Saturday, September 16, 2017

Ironman Wisconsin Post Race

At the finish line there are a bunch of volunteers who are called catchers, and that is exactly their job. They catch you after you finish, help you get your swag (t-shirt, hat, medal) and walk you to your last pics. Maybe there's something more at the end, but I limped directly to the med-tent.

I knew my ankle was in pretty bad shape, so it seemed like a good idea. They had a podiatrist come give me a once over, and he didn't initially think it was broken. However, after I got my shoe and sock off it swelled up pretty big and became pretty painful.

Also, after a minute or two of sitting, I felt like I was going to be sick. I got super hot and felt like Ralph was coming to visit. So, my genious post-race decision was to take my shirt of and limp to outside to the porta-john. The doc helped me over and was sure to say,
"Do not pass out in there."
I wonder if that was a problem earlier.

Anyhoo, I didn't get sick, but I did freeze my ass off once I got into the night air. At this point they had had enough of me moving around, so I was shown to a cot and covered with many blankets (almost comfy). I got an IV which helped with the sick and dizzies.

The doc seemed to change his mind on my ankle being broken at this point. My ankle was wildly sensitive; even the slightest touch was painful. Doc wanted me to go to the hospital, but I was in town on my own. I had no intention of walking a half mile to my hotel and then driving to the hospital with a swollen gas pedal foot. Also, I was suppose to pick up my bike and gear before midnight. No one (including me) thought I could make it back to the hotel walking with my bike and gear.

We decided to send a volunteer for my stuff. While I waited for the gear, I had the same discussion several times with a few docs/nurses/volunteers.
Med, "You should go to the ER."
Me, "I have to pick up my gear."
Med, "How are you getting back to your hotel?"
Me, "I have to walk, it's a half mile."
Med, "Do you think you can do it?"
Me, "Can't be much worse than the last 16 hours."
Med: Snort of derision.

One doc in particular got right up in my face and said very nicely but with intensity, "You are not allowed to ride your bike!"

In the end, the volunteer returned with my gear and the race director (I believe it was the race director). The director said they would store my gear overnight and the docs had me loaded into the ambulance for an ER run.



The ER got me set up with some x-rays, and everything came back clean. I didn't get a good diagnosis, but they called it a sprain and sent me on my way (cab voucher to the hotel).

When it was all said and done, my head hit the pillow for bedtime at 3:oo. I had been up for over 23 hours. I did think about watching a movie and hitting the 24 hour mark, but decided it was sleepy time.

I was only able to sleep for a few hours, and then I was up. I walked over to the race site, had the racers breakfast, bought some finisher gear and got my race gear. Walking around loosened up my ankle and it wasn't terribly painful. I got my stuff loaded into my car and drove the four hours home. I only needed one parking lot nap on the way.

Ankle when I got home.

Maybe I'll run the numbers and analyse my times. Right now I'm just happy I finished. 

Ironman Wisconsin 2017

Race Day
I was up at 3:45am. I had set my alarm for 4:15, but the excitement was too much. I had a light breakfast and mixed up the Infinite for my bike.

I carried two bottles of Infinite on my bike and had two more in my special needs bag. I had two cut up cliff bars for my bike bag and two more for a refill at special needs. For the run, I carried Gatorade and Infinite on my water belt, and had refills in special needs. I also had a lot of Gu for each part of the race. There are plenty of aid stations throughout the race. On the bike and run I'd get water from the aid stations. On the run I'd eat and what ever else worked from the aid stations.
Half of of the bikes in transition.

Swim 2.4 miles
This race used to be a mass start, but this year it switched to a wave start. I was in wave 3. We were let into the water after wave two went off, and given a five minute warning. Again, the water was chilly, but after you got over the shock it was reasonably pleasant.


As the announcer was counting down to the start, someone in the crowd blew an air horn just before the start. All the racers took off. About two seconds later, the cannon went off to signal the start of our wave.

The swim was tight. Usually after a few hundred yards you can find time room to be by yourself, but that didn't seem to happen this time. I would find some open water, and then a group from behind would catch me or I'd end up in a group ahead. It was pretty clean swimming (i.e. I didn't get hit or kicked much) just crowded.
It's a buoy, not a shark.

I did the swim ten strokes at a time. I would count ten strokes breathing on one side, then switch sides and count out ten strokes again. This worked out pretty well. If I breathe on one side for too long, that shoulder starts to get tired. The counting passed the time, and kept the shoulders strong.

The shoulders were strong, but my legs were in big trouble. Around the second turn, I started to cramp up in my legs. I have sometimes had foot cramps while swimming in the past, but this was different; this was worse. It started in my feet, but then moved up to my calves and thighs. BOTH LEGS. I had literally never had a cramp in my upper legs before. Never! This is exactly why you should never do an open water swim by yourself. If no one was around I could have been in big trouble. As it was, there were thousands of swimmers in the water and plenty of rescue personnel watching over us. I just kept going.

Anytime someone would catch me from behind and hit my foot with their stroke, my legs would seize up. Sometimes they would seize up just at random. Sometimes one one leg, sometimes both, sometimes the upper leg, sometimes lower; it sucked. I think the cool water temps may have been part of the cause for the cramps. I hoped that the cramps wouldn't follow me once I got out of the water and warmed up. I wasn't that lucky.

When I was about 300 yards from the end, I had a point where both legs seized up completely, every muscle. I really thought that my race might be over. I was scared to call for help, because I didn't want to get pulled from the race. It probably wasn't as long as it felt, but after a bit of bobbing (I'm quite buoyant in my wet suit) I got some movement back and swim limped into the dock.

Swim Time: 1:23:08 with a 1:58 per 100  yards average


T1
Coming out of the water I was a little dazed and confused. I hadn't planned to use the strippers, but as I was stumbling down the walkway one of them pulled me aside. Strippers are volunteers who take off your wetsuit for you, and that's exactly what they did. I didn't have any say in the task. Which is exactly what I needed. They unzipped me, tore my arms out of the sleeves, sat me down, tore the suit off my legs, stood me up and the guy said, "Go get'em!"

I was on my way. Running barefoot and wet at fifty two degrees. You run up the parking garage helix to the top floor, and then inside to transition. It felt good to run, and my legs seemed to loosen up a bit. In transition, I grabbed my bag and went into the changing room to find a seat. I dried off a bit, put on a long sleeve shirt, bike gloves, socks, bike shoes, helmet, sunglasses and I was on my way. Some folks changed their tri kit in T1, but I didn't think the marginally better comfort was worth the time.

Running back outside, I stopped by the sunscreen station and got greased up. I forgot to hit the tops of my thighs, so I had a good tri kit tan line by the end of the day. I also stopped by the porta-john, which seemed odd because I always thought cramping was a sign of dehydration. Anyhoo, you run out to the lot with all the bikes and then down to the far end to get to the mount line. As I was getting my bike, I realized that I still had my swim goggles around my neck. So, I had to work those off over my helmet and sunglasses, and I threw them in a garbage on my way out of transition. Too bad, they were nice and green.

I screwed up my watch at the start start of tje race and didn't record the swim. Not a big loss, but kinda annoying.

T1 Time: 13:37



Bike 112 miles
The bike starts off by going down the other helix in the parking garage, and then goes around a back way through the city until you can get to a highway. It was a pretty tight ride the entire day. The officials were very clear on drafting rules at the athlete briefing, but on the road six bike lengths of draft zone was near impossible. We were bunched up crazy for probably ten to fifteen miles. After that, it loosened up a bit on the flats, but there was always bunching on the hills.

About twenty miles in, I started to notice a pain in my ankle. It felt like there was a wire digging I to the back and under side of my inner ankle on right side. Every time I pushed down it hurt. Also Around this time, I started to notice that my thigh cramps were not going away. I think the tight grouping kept my mind off my legs for the first bit of the bike, but my legs were still gunna be in a bad way.

My Garmin had the bike course at 5600ft of climb; the athlete guide had it at 4900ft. Either way, it was a lot, a lot, a lot of hills. Each hill ment more pain in my right ankle and more cramping. The worst cramping was in my left thigh; I assume that came from a bit of over compensation for my ankle.
If you look close you can
see my cephalopal.

A lot of the hills were kinda gradual and I could make it up in aero. Some were a little worse, and I had to put it in a low (or the lowest) gear and crank up the hill sitting up. Once and a while I tried to stand and crank on the steep hills, but that had to end quickly due to the cramps.

The course takes a 15 mile route out to a 40 mile loop which you ride twice. On the first loop you hit a massive hill on a road called Barlow. I had no choice but to stop, get off, and walk my bike to the top. I wasn't alone, there were plenty of walkers. I'm sure I could have taken that hill on a day with good legs.

On many of the hills there are big groups of spectators. These folks are usually having a party with music, costumes and I'm sure a few drinks. These folks are also nothing but positive. Everyone cheers you on. Mostly folks called me "Green" but a couple times I got a "Green Machine" or "Big Green" That was pretty fun.

At the end of the first loop there was another pretty big hill. It had tons of fans and partying, and it was a fun climb. However, I knew I was going to have to walk it the next time.

I seem to have the biking all backwards. For those folks around me (you end up with people your own speed after a few hours) I was faster on the flats and the climbs, but I'm a slow wuss on the downhill. I rode my breaks down each hill. I probably lost a lot of time, but that's where I feel safe. I would pass everyone on the left going up the hills, and then make a sharp cut to the right side of the road and let everyone pass me on the down. I suppose that's something to work on, if I start caring more about time.

So, on the second loop that big hill is just after mile ninety. My legs were wasted, I had to walk it. When I stopped, it felt like the cramps wouldn't even let me get my leg over my bike to get off. I stood there straddling my bike for a bit considering if I should just fall over and crawl off. Then, a guy at the bottom of the hill yelled, "Keep moving Big Green, you got this!"
It's amazing what a little encouragement can do for you. I gathered all my strength and whipped my leg over the bike, almost. In the act, I kicked one of my water bottles into the ground. I couldn't bend over the get it, so it was left behind. Not a big loss.

I walked up the hill, and heard nothing but positives. Madison is a college town, and that hill had plenty of bros. I don't know if I would have been positive all day at that age and level of party. Those folks were great; wildly supportive. It resorts your faith in humanity. I got to the top ready to go again.

The next few miles are flats after that hill; then a couple more climbs; then the last nine or so miles are mostly downhill. I almost got taken out by a muskrat sprinting across the road around mile one hundred. Otherhows, the ride in was a nice ending. The weather was sunny all day with maybe a max wind of ten to fifteen mph. As far as Ironman goes, it was a perfect weather day.

I would say finishing the bike was the most emotional part of the day for me. Once I got off the bike I knew I would finish the race. The bike was always going to be the x-factor. Just a small amount of bad luck can take you out of the race on the bike. I had a painful ride, but I made it. Believe it or not, I got off the bike feeling like it was my lucky day.

Bike Time: 7:27:39 with a 15 mph average

T2
In T2 I did a full change into run clothes. I had a short sleeve tee for the first part of the run, and I had a long sleeve that I was going to change into at special needs.

Walking out of transition I hit the sunscreen and porta-john again. The first run aid station is at the end of transition, and I clobbered it. I believe I had a couple oranges, a banana, a cookie, water and Gatorade. Leaving transition is daunting. How often do you ever say, "Just a marathon left for today."

T2 Time: 11:03
Walking out of T2
Run 26.2 miles
I walked out of T2 about nine hours and fifteen minutes into the race. Pre-Race, I figured I would finish if I was out of T2 by the ten hour mark. I had hoped that a six hour marathon would be possible, but it was comforting knowing I had almost eight hours for the marathon shuffle.

I like to run the numbers, it passes the time. Working the math, I knew a 17 min/mile average would get me home. Cool, but I didn't really want to be on the course for seven and a half hours. I decided to shoot for around a 15 min/mile average. I never do an even spilt (i.e. 15 min/mile for every mile). Maybe I should, but it doesn't seem right to me. I always go out faster, crash and then drag my slow ass to the finish line. It's not a great plan, but that's how I roll.

I tried to break the run into four parts. I was shooting for min/mile averages of 12's, 14's, 16's, and 18's. I wasn't too far off for the first 13 to 17 miles, but I super faded after that.

The cramps probably held me back more than the ankle did on the bike. On the run, the ankle was the big problem. I was definitely in walk/run mode. I started of a little more run than walk each mile, and the percentages naturally slid from there. Every time I started to run, it felt like I was breaking rust off my ankle joint. After a few miles I was sure I was never doing this stupid race again; so I tried to keep moving towards the finish. If I didn't finish I was gunna have to try again; nuts to that.
You run through the Badger football stadium twice.

You have to expect your mind to play tricks on you ten of fourteen hours into a workout. For me, there were times where I was seeing some weird things. At a couple points I saw firemen. Not firemen first-responders, but men who were made of fire. Legs, torso, head arms made of animated fire. I was pretty sure it wasn't real, but you can't be positive, can you? A few times I also saw lightning. I think happened once during the day and a couple times a cloudless night. Forward, always moving forward.

Around mile 13, near the end of the first loop I was getting pretty dizzy, and not thinking straight. I must have looked as bad as I felt, because a lady in the crowd yelled,
"Erik, you need to get some sugar!"
Every racer's name is printed on their bib. It just so happened that I had a big ass rice crispy bar in my special needs bag. I might have passed it up if I hadn't heard that; again, mind was fuzzy. Anyhoo, the sugar helped (and another gu), and the dizzies went away in a bit.

There here four times on the run where spectators really made me feel no pain. There is a turn around on State Street at about mile 6 and 19 where the fans are great. Everyone calls you by name and the positive is off the charts. On mile 19, a big dude walked to the middle of the street to give me a high five and said,
"You're the best big guy out here, and you're gunna be a an Ironman!"
Man, did that have me flying high.

The next spot was at about mile 22. I was passing one of the big speaker setups and they played Bon Jovi "Blaze of Glory". They were playing it for those runnners heading to the state street turn around and trying to beat the 10:30 cut off. Those folks had about an hour to go four miles and make the final cut before the finish.

Personally, I hate Bom Jovi, and I probably hadn't heard that song to twenty years.   For me, I knew my legs were burnt up and this was my last run for a long time. It got me running again and that was the last time I fired it up before the finish line.

I walked the last three miles. My ankle was swollen up to the size of half an orange. If I ran I would click my left foot onto the swollen right, and it felt like death was impending. The time I was saving with my marathon shuffle was not worth the pain, so I walked it in.

At the finish I kicked off the rust one last time and tried to finish strong. I heard my Ironman announcement and was drug off the finish line by the two volunteers who caught me.

RunTime: 6:50:50 with a 15:41 min/mile average

video





Total Time: 16:06:16


Thursday, September 14, 2017

Ironman Wisconsin Pre-Race

Pre-Race
I drove up to Madison from the Cities on Friday for check-in. It's a Sunday race, so you have to be in town on Friday. I was on my own. Due to the Friday and Monday that Ironman requires, Tina and the Boys could not make it. 
Road Trip!
I left at 7:oo am, and arrived in Madison with plenty of time before my 3:oo hotel check-in and the 5:oo deadline for athlete check-in.

Athlete check-in is extremely well organized. They have you sign waivers, record your weight, pick up your packet, get your bracelet, pick up your gear bags and register a timing chip. The packet has your stickers, bib and swim cap (green!). The gear bags are for T1, T2, special needs and morning clothes. You get two special needs bags.  You have access to a special needs bag halfway through the each of the bike and the run. The bracelet (green!) gets you into everything for the weekend. I also got an orange bracelet that indicated this was my first Ironman. I thought there would be some benefit to the orange, but it was never mentioned throughout the weekend. Still kinda fun though.


The swag for check-in included a poster, flag, luggage tag and back pack. The poster and flag have the logo for this year's race: a barn and a cow. UGLY AND STUPID! I would be so much happier with just an m-dot logo. What a bad marketing decision. The backpack is cow-free and super nice. Probably not big enough for race day tri gear, but it will be a nice gym bag.
Poster, with the barn covered.

After check-in, I went to an athlete info session. There wasn't a whole lot of new info (if any) presented. If you knew the rules of Ironman and read the athlete guide you knew what was going down.

That was about it for Friday. I got checked into my hotel which was a half mile away from the race, and tried to rest the day away. The hotel was not cheap, but it was probably worth it. Being able to walk to the race and not worry about parking saved me a lot of stress on the weekend. My hotel and the finish/transition were all by the state capitol.

Friday night I had to pack up my transition bags. This went pretty quick since it all had to be packed and sorted Thursday night before my Friday road trip.

Saturday morning, I went down to the lake for a quick swim. Folks online had been growing concerned with the drop in water temp. I figured it was worth while to check it out and know what to expect on Sunday. I only swam around for about ten minutes. With my long sleeve wetsuit it was actually a nice temp after you got past the initial shock.

Saturday was gear check-in, and again. It went pretty smooth. Bikes were checked into transition and the gear bags were checked into rooms just outside transition. I ended up on the second farthest bike rack from the mount line. Not a terrible inconvenience, but a little annoying.
Can't even see the turn to the mount line from here.

You had to rack by the seat.

Run Gear bags.

Men's Transition
Again, after check-in I went back to the hotel and tried to rest the day away. The lazies seemed to work. Even with an after noon nap, I was still in bed and sleeping by 9:30. I suppose it's a good thing that I get sleepy when I'm nervous. I set my alarms (3) for 4:15. Transition opened at 5:oo.
The dream.

The octopus is a little wierd, I know. Tina found it for me. I carried it around on the weekend and through the race so that whenever someone asked me about it (or gave me a cock-eyed look) I would think of Tina and the boys.