Ford Ironman Wisconsin - TriathlonFull Ironman

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Madison, Wisconsin
United States
Ford Ironman
80F / 27C
Total Time = 11h 36m 2s
Overall Rank = 322/
Age Group = M40-44
Age Group Rank = 45/
Pre-race routine:

This race report will be a bit different from my other ones. Then again this was a bit different of a race than I have ever done before.

Exactly how do I answer "pre-race routine"? Does it start that morning? Does it start in the months leading up to the race with the countles hours of training? My "Pre-race routine" started long ago. I had watched the Ironman on TV years ago and thought that those people were crazy. "I could never do something like that" I had thought. I had always been a swimmer, but biking for that long and then running a marathon? I had never even run half that before. I was a good runner, but never did any competitive running and never anything close to that distance. The farthest was 2-3 miles when I had to run for the swim teams I was on. Then a friend asked me to do a 5 mile race with him in 2006. I placed 2nd in my age group and I decided I liked running. The next year, another friend that knew of my swim background and knew of my new desire for running told me that I should try a triathlon since "anyone could ride a bike" he said. I entered my first triathlon (a sprint in Racine) in July of 2007. I even had to borrow my friend's bike for the race since all I had was an off-road bike. I placed 5th in my age group and my love for triathlon was on.

The next year I decided to enter a few triathlons. I did my first olympic distance in early June of that year and loved it. I was beginning to think that maybe some day I could do something like those people that do the Ironman on TV, but they were out of my league so maybe some day, but for now I would just do the short stuff since I seemed to be pretty good at it for just having gotten into the sport. All that changed on Friday, June 13, 2008 - a date I will never forget.

I was out for a "long" training ride of 20 miles that day. I was 18 miles done and headed home. What happened next, I can only piece together from what I have read and was told because I have no memory of it. As I was headed down the road, a big truck turned into me and T-Boned me at what the police estimated at about 30 mph. The paramedics on the scene thought I would not make it. The doctors at the hospital did not know if I would be able to keep my leg or if I would ever walk properly again. I was in the hospital for 7 days and had 4 surgeries including puting metal plates in my leg that remain there to this day. After leaving the hospital and still not knowing how I would turn out, I started PT. I was determined to get back to what I had only receintly discovered that I loved doing. Not only did I decide I would get back to doing it, I wanted to go all in. I was going to be an Ironman. Sure there were doubts along the way. The doctor did not tell me until a couple months later that he thought I would be able to run again. Getting through the therapy was rough and painful. However I had a goal in mind - I would be an Ironman.

Yes, Friday June 13, 2008 changed my life in more ways than one. With the bad came my focus and reshaped my determination.

So normally when I write about my "pre-race" routine, I say what I did that morning at home and at the race site. However, for this race only telling that would be really short-changing what I did to prepare for this race. I did so much more and came so much farther than one day.
Event warmup:

OK, so on race morning the alarm went off at 4:30. I woke up, got dressed and made myself two slices of toast and peanut butter. Drank a coke, grabbed my gear and a half bottle of gatorade and was off.

Everything outside was so dark but people walking in the silence from every direction. I dropped off my special needs bags and headed to the terrace. After getting my body glide from my T1 bag, I applied some and decided I would not need it until later and put it back in my T2 bag. After hitting the bathroom a few times I headed down to the swim start. I tried to get a different strap for my timing chip because mine seemed to small. They didn't have anything bigger so I just tightened it and headed to the lake.
  • 1h 01m 41s
  • 4224 yards
  • 01m 28s / 100 yards

Since I was trying to get a new strap for my chip I only had my wetsuit on up to my waist. Wanted to get in the water with time to spare since I don't like being rushed. I did rush trying to get the wetsuit on and pulled a little hard on the sleeve and got a tiny (about 4mm) tear near the wrist. Hopefully that will be able to be fixed. Got in the water with about 10 minutes to go and found a spot about 20-30 yards from shore and about 3 people back from the line. Floated there and kept trying to un-fog the goggles.

Knew that cannon would go off soon, but when it did, it still startled me. All that time over the last few months and years and it all came down to this. The race was on.

I had heard about all the horror stories about the punching, kicking, grabbing, being swam over, and everything else in the scrum. I did not experience that. I seemed to get off fast and had some pretty clear water right from the start. I found the feet of someone and hung just behind and to the right of their feet. After a while, I passed them and found another pair of feet to do the same thing. Never got right behind someone because I didn't want to be tapping their toes every stroke. I hate it when people do that to me so I did not want to be "that guy".

There were a few times when I got squeezed between people and I either sped up or dropped back and went around the people. But other than that, I had no issues with other swimmers.

About 500 yards into the second loop I started feeling waves. It must have been from a boat because it looked like wake waves coming at me when I looked around. Didn't last long though. I had only two other issues, but they were both equipment related. The firat issue was that my goggles kept leaking. I had to take a breaststroke kick every so often and quickly clear one side of the goggles. The other issue was that I forgot to put any body glide or any other type of lubricant on the neck of my wetsuit. I started feeling it rubbing on the second loop and by the end of the race, it was feeling pretty raw. After the race it hurt so bad that the water from the shower the next morning stung really bad.

I knew I was on for a very good pace. Got to the start of the second loop in just about 30 minutes so I knwe it would be a good time. Kept seeing people in front of me and it looked like a lot of people. However as it turnes out, I exited the water with a great time and #121 out of the water. Can't beat that. Wanted to go about an hour but had a 1:05 in my plan so I beat the plan.
What would you do differently?:

Remember to get some glide or some kind of lubricant on the neck.
Transition 1
  • 06m 31s

I exited the water and had the strippers get the wetsuit off. That went perfectly as I held the cap and goggles in one hand and let them stay in the sleeve of the wetsuit taking it off. Ran up the helix and into the Terrace grabbing my bag and into the changing area. The volunteer that was there was awesome. We dumped the contents of the bag on the floor and as I was putting the helmet on, he was grabbing the socks and trying to get them on my feet. It was not going well so I just did it myself. Grabbed the rest of the stuff and was out the door after the volunteer said he would get everything back in the bag. What a great guy.

Off to the bikes and I had a perfect spot right by one of the light poles so no trouble finding the bike. Luckily mine was only the third bike in because the volunteer at that rack just stood and watched me. When I did that job last year they told us to get the bikes off the racks for the athletes. Oh well, I didn't need much help anyway. Clipped the shoes on the bike and started running to the mount line. Once there, I swung my leg over the seat and knocked my bottle off. A volunteer grabbed it, put it back in my bottle holder and I was off.
What would you do differently?:

Not much. I think this was a prety good time for the distance we had to cover. I had estimated 10 minutes or more so to do it in about 6 1/2 was great.
  • 6h 01m 15s
  • 112 miles
  • 18.60 mile/hr

Not a lot to say about the bike. The "stick" went well and without incident. When I started the first loop, I was going at a good pace. I was not pushing extremely hard but still was averaging about 20 mph. Saw my wife and kids on the Midtown hill. It was great to see them.

I got to my special needs area and stopped for a little bit. I refilled one of my bottles with gatorade, grabbed my PB&J sandwich, downed my Vanilla Coke and was off again. Decided to leave my spare tube and CO2 cartriges in the bag. Probably was stopped for 1.5 - 2 minutes total.

I was going along really good and at the half way point I was under 3 hours. Then the winds picked up. What was that about? All the weather reports had max winds of about 4mph but the headwinds from the west were strong on that second loop. The tailwind headed back to Madison was nice, but the portion from Verona to Mt. Hoerb really took a lot out of me.

As I headed back to Menona Terrace, I saw the family again. I headed up the helix and got my feet out of the shoes just before the dismount line. Just as I did when I got on the bike, my leg hit my back water bottle and sent it flying. Again, a volunteer was there to grab it and take my bike so I could go inside. Love those volunteers.

I don't know what other people had, but my Garmin had the course at 113 miles. I heard other people say it was long and that the course added a portion from last hear after exiting the Alliant Energy Center parking lot which would explain it being longer, but never heard anything official from anyone? Anyone else have it long?
What would you do differently?:

I don't know. There is definately some room for improvement on the bike as I went from 122 out of the water to being in 370th place after the bike. Still good, and I have come a looong way on my biking, but still could be better.
Transition 2
  • 05m 31s

Left the shoes on the bike and ran in to the Terrace grabbing my bag and heading to the changing area. This went good. Just changed my socks, put on the running shoes and hat and grabbed some nutrition out of the bag and ran outside. I had a Mountin Dew that I opened and drank while going out. Once outside, I had them apply sunscreen and hit the bathroom before heading out for the run. Again my time was better than I had expected. I had thought 7-10 minutes so 5 1/2 was great.
What would you do differently?:

Could have cut out time by not getting sunscreen or going to the bathroom, but I needed both. This went pretty good.
  • 4h 21m 1s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 09m 58s  min/mile

The run started great. I thought I was gong slow but just as my training runs lately, I was going faster than I thought. Saw where I was at mile 1 and tried to slow down. Saw where I was at mile 2 and tried to slow down. Just before mile 3 I started to feel funny and slowed down a little more but was still on a good pace at the 3 mile point. My first 3 mile splits were:

Mile 1 - 7:49
Mile 2 - 8:24
Mile 3 - 9:04

That is when the wheels seemed to fall off. Inside Camp Randall I felt like I needed to stop but I didn't. I just felt like I needed a rest but kept telling myself to go on. Did walk up the short exit ramp out of the stadium but started running again in the parking lot. However, as soon as I got back on the street, I could not go on any more. I had to walk. I walked up the incline past the staduim and decided to try running again. Made it to the bottom of the hill and turned the corner before slowing to a walk again. Walked for a while but telling myself I needed to press on I started running again about the 4 mile point after the aid station. At that aid station, I downed the rest of the Gatorade that I had been carrying (which usually lasts me for 13 miles or so) and diched the bottle. Starting at that aid station and at everyone up until about mile 20, I followed the same ritual: remove hat, grab a cup of water & dump over head. Drink a cup of Perform and a cup of cola. Grab another cup of water and dump over head. Put some ice in hat, put hat back on head and start running.

The run I started after that aid station was not very fast but it wasn't a walk. Took a gel packet at the 5 mile mark. That seemed to do the trick as I got some more energy after that. I even had enough energy to run up Observatory hill the first time through and continue through. My next three mile splits were:

Mile 4 - 11:49
Mile 5 - 9:34
Mile 6 - 10:02 (Up Observatory Hill)

From that point on I just kept up running from aid station to aid station, and walking and doing what I described above through the aid stations. My splits 7-13:

Mile 7 - 9:28
Mile 8 - 9:18
Mile 9 - 9:57
Mile 10 - 10:20
Mile 11 - 10:00
Mile 12 - 9:43
Mile 13 - 10:08

After the turnaround and after seeing the finish line, I headed out for the second loop. I knew I would be able to finish this thing. I just had to keep going at a pace I could maintain. I also knew that I would totally have to fall apart on the second loop to not go under 12 hours and the way I was feeling I did not see a falloff coming. Then again, I knew I could not do anything stupid.

Mile 14 - 10:09
Mile 15 - 9:46
Mile 16 - 11:33 (Walked up Observatory Hill)
Mile 17 - 10:17

My brother jumped out of the crowd and started running next to me and telling me how I was doing along State Street before getting to the turnaround. I knew I could be DQ'ed for people pacing me so I told him thanks but not to run with me. I tried to see him after turning around to appologize but didn't see him.

I had seen my friend Ted Shue less than a mile behind me on State Street the first time around and knew he was closing in on me but I was keeping in the front. He finally passed me at mile 16.5. Ted is a very good runner so having stayed in front of him and holding him off for about a good 13 miles made me feel good.

Mile 18 - 10:00
Mile 19 - 11:05
Mile 20 - 10:18

When I got to about mile 20 though I felt like I had too much to drink. Not nautious, but a full feeling but still thirsty. At that point I cut out the cola at the aid stations.

By the time I hit the mile 22 turnaround, I was feeling pretty good. I felt like I had a little more energy. After I took that first Gel packet at mile 5, I took one at mile 10, one at mile 15 and then another at just past mile 20. That was the plan - one every 5 miles - and I stuck to it. At the 22 mile point I was in a zone and just kept running. I was passing people left and right. Not sure it it was people I was actually passing or people still on their first loop, but it felt great to be passing people this late in the race.

Mile 21 - 10:08
Mile 22 - 11:11
Mile 23 - 9:32
Mile 24 - 9:46

At this point it all started sinking in. I was going to be an Ironman very soon. I started thinking of everything I have been through to get to this point. Started getting a lottle emotional. Just then a spectator saw me running by, saw my jersey and yelled "hey look, a democrat, yeah!" I had to look over my shoulder and yell back "not a democrat - BOO!" Back to reality so I started kicking it in. State Street was unreal. Rounding the Capitol was unreal. The last block of the square I saw one of my tax clients who had been working one of the aid stations earlier who called to me. I rounded the last curve and there was my whole family cheering me on. I took my hat off and threw it to my wife and ran my hand through my hair so it would look better in the picture and off I went to the finish.

Mile 25 - 9:43
Mile 26 - 9:04
Last 0.2 - 7:53 pace

There was a girl in front of me going down the finisher area who I could have finished ahead of if I wanted to, but I didn't want to spoil her finishing or spoil my moment crossing alone. I looked back to make sure no one was close enough to do the same to me and I slowed a bit to get some space between the one in front of me and myself. I ran down that chute and crossed the line in one of the greatest moments I could have imagined.

Funny though I have been waiting to hear Mike Riley call my name and hear him call me an Ironman for so long, but when I crossed, I barely heard it. I know it was loud, but I don't remember hearing much. It was great to hear those words and I did hear them, but everything going on in my head at that moment was too much. I'll have to watch the video to hear it again.

After crossing, I was spent. I had done it. I gave it everything I had and I accomplished what I set out to do. I do have to say that when the catchers were supporting me, I started to cry a little. I talked to them briefly about what I had been through to get there and they got me my stuff, something to drink and I was on my way.

I saw my wife and I lost it. My cousin has a picture of me giving Jenny a big hug and crying like a baby. Jenny has been wonderful. So supportive and my biggest fan through all this. Without her and the kids I could not have done what I just did. I did this for me, but I owe it to them.
What would you do differently?:

I don't know. I don't think I pushed it on the bike to hard, but I really hit that wall in mile 4. I drank more then and got better so maybe I needed more fluids or something. Did have to go to the bathroom after the bike so don't know if drinking more then would have helped or not. Maybe take another gel packet sooner. Did take one right before finishing the bike, but probably could have taken one right before Camp Randall again but no way of knowing that at that point.
Post race
Warm down:

See above and below. In addition to that, I went over to medical to have them check me for dehydration. My wife thought I was but I thought I was OK. Turns out I was only 2 pounds down. I went over to the food tent and got something to eat. I was not hungry but I forced myself to eat. After sitting for a while, and after the family got back from getting themselves something to eat, we got my bike and transition stuff, and went back to the hotel. I showered and headed back to the finish line where I stood with Scott and Colleen intil midnight cheering people in. That is so great to be there for those finishers. The finish line is an electric environmant. Anyone who did not stay really missed out on an great experience.

Event comments:

This was a great day in my life. I have worked so long and so hard to get to this day.

I did not mention very much above the spectator support, but that is only because I had so much to say. I loved seeing all my friends and family out there. All my fellow Donkeys cheering for me on the sidelines, at the aid stations and even from the ones in the race really helped me to keep going. I actually looked for them where I thought there were standing on the run course when I looped through more than once. My family was there in big numbers as well. Not only were my wife and kids there, but my parents, my brother and his wife and daughters, my cousin and her husband, my other cousin and his family, my Aunt and Uncle and even my other Aunt and Uncle flew in from California to be there for the race. It was great seeing them multiple times out there keeping me going. While running I kept repeating a line from a song which is actually a ballad from the 80's, but it was true - "Sometimes I want to give up, I want to give in, I want to quit the fight, but when I see you baby, everything's all right! When I see you smile, I can face the world. You know I can do anything now." When I saw my friends and family, I knew I could do it. Everything would be all right. I would be an Ironman. Now I am. :)

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Last updated: 2010-09-21 12:00 AM
01:01:41 | 4224 yards | 01m 28s / 100yards
Age Group: 16/
Overall: 121/
Performance: Good
Suit: Full Wetsuit
Course: Two lap rectangle in Lake Menona
Start type: Deep Water Plus: Shot
Water temp: 74F / 23C Current: Low
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Good
Waves: Navigation: Average
Rounding: Good
Time: 06:31
Performance: Good
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed: Good
06:01:15 | 112 miles | 18.60 mile/hr
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/
Performance: Average
Wind: Some with gusts
Course: Up and down and up and down and up and down through rural Dane County
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence:
Turns: Average Cornering: Average
Gear changes: Average Hills: Average
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 05:31
Overall: Good
Riding w/ feet on shoes Average
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
04:21:01 | 26.2 miles | 09m 58s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/
Performance: Average
Course: Around the Capitol then through the UW Campus on a two loop course.
Keeping cool Average Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %2lbs
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Yes
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