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Ironman Louisville 2017

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:

Ironman Wilmington

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.

Belle of Louisville

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.

Ironman Louisville swimOhio river

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.

IM Louisville FinishIM Louisville Red Carpet

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.

IM Louisville 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.

IM Louisville Bikes

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.

IM Louisville finishers

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!

 

The Bourbon Chase

I did a little skip, hop and jump out of work last Thursday evening, positively giddy about the weekend ahead. First on the agenda? Two days running through Kentucky as part of a team in the 2017 Bourbon Chase.

I did this race last year with Mark  and some friends and had such a blast, I knew I would be doing it again if I had the chance. For those of you that have never done a Ragnar race before, but you are interested—this one is for you. These races are so awesome because there is a lot more to it than just running. It’s also part camping, team challenge and really puts your navigating skills to the test!

Jim Beam

The Bourbon Chase starts off at Jim Beam in Clermont, about an hour and 15 minute drive from Lexington. It works like this: Your team of 12 people has 2 vans with 6 runners in each plus a driver. Van 1 starts out at Jim Beam with runner number 1. The van then leaves that location, and rushes to the next spot on the map to pick up runner 1 and drop off runner 2. The van operates this way until all 6 runners have run their portion and runner 6 has handed off to runner 7 who is in van 2. Van 1 is then considered “off” until runner 12 hands back off to runner 1. There are 3 rounds for each van, so each runner will get out and run 3 times. This whole things lasts for about 30 hours or so (in our case anyway).

Crank and Boom Ice CreamHeaven Hill Distillery

I was runner 3 this time, so I was in van 1. We visited Jim Beam, Heaven Hill, Makers Mark, Wild Turkey and Woodford Reserve. If you are thinking that the Bourbon Chase isn’t for you because you don’t like bourbon, fear not! Very little bourbon was consumed, but a couple places had some tastings and actually made some delicious cocktails with bourbon as the main ingredient. This race isn’t about drinking and running – it’s all about running through some of the most beautiful places Kentucky has to offer and bonding with your team. The bourbon distillery is an added bonus that adds character to the experience.

Woodford

You may be wondering about the… ahem… sleeping arrangements when one is tearing through Kentucky in a white van in a sea (over 2,000!!) of other white vans. The first break for us was in the cute little town of Danville. We found a restaurant there on the main drag where we got a solid dinner, then went to get some rest in a bank parking lot. I had bought a Marmot sleeping bag the week before, and also had an inflatable sleeping pad, so I felt prepared. Here’s my view as I lie down to get some sleep:

View bank parking lot

Pretty, huh? After our second round of running was over we drove to  Wild Turkey to get some real sleep. By now it was about 2am and the parking attendants there instructed us to park in a field with very long wet grass. Why oh why didn’t I bring a tarp!? I grabbed my stuff and wandered around looking for a spot with some shorter grass where I could lie down. Check out the view from my sleeping spot:

Wild Turkey

Creepy, right? That building is used for storing the bourbon as it ages, and I know you can’t tell in the picture, but the moon was big and spooky AF. I slept terribly, it was so cold and there was so much moisture in the air that the condensation soaked everything. I even had to be sure to cover up my sneakers so they would remain dry. It was quite the adventure. I love this race, but there are few things I hate more than having to get up and head straight to a mile long line for a Port-a-Potty. Ick.

Heaven Hill

After van 2 showed up at about 6:30am we were on the road again for our 3rd legs. I had a beautiful run this time in gorgeous sunny weather through a neighborhood of big houses and green fields, picket fences and Kentucky horses. It was so much fun.

Makers Mark glass

When my team handed off to van 2 we drove the rest of the way back to downtown Lexington. I had to jet straight from there on to my next adventure (later this week on the blog) but the rest of them all hung out at the finish line drinking beers and waiting for van 2. The finish line at this event is beyond awesome. They shut down the streets outside Rupp Arena for one big party.

Jim Beam Vanilla

For anyone thinking of doing a race like this, all I have to say is that you’ll be missing out if you don’t. It is such a cool experience. I met and made new friends, drank some good beer and bourbon, ran 13 miles, went to some places I had never been and had a blast. We will most likely be looking for a couple runners next year, if you are interested in running the Bourbon Chase and you know you can be in Kentucky next October, hit me up!