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Ironman Wisconsin - Triathlon

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Madison, Wisconsin
United States
World Triathlon Corporation
53F / 12C
Total Time = 10h 48m 10s
Overall Rank = 165/2826
Age Group = 45-49
Age Group Rank = 8/323
Pre-race routine:

There's so much leading up to this race that needs mentioned before moving into the race and details themselves.
In the days leading up to the race I mentioned to Lis that there was an EXTREME LONGSHOT that I could get close enough to KQ. I didn't want to be so close and not be able to answer the question if it came my way, so I made sure Lis was aware this EXTREME UNLIKELY possibility and we made a decision. I had mentioned something to one other person than my wife and that was my mother (long story there), so essentially nobody knew anything of my thoughts.
Then on Friday a friend (Brenda - Love ya lady!) mentioned to me about what I hoped to get out of this race. For a moment I stared at her not knowing what to say. I really wanted to keep my thoughts of Kona to myself (and Lis) because I didn't want to seem overconfident or foolish. I mentioned something other than anything about Kona and she just stared at me, almost sensing there was more. I smiled and told her my thoughts. After All, there was no way I could lie to Brenda! I laid my case out for her and she said she'd pray for me, which I was, and still am, very grateful for her warrioring on my behalf all this year.
Then later on Friday a teammate began texting me, mentioning that I have a shot at a KQ. I had NO IDEA where any of this came from, either from Brenda or Mark. I had certainly not mentioned a word to either of them and I was blindsided by their thoughts. Marks comments were more direct than Brenda's and he was very confident I had a chance. His comments seemed to be pretty direct and he mentioned a comment he'd made to me last year about Kona qualifying. There was a very distinct impression that I had a chance.
All of this seemed to put a lot of pressure on me. There were people at work that don't have any idea about triathlon and my ability that had been reminding me not to sell myself short. I tried to keep things in perspective but the distraction was weighing heavy. I knew I wanted to perform and not just complete the race, now I was going deeper into something for a distance I had never gone before. There was a lot of pressure at this point.
After dinner Friday night I took a walk alone, to get my head right. Spending time in prayer and just reflecting on what and who it was that got me to this race.
I went to bed Friday night feeling a little better but got up Saturday morning with more peace about the race than I could ever have imagined. From that morning, continuing through the cannon shot to start the race that peace never left me. It was something that I have never experienced before. I was very relaxed nearly all morning and I think Lisa can even attest to my positive demeanor.

Now the prerace:
I had slept a little better than I might normally have before a race, possibly because of the experience of the night before.
I woke up a few minutes before the alarm and felt well rested but ready to get the day started. I had allowed myself plenty of time to keep the demons at bay by checking my facebook and chilling for a few minutes rather than rushing directly into the race rush of breakfast.....
I made some coffee, ate a bagel with cream cheese and a cup of greek yogurt. Then it was taking care of other business of the race day before leaving.
I had some things to do at the venue before the race began and all of those things seemed to work well on this day. I didn't feel rushed and I remembered nearly everything I needed to.
Bottles were at Special Needs, tires up, bottles on bike, cadence meter synched. It was all ready to go. Lis had reminded me to do these things but they were already done because I hadn't been stressed out.
Now, as the race time approached. The clamoring of all of the athletes churning around and gearing up proved to be something of energy source. I was quietly contemplating the day and the promise God made to me almost a year ago. Again the sense of peace washed over me and all I could do was look at the open, sunlit sky......and smile. God had gotten me here, there was nothing else to worry about.
By now Lis was next to me, right where she always is, even though not physically all the time. I remember most of the morning wanting to say something to her but I couldn't find the words. All I could find was a solemn appreciation for all that she's put up with over these months of training. She's a wonderful woman and I'm thankful each and everyday for our match, literally made in heaven. So without even saying anything to her, I took off my Lifestrength armband turned it toward her so she could read it, pointed to the message and then to her heart. I hoped that since I couldn't speak the words that she would understand my sentiment. I'm certain she did because all she could do was turn slightly turn away from me and fight off the tears.
We remained speechless for a few moments before I finally looked at her and asked: "Do you know what I mean?" Her response was to shake her head yes and, again, turn away and fight off the tears. My appreciation for her on this day was more than even I could bare to mention and I hope she knows it's for all time.
After these couple of moments I finished putting my wetsuit on and headed to the growing line of athletes getting ready to start a very long day. It wa almost go time!
Event warmup:

There was no warm up for today. The swim start would be slow so I didn't concern myself at all with it.
  • 1h 04m 11s
  • 4224 yards
  • 01m 31s / 100 yards

I had been nervous for days about the mass swim start. I know I swim well but being in a huge group of people and not being able to get out if I got into trouble seemed to cause the tension. I didn't want to get my goggles knocked off and have to keep swimming for over 2 miles.
Over the course of my conversation with Mark, he mentioned that I should start all the way in the front and gave me some other insights about where in the field to begin the day. I followed the advice to start a little wide of the buoys but I didn't start at the front of the pack. I was 3-4 rows back from the front and felt relatively comfortable there.
Once spotted in the location of my choosing, I began to think about what the day would be like. Again, I had a good feeling about the day and didn't feel stressed during the time I had probably stressed about the most.
The countdown to the start began and people began crowding in tighter. To keep from being kicked at the start I held my position leaving about 5 feet or so in front of me to the next swimmer and I flattened out my body in the water, taking an almost parallel position so I in turn wouldn't kick others. This worked very well. No one got inside my space although it was impossible to keep from bumping people on either side and occasionally the people behind me.
With a minute left things began to get tighter as the anticipation peaked.
Then, with the blast of the cannon we were off!!
The kicking and splashing of the day began and I remember seeing all of the white water being kicked up as arms and legs began to flail, propelling this mass of humans forward. It was an exciting start and enormously satisfying to have been a part of this huge event.
The first few hundred yards I spent trying to navigate through some of the slower people, although there weren't really a lot of them, or so it seemed. I tried to draft many times throughout this stretch toward the first turn but I never felt comfortable doing so. I always seemed to drift from one side or the other or the swimmer I was using to draft was drifting. I am inclined to think the swimmer I was using was drifting because I normally swim relatively straight, but I'm not foolish enough to believe I can swim like an arrow.
The crowds of swimmers were clustered tightly through the first leg but there seemed to be plenty of room to swim. Contact was regular but not violent nor was it simply minor. Occasionally I would feel something hard at my legs or feet but I kept my space from people to allow room and a sure finish without bloodshed, as I later found out was doled out on plenty of other people. One person I spent some time in the med tent with complained of a possible ruptured ear drum suffered from a arm to the side of his head during the swim. Blood was apparent on the side of his ear and in the ear canal from my perspective so I suppose this was a possibility.
At turn 1 things got extremely bump and grindy! There was a large amount of contact with some minor violence. None was intentional, at least I believe it wasn't but there was more contact here than a rugby tournament. As I cleared the first turn I hoped that would be the worst but I had only about 500 meters before I found out.
The stretch to turn 2 was pretty short and there was not much going on through here. Not enough room or time to spend finding feet to draft. Most of this time was spent trying to sight and stay as close to in control of my own race without being pummeled or knocked off course.
Turn 2 came soon enough and this was much less intense but plenty of body contact. While this turn approached I took it a little further away from the buoy itself and maybe that provided the reduction in contact. I also think I was swimming fast enough to have cleared a few more of the slower swimmers to allow this to happen as well.
This next portion of the swim was very long and sighting was less of an issue that the large cluster of bodies of the front stretch. I was able to get cleaner lines of sight because the reduced numbers of people allowed for further, less restricted sight lines. from here I took a line much closer to the buoys and most of the buoys I was able to pass within 3-5 feet of touching.
Throughout more than half of this stretch I decided to find my own water and ditch the drafting idea. I had never gotten comfortable drafting for reasons stated before, so clear water became my choice.
As this happened I ended up pulling up next to one person and another two pulling up on the other side. We formed a veritable barrier against many swimmers coming in from behind and taking us over. I cannot say if anyone passed us because I was in the middle but if someone did they would have had to worked fairly hard to drop back and go around either side.
The four of us seemed to work together for some reason. No one seemed to become aggressive at trying to pull away, everyone remained comfortable in their space. We swam a relatively straight line too. I was not going to give up my sighting pattern to risk swimming a longer distance and giving ground to other competitors, so I stayed in my pattern; 3 left, 2 right, sight. This has become a habit over the past couple of seasons and has been reinforced over all the OWS I've done this year.
As I approached the third turn our bunch broke up and took on our own space. Once the turn began and was completed we were on our own toward turn 4, the last turn before the swim out.
This was actually a short stretch but for some reason it felt long. I could see the swim out ahead but it looked more distant than I was expecting. And from here on out the water was very opened. I had limited numbers of people anywhere around me and space was mine.
At this point I developed my plan to kick my legs back into activity with a couple of hundred yards to go. I did use some feet to draft for about 200-300 yards to rest a little and get ready for the long run up the helix before beginning my kick.
With what I thought was about 200 yards to go I let loose with a harder kick, helping draw some blood from my torso into my legs. I used this for a while using only a few sighting checks to make sure I was on track but not paying much attention to much else. After a short time I thought I should be getting very close to the beach, sighter again and was disappointed to see I was at least 200 more yards out. I cooled my jets for just a minute and let some recovery get back into me and then kicked up the legs more again when I was more certain I was getting really close to the shore.
I swam until my fingertips dragged one time and stood up in thigh deep water and ran out, hitting the lap button on my watch as I reached the timing mats.

What would you do differently?:

Placement in the field would be all the way at the front and little closer to the buoys. As with so many of my other races I doubted my swimming ability and let my lack of confidence toss me further back than I should have been. I think I could have come out of the water another minute or two faster if I had been up front.
Live and learn! Although my record here isn't very good.
Transition 1
  • 07m 1s

I didn't use the wetsuit strippers and I stayed in my suit until the top of the helix. This was a mistake! By the time I reached the top all the water had run out of my suit and I had a brief delay getting my suit off. It still came off relatively easily but it did get stuck on my right heel.
At the mount line I stopped to put on my "my athlete tracker because I hadn't put it on at the rack. Another few seconds lost.
This transition felt like it was only a few minutes to me. I felt like I was setting a blistering pace in and out. I would never have imagined I was 7 minutes!! Ever!!
What would you do differently?:

Either use the wetsuit strippers or take the suit off at the swim out.
  • 5h 43m 55s
  • 112 miles
  • 19.54 mile/hr

As I rode down the helix I seemed to feel rushed, like I normally feel when I'm on a short course ride. I felt like I needed to lay hammer down and my head was all in it at that point. It took me about a mile or so to get my mind unwrapped form any sense of urgency to hammer out the ride. This is one of my many weaknesses in the triathlon world. Then once I notice my reaction to racing long course it is really hard to pull the reigns back and begin the slowing process.
As we headed out on the roads, not yet on the bike path, I began to reign in, or attempt to reign in my hammerfest. I had HR numbers that were to high but I know that's normal for the first part of the bike, so I didn't worry much at this point. I just tried to calm myself down and settle in for a long "training ride." I did have that ride, but it was probably only because I'd heard Mike Reilly mention it as I was entering the water.
As we approached the bike path I thought this would be a good time to slow my mind down. There was to be no passing on the path and I tried to use it to my advantage. I got on the path and immediately came on the wheel of a rider who likely had his race under control as opposed to me. Both of us approached, quickly, another much slower rider and were somewhat stuck behind him for another half mile or so. Still no big deal to me, I needed to get things pulled back.......
  • ......And then we left the bike path and I was off like a rocket! I immediately left the sensical approach and coached method of racing 112 miles and launched into olympic race mode. My HR began to climb rapidly here with numbers I remember seeing in the mid 150's after being told to hold 142 avg. I was NOT following the plan!!!
  • By now I was only about 3-5 miles into the race and nowhere near losing race control yet, but if I continued I could, at least I thought could, cause my race to tank because of poor pacing.
    Now in the first downhill portion I tried to gather my thoughts and control again, using the downhill on Badger Rd to pull my HR back down. This worked for about 1 mile before I noticed I was staying in the low 150's for my current HR on flat sections of road, after supposedly recovering. Still trying to get my composure I continued on monitoring my watch more closely. It took me about another 10 miles to calm myself enough to see HR's regularly in the high 140's, still 6-8 BPM higher than planned.
    Once I made the turn onto Whalen Rd, I knew I had a long straight stretch to get my bearing a little bit better about where I was on the course. There were fewer turns here and I used this part to assess my nutrition plan and how I had been doing so far. I hadn't really taken much in during the first 10 miles. I settled in and started taking my EFS in as regularly as I could think about it.
    I had 2 - 300 calorie bottles on the bike, 1 - EFS Liquid shot (using 1/2 to 3/4 first loop) and 2 quartered Stinger waffles. I also had 3 Hammer Gels just in case I began to crash but I wasn't planning to use them.
    Now that I was settled in and felt a little better about my control I began to pay closer attention to HR again and tried to get it lower than the 149-150 average I was seeing. I was gaining control of things and I watched my HR begin to drop into the low 140's for the first time. Things seemed to be shaping up and dropping into a pattern.
    Now, at about 15 miles, we were heading through a neighborhood with pretty decent roads and I heard an all too familiar sound. The thump and roll of what sounded to be a water bottle. I was riding near a couple of other people and hoped it wasn't mine. But it wasn't to be. It was my bottle that had come free and was rolling somewhere across the road behind me. Now this would normally be an issue for me. I don't handle mid race problems like this particularly well. I don't do math well! Even on a calculator I don't do math well! Now I was going to need to try to figure out how to replenish my lost nutrition on the fly. As unhappy as I was, I didn't allow it to gain even a foothold in my mind. I knew the course would have other things I could use if needed.
    As I rode on after dropping my bottle I just kept churning the pedals and slowly began to think about how I would recover my calories to keep me going throughout the rest of the day. My new strategy was to take all of the EFS Liquid shot, use some on course Perform and eat a Stinger waffle. This should have me back into a decent mode of consumption.
    Now I was nearing Mt Horeb and some of the climbing wasn't to far away. I had already had some rolling stuff to contend with but I knew the bigger stuff was yet to come. I tried to keep some control especially on the long 3 mile climb into Mt Horeb. The gradient isn't extreme but it can knock the wind out of you if you think you're going to power up over that long of a distance.
    Now at the top and about 27 miles into the ride and inside the limits of My Horeb, I relaxed a little bit and recovered from the long climb. There was an aid station in town but I think I blew through it after having grabbed a bottle of Perform at a different aid station a little way back on the course.
    The course was now in what I think was probably some of the more fun parts with some fast descents, if you're willing to take them at high speeds. The turn onto Witte Rd. brought a very big descent and I let it all go through here. It's a very straight, rolling section of the race with good road conditions for just over 2 miles. I tried to apply some even pressure to the pedals without having to generate much power and allow some recovery as I railed down the hills.
    Then it was on to Garfoot Rd. (miles 32-36/73-75) and a really fun and potentially dangerous descent. AS I drove this section of the the course the day before I thought of conversations I'd had with a couple of teammates the week prior. I had been warned of a turn where a gravel driveway is at the bottom and a right hand turn to stay on the road. I had said I was going to take the first loop of the course somewhat conservatively and thats what I thought I was doing as I headed down this hill. As I pressed the pedals and picked up speed I wa unable to see the driveway and thought it was in a different place. Then it came into view. The driveway! And I was carrying A LOT of speed, more than I would like to have been but it was too late, I was hauling!! I was not in the aero's, so I grabbed the brakes and applied a little pressure but I was already beginning the corner and remembering my crash in Tennessee, I didn't want to have to go through that again, especially on race day. This time, unlike Tennessee, I held my line and trusted myself and my tires to grip the road. But I had hold of the horns tighter than I imagine I have ever held onto them.
    Halfway around the corner I was looking at the driveway pretty closely but it was not needed. I am still not sure if there was another rider that had needed it or skidded and popped a tire near the midpoint of the turn. As I was rifling through I noticed a bike on the side of the road, no rider present, with a wheel missing. I don't know what happened but I said a quick prayer for their safety and rocketed on.
    From here the route wound a little bit before straightening out (miles 34-39/76-81) and having a little bit of flattening of the course for a couple of mile each loop.
    And then it was time for the bigger climbs. The one's everyone talks about. People lining the sides of the road, pitchforks and devils costumes, scantily clad people (although I didn't really notice any). These antagonists were willing and able to chase and yell, screaming to get up the hill and pedal faster, "death is on your wheel!" Old Sauk Pass was a great place to be, if you weren't suffering so much for a full day.
    Once out and clear of the antagonists the roads were still lined with cheerleaders of all sorts. Certainly family and friends of competitors out for race support. These people, like those charging on their feet with us up the hills, were of huge help to all on the course. They didn't care who you were, where you were from, if you were on the first or second loop (some of them remembered me from my first loop), they were there to provide some emotional support for a full day. Great spectators!
    Onto the final stretched of Timber Lane and I was cruising! There was a great descent that had a left hand turn toward the bottom that again, I was carrying heavy speed into the first time and got more than a little nervous as I approached. there were reflective tabs to mark the road for night drivers in the center of the road that I wanted to avoid but my line was already so close to them that all I could do was grit my teeth and hold on. Hands on the brake levers in case I needed them, I blew through.
    From mile 48-53 (90-95) the road somewhat flattened out but had plenty of small undulations to keep a person from becoming complacent and comfortable. This stretch took me through the town of Verona and some of the city traffic that I heard caused a critical accident to one of the race riders. I know little of the case but that he was in critical condition following the incident.
    It wa also here that Special needs was located and I had to make that stop. I grabbed the remaining nutrition; 2 bottles at 275 each, 1 EFS Liquid Shot and lubed my groin up and then headed to the porto because I was really full of fluids.
    When I got off the bike to go to the porto my knee felt weird and painful. I was nervous! I had been having some kind of trouble during the three days leading up to the race, enough so that I was taking ibuprofen and Aleve to fend off swelling. I planned to have 3 tablets with the salt tabs on the bike but did not plan to use them unless needed. I decided to take all 3 tablets with about an hour left on the bike just in case something developed and I stuck to that plan.
    I should mention here that by this point in the race I had taken one or two bottles of water or Perform from aid stations and the volunteers were awesome!! I didn't miss one hand off. Water would usually fly from the bottle spraying anyone with in 10-15 feet as I grabbed the bottle but it was secure every time.
    Having done my first loop now and actually passed the halfway point of the bike I was ready to keep the grind going for another 50 miles or so. The first half of the ride went rather quickly and I hoped the second would be equally as fast.
    By now I had noticed I had gotten control of the race and I was much less concerned about over racing this bike and bonking on the run. That said, I did still see average HR of 146-147 for the remainder of the ride after Zach had told me to ride at 142. Now it was too late to be able to make a big difference although I was trying.
    The second loop was easier to maintain a more even keel because I was passing a lot of the first loop riders. This allowed me to feel like I was being more of a competitor than the first loop as I watched other pass me. It took some extreme control for me to watch so many riders pass me and not get hung up in the mental aspect of racing these individuals rather than racing against the distance.
    With this newfound control I was more stable and steady and completed each climb more sensibly and intellectually. I was able, on both loops, to stay in the saddle for all of the climbing, except one where I chose to stand up for a few pedal strokes just to get off my backside. The standing part of this climb was only for a very short time frame and I was back in the saddle spinning again. There were a couple of times on the second loop where I felt my legs beginning to fatigue and I worried a bit about how I was going to respond when I got off the bike.
    Now, the important part of this second loop was that about mile 60-70 I lost all of my HR information! I have been having issues for a number of weeks with the monitor and I thought changing the battery again had fixed the problem. It had not! The last I had seen my average it was around 146-147 BPM and still 4-5 above the target Zach wanted to see. Now I had no way of knowing what was going on. I kept trying different things to attempt to revive it but nothing worked. Of bigger concern to me was how I would respond during the run. Nervousness coursed through my mind as the miles ticked by. I had also lost cadence information very early in the bike as well. I am not sure whats going on but It seems there were a lot of things working against at a variety of times throughout this day.
    During the second loop I saw a few riders beginning to lose their race for the day. They seemed to have either crashed physically or nutritionally but they were going the wrong way, so to speak. But this wasn't to be me if I could do anything about it. I stayed on the nutrition plan and tried to make sure I was hydrating with water as well. I even began to feel like taking a little bit extra nutrition and finishing off the EFS Liquid shot would be a good idea. I ended up taking 3/4 of the second bottle after having used the entire first bottle on the first loop.
    Once on the stick and headed back toward T2 I became pretty lonely. After having ridden with so many people around me for around 5 hours I was suddenly without anyone to chase. I could see people off in the distance ahead of me but I felt they were too far ahead to be concerned with.
    Throughout this section of the course I became pretty mentally fatigues. My butt was ready to be out of the saddle and on the run. It felt like there was a head wind and this somewhat befuddled me because the wind direction for the day was supposed to have been out of the SW and my assessment put it from the due east. I had been looking for that tailwind to push me back into town and instead I was facing it. This frustrated me for a while until I spotted a flagpole.........and the flag wasn't moving an inch. It was almost dead calm! As I later figured out I was on a stretch of Whalen Rd. that was a false flat and my fatigue caused me not to notice it.
    Once I made the turn off Wahlen Rd. I began to catch my second wind. I knew I had only about 10 miles or less to go and I began to find a little more life in my legs and my mind began to prepare for the run. The turns were coming much more quickly from one road and onto the next. Then I was on to the bike path. Again, no passing here but this stretch seemed shorter this time for some reason, although it followed exactly the same route back into Madison.
    Now the freshness I had begun to feel allowed me to drive my legs harder but not feel the effort, I guess. I was catching riders and passing them with regularity. A few of them I had seen pass me earlier in the day but most of them I didn't remember seeing before. This was pleasing somewhat. It seemed me trying to hold my effort in check throughout the day was now paying off while others were paying the piper.
    As I rode up the helix I was now wondering how I was going to respond to the run. Having to do a marathon after all of this was beginning to sound like a curse, a seeming battle of wills. It was about to be me against the pavement and the adrenaline of the crowds I'd heard about for a couple of weeks.

    Bike nutrition as taken:
    1st half
    EFS: approx 450 cals (lost half bottle @ 300)
    EFS Liquid shot: 400 cals
    Stinger Waffle: 225
    Perform: 150 cals (half bottle)
    Salt tabs: 4-5
    Total cals : 1225

    2nd half
    EFS: 550 cals
    EFS Liquid shot: 300
    Stinger Waffle 225
    Salt tabs:4-5
    Total Cals: 1075

    Approx 60 oz. water across the ride
    What would you do differently?:

    I don't believe there is anything I would do differently other than ride a more consistent bike. Not getting excited at the front end of the bike and riding an even keel race would have been more optimum.
    The only thing is that I feel that despite riding outside of the zones Zach had given me I was still controlling the race well and riding at my race potential. Nothing to write home about but a pretty decent bike for the day.

    Transition 2
    • 03m 22s

    This type of transition is hard for me to determine how well I did. Having been the first of its type I guess it went alright. Having my stuff dumped on the floor in a disorderly fashion isn't something I like but it seemed alright.
    The volunteer was very helpful and began to pack things away for me as I was putting other things on.
    What would you do differently?:

    Maybe see if I can organize the bag a little better. All in all I think it was ok. More exposure to this type of transition is the only way to get better at it.
    • 3h 49m 41s
    • 26.2 miles
    • 08m 46s  min/mile

    As I left the transition area my mind wandered into the race and how I would respond to these past 114 miles I had already put into my body. The thought of walking for 30-45 seconds out of T2 was gone now as I began the last leg of this Ironman journey. The training days had passed and this was the day I had been waiting for for a full year.
    Once out and on the course my thought began to run away with the pain that I expected to feel today. All of the marathons I had run in the past were subject to copious amounts of pain as I attempted to honor the Marines in my family and later Boston qualify. The mental images and anguish I had felt during the last miles of those races reverberated here. But they didn't last long.
    Ahead of me in the chute I could see the faint shiver of a camera lense. I focused on it for a moment, feeling I recognized the Team HMW green shirt hiding behind the shutter. I was correct, it was Lis. I hadn't seen her all day although she had seen me at the top of the helix as I was heading toward T1, then out on the bike course, taking pictures of me as I puttered on past at an aid station. Now with her in my sights I felt the release of tension just being able to see her. It may seem a bit dramatic as I write this but it was, in a moment, an immediate feeling of happiness seeing her face that the thoughts of the pain that lie ahead were gone.
    Then she removed the camera from her eye and I could see her entire face. She had such a look of happiness on her face that I can't describe. All of the miles that were in front of me seemed to melt away. I smiled at her in what I hoped was a way she could see how happy I was and keep my trot going.
    I was in the race, to say the least! I trotted up along side "Mr Newton" who looked younger and much more fit than I. A few moments later I wondered just how long it would be before I would see him blow past me and finish 30 minutes before me.
    The first mile took me around the capitol building and on a slightly downhill course for the first half mile or so. This point in the race were huge crowds chanting and shouting peoples names as they read their bibs. The support was something had been warned not to allow into my head because the adrenaline surges through here could cause a race to be lost. When I looked at my watch after the first mile I was shocked to see 7:56! I somewhat knew I was running fast out but I pulled the reins back and began to slow. I'm glad I noticed my speed as quickly as I did. Had I not picked up on this who knows what my pace might have been for that first mile.
    I took a shot of my EFS liquid shot pretty early in the first mile although I'm not sure why. I must have thought it would provide me a little better boost here. I had finished some of my Liquid Shot in T2 but it was about a half shot.
    From here the miles seemed to roll though rapidly. It's something I would never have imagined. So many of the details seem blurred because of the rapid feeling of the marathon to this point. Sure I was only a few miles into the run but things were flying by.
    I kept up on my nutrition during the run much better than I thought I would. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in the day that things get forgotten and before I know it I'm a mile behind my nutrition plan. The plan was to use the EFS liquid shot every 3 miles until I was out and then live off the course. Zach's initial plan called for one flask of EFS but I brought 2 flasks; one with 5 shots and the other with 4 shots. I would also take coke or perform on course as needed.
    Miles 2-5 (12-18) had a few little rolls in them to keep you from getting a comfortable stride and rhythm going. Everything seemed to work toward getting into a pattern and then a hill would pop up and make me pull some effort down while attempting to pace RPE well and not MPM. I had thrown minutes per mile out anyway and had planned HR for the run but since I had no HR data I was all RPE.
    Mile 6 (19) were Observatory Dr. and the biggest of the hills of the day for this run course. Before I had seen it I was thinking this run would be a little flatter but these two consecutive hills knocked the wind out of everyone! I saw people walking up the hill on their first loop and was a little surprised. I figured those in the front at this point would have had the fitness to run the hills. Now, this term I use "running" I use loosely. I was barely shuffling along on the first loop, having an 8:59 mile the first loop and 9:31 the second loop. The only thing that saves these miles from looking worse was the downhill that followed. I was able to let my legs go a little bit and cruise for this long downhill.
    Miles 7-12 were a little more flat but there was one roller in there making about 50 feet of climbing in 1.1 miles. This was obviously a slow increase in elevation but it was tiring nonetheless. This was also some of the most scenic parts of the run. We were sent running along the shoreline of Lake Mendota (mile 7). The cool shaded part was a blessing to have run through and there was a slight headwind to help with cooling.
    Now I was I was approaching the 12 mile marker and the run turn around, my mind began to wonder about what would happen for the second loop. I had felt like this first loop had almost blown by. My legs still felt pretty fresh and I wasn't feeling strained.....YET, or at least that's what I was thinking at the time.
    Coming back in toward the square was another adrenaline laced few minutes and I was careful to control my pace here. I'm not particularly good at controlling things like this during races I don't feel but I seemed to be comfortable almost all day listening to random strangers calling my name, screaming at times, for me to continue on. "Looking good" they'd say or "Looking strong, keep running!" These passing worde became something to look forward to as the day kept going on.
    Mile 13 brought the crowds in full view and the screaming that ensued. I was nearing the turn around and hopefully being able to see Lis again. I didn't know if she was going to be at the same spot and i just hoped I could see her one more time before I finished. I rounded the cones at the half and looked up in the direction of where I had seen Lis on the way out. There she was, snapping away at the shutter. Camera blocking the view of her face again, but I was on mission. I ran directly at her trying to avoid the 2 ladies that were coming out of T2. I ran up to her as she was snapping pictures and she pulled the camera away from her face. As I drew nearer to her I could see her glowing face, swollen with pride for me as I was almost to the end of my Ironman. I snuck in and gave her a kiss and she didn't even complain about how sweaty and gross I was. She willingly grasped my face and kissed me. As quickly as I swooped in, I was gone again. But as I ran off, I could hear some people in the crowd saying how "Aww" and "that was sweet."
    As I began the second loop the thoughts of the pain of 13.1 more miles entered again. The next mile was, as the first, almost all downhill and I gained a little bit of ground from the lost time on the back of the first half. I didn't try to pick up the pace but I did allow my legs to carry me a little quicker. I knocked this mile down at 8:31 and felt good doing it. And the next one felt quick as well at 8:42 and I just kept rolling through them.
    Mile 16 was a little slower at 8:55 but there was a short hill to climb and I could feel some fatigue setting in. But I still felt good!
    Mile 17 came and went but the beginning of mile 18 brought the Observatory Dr. hill again. This time everyone I could see was walking it. I had been trading places with a couple of men for multiple miles and here they were in front of me, walking. I slowly came up behind them and passed them at the bottom of the hill. My run up Observatory hill was not much more than a shuffle. My legs were not wanting to keep a pace that I was able to run up the during first loop. But I wasn't going to give in to the pain. I also wanted gap the two men I had been trading places with all this time. One of which was in my AG and probably my motivation for keeping the run going.
    Once at the top of these two hills I was able to relax again and allow my legs to carry me down the hill that followed. I was able to make up a little bit of time lost again and knocked the previous mile down at 9:31 and then mile 20 fell at 9:00.
    Through all of these I didn't even pay attention to my splits. I just ran at a pace that I felt would get me to the finish line while making sure I had a hard last few miles.
    My nutrition strategy had been paying off so far and the tactical plan to walk through the aid stations and grab water, coke and ice seemed like the thing to do. The first half I walked only a couple of aid stations and the last half I was walking all so far. There wasn't a plan initially either way but I made this decision mid race after feeling the fatigue in my legs growing. During these brief walks I somewhat expected to feel my legs begin to war against running again but I never felt that fight. My legs responded each time I picked the tempo back up and never once bawked against me.
    Mile 22 was the last mile I would see 9:00 plus miles and this one fell at 9:01. From this point on I was sniffing out the finishing line with every step. I was beginning to feel the elation of the finish in waves of excitement and it fueled me more and more as I drew nearer and nearer my goal. There were people still out on the course with kids wanting high fives from the athletes and I tried to use them as more emotional fuel to get across that line. As I would give these youngsters high fives I could hear them and their parents become exuberant as someone tagged their hands. The cuteness of these little one's voices and visible excitement made the high fives that much more fun and drew me into the race even more myself.
    Mile 23 came under 9:00 to 8:43 and seemed like I was flying at this point. My legs were feeling the stress now but I didn't want to relent just yet. I was planning to dive deeper into the cave yet, as long as I could hold on.
    Mile 24 came in at 8:52 but this mile was near Badger stadium and it's where I heard a jubilant voice calling out my name "DIRK!!!" It was my Tri-mamma, Brenda. I had been hoping to see her all day, knowing it would fuel me, and hopefully her, to work harder. We embraced in a sweaty athletes hug and she told me Lis looked "so proud" that I was getting ready to finish that she was aglow. It was awesome! More inspiration than I thought and we took off our separate directions. Brenda on her first loop and me about 2.5 miles from the finishing line. Mile 24 would have been faster had Brenda not stopped me but I wouldn't change it for the world!! What an inspirational stop to see her profusely smiling face and joyous hug. So I'll take that 8:52 mile and put it in the bank!
    Now I was buzzing! I was on some kind of high now. The crowds of the last couple of miles were all cheering boisterously and chanting at all kinds of different people. Calling our names as if we were personal friends they had come to support. The noise level was tremendous here and the anticipation grew higher and higher.
    Mile 25 was now blown by! 8:34!! BOOM!! I was treading a very fine line here. My legs were beginning to blow up! My heart seemed to flutter a little more than It had over the first half for sure but as the fatigue grew my lungs and legs began to burn. I began to feel some of the tightness in my chest that I experience after long training days and hard efforts from my exercise induced bronchospasms. But I wasn't backing down!!
    I had made a decision to NOT stop at the last aid station over the last 2.5 miles or so. I was hoping the fuel I had been putting in would hold me until I could cross under that banner and hear my name........You know....You are......
    Mile 25 was here and an aid station came with it. I saw it coming and wanted to stop. I had to fight the urge to just slow down for a quick cup of water. "That's all I want! It'll only take a second?" was my thought but I refused to concede this mental defeat and slogged on, taking advantage of every second.
    Then with about a half mile to go came the final aid station. This one was worse than the last one! My legs were now screaming at me to stop. The burn in my thighs was impossible to ignore and I was now coughing ever so slightly from the stress to my bronchioles. Again, The fight to keep running was difficult but bowing I was not, and I fought on through the turn around the northeast end of the square. I was now past the 26th mile and hammered that one out at 8:26.
    Now it was pure adrenaline!! The sights and sounds were clear and visible from the east side of the square. I came around the next to last corner and saw the Special needs area and the volunteers asking if I needed my bag. I simply waved them off knowing I was just yards from the finish.
    My pace seemed to quicken as the finishing line was almost in sight. One more corner to go and something I have worked so hard to accomplish was within reach. I began the last turn. It was kind of a long sort of turn bend in the course rather than a turn. There in front of me, about 100 yards away was the tower and clock. I could read 10:47:?? on it and thought of trying to get there before it ticked past 10:48 but I decided to enjoy these last few steps, taking in the atmosphere, the cheers, the crowd and the accomplishment. I had almost made it! There was no way I was not going to cross that line now even if I had to lie down and roll like a log down the chute. I wasn't stopping!! In the malay I was unable to see Lis and to be honest I was so caught up in the moment that I didn't look very long, I just kept running, taking it all in.
    My thoughts went back to the past 12 months over these last few moments. It was as if I were in a movie and my life was flashing before my eyes, only not quite so climactic as a near death experience. I had been in some dark places since the end of last September. After I had crashed my bike in Tennessee, the half marathon attempt to PR at 1:30 and the failure at that race because my knee gave out. The physical therapist that has now become a friend (mostly because I put all kinds of money in his pockets. If you read this Todd....yeah that means you!!) because I've had to go see him so many times over the past several years. The successful running through early January and then.........crashing again! Not on the bike but my mental state when I found out I had more meniscus damage and surgery was the best alternative. The stone cold agony of waiting almost 6 weeks to get the MRI completed, results read and surgery scheduled. All time that was being missed from training as I watched my running fitness wash away like water. There were days I wanted to bail on the goal, Ironman Wisconsin. But through it all, and mostly on the most dark days, I could hear someone telling me; "Don't give give up! Have you ever given up on anything?" This was the voice of my wife! She has always supported me and on those dark days she would help me get through to another day and another ride or swim, not willing to see me give in.
    Then when Lis wasn't able to provide the support because I wouldn't tell her how I was feeling there was that still Small Voice echoing over and over; "What have I told you? Didn't I promise to get you to Wisconsin back in September? Why do you doubt me?" I believe God had promised to get me to Ironman. I cannot reason why the Creator of the universe cared so much about a lousy race to make sure I was able to get there. But the end of the story wasn't just getting me to this race but I could have no idea what He really had planned for me on this day. Through all of the long runs, the pain of the first short runs, the emotional ups and downs of starting to run after 6 weeks post op only to have enough pain to stop running until 8 weeks post op. The question to Zach (coach) as to when the drop dead date for running needed to be or potentially drop out of the race and Knowing I was on top of that date. All questions! And every single one of them had one answer; "Trust Me!"
    So now I was only steps from crossing the finishing line. I hear the familiar voice of Mr. Ironman himself, Mike Reilly call my name; Dirk Pauley from Fort Wayne Indiana, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!!!
    As I crossed the finishing line I raised my hands toward heaven in a grateful expression of the One who had gotten me here. That picture may appear to some as pointing toward an awesome time (and it was) but it was not. It was to give God glory for His accomplishment on this day.

    Run nutrition as taken:
    EFS Liquid shot: 900 cals
    Coke: 7 aid stations (1 each)
    Perform: 2 times (each)
    Salt tabs: 3 (Lost at mile 9)

    What would you do differently?:

    Ha! This is almost laughable to me! What could I do better?? Ha! A sub 11 hour Ironman at my first go round??? Really? Something to do better?
    Well of course I wouldn't be me if I didn't find something...........
    I could have paced better for the first couple of miles. These early miles probably burned a few matches that I wasn't going to get back and I may have been able to more evenly split the front and back halves a little more closely had I been better here.
    Post race
    Warm down:

    I sat in a chair inside the finishing area and contemplated what had happened. Many times simply smiling and being thankful. I stated in the finish area for a little while too so I could develop a better look as I left the area so Lis wouldn't have to worry about me like she does at all my other races.

    What limited your ability to perform faster:

    Run fitness! But who cares!!!! I went sub 11 at my FIRST FREAKING IRONMAN!!!!

    Event comments:

    The race volunteers were really awesome! The event was truly a spectacle to be a part of. I enjoyed every minute of it.
    But, I have to talk more about the support of the day. Lis was my wingman throughout the day. She may not have been on the course with me but I could see her pride as soon as the light of the morning was bright enough to light her face. She and I both were unable to speak to each other at several points throughout the morning but the message was clear and pure, her love and support was abundant and it was fuel for me all day long, especially on the run after having seen her face at the start and the half. Her pride was so clearly evident. I have mentioned it several times already, but her glow, her glow!!! I cannot explain what I saw in her eyes. I never will be able to.

    Profile Album

    Last updated: 2014-08-31 12:00 AM
    01:04:11 | 4224 yards | 01m 31s / 100yards
    Age Group: 13/323
    Overall: 191/2826
    Performance: Average
    Suit: Neosport
    Course: Single loop, rectangular (mostly)
    Start type: Deep Water Plus: Shot
    Water temp: 72F / 22C Current: Low
    200M Perf. Average Remainder: Below average
    Breathing: Bad Drafting: Below average
    Waves: Navigation: Good
    Rounding: Average
    Time: 07:01
    Performance: Below average
    Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
    Suit off:
    Wetsuit stuck? Yes Run with bike: Yes
    Jump on bike: No
    Getting up to speed: Good
    05:43:55 | 112 miles | 19.54 mile/hr
    Age Group: 21/323
    Overall: 225/2826
    Performance: Average
    Laps at 5 mile intervals 1 - 149 16:15 2 - 148 13:23 3 - 147 13.03 4 - 140 15.00 5 - 149 16.14 6 - 147 14.28 7 - 150 14.42 8 - 144 16.09 9 - 142 15.27 10 - 148 14.12 11 - 145 15.58 12 - 144 15.25 13 - 144 16.46 14 - 146 15.07 15 - 145 14.58 16 - 145 17.07 17 - 130 14.39 18 - 149 15.15 All other laps HR was lost due to monitor malfunction.....AGAIN Calculated avg. = 145
    Wind: Little
    Course: A lollipop with large rolling hills and great descents. Twists and turns made for some really fast and almost scary speeds in and out of my aero's.
    Road: Smooth Dry Cadence: NE
    Turns: Good Cornering: Average
    Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
    Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
    Time: 03:22
    Overall: Average
    Riding w/ feet on shoes
    Jumping off bike Below average
    Running with bike
    Racking bike
    Shoe and helmet removal Good
    03:49:41 | 26.2 miles | 08m 46s  min/mile
    Age Group: 8/323
    Overall: 165/2826
    Performance: Good
    No HR data for this run 1 - 7.56 2- 8.20 3- 8.30 4- 8.34 5- 8.39 6- 8.59 7- 8.35 8- 8.42 9- 8.44 10- 8.42 11- 8.54 12- 8.37 13- 8.49 = 1:52:11 First half split 14- 8.31 15- 8.42 16- 8.55 17- 8.51 18- 8.51 19- 9.31 20- 9.00 21- 9.02 22- 9.01 23- 8.43 24- 8.52 25- 8.34 26- 8.26 = 1:56:54 Second half split Lost 4:43 on the second half .2- 1.55 (7.44)
    Course: 2 loop course winding through Badger Stadium and the streets, walkways and lake view bike trails of Madison.
    Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
    Post race
    Weight change: %3
    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

    2014-09-14 6:43 PM

    User image

    Fort Wayne
    Subject: Ironman Wisconsin

    2014-09-14 7:39 PM
    in reply to: #5050071

    User image

    Subject: RE: Ironman Wisconsin

    I'm SO proud of you, Dirk!   What an amazing race!  Thank you for writing this all up - I wondered what went on in your head all day as you were killing the course.  I can totally testify to Lisa's pride in you.  She WAS glowing - and rightfully so.   You raced with the ability God gave you.   Congratulations on a job well done!


    2014-09-14 9:27 PM
    in reply to: #5050071

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    Extreme Veteran
    Sidney, Ohio
    Subject: RE: Ironman Wisconsin
    2014-09-14 11:48 PM
    in reply to: #5050071

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    Maple Grove
    Subject: RE: Ironman Wisconsin

    Outstanding race!! And indeed, an amazing race report. Such excellent detail of both the physical and emotional aspects of the race. I too did the race and can appreciate that incredible feeling of ecstasy in closing on the finish line, just floating despite the 10+ hours of abuse that have already occurred. Great job indeed. Did you attend the roll-down?

    2014-09-15 8:06 AM
    in reply to: rdailey1

    User image

    Subject: RE: Ironman Wisconsin
    Dirk, CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Pam and I are so proud for you!!!!! Thanks for taking the time to write your race report and give us the details. Also thank Liz for us for allowing you to train and SBR the race. You have amazing athletic abilities!!!.
    2014-09-15 8:18 AM
    in reply to: rdailey1

    User image

    Mastic Beach, NY
    Subject: RE: Ironman Wisconsin
    Congrats again Ironman! First off let me say that this was indeed a great race report. Dirk thanks for taking the time out to recapture and share your experience with us all. I felt like I was there racing with you while reading it. Secondly there was never any doubt in my mind that you wouldn't go sub 11 if you were healthy and able. I also felt like you had a chance to KQ as well. Your ability and commitment was never in question but I know you were dealing with your knee issue throughout your journey. God certainly did have a plan for you I too believe that he was with you and saw you through to the finish.

    I think you did a masterful job executing your race. Was it perfect? No but it never is when you do an Ironman. It's the most difficult part of the race and so many people fail at it. You did an amazing job executing your race and being patient. I think for someone like me who completes as opposed to compete it's probably a little easier to execute as I'm focused on getting to the finish. When you're racing that's a little bit tougher as you're trying to give a full effort but trying to remain in check as well. A difficult balancing act yet you pulled it off like a veteran IM. I've not doubt that if you want to KQ you will.

    You totally get what the whole IM journey is all about. It's not all just about you it's also about all the people who helped and supported you along the way. It speak volumes about your character in the way you acknowledged that with Lisa. I couldn't be happier for you in what you accomplished and I enjoyed following you and cheering you on that day. I only wish I could have been there to see you finish. Congrats again and I look forward to seeing you finish many more Ironman races which I'm most certain are in your future.

    2014-09-15 9:38 PM
    in reply to: rdailey1

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    Fort Wayne
    Subject: RE: Ironman Wisconsin
    Originally posted by rdailey1

    Outstanding race!! And indeed, an amazing race report. Such excellent detail of both the physical and emotional aspects of the race. I too did the race and can appreciate that incredible feeling of ecstasy in closing on the finish line, just floating despite the 10+ hours of abuse that have already occurred. Great job indeed. Did you attend the roll-down?

    I did attend the rolldown......No joy! The final spot went to 5th place. No big deal to me though. I got far more than I imagined in my first ever Ironman.
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