Sunday, September 15, 2013

Ironman Wisconsin 2013 - Pre Race and Swim

It was five years ago when I first did Ironman Wisconsin.  In 2008 I completed the race in 11:03:36 with a sub 4 hour marathon.  Five years later, and older, I was planning on going sub 11 hours.

I never thought I would go back to Wisconsin but this time it would be slightly different.  The talk amongst the Cleveland Tri Club had a lot of people going and I blame....was coerced...joined Aimee in making the decision to join the Cleveland crew of almost 30 people.  At least there would be plenty of people to train with, including two of my Snakebite Racing teammates...Mark and Tiffany.

Training over the summer went well.  I remained injury free, felt strong, maintained my Crossfit training and mentally in a good place.  I created training plans for Aimee and I which I think we followed pretty well.

Aimee and I had a tight schedule race weekend.  We didn't arrive in Madison until Friday morning.  We got in a short ride on the course, drove the bike course, ate lunch, checked into the hotel and headed to registration.

We arrived just in time for the athlete meeting.  After the meeting we participated in the fourth event of Ironman....waiting in line.  We stood in line for around is one hour fifteen minutes.  it was good to get our stuff and get out.  Back at the hotel we showered and made arrangements for dinner with some Cleveland friends.  We skipped the athlete dinner and went to a local Italian place recommended by a co-worker who lives in Madison.  It's good to have local contacts.

After dinner we tried to relax for the evening.  The Friday night rest would be the most important sleep we would have.

Saturday morning we ran over to the Monona Terrace to see how the sun would rise on race day making sure we wore the right goggles for the swim.   Running back to the hotel for breakfast we stopped by the local farmers market.  It was a relaxing morning. 

I still wanted to get into the water and loosen up some.  I have a session with the witch doctor, acupuncture/massage, on Wednesday and I was still feeling it.  He might have gone too hard on me.  I was also feeling a little bit of pleural effusion in my left lung.  Friday night I could hear the gurgling if I was on my left side and also when i bent over at the waist.  I wanted to make sure the pressure of the wetsuit wouldn't cause any issues.

We dropped off our bikes in transition, after waiting in line, then deposited out transition bags in the ballrooms.  We hooked up with half of the Cleveland crew for the swim and I was fine.  Aimee and I took off for lunch when we were done with a group picture.  After lunch we retreated to the hotel for some afternoon rest.

Dinner Saturday night was with Aimee's family, Mom..Dad..Sister, who would be our fans during the race.  it was another nice Italian meal before we called it a night.  We finished preparing our bags special needs bags and nutrition for the race.  Finally it was time for bed.

4AM the alarm went off and we woke up from a decent nights sleep.  For me it wasn't as fitful as previous races.  This year I was mentally relaxed and felt in control.  I reviewed my race plan and felt I was ready.   At 5AM we met Tiffany in the hotel lobby and started the walk over to Monona Terrace.

We dropped off the special needs bags and then checked on our bikes.  We pumped up tires and I changed the batteries in Aimee's computer/sensor to be on the safe side.  Once we were done with the bikes I checked on my transition bags before getting my arms and calf marked.

Walking down the helix (parking garage ramp) there was a person with a big sheet cookie and a sign that said "last chance for nutrition".  I was game so I grabbed a small piece of the chocolate chip cookie and they cheered.  The crowd on the helix was going to be crazy. 

We saw Cleveland Pro triathlete Jim LaMastra getting ready for the swim.  We wished each other good luck.  Unfortunately Jim would pull out of the race after the swim due to a bad stomach that started the day prior.

As Aimee and I put our wetsuits on we happened to be standing next to Team Evo Tri's Rural-Girl...Michelle.  We connected on Facebook that I would be competing and she was wetsuit stripping.  We hugged and talked for a moment before she wished up good luck.  I was hoping to have her strip off my wetsuit later.

As we were being herded across the timing mat and into the water I gave Aimee a quick kiss for good luck.  I had my goggles in place and dove into the water.  I swam to a small buoy and saw Mark, Jeff and Ryan.  We all started at the same spot.  We didn't wait long before the national anthem was played...then the start cannon blasted.

I didn't take five strokes when the panic set in.  FUCK ME!!!!  I had perfect swims all season and here I was acting like I had never been there before.  Each time I tried to force myself to swim the breathing was too short and labored to let me swim.  I treaded water and tried to stay out of the way of everyone else.  I once again made my way to the far outside, where I should have been in the first place, and finally found my comfort zone.  I didn't look at my watch because I didn't want to see how much time I had already lost.  In the words of Eric Bank's..sorry ladies...I didn't want to see how much of a vagina I was.  Eric was also the guy who gave coined my favorite phrase Push The Mind and the Body Will Follow.  Well the body and mind were freaking out.

Three for Three on panicking during the Ironman start.  If there will be a next time, I'm waiting a couple minutes on shore before I swim. 

I tried to move forward several times and get swimming but I couldn't control my breathing.   I tried to tread water and move out of the way at the same time.  I was trying to slide in between swimmers and swim to the outside.

After I don't know how long, I finally was able to swim.  I was able to find my stroke and head to the first turn buoy.  After the first two left turns the course headed north and into the wind.  The chop was bad and impossible to any type of rhythm.  I had to adjust to the sudden rise of fall of the waves and breath quickly or hold my breath.  But many times I was sucking in water.  The waves were also pushing us around quite a bit.  I would pass one buoy on the left, like we were supposed to, and the next buoy would be on my right. 

Halfway through the swim I got kicked in the left goggle they were pushed down a little in my eye socket.  The seal was still good but not as comfortable.  The second half of the swim annoying. 

I was annoyed with the choppy lake.  I was annoyed with my goggles.  I was annoyed with how the race started. I tried to get these negative thoughts out of my head and focus.  The swim is just a small part of the race and I couldn't let it define the rest of the day. 

I rounded the third turn buoy and was happy to be heading back to shore.  However, I forgot we had to swim 300m to the final turn buoy.  I wasn't heading back to shore just yet.  I finally adjusted my goggles and kept swimming. 

The fourth turn buoy put us on course toward shore at an angle.  Once I sighted the exit arch it still looked a long way to go.  My stomach also started to feel....gross.  I saw a boat and a paddle board with safety people.  I made my way to the boat.  The lifeguard asked it I wanted a float but I opted to just hang on the side of the boat. 

While trying to collect myself my stomach heaved twice trying to eject the lake water I had swallowed.  I wasn't trying to keep it in and actually wanted to puke.  I finally checked my watch and I was 1:09 into the swim.  Time to keep moving.

I left the boat behind and wanted to get to shore.  I was convinced that I would puke on shore.  I stopped to tread water again and heaved.  I'm not positive if anything came out, but I eventually burped twice and felt much better. 

I kept swimming toward shore and was finally able to stand up and cross the timing mat.  I was so relieved to be done with the swim.

I made my way to the wetsuit strippers.  I wanted to find Michelle but found two people waiting and headed toward them.  The wetsuit was off fast and I was back on my feet.  I saw Michelle and gave her a high five.

Up the helix we ran towards transition.  I heard my name called several times from the massive crowds watching. 

I grabbed my bag and entered the men's changing area.  I sat down and dumped out my bag.  A volunteer helped me sort out my gear and started shoving stuff back into the bag.  While putting on my socks I looked up and saw my friend Jeff entering the changing tent.  He was looking good and ready to get on the bike.

I finished getting my gear on and tossed my bag in the growing pile.  I carried my shoes out the door and would be putting them on near the mount line.  I heard my name a couple more times and saw Paco Velo sitting on the wall spectating.  He was there to watch the Cleveland crew have a good day in Wisconsin.

I grabbed my bike and started running to the mount line.  Someone was yelling behind me that I dropped something, some of my food dropped out of my Bento Box.  My front wheel turned on me and the bike went down ejecting a bottle in the process. 

The volunteers were great.  One guy picked up my bike, the second guy handed me the food.  I stood there with my bike resetting myself.  Why was I rushing through transition during an Ironman? 

I started running towards the mount line and found a volunteer to hold my bike while I put my shoes on.  All of a sudden Katie, another Cleveland peep, was running next to me across the mount line.  We were excited to be heading out on the bike. 

Swim time:  1:18:02
T1:  07:18