Monday, September 15, 2014

Ironman Louisville...Race Report...The Run

I saw Ken as I dismounted my bike and he got a good laugh at my fabulous tan lines!  I jogged on into transition, where a volunteer handed me my bag.  I ran into the women's changing tent and got dressed as quickly as I could.

I was so thankful to be in different clothes that were not soaked in sweat.  I threw my hair up in pigtails and was ready to roll.  I was sad that my hair was so wet that I could not get my pigtails to stand up as perky as I can at home.  Oh well...

I got another layer of sunscreen, not that it really mattered anymore and I was ready to attempt the marathon.  I saw my crew cheer me on and I stopped and gave all three of them hugs.  I knew it was such a long day out there, and the only one of them that is obligated by marriage is Ken!  All three of them were such troopers!

My exact words to Ken was that this was the easy part.  Ha, clearly you lose your perspective during an Ironman.  Someone please remind me that I called a marathon easy the next time I run one.  

Transition Time:  12:41

As soon as I started I knew it was going to be a long day.  It was hot.  By hot I mean in the 90's with a triple digit heat index.  I knew I had to take it easy if I did not want to end up in medical like so many others.  The saddest thing is that right after I left transition, I saw a man arrive on his bike and tell his wife he was just hit by a car????  He and his bike were both fine and then he told her he missed a cutoff and he started crying.  I felt bad for him, but I was also confused, because the bike cutoff was still an hour away.  

Right away I saw two guys that were dressed as cheerleaders, with boobs and everything.  I told them how hot they were and they yelled back.  They were pretty fun cheerleaders.

I made it to the first aid station and grabbed a cup of ice and tossed as much as possible in my top and added the rest to my water.  I was in no mood to eat anything, especially a GU, so I also drank some orange mango Perform.  Delicious I tell ya...

My plan was to run a few minutes and walk a few minutes.  I stuck to my plan pretty well, which usually was three minutes of running at a minimum.  I tried to stay in the shade as much as possible, but at times it was difficult to avoid the sun.  I looked forward to my second lap, which would be when the sun was down.

I saw a man that was spectating and he called out my name and asked me if I would meet him for a run the next day.  I told him, you bet and to meet me downtown at 6:30 am!  

I ended up chatting with a man named Kerry for a while.  He was from Louisville and told me that we were experiencing the hottest day of the year.  Go figure!  He as super nice and had a huge blister on his foot so he was walking.  I lost him when I started running, but saw him again later and know he finished.  

It always seems like the worst part of the run is getting to the turn around on the first lap.  After that, it seems like it gets easier for some reason.  I drank more ice water and iced Perform and dumped as much ice in my top as I could.  I ate pretzels and potato chips.  Someone offered me grapes and I about died.  I loved eating the grapes!  

Soon, I was finishing my first loop which means we turn and run right by the finish line.  It has never bothered me so much like it does others, because I know I will be back to experience it for myself!  I saw my crew at the turn and gave them a thumbs up to tell them I was feeling better.  I felt like I was finally cooling down!

You can see the layer of sweat and salt that is covering me!  I felt such relief finishing the first loop!

I skipped special needs on the run and kept moving.  I still was alternating my run/walking and was glad I was not pulled over on the side of the road like so many others.  I was tired of drinking but took water or Perform at every aid station.  I was starving too, but was still afraid something bad would happen if I had a GU.  I stuck to grapes and added oranges too.  It was pure Heaven.  I may have needed a room with my oranges the way I was molesting them.  Moving on...

For some reason the image of this man finishing an Ironman with poop running down his leg kept popping into my mind.  It had me so worried, that I stopped to do a quick "check" to make sure we were all clear.  My stomach was just not right after ingesting so much Ohio River water.  I did not want to be the girl that finished an Ironman with poop running down her leg.  Anyway, we were good, so I tried to get the image out of my mind.  

On the second lap, I tried to make my purpose to pass as many people as possible.  I would pick someone out ahead and tell myself that they were annoying or something and to pass them.  I turned it into a game and it was fun.  I did not get passed on the second lap.  

I was running longer than I was the first lap, just like in 2012.  My legs were feeling a little sore, but I stuck to my run/walk plan.  

A lady was handling out Twizzlers at one point and she became my BFF.  They were almost as good as the Payday I had on my bike.  

Soon enough, I was upon the final aid station.  I cannot even remember if I stopped or not.  I made it my mission to run all the way to the finish, knowing I would pass all the people up ahead.  I made the left turn and knew I had one block left to run before turning right to head to the finish line.  

I turned right, and knew what was ahead.  The lights were blinding.  The crowd was deafening.  A volunteer was sitting there and gave me the thumbs up to run to the finish.  I was running. I was smiling.  The crowd was so loud.  Everyone was yelling and had their hands out for high fives.  I ran down that chute with the biggest smile and slapping all of their hands.  

The next thing I knew, I was on the read carpet.  I had made it.  I was still high fiving people.  It was amazing.  One of the hands that was extended was Ken's.  I saw him and smiled the biggest smile ever.  I had made it.  I crossed the finish line and heard, "Keri Jackson - YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!"  

High fiving Ken, I have to buy this picture!  Also note, the horrible burn lines and pigtail swinging in the wind.  Best picture ever!

Run:  5:57: 25

Total time:  16:06:43

I instantly felt like I was going to vomit.  I got carried away high fiving everyone and sprinting, but I was fine.  I just needed some water.  I got my finishers hat, shirt, and medal.  My sweet volunteer told me that she wanted to make sure my cute face was visible for my picture.  I laughed at her and told her how rough I must look.  I got my picture and was free to see my crew.

I was not too tired for a little sass in my finishers picture!

Ken picked me up and gave me the biggest hug ever with tears in his eyes.  That moment, that exact moment made it all worth it.  The awful swim, the firery crotch on the bike, burning up on the run, was all worth it just to hear Ken tell me how proud he was.

With the best IronFans ever!

After hugs and pictures, we went to get a drink.  I ordered a mojito and brownie with ice cream.  I started to get a mango mojito, but decided on a normal after all the mango Perform I drank on the run.  

We went back to the finish line to cheer in the final finishers and it was hands down one of the best experiences ever.  A lady made it with two seconds to spare.  If you want to get inspired, go to the finish line of an Ironman 5 minutes before midnight.  AMAZING.

I was worried that there was no way that a second Ironman could top my first Ironman finish.  Well, I was just as proud of this finish as I was my first, maybe even more.  I felt so proud for overcoming what was not the perfect day, that I could not have been more proud or thrilled to have made it.

We walked back to the car this time, without having to take the shuttle.  It was a good year, no one was too chaffed to walk back to the car.

I had so much fun reading all of my text messages and Facebook message.  It is so overwhelming to feel so loved and to know that so many people are cheering me on.  Thank you all so much!

I wish I could say that I am never doing another one, but that would be a big fat lie.  I have no plans do complete an Ironman in 2015, but 2016 might be a different story depending on nursing school.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Ironman Louisville...Race Report - The Bike

A volunteer quickly handed me my bike bag and I was running into the women's changing tent.  Well, I guess I should say that I ran into the women's only after I started to run into the men's tent.  I was reassured that I was more than welcome to join in with the men if I wanted to!

I found a spot and started to grab everything out of my bag.  At this point I had no idea how long I had been in the water and I did not know how close I was to the cut off.  In my mind, I was really flirting with danger on time. 

I dried off as quickly as I could and shoved a Honey Stinger Waffle into my mouth.  I ate it so quickly, that I almost forgot that I had eaten it at all!  Extremely lady like, you know!

As I was removing my swimsuit, I noticed some nasty that was along my bra line.  Yuck.  I can only imagine what all I swallowed when I was trying to get out of the current of doom.

I got dressed as fast as I could and headed out with my helmet and sunglasses and stopped at the sunscreen tent for a little slathering.  Um yeah, I could have done a better job than the lady did on applying my sunscreen.  This was my only complaint for the day.  I ended up getting fried.  I was not the only one though, I saw several people with super odd lines where the sunscreen people missed. 

I grabbed my bike and as I was running out of the transition area, I saw Ken and Abby!  They were waving their hearts out and I was yelling something to them about the swim.  I am sure I did not make any sense at he point. 

Transition Time:  11:29

Headed out with a bra stuffed full of goodies!  Please take note of my crooked helmet.

This is the look of relief to be on solid ground!  And yes, I am posing.  Doesn't everyone stop and pose for pictures during an Ironman?

Just like that, I was on my way for a long day with Fern (my bike).  We had cloud cover for a little bit, but it quickly went away and the sun was out in full force.  The first several miles of the course are on River Road, which is a flat section that runs along you guessed it, the Ohio River.  I kept looking out over the river and was so happy I was no longer in that water!

I drank as much of my Gu Brew as possible before the first aid station, but did not have all of it drank, so I kept it and grabbed a bottle of water.  My stomach was a little upset and I knew it was from ingesting so much water during the swim.  In the effort to keep it real, I was worried that I may have had a small accident in my pants. 

I made it my mission to be on the look out for a porta potty.  I was so busy worrying about whether or not I had pooped my pants that I did not really notice the hills on the out and back section that everyone worries so much about.  At the end of 1694, I stopped at the aid station and went into the bathroom.  The coast was all clear, thank goodness!  I was not quite sure what I would have done had the situation been different. 

While I stopped and chugged on some cold water.  It tasted so good!  While I was getting back on my bike I heard a guy tell his friend that we are not pros and there is no shame in stopping at an aid station, especially when it is this hot.  I could not agree with him more! 

I left and made my way up the nasty hills to get back to the main part of the course to start the first loop.  I was taking salt pills at the bottom of the hour and a GU at the top of the hour.  I was also snacking on my Cherry Cola Honey Stinger Chews that were in my bento box.  With my stomach still bothering me, I sometimes pushed eating a GU off by 15 or 20 minutes.  I think I only ended up eating three GU's, since I ate a few other things after special needs.

Once I was on the first loop, I was greeted with all of the fast riders that were on their second loop.  This is always my least favorite part because the fast people are really fast!  I was looking forward to riding through La Grange with all of the people out watching and cheering. 

Being a female, you hear a lot of "You go Girl", "Girl Power", and "Pink Power" and many other things that I am sure I am forgetting.  I always smile and wave at the spectators and tell them thank you.  They do not have to be out there!

The part of the course that I hate the most is after La Grange when we turn left onto Ballard School Road.  The hills on this section get me every time.  Plus, we have to do this section twice.  The only reason made it through this section with no pitty party, is because I knew I was not too far from seeing my crew.

There were a few more tough hills after we turned off of Ballard Road, but several people were out cheering, making it tolerable.  Also, the homes on this stretch were absolutely gorgeous!  We made a left and I was instantly on the look out for my fans.  We rode a half mile or so and I saw the 50 mile mark and knew that I would seem them any moment.  I saw a left turn coming up and started to get worried that maybe I missed them?

My IronFan's set up.  They had a cooler full of beer and food for grilling!  It was like they were tailgating!

That is when I heard the loudest airhorn ever and saw Ken, Abby, and Scott cheering and holding their signs!  They had a complete set up that included a pop up tent and of course a cooler full of beer.  They were definitely making a day of it!

Oh, speaking of signs.  Yeah, my crew had the best signs on the entire course. 

This ended up being one of the more popular signs on the entire course!

I just about peed my pants when I saw this one, especially after I my earlier incident

I gave them the biggest smile I could and got a huge energy boost from seeing them.  The signs made me laugh so hard that I was still laughing miles down the road.

I made it to the turn where I had to loop around for my second loop.  I was certainly dreading two parts of the second loop, but also was looking forward to special needs, La Grange, and seeing my crew.  This helped out so much!  I also reminded myself that this was the last time I would have to ride on these hills!

I talked to a girl named Holly on the bike for a bit.  She told me she was having a hard time because she did not train on hills for the bike.  Plus, it was much hotter than it had been all summer.  I looked her up after the race, and sadly, she did not finish the run.  

My helmet was really hurting the side of my head.  I caught a look at my shadow and realized that is because it was crooked on my head.  Seriously, it was so crooked.  I did this in 2012 too and had some weird after effects from it.  I told myself to fix it at special needs.  At least I realized it was crooked early this year instead of wearing it crooked for 112 miles like I did in 2012.  That is progress.  Maybe next time I can put it on straight???

I made it special needs and was so excited about eating my Payday!  As in, no grown adult should be that excited about a candy bar.  I had a nice volunteer who talked to me while I shoved the Payday in my mouth.  I told her my mom would be so embarrassed if she saw me eating a candy bar without chewing it first!

I was also so excited to finally talk to someone about the swim.  I was a complete motor mouth telling this nice lady that I thought I was going to drown.  She pulled my chamois butter out of my bag and asked me if I wanted it.  Um, yeah I do!  My crotch is on fire, were my exact words to her.

I had no shame at that point and just squirted the butter on my crotch.  It was really quite funny having my hands down my pants out in the open.  Once again, a proud moment for my mom.

I grabbed my Keebler Rainbow Chip cookies and put them in my bento box, had my sweet volunteer spray me with sunscreen, thanked her, and was on my way.  I knew I only had 12 miles before I saw my crew again, so I was pretty excited.

We rode through La Grange with a lot of people still out screaming.  Soon enough, it was time to make the turn onto Ballard School Road.  I shouted to the policeman that was waving us to turn that this was my least favorite part.  He told me he would not take that personally, ha, ha!

I remember stopping and taking a Gu somewhere on Ballard Road.  That is when I saw a guy pass me where jean shorts!  I was kind of like WTF?  But in reality, I was wearing a skirt and leopard print sunglasses, so who am I to judge!

After the horrible hills, it was time to turn and I was just a few miles from seeing my crew.  I was still eating my Keebler cookies, taking salt and drinking as much as possible.  I never got any leg cramps at all during the entire ride.  My legs did feel a little tired, and I knew it was from the excessive kicking I did while on my back in the river.  Oh well, I was still doing well on time.

As I started to make the turn on Old Sligo Road, the policemen monitoring the course told me I was wearing the biggest smile they had seen all day.  Well, I am sure that had nothing to do with the 6'5 man blowing the airhorn just feet away!

I stopped and chatted with Ken for a few minutes, while Abby took my trash that was in my bra.  I asked about my swim time, and they told me it was 1:39.  My jaw dropped.  I told them about how horrible it was and laughed.  Ken was very concerned about the heat, but I told him I was fine.  I got a kiss and was on my way.

As I pedaled away, I read the new signs they had and once again, I just about peed my pants.  One said you have the desire and the other said and your crotch is on fire!  I shouted back that MY CROTCH IS ON FIRE!!!!  I was on my way and super excited to be on mile 81.  

I pedaled on and was so happy that I was nearing the end of the bike.  I drank as much as possible and still ate my Honey Stinger chews.  The last 20 miles or so are pretty flat and once we hit that, I felt home free.  I knew I could still get a flat tire and still make the cutoff at this point.

I passed a man that was pulled over on the side of the road.  He asked me if I knew what time the bike cut-off was.  I felt bad for him, I am sure he had not anticipating needing to know that info, as he looked like a super experienced athlete.  I am not sure if he finished or not.

I passed by my group of favorite spectators that were under a tree drinking.  Once again, they went ape shit just like they did in 2012.  Seriously, they were clearly having so much fun cheering for people.  

Once I saw the river, I knew I was getting close.  At this point, I was just telling myself not to wreck or get hit by a car and you got this!  I was kind of over drinking, but I knew I needed to guzzle a little more fluids before the run.  Please do not offer me anything that resembles lemon-lime for a few more weeks.

I teared up just before rolling into the bike finish.  I was so proud of myself for overcoming the struggles during the swim and then riding 112 miles in such heat.  I was really happy!  

I came rolling into the bike finish and was so excited to be off my bike!  I dismounted and saw Ken and yelled something to him about my crotch really taking a beating.  On any other day, that would probably be a major turn on, but not on August 24, 2014.

I handed my bike to a volunteer and was thrilled that Fern was now in someone else's hands.  It was now time to go change to head out to run a marathon. 

Bike Time:  8:05:46  (Which is also the same amount of time we were in the car driving to Louisville from Kansas City)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Ironman Louisville...Race Report - The Swim

The alarm was set for 4:30, but I was wide awake at 4:00 am.  I laid there for a few minutes and was afraid to try to fall back asleep and wake up really grumpy.

I had a little coffee, got dressed, and we were on our way.  I ended up getting some glazed donuts for breakfast and I tried to eat as many as I could on the way to downtown.  I only managed to eat 1 1/2.  It is tough to eat that early in the morning!  A quick pit stop at Walgreens for allergy medicine for Ken and we were on our way.

We parked and made our way to the transition area so that I could drop off my nutrition and my special needs bags.  I had forgotten to bring a pump with me, so I borrowed one from a lady next to me.  I couldn't figure out how to use it and was starting to panic.  Luckily, a man walked by that was some sort of race official, so I asked him for help.  He aired up my tires and I was good to go!

I found Deb and we made our walk to the swim start line, along with Ken and Abby.  It is about a mile walk to the docks, but we enjoyed chatting and talking about baseball and different things.

Deb and I both got body marked and soon it was time to make our way to the end of the line to wait for the race to begin.

At the swim start with Abby the IronFan!

With my number one IronFan!!!!

Once again I teared up giving Ken a hug good bye.  I guess just knowing that I am going to be out there all day with no real way of talking to him really upsets me.  I was very grateful that I had met Deb the day prior and was able to sit and chat with her while we waited.

The swim start, we jump off of the docks.

The lines for the porta potties are super long, but we were lucky enough to be waiting closer to the boat docks and were able to get access to a private bathroom on the docks.  It was nice not having to pee by a tree like I did last time.

When we made it back to the swim line, it had started moving.  My nerves were kicking in as we were watching the pros swim by.  The current looked strong.  As in so strong I am not sure if little me can make it up the channel.  I knew the rain from the last two nights did not help with the current situation.

As the line continued to move, the song "Call Me Maybe" came on.  Of course I started singing to sooth my nerves and was just imagining that this would end up what I would be singing in my head for the next two hours.  Lucky me.

The whole swim start thing is really kind of stressful for me.  The volunteers are trying to get the swimmers into the water as quickly as possible.  This involves a lot of hurrying and shouting.  As I made my way down to the dock, I looked for Ken and Abby but could not see them.  They did see me, along with my dance moves as I was singing my heart out before being cattle called into the water.

I am snapped my fingers and dancing in this picture

It was suddenly my turn to jump in and without hesitation I leaped into the water in a way that would remind you of a cat being tossed into a full bathtub.  I went completely under and my heart was racing.  I was trying to gain my composure, but all I could hear was the shouting of the volunteers to people to GO, GO and to not stop on the dock, and to swim!  Suddenly, I was once again brought back to the Titanic and hearing Jack say, "Rose, Rose, I need to swim!  Swim Rose!"

I am in the pink cap right by the volunteer that is shouting and moving her hands.  Yes, my face should be in the water, but you know...

I started swimming a few strokes and just could not get into a groove.  I was being knocked all over with the current and really thought that I might drown.  The verse of "Call Me Maybe" kept popping into my head and I was hoping that song would not be the last thing I heard.  I kept swimming without my face in the water and was trying to calm myself down.  It was then that I saw a beam of hope.  We will call him Bob, and Bob was the first kayaker that I met for the day.  Yes, I said my first.

I swam over to Bob with the same urgency in which I swam to Ken's kayak during my very first open water swim.  I grabbed a hold of his kayak with a death grip.  I assured Bob that despite how it may look, I do indeed know how to swim.  I chatted with Bob for what seemed like an eternity.  During that time someone else grabbed a hold of the back of Bob's kayak.

I told Bob I was counting to 10 and going to go on and swim.  I did not start counting.  In that moment, I am pretty sure Bob thought I was not going to leave.  I told him again, I was leaving in 10 seconds.  Finally I started counting and left.  Bob wished me good luck, but I am pretty sure he planned on me either coming back or me being removed for the river.

The moment I let go of Bob's kayak, I regretted it.  I wanted to swim back to dear Bob, but instead, I flipped onto my back and was trying to swim the elementary backstroke.  Yeah.  That worked out really well.  I was exhausting myself.  I saw the side of one of the docks.  Yes, I was still inside the island, and had maybe made it 150 meters from the start of the swim.

I swam over to the dock in a panic.  I had fantasized that there were stairs on the dock for me to just do myself a favor and get out of the Ohio River before I drowned.  I was in full on survival mode at this point.  Alas, there were no stairs.  Just a 16 year old life guard that asked if I was okay.  I am not sure if it was sheer look of horror on my face, the f-bombs I was dropping or my fingernails digging into the side of the dock that made him question my well being.

In the calmest voice I could muster, I told him I was just resting.  Ha, resting my ass, I was just trying to live!  I gave myself the best pep talk I could and peed.  I kind of thought that might make me feel better.  You know, focus on peeing and less on drowning.  I finally told myself to move away from the dock and keep swimming.  I started swimming the backstroke for a few yards and then flipped over to swim freestyle.  The minute I flipped over, I felt sea sick.  For any amount of time that I was on my stomach I thought I was going to vomit.

Suddenly, I had a vision of me vomiting and choking.  I now had to worry about not only drowning, but vomiting as well.  To my back I went and I was backstroking.  I kept splashing water into my face while I was backstroking, because you know, I practiced it so much in the pool that I was super efficient.

I was getting exhausted and started to wonder if I would ever make it to the main river.  I had decided I would backstroke the entire thing if needed, but I knew it would make me exhausted and it would most likely cause me to miss the swim cutoff.  I kept moving and stopped at another kayak.  We will call him John.  While I am sure John was a super nice guy, he annoyed the hell out of me and I only stayed for about 10 seconds.

I put my face in the water and tried to freestyle again.  I still felt sick, but made myself swim 30 strokes before I flipped over to my back.  This went on for awhile and finally I put my face in the water and started counting.  1, 2, 3; 1, 2, 3; appeared to be swimming.

I tried not to celebrate too much, but I was swimming!  I was swimming out of that horrible current and getting away from the island!  I kept going and thought for a second that I might just make it.  I encountered a few areas that were freezing cold.  They were so cold that they took my breath away.  I flipped to my back to calm myself down for a few seconds and then was swimming toward the turn buoy.

I really started getting into a groove and was passing people.  There was some drama at one of the turn buoys with a lady yelling at a man.  I was not sure what that was about, but I laughed and made the turn.

The minute I turned I started flying!  Apparently I was in the right spot for the current to take me down river.  I was passing every person in site and was feeling so much better!  I tried not to look up at the bridges, because I did not want it to seem like it was taking forever to get to them.

I had no contact with any other people and was seriously just flying down the river.  I didn't know it at the time, but Ken and Abby were on one of the bridges watching the swim.  They never really could identify me, but they did see one of the kayakers flip her kayak.  I guess she was also running into swimmers too.  That made me laugh!

Ken and Abby's view of the swim

My goggles did not hurt my eyes like they sometimes do when I swim non-stop for so long.  I was really wondering how long I had been in the water at this point.  There were several people behind me, so I was sure I was not going to miss the cutoff, but I wondered if I would be close and chasing my tail the rest of the day.

The next thing you know, I hear music and I know the swim exit is near.  I kicked it in high gear and passed a few people and went to the far right of the exit.  There were two men there and I popped my head out and asked if they would mind helping a lady out.  They picked me up and put me onto the stairs.

I have never felt so relieved in my entire life!  I survived!  I did not succumb to the Ohio River!  It did not defeat me!

The announcer called my name and I started jogging to get the hell away from the river.  I was looking for Ken, but I did not see him.  I figured I must have taken a super long time to get out of the water and he and Abby probably thought they missed me.

I went onto transition and grabbed my stuff to get ready for a 112 mile butt whooping, still grateful to be on solid ground.

Swim Time:  1:39:22