If you missed my previous posts about Ironman Wisconsin, feel free to scroll down or follow the following links:
When I first started the run, I was happy to have met one of my goals for the day. While more of a mental goal than anything, I started the run before the overall winners had crossed the finish line. I call this a mental goal because I think it would have been a heck of a lot harder to start the run if I was seeing other athletes already finishing up for the day.
I started chugging along through the first mile. Unfortunately, my (or more accurately, Jennie’s) Garmin hadn’t synced yet so I didn’t know if I was going out too fast as I tend to do. I should mention that I was using Jennie’s Garmin 305 instead of my 405 because on Saturday as I was packing my transition bags, I couldn’t get my Garmin’s screen to unlock because one of the buttons wasn’t responding. Thankfully, Jennie had packed her Garmin and let me borrow it. Crisis averted.
In no time, I found Jennie and my support crew just after mile 1. This run course was absolutely ideal for spectators as you will see by the number of times Jennie was able to see me.
As I approached Jennie at the first mile, there was a second group of spectators at the corner. As Jennie started cheering for me. Upon hearing my first name, one of them went, “Oh! You are THAT Team Neumann!” Apparently, they had found the Spectators Guide I had posted on SlowTwitch for IMWI and were following the advice I had given for spectating the run.
Shortly after seeing Jennie, I realized that I was past the first mile and should take a sip of Perform. Bad idea. Within seconds of the sip, my stomach started retching. I burped a few times, but it didn’t pass. A few steps later I was hunched over extricating myself of approximately 36 Gu Chomps and multiple bottles of Powerbar Perform. All I could think was that I just earned my first pukie. haha. It is actually the first time ever that I have ever puked during or after a race or even training day. Once I got moving again, my stomach was still a little queasy. So, I popped a Maalox which I wouldn’t have even been carrying if it wasn’t for Jon’s instance on the matter. That helped settle my stomach down a bit.
The Maalox helped and I started to run again. My initial plan for the entire run was to run between aid stations and then walk the aid stations. However, this quickly evolved to run when I could, walk when I had to. Even though my stomach had settled down a bit, I still couldn’t eat or drink anything but water without my stomach doing flip flops.
Shortly after mile 4, I came to the aid station Derek was working at. He spotted me and quickly got me some ice and water. I pushed on, but was starting to feel the affects of only drinking water and not getting any other fluids in me. So, at the next aid station, I decided that I would take some Perform. The bottle I was carrying was lemon-lime flavor, but the aid stations had orange and berry flavors. Thinking that maybe my body was just rejecting the lemon-lime, I went with what the aid station had. Not even 100 yards after the aid stations, it became clear that flavor wasn’t the problem I puked again and then again moments later. Well, that answers that. Water only from here on out. The second pukie actually happened at an opportune time because it gave me an excuse to walk up Observatory Hill. After the second pukie, I did have the epiphany that I was thankful enough that my stomach issues were manifesting themselves this way rather than the other way. At least with puking, I could just let loose on the side on the road and then continue on my way.
It was shortly after that when I hit State Street for the first time. State Street is a long street that runs between the Capitol building and UW campus with a ton of restaurants, shops and bars. On race day, it is lined with people 10 deep. It is absolutely crazy. Despite the energy, I was hurting. But this is where the crowd comes in to play. Because everyone’s name was on their bib number, fans would cheer for you by name throughout the day. So, the entire time, you are hearing things like “Go Kevin!,” “You’re doing great Kevin!,” and “You’ve got this Kevin.” Afterwards, I told Jennie that is a surreal feeling. No matter how low you feel, EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON out there believes that you can finish whether or not you believe in yourself.
I knew that I would I see Jennie at some point here so I had my eyes peeled for her. Sure enough, there she was, right at the turn around. I think I worried one of the volunteers because instead of turning at the cone, I kept running to give her a hug. He started to chase me like I somehow missed the turn accidentally.
I accidentally sort of freaked out Jennie a bit at this point. While I wasn’t in horrible shape at that moment, I knew that if my stomach didn’t start cooperating, I was going to go downhill fast. Unfortunately, as I was exhausted, I didn’t accurately relay that message to her and she thought I was really hurting at that point. Sorry babe!
Thankfully, after seeing Jennie at mile 6, things started to look up. I wound my way back along Lake Mendota before rounding the cone at mile 8 to bring be back to the Capitol. On the way back, I found my buddy Matt outside of Camp Randall Stadium. Shortly after that, I saw Jennie at about mile 12. I just had to head to the Capitol before turning around to start my second loop.
I was dreading the turn around to start the second loop. You literally run down MLK Jr drive, the finish line street, before going around a cone to run another 13.1 miles. However, the excitement of the crowd carried me straight through without even realizing it. Run special needs was right at the turnaround. The only thing I considered grabbing was a fresh pair of socks, but I didn’t want to risk stopping and sitting so I just skipped it.
The second lap went way better than the first loop. While my first loop was still a bit faster than my second loop, mentally, I felt like a different person on the second loop. I saw Jennie again at mile 14 and already had a smile on my face. I decided to hand off my water bottle to her at this point because I couldn’t drink from it and I was sick of just carrying it around.
If I could define the 2nd loop, it would be my socializing loop. For whatever reason, I ran the first loop pretty much solo. However, on the 2nd loop, I found more people to run with throughout. Running with another person makes all the difference in the world. It makes the time fly by. Right after the turn around, I caught up with a guy who had way too much energy. He said he was hurting, but you’d never know it from his enthusiasm. He was one of the many first responders (Chicago FD) racing. We ran together and chatted for about 2 miles before I walked up a hill and let him go.
The second loop would continue much the same way – moving from one group to another. I even ran into a woman from Grand Rapids. Small world. I ran with a fellow ND fan for a mile or so and we both commiserated about the disappointing start to their season.
As I approached State Street on my second loop, I saw Rob Verhelst, the firefighter completing the marathon in full gear. He was stopped at an aid station getting his shoes tied by a volunteer (he couldn’t bend over with all his gear). I took a minute to shake his hand and give him a “Thank you” before continuing on.
On the back half of the 2nd loop, I saw D-Rog out cheering. This guy is awesome. He was out there ALL DAY. I saw him at the swim start. He saw me (and I heard him, but didn’t see him) cheering during transition, then volunteered at a run aid stations, and then cheered some more! He grabbed a picture of me running by after I rounded the final cone. Less than 4 miles to go at this point.
I ran as much of the final 4 miles as I could knowing that every step I took was going to bring me closer to the finish line. I hadn’t been paying a whole lot of attention to my time during the run. However, as I passed mile 24, I heard a guy yell “636.” At first, I thought he was just cheering for #636, but when I looked around, I realized that I was pretty much alone and there was no #636 nearby. I checked my watch and realized that he was saying it was 6:36PM! That meant that I had 24 minutes to go 2 miles and be under 12 hours. What a huge pick me up! I had mentally kissed a sub-12 hour finish goodbye long ago so, needless to say, I was shocked.
The last two miles flew by and in no time I was in the finisher’s chute. I entered the chute with one other guy, but rather than race him, I dropped back a few steps and let him have his moment and took my time to enjoy the moment myself. However, after watching the finish line video, we crossed almost at the same time still.
I weaved back and forth high fiving the crowd on each side of the chute.
Mike Reilly announced my name as I approached the finish line and then as I crossed, “You’re Ironman Kevin.” (Note: If anyone needs help downloading their finish line video from ASIOrders, drop me an email)
After the finish, I was immediately caught by two volunteers. These two women were awesome! They each grabbed an arm and helped me over to get my finisher shirt, hat, and medal. They got me a cup of Coke as I waited to get my photo taken. After that, I was going to find Jennie, but they wouldn’t leave my side until I spotted Jennie. I sort of felt like a first grader whose teacher wouldn’t release him until his parents showed up. haha.
A huge thanks to Jennie and my support crew for all their cheering throughout the day!
Jennie, Me, My Mom, My Brother, Mark, and his girlfriend Nancy
Matt, Me, and Jennie
||367 / 1803
|Age Group Place:
||351 OA / 36 AG
||419 OA / 45 AG
||434 OA / 45 AG
After the race, I grabbed a can of pop and a couple pieces of pizza from the food tent. Surprisingly, I was able to eat a bit of the pizza – my first food since the couple of bites of a PB&J in T2. I was actually feeling really good after the race – better than I ever thought. I am sure it was mainly adrenaline though.
After getting back to the hotel room (we totally made the right decision on picking the hotel close to the race site), the first task was an ice bath. Jennie raided the hotel ice machine and loaded up the tub with some ice cold water. As soon as I was done, I got changed and we headed out to find some food and watching the midnight finishers. I’ve been told before that if you only watch two parts of an Ironman, make sure it is the swim start and the midnight finishers. I watched the swim start last year, but missed out on seeing the finishers last year.
Jennie surprised me with a sign on the door as we left for dinner. Ironman By Thirty – Check! We headed directly to the Brocach Irish Pub for dinner. I had been craving a Dublin City Burger all week. That and a Guinness. However, as soon as I took my first bite, the weirdest thing happened. It felt like my throat swelled up on me or something. I think it was just the fact that my mouth was still really dry, but it made it hard to eat. I ate as much as I could but filled up surprisingly quickly. The food went down great though and I had no stomach issues.
We finished up dinner at about 10:30PM and headed over to watch the final 90 minutes of the race. I was getting pretty antsy at dinner to get back to the race. The Brocach is close enough to the race that you can hear it, but can’t see it.
I am so glad that I was able to make it back and watch the end of the race. If you ever have a chance to watch an Ironman finish, do not pass it up. It was so freaking exciting! Shortly after we started watching, we saw Rob finish in around 16:15 with a huge smile on his face.
The crowd got louder and louder as the night went on. I was starting to lose my voice from all the cheering. The smiles on everyone’s faces was incredible. And then, just before midnight, we got to watch the final official finisher cross the line.
What a day. What a night. One I will never forget.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for one final wrap-up post!