Thought I’d share some observations on IMLOU since it’s not quite a ‘down the street’ venue. Great race, awesome volunteers… I’m so glad I chose this one! LOVED LOU!
Lou is far enough away that flying is a good idea. I was planning on driving, then thought better and booked some flights. When I got in the rental car and couldn’t get on the correct highway with a NeverLost and Siri, I realized I would have never made it to the race driving.
Traveling with the bike, suitcase, and two other bags was really the only challenging part of the trip aside from racing itself. Thankfully I’d travelled for work before and knew how to balance lots of bags. I also knew that checking in super early meant I’d monopolize overhead space for my carry-on. As long as I didn’t need to do many sharp turns, I was pretty good with all the luggage.
In Lou I rented a house ~7 mins away from the venue. It was actually perfect, and I would rent that exact house again if I did this race. One of my biggest concerns not staying directly in the city was parking, but it turned out no one even used the public lots that were between the house and transition. One of my other biggest concerns is always pre-race nutrition, so kitchen and nearby grocery store was key.
I arrived early – Wed – because I don’t like crowds. My ideal check-in is when zero people are there. So that worked out great! No lines no waiting on Thurs, the first day of packet pickup. Plus, my bike needed a shift adjust, and I knew that the best time to do that was before the masses arrived.
Practice on Course/ Swim:
This was one of my only complaints about the race. They had a practice swim the day before the race for two hours, for all 2500+ people. Seemed like poor timing for non-straightforward swim course.
But I did get to have lunch with my ‘tri sister’ Kelly (who demolished the race 🙂 ) and ran into Craig Stoller from NEMS at bike drop off. Plus I met a bunch of new cool peeps from PBM and my coach KP was there with some pre-race support and on-course encouragement. Thank you 🙂
Swim: 1:19:54. Rank division/ gender/ overall : 69/ 430 / 1721
People were already walking to get into swim line when I arrived at transition 10 mins after it opened!! This race has you just line up, like Black Friday. You wait there for an hour, then the line moves, then you just jump in the water and go. Oh, wait, you jump in the water.. realize you can’t see anything because the water is grey, and then go.
In Ironman fashion, the swim cap colors matched the buoys, so sighting is additionally challenging. Plus, with the swim start everyone was mixed in together. A guy took me underwater when I was taking a breath and I choked on the water and started to freak out but caught myself and kept going. On my first IM – Placid – the same thing happened and I had a panic attack in the water.
I thought I swam better than I did, but am pretty sure I went really wide after that incident. I do not have watch data. Thought I hit start but didn’t. If someone came near me I kicked a lot and upped my stroke rate to ward them off… it was scary to go under. It was also really hard to SEE, since the water was dark. Finding feet seemed like a dangerous flirtation with being kicked in the face.
Bike: 5:26:10. Rank (div/ gender/ overall): 10/ 40/ 347
I had best bike split running, and it was working – reading off what watts to hit. It hadn’t worked all season so I was excited!! But then it started annoying me, so I zoned out the beeps. But, zoning out beeps meant nutrition alarms too. Staying on top of Nutrition is the easiest controllable factor that has a significant impact on the outcome of the race. I didnt want to take any chances, so I turned off BBS, and piloted my own course the second loop. I was faster sans BBS, which is an interesting game to play.
Having the ability to go to camps and preview the course (like IMLP and IMMT) is invaluable. I couldn’t really just relax as much on the first loop because I was driving and thinking more than I needed to. If it had been a route I’d known very well, I could have turned something in my mind/body off and let the bike do it’s job better. I was sort of stiff and I knew it. Second loop I could relax a little more. It could have been the volume of people on each loop too – second pass was a bit more spread out. Overall I was happy with the bike speed/ time but still way under my goal wattage. It was the BBS predicted speed, but under watts. I don’t want to use up watts just for the number to be there, but if they equate to more speed then I want to use what I have available. Hills were long/ steep enough to drop down to small ring at times, and also some that could stay in big ring. It was a FUN course to drive. Although, it was complicated by the fact the on-site shift adjust I’d gotten was not very good — rear cogs were jumping in small ring and it wouldn’t shift smoothly to big ring. It was actually a bit unnerving to go through the gears given the skips.
Run: 4:18:13 Rank: 15 / 64 / 371
I really like putting all my T2 stuff in a ziplock bag. I get in there, do socks, shoes, grab the ziplock bag and leave. I yelled out my number, and they got my bag. But this time the volunteer dumped the bag so I had to pick some stuff up. I guess they’re told to dump the bag? Don’t let them touch your bag if you don’t want it dumped. Or tell them you just want them to put the bike stuff away.
One of the best items I own – for triathlon, running, LIFE – is the Stow’n’go sports bra by lululemon. An entire marathon of nutrition goes in that thing. I can SEE what I’m grabbing, it’s not in an awkward spot or restricted by zipper. There are three sections and I love it. So I transfer from ziplock to sports bra pouch while running out. I also have the T1 Pro belt, which has a magnetic clip and silicone grippers, aiding t2 and general run comfort.
Run course was pretty much straight, and then turned a few times that I couldn’t wrap my head around (how does this match the map? I don’t get it!). But, we also know I get lost driving in a car with two GPS systems, so not surprising. Ran. Started great, then quickly fell off goal pace and couldn’t bring it there. (Never got there). Tried to just stay in the moment and focus on what I was doing. I’ve been running with cadence metronome on 920 which has helped to ensure my pace stays at least at a certain spot. The marathon is definitely an area that needs some improvement, but has opportunity. The road in Lou is canted so I was trying to run down the middle, but kept veering towards the gutter for some reason. At the aid stations, I was sloppy for the first 13 then started dumping ice right into my hat, which worked great.
Last mile just went lampost to lampost, and made it. Yay for finish lines!
Overall : 11:14:01
Well. Head of the Charles for sure 💕💓💛💕 Heart be still.
Then, after that I don’t know yet. I don’t like to focus on the end anyway, it compromises my ability to stay in the moment and make now count. As long as I’m moving in one direction, I like to think the end will be better off that way.