Ironman Wisconsin Pre-Race

I’ll start as I do every time for a race report it seems…where do I start? So many emotions. So many thoughts. So many experiences packed in to a few short hours.

Carlos and I arrived Thursday. It was busy: pick up my bike, register, drive the course, get a flat on the car, give a lift to a fellow racer with a flat on the course back home, and finally, around 6 check in. My lake swim was move to Friday!

Registration
Registration

Friday was also busy, but more restful. We met Rich and Elizabeth at the lake and Rich and I swam. Then lunch and relaxing and getting my bags ready to take to transition on Saturday, and bike prepped to check in. My parents arrived that day so we got to visit. And my sister and her husband arrived later that evening but I was already in bed after little sleep the night before. This time I got some decent sleep, thank goodness.

Pre practice swim
Pre practice swim
Practice swim
Practice swim

Saturday was busy with bike and bag check in, a quick dip in the water. My mom and sister joined me for that adventure while Carlos, my sisters husband, and my dad went to golf. My brother and his girlfriend arrived in the early evening. After dinner I went to my room for final details and get ready for an early bed time while the rest of my family watched the ND vs Michigan game.

We had chatted with Rich and Elizabeth before. They had found street parking where they were staying, and so parked there so we could use their parking spot Saturday morning. Talk about awesome! They were fantastic, and it was such a relief. I had been worried about staying 25 minutes from the start. Also, I had been worried about using Carlos to get me to the sight when he would be driving my family around that day. It turned out our hotel had a shuttle which my parents took to the swim start at 6 a.m. And met Sitting downCarlos so he could drive me to meet Rich and Elizabeth. Overall, outside of a little less sleep, it all worked out well. Rich and Elizabeth’s help was….fantastic. I woke up at 3:45 after a fitful night of dozing and sleeping, and got ready.

Carlos and I were at Rich and Elizabeth’s (booked via AirBNB) just before 5 am. We hung at their spot for a few minutes before heading out. We dropped off our special needs (SN) bags. I didn’t have much, but did have a few things that were good to have just in case including an extra tube, Co2 cartridge, sunscreen in a Baggie, pepto, and an extra water bottle with my nutrition mix (just in case I dropped one along the way) for my bike SN, and two bottles, a travel body glide, and blister band aids for my runSN. Really…pretty basic.

After SN, the four of us headed to transition bag drop as both Rich and I had an item to add to our run bags (nutrition bottles).

T2 - dropping off bottles
T2 – dropping off bottles

Next up, body marking and a bike stop to pump tires, add nutrition and of a last minute bike check. I had my own pump (it’s like my security blanket, and probably Carlos’ most important task to me…to take my pump after pumping my tires) and I took it to Rich once I was done (and a woman next to me used it). I had mostly liquid nutrition: 4 bottles of infinit Isis endurance with 1.25 hours of calories. I’d add take on course water after I finished my first bottle. For the last hour I had EFS Kona Mocha and would wash it down with water from the aid station. I also ate 2 gu chomps every 50-55 minutes. That was it for solids.

The only “flaw” I really observed was they had all athletes coming in and out a single, narrow entrance that caused a huge bottle neck. They might have been able to use the main entrance to let athletes out to ease the flow, but overall that was it. Everything moved very smoothly.

Putting on my wetsuit
Putting on my wetsuit

We returned to Carlos and Elizabeth. Carlos put my second layer of sunscreen on, and then I got in line for the port-o-potties. We hung out a little more and then headed down. It was already about 6:15! Time was flying. I decided to try and use the port-o-potties one last time and separated from Carlos, Elizabeth and Rich.

I was in line when an athlete in front of me realized he didn’t have his goggles. I never have in the past, but had and extra pair with me that day…a free pair from a race, but they work. He wasn’t going to take them, but realized how little time he had, and did take the extra pair.

I decided not to use the bathroom, and dropped off my morning clothes bag. With some spotting and maneuvering I was close to the front of people to get in the water.

Soon we were told to go in. I swam out past the ski jump and to a boat in the water. On the way out while everyone was swimming easy someone’s hand scratched my right cheek. I have a pretty deep gash from it, and I felt it throughout the swim. Yikes! If that’s the easy part I wondered what the swim held. I was looking forward to it as it is a single loop, deep water, mass start. I was so grateful as I get a warm up swim with a deep water start. I love deep water starts.

My friend Chrissy had done IMWI the year before and she got in early and hung on a kayak. I planned to do the same. I asked if I could hang on the boat and the person on the front said sure. He was very nice, and was asking names and chatting it up. His name was Aaron. And he introduced a friend, Adam, and asked mine. My name Turned out to be the same as the woman in the dinghy.

Adam soon said they were leaving after the first cannon…right behind the pros. At first I was confused but then I got it…Katie wasn’t a volunteer keeping swimmers safe, but an assisted athlete, and Adam and Aaron were on her team. Holy cow!  I wished Katie a great race, and those of us around the dinghy helped get them closer to the front line (we were pretty close to start with but….the closer the better).

While waiting I heard Mike Reilly and he wished us all luck, reminding us that the only thing we could control was our attitude. That became a mantra for me, and boy did I use it! More about that later, though.

After the first cannon, Aaron, Adam and Katie were off and we all had to tread water until our start. It was all very congenial and friendly. Oh how things were about to change, which we joked about while waiting.

We heard Mike Riley asking people to move so athletes could get in the water. He was telling people to move, not asking. He had made the athletes his priority and you could tell. He was doing great. Easy to know it wasn’t his first rodeo!

Soon it was time. People threaded water, ready to hit their garmins and start the day. And the cannon went off. Time to swim!

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