Ironman Wisconsin 2009.
Overall, The days building up to the race were good, but mentally taxing. I was prepared to be more excited during the weekend, but even my time resting was a bit more tiresome than I thought it would be. I had a lot of friends and family come in for the race and being around lots of people who were all as excited as me and even more curious was difficult to handle at times. This being my first IM, I knew that there were going to be things to change and adapt for the future, but the most important one is going to be reserving my own private room for at least the night before the race and probably the whole time I am in the city.
The expo in Madison is awesome, but expect lines. I don’t know if this compares with other venues: the expo itself was nice, but limited. The Chicago tri expo is still #1 to me with the sheer amount of great stuff available. I would recommend arriving Thursday to Madison and maybe even checking in then to have a day totally off in between being at the expo and around all that energy. The bike/ gear check went smoothly, although I was on my feet for a while. Thursday also seems like a lighter day in terms of the amount of people who are there at the race site so it seems like people would be up and in line less than I was.
In preparing my nutrition, I wanted to be on the safe side of too much rather than too little. This mentality might have cost me during the race, but I am still glad that I prepared that way. I planned for 2 bottles of perpetuum for the bike, with a third in my special needs bag in case I lost one of my bottles during the ride.
There is not a whole lot to say about the swim. There was a small wait getting down to the start, but overall the swim was very smooth. The first and second turn on the swim were very physical, but the race seemed to settle after that. The swim was especially brutal for me because my goggle strap broke twice from people kicking it. I was forced to tread water and tie the straps together, but they still worked and the swim was fine after that.
The run to T1 was long and required a run up the helix into Monona terrace. The run is awesome though because there are so many people cheering. The transition is inside the terrace and was very smooth.
This was by far the most difficult part of the race for me. Weighing in at 200+, I knew it was going to be hard and the heat of the day did not help. I kept my HR at 155 during the 40 miles of the loop and it went quickly. I think that I began my nutrition too soon though, because at about mile 30 my stomach was feeling full and over done. As a result, it was difficult for me to keep drinking fluids. The second loop I began cramping very badly. I took about 25 endurolytes during the whole bike and I probably could have used more. The second time around the big hills were tough, but there are a ton of people on the hills cheering and it can help a lot. I drank lots of water on the second lap, trying to recover the fluids that I didn’t take on the first lap, but they didn’t help my cramps much until the run.
Finishing the bike is a great feeling- especially because the last 5-10 miles are very flat. The very end however is tough- biking up the helix to Monona terrace on tired legs. T2 is the same as T1, and things went smoothly during it for me.
The run was both good and bad. I started out feeling great and having to hold myself back to a 9 minute pace. However, all the food and water that I had just consumed at the end of the bike would greatly affect how I felt and ran. I stopped at a bathroom at mile 2 and thought that would be it. But the next 8-9 miles I was constantly stopping in the bathrooms. It killed my times, but I actually felt good- I just had way too much water in me. I was able to run consistently, but slow. The people along state street are great support and help the mental downer that sometimes comes during the turnaround to loop 2 because you are 100 yards from the finish, and then have to turn around again.
Overall, while I was disappointed with my time, I was happy to keep a good mental attitude and as a result, loved the whole race (maybe not all the terrible cramps). The truly invaluable thing that my training did was prepare me for all the things that go wrong during the race. On my training rides, if something would go wrong, I would think that this might happen during the race and I need to be ready for that. So, during the race from my goggles, to my cramps, to my frequent bathroom stops, I kept thinking that I was going to keep going and finish well if I was able to keep going. I met a lot of really great people on the marathon and finishing was an experience that I will never forget.