How do I feel.... Hmmm. Muscle wise, I feel great! I had a little soreness the first day or two but just like a hard workout, nothing too crazy at all. It is actually kind of odd because you would expect to feel pain in every square inch of your body. To be honest, I feel more sore after a hard crossfit workout.
That is not to say that I feel 100%...
The lingering effects of dehydration stayed with me for at least 48 hours. I had a headache for at least two days which was compounded by the head cold or sinus issue I seemed to have picked up at some point during the weekend. Today, I finally feel like that is working its way out. Hooray!
The other weird after-effect is that my skin is simultaneously broken out like a teenager and dry as the Sahara desert. Dry as in peeling to the point at which only Aquaphor on your face seems to help. I am a sight to behold. Trust me on that one. ICK.
So let's talk about the ironman brand versus the "non" ironman brand 140.6...
In the end, which type of race you choose is more about personal preference than anything else. What I like and the things that I think are important in a race probably aren't the same as anyone else. Obviously, if you are about getting to Kona, the only way to do that is through Ironman. If you are more about a smaller race size, you might look to one of the off brands. (IM LOU had 3000 athletes compared to 835 at B2B - I think Rev3 has around 400 at Cedar Point). The short answer is that I preferred B2B over IM LOU. I really just prefer a smaller race with fewer athletes. It just feels a little more personal. Keep in mind, I am not about Kona. I like to have a solid finish time but am more about finishing the race and enjoying it than anything else.
With that said... here are some of the ins and outs of each if you are interested.
Ironman Lou just felt big to me. Lots of athletes, lots of walking to get from one place to the other, and lots of volunteers. For whatever reason, the main difference that sticks out in my head about IM LOU is how organized the volunteers seemed to be. They were well trained somehow even though you know they just showed up for their shift without training like any other volunteer gig. They seemed to know what you wanted (i.e. they took my bike at special needs and set it up against a random pole then pointed me to a bit of shade under a tent).
I don't remember B2B feeling like they had a lack of volunteers but they weren't as hands on as IM LOU. Not to say that they weren't fantastic and helpful - they were - but the ones at IM are just a little more hands on. While the volunteers at B2B might not have been helping people change in the transition tent, I passed plenty of stretches of road where the volunteers were cheering us on as though we were winning the race which in my book is better than helping me tie my shoes in transition :)
Expo and Swag:
Let's face it, we all know Ironman is a marketing machine. Tons of gear to choose from....to buy. Not a whole lot of swag included as part of the race entry considering the entry fee. We received a backpack, finishers hat, shirt and medal. The expo is surprisingly small (as compared to the kind of expos you see at a marathon - not a huge deal for me but interesting that there aren't more vendors).
B2B had an equally small (and maybe slightly smaller) expo as IM. The race gear available for sale the first year was a little disappointing. Last year, they had a MUCH better selection although the variety was nothing quite like IM. Swag that came with the race the first year was a beach towel, socks, 2 shirts and a medal. Last year was 2 shirts, drawstring bag, medal and a cap.
On the bike, I would say that IM might have had more stations. I can't remember the exact mileage numbers but they seemed to be slightly closer together than those of B2B. Plenty of water, perform, bananas, ice, etc. On the run, they had aid stations about every mile and similar offerings as the bike (with the addition of coke, oranges/grapes and chicken broth).
The thing that I liked about the B2B aid stations was that they weren't quite as frenzied (going along with the theme of preferring a smaller race). I didn't feel like I was going to get knocked over on the bike getting in and out of there. If I needed salt tabs, sunscreen, whatever, I could stop and it was there. On the run, the aid stations are stocked almost like a century ride. A little bit of everything, I think they must have aid station awards because the aid stations are always decked out and enthusiastic! Just felt like more of a celebration on the run with B2B.
More people in a race equals more fans at the finish. It is that simple. IM LOU was pretty much rocking from one end of the chute to the other. It was pretty awesome.
B2B made a HUGE improvement last year by moving the finish line downtown as opposed to out by the battleship. When I was running towards the finish there were tons of people cheering at the various bars lining that road and down the finishers chute. Not quite as many as in Louisville but enough to make it pretty special and exciting.
Like I said, we all prefer different things. I am giving the tip of the scale to B2B. I genuinely feel like they are glad I am at their race. I think they do a good job of listening to the racers and making little tweaks each year to keep improving. I just really love the small town feel of it. It is one of those races that I wouldn't mind doing time and time again (obviously). Don't get me wrong, IM LOU was great in its own right. They put on a great race and had wonderful volunteers but if I had to choose one or the other, I would have to say I would go with the smaller race.
.... and there you have it folks. These are my opinions based on my experience - I am sure there are plenty of people out there who will think I am insane. :) Hope you all have an awesome weekend!