Note from me: I originally posted this on a blog site called iamtri.com. Unfortunately, that website is no longer valid, and through some magic performed by my computer knowledgeable college son, he was able to recover my posts. I am sharing them here so that I may preserve my memories from my first Ironman. Chris
2013 IRONMAN WISCONSIN Race Report
September 8, 2013
I AM AN IRONMAN!!!
I did it! And surprisingly enough, I really enjoyed it!
Okay, so it may not looked like I enjoyed it, but I actually did! Kind of a smile/cry thing going on at this point.
When I started this adventure, my friends and I debated as to whether to try to do this together. I was somewhat torn, because I felt that my experience running marathons and good training would help me race the Ironman. And my friends seemed to prefer to be just finishers. And then I rode the bike course. Three flats, a broken spoke, a monumental bonk, and watching my buddies ride the course with ease on that first ride gave me a huge reality check. I now had to respect the hills, and I made the decision then that I would train hard and race smart. Finishing was now my goal. And my friends would also soon see their potential. We spent 30 weeks getting ready for September 8, 2013, and had a great time training together. I will long remember the training as well as the race. I’ve said over and over that the training was the hard part, the race will be the reward. And that statement proved to be true.
Here is how I became an Ironman.
INTRO TO TRIATHLON/IRONMAN
My training partners, Dave and John, are my lifelong friends. We have known each other since 1969 or so. Dave and I went from kindergarten through college together, and his little brother John was always a shadow to us. We spent a huge part of our youth together, so naturally, when John got an interest in triathlons, he started ingraining us with the idea of doing it with him. As a runner, I always thought marathons and 5K races were plenty for me to handle. And whenever I watched the Ironman on television, I would always shake my head at how that was even possible.
John worked his magic on me and Dave, and we finally committed. Then reality set in – I had to learn to swim! Well, I had the basics down, but there was no way I could swim effortlessly for even 50 yards, let alone a mile. So, I started doing a lot of swimming in my pool. I found that I was trying to swim too fast, sprinting instead of pacing myself through the water. I had to develop technique and pace.
First up for me was a sprint tri that didn’t go so well. What should have taken me 12 minutes or so to swim 500 meters ended up being a 17 minute survival swim. But the bike and run went well, and I was hooked. As we were driving to that tri, Dave asked me what I thought about doing an Ironman. Here I am trying not to freak out heading to my first triathlon, one I should mention, that was not wet suit legal due to the 82 degree water temp, and he wants to know if I want to do an Ironman! I don’t remember what my response was at that moment, but I had a feeling that wading in the water of an Ironman start was going to be in my future.
I was able to do one more triathlon in 2012, the Olympic distance of the Chicago Triathlon. We had a great time and did really well. I was becoming a triathlete! So, on September 10, 2012, we three sat at our computers and hit submit on a race entry for the 2013 Ironman Wisconsin. When it was accepted, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I was almost sick about it. But we were in!
Dave had some experience training for his marathon and triathlons by using training books by Don Fink. He suggested that we purchase his book, “Be Iron Fit” and follow the competitive training program to get us through the Ironman. I wasn’t so sure. The more I looked into the Ironman, I saw time and again that using a coach might be the way to go. So I contacted a local coach and met with her. In reality, I thought I was contacting the head of a local club, but she made it very clear that she was a very good triathlete and coach. Her advice was just what I was wanting to hear. Then she advised me of her fee – $200 per month. It was clear – Don Fink’s book it is!
We counted back 30 weeks from 9/8/13 and started our training on 2/11/13. Mondays were always a day off recovery day. Tuesdays were swim and run efforts. Wednesday was a bike to run brick. Thursday was a swim and bike, with Friday being a run. Later in the program, a third swim for the week was added on Friday. Saturdays were long bike rides, and Sundays were long runs. As the program progressed, a brick bike/run was added to the weekend.
Coming off a hard year of running in 2012, I was glad the program started very easy. It obviously progressed in the typical fashion until we went from an hour long weekend ride to a 6 hour, near century effort. I realized how well thought out the plan was, and started to trust it completely.
I was a little worried about the swim, so I started that in January, hitting the local high school pool. I quickly realized I am not a fast swimmer. I started looking at YouTube videos and found a link to a DVD called “Total Immersion Swimming,” which was geared toward open water swimming. I bought it and learned a lot, especially how to break the swim down into its basic components. Swimming is all about technique, and I focused on that as I also increased distance.
The worst part of training was being stuck indoors on the treadmill and trainer. Nothing worse than riding your bike in the basement during winter. I watched a lot of home improvement shows during those rides.
Getting outside was tremendous. I was riding my Trek 2.3 road bike, which served me well. But when I rode with Dave and John they would drop me easily. I thought maybe that my bike was heavier (it is) and my gearing was smaller than theirs (it is). But what was really going on was that they just flat out rock the bike. Very good cyclists. We decided in the summer to head up to Verona and ride the infamous hilly course of Ironman Wisconsin. We got a late start at it due to a rain storm and started a little low on fuel. The ride started out horribly. I got two flats within 15 minutes of leaving. We got lost several times just trying to get out of Verona. Then I got another flat in Mt. Horeb after getting dropped by Dave and John. I fixed the flat and then we hit the rollers of Witte Road. Then I broke a spoke on my rear tire going 35mph down the first hill. My luck and confidence were non-existent at that point. It was really then that I decided I would need a bike upgrade, more training time in the saddle, and a new plan to make sure I survived the bike so I could do the run. Racing IM Wisconsin was no longer in the plan.
In July, I went to Spokes in Wheaton, IL and told the guy sitting there that I wanted to go fast. He fitted me for a tri bike fit for a pro, emptied my wallet and I went home with a new Specialized Shiv Pro. I regretted the purchase at first, but after a few long rides with my partners, it became apparent that I made a good choice. I really improved my cycling with that bike. Now I wasn’t so worried. But I feared I made a rookie mistake by buying the bike and trying to get used to it too close to the event. However, it didn’t take long to master the different riding position.
Me and the “KX5.” Looks fast standing still. The bike, that is.
I had some great weeks and some not so great, but I stuck to the plan as close as I could. I am convinced “Be Iron Fit” prepared me well. Over 30 weeks of training I covered over 217,000 yards of swimming, 2500 miles of biking, and 800 miles of running to get ready for my 140.6 mile adventure.
THE 2013 IRONMAN WISCONSIN RACE
We arrived in Madison on Thursday night and checked into the Monona Hilton, which is ground central for the race. The expo is right there, along with where the course finishes. My room had an awesome view of Lake Monona and of the top level of the Monona Terrace parking garage, which is where the bikes are racked for the race. If you are thinking of doing IM WI, this is a great place to stay.
Friday we checked in, which is required – no Saturday registration. We sat in on the “mandatory” course talk and race rules. I don’t know how they would know if you attended it or not, but we listened and got nervous. Actually, all of Friday and Saturday were just filled with anxiety for me. I was having trouble not letting the event make me more nervous than I wanted. Just looking at the enormity of the lake was something I found I couldn’t do. John is a doctor and uses Ambien to help him sleep on nights before big events like this. I had turned him down before other events, but I decided to try it on Thursday night. I slept well. Friday, I opted not to take it and did not sleep as well. I knew I’d take one on Saturday night.
We also sat in on the Pro panel, which featured 2 top women and 3 top male pros in the race field. The eventual winner of the race was one of them, Maik Twelsiek from Germany. Mike Reilly, aka “The Voice of Ironman” asked them questions. I got more nervous listening to them.
Mike Reilly – aka “The Voice of Ironman” – in the red hat.
My Run Gear Bag (2585) in a sea of others.
John had his bike checked by the Trek crew there and they informed him how messed up it was! All summer long I had to listen to his chain squeal when we rode. They said it was junk, as too was his cassette. They ended up giving him a nice granny climbing gear, which allowed him to spin up the tough hills easily. This made him happy, as he thought he was going to have to walk them.
Dave making us enough PB&J’s to feed all of the triathletes. I remember eating
a couple of bites in T1, but we really just had them in our bags as a back up in case
we needed real food.
We made the same mistake most newbies make by walking around on an 85 degree Saturday, checking out all the exhibits and turning in our bags and racking our bikes. It was hot, we were getting too much sun, and we were on our feet for way too long. At about 2pm or so we ended up at Francesca’s, an Italian restaurant about a block up the street from the finish line. I had angel hair with marinara sauce, and some bread and felt very full. Later around 6pm, we ate a little more, some cheesy bread, some salty french fries (not sure if that was advised, but they tasted good) and a portion of a grilled cheese sandwich. I made sure I drank a few bottles of water and some Gatorade and kept pretty well hydrated.
I finally retreated to my room to watch some college football and relax, and await the arrival of my very busy family. My son is a XC runner at Loras College and had his first meet. Dave’s kids go to U of Iowa and picked him up on their way from Iowa City. They got there late. My wife arrived around 9pm with my two girls, a high schooler who had marching band practice all day, and my 6th grader who had a late afternoon soccer game.
My cheer crew! Daughter Ashely, Mom-in-Law Darla, Son Ben, Wife Kari,
Daughter Rebecca, and Dad-in-Law Gary.
We made sure we didn’t go through the finish line. We didn’t want
to jinx ourselves. Walked around in the heat too much on Saturday.
John (left) and his brother Dave with their racked bikes. My two best buddies.
I took the Ambien and the next thing I heard was the alarm at 4:15am. It was go time!
The Ambien did wonders. Not only did I sleep well, but for the first time since getting there, I actually felt relaxed and emotionally excited. I got up and ate a plain bagel with peanut butter, a banana and had a cup of coffee. I spent some time in the bathroom making sure everything was taken care of. That went well. I met the others and grabbed our swim stuff and headed to the transition to pump up our tires and load up the bike with our bottles. I packed about 1/2 the nutrition that I would have normally consumed on a solo ride of that length, just to make sure that I had the flavor I liked. Weighed me down though.
Getting body marked by a volunteer.
We got our bodies marked and I had my first freak out of the day. She asked my how old I was and I immediately sensed that I was going to get marked with my actual age and not the crazy way USAT wants it done. I’m 49, but in tri’s you usually are marked with the age you will be on December 31 of that year. I checked with another body marker and they said that they were told to go with the actual age. Okay then, mark me 49. Not five minutes later I see my buddy Dave and he’s marked the other way. C’mon, Man! Oh well, it didn’t matter anyway, because I used so much Tri-Slide on my wet suit that it erased the markings.
Donning my tri dunce cap. I wear glasses and my goggles are prescription, so I
need to wear them to see. I’m practically the only one wearing goggles pre-swim
and in T1.
Fairly happy trio, all things considered. Dave, John and myself.
THE SWIM – 2.4 MILES – 1:30.37
The weather gods blessed us. On Saturday, we had hot sun, mid-80’s temperature and could feel it. Race day morning arrived with a forecasted high of 74 beautiful degrees and overcast conditions. The only caveat was that there was a 12-15mph wind forecasted for the day. That made for some choppy waters.
We were still standing on the ground at 6:50 when the cannon went off for the pro athlete start. It was now very real. As soon as that was done, they kept pushing us to get in the water which we did. I downed a Gatorade Prime pre-race drink and ate a gel. We then entered the water and waded over to the back middle of the start area and I got separated from Dave and John. We weren’t in the water for more than 5 minutes when 7am hit and the cannon went off. They wanted to be closer to the inside, but I had decided that I would angle over on the front stretch. I was hoping to avoid getting pummeled and swimmed on. Didn’t matter. It was tough! At times there were people swimming perpendicular in front of me. I kept sighting, not only for the next buoy, but also for open and clear water to swim in. I think I had maybe one full minute of peaceful swimming during the whole swim. I got hit in the goggles about four times, each time causing me to stop and readjust my goggles. I was getting a little ticked off.
I MOO’ed when I went around the first buoy, as it is the tradition at IM Wisconsin. I kept up my plan of trying to stay in clear water and just swim buoy to buoy. On the back stretch, things got interesting. We were heading into the wind and the water became very rough. Rough as in there were waves, rough. I usually bi-lateral breathe, but ended up breathing on my left side, because I was getting more water than air on my right. To add to that problem, my goggles had leaked a little water in the left eye and was mixing with my anti-fog and burning my eye. Having water in your goggles is no fun, and especially crummy when its burning your eye. I toughed it out, but when I exited the water I could tell that my eye was not right. I felt like I had a little bit of film on it, and also like I had something in my eye. It got better on the bike as I rode through the next stage of the race.
I’m in there somewhere. This is the last leg of the swim, heading to the swim exit.
Coming out of the water in 1:30. Not sure why my wetsuit is not slick like the
others. Also not sure what the guy behind me is yelling about.
T1 – SWIM TO BIKE TRANSITION – 14:18
I let the strippers do their job and two of them ripped my wet suit off of me while I laid on the ground trying not to get emotional. I was so glad the swim was over. I took my time getting my land legs back under me and jogged up the Helix (the curly ramp to get to the top parking level where T1 is located). I went into the room where the swim-to-bike bags were located and the volunteers asked if I needed help finding it. I had put some pink tape on the bag and drawstrings to help me find it, and I found it with ease. Next up was the changing room, aka the “Get Naked Room” where there were plenty of naked guys standing around. I found an empty seat and a volunteer helped me get my junk out of the bag. I grabbed the PB&J sandwich and took a couple of bites. I toweled off a little and put on my cycling jersey. I kept on my tri shorts, as I had worn them under the wet suit in the swim. I put on socks, grabbed my shoes and out I went. I headed outside and debated about putting on sunscreen on a cloudy day. I played it safe and had a volunteer put some on my arms, neck, ears, and nose. Then I made the long run to my bike and headed to the mounting area. Not sure how that ended up being 14 minutes of transition time. I think I was a little emotionally spent sitting in the chair getting changed and took a little longer than I would have normally.
Just crossing the timing strip and heading out onto the bike course.
THE BIKE – 112 MILES – 7:33.51
I had a blast on the bike. It was truly the best part of the day. The crowds and volunteers were outstanding. There was rarely a time when you didn’t see a spectator cheering you and a volunteer helping you. As I rode down the Bike Out helix and onto the bike path, I felt a little cold. I kind of expected that, as I had just got out of the water and was still wet. But I wished I had donned my arm warmers. I rode the stick out (the course is a lollipop type course, where you ride out to a two loop course and then head back) and was struggling to get my heart rate into a manageable range. I had planned to keep it around 120 bpm or so, but was hitting the 140’s throughout the first 45 minutes of the ride. When we finally got to the loops in Verona I noticed that I had finally settled it down.
I am so glad I had ridden the loops in training, as it gave me no surprises. I could have rode the course without volunteers directing us along. And, I was actually enjoying the ride for a change. My plan was to stop at every aid station and eat and replenish my reserves. I would eat one GU gel every half hour, and I set my timer to remind me to do so. Every hour I tried to drink a full bottle of water or Ironman Perform, but I wasn’t liking the Perform so much. I drank about 1/2 bottle every hour. I took one Salt Stick salt capsule every hour, along with eating a Bonk Breaker bar (the snack size is what they had on course, which is half the size of a regular bar) and a chunk of banana. I also used the bathroom at several of the stops, as peeing on the course was a DQ. And there was no way I was peeing myself on the bike. Yuk.
Coming into Verona and the aid station on the first loop.
The second loop had much fewer fans, but I was still feeling pretty good.
The hills were no problem for me this time on the course. I just sat and spinned up as best as I could, only getting out of the saddle a couple of times. I also made sure that I GU’ed about 5 minutes before getting to them. Being on a sugar high makes a big difference on the hills. The section of the course that has the toughest hills have the nickname of the “Three Bitches,” and I passed several struggling riders on those hills. Matter of fact, I don’t think anyone passed me on any of the tougher climbs. Lots of fun going up the hills. On the second loop, I actually popped a little “wheelie” to entertain the boisterous crowds. I got a big cheer for that.
Just hitting the top of the third of the toughest hills. You can see how far back
the hill climbs, and there were several like this. And you had to do them twice.
On the first loop I had made it about 30 miles or so into the ride and was reaching the fun rollers of Witte Road when things got exciting. A motorcycle cop whizzed by and a little bit after that came the first pro, Romain Guillaume, a Frenchman who we dubbed the “Little Guy” at the expo. He was booking. It wasn’t long before other pro riders were whipping by.
The rest of the ride was terrific. My time was about where it I thought I would be, but when I looked at my GPS watch it said I had 20 minutes of stop time! I should have not spent so much time in the aid stations! The watch also revealed a top speed of 43mph, a new high for me!
After getting home I saw that Ironman had uploaded a race day video of the race and I viewed it. I was very surprised to see that I was in it, at about the 3:27 mark, riding my bike in a group of about 4-5 riders heading up some hills. You can see it here:
T2 – BIKE TO RUN TRANSITION – 11:28
This transition was much smoother for me and quicker as well. I decided to get naked and change into a fresh pair of tri shorts for the run. I had three shirt options, but I chose the matching tri shirt because it had a zipper that I could unzip if I got warm, and I liked the idea of a snug fitting top so nipple chafing would be minimal. Normally, I run without a shirt on warm days, but its not allowed in Ironman. I rubbed Body Glide all over the soles of my feet. And then I used the creamy version of Body Glide and coated my toes with it. Tossed on a pair of good running socks, threw a little baby powder into my shoes, and pulled them on. I took off my heart rate monitor strap due to the watch still being on my bike, donned bright yellow/green visor that matched my shoes, and out I went. The sun screeners offered sunscreen again, even though there hadn’t been any sun all day, and it was about to be twilight. I let them put a little on my ears, neck, bald spot and shoulders, and headed to the port-o-john. I ate a Bonk Breaker bar, which along with bananas, I had been eating about every hour on the bike, and headed out to the run out exit.
THE RUN – 26.2 MILES – 5:07.18
The first step of a marathon always seems to be the hardest for me, because you know there will be thousands more to follow. My plan was to run from aid station to aid station and eat and drink what they had on course. I carried two gels as a back up in case I didn’t get one at the stop. But the course had plenty of everything as far as nutrition was concerned. I had brought along a Gatorade Recover from my bike gear bag, and sipped it for the first few miles until I didn’t want to carry the dumb thing around any more. I didn’t need it anyway.
The weird thing about the marathon was that it seemed like I hit the wall in reverse order. The first six miles were somewhat of a struggle for me. I felt hot and was sweating early in the race, and then I would get cold. Not sure if getting off the bike, where there was constant cooling going on made me feel hot at first, and then after sweating for a few miles, getting chilled when I actually got away from the shelter of the downtown buildings and felt some breeze. But anyway, it wasn’t until mile 7 that I felt like I was running well and feeling good. Matter of fact, mile 7 through 17 or so felt great.
Early on in the first loop of the marathon.
I maintained the same eating pattern of a GU gel every half hour, but since the aid stations were every mile, I started the buffet eating, snacking on a combination of bananas, potato chips, and pretzels. Those three went very well together for me. I usually followed it up with some cola and some ice water. I also maintained the Salt Stick salt capsule every hour. But no matter how much or how little I ate, any swallowing was followed by an urge to pass gas. There is a saying in triathlons that says “never trust a fart.” I heeded that advice, and visited the port-o-john at several aid stations to be sure. But, as soon as I passed gas, the urge went away until the next eating session. This repeated itself nearly every mile.
I have teased my son that he looks like the “Keep on Truckin'” guy from the
70’s when he runs. The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, I suppose.
A highlight of the course takes you into Camp Randall Stadium, where the UW Badgers play football. Very cool to get to run on the field. We made two passes through the stadium on the two loop run course. Neither time did I see a photographer, so I was a little disappointed not to get a photo of that. The campus was awesome, lots of cool old buildings and great crowds. There was one hill called Observatory Hill that I walked. It was a brutal hill, and most everyone walked it.
I had great team support on the run. I saw Dave’s family several times, with his son Alex running along with me a few times. Great kid and a good triathlete. I’m sure an Ironman is in his future. My family rocked the run course. Although I only saw them twice on the bike course in Verona, I saw them numerous times on the run course. My son Ben and wife Kari would run to different check points to see me, thanks to the friendly layout of the two-loop, out and back course. I didn’t think that I would like the course the way it was laid out, having to run within a couple hundred feet of the finish line at the 13.1 mile mark and turn around and head back out. But seeing it once helped me digest where I was going and how much more I had to do.
Coming up to check in with the family. I was using them for support and they were
assessing my condition. I felt pretty good. The two girls behind me chatted the
whole time they were together.
It got dark on the second loop, and the trail portion of the course became a little scary at times. There were times that I would step funny, not knowing where my foot was landing. Also, on the course you often had people running the opposite direction of you. There were a couple of times I entered the port-o-john and came out not remembering which way I was heading! Fortunately, I never made a wrong turn.
After about the 16th mile, I switched up and sometimes skipped the banana/chips/pretzels combo and just went with liquid. By this time chicken broth was being served and I took it at every station that had it. It was just warm enough to drink it down and it tasted great. I would follow that up with a cup of cola, and the ice water. I felt like I had nailed the fourth discipline of triathlon, nutrition, very well.
Around the 22 mile marker I was my wife and son again and they found me in pretty good shape. I told them I would see them at the finish. But my son met me again between mile 24 and 25 and ran with me a little. At this point, I was running like I had just started a 5K, passing people left and right. Ben took a short cut to the finish, and I paced myself closer and closer to the finish.
As I made the final turn toward the chute, I looked behind to make sure no one was coming up behind me and that I wasn’t going to catch up too close to the guy finishing ahead of me. I wanted to make sure I had a little moment in the chute to myself. I saw my family and tried to high-five all of them, and reveled in the crowd as I crossed the finish line. “Chris Hedges from Mokena, Illinois, (and some other guy) you are an Ironman!” said Mike Reilly in a somewhat relaxed manner. It didn’t matter how he said it, all I heard was that I was an Ironman.
Not sure what I was doing with my arms! Not very Ironman-ish.
I was immediately met by some catchers and peppered with questions. I told them I felt great. They gave me a mylar blanket, a finishers shirt and hat, and of course, the Ironman finisher medal. The girl reminded me to hit my stop button on my watch, which I had forgotten about. They asked me if I would like a photo, and I said “heck yeah!” and he held my stuff while I gave a smile and said cheese.
Proof that I am an Ironman!
POST RACE – 140.6 MILES – FINISH TIME – 14:37.31
I was quickly met by Dave and John, who I knew had beaten me to the finish line. Not only beat me there, but they personally CRUSHED their inaugural IM’s. We started out with me thinking I would race it and they would survive it, and in the end, they just flat out slayed it, and I was content to be the finisher! Dave had a sub-13 and John was just a little over 13 hours. Very impressive for their first Ironman, heck for anyone’s first time for that matter.
We went into the recovery area and I was given a cola and more Ironman Perform. I was starting to feel a little light headed, a little hypoglycemic, so I made sure I got some sugar in me. I asked for a bag of ice and rested it on the back of my neck for a little while. I quickly came around and ate a slice of pizza, while comparing race notes with John. My wife wasn’t allowed in the recovery area, but I could see she was monitoring me very closely, because she has had to deal with quite a few of my post-marathon crash and burns! But there would be no crash and burn this time. We spent about 30 minutes in the area and then went back to the hotel. The decision was made to go get our bikes and gear bags, so we limped our way down to the transition, where the great volunteers happily gathered our stuff for us.
We made it up to the hotel room and I decided that I had enough for the day and took a shower and tried to go to bed. But being so close to the finish, I could hear the runners being announced. And since I had overdosed on caffeine from the cola and GU/Roctane all day, I was wide awake. I decided to try to watch the finishers on the live website feed, but I couldn’t pull it up. There was about 1/2 hour left and I decided that I was going to go down and watch the final finishers. Kari was not so sure it was a great idea. But, I wouldn’t be able to sleep with all that noise anyway. I saw John, whose room was right next to mine, and found Dave eating in the hotel lobby, and told them we were going to go watch the final finishers. They joined us about five minutes after Kari and I got there. I have to admit, I am so glad we went down to watch. It was so uplifting to see these final people meet their Ironman goals with minutes, sometimes seconds, to spare. One of the final finishers was a 2013 Ironman Wisconsin Facebook group friend, who managed to finish with less than two minutes to spare. Later on, I discovered her story got better. She made the swim cut-off by 20 seconds! She made the bike cut-off by like a minute! And now she, in her first attempt, became an Ironman in 16:58. Not only that, she was in the 60-65 age group, and finished with a podium placing 5th in her A/G! Barely makes the cut in each segment and podiums! Outstanding. There were many awesome finishers, and Mike Reilly was right there in front of us welcoming them all home. What a perfect way to end the day!
Here is a link to my Finisher’s Pix race day video. I shows me at various checkpoints in the race. I don’t remember high-fiving the volunteer at the 13.1 turn, but I’m glad I did!
Here is a wrap up of my race equipment.
- Blue Seventy Reaction wet suit
- Bike – Specialized Shiv Pro, equipped with a Fuelselage (an integrated hydration bottle), two bottle cages, two saddle bags with CO2 cartridges and tire levers and spare tubes, SRAM Red with 52/36 and 11/28 gearing
- Timex Ironman GPS with heart rate monitor for the bike ride
- TYR tri shorts for the bike, with a full zippered Champion Systems cycling jersey
- LG tri top and shorts for the run
- ASICS Gel-Nimbus 14 shoes for the run
Here is my nutrition routine for the race.
- Gatorade Prime and GU taken prior to the swim start
- Two bottles of Gatorade to start the bike ride, then replenished with Ironman Perform on course, about one bottle per hour, along with water
- One gel every half hour, alternating regular GU and Roctane (bike and run portions)
- One Salt Stick salt capsule every hour (bike and run portions)
- One Bonk Breaker Bite every hour (bike portion)
- Bananas (about 1/5 of a whole banana) every aid station when I felt like I wanted it
- Small amount of potato chips and pretzels at nearly every aid station (run portion)
- An occasional GU Chomp when I wanted something to chew on (bike portion)
- Cola and chicken broth at every aid station (run portion)
- Ice and water every aid station (run portion)
(Note – the liquids on the run were very small portions, of which I sometimes took extra, and sometimes didn’t finish it all.)
What I did right –
- I got a good night’s sleep the eve of the race thanks to an Ambien.
- I had my bike checked at the shop two weeks prior to the race. No issues with such a new bike, but the cables were tightened and the bike got a thorough looking over by a pro bike mechanic.
- I didn’t freak out in the water when it got rough with the other swimmers.
- I paced myself well and stayed within my race plan.
- I nailed the nutrition, never really feeling hungry or hypoglycemic.
- I used my own bottles. Several riders used the bottles on course and I saw dozens of full bottles laying on the road side at every bump on the course.
- I rode the course a couple times during training! That was vital.
What I could improve on –
- I should have adapted to the cool race day temperature and allowed myself to push my limit a little further. I think it could have been a sub 13:30 day had I taken advantage of the 75 degree and overcast day.
- I wasted far too much time stopping at each aid station. My GPS watch showed that I had 20 minutes of stoppage time on the bike! Add up the time spent walking through the aid stations on the run, and I could have easily wasted 30 to 40 minutes there as well.
- I bought my tri bike late into the training. Although I adapted quickly to the different riding style, my neck and back could have benefited from a longer training season.
- I shouldn’t have carried all of my necessary nutrition on the bike in my cycling jersey pockets. There was plenty of nutrition on the course, and you could have grabbed one or two extra at each stop if you are afraid of dropping one.
- I had three options for running clothes in my bag. In the end, I went with what I had originally planned to wear.
- I brought every piece of triathlon equipment I owned and didn’t really need it all. Security blanket, I guess. There was plenty of stuff at the expo that you could buy if you needed something.
- Lastly, transitions! I pride myself at flying through most smaller race transitions, but I wasted too much time in the Monona Terrace.
- “Be Iron Fit,” by Don Fink. An excellent training manual for the Ironman triathlete.
- “Racing Ironman Wisconsin,” by Raymond Britt. A complete guide to everything you need to know about IM Wisconsin by a guy who has done it many times.
- “Total Immersion Swimming” – A good open water/distance swimming dvd.
So, I am an Ironman. I took my time, executed my plan, and really enjoyed the day. I can’t think of a better way to experience Ironman.
I have to give thanks and credit where credit is due. Without the support of my family and friends, it would have been a long summer.
Thanks go to…
My friends Dave and John. Thanks for sharing this wonderful adventure with me. I would have never done it without you guys. Another awesome life experience among the many I have shared with you two over the years. You are my brothers. I love you. You are Ironmen!
Dave’s wife Carla. Thanks for putting up with us. And especially, thanks for being our official travel agent and fan. Every event we went to we would have been sleeping in our cars if it wasn’t for your great skills at getting us the best of the best hotel rooms. Thanks for monitoring us, keeping us on track, keeping us in line, taking photos, and being a great fan.
Elizabeth and Alex, for making the trip from U of Iowa, and picking up my son Ben along the way. And special thanks to Alex for running with me during our week in Pentwater, and along with me at several of the points along the run route. It definitely was a pick-me-up. I hope some day that you too, will fulfill your dream of doing the Ironman. I know you want to! Don’t worry about Grandma Sally. We got your back! Also, Dave’s two little guys. It’s hard to have dad training so hard, but you two guys were great supporters. I also see a future triathlete in Max for sure!
Mandy and baby Lilly, for putting up with John and us. Being a new mom and having a Ironman training husband was tough, I’m sure. You deserve something really nice from John!
Sally and Al, Janet, and Connie for coming out for support. See Sally, it wasn’t so bad.
My in-laws, Darla and Gary for putting up with me and watching my kids and filling in when I wasn’t able to drive to soccer or whatever. Gary, don’t think I didn’t notice that huge smile on your face when I was on the bike route! Darla, thanks for bragging on me to everyone you know. Thanks for being my fans.
My Facebook friends, who at first thought this might not be a well-advised event, but quickly learned that I was going to do it anyway. Thanks for putting up with all my bragging and posts of my running and tri results. (Especially, Peggy, who may be the only friend that bothered to read these weekly posts that I threw together every Sunday!)
My work friends, especially Lou and Julie for taking the time to track me during the event and sit in front of their laptops watching the live feed to see me finish. It really meant a lot to me. Thanks for listening to me drone on and on about my training, Lou!
My children Ben, Ashley and Rebecca. I have tried to be a good role model, and I’m glad to see that my running has rubbed off on, well 2 of the 3! I’m not giving up on you, Ashley! I was blessed with three wonderful kids. Thanks to Ben for running with Mom and meeting me along the route. I can’t say enough how much that meant to me.
And lastly, my wife Kari. She has had to deal with my numerous marathon efforts, running races, long absences on the weekends, and the money I spent to do this crazy event. Thanks for being so supportive and loving. You are an Iron-wife! I love you.
Chris Hedges – Ironman
p.s. – MOO!