I have finally had a few days for the race to sink in, to think about how the race played out, the decisions I made, what I could have done differently and what I will take into future races.
Here is how the race unfolded through my eyes...
The morning dawned and the weather that we got was absolutely perfect. Light winds to start and temperatures around 55*. I finished zipping up the wetsuit about 15minutes prior to race start and once in the water, the arms felt fantastic in my TYR Cat 5 wetsuit.
The cannon sounded at 6:50 and outside of Romain (who was away after the first 50m), I lead the field through the first 200m at what felt like an easy effort. I then settled into a group with the two athletes I was keying off of, Kessler and Morales.
We reached the turn at 800m and after being punched squarely in the back of the head by Morales, I decided to slide comfortably back in the group of 4 to keep out of Morales' arm recovery. As luck would have it, just as I moved back, Kessler moved off the front; a move I didn't catch until she was already clear. I attempted to bridge up, but just couldn't do it in the warm water.
At first I was frustrated, but soon realized that she wasn't taking any more time. I would happily let her dangle 50m out front.
I lead the group around the 3rd turn and managed to drop Morales. This was good, since I knew I needed time on him going into the run. At the 1.9km mark it was only Freddy Lampret and myself. Then, just as I relaxed, Freddy managed to surged past me on my blind side. I didn't catch it in time and now I was solo with a lap to swim.
I knew that if I just kept it rolling, they would not gain much more than a minute on me. I just needed to swim within myself. I made the 3k turn and navigated through what felt like a million athletes. I tried my best to pick my lines, but with that many in the water, it's tough.
I exited in 54:20, only about 3:30 down on Romain and just over a minute down on Kessler and Lampret. After a quick transition I erased that deficit and started the bike just a few seconds back of 2nd.
Once out of town I quickly made my way past Lampret and my goal was to ride my own race using my Joule to guide me. I knew it would get hot and a conservative plan would yield good results.
Morales caught me at 10k and passed me HARD on an uphill. I didn't think that this was too smart, as I know how these hills can catch up with us. I rode comfortably through 50 miles and got a split that Morales was only 2min up the road, with Romain at a little over 7. I stayed patient and knew that headwind section on Hwy G and 92 would be important. I rode strong and learned that I held the gap to Morales (2:15), but that Romain had gone out another 2minutes (9min).
I made the turn to Cross Plains and started to feel even better. I had the perfect wheel setup on my Speed Concept; opting for a 45mm front wheel and 90mm rear. Aerodynamics are important on this course, but with all the accelerating and decelerating that we were doing, so was rotational weight.
Then at mile 80 I got a split of 2min to Morales and 7:15 to Romain. THEY WERE COMING BACK! By the time we got back to T2, I had taken back almost all of the time back on Morales (gap was 40sec) and it was only 5:45 to the front of the race.
Once off the bike, things were tough from the start. I knew that Morales would be tough, but I thought Romain was well within striking distance. However, I had a painfully high HR and my stomach hurt to the touch (thus my top being pulled up in pics). I remembered back to the hot days when I had to manage the heat very well. I knew it would get better, I just had to stay focused. The legs felt strong and I knew things would settle.
Sure enough, I made my way through the first few miles and the HR came back down to earth. I went through 3 miles in 19:30 and 5miles in 33:30...just fine, but I was HOT...I tried to get fluids and sponges, but they were warm. I REALLY needed ice water and a hat (my one mistake on the day).
I got to the turn on State Street and the crowds were amazing. I saw my family, dozens of friends, and some that I hadn't seen in a decade. It was truly awesome (check out the pic above).
At 10km, the gap to the front was 3:30, but Morales was only 1min out of first and was running major time into me. Unless he cracked I would have to settle for second, which would be ok, considering how I felt.
At 19k the gap was 1:40 to 2nd, with Morales much further up the road. 4th was almost 4minutes behind me, so I felt pretty good about things at this point. Afterall, I was a runner and I usually don't get caught from behind.
At 20km, I was welcomed back to State Street by about 100 friends who were going crazy. My split was a little over 90sec, I had support, I could do this!!! Or so I thought. I got off of State Street and passed 23km when I started to get an overwhelming sense of being hot. In hindsight I should have stopped at the next two aid stations to get what I needed, but I didn't realize how close I was to the edge and nothing seemed to be working. I pushed hard and at the next split, Romain was back at 2min. I yelled at myself to pull it together...this is what I lived for. I then entered the stretch of about 3km (almost 2 miles), with no aid.
Just before I got to the stadium, I got passed by 4th. Then once into the stadium and within about 100m I went from running to stumbling sideways. I had an athlete who I coached, told me later that when he passed me, I looked like I was stumbling home from the bar. I pushed and tried to pull it together, but any increase in effort would yield a sky rocketing HR. There was nothing I could do. I was over a mile from aid, unable to push...It was now a matter of just moving forward. The medics followed me for the next few miles until things turned around.
This was the point in an Ironman where almost everyone who doesn't meet their goals, goes through a roller coaster of emotion. I cried, I tried my best to put on a smile for all who were supportive on course and remembered that I was lucky to be able to do what I do. I thought of 9.11, I thought of ERIC , I thought of everyone else out there racing (including all 15 of my athletes). They were giving everything that they had to hit their goals also and how they would kill to have been within a zip code of where I was.
I didn't win, I didn't accomplish what I wanted to, but I was lucky. I kept walking, hoping my family would still be on State Street (it takes a while to walk at the pace I was going:). They were and they walked with me a little bit (making sure not to pace me, of course ;).
I then came up Romain (#1 in the race) who was also having a rough day. We both decided to walk it in together, receiving compliments and thank you's from everyone for finishing the race. This was about the point when I realized that I was walking for so many more people than just myself.
The finish line was amazing, you can watch it here .
Thank you to everyone who supports me and my racing. Thank you to all of the spectators, thank you to two dozen or so people who sent me emails and FB messages of support. Thank you to my family who has supported me for 10 years, my friends, my athletes and my sponsors (Trek Stores of Madison, KSwiss, Woodall Training, Saris and TYR).
I look forward to taking this experience and applying it to the rest of season. As of now it looks like I will be racing Rev 3 South Carolina, Ironman Florida and Ironman Cozumel.
So that was a recap of my day, but as a coach it is over shadowed by the massive accomplishments of my athletes out there on course. You all inspire me, support me and motivate me to be the best person and athlete I can. CONGRATULATIONS!!!
Here is a recap for you all:
Colin - JUST missed kona and had a great PR - 10:39:44
Theresa - FINISHED smiling and PR'd - 14:39
Perry - PR'd and had a VERY consistent day! - 13:27
Randy - Great swim and bike, pushed hard on the run - 11:01:23
Justin - PR FINISH PR swim, PR bike, PR run, PR PR PR - 11:22:12
Patrick - A PR by over 2hrs! - 11:14:30
Laurie - A PR by over 30minutes - 13:45:03
Jon - PR day and eliminated stomach problems! 13:08:22
Greg - HUGE PR day - 11:46:33
Tracie - Battled through stomach issues, helped an injured racer and finished strong! 15:45:11
Julia - PUSHED hard to break 14 and did it!!! 13:56:00
Jenny - Finished with a smile!! 13:51:30
Anna - WINS her AG and is headed to Kona baby!!!! 15th overall female 11:01:13
Chip - Huge PR day right behind Colin, just missed kona as well - 10:43:20
Rob - We all recognized rob in his fire fighter gear!!! simply awesome and inspiring! 16:17:17
Sasha - Very proud to say YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!!! 16:27:38
Coach BB - Gave it a run for the win and nearly pulled it off. Finished with a smile - 10:44:24
I hope that this email finds you well and that you are at home, resting, eating, or perhaps doing something that isn't even related to triathlon.
I want to first say that it has been a complete pleasure to work with and help every single one of you to the start line on Sunday. Regardless of how the day unfolds, I hope that all of you can grasp onto the breakthroughs, the great feelings experienced, the friendships made and the things that you have learned about yourself, both inside and outside of the sport. THAT is what makes Ironman such an amazing sport.
Sunday is the day that we peaked you for. However, remember that it's also just another day of doing something that you love. You have all swam in Lake Monona, you have all ridden on these roads and run through Madison. You are just going to have the luxury of doing it when rested and with some help, ensuring you don't have to slow down too much to refuel and when transitioning from one discipline to the next.
Sunday looks like it will be cool in the morning (53-55*) with light south winds. We'll have pretty good swim conditions (insert happy dance here:). Remember that you will be swimming into the sun on the backside of the loop...be patient with your sighting and use those buoys (located every 100m) to guide you.
The challenge that you will have on the day will be holding back on the bike. Cool and calm to start, then warm (85* on the road...perhaps higher) later on. This always causes a VERY fast front half of the race and yields some very slow runs times later in the day. While some athletes can hang on alright, those of who pace correctly will run strong throughout that marathon and feel your best later on. The key's here will be hydration, electrolytes and slowing down. ALL of your (our) races will be made on the run.
The run will be warm. Know that you will be hot when running with the wind and feel slower. When running into the wind, you will cool and fast...Both require you to take care of yourself... stick to YOUR plan, stay in and enjoy the moment and you will finish feeling great!
Perhaps the bigger piece to this weekend is the remembrance of 9.11. We are all blessed and lucky to have the opportunity to do what we do. Tired, energetic, fast, slow, exceeding or missing expectation, we are all amazing people and Ironman (as much as we love it) doesn't have any bearing on that.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be a part of your 2011 Ironman Wisconsin journey and I hope that I can be apart of your future adventures.
Within my own race I will be using each one of you to help propel me to a great race. I will lay it down, lead by example and will see each one of you home...