Monday, September 17, 2012

Ironman Wisconsin Race Report: Him

My vote for sign of the day as seen on the road in Verona....
"Chuck Norris never did an Ironman."
But did you know that Chuck Norris once broke the land speed record on a bicycle that was missing its chain and the back tire while wearing boots and a cowboy hat. 'Cause let's face it, Chuck Norris doesn't need a helmet. True story. Look it up.

Race: 2012 Ironman Wisconsin Presented by Trek
Madison, Wisconsin - Wisconsin's capitol. Home to the University of Wisconsin. Mad CIty. Mad Town.

My Reason to Race: 
Look ma, no protestors
6 years ago I decided that if I did an Ironman it would be during my year 40. Simple as that. And all I wanted to do was finish. This wasn't a race for me. It was an epic event. I wanted to try and enjoy the entire experience and not take anything too serious. Ironman wasn't going to change me or fill a void in my life. I was Schmitty going into the race and I was going to be Schmitty after the matter the outcome.  Oh, and I wanted the tattoo.

Getting to Madison on Thursday evening is a must IMHO. Get in, get settled and get up first thing on Friday to register early. Team Schmitty staged their home base at the Best Western right on the Capitol Square. This placed us a block from the race finish and two/three blocks from anything we really needed. After settling in The Great Dane was calling our names.
Team Schmitty
Coincidentally my brother Joe-awesome - insurance guru and mathematical wunderkind - happened to have business in Madison and was able to join us for dinner. We had burgers and beer. It was good.

Up early for Starbucks then athlete registration - a cattle call of signing waivers, medical weigh in (138lbs of prime cut, baby!), getting our race numbers and race day gear bags. A little shopping around the expo and then back to the room.
In room with feet up. Began the process of getting all the gear bags together (I'll get back to this). Grabbed some lunch at Bluephies Downtown Deli - found this place last year with Chris and Laura - I rate it three and a half out of four Schmittys. Good eats.  
Buttermilk cakes and coffee - stat!
Friday night was the official athlete dinner. We purchase a ticket for my brother who graciously joined us. Joe-normous had finished his insurance business and junk in the AM and then ripped off an 18 mile training run around Lake Monona (Milwaukee Marathon Oct 7 - go Joe!). We also met up with fellow Well-Fit coached athlete Christy and her fiance Todd.  
As per usual, "Mr Ironman" Mike Reilly was up to his usual "I just pounded 4 shots of espresso" self.  (Note to were such a good sport to go with us. I really enjoyed seeing you prior to the race. Really wish you could have hung around for the weekend.)

Up at 7:00am to do some pre-race wake up the body workouts. 20 minute swim in Lake Manona and then 20 minutes out on the bike path to test out the bikes. Then off to Marigold Kitchen for some seriously fine morning time vittles. Ironman nutritional objective is to make the morning prior to the race the biggest meal of the day before. I was more than happy to oblige.  
Getting Bob all set in transition
Moses smell the roses! Gear baggage-ness - 5 total: 1 for morning gear drop off, 2 transition and 2 special needs. First you pack the bags and then you check the bags. And then re-check every bag. And then do it again...and then check one more time. A freakin OCD nightmare. It didn't help that the weather forecast changed everyday leading into the weekend and now they were calling for a high of only around 70 with a N wind of 12-15 mph. For this wee man - that means a cold bike in the morning. Do I wear arm warmers so I can shed em or do I wear the extra throw away shirt. I put both in the bag and decided to make an in game decision. If it wasn't for Jen's impatience I may still be in the room repacking and checking my bags. Off to drop off both transition bags and to rack our bikes.  
For the past 10 months every Friday night prior to our long Saturday workout we powered up with Chipotle burrito bowls. Wasn't about to flip that script the night before Ironman. So team Schmitty walked their way to Chipotle for dinner.
I have to admit was Marigolds.

Up at 2am for first breakfast - Chocolate Ensure. And that was it for sleep. Sat there listening to the north wind rattle our window thinking ahead to the bike. A pretty nasty storm moved through overnight and moved in more cold air and wind out of the North. Finally turned on the lights at 3:30am. Made some coffee and oatmeal and tried to settle my nerves enough to eat. This was a chore 'cause my stomach was all "What the hell?" And I was all "Just shut up. Gosh!"

Out the door at 4:50am to drop off special needs bags and then off to transition for body marking and to load up the bike with the first set of bottles and gels. We ended up with some time to spare so we walked down the helix down to the lake. Stopped near the bottom to put on wetsuit. Put on the bottom half and then sat on the curb for several minutes trying to calm the nerves. I had some serious shaking going on. I was really amped up. I was kinda desperate to get down to the water so I could move and relax.

Ironman Wisconsin has two waves...the pros and then everyone else. Its a deep water start...meaning they get everyone in and then you tread water until the gun. For The Traithlife that meant about 15 minutes of treading water. I decided to stay with Jen. I was kind of relying on her calm the whole morning since, you know, she had done this before. We positioned ourselves at the very back and just to the right of the buoy line - about 100 - 150 meters from the start line. It was the first time I've ever been kissed right before the start of a race. I've had plenty of opportunities sure, but it's never happened before;)

1:15:53 3800.00 meters 01m 57s /100 meters
  • Simply put this swim was brutal. 
  • They changed the course this year. Instead of two loops we swam one very large loop. The thinking that it would thin out the crowding. No such luck. 
  • Since I started in the back, I felt like I was swimming my way through the pack until the last 600 meters. I really never found a rhythm and had to breast stroke head up several times just to navigate to the cleanest water. 
  • Took a couple of kicks to the chest early but dealt out my fair share of blows as well. 
  • My sighting was solid and this new course was poorly marked (IMO) and even a little confusing - case in point...they announced that there would be yellow buoys on the front half and orange on the back....then upon turning the corner for the back half there was a yellow buoy - wait, what? 
  • Highlight: My goal time was 1:12 to 1:15. Really very surprised I still got 1:15 with all the traffic and with swimming the extra 100-150 meters at the start. I think I saved the swim in that last leg of the after the final turn. I got me a wild case of the frustration energy and smoked that last 600. 

T1 | 14:09
Part of this time of course was the run from the water and up the parking helix. I've been on the cheering end of this part of the race on more than one occasion. Always wondered what it was like to run through it - serious rush. Its really hard NOT to run. I kinda wish I could bottle up that feeling for Monday mornings. Didn't wear a top under my wetsuit and I changed to dry shorts due to the colder than normal weather. Lots that I would do different in future. Really curious what its like in the women's T1 room because in the mens area we had a fully catered spread, big screen TV's and over-sized leather recliners. Really very nice;)

7h 10m 49s 112 miles 15.6 Mi/hr
  • Setting the stage...we trained all summer in the some of the worst heat and humidity. Already ended up in the med tent in my Half Ironman in July. Forecast called for "high" of 70 with winds out of the N 12-15mph.
  • Had a little tail wind to start but resisted the urge to hammer.
  • Used the first 90 minutes to "spin" in Zone 1 and lay the hydration and nutrition foundation. As it was, I was sucking down fluid like it was still 90 degrees out and I promised Jen I wasn't going to end up in the med tent today. But....all that fluid has to go somewhere. 
  • At 2:30 broke the seal and thus started my personal Tour de Potty - for the rest of the day (run included) I saw every portlet...some more than once. 
  • Battled through wind on the first loop. But said wind picked up and sucked the life out of my legs the second loop. More than anything I just wanted it out of my ears. Heard even the pros were having a hard time as second loop averages were slower by around 3mph. I also think I was still suffering some overall affects from my sinus infection earlier in the week.
  • I'll admit the second half of both loops we had a bit of the tail wind. Which was really nice. The wind giveth and the the wind taketh away. 
  • Started getting nauseous late in the second loop. Stopped at the end of Witte Rd. to talk to Coach Brett and Paul to get my head right. Thanks guys. 
  • Lowlight 1: on the way out of Verona at the end of the first loop the chick right in front of me was passed and cut off by another chick...they nearly clipped wheels and the chick in front of me went down in immediate fashion...smacking the pavement. It looked as bad as it sounded and sounded as bad as it looked. Thank god I was out on my horns and not in aero - I had nowhere to go and bunny hopped her arm (no joke) and just missed her head with my pedal. I ended up down in the shoulder but still up right (lets hear it for mtn biking skills). I stopped...had to. Picked up her bottles and we checked out her bike. She seemed "ok" or still full of adrenaline. She told me to keep going - not wanting to hold me up.
  • Lowlight 2: After the RR tracks in Cross Plains my front wheel was "grabbing" even when I lightly feathered the brakes. I could hear the wheel rubbing so I reached down and flipped open the brake on the go. The "rubbing" went away but when I would brake my wheel was still grabbing....jerking. Fine at 15 mph but not cool going down hill at 40 mph. Pulled over twice before I discovered that I cracked my front race wheel. It pushed a little section out and that's what was grabbing my brake. I opened my front brake all the way and crossed my fingers that wheel and tire would make it to the finish. I only had my back brake for the last 30 miles. 
  • Highlight: The dreaded "three sisters." The hills prior to Verona - full of spectators. Lots of banners, cow bells, wigs, speedos, costumes, and one weird ass clown lurking in the corn field. Rocked all three hills both loops. I will take hills over wind every day of the week and twice on Sunday. Loved this part of the course. I have to believe Wisconsin has some of the best spectators and volunteers of all the IM events.  

T2 | 15:16  Happy to be off my bike. Went to use the bathroom (natch) and the volunteer got all my stuff out. Not much to do here put all my bike gear back in the bag and hand it back a volunteer. Put on my calf compression sleeves and only then noticed...a missing sock. No way I forgot to pack it. I kinda saw where the volunteer threw my bag....after more than 7 or 8 minutes of looking in a couple piles we found it. Sheesh. I have never been so happy to see a sock.

5h 40m 31s 26.2 miles 12m 59s/Mi

  • Let me first give a Triathlife solute the super fans Kevin and Jeff. You guys were all over the course all day but especially on the run. I had to have seen you what 6, 7 times? Bro hug. 
  • I also want to give a Schmitty shout out to Coach Brett and Paul. Got me out of my head on the bike and provided some nutritional advice on the run. Again, can't say enough about the power of a friendly face.  
  • Ok, under oath of The Triathlife, I'll admit it....within the first mile I had that "what the hell am I doing" moment. I wasn't feeling very Schmitty...and awesome walked off the job after the first loop of the bike.
  • By mile two I was walking, mostly due to nausea. Then I found pretzels. Turns out I was just really sick of gels.
  • And I was burping green peppers. I don't remember having green peppers but I was urping green peppers.
  • I simply wanted to get through the run in good shape. But the run was so up and down....I'd feel great and run or I'd feel like getting sick and I would walk. (Post Ironman Schmitty would like to thank Race-Day Ironman Schmitty. Walk/run = no DOMS).
  • But bet your spandexed booty I ran State street like a pro. State street is no place to be walking. Gotta represent even if you're not feeling great.
  • Bailed on any gel, sport nutrition or salt stick after the turn (half). After consulting with coach Brett I switched to chicken broth and flat coke. At every aid station. I felt so much better. 
  • Like I mentioned had lots of friends - or Jen lookouts - out on course. Started to get reports before the half way point that she was doing really well and may only be 30 minutes behind me. 
  • Then I had this idea. We started the day as Team Schmitty, we are going to finish as Team Schmitty. So I instituted the Schmitty stall. 
  • Saw Jen on one of the many turn backs around my mile 22 - she was struggling and I think I gave her a little tough love (sorry girl), ran some more, used the porta potty (again, natch) and sat on the curb and cheered for folks at mile 23 waiting for my girl.
  • We couldn't have planned the finish. The day presented it to us kinda like a gift. What more can I say. Truly a Triathlife moment if there ever was one. It was amazing and loud and it all went by too fast. And I can't believe Jen PR'd by a whole freakin hour. Incredible. 
  • Highlight:

What a blur. Turns out Jen's finish line catcher was a friend of her's - Kristin. Talk about timing. Took our official finisher pictures and stopped to talk to Jen's co-workers who stalked Jen all day and ran around the capitol square with us taking pictures and video near the finish (very funny). And of course there was Kevin and Jeff - super spectators right to the end. Stopped by the food tent...loaded up (pizza never tasted so good), headed back to our room for showers and then back to the finish to cheer more finishers. We stayed for about 20 minutes then went and retrieved our bikes and back to the room for more eats and, finally, sleep. The clock said 1am. I was up for 23 hours straight.

And that's all I have to say about that.

- Him

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