is starting to reach the end of its use and getting worn out. I will deal with it in the spring. I began closing it on Sunday.
The Saturday long ride was four hours with a 1/2 hour run and it went really well. What a difference a week makes. Last Saturday was a 7 hour day in mid 90 degree temps. This Saturday started out at 54 degrees and didn’t get much more than 63 or so by the time I was done. I had three layers on for that ride!
Sunday wrapped up the week with another cool morning and a two hour run, and thanks to the cool temps I was able to squeeze in an extra mile and finished comfortably with 14 miles. However the real wrap up of the weekend was a trip to downtown Chicago with my family to see Hamilton. I really had no expectations for the show, and I was really impressed. It was pretty cool.
Here’s to Week 28! Thanks for being so good to me.
2 Swims – 7200 yards this week / 104,750 yards total
dread – /dred/ verb/noun: 1. To anticipate with great fear or apprehension (Google Definition) 2. The word “dead” with an r stuck in it (Chris Definition)
It’s interesting how one little change can cause me to panic over something that I can’t control. For this week it was the weather. The past three weeks we have had pretty good moderate, if not cool temperatures to train in. It has been somewhat enjoyable to bike and run in the day with temps in the upper 60’s and mid 70’s. But on the horizon for this weekend loomed record setting high temperatures in our area, several days bordering or over 90 degrees. And it happened on Week 27 – the dreaded Week 27.
I have followed the Be Iron Fit training plan for three races now and Week 27 is the one that I generally loathe. Sure we have been building up to this week, and truthfully I probably could have done the distance that Week 27 calls for in any of the previous three weekends. But doing it in 90 degree temps?! Yikes. I have gotten through this week before and I was sure I can get through it again. It’s not as tough as the race itself, for Pete’s sake. But the issue at hand was doing a six hour/100 mile bike ride and one hour/7 mile run in the heat. I was really dreading it this time around. Thankfully, my group of Gunner teammates had just the answer – suffer through this together. Here’s the low down on how we conquered the Dreaded Week 27.
The plan was to gather at Dave’s house in Dixon and ride his route, a route that I feel is very similar to what we will expect in Louisville – lots of rolling hills, followed by more rolling hills. The offer to spend the night there on Friday was made so that we could get an early start to our seven hour day, and I gladly accepted. I packed my junk up, double checked that I had all my junk, and had a dinner at a local pizza place with my wife Kari that only made me more anxious. The waitress was terrible and I was starting to believe that I may not make it there on Friday night. Quick pro tip – never tell the waitress that you need just another minute. To them people, just another minute means maybe ten. Whatever. We finally ate and I got on the road.
Upon arriving at Dave’s I was provided a comfortable bed, and the promise of a pre-ride meal in the morning.
I awoke at 5:30 am and got dressed. Upstairs Carla had oatmeal, bagels and bananas waiting for us. Thanks Carla! I probably ate more there than I do on my regular pre-ride meal at home. I certainly left with a full tank. Jeff showed up from Chicago just in time for some breakfast and small talk, and we slathered on some sunscreen and got ready to saddle up.
We hit the road at 6:30 am and it was 64 degrees. I actually felt a little cold and felt a little foolish for worrying about the forecasted heat. But as the sun rose, so did the temperatures. The riding was good, we reminded ourselves to save our legs for later, and slowly paced ourselves out to the first stop to refill our water bottles, a fire station in Lanark, Illinois.
Before we left, Dave had prepared for all of us a plastic bag filled with powdered lemon-lime flavored Gatorade. I joked that it looked like I was carrying a bag of yellow cocaine and almost took a pass on bringing it. I will drink Gatorade on my rides, but after a while all of that warm sugary Gatorade just doesn’t go down very well. I grabbed a bag as insurance, and I am glad I did.
At the first stop, I pulled out the bag and added some to my water bottles, now jokingly calling it “yellow gocaine” but I didn’t add enough. Now I just had dilute Gatorade water. Fortunately, I don’t rely on Gatorade for fuel, hydration or electrolyte replenishment. I always use salt capsules to keep my sodium levels up, and use gels for nutritions/fuel, along with water.
At several turns we were greeted with the possibility of some loose gravel on the turns and we did our best to warn each other. But occasionally we’d forget until after we passed it, but even then we would still shout “GRAVEL!”
I had been riding with Alex a little and he kept telling me about this hill that we would be able to scream down. I kept thinking that we weren’t going to ever get to this hill. But we finally did and it did not disappoint. I hit 45.8 mph going down it and pretty much had spun out my gearing. It was pretty exhilarating, and it ended too soon for me. It then dawned on me that that hill we just enjoyed will be the same one that will kick our butts on the way back. It did.
Our watches hit three hours just before we got to the portion of Dave’s route that included some serious hills to climb. Darn. Oh well. Maybe next time. We stopped for a little chat, a selfie and I ate my banana and some Clif bar.
THE 4 HOUR MARK
We made it back to the fire station in Lanark only to find that all of the doors were closed and it looked empty. That was a problem, as we needed to top off our water bottles with yellow gocaine for the remaining two hour trip back. I checked around back looking for a hose bib with negative results, and Alex knocked on the door of a business on the other side of the street. Turns out it was a realty office and one of the agents was nice enough to allow us use of their bathroom and water fountain. Crisis averted.
GUNNING IT BACK HOME
Dave, who is much better at judging the wind direction than I am (he’s a pilot, so no wonder) and told us that we might have to pick up the pace a little to make it back in six hours. The whole ride out I felt like we were mostly going downhill, and now not only were we climbing somewhat back, we also had a little headwind to deal with. Truthfully the wind was negligible, and the real issue now was that it was hot. We were enjoying ourselves so much that the heat really didn’t seem to matter. Dave manages his hydration much better than I do, and I tried my best to keep pace with his drinking, so I felt pretty good hydration wise. I think I stopped for five or six nature breaks and all were pale yellow, which was very good for me.
As we got closer to home, I could tell we were making a faster split coming back than going out, not just by effort and the fact that I watched our average mph climb from 16.5 to now around 17 mph, but also by the fact that Dave kept taking us on little half mile out and back trips on roads we didn’t ride out on. So I flipped the switch in my mind to forget about being back exactly at 100 miles (we turned around at 50), and just kept an eye on that 6 hour mark.
RIDE OVER – TIME TO RUN
We finished the ride in 6:02, covering 102.2 miles according to my gps watch. I was very pleased. Another 10 miles in that heat would have been doable, but I was glad it was done. The 112 miles will just have to wait until race day.
We seemed to not be in a rush to head out to the run, but we got around to it. I took some time to use the washroom and wash my face and neck off with some cold water. I downed a bottle of cold Gatorade (not the yellow gocaine variety for once!), and we swapped bike shoes for running shoes. The group headed out and paced ourselves fairly conservatively for the first couple of miles. Alex thought he would gun it a little more, but he quickly came to his senses and joined us. Carla came through and met us about 20-25 minutes into our run, offering us water and Gatorade refills which I happily took. Then Jeff hit the gas.
I hadn’t mentioned Jeff much so far in this recap, mainly because he was going along just doing the work. But now I knew that he was ready to rock and roll. He steadily built a lead on us getting a football field length or two ahead of us when we turned around at 30 minutes. Now it was Dave, Alex and I jogging together and thinking that Jeff was forgetting that we have a 3 hour run to do on Sunday. Jeff caught us and passed us easily. Now it was game on. It took me a while but I slowly reeled him in. I passed him with about a half mile or so to go and I got back to Dave’s house before him. But in all reality, he had run farther than me. He was in beast mode on that run. Well done, Jeff.
RECOVERING WITH SPECIAL SAUCE
After getting back, I chose to keep walking around to cool down while the others seemed to prefer to crash. Alex seemed to really be struggling. I keep hinting that he needs to pay more attention to electrolyte replenishment, but you can’t tell a young gun what to do. I hope he remembers what happened at Lake Placid last year, and makes the adjustment to increase his salt intake.
We went inside and showered up and was met with a great lunch spread made by Carla. She had made us all a variety of sandwiches and stuff to go with it and it was delicious. But the thing most interesting about the meal was the special sauce. I immediately got a chuckle out of this thanks to the movie “Step Brothers” where Brennan won’t share his fancy sauce with Dale. I have to admit, I wanted some special sauce on my sandwich. It was good.
After recovering with food, we went out to the garage to admire Dave’s new Corvette, gather our junk, and I threw about a million football passes to Max and Zach, which may have been the highlight of the day. I got in the car and headed home.
Before getting out of Dixon, I stopped at the Culver’s and bought myself a large diet Mountain Dew. I’m glad I did because I probably would have fallen asleep without the caffeine it provided.
As I was driving I got a text alerting me to the fact the the marching band contest that my daughter was competing at in Naperville had been cancelled due to the heat. I later learned that several kids and others were treated by EMT’s there, and the police told the school to shut it down. I chuckled at the fact that we just did seven straight hours and 109 miles of high level endurance activity. I guess we are ready.
4TH PLACE GOES TO…
Me. During the last hour of riding I was finding myself in the sweeper position quite often, trying to play catch-up with the other three. I realized at that point that I would most likely be finishing fourth off the bike ride at Louisville. I guess it’s just my riding style. I prefer to spin, and I am constantly spending large chunks of time in the small chain ring. Dave wouldn’t use that ring unless he absolutely had to. I prefer to save my quads for the run. And unless I gun the run like a madman, I am pretty sure I’m looking at finishing in fourth. But I’m totally cool with that. They are strong riders, and Jeff proved that he may rob me from my marathon crown at this race. It’s kind of cool that we all kind of have a triathlon distance specialty, and each of us have our dominant races. I tend to do well in the short stuff, and Dave is KING at Ironman. Jeff may very well be Dave’s best challenger this time around. Alex, well seeing that he’s the young gun, he’ll toast us all. He’s a lifer. He LOVES this sport! We all do.
THE SUNDAY LONG RUN
I was eager to get to the three hour long run on Sunday, because I didn’t want it to get too hot. The run started with a temperature of 70 degrees but warmed to the mid 80’s by the time I was done. It went really well. I’m surprised at how well I feel on a run the day after doing such a long bike/run brick. I turned around at 10 miles right at 1:30 and headed back home, finishing in 3:01. The only casualty was my left nipple sprung a leak. I was running along and feeling pretty good at about an hour into it when I looked down and saw that my shirt had a huge red bloody stain on it. That explained all the weird looks I was getting from people on the trail. I took the shirt off and rinsed the blood out with some water and made it home. All in all, a pretty good run.
2 Swims – 4200 yards this week / 97550 yards total