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Ironman Wisconsin - TriathlonFull Ironman

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Madison, Wisconsin
United States
Ironman North America
80F / 27C
Total Time = 14h 09m 27s
Overall Rank = 1500/2397
Age Group = M 35-39
Age Group Rank = 244/356
Pre-race routine:

First time Ironman and a journey that took me from a weight of 278 to a race weigh in of 216 lbs. Still too big for this sport, but certainly shows that with the work and dedication, Ironman is a reasonable goal for most people.

I arrived in town on Thursday afternoon and went down to register and get things organized. I had a multipage "plan" that pretty much set out the activities for each day and packing etc. depending on the weather. So I wanted to get my gear bags so I could start organizing for the race.

Thursday night we had an amazing dinner at "Harvest" which is a natural / organic restaurant right on the Capital Square. Wonderful food and nice close location. The staff there was amazing and every course was just as good. I would recommend this place to anyone!

On Friday, we did the gatorade swim and ran into some friends down there, Mike, Graeme, Mark and a few others. It was good to get out there, even though the water was a bit disgusting. After that and a nice solid breakfast, we headed out to ride the first part of the bike course at an easy pace.

Around noon, I started the "texting" marathon with my wife and daughters as they headed into town. I was really looking forward to them getting there even though I was moving to my own room. I had brought sign making stuff for the girls and had picked up Michelle and each of them some "welcome" gifts down at the IM store. (it all went over great!)

Saturday brought nothing significant, bike and gear check-in with a nice lunch at Tutto Pasta and then back to the room for relaxation and a bunch of friends texting / calling with well-wishes for the day to come.
Event warmup:

Slept great from about 9:00 the night before till 3:00a when across the hall from me, someone decided to have a pizza delivered and not open the door. I woke up to knocking that got louder and louder till I thought it was at my door... after that, I laid there and turned on the TV to keep my mind off of things. (got my bagel with Peanut butter started then too)

Around 4:45, I headed out the door for the walk down to get things going for the day. Nice and quiet until I got to the SN bag area then things started to pick up! The energy was there and I was feeling it. I headed down and got body marked (right at 5:00), headed to my bike and got things situated there, tires checked, fluids on, gearing right, set up straight... and a quick good-bye and see you later to the bike. I walked to the end of transition to get one last look at the bike out. Same as yesterday ... lol

After that, I ran into Jim and Wayne and hung around, sat down next to a wall and remained calm until about 6:15. Then came the walk down the helix to dry bag drop off where once again, the volunteers were amazing! Wetsuit on, last check of goggles etc. and off into the water I went around 6:35. I have found a good 2-300 yd warm up really helps me in the swims.

I bobbed around for a while in the back and made my way up to the "masses" near the bouy just to the right of the ski jump. I was about 3 rows back and as the clock got closer to start time, it really packed in. I made a last minute shift closer to the shoreline (well... about 5 minutes left) and held about three rows back. Listened to the national anthem and all along, never really thinking too much other than "stick to your plan Robb" about the day to come.

  • 1h 07m 40s
  • 4224 yards
  • 01m 36s / 100 yards

My plan was to start nice and smooth, take the bumps and slaps in stride and swim parallel to the Terrace for the first 600 yds or so. This worked perfectly. The start was rough and quite bit of bumping and even one crawler across my back, but overall, I stayed very calm and after 4-5 minutes, I was in clean water with an occasional draft but not many people infront of me. At that point, I started sighting to the turn buoy vs. the bridge. A nice smooth angle in and got to the first turn buoy and made the turn nearly uneventfully.

By the time I turned and headed down the back leg, things were much more spread out and there were some good feet to hold onto... Only strange thing was that I kept thinking the marker bouy's were slipping. for some reason, it really felt as though I should be heading closer to the terrace. But when I sighted to the end of leg, they were in a straight line.

Starting the 3rd long leg... I began to count strokes between buoys and found that I was pretty consistent with around 80 strokes each buoy. Interesting and kept my mind off other things to come. Once I made the turn for home, I headed straight for the tall silver building and up and out of the water... quick glance and more than happy with my time and intensity on the swim.
What would you do differently?:

Not much... I might wait a few more minutes to get into the water, but with the wetsuit it wasn't an issue. I may have been able to push a bit harder for the first 100 yds or so to get out of the mess, but overall, I can't complain
Transition 1
  • 13m 12s

I took this one really easy... after getting my wetsuit top off, down on the ground and ... zzzippp ... off go the bottoms, quick help to my feet and a nice slow "trot" up the helix. I decided to completely change into bike gear with the heat and the amount of time I knew I would be out there on the bike. Good call!
What would you do differently?:

I could push a bit faster for sure... I didn't ask for help from a volunteer and that could have certainly pushed my time a bit...
  • 6h 44m 52s
  • 112 miles
  • 16.60 mile/hr

So ... out I went to the bike course. I knew that I had to control my intensity in a major way to make the run any fun at all.... so for the first leg to Verona, I didn't push anything, I spun the hills and coasted down. Hit Verona with a 17.8 aMPH and a nice low heart rate.

One thing I will say is that pre-riding this course is a HUGE mental advantage. I knew where to fuel up, where to relax and where to get ready and push. A few downhills give you the ability to push a bit over a short hill and maintain momentum for miles.

I got to Mt. Horeb without issues and through Cross Plains.... all the way back to Verona and idd a quick check and was feeling great. Still sticking with nearly 100% Infinite (custom blend that had been working all year long) It was mixed 3x concentrate and I would put that in before the aid station and then fill with the water that was available there. Worked like a charm.

Special needs wasn't too eventful. Slowed down to a stop and the volunteer had the bag open and ready to go. Dropped off the "spent" fuel bottle, grabbed the new fuel bottle... again, Infinite 3x concentrate, grabbed some M&M's (which I never ate) and headed out.... about 5 minutes later, I realized I forgot to grab the Endurolyte canister to replace what I had. A quick check of my current supply and it looked ok with 2/hr. getting me home.

On the second lap, I continued to take it easy to keep my body ready for the run. When you are coming in where I was weight wise, you need anything you can get for running. Nice and slow, spin up the hills (never once got out of my saddle)

The only issue was that my shifting in gears 2,3,4 was a bit off and would slip. Thought of stopping to fix it, but it wasn't overly impacting my race.... I didn't find myself in those gears much and when I hit the hils, it was all the way down to the 25 in back.

Once I got through the three significant hills on the back side, it was back to cruise control back into madison. Up the Helix, and a SAFE dismount of the bike. (heck.. 700+ people passed me on the bike, so, no need to make up seconds.) and into T2 I went.
What would you do differently?:

Not much. I know I could push harder, but I don't know what it would do to my run. (not that the run can get much slower as you will see)
Transition 2
  • 08m 27s

This one was only this long as again, I decided for a complete wardrobe change for the run. It felt AWESOME to get new clothes on! Strange thing was, once I got out of my bike shoes and into my running shoes, when I went to run, I had a horrible pain in my right foot on the far outside. It actually scared me for a bit, as any pressure on it almost took me down. By the time I got to the timing mat to go out on the run, it had mostly cleared up? Strange but glad it was short lived.
What would you do differently?:

I was ok with this one. I could change quicker and get moving quicker. I asked for water and waited a bit for that, but it was nice and cool!
  • 5h 55m 17s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 13m 34s  min/mile

Ok... I'm not a runner, never have been and likely never will be. It will be my #1 concentration over the next year though. I started off feeling ok (after the foot issue disappeared... luckily for good), and found myself passing people... I DON'T pass people on the run, never do... so, by mile 2, I decided it was time to pull back. It was about at that point that I realized... wow... it is pretty hot. I started to overheat and I took ice, put it in my hat... sponges, put them in my top... squeezed water out of them for the time to the next aid station.

I was never feeling horrible out there at all, just unsure of what my body was going to do. This was my first marathon ever, and it was following 8 hours of other "activity". So I held back quite a bit. Run/Walk/Walk/Walk/Run...

Hitting the half way point was pretty emotional for me. My wife and girls were there cheering me on with their signs and jumping up and down! It is amazing how much energy that can give you!

I started off the second loop and felt pretty good. Went with a bit more slow running and walking. Started seeing people all over the course that I knew. Wayne C., Kris (my coach) outside the Kohl center... Cathy Y and her husband Kerry, Mark, Graeme, Mike... and then Steve and Helen G. on State Street near the turn around. Again, it really was amazing how much energy you can get from those out there cheering you on (and racing for most of them)

As it got darker and cooled down, I knew life was good and I was going to finish. I was a bit afraid of the 20 mile "wall"... and kept that out of my mind. Next thing I knew, I hit the inspiration sign and saw the awesome "Go daddy Go, Love S&H"... from my little girls and what a feeling that pushed in me!

I had started to take in chicken broth and that was working pretty well, but I was thinking... lets run this last 5k home. So at the aid station under the bridge, I took a cup of cola... it wasn't flat and after the first sip, I knew... bad idea. So I actually stopped and dropped that one into the trash and got some water to hold me to the next aid station.

Once I got there, it was one more cup of broth and off I went... with a nice slow pace to the finish line!

As I came up State Street, I couldn't think of anything other than seeing my family in the crowd. I turned that last uphill around the capital and felt nothing, my legs were light, my arms were moving and my head was clear as day. Up and to that final left hand turn to see all the people around the finish chute. It was wonderful. I picked up the pace, made sure I wasn't ruining anyones finish (and took a quick peek back to be sure no-one was going to ruin mine) and jogged down that path. I heard MR call my name out and crossed the line feeling good!

TIRED but good. Never saw my family on my way down, but one of the first faces I recognized was my coach Kris. He helped me through this and we build the plan and executed the plan with little changes on the fly!
What would you do differently?:

I simply need to be a better runner. I have found a running style and shoe that work for me, but in the end I need to get better. If I can drop another 15 lbs... that wouldn't hurt either.
Post race
Warm down:

You might have noticed that I never talked of target pace or anything here. (other than the swim) I was honestly able to keep any target finish time out of my head the entire year. I envisioned the finish line, I thought about the pain, I practiced nutrition over and over until I had it nailed, but with my first Ironman race, I had no public or private goal.

With that being the case, I know I made very beneficial decisions, primarily on the bike, to reduce intensity when it got hot out, that made my run and day as a whole an incredibly enjoyable experience. There will always be time to focus on target and time goals in the future.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

I'm Fat... lol... and the unknown of how my body would really react to this long of a day out there. Training time was "limited", but I rarely missed a day.

I also knew that I had to set up my bike for the run and reduce the intensity and level of effort so that I wasn't completely blown out of for the run. (i know... the run time certainly isn't screaming success but for me it is!)

Last updated: 2008-10-10 12:00 AM
01:07:40 | 4224 yards | 01m 36s / 100yards
Age Group: 68/356
Overall: 433/2397
Performance: Good
No "usable" lap data... LOL... Garmin 310 had me going 8.32 miles! ;) I really wish they would turn the GPS off during swim portions of the race. Came out of the water and had a 102 hr for the first minute or two...
Suit: DeSoto T1
Course: Two loop rectangle with no land between loops.
Start type: Deep Water Plus: Shot
Water temp: 76F / 24C Current: Low
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Average
Waves: Navigation: Good
Rounding: Average
Time: 13:12
Performance: Below average
Cap removal: Average Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed: Average
06:44:52 | 112 miles | 16.60 mile/hr
Age Group: 246/356
Overall: 1503/2397
Performance: Average
No lap data, but AHR was 142 with a MHR of 171 HR/Pace label Range data label Cumulative Time in zone 1 - Recovery 112 - 142 3h 29m 45s 2 - Extensive Endurance 142 - 153 2h 33m 31s 3 - Intensive Endurance 154 - 160 28m 14s 4 - Sub-Threshold 162 - 171 10m 30s 5a - SuperThreshold 172 - 175 5b - Anaerobic Endurance 177 - 181 5c - Power 182 - 188
Wind: None
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence:
Turns: Average Cornering: Average
Gear changes: Average Hills: Average
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 08:27
Overall: Below average
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
05:55:17 | 26.2 miles | 13m 34s  min/mile
Age Group: 262/356
Overall: 1702/2397
Performance: Below average
HR/Pace label Range data label Cumulative Time in zone 1 - Recovery 114 - 146 3h 43m 02s 2 - Extensive Endurance 147 - 156 26m 30s 3 - Intensive Endurance 157 - 164 02m 41s 4 - Sub-Threshold 165 - 171 19s 5a - SuperThreshold 172 - 175 06s 5b - Anaerobic Endurance 177 - 181 5c - Power 182 - 190
Keeping cool Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %?
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

2009-09-20 6:06 PM

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Extreme Veteran
Minnetonka Beach, MN
Subject: Ironman Wisconsin

2009-09-20 7:05 PM
in reply to: #2416511

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Subject: RE: Ironman Wisconsin

Great race, great strategy.  You did exactly what you needed to do and you are an IRONMAN!!

2009-09-20 8:15 PM
in reply to: #2416511

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Verona WI--Ironman Bike Country!
Subject: RE: Ironman Wisconsin
Great job.  This is one of the first reports I read that didn't talk of GI distress, heat overload and the like.  Looks like your strategy worked well for you. Congrats.
2009-09-20 8:48 PM
in reply to: #2416684

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Extreme Veteran
Minnetonka Beach, MN
Subject: RE: Ironman Wisconsin
SSMinnow - 2009-09-20 8:15 PM Great job.  This is one of the first reports I read that didn't talk of GI distress, heat overload and the like.  Looks like your strategy worked well for you. Congrats.

Thanks and it seems to have worked well!  I did clearly slow down quite a bit on lap 2 of the bike and the first run loop, but I knew I needed to...   Maybe being my first IM race, I was a little over cautious and it ended up working well for me.  

I also have to attribute some of it to dialing in nutrition before the race.  I know that I got lucky and never really had to resort to Plan B or C, but using Infinite throughout and sticking to the plan worked for me on that day.  

Off to Silverman in Vegas in November... I'm really looking forward to that one this time around!  It will be great to compare with IMoo! 
2009-09-20 8:49 PM
in reply to: #2416584

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Extreme Veteran
Minnetonka Beach, MN
Subject: RE: Ironman Wisconsin
mndiver - 2009-09-20 7:05 PM

Great race, great strategy.  You did exactly what you needed to do and you are an IRONMAN!!

Thanks Brian!!! Sorry to hear about your race, but I'm sure it was the right decision. I will be back in 2011 right along with you! Next year.... Robb the volunteer is back!!! I can't wait!
2009-09-21 3:25 PM
in reply to: #2416511

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Extreme Veteran
Green Bay, WI
Subject: RE: Ironman Wisconsin
Congratulations on becoming an IRONMAN! Great job with the weight loss as well!

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