And, after nearly 10 months of training, there we were: at Ironman Wisconsin!
Up and at ’em at 4a, race morning started as usual… toast, double shot espresso, Osmo preload, temporary tats and last minute gear check, and Nick and I were out the door at 5a; thank you, Daniela, for the shuttle! Our homestay was only two miles from the terrace, but by the time we arrived, it was swarming with triathletes. After a quick tire check and stocking my bike with nutrition and Osmo active, we snaked through the sea of racers to body marking (note: purchase number tats for the next IM). We met coach Andy and friends Nick + Danielle inside the terrace at a quiet spot away from all the chaos. After some words of encouragement and two stops in the bathroom (no lines in the ladies!), we hiked up our wetsuits and went outside. It was nearly impossible to get to the water (it almost felt like a race to get there), but after elbowing our way through hundreds of wetsuit-clad athletes (get in the water, people!), we made it to Monona.
SWIM // 1:10:41, 1:49/100m, 20th AG
Nick and I swam out to the inside buoy together and positioned about a quarter-way back from the start. The water was calm, and the temp was perfect. After treading water for maybe a minute, the cannon fired, and arms started flying. Nick and I swam stroke for stroke through the second turn where we were separated (the first couple turns were clusters); it was so reassuring to see him to my left on every breath! I swam inside the buoys the entire 2.4 miles and, like IM Canada last year, had no issues with anyone dunking, kicking or ripping off my goggles. The back stretch was a bit long, as I could see the red swim out arch for much of it… so deceiving! When I finally got there, my time registered, and after a brief moment of dang-it-I-was-hoping-to-swim-faster disappointment, I refocused and ran to a wetsuit stripper, pumped to be done swimming. That said, I definitely didn’t swim as hard as I could have. I kept my pace far too comfortable and know to push harder and find some bubbles next time.
Nutrition: banana around 6a and one salted caramel Gu around 6:45a.
T1 // 7:12
With wall-to-wall spectators, the run up the helix was fun; the energy was palpable! Although T1 is long, it didn’t feel like it. I ran inside, grabbed my bag, threw on my Castelli top and helmet, and ran out and through all the bikes (I was close to bike out), carrying my shoes. Just before crossing the line, a volunteer held my bike while I put on my shoes, and then I hopped on and circled down the helix.
BIKE // 5:52:48, 19.05 mph, 159 average watts, 6th AG
I know it sounds weird, but the bike flew by. #bikelove! An hour in felt like five minutes, and at halfway… I couldn’t believe I’d been pedaling for close to three hours. Every minute of the bike was enjoyable… all the climbing (5,700 feet), the turns, the few flat sections… I never really had a dark moment or thought get me off my bike right now. The only time I kind of worried came around mile 20 when my flat kit (the Cobb JOF integrated one I *just* bought) un-Velcroed and flew off into the ditch. Thank goodness I didn’t flat!
In between focusing on my target watts and watching people burn themselves out hammering way too hard up the climbs (and then coast back down), I ate from the buffet on my bike and hydrated like a champ (I took water at every aid station). The result: I had to pee, BAD. Never in a million years did I think I’d be able to go on my bike, but at mile 60, I couldn’t hold it any longer. Disgusting, I know, but so much faster than stopping. However, by mile 80, I had to go even worse, and there just wasn’t an opportune time, so at the water stop in Cross Plains, I hopped off my bike and into the mini biff. It didn’t take me long after that to catch the riders I’d been by most of the day.
Highlights from the bike:
- Seeing family and friends all over the course (the BEST!)
- The spectators! Cheerleaders like no other race
- Randomly meeting twitter friends Josh (also from MSP) and Vince
- The guy who ran all the way up the Timber Lane climb with me and got the entire crowd roaring (talk about a Tour de France-style adrenaline rush! I couldn’t stop smiling)
- All the men who complimented me on my Osmo #womenarenotsmall men water bottle :)
- Going back and forth with another Argon 18 rider for almost an entire loop
- CLIMBING! The hillier, the better!
- And, passing three women in my AG on the stick back into Madison(!)
Gear: Argon 18 E-118, Zipp 808s, Coeur Sports kit, Castelli stealth T1 top, lululemon flow Y bra, Garneau Vorttice aero helmet, Sidi T3 shoes.
Nutrition: two Bonk Breakers (PB+chocolate and cashew coconut), two packs Honey Stinger chews, two packs caffeinated black cherry Clif Shot Bloks, two bottles Osmo Nutrition active, nine bottles water (grabbed one at every aid station). Total: ~1,500 kcals.
T2 // 3:09
A zip up the helix and I was in T2, handing off my bike to an awesome volunteer. Inside the terrace, another great volunteer dumped out my bag and handed me my run gear. After slathering Aquaphor on my blistered big toe (no issues the entire run), I turned on my 910, grabbed my visor and race belt, and ran out the door… only to trip on the curb and fall flat on my face. Thankfully, there was no broken skin!
RUN // 3:49:56, 8:46 pace, 4th AG
As Andy said in an email after the race, “You nailed [the bike] perfectly which set up your run perfectly.” My legs felt really good post bike… must have been all those trainer sessions at 200+ watts and t-runs. Anyway, I found my stride around a half-mile in, settling around 8:45 pace. Around mile one, one of the girls in my AG who I’d passed on the stick ran by, and after a brief moment of wanting to chase her down, I reminded myself to focus on MY race, no one else’s (I caught her later). By mile five, I had to go, bad, so around mile six, I took an Imodium, made a quick pit stop in the biff and felt so much better.
The first hour of the run was hot. I shoved ice and sponges down my top and dumped water over my head at nearly every aid station, so much so that my shoes were squishy by mile 10 (but no blisters). I also drank water at every aid station (walking as I did) and started on Coke around mile 16. At mile 20, Andy told me to really start pounding the Coke, so I made sure to drink a bit extra each time.
It was also here that the out loud positive self talk started. You can do anything for six, five, two miles. One more mile! Keep moving forward. Believe. Never give up. I checked in often, asking myself how I felt. And, for the most part, I felt ok. My stomach was a tiny bit off, but not enough that I couldn’t keep running (I took four or six Tums throughout the run). My legs… they were tired, obviously, but given how close the finish was, walking wasn’t an option. A lady in my AG passed me at some point (between 15 and 20?), and I remember thinking… there’s no way she’s in my AG. No. Way. But, she was, and she had a bit more gas in the tank. And, around mile 20 after State Street, I passed someone else in my AG (wearing the same Coeur kit) and told myself she wasn’t going to repass me.
I dropped the pace the last mile, feeding off the State Street super spectators (they cannot be beat!), and in a blink, after rounding the last couple corners, there it was: the magical finish line. It’s just as sweet the second time around ♥
Gear: Coeur Sports kit + visor, lululemon flow Y bra, Hoka One One Cliftons, Feetures socks.
Nutrition: two packs caffeinated black cherry Clif Shot Bloks, water at every aid station, Coke at every aid station starting around mile 16.
OFFICIAL RESULTS // 11:03:46, 4th AG, 25th OA
A few quick thank yous (more to come in a separate post)… to my team, Coeur Sports, for all the incredible support this year. Without a doubt, the best tri kits out there; not a single bit of chaffing (and I don’t use chamois butter!). My Coeur teammates are pretty rad, too. To Osmo Nutrition for keeping me hydrated and recovering well all season. I’m already ready to work hard again for that post workout recovery smoothie (so good!). To my coach Andy for pushing me well out of my comfort zone week after week and believing anything is possible. To Nick, for everything; there are no words. To my family… for your tireless support and always believing in me. And, to Nick’s family… super sherpas and supporters to the max.
Post-race was pretty good, at least for the first hour. Then the nausea hit. As much as I wanted to be standing on the sidelines cheering everyone else in, all I could do was curl up in a space blanket (so warm!) in the grass near the finish line and close my eyes. Two hours after I finished, around 8p, I was med tent bound in a mini ambulance complete with sirens (through my nausea, I laughed the entire way, as the crazy driver jumped curbs, drove over orange cones and parted the post-race crowds). They didn’t do much for me the first 20 minutes other than weigh me (up two pounds from pre-race check-in), but I finally got a cot and chicken broth and then I threw up every ounce of fluid I’d taken in since probably mile 20 of the run. Oof. But, I felt a million times better – and even said, “I could go do another ironman!”
I attempted to eat a burger and sweet potato fries at DLUX around 11p, but just couldn’t stomach it. Nick and I finally got back to our homestay around midnight, and after inhaling some leftover coconut rice (they only thing that sounded good), I collapsed into bed and slept hard, dreaming of the next finish line…