Ironman Wisconsin - TriathlonFull Ironman

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Madison, Wisconsin
United States
Ironman North America
65F / 18C
Total Time = 14h 25m 22s
Overall Rank = 1605/2082
Age Group = W30-34
Age Group Rank = 71/112
Pre-race routine:

We got to Madison on Friday and did check in. This was my first IM and it was pretty cool to finally be there. We went to the athlete dinner Friday night and it was fun to be there with everyone else doing the race and for them to take us through the course and give us all the stats on who was registered, demographics, etc. This is also where I found out that women made up only about 30% of the field in Madison. Not sure why I thought there were more of us at the full distance, but there you have it.

Then on Saturday we went out to dinner with my mom (rmarzano), Laura (StartingToTri), Jen (jschmitchicago), Jonathan (jowisc), Chris (coredump), and Laura (Whizzzz) and I tried to get to bed at a decent hour. Sunday morning we headed down to the race site early. I managed to break the strings on two of my special needs and transition bags while making last minute changes and dropoffs. I had been obsessing about these bags and their contents since they had been handed to me at registration and I realized that at some point I needed to stop obsessing so I finally just left them.
Event warmup:

I had a lot of nervous energy so after getting body marked, pumping up my tires, etc, I headed down to the swim start. I saw my mom at her volunteer post, where Laura (StartingToTri) was also hanging out. I got hugs from them and then I went down to the beach. The IM swim start is cool enough as it is, but being down on the beach it was even cooler. The sun was just coming up over the water. In front of me were the bobbing heads of the first age groupers to wade in and behind me were hundreds of other athletes still waiting to get in. With all the excitement and energy in the air and the awesome view I thought to myself, "Whatever the day brings, at least I had the courage to try so it will all be worth it." Then I waded into the water myself, swam about 50 meters to warmup and treaded water for the next 15-20 minutes as the pros went off and we waited for the age grouper start. I was glad to finally be in the water and know that the race was about to get underway.
  • 1h 30m 51s
  • 3862 meters
  • 02m 21s / 100 meters

I had decided from the start to take the swim easy. I knew from the half distance that usually the swim is the easiest, most relaxed part of the day for me. I also knew that going hard on the swim to improve my rank coming out of the water was not going to do any favors for the rest of my race so I took it at a nice pace and tried to swim steady.

Since I'm not the fastest swimmer anyway I seeded myself towards the back, but with 2000+ vertical bodies going horizontal and kicking their legs and flailing their arms all at once when the cannon goes off it was bound to be a rough start no matter where you seeded yourself. The first part of loop 1 was not bad, but the back half was one of the most aggressive, violent OWS experiences I've had. I was in too close to the buoy line and got clobbered by hordes of male age groupers who were showing no mercy. I always put my goggle straps under my swim cap and I have never been more glad I do so. With all the times I got hit in the head, I probably would have lost my goggles ten times over. I also got kicked in the head at one point and it gave me a headache that stuck around for the rest of the day. The second loop thinned out and the rest of the swim was fairly uneventful. All in all, I still came in with a better time than I expected.
What would you do differently?:

Make sure I swim to the outside of the masses and avoid large aggressive hordes of fast swimming male age groupers whenever possible?
Transition 1
  • 15m 30s

Getting stripped of your clothing, even if it's a wetsuit, in the manner it happens at the IM is an experience. I didn't know how to do it right either. I had it halfway down my @ss and apparently it's so ample the suit didn't want to go any further. They basically pushed me to the ground as they grabbed it, said "Don't worry - we'll take care of that!" and then BAM! It was off.

I ran up the helix and saw Jonathon, Jen, Cindy K, and other various BTers. Then in the change room I discovered the joy of trying to slide tight spandex shorts over wet skin. This would account for the ridiculously slow T1 time. Since the day was going to be cool, I had decided to wear a regular swim suit for the swim and put on dry clothes for the bike. As I stood there grunting and struggling my volunteer calmly and methodically went through every last item in my T1 bag and had everything ready to go before I knew what happened. In case I don't remember to say it again later - the volunteers for this race are AMAZING.

I carried my bike shoes into the bike rack transition area. It's such a long run to do in cleats and I knew I would run faster in my socks. It only took a few seconds to put the shoes on at the rack anyway. I also stopped off to use the restroom on the way to the bike.
What would you do differently?:

Know how to get wetsuit stripped. I brought a towel to dry off after the swim, but it didn't make much difference in helping me get my bike shorts on so maybe find a way to magically fast dry my skin so the bike shorts go on easier. What is the secret to this?
  • 7h 44m 9s
  • 112 miles
  • 14.48 mile/hr

So here it was. The bike. If ever there was a part of triathlon to send me into panic attacks, this is it. Aside from the insecurities about it that I cook up on my own, I've had more than one person tell me they weren't sure I would make it. I have lived in a state of constant anxiety about this portion of the race almost since I started triathlons and now it was time to face it. I told myself that I was trained, I was ready, and I could do it. I took a deep breath, clipped in, and rolled out.

My plan was to spin through the first loop in the small ring and then push it harder on the second loop going into the big ring whenever I wasn't climbing. Having ridden this course a couple times in training I knew how unforgiving that second loop could be if you're not careful. The crowds on the three major climbs in the last third of the loop were also incredible. It was like the Tour de France with everyone screaming and yelling and holding up signs. Laura, Laura, my mom, Chris, Jen, Jonathan, and Cindy were at the top of the third hill and all have photos to document their presence there, but I somehow managed to miss them. I also knew that Griz was working an aid station on the course, but missed him too. Thanks for coming out guys.

I came into special needs a little slower than expected. I saw daviddclough there volunteering too. I had heard someone yell my name heading out and now I knew who it was. As I was going through my bottles I realized I had taken in the normal amount of Sustained Energy, but not as much water. I didn't really understand that as I had used the exact same nutrition amounts and timing I did in training. I resolved to be extra vigilant with my nutrition in the second loop. It was tough starting out as the wind had really kicked up. Despite knowing I had a pretty large window of time left, I started calculating in my head what would happen if the wind stole what I had left in my legs. Or if I slowed for some other reason. Would I still make the cutoff if I got a flat?

Rather than ride the last 50 miles in fear of the cutoff, I decided to refocus and stick to the plan. I still spun up the hills but otherwise rode more aggressively wherever I could. It was quiet out there. The crowds had left since their loved ones were already done with the bike. It can be hard to be one of the last people in knowing everyone else, including the spectators, has moved on and left the bike behind them and you're still out there trying to finish. Something was also off with my nutrition. I started to feel really bloated and I was struggling to force the proper calories down for the last 15 miles. Despite all this I thought the ride went well. I negative split the second loop and only came in 14 minutes behind my goal.
What would you do differently?:

Use different nutrition the next time I train for and race an IM. I've used this all summer and bonked my last 100+ mile ride. I had assumed it was an electrolyte issue as it was a hot day, but I wasn't feeling well again on this ride. I think I'm going to try Infinit since everyone seems to have good luck with that.
Transition 2
  • 08m 43s

I handed my bike off to the volunteer and I saw my mom and Laura (StartingToTri) yelling from above as I ran into T2. I got my T2 bag and ran into the change room. My volunteer grabbed it from me as I sat down and that's when I cracked. I started crying. I felt like I had been holding my breath over this portion of the race since I signed up last year. I had held it together for the last 112 miles and to be done finally was overwhelming. And all of the people who had come out to support us all, some of whom have been mentioned here plus countless others, was also overwhelming. They have been telling me I will be okay after tough training rides, cheering me on in races, pointing out my progress on the bike when I didn't see it myself, and believing in me when my own faith has wavered. I'm not sure I could have done it with out them. And finally I was through it.

My volunteer was wonderful in how she handled me. She saw my tears and asked if I was okay. I wailed yes and told her I just needed minute. While I tried to gather myself she quietly told me how awesome I was doing and that we were all amazing. And then just as calmly as my first volunteer she inventoried my bag as I disassembled myself as a cyclist and put myself back together again as a runner. And random sobs kept escaping me while I did so. She told me I would be okay and then sent me on my way.
What would you do differently?:

I'm not sure. I felt good just to make it from the bike to the run and I've decided not to question the whole process this time around.
  • 4h 46m 9s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 10m 55s  min/mile

I had absolutely no idea what to expect of this marathon. The IM marathon is a different sort of beast than a stand alone marathon. I knew that much, but that was it. Shortly after heading out I saw Laura, Chris, Jen, Jonathan, my mom, Cindy, everyone again. They were amazing out there. I think they put out as much energy trying to catch us all on the course as we did racing. My legs felt surprisingly good, but my stomach not so much. I still felt really bloated. I was only able to take in water for the first hour. I tried a gu at the end of the first hour and could only get about half of it down before I almost puked it back up. I couldn't decide if I thought puking would relieve some of the bloating or make me want to cry again because I hate puking. My skin also hurt. It was weird. With every step the skin around my core, on my legs, and eventually even the skin on my arms just hurt.

I forced myself to take in Gatorade over the next hour because I knew I wouldn't make it through the marathon without some sort of nutrition. It seemed to help for a couple of miles and then the bloating came back, with a little cramping to keep it company. The stomach issues weren't enough to compromise my running yet and I was able to keep about a ten minute pace through the first 13.1 miles. I felt decent heading out for the second loop, but my stomach was starting to complain a bit louder. I started to wonder if the problem was that my body was just in such distress from the long day that it wasn't able to absorb the calories. I decided to walk a couple minutes after each aid station to let my body calm down and get the nutrition in. I didn't want to walk the rest of the way though so I only allowed myself to do that until my stomach calmed down. I also made sure to run strong past family and friends. I didn't want them to think I was having problems and worry because I knew that I would be able to finish. It just might not be as pretty as I had imagined in my head prior to the race. Of course, the marathon at the end of an Ironman is one of the toughest things many people on the course will do mentally and physically. I had become acutely aware by that point that if you're looking for pretty, this is not where you'll find it.

Shortly after I passed my mom and crew on the second loop the cramps got bad. I wondered if it was a GI issue. I stopped off at a porta potty, but nothing. WTF? What is the problem? I'll admit that I was relieved. Needing to frequent porta potties in the late stages of an IM run when it's dark outside and pitch black inside the porta potty and you're not sure your legs will hold you up is not my idea of a good time. I settled into running when I could and walking when I needed to. Sometimes I would get up to a mile without the cramping and sometimes I would only get a few minutes. My legs still felt good and I think had it not been for the stomach issues I could have maintained my pace. I kept this up from mile 19 to mile 25. When I saw that mile marker I knew I was almost home and I decided to run the rest of the way regardless of what my stomach thought we ought to do.

Coming into the finish line is unbelievable. The crowds are stacked several deep, there are lights everywhere, everyone is screaming and yelling, and you feel like a rock star. You can't help but grin from ear to ear. As I crossed the line all I could think was, "I can't believe I just did it!"
What would you do differently?:

Not much. If I have my nutrition under control coming off the bike next time I think I'll be okay on the run.
Post race
Warm down:

I crossed the line and felt like I could collapse. My finish line catcher did a great job of holding me up. I looked to the side and Amy Jo (Amyjotris) ran over and caught me on the other side. I felt giddy. I kept smiling and saying things like, "I did it!" Then my other catcher stuck his face in front of mine and I realized it was David (daviddclough). They could see I was a little out of it so rather than line me up for a photo they took me straight to my mom and Laura. Thanks guys!

Laura and my mom tried to walk me for a bit and I started crashing hard. I couldn't hold myself up very well and I was apparently starting to slur my words. They took me to the med tent where they decided I should go in the back. I couldn't stand up on my own so two of the volunteers helped me. As soon I was standing they tried to get me to walk and I started to fall. Two of them half carried half dragged me to the back as they kept saying "Stay awake, try to walk."

They asked me lots of questions about my nutrition, how much I had peed, etc and wouldn't let me sleep despite my best efforts to go unconscious every two seconds. It didn't seem I was dehydrated, but my blood pressure was really low for awhile (80 over something). After they tested my blood they said I also had low blood sugar and fed me lots of broth and soda. As with every other volunteer at this race, they were amazing. After they let me go, my mom, Laura, and Cindy were waiting. I got my finish line photo and then we headed out.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Nutrition issues that started on the bike. But even still, I'm really happy with how things went. I still came in over a half hour faster than expected.

Event comments:

This race was amazing. The organization is great, the volunteers are out of this world, it's well supported on the course and with spectators. They really do a great job. I would absolutely do it again and I can't wait to go out and volunteer and cheer for those who do it next year.

Profile Album

Last updated: 2007-10-04 12:00 AM
01:30:51 | 3862 meters | 02m 21s / 100meters
Age Group: 95/112
Overall: 1865/2082
Performance: Good
Suit: Blue Seventy sleeveless
Course: Two counter clockwise loops in Lake Menona.
Start type: Deep Water Plus: Shot
Water temp: 61F / 16C Current: Low
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Average
Breathing: Good Drafting:
Waves: Navigation: Good
Time: 15:30
Performance: Below average
Cap removal: Average Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
07:44:09 | 112 miles | 14.48 mile/hr
Age Group: 93/112
Overall: 1991/2082
Performance: Good
Wind: Some
Course: A two loop course out in Verona, Mt. Horeb and various other small towns.
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence:
Turns: Average Cornering: Average
Gear changes: Good Hills: Average
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Not enough
Time: 08:43
Overall: Good
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
04:46:09 | 26.2 miles | 10m 55s  min/mile
Age Group: 42/112
Overall: 1019/2082
Performance: Good
Course: One of the most twisting, winding, weaving courses I have ever encountered. I had no idea where I was the entire time. Depending on how strong you are, there are some small hills you may want to walk to save your legs.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Not enough
Post race
Weight change: %
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