Local ironmen conquer Louisville

Three local men from Clarkston Multisport Club endured hours of training and spent their extra time preparing for the August 2009 Ford Ironman in Louisville, Kentucky.
Chris Jacobs, Bob Light, and Steve McLean took on the challenge of completing 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of biking and 26.2 miles of running within a 17 hour span.
‘They say it’s the toughest endurance test in the world,? said Light, of Independence Township. ‘They give you 17 hours to complete it. You have cutoffs on the swim, bike and run. If you don’t make the cutoffs you don’t move on. At midnight they shut the finish line down and you don’t become an Ironman. You really have to be focused. It consumes you for a few months but it’s worth it.?
They finished with time to spare and came back to Michigan as Ironmen.
McLean, of Springfield Township, finished in 11 hours and 13 minutes and Jacobs, of Clarkston, finished in 11 hours and 39 minutes – less than the 12 hour goal he set for himself.
‘I didn’t give myself to lofty of a goal because I didn’t know if I would do another Ironman again. I wanted to make sure I was happy with what I finished with.?
Light, who finished a few seconds over 14 hours, added a goal is good to set but to expect the unexpected.
The guys swam in the Ohio River, one-third of the way up stream and the rest downstream. Then, they rode their bikes throughout the hills in the country.
‘We were way out there in the country,? said Light. ‘I was smiling passing all the horse farms and thinking I am in the middle of Ironman. It was exciting.?
They biked throughout 8,000 feet of elevation changes but had prepared by checking out the course before the day of the Ironman.
‘I rode the course in July and it made a difference,? said Jacobs. ‘I was mentally prepared. In fact it was one of the easiest bike rides I had because I kept my pace. I anticipated the hills and knew what they were like.?
McLean drove the course with his wife the night prior and noticed it was one hill after another.
‘I was getting anxious going ‘here comes another one,?? he remembered. ‘I thought we will go over this one and flatten out a little. We went down and there was another hill.?
But no matter how prepared, McLean lost time when a carpenter tack went into his bike tire and he had to change it.
‘When I got the flat I thought this is part of the experience,? he said. ‘I hopped off my bike and people are whizzing by me on the side of the road. Later, we found out somebody sabotaged the race and threw carpenter tacks on the road.?
After the hilly terrain, they ran on a flat surface for the marathon through the downtown Louisville.
‘The marathon is interesting,? said Jacobs. ‘Your body feels pain you have never felt before – worse than a half marathon. Knowing what I felt in marathons, I knew it was to be expected. When you finish, it all goes away.?
‘The body starts to break down because it’s not meant to race the distance,? Light added. ‘The whole time you have to be mentally strong. It would be easier to quit.?
Light reflected on his training, the hours he put in and the sacrifices he and his family made to get to the moment.
‘I am very involved in our church,’said Jacobs. ‘I am a pastor at our church and I like to pray and sing worship songs all through training, all through racing – outloud. People think I’m nuts but it keeps me going.?
Throughout the event, the three met new people and got to know them while they ran a small distance with them and exchanged stories.
‘It’s so cool,? said Light. ‘We met people from all over the world. At least one person from every state was there and people from different countries.
‘The best athletes from all over the world are competing,? Light continued. ‘We are at the start line, so to speak, with all the pros. It’s the equivalent of golfing with Tiger Woods, playing baseball with the Tigers. You just don’t get to do that. You are on the same course, you are on the program.?
About 2,500 participated in the Louisville Ironman, each one with a different story to tell – some raised money for charity, hadn’t participated in an Ironman before, or lost a lot of weight. Only 2,300 finished.
Light decided to do the Ironman after completing the Ironman in Florida last year.
‘I enjoyed it and had a great time. I guess I just didn’t get enough,? he said.
When registration opened for Louisville he signed up.
McLean decided to do it because he had ran in marathons and always had a goal to participate in Ironman.
‘I was thinking I am turning 40 this year, so I have got to do this now,? he said. ‘I met these guys through the club and both had signed up for Louisville.?
Jacobs, Light and McLean trained on Saturdays with the Clarkston Multisports Club members but met during the week to add extra training time.
Jacobs added he went out early in the morning for his bike rides and runs and Light went to Stoney Creek Metro Park and rode his bike for seven hours at a time.
‘You are basically training every day of the week from an hour to four hours,? Light said.
‘You have to have a plan,? added Jacobs. ‘The best way to do it is to have a goal.?
He said the best way to set a goal when to finish the race – whether it be half-marathon, marathon, or triathlon – and find a plan on the internet tailored to time and needs for each person.
‘It’s a huge commitment,? said Light. ‘The event is the reward for your training.?
McLean and Jacobs kept track of their training hours.
McLean accumulated over 5,000 hours of training – 4,100 riding his bike, 820 miles running, and 150 miles swimming.
Jacobs had 4,900 – 3,500 riding his bike, 1,200 miles running and 300 miles swimming.
McLean is considering participating in another Ironman but in Wisconsin or Canada where the temperature is cooler.
‘Louisville is known to be in the 90s,? said Light. ‘It was very enjoyable temps.?
Jacobs said the bug is not out of his system but right now he is getting teenagers involved and encouraging them to try it.
‘I will help them set goals, give them a plan, help them with the plan for Craig Greenfield and whoever wants to come along, can come along,? he said. ‘I have four kids interested and spend my time with them.?
Light said the bug is out of him, but if his wife or kids wanted to do it he would do it again.
All three are members of the Clarkston Multisport Club, a group to help and motivate people throughout the community with marathons and triathlons.
The group started five years ago when a couple of guys got together to swim, run and bike in the area.
When Jacobs joined the group it only four were part of it and one of the guys had an idea to get more people throughout the community involved.
They created a Yahoo group called Clarkston Multisport Club. Members can contact each other to ask questions about training, post when they train, and keep in contact.
The group meets every Saturday from the end of April to October to swim to the end of Deer Lake and back and run up to five miles.
Anyone can join the Clarkston Multisport Club and it is found in Yahoo Groups.