The following is the unabridged account I wrote about my IMWI experience, just following the race.
Background: Ironman Wisconsin is a triathlon consisting of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike followed by a 26.2 mile run. Course information can be found at www.ironmanwisconsin.com. My goal since I signed up last September was to complete it in under 10 hours. I was aiming at an hour swim, avg 20-21 mph on the bike and then try to run as close to 3 on the marathon as I could.
Mom and I arrived in Madision on Thursday, registration was on Friday and the race was on Sunday. Skipping the uninteresting pre race details I'll begin with Sunday morning. I awoke at 5:10am (the earliest I've been up in a long time) and got my stuff ready. Having checked my bike and bike/run equipment into the transition area the night before I only had to bring my swim stuff and bike pump. Leaving our hotel at 5:40 there was a 5 minute walk down to the start. I pumped up my tires, got my stuff ready, waited in line for the porta potties and walked down to the swim start at 6:20. All 2400 racers are crammed down near the start putting on their wetsuits and getting in the water for the 7:00 start. I was in the water about 6:40 and did a short warm up then got my place on the line. It was a double loop rectangular course and I lined up about the third row right next to the start buoy. Pros went off at 10 to and then the cannon fired for us at 7. The whole first 800 meters was pretty much like swimming in a washing machine and it was very hard to find a rhythm and keep good form. I worked my way to the outside and it cleared out and I got my rhythm. Exiting the water the clock read 1:13 and I was slightly demoralized thinking I had a slow swim (only after the finish did I discover that they started the clock for the pros so my swim time was really 1:03).
I had a good transition and hopped on my bike for the longest part of the day. The transition area is on the top of a parking garage and there is a four story helix ramp to exit, which was kinda fun. I was with a group of guys, who were all brimming with testosterone and hammered out the first 10 miles of the bike. I got caught up in the action and realized that if I kept up that pace I was gonna blow up later on. The biike starts with a 14 mile out to a two loop course and it's pretty hilly. It was a hot day and I was drinking a lot of Hateraid and had to pee really bad at about mile 30. Real Ironmen just pee their pants while riding, however despite my one practice sesson I couldn't manage to do it. I held it till mile 58 when I stopped at my special needs bag (you put food or whatever you want in it) and peed what seemed like a half a gallon. I even had time to consume a powergel mid go. The rest of the bike course was mostly uneventful, I saw one crash and the sun came out and cooked me. I kept dumping water on myself every aid station. I probably drank about 8 bottles of hateraid/water and ate about 15 gels on the bike. One one of the hill climbs there were signs that said nude beach and cold beer ahead. I never came across either. There were however, a few men in speedos/women's bathing attire that were chearing people up one of the hills. Not quite what I was looking for. By mile 80 I was ready to get off the bike and the last 15 miles were the worst I'd felt during an athletic event, ever. I managed to hold a decent pace though and finished up in 5:28.
I was so glad to be onto my strong event. Only in a triathlon is getting to the run seem like a reward. Transition was uneventful but I did have to pee again. Looking at my watch I thought (in a slightly delusional state)I had to run a 3:15 to break 10 so I was trying hold under 7 pace. I did that for about the first 10K and then I realized that that wouldn't be happening for an entire marathon. I dropped down to just under 8 for the next 15 miles, and started to feel really bad at about mile 10. I started taking gels and coke at every aid station to try and reful a little bit. You can get live updates on the race online and one of the guys with my parents was checking on his iphone. They told me I was 7th in my agegroup, when I saw them at about mile 8. Everyone has their age marked on their calf so as you pass people you can see what age group they are in. I was passing people from our age group and thought I was in about 4th. The top 3 qulaify to compete at the Ironman World Championships in Kona so I new I was close. On the second loop it was hard to tell who was on their second loop and who was on their first. The marathon got especially hard after mile 10, I was really hurting at mile 15 and the last 8 were the new worst pain ever. Despite my pre-race body glide I had some major chaffage in place you don't want it and considered asking if any aid station had some vasiline. But i realized I can't exactly smear some vasiline on without exposing myself, which would probably get me disqualified. Fortionatly that pain was soon drowned out by the pain in my legs. I was downing coke and gels at every aid station and was getting hamstring cramps for the last 8. A few times I thought I woudn't be able to hold that pace and would have to do the "Ironman Shuffle". I checked my watch with 10k to go and realized I had to run just under 8s to get under 10. The last 5 miles I basically felt like it was the last 200 of the 800 in track. I was getting into the lactic acid zone that all mid distance types love and was just talking to myself that I was gonna make it. I managed to throw down a 7:45s and got it down to 7:15 with 3 to go. I really had no idea what place I was in for my age group at this point. I was pretty confident I could make it under 10, and knew when I had 1.2 miles go go I would do it. At that point I entered 800m mode and pushed it to the end. Rounding the last corner to the finish, the clock said 9:56 and it was one of the most amazing feelings ever as the pain seemed to melt away and instinctivly I kicked for the finish. Something most finishers don't do as they slow down to a jog or walk, saver the moment, slap some hands etc. I did some fist pumps and yelling, slapped hands with mom and dad as I ran by and crossed the finish in 9:56.29.
I got my finishers medal, shirt and hat and was tended to by the finish line workers, who told me they were doing it next year and asked if I had any tips. I got some hateraide, got my picture taken and hobbled out to my parents. Hugs were distributed and everyone was happy. Iphone updates were checked and they thought I was 2nd which means I qualified for Hawaii. It was AMAZING, but I didn't really believe it. One of my moms friends texted her and said I was first in my age group and 37th overall. I didn't believe the results and only after a re-check did I kind of-sort of-but still not really believe them. Never in a million years did I think I would have won my age group. Judging from times from years past I thought I'd have to be at least 9:40 to have a chance at being top 3. I finished my marathon in 3:15 (only 20 minutes slower than I did Bayshore this spring).
About five minutes after finishing the high was kinda gone and I realized I couldn't walk without looking like I was an 85 year man with severe arthritis. I went to the food tent by no food tasted good and I ate like half a piece of pizza and some grapes. I was just feeling worse and worse, laid down for a while and then got really cold. I got up and walked to get my bike, sat in the sun for a while and got better. We got my stuff and I hobbled back to the hotel, taking a couple pictures in front of the capital and finish line. Getting back to the hotel the first thing I did was get in the shower, which I do not exagerate, was the most painful experience of the day and I almost cried (raw skin in shower=worst feeling ever). Now back in my hotel, Dad and mom are sleeping and my legs hurt. I'm waiting around till my stomach feels better so I can go get a cheeseburger. I'm sure I'll sleep well tonight and get to go to the awards ceremony tomorrow and claim my Kona spot (for a small fourtune). I keep thinking the results are wrong and I'll wake up tomorrow and I won't have a spot. It's weird. Well that was very long winded and just thought some of you would like a inside look at my experience. ACXC Represent!
IMWI Finish Video