Saturday, September 19, 2015

Ironman Wisconsin 2015 Race Report

Ironman Wisconsin Race Report 2015
Total Finish time-11:46- 59 minute PR

Since I know many of my tri-geek friends enjoy reading race reports, and because I never want to forget this day-Here is my incredibly long race report J Scroll down for the race report, as the first 1.5 pages are background of the year J

Pre Race Information:
Those of you that follow me on Facebook know that I registered for 3 full distance Ironman races this year; numbers 10, 11, and 12.  I did this to be eligible for Kona Legacy.  I knew it was nuts but thought to myself that I could potentially have a great day at least at one of the races and simply “complete” the other two.   I had no idea how to properly prepare for a season like this, and I was lucky to have a good friend offer to coach me for the year (coach me, help me survive, either way).

Back on December 1st when I started training, we had a conversation discussing my goals for the year.  Besides completing all 3 Ironman races healthy and in one piece, I let him in on my secret goal I’ve had for many years-to break 12 hours. My PR for the Ironman distance to this point was 12:45, back in Madison in 2011. I haven’t been able to touch it since-my times were actually getting much slower.  He told me it was possible this year, and that my A-race would be Ironman Wisconsin. I was skeptical-Wisconsin was 7 weeks after Ironman Lake Placid, and 4 weeks before Ironman Louisville, so I didn’t see how that could be “the” race.  He seemed confident, though, and was all year-so I put my trust in him and just did the workouts as I was told.

This season was tough-lots of speed work, long trainer rides, and mind-numbing treadmill workouts.  I completed Ironman Lake Placid in July having a sub-par day after bonking at mile 3 of the marathon (I did not execute a proper nutrition plan). My coach was confident that my fitness was there, and that I was just a few hundred calories away from a perfect day.  After such a terrible time in Placid, I kind of kissed my Sub-12 goal away for the year and just hoped to get my nutrition right for a potential PR in Madison. I spent the weeks between Placid and Wisconsin focusing on recovery, building back up, and dropping some excess weight to get into prime race shape for Wisconsin.  I was feeling strong and ready 2 weeks out, and knew that a PR was possible. 

3 days before Ironman Wisconsin I texted my coach asking what he thought I could do that day.  We discussed a lot about single sport times, but I really wanted to know what he thought I could pull together that day.  His response text read “11:48”. I’ve never laughed out loud from a text the way I did after reading that, and said, “What do you REALLY think I could do?” and he said another goal to pacify me “12:14”.  My goal for the race was a PR, but thought I could potentially be around 12:20, provided my nutrition stayed legit.

Race Weekend
Thursday-I had to drive up late Thursday night, as my school had curriculum night until 8:30pm.  I arrived around 11pm, unloaded my car, and tried to go straight to bed.  Ended up tossing and turning most of the night, though.

Friday-I was up early to do a group swim with some friends and try out my new wetsuit I just purchased Tuesday-my other one was a bit too big and I didn’t want that slowing me down.  The wetsuit felt great and I really enjoyed running into lots of tri friends I only get to see a few times a year.  Afterwards I registered, went to the EN 4 Keys talk, and headed back to start packing my bags. My coach got into Madison a bit later to help me with a few last minute bike issues, and then I was off to dinner at the Great Dane with the tri-crew.  A fun first day!

Saturday-Up early again (I cannot sleep in anymore to save my life) and took a short spin on the bike.  It was freezing out so I started second guessing what I should wear race morning.  My favorite part of Ironman weekend though is the Saturday morning carb-loading breakfast. Met Ryan, Dotty, Ebe and our new friend Melanie for all you can eat pancakes. I love carbs and missed them the last few weeks. Then dropped off my race bags and bike, and off my feet for the rest of the day. While I barely slept the whole weekend, I did well staying off my feet Saturday.

Sunday-Actually got close to 6 hours of sleep the night before (probably because I was sleep deprived all week) and up at 4am.  Breakfast was an English muffin with peanut butter and honey, banana, bottle of Gatorade and coffee. Got to transition, pumped my tires and loaded my bike with my bottles.  Then headed to meet Ebe and Ashten for some pre-race pictures.  Ran into Jeff also, great to see him prerace.  I’d end the day finishing within 5 minutes of him, which was great. Our post race celebration was epic as well J I was incredibly nervous for this race.  I worked so hard this year, and wanted at least 1 race to show for it.  I knew Kentucky would not be the race being 4 weeks after Wisconsin, and I’m not sure I’ll be recovered in time for that, so I put a lot of pressure on myself to really execute at Wisconsin.

Ok, here’s the actual race report J

Swim- 1:10:xx
This was my 7th Ironman Wisconsin start and first that I didn’t start by the shoreline. I HATE ironman swim starts-the mass start stresses me out and I really don’t like all the contact early on. But I wanted to give absolutely everything for this race that I had, so I decided to start as close to the buoy line as I could. Cannon goes off, and the race starts-surprisingly, I had fairly open water until the first turn buoy.  I didn’t have my typically panic attack to start the swim, and I was able to settle into a rhythm early.  The first buoy was crowded, then holy sun.  I wished that I had goggles that blocked that sun for me, because the rest of the swim (until I turned back towards the shore) was brutal for sighting.  But I kept on and was happy getting out of the water in 1:10, without pushing hard at all.

Transition 1-9:XX
The IMWI transition is brutal. The long run up the helix and through the parking lot adds time, but I spent WAY too much time in transition putting on dry, warm clothes for the bike.  The air temp was in the low 50s and I did not want to be cold, so I took time to put on a dry tri top, arm warmers, and bike jersey.  It took awhile but I was very comfortable for the bike, so in my eyes this was worth the extra few minutes.

Bike- 6:10:XX, 18.19 average
My plan for the bike was to stay at 140 watts and keep on my nutrition.  I’ll hit more on nutrition later.  On the bike, I was excited to see that the wind didn’t seem too bad yet.  The congestion at the beginning of the ride was typical for IMWI-anytime you have a mass start swim, and swim a fairly average time; you are going to start the bike in a big group of people. I did my best to pass fairly, but at mile 4 of the bike a motorcycle (race official) pulls up next to me to give me a penalty for not completing a pass quickly enough. Oh did I want to argue at this point, because it is nearly impossible to stay at legal bike lengths that early in the bike, but I kept my cool and accepted the penalty.  I threw myself a pity party for this for the next 12 miles, until I hit the penalty box and had to serve my 5-minute penalty.  This was the first Ironman in 11 starts I received a penalty. I was really not happy about it, but I knew that the day was too long to let it be ruined this early from a penalty. So I told myself as soon as I left the penalty tent I would forget about it. And I’m pretty proud that I was able to pretty much do that.

The rest of the ride felt great.  I felt strong and nutrition was going well.  I was staying away from Gatorade on the bike, as I feel that Gatorade all throughout the bike is what hurts my stomach year in and year out on the run.  So I stuck with EFS drink, water, and ate an uncrustable, 2 powerbar wafers, a half of a banana, and mini clif bar (because I was getting hungry) out on the bike.  This all seemed to work great, because my stomach felt great the whole ride.

I really looked forward to the big hills on the bike.  I love the crowd support, and I knew that some of my close friends would be there, so it really helped break up the ride for me.  Ashten ran some hill repeats up bitch #2 with me, which was a blast-Ebe was out there as well, and Dave and some other friends on bitch #3. I couldn’t believe how quickly the ride went.  Now there was nothing left to do but pray that my stomach would hold out for the run.  We had a great tailwind on the way back into Madison and I was able to spin out my legs a bit to get ready for the marathon.

Transition 2-5:XX
After a near collision on the helix (Love you Katie) I safely made it to transition.  I tried to quickly transition (not successfully apparently) and left to see what my legs had left for the run.

Run- 4:11:XX, 9:36 pace
I started my run by not looking at my watch and running by feel.  I saw Ashten right away, which really helped give me energy.  Running down State Street is amazing-so many people cheering; it is impossible to not have energy to start the marathon.  First mile- 8:18. I thought to myself, oh shit.  I really need to slow down.  The EN 4 Keys popped into my head, so I definitely tried to back it down after that first mile.  2nd mile-8:45.  I’m thinking to myself, WTF. How are these miles happening? But I was only at mile 2, with 24 to go, so I figured, really try and slow it down.  The next mile was in the low 9s. I was able to slow it down a bit, but my body also didn’t want to.  Ebe told me something before the race that really stuck with me-you are always going to slow down in an Ironman marathon, so why not start a bit quicker and see how long you can hold it?  A few weeks ago I thought he was completely stupid for saying that, but with the way I was feeling 3 miles in, I thought-What the hell.  My stomach seemed to be holding up, I felt that I had my legs underneath me, so I figured, let’s see what I’ve got today.  So I kept trucking along. The next few miles were in the low 9s and upper 8s, I couldn’t believe I was seeing these paces in an Ironman marathon.  Then I saw Ebe out on the course. Without him all over that course, I don’t know if I would have had the mental strength to keep pushing along.  He rode his bike all over the place to see me at the places on the course that he knew were most difficult for me, and it really made such a difference. 

At mile 13, I saw Ashten again.  She ran a few steps with me and really just coached me along. Lied and said I looked great (this was a very low point;)) and was incredibly encouraging.  I got to see her again after the turn around in Madison and heading out for loop 2.

This is when I started trying to do math in my head.  After racing for 9 + hours at this point, it is nearly impossible to do mathematical calculations, I’ll tell ya. I knew that my PR was going to happen, but part of me thought that my secret goal I refused to say out loud was a possibility-going under 12 hours.  I started trying to add paces and do calculations and was failing miserably, so the next time I saw Ebe I asked him to do the math for me. He quickly was able to tell me that as long as I maintain a 12-minute pace, I’d break 12. I almost cried at that point, because all of my miles had been significantly under a 10 minute pace to this point. Then he said, push 10s and you’ll be at 11:45.  When he said this time I was absolutely shocked-that time was never even a goal in my head, and now I had a legitimate chance of getting it.  I had a quick conversation with myself here and said, think about all of those hours-those long treadmill runs, 5+ hour trainer rides, 5000 yard swims (#coachebeisaprick)…you deserve this day. You’ve EARNED this day.  Now go get it.  So I put my head down and just went.  It hurt, my legs were retaliating, and I got to a point where I literally told my legs to F off (out loud, people were staring but I couldn’t care).  Once I hit mile 22, I started asking every aid station what time it was to make sure I was going to finish by 7pm.  At mile 23 I started crying.  Even now, I’m not sure if those were tears of joy, pain, suffering, or what-but I cried.  Mile 24 hit.  Good god did I hurt.  But I was going to do it.  At mile 25, it was almost like all the pain was taken away-I was going to kill my PR. I still couldn’t figure out what time I was coming in at (I get so stupid at these things). Coming down State Street and rounding the capital, my cheeks started hurting from smiling.  At this point I felt like I could fly.  Entering the finisher’s chute, seeing 11:46 on the clock ahead of me, I can’t even describe the emotion.  So many hours, so many sacrifices, 10 years of this sport-I felt like ALL paid off at that moment. Dave Rodda was a finish line catcher, and I literally ran right into his arms.  What a feeling.  Unbelievable.

Ebe and Ashten were both waiting for me at the finish. We took pictures, and then Ashten had to drive back to Iowa (Thanks again so much girl for coming all the way out!).  I ended up going out celebrating that night with some of my favorite people, closing down the bars.  It was amazing how much energy I still had.

This all would not have happened without the support from my family, friends, and Coach Ebe.  I’m so thankful to have such great people in my life that support this crazy addiction.  And I can’t say enough-thanks to Ebe for believing I could do even more than I ever thought I could. He set the bar high for me, was tough, but gave me the push I needed to finally reach my goals.  I’m forever in your debt.

I’m a week post-Ironman and starting to feel semi-normal again.  This crazy year isn’t over quite yet-I am toeing the line at Ironman Kentucky 3 weeks from tomorrow. I don’t know if I’ll be recovered, or I’ll feel great, but at least the pressure is off because I was able to reach my goal (well beyond it!) at Wisconsin. Thanks for reading! J

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