Sunday, September 16, 2007

Ironman Wiscosin Race Report

This is it. The long and the short. One year in the making. Some might say I've had my eye on this since the first Ironman Wisconsin back in 2002.

Here is the very short version:

swim 1:48:13 / 391 age group / 2149 over all,
bike 7:54:22 / 382 age group / 2057 over all,
run 6:14:31 / 368 age group / 1981 over all,
Total 16:15:10 // 377/399 age group // 2039/2209 over all


Pre-race:

I set three alarms to 3:30 A.M. It didn't take me long to go to sleep. I worried that meant I was tired, but I just had the low power usage thing down. The body knew something was coming..

Race morning..

I woke up to some kid noise at 1:30 am.. I took this as a good opportunity to drink my fabulous liquid Ensure breakfast. Eating early helps. I would not be trying to get rid of a 4:30 breakfast at 6:15. And once the wetsuit is on, it gets tougher.

I took the shuttle to the terrace, and was at the transition area at 5am sharp! Good. I took my sweet time doing almost everything. It was great how at Ironman you are forced to bag and tag it everything. There isn't much to think about race morning. It's all done. I loaded up the bike with a bottle of Hammer Gel (26oz straight up, yea!), one 22oz Gatorade bottle, one 22oz water bottle. I borrowed a tire pump from a fellow Crucible guy three bikes down. Then I was good to go. Now, I had almost too much time (greatly preferred to the alternative). I ran into James (Joe's buddy from MN). He looked calm and set. I started down the ramp. No, not yet. I don't want to sit by or in the water too long. I went back to look at the bike one more time for sanity sake. Back at the bike everything was fine. OK, time to get back out of transition area. Hey, there's Joe. We chatted it up a bit. We realized our bikes were next to each other. Good luck Joe.! A few deep breaths and I'm heading back down the ramp.

I went down and laid on a little hill in the grass for a bit. Finally I decided to get my wetsuit half on. Very few folks were getting in the water at this point. It's a small ramp to get out there, so it does take 2200 folks a while to do so once they decide to go. I get the idea it's time to go, and so do the other 2199 entrants. It took much longer than I thought to get out into the water. I saw Ali and said " good luck" or something I hope she took as well wishing. The national anthem played while we got in the water. It was very emotional. It was a beautiful day. By this time, I had adrenaline gushing through my veins. I think I hid it well and stayed relatively calm considering. I knew I needed to save my energy.

Once in the water, I just laid back and waited. I did not line up in the very back. There was a pretty good bunch up at the front. Behind the front, mostly a folks scattered all over behind that wall of go getters. I think I ended up pretty close to the dead middle. For non-Ironman folks reading this, the middle is told to be about the worst spot to line up. It really didn't seem like many were around.

THE SWIM



POP! The canon goes off! OK, this is it. Deep breath, count to two. I hit my stopwatch and go! It occurs to me that all Timex Ironman watches should have a built in timer from 7am to midnight. Oh well.

I start swimming, next to (it seems like) no one. Oh wait, there they all are. Now I'm finding out what the washing machine is all about. I think I could learn to open water swim pretty well if I could just do an Ironman swim every couple weeks or so! I had switched up to my sleeveless wetsuit, as it was 74 or something silly warm (compared to Racine). My arms thanked me for it. My armpits were really PO'd that I forgot the body glide (wetsuit to skin lube). Pain incurred on the swim doesn't necessarily go away the rest of the day. This is especially true if you forget the Body Glide.

The best intel I had says I hung in with the ( or a ) pack there for a while on the swim. It was a bit daunting. I would site, get going good for a bit, then WHAM! Some "clown dressed in a seal costume" would stop in front of me. They got their penance for stopping. I had to start up again from zero. Also, my sighting was "OK" when it was more crowded (on the 1st lap).. I thought I was doing well, but had NO clue on time.. I looked at my watch at lap 1 turn which said close to 50 min (right around my 1/2 Ironman swim time). I figured (hoped) I'd swim about the same on the second, as I wasn't killing myself or anything. Though I had never really swam farther than say 2500 yards. The second loop did thin out, though I"m not sure how. Maybe some of the folks I swam with had cut and run on loop one. I was probably on pace for 1:40-1:45 until turn three, where I went way wide. For whatever reason, I spent a long time trying to get back in near the buoys. I kept leaning to the outside. Eventually, I got back in. Turning that last corner and seeing the swim finish was something else. I hadn't looked at my watch, but I somehow knew I was going to make it. At the same time, that must have been the longest few hundred yards I've ever swam.

Crazy first Ironman note on the swim. I didn't wear the tinted goggles. I don't know why. On the trip back, the sun was making spots in my eyes. The crazy part, the spots looked like M-dots. Yeah, I know what it sounds like. I laughed under water.

Oh yeah... 1:48:13 could have been much worse. But, I didn't get any free cushion on the bike or run for finishing the swim early!

T-1



I will take running up the helix at Ironman over the sand run at Racine. It wasn't too bad, maybe because I was so dang happy.

In spite of scoping out the transition area, and having Joe go over the details. I knew I wasn't really going to get it until the spectacular volunteers just pointed me true. They, of course, did so. It did look like the biggest transition area I'd ever seen. It was. It flew by quickly. I made no mad rush to get in and out. I just made deliberate and purposeful forward movement. Shoes, gloves, arm warmers (planning for the run mostly), extra sunscreen, Porto-let to get rid of excess fluid. 9:59.. talk about going sub 10!!

THE BIKE



WOW! Is this a beautiful course on a beautiful day? Yes! One couldn't have ordered better anything that day. Up until Racine, I thought I was rocking on the bike. After Racine, I hit a wall and thought I was going to have trouble getting the course done on time. I had a little light shed on me those last few weeks of training. All in all I knew I needed a good day, and still didn't know quite what would happen. I did as coach said and just sat on it. Biked at zone 1 effort, "easy". Get to mile 18 of the run was my mantra. None of the problems I had were bike related. It was all comfort. My neck was better than it had been in Racine, but it still crept in on that second lap. My back was getting the best of me too. My feet hurt. The last 30 miles they really, really hurt. I stood up on some of the later hills just to give my back a break. I wasn't mashing, it is possible to stand and not overdo it (thanks to fixed gear riding). In the name of "racing my race" I didn't flinch when Frank passed me on the bike. That guy is absolutely amazing. Just keep moving, I will get there.

I freaked out a bit when I started doing Ironman math. I read a mileage sign wrong on the bike and thought I was going to have to high tail it. The next sign (5 miles later) just indicated I couldn't read. Five miles is a long time to worry about missing the bike cutoff. The lesson here, "Don't do math during a triathlon."

Also note.. I can (or did) descend (almost) with the pros. I got lapped by my share of pros on the bike (easy to do when your swim is near 2 hrs and they start 10 min early). I was taking the downhills and not totally losing them. This means they must have me by a mile or 43 on the power/weight ratio, climbing, and cornering ability. I was getting frustrated with a few folks that would pass me on uphills and stay left for the downhill with their rusty hubs, lightweight bodies and/or outright fear of sliding down the hill in only their tri-suit. Least they could do is move right while I use my weight to power ratio on them. Not to mentioned a well lubed steel bike, and sweet aerodynamic wheels. On the other hand, it wasn't worth killing myself to try to pass over the line at 40-50mph. (I had no targeting computers turned on. My speed is all a guess).

That last 15-20 miles I can honestly say I never wanted to run a marathon so bad in my life. It hurt. I had hoped to go faster on the bike, but I will take a finish and the ability to run over anything I consider a respectable bike time hands down.

Time : 7:54:22



T2



Similar to T1.. I put my shoes on twice, as I decided to change socks after I tied my shoes the first time. I sent the help for a scissors to cut the reflective tape. I knew I was gonna make it, so I didn't quibble over a minute or 2. Pics were taken by the family. Stopped at the can again, because it was there.

Time: 8:05. If I was doing this race again, the transition times could go way down.

Note at this point, my feet off the bike felt like they had been broken. They hurt that bad. As in "I can't walk" type hurt. Fortunately, I had felt this pain before at Racine (once or twice). I knew that run shoes and some running can make it go away (and new pain in place of it). So, I carried on.

THE RUN



Here is where the rubber hits the road. A mile or two of real running and my feet did feel better. Phew!! I hit my lap button once in a while at the mile markers. The first one indicated "10:xx" WHOA!! Dude Slow *** Down!!!! Maybe 10:xx pace sounds slow to some of y'all, but you haven't been on JWM's training runs this year. I should been running easy 11:30s at the start of the marathon. I did slow down for mile two (or the marker was more right). I kept running. On the uphills I was fine with walking. It was part of keeping my effort down. I was chided by someone that "knows Strauss and will tell him I'm walking", but I carried on. At this point, I was happy with my run/walk ratio, it was respectable for my training. Many spectators thought I looked strong (most even thought I was on loop 2, ugh!). I saw Strauss (on State st.) at mile 6 or 7 (when you head back up the other side of the capitol). He ran up and said, "Looking good. Now just count the backs of the people you pass. Focus on the backs." Great, I'm in. I bought it.

... .. ... .. ... .. ...

Now for years I have heard that the chicken soup is magical or something. Well it did some magic on me. Nothing horrid. But, It put me on the "slow down, you need to do some digestion and think" track. For me slow down means walk. I decided I had too much fluid. I was slightly "off". I could feel it. I was proud/lucky to identify it. I skipped fluids at a few aid stations. I walked more than ran for a bit. I regained my composure. I ended up waffling in and out of "too much water" a few times, as I didn't know a better way to get calories than coke and oranges. The occasional Gatorade would put me teetering on the edge again. I will dare say, hadn't it been for these new developments I was on plan to laser focus this run thing down and "run" much of the marathon. But it wasn't in the cards. 2 hours and roughly 50 minutes at the 1/2 (not bad when my 1/2 run PR is 2:27 or so). I found some mental spots I hadn't ever been in. I locked my eyes forward and went. If I had to walk, I often needed a downhill to start running again, then I just made it so stopping wasn't an option. Momentum was responsible for most of my motion on the run.

At this point I'd like to interject here.. I'd love to be one of the fast guys. Most have been working at swimming, biking and/or running all their lives. That's why they are the fast guys at this distance. To truly fast, I'm certain you have to do the mental lock and load. It did occur to me that some "faster" folks at least have the option of entertaining slowing down and still finishing. For me I was racing the clock all friggin' day and there was pressure to NOT STOP moving, OR else. I consider this part of why my race was a success. Listened to TTN and many others that said, just keep moving, "stopping is not an option". If I would have done so, I wouldn't have made it.. Yes it was hard to have a 78 year old guy pass me on the bike, my supposed favorite discipline. At the same time, finishing and covering the distance was bliss.

Run Time: 6:14:31

Also note that my run place was better than my bike place. This was a first for me in any triathlon, I'm sure. I don't think that happens to a ton of first time Ironman participants. The run is where everyone dies or wins.

THE FINISH



Also, thank you all!! You were all out there with me. I can't even remember when / where you all were, but you were there. I distinctly recall my late father out there on much of the bike, my entire family, TTN, Dre', Steve's son Derek, Homer Simpson "I can't believe I'm running a marathon! OOOOH I'm hitting the wall.", DZ and J from 14k up on a rock, Tri-teacher, MC, V-girl, rtt, Ali, Cimit, Steve (got2run), Doug, Jim, Rich Strauss, those of you actually there cheering and rooting, my neighbors, that guy that rode his bike the same rainy day I did, those who did Ironman before me and helped, those who looked to me and said "you first", and many, many, many, many others. I'm writing this off the cuff, so I'm sorry I can't pull where you were on the course out from memory, but rest assured if you're reading this, you were out there with me. A BIG Thank you to you all!

And my biggest supporters were out there everywhere.



I give. I gotta get sleep. Apparently, work found out I can endure tough stuff for 16 hours straight.

2 comments:

tarheeltri said...

Nice report! Congratulations on your race! I wouldn't mind being one of the "fast guys" either!

Triteacher said...

Very cool race report - and you finish it with a laugh. :) YOU are steady on the ranking - a triathlete who's nearly equal in all 3 elements - wow! I also like your advice; doing math during a tri is DEFINITELY contra-indicated!

Last: Did I hear you say "If I was doing this race again..."???? Hmm.

Way to race (and write a RR), Jeff. (BTW I did holler your real name, not JWM, at IM. I just didn't know that you were OK having it out in blogosphere. Now that I do though: Go Jeff!")