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Ironman Wisconsin - TriathlonFull Ironman

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Madison, Wisconsin
United States
Ironman North America
80F / 27C
Total Time = 11h 33m 10s
Overall Rank = 432/2207
Age Group = M35-39
Age Group Rank = 88/341
Pre-race routine:

Got to Madison On the Wednesday had a few swims drove the course and generally relaxed with my wife in the Concourse hotel.
IM Wisconsin would be a major step for me in terms of a complete life changing focus since 2006. My family moved to the US in Sep 2006. I had really let myself go since 2001 working for an investment bank with significant international travel had seen me ballon to 215lbs. When I started training in Sep 2006 I couldn't run more than 20 mins and ride more than an hour without feeling like i had been shot. I arrived at the start of IM Wisconsin exactly 2 years later weighing my high school graduation weight of 181 lbs and rearing to go.
Event warmup:

  • 1h 10m 35s
  • 4224 yards
  • 01m 40s / 100 yards

I seeded my self about 5 rows back just inside the ski ramp about 20 meters from the buoy line. Asked everyone around me what their projected time's were everyone was saying around 1:05 to 1:10 so I thought I was in the right place I was expecting to swim about a 1:07. Canon went off and it was a mess, all the swimmers next to me and in front of me were actually North of 1.10 swimmers I missed the 1:05 train and spent the whole first loop fighting my way forward bridging from pack to pack but just couldn't find anyone going at my speed to pull me along. In the second lap I resigned myself to drafting found a really big dude with enormous feet and stayed on his feet the whole way round. Only issue being people had the same idea as me so I spent a lot of time and energy fighting people off the guy pulling me
What would you do differently?:

Not Underestimate my swimming ability. The IM swim is nut's If you start to far back that is where you will be for the whole swim as way too many people to swim through.
Transition 1
  • 09m 28s

What a nightmare running up the helix was serious hard work I spent 9+ mins in this Transition. Spending 15+ mins in transitions is unacceptable. Only needed to have some urgency and would have broken 11:30hrs.
What would you do differently?:

I had more outfit changes than a Hannah Montana concert. I need to find a good pair of tri shorts I can use for the whole race.
  • 6h 02m 4s
  • 113.2 miles
  • 18.76 mile/hr

Was riding off an FTP of 260: Which gave me the following gears
Gear 1 - 170 (1st Hour flats)
Gear 2 - 179 (Post 1 hour flats)
Gear 2 - 200 (All Hills)

Plan was to ride .69IF and generate 288 TSS points base on 6:10hr split.

My ride by hour looked as follows:

Metric Hr 1 Hr 2 Hr 3 Hr 4 Hr 5 Hr 6 Total
AV Power 167 174 170 181 172 178 173
Norm Power 180 187 187 191 189 188 187
IF 0.69 0.72 0.71 0.74 0.73 0.72 0.720
VI 1.08 1.08 1.1 1.06 1.1 1.06 1.08
TSS 48 52 51.4 54 52.8 53 312
Av HR 159 151 154 156 150 151 154
Av Mph 18.4 18.3 19 16.8 19.3 21 18.8
Tot Miles 18.4 18.3 19 16.8 19.3 21.2 113

Started out on the bike and my HRate was sky high from swim over 160 as you can see hour 1 and 2 were my easiest hours. Fought to get my heart rate down fairly difficult as course constant up's and downs. Still higher power numbers than I wanted to see but the nature of the course meant I couldn't ride within my hill power caps, hills were constantly between 230 -250 as a result I extended out easy riding to hour two. Heart rate started coming under control and I was feeling great. In the first 2 hours I passed not a single person on the hills People were going past me Standing up in the big chain ring saying to me that is awesome EN pacing (I was in my EN race shirt) and then I would fly past them all on the downhills and the flats using minimal power to catch them back up.

All was going well and after two hours I decided to start riding . People at mile 40 were already starting to suffer I actually started passing people up the hills. At exactly 2.27hrs and 45 miles into the ride according to my power file I got stung by a bee. I am allergic and a bee sting for me means a trip to hospital before my windpipe closes. I had packed my Epi pen at the last moment the day before as I thought there was no point in bringing it anyway as my chemist had told me if I had to use it then I would need to get straight to the hospital anyway so I thought it was a moot point.

I decided to not use the pen as I didn't know what it would do. I rode on for another 20 minutes but I was starting to get confused and my hand was swelling up where I got stung. I knew I had to use the pen. Saw some people spectating and pulled over and asked if one of them could stab me. One guy was a diabetic and did the job. I spent about 5 minutes there just trying to get my head to focus.

Carried on and straight away noticed my HRate had shot up from about 145 to over 160 due to the adrenaline in the Pen you can see in my heart rate average from hour 3 to 6 the spike in heartrate. I was getting seriously worried now I was struggling to focus and my right quad was in such pain from the injection I started crying as I thought my day was over and I was emotianlly confused I almost wiped out and took a rider with me at about mile 52 as I was struggling to see I made a deal with myself I would ride to Special needs and pull out if I continued to be a danger to others on the course.

My box (focus) had closed by this stage to my right leg I didn't take in any nutrition or watch my power at this stage all I did was try to think of my family and the sacrifices they and I had made over the last year to get to me to the start line and my race was going to be over. My quad started to lock up and I new I had to start pain killers as I was having trouble turning the pedals but I was worried about the impact on my absorption having such a high HRate and painkillers. I rode into Special Needs Crying with Snot running down my face. Straight away asked volunteer if they had a doctor I would let them make the decision. No doctor so just reloaded my inifnit and carried on riding again. Hour 4 was tough there was a brutal wind by now and was in the thick of the climbing again. Everything started coming right for me by mile 70 and I started to ride again, hour 5 & 6 were my fastest and I felt like I hadn't ridden. Started flying past people Greg my team mate from EN came past me on mile 80 and we went back and forward between each other over the next 10 miles at mile 90 Greg got hit by a car which was freaky. We were both in good shape and procedded to nail everyone in front of us for the last 12 miles back into town Greg really picked up the pace my watts were reading 200+ on the flats and I just sat 4 bike lengths behind him we passed a lot of people really good EN advertising seeing two guy's in their EN shirts finishing strong @ 24mph+. We rode up the Helix togther.

Total Time 6:02:05 (Without the sting was probably on track to ride a 5:50 which on that course would have been a good ride as Rich Strauss mentioned in the EN pre-race briefing this is a hard bike course and he rates it the hardest of the NA IM courses after Kona)

What would you do differently?:

I had some serious bike fitness and strength coming into this race dissapointed to ride a 6:02 split but given I thought I would have to pull out I will take it.
Transition 2
  • 06m 10s

What would you do differently?:

See above on cloth changes!
  • 4h 04m 55s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 09m 21s  min/mile

I have never run any longer than 18miles before so had no idea what to expect. Based on a VDOT of 46 my pacing plan was 9:45 for the first 6miles then 9:15 for the rest. Got started feeling great. Except my HRate was still ridicuously high 152.

Started out easy but couldn't get slower than 9'30's so stayed at this pace for the first 8 miles. My thinking and awareness was great. Alternating aide stations with Infinit and Salt pills. Went really light on the calories 150 per hour as I knew with my heart rate so high for so long my absorption would suffer and I was fully expecting to just crash at some point. I was expecting to get passed by a lot of peeps in the first 6 miles didn't happen people had already destroyed themselves on the bike so they started coming back to me very early in the run. Went past Greg at mile 11 looked like he was struggling but was glad to see he had picked it back up when I saw him next. Saw Dawn, Jason & Nemo all looking great. Was through the first loop in 2:04 and started to prepare myself for the line at mile 18 my one thing's were 1/ Not walk a step of the marathon and 2/ -ve split the run. (managed to do both)

On the second loop my pace picked up but I kept it in check as my HR was still 150+. Went past Jim (Birkie) at mile 15 he was in bad shape, saw a dude flying home in an EN shirt found out later it was Laird. Mile 18 loomed and I waited for the line it never came same for mile 20 then I started to think about picking up the pace, decided to keep myself in check as I was in unchartered grounds. Mile 23 started the cola and then ramped up the pace mile 24 was my fastest mile @ 7:40 Mile 25 my second at 8:15 and mile 26 my 3rd fastest at 8:30. Crossed the finish line and just imploded Second Loop 2:00hrs. I had been at Half IM HR for 7 hours got manhandled to medical tent and couldn't focus and was exhausted all I had to eat since 4am was Infinit and 3 cups of cola I had some chicken brooth which was amazing my wife carried me back to the hotel where I collapsed in bed from exhaustion.

What would you do differently?:

I respected the marathon too much also my VDOT was underestimated this led me to runing it too easily. I had based my VDOT on a run leg of a tri not a standalone 5k or 10k meant my running paces were set too low. I never felt any fatigue or challenge on the run and never hit the wall. Given the fact my legs were completly not sore four day's after the race just backs this up.

Post race
Warm down:

Medical tent/Ice bath in bed by 9pm.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Bee sting, lack of experience in my first Ironman I didn't race it. I was plenty fit and strong enough to go out there and hammer the run my bike fitness and strength was seriously solid I got of the bike feeling like I hadn't ridden.

Event comments:

Reflection - The Ironman experience is amazing I think what makes it so amazing is you are reduced to the lowest level at mile 50 on the bike I was in the biggest blackest hole ever to drag myself out of there took so much courage and to go on and almost break 11:30 in my first IM on a really hard course is something I will always be proud of. I do think a 11:20 would have been a better reflection of my fitness but I will take 11:33 it could have so easily been a DNF.

What Next - IM Canada in 2009, I need to build my bike FTP North of 300 to get a bike split close to 5:30hrs, I also am gonna do some work on my run I have ignored it for the last two years as I have tried to work on my two weaker legs, the Canada marathon is supposed to be very hilly and tough. My goal for Canada will be to get my time down to something starting with a 10. As for now gonna take some nice down time with my family until November then start Offseason program. Thanks to you all for your support especaily my mentor group, Bryan, Adam, Aaaron, Bobby, Bob, Danielle, AJ, Tara, JK and all others.

Last updated: 2008-06-03 12:00 AM
01:10:35 | 4224 yards | 01m 40s / 100yards
Age Group: 116/341
Overall: 644/2207
Performance: Average
Suit: Zoot
Course: Typical Ironam Square x 2 loops
Start type: Deep Water Plus: Shot
Water temp: 72F / 22C Current: Low
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Average
Breathing: Average Drafting: Average
Waves: Navigation: Good
Rounding: Average
Time: 09:28
Performance: Bad
Cap removal: Average Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: No
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed: Average
06:02:04 | 113.2 miles | 18.76 mile/hr
Age Group: 0/341
Overall: 0/2207
Performance: Average
Wind: Strong with gusts
Course: Up/Down turn alot...
Road: Rough Dry Cadence:
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 06:10
Overall: Bad
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
04:04:55 | 26.2 miles | 09m 21s  min/mile
Age Group: 72/341
Overall: 381/2207
Performance: Good
Course: 2 x loops around Madision two big hills and rest was mainly flat.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
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:
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

2008-09-12 11:43 PM

Extreme Veteran
Subject: Ironman Wisconsin

2008-09-13 8:41 PM
in reply to: #1671913

Iron Donkey
, Wisconsin
Subject: RE: Ironman Wisconsin

Glad you kept it in check during the run, otherwise you would have regretted it.  Those final few miles were great!


2008-09-13 8:54 PM
in reply to: #1671913

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Subject: RE: Ironman Wisconsin

Impressive first IM!

Scary with the bee sting but glad you were able to recover and go on to finish the bike strong and run a smart Mary.

See you at IMC!

Congrasts Ironman

2008-09-13 8:57 PM
in reply to: #1671913

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Long Island, NY
Subject: RE: Ironman Wisconsin
Impressive, to say the least. Everyone seems to say you learn a lot about yourself on the course during an IM, and I'd say if you didn't know you the limits of your resolve, you do now. Powering through the sting that could have stopped it all shows that in spades. Way to pull yourself up and meet your goal in the end.

Execution was spot on. You definitely show the importance of knowing your body and how to push it to without breaking down. Using everything you learned in this race, it'll be scary to see how you attack Canada next year.

Outstanding job, Ironman, and enjoy the downtime with the family.
2008-09-13 9:12 PM
in reply to: #1671913

Extreme Veteran
Subject: RE: Ironman Wisconsin

First of all thankyou for the comments, re-reading my race report makes me sound like an arrogant A-hole. I kind of feel like I missed out on the experience somewhat as I expected to suffer hugely on the run from mile 18 it just never happened my easiest part of the race was the marathon...I gotta be honest I feel robbed I suffered in every single training week on the run and the bike making sure I would have the mental ability to push through.

Thanks for the comments!!! 


2008-09-13 10:16 PM
in reply to: #1672696

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Long Island, NY
Subject: RE: Ironman Wisconsin
jamesG - 2008-09-13 10:12 PM

First of all thankyou for the comments, re-reading my race report makes me sound like an arrogant A-hole. I kind of feel like I missed out on the experience somewhat as I expected to suffer hugely on the run from mile 18 it just never happened my easiest part of the race was the marathon...I gotta be honest I feel robbed I suffered in every single training week on the run and the bike making sure I would have the mental ability to push through.  

Not so, more like you were conservative and underestimated yourself and where you were trainingwise. A little too far the other way and it would have been a report about how you were disappointed you undertrained and blew up.

As to the last sentence, I'd say that suffering in and out through training was precisely why the run seemed easy.

2008-09-14 7:30 AM
in reply to: #1671913

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Fountain Hills, AZ
Subject: RE: Ironman Wisconsin
Great job, James. Really excellent work out there and overcoming those difficulties makes you success even sweeter. It's been a pleasure watching you go on this journey and you did an outstanding job, Ironman.
2008-09-14 8:25 AM
in reply to: #1671913

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West Bend, WI
Subject: RE: Ironman Wisconsin

Wow- great stuff out there

I hope you are able to leave it all out there in canada!

2008-09-14 12:27 PM
in reply to: #1671913

User image

Subject: RE: Ironman Wisconsin
Great job - I am glad you didn't suffer any serious effects of the epi.  That's bad stuff.  Awesome that you were able to finish!  Congratulations on becoming an ironman!
2008-09-14 7:30 PM
in reply to: #1671913

User image

Subject: RE: Ironman Wisconsin

Congratulations my friend!  It's been quite a journey over the last couple years, and I'm very happy for you!  All the mental toughness that you've gained with those 0530 runs in the rain really paid off! Laughing

You did an excellent job pulling through that bee sting - very scary.   And that's not arrogance, it's confidence!  Glad to see that you stuck with your plan.  Definitely better to do that than to push too hard.

I'm looking forward to seeing you progress even further.  Now your motivation won't be too finish, but to improve.  That could be tougher, but I know you'll do great at that, Ironman! Cool

2008-09-15 11:35 AM
in reply to: #1671913

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Denver, CO
Subject: RE: Ironman Wisconsin
Great race James!  I am amazed at the suffering you endured through the middle of the bike course.  Great job pacing the race too, you'll break 11 next time with that kind of knowledge and self discipline.

2008-09-15 5:47 PM
in reply to: #1671913

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San Francisco
Subject: RE: Ironman Wisconsin

awesome job!  Amazing for your first.  Great finish time despite the setbacks.  way to dig yourself out of that black hole from the bee sting.  Hopefully your next outing is not so exciting.

Perhaps I'll see you in Canada!

2008-09-15 6:12 PM
in reply to: #1671913

User image

Subject: RE: Ironman Wisconsin

Considering how easy the marathon leg was, it's about time you got this Race Report up

You're an inspiration to me James.  I was about 215 a couple of years ago too. 

Glad your buddy was ok after getting hit by a car. 

I wish you less incidence in IMCA and CONGRATULATIONS IRONMAN!!


2008-09-17 12:39 AM
in reply to: #1671913

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Walworth, WI
Subject: RE: Ironman Wisconsin
Amazing.  That's all I can come up with.  Just amazing.  Congrats on a hard fought race James!
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