If you want the short version, here it is. Simply put I had an AMAZING day…AMAZING! That doesn’t mean everything went “right” or “how I planned” or even “how I wanted” but it does mean that I managed several little setbacks well enough to finish way beyond my expectations.
Many people have told me that there is nothing like your first Ironman. I can agree with that, it’s unreal. I was that girl who thought I’d be a one and done, nope not gonna happen, I was hooked after Wisconsin in 2011. Loved it. Period. I decided to take a year off full distance Ironman though, but signed up again for 2013. I wondered if it would be the same kind of experience, would it take anything away that it wasn’t my “first Ironman?” Truth be told, this one meant more to me. I had a better understanding of what I was doing, what it took for me to get there, and how hard I was working. I didn’t “race” my first Ironman, I did what I think a lot of first-timers should do…enjoy the experience. I did just that, stayed in control all day, read all the signs, thanked volunteers, spectators, and just took the day in. That was NOT my goal this year. I wanted to see how hard I could push myself physically and mentally all day to have a huge PR. That I did…
The weeks leading into Wisconsin were kinda rough…I had a lot of stress at work and home, way more than usual. I did my “best” to manage it = I cried a lot and didn’t want to do Ironman. I’m a girl, I can’t help myself sometimes 😉 Luckily things calmed down the week before so I was able to focus on getting to Madison in a good place. Matt and I went up Friday to get checked in and get relaxed. Saturday started with my short pre-race shake out then off to breakfast. I ate like a boy per Coach Jen’s orders (just to clarify that means 2 omelettes both with bacon and ham, about half a pound of bacon, more ham, several cups of quinoa – gluten allergy, some scrambled eggs, and a banana). It was stupid good. After getting my bike and bags checked in it was time to relax with good friends and both of our families…and eat more. Love eating.
I didn’t have the greatest night of sleep Saturday (I actually had really unsettling nightmares, not about the race), but woke up at 4am Sunday morning to guess again…eat breakfast (really impressed with my food consumption), and get down to transition when it opened at 5am. After I got body marked, filled up my tires, ran in to a few friends…then it was time to relax at the bottom of Monona Terrace before it was time to get to the swim start. It was then that I caught a glimpse of the water. The typical calm waters of Lake Monona were choppy and looked evil = no bueno. The forecast was calling for 15-20mph winds, it was already pretty windy and was obviously churning up the water. The water was moving at our back on the way down, but we were going to be swimming against it coming back, ugh…
I made a good decision to start in front and to the outside at the swim start, think closest to the helix. I got chewed up in this water in 2011 so I wanted to try a different strategy for the swim. I was SUPER happy with the first part of the swim…yes I got kicked in the goggles, swam over, had to swim around people, but what else do you expect at Wisconsin? I thought I was making too big a deal in my head about the water, it wasn’t bad at all. Then I made the first turn and realized just how bad it was going to be. I was bordering nausea/sea sick throughout the rest of the swim. It was tough, hard to sight, people stopping constantly to get a view of the buoys, moral of the story not a good swim. I was never so happy to be back on land. I checked the clock on my way out and saw 1:20…hmmm not bad considering the conditions, but not what I wanted.
I ran screaming into T1 for my girl Max…she was right there to help me 🙂 I decided to wear arm warmers because it was cold out and I’m a baby, unfortunately we must have hit the auto-multisport function on my watch and I was already on the run function. That means no power, no cadence, AND my watch would be alerting me at every mile. I wasn’t about to stop and fix it so deal with it. I still had my Cat Eye to track time, distance, and speed.
The bike started out great, I felt like I was flying with no effort. Time to enjoy that wind 😉 Since it was cool out I kept reminding myself to drink and eat, when it isn’t as warm I don’t always feel the need to drink as much. Somewhere on the stick my Cat Eye decided to stop working after going over some rough roads. Seriously?? I of course noticed this several minutes after it actually happened…looks like I’m riding on feel AGAIN this year. I guess it was good training to not have my watch at ALL in Galena…smh. It was FAR too early in the day to let things get to me, so on I went. I felt SO good on my bike, I was comfortable in aero, felt like I had good speed, and was in control as I was supposed to be for the stick and first loop. About halfway through the first loop as I was going down a hill I dropped my chain…COME ON!! “Luckily” I done the same thing 2 weeks ago while I was riding the Louisville course, so I had somewhat of an idea on what to do. That’s a lie, I’m no bike mechanic. I managed to cut up my finger so it was bleeding, get bike grease literally ALL over my hands, but I didn’t care I was back on my bike and in surprisingly really good spirits.
After those minor issues, my ride went AWESOME! I had a low around mile 80-90, legs were super pissed but I told them to shut up per Coach Jen’s orders. They listened 🙂 I was battling nausea almost the entire bike, thinking due to the water, but bananas seemed to do the trick. Before I knew it I was back on the stick and headed back to Monona Terrace. That wind was killer coming back, right in our faces going up the final hill, but I was feeling happy to start the marathon soon which was what I was most looking forward to. Not even because it meant the day was almost over, but because I LOVE running…seriously.
I had no clue what my bike split was. I thought I may have been faster than my goal of 6:45, but really didn’t want to get too excited. Instead, just focus on working “hard” during the marathon. My legs felt as expected getting off the bike, but after a quick stop in transition I felt incredible. My legs felt like they had bounce and were ready to run!! I was SO ready for this! I saw my family and friends so many times on the run course, the energy was great, temperature was perfect, and I was scared at how good I felt. Mentally I was in a great place, physically my body felt awesome, my stomach didn’t. Still nauseous. Nothing was going down well, my usual standby of gu every 30 minutes just wasn’t going to happen. Ut uh. Figure it out girl.
I made it through about mile 8 feeling scary good, then I was really having to fight myself to keep with it. At the turnaround around mile 13 I finally had a chance to ask Matt what my bike split was…6:33…OH MY GOD!!!! I also realized I ran the first half marathon of the run under 2 hours. Can I keep this together?? What can I do to get some sodium and liquids down?? The answer is simple…warm chicken broth. Totally saved me.
For the next several miles I focused, fed off the spectators, and kept thinking the faster I run the faster I get to see my family. Truth be told, I was having SO MUCH FUN!!
I finally figured out how to switch the screens on my watch right before the last turnaround on State Street around mile 20…I started calculating the time and knew if I could hold myself together I would smash my goal time of breaking 13 hours and be in the low 12:xx. I saw my family at that moment and started crying, I’ve NEVER done that in a race before. I knew I had it. Not gonna lie, those last 6-7 miles were some of the hardest I’ve been through. I just kept willing myself to run and get to my family as fast as I could. Before I knew it I was back in town and there it was…
My motto all day was to make myself proud. I did just that. I didn’t give up when things weren’t going my way, I didn’t make any sacrifices, any excuses, and I controlled what I could control which above all was my attitude. I CHOSE to have a good day, and that I did.
It takes a small village to get someone to an Ironman…I have a huge amount of people to thank. I am so lucky to be able to do this sport, and to have so many people that are supportive of this life I choose to live.
Now it’s time to celebrate, relax, and recover. Next up…Age Group Duathlon Nationals in Tucson, Arizona!!!!