Thursday, August 30, 2012

IRONMAN Louisville

Well, after a devastating DNF (Did not finish) in St. George earlier this year back in May, I was determined to climb back on the proverbial horse (For me it's my FUJI D6 Tri Bike) and train harder and smarter for IRONMAN Louisville.  I have been absent from this blog as well, feeling deflated after all the hard work, dedication, and sacrifices I made to compete in St. George. Traditionally known as the second highest DNF percentage IRONMAN in the United States (Second only to St. George), I decided to tackle IRONMAN Louisville for my redemption.  I ended up severing ties with my previous coach for some difference of opinions and feeling like I was not being trained appropriately.  I also ended up having some major issues with my gastric lapband and had it completely drained, making nutrition a major factor in my preparation for this race.  Finally, during training I was having some back issues and the Wednesday before IRONMAN Louisville was advised that my MRI showed a ruptured disc in L4/L5.  I felt like maybe this race was just not for me.  But that feeling lasted only about 30 seconds before my determination, dedication, and drive overcame that feeling and I was going to make Louisville my BITCH!

About 4 weeks ago I teamed up with Eric Doehrman and E3 Multisport TriVolution in Huntsville, AL as my coach.  I followed each and every workout to a "T".  His open lines of communication, willingness to do anything to help me be successful, as well as he himself racing in Louisville gave me all the confidence in the world that I would be ready for this event.  I changed my entire race day nutrition as well, teaming up with a new product called URDriven.  There was nothing going to stop me from crossing that finish line this time.  My test was IRONMAN Boulder 70.3 and I came away feeling extremely confident.  But I knew that the back would be an issue at some point during the race.

Couple days before Race Day we went out and rode some of the course, ran some of the course, and took part in the open swim practice.  I felt my confidence building as we got closer to race day.  I was excited to meet my coach in person as well as some of the other TRIBE Members.  I had some great support with Danielle, Carlos, my mom, Betty my mother-in-law, my dad, my step-mom and many other friends that I have met along the IRONMAN journey.  We laughed, joked, and traded secrets to success.  I was ready.  I was here.  Now it was time to rest, as the big day was coming.

Race morning I awoke feeling great.  Brought everything down to transition and anxiously awaited the time trial swim start. It was amazing to see all my friends and family there to support me at the start.  We got up to the start and I attempted a half-assed cannonball, not my specialty by any means.  I hit the water and swam as hard as I could.  About 1000m into the swim I had some pain that developed in my left shoulder, the one that was previously separated by the hit and run accident when running before St. George.  I mentally blocked it and completed the swim in a moderate 1:33.  Out of the water and into transition I quickly transitioned over to the bike, hearing cheers from my friends and family.  Everything seemed to be rolling along so smoothly.  I rode hard on that course, pushing myself, enjoying the downhills and cursing the uphills.  I paced my teammate Chuck for most of the race, doing my nutrition and making sure that I was urinating.  I didn't want to dehydrate and with the heat there were plenty of people on the side of the road and with medical.  I remember a gentleman sitting in a camping chair saying "stop bitching about our Kentucky hills".  I told him I was from Colorado and he told me to "Bitch away"!  The ride went amazingly smooth.  I noticed on my second loop of the course a large amount of people on the side changing tires.  It was only after the race that I was told that someone had thrown tacks on the course and there were people that were waiting for bike mechanics on the course to bring them tubes because they had 4 flats during the course.  I rode through LaGrange clapping and singing along with the fans, it was amazing the amount of people just out cheering and screaming for us as perfect strangers. For me, I just remembered my mantra of having fun and started the countdown.  70, 80, 90, 100, only 12 miles left to go and I would finish the bike portion and hit the ground running (Yes pun intended).  I flew into transition and again had a quick transition over to the run portion. 

I exited transition feeling OK, back was a little stiff but that quickly loosened up and I was running 8:30/miles.  I crossed the bridge and headed out of downtown to the 8.5 mile turnaround point.  I was feeling great, hitting every other aid station to drink and use the cold sponges to keep cool.  I also soaked my arms in the barrels of ice water the sponges were in to help keep cool.  I had my hand bottle of URDriven.  I was at about mile 11 when I passed Deb on her mile 5, and it again reassured me that I was going to finish.  I rolled into special needs, bent over to take my shoes off and throw in some foot powder when all of a sudden my back tightened up and spasmed.  I drank my coconut water, ate my Stinger Waffle and I walked out of special needs for about half a mile trying to stretch out the back and hope that it wouldn't prevent me from finishing.  I would not let it play any mental games with me.  It finally seemed to loosen up a bit and I continued the run/walk intervals.

The second half of the run seemed to have more walking than running, and it was here that I was able to meet some of the other amazing athletes out on the course.  I met a woman who was 100 pounds overweight and trying to lose it while competing in her first IRONMAN.  I met a gentleman 64 years old trying to get into Kona, and many of those I had met through the Facebook group.  The volunteers were amazing, calling our names and motivating us to finish.  It was about mile 23 that I decided I only had a 5K left to finish my first IRONMAN and receive redemption from St. George.  I said goodbye to those I was walking with and I sprinted in for the last 3.1 miles.  According to my splits I ran those last 3.1 miles at a 9:00/mile pace.  I saw the finish line, I saw my family and my friends, and I knew as I uncontrollably fist pumped across the finish line that "Richard Kalasky from Morrison, Colorado you are an IRONMAN!

The 2227 finishers of 2012 Ironman Louisville appear to have tackled the harshest conditions of the last four years, with a 14% DNS rate, an incredibly high 14% DNF rate, and the highest average time since 2009: 13:41.  I finished in 13:31.  Now I am ready for whatever race comes into my path.  2013 will bring me to Tempe, AZ to compete in my second IRONMAN.  Bring on IMAZ!  I want to send out a special thanks to everyone, especially my amazing IRONMATE Carlos for enduring the many sleepless nights, the early 4am wake ups to hit the bike or pool.  The long bricks on the weekends.  The loss of our social life.  In the end, it was all worth it to see you as I crossed that finish line.  To all my other friends, especially Danielle for making the trip to be there to support me.  My parents, especially my Dad who hadn't seen me compete yet.  And my good friend Deb Condo for training with me and signing up to help me with my redemption!  And finally, my Coach Eric Doehrman and E3 Multisport for giving me the tools to help me be successful and cross that finish line.