Ironman Wisconsin


I started swim. I was calm and smooth, but around me was chaos. I swam over legs, got whacked, and protected my abdomen from being kicked several times by rolling. I “swam big” most of the way. I actually swam on the inside do the buoys just a bit where I could get clearer water which was fantastic. The first 500 yards or so were a washing machine, or as someone said a”pre-ride hockey match.” Yeah…. That is a valid description too. I didn’t hear the traditional mooing at the first turn….I focused on maneuvering the bottle neck that occurs at every turn.

I kept reminding myself that I actually love the swim, and needed to swim big. My heart rate never went out of control which is fantastic. I actually had a good swim. Hooray!

As I came out I saw my time….I broke 1:10! Woo hoo! Better than I thought I had done as I swam calmer and more smoothly than my pre-race warm ups…or that is how it felt :).


Up and out of the water. I found two wet suit strippers and was soon on the move up the helix. That can take your breath away, or at least raise your heart rate. But with all the cheering I smiled all the way.

Not many people were I transition yet so a volunteer grabbed me, emptied my bag. There wasn’t much, and I didn’t need the arm warmers or socks so was soon on my way. My volunteer took my swim items and took care of all that. I grabbed my shoes, opting to put them in at my bike. I stopped at the bathroom and glad I did. Yes, it made transition linger but it was probably going to happen somewhere. First the first (of 3) times I opened the port o potty door to find a male peeing. Um….how hard is it to lock the door so the person outside knows it’s In use? Bother. I grabbed the next potty, and was off to get sunscreen in a short bit. Sunscreen was fast and I was off.

At my rack I put on my shoes while a volunteer brought my bike to the end of the rack. I took my bike and was off to the mount line.


Riding down the helix was…much better than I expected. Fun, actually!

Soon I was out and on the road. It was clear sailing. About 1 mile out someone passed me. I can’t tell you how but he was close to my left. Suddenly he hit me from the side (full on) and knocked me off my bike. I went down. He never stopped. Never said a word and kept racing. I have a number of choice, and not nice names, for him. I picked up my bike…it was fine but my water front mounted hydration bottle (pretty new and nice and I highly recommend the Profile Design Aero HC system) had come off. I checked and the attachments were broken. Dang. 1 full bottle lost. Good thing I had an extra in SN….I was going to need it. I took my garmin edge off the bottle, tossed the bottle to the side of the road,  and stuffed my Garmin in my jersey pocket. I had my garmin forerunner, but would be going by power, and not normalized power. Oh well. I saw Rich fly by and he shouted encouragement to me as he passed. I looked at my bike and put the chain back in place and was back on my way. My I felt that my left elbow and knee were scraped up, as well as my left shin, but I never really looked. I guess it was visible as I was asked a few times throughout the ride if I had fallen to which I answered I was knocked off. But I was still here and riding so….couldn’t ask for much more.

Soon I saw Rich ahead of me. With the short climbs and flying descents it took me a long time to catch him. And then a number of descents again so Rich was ahead of me again. I didn’t see him until I saw him on the side of the road with a flat. I asked if all was well and he said he was good. Within 3 -4 miles I saw Elizabeth and waved at her. I never saw my family on the first loop, but they told me they saw me. I did see the, on the second loop.

The course was good. The first loop was more crowded than the second. After mile 40 I could tell…my legs weren’t there. I would try and try and couldn’t keep my power up…something that rarely happens. It was very frustrating. Yes, I was going to be slower on tight turns, but when I could, I should be able to hold a certain power. Argh. Also, along the way I started spitting up a little of my nutrition. Not much, but just a but, and I would spit it out. A small hint at GI distress, but not notable in my brain. I was holding in nutrition ok.

I stopped at SN to replace my lost water bottle, and moved on. On the second lap I lost 2 water bottles. Yes, the roads were a bit rough. I spoke with someone the day after at out hotel who has done IMWI 5 times, and he said the roads were the worst this year. Guess it was a hard winter! I saw several people along the side of the road with flats. On an unofficial, but very active and useful Ironman Wisconsin Facebook site the day after 2-3 people posted they we re unable to finish due to derailleur/wheel problems. Yeah…you want to have everything secure on your bike and make sure everything works. The course will challenge you and your bike!

The crowds along the bike were like none other I have done. Well, IMCDA and IMAZ are on mostly closed loops while IMWI goes through small towns. The local tri clubs here work hard to keep good relations with the towns, especially since so many people ride the course causing some traffic woes for people all summer. But, it works… Riders are respectful and the townspeople are amazing come race day. It’s fantastic to see positive things like this going on in the community.

At every town/cheering hangout I was smiling as people cheered…even if my legs were blah…I was going to enjoy it, and adsorb the cheers to keep me going. And the crowd reacted to my smiles making me smile more. It’s a win-win situation.

My parents and Carlos waiting for me to pass
My parents and Carlos waiting for me to pass

Finally, after repeating to myself I am a better rider and I an do better, around mile 90 I found my legs. Thank goodness. But I could tell….the run was going to be rough. And I thought no more about the run…I needed to ride now.

I had been dreading riding back up the helix…think the ramp would be steep and hard. But no…it was a smooth and easy ride up, and I smiled all the way.

I hit the dismount line, turned my bike over to a volunteer to re-rack it, and ran in to transition. It wasn’t the bike I wanted, but it was the bike I did. And I hung tough. Now to run.


Again a fantastic volunteer grabbed me, took me to a seat, and helped me get ready. Again, I didn’t use all I packed, but picked what I needed, and was soon on my way. I grabbed some water, hit the port-a- potty (the first of about 4 stops) and for the second time walked in on a man peeing who hadn’t locked the door. Ok. I the. Hit the sunscreen station and was off.


And my stomach was off. I had planned four 10 oz bottles of Infinit Isis hydration (150 calories per) and 2 Gu chomps per hour, just like training and my half iron races this year. I went through 1.5 bottles the entire race. I just couldn’t take it in and hold it. I took coke and water at most stops, and that was all my stomach would take. I know it’s not great, but I figured calories were important at this point. A bit of GI distress. Nothing major but I felt it. Compare a hang nail to a broken finger…that would be the “GI distress” I felt compared to what people have really felt. It was an annoyance and made me stop a few times. An excuse in my mind.

My legs were gone. I could feel the bruises on my legs from my fall off the bike, but they were only bruises and no reason to let them stop me.

When I met a cheering crowd I smiled and had fun. Yes I hurt, and yes it was hard, but this is what I do…this is what I love. I rallied….no excuses. As Mike Reilly said, “The only thing you can control is your attitude.” I was realizing that, despite an abysmal bike, I may break 12 hours still. A run PR, no, and not an Ironman PR, but I can still do OK.

Also, the GI discomfort showed, for a second time that day, that it is a long day and anything can happen, and how important it is to have a plan b, c and even d…and being able to think of one quickly if necessary. Ok my nutrition plan was fading but….I knew a back up that although not ideal and I’d have to be mindful of my body and that I wasn’t getting electrolytes like I should, but at that point I knew I needed calories to finish.

How I ran the run I am still working out. I made a deal with myself to run the first 13.1 and decide there If I wanted to walk. I did walk most of the water stops. But I kept pushing. At the half way point I decided to go to mile 16, and then 17 and then 20. And at that point it was only a 10 k…at mile 22 I had just about a 5k left, and then 2.2 and then…you can take a mile. So I talked myself through it. I also knew that even though I missed my goals and wasn’t doing what I believe I can, I would be angry with myself if I gave up. So I kept pushing and pushing with what I had left. It was slower than I wanted but I kept working it.

About miles 3 and 6 I hit the bathroom again, and at mile 6 walked in on the third man of the day peeing. Ok. Next! At this point I was just amused. If you don’t lock the door you ask for it….how am i supposed to know? Or anyone else? I gave up being embarrassed, but did drop the door and go to the next one.

At mile 11 Karel, Marni’s husband, passed me. I was working to not let him lap me. Drat. More work to do, and I didn’t let it deter me. I was refusing to give up even if I missed my goals. I wanted to say I gave what I had.

Finally I came down the finishers chute…smiling and grinning for ear to ear. In my mind revamping what I need to do to feel stronger on my next IM….planning to get the strong from each race I’ve done in to one, knowing it’ll happen.

So…it wasn’t the race I wanted. But I also learned from this one. I can reach deep and I will fight to keep giving what I have. I don’t want to yield just because plan a didn’t work out. And that will serve me well.

Post race

After the race I soon spotted Carlos and my parents. My sister, her husband, my brother, and his girlfriend had had to return home, but I was told they had enjoyed themselves and their first IM experience. I was feeling a bit nauseated…I think I drank the chocolate milk at the end (yes! Have been waiting for chocolate milk. Guess I was a little over excited about it 🙂 ), and needed to throw up (I didn’t but really wanted to). That and my legs hurt. I was finally really feeling my bruises from my bike wreck. My mom and I sat while Carlos and my dad went to get my bike (and turn it in to tri bike transport) and gear bags. I started getting hungry and went to the athlete food tent where I got a bit of pizza, pretzels and water. That slice of pizza was so good that I asked if we could order a pizza once back at the hotel. So good!

As we walked back to the car I started to feel the bruises even more. We stopped at Walgreen’s for neosporin and band aids. After I showered my mom broke out her years of experience as a mom and put the neosporin and band aids on. I could have done it yes, but it was nice to just fall back in to being mothered just for a few moments.

So much to pull from this race. Not the race I wanted. My legs were dead. I need to upload my data from my garmin and both Laura and I are anxious to look at it and see what it says. OK – so I just found out – my data is corrupt and I can’t look at it. And on my Edge everything went flat after 4:10. Garmin has messed up on me in my past two races. Grumble. Oh well, the least of my worries.

I want to look at my nutrition from before to the race. I know a few places I can improve..and add variety for the betterment of my well being. So…sometimes you need a bad race. I thought about that my last bad half was just before I started racing them really strong as I took things up a notch for training: it was my third half. Hopefully there is a pattern with this 🙂 and most important I learned I don’t give up. And I can reach deep. And next time I will be able to reach deeper and push harder if I have to. And I will be ready. Because I’ve “been there, done that”.

Oh…and as a PS…I looked on the unofficial Ironman Wisconsin Facebook page on Monday September 8th and what did I see but a picture of Katie, Aaron, and Adam crossing the finish line at 15:38. She stood up and crossed on her own two feet with the help of Aaron and Adam. And that’s just more proof that with Ironman ANYTHING is possible.


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