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Archive for September, 2009

Ironman WI – Post Race

After I finished, got my medal, and had my picture taken, the first person I saw was my mom, who gave me a hug. Then I saw Steve who gave me a kiss on the cheek which must have been pretty nasty for him. The area just outside the finish was pretty crowded, and I needed to get out of there. I became extremely nauseous and thought I may blow chunks all over everyone around me. I made my way through the crowd, but there was really nowhere to go and hurl. I made a beeline for some bushes and pretty much collapsed on the ground. By now I was also dizzy, and could barely move. I couldn’t even talk, except to say that the smell of the cigarette butts on the ground were making things worse. Luckily, I am not a puker by nature, and the feeling passed within a few minutes. It also could have to do with the fact that there was nothing at all in my stomach to puke up. I was still quite dizzy, and my mom went off to try and get me something with calories to drink.

After sitting on the ground for a good while, I was able to get up and head a few steps over to a concrete fountain and sit on the edge of that. That was about the point where I almost shit my pants. Literally. My stomach, which had felt good all day, was revolting. There were no portos in sight, so I was more than relieved a few moments later when that feeling passed as well. My body was in utter confusion, and I think it just didn’t know what to do. I was in perpetual motion for nearly 13 hours, consuming nothing but liquid and gel. Then I crossed that finish line and came to a sudden stop. My body was screaming WTF??

My mom was unable to track down something to drink, and the thought of putting anything solid in my mouth was out of the question. I was slowly starting to feel better, which I could gauge by my increasing ability to talk to everyone. My friends Steve and Cammie took off to go home, and a few minutes later so did my mom and Joe. Steve helped me into the building to retrieve my gear bags. I was cold, so he also helped me put on my warm up pants and fleece. I couldn’t imagine sitting down and trying to get back up again, so here is Steve removing my socks as I stand there helpless. Thank goodness he was there to help, or I don’t think I would have made it. We got my bike, and started the 1 mile trek back to the hotel.

As we started to head back, we ran into my friend and training buddy James, who had finished about 20 minutes before me. He was missing one of his bags, so we waited while he went back to try and find it. At this point I became dizzy again, and had so sit on the ground. Another athlete was walking by with a plate of post-race food and a cup. He asked if I was ok or if I needed anything, and I asked him if he had any Gatorade. He gave me his only cup, and when I asked if he was sure I could have it he said “Yes, take it. You need it more than I do.” I guess I looked pretty rough. I needed the sugar, and after drinking it I felt better.

Walking back to the hotel was not as bad as I thought it would be, I think the walk actually helped my legs a little. Our hotel was just off of State St, and as we were walking, the race was still going on. There were plenty of racers still walking/jogging/shuffling down State St, and I was so glad to be done. There were not many people left out cheering for them, and the feeling was sort of lonely.

Back at the hotel, I got in the shower while Steve walked to Jimmy John’s to get me a sandwich. I still wasn’t hungry, but I knew my body needed some food, so I ate the whole thing slowly. A little while later I was out in the hallway getting ice for the cooler, when I saw a Barq’s Root Beer in the vending machine. I normally am not a soda drinker, but suddenly it looked like the best thing in the world and I had to have it. I went back and got some quarters, and let me tell you, that root beer was just about the best thing I had ever tasted.

I didn’t crash out until probably around midnight, and I slept though until about 7:20 the next morning. I went down to the hotel breakfast for some coffee, and then James and I walked to Einstein’s for bagels. I headed back to the room and began the daunting task of packing up all of my gear. I took a quick shower and we headed home.

Once we got home, Steve headed to work for the afternoon, and I decided to get my grocery store trip over with right away. As I was shopping, I suddenly became overwhelmingly tired. When I got home I promptly fell asleep on the couch for about 2 hours. I was surprised that my body was not overly sore. Don’t get me wrong, it did hurt for a couple of days, but no worse than after I’ve run a hard marathon. 

It’s two weeks later, and I am definitely not fully recovered. I did absolutely nothing for one full week, and this past week I did one swim, one easy run (bad idea), played 2 soccer games, and went to spin class this morning. My legs are definitely feeling it, and I’m going to continue to take it easy for probably a couple more weeks. It’s hard because I want to work out, but I know I shouldn’t be pushing it.

And now for the big question – am I going to do it again?? Stay tuned and find out in my next post…

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Dang, I need to finish this race report. I feel like some of the details have already slipped away. Well, this brings us to part 3 – the run.

I run into transition and am helped by the nicest volunteer ever. She dumps out my bag and is quick to hand me whatever I need. I change from bike shorts to tri shorts, load up my pockets with gu’s, change socks and shoes, and I’m off. I drink some water and hit the porto on my way out of transition. I am so excited to run this marathon I can hardly believe it.

I start slowly and am immediately struck by how good my legs feel. Wait, was I not just riding my bike for nearly 7 hours? I take things very cautiously, not knowing what to expect later in the run. I walk my way through every aid station, taking in only water. My plan is a gel every hour, and I also eat some banana pieces. I make the decision not to drink any Gatorade. I haven’t had any all day, and my stomach feels good. Best not to risk it.

The marathon in the Ironman is quite different from a stand-alone marathon. I am not going for speed, which makes thinks considerably more enjoyable. I am taking in the crowd support, and every time someone cheers for me, I yell “thanks!” and smile. Around mile 6 I turn onto State St, which is nuts. There are so many people and so much energy, I couldn’t help but pick up the pace. I see the Steves for the first time at the turn around on State St. They cheer for me and I smile and wave.

The run course is extremely spectator-friendly, 2 loops with lots of little out-and-backs. When positioned correctly, it is easy to see your runner at least 5 times. The next time I spot them is shortly before the half way point. My friend Cammie is here now too, having driven up after work. I get to the turn around and am taunted by the finish line. I can see it right there, yet I follow the sign leading me to the left for loop 2.

I am not dreading the second half, in fact I still feel surprisingly good. I check my watch and realize that if I keep pace, I can break 13 hours. I try not to be too excited about it, telling myself anything can happen. I see my crew again and also my mom and Joe. I yell to all of them finish between 8-8:30! I don’t want to be overly confident but I know in my head I can finish before 8:00.

A lot more people are walking. I pick them off one by one. Keep moving forward. I pick up the pace slightly to see what happens. I still feel good. Before I know it I am back on State St with 6 or 7 miles to go. I am tired, but I know I will finish strong. My face says it all here:

I do one last gel at mile 20 and hope it gets me through to the end. Countless people are walking now, and spectators are commenting on how great I look. Why thank you!  I want to slow down, to stop moving, but it is not an option. I am no longer walking through the aid stations, I just want to finish. I pick it up as fast as I can with 4 miles to go. I know I am running a negative split, which I have never done in a marathon, let alone in the freaking Ironman.

With about 3 blocks to go I am back in Capitol Square. The crowds are going wild and I try to take it in. It is hard to absorb anything mentally at this point, my body is carrying me forward on autopilot. I see Joe with 2 blocks to go and he runs along side me, yelling that my mom is in the left side bleachers at the finish line. I turn the corner into the finish and as I approach the line, I hear Mike Riley loud and clear saying the words I have been waiting for, working for, all day and for the past year:

Laura C from Milwaukee, WI…You are an Ironman!!

I cross the line with my arms in the air, and two ladies “catch” me, one on each side grabbing my arms. Holy shit, I think to myself, I’m done. It’s over. I am an Ironman. I am handed an official finisher’s hat and t-shirt, and I get my picture taken. With that, it’s official.

Official Time: 12:55:51

Swim – 1:27:08

T1 – 11:53

Bike – 6:56:18

T2 – 6:56:18

Run – 4:14:15

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I head into the transition room, grab my bag, and make my way to the women’s changing area. A volunteer is there asking me if I need any help. I dump my bag and change out of my swimsuit and into bike shorts and a tri top. I do a quick spray of sunscreen, grab my biking gear, and I’m off.

Running though the bikes towards my rack I hear “Laura! Yeah Laura!” I look over to see my mom and Joe just on the other side of the fence. I am so happy to see them, and I give a huge smile and wave.

I grab my bike and run all the way to the other end of the transition area. I am off. My only goal for the first half of the bike is take it easy. I wanted to feel like my legs were doing no work at all. The section from Madison to Verona goes by fast, and we are on the first loop. I drop it into a super-low gear and begin to climb the first hill. I feel great, so much better than when I rode the course in training. Still taking it easy, I keep moving forward.

Several times on the bike I am overcome with emotion. I think how lucky I am to be doing this on such a beautiful day, surrounded by great people. I look forward to seeing my mom and Joe, as well as Steve and another friend Steve on one of the hills. I get to the first hill and no sign of them. Second and third hill, I don’t see them. A little disappointed, I head through the cheering crowds in Verona and on to the second loop.

I make a stop in special needs and switch out my empty bottle of Infinit. My legs still feel good, and I am saving my energy. My nutrition and hydration are spot on so far. The crowds are slightly more sparse, the course a little more lonely. The hills are only slightly more difficult this time around, but not too bad. Before I know it, I am on the last set of hills again. First hill, no sign of anyone. By now I am ready to be done biking. Almost to the top of the second steep hill I spot my mom. She yells that Steve is up ahead and snaps a pic. Then I see Joe and he starts running next to me and cheering wildly (second pic).

I see Steve and he starts running next to me. He tells me he loves me and is proud of me and I can’t stop smiling. I say see ya later! and zoom down the other side of the hill. Unless you do this, you cannot understand how it feels to have your family and friends out there cheering for you. My spirits were soaring all the way through the rest of the second loop and back to Madison. The last 12 miles are long, but over soon enough.

Up the helix and I can’t believe the bike is over. I am actually kind of sad that the day is going by so quickly, but I am so excited to get out and run.

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IMWI Race Report Part I – The Swim

The alarm clock in the hotel room is set for 3:45am. So is the alarm on my phone, just in case. Turns out not to be necessary. I wake up at 2:30am and lie restlessly in bed, my mind racing. As if I would oversleep for Ironman.

At 3:30am I finally get out of bed. I look out the window at the few wayward college students stumbling home through the dark streets. I have never felt so awake. I have never been so nervous.

I drink coffee, eat a bagel, get dressed and organized. Before I know it it’s almost 5am, time to go. The walk down a sleeping State St. to Monona Terrace goes by fast. I drop off the special needs bags, and head to my bike. There is a nervous excitement in the air, as everyone prepares for their day. Now it is just final preparations on top of months of preparation. The work has been done. I think to myself, I will be an Ironman today.

I get body marked and head down to the water. It’s 6am, and the first hints of light begin to hit the water.

I remind myself to be calm in the water. Be calm, don’t panic. Over and over. Breathe.

6:15am, wetsuit on. I am doing this. I am ready. Breathe.

6:30am and into the corral, over the timing mats, and into the water. It’s a sea of athletes, I am so nervous. For a few minutes, I stay where I can stand. Someone sings the national anthem. I don’t focus on it because I don’t want to tear up in my goggles. I am really doing this. Be calm, don’t panic.

There is a loud boom as the canon goes off, and a frenzy of screams, cheers, arms, heads, and legs. The washing machine.

I hesitate for a moment, looking for a clearing. Be calm, don’t panic. I put my face in the water and swim. Finding a rhythm amidst hundreds of bodies is hard. It goes one stroke, look up, two strokes, look up , breathe, stroke. I find clear water on the first length and try to stay way outside the buoys. The first turn is in sight, and it is a mess. People everywhere, arms flailing, kicking, elbows. Be calm, don’t panic. I am no longer nervous, I just want to make it through this swim.

Two more turns and the first lap is over. It seems I have been swimming forever. I tell myself it will be over soon. One stroke after the next, just keep moving. I am sure I have been in the water for hours. There is never clear water, never any room. Finally I make the last turn and head towards shore. I realize I have survived the swim.

I unzip my wetsuit and lay down for the strippers. They rip the suit off in one giant tug and hand it to me. I check my watch. Surely I have been in the water forever. It reads 1:27:xx, faster than expected. I head up the helix through the cheering crowd. This is amazing. I am really doing this.

I will be an Ironman today…

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It’s official

I am an Ironman. My official time was 12:55:51, which I could not be happier with. It was truly a perfect day; I could not have hoped for anything more. It’s going to take me a few days to put everything into words for an official race report, so stay tuned…

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Bib #2164

That’s me! You can track me during the race on Sunday starting at 7am at www.ironman.com.

It’s day 2 in Madison for Ironman weekend. Day 1 was very eventful and tiring. We arrived at Monona Terrace around 11am on Friday and got checked in for the race. I have an athlete wristband that has to stay on all weekend:

We walked over to look at the swim course, and here you can see the buoys set up behind me:

After walking around for a while waiting for the hotel rooms to be ready, we were finally able to check in. I was slightly irritated because check-in time was supposed to be 3pm, and the rooms weren’t ready until 3:45. I finally got to my room and set about getting my gear organized. Here are all off the gear bags laid out on the bed:

The drawstring bag was the goodie bag, which is awesome, and the socks I bought at the expo 🙂  I referenced my handy spreadsheet to help me put all of the right gear in the right bags. I didn’t have much time to relax before it was time to leave for the athletes’ dinner and meeting.

We walked back to the Terrace (which is about a 15 min walk). There was a huge room set up for the dinner. It was a buffet of pasta with red sauce, mixed veggies, salad, and baked potatoes. As people finished eating, Mike Riley took the stage and did a talk about the day and how much he loves Madison. He also announced the youngest and oldest competitors, and also spotlighted people who lost incredible amounts of weight in training for the event. One guy lost 212 lbs in training, and Mike told him he could not wait to announce his name at the finish line. The whole thing was pretty cool. Then there was the athletes’ meeting, where different people went over the rules, and told everyone what to expect on race day. After the meeting it was back to the hotel, and I snapped this photo on the way out:

Today I woke up around 6:30 and couldn’t get back to sleep. I had some coffee and breakfast, and then it was time to head to Lake Monona for a practice swim. I put on my wetsuit and waded in. The water was slightly chilly at 75 degrees, but not too bad. I did one lap around the 2 loop course. I will admit, it was long. I kept thinking I can’t believe I have to go twice around tomorrow, but I know it will be completely different and less boring during the race. I felt like I got into a good rhythm out there, so I am feeling a little less nervous about tomorrow. Not much less though 🙂

After the swim, it was back to the hotel for a quick shower and some food. Then it was back to the Terrace for bike and gear bag drop off. The bike transition area was huge, it just kept going and going. This shows less than half of it:

Then it was off to bag drop offs in two separate rooms. I sure hope I don’t get lost during the race, because it is all pretty confusing. Here is the T1 swim to bike bag room:

You have to run in here, grab your bag, and run into the changing room next door. Here’s the T2 bike to run bags:

After everything was dropped off, it was time to head back to the hotel for a little rest. I got a delicious Hawaiian smoothie from a street vendor on the way back, which hit the spot. We are scheduled for an early dinner at 4:30, and then I will be lying low for the rest of the night, getting everything organized for tomorrow. I hope to be asleep by 9:00pm at the latest, as I will be waking up at 3:45am. The plan is to leave the hotel around 4:45, putting us in transition around 5am when it opens.

Last minute thoughts:

It is going to be hot tomorrow. The forecast says high of 82, but I won’t be surprised if it reaches the mid-80’s. I need to be diligent about hydration and my nutrition plan on the bike.

I can’t wait to see my hubby and mom out on the course cheering me on. My mom and her boyfriend are bringing their bikes and will ride out to parts of the bike course. Steve is driving out with another friend, so hopefully they can get to some good spots to watch.

I need to remember that it’s an extremely long day, and there will be times when I want to quit. I will not quit, and the feeling will pass. I will do this.

I will have fun out there, I will thank the volunteers, and I will try to soak in every moment. I cannot freaking believe this day has arrived.

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3 days

72 hours from now I will be on my bike, hopefully over half-way through the Ironman Wisconsin bike course. I have run the gamut of emotions over this past week, and I am sure it will continue until after the race. I am mostly excited, very nervous, somewhat doubtful, though confident at the same time. Did I do enough? Will I look like I belong amidst a group of over 2000 incredible athletes?

I am trying to relax, but it’s hard. I have been keeping my mind busy making lists, thinking about everything that I need to do and bring and have organized. I made a spreadsheet detailing what to pack, what goes in which bag, down to the specific socks I will wear to bike and run. Geeky, right?

Tomorrow I will head to Madison to get checked in and attend the athlete dinner and meeting. Saturday morning I will have a chance to swim in Lake Menona, which I am hoping will calm some of my fears about the swim. I plan to bring my laptop, and the hotel claims to have free internet, so hopefully I will be able to update the blog throughout the weekend. Stay tuned…

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