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Ironman Louisville: Beyond The Finish Line/Thoughts on Ironman (Part 4 of 4)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Up until now, I’ve shared quite a lot of information about the athletes of Ironman Louisville. But, just for a moment, allow me to draw your attention to the unseen heroes of an Ironman race: the Ironman Support Team and the Volunteers.



When you attend an Ironman, you’ll often hear the term “Ironman Support Team” thrown around. It’s even on t-shirts in the Ironman Store. Support Team is any athlete’s family, friends, co-workers, etc who come out to cheer on their athlete on race day and/or anyone that makes it possible for the athletes to train and make it to the starting line of the race.



I found a great excerpt from Ironstruck.com:

“Taking on the Ironman Triathlon involves a lot more than buying equipment, finding a coach, and training for the big day. It’s important to keep in mind that often the people most important in your life will prove to be instrumental in your journey and will be your ironman support. Ironman support makes all the difference.

One of the most important components of your preparation is the support, patience and understanding of the people who truly want you to succeed. In many respects, attempting something as challenging as the Ironman Triathlon can be hard on relationships, and especially hard on marriages. The people who are closest to you will benefit in the long run, but in the meantime it’s important to remember how much their support means as you work towards your ultimate goal.”

You can view the full article here: ironstruck.com/ironman-support

Likewise, there are THOUSANDS of volunteers for this event. Keep in mind that we’re talking about at least 17 hours on race day that must be staffed by volunteers (and also for the days before and after).

In the Transition Area tents, thousands of volunteers wait to help the athletes change, apply sunscreen and get out to their bikes quickly. At the Finish Line, 1-2 volunteers greet EACH finisher that crosses the line. They literally hold them up and care for them – get them water, alert medics if needed, talk them through pain, and give verbal encouragement and hugs. I most definitely will be volunteering for Ironman races in the future. To be able to support athletes of that caliber would be an honor and a privilege.



I wish you could have stood with me in the area just past the finish line. It was so interesting to see them after the finish of the race. Some were rather unaffected, shook off the volunteers’ helpful offers of support and simply walked past the water and Gatorade, gathered their medal and went back to the hotel. Others (many more were like this) crossed the line, walked past the camera and you literally saw their entire body shut down and crumble. They couldn’t even stand. Many were taken away in wheelchairs. I thought, “These people did not have ONE OUNCE of energy left. How did they even manage to run across that finish line?” It’s astounding what willpower and determination can do…it can literally take you beyond your body’s physical limits!

The most intriguing to me were the athletes that appeared totally focused and crossed the finish line all smiles, but then had to be practically carried to water/Gatorade by the volunteers. If you looked into their eyes, they were not even mentally there. I recognized that glassy stare because I have had it myself. I know the exact “place” they were in because I’ve been to that place during each of my three natural childbirths.

There is a strange time between when you’re ready to push that baby out and when the baby is actually born. You feel half awake, not able to make sense of where you are or who is around you or what is going on. The pain is so great, you literally feel like you’ve left your own body. Physiologically, that feeling is brought on by hormones in your body, attempting to protect you from a pain so intense that you can’t bear it. It’s amazing how the body does this because literally 5 minutes AFTER the baby was born, I felt completely wide awake - like I’d just woken up from a hazy dream.

If this is what is happening with these athletes, I ask you…WHY are they not our heroes? Why are they not household names? Why do our kids not look up to them? I don’t belittle any sport or team because I understand the dedication it takes to master a game/sport that you love. But, truly…these Ironman athletes push their bodies far beyond that of most famous baseball, basketball or football stars and where is their glory? People don’t even know what an Ironman race is!!! It’s sad to me.



And yet, it makes the athlete’s achievement all the more special. Because they aren’t out there for glory or fame. They are there to test their own limits, to prove to themselves that they can do it, to be healthy and to live their lives to the full. The ironic thing (pun intended) is that this is what makes them inspiring and worthy of admiration.



Do I want complete an Ironman someday? Of course! It might take me 15 years to get there, but what once seemed insane and impossible now seems shockingly within reach. Why? Because I was there. I’ve seen it done right in front of my eyes…by thousands of courageous men and women of all shapes and sizes and ages that simply chose to keep going and never give up. These men and women have an iron will. And, thanks to their hard work and sacrifice, a seed of an idea was planted in my mind…that perhaps I, too, might have that kind of will inside of me.

As I take on new challenges and go deeper in my training, I expect that seed will grow. It will take me across many finish lines in my lifetime. I can only dream and hope that it will carry me across the ultimate finish line and I will one day hear the words, “Leah Drichel…you are an Ironman.”

*All photos copyrighted 2012: Scott Drichel Photography

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LINDAKAY228 8/31/2012 2:15PM

    Great blog about the importance of the support teams in ironman and in any other type of athletic event. People don't realize just how much it takes to put together these types of things. My biggest event that I've done for the past 3 years is at White Sands Missile Range and commemorates the Bataan Death March of World War I. It's been going on for much much longer than that, and has grown so much. This year there were almost 7,000 people entered. There is a 15-mile and a 26.2 mile category with civilians and military categories. Some run it and some walk it. Some are wounded warriers and I always see some with one or both legs in prosthetics. There is a very long time allowed to finish the course. Military have individual and team categories, and also with a 35'lb pack or without category. It is super inspiring to see everyone out there. And there are so many many volunteers involved the days before the event and during the event. People come from all 50 states and some other countries to do this. It's not as grueling as the ironman, but it's still an awesome event that takes so many volunteers to make it run smoothly. Never ever take the volunteers for granted!
And you will do that ironman one day!

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KIPPER15 8/31/2012 9:34AM

    You will do this. You are correct to say that the support team is all important. Any organized sport like this has a huge group of selfless dedicated volunteers too. They do not get enough recognition. emoticon

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BRITTEEG 8/31/2012 9:09AM

    Thank you so much for sharing this amazing experience with us! You are such an excellent, thoughtful, and insightful writer. I love your blog posts! You are inspiring so many people, myself included, to reach for things I never thought possible. I can't say it enough. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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SLIMLEAF 8/31/2012 6:52AM

    Oh, dear - look what you've done now...

You've got me wanting to complete an Ironman triathlon - and how crazy is that?!

Hmmm... well I swam a mile this morning, so I could build up to doing the distance.

And I run regularly and have done lots of long races, so I know I can run marathons (even though they're very hard!)

so that just leaves the bike...
Oh and the training...
and....

Like I said, a crazy idea.
but one that just MIGHT happen.

*wanders off muttering to herself "Must learn to ride a bike properly"*

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RUNNERRACHEL 8/31/2012 3:32AM

    emoticon very inspiring what they are able to accomplish. You're right--it's sad many people don't know what it is or value the athletes who are able to push themselves past the limit of what most think is possible. emoticon

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REGILIEH 8/31/2012 12:19AM

    Thank you so much! I Adam sorry it is over and I can't wait for you to get your Ironman medal! Woohoo!

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LINDAK25 8/30/2012 11:27PM

    Wow! You made me feel as though I was there.

The photos were fantastic, incredible, beautiful!

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MISSLISA1973 8/30/2012 9:37PM

    I don't know how you do it, but you always bring me to the verge of tears when I read your blogs!

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JUNEAU2010 8/30/2012 7:32PM

    Very cool! Of course you will do this yourself. And think, someone will blog about seeing you in the race and be inspired to aim for the same.

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MT-MOONCHASER 8/30/2012 7:27PM

    Great series!!

You ought to see if you could shop it around to something like Runner's World or some other fitness type magazine. I think your writing is as good as or better than most of the articles I see.

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ROSES4ME1 8/30/2012 7:16PM

    Thanks so much for taking time to share all this! I've never seen an Ironman up close but now feel like I've really been there. Your enthusiasm and awe is so inspiring! I am sure you will accomplish all your dreams.
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CINDHOLM 8/30/2012 7:12PM

    Excellent Blog!! VERY informative!! emoticon emoticon

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GOING-STRONG 8/30/2012 7:05PM

    I do believe that you will get there and be an IRONMAN someday. What a thrilling thought! I have now done 2 Sprint level Triathlons and am thinking about the possibility of an Olympic length Tri. If I can do that then who knows? Maybe a 1/2 Ironman is possible. It is fun to dream. Be sure and check out this 80 year old Triathlete who is a Nun! What an inspiration. Here is the link. You will need to copy and paste :o)

http://www.trijuice.com/
2012/08/at_30th_anniversary_of_
ironman_canada_sister_madonna_b
uder_becomes_oldest_woman_to_fi
nish_an_ironman_race.htm
>Hugs,
Rhonda
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WORLDSERIES11 8/30/2012 6:58PM

    Thanks for sharing your experiences. They truly are amazing athletes!! emoticon emoticon emoticon

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WILDFLOWER521 8/30/2012 6:30PM

    Just wanted to take a moment to thank you for taking some of your time to write this series of blogs.

Before now, I was one of those people that had no clue what Ironman was.
Definitely eye opening!

Those men and women and their support teams are just incredible beyond words.
Your pictures were wonderful. I would love to know what camera you used.

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GUITARWOMAN 8/30/2012 6:30PM

    Beautiful sentiments......

You will do this some day, for sure!

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LYNSEY723 8/30/2012 6:24PM

    This was such an amazing series of blogs. It ALMOST makes me want to THINK about doing something this crazy. Thank you so much for the passion behind your writting, you really make me feel like I was there too!

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PEGGYO 8/30/2012 6:21PM

    thanks for sharing your time and story with us.

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POSITIVELY_EB 8/30/2012 6:16PM

    Thank you for sharing all of that! It certainly was amazing just from OUR standpoint - I can just imagine the feeling from yours!

HUGS!!!

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SNOWYOGA 8/30/2012 6:11PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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FALLNTENN 8/30/2012 6:10PM

    I enjoyed reading your four part Ironman blog. Thanks for sharing.

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YOGAGIRL289 8/30/2012 6:01PM

  I really enjoyed this 4-part post - it was very inspirational. I wish you all the best in achieving your Ironman goals. emoticon emoticon emoticon

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DR8561 8/30/2012 6:01PM

    So inspiring! Thanks for taking the time to share this. emoticon

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LIVEDAILY 8/30/2012 5:58PM

    emoticon
That's one heck of a major goal, but I know you can do it!

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RUN_BAKE_BLOG 8/30/2012 5:55PM

    You're my Ironwoman and not cause you can swim or ride a bike or run...
emoticon
BFF?
I think so!


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GARDENSFORLIFE 8/30/2012 5:47PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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THOMS1 8/30/2012 5:41PM

    Good Job!

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Ironman Louisville: 26.2 Mile Run/Finish Line (Part 3 of 4)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012





Immediately following their 5-6 hour ride through 112 miles of Kentucky terrain, the Ironman athletes returned to the Bike Transition Area to quickly shake off their dead legs and begin the marathon run that would usher them to the finish line and the title of “Ironman”. It was a hot one…about 90 degrees. The humidity wasn’t horrible, but it was not ideal running weather, that’s for sure. The athletes did their best to combat the heat with sponges and other body cooling methods.



My husband’s body actually suffered from the heat the entire following day, so the marathon was certainly no walk in the park for these athletes. In fact, I went through and looked at all the finisher results and, from what I can tell, there were 786 athletes that did not finish the race…most of them fell out on the run. This guy was hurting pretty badly.





Just imagine how your body would feel after the effort put forth to not only swim 3,862 meters and ride a bike at full force for almost half a day. I have heard it described by many triathletes as feeling like your legs are Jell-O or trying to run through neck-high Jell-O. An average runner struggles to conquer a marathon, in and of itself, at some point in their lifetime. What kind of fitness does a person need to have to run 26.2 miles AFTER all of the above? It’s just mind-blowing. By rights, the human body should not be able to withstand this type of effort. The fact that ANYONE finishes this race is unbelievable. The fact that one of the professional athletes completed another Ironman race just 14 days before this is downright insane. Can you imagine the conditioning of that woman’s body to be able to recover in that way? I really can’t.

By the time we got to the run course, our friend’s husband, Joe, was already at Mile 7. Missed him again! He was just too speedy for us the entire day! We headed to the Finish Line to wait for the runners to start coming in. We got there around 3:00pm and waited. And waited.



Finally! In the distance, a runner appeared…headed toward the finish line! It was professional athlete, Patrick Evoe. He has placed 2nd in an Ironman before, but has never won. This was his shining moment. The crowd was elated. He had a final finish time of 8 hrs 42 mins 44 secs. Amazing.





A few more men came in, including some age groupers (a.k.a. regular folk…although, not really regular…more extraordinary than most is more like it). We were waiting for the 1st place woman and it turned out to be pro, Bree Wee. Her finish is just adorable. I didn’t want to include too many pics but you’ve gotta see these in succession! Precious!







Bree finished with a total time of 9 hrs 36 mins 27 secs. After that, several more athletes came in and we kept getting texts from Francie that Joe was nearing the end of the marathon. Mile 15. Mile 20. Mile 25. He’s on his way in! We couldn’t wait to see him for the first time that day!



Joe made it across the line, finishing in the top 5% of all the athletes. He also qualified for a spot in the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii! There were about 50 spots available, evenly spread out by age group. This is not Joe’s first time in Kona, but qualifying for Kona is ALWAYS a big deal! Now we will know TWO athletes in Kona!!! Guess who will be glued to the computer screen all day on October 13th??? Incidentally, Francie is competing in HER Ironman race next week in Madison, WI. How’s that for an awesome family?

We also got to witness something really special. One of the athletes that had just finished his Ironman got down on one knee and proposed to his girlfriend. Naturally, we took pictures. Such a joyous moment in an overall fantastic day.







Since we’d been standing and waiting at the finish line for hours, we were ready to find a restaurant to sit down and eat (it’s a full day of eating, with some athletics mixed in!) so we tried to get a patio seat on the finish line. But the restaurant was charging $100 for a seat outside! And that didn’t even include your food and drink! Ridiculous. So, we ate at Hard Rock Café. Then, watched for a few more hours as athletes began to pour in. We had to head home around 8pm, although the finish line was pumping all the way up to midnight. Our feet were just done for the day and I had to work the next morning bright and early. I tried to watch the final finishers online but my body was just finished and I fell asleep.

From what I can tell online, the very last finisher was 63 yr old, Tina Duda, with a total time of 16 hrs 57 mins 47 secs.



The story doesn’t end here, folks. In fact, I’d venture to say that the true impact of the day did not hit me until we spent some time hanging out in the area AFTER the finish line. THAT is where the true magic was…and that ended up being my favorite part of the entire day. You WILL want to hear about this in my next installment, Ironman Louisville: After the Finish/Thoughts on Ironman (Part 4 of 4).

*All photos copyrighted 2012: Scott Drichel Photography

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SERASARA 9/4/2012 1:14PM

  emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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EFFRAYECHILDE 9/3/2012 11:14AM

    Sound like so much fun. Thanks for sharing.

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CICELY360 8/31/2012 9:24AM

  Sounds fun.

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BLUEJEAN99 8/31/2012 1:56AM

    emoticon emoticon

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JAMER123 8/30/2012 9:25PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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PATRICIAANN46 8/30/2012 8:57PM

  My husband's best friend has completed the marathon in Hawaii and we have been with him during the marathon in Madison. It really is exciting and I never get over being amazed at how their bodies are equipped to do that much in one short period of time. emoticon for sharing your experience with us.

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GOULDSGRANITE 8/30/2012 7:42PM

    Felt like I was right there with you Leah! Thank you for the thrill of it all!! Amazing!

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MARYJEANSL 8/30/2012 6:39PM

  Sounds like so much fun and such a thrill to be there!

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NEWCHINELO 8/30/2012 5:27PM

    this is awesome!

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MOSTMOM1 8/30/2012 4:49PM

    Incredibly cool!

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1GODGIRL 8/30/2012 4:47PM

    emoticon

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PENNYPACKER3 8/30/2012 4:41PM

    emoticon

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PATTISTAMPS 8/30/2012 3:16PM

    WOW! I have been to marathons to support friends, but never to an IRONMAN! I've also worked the Disney Marathon - working the start and the finish, both great opportunities! Wrapping those blankets (its in January) around the runners as they come in is so magical! I can't wait for the rest of the story!

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IAMAGEMLOVER 8/30/2012 1:16PM

    emoticon

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ANNESYLVIA 8/30/2012 12:46PM

    Yikes, I wish I would have kept up with the story, so exciting.

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LIVELYGIRL2 8/30/2012 11:56AM

  This is mind blowing! I can't hardly believe it, that people do such feats. Do I understand one of these guys is your spouse , Leah?

I watch it on TV, but it is more exciting hearing it from someone directly, and a person ya kinda now. I feel lie it,because of your blogs and a few conversations. emoticon emoticon emoticon

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MANDALORE 8/30/2012 11:47AM

    emoticon

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FARIS71 8/30/2012 11:31AM

    I have goosebumps - that is all so cool. Can't believe that guy proposed - probably kept him going thru the race though.

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SLIMLEAF 8/30/2012 11:09AM

    Great report and great photos!

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TONYVAND1 8/30/2012 11:05AM

  emoticon emoticon

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MOMMY445 8/30/2012 10:51AM

    such wonderful news! great pictures and congratulations! have a fabulous day,Leah!

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LINDAKAY228 8/30/2012 10:49AM

    Wow so amazing! And congratulations to the 63 year old. It doesn't matter that she's last, because someone has to be. But just to be able to do that at any age is so amazing!! I can't imagine being able to do it.
There is a sparker (LILPAT3) here that lives in my small town that does smaller triathalons. She's had both knees rebuilt and can't run the races but does race walk them. The time she loses in the foot race she makes up for in the bike race as she can bike really fast. I think she's amazing.
Thank you for sharing so much about this experience and I'll be waiting to read the next blog!

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SHOAPIE 8/30/2012 10:19AM

    emoticon

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DJSHIP46 8/30/2012 10:02AM

    I always enjoy your writing and the pictures were great... looking forward to the next installment:)

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DNRAE1 8/30/2012 9:39AM

    emoticon Fantastic!


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LAURIE5658 8/30/2012 9:32AM

    Leah, simply amazing!!!!!! Thank you for this series!

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KATHY_NATURELVR 8/30/2012 9:27AM

    Amazing story Leah! I love the proposal, it made me tear up.

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NEWMOM20121 8/30/2012 8:28AM

    Thank you for sharing.

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HEARTS116 8/30/2012 8:07AM

    WOW emoticon

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MIMIDOT 8/30/2012 8:00AM

    Great blog! Thanks for sharing. I can't imagine how terrible I'd be at one of those races. Can't wait for the next blog. Keep them coming.

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JANEMARIE77 8/30/2012 7:28AM

    Thanks tha was great

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CSNOW71 8/30/2012 7:01AM

    Thanks for such an insight to the Ironman! I've never really thought much about it before but you just brought it to life. You write amazingly well and such a great photographer too! I'm not sure what you do as a career but if it doesn't involve writing or photography, then I think you've missed your calling girlfriend!!
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Can't wait for part 4!!

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DFSFSQW4 8/30/2012 6:26AM

  Great pics. Thanks.

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GRAMPIAN 8/30/2012 5:41AM

  Thanks for the pictures.

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KIPPER15 8/30/2012 5:34AM

    emoticonPictures are professional quality. Thank you for sharing.

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NCSUE0514 8/30/2012 4:40AM

    Neat pix!

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REGILIEH 8/30/2012 12:18AM

    Thank you!!! Thank you!!! Thank you!!!

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SHERYL_B 8/29/2012 11:45PM

    Wow!

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SWEDE_SU 8/29/2012 11:14PM

    thanks, leah - loved reading your reports here and looking forward to the next installment. have you thought about writing a book?? plenty of spark fans who would be lining up to read it, whatever the topic! you bring it all to life so vividly!

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FITFOODIE806 8/29/2012 10:01PM

    There is so much I love about this. First, your love and admiration for the sport. Second, how much great attention you are bringing to a sport that I'm just falling in love with. Thank you!!
I cannot imagine running a marathon in 90 degrees. Holy crap!that would so hard. And then not finishing. Many training plans are 6 months. That's a lot of time and effort. It's heartbreaking.
Love all the pictures. Thanks for taking the time to share.
I know a few people doing Madison next week. And my running partner that did Louisville last year is volunteering at Madison to guarantee herself a spot for the following year. Isn't that nutty? There are that many people that do this!! Spots run out!!

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SIBLEYHONEYBEE 8/29/2012 9:35PM

    Absolutely AMAZING athletes!

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GARDENSFORLIFE 8/29/2012 9:29PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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LINDAK25 8/29/2012 9:28PM

    Your pictures are fantastic! Amazing!

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OPTIMIST1948 8/29/2012 9:26PM

    One of the things I think is so amazing about Ironman is that while, yes, there are winners, everyone celebrates every finisher. To be an Ironman is an act of indomitable will, where just finishing the darned thing is a celebration of life.

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JENNCABA 8/29/2012 9:14PM

    emoticonThanks for sharing !!! emoticon

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LIVEDAILY 8/29/2012 9:10PM

    The photos are great! It is amazing what the human body can endure, accomplish, and triumph over!!

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JUNEAU2010 8/29/2012 9:08PM

    It looks as if she said yes! WOW! What a day!

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CINDHOLM 8/29/2012 8:40PM

    Amazingly GREAT pictures, Thanx for sharing!!

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RUNNERRACHEL 8/29/2012 7:53PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon Great stories! Wow, yes, accomplishing a marathon after all they've been through. That is INCREDIBLE!!

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GUITARWOMAN 8/29/2012 7:34PM

    You really bring an ironman race to life!

Amazing!

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Ironman Louisville: 112 Mile Bike (Part 2 of 4)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012



Hubby and I had to walk ½ mile from our parking garage to the start of the Ironman Sunday morning. This transition area was the first sign of Ironman on our trek to the swim start. It was my first moment of sheer awe in a day that would consistently challenge my perceptions of the human body's limits and the colossal power of an individual's will and determination.

After the murder of the 2.4 mile swim, athletes climbed out of the water and ran to a tent to change into their biking gear and prepare for the 112 mile ride in front of them. No doubt, they were concurrently changing clothes, maybe eating and drinking, putting on sunscreen, securing helmets - all in a matter of minutes.

Then, they had to run out and locate their bike, among thousands…and get it over to the Bike Start Line.





We were pretty close to the start, so we could see the athletes' bodies transition from the swim to the bike. Most of them were still wet from the swim and, as they rode by me, I could see the muscles in their arms still twitching from their 2.4 mile battle in the water.





We watched several of the athletes take off onto the bike course and then we had to get in our car and drive to the Bike Viewing Area, which we assumed would be nearby. But, it was actually a small town that was a half hour drive each way from the actual race start. Wow. As we drove, we noticed that we were in some hilly terrain and we felt sorry for the bikers. We also decided that, as they were going for a leisurely 5-6 hour bike ride, we might as well get our hash brown casserole on at Cracker Barrel. I mean, we hadn’t even had breakfast yet. We had been up for 5.5 hours and it was just 9:00am.

After breakfast, we got to the viewing area just as the athletes were beginning to pass in full force. This area was both Mile 40 and Mile 70 of their ride. We got there pretty early, so they were just coming up on Mile 40.





Those bikes were FLYING! So fast, so perfectly smooth, so beautiful. I must have watched hundreds go by and never tired of it. Have you ever seen a time trial bike? Those babies can cost upwards of $5,000. As we stood at the Transition Area earlier gazing at the thousands and thousands of bikes, I thought, "Can you IMAGINE how much money is in this little square of land? WOW!"

When you see it up close, hear the whir from its wheels, feel the wind as it whisks past you and see the athlete and the bike working together as one, there is something that happens to you. I jokingly thought to myself, “Leah, there are literally hundreds of perfectly formed, gorgeous bodies passing in front of you and you are lusting after their BIKES?!” I can’t explain myself. I just know what I felt and if feeling that way is a crime, then lock me up!

Look at them…







*Drool* Mmmm. Oh…sorry. OK, back to the race? Yeah. Sorry.

So, after watching for awhile, we walked around this little tiny town for a bit, looked in some shops, but we thought, “You know, this is going to go on for another 3-4 hours. Let’s go have lunch.” So we drove BACK the half hour to the actual race area/finish line and decided to scout out a restaurant for lunch. The funniest part is…I felt like we’d JUST had breakfast, even though several hours had passed. And, before the swim start, we heard a guy telling his friend, “It’s like a whole day of eating, with a little bit of athletics mixed in.” Well, at the time, I assumed he was talking about the athletes. But, at lunch, it hit me that he was talking about being a spectator! Ha! It is SO true! Because, in between legs of the race/finishes, what else IS there to do but eat and shop? Haha. Consequently, maxed out my credit card that day…but it was worth it.

We had lunch at a nice Irish pub. At the end of our meal, I received a text from my friend, Francie, telling me that her hubby, Joe, was off the bike and had just started the marathon. We originally went to watch Joe compete and cheer him on and we never once saw him until he crossed the finish line. Even then, we weren’t able to catch him and talk to him, but we did get some great pictures for Francie of him crossing the finish line.

Back to the biking portion of the race: many of the athletes were on their bikes for at least 5 hours…some, or most, would be on them longer. As we did with the swim, put yourself in an athlete’s place on the bike. You are bent over riding for over FIVE HOURS. You are sometimes riding in a pack at ridiculous speeds going downhill, where a collision could easily occur if you don’t communicate well or alert the other riders to your presence. There are fans at Mile 40 and Mile 70 that make you want to keep going. You catch a glimpse of your country’s flag. Pedal harder. But, gosh, you’re so tired. That swim just took it out of you. Eat something! Drink something! But do not get off of that bike! And, when you’re done with this…when you can finally stand upright again (assuming you CAN stand upright), you just have to run a measly little 26.2 miles to finally reach your goal of Ironman.

So, are you ready for a nice little jog in 93 degree Kentucky heat? I’ll cover that next in Ironman Louisville: 26.2 Mile Run (Part 3 of 4)

*All photos copyrighted 2012: Scott Drichel Photography

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

OPTIMIST1948 8/29/2012 9:22PM

    Oh dear. You are totally in the grip of Ironman & triathlon. Welcome to Crazytown. The good news is if you do all your workouts, you get to eat all you want.

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MINSOSTER 8/29/2012 6:43PM

    I'm with you. . . those bikes are very worthy of DROOL!

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LINDAKAY228 8/29/2012 2:03PM

    We have a major bike racing event here in Silver City, NM each year the first of May called the Tour of the Gila. It's a 5 day even with races to different areas around here, an up and down a lot of mountainous area. Then on Saturday its the criterian down through the middle of town with first the professionals, then the civilian races they call it with all different age groups from kids on up. It amazesme the way those packs can navigate the streets and not have a lot of accidents because they are going so fast around corners and the streets are simple streets with one lane in each direction so it's a crowded pack. An the mountain courses and how they can race for miles up and down such elevation changes amazes me.
Great sharing of the event and how it went. Is the friend Francie you mentioned the one who wrote the book whose husbands name is Joe? I'm still reading it. It's a great book.

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PATTISTAMPS 8/29/2012 1:00PM

    Very cool! Those bikes are so amazing!

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KATHY_NATURELVR 8/29/2012 12:22PM

    Wow - I couldn't imagine.

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SIBLEYHONEYBEE 8/29/2012 8:08AM

    Those bikes really are beautiful. I am still riding the 10-speed road bike my dad got me when I was 14, lol! It is just AMAZING the athleticism that is required for the Ironman. I can't imagine feeling mentally and physically ready to take on such a phenomenal task. Wow!

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HOLLY255255 8/29/2012 7:11AM

    You need to post the last finisher's results.... I think your writing may be inspiring some of us to go for it!!

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SLIMLEAF 8/29/2012 6:25AM

    Reading your blog is almost as good as being there myself!

I'm looking forward to the next installment.

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LORELLELAURA 8/29/2012 3:57AM

    great report!
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REGILIEH 8/29/2012 12:27AM

    Loved it! I felt I was there with you! What fun!

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CORINA-MOMOF4 8/28/2012 11:33PM

    can't wait until Dec - for our 19th wedding anniversary we're getting road bikes! Next year we'll be doing our first Duathlon! Can't wait!!!

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KIPPER15 8/28/2012 10:39PM

    emoticon fantastic job with the photos!!

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GOING-STRONG 8/28/2012 10:39PM

    Wow... you are quite the reporter! Those bikes are very cool.. great photos!

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ON2VICTORY 8/28/2012 10:26PM

    Leah, you have taken some seriously fantastic photos. I mean like photos I would expect to see in Triathlete magazine.... very good job.

I can tell from your writing that you were really affected by the event...

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JUNEAU2010 8/28/2012 10:05PM

    Amazing! Thanks for sharing - this may be the closests\ I ever get to those fabulous bikes!

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SNOWYOGA 8/28/2012 9:44PM

    Wow! emoticon emoticon

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FRANCIEVW 8/28/2012 9:26PM

    It's fun to watch your inspiration unfold. Makes me wanna do one :)

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SWEETEYES0601 8/28/2012 9:19PM

    What an amazing experience to witness. I'm glad it was there for you to appreciate. I have a co-worker who has done her first Ironman race and it wore her out for two days afterwards. WOW! Great post!

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SSHANTI 8/28/2012 9:04PM

    Wow, amazing. I've never been up close and personal to an Iron like this, your post gave me that ringside seat. And yeah, I'd have been drilling over the rides too. Though to be honest I had enough trouble spending $500 dollars on my ride, let alone ten times that. But I know what a difference a good bike can make. Today I did a half century on mine. And I seriously doubt I was going anything near as fast as them. But it was 3 hours and 48 minutes well spent for me. First time in over two decades that I did a ride that long. Made me happy.

Thanks for sharing your Iron experiences with us, you are awesome!

Sam

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RUNNERRACHEL 8/28/2012 9:00PM

    Amazing. That is some race! SO inspiring. emoticon emoticon

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FITFOODIE806 8/28/2012 8:57PM

    The bikes are so pretty!!! Glad you had such a good time.
In those tents are 1000s of volunteers too. One is assigned to each athlete and they are the ones that usually put sunscreen on the athlete's back while they are eating/changing. It's an expensive race, but you are well taken care of!

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HBLACK5 8/28/2012 8:12PM

    Wow that is incredible!

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CINDHOLM 8/28/2012 7:51PM

    emoticon emoticon

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RUN_BAKE_BLOG 8/28/2012 7:22PM

    Just so you know...
I now feel OBLIGATED to respond to your blogs!
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PEGGYO 8/28/2012 7:14PM

    I feel like I'm watching with you. Thanks

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GUITARWOMAN 8/28/2012 6:30PM

    Am amazing commentary. You brought it all to life!


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LINDAK25 8/28/2012 6:23PM

    You really do have to have tremendous respect for these athletes! What an incredible test of strength and courage. I can't even conceive of doing something like this.

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GARDENSFORLIFE 8/28/2012 6:22PM

    Great blog! emoticon
Thanks for sharing and the pictures are wonderful! emoticon

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Ironman Louisville: 2.4 Mile Swim (Part 1 of 4)

Monday, August 27, 2012



On Sunday, my husband and I had set our alarms for 3:30am, in order to arrive in Kentucky in time to catch the start of Ironman Louisville 2012 - the 6:50am Pro Swim Start. We knew we were in for a long day, but never could have predicted that we would walk away from that race completely worn down physically, but more alive in spirit than we’ve been in a long time.

As it turns out, we did make it just in time for the Pro Swim Start. This was less exciting than I imagined it would be, as there were only a few pro athletes, so it was really kind of a non-event. The real fun began at 7:00am when the age groupers lined up and began to start jumping into the river.

There were about 3,014 athletes in this race – from every U.S. state and 26 countries. They began to line up on two docks. The first group hit the water and athletes continued to jump in non-stop for the next 40 minutes! My first thought was, “How can SO MANY people complete this difficult of a race?!” Amazing!



I was also struck by the fact that you could find every type of person in the lineup: skinny, chubby, young, old, man, woman, lean, muscular, fancy wetsuit, normal swim trunks.



The swim course was set up to where the athletes jumped in and swam along a tree line (which was actually a small island in the river) and then swam all the way around the other side of the island. So, by the time we saw them coming around the other side of the island, they had already swam about 2 miles. Then, they had to keep swimming another 0.4 miles to the finish, where they would transition to their bikes. This would mean a swim of at least an hour for most of the athletes. The official cut-off for the swim was 2 hours 20 minutes.



Most of us know how difficult it is to swim laps in a pool. But, unless you happen to be an Ironman yourself, I doubt any of us has experienced a swim of this magnitude in a dark river (without clear lane markers) with 3,000 other flailing bodies around you – possibly kicking you in the face, running into you, elbowing you. I know that when I swim, I begin to feel a bit panicked when I’m not getting enough air and that leads to me losing my form very easily. Much like a good run, a good swim demands a calm demeanor and a relaxed body. How in the world do these athletes achieve that physical state of calm in this type of atmosphere? A break in form can lead to serious pain for the entire rest of the race!

And, aside from the body mechanics, how much mental torture is there knowing that, once you finish this never-ending swim, you will be required to bike for 112 miles AND run a marathon? How does a person mentally block all that out and focus on the task at hand…swimming for over an hour?

Think that’s impressive? Oh, my friends, you have not seen anything yet! Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow: 112 Mile Bike.



*All photos copyrighted 2012: Scott Drichel Photography

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SENIORSWIMMER 9/3/2012 12:28PM

    Great writing and pictures. I love swimming, but I hate to swim in open water. I can't imagine trying to swim with 3,000 people and trying to keep track of where you are in the water.

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MINSOSTER 8/29/2012 6:28PM

    Love your descriptions and pictures!

My brother-in-law attempted a tri-sprint a couple of years ago and did not do well. He had a panic attack in the water because he had never been in that situation before. After making it through the swim he was able to get going on his bike and ended up straining his hamstring badly enough that he had to stop. It took him the rest of the summer to recover from that. Next year he is going to give it a second shot.

Hope you recover from your injury with your PT and that the rest of your training goes well for the half. Looking forward to reading your blogs.

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SIBLEYHONEYBEE 8/29/2012 8:06AM

    Wow! I can't imagine swimming in those conditions unless it was to save my life. That would be so stresful! I don't know how they do it.

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HOLLY255255 8/29/2012 7:06AM

    Love your post!!!

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CORINA-MOMOF4 8/28/2012 11:32PM

    emoticon

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KIPPER15 8/28/2012 10:41PM

    Wow, very good recap. Love the pictures.

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FRANCIEVW 8/28/2012 9:19PM

    Nice blog, Leah. I love the second to last photo, there, with a view up the river. Super! How fun that you shared this with your husband and you could both be inspired in your own ways!

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FITFOODIE806 8/28/2012 8:58PM

    ha! I just finished a blog about my own tri and you did a better job describing the open water swim than I did!!! You are a talented writer. And I have a feeling you're going to be a talented triathlete too!

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LINDAK25 8/28/2012 6:21PM

    Well, now you know you're going to have to get your breathing down!

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MSTWOMOONS002 8/28/2012 5:46PM

    Hi Leah;
Thanks for sharing this blog with us, sounds interesting & very motivating can hardly wait to read tomorrows exciting blog. Glad you enjoyed the experience, now your one step closer to the time you'll be out there with everyone else.
Take care & be well
Many Blessings Always Debby emoticon emoticon emoticon

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OFFICIALOLDY 8/28/2012 5:31PM

    Great blog and pictures, too! It was almost like being there - so exciting. I can't wait to read more. Thanks!

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FRANCES-AGAPE 8/28/2012 5:00PM

    emoticon WOW !

Definitely NOT for wimps like ME !


BLESSINGS!

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OPTIMIST1948 8/28/2012 3:37PM

    I just read a book about Ironman and they make it seem so ... doable. And then I regain consciousness.

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SNOWYOGA 8/28/2012 3:03PM

    That looks so cool, and the engery! emoticon

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PATTISTAMPS 8/28/2012 2:22PM

    WOW! That must have been amazing to watrh! Cant wait to see the next chapter!

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MEH50BEWELL 8/28/2012 11:46AM

    Great recap - do you see an Ironwoman in your future ??

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KATHY_NATURELVR 8/28/2012 11:20AM

    That's just scary to me.

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LINDAKAY228 8/28/2012 11:12AM

    Great description! And I'm still reading that great book you recommended and from what I've read swimming in the open water is so totally different than swimming in the pool, even without that many people kicking you in the face. The water temp, what you can see, other factors like wind blowing the water and creating waves, etc. Plus that many people create a lot of waves just by being in there! I know I couldn't do it and admire those who do.
Looking forward to part 2!

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CINDHOLM 8/28/2012 10:42AM

    emoticon

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SHAWNY2 8/28/2012 9:33AM

    88 laps are you kidding me? I think I am doing great if I swim half that many laps. Amazing, totally amazing!

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WILDFLOWER521 8/28/2012 9:31AM

    I watched a celebrity triatholon on tv last night that featured one of the women from the biggest loser. It looked really hard, I can't even imagine the physical and mental preparation that an Ironman takes.

Thanks for the great pics! Glad you and your husband had such a wonderful experience. Can't wait to see the rest of your posts on this.

Comment edited on: 8/28/2012 9:34:59 AM

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NDKARIKARI 8/28/2012 9:19AM

    wow! this is a super interesting account, I look forward to the other 3 posts!

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PRETTYLILHEFFER 8/28/2012 9:02AM

    If you took those pics, you rock! They look like professionals! I cannot imagine swimming that long, and I like swimming! Maybe one day :D

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STHAX10 8/28/2012 8:47AM

    emoticon

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HBLACK5 8/28/2012 8:27AM

    Wow! That is a really long swim and it is only 1/3 of the race. The other day I commented that I don't like to swim, so I would not participate in a triathalon unless I was part of a team. Your blogs have really got me thinking that next summer it just might be something that I want to try and tackle.

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GARDENSFORLIFE 8/28/2012 7:51AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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PEGGYO 8/28/2012 7:38AM

    Wow I didn't know they were so long

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SLIMLEAF 8/28/2012 7:37AM

    That's seriously impressive.

But then, so is you and your husband getting up in the middle of the night to go and watch!

Good effort!

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LIVEDAILY 8/28/2012 6:15AM

    I didn't know that about the Ironman competitions! Looking forward to learning more about them!

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ANDASI 8/28/2012 5:53AM

    Wow Thank you for breaking all this down i had no idea what it entailed. I am in ah about this. I cant even imagine doing this. Looking forward to the next chapter.

emoticon emoticon emoticon

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ON2VICTORY 8/28/2012 5:49AM

    looking forward to the rest of your report with great intrest :)




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REGILIEH 8/28/2012 1:32AM

    Awesome report! I can't wait for each report! Thank you!

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BLUE42DOWN 8/28/2012 1:08AM

    Those pictures, I'm sure, don't even do justice to what it must have been like to see that many people swimming at once. Amazing.

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DIET_FRIEND 8/28/2012 12:17AM

    I thought YOU did the Ironman at first. It does seem like an extreme experience for those who like physically challenging experiences.

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GOSPARK45 8/28/2012 12:01AM

    Wow. That's amazing. So many people, how do they keep from drowning someone? That many people are in that kind of shape? I'd be blown away.

thanks for the report.

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RUNNERRACHEL 8/27/2012 11:47PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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ISABELLE31 8/27/2012 11:39PM

    Thanks for sharing! :) I have tremendous admiration for triathletes!

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DENNETJ 8/27/2012 11:34PM

    I am so in awe of anybody who can do these things!

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Ironman Fever!!!!

Friday, August 24, 2012

This afternoon, I had swimming on my schedule. But, you guys, I just did not FEEL like going today. AT ALL. So, I said, "What's the big deal, Leah? One day of not swimming is not a big deal. Just skip it."

Well, that thought lasted for about one minute, because then I thought to myself, "Am I injured or overtired?" Well...no. "Is there some credible reason that I CAN'T do my swim workout today?" Grrr...no. "Haven't I done about a hundred runs that I didn't FEEL like doing, simply because I knew it was good for me? And wasn't that what got me in shape enough to finish a 7 mile run before this injury?" Well...yeah...but....fine, I'm going.

I did it again, folks. Swam 30 lengths in 30 minutes. Well, actually...in 28 minutes if you want to get TECHNICAL about it.
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So, today I had the shocking realization that my half marathon is only 6 weeks away. I had a minor mental panic attack, thinking about the miles I've been missing this month.

But that was quelled a bit by the fact that I passed 1,000 fitness minutes today. I had set a personal goal for myself of 1,000 crosstraining minutes in August (and, you know, with no running...ALL my fitness minutes are technically crosstraining). I have 1,003 minutes now and have an entire week left!!!

So, I've set a brand new goal....1500 fitness minutes for August. One week left to get 500 more. This is fairly significant for me because the most fitness minutes I ever logged in a month was when I did the Spring Into Shape Bootcamp Challenge and that month I did 1200 minutes. What would it mean for me if I reached my all-time high for monthly fitness minutes in a month where I am injured? I don't think I can fully explain how much that would motivate me for my shortened half marathon training schedule.

By the time I finish with P/T and get back on the road, I will have about 4 weeks to train for a 13.1 mile race. My first 13.1 mile race ever. That's a daunting thought. But...my phsical therapist and I have discussed realistic expectations for the race and we both are in agreement that I will not be able to run the entire thing and I will walk quite a bit. Which is FINE. I prefer the Galloway run/walk method anyway. When I get the all clear to run, I'm going to experiment with 8 mins running/1 minute walking splits.

Frankly, I wonder if my 1500 minute goal is a bit too small? My husband and I are going to Louisville on Sunday to watch the Ironman race!!!



For those unaware, it is a 140.6 mile race - 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run. You might remember my book review of "The Competitor In Me" by Francie Van Wirkus? Her husband is actually racing on Sunday, so I thought I'd go have a watch and cheer him on! A few Bloomington athletes racing it too. Should be a ton of fun! I anticipate quite a bit of walking, though. It's a long day (maybe 12 hours) so it's conceivable I could hit 2000 fitness minutes this month!!!! That's INSANE!!!!

Bet you can't wait for Monday'a blog!

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

HEALTHYLADY12 8/28/2012 6:40PM

    There doing the Ironman I think in alcatraz San Francisco in September. Your inspiring me to go watch it.

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SHAWNY2 8/27/2012 11:33AM

    The individuals that participate in an Ironman totally amaze me. Can you imagine the endurance that they have inside of them? They are out there for hours doing extremely hard events one right after the other. I just can't imagine how hard it is. I would find myself extremely lucky to complete a 26.2 mile run let alone adding any other type of cardio to the mix.

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DENNETJ 8/27/2012 2:10AM

    Sounds like you are doing amazing so far. Keep up the great work!

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MSTWOMOONS002 8/26/2012 5:56PM

    Hi Leah;
I am so proud of you for talking to yourself strenly enough to go swim & meet your goal. I believe in you and whatever goal you set for yourself you can & will achieve. Great going for getting so many exercise fitness minutes. Your getting so strong.
You go girlfriend you can dream it and achieve it. emoticon emoticon emoticon
Many Blessings Always Debby emoticon emoticon emoticon

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TERID816 8/25/2012 9:58PM

    Woohoo!!! Welcome to Kentucky! emoticon

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CORINA-MOMOF4 8/25/2012 8:17PM

    emoticon emoticon

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AMBER281 8/25/2012 7:40PM

    Way to go!!!

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4RASCALS 8/25/2012 3:22PM

    WAY TO GO LEAH ...NEVER QUIT... YOU NEVER CEASE TO AMAZE ME
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SHERYL_B 8/25/2012 2:41PM

    Good for you!

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LINDAKAY228 8/25/2012 12:30PM

    You are definitely on your way with that awesome swimming. By the way, I bought the book and have it on my Droid. I read it when I'm sitting places waiting. I'm really loving the book and thanks so much for the review that caused me to buy it.

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WARMSPRINGDAY 8/25/2012 8:11AM

    emoticon

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COLETTEISGREAT 8/25/2012 4:09AM

    I love how you managed to convince yourself / motivate yourself to swim! Brilliant words, and applicable for all of us!

Enjoy your time watching the Ironman race, and walking all day!!

And yes, I AM looking forward to Monday's blog!! emoticon

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RUNNERRACHEL 8/25/2012 12:07AM

    emoticon

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COCK-ROBIN 8/24/2012 11:41PM

    Wow! Wow! emoticon

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LINDAK25 8/24/2012 10:35PM

    emoticon

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KIPPER15 8/24/2012 10:01PM

    Wow, I can't imagine a race like that. a 5 k is daunting to me. Inspiring.

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OPTIMIST1948 8/24/2012 9:33PM

    I just read a book about Ironman Arizona and the book totally gives you Ironman Fever. But then I remember. That's just crazytalk.

Says the resident of Crazytown (aka, what my sister calls the Triathlon community)

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SNOWYOGA 8/24/2012 8:57PM

    That sounds great emoticon Keep going! emoticon

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PEGGYO 8/24/2012 8:48PM

    you can do it.

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JUNEAU2010 8/24/2012 8:31PM

    WOW - I cannot imagine a race that long! I'll bet you'll set a record for steps tomorrow while you watch the race!

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GUITARWOMAN 8/24/2012 7:00PM

    Enjoy!

I'll look for your blog on Monday!


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RUN_BAKE_BLOG 8/24/2012 6:58PM

    Luv you crazy girl!!
Have fun this weekend!

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DR8561 8/24/2012 6:50PM

    You are amazing! Can't wait to hear how the ironman went. I've been reading Francine's book and feeling all motivated and here you go just adding to that! emoticon
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FALLNTENN 8/24/2012 6:45PM

    You are right, Leah, I can't wait to read your blog on Monday. Enjoy your weekend. emoticon

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REGILIEH 8/24/2012 6:30PM

    WTG!!!

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GODIVADSG 8/24/2012 6:27PM

    You are going to be so inspired! Enjoy the cheering!! emoticon

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LIVEDAILY 8/24/2012 6:13PM

    emoticon
Have a fantabulous weekend!

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FRANCIEVW 8/24/2012 5:32PM

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Leah. It can be so challenging sometimes to just do a simple workout. Once a person digs in, however, they usually find themselves coming out on the other side.

Congrats on upping the ante to 1500 minutes during August. I just know you will knock that goal out of the park.

I am also so happy to hear some of your friends are enjoying and are inspired by The Competitor in Me.

Here's to a terrific finish for August 2012!!! You'll love how you feel. We wanna hear all about it!

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KATHUGGS 8/24/2012 4:29PM

    I would love to go see an Ironman! That sounds like so much fun!

I actually bought "The Competitor in Me" because of you and I am loving it. It's so great to read from another mom's perspective on how to find a balance between the responsibilities of being a mom and finding time for yourself without guilt. It's exactly what I have been needing, so thank you for the recommendation!

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WILDFLOWER521 8/24/2012 3:57PM

    See. There you go again making lemonade out of lemons!

Hope you and your husband have a wonderful time!

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GETFIT2LIVE 8/24/2012 3:41PM

    That is EXACTLY the same thought process I went thru when I didn't think I could make my first 20-minute solid run from the Couch to 5K plan, LOL! Isn't it amazing what happens once you start pushing through those perceived barriers? Way to go--have fun watching the event!

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CINDHOLM 8/24/2012 3:30PM

    emoticonHave a GREAT weekend!!

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SIBLEYHONEYBEE 8/24/2012 3:18PM

    Your fitness minutes are incredible Leah! Great job! I actually set a goal for myself this month for 1,000 fitness minutes and I should just reach it by the 31st. Yipee! We CAN Do It! Have a GREAT weekend!

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WUBBY82 8/24/2012 3:17PM

    I used to force myself to provide a credible reason to be able to skip a workout. My favorite is now: Leah works out enough for the both of us. I'll just sit here and chill :)

Love ya, girlie!!

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JOYCECAIN 8/24/2012 2:52PM

    You have been doing very well. Congratulations. You deserve it. I wish your husband and you the best. Go girl, go. lol

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HBLACK5 8/24/2012 2:50PM

    Have fun! Every summer there is an Ironman race that is only about 20 minutes from my house. I have never watched it, but one of my friends helps organize it.

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LEB0401 8/24/2012 2:50PM

    OMG girl.. you are another level!!! HARDCORE!!!

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GARDENSFORLIFE 8/24/2012 2:49PM

    emoticon emoticon

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DIANNEMT 8/24/2012 2:42PM

    My brother has done several Ironman competitions--I watched him via internet when he finished one--THAT was way cool. He finished just under 12 hours. He couldn't run from late Jan till May or June--and he is still ramping up to his "old" mileage (couldn't bend his knee so no bike and swim arms only) so he is not race ready yet--but he will be. He is nuts--but a nice kind of nuts!

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