In preparation for the Half Ironman OH in July, I signed up for the 2021 Louisville Sprint Triathlon with a bunch of friends. Here’s how it went, what I learned and what I’ll do different next time. If there is a next time…

2021 Louisville Sprint Triathlon

2021 Louisville Sprint Triathlon

The entire course followed along the Ohio River, right outside of downtown Louisville. The organizers didn’t communicate much about where to park, but luckily we had someone with us that had done the race before. We woke up at 4am to get there in plenty of time to get a good parking spot, and set up our transition area.

We did leave our bikes overnight – which I’d done in previous duathlons. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s nice to have one less thing to worry about in the morning. It was super hot on Saturday so we all took some air out of our tires to make sure they didn’t pop from expansion.

The Swim – 750 Meters

2021 Louisville Sprint Triathlon swim map

The sprint swim was in the Ohio River, between the Townhead Island and the shore. We checked out the finish beforehand and knew to look for the green buoys.

It started pouring rain while we walked from the transition to the swim start. We felt like drowned rats and almost turned around when someone suggested bourbon and brunch sounded like more fun. The rain did let up and only delayed the start a little bit.

We entered the water one-at-a-time since the water was only about three feet deep at the end of the dock. The bottom was NASTY. It was so squishy and I had to not think about it. The water was cold but I had a wetsuit on. I got to where it was deep enough and I forgot how to swim. I put my face in the water and started pumping my arms, but instead of exhaling, I held my breath. Then when I tilted my head to breath in, I couldn’t! I coughed, got water up my nose and was like WTH? I started to slightly panic and tried to breast stroke till I could get myself under control. That never happened. Every time I tried to freestyle I could only get tiny bursts of air to come out of my nose – making me exhausted after about 4 strokes.

I resolved to doggy paddle, side stroke, backstroke and some breast stroke. I usually swim about 2:30/100yd and I ended up swimming about 3:20/100yd. My official swim time was 22:42. I was SO thankful for the guys on the ramp holding their hands out to help you up. I felt like hugging that man. After getting advice from the Cincinnati Tri Club to use glide around my ankles, my wetsuit slid right off. My friend Kim was volunteering for the race and it was so comforting to see a friendly face corralling me into the transition area. My T1 still clocked in at 3:57.

The Bike – 20k

2021 Louisville Sprint Triathlon bike map

I was so elated to have finished the swim, I set to work on “making up time” on my bike. Everything in the transition area was soaking wet from the earlier downpour. I didn’t even really notice or care, I was just so happy to be out of the river.

Thankfully, the roads were 95% dry. The sprint included two loops so I focused on steady speed on the first loop while scoping it out to know when I could make up time. I felt strong and confident even as people were passing me going 20+mph.

The two loops allowed me to see lots of bikers, including a few of my friends. I yelled a few words of encouragement and kept grinding on. I drank two sips of water and was upset when I realized I hadn’t put my gel in my back pocket. The time seemed to fly by; I loved it! My official bike time was 41:52, which is about 17.5mph. I was aiming for 16mph. 🙂

The Run – 5k

2021 Louisville Sprint Triathlon run map

My T2 was much better at 1:44, so maybe the soggy shoes make them easier to slip on? 🙂 I did grab a quick shot of my gel at this point that was patiently waiting for me on my wet towel. Kim gave me a few more words of encouragement as I exited the transition area. My first mile was 9:59, which I knew was too fast. I kept telling myself to save some for the end. I skipped the first water stop, which was at the first red arrow. Way too soon IMO.

There was a guy running near me and as he approached his group of friends, he said “I puked four times.” A few steps later, I turned to him and said, “please don’t puke on me.” LOL We both laughed and he told me it was all in the river cause he drank so much water.

I tried to enjoy the view along the river. It got really muggy about half way through and I was dripping. I couldn’t tell if it was leftover river water or sweat. I stopped at the other two water stops and allowed myself to walk through them as I drank. My official run time was 31:01, which is about 10:10 min/mile. I didn’t really have a run goal, I’ve been training around 10:30 min/mile, but that’s easier to hold when you hadn’t just swam and biked.

My overall time for the Louisville Sprint Triathlon was 1:41:18. (Funny story- my bib and packet got switched with someone else. My bib was suppose to be 615, but I was given 617. The organizers told me they’d switch the results online. Mr. 615 is in the Clydesdale division. Our names haven’t been corrected yet, so it looks like he placed 2nd in the Clydesdale division. Sooooo, if nothing else I know I can compete in the Clydesdale division. 😛

Louisville Sprint Triathlon Swag

I was less than impressed with the swag we received. The t-shirt appeared to be cheap cotton, but I wore it once and it’s actually pretty soft. I would have preferred a technical shirt though. Instead of a medal we got a mini Louisville Slugger bat. It’s hard to hang a bat on a medal holder.

Withdrawing from OH 70.3

Even though I was happy with my overall performance, I am not confident in doing a mile open water swim in a month and a half. I hate admitting that I can’t do something. I hate “quitting” something I already committed to doing. I also hate how I felt in the river. It was maybe just first time jitters, but I don’t want to take the chance of that happening in a much longer race. I can’t say I’ll never do another triathlon, but a half ironman will not be the next one. I’d consider another sprint or maybe a super sprint