Ironman Wisconsin Race Report
Sunday, September 8th, 2013
Pre Race Info/Stats
This was my 8th attempt at the Ironman distance, and my 5th in Madison, Wisconsin. This would be my 3rd Ironman event as a member of team Endurance Nation-although this year, I did not do half of the workouts I should have leading into the 12 week prep for the race. I was very spotty in May and June, but hit July and August hard as “crash training”. During July and August, I took 3 trips up to Madison (WIBA in July, a weekend training with the family at the end of July, and the EN tri rally in early August) to ride the course. Several full distance swims (1:04, 1:06, 1:07), several 100 mile bike rides, one 125 mile ride, and a handful of long runs (several 13s, a 15, 16, and 18). I was not approaching this race to PR-I have more respect for the distance than the 2 months of solid training I put in. But I also hoped that my years of Ironman experience, optimal weather forecast, and new nutrition plan would lead to a great day-ideally, the 13 hour range.
We got up to Madison just in time for the Endurance Nation team dinner. Before checking into the hotel, we went straight to Monona Terrace to park and walk to the Hilton for the team dinner. After dinner and a quick grocery store trip, we checked into the Concourse Hotel Madison (a few blocks from the race site). Later I went out for a few drinks with members of EN and the coaches. It was a great way to ease into a fun weekend ahead!
I wanted to test out my wetsuit in Lake Monona as I had only had it on one other time all season, back in early July at the WIBA weekend. Met up with team EN for our morning swim around 8am, and boy was the water WARM! I only swam a little under a mile, and felt overheated by the end. I was worried for the swim because of this heat-not only did I hate swimming in a wetsuit, I knew that race officials would drop that thermometer in a nice, deep part of the lake on Sunday morning to ensure a wetsuit legal swim. I went to register immediately after, and spend a few dollars in the expo. I actually did well this year-only bought one long sleeve and the race t shirt with all the athlete’s names on it. Afterwards, I had to rush to the EN 4 Keys talk on State Street. This is definitely a must for any Ironman athlete! I went back to the hotel after to grab a quick bite and take the bike for a quick spin to make sure it was all dialed in and ready to go!
Later was the athlete dinner. This would be my 8th athlete dinner and they all start the same, Mike Reilly welcoming us with a great motivational video, then bringing up the youngest athlete, oldest athlete, inspirational stories, etc. But this year, he asked if there were any father-son athletes racing-and my FIL stood up and announced that not only were him and his 2 sons racing, their wives were as well so all 5 of us were asked to join him on stage. Mike Reilly interviewed us in front of the 2500 athletes/families at the dinner-where my FIL declared his goal to “beat Lauren” on Sunday. Oh excellent-the pressure begins ;) For the remainder of the weekend, random athletes approached my family and I wishing us all luck. We couldn’t go anywhere without being approached-I felt like a triathlon celebrity. Not kidding.
Saturday began with a monster breakfast-I think I had 7 pancakes. After, we went back to our hotel rooms to pack our transition bags and get our bikes ready for drop off. One of my biggest concerns this year was my nutrition. Every single Ironman race, I have digestive issues on the run. I get sick by mile 6 or 7 of the marathon, and the rest of the race is a death march. I spent 3 weekends in August doing 100 miler after 100 miler practicing a new nutrition plan, and I hoped that I was actually ready for it and it would work for me. It’s nearly impossible to practice in training though, because never in training do you ride 112 miles and run more than 6 miles after. After another trip to the expo to pick up some last minute necessities, we were ready to drop our bikes/bags off and head to an early dinner. Feet were up by 7:30pm, and I was actually asleep by 10:15pm.
4:30am always comes way too early. A cinnamon raisin bagel, banana, and large coffee went down right away, followed by sipping Perform until race start. We got up and walked to transition. The weather felt amazing-a tad cool, but windy! After pumping the tires and dropping off special needs bags, we were ready to walk down the helix to the lake. Even though this was my 8th Ironman start, I can’t help but feel the nerves of anticipation knowing what a long day I had ahead of me-but as EN preaches, I tried to stay in my box and worry about starting the swim-not how I’d feel at mile 80 of the bike or 16 of the run. Popped a gu 30 minutes before the swim start. Praying the day would go well, and my nutrition would hold out, I entered the water.
Swim-1:16:28 (21st in AG-Eww)
Ironman mass swim starts are hell. Whoever says “Oh, its part of the magic of Ironman” is incredibly insane. I absolutely hate the first 500-800 meters-the repeatedly getting kicked, punched, dunked, etc…it is miserable and EVERY year I want to quit within minutes. But-I move on. I am terrible at swimming in a straight line-and the waves this year made it even more challenging. I was all over the place-this was my first year swimming with my new garmin 910-and my measured distance was 2.72 miles for the swim. This must change in the future! This was also my first experience with the one-loop Ironman swim in Madison. The swim is shaped like a rectangle and first, with the back stretch extremely long and into the waves/current. I tried to stay in my box, counting my strokes, but I was very disappointed when exiting the water because my swim time was a good 6-7 minutes slower than normal times. Oh well- I knew I couldn’t control it so I decided to just move forward with my day.
The transition area in Madison is extremely long, for you must run up the helix to the changing area in Monona Terrace. I moved quickly and kept my plan simple-helmet on, socks/shoes on, sunglasses on, run to bike. In the past I’ve had amazing help in the transition tent from volunteers-unfortunately, I must’ve come in at a crowded time because I was on my own. No worries though-I was ready to ride!
112 Mile Bike- 6:31:51, 17.15mph average (16th in AG)
My goal for the bike was to ride steady and not to fall behind on nutrition. Steady watts, “flatten” the hills, spin, power downhill. I was to drink 1-1.5 bottles of Perform an hour, a gu on the :30s and 1/3 a power bar on the :00, along with 1 salt pill an hour (for a high only in the mid seventies, I hoped that would be sufficient). The way out I felt absolutely amazing-we had a stellar tail wind, my effort was low, and speed high. I felt great-perfectly tapered. This year I took about a 2.5 week taper, which felt perfect for me. Any shorter I don’t feel rested enough, and any longer leaves me feeling flat on race day. I hit Verona 16 miles in, and was smiling from ear to ear. The crowds out there are amazing and knowing the course as well as I did makes for a huge difference in my approach to the day. I know every hill, every turn, every descent, etc. like the back of my hand-so there are absolutely no surprises on race day!
I was doing well early on with nutrition. On a nice, cool day, it is easy to keep up with hydration. On race day I look forward to the toughest part of the course-the hills are lined with people Tour de France style and it truly makes you feel like a pro! Unfortunately after Timber Lane (the second huge climb on the course) I dropped my chain-no biggie, off the bike, fix it quick, back on the bike. This happened one other time on the bike-but I’d much rather that than a flat tire (which was the story of my life this summer!) so I kept on moving. Bathroom stop right before Verona on the first loop, and at the same porta john on the second loop. Hit the huge hills on the second loop still feeling great-fresh even, and I wanted to push! But I held back-It was a perfect day for a run so I was saving what I could to potentially have a great marathon run. So kept up with my nutrition-Perform, Perform, Perform (learned the hard way to at least keep one bottle of water with me during the bike-Espresso Love gus do NOT go down well with lemon lime Perform!) and dreaded what I thought would be a terrible headwind on the stick back into Madison. I must’ve saved enough-because I was flying by people on that stick and once I made the left turn towards the city, actually got a second wind and really upped my MPH for the end of the ride. My favorite part of the bike is when I hit John Nolen Drive on the way back into Madison-rounding Lake Monona, the capital building in the beautiful backdrop of the city-makes me smile ear to ear every time. And-time to get off the bike and get ready for my favorite part of the day-the Ironman marathon!
This transition I had a great volunteer help me out-race number on, visor on, running shoes on, a quick stop at the “Walgreens” table to add some Vaseline to some chaffing I had going on, a porta john stop-and I was on my way. Ready, ready, ready to RUN!
26.2 Mile Run- 4:48:45, 11:01 pace (20th in AG)
The Ironman marathon is always a test to see how well my nutrition plan went. In the past, I’ve literally just waited for my stomach to turn south and the porta john stops to begin-this year I started the run with a bag full of Immodium and Ibuprofen in my tri top. I kept thinking, how soon until this run starts to suck and the sick hits? I started at an 11 minute pace. It was tough to run that slow, but it always is in the beginning. Running that pace gets much easier throughout the day-then difficult ;) But I did my best to truck along at the pace, and I was actually doing well. EN preaches to start slower for 6 miles then pick it up-I’ve never been able to do that, because by mile 6/7 my stomach always goes south. So this year, when I hit mile 6, 7, and 8 of the run, and I realized that my pace was actually speeding up-I couldn’t believe it! But I stayed conservative-I knew the inevitable stomach issues would come-but I was trying to push back when it started. So I kept to my run nutrition plan, Perform, Perform, gu/water, continue-at each aid station I hit. It wasn’t until mile 13 that I said out loud to myself-Oh $hit this is working!!! I am still running-and its halfway through the marathon! Unreal! But, life wasn’t all rainbows and flowers at this point. My heel (that had been bothering me for some time now) started really, really bothering me-to the point that I was running on my toes on my right foot. So around 13, I took 4 Ibuprofen (I know, not my smartest move) in an effort to numb my foot to be able to run. Soon after, this worked-but boy did I feel it the next week! But during the race, I kept clocking miles at a comfortable pace-waiting for a quick moment of suck at mile 20, but I was able to mentally move past it fairly quickly because I started calculating that I’d actually break 13 pretty easily if I kept that comfortable pace. In hindsight, I may have been able to really bury myself to try and break 12:45 (a previous PR) but I was already way ahead of other goals I had for myself that I decided not to push and just keep moving forward. Miles 21-25 passed fairly quickly-and before I knew it, I was rounding the capital towards the finish line. There isn’t anything like that feeling of hundreds of people cheering for YOU-It’s the best feeling in the world!
Finish Time- 12:49:40 (20th AG)
I could not be happier for the race I pulled together on minimal training this year. I did not give Ironman training my all this year-but I guess, that’s not going to happen every year. Finally being able to figure out a nutrition plan that works for me made this entire year worth it! I’ve struggled with nutrition for 7 Ironman races, and this 8th finish was SO SWEET without those issues! I was even able to eat after the race, while I cheered on more family/friends that were finishing the race. And even though I have other goals next year-this amazing race made it impossible to not register for Ironman next year-as of this afternoon at noon-I am all in for the 2014 edition of Ironman Wisconsin. And I could not be happier J