Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Ironman Wisconsin 2013: the good & bad

Oh Madison, WI. the best "Irontown" in the U.S. for sure. If you are considering Ironman, in my opinion, Wisconsin is THE one to do. Forget the amazing course, it is the people there that make the race truly iconic...The volunteers and the spectators are simply UNREAL. Tour de France-style support along the bike course, screaming (often drunk?) fans all along the run- truly one-of-a-kind.

On to the race... No secrets here, after 2nd place last year, I was hoping to return to win, but knew I'd have to have a perfectly executed day for a chance....Here's the imperfect way it was actually executd, plenty of the good and the bad mixing together to come out in the wash in 4th place:

Swimming 2.4 miles in Lake Monona....
The bad: The swim was very very choppy this year, with the longest stretch (over a mile) headed directly into the waves/chop/current. I lost all the feet and swam the entire way alone. I exited the water in 1:09, 8 minutes slower than last year. 
The good: Even though I missed a group early on, I kept my head in the game and did my best impression of swimming straight and strong. Pretty certain it was a very poor impression of swimming straight, but lessons were learned and I'm not giving up! I also noticed a few pro bikes still on the rack, so I wasn't dead last out of the water. A couple of weeks ago, I easily swam 2.4 miles in one hour flat during training, so I know I can do it, I just need to readjust some things in my actual execution. I came out of the water in about 10th place. Told myself, "Never ever give up", and hopped on my Cannondale Slice

Riding 112 miles through the rolling Wisconsin countryside.....
The bad: Straight away on the bike I had the feeling of aliens growing in my stomach (something I haven't felt since my first Ironman in 2010) and I'm pretty sure it was from the Ensure I drank in T1. I threw up 6 or 7 times all over my poor bike and couldn't take in any food. I've trained with Ensure, but admittedly not at race intensity and I think the protein in it just did not go down well. The massive stomach ache was a bit scary and had me questioning how I'd finish 7 more hours like that, but I told myself it couldn't last that long. I just kept pedaling.
Swoopy. Photo: Ali Engin
Shake 'n Bake!

Climbing a hill. Photo: Ali Engin

The good: After 2.5 hours, the pain just disappeared and in a matter of minutes I was back to "normal". WOW. Normal felt great! I picked up my pace by about 10watts on the second loop and tried to get down as much food/calories as I could (my Bonk Breakers really settled my stomach and I followed those up with Gu Chomps and some Vanilla & Rocktane Gu gels). I finally felt great on my Slice (and loved my choice of Zipp 404/808 wheel combo for the "pitchy" & windy course) and knew I could salvage the race. 5 hours 38 minutes later I was off my bike.  I was still in about 9th place. Told myself, "Never ever give up." 

Running 26.2 miles through downtown Madison, Wisconsin....
The bad: I caught some glimpses of the competition, all strung out from 5 to nearly 30 minutes in front of me. I was pretty sure that a win was impossible on this day for me and that took a couple of minutes to digest.

Photo: Ali Engin
The good: My Dad, stepmom, sister, hometsay Joann, & friends (thank you Timo, Ann, & Jeff!)  were lined along the course giving me splits at every corner. They motivated me more than ever to salvage a rough day and show them I was tough and would give it every last drop to make the most of the what was left of the race. I began clicking off the miles in my Zoot Ultra Tempo 5.0s (LOVE that shoe!) and catching other women very slowly but surely. My legs felt pretty good and I was in control. It was hard, but manageable. Truth be told, a marathon is never easy, but I knew I had the fitness to execute a strong one. By mile 20 I had moved comfortably into 4th place. 3rd place was about 6 minutes up the road, but I was running almost a minute faster than her per mile at the time.....Told myself, "Never ever give up".... I ran my hardest to the finish, but was 45 seconds short of catching 3rd place. It wasn't my best day in triathlon, but it was a day I'm very proud of. I ran 3:05 for the fastest run split of the day and broke 10 hours in my 10th Ironman.
Never ever give up.

After the finish, I found my family and cheered in my Reve Endurance athlete, Katie Morse, who finished 6th in her age group on a tough day. So proud!
Coach & Katie

Thank you so much to all of my sponsors and supporters, without you, my dreams would be so very much further away.


Jennifer Ward Barber said...

Love your attitude. See ya at the pool where I could only dream of swimming 2.4 in an hour flat. ;)

JC said...

You are AMAZING! Great fight out there and AMAZING things happen when you don't settle. SUPER congrats! Your run is AMAZING (I dream of that run) ;)

Roz said...

Beth, I'm a fan. You got the spirit, grit and right attitude - and TALENT - and you do it all in style. Keep on with your heart, dreaming, training and all else living. Wishing the best for you.