Friday, August 31, 2012

Race Report: Ironman Louisville...

Grab yourself a latte, this is going to be a long one.  :)

The alarm was set for 4:30 am.  I ended up sleeping very well, so well in fact, that I was awake at 3:30.  I tried to go back to sleep, but was afraid if I did, I would be grumpy and groggy.  I decided to go ahead and sit up in bed and think about the events that were about to take place.  I had a little coffee, two pop tarts, and started drinking gatorade.  Ken woke up and got ready for the long day ahead.

For those who are wondering, this is 3:40 am Kansas City time.  We were ready to leave by 4:45!

Enjoying a wonderful blue gatorade cocktail

This is the part when Ken told me it was too late to turn back.  

On our drive downtown, I made sure to listen to a few of my favorite songs so that I could get one stuck in my head to sing during the swim.  I have found that singing in my head is the best way for me to stay calm during open water swimming.  Those of you that have been around me very long know that this is no surprise.  I literally sing songs all the time.  Not very well, but I can rap with the best of them.  :)

We got downtown and I dropped off all of my bike snacks and my special needs bags.  I asked some stranger to check my tires to see if they needed air in them.  He said they were fine, so off I went to find Ken and his parents so I could head down to the swim start to get body marked.  

All of the bikes and the changing tents

Bill checking everything out

Ken made the mile walk with me from transition down to the swim start area.  At this point, I was still very calm, just chatting away with him.  He did tell me that it would be no different that my swimming in the pool and no different than swimming in Kill Creek Lake on a Monday night.  He told me not to worry.  We laughed about the fact that it would be dark when I finished.  

Once we got to the body marking area, I had the two sweetest ladies mark me.  One of them was from Kansas, so I thought that was a good sign.

I love this picture.  Because everyone is busting up laughing and smiling this big before their very first ironman.

All marked and ready to swim!

In front of the swim start and looking pretty terrified!

It was time to say good bye to Ken for the day.  This is when I started crying.  He gave me a hug and a kiss and I could not hold it in any longer.  I could not believe that the person that had been there for me during all my training was going to be on the side lines and that I would not be able to talk to him until after the race.  It still makes me tear up thinking about it.  It was the toughest moment of the day for me telling him good bye to start the race.

The swim exit and a view of the bridges

With the start being a time trial start, you line up and wait in line for quite a while.  I met a few very nice guys while in line.  Most were first timers, but a two of them had completed in previous ironman races.  I told them that I was nervous about the swim and that this was my very first triathlon, ever.  I think they probably had doubts that I would make it, but never said anything.  They were all super nice and I was very glad to spend my time waiting with such nice people.  

Before I knew it, the line was moving and we were down by the dock getting ready to jump in.  Right before we jumped in, the guy in front of me (I cannot remember his name) turned around to wish me good luck.  It was so sweet.  

I had never jumped off of a dock before to swim.  Sure, I have jumped into a pool before but I can always touch and I was never swimming 2.4 miles.  I was afraid that I would lose my goggles or that I would panic.  I jumped in and immediately felt some nasty moss.  Yuck, OMG, what is that, was what went through my head.  Get a hold of yourself KJ!  I told a deep breath and decided to swim a few strokes without putting my head in the water.  I figured this was my best bet to slow my breathing and to calm down.  Guess what, it worked!  It took me a few moments to get into a rhythm, but before I knew it I was swimming along the channel.  I kept counting, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3 and then started singing my choice song of the day:  Starships.  Starships were meant to fly, hand up and touch the sky.  I kept repeating and repeating it over and over again.

Next thing you know, bam!  I get smacked by some guy that had to have known I was there, he came from behind me.  I popped my head out of the water, called him a name and moved on.  The contact was not nearly as bad as I was expecting, but I did get felt up a few times.  Pretty sure that those types of situations usually come with dinner and gifts first.  :)

My goggles started leaking a little bit and I wondered how I would swim another mile and a half with leaky goggles.  That is when angels parted the clouds.  I felt something odd beneath my hand.  I first panicked and thought that I swam over someone and that they were under me.  Nope, that is sand!  It was the bottom of the river.  I stood up, fixed my goggles and walked for a few moments.  That was perfecting timing.  I had a hard time seeing the turn bouy, but tried to follow everyone else.  Pretty sure that I thought it was earlier than it was and started turning, but quickly realized I was wrong.  Darn it.  I made the turn and realized we were no longer in the channel, but now in the main river.  I told myself to stay calm, it does not matter, you are doing fine.  I kept singing and may have snuck in a little Bone Thuggs N Harmony, See you at the Crossroads, See you at the Crossroads.  Yeah, I am a child of the 90's.  

I wanted to stay to the outside of everyone and when I looked up, no one else was in sight.  How the hell did I get way over here?  Oh well, I am still inside the kayaks and swimming alone.  I told myself to ride it out and swim by myself like I would in pool.  As I was enjoying my alone time, a kayaker waived his paddle and I knew I needed to scoot over just a bit.  I kept going along thinking that boy, this sure is a long way.  Who's idea was this?  I have to ride how far when I get out of here?  Next thing I know, bam a kick to the ribs.  Where did he come from?  OMG, where did all of these people come from?  Apparently I was back in the middle of everyone and fighting for my space.  

Wow, I felt like I was starting to get sea sick.  I was just getting tossed around and I knew it was the result of all the bodies around me.  We had to swim under three bridges to get to the end.  I saw the first one and thought it seemed so close.  Wrong, it was so far away.  I stopped looking up.  I just swam and hoped this would be ending soon.  My goggles started to hurt my head and I started to get a headache.  That's just great I though.  Swim, swim, swim.  

Finally, I could hear music and the crowd.  I knew we were getting close.  Those last few hundred yards flew by.  Next thing you know, someone extends their hand and helps me out of the water.  Holy Moly, I just survived the worst part of the day.  I just completed the swim portion of Ironman Louisville!

I was smiling so big!  I saw Ken and his parents and yelled to them that I did it, I did it!  I made it!  I made it through the swim!  People were yelling as I made my way over to transition.  Way to go purple girl, Love your enthusiasm!  I was so happy, that I had forgotten that I still needed to go ride my bike 112 miles in the Kentucky hills.

Is this the face of a happy girl or what?

Swim Time:  1:47:11

Swim to bike transition was kind of a blur.  I ran in with my bag and started changing.  I had two very sweet volunteers help me and make sure I had everything I needed.  Every volunteer that I came into contact with was fabulous.  I made sure that I said thank you each time I received any form of assistance.  Next thing you know, I was out of the tent, all lathered in sunscreen and grabbing my bike of the rack.  As I grabbed it, I remember smiling and thinking, oh my goodness, I am grabbing my bike for the ride portion of the ironman.  Wow.

T1:  8:24

hopping on the bike

I wore this smile all day

I was so happy that I was able to see Ken and Bill and Linda before I headed out.  I knew it would be a long day on the bike and getting smiles and waves from them was the best way to start my day.

The first several miles are a flat section before all of the rolling hills begin.  I remembered two things from a video I had watched about the bike course.  The first, take this section easy and the second, you should need to throw away your first bottle of water or sports drink at the first add station, which was 10 miles in.  If you do not start hydrating right away, you are in trouble later on the bike, especially when temps are in the 90's.  I made sure that I drank and drank and took my Gu's at the top of each hour.

Even though I despised the bike during my training, it was my favorite part of the race.  I will admit, it may have been my outfit.  I had other riders pass me and tell me that I was the cutest thing out there.  I would smile and say thank you.  I smiled the entire day.  I was Miss Popular on the bike.  I had so many spectators yell things like, Go Pinky, Yay Pretty in Pink, Girl Power, Love the outfit, You are rocking the pink.  It was too funny. After I would ride by a group of spectators and they would yell something at me, I would have other riders tell me that I have a huge fan club.  Yep, that's right, it is amazing what a cute outfit and a smile can do.  :)

There is an out and back section at the beginning of the course that is down right dangerous.  People get going so fast and pass people and I saw one guy wreck.  It was awful.  I ride at my own pass and do not worry about anyone else.  Go ahead, pass me.  We have a long way to go.  

I knew that I would see Ken at mile 38 when we looped through La Grange.  I was looking forward to seeing him more than anything.  As we approached all the spectators, I could not help by smile from ear to ear.  I saw Ken, but missed seeing Bill and Linda.  The cheering on this section of the course was crazy.  People were screaming and jumping up and down.  I received several, cute outfit shouts and smiled and waved.  

At mile 38

After leaving La Grange, you tackle many more hills before we start the second loop.  Around mile 45 or so was the toughest part of the bike ride for me.  I felt defeated and like I had so far to go before I was finished.  I knew I still had several hours before I would see Ken again at the bike finish and I was overall just bummed.  I pulled over and gave myself an attitude adjustment.  I took a Gu and told myself that I did not just swim in that nasty river for 2.4 to stop now.  I also told myself that I needed to think about everyone that was cheering me on.  Do not let them down, do not let yourself down.  Strap on a pair and get going.  I then decided I needed to break the ride up into sections.  I needed to look forward to getting to special needs so that I could eat my Payday candy bar.  Now that lit a fire under me.  :)

I did think we were on the second loop at one point when we were not.  That was disheartening, but when we were on the second loop, I was much happier because all of the fast people were long gone.  The course was not as crowded and you could just ride.  I stopped at special needs and spoke to the sweetest volunteer that helped me with my stuff.  I ate my Payday and headed out.  Even though I knew I would not see Ken in La Grange, I knew riding through there with all the spectators would give me a boost.

As I came up over the hill, I saw this tall guy in a black shirt standing there waving his heart out.  Oh my goodness, it was Ken!  I was shocked and so excited!  I heard him say he was taking a picture to send to everyone at home. I thought about everyone that was tracking me and wishing me well.  My eyes filled with tears.  I could not believe that he had skipped out on going on the Urban Bourbon tour to see me again.  Now that my friends, is love.  I saw Bill and Linda this time too.  I was on cloud nine.  I am not sure if Ken knew or not, but he completely made my day by sticking around to see me the second time.  I knew I could finish the bike now.  

Soon, I was upon the section that had given me trouble last loop.  When I came around the corner, there were two bikes on the ground.  Two people had a small collision.  I, along with two other guys, got off my bike and made sure they were okay.  We all agreed to walk up the hill and collect ourselves.  There was a man spectating in his lawn and he told us that he had already had to call three or four ambulances that day because of people and the heat.  He told us he thought we were wise to walk up the hill.  Me too sir, me too.

I hopped back on my bike and talked to a girl named Anne for a while.  She told me she hated the bike and was struggling.  We talked for awhile and then parted ways.  I never did see her again, but I know that she did finish.  Just before we came upon the final turn before heading back to the river, a group of women told me how much they loved my outfit.  I shouted back, "If you can't be fast, be cute!", they got a huge kick out of that.  

The last 30 miles I spent leap frogging with a guy named John. We talked and gave each other a hard time.  I would hear Keri, Keri, Keri, and would shout out, is that my buddy John?  He had ridden the course and told me when it would flatten out.  When we got to our final aid station, John was with me and I told him we needed to bring it on it.  He said, after you mama, and had me lead the way.  I lost him and never saw him again.  I am not sure if he finished or not.  

During the last stretch, I saw people lining the street that had pulled over and were under trees.  I could tell they were struggling.  There was one guy that was in front of me going up a hill and I could tell he got a cramp in his leg.  He pulled over, but could not get off his bike in time and fell over.  Fortunately, he was right across from the fire station and they came over to assist him.  His name was Karl and I am not sure if he finished or not.  

My favorite groups of spectators were the ones that had tents set up and were obviously drinking.  The last group that I saw was obviously drunk and they went ape shit when I went by.  You would have thought that I was Lance Armstrong the way they were cheering for me.  Again, it was the outfit.  

I passed several guys on the final stretch and remember thinking about how much fun I was having.  I finally looked at my overall bike time and knew I was finishing slower than I expected to, but would be way ahead of the cutoff.  I let myself think at that moment that I would be an ironman that day, unless I got sick or something on the run.  

As I made the turn to head back into transition, I was squealing.  People were saying you made and you are almost there.  I kept saying yay, yay!  They were all laughing.  I was just so excited to had made it through the swim and the bike.  

Guess who I saw right at the dismount line for the bike, Ken!  I was so excited.  I hopped off and was able to get a kiss from him.  I heard the people behind him say how adorable I was.  Yeah, as adorable as I can be after an eight hour butt whooping!

Bike Time:  8:04:52 

I am not sure if I was happier after finishing the bike or the swim!

My hoo hoo thanked me the moment I got off that bike.

Wow, what a hot mess!
A quick note about my sunglasses, I wore a pair of my everyday sunglasses.  Ken was making fun of me because they were prissy.  Well, I had tried on sporty looking sunglasses and they made me look very masculine.  Ken did not believe me, so I tried on his.  Um, yeah, I looked like a weird man.  So, the girly sunglasses won!

I went into transition and did a complete change of clothes.  I was so happy to be out of that padded bike skirt and have on new socks and shoes.  Oh, the other thing.  My helmet was slightly crooked on my head.  You can kind of tell in the pictures, but it was crooked.  I still have a weird sensation on part of my head.  I know it was because of that helmet.

When I was all changed and heading out to the run, I saw this lady just sitting in a chair half naked and miserable.  She looked like she had been put through the ringer.  She must have been in there for a while because I did not recall seeing her on the bike.  I thanked my lucky stars that I was all in one piece and did not look half as bad as she did.

I made my way out of the changing tent and stopped at the aid station for a little water.  I saw Ken, Bill, and Linda up ahead.  I stopped and gave all three of them hugs.  I had been so grateful for them all day long that I felt that I needed to thank them.  I am sure my sweaty hug was exactly what they were hoping for.

T2:  9:47

Two legs down, one to go.  This is the moment where I realized, oh my goodness, I have to run a marathon. I know how hard it is too run a marathon, let alone after swimming 2.4 miles and biking 112 miles.  This might be ugly.

I ran out onto the street trying to tell myself that the first half a mile running after biking is the hardest.  My legs were not having it.  I quickly remembered that I did not stretch my legs before starting.  I always stretch my legs and know how badly things can go when I do not.  My legs were burning.  I stopped and stretched on a curb on the bridge.  The run is an out and back on one of the bridges and then a double out and back.

I stretched and walked for a bit.  I knew that it was best to take it easy that I had a long few hours ahead of me.  I also knew that I could walk the entire thing and still make it by the midnight cut off, but I did not want to chance it at all.  After my legs started to feel better, I started running for a certain number of minutes and then walking for a certain number of minutes.  I would change the amount of run/walk time, depending on when there was an aid station.  I drank at every aid station and tried to take a Gu or Gu Chomps at every two aid stations.

I look pretty rough here

As soon as I made it to the turn around the first time, I felt so much better.  I just had to run back downtown and then I would be starting my second loop.  I was that much closer to being an ironman.  I thought I would have talked to more people during the run, but most people I saw were struggling, big time.  I never felt fabulous, but I also never struggled so badly like others did.  My first loop was a little slower than I had hoped and part of this is because I had to first a porta potty two times because I was unsure of a situation that was at hand.  Fortunately for me, it was a false alarm and all was well.  :)

I completed my first loop just as it started to get dark.  I looked around for Ken, but never did see him.  I later learned that he had walked away about two minutes before I passed by.  I skipped special needs, knowing that I really did not put anything in there besides advil and pepto, so I continued on.  Run then walk, run then walk.  I came upon a nice guy named Chris and he and I kept passing each other.  He would always ask me how I was doing.  Always.  He was a very nice guy.  I also chatted with a guy from Austin that was doing the ironman for his 50th birthday.  I remember at this point being so hungry that my stomach was growling.  I started eating pretzels hoping that it would hold me over.

On the way to the turn around, I saw a guy spectating with a dog.  This dog was none other than a Siberian Husky.  :)  I told him I had been waiting all day to see a husky.  I thought of my sweet girl and was sure that she was at the vet routing for her mama.  I remember asking someone for the time, wanting to make sure my watch was correct.  It was 9:45.  I knew I had this.

I got to the turn around to head back to downtown.  As I was on my way back, I wondered how many people I was seeing on their way out wouldn't make it.  I hoped they would all get a huge boost of energy and make it in.  I do recall seeing a very handsome police officer.  I made sure and told him hello and thanked him for being out on the course.  You take what boosts you can get on such a long day.  :)

When I would run, I always passed more people.  I was amazed at the number of men I was passing.  I asked one guy if he wanted to run/walk with me and he told me there was no way that he could.  I felt very fortunate that I still felt so good.  I definitely felt so much better the second loop than the first.

I did run into Chris again and this time he had a friend.  We chatted and I told him I thought I passed him on the bike.  He asked what I was wearing, so I told him.  He said, yes, you did pass me on the bike.  Big smile for Keri.  I ended up taking off running and never saw Chris again.  I know that he and his friend both finished. At the last aid station, I asked if this was the last aid station.  I was told yes and that the finish was 1.4 miles away.  I ate a few pretzels, washed them down with some water and made my way.

I knew I had less than a half mile to go.  People were telling us you are almost there.  I just smiled.  I was so happy that I could hardly contain it.  Just as I was approaching the final corner, a lady shouted, it is just around the corner.  I instantly thought of hiking the Grand Canyon and how I kept telling Maddie, that something was always just around the corner.  I chuckled and knew that Maddie would be dying laughing if she were there right now.  The only thing is, I knew that finish line was just around the corner.  I passed a guy and girl and saw the lights.

There it was.  The moment I have been waiting for all day.  The lights, the crowd, the music, the cheers.  I was there.  I had made it.  I scanned the crowd and looked and saw Bill and Linda.  They were screaming.  I was smiling so big that it hurt.  I knew Ken was just ahead.  I saw him.  He was waving, taking pictures and yelling for me.  I could not believe it, it was here, my moment.  I had pictured this moment for the last nine months and it was here.  I was so excited that I was squealing.  Squealing.  Then I hear it, Keri Jackson, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!!!!

Run Time:  5:35:36

Overall Time:  15:45:50

I could not believe it, I did it.  I made it.  A volunteer instantly came up and asked me if I was okay and if I needed anything.  I told him I wanted to see my husband.  He got me some water, got me my medal.  I saw Ken over at the barricade.  I had to go see him.  I walked over there and Ken was beaming with pride.  I got a quick hug and a kiss and a nice lady took our picture.  I just wanted to get out of the finish area to get to Ken.  I wanted to tell him all about my day.

I got my finisher's shirt and hat, got my picture taken and my volunteer got me some chocolate milk.  I thanked him, he congratulated me and I was free to see my family.

When I saw Ken, it was the best moment of the day.  He picked me up and hugged me and told me how absolutely proud of me he was and that he could not believe that I did it.  He said it was the most amazing thing he had ever seen.  I cannot quite put that moment into words, but it was so amazing.  I was so happy, so proud, so overwhelmed.  Lots and lots of hugs followed.  Ken then started telling me about all of the texts he had received from all of my friends.  I was completely shocked and overwhelmed by all of the love and support.  He told me that he had to charge his phone because he had gotten so many texts, that his phone had died.  I knew I was loved, but had no idea how much all of my friends truly did care about my progress that day.

We said goodnight to Bill and Linda and went to get some food and a drink.  I ordered a mojito and it was so good!  I told Ken about my day and he told me how much fun he had spectating.  We went back to the finish line and watched the final finishers come in just before midnight.  The energy at the finish line was amazing.  We finished our drinks and made our way back.  I was still in complete shock that my ironman journey was over and that I had made it.  Not only did I make it, but I finished feeling good and with a huge smile on my face.  What more can you ask for.

We got back to the car and I looked at my phone.  Wow, between my text messages and all my Facebook messages, I could not believe all of the kind words.  I tear up even thinking about it.  It was simply amazing.

 The finish shoot

This is the picture Ken was trying to take of me, but I was running too fast.  You can see my arm and glow stick.  :)

I am not sure that this smile could get any bigger!!!

My finish was very cheerleaderish!  I was so HAPPY!!!

I did it, I did it!!!

This picture pretty much says it all.  I am not quite sure if I can put into words the way I felt at that moment, but I was so very happy!

I was a hot mess, but a very happy hot mess.  I was still in complete shock that I had made it and was still standing. 

I love, love, love this picture.  Ken is so supportive in everything that I do.  You can just see the pride in his eyes.

These two were such troopers.  They were out there from 5:15 am until I finished.  Ken told them to go back to their hotel to rest, but they refused.  They did not want to miss one moment of the day.  I am forever grateful for their support.

Well, if you made it this far, you might just be an ironman!  Thank you so much for reading and for the constant cheers!


Melissa said...

Congrats Keri! Great job.

abbi said...

Congratulations to you! What an amazing accomplishment and your race recap was wonderful!

Heather said...

I loved reading this post...even had me in tears a few times! You are so inspiring Keri & I am so very proud of you! Congrats to an amazing accomplishment!

lindsay said...

i was tearing up reading this too... ken being there to watch you when you thought he wouldn't a couple times. i am inspired and proud of you! i'm glad you had a great day out there and CONGRATS on such a big accomplishment!!

Jean said...


It was awesome reading what you were thinking and feeling on this huge day!!! And Ken, wow, what a supportive and fantastic guy. I am glad you had 3 smiling faces in that big crowd who stayed with you the entire day and whose presence reminded you how much you are loved.

Yeah for Keri!!!!!!

KJ said...

WOW- what an accomplishment! So amazing and I must say I'm so impressed. One of our best friends was doing the Iron Man in Louisville that day too-- small world. Wish I could have been there to cheer you both on.

Emily said...

Congratulations! I absolutely loved reading through your race report. I may have to adopt your motto "if you can't be fast--be cute" when I tackle IMLou next year!

Wendy said...

SO so cool! Congrats!!! What an amazing memory for both of you!