Short Story: First IronMan completed in 11:56.20. Good swim, challenging bike, and well supported run. Excited to improve this time in the future.
Long Story: Travel - In late 2013 after unsuccessfully getting into IM Chattanooga 2014 due to a registration issue I was pretty bummed and reconsidering the idea of a 2014 IM. A major advantage of IM Chattanooga would be training on the course with people I knew providing a mental advantage and a window into the unknown of a full distance triathlon. I was not crazy about doing another IM without that support so I was pretty disappointed when I could not get in. After about a week of sulking Amanda called me at work to notify me that she had the registration page for IM Wisconsin open and was ready to press 'GO' if I was. She reminded me that I would have family on the course as spectators and IM Wisconsin would happen before IM Chattanooga so I could train with my normal group but just peak 3 weeks early. And that is how it happened...
Training started in January following Mountain Mist 50k (And the Grand Slam). I went into 8 months of training with a good run base, decent cycling base and TERRIBLE swim base. It was clear that I would need help and it would have to be from a professional. I am lucky to live in an area with an abundance of awesome tri-coaches which allowed me to select the best local coach to help train my weakest sport - swimming. (This is a shout out to Dr. Lisi Bratcher for 9 months of help and expertise!) Structured training was a difficult concept to understand at first but I reluctantly gave in after my first Tri of the year put me on the podium. After more than double the swim distance from 2013 and countless open water swims I am happy to say that although I am not a pro swimmer I can hold my own in the middle of the pack! (Had to save some improvements for 2015 right??)
The last tune up race of the year for me was Rocket Man Olympic. I raced in a 'low power' zone because the event was at the start of taper and still almost got a Olympic distance PR! This was a key mental gain for me in believing that I was ready for IM Wisconsin. In staying with a good taper I went to watch Amanda and Lorelei podium at Atomic Man Half Distance Tri in Knoxville and then maintained a low impact training schedule leading up to travel time.
|Leaving for IM Wisconsin!|
|Looking at my bike in transition.|
|My exact thoughts on swimming.|
Race Day 9/7/2014 - Before I went to sleep I made sure to have everything I needed set out for race morning. All the watches, bike computers, toilet paper, goggles, wet suites, tri kits etc etc were all ready to go. Transition opened at 5:00 AM so I set an alarm to wake up at 4:15 and then every 5 minutes after that. Surprisingly, I slept through the night and woke up refreshed at 4:15. I had time to get a quick shower, lather up in sunscreen and tri-glide, and eat a blueberry breakfast muffin with coffee. We were out the door by 4:45 to pick up Rick and Peggy (Amanda's parents) and head over to transition. We had a hotel on the east side of Madison (opposite side of the race) and were able to get quick close parking at the North parking garage by the Capital. I HIGHLY recommend doing the same thing if you can't get a hotel right downtown. We easily made it to transition by 5:15 with ZERO traffic or slowdowns.
Race morning was a cool 53 degrees so I made an effort to stay covered up for as much of the morning as possible. Dropping off nutrition and computer at the bike, body marking, and rest rooms were all pretty easy to access. I was working pretty hard to not freak out or get to nervous before the race started. We headed down to the swim start around 6:20 for a 7:00 race start. I traded clothes and shoes for my sleeveless wet suite, had a gel, said my good-byes to Amanda and her parents then headed off into the water. Water temp was still 72 so it was warmer than the air but still a little chilly to stand in. I found a rock to stand on in about neck deep water to save energy and wait on the cannon. IM Wisconsin is a mass start with you and your closest 3000 friends so I took note on where I could work into the group without getting thunder punched like the fiasco in Racine. Right before the gun went off I was able to find a totally calm place to settle my mind and convince myself I was ready to become an IronMan!
7:00 the gun fired and we were off! I found myself on the outside section cutting a diagonal path to the closest buoy. Despite my effort to stay away from the pack there was no avoiding it so the best I could do was draft feet and pass when possible. It was obvious in the group that everybody was taking care to not kick or swat other participants until things started to thin out. The first turn
|Beautiful morning for a swim!|
|Trotting out of the water.|
T1 took forever (7:41) partially because of the long run from swim in up the spiral to the actual transition room. I probably lost a few seconds putting on my bike shoes and running in them the next 1/4 mile to my bike but that is just another lesson learned. Sun screen went on quick and they had my bike ready to grab as I ran through transition. I mounted at the mount line and cruised back down the spiral to start 112 miles of fun.
|Wisconsin elevation change totaling 5,564 ft.|
|Chattanooga elevation change totaling 3,698 ft.|
a pretty severe accident. (I saw two!) The course starts with a rolling 16 mile section that leads out to two 40 mile loops and the same path back. We drove most of the course earlier in the summer after Racine 70.3 but missed about 15 miles of the 40 mile loop. (No big deal right?) The sections we drove included several large climbs that had my bike in the lowest of low gear then highest of high. My goal was to lay down 175-185 average watts without surging over to bad. It became pretty obvious that I would have to be careful as the hills required 300 watts for a few minutes to climb each. The course was (I think strategically) laid out so that each long hill climb would greet you at the crest with a 'SLOW' sign because of the sharp turn at the bottom. It was a momentum eating course. They did have ambulances waiting for those who wanted to try and bomb the turn though.
|Showing my aero on a climb.|
|Land of cheese!|
was right after the second to last aid station (80 miles) there was a rough rail road crossing. As I sailed over the crossing I must have picked a bad line because the bump ejected my front bottle. I had to stop to get my bottle and was a little disappointed that all of my fluid and nutrition had spilled out. In an effort to keep weight down I oped to not fill any other bottles so I was now almost out of fluid and nutrition. I made the best of the situation by conserving what I had and taking it easy to the next aid station. I ended up switching to gels there as a replacement for my lost nutrition without consequence. By about the 5:15 mark I was starting to get ready to be off the bike and onto the run. The ride back into Madison was easier than going out because the traffic had thinned down and the bike course was not an unknown. The last climb was the spiral up the parking deck to transition where I decided I better not flying dismount on a climb. Bike was done in 5:43:47 with an average of 19.55 mph and 174 watts.
|Working on my first loop.|
The run out started on the East/North side of the capital building
|In the stadium!|
|Dad checking in on my run.|
I had an odd feeling of working to solve my leg problem but knowing the only thing it would effect was my finish time - NOT MY FINISH! The live track numbers showed everybody at home (and Amanda) that my pace fell apart and everybody thought the worst. I saw Amanda on my way back into town (then at a 10:00 run pace) and let her know what the problem was. I felt great, had great energy, and had accepted that the 10:00 pace was superior to an 8:00 pace because I was no longer restricted to eating gels and could have pretzels, potato chips, coke, cookies and chicken broth!
|Energy to spare!|
It was a long 9 month journey that brought me to the finish line and none of it would of been possible without the help of coaches, friends and family. I had a great coach (Lisi), great training partners (Clay, Jason, Jeff, Donnie and Eric -B and C), a great race team (Fleet Feet) and understanding wife (Amanda - she is only half crazy right now). I was ridiculously lucky to have a training cycle with NO significant injuries or illness. For those who are wondering I now have my eyes on Chattanooga 2015 or Florida 2015 for my next full.
A quick note about the Wisconsin course for anybody who might give it a shot in the future. The swim has only had one year that was not wet suite legal and that year was a heat wave with several 100 degree days. If you check water temperature on the internet it will say 76-77 and measure on site 71-72. Don't panic if you see that. The bike course was advertised as 4,200 is feet of climbing but what they don't say is that is for just one 40 mile loop. My Garmin had me at 5,564 feet of climbing and a normalized power of 188 watts. I rode Chattanooga in training and measure it at 3,698 and 179 watts at a faster pace without abusing my small chain ring like was required at Wisconsin. The marathon had one longer hill climb that is probably best to walk and several smaller climbs and false flats. In training I did about 8-10 18-22 mile runs over Cecial Asburn that more than prepared me for the Wisconsin course. If all else fails just walk from mile 8! The listed course average finish time is 13:16 placing it about 45 minutes slower than Florida.
|Embarising family picture.|
|Bill's awesome shirt.|
We started back in a convoy of Alabama cars early Tuesday morning. I got to pass the time by doing a little driving, taking frequent stops, and watching both of my legs swell up with fluid. After 13.5 hours of driving we arrive home safely to start the two week recovery process! Epic trip to end the 2014 triathlon season!