Wednesday, September 5, 2012

IM Louisville Run Race Report

I will admit as I handed the volunteer boomer and ran into T2 I didn't want to run. The thought of running 26.2 miles just sounded stupid. But I proceeded to get my run special needs bags and ran over to the changing tent. I sat down on one of the chairs and dumped out my bag. I put fresh shocks on and my calve compression sleeves. The compression sleeves were really hard to put on my sweaty legs and the left one was getting stuck on my timing chip. It was a pain. I also changed into my favorite pair of running shorts. A volunteer filled my hand held water bottle up. I put my visor on and off I went.
T2: 7:36
It was a long way out of transition and I started my garmin in the wrong spot which would later lead to depression on the run. As I began to run, I had not realized exactly how hot of a day it was. The sun was shinny bright and let me tell you it was just plain hot. I would later find out it was around 94/95 degrees out when I started the marathon.
Anyhow, when I came out of the run shut I saw my Mom, Dad, and Jason right away. I stopped and gave each of them a hug and kiss. They asked how I was feeling....I thought about sugar coating my answer, but I didn't .... my response: "I almost died the last 30 miles on the bike and I really don't want to run. This is my last ironman." They told me to keep going and that I could do it. I really didn't believe them, but I kept running. Shortly after that I saw Rachael and Joe. I stopped and let them know I was ok, I was just hating life and I wasn't even a mile into the run. Then off I went away from the crowds and into the Louisville heat....

The first two miles take you over a lovely little bridge. Lovely....not! It's not shaded at all. I saw Victoria at this point and she was about 1.5 - 2 miles in front of me. I was happy to see her and know she had survived the bike. I figured I could catch up to her in a few miles and we could run together, but those miles never came.
As soon as I finished running the bridge I saw my family again and gave them all high fives and kept going. 
Shortly after they were no loner in sight I started walking. This was the beginning to the end. Why did I walk? Why was I not running? My stomach was messed up. I was hot. I felt light headed. I walked some more. I started to talk to another woman who was walking and asked her if I walked the entire marathon if I could finish by midnight. I could feel the tears starting to come to my eyes because it was at this point that I really didn't think I was going to make it to the finish line. I was hating life and I was only 4 miles into 26.2. WTF was I going to do? I feel like at this point I also gave up mentally and just figured I couldn't run, so why even try.
Much of my first loop was spend walking. I saw Holli and she was smiling and running strong. Then I saw Victoria again at I don't know which mile and thought oh good god she is fast, I am never going to catch up to her. They had cones set up on the road and I began picking cones in my head and told myself run two cone lengths and walk two cone lengths. This seemed to be helping. I of course also walked every aid station and was drinking IM perform and water. I would also take two sponges and put on one my head and the other on my back. Food wise I was switching between pretzels and orange slices. 
At the turn around point I started talking to this guy from Memphis. He was super nice and we pushed eachother along. It was nice to have someone to talk to and it was nice to know I wasn't the only one having a hard time.
What seemed like forever in a day (probably because it was) we were finally making our way over to 4th st.

Now, Louisville's course is a little cruel as it's a two loop run course with the second lap going right past the finishing line. I mean right past the finishing line! At first I thought I had turned the wrong direction. I could see the finish, I could hear the cheers. My heart sank because I had another 12 miles to run as I turned down the other street to start my second loop.
I saw my family again around this point and they really lifted my spirits up. I picked up my special needs bag and grabbed some slide guide out of it and put it on my arms as they were getting chaffed, then I handed my bag to my dad. My dad and Jason ran by me for a little and I loved every minute of it.

I stopped and told them I wasn't going to make my goal of under 14 hours. Jason told me I still could, but I said it was impossible, that I couldn't run. I felt like a failure. Then something clicked...I wasn't failure and I'm not someone who gives up. I started running. I felt like I was running fast, but in reality I was doing 10 minute miles. My stomach was no longer hurting and my legs felt fine since I hadn't been well running. My new plan was to finally catch up to Victoria and run every mile and walk the aid stations. I could surely do this for 12 miles.
I continued to run slowly and finally I saw Victoria around mile 18!!! I was so happy to see her! We ran together for a little bit, then she said she needed a little break so I kept going. It was at around the turn around point that we only had a 10k left and that I met up with another one of my friends Ed. I ran with Ed for most of the last 6 miles as we pushed each other toward the finish line.
My Garmin was ahead of the mile markers due to me starting it in T2 instead of the run out making math hard to do in my head. I ran through the aid station at mile 23 not wanting to waste any time, but the running did not last and I still had to walk. I gave up on my under 14 hour goal as I looked at my watch. But then I realized I had 33 minutes left to run a 5k. There is hope, I can do this. This should be easy! But it was not easy and I couldn't do it.  As I pushed through the last few miles my stomach was acting up again and if I tired running hard I could feel the vomit coming up. So I took it easy which I later regret.
I got closer and closer to the finish line, then I could see it as I made my final turn! I was about to become an ironman. It was really happening. I could see the lights, I could hear the crowd. Just go towards the light I kept telling myself. And before I knew it, I was crossing the finish line and herd those words everyone longs to hear: "Sarah Karpinski, you are an ironman."
It was the best feeling in the world and all the pain and suffering over the last 14 hours seemed to have disappeared and all I could do was smile.
Run Time: 5:27:12
Total Time: 14:01:38
After the finish - I was hugged by my wonderful family. They were their for me every step of the way and the support they gave me was overwhelming. My dad took off my shoes for me and Jason gave me my flops. It was amazing to get my shoes off! 

Shortly after the finish I was not feeling well and ended up vomiting in a trash can. A volunteer then got a coke for me in hopes to make my stomach feel better and it did. I proceeded over to the food area and ate lots of pizza and cookies with Victoria and my family.
It was a long, hard, hot day! There is so many things that I wish I did differently, mainly on the run, but I don't want to dwell on the bad parts or the low points of the race. Sure the time on the clock is not what I wanted or expected, but I still finished and I know I should be proud of that. During the run, I never wanted to do another ironman as I shuffled along in the heat. It's a funny thing though, as much pain as one puts themselves through the feeling of finishing is like nothing else and I think that is the reason people keep coming back for more.... 


  1. Congratulations on enduring through this!!! You are an inspiration to me as I get through my last few weeks before Ironman Arizona!! Thank you for sharing your story :)

  2. Wow, such an amazing accomplishment! It was supposedly harder (hotter) than usual out there--consider yourself a badass for finishing!

    I've signed up for IMLou next year, and loved reading through your training and race reports. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us!

  3. Congrats! Every time I read an Ironman race report I think it sounds like the most absurd and insane thing ever, and I'm just in awe of anyone who finishes one. Especially smiling!

  4. Congratulations!! You are an Ironman!! You did extremely well and you finished!

  5. Congratulations! I loved reading all your reports. It sounds like a tough day (especially by the time you started running), but you did it and are an Ironman!

  6. Congrats! Ironman is so mentally challenging. I totally can relate to the feelings and thoughts you had during the race. I remember thinking how stupid it was to do an Ironman and how I would never do one again. But crossing the finish line makes it all worth it! You ran a great race in a GREAT time - I definitely would not beat yourself up about not going Sub 14!

  7. Congrats on finishing the Ironman. You only missed your goal by 1 minute so I would not let it get to you. The important thing was you finished and you are an Ironman.