Monday, November 05, 2007

Ironman Wisconsin 2007 – Part 3

The Bike
As I rolled down the helix I tried to steady myself in prep for the next several hours that I would spend in the saddle. It felt good to finally be on my bike and rolling towards the hills of Verona. I reminded myself that I was in no hurry and concentrated on finding my rhythm. I figured I might as well find one before I hit the hills where it would be nonexistent til I made the return trip to Madison.

At a steady pace I made my way through the rolling hills to the start of the lollipop. (the double loop of the course) I quickly realized that I had not put enough tape over the top of my aero bottle. This of course caused a splash of water to come flying out of the bottle every time I hit a bump. Not exactly what you want going on with 112 miles to bike. Besides the splash from my aero bottle things were going pretty well. The weather was nice and I was doing my best to just enjoy the ride. Knowing that I still had several hours left on the bike I used the first part to just take in the ride. I took in the scenery and encouraged the other rides that I came across. The point was to enjoy everything before the hills came.

Soon enough I was at the bottom of the hills which the Wisconsin course in known for. I remembered riding them in July, but you never quite remember how steep and long they are. The next hours were all about the grind. Grinding up hill after hill and recovering on the way down. This pattern was on repeat as I covered the miles. The only good part about the hills was the “Tour de France” hill. On the last major hill of the loop the crowd lines the street on both sides in the fashion of the Tour de France. The people screamed, yelled, and ran along with you the entire length of the hill. It was awesome and a great boost heading into the 2nd loop.

The only real reprieve during the ride was passing through Verona. On the first loop the IronCrew was there and waiting. I really needed to see some familiar faces and it again provided a huge boost at the half way point. Soon after I was at the special needs station. I used the time to stop and stretch. I think my body actually cheered when I came off the seat. I refilled my nutrition supplies before heading back out. By this point I was starting to struggle physically. The muscles and tendons under my left knee were starting to give me problems and tightening up. My left side has to compensate for a weaker right knee. The weak knee is the result of old soccer injuries and the long ride was starting to rear its ugly head. At the next aid station I had to stop again and stretch my legs. I figured I’d better do it sooner rather then later if I was going to make it through the hills again.

The ware and tear of the hills were really starting to show on the 2nd loop. There is no rhythm while riding those hills and they just slowly eat away at you. Towards the end it was all just about getting up the next hill and keeping the legs turning. On the second to last big hill on lady was trudging up the hill at about the same pace. Her expression and breathing showed all to well the signs of such a long course. Finally we reached the top and I said something like only one more big one left. She tried to smile as we were all trying to smile. Trying to do something or think of anything that would take our minds off our task. Finally I was back to the Tour de France hill, but my slow pace left a much smaller crowd there the second time through. I was still grateful for the support that was there, but I really could have used the full feature that was there earlier.

After managing the second pass through the hills the course made its way back to Verona. There waiting was my family who cheered as rode by. I was really hoping to see the IronCrew and Ms. R, but they were already on their way back to Madison. I was a bid saddened by this, but I figured if I wanted to see them I best get back to Madison myself. Finally leaving Verona it was back through some rolling hills to get back to Madtown. Finally after hours without having any rhythm my legs found one again. Smooth circle after smooth circle as I tried to relax a bit and note on what I had just accomplished. I had just finished the hardest ride of my life and I was still moving. It may not have been my best ride, but I had done it and soon I would be finished with my bike and a seat that felt like it had made its way up to my throat.

As a saw the city approach I smiled and the feeling that I was actually going to make it through the day started to blossom. I pushed it back as I knew I still had hours of work left to do, but the knowledge sped me forward towards T2 with the thought of “let’s finish this thing.”

Worst Blogger Ever

I might be the worst blogger that ever took up blogging in the history of blogland. For some reason I just haven't been able to get the posts out. I hope that is going to change. I have all but one last post about Iroman Wisconsin ready to go. Hopefully I can get that all out this week and get back to the present. So if by chance you are still checking this blog I apologize for being the worst blogger ever. I guess someone has to be, but I'd rather pass on that torch to someone else.


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Ironman Wisconsin 2007 – Part 2

The Swim
…or should I say the Splash. What do you get when you throw 2,200 people into the water all at once? Lots of water splashing all over the place. Chaos is the best way to try to describe the swim during an Ironman. Both Bob and I tried to avoid the majority of the action by staying towards the back. The good thing is that you avoided some of the people swimming over you and things like that, but no one is totally immune. At the start I took a very easy pace and actually swam behind Bob for the firsts ¼ or so. I was in no rush and just wanted to get through the swim. I got kicked a few times, but nothing major. My two issues with the swim were just related to the environment. The first was that it seemed everyone was zig-zagging all over the place. It seemed that whenever I started to get into a groove someone would come cross right in front of me. The other issue I had was that the majority of the people had white swim caps. Now this doesn’t help you when you are trying to sight and all you see is water splashing around because the white caps just blend in. Now this could easily be changed with different colored caps. An added bonus would be to make the course buoys a LOT bigger so that if you are a ways from the markers you could actually see them.

Anyway the swim ended up being pretty uneventful. I saw Bob a few times during the first lap when we would both stop to get our bearings. We’d yell HEY and then it was back to “just keep swimming, just keep swimming.” About ¾ through the swim the boredom factor started to come into play. I wasn’t feeling tired or anything which was good, but I was a ready to be done. I tried to stay focused and pushed toward the end. Finally after 8 straight-aways and 7 turns covering 2.4 miles I reached the swim exit. I climbed out of to a roaring crowd and smiled. It felt great to get out of the water and I was happy to have finished the swim without any major events. I spotted the strippers and within 7 millie-seconds my wetsuit was off and I was jogging toward the helix. With the crowd cheering as I went, I slowly made it up the helix to transition.

I made my way into the Terrace and easily found my swim to bike bag. Maybe it was because the majority of the bags were already gone, but it probably was just the fact that the volunteer was there right away. At least that’s a better story. hehe My transition wasn’t fast by any means, but I needed to slow things down to make sure that I had everything and that my body was settled enough after the long swim. Again the volunteers were great and a quick rest stop I was running towards my bike. Half way there I heard the IronCrew cheer which was great to hear. I was at the far end of the Terrance so it was only a hop, skip, and a jump to the helix. Right at the top was my family who screamed, a little too loud, and I tried to get on my bike. Now it’s one thing to be enthusiastic and cheering, but I don’t they understood the concept of getting onto a bike and then trying to ride down a circular parking ramp. Or at least that they person need to be concentrating on that task and it’s better if you are not screaming from three feet away like you some teeny-bopper at a Justin Timberlake concert. I love that my family came to support me, but they almost caused a bike crash before I even got on the course. :)

Friday, October 05, 2007

Back In The U.S.S.A

I’ve been back for over a week, but so much has happened since then. First Ms. R and I had a great week in Mazatlan. For the majority of week we did nothing and it was great. Well I suppose sitting on the beach, reading, ordering drinks, and splashing around in the water is a little more then nothing, but you get the idea. Ms. R noticed that this was the first time she’s seen me relaxed and I mean totally relaxed. I’m a bit of a busy but I slapped my ass in those lounge chairs for hours on end without a care in the world. Other highlights included a city tour and a sailing trip on our last full day in Mazatlan.

It was the trip that we both needed after a long triathlon season and all the craziness surrounding Ironman. We just needed to get away and not have to care about real life for awhile. I think the trip suited us both well and accomplished the goal of getting some real R&R.

Upon our return we had to dive headfirst into an all out pack fest. Back in July I took the big plunge into lifelong dept and bought my first house. Totally crazy and nerve racking experience to say the least. I don’t want to buy another house for a long time. In the end we ended up with a great place, knock on wood, and last week we finally closed. This meant that we spent every free minute packing to get ready for the move. On Sunday a great group of friends and family came over to help us move our stuff, which was at three different locations, into our new home. Even with the rainy weather we managed to get almost all our stuff to the house in about six hours. The and beer!. If you offer people plenty of food and beverages they are fairly happy to help with such a big task. The move went really well and at the end of the day all our stuff was in the house in some box in some room. The task of unpacking everything has started. It’s kind of strange to all of a sudden have tons of room, but you are not sure where to put things. It will take some time, but I’m sure that we’ll figure it out eventually. In the meantime there will be many trips to places like target and home depot for the tons of stuff a new homeowner needs. Everyday the lists keep growing and I think the trend will continue for awhile.

A couple of other happens currently going on. The word is that TriSaraTops is now a mother for the first time. There has been no official post yet, but major congrats to the new family.

Last night I did my first workout since Madison. I’ve joined a swim class to get some extra pool time this fall. It never hurts to get some extra instruction. Plus it’s a little cheaper then seeing my regular swim coach. It’s actually kind of nice not to be the one coaching, but I did have to remind myself that I was there to swim and learn and I’m not the coach during that time. hehe

Finally another person has given into the draw of blogland. Drum roll please…….The newest blogger is Ms. R herself. You can find her at

Now back to your regularly scheduled and very late Ironman Race Report…

Friday, September 14, 2007

Ironman Wisconsin 2007 - Part 1

There is a lot to say about the all that happen over Ironman weekend. At times I think I blinked and then it was over. Other times it seem like I was in Madison for a month. So here’s my best attempt to tell my Ironman tale.

Details, details details. It seems like all I was doing was running through the details of getting ready for the race. There were the lines to stand in and the tons of prep work to do. I think the nature of the Ironam really having to be completely ready on Saturday really started to get to me. This is the only race where you have to get your gear to the race the day before. I’m use to having everything with me in my transition bag that I need for a race. I’m use to setting up my transition area the morning of the race and this whole routine was not an option. This really threw me out of sync as the race drew closer.

On Saturday Bob and I went through our last checks before it was time to take everything down to the race site. Once again we checked our gear and took our bikes out for a little spin. On our ride we stopped at the final blogger meet-up. It was great to finally meet a lot of people that I’ve read about for months. I only with I could have spent more time with the blogger crew. To soon the nervous itch to make sure everything was ready was pulling me away from Bolder, AJ, TaconiteBoy, Stu, and many others. Finally with our bags and bikes in tow we headed down to the race site to drop off the huge weight that had been growing for the past few days. (sigh) The weight was off. Now all I could do was enjoy a nice dinner with everyone who had gathered to support Bob and I during the race.

Race Morning
The alarm and cell phone went off way to early. I had managed a couple of hours of sleep, but I wasn’t going to get any more. I’d be lying if I didn’t ask Ms. R if we could just stay in bed all day. The answer was no and it was time to get up. Soon after spreading some peanut butter on a bagel I got a call from Bob making sure that I was up. He too had the thought of staying in bed as well. hehe Soon I was grabbing my special needs bags and heading out the door. With in ipod in my ears I walked down the dark blocks to the bright lights of the race site. With my bags dropped off I headed to my bike to set up my bottles and get marked. I stopped to talk to Bob at his bike and we both seemed to be in a pretty calm state. After a last check of everything I headed to meet Ms. R.

I was doing fine until I saw her face and I almost lost it. The emotions swelled and the fear of the unknown clutched us both. We both held the tears back, but the emotions rolled through us both. I decided I need to walk and headed toward the restrooms to catch my breath. After the trip and hearing DMB pumping over the speakers my mood flipped flopped and I walked back to Ms. R with a smile on my face. After applying the body glide and sunscreen the others showed up. (Kimmi, Jaime, Bridget, and Waima) They wished me well and it was finally time to part with my friends. Again for a fleeting few seconds the emotions and fears swelled and I kissed Ms. R goodbye. We both knew it would be ok, but the fears were still there.

Finally it was time as I made my way towards the helix. I stopped at the top to pull my wetsuit half on. I slowly continued down and stopped half way down to take in the site of water I would be swimming in within minutes. The water was clam and the red of the sunrise was on the horizon. I finally made it to the bottom of the helix to drop off my last bag. At the bottom was a fellow TNTer and good friend Steve who was volunteering. His voice was booming as he shook my hand wising me luck. The luck I would need as I settled into the moving mass towards the water. I chatted with a lady who was as nervous as me from New York. We were five minutes from the start when we finally reached the water. I headed to left to take my spot in the back. I wanted nothing to do with the mess at the front of the swim pack. Within seconds I heard Bob scream as he knew where I would head once I was in the water. It was a nervous smile, but he was smiling big and yelling to get pumped up. He told me to turn around and he wife was behind us taking a picture, though I never saw where she was. After that I quickly started swimming to get my muscles moving a bit before the cannon sounded. The warm-up was minimal to say the least and I moved back towards Bob for the start of the race. Soon they called for the kayaks to move and within seconds the cannon sounded and Ironman Wisconsin 2007 had started.

(I will post the next parts as soon as possible. I will be south of the border next week so it will depend on how available the Internet is. If I can't post I will drink many margaritas in your honor of being so patient. Well I was going to drink them anyway, but this will make them more meaningful. hehe )

Till next time...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Ironman Finisher

It feels really really sweet to be able to type the above title. After nearly 15 hours (14:56:15 officially) of continuous effort I finally crossed the finish line at Ironman Wisconsin. I have a lot of say, but you’ll have to wait another day or two until it’s finished. There’s a lot to recall and write about such an amazing day. Til then I want to thank you all for your support. The live comments that you posted were great. A special thanks to everyone who ventured to Madison. Seeing familiar faces and hearing familiar voices made all the different in the world. Thank You!

Saturday, September 08, 2007


That’s all that remain until Ironman Wisconsin 2007 starts. I’ll be carrying number 457 for those who want to follow my status online tomorrow at Tomorrow will bring a rollercoaster of greatness, lows, aches, emotions, and joy. To tell you the trust it’s all a bit scary, but with any amount of luck I will hopefully be blogging next time as an Ironman Finisher. There are no guarantees and I will have to each every inch of it tomorrow, but I’m hopeful and have faith that tomorrow will be a great day.

There is plenty more that I want to say right now, but the words are not there. Maybe it is because I should be sleeping. hehe I just wanted to thank you all for your support. I couldn’t have made it this far without it. Now there is just one last thing to do and that’s to race. So on that note…I’ll catch you on the flip side of Ironman Wisconsin….

Thursday, September 06, 2007

3 Days…

We have arrived! After checking my endless lists and doing way too many things last minute SafetyBob and I finally arrived here in Madison a little after dinner time. We took our time getting here from the Twin Cities. Making a few stops to eat and get gas. Most importantly the stops allowed us to get out and stretch. It felt good to just move around a bit after being in the car for a couple of hours. It really felt good for me since I spent part of the morning being beaten up by my massage therapist. I must have missed my calling. I mean what other job gives you the chance to inflict pain on people and they pay for it? Where was that pamphlet at the high school career office? Anyway after a long day of packing and driving we are finally set up for where we will spend the next couple of days doing the final preps for Sunday.

Tomorrow will be filled by getting registered and doing some final gear checks. If the rain holds off we might even get a ride in. There are also the blog meet-ups which will be fun. It’s always great to meet other bloggers at these events. I’d say it makes it even better at such a big event.

Well I guess that is all I have for now. I’m going to wrap things up for the night and put my nerves to rest. They have been coming on strong the last we days so we’ll see what a tour of the race site does. Hopefully it will just put them to rest, but it never works that way. Darn…

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

5 Days…

Again I apologize for the lack of posts. This whole Ironman thing has really thrown me off lately. I guess that’s somewhat to be expected given that this is the hardest thing that I’ve ever attempted. The long taper really started to rear its ugly head last week. I wasn’t in a good mood and there was always more things to get done that I had no desire to do. (the last still hasn’t changed) Ms. R was quick to pick up on my moods and was always ready to help or just listen. She’s great! Though there is only so much that can be done until things have concluded sometime before midnight on Sunday. She also told me to read this post by TriSaraTops. Again blogland came through with a much needed lift.

With all the prep for the race starting to eat away at me I figured it would be good to spend the holiday weekend not thinking or training at all. Ms. R and I headed up to her parent’s new cabin to help her family get the place ready for the move. For two days straight we basically stripped wallpaper off and painted almost every room. These people wallpapered everything including a closet or two. So we worked through layers of wallpaper and glue to get down to the wood paneling that covered all the walls. Yeah, no sheet rock in the entire place just lovely paneling. After the walls had been stripped, de-glued, and cleaned it was time to paint. The place was looking a million times better as we left after two days of hard work. Of course there is still plenty more to do, but that will have to wait.

In the end it was a great way to spend the weekend. It was great to get out of the cities doing work that took me completely out of my element and anything related to Ironman. I needed that break if I’m going to manage the tasks that will be required on Sunday. Now it’s time to check and recheck all the lists as I prep to depart in two days. Hmmm….It’s really happening…

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

19 Days…

The countdown continues and the weather is not making this better. It’s been pretty much a washout since Friday evening. The rain comes and goes and it hasn’t exactly been a warm rain either. No it’s been the more if you go out there is a good chance you might get sick rain. Something I’m not exactly willing to test this late in the game.

With nothing really new to talk about because of good old Mother Nature I thought I’d share some of what has been happening during my post draughts.

July 29th – Chisago Half Ironman
At the end of July I finally got my first chance to do an actual race. After coaching for so many months it was time to get back to the race course. This was a big day on many fronts. For one it was going to be an indication of if I could pull of the full Ironman even with my minimal training. The second and even bigger part was this was going to be Ms. R’s first ½ Iron.

Race morning was full of people buzzing around as usual. This race also featured a sprint course which many TNT folks were doing. It was fun to be there amongst everyone instead of on the sidelines helping people get ready. Ms. R seemed to be pretty relaxed as she readied herself for the race. I was in my usual race mode with the music in my ears going over my mental checklists. I was probably more nervous then she was as she’d been training and racing more then I had. Kimmi was on site to cheer everyone on which was a big help. She stationed herself outside of transition and watched gear as people came and went. She also became the official photographer for the day.

Ms. R started in the wave before me along with SafetyBob. Up until the start she was very calm and collective. Standing a wave back I was able to watch her final preparation and see her go fully into race mode. All I wanted for her was a good race and a great experience at the new distance. As I saw her wave start I knew she was going to do well.

After Ms. R started her race it was quick back into go mode for me as I prepared for my own race to start. With Kimmi screaming to my right I tried to fight the nerves and focus. The gun went off and my wave jumped into the water. Within 4 strokes I got kicked in the face. It was a medium strength kick, but it sure woke me up and welcomed me back to racing. The out and back course was interesting as you had to dodge the people swimming in every direction and then make sure you were out of the way of those hugging the line on the way back in. Plus with the out and back it was hard to sight as it was just a somewhat straight line out and back. It didn’t make things easier with the swim caps and buoys being the same color. Overall I had a good swim. Things felt good, but as always I was glad to be done. My race always starts when I hit solid ground.

Transition went by without any big snags as I headed out for the bike. I heard Kimmi as I came up to my bike. The report was that Ms. R had a good swim and was a few minutes a head of me. It was great to get out on the bike. The only issue is that nature was calling. This has never happened on the bike before. I put it off as I passed some of the TNTer doing the sprint. Finally I had to pull over after about 15 miles. I didn’t like having to stop but I reminded myself that this really was just training and stopping for a minute or two was not a bid deal. The first part of the course was really nice with good roads. After descending down into the valley and finding the old bumpy road I caught up to Ms. R around mile 25. We played leap frog for awhile and checked on each other. It was fun and I could tell that she was feeling good. Once we started the climbs I moved on pass her a bit. The climbs were not steep, but they were long slow grinders. The kind that just beat you up and it didn’t help just getting off a really bad road that you were on for over 5 miles. Finally there was a long straight drag on the backside of the course. At this point you just wanted to be done as the physical and mental fatigue set in. Finally after the long hot stretch the roads curved around for the last 10 miles before the finish. Coming back into transition all the TNTers who had done the sprint had finished and were cheering. It was a great boost to her all the familiar voices.

As I came into transition I was stunned to realize that I didn’t know exactly where my race was. What! What the heck! Somehow I had forgotten to walk the route from the bike in to my rack. Eventually I found it, a little embarrassed. Ms. R’s parents were right there cheering and asking how she was going. I quickly told them as I slipped on my shoes and grab my visor and number. With the TNTers still cheering I headed out of transition and on to the hot run course. My legs were tight after the ride and I was just waiting for them to get into the rhythm they would eventually find.

Unfortunately the rhythm that they found was short lived. Within a few miles I knew things were not right. The course was wide open with no shade. I was starting to over heat and goose-bumps were starting to form. I decided I’d better walk and allow my body to cool down. I ran and walked another mile before Ms. R came up behind me. She could tell that I wasn’t doing well and decided to stay with me. She’s so amazing! Next the cramps set in. Both my calves were solid knots. For the next 9 miles we jogged until they ceased up, stopped to stretch, and then walked to the next water stop. Luckily they were every mile. If they hadn’t been there would have been a lot of people in really bad shape with the excessive heat. I wanted noting more then to quit. I’d never had a run go so badly. My legs would not loosen up not mater what I tried. I had taken plenty of water and salt throughout the day, but they would not relent. Finally with the help of Ms. R we neared the finish and jogged toward the end. We heard the TNTer scream as we came into view and ran up the chute. Finally hands clasped together we crossed the finish line. Finally it was over.

Besides being in really bad shape physically I was beaming for Ms. R and how well she had done. She had moved up in the world on triathlon and taken on a long course and done amazingly well. It just goes to show what type of person and athlete she is as she basically carried me on her shoulder the entire run. I will forever be grateful…

Chisago pictures