Ironman Louisville Race Report – Part 4 (The Run)

As I mentioned in Part 3 of my report, I had a nice boost of energy during the last 10 miles of the bike. I pushed out my fastest splits of the 112 miles, all while holding a steady power and having my heart rate actually decrease slightly. I think I know how and why this happened, but I’ll talk about that in a future post.
I rolled into T2 feeling great and ready to take on a marathon. I handed my bike off to a volunteer (I always feel like a pro when I get to do this), ran down the shoot and grabbed by Run Gear bag. There were volunteers getting bags for people, but I guess my number didn’t get called out. It wasn’t a big deal because I knew exactly where my bag was lying on the ground.
I got into the changing tent and switched into my tri shorts. I changed socks, slipped on my running shoes, put on some more Planet Sun sunscreen, put my race number on my belt, threw my hat on, then grabbed my fuel belt and sunglasses as I headed out.

109th out of 335 in my Age Group
792nd out of 2600 Overall

My strategy on the run was two-fold. Priority number one was to keep my heart rate below 150. I figured that I would be able to hold a 9:30 per mile pace and keep my HR low enough. So that’s what I did. I checked my HR and pace pretty often that first mile. I was feeling strong but was being very mindful to keep from going out too fast. I found myself running next to a guy named Ryan during the second mile. He was from Milwaukee and we were running about the same pace. We chatted about sports and triathlons…it helped pass the time.
Much like the bike aid stations, I had a very specific plan for the run aid stations. I would grab wet sponges at the start of the station. I would start to walk as I unzipped my tri top and stuffed them down close to my core. I would then grab a cup of water and drink it all. I would take a second cup and dump it down my back as I walked. Then I would take a cup of ice, dump the ice in my hat and put my hat back on my head as I exited the aid station and started to run again. This process meant that I would be walking for about 30 seconds each aid station. They were approximately a mile apart, so I was running around a 9:30-9:45 min/mile pace and walking 30 seconds each mile.
I was honestly surprised by how low my heart rate was. It was hovering in the high 120’s. Based on the one long run I did in the heat while training, I fully expected to be watching it climb into the 140’s pretty early into the run. Here’s a chart of my heart rate for the entire 26.2 miles.

The dips are when I was walking the aid stations. Even just walking for a few seconds would cause my HR to drop 15-20 beats per minute. This probably was a factor in being able to keep it so low.
I saw my family for the first time around mile 6. I was feeling great and it was good to see everyone cheering me on. The turnaround is just past mile 7. By this time, I was passing people at a pretty steady rate. My energy levels were still high and I was still holding a running pace of 9:30 miles with no reason to slow down.

Run pace chart – the dips each mile are while I walked the Aid Stations

My fuel belt had four unmixed bottles of Infinit on it. At the first aid station, I filled one up with water and mixed it. I was taking a big drink from this bottle once each mile – usually when I thought of it between the aid stations. I went through the first bottle and then filled up the second one around mile 8 or 9. The nutrition plan for the run was to stick with my custom blend of Infinit as long as my stomach was able to handle it. I had enough to last me 4 hours. Somewhere about half way through that second bottle, I started to get cramps in my stomach. This was around mile 11 or 12. Once my stomach was no longer digesting the Infinit, I planned to switch to an even more simple sugar – Coke.
It was around mile 7 that I realized the water I was pouring down my back was running all the way down into my shoes. My socks were soaked and I could feel some friction – not good. From that point on at the aid stations, I would actually stop for a second, bend over, and then dump the water over my neck – keeping it from running down my legs into my shoes. Once I realized that my socks were wet and I could feel my stomach sloshing around, I just wanted to make it to Special Needs, witch is around mile 13.
A friend of mine, Dan, was on the course in a devil costume. I ran into him around mile 12. He ran with me for about half a mile and I remember asking him where the Special Needs station was…I desperately wanted some dry socks and to sit down for a minute to let my stomach settle.
A volunteer helped me get on some dry socks once I got to Special Needs. I had some electrolyte/salt tablets and chamois cream in the bag too, but I didn’t need either of those. When I last did IMLOU in 2011, I was taking electrolyte tablets all day long. I was popping 2-4 an hour from the time I got on the bike until I finished the run. Since then, I’ve done some research and found out that the human body doesn’t need the extra sodium or electrolytes – even in the heat. This fly’s in the face of everything that people will tell you about a hot race, but I felt confident that I would be fine. So this year I didn’t fool with the tablets…and I didn’t need them, despite the 90 degree temperature. For full disclosure, my Infinit mix does contain some electrolytes and sodium, but nowhere near the amounts that you will hear people recommending. Along this line, I will mention that my sweat did not contain any salt. When I finally cooled off after the race and my sweat had dried, there were no while streaks or spots on my arms.
Back to the race. After stopping at Special Needs, I had trouble getting back to the 9:30 pace that I had been running. For the next few miles, my running pace was closer to 9:50-10:00. I was starting to feel tired and hot. My run started around 2:30pm, so by this time, it was close to 5:00pm – the hottest part of the day. I was still doing the same routine at each aid station, but this time I was also grabbing a cup of Coke and taking a drink or two of it before getting the ice into my hat at the end. My stomach was still sloshing, so at first I was only taking a sip or two for fear that I was just filling my stomach with liquids that were not making it to my bloodstream.
I guess the slower pace helped get some blood flow back to my gut, because around mile 20 the sloshing and cramping had stopped. This is around the time when I started to count down the miles. The final turn-around is between miles 19 and 20. So once I made that turn and started back toward downtown, I knew that the end was close. I took a moment to assess how I was feeling. Since the Infinit was no longer working, I had dumped my fuel belt off with my parents around mile 18. My legs were feeling good, but my hips were hurting. I knew that my form was breaking down. I decided to hold my current pace until mile 23 and then see what I had left for the final 5K.
I was surprised at how quickly my heart rate jumped once I increased the effort. If you look back at the chart above, you can see my HR climb at mile 23 and continue to increase until the finish. Once I started to run harder, I switched my watch over to see my total time for the day. I was just under 11 and a half hours at that point. I did some quick math and knew that in order to beat my goal of 12 hours, I would have to run through the final aid stations instead of walking. So I decided to forgo the sponges and ice and just grab a water and a Coke. I would take a drink of the Coke, toss the cup, then drink the whole cup of water.
I got to mile 24 and decided that I felt good enough to pick up the pace some more. I ran that mile in 9:26. Once I got to the 25 mile marker, I felt the adrenaline kick in. I skipped the final aid station completely ran the last 1.2 miles with all I had left. I somehow managed to run the last mile in 8:26 – my fastest mile split of the marathon!
As I ran down the finish shoot, I had tunnel vision. The crowd noise went away and I just thought about how happy I was to have executed the entire race just as I had planned. I crossed the line well under the 12 hour mark (over 4 and a half minutes to spare). As soon as I stopped running, I felt all the blood leave my face and immediately started to look for a volunteer to lean on. I spotted my parents and then took a few minutes to sit down and rest before walking to get my Finisher’s shirt and hat.

26.2 mile run
(10:04 min/mile pace)
63rd out of 335 in my Age Group
456th out of 2600 Overall
Average heart rate – 127 bpm

I was looking all over for my wife and kids. I knew that they were going to be there, but I wanted to see them. I walked around the end of the barricade and spotted them coming down the sidewalk…four smiling faces instantly made me feel better!
After sitting on the ground and talking for a while, we took some pictures and then everyone headed home. It had been about 45 minutes since my race ended and I was still feeling light-headed and my stomach was cramping again. So I decided to walk down to the Medical “tent”. They checked my vitals and told me that I didn’t need an IV bag. So I just stayed there until I had to pee. There was no blood in the urine, so they let me go.
I took the shuttle back down to the transition area and walked my bike and gear bags about a half a mile to my car. I was surprised by how good I felt. My legs were tired, but not “just finished an Ironman” tired. I had thoughts of “did I wait too late to push it on the run?”.  I immediately dismissed those thoughts. Once I got to the car, I was very excited to see that I had over 40 text messages and Facebook comments from the day. I’m very blessed to have such a great group of friends and family!

Total Time
75th out of 335 in my Age Group
534th out of 2600 Overall

Gear Used:
Pearl Izumi Elite Tri Jersey and Shorts
Aqua Sphere Kayenne goggles
Tifosi Dolomite sunglasses
Garmin 910XT watch
Argon 18 E-112 Triathlon bike
Sram S60 / S80 wheelset (borrowed from Mr. Scott Panella)
Bike Javelin aero helmet
Asics Gel-Noosa Tri 7 shoes

Nutrition used:

  • (1) Medium Sweet Potato with Almond Butter (about 3 hrs before race)
  • Water bottle with NUUN tablet
  • (1 pack) GU Chomps – ate about 30 minutes before race start


  • (4) Bottles full of Infinit – 10 scoops total (1690 calories)
  • (2) 24oz. bottle of water – replaced bottle at each aid station
  • (4) GU Roctane gels – followed by 8-10 oz of water (400 calories)


  • (2) Small bottles full of Infinit – 2 scoop total (338 calories)
  • Water at all aid stations / Coke at the last 7-8 aid stations
There will be some more posts later disecting the bike and run portions of the race, but this is it for now. I’m very happy with my race and happy that it’s over…no post-Ironman blues for me!

Be sure and visit all of my sponsor’s websites. I sought out these companies because they provide great products and services.

One Response to “Ironman Louisville Race Report – Part 4 (The Run)”

  1. Melissa C September 4, 2013 at 10:38 PM #

    Congratulations on a great race!

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