My thanks for all your support. My thoughts on the Ironman.
I wrote up most of these notes while I was relaxing up in Kohler, just had to sit down, type them up, and then find someone to proofread, so they could take the fall for any of my spelling or grammar mistakes.
I was overwhelmed when I biked past Haniís and saw so many of you out there cheering. It reminded me of something Erin said the night before ďWe have a great group of friends.Ē First I have to thank Erin for her support and understanding for a whole year, good thing she worked a lot on the weekends. I Hope you all had as much fun as I did. The whole experience exceeded my expectations. I tried to keep my eye out for you guys, and after looking at the pictures I saw that even more of you were out there. Sometimes I was so focused that I didnít even see you, like when the stripers were peeling off my wetsuit. I heard some of you were just feet away. I didnít think I was nervous, however, when I first arrived at Monona Terrace at 5:15am I had to put some reflective tap on my run uniform and I noticed that my hands were shaking a bit while pealing the tape apart.
HOW AM I FEELING TODAY? (Monday, the day after): WellÖDrained and the legs and feet are sore. Walking is Ok, Stairs not good, and getting up after sitting for an hour or so is unique. Hopefully 1-2 more days and I should be recovered. Today they had a 2.5 hour awards banquet which Erin, my other training partners, and I attended. It filled the whole lower level of Monona Terrace. It was just one more example of what a great job Ironman North America does putting on the event. There were video highlights and everyone got a souvenir DVD that they made that morning with two videos highlighting the race and the volunteers. Two women in my training group placed in the top 5 in their age groups. Unfortunately I wonít be able to hang out with one of them anymore. The womanís pro winners during her speech singled out Jannet from our group saying that ďtriathlons are good for you, I saw one woman up on stage earlier in the 45 Ė 50 age group and she looked like she could be in High SchoolÖĒ I told Jannet I couldnít hang out with her anymore, because I didnít want to get in trouble. After the Banquet I bought some more Ironman Finisher gear. Yes I took a good nap this afternoon.
RELAXATION: I took two days and went up to Sheboygan and stayed at the new hotel Blue Harbor to get away and relax. The stay included some a considerable time at the Kohler Water Spa. It probably took me 3-4 days to be totally recovered.
THE RACE ITSELF
The whole atmosphere exceeded my expectations for the excitement and atmosphere around it. The event was very well organized. I was amazed at all the fans along the course.
THE SWIM: When I hopped in the water I slowly swam out to the first buoy. About halfway out I rolled over, swimming backstroke, I was in awe looking back at Monona Terrace with all the swimmers getting into the water and fans on shore. I positioned my self 20-30 feet from the pole position (corner buoy) in the front row. I had to guard my position. It was hard to hear the announcer before the start, since I was so far from shore. I kept an eye on the clock on shore. I didnít look back much, so it was hard to comprehend how many people were in the water. I was more concerned about the people immediately around me. When the canon went off it was a battle to the first turn. They teach you to sight every 10 strokes, however with so many swimmers at the start you didnít. If you werenít going straight you would bump into someone, or if they were not going straight you would bump into them. I took a good elbow to the head. In a way I was swimming angry. I tried to stretch out and gather some energy before each turn, and after the first I started ďRoll TackingĒ around the buoys. Staying tight to the smaller buoys along the course allowed me clear water. I was surprised that most other swimmers were out farther. Maybe I should have been outside too and drafted? However there is something to say about clear water. You canít really tell how you are doing during the swim. I have to thank Tom Larson, one of the guys who swam in lane 1 with me for the past year, for pushing me along in practice and helping me with his confidence that I would do just fine. Getting out of the water I didnít even look at the clock. Just after I got my wetsuit off, the Announcer said ďCongratulate these athletes getting out of the water they did the swim in 59 minutesĒ I was pumped. My goal was under 1:06, I thought that based on a swim a few days earlier I could do 1:03, so 59 was great. I was pumped hearing this, and I threw up my arm and a huge cheer came from the crowd. I didnít know until after the race was over that I was the 138th swimmer out of the water. I hadnít planned on running all the way up the helix, however I was feeling so good it seamed effortless.
TRANSITIONS: After you enter the building you ran into a room lined with thousands of bags all lined up. In addition to the race numbers on everyoneís bag, I put a piece of reflective tape on mine to make it easer to pick out. You then go into a changing room. The have volunteers who help you by dumping out your bag, organizing your stuff, and hand you things in a logical manner. Once changed you headed outside where more volunteers were waiting to put sun tan lotion on you.
THE BIKE: 112 Miles. Over the winter I was analyzing last years results and calculated that if I had a good swim, some 1000 people could pass me in the bike. IT WAS GOOD TO KNOW THIS! I was getting passed by so many people. However I didnít give chase, even when I saw some friends go by, I just kept riding at my pace. I kept my heart rate in the mid 70% (of max heart rate) and it never went above 90% even with the big hills. The bottoms of my feet started to cramp up, tried loosening straps didnít help. This only happened before on my left foot and never this bad. I was worried my friends wouldnít make it to Haniís in time because I was 15 min ahead of schedule. It was cool how all the hills between Cross Plains and Verona were lined with people. Main street in Verona was all lined with people sort of like the Tour du France. During the bike I tried to keep my focus on each segment (Verona to Mt. Horeb) as apposed to the whole ride. I was getting worried that I hadnít had to go to the bathroom yet on the bike and I was past half way. So I started slamming a water and trying to finish a Gatorade between each aid station. Finally, after an hour swim and a 6 hour (100 miles) bike ride I had to go to the bathroom leaving Verona. I was relieved in more than one way, In addition to the obvious; I knew that I was hydrating enough, too. I could feel it was hot , however I had no idea it got up to 88 until after the race was over, only 82 was predicted. Once I turned onto Syene road I tried to stretch out, spin easy and get ready for the run. It was great to see downtown off in the distance. I just love the view of Madison from John Nolen Drive. After biking up the helix, you ride up to another volunteer who takes your bike, they ask you if you need anything off the bike, and then rack it for you.
THE RUN: After changing into my running gear and I got up off the chair, my feet still hurt. I hoped the cramping sensation would go away. The volunteers loaded me up with sun screen again and after a quick stop in the bathroom I was off and running. My plan was to run from aid station to aid station walking for about a minute at each. That only lasted for about 5 miles and I found myself walking a greater percentage of each mile. The first lap I did in about 2:45, 15 minutes slower than I thought, the second was even slower, close to 3:00. During the run you could more easily see how much fun the volunteers were having, too. The crowds were great, things thinned out a bit later in my second loop. I was surprised by the size of the cheering section of friends and family on Breeze Terrace. Knowing you were all out there cheering me on helped me keep moving. Walking up Observatory Drive hill was a treat. I took two Double Caffeine Guís during the run to keep me up. Heather Golnick, the womanís winner the last two years, was not participating this year, however she was down on state street and twice she cheered me on including one high five. I started drinking some flat coke during the last lap with less than two hours to go for that instant sugar energy. Iím glad Dale was able to tell me where the cheering section would be at the finish because it was hard with so many people. Coming up State Street for the last time felt great. I stopped at the last aid station to sponge off and then make the final run to the finish. Turning the corner at the Inn on the Park you could see the lights and the crowds at the finish so I picked up the pace. Coming around the final turn the people at the fence all had their hands out, so I was giving high fives. Then I realized how fast I was running, since it was down hill, and moved into the center of the chute so I wouldnít trip on something. I could then see the friends who stood up in the bleachers cheering. Once again there were volunteers there to catch you at the finish and make sure you were alright. They also made sure you received your finisher medal and tee shirt.
Iím going to take it easy this fall. Iím going to keep in shape by swimming two nights, a long run (8 miles), and a bike ride (2-3 hours) each week. It also looks like Iíll train for a December Marathon in Dallas, TX after taking two weeks off. This winter I might try my hand at some masterís swim meets to see how my sprinting compares to others in my age group. Next summer I think Iíll do some Sprint Triathlons and one or two Half Ironman races.
WOULD I DO IT AGAIN?
Maybe, however not next year. The most difficult part is trying to commit to the year of training. If you didnít have to train so hardÖI would do it every year.