My first Triathlon
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Ironman Wisconsin - TriathlonFull Ironman
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75F / 24C
= 11h 46m 40s
Age Group Rank
I arrived in Madison on Wednesday night and spent the next few days doing some light training, going through the registrations steps, and trying to relax. My taper had gone really well and the last thing I wanted to do was overdo it right before the race. The lake was extremely choppy on Friday for my practice swim and that rattled my nerves a bit. A good chunk of the course is close to a concrete wall which causes waves to come at you from both sides. I wasn’t sure if I would survive the swim in conditions like that. Luckily, the weather on race day was PERFECT
(see picture below taken 1:02 into the swim
Race morning I woke up at 3:30, ate an English muffin with peanut butter and a bagel with honey, slept a bit more, then woke up again at 4:30 to get ready. Showered, ate another bagel, packed up some last minute stuff, and headed to transition. It took me about 45 minutes to get everything prepared and make it through the porta-potty line. The rest of the time was spent chatting with my family down by the water. I tried to stay far away from the starting area as long as I could to try to stay as calm as possible.
1h 20m 12s
02m 05s / 100 meters
I got in the water a few minutes before the pros started at 6:50 and made my way out to the far back on the inside
(between the ski jump and the first buoy
). Exchanged a few nervous words with the people treading water around me, listened to the national anthem, and drifted back a bit more to try to get away from the ever increasing number of people in the area. When I was watching the race last year and Mike Reilly asked all the athletes “Who is going to be an Ironman today?!”, I thought it was silly that everyone was wasting energy yelling out in the water. However, I was one of those people yelling this year… couldn’t help it. When the cannon finally sounded it took a while before the people in front of me were able to start swimming. I got going and for the first minute or so there was no real contact and I started to think that this Ironman swim was not going to be as physical as everyone says it is. However, then everything went to hell.
The swim was brutal. The entire first straightaway was spent protecting my face and trying to make some form of forward progress in a sea of bodies. I hadn’t warmed up so I wasn’t in a good rhythm and whenever I would take a mouthful of water I would have to stop for a second instead of just swimming through it. People were coming from the back and the sides and I was swimming up on people in front of me. My instincts told me to swim to the outsides but it was a sea of people on all sides and there was no escaping the melee. Things started opening up a bit and I started to find my rhythm just in time to hit the first turn buoy. This is the “moo corner” where everyone is supposed to let out a moo for the volunteers. There was plenty of time to moo while waiting in a traffic jam of people trying to get around the buoy… everyone was coughing and sputtering because people kept funneling in from the back and the sides and pressing you closer and closer to the people around you making it hard to stay afloat.
From there on things spread out quite a bit and I was able to follow feet with only the occasional bump or kick for the rest of the swim. I was extremely happy to round the final turn buoy and have the finishing arch in site. So happy, in fact, that I accidentally elbowed someone really hard in the head as they were trying to swim up close to my side. I could hear them yelling some choice four letter words even while underwater.
What would you do differently?:
Start on the outside and work my way in.
7 minutes might sound like a long time but that is actually a decent transition for Wisconsin. You have to run a good distance to “the helix”
(a spiral parking garage ramp
) and then run all the way up it and into the changing area followed by a lengthy run through the bikes. The people lining the helix on the way up were cheering like crazy and I probably ran this part faster than I should have. I knew right where my bag was and was able to get my stuff and get going quickly. A volunteer grabbed my bike while I put on my shoes and I was out of there.
6h 03m 34s
On the run up the helix in T1 I started feeling a stomach cramp starting. This has happened in training before and I knew that it would take a while to go away. Luckily, I was planning on taking the beginning of the bike very easy which would allow my body time to deal with it. The first few miles are basically no passing with some very narrow paths. After that the course opens up into constantly rolling terrain for the rest of the ride.
It was almost impossible to avoid drafting for the first 15 miles as everyone was so bunched up. I felt like I was just floating along and barely had to work at all to maintain a decent average pace. The stomach cramp was preventing me from working hard in aero but that was probably a good thing as it was keeping my effort in check. Before the race I kept changing my “go easy until” point… it went from 30 miles to 3 hours to 1.5 hours and back again. I didn’t have a real plan but things were going well so far.
The three main hills on the course are great. There were people lining almost the entirety of each hill, some with crazy costumes, and everyone making a ton of noise with their cowbells, drums, vuvuzellas, etc... I came to Timber Lane where I knew my family would be waiting and spun up the left side of the road passing a good chunk of people. Out of nowhere my Dad appears running alongside me banging his cowbell and yelling all sorts of stuff. It was amazing. He asked me how I was doing and I said “great”… and it actually wasn’t a lie. My stomach cramp finally went away after that hill and I was able to start pushing a little harder.
The second time around the loop my girlfriend jumps out and runs with me up to the top. It was a great mental boost hitting that hill each time. Not only was my family there but it was close to the end of the loop and the return trip to transition. I’m hurting a little bit more by that point but nowhere near as bad as some of my training rides.
Besides the stomach cramp in the beginning my nutrition felt spot on for the entire ride. I accidentally ditched a half full bottle of Powerbar Endurance at special needs because I thought it was an aid station but luckily I still had a bottle of water and some gels to act as electrolytes until the next real aid station. Coming back on the 16 mile stem back to transition I felt like I was hammering it and was able to “sprint” out of corners. However, I knew that my secret sub-6:00 goal on the bike was out of reach by that point. I almost cramped up my legs when I unclipped and tried to stretch them out on a flat section of road but it went away quickly.
What would you do differently?:
Push myself more and don't drink Powerbar Perform.
Riding up the helix to the transition area was a nice way to stretch the legs before getting off the bike. I remembered to grab my garmin off the bike and booked it into terrace to get my bag. Took a few extra seconds to spray myself with sunscreen
(but forgot to get my back
) and was out. I would have used the sunscreen volunteers but I didn’t want to be thinking about whether the sunscreen all over my back was rubbed in or not while I was running.
What would you do differently?:
Get some sunscreen on my back.
4h 12m 47s
09m 39s min/mile
The run is broken up into 4 sections. 6 miles out, 7 miles back on a slightly different route, and repeat. I came out of transition just as the 1st place female was starting her second loop and knew I had to dial it back when she wasn’t pulling away very fast. By this point the sun and ~78 degree temps were feeling a bit warm but sponges, ice, and water over the head at each aid station kept things under control.
The first 9 miles or so were great! My legs felt fresh and I was only taking 2-3 second walk breaks at each aid station to make sure I got some liquid down. Every time I would see my family I would get a big boost of energy. However, around the 10 mile mark all those good feelings started to go away. It came on pretty fast and I was forced to a walk for a few minutes while I tried to figure out what was going on. I was starting to get light headed but I didn’t feel hot, hungry, or thirsty. My legs were getting tired but not overly so. I downed a cup and a half of the Powerbar Perform sports drink that they were handing out but that just made me feel worse. I had been training with Powerbar Endurance which, on paper, is identical to Powerbar Perform. However, I think they use something else to flavor Perform and it was doing bad things to me. I decided that I would switch to just water, cola, and gels for the rest of the race. I reach in to my back pockets to get one of the gels that I had put in there during T2 and they are all gone. I must have missed my pockets when I was shoving them back there. I had gels in my special needs bag but that was almost 4 miles away. Along the way I told my girlfriend that I was having a rough time and feeling dizzy and I think I scared her. I’m sure I didn’t look great at that point. I was still running but not very fast.
I grabbed three gels out of my special needs bag and headed out on the second loop. It took about 3 more miles to really start feeling better but my splits were slowly coming back down closer to what I was expecting. Now that I couldn’t drink the sports drink on the course Coke was becoming my new best friend. Around mile 16 I asked for Coke at an aid station only to hear that they were out of it. Not a problem, I thought, I could get some at the next aid station in a mile. However, from that point on I think only one aid station was not completely out of Coke… and this was only about 10.5 hours into the race! I feel really bad for everyone that was out there into the night if the aid stations didn’t get restocked.
Hitting the last turnaround was a great feeling. State Street was lined with people and I knew I only had a few more miles to go. I was so excited that I actually started running 8:00/mile pace again
(that didn’t last very long
). I was still walking most aid stations but the walks were short again. Seeing the mile 22, 23, 24 markers pass by was extremely encouraging. I started pushing, trying to make up for the low points earlier in the run. My left hamstring was threatening to cramp but I was so close now that I didn’t want to slow down. The last section around the Capitol building is slightly uphill but I barely noticed it at that point. I had a big smile on my face and I kept looking at all of the spectators along the road wanting to tell them that I was about to finish, as if they couldn’t tell. Turning the corner and running past the 2nd loop turnaround towards the finish line is hard to describe. I looked back and knew that I was going to have the finishing chute all to myself. A huge smile and a few fist pumps later and Mike Reilly was calling me an Ironman.
What would you do differently?:
Not drink Powerbar Perform. Push myself more now that I know I can make it to the end without falling apart.
Felt light headed again for a few minutes but pizza, cookies, and a chair took care of it. Everything was a bit of a blur since there were so many people to talk to and so much I wanted to say after being out there for almost 12 hours.
Throughout the entire day I was telling myself that I would never do another mass-start Ironman. The first 20 minutes of that swim were terrifying. However, I’ve already convinced myself that the next swim will be different and I will be able to place myself better at the start. IM Coeur d’Alene 2012 here I come
(and maybe Arizona!
What limited your ability to perform faster:
It was my first race and I wasn't sure how hard I could push myself without blowing up. That and my body hating Powerbar Perform.
Wisconsin is a great race. I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for high energy spectators.
Last updated: 2009-07-29 12:00 AM
01:20:12 | 3862 meters | 02m 05s / 100meters
Two loop counter-clockwise rectangle
68F / 20C
Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
06:03:34 | 112 miles | 18.48 mile/hr
16 mile stem and then two 40 mile loops. Constant rolling hills with three more serious hills back to back near the end of the loop.
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Shoe and helmet removal
04:12:47 | 26.2 miles | 09m 39s min/mile
Double out and back with a bit extra on the back portion. Mostly flat.
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Lots of volunteers?
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5]
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