I got down to business with my training in January. I was planning to do Ironman Kansas 70.3 in early June, so I put all of my focus on that race. After Kansas, I refocused my sights on Ironman Wisconsin. The training increased in duration and mileage until I peaked out in mid-August with my highest mileage week (239 miles: 202 miles cycling, 36 miles running and 2 miles swimming).
In August, I made two trips over to Madison to familiarize myself with the course. The first trip, Carrie Berg and I went over for Troy Jacobson’s tri-camp. I had a great experience at my first tri-camp. We rode the course on Saturday and then ran (in the rain) one loop of the marathon course. I came home with many new tri-friends and also a lot more confidence about getting to the finish line on September 12th. My second trip was on my own. I again rode 2 loops of the course, ran one loop of the marathon and also did an organized course swim.
Fast forward a few weeks to September 10th. Casey and I headed to Madison on Friday morning. We got to town around 11:00 a.m. and immediately started all of the activities that are required for Ironman athletes. I went straight to athlete check-in. Waited in 4 different lines: one for USAT check, one for waiver sign-off, one to get weighed and the last to get my packet/race numbers. The whole thing took around an hour. It was getting to be time for lunch. We headed to Brocach Irish Pub across from the Capitol building. After lunch we went to check into our hotel. Once we had gotten everything from the car into the hotel, we took off for State Street to meet up with my Aunt Cheryl and Uncle Steve.
Friday night Casey, Steve, Cheryl and I met up in our hotel bar with Carrie Berg and most of the people from tri camp (including Troy Jacobson himself!!) We all went to the athlete dinner at Monona Terrace together. Mike Reilly (voice of Ironman) was the MC of the event. It was long night and I was pooped. I cut out half way through the rules meeting and went straight to bed.
Saturday morning, Uncle Steve and I headed out in the rain for a short bike ride. We rode through the arboretum by the UW campus. It was a home football game, so we got to contend with some game-day traffic. After the ride (and after I had warmed back up) Casey and I walked around the farmers market and enjoyed cheese curds. I left Casey with Steve and Cheryl in the poster making tent and went to get my gear bags organized. After enough poster-making time, we all headed down to bike check in and racked up my race rocket. I dropped my T1 and T2 bags off and it was time to get some lunch and find a spot to watch the Iowa vs ISU game. We headed to the Great Dane and got a great spot with couches right in front of the big screen. My cousin Elle showed up right before kickoff and the Mason City cheering contingent showed up too. We watched the Cyclones get stomped on for a while, bummer, and then headed back to the hotel to get ready for an early dinner. Steve, Cheryl, Elle, Casey and I went to Fresco, the restaurant on the top of the Museum of Contemporary Art. We had a really great dinner. Then it was time for bed.
I had no problem trying to get to sleep and I had no problem staying asleep. The alarm went off at 4:15 a.m. Time to start eating and get some serious fluids down. I had 2 mini bagels and banana, along with Ironman Perform. I took a quick shower and got my tri kit on. Around 5:15 I took my special needs bags down to the corner, got body marked, and went to get my bike ready. I pumped up my tires and loaded my bike with nutrition and liquid for the day. My plan was to eat 100 calories every 25 minutes and sip on my areo bottle as much as possible. I taped 5 Hammer Gels on the top tube, and then put 3 mini-Clif Bars, 2 packs of shot blocks, 4 Endurolytes and 2 Fig Newtons in my bento box. I filled up my aero bottle with Ironman Perform and stuck a water bottle and another bottle of Perform on my bike. Then I headed back up to the room to sunscreen and hang out until it was time to get down to the water. Around 6:15 Casey and I headed to the beach. The rest of the Team Pinkalicious contingent came down a few minutes later and I had my last few laughs before getting in the water. As I was giving everyone hugs, I stated to tear up. The time had finally come and I was ready!
Time to race. Around 6:40 I got into the water. I swam out the buoy and looked back at Monona Terrace. It was an amazing sight with all of the spectators. After what seemed like forever, it was the pros time to start. Off they went. Then the area that I was in got a lot more crowded. I tried to stay towards the front of the pack. I was starting to get really cold, teeth chattering and all. Thankfully they called out 1 minute to start. That minute went by very quickly and all of the sudden the canon went off. From there on out it was it was like swimming with 2,500 people in the agitate cycle of the washing machine. I don’t think I ever took more than 6 strokes without running into someone or someone running into me. I was getting very annoyed with all of the contact, but continued to hold my line right next to the buoys. Finally I came upon the final turn towards shore. It was almost over, well at least that part.
I got out of the water and ran to the first set of wetsuit strippers. Once I was out of my wetsuit I was on my way up the helix. There were so many spectators in the helix, I felt like I was running on air. In to T1 I went, grabbed my bag and went to the changing room. I didn’t have much to do except put on my helmet, sunglasses, biking gloves and arm warmers. The arm warmers were really hard to get on, even with the great help from the volunteer who was assisting me. I grabbed my shoes and made my way out of the building. I got to my bike and ran it out to the mount line. Down the helix and out onto John Nolen. As I was stuffing the first Clif Bar into my mouth one of the race photographers came into view. I thought, great, I get a few photos of me chewing my food like a cow. All the way out to Verona I tried to keep my speed in check. As Coach Troy said, “This is a warm up. You’ve got a long day ahead of you.” Even though it was 6 and a half hours, the bike seemed to go by quickly. It was very nice to have friends and family on Old Sauk Pass. It really made that hill seem not so bad. There was also great support and energy on the next climb. Through all the climbs, I shifted into my granny gear and spun up the hills. Another metaphor from camp, “Don’t burn your matches up the hills. You only have so many matches and you will need them for the run.” All of the volunteer support was great as well. I stopped in Cross Plains and while I was in the porta-john, the volunteer holding my bike topped off all of my water bottles with water. Talk about full service! I got to see friends in Verona, so that helped my mood too. Soon enough I was done with my second loop and heading back into Madison. Luckily I had a tail wind to help me along. The ride up the helix was fun. I exclaimed “wheeeeee” and I don’t think my fellow athletes were having as much fun as me because I got a few glares. When I got off my bike and gave it to the volunteer, I saw Wade Busch, who was volunteering. I got to talk to him while I was running into the building. I hadn’t seen a familiar face in over an hours so it a welcome site.
I got changed with the help of a volunteer. Put on my compression socks, shoes and visor and headed off. (Note: compression socks are very difficult to put on when you are already swollen and in a hurry.) I hit the porta-john and went through the sunscreeners. As I was leaving the transition I saw Casey and then my Mom and Cheryl. I got to hug my mom since it was the first time I had seen her that day when I wasn’t on my bike. My legs were pretty tight so I tried to loosen up for the first few miles. I stopped a few times to stretch out, which included plopping down in the grass by some spectators to stretch out my back. Somewhere around mile 5 my stomach started to get angry with me. There was a lot of sloshing going on in my stomach, so I figured I wasn’t digesting. I walked about ½ mile and then gave it another go. I ran down State Street and got to see all of my friends and family. I finally got to hug my dad and puppy Coastie. That really helped my spirits. Again around mile 8, I felt bad again and started to walk. I walked almost a whole mile until I came upon one of my fellow campers (and bad-ass triathlete) Steve Brandes. He was on his second loop (so around mile 22). He walked with me for a little bit and then encouraged me to run with him. It really meant a lot to me that Steve was encouraging me on when I knew he wasn’t feeling great either and had lofty goals of his own about his finishing time. After he scampered off, I was feeling much better and managed to run most of the way back to the capitol and to the turn around. When I was at the turn around I noticed the race clock was around 10:30, so I knew that I had 2:30 to complete another half marathon and break 13 hours. That gave me a lot of drive to keep going. I pulled my visor down on my head, looked at the ground and focused on the task at hand. I don’t remember much of that second loop other than seeing friends and family again around mile 19. At that point I started to tear up, I knew I only had around another hour and I would be an Ironman. Again, I focused, put my head down and ran. Other than my glance at the finishers clock on my first lap, I hadn’t looked at my stopwatch all day, so at the final aid station I took a peak at it. It said 12:55. I said out loud something to the effect of “you’ve got to be f-ing kidding”. I had 2 blocks to go and 5 minutes to get there. I was so excited. When I figured out the 13 hour goal, it was merely an educated guess. I don’t remember a lot about rounding the final turn and heading to the finish. I remember yelling to Casey that I was going to be under 13 hours. Then I remember being herded through the finishers medals, photos etc by my handlers. I was in much better shape than many of my fellow finishers, so my handlers left me before I got my photo taken. Then I went out to find my family and friends. I was so pumped up, I felt like I was on top of the world. It was great to have so many people to celebrate with. After my husband ceremoniously dumped champagne over my head, I decided that I needed get out of those stinky clothes. I went up to the hotel room, took a shower and got changed.
I came back down for a champagne toast and rehashed the day with everyone. Casey went and picked up my bike and transition bags. (Best husband award, yet again!) We then went back to the finish line to watch Amy and Eric Follmuth finish. It was fun to see all the other finishers. Some came in with plenty of energy to spare and while others barely crawled across the finish line. Since we didn’t know where Amy and Eric were in the marathon, Casey and I decided it was time to head to bed. Wouldn’t you know that they came across the finish line 2 minutes after we left. Oh well, it is the thought that counts!
I want to first and foremost thank my husband for putting up with all of my antics this year. He is truly the best husband and I couldn’t have done it without his support and encouragement. I would also like to thank the rest of my family and all of my friends, especially the Team Pinkalicious Support Crew, who supported me in my endeavor. You each played a huge part in helping me get across that finish line.
By the Numbers:
3382 - miles biked in 2010
985 - miles run in 2010
76 - miles swum in 2010
7 - century rides in 2010
12:58:56 - Overall Time
1:04:58 - Swim
8:54 - T1
6:37:38 - Bike
9:14 - T2
4:58:14 - Run