My third IM in Wisconsin was much different than my first two in Penticton. More stuff went wrong, but also, more stuff felt really good. Getting there was a challenge, but we had fun. Breaking the 10 hr. drive into two days and taking the ferry across Lake Michigan made it feel a little more like a holiday. All the pre-race stuff was pretty much as any other IronMan. I felt nervous, yet relaxed. Unsure of my preparations, yet resigned to the fact that its too late now anyway. And finally really happy to be getting the show on the road, but at the same time scared at what pain lay ahead.
The swim was a deep water start, and made me a little nervous. I didn’t know where to start. How long would I have to tread water? I decided that I would place my self on the far side of the buoy line, farthest from shore. I floated on my back once in place, and really felt relaxed for the 20 minutes before the gun went off. I got a little clobbered in the first leg of the swim, but it was a good place to draft off the faster swimmers. Exiting the water, I looked up at the clock and saw that my time was 1:25 – really?? It felt a lot faster than that. My goal was 1:15. How was I going to make up the 10 minutes? I didn’t find out until the end of the race, that my time was actually 1:15. I had looked at the pro’s time clock – they started 10 minutes ahead of the age groupers.
Once you exit the swim, you have to run up a parking garage helix (around, and around), then into a convention center, find your stuff, into another change room, out of the convention center, and continue running to your bike (shoes in hand, as you are running on concert for a long, long time). All in all, this makes for long transition times. Oh well, everyone is doing the same thing.
On the bike, I felt great and I thought about making up that 10 minutes from the swim. The course was rolling hills, and full of turns. Mario and I had driven it on Friday – that was a challenge. He said we would never make it on Amazing Race. My navigation and map reading sucks! Good thing these races are so well marked.
Well into the bike, I realized that my bike computer was not working. I pushed the few buttons I thought would fix it, but again, being technologically challenged, I just decided to forget about it and go by feel. I had to make up those 10 minutes from the swim, so I’d have to push a little harder.
This bike course can be scary for the timid downhiller. That is not me. While the uphills are challenging, if you keep your momentum on the downhills, you can use it to your advantage. Some of the downhills have sharp turns at the bottom, with volunteers warning you to slow down. Keeping focused is key here. One lady, her name was Ann I think, said to me at one point “I’m a big suck on the downhills”. Just before heading into the scariest downhill, I told her to look where you want to go – not at the gravel shoulder. She made it down, and then continued to pass me at the top of hills. I would pass her on the flats and downhills, and then there she would pass me going up the next hill. Later on, I was flying down one of the last hills, and almost hit the gravel shoulder on the turn at the bottom. I remembered my own advise to Ann and looked up the road and avoided a crash.
Finishing up on the bike, I had no idea of my placement in my age group. I thought I had passed a few women on the road, but surely after such a slow swim, there must be at least 12 others ahead of me – how am I going to make up that 10 minutes from the swim?
The run, was like all marathons – painful. There is just no getting around that I think. But what made this such a great race was the spectator support. They were everywhere – and cheering the whole time. It is two loops of everything from crowded city streets, to University campus sidewalks, waterside park trail, and Astroturf inside the Stadium. It was entertaining and fun the whole way. Even the dreaded Observatory Rd. hill was made a little easier when, on the first loop, the beautiful bells of the church started ringing. I ran the whole thing, except a bit of walking on Observatory Rd. and the aid stations. This was my first race that I tried drinking Coke. Good choice. The instant energy boost from the caffein felt amazing. I still had to make up that 10 minutes from the swim.
The run into the finish was awesome and all I could think about was getting done and being able to stop. I had no idea of my time on the run, because again, my technology wasn’t working. I had accidentally stopped my Garmin just after the first loop, and didn’t realize it wasn’t on until well into the second loop. Trying to convert the mile markers to km was just too much math for my tired brain, so again, I went by feel. I don’t remember passing anyone in my age group on the run, nor anyone passing me. There was this one lady who had compression socks on, and I couldn’t see her age. She passed me with about 1 mile to go, and I thought about yelling out behind her – how old are you? I’m too shy for that. Compression socks should have your age written on them. Anyway, at the end, Mario told me she was in the age group below me. What a relief. I finished in a time of 11:23, and shortly later found out that I had come first in my age group. A personal best by a little over 6 minutes. And those 10 minutes from the swim? Well, I never did have to make them up – but they sure did push me thru the whole day!
I think I am really lucky that I picked a good race well suited for me. I am also lucky that I moved up an age group this year, so I am the “young” one in my category. And finally, I think I’m lucky because of the time of year this race took place. I think that all the really great women in my age group must have been at the 70.3 World Championships in Vegas, or they are doing Kona this year, so didn’t do this race so close to their A race. Yes, I am lucky for sure – and blessed. Lucky to have won, blessed to have had such great support in my family and friends, and blessed to have a healthy body.
Now for the Thank You Part:
I can not express enough thanks and gratitude to the people who helped me reach this goal.
Firstly, to Mario, my extremely patient and loving husband, who puts up with all of my Type-A craziness. Secondly to my kids – giving birth to them was still harder than doing an IronMan, but it was the best training for this event. A huge thank you to Greg Pace, my coach, who is an expert in his field. He has kept me on track and focused for more than 7 years now.
Thanks also to all of the training partners I have in the Triathlon Club of Burlington. Being president for the last 2 years has kept me busy, but at the same time, it has pushed me to a new level of involvement with the sport and has rewarded me with so many new and wonderful friendships.
Without the treatments of physiotherapy from Blair Purvis at Movement Solutions Physiotherapy and the Graston and Chiropractic treatments from Joanna Schultz at Health Quarters, my body would never have been able to withstand the training over this last year. Thanks for keeping my aging body in good working order. So far, no new parts required.
A special thanks to Colin Rodgerson, who pushed my running to a different level last fall and winter and to Claudia Hutchinson, who gave me a nutrition plan that worked like magic. I saw a guy on the bike during the race, that had his jersey pockets stuffed full of food – really, he looked like he was carrying a picnic for three. Later, on the run, I am sure I saw this same guy on hands and knees, puking his guts out – Claudia’s plan would have helped him!
I wrote my first (and only other) personal race report after I did my first IronMan in Penticton, 2008. I wanted to remember every bit of that wonderful first experience. At the end of that report I wrote: “Besides having my kids and getting married it was the best experience I have ever had. And so…. will there be another one? Well I do have four children! “
And now – here I am, finished my third, and heading into another year of training for my fourth IronMan: Kona 2013.