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Ironman Wisconsin - TriathlonFull Ironman

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Madison, Wisconsin
United States
Ironman North America
84F / 29C
Total Time = 9h 46m 15s
Overall Rank = 18/2449
Age Group = M40-44
Age Group Rank = 3/382
Pre-race routine:

I wasn't feeling great on race day this year. I think I overdid my training a bit during the race build, and I had lingering pain in my lungs whenever I tried to take a deep breath.

  • 1h 11m 33s
  • 4224 yards
  • 01m 41s / 100 yards

Started in the same spot as last year - wide right. I'd been swimming faster than 2010 in the pool, and in the 2010 race I mistakenly cut the 2nd turn buoy and went back to round it. Taking those things together, I was expecting a 1:07-8 this year. I was pretty disappointed when I saw 1:11 at the exit.

My chest felt tight and I had difficulty breathing for the entire swim this year. But I didn't feel like that affected my swim time, it just made the experience uncomfortable.

2010 swim data:
1:09, 84th in AG, 482 OA

2011 swim data:
1:11, 84th in AG, 614 OA

So AG placing didn't drop, but OA placing dropped quite a bit in 2011.
Transition 1
  • 05m 50s
  • 5h 06m 23s
  • 112 miles
  • 21.93 mile/hr

I came into IMWI with a MUCH better run base than last year. So, the plan was to keep the bike effort quite easy and then run strong. Like the swim, I didn't feel great on the bike, so I wasn't tempted to deviate from the plan. Kept the AVG HR at 137, which was 6 beats slower than last year's AVG HR of 143.

Although my bike split was slower than last year, I think that was partially due to the wind that came up on the second loop. I finished the first loop at an average of 22.4 mph (same as last year's entire average), but felt the wind on the 2nd loop and didn't try to fight it.

Here's the placing data for 2010 vs 2011:
OA bike split place: 20 vs 21
AG bike split place: 3 vs 3

So I basically held the same position relative to the field with a HR that was lower by 6 bpm vs 2010. I didn't feel great out there, but I'm VERY pleased with that data. It indicates that my bike fitness was indeed improved this season. I think the slower time vs last season is primarily due to the stronger wind on the 2nd loop.
What would you do differently?:

Peak HR on the course was 151, which happened when Mary and Dad ran with me up the hill to Old Sauk Pass. AWESOME! I had to spike my HR just to keep up with them. Next year I will tell them to run slower!!

Transition 2
  • 02m 12s
  • 3h 20m 17s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 07m 38s  min/mile

My goal coming into this race was to cut 10 minutes off my run time from 2010. Since we didn't have to run Observatory Hill in 2010 but did this year, that meant I was really trying to cut something more like 12-14 minutes off my time.

Training this season was better than last year, but still hampered by calf problems. That caused me to get in fewer miles than I wanted, and I also ran about 90% of my miles on grass for the last 5 weeks before the race. I was nervous about how my legs would handle the pavement pounding at IMWI.

So, I came off the bike and started running easy without looking at my Garmin. Plan was just to settle into an unforced pace and not be pushed by goal times. Turned out to be a 7:05ish pace.

Around mile 4 my inner thighs (adductors?) started to cramp. That was a new one. Started popping salt tablets and that seemed to be working. Felt really good for the first 14-15 miles; ran up Obs Hill the first loop without a problem. But by around mile 10 I started to sense that my legs were not going to be able to handle the pavement pounding for another 16 miles. I didn't (and still don't) think that slowing down would help much/any, so I decided to just keep running at an easy pace until my legs gave in. (I say 'easy' because my heart/lungs felt fine at this pace; only my legs were complaining.)

Legs started failing around mile 15 (I forget exact mileage). Just before Obs Hill. The weak point was the lower hamstrings, especially near the attachment points. They were just brutally sore and on the verge of cramping. So I walked quite a bit from that point through Obs Hill.

Around the same time I started to feel my GI tract start rumbling. I've never had GI issues in a race or in training, so I'm pretty sure this was being caused by the copious amounts of salt I was ingesting to try to deal with the cramping. I ducked into a porta-potty, took care of business, and got back to my walking.

By this point, I'd been passed by several people, a couple of them in my AG. I didn't feel like I was going to be able to run again, so I thought about withdrawing. I had no desire to walk it in. I was almost to the State Street turnaround, and I knew Mary and Dad would be there. Decided to walk/jog to that point and tell them what I was thinking.

As luck would have it, it had taken so long for me to get there, that they thought they had missed me and were already gone! I didn't want to stop on my own in the middle of State Street, so I kept going.

And then (around mile 20) something totally new (to me) happened -- I actually started to recover during the IM marathon. Hammys started to unlock a little so I could run for longer periods of time. Eventually I was running 7:30ish pace again, and it felt OK.

At this point in the race that was a pretty quick pace, so I started catching the people that had passed me while I was walking/sitting-on-my-a$$. I ended up re-passing all but one of the people that had passed me on the run. The last person I passed was a german guy in my AG. I passed him as we went through the last aid station (he took the water and I didn't). Heard him cussing as I went buy, which was very funny.

What would you do differently?:

Here's the 2010 vs 2011 placing comparisons:
OA run split place: 69 vs 21
AG run split place: 10 vs 3

Improving the run was the main goal this year, and it happened. Just not quite the way I had pictured it going down.

I'm also happy to see that my running has finally caught up to my biking relative to the field.
Post race
Warm down:

Met Experior at the finish - thanks for catching me Mike!

I was unable to eat or drink anything for 4 hours after the race. I puked up anything I put in, including water. This in spite of being absolutely parched. I've never had that reaction to water before -- I was very thirsty and wanted to drink, but puked it up whenever I tried. I'm pretty sure that was a consequence of overdoing it with the salt tabs.

I went to the med tent to get checked out. I'd lost 7% of my bodyweight, but they said that wasn't enough to warrant an IV. Next time I'll take my buddy's advice and put rolls of quarters in my pockets at weigh-in.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

I ended up as the 18th OA finisher, and 7th OA amateur, 3rd in the AG. All of that exceeded my expectations. But there is always room for improvement.

The main thing I need is tougher run legs. But I knew that going in.

Another lesson I learned this year is that if you don't have the run legs needed to let you run well for the entire marathon, you are probably better off burning a few more matches out on the bike course. I had extra energy on the run that I couldn't tap into because I didn't have the toughness needed to sustain the pavement pounding.

I also think the lack of toughness contributed to the cramping, which I tried to compensate for with salt tabs. That ended up giving me some GI issues. Thankfully, they weren't as severe as some of the stories I've heard from others.

Event comments:

I hate Observatory Hill, but it's good to have it in the run course. Its presence made the course MUCH more challenging vs 2010.

The volunteers and fans on this course are super.

Meeting Fred and Bryan (mndiver) at the Friday morning swim was a big highlight of the trip. Great guys.

Profile Album

Last updated: 2010-09-19 12:00 AM
01:11:33 | 4224 yards | 01m 41s / 100yards
Age Group: 0/382
Overall: 0/2449
Start type: Plus:
Water temp: 0F / 0C Current:
200M Perf. Remainder:
Breathing: Drafting:
Waves: Navigation:
Time: 05:50
Cap removal: Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
05:06:23 | 112 miles | 21.93 mile/hr
Age Group: 0/382
Overall: 0/2449
AVG HR was 137. HR split data is on my training log.
Wind: Little
Road:   Cadence:
Turns: Cornering:
Gear changes: Hills:
Race pace: Drinks:
Time: 02:12
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
03:20:17 | 26.2 miles | 07m 38s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/382
Overall: 0/2449
See training log for HR splits.
Keeping cool Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %-7
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Good race?
Course challenge
Events on-time?
Lots of volunteers?
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5]

2011-09-15 4:17 PM

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Lexington, KY
Subject: Ironman Wisconsin

2011-09-15 4:49 PM
in reply to: #3688503

Subject: ...
This user's post has been ignored.
2011-09-15 5:13 PM
in reply to: #3688503

Subject: RE: Ironman Wisconsin
Wow! I got a mention from one truly awesome athlete. It really was great meeting you and it was great to both swim with you on Friday and then see you right before going in for the swim. I love reading race reports of people on a completely different athletic level than me and see how they react to race situations. Thanks for the insight into what 99% of us consider a world class race performance from a world class guy.
2011-09-15 6:34 PM
in reply to: #3688503

Subject: RE: Ironman Wisconsin
Rob you killed it!  Fantastic job, and way to make the podium.
2011-09-15 6:38 PM
in reply to: #3688503

Subject: RE: Ironman Wisconsin
Nice job Rob! I'm always amazed at age groupers who work a full time job and can still put out results like this, it was an extremely difficult day out there for me, so to see results like this amazes me! Rock on!
2011-09-15 7:03 PM
in reply to: #3688503

Verona WI--Ironman Bike Country!
Subject: RE: Ironman Wisconsin
You are such a good athlete I am not suprised you pushed through the pain and hit the podium.  Totally bummed we didn't connect while you're in Madison, but will hold you to that meeting in'12!

2011-09-15 7:23 PM
in reply to: #3688503

Fountain Hills, AZ
Subject: RE: Ironman Wisconsin
Great job, Rob! Did you take the slot? I just signed up for IMSG to qualify for next year and it would be great to meet you.
2011-09-15 7:50 PM
in reply to: #3688676

Lexington, KY
Subject: RE: Ironman Wisconsin

Many thanks Bryan.  No Kona slot.  If I get the chance, I may take one in a few years, and I bet there's a good chance you'll be there if/when I do.

(BTW -- good luck at SG.  TOUGH!)

2011-09-15 9:20 PM
in reply to: #3688503

Williamston, Michigan
Gold member
Subject: RE: Ironman Wisconsin
holy smoking fast race!!  WOW. Congratulations and have a  great time in Kona!
2011-09-16 6:32 AM
in reply to: #3688503

No excuses!
Subject: RE: Ironman Wisconsin
Great race Rob, amazing!
2011-09-16 7:33 AM
in reply to: #3688934

Subject: RE: Ironman Wisconsin

Heck-of-a race, Wiky!  You certainly did improve your run over last year!  Way to go!

Did you run on the dirt next to the bike path after the stretch of dirt path along the river?  I found that the dirt gave my legs/knees a break from the pounding so when possible I ran over there.

I agree with you about Obs hill.  It is a good differentiator.

2011-09-16 9:22 AM
in reply to: #3688503

san francisco
Subject: RE: Ironman Wisconsin
What an amazing athlete you are! Great job out there!
2011-09-18 7:27 PM
in reply to: #3688503

Mechanicsburg, PA
Subject: RE: Ironman Wisconsin

Truly an amazing race Rob!  Congratulations.

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