Wisconsin Ironman September 7, 2008

 

Morning of …

Due to an early dinner and having the whole bed to myself I actually slept fairly well.(thanks Matt for putting up with the boys elbows all night) I woke at 5:00 am and planned to be in the lobby of the hotel at 5:30 am,  which to my surprise, I did without a problem; I think I wanted to just get to the start. After eating the typical carb breakfast, chitchatting with Laura and Terese, Matt and I headed to the start area. Once there we did the typical checking of the bike, dropped off the bags, and headed to the port potty. While waiting in line for the bathroom, the announcer stated that the previous doom and gloom rainy forecast had been changed and the weather promised to wonderful. This was welcomed news and I was convinced this had happened because I had prepared for the rain by taping my coat to my bike and just to cement this new forecast,  I left my coat alone – did not want to mess with the weather gods as they were shining on me  J

 

As Matt I made our way down to the water everyone came to send me off. As I hugged my buddies: Terese, Laura, Matt, Mom, Sam, Seth and Ed, I found tears came easily. Silly I know but they came anyways. This was the moment I had trained for but to be honest there was a part of me that did not want this moment to come, I wanted to stay in the training mode with the event in a far off distance, wanted this day to remain a dream, but as with all dreams, they come to an end. It was time to quit imagining what it was going to be like and time to make the dream a reality. Into the water I went…..

 

The Swim

The water was perfect, no lightening like Muncie, no huge waves like Steelhead. Just calm clear water with 2,200 people nervously waiting for the start. My goal was to start mid pack so I swam over to the middle, right between the large red buoy and the ski jump. Once in my spot, I lay on my back and tried to relax. It really didn’t work but I yes, Laura I gave it a try. Also Neal, as you told me to do, I kept telling myself that I was trained and I was ready – thanks for that advice you were right, the mantra helps.

 

When they gave us the two minute warning all I could think was, “Let’s go I am ready”

 

The first five minutes were not what I had anticipated, actually they were very calm and just when I thought I had made it through the tough part, the crowds started to swim over me. I think those to right of me moved in towards the buoys and I got caught up in masses of men, large men, very large men. Several swam over and over me so I moved to the left of the buoys, way inside of the perfect line and really not where I wanted to be. Yes, moving to the inside helped but not by much. At one point, after one guy swam over me for about the sixth time, I grabbed his head, pulled it out of the water and told him to cut it out – I think I might have shocked him, but it worked as I did not see him the rest of the swim. The whole first loop was fairly rough, especially on the corners as we all had to swim around the outside of the buoy. It was so crowded around the turns that you could not swim and had to just push your way around. The corners were the hardest part of the swim as it was hard not to panic when your feet were being pushed down and you could not swim. By the third turn I learned to just go with the flow and the corners went easier.

 

The second loop was much smoother and although it was still crowded, especially around the corners, I found more space to actually swim in a rhythm. Ed, I looked for someone to swim next to and found a few but none as good as you. Yes, Laura I worked at finding bubbles and on the second loop there was one girl among all the blue caps that I did find and I used her bubbles as long as I could.  As we swam to the shore, I felt really strong, I pushed as hard as I could and realized phase one was done and two to go……1:17 swim time – not as good as I had hoped but I would take it.

 

The transition was a blast, the wet suit strippers were having way too much fun and they had my wet suit off me as fast as they could (If I ever volunteer at an Ironman I want that job). Running up the helix was interesting and difficult as most were walking and it was hard to get around them. Once inside the building, I quickly got ready for the bike and the volunteers were awesome. Again, I listened Neal and did not put my bike shoes on until I had reached my bike and yes, Neal I could run faster then most. Gotta love these little tips! Down the helix and onto the bike – the long bike ride.

 

112 mile bike ride…..

Hills, hills, hills and lots of them is the best way to describe this course. Silly me knew this was the case and everything I read about Wisconsin’s bike course stated not to bust the first loop as you would pay for it in the second loop so that was my goal…. Stay calm in loop one and push in loop two. Sure that worked some but not really as it is difficult to pick up the pace when you are in a nice easy rhythm. (Next year I might adjust these thoughts)

 

The popsicle stick was hillier then I thought but the hills were not that bad as all ups lead to nice downs where speed was easy to find. Once on the loop the real hills began. There were sections where the hills were really tough and speed was slow…. I found I could spin up but lost too much momentum. The downs were awesome, I pushed as hard as I could on the downs and did not hold back …. I actually saw 49mph on my computer….way cool as I think it may be the fastest I have done. There was one section of downs that lead into this twisty down section, by far my favorite part of the course. On the second loop I could not wait to do that section again. The head winds on the second loop were a little hard but the tail wind on the way back in was great. Throughout the ride I stayed with about six women, we would all take turns leading and following. Most would pull ahead of me on the up hills but as we would hit the down sections I would pass them only to be caught again on the ups. Thanks to all of them, especially Christie, as they made the ride better and we actually had a few laughs at all the hills and the demented minded person who made this course…..Towards the last 10 miles, I made it my goal to drop the group, which I did and in the end I finished with a group of guys.

 

All during the ride I focused on nutrition. If Laura had drilled anything into my head it was that I had to get my nutrition in on the bike. Yes, Laura I heard your little voice in my head the whole ride especially the part about it being cool and me not thinking I needed it. Yes, I drank three double dosed bottles of accelerate, numerous gels, peanut butter bagel and lots of water. All did me well as I felt great coming off the bike. Maybe too good?   6:26 bike time – slower then I wanted. Immediately thought about how to make it better next time –need speed on the up hills, I can do it.

 

The Run….

During the swim and bike I was hesitant, did not know how hard to push but in the run, I was home. I knew I could push, I knew what it felt like to run 26.2 miles, I knew what it felt like to crash on the run and I knew what it felt like to run on the edge. I could not wait to start running. On the bike, I tried not to think about running a whole marathon as it was overwhelming when I did and I could feel myself crumpling. Yet, as the last few miles of the bike came I could not wait to get off the bike and run. Tom told me to think about the simple fact that most folks dreaded the run where I loved the run. He was right, I do love to run.

 

I moved through the transition area as fast as I could and I as I began the run I felt good, really good. The crowd kept yelling, “Go Julie, you are running awesome.” At mile one I looked at watch, 8:00 mile – ok too fast – slow down do not be stupid – mile two 8:02 – again slow down do not be stupid – by mile four  8:44 – good, stay in this zone and do not look at your watch again, which I didn’t. I broke the marathon into 4 sections with each section having 5 miles each. Yes, I know that leaves 1.2 miles left but I figured by the time I reached 25 miles I would no longer need my mental game. The whole run I just focused as I have never focused before, ran how I felt and just kept moving. Stayed away from the Gatorade and drank coke at every aid station and ate gels every now and then – I found a new flavor – caramel – yummy. Sorry, Laura I did walk my water stations as I got more fluids in me and I needed them.

 

All along the course I saw my support crew: Terese, Laura, Tom, Matt, my boys, my mom and Hoyt. Thank you for all your support I found myself running around corners looking for you and every time I saw the group I felt better. I was having a good day……

 

Last two Miles…..

I knew the end was near and I wanted to look at my watch but I promised myself I wouldn’t so I didn’t. Instead I just focused on passing folks. One by one I would pick them off, yes that felt great. As I passed mile 25 I felt great. Only 1.2 miles to go, I could do it, no more mind games needs. At this point Laura started to tell me I could break 12 hours, way cool. As I came around the capital and my boys jumped in with me the finish was not what I had imagined, reality is never what you think it well be and maybe that is good thing because this was real and not just a dream anymore. When I heard my name called and when the announcer said, “Julie Bedford of Fenton Michigan YOU ARE AN IRONMAN….. I couldn’t stop smiling. When I had dreamed about the finish, I had always imagined myself crying, but as I crossed the finish line, my eyes were dry but the smile was huge. The crowds were awesome and as I crossed the line I realized I had broke 12 hrs….11:56… not bad for a first time. I was an Ironman. The months of training and the months of dreaming were over it was time to celebrate.

 

By the way, the tears did eventually come but did not happen until midnight when the finish line was closed and the announcer yelled out to the crowd, “Wisconsin, I only have one more thing to say … You are an Ironman.” Yes, I am.

 

 I am already signed up for 2009….crazy I know but it is fun…..

 

 

Reflections…..

  • Which is harder, the 100 mile run or the Ironman… to totally different beasts and you cannot compare them. I am however, happy to have had the mental strength I learned running 100 miles as it helped me throughout my ironman.
  • Push the bike harder and trust my swimming, move up to the front area on the swim and push the up hills more.
  • Nutrition is key……get your calories in on the bike
  • Run how you feel – do not worry about the clock as you can only run as well as you are trained for.
  • Work through the hard parts, they will pass.
  • Nine months of training is worth it … I was ready

 

Thank You…..

 

  • Terese – you are my rock and I adore you. Yes, my friend we will still be running when we’re 80 years old and maybe by then you can do an ironman so you can win your age group! Seriously, we have been through a lot together and together we continue to push each other to higher levels. Thank you for helping me through this journey and yes, with your help and support, I did paint my dream J
  • Ed, my swimming buddy and my friend. Wow, who would have known last January when we swam together what a team we would make? Thank you, for pushing me to faster times then I thought I could do. We will rock next year and will swim even stronger – I did miss you in that big open water.
  • Tom and Neal – my new tri buddies – thank you for riding some of my long rides with me. Tom, next year will be awesome for you and I cannot wait for Worlds in Florida were the party will continue J Neal, thank you for yelling at me during our long ride – I think I will need it more next year – especially on the up hills. Also, thanks for the words of advice I did use them.
  • Laura, my coach and my friend. When I meet you last fall I knew I had found a great coach but what I did not realize was I had also found a friend. You have been awesome and it is really hard to express my gratitude in words. I would not have done so well without you and look forward to continuing this journey with your help and support…..the goal is not completely met yet but it is within reach and yes, I am definitely up for your challenge – bring it on J
  • Matt and my boys – ok so here is where the tears a flowing. Thank you Matt for always being my rock and for always supporting me. For 23 years you have always had my back and together we have completed some pretty awesome things. We sure have come a long ways from the village apartments and cruising Milford. I love you with all my heart –  I did Matt, I am an Ironman –  and just know McKinley is making its way up the list but Kona is first!