Ironman Wisconsin 2009 — D+/C-

If somehow you’re not me or my family that’s reading this, be warned – it’s a long entry…for my benefit.

I wonder if it has taken me this long to write this remembrance, because I’d rather forget it?

The day to leave for Wisconsin from Blue River got closer and closer. I did a shit ton of laundry. Got my shit packed, but it was my usual procrastination, think/re-think/re-re-think, and take my time actually getting to the point to leave. I had a punchlist of stuff that I wanted to do before I left, and on that list was procuring a bike stand as I planned to clean and reassemble the bike in Wisconsin.

I had put out craigslist ads in the previous weeks searching for the kind of stand that I wanted. I wanted specifically the style where the bike mounts via the forks and rests on the bottom bracket area such as the Park Tool PRS-21. I knew that also sold a cheaper brand that was the same style, the Spin Doctor Race Workstand. So, sometime in the early afternoon, I went to the website for Performance Bike to get pricing and the shop # in Boulder. Now, in one of those extremely untimely and frustrating “what the fuck on earth is going on” internet moments, the website loaded that first visit to the site, but for the rest of the entire day, Performance’s website wouldn’t load in any of my web browsers. The internet was working. It was available. just would not load. I seriously wanted to break shit. How does shit like that just randomly happen when I least need it to?!?! I fee like it’s the story of my life somehow.

Having the phone number for the shop, I was able to call down to Boulder and speak with someone at the store. The first time I called, I actually spoke with one of the mechanics, as all the sales reps must have been busy. I explained to him what I wanted – clearly. He told me that he had never heard of or seen a bike stand like that. I was kind of dumbfounded that one could be a bike mechanic and not be familiar with the different types of bike stands. I don’t think it speaks well to one’s capabilities, but whatever.

I hung up the phone and tried to figure out what to do. I wasn’t going to compromise on what I wanted. I wasn’t going to run all over God’s creation of Denver to get this thing. I wasn’t going to pay an exorbitant $250+ for a Park Tool brand plus the expedited shipping to get it to Madison, WI.

I continued to pack the car and disassemble the bike. (My car wasn’t being packed to the hilt the way I did to come out to CO, because I made the decision that I was returning to Blue River, CO after the race since I have/had (not sure which still) some job prospects still going.) Did the cleaning I needed to do. Continued to be frustrated thinking about what I could do. I ended up calling the Performance shop in Boulder a second time.

This time I spoke with a sales rep and not the mechanic. I explained to him my frustration with the website. He knew what I was talking about and wanted, at least, but he said that they didn’t have any in stock. He mentioned that many of the shops had the Spin Doctor Race Workstand throughout the summer, however, they weren’t selling them any longer. That was weird, but it was also the trend that I saw online. I wasn’t seeing the Spin Doctor stand being sold from any retailer from North America. It was being sold in the UK and Europe, but it was no longer a model for sale in North America. Yet, the sales rep who I spoke with, whose name I can no longer recall, wanted to help me out, and he told me to wait while he checked with other Performance shops in the Denver area. He came back on the line, and he was like, “Well, I’m glad I checked…” Turns out that none of the other stores had the model, and his inventory list wasn’t showing one. BUT, he did, in fact, have only one stand left of the model I was looking for, and it was a floor model, which meant that I could get it for a further reduced price.


At this point, I think it was ~4:30pm. I knew that it would probably take me close to 2hrs to get to the shop in Boulder, and it closed at 9pm. That meant I had close to 2.5hrs to finish everything and hit the road. I got onto the road at about 6:50pm after making 3 MONSTER SIZED breakfast burritos, cleaning, a shower, and finished packing.

It felt strange to be driving away from Blue River, and I sort of didn’t want to leave despite Ironman. Anyway, I sped down to boulder in about 1.75hrs. Got the stand, bar tape, ferrules, housing, and I was back on the road. After some frustration with the north side Denver byways, I got going in the right direction and filled up on gas.

The drive was pretty quick. I drove straight through the night, and I made it most of the way across Nebraska before I finally had to pull over at a rest stop and sleep in the car for a bit. I wanted to conserve my sugar free Red Bulls, and drinking too many together gives me a pretty aggravating headache. After about 3hrs of rest, I was back on the road and speeding across Iowa. By the late afternoon, I was into Wisconsin, and by 5:30pm I was at the apartment in Madison.

I learned of the Countryside Madison Apartments from a contributor on a thread at Slowtwitch. It was pretty much what I was looking for, and we decided back in July to stay there. Let me describe it this way: dated, clean, comfortable, spacious, EXTREMELY tacky, and a bit weird. And, by tacky I mean, unframed posters/paintings/pictures SCREWED onto the walls in the hallways, and also fake parakeets in bird cages up on the wall amongst the fake plants. By weird, I mean photos of almost any nation on earth hung up on every square inch (almost!) of the walls in the basement laundry room and the hallway that ran the entire length of the building. The apartment and the entire complex made for some good laughs that night, and when my family arrived the next day.

Unpacked. Settled in. Decided to go for a run. I had been paying attention to how it felt to breathe as I came down in elevation from 10,700’ in Blue River. As I drove along, I could sense a difference, but running in Wisconsin, I felt really good. I purposely went out extra slow, but there was hardly any discomfort with deep breaths. I felt great, but I didn’t want to get ahead of myself, as I had good days in Summit County too only to be followed up with horrible training.

Slept really well. The fam eventually arrived. Got them settled in and squared away everything regarding check-in with the office. Got in the car and headed out for some breakfast at Mickey’s Dairy Bar in Madison. It’s a diner, and I ate there before when I was in Madison last year for a friend’s wedding. The food portions are MORE than generous, the prices are VERY affordable, and the menu is put up on the wall at the back of the room. It’s just a cool place and a must-do if in Madison, in my opinion.

Ate. Off to find some Desoto Forza Shorts and failed (the entire days leading up to the race). Got some other things I needed. Took a nice little drive back to the center of town.

Went over to the Terrace and checked in. God, I hate triathletes. Not all … but many. Too many “Welcome Wagons” and a lot of tools wearing everything Mdot with their compression socks. Really? Really??? I mean, do you wear all the gear when you go to the mall and out to lunch with friends? If not then, then why now? Am I impressed you finished Ironman Florida 2005? NO! After the cattle herding, we wandered through the expo. It sucked. I saw firsthand all of the Mdot branded trinkets and shit. I can’t recall the most absurd thing I saw with the logo on it, because I saw the table and proceeded to glaze my view over it.

Having finished check-in, the time was BEER-THIRTY!!! Off we went to the UW Student Union. It was a real advantage to have visited Madison the previous year, and know what sights on campus to see and where to go. Navigated our way to a nicely shaded table with an unobstructed view of Lake Mendota. A bottle of Spotted Cow (never get it on tap! … much better in the bottle … another little advantage learned from the previous year) for Vic and I. Water and wine cooler for Amanda and momz.

Back to the apartment. Another run that was shorter than Wednesday, but the effort was feeling easy again. Came up short on time, and swimming was sacrificed. Ate half of the last breakfast burrito, and then I set to work on the bike some. Decent sleep. Breakfast. More work on the bike and searching for the Desoto shorts. I had planned to swim in the morning before meeting up with some Slowtwitchers, but after breakfast, the time I woke up, and dicking around with internet searches, it was too late. Thursday’s swim had already been sacrificed, and it wasn’t even noon yet.

I met up with Record10Carbon, his wife, and Parkito. Parkito and R10C had both done IMWI in previous years, and I was relieved to preview the bike course riding with them as commentators. There’s no way I would have navigated the course by myself or with someone else giving directions as easily as it was to ride with these peeps. Got some good things to think about and be wary of on the course. In fact, they both mentioned Garfoot Rd. as one stretch of the course that required caution, and as the drive continued onto Garfoot, I saw exactly what they were saying. The downhill with the right turn is pretty hairy, and too much speed will wipe you out or send up a neighbor’s driveway or front lawn. At that exact turn, we rolled up on a guy who was just dragging himself to the shoulder of the road. Obviously, he was hurt, and we could see his boo-boo’s. If we had been another 20 seconds ahead of our position at that time, we might have run the guy over. He wiped out right in the middle of the road. He said that he lost his front wheel after a peddle or small stone shot out from underneath the tire. You could see his tire skids in the road. Dude definitely got on the rear brake hard – too bad it didn’t prevent his fall. Anyway, it was an eye opener, and it definitely stayed in my mind on race day. The dude and his wife loaded into a small SUV who had been following our car and also previewing the course. We didn’t encounter any more accidents.

Arrived back to the parking lot, and I learned from the group that tickets to the pasta dinner for my sisters and mom would cost me $35 each. Nuh uh!!! $35 for a watery pasta dinner that wouldn’t be any more appetizing than a charity fundraiser at your local church? More rah-rah-rah-sis-boom-bah? More nerdy triathletes who want to talk forever and ask a million questions and be BFF’s? No thank you. I had brought plenty of food from CO in the cooler in the car. I had salmon filets and pasta and tomato sauce. We had our own dinner back at the apartment. I actually preferred this as we had more personal time together, although maybe they missed out on some of the IM experience. Oh well. Next time … maybe.

From the time I returned back to the apartment less the time for a run and eating until the next morning, I worked exclusively on finishing the breakdown and cleaning of the bike. Cleaned the frame … then the cockpit … then the cassette … then the cranks … then the chainrings … then the chain … then the brake calipers … then the brake pads … then the front derailleur … AND THEN THE REAR DERAILLEUR! No, I couldn’t be satisfied with the normal cleaning that I do for my rear der. No. I had to go and remove the bolt for the lower pivot! (Never do something new on race day, right???) Well, it got cleaned, but the problem was that I couldn’t get it back together again. Talk about Humpty Dumpty and all the Kings Men. This is what kept me up most of the night, because I fiddled with the thing for a long time before I finally conceded that I would have to resort to the bike shop the next morning for either a repair or a new part. It would turn out to be the latter. I was tired and it was 5:45am. Not exactly according to plan. Got up. Small breky. Some clean up of the previous night’s work area. Off to the practice swim.

Parked at Machinery Row. Walked down to the swim area. Pressed into the wetsuit. Checked the bag. In the water. Since the Steamboat Massacre on Aug. 8th up to that Saturday, I think I could count on both hands the number of times I had been swimming. It was a terrible disappointment, especially considering that I felt REALLY good in the water at elevation before the accident. Saturday marked the first time that I had been in my wetsuit and swimming OW since Philly. I swam OW for EX2 XTERRA, but it wasn’t wetsuit legal. I could feel the time out of water. I did one complete loop of the swim course, which, of course, is 1.2 miles. That 1.2 miles felt like 2.4. I was worried that the 2.4 on race day was going to feel or exact a toll of 4.8 miles. At this point, I was pretty frustrated and disappointed that I had cracked ribs while riding mtb. I knew I was going to feel this way, but after getting some encouragement on my runs through the Fitchburg, WI neighborhoods after coming down from elevation, it was conflicting. Anyway, I was pleased just to get in the water since my previous days’ plans had gone awry.

Got out of the water. Grabbed my bag. Walked back towards my car, and peeled off the suit near the B70 tent. I wasn’t really interested in suits, but more interested in hearing what conversations were ongoing. I did end up talking to the rep (Shawn, Sean?), and I was kind of just making conversation to ask what they had new for next season and if they had anything on sale. He had a demo suit that was in great shape, which I ended up trying on and going for a swim in. It was the Helix, which is B70’s top of the line suit.

Now, I’m not one to typically believe that something is that much better than something else without spending considerable time evaluating it myself or to believe what everyone else is says about how great a product is. I look with skeptical eyes. However … having just gotten out of my Zoot wetsuit and comparing its feel to the swim and my effort in the B70 Helix, I was convinced. The B70 Helix is truly a great suit. It is so much more flexible in the shoulders than the Zoot, which is a lower end model from ’07. Not only were the shoulders more flexible, but the restriction of the neckline along my throat felt much less. Breathing felt much more comfortable and easy, and since it was a demo unit, the price was unbeatable. It’ll definitely last me too. Again, never do something new on race day, right? Well, I think this was an exception.

Over to Machinery Row bike shop, and I got some new barrel adjusters, brake cables (that didn’t come in the set that I purchased during the errand run on Thursday!!! GRRR!!!), and the new rear derailleur. There was no way that they were going to entertain fixing the derailleur. They were swamped with work.

Breezed back to the apartment, and the clock started. Still had a lot of work to do to get the bike ready. Mount all the drive train, lube, cable everything, adjust, final adjustments, test ride, more adjustments, nutrition setup, etc. A lot!

Many thanks go out to my mom and sisters for being there. Not only was it a great time to spend with them, but they were a big help. Amanda and Vic helped me sort and place my gear in the different bags while I continued to fiddle with the bike. My mom was running around to get me gels, gel flasks, and other last minute items. I’d have been REALLY worn out without them there, and I’m extremely grateful for their help and support. Thank you. Love you.

Now, I would have bet the house, wife, kids and the farm that gear check in at Monona Terrace ended at 4pm. I’d have bet it all. Really. I would have lost big. I finally had everything reassembled and the way I wanted it, and we got the car loaded and heading towards the Terrace at 4:05, or thereabouts. I figured like most other things that there would be lines, and the last person in line wasn’t going to be cleared through at 4pm. BUT, gear check-in ended at 3pm. Not 4pm. Not 4:15pm when we got there. Not 4:30pm when I found a race organizing employees. A bit miffed that I was late and rightly indignant to my insistence that the race materials stated a 4pm close time, these two gentlemen accommodated me, and they allowed me to place my gear bags in the right rooms and to rack my bike. I apologize. You were absolutely correct. I completely mixed up the Saturday event schedule times, and I should have planned better. Thank you for your understanding. (I checked in my special needs bags race morning.)

I was tired. This was good. I’d be able to go to bed early and sleep well. A quick stop at the grocery store, and then back to the apartment to finish organizing, clean, and eat. Pre-race dinner was my now comforting beans, rice and falafel. Yet, we forgot to get oil to be able to fry the falafel, and the cook’s hands were tied. Wasn’t the best falafel, so I substituted some extra beans and rice. Got a very short run in as well. Stretched. Quick dip in the pool. Showered. More stretching. Phone calls. Squeezed gels into the gel flasks. Got breakfast ready. Set the alarms. Nighty-nite.

Rise and shine, sunshine! Wakey, wakey!!! “People don’t sleep during the day, MICHAAAEL!!! THEY SLEEP AAAT NIIIIIGHT!!!!”

2 Vivarin. Oats, brown sugar and a peach. Banana. Water. Mug of Celestial Seasoning’s Morning Thunder ready. Woke up the neighborhood and got everyone moving. Gathered the gear. Last minute checks and mental run downs. In the car. My favorite Tool albulm. Drove the longer way to the shuttle area so that I could listen to as much of the cd as possible. Got there at like 4:10am. Shuttles only started leaving at 4am, but since we were the third or fourth cars in the parking lot, we didn’t have to pay a parking fee since the attendant wasn’t even there yet and no buses had left yet. Sat in the car for a bit listening to Tool, twittering, and replying to friends’ text messages that I missed having gone to bed at 8:45pm.

On the shuttle and listening to my playlist on an iPod (I had no choice! ARGH!!!) In town and off the bus. Checked in special needs bags. Quick pics with the fam. Little boys room for #1. Put on my tri shorts so that I could get bodymarked that would then allow me access to the bike area. Finished up the last minute details on the bike. 2x checked the brakes and the seat post bolt. Attached and filled the Aerodrink bottle. 2x check the air pressure in my tires. Didn’t get a picture of the bike, because I left the camera with Vic. Too bad. It may not have been very fast, but it looked damn sexy! HED Jet Disc (a very comfy ride) in the rear and a HED Jet 9 in the front. With the large black and white HED decals on the wheels with my black and white Kuota frame, it pretty much passed all Slowtwitch standards easily. I made sure to cover up the valve cutout in the disc with electrical tape. 😉

Out of the bike transition area, and back to the potty for another #1 sesh. Caffeine wasn’t producing the #2 bowel movement that I was hoping for, but as it turned out, #2 never posed a problem at any time during the race. 🙂

Some gel. Blue Lizard sunscreen (great stuff!!!). Body glide. Pulled on the B70 Helix. Hugs. Kisses. Goodbyes. Weave my way through the huge throng of spectators along the bike path to the swim entrance corral. Feeling okay. Not nervous. Pretty calm. The pros had already started by the time I was in the water. The only warm up I got was the short swim ‘n dodge out to the area where I wanted to start, which was about 25yds behind the frontline and 25 yds off the buoy line. Treaded water while trying to find my own personal space amongst the crowd and also avoid being kicked or kicking anyone while waiting for the start.

I didn’t hear any 5-4-3-2-1 countdown. All I heard was “BOOM!” They actually fire a small cannon for the start signal. It was underway, and it was pretty much what I expected. I mean, there are people everywhere. There’s no avoiding contact. I think the people that make a big deal out of how “brutal” and “the fight” of the swim are the people that never played team sports growing up. Or, they’re the idiotic newbs who have decided that 140.6 is an appropriate distance for their first ever triathlon. You get kicked, you get grabbed, you end up putting your hand someplace where you didn’t intend for it to be, your goggles get jostled, and unless you’re a FOP swimmer, you don’t have much open water and space to get your normal comfort level. Fucking deal with it and stop bitching about it.

So, as I proceeded along, I am not sure that I could have sighted any better during the first lap of the swim. I mean, every time I looked up, I was heading right for the spot that I sighted on the previous look. I’ll give this out as a tip – not that I feel that I can have many after having only done one IM distance race – don’t stop moving when going around buoy just because 90% of the field has pretty much stopped and are looking up, treading water and waiting for the person in front of them to move forward. Seriously, I think I passed 100 people just by doing the swim ‘n dodge on each of the first two turns. (IMWI’s swim course is a rectangle – 2 loops). The first lap felt like it went by REALLY fast. I definitely went faster than the day before at the practice swim, and I could definitely tell that the “suck” helped pull me along like R10C mentioned on Friday.

Now, as well as I sighted for the entire first lap, I think I sighted that poorly for the downward leg of the second lap. I went too wide, because as I breathed to my right I could see how much closer I was to Monona Terrace. I wasn’t in the “suck” very much on the second lap, and I was again wide on the upward leg. On the closing leg to the swim exit, I was off to the right a bit. After what I thought was a promising first lap, I exited in 1:13 something. So much for the new suit, eh? I wasn’t fatigued, and I felt good … EXCEPT that I got a significant pain on the top of my right foot every time I contacted the ground. It was like I had been struck on the foot or it was cramped, but it hurt pretty significantly. Even the slow jog I did to the bike after getting bike shoes on my feet made my foot ache.

Anyhow, with my vag now hurting, I got the upper of the wetsuit down, and I ran to the end of the line of the wetsuit stripping volunteers. I plopped to the ground, threw my legs in the air, and they willingly pulled my suit the rest of the way off. Up the parking garage helix and into the gear room. Grabbed my bag. Into the changing room, where I didn’t have to change since I was going to SBR in my tri shorts and tank the whole way. Just plopped on the shoes, helmet, sunglasses and race number. Jog to the bike. Old lady volunteer had trouble getting my bike off and away from the rack. No problem. To the mount line, clipped in, and down the opposite parking garage helix. No crashes on the way down – hallelujah! Too bad that some dude already had a flat tire, but props to him for moving all the way over and completely out of the way of riders coming down.

The bike begins. Rode conservatively heading out of the city. The spectators for the entire race were awesome, particularly for the bike. They lined a good portion of the road on the way out of town, which is a pretty boring area to spectate on the bike course, imo. Through the parking lot of the Alliant Energy Center and we were finally out on to the main part of the course.

The thing that I noticed early on the bike was that there were few people who seemed to be drinking and taking in nutrition. And, I think I probably went 10mins too far before starting my own!!! Later on, yes, I saw people fueling, but I’ll say that all the way to Mt. Horeb, I noticed only a handful of people taking gels or getting nutrition.

Inevitably, my largest cog shifting wasn’t proper and I had to grind up hills with a 21. Seriously, it makes me want to pull my hair out when it doesn’t work properly on race day, but the day before it was perfect. The rollers and course out to Mt. Horeb breezed by. A nice ride so far. I was feeling comfortable with my effort. Unfortunately, I passed many people in the early miles who I looked at and was like, “Jesus – how on earth was I beaten out of the water by you?!?!” Man, I need to work on my swimming.

Having read tons of complaints in the forums about drafting and the large draft packs, I want to say that I didn’t see a lot of it. I think there was one that formed just in front of me around the 30mi. mark, but other than that there wasn’t any blatant drafting. Okay, maybe some people were like 3.8 lengths behind a rider instead of 4.0 lengths, but I think most were okay and usually staggered to the side. Keeping people to the right when there wasn’t even a worry of maintaining a length in front was the usual annoyance. There were a few people, notably one tall and skinny middle-aged dude on a road bike, who crossed over the middle yellow line when there was no need for it. Jackass.

Having gone through almost the entire volume of the aerodrink and quickly approaching an aid station, I pulled the 2nd water bottle I had on the bike and squeezed it into the aerodrink. I grabbed another bottle of water and discarded my empty one at the first aid station. I must say that I am pleased with my execution of preparing before the station, the grab, the fill, the discard and swap of bottles going through every aid station. I didn’t have single mess up at any aid station. Most of the time, I was grabbing one bottle of water, but there were a couple times where I’d grab a bottle, squeeze it in, grab another, swap out the spare and discard a second time all within the length of the station. I wasn’t slowing down much either. I was cruising.

My nutrition on the bike was Powerbar Power Gels and water with Nuun electro tablets. I had lemon-lime Nuun tablets. I had 2 flasks of Strawberry-Banana and 1 flask of Green apple gel mounted on the bike. I got some regular flasks holding 5 gels, and I put velcro on the top tube of the bike and along the length of the flask. I put 2 lengths of electrical tape over them and around the top tube as well just to make sure, because R10C and Parkito warned me of some “launch sites” early on in the bike course. Losing my nutrition early on the bike is something that I definitely wanted to avoid.

Also, my cyclocomputer was again dysfunctional even after replacing the computer battery. Both the speed and cadence sensors had battery life. Yet, neither speed or cadence was registering. That means no distance recorded either. All I had was a clock. I had to guesstimate according to mile markers and the clock. It was around mile 25 or 30 that I really got a sense of my pace, and I was happy with it. However, the pain on the top of foot persisted, and somewhere between mile 25 and 40, my left butt muscle got very tight. It really pained me, and at that point and also looking back, I believe that it was due to the slight loss of flexibility that occurred post-accident and not being able to fully stretch much.

It definitely hampered my cycling. I coasted on downhills. I never coast downhills. I don’t believe the people who say that pedaling downhill doesn’t net you any gain. Bullshit. It sure as fucking hell does. But, I was struggling with this ache. It’s just one of those things. Shit happens. It happened. I could go out on any number of numerous 100mi. rides, and I could get some other kind of random pain. Or, maybe not. It just so happened. I tried stretching it out to no avail. For a large portion of the middle section of my ride, my mantra was, “|Relax. Don’t push it. Don’t blow it up on the bike. Let it come to you. Let the race come to you.” And, it did, eventually. Later than I liked, but by mile 80, I believe, the pain had worn in, I felt looser, and I started to go a little harder.

From about ¾ of the way thru the first loop, both of my feet became painful. Just another shit happens kind of thing (or so I thought). It wasn’t just the top of my right foot, but along the outside and just behind the forward joint of my metatarsals. It was really bothersome, but I had to just push through it. (Post race note: I’ve gone riding for 3hrs recently, and I got the same pain. I think something more fundamental might be wrong than it just being a random pain.)

What else about the bike course? I don’t think it was really that difficult. I think the difficulty of the course is over blown. The spectators are great. The big uphills are packed and lined with spectators that are playing instruments, dressed up and partying. It was great. There was one girl who was really good cyclist who I had been in proximity to. At the start of the second loop, she continued ahead as I had to continue to power down, and let the race come to me. That was kind of disappointing. She was easy on the eyes. Bright orange Trek TTX. Matching orange kit, and she had an interesting name. Temple. I caught up to her on the end of the second loop around mile 80. I asked her if her name was really Temple or if that was an homage to the university. It was, in fact, her name as she told me while chewing on a cookie, I think. Then I left her behind. BUT, she passed me on the run. :-/

I only saw the fam once on the course. Toward the end of the first loop. Just beginning to go downhill. Lost a gel flask at the bottom of the hill they were on – glad I had the backup. The party corral past Mt. Vernon High School was nuts. It was awesome. In a way, I kind of wanted to stop and take it all in, but at the same time, you get a bit extra energy and adrenaline when you have hundreds of people yelling, cheering, ringing cowbells, blowing horns and supporting you. You go faster in those situations.

It was great to finish the bike. My feet were so thankful. The pain in my butt had subsided, but my feet and right knee were still there. I ended up grinding up hills too many times in gears too low. That was a consequence of my poor shifting and my 11-23 cassette. Doing it over again, I’d run either a 25 or 27 on the low end. Got to the top of the helix and got another chance to see the fam. Unclipped. Handed off the bike, and my feet started screaming. They really hurt just walk/jogging from outside into the gear and changing rooms.

I got my run gear bag and sat down on a chair. The volunteers at the race were top notch. The volunteer asked me if I wanted help putting on my silly compression socks, and I also had a second volunteer personally fetching fluid for me. This was typical for everyone in the changing room as well. I was kind of shocked, but I put the socks on myself. It took forever though. All I had to do was get off the bike, pick up my bag, sit down, put on socks, slip on shoes and throw my hat on as I ran out. All told, that took me like 6 something minutes when it should have taken half that – at most.

All set to go, and I was out of the building. But … I stopped. Sunscreen. Volunteers to slather on sunscreen. I don’t envy their task, and they get a lot of props for volunteering to do it. Imagine slathering on sunscreen on 2300 people who are sweaty, smelly, greasy and half dead, and there’s plenty of people in the event who don’t even have to participate to be disgusting.

The first mile felt like 5 miles. My feet hurt all the way through 3 miles. Just grinded my way through. I did want to stop running and walk when I was in Camp Randall stadium, but I was able to just keep going. Getting to mile 4 was key. I got to that point, and I started to get into a rhythm.

At every aid station I grabbed something. I knew from my half ironman at the beginning of the season that flat Coke did wonders for me, and it didn’t fail me this time either. It was definitely a pick me up. I also went for cups of water, and I avoided Gatorade. I’d also pick cups of ice. I’d grab some oranges. I’d also go for pretzels. No gels. And, amazingly, the thing that made me feel the best and tasted the best were grapes. Green seedless grapes. They were salvation. Ultimately, I think they actually became detrimental at the end. In the beginning and middle they were good, but I ate too many. At the end, I was feeling a little bloated and full in the stomach. But, the mainstays, overall, were grapes, flat coke, water and ice.

Observatory Hill was tough. Running down State St. towards the capitol building was fun. Tons of spectators. There was no way anyone could stop running and walk. Saw the fam. The worst part of the run was going away from State St. and the leg heading away from town.

Got back to the capitol – amazingly – and the lead volunteer for special needs spotted my number and belted it out over the megaphone as I ran by. Down to the end, turned around, and I found a volunteer handing me my gels and Vivarin pills that I had put in my run special needs bag. Tossed the gels in the trash and put the Vivarins in my pocket.

Kept going. Pain in my right knee continued to intensify. Feet were hurting. Made it through Camp Randall Stadium a second time. Made it to mile 18 before I stopped running and walked. It was right before Observatory Hill. While walking up the hill, I wanted the Vivarin. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any water and only ice. I popped the Vivarin while trying to melt the ice in my mouth. That didn’t work too well, and I ended up chewing on the caffeine pill. It tasted like shit. God awful. Like chewing on a Tylenol. I couldn’t wait to get to the next aid station on State St. to get something to drink and chew on to get rid of the taste.

I ended up walking 2 more times after Observatory Hill, which sucked. I didn’t really want to walk, but the pains in my knee and feet were taking over. I got to mile 24, and 2.2 miles seemed like forever. The last 1.2 miles were the longest ever, but I was making sure to stay within distance of this one dude who looked like he was in my age group. The last blocks up to the capitol had me pushing it a little harder, and going around the capitol building, I really started to huff it. The pain required me to grit my teeth a bit, but I finished strong the way I wanted. I didn’t really notice much coming down the finishing chute. I never saw the fam. I could only hear noise and see the spectators in my peripheral.

I crossed the line, and I was exhausted. I was communicating with finish line volunteers via hand signals. I felt sick. I could stand, but the stomach wasn’t feeling too well. Too many of the green seedless grapes probably. Went to medical. Got weighed. Down about 2.5lbs. The male nurse attending to me was rather dickish and not as friendly as all the other volunteers. I think every other single person in the med tent was very understanding and nice, but this guy seemed like he didn’t want to be there. There was another nurse or doctor who decided to pay attention who brought me fluids and some chicken broth. I ended up feeling more sick as I sat there, but I eventually got better. 45mins later and I was walking out. I was definitely hurting…knees and feet.

Reconnected with the fam. Got some food. Recounted the day a bit. Collected my gear. Headed back to the apartment. Showered. Still standing. Still alive. Headed back to town for some grub at the Great Dane Pub. Could barely stay awake through dinner while sitting down. Back out onto the street and we went back to the finish line to cheer on the last official finishers. Could barely stay awake even while standing up.

The day was over. I went 140.6. Not entirely pleased, but there’ll be another day. When? Not sure. But, I’ll never stop until I get what I want.

~ by jerseyquaker on September 29, 2009.

3 Responses to “Ironman Wisconsin 2009 — D+/C-”

  1. dude, fantastic story. i’m sure you’re not satisfied, but that’s a hell of a job. and leave it to you to try seek out trim on a bike ride. FOCUS!!! hah. catch you later.

  2. This was great! You have taken some of the fear out of IMWis for me. I signed up for IMWis 2010. I am excited/terrified at the same time. If you don’t mind me asking you I will have questions over the next year about IM distance.

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