Sep 22

Life After Ironman

First off, most of you probably know how obsessed I am with The Office.  I can’t get enough of it. (TWSS)  Granted, this last season has been nothing but crap, but I can (and do) watch the early season reruns over and over and over (ask Jennie).  If you haven’t seen the first episode, watch this quick clip.

So, why am I talking about The Office? Because after finishing IMWI, I was surprised with a freaking awesome present.  Jon, aka. The Professor, and all around uber cool blogger stealthily shipped me a finishers present which Jennie somehow managed to keep secret. So, without further adieu, feast your eyes on what now sits on my desk, next to my computer monitor.

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Kind of hard to read, but it says Kevin Neumann and then Paper Company below it

I think that pretty much sums it up.

Jon, you rock!

Now that I have finished this race, I can rightfully wear all of the cool IMWI gear that I bought.  Shockingly, I hadn’t unpacked any of my schwag until tonight.  Not sure why I kept putting it off, but I’ve just been so busy with work that it has been sitting in a bag.

As it was my first IM, I went a little overboard at the Ironman store. I ended up with two bike jerseys because I liked last year’s pattern better.  Normally I don’t buy previous year clothing unless I race the previous year, but it doesn’t have a year on it anywhere so I figured it would be OK.  Last year’s jersey is in the top left and is a nice quality K-Swiss cow print jersey. This year’s jersey is an orange/black pattern but for some reason they switched to a different brand that doesn’t appear to be quite as nice as the K-Swiss brand.  Oh well.  It’s my first IM so I had to spring for it and the bike shorts.  I got a pint glass to add to my collection as well.  Even Bailey scored some race garb with a M-Dot dog leash.

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On Monday, once they put out the finisher’s gear, we went back to the store.  This meant waking up at 5:30AM (after roughly 5 hours of sleep).  My main goal was to get the coveted finisher’s jacket.

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Mission accomplished!

What’s Next

Well, with IMWI in the books, my 2011 triathlon season has wound to a close. My winter coat leg hair is slowing growing back in and the weather is cooling off.  So, what is coming up for me in the rest of 2011?

Blog Title

A lot of you asked in the comments about the blog title.  At this point, I have no plans on changing it.  I do hope to roll out a new blog layout and header in the near future though, so stay tuned for that.

Training

I’ve started back up with some training.  I was actually in great shape after the race and was feeling about 90% by Wednesday.  I really felt no worse after IMWI than I do after a marathon.  Sort of weird to think about, but the swimming and biking don’t pound on the body like running does so it kind of makes sense.  I did some light workouts at the end of last week to loosen up my legs.  However, this week I was itching to see what my legs could do.  I did an hour tempo ride on Monday followed by an 8 mile tempo run yesterday.  My legs felt absolutely awesome – almost better than they did before the race.  I’ve still been maintaining a 3-day a week schedule at the pool mainly because I find it is a good way to break up the work day. 

At this point, I don’t have a structured workout plan that I am following at all.  I have a general idea in my head of what I’m going to do each day, but it isn’t set in stone and will adjusted depending on the weather and how I feel.

Racing

While my triathlon season is done for 2011, I am planning on doing a few more running races.  The Grand Rapids Marathon is coming up in October. I’m hoping to do at least the half marathon if not the full.  I’m going to test my legs out this weekend to see how much distance they still have in them and go from there.  Jennie and I also have a couple 5k’s and other races planned to round out the year.

Cycling-wise, there is a century ride that I was hoping to do but it is the Saturday before the Grand Rapids Marathon.  If I decide to do the half marathon, I may still do the ride, otherwise it is probably out for this year.

Finally, it has been 10 days since I finished, so I figured it was finally time to remove my last token from the race.

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This closes the chapter on Ironman Wisconsin… and starts the chapter on Ironman Mont Tremblant!

Thanks for reading!

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ironmanbythirty.com/2011/09/22/life-after-ironman

Sep 19

Ironman Wisconsin: The Run

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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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I weaved back and forth high fiving the crowd on each side of the chute.

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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.

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A huge thanks to Jennie and my support crew for all their cheering throughout the day!

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Jennie, Me, My Mom, My Brother, Mark, and his girlfriend Nancy

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Matt, Me, and Jennie

Overall Results

Total Time: 11:54:13
Overall Place: 434/2448
Gender Place: 367 / 1803
Age Group Place: 45/175
Swim Rank: 351 OA / 36 AG
Swim Time: 1:07:10
T1 Time: 6:48
Bike Rank: 419 OA / 45 AG
Bike Time: 5:58:46
Bike Pace: 18.73mph
T2 Time: 8:50
Run Rank: 434 OA / 45 AG
Run Time: 4:32:39
Run Pace: 10:24 min/mile

Post Race

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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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!

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ironmanbythirty.com/2011/09/19/ironman-wisconsin-the-run

Sep 16

Ironman Wisconsin: The Bike

If you missed my previous posts about Ironman Wisconsin, feel free to scroll down or follow the following links:

After finishing up a great swim and T1, I was off on the bike.  The bike started on the top of Monona Terrace which meant that the bike started with a ride down the helix to street level.  I was on my brakes the whole way down because it a little congested and the curves were tight. 

As soon as we got to the bottom of the helix, we headed out through the parking garage’s toll booths and then onto the road.  This is totally random, but as we rode through the toll booths, all I could think of was the Toad’s Turnpike course of Mario Kart.  I tried unsuccessfully to find a picture of the course, but there are multiple places in the game where you zip through toll booths.

Any ways, as soon as I got out to the street, I started looking for Jennie.  She was planning on being somewhere at the start of the bike.  Sure enough! There she was! 

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Right after seeing Jennie, my right contact started to bug me.  It was really blurry and felt like it was going to fall out.  I had to laugh at the irony of the fact that I had just told Jon the other day that I had never had a problem riding with contacts before.  I pulled off to the side, pulled out the contact and made sure it hadn’t folded over on itself.  I put it back in and it was better for a couple miles, but acted up again.  I eventually got to an aid station with water, rinsed it off, and it was good for the rest of the day.  I think what happened was that I got some water in my goggles during the swim and the algae in the water irritated my eye.  I’m really glad that I got it straightened out though because it would have been a long ride with it bugging me.

The IMWI bike course is a lollipop shape with a 16 mile stick out to Verona followed by two 40 mile loops.  The stick portion is fairly flat and I spent the first 16 miles getting comfortable.  I got passed by a LOT of people.  It was a bit demoralizing, but this was my race and I was sticking to my plan.  I did pass a few people – a couple of which didn’t like being passed.  I had two guys who I passed that immediately sat up and passed me back.  Whatever.  If they can’t handle getting passed and want to burn themselves out this early on, more power to them.

At about mile 13, we hit the first aid station.  I had just about downed my first bottle of Perform that I had packed on my bike so I was ready for a swap.  The volunteers were absolutely awesome at each of the aid stations. They held out bottles and would run next to you to ease grabbing them.  However, as soon as I grabbed the bottle and took a sip, I knew there was going to be problems.  It tasted AWFUL!  It tasted totally different than the powdered Perform.  Oh well, too late to really do anything about it now as I only had two bottles of pre-mixed Perform on my bike.  I did some research online and I am not the only person who has had problems with the ready to drink bottles of Perform.

As per my plan, I had started my Timex watch’s timer when I started the bike. I set it to beep every 15 minutes to remind me to drink and eat.  The plan was to drink every 15 minutes and eat Gu Chomps every 30.

I cruised through the first half of the first loop feeling great.  Like I have said before this course is challenging, but a manageable challenging.  There are lots of small climbs where knowing your gearing is key.  I was going conservative (stupid easy) on the first loop so as soon as I felt my cadence dropping, I would drop down to the small chain ring and start spinning.  Most of the hills would be either preceded or followed by a nice descent to allow you to make up some speed.

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(I totally stole this picture from Emily @ Speed Laces, Amazing Races)

In no time we hit the hills of Garfoot and Witte; huge descents followed by short, steep climbs.  Having ridden this course before I had a good idea on how to ride these hills.  It was sort of comical to see people who either had not ridden the course or didn’t know how to gear efficiently.  They would fly past me on the descents and then wobble side to side on the subsequent climb trying to find a good gear.  A lot of the people struggling up the climbs had fancy wheels and I had to smile at the thought that deep dish wheels may make you go faster, but they don’t make you a better a climber. Winning!

As we winded around the loop, we quickly approached the first of the three main climbs – Old Saulk Pass.  Old Saulk Pass is the longest of the three climbs but not the steepest.  I quickly dropped into an easy gear and started spinning.  As I neared the top, I saw my cheering section! What a huge pick me up.

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As I passed by everyone, I got a high five from my buddy Matt who came all the way from Cincinnati to cheer.  Six years later, he has retained his “best man” status.  However, he put a little too much oomph into the high five and just about knocked me off the bike. haha.

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As you can see in the video below, seeing the cheering section really gave me a boost of momentum and I flew up the rest of the hill.

Almost immediately after Old Saulk Pass, we approached the Timber climb.  This climb is shorter, but much steeper.  There were a ton of people out cheering here.  It was totally like the Tour de France.  They were lining the streets with guys dressed in speedos and coconut bras, cow bells, and lot of cheering.  Despite the tough climb, the crowd carried me to the top.

After Timber, there is a very steep descent with a sharp left turn at the bottom.  It was a sharp enough turn that they had hay bales at the curve in case of accidents.  The curve at the bottom doesn’t look sharp, but if you go into too fast you are in trouble.  I got out of aero with my hands on the brakes just in case.  Sure enough, some guy goes flying by me (and I was doing 35mph+). He got about 20 yards ahead of me and then I heard a loud PSSSTT!.  He blew a tire! I could tell he was panicking because he didn’t know which way to go – left or right.  Thankfully he decided to go left because if he had gone right he probably would have taken me (and maybe a couple people behind me) out.  After winding through the curve, a couple other riders pulled up alongside of me and we shared a collective sigh of relief.

The final climb, Midtown, went better than expected. This was the hardest hill during training because it starts with a left hand turn at a stop sign so you can’t carry any momentum into the turn.  However, with the streets closed, it was easier to keep up your speed.  Halfway up this hill was a drill sergeant yelling at each rider.  I was having a great time so as I passed I yelled, “Yes sir, drill sergeant sir!”

Ok, time to go off on a tangent.  I may be the last person to have seen this, but apparently this was a popular Internet meme a while back.  I saw all of these signs on the course that referenced a "Honey Badger”.  Things like “Honey Badger Don’t Give a Shit” and “You’re a Crazy Honey Badger.” Now, I know that the University of Wisconsin’s mascot was the Badger, but what the heck was a Honey Badger?  I Googled it when I got home and figured it out.  Now that I know what the signs were referring to, it makes them a lot more funny.

After the climbs it was only a matter of miles before the 2nd loop started. 

Almost immediately into the 2nd loop, there was the special needs stop.  I stopped and grabbed a fruit punch Gatorade I had packed because I was so sick of the nasty Perform as well as couple mini Snickers bars.

For the most part, the 2nd loop was much the same as the first.  I played it a little less conservatively and pushed it on the descents rather than just letting my legs recover.  At mile 70 or so, I started to get really sore. My upper back and neck were killing me.  I think it was a combination of two things.  Number 1, this was the longest I had ever worn my aero helmet, and number two, I was absorbing every bump of the rough pavement through the aero bars.  I honestly don’t think the roads were that bad though.  I know there are lot of complaints about the conditions of the roads, but to me, they are just typical Midwest roads.  There are a couple (mainly Stagecoach) that are brutal, but for the most part they are manageable.  To combat the soreness, I found myself getting out of aero a bit more on the second loop to let myself stretch out.

Nutrition wise, on the 2nd loop I started to alternate water and Perform at the aid stations because I knew I couldn’t keep drinking only the Perform.  It was making me burp like crazy and not settling at all (cue the foreshadowing music).

In no time, I was back to the Big Three Climbs to see my cheering section.

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I felt really strong on the hills even after having ridden 80 miles already.

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To give you an idea of some of the crazy spectators our there, Jennie snapped a picture of this guy who would mark up and down the hill with a megaphone cheering for riders.

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After completing the climbs, it was just a matter of time before I would be heading back to Madison.  I have to admit that my mental facets started to fade a bit towards the end of the ride.  There were a couple points where I saw a climb coming up and had to look and my shifters and think to myself which ones operated which cogs and which direction I had to move them.  Normally that behavior just comes naturally to me, but after 90 miles I was confusing myself.

With 16 miles to go, I turned back towards Monona Terrace.  The wind had picked up a bit on the 2nd loop and I had to fight it on and off throughout the loop. Luckily though, when I turned back, I had the wind at my back all the way.  I ended up finishing the final 18 (or was it 19) miles with a smoking 21+mph  average.

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Right before Monona Terrace, I saw Jennie and gave her a thumbs up.  I was so ready to get off the bike at that point.  113 miles on the bike was plenty for me. Yes, you read that right.  113 miles, not 112.  I checked with multiple people and everyone had clocked 113+ miles on the bike course.  There was one change on the course from last year (not sure why) and it made the course a bit longer.

I ended up finishing the bike in 5:58:46 to break 6 hours with an 18.73mph! According to my Garmin, my moving time was 5:55:53 which means that I stopped for a total of about 3 minutes for special needs and to mess with my contact.

Overall, I am really happy with how the bike ride went.  I felt like I stuck to my game plan the entire time and didn’t let my ego get the best of me.  I was sort of hoping to average 19mph, but I’m not going to lose any sleep over a high 18mph average.

At the end of the bike, I slipped out of my shoes before climbing the helix.  At the top, I handed my bike off to a volunteer and headed into transition.  It was so cool to not have to rack my own bike.  Did I mention how awesome the volunteers were??

T2 didn’t go nearly as smoothly as T1.  I still had some lingering soreness in my upper back and neck so I took some extra time to just relax.  I changed my socks out, put on my shoes.  I tried eating a PB&J that I had packed, but could only get a couple bites down.  I found some sunscreen that got left behind and put some on.  In transition there is table with a bunch of random stuff (chamois butter, sunscreen, Vaseline, etc.) that athletes use and then just leave behind.  So, whoever left behind their sunscreen, Thank You! I was putting on the sunscreen when another athlete offered to get my back.  I returned the favor and we were off.  On the way out of transition, I hit up the porta potty to drain the tank.

Then it was time to run! Stay tuned!

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ironmanbythirty.com/2011/09/16/ironman-wisconsin-the-bike

Sep 15

Ironman Wisconsin: The Swim

The plan for race morning was to be up 4:00AM.  However, at 3:00AM exactly, Jennie and I both awoke to the sound of a crash and then drip, drip, drip.  What the heck? My first thought was that something mechanical went wrong with the room.  Once we finally got a light on, we discovered that the flowers Jennie bought at the farmers market just tipped over. My heart was racing, but somehow I managed to fall back asleep because at 4:00 my alarm went off.

We made breakfast in the hotel room.  We didn’t have a kitchen in our hotel, but we brought an electric skillet so that we could make eggs and toast.  It worked great!

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After that I hopped in the shower and got ready. Does anyone else shower before a race? It always seems sort of weird to me, but it helps me wake up.  Once out of the shower, Jennie helped me apply my TriTats for the first time.  My coworker, David, got this for me earlier this season, but this was my first change to use them.  They are supper cool and easy to use.  I hope more races start to use them.

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By 5:30, we were out the door. 

First stop was special needs bags drop off.  That morning, I realized that I forgot to put my chamois cream in my T1 bag.  I wasn’t sure if I would still have access to the T1 bag or not so I decided to put it in my bike special needs bag if I couldn’t get in the T1 bag.  I asked the volunteer at special needs if I could still get to the T1 bag, but she didn’t know.  Another guy overheard my question and told me that I could still put stuff in the T1 bag.  I look up, and the guy that answered was Phil, a guy I have ridden with a few times on group rides.  Small world.  We chatted a bit as we walked towards transition.

After adding the chamois cream to my T1 bag, I went to go check on the Black Rock.  I had to add my nutrition to the bike and pump the tires back up.  It is amazing how many people in transition didn’t have a pump and were asking to borrow one. I had a couple people ask to borrow mine, but they ended up not using it.  My pump is sort of broken.  It has inflators for both presta and schrader valves, however the presta inflator doesn’t work.  So I have to use a screw on adapter on the bike so I can use the schrader inflator.  Once I explained that, the couple people that asked decided to find someone else. haha.

Once the Black Rock was all set, Jennie and I headed down the helix to the swim start.  I had complete tunnel vision and totally walked right past Derek.  Luckily he saw me and we stopped for a quick picture.

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Derek just rocked IMLP and was one of IMWI’s many amazing volunteers.  I’d see him again later in the day.

I eventually made my way to the end of the helix. This is where Jennie and I had to part. Well, she had to stand on one side of the fence and I on the other.  I lubed up with Body Glide and then slid into my wetsuit.  Pulled it up to my waist and then remembered that I forgot to put on my calf sleeves.  Crap.  Off it came.  Calf sleeves on and then back into the wetsuit.  I gave Jennie one last hug and kiss before heading to the water.

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Again, I had tunnel vision as I walked to the water and walked straight past Kristin.  She saw me and called out my name.  I stopped to chat with her before getting ushered along by the volunteers.

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I got in the water about 20 minutes before the swim start.  This was probably much earlier than I needed to be in, but the swim entrance gets congested really quickly.  As swimmers get in the water, they tend to linger in the shallow water making it harder for other swimmers to get in.  I quickly moved out to the deep water and tried to relax.  Originally I was really worried about floating in the water for so long, however, my fears were quickly abated. For a while I just let my body relax, put my head back, and floated on my back.  Super relaxing and peaceful.  The water was bout 70* and actually warmer than the air temperature so it was very comfortable.

After the pros started, I decided that I should pay a little more attention.  So, I swam over to one of the volunteers on a surf board and held on to a side of it to keep me afloat.  There were already a couple other athletes hanging on so we chatted a bit before the swim.  When asked what my goal time was, I said that I was hoping for 1:05 – 1:10 based on my times in the pool.  The lifeguard looked at me and said, “Oh well if that is in the pool you’ll probably be about 20 minutes slower here.” What?!?! Not really sure where she got that logic and I really didn’t know what to say.

As the start time got closer, I floated to the front.  My plan was to start at the very far end of the starting line and then angle in around the first buoy.  I was just hanging out and then all of a sudden “BOOM!”, the cannon went off.  I totally wasn’t prepared for it.  Thankfully, there really wasn’t anyone around me so I didn’t get trampled or anything. 

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For so many people in the water, I had very minimal contact.  The only contact I really encountered was at the turns where it really slowed down as everyone made their way around.  Other than that, I would occasionally have someone run up on my feet or brush my side, but nothing that really altered my stroke.  I stuck to the inside of the course pretty much exclusively and made my way out at the corners.  This meant that I spent a lot of the time swimming by myself.  I’m not big on drafting on the swim mainly because I am not good at finding a good set of feet to hang on.  Either I find myself running into the swimmer in front of me or getting dropped instantly.

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The course was laid out really well. The buoys were spaced every 100 meters and numbered so that you knew exactly where you were at along the way.  I always find the swim a little demoralizing because I completely lose concept of time.  I kept plugging away though and before I knew it, I was starting the second loop.  My arms and shoulders definitely felt more tired than they did during a pool swim and I attribute this to not training enough in a wetsuit.  Next time I’ll make sure to spent more time in the open water as does seem to take a toll on the arms.

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The second loop went much better than the first loop mainly because the crowds had thinned out.  I was finally settled into a good pace and just cruising along.  It was sort of funny during the final half mile though.  I was right next to a woman who was breathing to the left.  I was breathing to the right.  So, the entire time, we would look at each other on every stroke.  It was funny to basically be swimming with someone but not be able to communicate with them.

In no time, I hit the final turn.  I tried to maintain the same pace and not speed up, but the energy got the best of me and I kicked it up a notch.  I swam all the way until my fingers touched the carpet before standing up.  As I stood up, I saw a 1:06:XX on the clock. Woohoo!!! Perfect! I ended up with 1:07:10 by the time I crossed the mat.

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As soon as I got out of the water, I saw my cheering section.  I had a huge smile on my face after getting my day started on the right foot.

I made my way to the wetsuit strippers.  In a matter of seconds, I was up and being handed my wetsuit to carry into transition.  Holy bonkers did the wetsuit feel heavy.  It felt like carrying a ton of bricks as I ran up helix. My breathing was really labored for some reason as well and I was felt like I was choking on each breath. Thankfully, by the time I got to transition I had settled down a bit.

T1 could not have gone better.  I immediately found my bag and then proceeded to the next room.  A volunteer was at my feet as soon as I sat down. He quickly organized all of my gear and in no time I was ready and head out to find my bike.  I stopped at the sun screen appliers on my way out.

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I ran with my shoes in hand to my bike rack. I shouted out my number as I approached and a volunteer quickly pulled my bike off the rack as I put on my shoes.  I jogged the rest of the way to the mount line and hopped on to begin the bike.

Stay tuned for the bike!

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ironmanbythirty.com/2011/09/15/ironman-wisconsin-the-swim

Sep 14

Ironman Wisconsin: Prerace

Saturday was my day to lay low and relax before the big day. There was a couple of things that needed to be done, but relaxation was the key.  I started off the morning by packing up my gear bags as they need to be dropped off at transition along with my bike.

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Promptly at 10AM, we headed over to transition.  As we left the hotel we were bombarded by the Madison Farmers Market. Holy cow! It was the largest farmers market we had ever seen. It circled the entire Capitol and went down some of the side streets as well.  Maneuvering my bike around it all was crazy. We eventually got through it and I dropped my bike off.

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I quickly found my spot on the rack and got my bike situated.  It let some air out of my tires to keep them from popping in the hot sun and made sure that I was shifted into an easy gear.  This is the first race where I had to pre-rack my bike the day beforehand and it was kind of weird to just leave it there.  I saw lots of other Cervelo bikes out there; mainly P2s, but some P3s and even P4s as well.  I was definitely the odd man out with the lack of deep dish wheels or a disc wheel though.  I’m really liking what I am reading about the upcoming wheelsets from FloCycling, but that is a topic for another time.

After the bike drop off, I headed inside to drop off my transition bags.  Ironman Wisconsin is unique in that the transition rooms are indoors.  The gear bags go in one room and you get changed in another, so during the race you pick up your bag in one room and then move on to the next.

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After that, I headed to drop off my special needs bags only to find out that they weren’t supposed to be dropped off until race morning. Rookie mistake!  Oh well.  Back to the hotel we went – special needs bags in hand.  On the way back we stopped at Subway to grab lunch.  I quickly settled into the hotel room with some college football to watch.  After lunch, I got a text from Alexa when she was dropping off her bike so I headed back out to meet her again.  Jennie came with me because she wanted to check out the farmers market.  On the way out, I bumped into Skip, a guy I rode with during WIBA.  We caught up for a bit before I found Alexa. 

After chatting with Alexa, I headed off to find Jennie in the massive farmers market.

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When I found her, she had already bought a bouquet of flowers.  I am surprised that the flowers are all she ended up with given the fact that she had to pass by stands full of pastries

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and freshly baked bread.

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It all ended up being a bit overwhelming so we retired back to the hotel room again.

I actually took a bit of nap while watching football which surprised me that I was able relax.  The atmosphere of the whole city was so intense that it was hard to calm down at times.

Before we knew it, it was time for dinner.  We had a 4:15 dinner reservation at Francesca al Lago based on the recommendation from multiple people. 4:15 was awfully early for dinner, but considering that we would be up less than 12 hours later, it was safer to eat early than late.  Jennie and I each ended up ordering the lasagna and it was delicious.  Overall it was a great restaurant and we’d both recommend it.  Jennie, however, is a bit biased because within 5 minutes of sitting down, they gave us a basket of fresh baked bread.  And then, after the first basket was gone, they replaced it with a second one that was even fresher.  Needless to say, she was very happy.

After dinner, we headed back to the hotel for the final time.  It was nearing time for the kickoff of the ND/Michigan game.  Jennie and I quickly suited up in your best ND cheering gear.

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As the game, let’s not talk about that. haha. I turned off the TV and went to bed after the 3rd quarter with ND up 24-7 and the Michigan offense playing like crap.  At midnight, I woke up and checked my phone to find that they blew it and lost in the final seconds 34-31. I was shocked to say the least.  Thankfully, I fell back asleep.  4:00AM would be here in no time.

Next up, Race Morning and The Swim!

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ironmanbythirty.com/2011/09/14/ironman-wisconsin-prerace

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