Here it was… Race Week! The weeks leading up to race week were busy with the day job, coaching, swim lessons, and trying to plan a fundraiser for my Arizona 70.3. It (race week) snuck up on me like Ashton on Punk’d. This Ironman was different, I was having a hard time overcoming some nagging injuries and for the first time, my work really affected some of my long training days. Anyways, we flew into Madison on Thursday and stayed with family outside of the Madison. This was awesome because I rarely get to see family in the midwest. It also kept me out of the excitement and I was able to focus on things for the race and stay off my feet for the most part.
Sunday morning I arrived early and got everything situated with my bike and my bags. My race support crew had already begun her plan for the day of spectating and supporting me. What was cool about this race is that everything is inside. That means no dirt or grass, but it was a long run UP to transition. I got into the chute early so that I wouldn’t be just getting into the water as the gun went off. As we made our way out to the start line there was a 9/11 tribute and the national anthem was playing. I was getting ready to get this show on the road.
The Swim: 1:13:xx
The cannon went off, and whoa. This mass start was a washing machine the entire 2.4 miles. From the start I had some people not just brushing my feet, they were grabbing them and holding (WTF?). So I kindly kicked them in the face. I’m sorry (#notsorry), but you don’t need to be holding onto someone’s feet when they are trying to swim. It’s dangerous for them. So for 1 hour and 13 minutes I endured a constant body to body contact sport. Thankfully I am very confident in swimming and didn’t have any issue’s of panicking. I can see how beginners hate the mass starts, it can get downright insane. From the swim I had a nice run up the parking ramp up to transition.
The Bike: 6:26:xx
There really isn’t much to write about when it comes to one of the best supported bike courses by the community other than, it was fan-f8ckin-tastic. Getting out the doors and finding that a volunteer had my bike ready to go was awesome. I rode it down the helix and got my Edge 1000 situated and my HR turned on. The first thing I noted that was missing was my power was gone. It wasn’t pairing or something. So I took 2-3 minutes to mess with it, and then said F it. I was to ride this old school by HR zone and feel. Humming along at an avg 20 MPH my HR didn’t go above 141-150 much and I didn’t feel like I was over-extended which was good. The hills were rolling and the climbs were easy since you had a really good downhill leading up to it. There was only 2 hills that presenting a challenge: Barlow and some other. I had driven the course the day before with my family. I knew what to expect so I tried to conserve leading up to it. Then finally it where there. Both sides of the climb were lined with fans cheering everyone up the hill. There were people unclipping at the bottom and mid-way through. As I approached the guy next to me looked at the hill and said F-This, and unclipped. I powered up it out of the saddle and felt surprisingly good. The other hill wasn’t as bad, but again it was Tour De France style cheering which helped out alot. I got to special needs and as I was swapping out my bike bottles I was hit by another rider. I went to the ground pretty hard and was totally unexpected. Could tell that something was wrong once I started pedaling again and my entire right side of my butt started to really hurt. Thankfully I didn’t have to ride up Barlow again, but loop 2 had more wind. As I headed back to Madison, I was really worried about being able to run. As much as I wanted to let the crash disrupt my race and get frustrated, I kept remembering what I tell my own athletes: Don’t waste anytime worrying about stuff you can’t control, all it does is waste time and energy. So I kept my head up and hit T2.
As I set out on the run I didn’t really know what to expect since I did virtually no research into this course. I wanted to be healthy enough to run it. I was a bit concerned about my legs from the bike accident but I set out anyways. At this point the course was very high in energy as we ran through the capital area and out around the University of Wisconsin campus. Soon we were on the field of Badger Stadium which as awesome. It’s been a while since I was on the field and it was great to relive some of the memories of being a football player under the lights. I was cruising a 10-12 min mile as I was walking up the hills and had a positive mindset the entire time. As I approached the first turn around I was able to see my family out there cheering me on. This was a welcome sight since I’m normally doing these things with my main girl as my on-course support. The Base Performance tent is always the life of the party out on the course. Matt Miller and Tony Demakis always have the energy to get everyone going, and being a part of their team is a blast. The 2nd loop I decided it was time to enjoy some of the scenery, so I walked the entire field of badger stadium. When’s the next time I’m going to be on the field? Here I was at mile 20 and it was still light out and I was feeling really good still. Everyone has read stories about the finish line at Wisconsin, it’s what sucked me into wanting to do it. As I approached mile 25, you can see the energy on both sides of the street. As you’re running through it, you suck the energy in and you turn the corners to the chute and it’s nothing short of amazement. The community there is fantastic and the best that I have encountered at any of my races of any distance. As I was running down the finish chute I made sure that there was plenty of time between me and the next person. I was pretty happy to have a 5:30 marathon time after everything.
I really recommend this race to any athlete who wants to do an Ironman. I believe the course and the community really set this race apart from all the others. Yes there are so many other races out there that have scenic courses and great community support, so what makes this one different? In my opinion having Mike Reilly there and the transition being inside really bring it out, but what brings it over the top is the bike course support from the community. Having them out there on those climbs kept us all going and lifted our spirits.