I originally began preparing for Ironman in December 2008 with the intention of racing at IM CDA in 2009. In April 2009 I fell down the stairs and broke my foot. I still went out to Idaho and did the swim for the experience and because one of my friends was racing and a whole family trip was planned around it. It was good experience which definitely helped with knowing what to expect at the race site and in the water. Basically for me training has never really stopped since December 2008….there was just a lot of PT trips included in the mix.
I signed up for Madison with 4 of my friends. One got injured and could not race and the other bowed out for personal reasons. When the three of us who were still racing got out to Madison on Thursday we immediately went to check in to beat the lines and that was a good thing. We zipped through the process on Thursday only to go back to race central on Friday and find the lines enormous. Friday morning we went for a practice swim and Lake Monona was really choppy. The lake had been really calm Thursday so I felt pretty confident that once the weather front that was anticipated went through it would go back to calm, but either way I had swum IM CDA in very similar choppy conditions in much colder water so I wasn’t really worried. Friday night we went to the athlete dinner and meeting and had a good time. Mike Reilly puts on a good show and the meeting does provide some information that is good for first timers to hear if for no other reason than to make you feel like you are on top of what is going to happen on race day. One exciting bit of news during the meeting was that due to construction the biggest hill on the run course was going to be eliminated!! Woo Hoo!
Race morning we got up at 4 am and had breakfast and tried to stay calm. We got a ride to Monona Terrace and dropped off our special needs bags. Next we headed into transition to visit our bikes which we had racked the day before. I loaded my PB sandwiches into my bento box and filled my aero water bottle – one chamber with my favorite Gatorade flavor and the other with water. I had the tech guys top of my tires and went back to find my friends to make one last potty stop and then head down the helix to get into wetsuits and hand off the morning clothes bags. Down at the waterfront Mike Reilly was already in full swing on the loudspeaker and lots of swimmers were getting suited up. It was a beautiful morning and the sunrise was gorgeous, not mention they were playing “Working on a Dream” by Springsteen which is a song I routinely started my training runs with so it really felt like it was all coming together.
Swim – 1:12:38 - 14/129 Division Place
Wisconsin is an in-water start and it is a small entry so it takes awhile to get in so you have to be prepared to get in and float and wait a bit. We lined up and got in about 6:40 – ten minutes before the pro-start. Once we were in they started playing “Don’t Stop Believing” and Carol and Suzy and I were singing loud and getting fired up along with everyone else. At 6:50 am the pros were off – a bit unceremoniously then all of the sudden “Beautiful Day” started and the cannon sounded and off we went. I swam the first 10 strokes lifeguard style with my head up to avoid getting kicked in the face. Once I saw a lane between some feet I put my head down. The trip out to the first turn which is the long side of the rectangle went quickly. At the first corner in Wisconsin everyone sticks their head up and moos….it is a herd after all! Then it was head down and on to business. The short sides were very short but the back side seemed longer and I was never alone. Only one person really “hugged” me and he was kind enough to stop and apologize and ask if I was okay which I was so onward I went. I like swimming so sometimes at races I get to the end of a swim and I think I don’t really want to get out. That was not really the case here simply because I was really tired of being pawed. I was never really hit but I felt like I was constantly being molested. I was also a little nervous because on the first lap my chip came out from under my wetsuit and it felt loose so the whole time I was worried someone was going to grab my leg and it would fall off, but it didn’t and I was out of the water and into T1.
T1 – 11:04
Out of the water and over to the peelers. I warned one of the girls that my chip strap was loose and she was careful when pulling the suit off that ankle…their work was quick and I was up and motoring up the helix and saw my family on the way up. In the convention center I grabbed my bag and was greeted by Kara who was their to help me. She pulled stuff out of my bag, asked what I was taking with me and shoved stuff into my back pockets for me. She told me it was 70 degrees outside so I opted to leave the arm warmers behind and off I went to get sunscreen applied and get my bike which was at the far end of transition.
Bike – 6:52:49 – 55/129 Division Place
My friend Elizabeth Weaver who has done Wisconsin many times gave us the best advice….take it easy on the first loop of the bike. It is a hilly bike course that takes you about 12-14 miles out of town then around a 40 mile loop twice. Most of the hills are on the loop so the ride out of town is a nice warm up, but even on that part I kept telling myself, I am not playing around today, take it easy. My mantra was that I was in my own little box doing my own race and not worrying about what others around me were doing which meant I was getting passed A LOT. Mostly it was guys passing me, but even once the girls started coming, yes, I looked at their legs to see their age group, but it was really more out of curiosity. I didn’t get caught up in a race mentality, I just treated it like it was a century ride – no pressure. Plus, I always tell myself that anyone who passes me on the bike is a slow swimmer! As a result, the first loop actually felt really pretty easy. Having trained out in Poolesville, there was nothing out in the Wisconsin farmland that I had not seen before. Spectator wise the course was great! Even out in the far reaches there were people cheering you on and tons of volunteers handing out drinks and bananas. I ate my PB sandwiches every 20 miles and at mile 56 saw my family as I went through the town of Verona – since I had plenty of food on the bike and I had stopped at mile 40 for a bathroom break I didn’t stop at special needs I headed around for the second loop. The second loop didn’t feel nearly as “easy” but I stayed relatively consistent and kept the same attitude of “just ride it – don’t race it” and before I knew it I was headed back to town. Part of me was really happy to be getting off the bike, but I also started to think about what lay ahead which is a little daunting, but in all honesty I felt pretty good and when I checked my bike computer I knew I had plenty of time to finish so I wasn’t really worried.
T2 – 7:14
Up the helix and off the bike and into the change area. This time I had two helpers. Right away I told them what was going to happen and they helped speed the full change along. I hesitated about whether or not to wear my sunglasses because I generally don’t like to run in them, but it was still really sunny outside. I decided to leave them….the sun would be going down soon enough. I was completely changed and the helper handed me my last item…my headband. On it I had written “BLF 4 LBF.” My initials 4 my sister in law’s initials. She died of breast cancer 4 years ago and I had raised money for this race via Janus for the LIVEStrong Foundation – so when she handed it to me I got a little emotional, but then she told me to get going so I did.
Run – 4:18:14 – 19/129 Division Place
On the way out onto the run course I saw the race clock, it said 8:23 with a piece of paper under it that said “Age Group Time.” Since I don’t wear a watch when I run I made a mental note that this was my base time to start with should I see another clock out on the course. I had told myself that my plan was to run from aid station to aid station until 13.1 miles and see how I felt. It seemed like a reasonable chunk to bite off. The sun was indeed in my face the first few miles but we changed directions enough that before long it was not really a problem. The aid stations at this race were very regular and seemed to come up very quickly so I kept to my plan with the exception of one little steep incline going into Camp Randall, which I walked. At the first 10K mark you are out on a part of State St. where the crowds are great. You can’t help but keep moving and it seems to pass quickly. I passed the time looking for people I knew, watching spectators, reading the support signs and finally I was back heading toward the start at the halfway point. I remember thinking, “boy, I wish this was the second lap,” but I still felt pretty good. As I ran towards the finish chute to turn around I looked up at the finish clock and it said 10:23. 2 Hours….ok, so I told myself - keep the same thing going until mile 17 then I will see how I feel. At mile 17, I thought, let’s go to mile 20, then it was let’s get to 22 and I just kept running between all the aid stations and then finally with a mile or two left I asked some guy who was running beside me what time it was and he said 7:26 pm and I thought, holy crap, even if I walk it in from here I will finish under 13. I made the decision then to run until the last hill around the back of the capitol building, walk up that, and then run in the final two blocks to the finish. I wish I could tell you how I did what I did. Everyone keeps asking me. When I saw that my marathon time was 4:18 and my previous stand-alone marathon PR was 4:06 I was and still am truly shocked. I the angel I had there with me that day – she had the best seat in the house! Today, a few days out it just tells me I could have run faster at MCM.
At the finish line I had two catchers who were very sweet and must have asked me 100 times if I was okay. I was a little emotional – happy tears so one of the catchers - an older gentleman – put his arms around me hugged me really tight and said, “I am so proud of your kiddo.” which is exactly what my dad would have said if he had been standing there…so needless to say I cried even harder, but it was all good. I knew I had some time before Suzy and Carol would finish and we were staying close by so I went home and showered and came back. It was great to watch some of the later finishers, but two hours after my finish while I was waiting for my friends I ended up puking in a trash can on the sidewalk at the finish line. I presume it was a lot of undigested liquid from the run, but I felt great afterwards and what was hilarious is that while I had my head in the can some girl walked up to me and said in a very cheery voice, “Congratulations!!” Gosh, those Midwesterners are nice people!
Finish 12:41:38 – 24/129 Division Pace – 40-44 Females – 924 Overall
Excellent job -- way to prove that a good race isn't about a fast bike, but a good bike that sets up a solid run! (Also, I'm impressed that you can fuel up via PB&J while racing)
Awesome race! I didn't realize that was your first Ironman. Congrats on a perfectly executed first attempt. Guess you have to work on your MCM time next.
I am proud of you. Congratulations. I'm impressed by your run time. Very inspirational for me.
Lynn ... That was a very solid race that you pulled off. Congrats. Your children have an Ironman for a mother. Your grandchildren will have a grandmother who is an Ironman. That's a pretty cool thing to say :)
You have proven you are a TRUE IM Finisher.
Its not because you didn't walk or because you did this or that during the race, or that you finished it in such and such a time
Its because you did the IM Finisher's puking after the race hours after finishing.
CLASSIC it happens to so many people. Awesome!!!
Congratulations on the good race and great race report.
Thanks everyone! It is the most surreal feeling - almost like it didn't happen. Such a great day all the way around and I wouldn't trade a moment of it. I can't stress enough that the best advice I got was to use the bike as prep for the run. Justin, Nobody told me that vomitting was what made you an Ironamn, but nice work finding the silver lining! And yes, Tuan, my girls haven't stopped bragging at school yet. My 4th grader's PE teacher made her get up at tell everyone what an Ironman was and how much I trained for it....onto the next generation!!!
you have to see the humor and fun in the stupidity that is IM distance racing.
puking like you did is just pure comedy, if you watch the ends of a few IM you will no doubt see many, many,numerious people doing exactly what you did. Its part of being an IM finisher and pushing your body way beyond what is normal and healthy to do.
My personal belief is that the IM distance is supposed to be extremely difficult/enjoyable and funny all at the same time, and that if one doing the race can't see all three at some point in the experience (beginning middle ending) then I feel bad for that person because they are missing out on what makes the IM distance racing what it is.
But hey that is only what i think.
Have a good offseason.
I can't believe I am going to say this...but I agree with you Justin. It is extremely difficult/enjoyable and funny!
I whole heartedly encourage you to do more IM races.
Trust me, you'll come to agree with a lot more of what i've said reagarding triathlons in general in the past with time.