Ironman Louisville 2017 Write-Up

This past weekend, I raced Ironman Louisville.  I haven’t posted files from a race recently, so I thought it might be a good idea to go through this one.  First, the final stats:

9:10:xx. 21st male professional, out of 37.

Weather – it was a pretty unique weather day, as the air temp was around 70 deg F at race start, got up to about 80 deg while we were biking, and then cooled down to about 65 deg while we were running.  These unique conditions were the result of a cold front blowing in during the race… which also meant that we were racing in pretty strong winds all day.  Wind on the bike was generally around 15 mph, with gusts up to 35 mph.  Wind on the run was strong, but swirling, and tough to get a read on the direction.


Swim – 57:12.

Goggles – blueseventy Nero Race.

Swimskin – blueseventy PZ3tx

Water was 71.8 deg, so the pros were non-wetsuit.  We started as soon as there was any sunlight, swimming upriver for about 1000 meters.  I was settled in nicely at the back of a group, until my goggles got kicked off around 500 meters into the swim.  It was tempting to just keep going, but I knew that would end poorly, so I stopped to get my goggles back on.  This proved to be a mistake, as I lost the group that I was with, and didn’t quite have the burst to catch back up to them.  So, I ended up in no-man’s land, swimming on my own.  After we made the turn at 1000, we entered the main river channel, and it was VERY choppy.  The chop, combined with my frustration about not being able to bridge back up to my group, put me in a pretty negative mindset.  We don’t need to go into details, but there were a lot of “Why the hell am I doing this?” thoughts going through my head. That said, I kept moving forward, caught a few stragglers who also got spit off the back of groups, and ended up having a decent swim split.  Certainly not what I was hoping for, but not a disaster, either.


Bike – 4:55xx, 22.5 mph, 246 W average, 261 W normalized, 144 bpm.

IM Louisville Bike stats (2)


Frame – Quintana Roo PRsix

Shifting – Shimano Dura-Ace Di2

Wheels – Reynolds Aero 72 front, Zipp Super-9 disc rear

Basebar – Shimano PRO

Aerobars – Zipp Vuka Alumina extensions

Pedals – Look Keo Carbon Blade

Shoes – Giro SLX (with custom zipper closure)

Helmet – Giro Air Attack shield

Chain – IceFriction Tech

Tubes – Vittoria Latex

Tires – Continental Grand Prix TT

Bottom bracket & Rear Derailleur Pulleys – Hawk Racing

Saddle – Cobb V-Flow Max

Kit – Castelli Sanremo short sleeve

Nutrition – Clif gels, Clif Shot Bloks, table salt, Gatorade Endurance

I came out of T1 with Matthew Shanks, Dan Clarke, and Josezf Major. My original plan was to ride a steady 250-260 W, but I saw an opportunity to use Major as a pacer, and so I took advantage of it.  I locked myself 12 meters off his rear wheel, and went to work.  The time I was pacing off Major is shown in laps 1 & 2, above.  As can be seen, I had to average 280-290 W, just to sit 12 meters off his wheel.  My original hope was that he would settle down, and I could pace off him at a lower power, but that didn’t appear to be happening, as we were almost 20 miles into the race, and I needed 30-40 W above my goal power just to sit 12 meters back.  So, at that point, I decided I was paying too steep of a price to get a wheel to ride on, so I backed it off, and settled in to my original goal power numbers (260 W).

This was going well for the first loop on the bike, but things went a bit sideways on the 2nd “lollipop loop”.  The traffic from age groupers on their 1st lap was overwhelming, to the point of being dangerous.  The AG’ers were generally riding 2-3 abreast, on narrow roads, with live vehicle traffic.  Additionally, when passing each other, they usually didn’t check over their shoulder to see if anyone was coming, so you never knew if someone was just going to swerve left, directly into your path.  This made passing them extremely stressful, and it seemed like I spent the entire lap yelling “ON YOUR LEFT”, in an attempt to keep things safe.  Unfortunately, I allowed the stress of this get to me, and affect my race, as you can see on lap 6 (above), where my power numbers, and HR, fell off significantly.  There were other pros who handled it much better than me, so it certainly was possible to still ride well, in that situation.  This was mental weakness on my part, and something I need to work on, so that I don’t let similar situations impact my mindset/performance, in the future.

When we exited the 2nd lollipop loop, and headed back on the 20-ish miles of road to T2, we also got slammed with a headwind.  My frustration from dealing with the traffic on the 2nd loop carried over to this, and I was in a pretty bad mental spot.  Additionally, this is also where my legs really started feeling the gamble I took early in the bike.  My power fell off significantly, as can be seen on Lap 7, above.  This was doubly disastrous, as headwinds tend to magnify low power output, and it’s very easy to bleed a LOT of time on the bike, if you’re struggling to put out power into a headwind.


So, in terms of power distribution, I rode this course exactly the opposite of how I “should” have, since I cranked out my highest power output while riding with a tailwind, and my lowest power output while riding with a headwind.  That said, I stand by my approach, and would do it again, in a heartbeat.  I took a gamble early, to try to get a benefit by riding 12 meters off Major’s wheel.  It just didn’t work out.  That’s the way she goes, sometimes…


Run – 3:06:xx, 146 bpm

IM Louisville Run Stats IM Louisville Run laps

Shoes – Skechers GoMeb Speed 3

Kit – Castelli Sanremo short sleeve

Nutrition – Clif gels, table salt, coke, water Red Bull

The race plan was to take out the first 2 miles at 6:50-6:55, and then play it by ear.  This went well enough, as the first 2 miles felt easy, and I was able to continue running 6:50-7:00 pace, at a conversational effort.  There was a bathroom emergency at mile 8, but I was still through the first half marathon in 1:30:xx (including the bathroom stop), so I was in a decent spot to run sub-3.  I felt good, so I started applying some pressure at mile 15.  Mile 15 went well enough, as it was a 6:48, and didn’t feel too tough.  Unfortunately, on mile 16, my hamstrings said “noooooope”.  I started dealing with severe hamstring pain, and so I had to back it off, as I didn’t want to run myself into hamstring cramps.

From that point on, it was pretty much just a shuffle to the finish line, and I spent most of it chatting with Scott Cooper.  I wasn’t breathing hard, or working particularly hard… my hamstrings just didn’t want to run.  This was extremely frustrating, as my hamstrings are consistently a limiter on Ironman runs, either due to severe pain, or full-on cramping.  I’ll be sure to do extra work on hamstring strength/durability this winter, but I’m not sure exactly what else to do (flexibility? Bike fit?… seriously, if anyone has experience with this, please get in touch with me, so we can talk about it).

The durability/hamstring limitations on my run are very obvious from miles 16-24, as you can see that large dip in my HR, below.  On a well-executed Ironman run, the HR would have stayed steady, or risen slightly, from miles 16-24, and averaged 150-160 bpm.  But, I could only hit 146 bpm on this day, as I didn’t have quite all of the pieces together to support running at a higher HR.


Frustrating, but… so it goes.  Nothing I can do, but continue trying to fix it.


So… that’s Ironman Louisville, by the numbers!  I thought it was a cool city, and I liked the course… hope to go back one day!

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