Today is a very appropriate day to type up a little something about the experience we had last weekend at Ironman Louisville. Today marks the third anniversary (thanks Facebook) of the day my husband Mark finished his first triathlon in Wilmington, NC. I like to think that was the day he “caught the bug”. This is him on that exact day:
Since then he has signed up for about 3 or so triathlons per year, and joined a triathlon group called TriMafia. This year he completed Raleigh, Norway and Louisville Ironman, with Louisville being the only full distance, the others were halves. They were all very exciting, and Louisville was no exception. Read up here on my post about what it’s like to be married to an Ironman.
Louisville started out bright and early (and by bright I mean dark as night) with Mark kissing us all goodbye in our hotel beds as he left to head to the swim start. We didn’t go with him since I had just completed the Bourbon Chase the day before and needed some extra sleep. We still were up pretty early though, and we walked down to the spot on the river where the athletes exit the water. If you go to Ironman Louisville in the future, the biggest piece of advice I can give you is to find a hotel in the downtown area. You may pay a little more, but it’s worth it when your athlete finishes at night and you only have a short way to walk. We stayed at the Galt House Hotel and Suites, which ended up being just about perfect.
After seeing Mark exit the swim, we knew we had a little bit of time before we would be able to spot him on the bike. The best place to go see the cycling portion is in the little town of La Grange, Kentucky. It’s about a 30 mile drive, which can seem like a lot, but it’s all highway, and since the race takes place along the River Road, you can get around it no problem (there was plenty of parking as well). La Grange was rocking! They had people lining the streets with signs, quaint little restaurants, and plenty of space to get front and center to spot your athlete.
When we got back to Louisville, we parked back at the hotel and walked to finish line nearby to snap some pictures before it got busy! On our way back down to the bike finish we caught site of quite a few Pros as the headed out on the run. The kids really got into cheering them on and telling them how awesome they are. Extreme badasses for sure.
We stood at the finish line for the bike portion for quite awhile, but we had some bad weather coming. The wind picked up and it rained, so the kids and I were freezing. Note to self: an Ironman supporter should always have a backpack full of gear for bad weather. The Ironman Louisville tent was nearby, so we walked over and I had to actually buy the kids some sweatshirts. As soon as we spotted Mark we walked to the hotel to change and get ready for the finish.
They say that Louisville has the BEST Ironman finish because of the location of the arch and the red carpet. It actually runs down a street called 4th Street Live, which is a glass-covered city street full of restaurants. (Our hotel was only about 4 blocks away.)It was awesome because of the atmosphere, and also because it kept us out of the wind and rain. And the noise! Every time we saw someone finish, everyone pounded on the boards lining the finish line, it sounded like thunderous applause. We managed to grab a couple beers and hang out right in front of the arch, which was prime viewing area. We witnessed the full range of emotions crossing that line- from tears and screams of happiness, to complete exhaustion. The spectators were just as emotional- everyone around us seemed to be on the verge of tears, and everyone was allowing people to get to the front to see their athlete (when you have kids that aren’t that tall, this is the best). This was by far the best finish line I have ever experienced.
I ran down to the bike exchange to pick up Mark’s bike for him as he one by one watched his close friends cross the finish.
He didn’t say it, but I’m pretty sure this went down as one of the best days of his life, and I am so happy that the kids and I could be there to support him. It was a tough fall with the kids participating in sports, and his training schedule, but we had our eyes set on Louisville and rocked it out like a team. To say we are proud of him is an understatement. We are also on the books for Ironman Steelhead (half) and Ironman Boulder (full) in 2018. There are probably more to come! Stay tuned.
Congratulations to every athlete that came out for Ironman Louisville 2017!