The race went pretty well. I finished in 12:12:20 -- I estimated my potential at 11:05:00, but I had the math worked out so that I would finish under 13 hours in and land at 12:30:00. I figured I'd fall somewhere in between the two times, which I did. It started out pretty good and I was on track to be closer to 11 hours total than to 12, but things fell apart on the run. I have my theories and reasons why and know that if I do it again, barring unforeseen issues, I could hit 11 to 11:30. Regardless of all of that I am not complaining, I'm happy that I finished and believe I did so in a respectable time. I also feel blessed to have the gift of health and that I am physically able to swim, bike, and run (or other misc activities), as so many aren't able to do so. To those than can partipate in physical activities and challenge themselves, but don't, here's a Steve Prefontaine quote: "To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift." Doesn't fit exactly, but you get it. Don't waste what you have.
Here's how the race went down for me...
SWIM: 2.4 miles (1.2 mile loop x 2)
My potential= 1 hr 20 min (gave myself up to 1 hr 45 min)
SWIM TIME: 1 hr 19 min 51 sec
Transition 1 (swim to bike)
Goal: around 10 min
The common advice for T1 at IMWI was to walk it--so I did. After exiting the water, we get to the 'strippers'. Yes, included in the $575 race fee, we get a strip show. No "ones" required if you know what I mean. Ok, seriously though, they are wetsuit strippers. A whole line of them willing to rip your wetsuit right off your body. As I was crossing the timing mat from the water I took off my goggles and cap, then then top half of my suit. When you get to the strippers, you just lay on your back and they rip in off from chest to toes. VERY SLICK. I thru the suit over my shoulders and started a slight trot. The crowd is just ridiculous and you want to run. We had to go up a spiraling car ramp known as the "helix". Its not steep, but its a fairly long way to get to the transition area. So I walk up the helix, enter Monona Terrace (think of a convention center with ball rooms) where our transition bags were, and its a giant chaotic, but organized zoo. A volunteer hands me my bag and I head to the mens transition room. A volunteer in there helps unpack your bag while you strip down -- if totally changing. My stuff was all layed out and as I put on the fresh tri-shorts and top, my wetsuit and other junk were put back in the bag. I left carrying my shoes and exited the building to find volunteers with foil pans full of sunscreen. They were gloved and slathering it where ever skin showed. They were not skimping--it went on thick. I then hopped in one of the portapotties--need I say more. I must have swallowed a lot of lake Monona. Then on to the area where the bikes were. I grabbed my bike and headed toward the exit. But wait--more volunteers there were holding bikes just before we exited so we could put on our shoes. I clicked off my lap button as I crossed the mat and saw "12" something. Little longer than I wanted, but oh well. Its not a race. Oh, wait, it is, but....
T2 Time: 12 min 29 sec
BIKE: 112 miles (lollipop style two loop course)
My Potential: 5 hr 45 min (gave myself up to 6 hr 30 min)
We rode down the opposite helix car ramp thing that we walked/ran up after exiting the swim. This was not bad and was actually sorta fun. Once out on the road we had about a mile or so before entering a "no passing" zone. For safety reasons they didn't want us to pass anyone for a short stretch (couple miles) as we were on a narrow bike/walking path that zig-zagged a bit before we got away from down town Madison and out on some county roads. This worked out pretty good actually, as you had time to collect your thoughts and start out easy. I have a tendency to go too hard at the start of the bike (and run as you'll see below). Only a few miles out on the course, in the no passing zone, there was a rider down being put on a stretcher. Poor guy. That is exactly what I was worrying about and why I budgeted so much time. I wanted to take no chances and ride conservatively to avoid something freaky. Was that guy riding right? Maybe, maybe not. He could have hit a lone pebble on the path and slid out. Could have flatted and lost control. Who knows.
The course consists of a 16 mile ride out, then two loops of 40 miles, then 16 miles back. SEE COURSE HERE. There were so many people out on the course that I felt like I was riding the MS150. Big groups of people of all shapes, sizes, and abilities. I didn't see anyone explicately drafting as it was so hard to not ride in a group. However, it was very different from a road-race-type-peloton. I couldn't see that anyone was getting an advantage over anyone else on the way out to the loop. Once off the 'out' section and on to the loop, it started to thin out. As many told me, and I've read, there was no shortage of decisions to be made on the course. IMWI bike course is said to be the toughest IM bike course in the U.S. Its not all up hill and doesn't have an Alp d'eus type climb, but they say its tough because there very few spots where you're just riding--your either climbing up hills or rollers, turning, cruising down curvey descents, etc. There are 4 sections that I would call climbs, but other than that I didn't think the course was too bad. I compare tri courses to road race routes, which may not be a fair way to analyse and compare because you don't ride a tri the same way you do a road race. However, it is a nice frame of reference because it sets the bar high. Road races alway include unseemingly sprintable hills designed to separate the pack a bit. The IMWI course had those and would actually make for a good road race loop. Overall I thought the course was pretty fun to ride. When I got thru the first loop I was starting to feel the mileage. After the first of the four climbs in the loop in the town of Mt. Horeb I pulled over in the feed zone and went for the Coca Cola (20 oz) I brought along. I believe this is about 67 or so miles in. I took down about half the cola and it did its thing. I drank the rest of the Coke on the fly after the next climb. Soon the lap was done and it was just a 16 mile shot back to Mad town. A little tailwind and for the most part a loss of elevation made for a fast ride back averaging 21.66 mph.
Back at the Terrace, we road up the helix and a volunteer took our bike and racked it.
BIKE TIME: 5 hr 53 min 38 sec (19.0 mph average)
Transition 2 (bike to run)
Goal: around 5 minutes
After they took our bikes we headed into Monona Terrace again and into where are run bags were. Same routine--volunteer handed you your bag then you went to the mens transition room. Fully assisted by a volunteer who unpacked then repacked your bag. I completely changed into a different tri suit and headed out. More sunsreen and on to the run course. What a relief. I was only a short 26.2 mile trot from becoming an Ironman : )
T2 Time: 5 min 30 sec
RUN: 26.2 miles (two loops of 13.1)
My Potential: 3 hr 45 min (allowing 4 hours)
How I figured out what I could run a marathon in was mostly guesswork based on prior tri's and training runs, like how most people figure it out, but what I didn't have was a prior marathon result. Also, predicting longer races based on previous results at smaller ones assumes that you have increased your training volume and workout durations to meet the demands of the longer race. I didn't do that. I put in a few really long rides and runs that wouldn't have been in the plan had I not had been registered for IMWI. For the most part, my training volume was good enough to do ok to good at races up to half-iron distance, but only just enough to get thru something longer. For run training, the longest run I did was18 miles, just about a month prior to IM. Before the IM, that was my longest run ever. Going 3:45 to 4 hours for a marathon would mean a pace range of roughly 8:40 to 9:10 per mile. So, what happened. Well, I started off WAY TOO FAST. It didn't feel fast and I didn't know my speed until mile 1 sounded off on my watch. Here's the first 4 miles:
- 6 min 53 sec
- 8 min 42 sec (but this included a pee break so maybe 7: 45 - 8 min of running?)
- 8 min 6 sec
- 7 min 39 sec
- 10 min 53 sec
- 13 min 14 sec
- 10 min 10 sec
- 10 min 5 sec
RUN TIME: 4 hrs 40 min 54 sec
TOTAL TIME= 12:12:20
Looking back I think my marathon estimate would have been right and I could have ran 9:10's had I not started out so fast. Oh well, I am still overly happy with my result. Will I do another? During the run I was determined I would NOT. However, now that I know where I messed up I would like to do it again. I'm probably going to wait till I am in the next AG. Maybe in 2015 when I am in the 45-49 AG. Who knows.
If this is the way Ironman's are run with regards to how they're organized, these events are truly top-notch. Seriously. Although expensive, they are worth it. I can't describe how devoted the volunteers were. This thing was organized so well its hard to describe. To use a convention center and parking ramp for the transition area made for a very sheltered, yet spacious transition area. This was the 10th running of the event and they've probably worked out all the kinks, but still--it was almost flawless. The perfect weather didn't hurt either... Overall it was a great experience.
Next post will cover what I ate and drank as a lot of people ask about that.
PICTURES (all taken by Paige Reeves):
|Calm waters before the race.|
|The 'Helix' crowded with people waiting for us to run up it.|
|The herd approaching the first left turn. $100 if you can point me out.|
|Lot of bikes. Look up the right side. See the first barrel--my bike is on the end next to it.|
|Me heading to my bike. #1879.|
|One of the climbs in the bike course|
|WINNER! Ezequiel Morales (8:45:18 !)|
|Joe Moyer, right, finishing. He finished in 10:20:34 and some change. 61st overall.|
|Jeremy Ekman finishing (11:49:30)|
|Diana Koepp and me. I passed her a couple times, but she ended up finishing a little more than a half hour in front of me. Nice run Diana!|
|Post race--I really did finish before it got dark.|
|What the last stretch to the finish looks like.|