I did something a bit crazy and completed two full Ironman races just four weeks apart, one of them being one of the hottest Ironman races on the circuit. All of this, while being a very solid and proud Back-Of-The-Packer 16 hour+ Ironman finisher. Am I crazy?! Of course I am. I did not wake up one day and say “hey, I’m bored, how about I attempt to tackle a challenging ½ ironman in the Canary Islands, followed by the hardest Ironman bike course in the same location six months later, then do Ironman Lake Placid 10 weeks after that, and why not top it off with Ironman Louisville just four weeks after that?” I won’t go into details but I had my reasons for doing all of these races and I’m happy to discuss them with anyone who is curious offline.

Time between Placid and Louisville: My main priority between Placid and Louisville was to recover as quickly as possible by maintaining as much fitness as I could without carrying any fatigue from Placid. So this meant scheduled massages with Robin and Karl at Fit Pro Massage, three to be exact post-Placid and pre-Louisville. This also meant visits with my chiropractor and orthopedic to ensure my arthritic knees would hold up during another Ironman race, and allowing life outside of triathlons to happen while balancing some recovery triathlon training. It also meant visiting the Active Release Techniques (ART) Therapy folks Thursday, Friday, and Saturday before the race to give my knees some attention.

Louisville: In Louisville there were four Z mates racing, myself, Scott McLallen, Tina Ament, and last minute entry Jeff Davis. We were joined with other Z mates who were cheering, Darla Brown (sheerpa extraordinaire!), and Holly Shoemaker (representing team Z deep south and training for IMFL). Like in the DC area, Louisville had cooler than normal temperatures this summer until about a week or so before the race  making acclimation important in pre-race plans. Race day forecast was sunny with a high of 90-91 degrees.

Swim:  The Louisville swim is a unique time trial swim start with racers jumping from two docks, two at a time.   With about 3,000 racers registered it can take up to 45 minutes to get all of the racers waiting in a single file line into the water.   With a 16:41 finish time in Lake Placid 4 weeks ago, I knew I didn’t have a lot of wiggle room and wanted to ensure I was in line as early as I could be after dropping off nutrition, pumping tires, and handing off my special needs bags. The 1ish mile walk from transition to the line of the swim start make the logistics of race morning feel incredibly hectic and a little rushed until you’re in line if you’re someone like me and concerned about not having the full 17 hours to finish. Thankfully Scott and I were in the water at 7:03 and both had really great swims with the current working in our favor for most of the swim. Given that racers start two at a time, the Louisville swim never feels crowded which is a huge bonus for me. Hopping out of the water I noted the 8 minute improvement in my time from Placid to Louisville (non-wetsuit swim) and headed into transition with a huge smile on my face.

Bike: The bike course in Louisville is the perfect model of a rolling bike course. Nothing unbearable but a lot of up followed by down. With no real goal in mind outside of getting back to T2 by 4:30pm, I decided to take in the sights and count the number of horses I saw on the bike course since the Louisville course touts passing some of the prettiest horse farms in the country and was a little disappointed when I only counted  29 horses during the ride.   With the temperatures being what they were, I decided to try something new and purchased the Desoto arm wing coolers for the bike ride hoping it would help keep my body temperature down. This was a great tool, but I didn’t think I’d have to get the sleeves wet as much as I did. Another interesting thing I noted was Ironman Perform did not sit so well in my stomach which resulted in a modified nutrition plan. Since Ironman Perform was out and I needed the calories, I started drinking my coke, which was intended for the 2nd half of the bike, earlier than planned.   With a recommendation from teammate Cris Howard, I also had a bike bottle of chicken broth waiting in special needs (which had a little over 800mg of sodium awesomeness). I was skeptical and wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy it or how it would sit on my stomach, but thank the triathlon gods, the chicken broth turned out to be a priceless addition to my modified nutrition plan. Outside of the little nutrition issue, the ride for the most part went according to plan except for signs of chaffing that started to appear causing me to have to stop twice to address the issue at aid stations with Vaseline.

Run:  The run is two out and backs through downtown Louisville passing the party district, Fourth Street Live, Churchill Downs, where the Kentucky Derby is held, University of Louisville, and a really pretty historic district with Victorian homes.   Thankfully the course is flat and was a much welcomed changed to the up and down of the Lake Placid marathon course.   Armed with my bright pink tutu, I IMMEDIATELY started to receive smiles, comments, and high fives on the marathon course. It was great to have Darla keep me company for the first ¾ of the first mile of the course while we swapped stories about how our day went and what her thoughts were on Ironman cheering.   The first 5-6 miles felt incredibly difficult but I forced myself to hold my run/walk interval of 5 minutes of running to 30 seconds of walking, in addition to walking the entire length of the aid stations. Thankfully after mile 6 things started to click and I had a great rhythm and I was on track to PR my Ironman time”¦.and then miles 16-18 happened. Everything started to hurt, my body reminded me that I just did this distance 4 weeks ago to the day, the chaffing was unbearable, I wasn’t smiling as much as I had on the first loop, I saw my window to PR get drastically smaller with each step I took and mile that I knocked off, and I started seeing more and more racers struggling or passing-out on the side of the road.  At that very moment I started to think about teammates who were not as forunate to have the opportunity to attempt a race of this distance,  how happy they were to just be swimming, apart of the team and  involved in our sport. That’s when my mood shifted and I was just happy to be on the course on my way to my second finish of the year.

What’s Next:  I’m very happy to say that Val Dix is officially on cheer duty the rest of the 2013 season with one little ½ marathon the middle of November with my best friend, who is new to running.  Whatever your personal goals are, always remember, we do this for fun and it’s a hobby. Racing is not always about how fast we do or do not go but rather about being a part of this awesome community and doing some pretty incredible athletic things along the way.

Happy training!

Val