Ironman Wisconsin - TriathlonFull Ironman

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Madison, Wisconsin
United States
Ironman North America
55F / 13C
Total Time = 11h 32m 22s
Overall Rank = 315/2439
Age Group = 45-49
Age Group Rank = 21/257
Pre-race routine:

Well, maybe a little pre-pre race routine. This RR is going to be long, so if you are bored with details, just look at the numbers.

The Monday after IM WI 2005 seems like yesterday when I got on to register for my first IM and then 5 minutes later booked a room at the Hilton Mona Terrace. Two of my training buddies had done the race last year and I decided to do the race in '06. I thought I would be prepping for an IM myself this summer because those 2 didn't register for '06 the Monday after their race last year. As it turns out, they both had a change in heart and decided to register for the race via the community fund route and ended up being IM training partners for much of this summer. One is newly retired and the other is a teacher, so they had a lot more free time than I did. I picked their brains about IM WI race details all summer long on early morning drives to race venues.

OK, fast forward to Tuesday night of last week. I had just replied to an email from Marvarnett who asked about my IM goal for the upcoming weekend. As I was typing the email I could feel that all too familiar tickle in my sinuses. Nah, this couldn't happen the week of my first IM could it!?!?!?!? Woke up Wed morning with what I thought at first was my 3rd sinus infection of the summer but turned out was just a plain old head cold. It felt like 2 huge spikes had been nailed into my sinuses though. Started popping Sudafed sinus capsules and broke down and bought some Nyquil before heading to Madison on Thursday afternoon. I wasn't sure how the ingredients in those drugs would affect my race performance so I quit using them after Friday night. Didn't sleep well at all Wed and Thur nights. My nose was running like a faucet. OK, I realize this is probably reeeeaaallllly boring...

Race stuff..I got a late start hitting the road on Thurs (our wives were driving down on Sat). I screwed up and didn't read the race event schedule closely, so I didn't realize packet pickup ended at 4 PM on Thurs. I really wanted to get that out of the way early because I figured Friday would be a zoo...note to self for IM WI 2007 - get packet before 4 PM Thurs. I stayed east of downtown at the same motel as my friends Thur night. Mid-morning Fri we did one loop of the swim course. It was very cool to see everyone swimming out on the course. As I was getting my wetsuit on it hit me...HOLY CRAP I'M ABOUT TO DO AN IRONMAN THIS WEEKEND!!

After the swim we went back to our cars and I got on the cell and called the Hilton to see if I could check in early. "C'mon down" was the answer I wanted to hear. Unloaded the vehicle and got stuff into the room, ate a banana, Clif bar and laid down for a bit. Then headed down to packet pickup - the line was huge (reminded myself again about Thur pickup for '07). Turns out the first line was just the beginning where you get your paperwork. Then they direct you downstairs to get your body weight for medical purposes and then downstairs again to another level to get the actual race packet. Having them put on that racer ID bracelet was a little emotional. I was beginning to realize exactly why these races cost so much - a huge logistical operation!! Afterwards I put the running shoes on and went for a quick 10 minute run. A persistent cough had now settled in my chest so I started sucking on Vicks cough drops.

Our group that travelled down from northwest WI had grown larger than I was expecting as we met for the Fri night banquet. I had hoped to meet up with the BT group also, but things got crazy getting into the banquet room and we ended up near the front of the room near the movie screen. During the meal I got up and tried to scan each table to see if I could see Mike (BadgerIronman - who I had seen earlier in the day) and the rest of the BT group. How I missed seeing that Sponge Bob balloon floating high up in the air is beyond me! I sat back down and then I finally saw the balloon and headed to the BT table. As I walked toward the table, Possum jumped up and yelled "Birkierunner!!" Don't know how she recognized me but it was cool to meet someone in person instead of cyberspace. I made some quick hellos and "good lucks" before the playing of the national anthem and then headed back to our table to enjoy the rest of the banquet program. Finally got a decent night's sleep with the help of my last shot of Nyquil.

I wanted to do a short swim on Saturday morning so I took advantage of the Blue Seventy wetsuit demo booth and tried out a full wetsuit to compare it to my sleeveless. I wasn't planning on buying one for the race, but a Blue Seventy Helix wetsuit is now on my triathlon wish list. Then I took the bike out for a quick spin and made sure I put it in the gear that I thought would be good to use for heading out of transition on race morning. Went back to the room to get the transition bags and bike ready for transition check-in. I had a couple hours still before bikes had to be in the T area, and wasn't happy with how I was going to rig my tool bag and spare tubular (I was renting Zipp 404s and hadn't used tubulars before) under the seat. I ditched the behind the seat bottle holder I had planned on putting the tubular in. I duct-taped the tubular to the seat stem and pushed it tight under the seat. Only problem was I now needed a different tool bag design. Headed down to the Ironman store (one advantage to paying big bucks for close hotel) and bought a smaller tool bag design that fit the bill. I was kind of mad at myself for making this last minute change because I expended a lot of mental energy dealing with it. My wife Vickie arrived just as I was about to bring the bike down to transition check-in by the 3 PM cutoff. We ate at the Hilton's make your own pasta bar, which was very good - 2 trips for me. Laid in bed to watch the U.S. Open tennis women's final. Turned the TV off about 9:45 but couldn't fall asleep - not sure what time I dosed off. HOLY CRAP I'M ABOUT TO DO AN IRONMAN TOMORROW MORNING!!

Set the alarm for 1 AM so that I could get up and drink 2 bottles of Ensure then back to bed. Alarm set again for 3:40 so I could go down to the hotel breakfast bar that was supposed to open at 4 AM. It didn't open until 4:15 and I was getting anxious because it was close to my preferred cutoff of breakfast no closer than 3 hours to race start. Oatmeal, OJ, part of a bagel, banana, coffee to activate the "launch sequence".
Event warmup:

Right at 5 AM I went to bodymarking. I saw 3 volunteers standing together waiting for the next victim and I asked "OK ladies, which one of you is feeling lucky this morning?!". One immediately yelled "I do!" and she marked me up. I went down to the swim to bike transition bag room to put a small towel in my bag to dry off after the swim - as you will read later, that was a huge waste of time!! Dropped off the special needs bag near the capital building, then it was off to the bike rack area to put my ErgomoPro powermeter on the bike and check my tires. As I was walking to the bike the announcer on the PA system was discussing the potential for wet weather and the best tire pressure for wet roads. I've only been biking for a year and I know diddly squat about hi tech tubular race wheels. I had rented some Zipp 404s for the race and I had pumped them to 140 psi. One of the bike techs I talked to said I was crazy to have that much pressure and he recommended 120 psi maximum. No problem, I'll let out some air. Only thing was, I didn't know how to release air using the valve extenders on the 404s. I unscrewed the extender a bit bit still couldn't figure out how to let air out. I threw pride out the window and took the bike over to one of the techs to help me. He said I had made a mistake by loosening the valve extender because now he couldn't release air by the correct method. He sent me over to the far end of the T area where the bike tech bench was. I refused to let this rattle me. I stayed calm and repeated Rich Strauss' quote to myself...."slow is smooth and smooth is fast" as I calmly walked the bike to the tech bench. They fixed the valve extender and put the right tire pressure in (i.e. out). I thought to myself that maybe this was going to be my only IM crisis of the day and I had survived it. I racked the bike and went back to the room to get my wetsuit and dry clothes bag.

Headed down to the swim start area and was floored by how many people were waiting to walk down the ramp to the water. Put the wetsuit on and then found out where to drop off the dry clothes bag. Got in line about 6:40 thinking there was plenty of time to get in the water. Man, the line was not moving too fast. 6:45 AM and still tons of people behind me. Surely they can't start the race if everyone isn't in the water yet...can they? Then Mike Reilly (the voice of Ironman North America) announced that racers had to speed it up to get in the water because the race WILL start at 7 AM. HOLY CRAP I'M ABOUT TO DO AN IRONMAN AND I'M NOT EVEN NEAR THE WATER YET!!! I stayed calm though and finally got in and waded out to a good spot between the shore and the large white waterski ramp floating in the water. HOLY CRAP I'M ABOUT TO DO AN IRONMAN!!
  • 1h 19m 28s
  • 4224 yards
  • 01m 53s / 100 yards

Treaded water for a few minutes, chatted with folks around me, took a final pee in the wetsuit, and then the gun went off. HOLY CRAP I'M NOW DOING AN IRONMAN!!

I started tris mid-summer last year and swimming is my weakest link. But 2 months of lessons this summer has improved my stroke tons, so I felt fairly confident going into the swim. I had read many IM race reports and tried to mentally prepare myself for the hand to hand combat swimming to follow. But, the start wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I was actually holding my ground and passing some people. I would try to draft but then would get caught up in a group and had people swimming over my back or grabbing my legs. I searched for slivers of open water and escaped into them looking for better swimmers to draft behind. But, other people had the same idea so you just had to deal with it and keep moving. My breathing was working out much better than I expected.

The only way to describe the first corner is...carnage. Arms, legs, people swimming over your back, pushing you aside, etc. I had to stop, get my bearings and pick a route to get through the mess. Made it through, but there was only 130 meters to the next corner. Repeat carnage again. Return leg of the rectangle was much rougher due to swells but I held my own. Only took in a mouthful of water once and had to stop to cough it out. Next corner..repeat carnage. I wanted to swim the buoys so that I would minimize drifting off-line but that meant dealing with tons of other swimmers. It felt great to make the turn to start the second loop and I found a few more openings to swim in. I made the turn at the far corner for the last time and got kicked in the right eye. That squashed my goggles tight to my eye socket and I initially thought my goggles were broken, but I just pulled it away to break the suction and put them back on with no problem. The swells on the second return leg seemed worse than the first time. I made the final turn for the run back to shore and got squeezed by 2 huge guys and one swam over my back. I had to stop and let him go, but to his credit he stopped and apologized - that was pretty cool of him I thought.

I was expecting about a 1:07 swim based on swim race rehearsals last month. So, considering the carnage and swells I guess a 1:19 was OK for me.
What would you do differently?:

I was pleased with my sighting between buoys. Now that I have my swim technique down, I need to improve on swim fitness and speed this winter. This may allow me to escape some of the "middle of the pack carnage" on the corners next year.
Transition 1
  • 10m 8s

Didn't try to rush getting out of the water, kept it calm walking up the ramp to dry ground. Found a wetsuit stripper and let them do their thing. The helix run up to T1 changing room was pretty cool with the spectators but I tried to ignore the cheering so as not to get carried-away.

I didn't put any additional clothes in the T bag other than some arm warmers. I put those on and thought that, based on the forecast, I would be warm enough. Yeah, right!

What would you do differently?:

Not sure why my T1 time was so slow. I thought I was moving fairly quickly in the changing room. I didn't have a volunteer come to help me sort through my T bag, but I think I managed OK. Need to focus more next time and just get moving a little quicker.
  • 6h 01m 35s
  • 112 miles
  • 18.58 mile/hr

Ran through the hallway to the door to the outside bike pickup area. Hit the porta potty quickly before grabbing the bike. There were a few raindrops falling but I didn't think much of it at the time. Hit the roads out to the 40 mile loop. Can't remember much about the course out to the loop other than a lot of corners. Weather sucked.

My strategy was to keep watts for the first 2 hours under a cap based on a certain % of my FTP determined in a 40 minute time trial a few weeks ago. It was going to be a long ride so no need to hammer out to the loop. I had another watts cap for the remainder of the race, with special wattage caps for certain situations. It takes patience to try to stick with these guidelines so that you can leave something for the run.

The weather seemed to get progressively worse and my sinuses were not liking it at all. I felt very chilled and I regretted the clothing decision I made the night before. I've raced x-c ski races in minus 25 degrees so weather usually doesn't bother me, but today I just had to grit my teeth and get through it. I had never peed on myself during a bike ride before this race but I started to look forward to peeing while on the bike just to get 30 seconds of warmth running down my legs in that frickin' weather.

Riding the hills was pretty neat with all of the spectators. I saw Vickie on the Timber Lane hill and gave her a high five. I tried to ignore the crowd and not get too excited and I refused to hammer the hills. Some people were doing just the opposite and I wonder how they felt later on during the run. On the second time around on the Timber Lane hill a guy from the crowd started running alongside a friend of his a la Tour de France style and he nearly took out a racer that was passing me on the left.

I had a good feeding strategy plan prior to the race but the weather caused me to lose my focus a little and I lost track of where I was in relation to feed stations. I started just keeping track of time on my watch and made sure to take fluid and/or GU every 15 minutes. My body temp was not great and it was hard to keep up the wattage targets I had set up. If you look at the wattage graph attached you will see a gradual decline in watts during the later parts of the race. This led to a 6:01 bike split that was about 30 minutes slower than I had planned on.

I can't remember what mile I spotted Larry (Lar Dog) Davidson on the course. I gradually came up on him and said "Hey Larry Davidson!". We both got a kick out of seeing each other out there and we passed each other a couple times on the bike. I think our bike splits were pretty similar.

I was extremely glad to get the bike ride from hell over with.

Power analysis (speed/distance sensor magnet not installed):

First 2 hours:
Duration: 2:00:00
Work: 971 kJ
TSS: 60.1 (intensity factor 0.548)
Norm Power: 154
Variability index 1.14
Distance: 0 ft
Min Max Avg
Power: 0 350 135 watts
Heart Rate: 95 142 125 bpm
Cadence: 30 109 81 rpm
Speed: 0 0 0 mph
Torque: 0 678 153 lb-in
Altitude: 689 1096 846 ft

2-3 hours:
Duration: 1:00:00
Work: 562 kJ
TSS: 39.3 (intensity factor 0.627)
Norm Power: 175
Variability index 1.12
Distance: 0 ft
Min Max Avg
Power: 0 347 156 watts
Heart Rate: 91 146 130 bpm
Cadence: 41 118 82 rpm
Speed: 0 0 0 mph
Torque: 0 678 171 lb-in
Altitude: 738 1040 853 ft

3-4 hours:
Duration: 1:00:00
Work: 523 kJ
TSS: 33.5 (intensity factor 0.579)
Norm Power: 162
Variability index 1.12
Distance: 0 ft
Min Max Avg
Power: 0 343 145 watts
Heart Rate: 97 141 129 bpm
Cadence: 46 118 84 rpm
Speed: 0 0 0 mph
Torque: 0 678 158 lb-in
Altitude: 692 1089 873 ft

4-5 hours:
Duration: 1:00:00
Work: 525 kJ
TSS: 35.4 (intensity factor 0.595)
Norm Power: 167
Variability index 1.14
Distance: 0 ft
Min Max Avg
Power: 0 345 146 watts
Heart Rate: 107 151 133 bpm
Cadence: 44 110 82 rpm
Speed: 0 0 0 mph
Torque: 0 678 161 lb-in
Altitude: 735 1053 873 ft

5-6+ hours:
Duration: 35:40
Work: 256 kJ
TSS: 13.5 (intensity factor 0.477)
Norm Power: 134
Variability index 1.13
Distance: 0 ft
Min Max Avg
Power: 0 240 119 watts
Heart Rate: 94 139 122 bpm
Cadence: 49 102 81 rpm
Speed: 0 0 0 mph
Torque: 0 678 132 lb-in
Altitude: 682 997 771 ft

What would you do differently?:

Should have worn my bike rain jacket.
Transition 2
  • 05m 21s

Not much to say here. When I left the changing room I could hear Vickie and my friends' wives yelling out my name way down the hallway before the exit to outside. I turned around a gave a thumbs up.
What would you do differently?:

Again, would have liked to have that bike jacket with me.
  • 3h 55m 52s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 09m  min/mile

My stomach felt a little bloated at the start of the run and I had a side stitch for the first 6 miles. My strategy was to take it easy for the first couple of miles, with an overall goal of 8 min miles until later in the race when I would re-evaluate how I was doing. Running through the University stadium was weird because it was soooo quiet in there. I hadn't run a single step of the run course prior to the race, but I did view Simply Stu's IM WI video and it helped me recognize many portions of the course. Thanks Stu!!

I forget what mile marker the aid station where Possum was. Somehow she recognized me again and yelled out "Birkierunner!!" That was pretty cool - thanks again Possum. I felt I was holding a decent pace up to about mile 16 considering the weather and my body temp, but it was definitely slower than my target pace. I developed a muscle strain in my upper right leg that made it hard to lift the leg. So, on the second time up the biggest hill (Observatory Hill?) I had to walk it.

On the return portion of my first run loop I saw one of my training buddies Tom Krenz. He looked strong and he was heading out for his second loop. I knew at this point that he was going to finish well ahead of me. Tommy and I had gone back and forth in races all summer, but he usually beat me due to his better swimming ability. We both knew throughout the summer that we would be close to each other's time at IM WI. So, when I saw him during the race I knew that my Kona dream had slipped away. But, I didn't let that get me down too much and kept plugging away. After mile 16 my mile splits ballooned to 10+ min/miles. That was hard to take, but my body just couldn't respond. The death march had begun. I saw my wife near the capital building after the first loop and yelled to her "That swim kicked my butt!" She told me on the drive back home on Monday that a spectator was next to her during the race when I yelled that and they yelled back at me (laughing) "That was 6 hours ago...get over it!!" I didn't hear that at the time, but get a chuckle out of it now.

On the last leg of the second loop I saw Lar Dog heading towards me, so I knew it wouldn't be too long before he would pass me. I forget what mile it was, but he passed me with 2-3 more miles to go and he was looking strong. He was KONA BOUND!!! Great job Lar Dog!!

I had a lot of mixed emotions during the last mile but tried to keep a positive attitude. When I turned the corner just before the finish line a huge swell of pride filled my chest. I really appreciated the crowd cheering us on and I got a little teary-eyed during the last few yards. I crossed the line and then heard Mike Reilly say, "Jim Kelley from Centuria Wisconsin....YOU ARE AN IRONMAN" It sounded like I was hearing it in a dream. HOLY CRAP I JUST FINISHED AN IRONMAN. A couple of volunteers greeted me and helped me put on a thermal foil blanket - man did that feel great. Thank you to the finish line crew. A quick finish line photo under the tent and then I walked a few yards to give Vickie a kiss. I wanted to immediately head inside to get my dry clothes bag. Vickie stayed at the finish line to see other friends finish.

This was an epic day. The volunteers showed incredible devotion by sticking with it in those weather conditions. They were IRONTEERS.

See attached Polar HR monitor graph attachment for entire race

(Mile Split Avg HR)
(1+2 16:24 120)
(3 7:09 127)
(4 8:31 126)
(5 8:10 126)
(6+7 17:15 125)
(8 8:26 127)
(9 8:13 128)
(10 7:43 131)
(11 7:56 131)
(12 7:56 131)
(13 9:00 128)
(14+15 16:10 121)
(16 8:02 122)
(17 8:51 122)
(18 10:21 114 (uh oh!))
(19 12:24 107)
(20 10:38 106)
(21 10:30 110)
(22 10:42 110)
(23 9:55 111)
(24 10:31 109)
(25 9:43 112)
(26+0.2 11:37 113)
What would you do differently?:

I did the best I could given my health in the days leading up to the race and the weather.
Post race
Warm down:

It took a while to get bags, etc and then I headed back to the hotel room to crash. I fell asleep and didn't wake up until 9 PM. We ordered some delivery pizza and a meatball sub and man, did they taste good. While waiting for the food, I thought that I should dress and go down to cheer on the late night finishers. But, my body was just too stiff and cold to want to get back out in that rain. I really regret not going back to the finish line to cheer people on and I have already vowed to do it next year.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

After being sick my body just couldn't handle the weather today.

Event comments:

On Monday morning I got in line for the 2007 registration. While standing in line my buddy Tom walked by and I asked him how he did because I hadn't seen any results yet. He had gotten 2nd place in our age group with a time of 10:32, 76th overall, and was Kona bound! I was incredibly happy for him and I kept shaking has hand and squeezing his shoulder. That was just too cool to be able to put in words what it meant to me to see him accomplish that. He is an incredible athlete and a great friend. At the awards banquet we hooped and hollered as he got his plaque. Very cool to see Lar Dog on the podium as well.

I realize this race report is a little dry (no pun intended) but I wanted to put in some details for myself that I can look back on 360 days from now as I get ready for IM WI 2007. At the same time, maybe there is some info in here that can help out a first-timer like I was this year, for next year's race. I went into this race with very realistic expectations of sub 10:30 based on recent races, race rehearsals, etc. So, it was pretty hard to swallow an extra hour on my finish time. It just goes to show you that you can make all the predictions you want, take half-iron race splits and make projections for your first IM finish time, tell yourself afterwards that if such and such hadn't happened I would have finished 30 minutes sooner, blah blah blah. You take what the day gives you and hope for the best. If you missed your target there is always next time.

I started running in 1976, but when I did my first marathon in 1998, it broadened my view of endurance sports quite a bit. If you know you can do a marathon you gain a lot of confidence in every part of your life. As I completed my first century bike ride earlier this summer my endurance viewpoint got a little broader. Now that I've completed an Ironman my viewpoint has become an order of magnitude greater - its simply weird how one day can change how you look at everything in your life and it makes you appreciate your family, friends, and health that much more. Sounds corny, I know. As I was fixing breakfast before heading to work at 5 AM this morning I looked down at the IM race ID bracelet that was still on my wrist. I thought I might wear it for a few more days to savor the IM experience. But I got to thinking that the experience was held on the inside. I reached into the drawer and grabbed the scissors and cut the bracelet off and put it on the shelf with my bike shoes. All day long during work it felt like I still had the bracelet on my wrist. I think I will have that same feeling on my wrist for the next 360 or so days until a race volunteer at IM WI 2007 puts a new one on my wrist. That feeling will remind me that I AM AN IRONMAN. Thanks for reading...if you have been able to stay awake this long. I took a bunch of pre-race photos and Vickie took a bunch too, but something happened to the chip in our camera - only a few survived and are attached in my post in this thread. Better ones to come next year.

Profile Album

Last updated: 2006-09-12 12:00 AM
01:19:28 | 4224 yards | 01m 53s / 100yards
Age Group: 86/257
Overall: 1068/2439
Performance: Average
Swim average heart rate = 119 bpm
Suit: QR sleeveless
Course: Rectangle 2 loop
Start type: Deep Water Plus:
Water temp: 73F / 23C Current: High
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Average
Breathing: Good Drafting: Average
Waves: Average Navigation: Good
Rounding: Below average
Time: 10:08
Performance: Below average
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed:
06:01:35 | 112 miles | 18.58 mile/hr
Age Group: 36/257
Overall: 350/2439
Performance: Average
See power analysis below for power and heart rate statistics
Wind: Strong with gusts
Course: 16 or so mile stick out to 40 mile loop - do loop twice then return on stick back to transition. Hilly
Road: Smooth Wet Cadence: 82
Turns: Average Cornering: Average
Gear changes: Good Hills: Average
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 05:21
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
03:55:52 | 26.2 miles | 09m  min/mile
Age Group: 29/257
Overall: 308/2439
Performance: Below average
Course: 2 loops through streets of Madison. I usually dislike looped courses but this course was really neat so doing it twice was enjoyable.
Keeping cool Bad Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %?
Overall: Below average
Mental exertion [1-5] 3
Physical exertion [1-5] 2
Good race? No
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