IRONMAN WISCONSIN 2019 race report:
(this is long but wanted to capture my race)
I officially registered for this race on September 18, 2018 and began training-for-my-training that November. The official training started on April 1, 2019. Now the day I have been working and looking forward to was finally here – September 8, 2019!!!!! Time to race!
We get in the chute with 2300 of our closest friends that we didn’t even know. The swim start was 5 swimmers at a time every 5 seconds and we were easily 400-500 hundred back. Before we knew it we were getting in the water. I felt good at first, but that faded fast. We got a couple hundred yards into a 2.4 mile swim and everything went to hell. The water was very choppy and everyone was swimming in a zig-zag formation. A couple people tried to swim over me which caused me to drink massive amount of unwanted lake water. I would try to breath and get hit in the face by a wave again drinking more of the lake. This instantly makes my heart-rate spike and panic/doubt begins to seep in. I was about 500-700 yards into 2.4 mile swim and was thinking about quitting / not knowing how I was going to swim this distance like this. Anyone that knows me knows this is not a characteristic of mine. I quickly thought about all the training I had done to get here, my wife/kids/friends that were tracking me, and again all the DAMN training I had done to get here…LOL. I swam out to the right to get out of all the swim drama and regroup. At this point I was able to settle my heart-rate (not easy to do on an open water swim) and just do my own thing. I set a goal to visually swim from buoy to buoy till I got to the end. The swim was a massive rectangle and with each left turn also came a new challenge of waves and sighting. Finally getting to the last left turn and thinking I was almost to the finish to find out I probably still had over a ¼ mile to swim. The last 50 yards felt like a UFC fight in open water….finally I hit the ramp and exit. This was the worst swim of my life, but I did it! Finished the swim in 1:34.
Bobby and I had planned on racing together (met up in the changing room) and figured he would be a couple minutes ahead of me on the swim. However, after my crazy swim I knew he would have to be at least 15 minutes or further out on the bike (I was hoping he did not wait on me). So, I changed and figured I would catch up with him on the bike course somewhere. I make my way out to my bike and look over to see Bobby’s bike still on the rack….kind of freaked my out because he is a better swimmer than I. I immediately head all the way back into T1 changing area (this is a long way) praying I just missed him in the awkward sea of naked men changing – LOL. I turn the corner and Bobby yells my name – I think we were both relived to see each other and immediately swap horror stories of the swims we survived. Bobby finishes up getting all his bike gear together and off we go.
Bobby and I have trained together on the bike for the last 3-4 years so we are basically equal in strength in this discipline. In triathlon, you are not allowed to draft so I held the pace and we would close in usually on the uphills to talk and then back to riding. One thing I learned about the Wisconsin course are hills, hills, and more freaking hills. I used the downhills as recovery and tried to stay consistent in my cadence for the rest. While coasting on one of the downhills I hit 41.8 mph! The wind was the other factor we battled throughout the 112 miles but was proud to finish in 6:56.
So happy to be off the bike and actually felt pretty good. My legs were tired from riding for basically 7 hours but the run legs were ready to go. I think mentally I was just glad not to be in the water or sitting on the bike anymore – LOL.
The marathon begins and my mental goal was to get through the first 13.1 miles strong and then walk/run the second half if I had to. We were about 5-6 miles into the run and my stomach was not feeling great – the thought of eating any food made me feel queasy. I battled through the first half and we made the turn to start the second loop. At this point of the run I boarded the “first-class” section of the struggle bus. I may have saved Bobby at the beginning of the race, but this is where he saved me! I kept telling Bobby to please run-on because I didn’t want to hold him back, but after about the 10th time he got mad me and said we are sticking to our plan of training together and finishing together! From that point forward that is what we did….he pushed me on the run segments and when I needed to walk to get my heart-rate down he never complained. The last 12 miles of the run were mentally the toughest miles I have pushed through. I had many conversations with my Mom in heaven praying to keep me safe and allow me to finish. I had many conversations with my wife Ginger because I knew she was at home tracking and probably worrying like crazy about me. We made the last out and back section of the course and I knew we were about 3 miles from the finish. We kept up with the walk/run until we were about 1 ½ mile out. Now we are jogging more steadily and can see the Capital, the crowds start getting bigger and we are now heading back into downtown area. The lights get brighter and you can hear names being announced and the crowd screaming. The finish line of an Ironman is like NO OTHER!!!! I hear both of our names announced…..YOU ARE AN IRONMAN! Finished the run in 5:17.
Finish time – 14:22 (this is a 20 minute PR)
Postrace – As many of you know back in 2016 after finishing Ironman Chattanooga I ended up in the hospital with Rhabdo (ended up getting 7 ½ bags of IV fluids). So immediately after this race and especially after that struggle-run I hit the med tent and they gave me IV fluids.
Final thoughts – I just want to thank my wife and kids for ALWAYS supporting my crazy adventures. I knew they were all tracking me and watching the live finish line feed to see me finish….I can’t put into words what that means. To my training partner Bobby – I can’t thank you enough for putting up with my crazy butt for all the training and races – I look forward to our future race adventures. To my coach Jeremy – from day one of training you told me – “Let me do the thinking and you just do what’s on the training plan.” I took that to heart and kind of as a challenge. You had me mentally and physically ready for this race – THANK YOU Coach JUJ. And lastly to one of the best damn Sherpa’s out there, John, you took care of anything we needed and I so appreciate all of your support both before and during the race.