Ironman Wisconsin 09/07/14

Swim:  1:17

T1:  10:34

Bike:  6:30

T2:  9:59

Run:  4:39

Overall division rank:  29/131

Overall gender rank:  159/601

Overall rank:  922/2826

Going about this one a little differently. Being a 2nd time participant, it is clearly obvious that the order in which the story is told starts with family, friends and volunteers - all of which made the whole Ironman weekend perfect and so memorable for me. First, thank you Scott for being my rock for the last year. You've pumped me up and at times made my head so big I wondered how we were both going to fit under the same roof. Should m...ake 2015 and interesting journey on our way to being an "Iron-couple." I love you. Thank you Olivia & Megan for your understanding of long training hours and words of encouragement along the way. To the best IM home stay family Jmc Fleischmann - I couldn't imaging staying anywhere else this weekend. You open your house to our whole family of 6 without wincing. You take such great care of us and we love you for it!

Volunteers every step along the course are A-MAZ-ING. Makes it extra special when you get a high-five, hug, water, finish line catch from a volunteer you know personally. You all made the day so much easier to endure. Words cannot ever thank you all enough..Gary, Jenny, Heidi, Katie, Pamela, Jimi, Darcy

Spectator support is outstanding on about 90% of the course. Even though you're trudging through your own race, you're never really "alone." It's awesome to know where family and friends are going to hang out and you find yourself piecing your race together by "just gotta get to the BP station" or "can't wait to get to the 2nd hill" on the bike. The whole party on State Street for the run is epic. With personalized bibs someone is constantly calling your name, cheering you on, giving your a shout out. The presence of the Kenosha fan base was huge!!!!! I felt all of the love on the course and you all kept me smiling. There are so many of you that if I listed you by name, I'm afraid I'd forget someone. You all know who you are and believe me when I say that YOU make the difference in the race! Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

The day:  Arrive at the terrace on schedule, special needs bags dropped off, potty stop, bottles filled, tires pumped, potty stop....despite having taken Imodium at 2:30 and 4:10am.  Standing on the helix with my family watching the sunrise, there is practically no wind - this is going to be a beautiful day. I get to the bottom of the ramp to meet up with m...y swim buddy Andrew and Lisa tells me, "Oh, the guys just left. I hope you can catch them." I'm thinking there's no way in a crowd of 2600 athletes in wet suits and swim caps....everyone looks the same! To my surprise I did find Drew and we swam out to the start together, just as planned, him on my left-my breathing side, me on his right-his breathing side. Typically I'm a straight swimmer, staying just off the bouys. With the that many people churning up the water and traffic we had to fight to keep our position and drifted inside the bouys a few times-very frustrating. All of the bumping around I felt like I swam 80% of that 2.4 miles with water in my right goggle! You know what's amazing though? So comforting having someone you know protecting your breathing side, turning up and seeing each other, getting through the water together and sometimes even pulling with our inside arms at the same time. Felt like we were swimming a 3-legged race. Loved it!! I'd take that swim with you every time Drew! 1:17 isn't the 1:15 we wanted, but still 2 min faster for me than last year. This is a pretty good start.

We get out of the water, wet suit strippers and we're running up the helix together. The energy is over the top and the screams and cheers are deafening!!! It makes the run up feel as if you're flying!!! As we merge into the T1 bag room, I tell Drew to have a safe ride and I'll see him on the run. I stuff my pockets with what feels like a weeks worth of nutrition and a whole medicine cabinet full of stuff. Last, but not least, knuckles deep in Vaseline smeared in my shorts. Never expected to hear his voice over my shoulder as we're running to our bikes! Thank you Michelle and Jeff for the great photos of us running side-by-side to our bikes. Well wishes from Steve at the top of the ramp and we were on our way. As I suspected, I lost sight of Drew before we were even down the helix and onto John Nolen Drive. I wanna ride like you when I grow up!! Damn!
The bike is the longest part of the day and rallies the run, I think, with the hardest part. Sure, you're sitting, but 6hrs on a bike saddle is no picnic. Not to mention the tension in your neck and shoulders, the soreness on the bottoms of your feet....oh yeah, and the fact that you may have ...a little muscle soreness from pedaling 112 miles. Last year I was on my bike for 6:44 and was determined to be faster this year. I was shooting for low 17's and was thrilled with a 17.2 average and pulling up the parking garage helix in 6:29 and change. So much goes through your mind when you're out riding for 6+hrs. Gotta stay focused and follow your nutrition plan every step of the way. One missed salt stick tablet, gel or variance on oz of fluids can have a huge impact. No twinges of tummy trouble for the whole 112 so I must have done it right. For those who are keeping track....peed on the fly at about mile 45 and mile 93. Loved all of the support from family and friends on the loop at the BP station in Verona, on the hills in Cross Plaines and back in downtown Verona. Nice to have familiar faces spread out over the course cheering you on. Nice to have a pit-stop at special needs 1/2 way through to re-lube the shorts and stretch for a minute. The hill fans are just crazy!!! Signs, costumes, music, screams and shouts. It feels very "tour like" and if it doesn't put a smile on your face, there's something wrong with you. As an athlete I sometimes forget how moved the spectators are by the whole process as well. My band of hill screaming crazies: Katie, Karen, Amy, Beth, Chris & Katie, Jen with 3 youngsters in toe might still all be without a voice. You were all amazing!!! With Chris & Beth running up the hills beside me shouting, screaming.....Karen, Jen and Pantsy.....hell yeah you're going to turn up the intensity!!! I can honestly say I've never ridden those 2 hills that hard or felt that strong. Still gives me goose bumps when I think about it! Thank you all so much! After the round of cheers on the first loop, I was looking forward to the hills on the 2nd loop, which for those of you who know those hills....crazy, huh? Hills for breakfast and hills for lunch! Love seeing my family and friends as I make the turn onto the stick and head back into Madison. Those cheers, air hugs and blown kisses stayed with me the last 13 miles. There was full sun and it was really starting to heat up. Time to up the ante on the fluids, choke down my 4th imodium and settle in. Push-pull, push-pull and a little tail wind and I felt very strong with an 18.5avg for the stick back in. Very different from last year.

Out on the course I've hear the run dubbed a lot of things....this year my favorite was "The dance with the devil." It struck a cord with me after struggling so much in the first half of the marathon last year. My run training thru August had not been very solid starting with a 14 miler for race rehearsal that quickly turned into 7. USAT AG Nationals took over another weekend long run and the next 2 after that were 8 and 7. Not even close to 26.2....especially after having already gone 114.4. I come out of T2 with a smile on my face ready to embrace the suck at whatever mile marker it plans to arrive. I've got no fuel belt on and one small zip bag in my pocket with lip balm, salt stick, imodium, tums, tylenol, benadryl and a cherry jolly rancher. This run course is like a trip down memory lane for me having gone to school hear many moons ago. It's fun to pass places I lived, buildings where I attended classes and all of the new development!! There are a number of long stretches that are 2-way run traffic so you get the opportunity to cheer on friends who are also racing! 1st mile is always stupid!! Downhill on State Street with the roar of the crowd will really get your heart pumping and your legs moving. Saw my amazing group of friends/fellow triathletes as I make the turn and I'm already almost a hot mess of tears. Feeling all of the love!!! 1st aid station is about at mile 1.5. All downhill from the Capitol and I'm passing people all over the place. 1st 2 miles were sub 9....just like last year. Then I flash back to last year, check myself and settle in to a more sustainable pace. The spotty cloud cover starts to roll in and I am very thankful! Aid stations are abundant and I'm alternating between IM Perform, flat Coke with pretzels and water and ice. I get thru the lakeshore path heading to the bottom end of State Street....but first you gotta climb Observatory hill x2. I learned last year that it's foolish for me to try and run up so I grab food and drink at the aid station, turn the corner and briskly walk up the hill. Dump my trash, jog down and walk up the 2nd hill. Now I'm on the curvy downhill behind HCW Library and cruising into 6 miles done!! Crowds and cheers on State Street are as advertised, I see a couple of people I know (Troy, Todd and Erin) and can actually identify with the tough late afternoon sun angle. Thank you all for being there! Back past Memorial Union and out onto the Lakeshore path where I see Sandro for the first time today - looking very strong as usual! After an out and back along the lake I'm headed back toward the hospital. Ahhh, another aid station! Now there's chicken broth to add to my buffet selections! Yay!    Got my first glimpse of Frank on the run course and Christine looking very strong. Headed back in to the capitol I finally see Mr. Andrew Hansen-Bialk heading in the opposite direction, stuffing his face at an aid station. Perfect! A quick hug and check-in with Drew and I'm ready to see my peeps near the Capitol square! The climb is physically easier on the first loop, but making the turn as you pass the finish line chute to head out onto your second 13.1 is a real mental mind f***! You've been invited to that party, but you're a half marathon early so come back later!! 2:10 1/2 marathon - yep I'm pretty stoked about that! Scott and the girls ran with me near the Capitol, got to see Tom and Sherri and Darcy Kagelmann Walczak and Jimi Boulet at the aid station then the group that was the envy of all athletes because of their ability to scream and cheer louder than any other bunch of fans......hugs for each one of them because I appreciate them being there sooooo much! Loop 2 was much the same as loop 1 with one bathroom break before the big hills (never trust a fart!). Time is flying by faster than I'd like and my pace has slowed some. Now I've got 10k to go, then 5k to go and I flat out turned down the glow stick necklace from the volunteers!! "Oh hell no!! I'm 3 miles out and I'm finishing this shit in the daylight!" Emotions are starting to build as I pass through the final aid station on Dayton Street. Just a sip of broth and I say to the volunteer "Time to move with a purpose.....I'm almost done!!!" I start the climb. Crowds have dwindled and moved toward the finish line. I'm hurting everywhere and I hear "Boss!!! Booossss!!!!" Jen Grabot comes running into the road and I honestly can't remember what she said but I know I said something to the effect of "This is getting hard.....I hurt everywhere!" An air hug and cheers from her and the kiddos and I'm dialed in. 1/4 mile to go and I see Jeff Curcio, Michelle Curcio and Steve Pavlik!!! You 3 were like angelic figures to me with words of encouragement and cheers pumping me up-so much that I found the energy to act a little silly if just for a moment. Acting silly, I got a bug stuck in my throat and loved that Pamela was there for me with a cup of water! I'm on Main Street and people are cheering my name and I can feel a huge lump building in my throat! Holy Shit!! I'm really doing this. I'm past 12:30, the street lights have turned on, but am I really going to finish an IM with a 12-handle?? Bright lights as you turn onto MLK and can now see where the U-turn for the 2nd lap is and the finish line. A momentary pause to see all of the athletes heading out on their 2nd loop - god bless every one of you!!! Today you will be an Ironman too!!! Keep going!! You can do it!!! THEN.....I slow down and start the proper way to finish a 140.6 mile journey......snaking side to side, high fives for everyone, the crowd loves it and in that single moment they are all cheering for me. For the love of Pete!!! I'm going to loose it!!! Mike Riley calls my name!! Tears and I close my eyes, put my hands to my face and walk across the finish line. The next few minutes are a blur but I'm soooooooo happy to be greeted so warmly by the most amazing finish line catchers - yes, 4 of them - Gary, Heidi, Jenny, and Katie. Thank you so much for being there!!! Love you all!!! Tons of photos, hugs and celebration from family and friends. So, so amazing! Now if you'll all excuse me, I've got a massage table waiting for me!! Thank you Alexis Carter for just being you. I hope you never grow tired of taking such great care of us!!!