Not really sure what the big race is this year. IMWI70.3, Grandmas Marathon or heck, maybe an upcoming full IRONMAN?! Regardless, last weekend was IRONMAN Wisconsin 70.3, a race I really enjoy even with that brutal bike course. While the lenghy winter kept training to a minimum on the bike, I was still feeling pretty good about this idea due to past performances and my continued PR's.
I took a piece of advice from jerry on this book RECOMMENDATION, Mike Reilly's Finding my Voice. It made the 6 hour drive to Madison fly by and was a killer book. I got close to finishing it on the way to Mad town and parts of it darn near brought tears to my eyes. i got to my hotel and quickly unloaded my stuff and took off on a little run to shake off the car legs. For once, I was going to lay low and focus on getting rest. Saturday was check in day and bike drop off day. I did the whole athlete check in routine and hit up the athlete briefing as well. While it isn't exactly my first rodeo, I feel obligated to attend the meeting just incase some crazy piece of information is given out.
With all the crazy fit people roaming around IRONMAN village I got the itch to go on a run so I went to grab some running clothes at my hotel along with Stealth to check in later. A quick 3 mile jog along the run route and I was ready to rock on race day! After last years debacle of forgetting my nutrition on the bike, I made sure I packed some Cliff Bloks as i racked my bike. After giving Stealth a once over, I told her to get some sleep and I was off to get some food and hit the sack nice and early. Yes, I decided a cheeseburger and Spotted Cow was going to be the recipe for success.
Luckily for us, a few days of normal temps brought the water temps up to almost normal. They told us the water was near 70 degrees and to me, it felt pretty warm after the ice bath at Buffalo. I lined up and was off in the water...I hate the swimming portion! I used to say just survive the swim and make up for it on the bike and run. While, after the events that took place that morning, I'll have to find a new statement. During the swim portion, two athletes were pulled from the water. Sadly, one lost thier life at the race and the other athlete later passed at the hospital. It's a little wierd that now when you Google IRONMAN Wisconsin trying to find your results, the first thing to show up is tragic news headlines. With that, back to the race. I exited the water and took a quick glance at the Garmin and realized I was about 3 minutes faster than last year which was exciting! I quick stop with the wetsuit strippers and off to T1!
Bike helmet, bike shoes and a quick granola bar and off for a little bike ride. As I left transition, I got a short sighting of a friend and that always gives you a litle boost! You really couldn't ask for a better day so far. It was partly cloudy and calm for the swim and now that it was about 8am it was still calm but a few rain clouds hanging around. THe first few miles consist of a bike trail leaving the park and then off to farm country. You eventually stop counting red barns and cows and focus on those stupid annoying hills! The thing with hills is that when you climb one, you get to go down right? Well this course is cruel and basically every big climb is followed by a down hill that consist of a 90 degree turn shortly after so any speed you gain is quickly turned into heavy breaking. What this consist of is a 56 mile course with 3,300 feet of elevation according to my Garmin. My legs would agree with that data and I just love seeing T2 at madison! ANother peek at the Garmin and I had gained just over 1 MPH average gain from last years bike so I knew I was sitting good going into the run.
Running is obviously my strongest part of the triathlon and coming off a huge PR at Fargo, I was ready to lay down a good half marathon time. The run course is great at Madison, just a loop around the lake that offers some decent views to keep you motivated. While it is mostly flat, you have the occasional annoying hill to light the legs on fire. Throughout the run I slowly picked off runner after runner. About 3 miles into the run I came up on a guy who looked like a serious athlete and we ran the same pace for about 3 more miles. We spoke a few words and I could tell he was in the hurt locker and out of gas and he slowly drifted off pace and I pushed on doing my best to average 8 minute miles. After hitting the 10 mile mark it was easy sailing with just a little 5k left to the finish line and what I believed would be a PR. I rounded the last corner and of course, the biggest hill on the whole run course was just before the finish line. All I have to say is thank God for those spectators and that magical red carpet to help with the final push. Sadly, these 70.3 races don't get the PRIVILEGE of having Mike Reilly announcing but it is still just as rewarding finishing these races. It's something one could never possibly explain to someone else unless they have experienced it for themself. Months of training, numerous sacrifices and hours of racing all come to an end with that medal being placed around your neck.
So, with that little swim, bike and run action I crossed the finsih line 22 minutes quicker than the previous year and earned myself a new IRONMAN 70.3 PR of 5:36:53. It's been a roller coaster the past few months so having a successful race is so flippin' rewarding. To stay on the positive note, the Wattie Ink kit was killer! I am beyond thankful for being able to be part of such an amazing kick ass team. Heather and Sean are really amazing people. Stealth finished her 7th IRONMAN race and worked like a champ thanks to Jake at Jake's bikes. Lastly, continued support from Tribe. Also thanks to all who support this crazy adventure even if you don't understand why we do it. Us triathletes really are a bunch of crazy people. But with that, I will say the multisport community is second to none. Trulyy the nicest group of people I have ever interacted with.
CONCLUSION: BACK TO THOSE ATHLETES WHO LOST THIER LIVES DURING THE RACE. (NEWS STORY HERE) MAY YOUR FAMILIES SOMEHOW FIND PEACE AND REMEMBER THE GOOD TIMES. FOR WHATEVER IT IS WORTH, YOU HAVE THE SUPPORT AND PRAYERS OF THE WHOLE MULTISPORT COMMUNITY TO HELP YOU THROUGH THIS DIFFICULT TIME. SOMEDAY, WITH THE COLLECTION OF OUR GARMIN AND STRAVA DATA, THEY MIGHT BE ABLE TO PINPOINT WHY THE SWIM PORTION IS SO DEADLY. IT IS CRAZY TO THINK THESE MOSTLY HEALTHY AND FIT PEOPLE ARE HAVING THESE MEDICAL EMERGENCIES. JUST MAKES YOU MORE THANKFUL EACH DAY YOU WAKE UP AND ARE ABLE TO CHASE YOUR DREAMS AND PASSION.
WHAT IS NEXT? IS IT IRONMAN WISCONSIN? HOW ABOUT IRONMAN COZUMEL? IRONMAN ARIZONA NEXT YEAR? TBD SHORTLY!
WORK HARD. STAY HUMBLE. A LIFE FILLED WITH SWIM, BIKE & RUN. 5Ks TO MARATHONS, SPRINT TO IRONMAN 140.6