I left off with us arriving in Nashville TN.
We woke up bright and early, had a quick breakfast at the hotel and hit the road.
Louisville is a 3 hour drive from Nashville, living in a remote northern Ontario town a 3 hour drive is nothing. We drive that distance for a 5 minute dentist appointment!
The drive was lovely, the hills, pastures, local culture was incredible. I love new places, meeting new people, seeing how the rest of the world lives. It sure did help that it was HOT! I am a sun lover and visiting the south was just what I needed!
We arrived in Louisville just around lunch time. I decided that I wanted to sit and eat a good lunch before heading to the Athletes Village. I found a restaurant on Trip adviser that was rated #1 for breakfast in Lou. Wild Eggs – it did not disappoint. Our waitress was incredible – I truly believe that terrific service really makes the meal. Apparently I was not the only Ironman hopeful who had done their research – the restaurant was filled with incredibly fit athletes all wearing their finest IM apparel.
One could really let it all get in their head. People were discussing race strategies, nutrition, giving advice. I did my best to tune it out, the last thing I needed was to let someone else get into my head.
MY race plan was solid, the last thing I needed was to waiver from it because a fit looking guy with an M-dot tatt and a finishers tee thought his ideas were better…. and there were people questioning their plans!!!
After our meal we walked down to the Ironman Athletes Village. Luckily the lines were not too long and I moved through quickly.
Ironman really knows what they are doing the process was absolutely seamless, an abundance of volunteers makes the whole deal super simple. Bracelet was attached, bags picked up, waivers signed, and that’s it I was officially registered!
We popped into the Ironman Store, bought a few tee shirts, coffee mug etc. We also picked up tire tubes and GU. It was really really easy to drop a couple $100.00 in short amount of time.
I eyed the Finishers Jackets, knowing that Monday morning one would be MINE! But first I had to earn it.
After check in, Tim went to the SUV and I met up with a few IG folks. We sat and listened to the Race director at the athletes meeting. It was feeling very very real! My fears had all dissipated and the excitement was building. I received a lovely gift from a fellow Momentum Jewelry Ambassador – A bracelet that read “You got this” That quote has special meaning to me and made me laugh several times along the race course on Sunday.
People had warned me not to let the fit athletes intimidate me, but I didn’t feel that way at all. We had all put in the work, I felt as though I truly belonged I had EARNED my right to be there!
I found Tim and we crossed the Ohio River into Jefferson Indiana to check into our hotel.
We have really lucked out with Expedia and Trip Adviser, we got a clean comfortable hotel for less than $100 each night and I loved that it was away from race HQ. I wanted to be able to decompress as much as possible.
We found a grocery store, picked up the rest of my necessities, bought some treats, and then went back into Louisville for the Pre – Race Celebration at 4th Street Live.
IMLOU finishes downtown on 4th St. Live a great little location that is all closed in with an abundance of bars and restaurants. They had the Ironman stage all set up. I once again got choked up standing there, knowing the next time I was there I would be finishing up my day and hearing those magical words….
Tim and I sat in a sports bar and watched the show while enjoying some pizza wings and a cider. I had the most terrific Whiskey sour made with Basil and Hayden’s Bourbon. I had to remind myself I wasn’t allowed to over indulge too much. It would be very easy to get carried away….
By 8 pm we were back at the hotel. It was time to get my race bags sorted and filled.
I put my headphones in, cranked the tunes and got down to business. It takes an incredible amount of gear to race 140.6 miles. I wanted to change my clothes for each portion in order to be the most comfortable as possible.
By 10 pm I was had everything ready and went to bed.
No one sleeps the night before a race, I knew a good sleep Friday night was crucial and luckily I got an incredible night’s sleep!
I woke up feeling refreshed ate a light breakfast at the hotel and we headed back across the river for the IM practice swim. I am a confident swimmer, but always like to get a feel for the water. I usually have about 2 minutes of pure panic and regret during the swim. Then I tell myself to toughen up and get to work. I was hoping to get that feeling over with during the practice swim
The temps were steadily dropping and the wind had really picked up! It was pretty darn chilly stripping down to a 2 piece swim suit on the banks of the Ohio before putting on my wetsuit.
I made my way to the start – which would be our finish on Sunday. Put on my goggles and took the plunge. The water was really warm! I had read that the Ohio was a really gross dirty swim. I didn’t find it bad at all, I am used to a dark stain in the water, clean but dark, so this water really didn’t bother me. I honestly would rather swim in the dark than know what lies beneath lol.
I only did a short swim, the water was pretty rough, nothing that made me nervous I simply adjusted my breathing, worked my way up stream to the first buoy, some athletes swam two buoys but I wanted to save myself for Sunday. The purpose of the swim was to acclimate not get in a workout. I was really happy with how my swim went, no freak out, just a nice warm swim.
Getting out was COLD!
I wrapped myself in a towel, we walked back to the SUV in my wetsuit and a changed in a parking lot.
Then we went for a long drive out into the Kentucky countryside to check out the bike course.
Getting going was tricky as there was a lot of road construction and a road run for cancer taking place that morning. Eventually we made our way to River Road and followed the bike course out to La Grange.
I googled restaurants and settled on a Cracker Barrel for lunch, at first Ii was hesitant, it seemed a bit “country hick” even for this red neck northern girl… but we were very pleased with our meal. It tasted homemade! I had a big heaping lunch of eggs, toast, bacon and pumpkin pancakes – CARB LOADING!!!! I ate most of it and took the remainder with me for an afternoon snack!
After lunch we drove the remainder of the course and returned to Lou for bike and bag drop off.
Saying good bye to your bike and bags is kind of bitter sweet. You can add to them the next day but really you need to have had everything you need in those bags. Its a bit stressful hoping you got it right! Luckily the volunteers are rock stars and I had a terrific lady walk me through the whole process. Takes most of the stress away for a beginner like me.
We went back into Jefferson, I grabbed a Starbucks and went back to the hotel to rest while Tim spent a few hours in Man Heaven – AKA Cabela’s.
After my nap we got cleaned up and went out for supper. I had found a GREAT restaurant called the “Olive Leaf Bistro” I was looking for a simple nourishing meal. I ordered bruschetta, chicken kebabs, and saffron rice. IT WAS AMAZING!!!
Sitting across from us was another athlete – before long three tables were all chatting Ironman. The other athlete was from Holland in Lou to score some points toward his AWA status. I loved listening to him. I really believe that Ironman is for everyone, whether you are hoping to win, earn a ticket to Kona, or cross the line before midnight! Every participant has a reason and a goal. I truly LOVE THIS SPORT!!!
After some pumpkin spice cream brulee….
We went for a short walk along the river, the bridges were all lit up.
I looked across that great river to the swim start and finish and thought “wow that looks so far”. Its funny in a pool 3800m is no big deal, see it stretched out in a massive body of water and suddenly it looks intimidating, especially considering that I was counting on a solid swim to give me a head start.
I doubt I slept at all that night. I was filled with emotions, mostly fear and doubt. I was truly concerned with the bike cutoffs.