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Ironman Wisconsin 2021 - Triathlon

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Madison, Wisconsin
United States
72.1F / 22C
Total Time = 11h 03m 11s
Overall Rank = 91/1748
Age Group = 50 - 54
Age Group Rank = 4/208
Pre-race routine:

The training cycle for the 8 weeks leading up to this race was brutal. I don't recall having a time as hard as this since 2015, after asking Zach to get me ready for Ironman Louisville that year. Then, after having an incredible race at Wisconsin in 2014, I wanted to get as close as I could to a KQ.
There was a time in mid 2015, where I didn't think I would be able to keep going, but I think that was a brief period of a few weeks.
This season, since Ohio 70.3, It was nothing but fatigue and torture for me. ^ weeks that had me unable to sleep and my body was dragging in ways I don't recall having dealt with before. My wife and adult girls were telling me to back off the durations and intensities, but I'd trusted Zach for 5 other years, so changing that this season was not likely to happen…
…I kept rolling, as best I could.

Race morning came quickly once we were in Madison. It seemed that we hardly got settled into the room after arriving on Thursday that I was lining up to race.

I set an alarm for 4am but didn't need it by a long shot. I woke up about 3am, tried to go back to sleep but was too restless. I refused to get out of bed and just tried as best I could to relax and think of things other than what lied ahead.
About 3:58 I got out of bed and began my morning rituals, coffee, bathroom, dress…
The goal was to leave the room and walk the mile to Menona Terrace at 4:45, but Lis was lagging behind so we didn't leave until almost 4:55. The time wasn't a big deal, but in my brain it's such a hectic time that waiting can sometimes drive me bonkers. I always feel incredibly rushed, thinking of everything that can go wrong that would cause me to get rushed as I try to polis off the race day prep work such as bottles added and pressure checks.

Once we were at the Terrace things went smoothly. I was not particularly stressed and spent some time at my bike prepping and talking to other athletes. I did the expected "stare at your bike for 10 minutes thinking of everything you have forgotten" to do and finally left and met Lis.

With all of the prep work done it was a waiting game and my mind drifted to every thing imaginable, some pertaining to the race and other things, not. The closer to the start of the race, the more my mind became occupied and nervous.

After waiting tooling to get into the swim start corral, I gave Lis a big hug, bigger than normal, and told her I was a nervous wreck. when we broke our embrace her eyes were glassed over and I felt there was something she wanted to say, but couldn't.
After another brief hug and kiss, I was off.
Event warmup:

  • 1h 03m 18s
  • 4200 yards
  • 01m 31s / 100 yards

I was late entering the swim corral, still 15 minutes before race start, because I had been wanting to take my time getting ready. This played less favorably than I would have expected. People were packed in like sardines and I had to go all the way to the back of the corral and work my way up to the 1:00 - 1:10 group.
I have to had an experience like this at any other Ironman event. While they corral spectators out, for good reason, not allowing access at different points when the corral is so narrow seems a poor decision. They could station volunteers at various points to allow people access to various swim time gates.

After finding my place, which was too far to the back of the 1:00 - 1:10 group, I was able to calm my nerves talking to an athlete that had done pretty well in some of his own Ironman events, placing 6th here, in Wisconsin once. We traded war stories for the few minutes we had and it was a great distraction from the higher than expected nerves on this morning.
After the canon sounded for the start of the race the air became thick with excitement. As I approached the swim start and the gates to shift us into a position making it safe to start, my mind drifted, quickly, away from nerves and became thankful that I made it to the start line. The training cycle had been much harder than I recall for any other run up to Ironman in the past, with a possible exception of Ironman Louisville in 2015. That training, I felt at the time, almost broke me, mentally, but it seems that fatigue driven attitude didn’t last as long as this year.
As I stood at the line watching the gal flag people into the water every few seconds, I wondered how the day would go. Did I, “stage myself too far to the rear of this swim group?” Did I actually, “finish adding everything to my T bags and bike special needs?” “Too late now!! She’s about to flag my start!! It’s go time!!”
Once this volunteer dropped her arms signaling to go, everything but race attitude was gone. The switch flipped! I was in race mode and my fear and worries were no longer present.
For whatever reason, this seems to be the case for me at almost every race, today was no exception. Even after the severe concussion from my crash in 2019, the fear of riding alongside someone as a result of the crash (since that’s what caused that crash), the inability for a week to sign up for the first race and the race day jitters, I have always been able to “flip the switch.”
Once in the water I began to experience some difficulty sighting and breathing, technically speaking. It took a few stroke cycles to figure out what was going on but eventually I determined the water was choppy, more so than it looked from the shoreline prior to starting. At first I thought it was rough Byron the swimmers around and in front of me, but that was not the case. The water was just rough. No big deal, I’ve swum in the Great Lakes with some less than ideal water conditions. I even had to stop swimming, maybe 100 yards into the swim and grab a kayak (First time I have EVER done that) so I could clear water from my right goggle. I wear a contact in my right eye, only, for reading purposes, so getting water in that eye could produce any number of negative issues.
I felt the conditions would allow me to adjust and it may be a slightly slower swim, but everyone has the same swim conditions and I swim well, so, “keep going,” check!
However, the chop was more sporadic, at least some of the larger chop. There was always some chop to the water, maybe from swim traffic, maybe other environmental conditions. Regardless, the frequent changes in the chop changes made for some difficult adaptations.
Then there was the traffic. Remember the question about where I was in the start corral, about staging myself in the right place of the 1:00 - 1:10 hour group? Yeah, I was wrong!! I should have started much further up! I was swimming through a lot of traffic.
There were what seemed to me a lot of athletes that staged themselves far to close to the front because there was NO WAY they were near the paces to finish the swim in 1:10. I would even argue that many of them wouldn't have made a 1:30 swim. Now I don't really care, much, if you're willing to place yourself ahead of your swim predicted swim time, but be prepared to get hammered by those if us that will hit our predicted time range as we navigate through. And then, don't gripe about people hitting and kicking you. For one, that's part of the nature of the sport.
At one point during the first loop, after the first turn, maybe midway, I came up on someone so fast that I was literally mid recovery stroke and was already past their legs and my face ended up on their back. I never saw or felt their legs or wake, just the small of their back. Too late now to try to turn away from them. I had to keep moving forward to get off of them.
The rest of the first loop was an ongoing battle of navigating around people swimming in a group above their ability and navigating the chop.
Then there was the seaweed! Holy crap!! Where in the world did that come from??? Swimming in my usual OWS spot I've been battling weeds the past several weeks but I wasn't expecting this!! On one occasion I paused my swim, between strokes, to remove weeds from my face. I had already tried to move my head in all sorts of directions to let the current/wake forcibly remove it but it never left. Finally, out of complete frustration, I stopped stroking and removed it. other times weeds would get around my arms and drag for longer than I liked but most of them cleared quickly.
Once through the timing chute and round turns 2 and 3, all, by the way, with significant body contact, I was along the north side of the course closest to Menona Terrace. Here I thought I would begin to get clear of the packs of slower swimmers and get some of my own water to swim through…. Still not the case! Traffic an body contact continued! Once 3/4 through this first loop I thought there was going to be no chance to have anything but a fight for the entire swim.
This being a 2 loop swim course this year meant swimming through the slower swimmers that had been getting in the water since I had begun. Mentally, this was taxing. After battling so much of the first loop, fighting through even slower traffic for the second loop made me feel frustrated even more. I am used to 2 loops swims and usually don't experience this type of frustration because I can begin to relax my stroke and position during the first loop setting up a more relaxed feel for the water because I find clear water.
As the second loop began, I made a few adjustments, mentally, and tried to change a little tactically. I made turn 4 and 5 with no issues at all. I'm not sure there was any contact in the short stretch between those two turns. I decided to complete the swim just inside the buoys and make the turns on the outsides (no one will ever say I've cut a course short). This turned out to be a great decision. I still had a lot of body contact, but it wasn't anything like the first loop.
While I didn't have a lot of my own water to swim through for the second loop, I was able to relax my stroke, sighting and position in the water. Late in the first loop my low back had begun to tighten up as well as my neck (from sighting so frequently to avoid the frequent, slower swimmers), but now I was able to let a more natural sighting pattern and technique take place and those muscle tensions began to release.
Through the timing chutes again was smoother and less traffic for the second loop this time. I was surprised that it wasn't packed and harder to navigate. I liked the idea of these chute too. They would have given Lis a chance to keep up to speed on where I was and maybe get to place herself to where she could see me as I came out of the water. However, since this is the first time this has been done for any race of any distance I've done she wasn't prepared for seeing the splits come in. She'll be better prepared the next time.
I ended the swim with the same strategy as beginning the second loop, on the inside of the course. However, I decided I wasn't going to try to navigate through the swimmers just beginning their second loop at the turn toward the finish. I decided to begin slowly navigating from the south side (Inside) toward the north side (outside) of the course at buoy 6. For the most part this worked well. I ran into a pack of swimmers maybe 100 yards from my turn toward the finish, but somehow I got through them easily and quickly. They had appeared to be really tightly packed during my sighting, but just have opened up some.
As is the case for me at every race, I swim until my fingers swipe the lake bottom, usually a couple of times. However, the depth of Menona doesn't allow that as the slope is more steep than many of the lakes I've raced in. No big deal. I just had fewer steps to get out of the water.
What would you do differently?:

Two decisions should have been made better.
1.) Seeding myself in the corral! Still, for a lot of my races, I lack the confidence in my swimming ability and field placement. I have gotten past this on most occasions over the past couple of year, but I slipped, big time, at this event! I should have paid attention to what's occurred in recent years, better swims, better times, better overall races when seeding myself properly.
2.) Taken to the inside of the course for the first loop. Being one who cannot stomach people who cheat and cut courses short, as I've seen done, I will never be accused of that. However, swimming the inside of the course and taking the turns around the outsides ensures the correct swim has been completed. Besides, if anything, swimming as I did Sunday actually increases the swim course, if only by a few yards.
Transition 1
  • 06m 15s

As I exited the water I found myself looking, almost immediately for Lisa. I knew she wasn't going to be there because we discussed that she wouldn't there, but I still looked… Race brain!!
With the run up the helix and no wetsuit strippers, I didn't get too hung up on getting my cap and goggles off quickly. Sure, I took them off within the first 30 - 40 feet but I allowed myself to get my legs back first.
I paused another 50 feet or so and took my wetsuit off while being well out of the way of others and standing next to the line of spectators. the key to wetsuit removal fast is doing it before all of the water runs out. I learned this lesson the hard way at Ironman Wisconsin in 2014.
Running up the helix was invigorating! All of the crowd support makes it feel easier than it probably is.
I got to my bag quickly because there was no one around me, grabbed it and was off to find someplace to pull things from it.
A volunteer offered to place my wetsuit in the bag but I told him, "You don't want to touch my wetsuit!" To which he responded that he could tuck it away for me, but repeated my statement. He looked at me a little more wide eyed and sad, "OH!! I get it!" Any long course athlete knows what happens in wetsuits during races so…
Not bing allowed to put our shoes on our bike pedals sucked. I have done this so many times that it's now foreign to think of mounting the bike otherwise. I decided to put my shoes on in front of my bike, after the long run form the changing area to my bike. This worked well as I was carrying my helmet and shoes and allowed for a faster run time with less concern for slipping.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing really. With the distance to the transition area and time added time, I was able to review my tactical plan for transition. It worked almost as well as planned.
  • 5h 45m 1s
  • 113.7 miles
  • 19.77 mile/hr

I had set up my bike in some higher gears knowing the ride down the helix would allow for easier rolling start and increased speeds quickly. But I had anticipated having other riders to navigate through as I approached the bottom of the helix making me keep the gearing little lower than if it were completely opened…. It was completely opened. It was no big deal really. I was able to adjust as I saw no other athletes ahead of me and could select better, faster gearing quickly.
Once off the helix I was up to seep pretty quickly. The first split came in at 20.2 MPH at 195w NP. There was a power surge just off the bottom of the ramp on on the main road at 265w, but I brought tings under control very rapidly after the surge. I settled in for what I hoped would be an easier change from swimming to cycling than usual. Normally I'll crush the pedals for the first few miles of a ride, but with 110 to go and a lot of climbing, I was settling my brain down very early, intentionally.
The first 5 miles is reasonably flat as much of it is beside Lake Monona and on bike paths and through parking lots. HR was high through much of this split but I expect this and have gotten used to trying to slow things down after coming out of T1.
THere was a lot of traffic on the narrow bike path but not so much that I wasn’t able to safely pass several people. On one occasion there was a man an his wife tooling along on their hybrids, presumably unaware, at least initially, that a race was going on today. I did have to slow for them, but that was mainly because of other foot traffic came along at the “wrong time.”
The second 5 miles begins some of the climbing that this course offers. By the time this split begins we’re on the edge of town and headed toward Verona. Here is where I had to begin to really focus on the goals for the race. Zach had given me targets that, well, were lower than I’d like, but given my fitness, I think were spot on. More on that later.
Trying to control the power surges under the climbing conditions was an absolute key to having a good bike split and it was time to get front site focused on the goal.
Power was beginning to stabilize and HR was coming into a range that would allow me to ride as planned for the remainder of the day, I hoped. With exception of a hill, everything was relatively flatlined falling on target.
Traffic was light so far. I was passing people and being passed as well. I don’t recall getting any of the rushed feelings as I was being passed by the faster riders. Sometimes I get hung up on this and have smaller surges as my competitive mentality takes deeper root during races. In the week or so leading to the race I had determined to execute well this time. I can sometimes get so race focused that finding the right place to be is hard for me, particularly on the run, but I also can get distracted on the bike. Today I was better prepared to mentally deal with my self unawareness.
Mile 16 was along Whalen Road with a turn onto a sidewalk, for some unknown reason. As I came to this turn I saw a cyclist standing just off the side of the sidewalk. Initially, I didn’t see the cyclist lying at his feet. He crashed taking this turn and, after asking about him in the IMWI facebook group, found out he had broken his collarbone. Apparently there were other crashes at this location. It may be a good idea for Ironman to alter this turn. I mean, you’re only on the sidewalk for 150 - 200 yards an d then back on the street.
There were 2 cyclists now at the crash site and no one around to notify anyone for someone to come down to care for the man on the ground. I decided to ride through and notify the police that were directing traffic at the end of the sidewalk portion. I told them there was a cycling crash at the corner and they better send someone that way, and kept rolling on.
The ride was, for me, was going reasonably well to this point, but it’s early a lot can go wrong. For now, I was enjoying seeing an average speed of just over 20 mph. The downhills had been kind to me at this point and I had some hope that, maybe, just maybe, I could have a 20mph average for the ride, overall. I wasn’t being delusional, I didn’t think, because I was on the loop and seeing speed increasing through this stretch. My hope was the downhills would allow be to regain the speed lost on the uphills but there was a lot of riding to do.
At 25 miles I was up to 20.3 mph and the hopes of seeing 20mph for the day were growing.
By mile 30 I had hit the bigger hills and lower speeds. In just a few miles I had dropped my overall average speed to 19.7 on one of the longer climbs, into Mount Horeb. Knowing some of the bigger downhills were yet to come, I didn’t concern myself with this loss, rather I focused on maintaining power and hoping it would come back.
Nutrition by this point was settling in my stomach and NOT moving much. I had been taking my fuel in as routinely as I could and it didn’t seem to be too frequently. Heck, sometimes I forgot I needed to take it. I had a reminder set on my watch for every 15 minutes. Most of the time I felt the alert go off, other times not. Sometimes I would take the fuel on board ahead of the timer, but not often.
This full feeling never went away, for the entire ride. I fought with trying to decide if my HR was too high and I was shutting my GI down by my effort, or if I was taking it on too quickly for it to empty. I played around going lighter on the amount of consumption at one time (smaller sips) and spreading out the consumption a little further apart.
I decided if my legs weren’t screaming horribly at me, at this point, and my HR wasn’t above my lactate threshold that I would keep the same goal, 200w NP.
The Three Bitches were up next! As I made the run onto Witte Rd. I got excited because I didn't’ see them as difficult. I saw them more as larger rollers. Now, I know they were more than that, but I cold see the downhills would allow me to capitalize on speed and make the ascents quicker, but still slowing dramatically. I hit 42.8 mph on the downhill and never stopped pedaling. Power dropped to 166w due to spinning, but I kept pedaling. Only a few times on downhills did I stop pedaling, once was to try to get rid of excess fluids. I was never able to relax enough to let it go, and I tried several times throughout the first loop.
Getting near the end of the first loop and on the northeast side of Verona I was coming into a turn toward the south. I looked up ahead and saw someone standing on an island in the middle of the turn. The person was holding a phone up taking pictures. I’d seen people I didn’t know doing this multiple times so far and I always wondered, “why me?” ! Many of the times the pics were being taken I was the only one around. This time, as I got closer she looked familiar. It was Joanne, my Junkie buddy! It brought a huge smile to my face to see her out this far. It was a huge moral booster.
Through all of the climbs on the first loop and starting the second loop I was averaging 20.1 mph…. But I was waning!
My legs were tired already and my mind drifting, harshly, to wanting off the bike. I was really surprised that I was feeling so poorly this soon. I was only 3 hours into the ride and I wanted off. I began doing poor math, which is a staple for anything mathematically, to calculate how much longer I would have to endure this miserableness.
Coming into the feed stop was a nice, short break. I was hoping for a porta closer to my stop but I had to grab my new bottle and ride a little further, to the end of the feed stop to take a leak. It drove me crazy to have to stop for longer, but having tried multiple times to relieve myself on the bike, I’d failed. I needed to get rid of that pressure!
Based on the GPS data, I was not moving for about 1:45 for both stops. For this race, I remembered to turn off the auto pause function so the time should be reasonably accurate.

Off again!!

Setting off to finish the second loop did provide some benefits. I was more than half way through the ride, had been having a good ride, despite feeling like I wanted off the bike so badly and I knew I was on the downhill side of the ride.
I had split the first half of the ride at 20.1 mph and was still hopeful, but holding that speed for the second loop was going to be a rough time.
I expected a lot of traffic on as I left the feed stop but there wasn't a ton of it. Looking back at my thoughts during the race was incorrect. I felt like a lot of the slower swimmers would just now be getting to this part of the course. Now, with clearer thoughts, that wouldn't be the case for the full distance athletes for the most part. I suspect the athletes coming through were doing the 70.3, still there weren't a lot of them.
I cranked it up quickly and got up to power quickly. Stopping, for as long as I did, can sometimes leave me with a hard time getting my mind and body in the same place, my body being the one lagging. I didn't want to fight another battle, so I got powered up as quickly as I could.
Looking at the data now, I could have selected a better gear to while slowing for the stops. The initial power was 525w as I began to roll. Really, that is too high for this type of race. The likelihood of this instance doing much for my race plan wouldn't be much, but put several of them together and there could be some damage. Besides, I would rather save those sarges for when they're needed, on a hill.
Rolling out of Verona after the feed stop is mostly flatter allowing for decent speeds. I didn't lose any speed here but that was coming and I pretty much knew that now.
The second loop/half always brings out the demons. For me, they had begun to appear sooner than anticipated. I had to shift my thought to something other than what my mind was wanting me to do. To do this I thought about Gene, who was doing IM Traverse City 70.3 and the we'd committed to praying for each other during our events. He should have been on the run course a this point so I prayed for a good run for him.
Then, I went to the main reason I've been racing for the past several years, Pinky Swear Foundation. Finding a way through the dark patches of a day of long course racing needs motivation. Mine comes through focusing on someone who has, or is, suffering through something real, not a choice they're making, like me.
The All-Stars of Pinky Swear represent to me a struggle I have never experienced, cancer. Knowing these children have no choice but to face the hardship of treatment that puts them in miserable shape allows me to focus on the temporary nature of what I'm dealing with. I experience minute, maybe hours of pain and misery, by choice. They face it for weeks, seemingly on end.
As it seems I always am able to do, I shifted my focus to allowing myself to be miserable, looking at it as a representation for, in this case, Taylor, Megan, James and Anja, and remembering Mitch, the child that set off this foundation with his death form cancer.
If they can face something so devastating, I can represent them for a few minutes of my life. Someday, I hope that the times I have spent listening to my body wanting to quit, sometimes desperately, will be seen by them to let them know that they have been an inspiration to me, just some guy that has never seen them in person, but cares for them tremendously.
I replayed the videos that the Meyer family provided for me for this year and last of their family, James being the one of their 3 children battling cancer. Seeing all three of them smiling and happy helped me pull from the darkness of my insignificant pain and focus on their joy.
Thank you, Marybeth and kids for taking the time to do this! It means the world to me!!
Continuing on the course, the remaining hills in front of me kept me on my toes. I looked forward to grabbing the energy of the climbs where all of the spectators congregate and run up the hill alongside the riders. I looked forward to seeing the firefighter that wore the pink helmet with the breast cancer ribbon. I wanted to ask where his SCBA was one more time.
The motivation from these harder climbs allows us athletes to pitch our attitudes forward and, coming late in the ride, it sis much needed and looked forward to seeing.
But what lied on the far side of these climbs is a descent that is awesomely fast!! I couldn't wait to hit this again!! I was hoping to capitalize on a speed faster than the first time around, which was 48.7 mph. I had wished to have gone faster, but being my first time on the loop I needed some familiarity on the course before laying the hammer down.
I eventually made it to the downhill on Timber Lane but was never hit the power on the topside of the hill that it would have taken to achieve a higher speed. I also have to mention that my mind drifted to my crash in 2019 where I lay unconscious on the road for several minutes during a training ride. A repeat of a crash at that high a rate of speed going around a corner sounds less appealing. Still, I hit 47.6 before turning off the power, going into a deeper tuck and coasting and then cutting it off and braking. Despite not going as fast as the first loop, it was still exhilarating.
Once past this descent, the hills are less intense and long. However, by the time we, the athletes, hit this section of the course fatigue has set in pretty deeply and every bump in the ride becomes a mountain and any wind whatsoever becomes hurricane like.
Finishing off the second loop came faster than I thought. Maybe it was the time spent thinking about the All-Stars, maybe just knowing the ride was almost over helped me mentally break the ride down better. Whatever it was, I was incredibly happy to see the turn to go back on the stick ahead of me.
Once on the stick, the wind I'd felt several times in random spots on the course hit me square in the face. The winds weren't particularly harsh, per se, and I though they had slowed me down. Now, looking at the data, it doesn't appear the wind had much impact. After the event a couple of days, I checked the weather history. The approximate wind speed for the area was 12mph, not enough to have a dramatic impact on the overall speed for the day.
Heading onto the bike path for the return trip was horribly frustrating. The condition of the path was NOT smooth. I knew this because I'd ridden the path during my final shakeout ride on Saturday and on my way out for the first loop of the ride. I was really looking forward, even more, to getting off the bike. Even with the frustration for the roughness of the last couple of miles my spirits were high. I had a decent ride, 1 watt lower than target, and I had, slightly, adjusted my run plan.
The ride up the helix was completely solo. There was no one ahead or behind me to catch or catch me. I had it all to myself to be undistracted and get my head in the run game.
What would you do differently?:

Looking back, I think I may have been a little better focused on goals. I let the pain get in my head a little too early before going to my rescuers, the All-Stars of Pinky Swear Foundation. Had I taken the time sooner to have gone into that space I might have saved more time and been more focused.
And to those who don't understand what trying to land on the podium of an Ironman event looks like, you won't understand this next improvement opportunity… I've got to learn to relieve myself on the bike!!! This cost me 1 minute that can NEVER be gotten back.
Transition 2
  • 07m

After dismounting it took me several seconds to stand upright. Had been aero or in a position of not standing upright for so long that I had difficulty standing up straight. It was so evident that the volunteer at the dismount line asked if I was alright or if I needed someone to come over to me for support.
I chose to run to my bike rack without my shoes on to make the likelihood of slipping with cleated feet less likely. I don't need that kind of nonsensical injury to end my race. I took my shoes off and "ran" to my rack, hung my bike and headed for the ramp and the rest of T2.
The volunteers were ON IT! They had my bag in hand waiting for the handoff. I was able to grab if and go. Of course I had to make a few remarks to them. things like, "Can you get the marathon for me?" are staple type comments.
Once seated, I had 2 ladies supporting me. One dumped my stuff while the other packed it away.
It was a decent transition but a little longer than I'd like. I had to stop in the porta again. This delay would have been much shorter than at the feed stop for the bike in Verona .
What would you do differently?:

Maybe be less chatty?? Truth be told, my chattiness MAY have cost me 10 - 15 seconds. So the reality is back to the improvement opportunity on the bike… to be able to relieve myself on the bike. Had I done that, over the course of the day, I am guessing that's not far off 2 minutes of time saved.
  • 4h 01m 39s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 09m 13s  min/mile

After getting off the bike and having such difficulty standing upright, I was pleasantly surprised by how I felt running. I was able to feel good from the beginning of the right, from the first steps.
The adapted run goal that, I guess, had begun, in reality, days before the race, but was realized during the bike ride was trying to enjoy the race and NOT become so focused on the podium and, maybe, a KQ that might cause me to fall backward and off the pace. By working toward this goal I would also be able to make sure Lis was able to see me smile and enjoy seeing her and my race overall. The final achievement would be that I wouldn't land in medical for the 4th time out of 5 Ironman events, with the only time I didn't land in monadical being here, in Wisconsin, for my first Ironman in 2014.

The run actually started under Menona Terrace in the transition area for the 70.3 race. My watch was telling me I was running to fast but I wasn't believing it since I was, essentially, underground. Once out in the streets and running uphill toward the capital I began to trust my watch more. I was pacing at sub 9:00 according to the realtime pacing, but, again, I didn't take a lot of stock in that because that's never right.
After about a half or 3 quarters of a mile I check pace again, this time I was able to buy into what I was seeing. the first mile split came in at 8:42, 18 seconds faster than the goal for the first 3 miles for pacing.
The next mile was 8:38, but I have to defend myself for this one. I was running downhill for much of it and I got to see Lis for the first time of the day. She'd been out on the bike course and standing less than 10 feet in front of me as I was grabbing my bag in T1, but I hadn't seen her either time.
Now, I was anxious to see her! I knew almost exactly where she'd be waiting on me so. I was anticipating seeing her so I think that also brought an increased pace that I didn't recognize at the time. As I saw her, from a fair distance away, I could see she had her phone up taking pictures or video. Later she told me she was sending snapchats to our girls.
After getting past her I was able to settle in more and get back on plan, 9:00 paces. The other goal given to me was to keep my HR not higher than the mid 140's. Prior to this point in the run I hadn't checked it. I flipped to the HR fields on my watch and saw I was in the low 140's. I gave some thought to increasing my pace but chose otherwise to hold on knowing there would be cardiac creep throughout the day… I held on to the pace I was running.
The only variation from the pacing at this point was Observatory Hill. Here I ran a 9:33 but had the second highest HR spike for the day. As I began the run I thought of this hill and decided there was NO CHANCE I would walk this hill, either time. I recall in 2014 pacing with 2 other men for the first loop and a half. We went back and forth like yoyo's with each other during this time passing each other. It was the second loop where they began walking up the hill and I refused to walk, pin or no pain. I wanted to apply the same strategy today!
The down side of the hill actually hurt my legs. I think my quads had blown up on the ride more than I had thought they might. AS I ran down the backside I had to try to control the descent more than I thought because of my quads but also I hadn't anticipated the slope well.
I was now on State Street and looking for Lis again. She and Joanne had gotten together and were able to see me and snap a couple of pics. This again lifted my spirits even though I was still feeling pretty good. AHR so far was lower than the goal but only by 2 BPM so I was close. I was still anticipating some creep, so I sat on it.
The back part of the course proved more mentally challenging. For some unknown reason I felt like the course was going to be an out and back, despite knowing beforehand how the course was run. Race brain again, I guess!
After getting past the out and back portion of the back half of the course, and weird frustration it brought me, I was able to refocus and know I wasn't too far from the run turnaround. This was a great place to be mentally! I was fired up that the run had been going so well to this point.
As I came in to the turnaround there was some confusion, on my part, although I feel like the y could have marked it slightly better. That said, I was pretty distracted by the special needs area because it was so close that I may have missed the signs.
The volunteer at the turn kept telling me to, "turn here." to which I didn't even realize what he was saying because I was too immersed in getting past special needs. Finally I woke from my daze and turned, only a few feet past the turn. Besides special needs distractions, I think I was expecting the turn around to have been like IMWI in 2014, which had the turnaround closer to the finish line.
Once I had my head squared away, ok, that never happens, I hit the first miles or so with renewed energy. I knew no matter what, I was going to finish.
I got to mile 14 where Lis and Joanne were and they were cheering but the energy of the turnaround was already diminishing and I was finding myself headd down a hole. I was able to give them a half smile and keep chugging along, head down and determined but not liking where my mind was headed.
Then mile 15. For some reason I hated this mile, on both loops but I tried to make if fun. This is where the full and half runners split for a short time so those of us that are "fully" crazy could make sure we got the distance in. There were 2 volunteers, older ladies at this station. Each time I went through I made a joke about the direction to go. This second trip through I asked her if she'd let me go left, the 70.3 course since she didn't let me go that way the first time through. she laughed and me for a second and said, "Well, I'm not letting you go through that way again either." It was a fun exchange and it was just another one of those interactions that helps break up the race and the pain and, hopefully lets the volunteers know how appreciated they are.
The second time through Camp Randall Stadium was much, much quieter. The first time they had 3 million leaf blowers blowing all of the trash out of the bleachers from the Badger game that was held there on Saturday, the day before. This time all of that was done and I could actually enjoy running through the end zones.
Around mile 17 I began to develop a stitch. This had not occurred in the full distance race at all that I can remember. Now 9 miles to go I was developing a stitch??? I tried to run through it at first. It was minor at this point so I tried to ignore it and remain focused on the finish line.
As the next mile began the stitch was getting worse. Every time I tried to take a deep breath I would have to stop well short of getting the full breath because the pain would make me grimace, at first. As I progressed through the mile the pain intensified and I was now groaning audibly when attempting the deep breaths. My plan to run at an increased effort for the final 5k was fading, at least if I didn't figure out how to get this under control.
AS I approached the aid station at mile 18.3 (-ish) I walked it (one of only three I walked on the entire run course) to get some GOOD fluids in and try to let the stitch relax. As I exited the aid station I realized where I was, the base of Observatory Hill. Going back to my original plan to NOT walk that hill…. I decided that regardless of whatever pain may come, I was NOT walking this hill!!! Period!!!
I dialed up the pace, although I am pretty sure it wasn't much of a run, really. My pace for this, the 19th mile, was the lowest of the day at 10:28. THE walk through the aid station and the slow, slow run up Observatory Hill killed my pace, sizably.
On the way up the hill another athlete approached from behind. He called from behind to, "Take a look at that view!" I don't recall seeing it in 2104 and if he hadn't said anything for this loop I would have gone away from Madison a second time without taking in the beautiful view of Lake Mendota from the top of the hill. It was indeed gorgeous, but I was really in too much pain to enjoy it for too long.
As he and I trudged on we talked briefly about where we were in our race. When I told him that I had only 7 miles to go he congratulated me on a great race and pace. I thanked him and dropped him on the downhill.
Now close to the last time I would see Lisa and Joanne until the finish line I began trying to talk myself into trying to show a smile or something that looked like I wasn't hurting too badly. I would see them about 19.5 miles in and would have to raise my spirits enough to put on a mask that I wasn't hurting too bad.
As I passed them they both smiled, waved and "woohoo'd" me this final time. On the way by Lis held up 4 finger, signifying I was in 4th place. Honestly, I was dumbfounded!! I didn't feel like I was having that type of day, AT ALL!
Now is when the pressure started hitting me. With my first chance at podium for an Ironman on the line, I began to rekindle the passion and fire that I had once had. My goal was to podium today, but I wasn't feeling like I had been having that kind of day.
I buckled in and paid attention to the stitch, it was gone, and had been since the walking aid station. Now I could only hope that it would remain gone.
The rest of the miles came hard! But they came fast! I promised myself I wouldn't start counting the down until Mile 22, but, I was counting.
As soon as I hit mile 22 my mind began to race, thinking about how much I might be able to increase the pace once I hit mile marker 23. I had really hoped to go slightly under 9:00 for these final three miles, but I didn't know that my legs had that in them. Besides, the last mile is slightly uphill for nearly all of it as it heads up State Street and around the capital.
Mile 24… BOOM! I told my self I cold do anything for a 5k. I picked up the effort and the pace followed. Mile 23 was 9:44 and I ended up running 9:10 for mile 24.
These last few miles were a painful blur. I really don't remember that much about them other than trying to dig deep and finish as well as what I could.
My legs were crushed at this point. They were sore and screaming at me. They reminded me of open marathons and the last few miles. I pressed on, hoping to drive the train as much as I could and hold my position on the podium.
Mile 26 came not view and the capital building and crowds on State street! Man! The cross can drive a persons heart!! I pulled from their energy and was able to hold onto the effort despite slowing down some.
I was rounding the capital and there was no way I wasn't finishing now!! I could feel it, hear it. I began to zip up a little and check for people behind me as I made the final 3 turns. If I needed to I had enough in me to sprint, okay, it would hav been a long way from a sprint, my way to the finish line to keep from being overtaken. There was no one there. No one was close at all to me!
I rounded the last corner and saw the chute. I was now in the moment of finishing my 5th Ironman, and maybe, just maybe standing on the podium for the first time.

As I ran through the finish, the announcement of my name rang in my ears. I had earned this through one of the hardest training cycles I could have imagined. I had remained loyal to my coach, regardless of the fatigue I'd felt and the suggestions of others to "back off and take a day off." I've trusted Zach for 6 years. He'd gotten me close to Kona 2 other times in 2 races, Wisconsin in 2014 and Louisville in 2015. 2 more races, Chatty 2016 and again in 2017, I either demolished myself due to not following through properly with my experience or crashing my bike, still finishing in 9th place, after the crash.
I was there! The finish line!
What would you do differently?:

I am really in a quandary with this question! I was close enough to 3rd place that better execution may have allowed me to creep in closer. I allowed my HR to remain lower than the bottom of the goal. If I had been at the bottom or in the middle of the range goal… maybe!!
The other option is nothing. I could have done nothing different and executed the way I did and seen the smile on Lisa’s face at almost every point on the run. I had given an awful lot to this race, but Lis put up with some of the worst of me as I was so tired.
If I were making the decision in the moment, I made the right decision during the race, I made my bride smile.
Post race
Warm down:

Immediately after finishing I got dizzy, like falling over dizzy. The catchers had to hold on to me to keep me from falling over. Both of them supported me until I could get my feet under me and then only one of them was required.
As soon as I could find Lis, I gave her the thumbs up that I was okay. I knew she’d be worried about my lung function and she had my nebulizer with her. After the thumbs up I could see her relax a little.
Back to the catchers, I kept telling them I needed to sit down but one of them, the younger one, kept telling me I had to get my picture taken with my medal. I told him I didn’t care about that but he kept on about it. I never had one taken because he finally gave up after I told him it was my 5th one and I didn't’ care about the pics.
After sitting down my legs would not sit still. They hurt if I moved them and they hurt if they sat still! I could NOT get comfortable, at all!! My legs were writhing in pain and my back was beginning to get really tight.
Lis had made her way around to my side of the finish area and was asking me questions about my condition. With all of the loud music we couldn't’ really hear each other causing a misunderstanding regarding my condition. She asked if I had my inhaler to which I responded I did. She then asked if needed the nebulizer. I asked which one I should use and she though I said I needed it. When she told me to come get it, I said I was alright. A minute later I saw her talking to someone in medical and they came to take me into the tent.
I really just sat there with little interaction with the staff. They didn't take vital or anything more than my bib number.
In 20 minutes I was gone with no treatment. So, yes I was in medical, but no, I really didn’t need to be there… SUCCESS!!!!

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Fitness! It’s all about fitness!
the past few years with injuries taking a lot of my high end fitness away I’ve lost a lot of my upper end ability. Of course there’s the aging thing, but I’ll keep ignoring that, for now.

Last updated: 2021-09-15 12:00 AM
01:03:18 | 4200 yards | 01m 31s / 100yards
Age Group: 5/208
Overall: 74/1748
Performance: Average
Suit: Blueseventy Helix
Course: This year was a 2 loop course going clockwise and it was shared with the 70.3 athletes. The full distance athletes went off at 6:45, while the half distance wasn't set to go off until 8:40. The gap was to allow the swim course to be less jammed up with people. I felt it worked well, but I was long gone by the time the 70.3 athletes were launched.
Start type: Run Plus: Time Trial
Water temp: 72F / 22C Current: Medium
200M Perf. Bad Remainder: Average
Breathing: Average Drafting: Bad
Waves: Navigation: Average
Rounding: Average
Time: 06:15
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed:
05:45:01 | 113.7 miles | 19.77 mile/hr
Age Group: 9/208
Overall: 95/1748
Performance: Good
Wind: Some
Course: Lollipop - 15 miles of stick for the out and back, and 2 loops to make up the 112 miles. Although, due to construction, the bike course was a shade long. 113.7 is what I'm hearing. Apparently Ironman knew this and may have communicated it, but I never saw it.
Road:  Dry Cadence:
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Hard Drinks: Not enough
Time: 07:00
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike Below average
Racking bike Good
Shoe and helmet removal Below average
04:01:39 | 26.2 miles | 09m 13s  min/mile
Age Group: 9/208
Overall: 181/1748
Performance: Average
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
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:
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

2021-09-16 9:22 PM

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Fort Wayne
Subject: Ironman Wisconsin 2021

2021-09-17 5:55 PM
in reply to: #5278084

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Extreme Veteran
Olathe, KS
Subject: RE: Ironman Wisconsin 2021

Congratulations on a great race!  Way to dig deep and get it done!!!

2021-09-17 7:21 PM
in reply to: #5278084

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Atlanta, Georgia
Gold member
Subject: RE: Ironman Wisconsin 2021
Congrats on your day!
2021-09-23 10:00 AM
in reply to: #5278084

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Waller County, TX
Subject: RE: Ironman Wisconsin 2021
2021-09-23 10:00 AM
in reply to: #5278084

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Waller County, TX
Subject: RE: Ironman Wisconsin 2021
2021-09-23 10:00 AM
in reply to: #5278084

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Waller County, TX
Subject: RE: Ironman Wisconsin 2021

2021-09-23 10:00 AM
in reply to: #5278084

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Waller County, TX
Subject: RE: Ironman Wisconsin 2021
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