Ironman Wisconsin - TriathlonFull Ironman

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Madison, Wisconsin
United States
Ironman North America
72F / 22C
Total Time = 13h 29m 28s
Overall Rank = 1360/2449
Age Group = F30-34
Age Group Rank = 69/133
Pre-race routine:

Warning - this report is long. I am writing it mostly for myself as I like to remember these things well.

So this training cycle has been a little off from the start. Last summer when I decided to sign up for another ironman, I talked to my coach about whether to go back to Florida (or another flatter course like IMAZ or Cozumel) and try to get a personal best or to challenge myself with a harder course. I decided to go with the harder course as a lot of friends had done Wisconsin and highly recommended it.

I have had a pretty good go at training over the most of the last year and was getting faster on the bike and run (and holding steady on my best discipline - swimming). Most races, I got sick right before or had some injury so it is tough to see my progress. I finally had a great race at an oly in June and blew away my previous best time. There were injuries though. In April I developed tib-post tendonitis in both legs and started going to a massage therapist to keep it under control. It was under control, but continued to cause me pain all the way up to race day.

At the oly in june, I peeled a layer of skin off the top of both my feet by not putting on socks and had to go on antibiotics after the wound on my left foot got infected. While my left foot was recovering, I tore my right calf muscle and had to take 3 weeks off of running to let it heal and missed my half ironman in July. (Did the swim and bike, but pulled the plug at T2.)

When I was finally allowed to run again, I did a 20 km run, and immediately got plantar fasciitis in my left foot. GAR!!! one injury after another this summer. Most of the summer, the run training goal was to survive and not have to take more time completely off from the PF and my pace slowed down progressively over the summer. My 20K long run in June was 2:12, when I did 20 K in taper my time was 2:21. I taped my foot religiously, wore my orthotics all the time and continued to see my physiotherapist to help with the PF. Got through the tough training and into race week without any more issues, but the PF was still bugging me at the start of every run, all day after my runs and when I got up in the morning.

We (DH and Dog) arrived in Madison late Thursday afternoon and I registered. Dad, step mom and sister arrived on Saturday afternoon.

Race morning, alarm was set for 3:45, but I woke up before it went off. out the door around 4:30 am to head to the Terrace. I drove downtown and parked about 3 blocks from the finish line. The street parking in Madison is free on Sundays and there were lots of places to park early in the morning.
Event warmup:

Get into my wetsuit, walk down to the swim start to meet my DH and sister at the prearranged location. kiss my hubby good by, get in the water and tread water for about 20 minutes.

Started about 5 rows back 20 feet inside of the boat ramp. Should have started closer to the front. I had to swim around some slower swimmers.
  • 1h 10m 8s
  • 3862 meters
  • 01m 49s / 100 meters

The first section of the race went okay. I made the first turn bouy in decent time despite having to swim around people and getting a little clobbered. I had to look up a lot to find a way around slower swimmers. I would find a clear spot and swim that way, but when I would get there, other swimmers would have found the same way.

When we made the first turn, it was a little congested, but not nearly as bad as the first corner at IMFL was in 2010. I had a bit of difficuly spotting the next turn bouy, but found it pretty quickly and the next stretch went smoothly. The second turn was not an issue. Made the corner well and then was blinded by the sun. I had tried to switch to tinted goggles this summer, but they leaked horribly and didn't fit well over the bridge of my nose.

This is where I got way off course. I didn't have anyone right in front of me. I couldn't see the turn bouy. I couldn't see the next marker bouy. I couldn't sight when my head was above the water. I was drawn towards the "light" when my head was in the water and before I new it, I was closer to the big boats on the outside than I was to the nearest swimmer on the right. I got back onto track partway through the back half, but only got off course pretty quickly again. I finally figured out (probably with only a couple hundred metres left to the turn bouy that if I kept the sun around 1:30, I would stay on course. I probably swam 100-200 metres further during this section but lost more time by not having the draft of the other swimmers.

After the next turn and the one after, things took a turn for the better. When we got out of the sun, I was able to clearly see the buoys and wasn't drawn to the sun and could swim in a better straight line. By this time, the course had thinned out a bit and there weren't as many people to draft off. I was able to find a few feet here and there though. looking at my watch I was pretty sure I wouldn't make it under 1:10. and definitely wasn't getting the time I was hoping for (1:05). This time is actually slower than the two times I swam the distance in the pool.
What would you do differently?:

draft better. Not get off course. I'm typically top 10% female top 20% overall. was top 16% female and top 21% OA. Mostly I'm disappointed with my AG placing. In florida I was 1:09:59 on the swim and 16/83 in my age group and I thought I would improve on that time and position.

Practice swimming into the sun. Get tinted goggles that don't leak. Stay on the inside of the buoy line while swimming into the sun.
Transition 1
  • 08m 44s

Was nervous about T1 and running up the helix. I've been dealing with plantar fasciitis for most of the summer, so running barefoot in T1 was the one thing I was most worried about for the entire race.

I had the best volunteer ever in T1. As I was running into the change area, she pointed to me, grabbed my bag and dressed me up. It was awesome.

Ran to my bike with my bike shoes on as I was worried about the foot. Didn't find it terribly slippery (or at all slippery) and was happy to have my orthotics. Chugged half a bottle of G2 and took a gu.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing. I was hoping for 10 minutes, came well under goal. The only thing I might have done differently is take the time to put my garmin onto my bike in transition.
  • 6h 51m 59s
  • 180.25 kms
  • 26.25 km/hr

I got on my bike, down the helix and started riding along John Nolan Drive. took my garmin off the wrist band and tried to put it onto my bike, but it wasn't clicking in. Pulled over to the right to try to put it in. Thought I got it, but it was still loose so I had to pull over again. Ended up finally getting it in, but it ended up messing up my aero bottle holder for the entire ride. the bottle wasn't staying verticle. Weird. I've ridden with this set up all year, and it picks race day to give me trouble?

Start riding again and notice that it has my speed as zero. I had turned off the GPS for the swim to conserve the battery and was planning on not turning on the GPS until the end of the ride and using the speed/cadence sensor for speed/distance on the bike. Ended up turning the GPS on, but couldn't figure out what was going on. About half way through the ride I figured out that the magnet was still on my normal wheel back at the bike shop in London and that my rental wheels didn't have the magnet on them. Oh well, I didn't end up running out of power on my garmin, so it all worked out in the end.

Took the stick out to Verona a little harder than I should have - mid zone 2. It was just so congested on the course, I felt like I needed to ride at a harder level of effor to not be drafting a bunch of the time. When I got to county road G I made a strong effort to get my HR back to where it should be. After that I got the HR back to mostly in zone 1 except for on the hills which was my race plan.

The course was so congested for the first loop on the bike. Lots of blocking on the downhills where idiots would be hugging the centre line and then stop pedalling on the downhills. If you aren't going to ride down the hills, GET OVER!. The downhills were pretty fun. Garfoot after the big downhill was fast - I think we must have had a tailwind. I flew through that section both times all the way to cross plains.

After cross plains, there were some more roads - stagecoach really IS bumpy. MightyMom and I drove the course on Friday and I didn't think the road was too bad, but on a bike, it is bad. After that it was onto the three big hills. As others have written, the crowd support here was GREAT! I saw my family on Timber Lane after the big hill and before the decent - I think at County Hwy S. they said it was a pretty easy spectating place. It was busy, but not as crazy as the three big hills so it was easy to see them.

Through the last of the three big hills the first time and it wasn't nearly as bad as I was expecting. I think out ot the three that midtown road was the hardest. The first bit of the hill is the steepest bit, but then it keeps going and going, but your effort is high for the first steep part. Back into Verona and it was very fast through that bit because I didn't slow down at the aid station so I was able to keep up the speed through town.

Stopped at special needs. Ditched my arm warmers and empty eload bottle. poured my diet coke into my aero bottle, picked up my 2nd eload bottle and took my baked cheetos and on my way. The second loop either the wind had picked up or it changed directions so that you noticed the head wind more. Second loop was pretty uneventful until hwy 92.

In this section there was a pretty bad head wind and it was a pretty long section. There was a group of people drafting near me. they would pass, then slow down then I would pass them again and then they would pass. I eventually said screw this and picked up the effort to get away from them. It was negative energy and I didn't want to be around it. Most of them ended up passing me again on the climb into mt horeb, but the climb broke apart their little group.

Stopped at the aid station in Mount Horeb to use the bathroom. Took FOREVER. There were 4 bathrooms and 4 people in line in front of me, so I had to wait for a while. In total (between the bathroom break and special needs) I was stopped for about 5 minutes on the course according to my garmin.

After mount horeb, it was through the rollers again. Over the past year, I have ridden the course 2.5 times on the computrainer and always found this section the most difficult. Not race day! this section was FUN. When riding the computrainer, you need to put in effort even going downhill, and it doesn't carry the momentum going back up hills, so they were steep and hard on the computrainer. In real life, you really only had to work the top third of the climb for the most part.

Back through to cross plain and through the big three climbs again. Saw my family at the same spot. I didn't think that they would still be there. Turns out, that they had left and came back. At midtown road, I was happy to be through the worst of it the second time. Around this time, my tummy started cramping and not feeling right.

The rest of the ride was a bit of a blurr. At the last water stop, I filled up my bottle again even though I didn't think I needed to. as extra precaution. Shortly afterwards, I lost the flexible part of my aerobottle straw so was happy to have the extra water so I could lift up the rigid part of the straw to drink. I was very happy that this happened at the end of the ride and not earlier! There was a bit of a headwind for parts of the ride back into town, but there were also sections of tailwinds.

In the no pass zone the second time through, the guy in front of me decided it would be a good time to coast and not pedal at all. Grrr. At the end of that short section, there were a bunch of riders piled up behind this guy. Ironically, he was wearing a yellow jersey and was acting very much like "yellow-jersey guy".

Back up the helix and into T2.
What would you do differently?:

pick a better bathroom to stop at? I think the bike course went really well. I took about 2 minutes off my florida bike course time which doesn't sound like a lot, but the Wisconsin bike course was WAY more challenging than florida. I need to work on losing weight and still work hard on getting to be a better cyclist. I think I have it in me to be a decent cyclist. My FTP is around 230 watts which is decently high for a girl.

Finish my eload - didn't realize it, but apparently I had almost half a bottle left on my bike - over 700 mg of salt that I needed on the run.
Transition 2
  • 08m 33s

In T2 because of the PF, I had to take the time to tape my right foot, but first I had to give it time for the sweat to dry off so the tape would stick. changed socks, body glided up (not enough apparently), put on running shoes, stopped at the sunscreen gals and the portopotties and then on my way out.
What would you do differently?:

Not have plantar fasciitis? Not sure that I could do anything about that. I think I would have been 2-3 minutes faster here if I didn't have to tape my foot.
  • 5h 10m 4s
  • 42.16 kms
  • 07m 21s  min/km

starting on to the run, I felt pretty good. Saw my family near the start and gave hugs to everyone. Pretty quickly though my tummy starting not feeling great - it was crampy and I felt like the run was going to turn south quickly. I was following my nutrition plan well. gu and salt pill every 3-4 miles and made it through to the half way point with out too much difficulty. Right before the turn around I saw my family again and told DH that the second half was going to be slower. At this point I was starting to anticipate that the second half wouldn't be aid station to aid station, rather porta potty to porta potty.

Right around the half way point, my calves started to cramp pretty badly. I stopped and stretched my calves. Spectators asked if I was okay, I think I said something along the lines of "I'll survive" which is pretty accurate. Through special needs but didn't stop, I didn't need anything there.

At the next aid station I took another salt pill. Plan was to take a salt pill at every aid station until my calves started to behave again. Get to the next aid station (near the Kohl centre), reach back to grab my salt pills and "SH!T!!!" salt pills gone. must not have put them back into the pocket properly.

At this point I had to really think about how best to survive the second half of the race. I decided to start chicken broth as soon as it was available and alternate between water and chicken broth at one aid station and water and a banana peice at the next aid station. Wasn't really thinking clearly. This really didn't add up to enough calories, but what ever. I survived.

At a few aid stations I had to wait to get chicken broth because people didn't know where it was. At more than one, they had chicken broth at the very end so I had to stand beside the last garbage can to drink the broth. I generally had about 1 oz of chicken broth at the aid stations and lots of water.

Still was managing the calf cramps pretty well, running between aid stations and walking the bigger hills (when you first turn onto university avenue, observatory hill). The second time through, I even managed to run the part of observatory hill where it flattened out a bit and just walked the steep parts. Near the top of observatory hill, there were two guys talking together and the one guy said "No more uphills for a while, we get to cruise down the hill now" the other guy replied "the downhills are killing my quads". I thought to myself "my quads feel great right now!" Ha. Famous last words. That downhill on observatory drive was steep. Within a mile or two my quads started cramping as well as my calves. unfortunately the quads were more difficult to run through. Luckily (?) my stomache seemed to have calmed down.

By mile 21, I knew my quads weren't going to hold up the way they were feeling, my goal became to run as much as I possibly can. somewhere between mile 21 and 22 I walked for the first time not at an aid station or on a hill. I walked briefly between aid stations for the next little bit, but by the time I was getting back to downtown my legs were in complete agony and I was walking a lot. I would walk until my quads weren't spasming and then start to run again (the first few steps were horrible) but I would be able to run a few minutes before my quads started hurting too much that I would have to start to walk again. I'm pretty sure that when I started and stopped running if anyone had seen my face they would have known I was in a whole world of hurt.

Walked quite a bit of the last hill into the capital square - along state street, around the capital and into finish. saw my dad and step mom in the finishing shoot and stopped for hugs, high fived everyone with there hands out, but was looking everywhere for my DH and didn't see him anywhere (he was apparently off to the side with our dog because he wasn't liking the crowds. I ended up coming through the shoot with 4 or 5 other people because I wasn't thinking and was looking for my husband. My finisher pictures are crap and all have the same guy in front of me in them :(. Also Mike Rielly didn't say the magic words because there were too many people (He did say, Laura Jones, from Woodstock, Ontario, but then listed a bunch of other people). I wish I had been paying attention and waited a couple of seconds to have the finish line to myself.
What would you do differently?:

not drop my salt pills. Finish my eload on the ride. other than that, not sure why the quads started cramping, they have only done that once before - on a downhill half marathon when I was pushing the pace.

Run more hills in training - most of my long runs were pretty flat - mostly because I was babying my calf tear, but also because I had been misinformed about the run course (mostly flat - only one hill - Yeah right!). I actually only got cleared to run on hills again mid august.

after my nutrition plan had to change on the fly, I wasn't taking in enough calories. I should have been taking either more bananas or coke as well.

Again, I know if I lost some weight I would be a faster runner. I think I would want to be AT my goal weight before doing another ironman. it sounds like it would be easy to lose weight training 15-20 hours a week, but when you are hungry ALL THE TIME it is difficult to eat right.

Overall I'm pretty happy with my run. I took 15 minutes off my run time from florida on a much harder course and in tougher conditions (cramping legs). I am a teeny bit disappointed though, I think if I weren't having the cramping (first in my tummy and then in my legs), I could have easily been 10 minutes faster. My Garmin says I wasn't running for 10 minutes, so the stops waiting for broth and for bathrooms took a bit of time out of my run. Before I tore my calf in June, I was thinking 4:30 was possible, but I changed my goal to 5 hours based on how my runs were going as I was recovering, so I am a bit dissappointed, but I did as well as I could with the cards I was dealt.
Post race
Warm down:

Finish line catcher took me to get my shirt, medal and hat (does anyone else find them too big - it doesn't really fit my small head). Got my finish line picture taken and they released me to my husbands care. Went to the food tent and got a couple of slices of pizza and some chips. Ate like two chips and immediately got nauseous. New that I needed to sit down for a bit. Eventually was feeling well enough to eat my pizza and chips, but I gave a good bit of my food to my dog (he hadn't had his dinner yet and I took more than I could eat).

Started getting really cold so we went back to the hotel so that I could have a hot shower. I wanted to go back and watch the finish line, but I was too exhausted. I think if we were staying downtown I would have gone, but it was too much to have to get into the car and drive back downtown. I want to see the finish line of an IM at midnight, but I don't think I can do it in a race I am participating in. Maybe next year, DH and I will go and spectate/volunteer and IMMT and see the finish line there. We have a friend competing there next year, so it would be a good race, and we are both pretty outdoorsy so it would be a good summer vacation spot for us.

What limited your ability to perform faster:


not finishing eload

dropping salt pills

calf tear in june and not being able to run for two weeks and not run hills for a month and a half.

plantar fasciitis

Event comments:

Okay, here is where I'm going to be critical and list the things I didn't like about the race. Overall I think the organization was great, but there are some things I want to get out there for those considering doing wisconsin.

1) There are only two hotels in downtown madison. This means you will rely on your car to get to the terrace. I had to drive there and park once on thursday, three times of friday, once on saturday and then race day. pain in the butt. spent an hour and a half on friday driving between my hotel and the race venue. Crappy.

2) I wish I hadn't attended the dinner/prerace meeting. I was bored and on my own. (DH had to stay in the hotel room with our dog). The food was gross. The salads and veggies looked about as appealing as dog food. They let us eat for about an hour before even starting to talk. The race meeting didn't start until after 8! Then leaving downtown was a nightmare, I was stuck in the parking garage for about an hour. I don't think they gave any important information at the athletes meeting and I didn't get back to my hotel room until after 10. all in all, I was gone for 5 hours and it was pretty useless and I would have had a better meal in the hotel room with DH (We had a suite with a kitchen).

3) Spectators at the swim and on the bike were nuts, but a large part of the run course was pretty dead spectator wise. Really only State street (at both ends) had good spectator support on the run.

4) Ford is no longer the lead sponsor, so there is now motivational mile (I LOVED that at florida) and they don't have the motivational centre (where you cross the matt and have a message from your loved ones). Missed both of those this year.

5) The volunteers were awesome and the aid stations were pretty good. Some of them were kind of disorganized and didn't know where the chicken broth was. at a couple of them they only had both on one side not on both sides. None of the aid stations were super fun. At Florida there were a bunch of themed aid stations which were awesome (the super heros of the bike, and on the run there was a fairy tale station, a carnival station, a christmas station and who can forget the girl zone).

6) I only knew one other person from the area that was going to Wisconsin for the race, so really the only people I "knew" doing the race were BTers. There were a lot more BTers doing Florida and it felt more like a cohesive training group. I saw them everywhere race week and race day.

Overall, I would go back to florida, but I don't think I would go back to Wisconsin. I just don't like the logistics with places to stay close to the start line.

Profile Album

Last updated: 2011-09-12 12:00 AM
01:10:08 | 3862 meters | 01m 49s / 100meters
Age Group: 29/133
Overall: 529/2449
Performance: Average
Suit: nineteen riptide
Course: one big a$$ loop.
Start type: Deep Water Plus: Shot
Water temp: 72F / 22C Current: Low
200M Perf. Average Remainder: Below average
Breathing: Average Drafting: Below average
Waves: Navigation: Below average
Rounding: Good
Time: 08:44
Performance: Good
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike:
Jump on bike: Yes
Getting up to speed: Good
06:51:59 | 180.25 kms | 26.25 km/hr
Age Group: 61/133
Overall: 1529/2449
Performance: Average
first leg HR was zone 2, kept it zone 1 for most of the rest of the run except the hills. 53 miles - 3:11:23 - 16.62 mph 41 miles - 2:38:23 - 15.53 mph (special needs stop and bathroom break) 18 miles - 1:02:13 - 17.36 mph
Wind: Some
Course: a stick, two hilly loops and back to town.
Road: Smooth  Cadence: 74
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Average
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 08:33
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal Average
05:10:04 | 42.16 kms | 07m 21s  min/km
Age Group: 82/133
Overall: 1435/2449
Performance: Average
zone 1 for all of the run. 6.5 - 1:09:56 - 10:47/mile 2.5 - 27:07 - 10:50/mile 4.3 - 50:45 - 11:54/mile (generally uphill back to the start, bathroom break - had to wait in line) 6.2 - 1:14:11 - 11:57/mile (observatory hill second time) 2.5 - 31:11 - 12:42/mile (second bathroom break and quads starting to cramp) 4.3 - 56:10 - 13:12/mile (OMFG)
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 3
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 4