Ironman Wisconsin - TriathlonFull Ironman

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Madison, Wisconsin
United States
Ironman North America
Total Time = 13h 09m
Overall Rank = 1079/2797
Age Group = 50-54
Age Group Rank = 60/157
Pre-race routine:

This Newbie's Life Journey to Ironman

May 2008 – My first half marathon – 2:25
May 2009 – My second half marathon 1:55

November 20, 2009 – My wife forces me to buy a $2000 Orbea Carbon road bike on my 50th birthday because I hinted that I may want to do one of those triathlon things even though I didn’t know anybody that did them. It was an eventful birthday because my father passed when he was 51, and he unfortunately did not take care of himself.

December 2009 – I walked into my first MultiSport Madness spin class at Huntley Healthbridge after drinking a cup of coffee. I did not know anyone. I started a conversation with Jamie H and he told me about training for triathlons. (I felt intimidated around all the studs and studetts in that class)

December 2009 – I went to my first Masters class after not really swimming since my swim team days in high school. I met Sue B as the coach, she put me in one of the side lanes, and within a few laps told me that “you are not doing it right!” I can remember feeling what I now know to be easily in Zone 4 of exertion, and only making it to about 40 minutes of the class. I gave some excuse, walked into the locker room, sat on the bench, and felt like crap and told myself I was to old.

January 2010 – I went to a few more spin classes, and did what I thought was logical – I signed up for Ironman Racine 70.3 in August that year. Sounds logical? I grabbed a training plan from and started. I watched Steve D and Mike S as they trained for their first full Ironman, and idolized them and their dedication. I recall one time when Karen Wood called from the front of the class to Steve and called him “Ironman Steve” . That stuck with me.

Fast forward to July of 2010 and I did my first triathlon albeit a sprint in Lake in the Hills. I did fine on the swim, killed myself but went “fast” on the bike, and destroyed myself on my best sport the run. Some of my buddies said, “we saw you on the run and you looked like S.....t!”

August 2010 - Ironman Racine 70.3 – I learned to work my plan and finished within 3 minutes of my plan of 6 hours in the balmy temperatures of the run of 94 degrees. OK, I can do this.

August and September of 2010 – Preparing for Lake Geneva Tri with all the miserable hills on the run. I decided to quickly switch to hills and speed workouts since I felt like a teenager again. I did the race the day before Madison volunteering, and ran the hills and finished 95th out of 1000 and 6th in my old geezer group (50-54) out of 95. I felt invincible. More on this in a second.

September of 2010 – Volunteer for Madison just to hang and watch some of the MSM members do the race and see the spectacle. People asked if I would sign up and I said “No, just going to watch, I just started this sport”. I went the day before with some of my friends in the NW chapter group, and had a great day watching the IM. I was impressed by the crowds, the venue, and the athletes amazed me. I stood watching on State Street (with a beer in hand) with Ken M and Doug F and we were asking ourselves how could that person with that non-athletic looking build be ahead of some of the people we saw running by much later? It did not make any sense. There had to be something else going on in this crazy race. I left the volunteer station and took the T-Shirt instead of signing up for the 2011 IM. I left that night and that was it. But, I was haunted by the race and with “what if's...”

A few days later...
Ironman messed up and said that due to a computer problem, there were about 80 slots to be open that afternoon at 12 and it will be a first come basis. I called friends and used my own employees in my company to start clicking at the noon hour . I got in.

November 2011 – I was complaining of severe pain in my left Achilles and after going for a month to a local Physical Therapist, I went to see Earl and Geoff at RMS Physical Therapy in Schaumburg. I was asked, no told to go get a MRI. The results were a partially torn Achilles likely from my superman attempts for the Lake Geneva tri. In the boot I went, for 4 weeks. I was able to bike and swim but no running. I did a miserable 28 hours in total of water running n that Health Bridge Gym pool and other hotels only to get to know those noodle ladies much better :(

After this period, I slowly got better but had to bow out of the March madness and other runs. My first actual race was in Lake in the Hills this July and had to swear to only run 10 minute miles. Well, Jamie H was just ahead of me on the run, and I wanted to run with him. He was running slow or what I thought. I found out later that he was running his PR in the 8:30's and then I figured out why all my friends were yelling at me on the run to slow down. About 2.5 miles into it, my Achilles blew out again. My own stupidity did it. Back in the boot again up to the beginning of August.

Now during all this time, I was biking strong, swimming well, and water running or running on the Alter G anti gravity machine that RMS has. This was a life saver but I knew that if I did not get on 100% gravity running, I would have to bow out of the IM. Earl and I talked on August 1 whether I would be able to do this. He told me, “Mark, if you cant run 15 miles by the 20th, you need to call it off” I genuinely cried and so did he(almost.... )

Race Day – September 11, 2011
Swim 2.4 miles
The swim started with me an 2800 of my close friends and I was on the far outside at the front on the rocks. Smooth sailing and only pummeled 4 or 5 guys on the back on that first stretch and only got kicked in the head a few times. This would be the easiest length of the day 'cause after the first turn I only could laugh at my coach and friend Sue B in my mind as I was swimming. Forget about technique. Its about dodge ball, king of the hill skills and snowboard cross all in one. What mayhem! I loved it. Out of the water and naked in front of some poor volunteer stranger changing my clothes in the naked room 1:20 later. Good times.

Bike 112 miles
My plan that Earl Gunther , Katie J and Andy B gave me was identical and to take advantage of my strength in biking and all the mountains I had done in North Carolina and Quebec. It was to save that fitness for my run to survive. I would set a easy pace up the hills and power down. I would be prepared to see people scream by me on the bike in the beginning. This was humbling. I was supposed to do what exactly what 90% of the pack would not do. I did it. My worst problem on the bike was only using up 70% and a hoarse voice from talking to the crowds too much. After about the first loop, all those people that passed me on the first started showing up again. I was able to hook up with a number of MSM'ers on the course, and we had some great times. The crowds and MSM members are a real inspiration. Back into the transition to the run, get naked, get dressed, run!

Andy, Earl, and the great Katie beat into me to run my race. They told me that what I had done 6 hours before on the bike would come back to me and be a huge advantage. I had strict instructions to only run 11 minute miles, and even had the boot in my special needs bag in case my leg blew out so at least I could hobble in. They told me that I would see people running 7:30's out of the start, and to not to pay attention to them. I even heard someone in the crowd say “Well , at least that old guy is moving , so he should feel good at least about that!” Humbling in the least.... But then, I realized that it was working and got the joy of running the whole freaking way, and talking to all of you, and getting the comments that I assume where compliments “Mark, you dont look like S.... , whatever you are doing, keep it up”

The race for me was a check and validation of my life and whether I could accomplish something that 18 months prior I would not even have considered. Along the way, the best part of this journey was the people that I have met and have become my friends. You know who all of you are and what you put up with training with me. You were a big part of my graduation day. Thanks for helping me to meet a major goal for this man's life.

Ill see you out there...
13:09 Ironman IM Wisconsin 2011

  • 00m
  • 4224 yards
  • / 100 yards
Transition 1
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  • 112 miles
  • 0.00 mile/hr
Transition 2
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  • 26.2 miles
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Post race

Profile Album

Last updated: 2010-11-13 12:00 AM
00:00:00 | 4224 yards | / 100yards
Age Group: 0/157
Overall: 0/2797
Start type: Plus:
Water temp: 0F / 0C Current:
200M Perf. Remainder:
Breathing: Drafting:
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Time: 00:00
Cap removal: Helmet on/
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00:00:00 | 112 miles | 0.00 mile/hr
Age Group: 0/157
Overall: 0/2797
Road:   Cadence:
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Time: 00:00
Riding w/ feet on shoes
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00:00:00 | 26.2 miles |  min/mile
Age Group: 0/157
Overall: 0/2797
Keeping cool Drinking
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Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
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Lots of volunteers?
Plenty of drinks?
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