Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Ironman Wisconsin Journey

I barely slept, but managed to get about 2-3 hours of sleep, got up and took a shower. I ate a PB&J on wheat bagel for breakfast around 4am, and then caught the hotel shuttle to race site at 4:30am. Lots of nervous pacing and walking.

I seeded myself in the far right rear of group (possibly the last person) in order to avoid the washing machine effect, because a kick to my face or any other parts would have negatively impacted the way I felt the rest of the race, and I wanted to avoid that. I managed to catch-up to and pass some slower swimmers, which put me into the washing machine effect I was initially trying to avoid and survived without injury; only to have to make up extra yardage, because I was too far right of the first red buoy. My sighting was decent, but I still tended to zig-zag a bit. I felt it was a good pace to conserve energy for the rest of the race, and was satisfied with my time.

I forgot to pack a towel. So many details to this race.
Volunteers were wonderful and very supportive and helpful.

Experienced neck pain prior to bike start (which I normally don't experience till after riding 80+ miles on my tri-bike). Sinuses started acting up, and I ended up with a runny nose for the rest of the race. I wear a nose plug on the swim to avoid this problem, and normally it prevents the runny nose syndrome. Unfortunately, it didn't work for me this time. Mile 10, got a flat. I began to start questioning my decision to use my tri-bike versus my road bike, but knew I needed to stay positive and keep moving forward. I had the wheel off and bike support showed up very quickly to help me. While he helped change the tire, time seemed to stand still as I watched other cyclists pass me by. He cautioned me not to go fast on the turns and downhill because the glue normally takes 2 days of non-riding to cure. My bike computer indicated the time spent changing the flat was about 12 minutes. I stuck to my plan to pace myself and conserve energy for the run. After 4 energy bars and 2 goo's my stomach rebelled, and couldn't handle any additional nutrition. Around 1pm, I could smell burgers, steaks, and chicken the spectators were grilling along the course. It made me sooooo hungry I wished I was doing a HIM instead. On a positive note, I wasn't cramping on the bike. The last 2 hills, there were many cyclists walking their bikes, but I had trained and wasn't having any of that! The sun beating down on my head drained most of my energy. I ended up crashing my bike into another cyclist riding at 9mph at mile 100. I started to seriously doubt my ability to do the run and complete the marathon portion. Many seasoned athletes had recommended that I have several centuries under my belt (which I didn't have) before doing the race. Put in more mileage on bike Re-evaluate nutrition

I was feeling like I was ready to quit - but then I heard the crowd cheering which gave me a burst of energy and I managed to pass a couple of cyclists on the helix. The volunteers were encouraging, and motivating and inspired me to continue on. Both my feet were numb and I wasn't sure how I was going to be able to run (or walk for that matter), but my new mantra was "can't stop till you get enough". (tribute to Michael Jackson)
I wore my tri-shorts, and the elastic rubbed into my skin. I would wear running shorts next time.

My initial plan was to run/walk since I had 7 hours to complete a "walk-a-thon". The first aid-station I saw food (which I wanted to eat a lot of fast). I had several orange slices, pretzels, and finally COLD gatoraide. After that, I was too full to run. The sun continued to beat down on my head for the next couple of hours, which drained me of most of my remaining energy. I couldn't wait for the sun to go down so that the cool air would revive me. Once again, I changed my strategy. On my way back from the first loop, I saw my wife (who I was hoping to see at the beginning of the first loop). Never-the-less, she was a sight for sore eyes. I asked her to get me a 7-Up from the convenient store as I took a little nap on the concrete waiting for her to return. She walked with me for about 1/2 mile while I calculated how little time I had left, and drank the soda. Once she left, I began the walk-run cycle (but mainly walked). As I reached mile 13 I got a cramp in my lower-left calf and had to start walking again. I saw Kelly and Linda at the turn-around but didn't have any energy to wave, so just nodded their way. While at the special-needs bag location, a volunteer asked if I needed medical attention as I fumbled with my new compression socks. I know - never try anything new on race day, but I figured at this point - what harm could come of it. As I continued my "walk-a-thon", I saw my good friend Kelly who started asking me a serious of questions (none of which I can remember). She noticed the dazed look in my eyes at the turn-around, and was concerned. She suggested that I slowly sip some chicken-broth since I hadn't taken in any nutrition for the past couple of hours. After a few cups, she encouraged me to start running and helped pace me (because I started out running too fast). I was cramping from time-to-time, but mostly we ran. at mile 22, I felt nauseous and Kelly pointed to an area that I could throw-up at. I told her I'd prefer not to. I thought I could walk-off the nauseous feeling without throwing-up. My inner thighs were extremely sore, and were preventing me from running. At this point, I had about 1 hour left. Kelly continued to motivate and inspire me, encouraging me to walk faster. At mile 25, Kelly split off from me and I managed to run with pain across the finish line. I was told that my wife, Kelly and other friends were on the side-lines cheering me on, but all I could focus on was crossing the finish-line to stop the pain. I didn't look to the left or right, just plowed straight ahead. I had so many emotions running through my head. At first I felt like crying, then I felt estatic, and then, I just wanted to finish - to be done and have it over with. When I crossed the finish line, the volunteer at the finish asked if I wanted to go to the medical tent. I said no. She asked me if I wanted a blanket. I said no. She asked me if I wanted my picture taken, I said no, I just want to lay down. I am extremely grateful to Kelly for her fortitude and kindness in helping me achieve my goal of completing this huge accomplishment. Without her help and support, I might not have finished. Thank you Kelly! Time 16:40