>So, three weeks after IM Wisconsin seems like a good time to sit down and write my race report. Before I pick it apart, I want to first say I’m very happy with how I did there. A 15 minute PR on a harder course is what I would call a success. I came away from the race very happy about 2/3 segments, and am not bothered by the third. This race showed me that if I decide to make the time to do some serious work at the distance/sport, it would pay off. After Louisville last year, I wasn’t sure if I liked the distance. Kind of like after Western States I wasn’t too sure about the 100 mile distance. But, after Old Dominion, I was sold. Granted I didn’t have a 6 hour PR at IM Wisco but it helped me see the promise of the distance. I felt like this race kept me humble and was quick to show me the areas where I didn’t train hard enough. But, it allowed me some slack and let me perform well in the areas I had worked on. My sub-11 finish is still illusive, but I know that when I make the decision to go after it, I can do it.
Now for the nitty gritty stuff. The race starts at 7am. I walked over to the start and went to my bike first. I was happy to find that my tires were still inflated this year. The part I did have some trouble with was the aero bottle. This was going to be my first ride with it, and as I stuck in the full bottle I realized 2 things – one, I hadn’t cut the straw or adjusted it to be comfortable while I ride, and two, I just plain hadn’t installed the bottle holder correctly because when it was full it kept wobbling and falling out. I used my imagination though and was able to facet a quick fix that I figured would get me through the day. I found the body marking, and headed down to the water. The sunrise this morning was Amazing. watching the safety people paddle out as the first light came up was calming. The calm didn’t last long though, as they started forcing us into the water around 630. Determined to hold off getting into the 67 degree water as long as I could, I slowly pulled on my wetsuit and headed towards the back of the line of 2500 athletes. I ended up entering the water around 645, which still felt pretty early to me. I swam out to a floating dock about 100 meters away and huddled with everyone else trying to keep warm. My plan for this was a risky one, and I knew it. I was going to start as close to the front as I could get, without actually being in the front. My reasoning was that although I’m not the fastest, I’m confident and able in the water. If I could just hold on to the crowd, I’d get swept through the swim with the pack. The cannon went off and my theory was tested. The first 800 meters felt like an out of body experience. Everything you hear about it feeling like a “washing maching” is really the best way to describe it. Punched, kicked, and frustrated – but I was staying calm and collected. I was close to the line of the buoys, and uncomfortable as it was to swim in the group, I knew I was making good time. The turns were pretty rough. Everyone would finally stretch out and then we’d all group together again. At the end of the first lap I checked my watch – 34. Wait….what!? That’s faster than I’ve every swum in a race. That allowed me to relax. I knew I would swim a little slower than that, but I still had a lot in my little arms, so I relaxed and didn’t think much about it. Before I knew it I was heading in to the shore. Seeing a 1:11 on my watch as I was exiting was unreal to me. I ran up the ramp (very dizzing) and into the Monoma Terrace. While this makes it a long transition, its really well run and the volunteers are awesome. They got me my bag flawlessly and I was out the door on my bike.
This was where my fun was to begin. I was confident in my biking abilities but I was also a little weary after I heard so many stories about how hard the bike course was. So I wanted to relax for the first loop and just get my rhythm. There isn’t too much to report. The support out on the course is awesome. On all the climbs you have great fan support helping you hammer up it. And the volunteers were great at the water stops too. The sun came out and it started to get a little warm. I was drinking as much as I could. Unforrtunately my old TT bike had 3 bottle holders, and now I was down to 2. This is definitely something I want to fix, as I could have been drinking a lot more. Still, I was eating well and felt pretty good. I was passing a lot of girls in my AG and that was a confidence boost too. I hit each of the three segments pretty much at an each equal pace. My computer read 19.2/19.2/19.0. Ultimately the results show me a little slower – either way thats a darn good ride for that course.
Now time to tackle the run. Inspired by how good I felt last year getting off the bike I was expecting the same here. It couldn’t have been more different. Right off the bike my legs felt like bricks. I wasn’t able to gain any sense of my pace and I just felt like I was working too hard. As bright and sunny as that day was, I was starting to have some trouble shaking the clouds from my brain. I would like to think this is where my time spent alone in the mountains during ultras pays off. As bad as it was, I knew 2 things. One, this too shall pass. I still had 4+ hours ahead of me, and I would not feel this bad the whole time. Two, if I keep moving, I’m probably not going as slow as it feels. Sure enough, I realized I was still making about 9:15’s. That allowed me to shake the bad thoughts and relax a little. Despite my plan to run through the aid stations because I had a hand bottle, I let myself walk through them just for a mental break. As I was returning to state street on the first lap, I felt loose and excited. I was almost there.
Almost. Thirteen miles of Almost.
Heading back out on lap 2 my stomach started to get queasy. Of course – now my legs feel good so it only makes sense the stomach would fail me. 18 miles in and I couldn’t take a sip of water without it coming back up. Looking back, this is clearly dehydration. The lack of the third bottle on the bike had finally caught me. Again, I knew a couple things. One, this too shall pass. And two, stopping for 2 minutes to regain my composure will cost me a lot less in the end than struggling to get through 6 miles. So, I walked through the aid station at mile 6, got some food, and sat on a curb. Only for two minutes. But I sat, kept my head down, and got myself together. I was 6 miles from a finish. 6 miles from a PR. 6 miles away from being an Ironman. Mind over matter, I got up and shuffled. I hit the turnaround and realized i also needed to hit the bathroom. In one minute I was in and out and felt MUCH better. My stomach got whatever it was out, and I could move at a decent pace again. I still had to stop and walk every mile, but at least when I ran I could move. This was also when Erin Feldhausen caught me. She leapfrogged with me and knowing she was up there kept me moving. Before I knew it I was back on State Street heading to the finish. Once again, I was an Ironman.
Despite my 4:18 marathon at the end, I was able to see how far I’d come from the last year. I was 30th/13th/13th and 13th overall in the AG of 100+ people. My bike efforts over the past summer had paid off. The only blip in the training – a lack of brick workouts and long runs – was evident. But, you can’t expect something to be there when you didn’t train for it. I couldn’t expect my marathon to somehow have gotten faster without doing any speedwork. So that’s okay. And shoot – somehow I got faster swimming without ever actually swimming. Woohoo!
Would I recommend this race? ABSOLUTELY! The people in town were amazing, the town itself was fab, and I had a total blast. Definitely more challenging course than IMLOU, but the essence of the race makes up for it! And a special thanks to Erin for making me feel so welcome there, cheering me on, and being there for a hug at the finish!