Ironman Wisconsin (Steve-) - TriathlonFull Ironman

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Madison, Wisconsin
United States
92F / 33C
Total Time = 13h 17m 45s
Overall Rank = 644/1681
Age Group = M35-39
Age Group Rank = 126/364
Pre-race routine:


Started carbo loading on Wednesday. Didn't increase caloric intake but rather just adjusted percentage of calories to 80%-90% carbs. Bought four 6-packs of Walgreens brand Ensure and drank 2-4 of those each day (40g carbs each) in addition to meals.

Had a great nights sleep Friday, went for a 1.2 mile swim in the lake at 7:00am to see how the sun's glare would affect my sighting on race day. Water was VERY warm and I'm glad I took both of my wetsuits to Madison (long sleeve and quick john) as I would have overheated in the damn long sleeve one. Followed the swim with a 1 hour easy bike ride keeping cadence > 100rpm.

Friday I took 2 Endurolytes every 3 hours and drank water so I would pee almost clear no more than every hour.

Got to bed at 9:00pm Saturday night, tossed and turned until 10:00pm.


Awoke at 12:30am to go to the bathroom (of course). Drank 1 can of Walgreens brand ensure and back to sleep.

Woke up at 2:30am without an alarm. Ate oatmeal, glass of milk, glass of orange juice, 1 banana, yogurt, and 2 Walgreens brand ensure (approx 1,500 calories). Went back to sleep with a freggin' full stomach!

Woke up at 4:30am without an alarm (guess I was anxious) got my special needs bags for the bike and run packed up as well as my morning clothes bag and walked to the start (about 10 min walk).

Pumped up my tires in T1, filled my aero bottle with water, put nutrition on bike (one 4-hour bottle of perpetuem), and put other water bottle filled with tubular, multi-tool, 2 cartriges and air chuck on bike.

Took a few pre-race photos with friends and family and walked down to the swim start. After my Friday swim, decided to not start the day dehydrated from the swim, so went with my quick john wetsuit instead of the full suit.

It was JAM PACKED walking down to the shoreline!

Event warmup:

Drank 20 oz of a sports drink 10 min prior to race start to fend off any potential stress/anxiety induced hypoglycemia.

No warm up, just swam into my starting position and relaxed.
  • 1h 17m 16s
  • 3840 meters
  • 02m 01s / 100 meters

2005 Ironman Swim Training Total: 146 miles (84 hours)

My swim strategy was to start all the way to the left with the fast swimmers about 15 feet behind line. The first 150 meters were bodies everywhere but not a big deal as I'm very comfortable in the water.

Got to the "inside" of the rectangle in clear water keeping the masses to my right the entire race. Had an absolutely flawless swim. Caught a couple feet to draft on every now and again.

1st turn buoy was rough but again, I was not at all stressed out about it. Caught a fist on my goggles, which promptly filled up with water. Turned over on my back, continued to kick while on my back, emptied and adjusted my goggles and turned back over and continued the swim.

2nd, 3rd, and 4th turn buoys were rough, but no worries, just plowed through everyone. 2nd lap was as uneventful as the 1st.

I knew I was swimming way below my capability (a little less than "medium pace") and definatley not swimming at race pace but I didn't care. I just wanted to stay relaxed and complete the swim with as much energy in the bank as I could.

Last 200 yards I began kicking to get blood to my legs so that I wouldn't be dizzy when exiting the water.

Exited the water and the rush of people screaming and yelling was amazing. I never heard anything like that before.

Decided against using the wetsuit removal volunteers since I had just a quick john wetsuit on and it comes off in 3 seconds under my own power. If I had a full suit I would have definately let them tear it off me.

I saw my friend John Sweetwood, Joanna Mirrington, my brother and wife on the way up the helix (aka parking ramp) to T1.
What would you do differently?:

Swim more to my capability and exit the water in 1:10. But I have no regrets exiting in 1:17 at my first IM.
Transition 1
  • 10m 18s

Shoes were not allowed to be left on the bike. You had to have ALL of your gear (except water bottles) in your T1 bag (helmet, cycling shoes, sunglasses, race number, etc, etc.)

T1 was pretty cool as it is TOTALLY different than any other triathlon transitions I've done in my 8 years of racing. You go into this room with thousands of bags lined up numerically, go find and pick up your bag then run into another room called the Men's Changing room to change (if you want). People are yelling out numbers and other are yelling out other numbers...complete controlled choas. I loved it!

I didn't change my race outfit during the race so I just needed to put on my socks, helmet, sunglasses, halo (aka sweat headband), and then ran with my shoes in my hand to my bike. Once at my bike (which was at least a 200-300 meter run from the changing room) I put on my cycling shoes and jogged to the end of transition to mount my bike.
What would you do differently?:

Not much.
  • 6h 56m 37s
  • 112 miles
  • 16.13 mile/hr

2005 Ironman Bike Training Total: 3,025 miles (186 hours)

I got passed by 228 people on the bike but, again, I wanted to race my plan because I knew that if I did I would set up a very comfortable, trouble free marathon. I kept my heart rate below 135 bpm on the hills and at 130 bpm on the flats.

I was a beautiful day in the morning and I felt great! I was incredibly excited to be doing an Ironman. There was a girl holding up a sign on Garfoot during the first loop that really summed up my feelings that day, it said "Holy Fu_k, You're Doing and Ironman!" Reading that sign gave me goosebumps all over my body. I really was doing an Ironman! I began to think about all the sacrifices I made to get to this day, the endless training, the missed family outings, the missed parties, HOLY CRAP there's a 90 degree bend in the road and I almost wiped out! YIKES! Ok. stay focused Steveo.

The first loop went just fine. I began drinking water immediately as I mounted the bike and then began my 15 min feed intervals of Perpetuem (only source of nutrition on bike) approx 20 min into the bike and began taking 1 electrolyte every 30 min. My goal was to pee twice during the bike leg so I felt my first pit stop coming on at about mile 45...right on schedule.

I pulled up to the port-o-potty and it was like an Indy 500 pit stop. One Volunteer would hold my bike, another one would ask me what I needed (water, ice, oranges, bananas, etc.) and by the time I got out of the bathroom my water bottles were all topped off and they handed me anything else I requested. It was genius! I felt like a Rock Star!

During the 2nd loop was when it was beginning to get a little warm so I upped the Electrolyte intake to 1 pill every 20 minutes. The wind gusts were picking up even more than the morning. I've trained in tons of hot weather and windy conditions so this was fine with me. However, I ran out of water between Verona and Mt. Horeb (approx 65 mile mark) and it would be another 30 min or so before the next water stop.

Now, since I'm taking nutrition in (Perpetuem) every 15 minutes and needed water to dilute it once I took my sips to assist in digestion, running out of water was a little worrysome to me. I would miss 2 feedings and become dehydrated before the next water stop. I new VERY WELL that once I got behind in my feedings and more importantly, got behind in my water intake the rest of the day would be TOAST! So I began looking at the spectators lining the bike course to see who had a cooler. I found a group cheering us on that had a cooler and asked them for water...and since I was a Rock Star that day, they all rushed to find me some and I scored. One 16 oz bottle of water that I would have GLADLY paid $50 for at that time in the race. (Hmmmm, mental note of a business idea next year when I'm a spectator . . . ha ha ha)

Bathroom break #2 was right on schedule again. It happed at about mile 75, light yellow (almost clear) and I was happy to see my hydration was right on plan. I was havin an EXCELLENT day! As I looked down at my bike computer I noticed I was biking extremely slow (approx 16.4 mph at that time) at my 130 bpm HR. In training I usually averaged 18 mph at a 130 bpm HR. I didn't let that get to me because I knew all I could do is bike at my heart rate and let the speed fall where it may.

You know that Sprite motto "Obey Your Thirst" (or was that Gatorade...I can't remember) anyway all I was thinking about was a new motto I coined that day "Obey Your Heart Rate". I was the only biker climbing hills while breathing through their nose and drinking from their water bottle absolutely COMFORTABLE climbing. Everyone else was hammering up the hills huffing and puffing. "I'll see you all on the run" I thouht to myself...mostly because I felt like a slow fat pig going up the hills at 4 mph (no joke) and thinking that made me feel a little better...ha ha ha.

About mile 85 I started getting a little growling sensation (aka upset stomach) in my intestines and I know from experience that's not good. So I remebered something else I learned during training, "If you feel, if you feel sick...slow down."

While I didn't feel "sick" I did know that my stomach wasn't getting totally settled. So I dropped the pace down to 125 bpm from mile 85 until mile 112 and during the last 30-40 minutes of the bike I dropped my feedings from 3 sips from the multi-hour nutrition bottle of Perpetuem down to 1 to 1.5 sips. This gave my stomach a chance to empty out before my run.

The bike finished uneventful but damn 7 hours on the bike for 112 miles was about as slow as I've ever ridden in my life. The good news was that after talking with many others who didn't DNF (Did Not Finish) the race also said their bike was just as slow.

I didn't feel sore, I didn't think "get me off this damn bike", I was having a great bike ride and I was hanging on to that feeling. I did, however, feel like I was the last guy on the bike course! Ha ha ha but I didn't care, honestly, because I knew I now had a freggin' entire marathon to run!!
What would you do differently?:

I definately held back A LOT on the bike because, quite honestly, I feared the marathon. I'm not a super strong runner and I didn't want to blow up on the run because I wanted to be Lance Armstrong on the bike. So I ended up holding back too much.

My coach told me before the race that I could race at 135-140 bpm (zone 3) the entire 112 miles but I honestly didn't know if I could so I decided to be conservative and race at 130 bpm.
Transition 2
  • 08m 57s

T2 was ok. You get to the dismount line and you don't have to re-rack your bike...since everyone's treated like a Rock Star at the Ironman. They take your bike from you and rack it for you....What SERVICE!

Ran/jogged into the transtion bag room, which was again a nut house. Hundreds of bags everywhere and people shouting numbers out all over the place. Mayhem.

I found my bag and proceeded to the Men's Changing Room.

There was a guy behind my as I was sitting and changing my socks and putting vasaline on my feet who wanted to quit. I heard about him talking about "Ironman is my life and if I quit now I may regret it later" I couldn't hear that. I just turned around and said "Hey, don't think too much brother, just put your running shoes on and start running, you can always stop running and walk and if you don't feel like walking you can drop out but at least get your shoes on and get out of T2" A couple other athletes joined me and told him the same thing.

I don't know what he ended up doing because I left the Men's Changing room a few minutes later.
What would you do differently?:

Not much. I went to the port-o-potty for Pee #3 of the race but that was fine.
  • 4h 44m 40s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 10m 52s  min/mile

2005 Ironman Run Training Total: 593 miles (92 hours)

Ok. My goal was to run at 140 bpm HR the entire race and pick it up the last 5k-10k if I felt fine.

I came out of T2 feeling awesome. I was on cloud 9 and feeling absolutely phenominal. It took me about 2-3 miles to bring my HR down to the 140 bpm target but I knew it would take a while to get my HR settled after so much heat on the bike and already racing for now more than 8.5 hours. So I settled into my pace and at about mile 3 I found my friend Tony Reed and we ran for about 5 miles or so together. I'm glad I found him because he reminded me that we should walk the steep hills because they will just trash your legs. (good idea!)

Then about mile 8 or so my friend Fiona caught up with us and I was happy to see her! She ran my first marathon with me in 2003, she then helped me incredibly during my 2nd marathon in 2004 because I was in the abyss of depression at mile 17 of that marathon and she really brought me out of it and now I get to run in the Ironman with her. I was very pleased to see her.

So her and I ran together and we saw many of our fellow friends who were also doing the Ironman on the course; Mark Beckwith, Jim Kueffner, Kevin Sypolt, Mary Ganchoff, Debbie Henke, Tony Reed (of course), Chad Correll, and a few others who's names escape me. On the spectator list I saw Karen Zenisek, Chris Parker, my wife Joanna, my Dad, my brother, John Sweetwood (dude you were EVERYWHERE!), Tim Urquhart and their new cute little doggie, Joanna Mirrington (awesome to see you!), and a few others who I can't remember right now.

My nutrition schedule was to drink 1 gel every half hour and take 1 electrolyte every hour but my race execution was actually a sip of gel (maybe 1/2 gel) every other aid station for the 1st half of the marathon the I migrated to a few pretzels, an orange slice, a quarter cup of gatorade, etc every now and again. I did, however, try the Chicken Broth they had out there and damn that made me thirstier than dried dirt in Death Valley so I didn't have any more again.

My arches were hurting me and at the turnaround point where the Run Special Needs bags were I looked and looked in mine but couldn't fine the Naproxen I put in there. DAMN, did I forget to put it in there? Yep. No Nproxen. I then immediatley began yelling at the crowds as I passed by "Advil, Advil, anyone have Advil, Advil, Advil" Then my dear friend Fiona found a wonderful lady with not only Advil abut Aleve!!! I was ecstatic. I took 1 Aleve and thanked the nice lady and told here she was a life saver.

I was going to try the flat Coke they had on the course but Fiona told me she tried it earlier on the run and she immediately cramped up so I decided against that idea.

Overall my nutrition went very well and I ended up downing approximately 4 gels total on the run along with the grazing I spoke of earlier at the aid station smorgasborgs.

Because of my pace plan, hydration schedule, regimented 9 month training plan from my incredible coach Brett Petersen, not only did the marathon feel like a long-run on the weekend but I was able to pass 555 people on the run. An astounding number!

Mile . . . . Split . . . . HR avg . . . . HR max
1 . . . . 09:30 . . . . 149 . . . . 159
2 . . . . 09:30 . . . . 149 . . . . 159
3 . . . . 10:30 . . . . 148 . . . . 152
4 . . . . 11:13 . . . . 143 . . . . 154
5 . . . . 11:58 . . . . 136 . . . . 147
6 . . . . 10:41 . . . . 138 . . . . 144
7 . . . . 10:04 . . . . 138 . . . . 146
8 . . . . 11:05 . . . . 139 . . . . 144
9 . . . . 09:35 . . . . 140 . . . . 143
10 . . . . 10:15 . . . . 140 . . . . 147
11 . . . . 10:33 . . . . 136 . . . . 145
12 . . . . 11:23 . . . . 136 . . . . 142
13 . . . . 10:45 . . . . 139 . . . . 168
14 . . . . 11:15 . . . . 136 . . . . 147
15 . . . . 11:15 . . . . 136 . . . . 147
16 . . . . 11:17 . . . . 134 . . . . 140
17 . . . . 12:11 . . . . 132 . . . . 146
18 . . . . 11:06 . . . . 132 . . . . 139
19 . . . . 13:29 . . . . 124 . . . . 135
20 . . . . 11:48 . . . . 128 . . . . 141
21 . . . . 12:06 . . . . 134 . . . . 141
22 . . . . 10:34 . . . . 135 . . . . 142
23 . . . . 11:32 . . . . 133 . . . . 142
24 . . . . 10:18 . . . . 142 . . . . 158
25 . . . . 10:18 . . . . 142 . . . . 158
26 . . . . 09:05 . . . . 151 . . . . 178
26.2 . . . . 01:23 . . . . 163 . . . . 179 (6:55 min/mile pace)

What would you do differently?:

I would definately race more closely to my potential but for my first IM, I enjoyed it and that was more important to me than my final time.
Post race
Warm down:

I tried to get the Medical Tent to give me some IV juice but I got denied. Although I lost 5 lbs, my blood pressure was 100/70 so they said "Nice Try" (well, not actually but they were thinking it I'm sure) and gave me a bottle of water and sent me on my merry way.

I got my post race photo take, got my finisher's bag and then a few family photos before I walked back to the hotel for a nice shower. After that we returned to the finish line to see some of the 15+ hour finishers but I couldn't find my friend Mary so we hung around just a bit more and then called it a night.

We walked back to the hotel and went to the bar (it was about 12:30pm now) and I tried to eat some of a club sandwich but didn't want to overdo it as my stomach was still a little stressed out. I was starving but I didn't want to gorge myself and end up throwing up constantly all night.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

The main thing that limited my ability to go faster was really the lack of IM distance experience. I had no idea how I was supposed to feel during different parts of the race so I erred on the side of conservative. During a stand along marathon or even a 1/2 Ironman triathlon, I know how my body and how my effort should feel during various points of the race so I know if I'm overdoing it or not racing to my potential.

Because this was my first Ironman, I had absolutely NO idea what to expect so I just raced at HR and let the chips fall were they may.

Event comments:

I haven't really mentioned that this Ironman race was the most difficult race the organizers ever saw. Normally, approximately 8% of the people do not finish (DNF) but this race saw 395 athletes (19.2%) DNF, an astounding number.

Additionally, they normally see 20-30 people DNF the bike leg but Ironman Wisconsin 2005 had 203 athletes DNF the bike leg. Again, an astounding amount of drop outs.

Additionally, the overall winner had the slowest finish time for any Ironman in the past 20 years!

It was truely a grueling race and my race experience was atypical from the majority of athletes.

My realistic goal time was 12:30 and finishing in 13:17 and feeling incredibly great at the end under the grueling heat, I was definately happy with finishing 45 minutes later. Sure I would have loved to break 13 hours, but I had much more fun running with my friend Fiona and feeling so great throughout the entire race.

Profile Album

Last updated: 2005-09-15 12:00 AM
01:17:16 | 3840 meters | 02m 01s / 100meters
Age Group: 209/364
Overall: 1084/1681
Performance: Below average
Suit: Quick John (sleeveless and short legs)
Course: 2 counter-clockwise laps on a rectangular course.
Start type: Wade Plus: Shot
Water temp: 75F / 24C Current: Low
200M Perf. Average Remainder: Below average
Breathing: Good Drafting: Below average
Waves: Navigation: Average
Rounding: Good
Time: 10:18
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed:
06:56:37 | 112 miles | 16.13 mile/hr
Age Group: 224/364
Overall: 1109/1681
My plan was to race the first 10 miles in zone 1 (approx. 118 bpm) then gradually bring my HR up to zone 2 and hold it at 130 bpm for the entire bike ride.
Wind: Strong with gusts
Course: Out to Verona, then 2 loops of approx. 42 miles each, then back to Madison. Rolling hills but no long, tough climbs.
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence: 82
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 08:57
Riding w/ feet on shoes Bad
Jumping off bike Bad
Running with bike Bad
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal Bad
04:44:40 | 26.2 miles | 10m 52s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/364
Overall: 0/1681
Performance: Below average
137 bpm overall average HR.
Course: 2 Loops with 3 total turnarounds (including the mid-way turn around point).
Keeping cool Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %3%
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 2
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] 4