I'm going to have to take down that Ironman Wisconsin countdown timer pretty soon. It is sad to see that 16 days have passed since the race -- and funny (in that "gee, isn't the passing of time such a weird, ironic, I-don't-get-it"funny kind of way) that 16 days BEFORE the race, it seemed that the race would never get here and I was unsure about the day and the results.
And, yet, the day came and went and here I am.... still looking at my medal, my shirt and my hat to make sure that I actually did cross the finish line this year.
I did, and I'm damn proud of it!
Honestly, I couldn't have asked for a better day. Okay.... if I was pressed, it would have been nice for less wind on the bike course, but given the fact that it was hot, humid and windy all flipping summer, I had plenty of practice riding in to the teeth of the wind. The biggest bummer on the wind front was that I lost some mph on some nice down hills on the section of Witte Road and it also was a little bit of a grind coming back in to the city.
But really, the temperature was perfect; it was sunny but not enough to melt you; Lake Monona was calm and extremely comfortable; the evening was a perfect night for a 26.2 mile run.
Race morning, Warren drove and he and Lance dropped me and Natalie off at the Terrace while they parked the car. Natalie and I wandered through the crowd so I could drop off my special needs bags.... and then we reconnected with Warren and Lance. They all waited for me while I got body marked and went in to transition to fill up my bottles with Infinit and bento box with Bonk Breakers, fig newtons and gummi bears.
I felt pretty calm and everything was very routine. This is key component of my entire day. "Routine". I had been in Madison a lot over the year and had done plenty of swimming (including 2.4 miles in Lake Monona at the Madison Open Water swim) and rode that dang bike course -- forward and backward --about a million times AND ran on the marathon course -- especially the sections that had given me trouble in the past that everything felt entirely normal, comfortable and "usual".
Once my wetsuit was on, we all went down to the swim start. I eventually got in the line of athletes getting ready to get in to the water. I edged my way in to the water, but found a spot on the side where I could just stand for a while. There was still plenty of time before the pros started (at 6:50 am), so I felt no need to get in to the water only to tread and get hyped up.
I chatted with a woman from Colorado who had the same plan as me -- wait until we really 'had' to get in to the water. She looked to be older than me (I always take heart in that....) and seemed to be pretty confident that her day would go well. I wish I had gotten her name -- although I did check the results and there was at least one woman from Colorado, older than me, that finished. I am hoping it was her.
The pros took off and I waited another little bit of time and then got in to the water. I found a nice spot to just tread water and wait that was closer to the shore and more towards the front the group of swimmers. Not that I'm fast: I wanted to try to take advantage of the drag from others in front of me.
Mike Reilly, who announces at most of the Ironman events, does a lot of revving up the athletes and spectators before, during and after the race. When he asked "Who is going to be an Ironman today?", this was the first year that I said "I am" and I actually thought it was possible. Although I was a little worried about the run cutoffs getting to me again this year.... I was pretty confident that all would be well.
BOOM -- the cannon went off and so did 2,400 plus swimmers. I'm used to getting jostled for the first 5 or 10 minutes of the swim, so that was really nothing new. I just swam, settled in to my stroke, and watched the scene on the shoreline pass by as I turned to breathe.
The swim course was changed to just one loop this year (in years past, it was a two-loop course). The first turn buoy -- the famous MOO buoy-- came up pretty quickly for me and I was still in a pack of people. The turn is called the Moo buoy because, traditionally, swimmers will lift their heads out of the water and MOO as loud as they can before starting the next swim leg. I think that is a blast, and I just mooed my little heart out.
The second turn came and now I was on the third and longest leg of the swim. It seemed to go on forever. I breathe to my right side, so I swim on the inside of the buoys so it is easier for me to site. I kept thinking "oh, there is the next turn buoy". Nope. Kept swimming. "Okay, there. I see it now". Nope. Kept swimming. "Now?" Nope. "Jeezus. Where is that buoy????" Swim, swim, swim.
Eventually it did appear on the horizon and we made a quick jog back toward shore, with one eventual turn left again to swim in the stretch. Again, because I breathe to the right, this was a leg I liked because I could watch the shore go by.
Got out of the water at 1:42:09 -- slightly slower than I wanted, but well within my tolerance. (As a side note, my awesome, rocking coach, Greg Rhodes, who was also doing IM WI, got out of the water in 53 minutes. Yes. 53 minutes.
Warren, Natalie and Lance were right near the swim exit, so I got to give them a big smile as I ran to the wetsuit strippers. On my way, I saw the rest of the Imoo Crew (Gary, Marcia and Marty). Once in the wetsuit removal area, I looked for my friends Mike and Jenny Wimmer, who were volunteering. I got to them, and then pulled off my wetsuit in a jiffy and sent me on my way up the helix.
Running up the helix, I saw Cathy Yndestad and some of my friends from the place I trained last year. Big boost to see all of them.... ran in to transition, got changed and trotted off to my bike. Got on, got out and started my ride.