Dear Sandy & Paul, Donna & Don, Tara & Jason, Gerald and all my friends from IM,
 
I'm sitting in the plane to Europe now and I can't believe that it is
already over one week ago that I did my longest race ever!
And what a crazy week before that... but I try to start at the
beginning. Last year some club members had plans to do an Ironman race
in 2008 and I started thinking about that, too. Ok, maybe it's easier
to suffer if the pain is loaded on some friends, too and you are able
to talk about your problems and concerns. So the goal for 2008 was set
and since I couldn't get on the race in Lake Placid I found that
Louisville would also fit into my schedule.
 
The training started in January with the spinning classes at Fraser
Bike two times a week and lots of x-country skiing. A big milestone
was the Alabama cycling / triathlon camp then in April together with
Patty and Gerald. A great time with Renee and Aldo from the camp and
Laura Sophiea as coach (thank you so much guys) at a beautiful
location with rolling hills. I hardly recommend that camp for
everybody who wants to get early miles and a perfect combination of
vacation, training and theory coaching in all three disciplines!
 
And then May came already and I flu to Florida for my first half
Ironman; what an experience! But that half marathon was really hard
for me so I had some doubts with the full distance and tried to stick
to my training schedule. Another training step were the Belle River
sprint race in Canada and the olympic distance in Erding / Germany
before Gerald and I had another half distance experience in Muncie /
Indiana in July. I can really recommend this race, because of a
perfect organization and a nice location with no high cost (in most
points it was the opposite of the race in Orlando which I would not
recommend to do!).
 
Since I had to leave my house in Rochester Hills before the race the
weeks in August became really busy and all that had a big peak in my
race week when I had my last day at work and the final preparation for
the move. So the container came on Wednesday then (ouups, lots of work
and no time for training) and I could drop off the house and some more
things on Thursday and we could start the 6 hour drive to Kentucky.
 
Arrival was around midnight and on the following day I felt a little
dizzy and had some problems to adjust into a "vacation mood"...
It took me some time to schedule my things to do and I went out for a
short run. Additionally I worried about my worn rear tire and tried to
rent a set of race wheels. Unfortunately that did not work and
eventually Gerald could help me out with a spare tire that he brought
from Michigan (Gerald, thanks a lot for that). Talking to Gerald was
very surprising for me, too. Because he announced that a group of 7
was expected to come down from Michigan --> you guys are unbelievable
🙂
 
On Saturday morning I went down to watch the practice swim (I decided
not to do it myself because I had already some rumbling in my stomach
and I didt want to make it worse with some Ohio river water).
After checking in the bike and meeting Mike and his family for dinner
we drove altogether along the bike course and were not very happy
about all the hills that we had to climb (this time with the car)!
A little dinner in the hotel and an early night at 9.30 finished the Saturday.
 
Raceday – Oh my gosh!
Alarm at 4.15, breakfast, getting dressed and then rushing to the
transition area. What a teeming mass; 2500 athletes running around in
flood light! After putting all gear to the bike we went with all the
others for the 15 minute walk to the swim start. Before the pros
started the national anthem was sung by a female singer; time for
goose bumps again!
Since this is the only Ironman race in the world that has a time trial
start for all age group athletes we waited in a very long queue and
started with individually starting times by jumping of the boat launch
stage.
 
The swim was very nice, one third against the current and then after
the turnaround buoy you had the current with you and a great view of
downtown Louisville and the three bridges crossing the Ohio river.
What a motivation!
The transition to the bike was very easy and everything felt very good
when I hit the pedals and my friends were cheering for me on the first
meters.
The first 10 miles have a slight incline and then you hit the first
steep incline. And from that moment it was nothing else than ups and
downs through a beautiful landscape on really nice roads. I passed
lots of nice horse stables, summer fields and green forests. After
mile 22 we had to turn right into an out and back in turn around
section with a very steep decline into a valley, then up on the other
side and after the turn around the same again. Wow, that was amazing,
lots of cyclists on both sides and most of them going down the hill
with speeds around 60 to 70 km/h --> What a big adrenaline kick!
 
After that, we had to ride two laps and I was surprised about the
atmosphere in La Grange, the asphalt seemed to cook and you could not
get your heart rate down with all the people cheering! During these
6hours of riding I had only one stop at mile 66 when I picked up my
special needs bag and refueled my bottles and nutrition snacks. The
second loop felt much harder than the first and on my way back to
Louisville I had little cramps in my right calf and I almost fell
asleep on my aero bars! Goodness me it went slightly down and I
reached the transition area again. Back in the changing tent I was
happy to see a chair and started changing to my running gear very
slow. My biggest wish at that point was just to sit on that chair and
wait... maybe for a beer or so. But nothing happened, so I decided to
stand up and see how my legs will feel. I was very exhausted already
and I just couldnt imagine to run a marathon now! But then, walking
was ok and I came out of the changing tent and tried running.
Wow; I was still able to run and nothing hurt so I ran out of TA into
the crowd and then I saw all my friends again, cheering, making photos
and running with me! Thank you so much, this was soooo nice and a big
motivation!
 
The first section of the run included a run onto the steel bridge over
the Ohio river and back which was great. There was a nice breeze
cooling you down (the temperatures were peaking around 95 F at noon
and decreasing in the afternoon only very slow...) and an amazing
view!
As I tried to drink from my fuel belt bottles for the first time I had
to puke almost! The drink had gone off while it lay in TA last night
and during race day! What a shame, all my preparation was been done
with Perpetuem and now I couldnt use it! I tried to use water, bananas
and gel instead, but after a couple of miles I became stitches on the
right side that forced me to walk for the first time. This continued
until mile 13 when I received my special needs bag with fresh
Perpetuem in it. The run was better then, but most of my energy was
gone and I still had to walk very often. The people along the course
were great. Cheering for all the athletes, making music or dancing in
the street. What a day! It was after 8pm now and getting dark. Since I
had to wear my optical sun glasses it must have been strange looking
when I finally reached the finish at "4th street live"!
 
What were my thoughts? Hm, I didnt have a lot and they were very slow,
exhausted like me...
But I did it! I'm an Ironman now!!
And this was the story about my longest day ever, it took 14 hours and
22 seconds!
 
 
I'm very happy to see my family now again, but I'm also very sad about
leaving Michigan and a great club that doesnt have race results in
mind only. It's about the people and the IM-team! Thank you so much
for your friendship and your support all around the time being there.
And I would not have been able to do that race without this club!
I have ever lasting memories of my first race on Belle Isle in 2006,
all the race weekends in Mackinaw City, Cleveland, Chicago,... an
awesome snowshoe race in Traverse City and lots of training weekends
(especially these in Lake Placid)!
 
So now it's time to say good-bye via email, all of you are great
characters and the club is something to live for, way to go!
I hope to see some of you in the future again and wish you happy
training, great races and a wonderful time (don't do too many bath tub
and fish strokes in the upcoming swim trainings 😉
 
Viele liebe Gruesse,
Andy