Reston Area Triathletes RATS.net Logo

Race Result

Racer: Donna Rostant
Race: Ironman Louisville
Date: Sunday, August 30, 2009
Location: Louisville, KY
Race Type: Triathlon - Ironman
Age Group: Female 50 - 54
Time: 13:18:42
Age Group Place: 14 / 32
Comment: A PR for IRONMAN

Race Report:

I arrived in Louisville on Thursday morning after an overnight stay in Charleston, West Virginia. After checking into my hotel (which was right at the finish line of the race) I started walking to the triathlon registration and expo, a couple of blocks away, at the official race headquarters hotel. I checked in at the registration desk and was told that I had to get on a scale to be weighed. Ugh. Not the best start but I told myself that the five extra pounds was just water retention and then
I felt better.

I got my transition area bracelet, helmet, bike and bag numbers, and other official race stuff. I was ready to throw up as the realization of what I had to do in a few days finally hit me but I made it back to my hotel without barfing. I threw on some running shorts and took a slow run along the Ohio River, near where we would be swimming. The river was very big and very deep. Plus there were giant logs floating by and so I made
a mental note to look up every so often so I didn’t get knocked out by one. I met Kevin, Suzanne and Reese Shaw, Kevin Kunkel and his family and Eric and Lisa for dinner at the Spaghetti Factory. The conversation centered on a rumor that Kevin K. heard that we would be allowed to wear wetsuits after all. Neither he or I (my usual state of planning) brought a wetsuit so we made plans to get his wetsuit from his home in Reston to
my house in Oak Hill where Scott would stop before going to Dulles and bring them with him on his Friday flight. I went back to the hotel - excited about the possibility of not drowning in the Ohio River - and went to bed.

Friday morning was a practice swim - which was good. What was not so good was learning that the wetsuit possibility was a vicious rumor and they would not be permitted. Kevins K. and S. and I swam for 30 minutes and then Eric joined us as we hit the bikes for another 30 minutes. I wandered around Louisville that afternoon and took it easy. The pre-race banquet was Friday night and we all sat together to hear inspirational messages from the directors and some participants and the race rules.
After the banquet, I left to retrieve Scott from the airport.

Saturday morning was another practice swim. Scott decided to do the practice swim with me and we goofed off the entire time. Which explains a lot about my swim time. After that, Scott went for a long run while I went to the expo to buy a new pair of goggles. I recall that you’re not supposed to wear something new in a race but I figured I had 2.4 miles to check these new goggles out so there was plenty of time to decide whether
I liked them. So I bought them. Later that afternoon, Scott and I drove the bike course and I must admit, I was a little intimidated. The course was lovely, but it was much hillier than I expected. It was definitely “rolling” and there were a couple of pretty serious climbs. I didn’t see any flat areas – just up and down hills. Think Reston Century without that one huge hill. Anyway - I tried not to get overwhelmed. Dinner
was a steak and baked potato and I was in bed by 9 pm.

The wake up call came at 4 am. There was an Einstein Bagel place in the hotel and they were kind enough to open very early to provide us with some pre-race nutrition. The hotel lobby was buzzing with excitement as the triathletes milled about the lobby. I went down at 4:30 and the bagel line was out the hotel lobby door. But it moved quickly so I got my bagels, fruit and coffee and hiked back up to the room. Scott wanted to get a long ride in on race day while cheering me on so he decided he would bike to various points along the bike course. He gathered his race pack, bike and camera and I gathered my stuff and we headed out to the start.

First stop was the bike start to check the pressure on my bike tires and drop off the food I would need after the swim. I tried to pump my tires but fumbled hopelessly so I gave up and just threw the food in my bento box. We then started the ¾ mile walk to the swim start.

The Swim. 1:39:57
Preparing for this swim was scary. I’m not all that skilled in any of the triathlon disciplines. I’m especially unskilled in swimming. In fact, I don’t think it’s fair to call what I do in the water – swimming. It’s more like anti-swimming - like I have reverse thrusters on my swim cap. I feel better when I swim in my wetsuit in shallow water. Along with swimming in water depths of 4 to five feet, wearing my wetsuit gives
me a false sense of swimming security. Like I might not drown this time.

Knowing that (1) the odds of being able to wear a wetsuit in Louisville were pretty much against me, (2) we would be swimming upstream for a fair amount of the time, and (3) the Ohio River is pretty freaking deep, gave me some serious pre-race swim anxiety. And my skillful ability to avoid most forms of swim practice for the last 6 months did not serve me that well on race day either. But with the encouragement of Scott, my coach
David Glover, and my other Louisville comrades, Kevins K. and S., I made it to the starting line.

The swim start was a time trial which meant that we (all 2300+ of us) lined up at the swim start single file. The plan was to put 4 swimmers in the water every 3 seconds and all participants would be in the water within 30 minutes. Although I was at the swim start by 5:30, the line at that time had to have been a mile long as racers, family members and friends sat on the ground, waiting for the 7:00 a.m. start. We walked past the swim start, the park, the island, a row of port-a-johns, the rowing
club headquarters and finally came to the end of the line. To appreciate the length of this line – for women – think of the line that would form if there was a 50% off sale on Dana Buchman at Nordstroms. For men – think of $1.00 pitchers of beer at Hooter’s. You get the idea. Anyway – we took our place in line and waited. Kevin Kunkel soon joined us but we didn’t see Kevin Shaw or Eric until we were walking to the dock. It was
probably less than a minute when I decided I needed to go to the bathroom. So I borrowed Scott’s headlamp and walked back ½ mile to the bathroom.

It seemed like no time when we heard the gun for the pros to go off. About ten minutes later we saw them swim by and we started moving to docks where we would jump into the river and start the swim. By the time we got to the swim start, 17 minutes had passed. But the line had thinned out and we did a slow jog to the dock. In we jumped and off we went. An hour and 40 minutes later, I came out of the water. Alive. So far so good because I had visions of watching swimmers exit the water from my place on a gurney in a Coast Guard rescue boat. I wanted to do better in the swim but it is my weakest and I was happy to be alive so I wasn’t all that disappointed. Into the changing tent and off I went to the bikes.

The Bike. 6:25:38
I started eating as soon as I got on the bike. My stomach doesn’t do the Gu or gels very well so I made myself a peanut butter and honey baguette which was quite tasty, albeit a little sticky. A glass of chardonnay and it would have been perfect but the Snickers were a close second. As I mentioned above, the course consisted of rolling, rolling, rolling hills with a few pretty tough climbs for good measure. On one of the climbs I
heard someone right behind me run out of pedal power. He grunted and then went over. I couldn’t look back or else I would have joined him. But I did learn that he was okay except for some minor scratches. I felt okay on the bike, but got very tired towards the end. I noticed that a lot of folks seemed to be changing flats on the last 30 miles and prayed that this wouldn’t happen to me since I have no clue how to change a flat tire. The next day I learned that some mean folks had thrown tacks on the road and some unlucky racers ran over them. Scott appeared on the course at various points to cheer me on and that lifted my spirits quite a bit.

I finally made the last few climbs to River Road and looked forward to getting off the bike. My feet had started to get numb the last 30 miles and I really wanted to get my bike
shoes off. Finally – the turn to the transition area. I got off my bike, handed it to the great volunteers, grabbed my clothing bag and headed into the changing tent. I was pretty beat by then but just resigned myself to the inescapable reality that I needed to run 26 miles to get this done. I started off slowly – very slowly. In fact, I was walking.

The Run 4:56:16
I was concerned about the run since my longest run this year was the half-marathon at Eagleman. Still, my background is running and i felt that I could get through the marathon with a modified run/walk. I walked/ran the first mile until I could feel my legs again. The course took us on a very cool bridge over the Ohio River and at mile 3, I saw Scott holding the inspirational sign he made for me which said, among other things, “You look so skinny”. (note to guys: this is the best thing you can say to a woman) The weather was beautiful. It was sunny, clear and not too hot. But still I found myself sweating so I made sure to take my electrolytes. I also got ice at every rest stop and put it in my cap and down my jogbra. That helped a lot.

My goal was to run to the aid stations and walk through them while taking nutrition. By this time, my stomach was pretty
upset and I could only drink Coke and eat pretzels and grapes. I managed to get to mile 15 before the GI issues began. After that, I needed to visit the porta-johns pretty regularly. The course was 2 loops and I saw Kevin S. a few times. He looked awesome although I later learned that he had a pretty tough race. I caught up to him at mile 25 and after finding out that he was OK and just tired, I passed him to try to get to the
finish without having to take the dreaded glow stick. Ten seconds later, Kevin blew by me like he had a JATO bottle in his running shorts and said “let’s get this done”. I tried to keep up with him, but there was no way. (I think he was delirious by that time and thought he was racing a 50 meter sprint.)

A few minutes later, I came to the finish line and heard “Donna Rostant – you are an Ironman”. I was happy to hear that and even happier to know that I was done and could eat whatever I wanted. I went up to the hotel room and showered. And Scott treated me to the most delicious hamburger and french fries I have ever had.

And so - I finished another Ironman. Although I didn’t feel that I formally trained as much for this Ironman as last year’s Coeur d’Alene, somehow I took almost 90 minutes off of my time.
David Glover was a great coach. In addition to his vast coaching
knowledge, his inspiration and patience was remarkable and helped get me to the finish line once again. Scott also gets credit for dragging me through the woods on his day-long adventure racing treks, mountain climbs and runs, and making me do lengthy bike rides all year. Finally, thanks to all of the folks at home who sent messages of good luck followed by