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Posted by: Heather Leiggi 9/3/2014 4:57 AM

The good: I had an amazing training block leading up to Ironman Louisville! It was one of those rare blocks where workouts are nailed almost perfectly, recovery happens quickly, distractions are at minimum and you pleasantly surprise yourself with times and paces. It helped to be able to spend some time in Victoria, BC.   Having my coach and other fast women around to provide company and motivation was amazing. With that, I headed to Louisville extra excited to race. Training had gone well and I was excited for my 3rd another attempt at the ironman distance.

Race morning came and temps were quite a bit cooler than expected. The days prior to the race had been ridiculously hot.  While I wasn't overly concerned about the heat and humidity since I am usually race well in those conditions, it was nice for a little reprieve and I was still quite a bit surprised with just HOW stifling the heat was in Louisville. Anyway, thunderstorms the night before the race cooled things down and also made for a super fast swim. The swim at Louisville starts upstream in a relatively protected area before you turn downstream for the rest of the swim. The cannon sounded and off we went. I wanted feet extra badly because I really didn't want to have to pull myself upstream. A few of the women were quickly off the front but I was able to get in a group and follow some feet. It was a challenging draft with the water being so murky and strange river currents but I managed to stay on...barely. I exited the water with a group of 3 other girls and was off on the bike in 6th. I had a little trouble settling in on the bike. My legs wanted to go harder but my HR was still pretty high. I knew I didn't want to ride too hard so I forced myself to slow down and stay controlled. After about 10 miles, I got passed by 2 women and I decided to go with them.  I managed to find a nice rhythm and eventually passed the 2 women back and gained some ground on the women ahead. The second loop got pretty chaotic with us merging with the age groupers. I'll admit to losing track of time through this section and letting my nutrition and hydration get away from me a little bit. The last hour of the bike felt pretty rough and I was happy to head into T2. I had focused a lot of my training on my running leading up to Louisville and I was looking forward to testing out my fitness.

The bad: Starting off the run I did not feel good. Still, I had felt worse getting off the bike in Texas so I stayed positive thinking the body would eventually come around. I was psyched to be in 5th too, although I knew there were some pretty fast runners behind me. After a few miles, the body was not coming around and I was actually feeling worse. I did everything I could think of to pull myself together. At the turnaround (~mile 6) I was mildly comforted in that all the other women looked about as bad as I felt.  At mile 10, I caught Kate who had been leading and unfortunately was suffering GI issues and walking. Now was in 4th.  I knew if I could just keep moving forward, even if it was slow, I had a good chance of holding onto a podium spot.  

The ugly: Unfortunately a few miles later, the wheels completely fell off and was forced to pull out.  A tough and heartbreaking decision that honestly still stings.  Despite my disappointment, I am able to see the positives of the day.  There was a lot of improvement and good progress that happened at Louisville.  I am sure with some tweaks and improvement nutrition strategy, the outcome will be better! I am currently planning my ironman redemption so stay tuned!

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Well said Heather. A brave performance and even braver to share it with all of us. In a way it is heartening to hear it from an elite athlete like you. As an aging athlete I am never all in one piece nor can I put together a full training block or a race without one or another injury or just plain feeling bad. It will be great to hear of your recovery and how you go on to do better. This is the inspiration I need that everything is possible. Cheers friend!

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