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Posted Jan 11 2009 5:40pm
This is a fair warning to the reader. Ironman Wisconsin was kind of a big deal for me, and you're likely to be reading about it for a little while. That said, I hope it won't be boring and self-absorbed or intolerable. Hopefully it will be entertaining or inspirational or thought-provoking. Most of it, at least the part that is most interesting to me, will not be a traditional race report. I spent a lot of time day-dreaming (and sleeping) on the flight home, and I've got a lot to say, if only to myself.

We all have different "learning styles." Me, I deal with letters and abstractions more than numbers. I'm abstract/sequential and those posts are yet to come. This post is for those of you who are concrete/sequential. You know the type: someone who can ride 112 miles in the beautiful Wisconsin countryside and yet miss the barns and silos because of that focus upon the power meter. (Even though I kid you, Bolder, I am totally bumming about your lost data. Having a thief in the family is disturbing). For my concrete/sequential friend, this is the raw data of Ironman Wisconsin:


Sitting and just eating, I could feel my heart pounding and I was cranking at 86 bpm right out of bed. DUDE! RELAX!

The Swim

There is a whole story behind the swim, which I will relay to you abstract/sequential and abstract/random types later on. But, I planned and needed to have an easy, lollygagging swim with as little drama as possible. I swam super easy with an average heartrate of 127 and a max heartrate of 143 and completed the swim with almost no effort in 1:35, which is right in the realm of what I thought I could do. This would be nothing special for nearly everyone out there, but it was very very special to me. I'll tell you why in a later post.

The Bike

The concrete/sequential plan was to pursue efficient transportation between T1 and T2, making sure that I had enough in the legs to complete the marathon without excessive walking. If I did this, I knew I would finish, and do so without suffering. I deviated from the plan for a very abstract/random reason which I do not regret. (More on that in a later post).

Wind added about 30 minutes or more to my predicted bike split, but the course is every bit as hard as advertised. So, no worries and no disappointment in a relatively slow bike split of 7:30. I covered the 112 miles, overcame a couple of nutritional crises, and left plenty in my legs to complete the marathon without resorting to the death march. I had an average heartrate of 130 and a max heartrate of 219?????? Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? I don't know where that number came from but it returned later.

One note to any of you who might do this race in the future. The road surface quality from Madison out to the loops on the bike course and then back S.U.C.K.S. And, if a 20 mph wind is in your face on the way home, it is way beyond sucking. There are these creases in the road every few feet, so, after riding 100+ miles, you are treated to a nice KACHUNCK with impact every few seconds for the last 40 minutes of your ride. Leave something in the tank for those last 15 miles or you will regret it. And, no matter how cushy your saddle or shorts, and especially if you are wearing only tri-shorts, you will need to be an Ironman in more places than just your heart. Picture the '007 torture scene from Casino Royale. I'm just saying.

Memo to the City of Madison: Dane County has done a fine job maintaining the country roads. The surfaces on the loop were pretty much wonderful. The City, not so much. Get a clue and spend some of the $25 million this race brings in to improve your city streets. John Nolen Drive, the bike path and Rimrock Road and beyond are way below average. Colorado has freezing and thawing too, but somehow they manage smoothe bike paths, even above the tree line.

The Run

Even though my Polar looks like I'm wearing a dual core processor on my arm, it ran out of memory at 11 hours. The data I do have says that my average HR was 133 BPM and max of 217??? Again, WTF? On the second loop especially, if I increased my effort by 1% my HR would spike for no apparent reason, even though I did not feel like I was working all that hard and I was breathing easy as you please. If any of you numbers guys know what this means, I'm all ears.

My run time was 5:15, which is right about what I wanted to try for in my first Ironman. I was running four minutes, walking one (plus aid stations and a couple of hills on the second loop). Consistently, through relaxation and concentrating on form, I was able to maintain a moderate heartrate, ease of running, and then lower the heartrate to below 120 on the walking breaks. I often felt I could go faster, but never having done an Ironman Marathon, I had no idea how much I needed in the tank for the last miles. So, I took no risks and just enjoyed the day (and night). I slowed down toward the end, as much because I was reveling in the moment as from the effort expended. Even after that extended aquatic and cycling warmup, I was only 10 minutes slower than my first open marathon many moons and 30 pounds ago.

The Total

Final time was 14:42:14. Those are the numbers. But for me, there was so much more going on than just the numbers. I will tell you about that later.
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