Ironman Wisconsin - TriathlonFull Ironman

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Madison, Wisconsin
United States
Ironman North America
70'sF / 0C
Total Time = 14h 21m 50s
Overall Rank = 1712/2550
Age Group = 25-29
Age Group Rank = 149/186
Pre-race routine:

After getting 4 and a half hours of mediocre sleep, I popped out of bed at 3:30 and had some granola and yogurt. Made a bottle of Propel, woke the wifey and tried to keep my head screwed on straight. I've been wanting to do this race since 2004, when a friend DNF'd, but finished the race anyway. It was very inspiring and I decided that I had to do one someday. The anticipation of 6 years of hemming and hawing, training, having another kid, etc., just made this the culmination of the big thing on my plate. Side note: now I want to KQ in the next 5 years. Ignore my time up there please, thank you. :p
Event warmup:

We got to Monona Terrace around 5:15, I got body marked, dumped my bottles on the bike and went inside to settle my nerves. Did some light yoga, popped my Sportslegs and Aleve and took in the enormity of this thing.

Finally, I decided it was time to put on my wetsuit, so we did that and I started heading down the helix to the water. Kissed Jules goodbye and told her that I'd be seeing her "in about 12 hours." As we were getting corralled in, a pro came pushing through yelling, "I missed the start, I missed the start!" I'm guessing he forgot they started 10 minutes early. Oy. I put my foot in the water, wiggled it around and I considered that my warmup. I mean, this is an Ironman, right? The swim is the warmup!
  • 1h 24m 37s
  • 4224 yards
  • 02m / 100 yards

So this was by far the most feared part of Ironman for me. A little backstory...

When I was 2, I almost drowned in a pool. I also grew up on the beach and while I constantly played in the water, I would never venture anywhere far enough for the riptide to catch me. Essentially, I've always been afraid of water, but open water especially. This fear prevented me from getting enough open water swims in to practice, but I had done 4 over the course of 2 years and that would have to be enough. Those 4 ALL ended badly, with varying degrees of badness: my last tri, I actually thought I was drowning and somehow kept my head on enough to finish the swim and then the race. My longest open water swim was that one...1500 meters in about 38 minutes. My longest pool swim was 3500 meters and it was great, but I still had the fear. 2 days before IM, I did an OWS with my friend and it was really choppy out there and I was scared. We turned around at a buoy and I got out of the water early and walked along side as he finished the swim. This was not good.

On Saturday, I had a bit of a talk with the lake. It was calm and I just willed it to be good to me on Sunday. Probably left after about an hour of mental preparation to do something I wasn't prepared for.

SO! It's Sunday, I'm in the back of the waders and holy crap, the cannon went off. AUGH! I immediately understand why mass starts are so crazy (and a whole lot of fun) and can not find a line out of the way. This was good for me, because it refocused my irrational fear of drowning with my rational fear of losing my goggles and getting a bloody nose. Thankfully, none of those things happened. Finally, I just got the heck out of dodge and kicked and swam as hard as I could to get clear of the humanity. This was about halfway through the first line. I got some clear water and started overextending my breathing so that I could see the sky and breathe deep.

And my, oh my, did I have a fantastic swim! It was beautiful outside, I was surrounded by a bunch of Ironmen (and volunteers) and I couldn't get over how well I was swimming. Not one time during that entire swim was I worried about drowning or anything. It was like I entered a Zen state and only let in the good. When we went around the first buoy, everyone was mooing and getting tangled up and it was great to have a quick laugh, take in the moment and keep going.

Nothing else remarkable happened, save my not drowning, and as I came around the last buoy I started pushing it hard. Threw in some breaststroke kicks to loosen up my calves and prepared to come out of the water at my goal time of 1:45, with a best case scenario of 1:30. I saw the clock said something like 1:21 when I first saw it and I exploded from joy. It took a really long time to get the goofy look off of my face, but I got the top of my suit off, got on my butt and let those strippers do their thing. They're the best!
What would you do differently?:

Apparently, I should have been closer to the front. Based on all of my stoppage time, it's likely that I could have swam a 1:20 or better, so now I know.
Transition 1
  • 10m 40s

This was a markedly different transition than I had prepared for in my other races, so it took me a bit of time to get everything figured out. Not only that, but I was also wearing my toe socks and those things take a while to get on. Lastly, I forgot to turn on my GPS thingy so that took some time.
What would you do differently?:

Game plan the transition better, visualize it and shave some time! But honestly, I did not care at all about my time here.
  • 6h 19m 30s
  • 112 miles
  • 17.71 mile/hr

The bike is my strength, by leaps and bounds. Based on previous training rides, I knew that, given the conditions we had on Sunday, I could get in between 5:30 and 5:45 with no problem. The reason that didn't happen? Nothing that I'm complaining about...

Took off like a bat out of hell with almost no effort. Wattage was supposed to stay under 200 for the flats and 300 for the hills and I was doing about 130 and moving along 20+mph. Likely had something to do with the forced drafting in the beginning. Anyway, we get to the loop and I'm doing my thing. Braking a little much on the descents, but my fear of crashing is still around, so I'll trade safety for speed.

As we got to the climb into Mount Horeb, I saw someone on the side of the with mech issues. Since triathletes are not known for their wrenching abilities, I decided to play the role of Good Samaritan and help the guy out. His front derailleur had come loose and he was pretty upset. He had a multi-tool in hand, but he had no idea what to do with it. Sigh. I basically just held the FD 2 millimeters up from the big ring, kept it straight and had him tighten it. Checked the shifting, worked great, thanked me, we're off. 5 minutes tacked on. No big deal.

Except that I must have done something to my bike when I set it in the grass, because my rear derailleur was only giving me 3 gears. Futz. I can power through climbs in my big ring if I have to, but this is Ironman for pete's sake. Sooooo, I power through the Mt. Horeb hill and pull off at the aid station to fix myself. After 10 minutes of toying around and fiddling, it somehow just started working again. I think my wheel cover had something to do with it, but I can't say for certain. At this point, I've lost 15 minutes on the bike and I'm just shooting for a 6:00.

Saw a few more people with issues and asked them if they needed help, but most were fine on their own until during the second loop, I saw a guy with a real problem. He had some really amazing chainsuck going on and of course he had carbon chainstays so we couldn't just mash the pedal. We tried a variety of things to no avail and after 7 or so minutes he told me to get going and that the bike course guys would be around to help soon. I felt awful leaving him, but I really couldn't do anything else at this point, so I left.

When I jumped back on my bike, my left knee immediately flared up. Now I tore my medial meniscus in my right knee 3 months before, but my left knee wasn't bothering me that much. Had no idea what it was, but I had to drop my cadence a bit and grind for a while because the pain would come with every revolution. I'm a spinner, not a masher, so this caused me to burn more energy than I was used to. Not the end of the world though.

Fast forward to the 100 mile marker, I was finally getting my rhythm back and started cooking that bike. I'm pushing some good numbers going over the rollers there, when lo and behold the chainsuck guy comes up behind me and says, "Thanks for stopping again. It took 45 minutes altogether, but I'm back on the road." and then he went right by me. When I caught up with him he was out there for 15 minutes already, so the guy made up at least 20 minutes on me within 30 miles. WOW. I was thoroughly impressed.

The rest of the ride into town was fast and I saw my speed go from 18.2 to 18.7 (PT, not official results obviously) and I was happy with that. Climbed the helix like a pro, got off my bike and bolted to transition.

What would you do differently?:

Nothing. I was smart not to shoot for 5:30 and I'd rather help a few people get back on the road than add a few minutes to my overall.
Transition 2
  • 06m 52s

I had to get my knee brace on, take some things in, have a shower, get a massage, order sushi...oh quiet, it's my first IM!
What would you do differently?:

Same as T1.
  • 6h 20m 13s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 14m 31s  min/mile

And then it all went to hell.

First off, let me qualify some things. According to McMillian, I should be doing 8:30's in an open marathon. Which meant that my plan for 10:00's for the first 20 miles and then finishing with whatever I had left was fairly reasonable. Of course, I hadn't run any further than 8 miles in 3 months due to my torn meniscus, but I had been running all year and had 4 runs of 20+ (including a marathon) within about 5 months of the race. Ideal? Definitely not, but the confidence was there. So back to the race...

I come out of T2 and see my family and friends right away so I give them all hugs and love. Jules asked me how I was and said that my knees were hurting (didn't notice until she asked), but that I'd be home in about 4 hours. 12-ish hour IM debut, not the perfect day I hoped for, but something reasonably confidence building in my progression towards KQ'ing within 5 years.

My first mile was the beginning of the end of that hope. Immediately, my stomach started revolting on me. My interpretation of this was, "Hey, we're hungry jerk! Feed us!" So I went on a feeding frenzy at the first aid station. Whooooops. GI went from bad to worse to tolerable over the next 5 miles. Right before we entered Camp Randall, I caught up with a guy named Scott he was walking and I said, "There is no way in hell we're walking through that stadium. Let's go." And we did, however pitifully. Turned out he was having leg cramps, so we looked like a bunch of invalids hobbling around, but damnit we ran through that sucker. Scott and I stuck together for quite some time, following a plan of walking .75 miles and running .25 miles. We figured this would get us in sub-14 and we both decided that we were OK with that.

We talked about all sorts of stuff and had a good time hamming it up with the volunteers. Life, relationships, past races, things that went wrong, etc. It really encapsulated what I've come to understand Ironman is...sure, it's a race, but it's a journey that every single one of us goes through and the individual stories are really much more fascinating than the 17 hours on a Sunday.

PSA aside, all this time my stomach was getting worse. I stopped into the porta-potties a few times with no..."luck." I was getting desperate and annoyed since I had a singlet on underneath my bike kit and that equals wasted time. I told Scott to go ahead of me around mile 11 and that I would run and catch up when I cleared things up. It seems that clearing things up only made matters worse.

Made it to the halfway turnaround and saw a whole bunch of cheering friends and family. Living in Madison had its benefits in a lot of regards and that gave me a momentary boost. Kissed the kids and told them that I was going through hell, but it wouldn't be too much longer. Got my special needs bag, filled up with my delicious pineapple coconut water and mosied on it, feeling slightly better. For a few minutes anyway.

I bumped into Scott about 3 miles (and 4 trips to the porta-pottie) later at a turnaround and he was walking with someone else. I told them that I'd catch up to them, as they were maybe 2 minutes in front of me, but I never made it. I knew that I wouldn't when I told him and it was oddly sad. As I got to the turnaround, I heard pity in the volunteer's voice when they quietly said, "Just keep going. You're almost done." I wasn't anywhere near almost done and I must have looked like death, so that actually hurt my confidence quite a bit.

As I was getting to mile 15, I couldn't even walk straight and I was getting dizzy. This was likely because I had barely taken in any calories on the run and didn't take anywhere near enough on the bike. I knew that if I was going to finish, I'd have to start choking down Propel, chicken broth, coke and oranges to keep my body moving. If I throw up, or had more of that vicious black tar come out of me, so be it. My body can't operate with no gas. So again, I loaded up on things, each sip and bite making me want to puke, but it all stayed down. This is when they ran out of coke at EVERY AID STATION ON THE FREAKING COURSE and it killed my spirits. I needed that to calm my stomach and each time I heard that they were out, it crushed me just a little more. Probably overly dramatic.

I went through Camp Randall with my head hung low, as I couldn't even walk faster than 15 minute miles. I got so pissed at myself, I turned off my Garmin and decided that I didn't care anymore about my time. Another mile or so later, I saw a fellow UW tri-team guy go by on what was his 22nd or 23rd mile. We gave each other the silent point and kept moving. That kept me going to the next aid station where I held dim illusions of coke and the subsequent, "sorry" actually buckled my knees. I was obviously putting too much mental effort into hoping the coke would magically appear and it was draining me so I stopped thinking about it.

I moved pathetically through the next few miles. My friend Tim caught up with me (my rough estimates put me an hour and a half ahead of him off the bike o_0) and asked how I was doing. Told him not well, but that he should keep moving. He gave me a pitying look and took off. As I got into the next aid station at the campus library before State St., I was back on the hopes of coke. Nothing. But the strange thing is, the aid station on the other side seemed to magically have some when I turned around less than a mile later. They had 2 cups left and they tried giving both to me, but I only took the one. If I was the guy behind me needing coke and saw someone take 2, I would have likely strangled me.

As I walked away from the aid station, my body simply shut down on me. I was physically done, emotionally drained, mentally gone. I was embarrassed with myself, so I sat down on the grass, looked up at Observatory Hill and thought that if I would have had to climb that, I'd DNF right then and there. Then I thought, I could DNF anyway! This became some sort of happy thought that stayed in my head for all of one minute until someone came running by me and said, and I quote, "Get the hell off your ass, Ironman, and keep moving." That man should be a motivational speaker because I did get off my ass and I did start moving. God bless him.

Around mile 20, I started feeling cautiously better. I could keep small sips of Propel and water down and I got high-fives from some UW team that was volunteering. Motivation Mile did about as much for my motivation as some guy in China that had no idea I was racing, but it's a nice thought I suppose.

Finally, I start seeing mile markers that made me happy. 21. 22. Some guy catches up to me and tells me to run with him. Yes sir. Says we're going to run in together and we started chatting about life again. Super nice guy, got me all of about 1/3 of a mile when I tell him that I'm going to puke. Wished him luck, started walking up the hill next to Camp Randall and game planned my last 2 and a half miles.

Alright, I hit mile 24. I was ready to start moving and apparently my brain translate this into 6:30's. According to Garmin, which I turned back on for the occasion, that lasted about a tenth of a mile, but I was running again. Pretty slow at around 10:00-11:00's, but who cares? I made it my absolute goal to sprint up State St. like a goddamn track pro and then do the same for the last home stretch around the square. As I turned up State St. and started hearing people commending my newfound speed, along with cries of, "You're running like a gazelle! Keep going!" I realized that I couldn't last all the way to the finish line at that pace. Cut it back to 8:00's for the climb up around the Capital and then let all hell break loose from my legs.

My emotions were going crazy as I passed the SN bags, but I was also running 5:30's, so the pain in my legs was kind of dulling the tears. I turned onto MLK and saw the finish line and I experienced a level of euphoria that I never before understood. In retrospect, I probably should have put on the brakes and spent some time high-fiving people and just reveling in the moment, but Jules always asks me why people don't sprint to the finish at races, so I always sprint to the finish at races. Gotta make the lady happy. You can see the picture that my buddy took of me finishing. I'm a blur!
What would you do differently?:

One word: nutrition.
Post race
Warm down:

I was caught by two wonderful ladies who I was ready to adopt as surrogate grandmothers at the moment. They got me some Sierra Mist, put a medal around my neck and a hat on my head. They got me a blanket, but I was fine without it. I just sat down in the chair for a minute trying to register what just happened. I was an Ironman! Holy crap!

I was just getting sappy again when I heard my name being called. My friend had flown in for a wedding, but came to see me and she was with some other friends. They had signs and gave me hugs and it was adorable. They helped me find Jules and the kids and the relief in Jules' eyes was quite clear. Poor girl probably thought I was dead. The short kid gave me a balloon hat and my drunk friends told me how great I was. They also tried getting me to get drunk with them, but that wasn't going to happen. :p

Tried to eat the pizza; one bite confirmed that was a bad idea. My very-motherly soon-to-be-nurse friend made me keep downing Propel and gave Jules a list of things not to let me do. It was funny, because I think Jules just wanted to bang her over the head and tell her to shut up, but I was amused. Spent some time just sitting on the sidewalk and talking with my friends. It was the best part of the day.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

My nutrition and my shortened training schedule due to the plethora of injuries.

Event comments:

Are you kidding?! It's Ironman Wisconsin! I've been out there cheering every year since 2004...these guys know how to do it for the athletes, volunteers and spectators. They genuinely care about everyone having a good time and they do a great job of making that happen.


Profile Album

Last updated: 2010-09-14 12:00 AM
01:24:37 | 4224 yards | 02m / 100yards
Age Group: 147/186
Overall: 1597/2550
Performance: Good
Suit: BlueSeventy Helix
Course: 1.2 mile rectangle that stays in front of the Terrace and the enormous crowds the whole time. I stopped for a brief second to look back and was just floored. So freaking cool.
Start type: Wade Plus:
Water temp: 66F / 19C Current: Low
200M Perf. Below average Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting:
Waves: Navigation: Good
Rounding: Good
Time: 10:40
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed:
06:19:30 | 112 miles | 17.71 mile/hr
Age Group: 106/186
Overall: 1052/2550
Performance: Good
Wind: Little
Course: The old 16 mile stick and 40 mile double loop. I love this course for the same reason I hate this course: it always kicks my ass.
Road: Rough Dry Cadence: 89
Turns: Average Cornering: Average
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 06:52
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike Average
Shoe and helmet removal
06:20:13 | 26.2 miles | 14m 31s  min/mile
Age Group: 165/186
Overall: 2142/2550
Performance: Bad
Course: 13.1 mile loop, done twice, through downtown Madison and along Lake Mendota. I love the run course!
Keeping cool Good Drinking Too much
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Below average
Mental exertion [1-5] 2
Physical exertion [1-5] 2
Good race? Ok
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5