Wednesday, 30 September 2009
The Wisco Disco - Ironman Wisconsin 2009
2nd 35 -39 Age group, 5th Amateur, 18th Overall out of 2400 in a time of 9.33:18
Qualified for The World Championships in Kona- Hawaii 2010
My early decision to take a year out from Kona in 2009 wasn't taken lightly. When I qualified again this year in Lanzarote, turning down that golden ticket and all that it meant to me was the hardest race decision I've ever made. My friends all thought I was clinically insane... Tim and Dec my training buddies, who had targeted later races, thought I was nuts!! I had a plan that 2010 would be my special year and I was confident that with the right coaching and support from Richard Hobson, Mette (my girlfriend) and I could make it happen...
I arrived in Wisconsin and hooked up with Tri legend - Ken Glah. Ken had organised my accommodation and transfer. Ken now runs a Ironman specific travel company called Endurance Sports Travel The following day we rode the course. It was every bit as hilly as I was led to believe, not on a Lanzarote scale, but tough enough to play to my strengths. Thank goodness I had selected the right gearing, I was running a 56/39 with an 11/26 on the back. There were lots of fast corners with intermittent steep sections. With the 56 I could make time up on the downhills, where other bikers would be using their brakes or free wheeling.
Come race day I was ready, I woke at 0430hrs for a 0700hrs start. Experience has taught me I need to eat at least two hours before a race in order for nature to take its course! The Ironman had truly rolled into town and nothing would stand in its way. I later found out that the previous day a fisherman had drowned in Lake Monona and they had been dredging all night looking for the body. Thankfully they had found the poor soul, but this wasn't good Karma. I put my thoughts about this aside...but the water was so cloudy and murky that I found it difficult to think of any thing else, whilst tredding water on the start. BOOM..... the cannon sounded and I was off. I had positioned myself on the pace line, a little optimistically in fairness, but I was used to a bit rough and tumble. I normally just put this down to racing. I don't believe its due to anyone being purposefully malicious. At about 800m into the swim I realised I'd gone marginally off course, the sun was in my eyes and I'd gone maybe 70m off course. I had basically been ploughing through other athletes but heading in the wrong direction!! I quickly corrected this and continued to work hard to regain the distance I'd lost. I began to leave the pack and edge up to the athletes ahead. Either they were dying or I was so far off course that the normal guys I'd be up with were long gone!! No one passed me on the second 1900m loop...My Sailfish wetsuit felt great, super comfortable. I exited the water about 3 Min's down of where I expected. In distance terms this is about 100-200 metres and this accounted for my poor sighting....Grrr! I later found out I was 293 overall at this point with a time of 1.04:39.
Transition One - This is totally crazy, it must be the longest transition ever. After your encounter with wetsuit strippers, who make you lay on your back before they peel your suit off. Then you run from ground level up the helix of a multistory car park to the 4th floor, pick up your bag and change before running out to the car park to pick up your bike to descend down another helix....
All this took me 5.07. The fastest pro guys were 3.58. It has to be seen to be believed......
The bike was a 23km out and back from Madison with 67km loop in the middle which was repeated twice. I liked this idea taking the race out on to quiet country roads so the main roads, in and out, of Madison weren't effected. For the first 90 Min's of the bike I pushed really hard trying to make up for my lost time in the swim. From time to time I'd pick up someone who'd try to hold my wheel, but confidently I'd push on. After two hours I caught a group who were riding legally, but clearly rotating through and working together. I knew there were three hills coming up and I left my attack until then, leaving them in my wake. I needed to push and hold over 400 watts to break the group and this would come back to haunt me later. A stronger Czech guy stayed with me but was later red carded for drafting. For the remainder of the race, I had caught two guys, one from Boulder called Shane and German guy called Stefan. Both were strong and we were riding the same pace. We had to keep out of each others draft zone as we were constantly shadowed by the race marshals. At around 3 hours I started to lose sight of them and they pulled away. My mega power intervals had pushed me over my red line and up came my breakfast.... I eased off and left it 15 Min's before I tried to take on some water. Thankfully the answer was yes, this gave me the chance to take on more Infinit energy and within minutes, I was back. I used only 2 bottles of concentrated Infinit on the bike and diluted this with water from my aero bottle. I reeled in other bikers passing the female Pro's who had started 10 min prior. I knew then that I was ii the sharp end of the race and I was charged...I'd biked 5.05:01 averaging 35.5kmh....
The second transition from bike to run was shorter and I tore through it, equaling or beating most of the Pro's in 2.06 Min's
I stormed out of the Monona Exhibition Hall transition area hitting the tarmac hard. I knew I had a 3 hour marathon somewhere, the question was would I find it here in Wisconsin...The first part of the run took us into downtown Madison and I was able to settle into a relaxed pace. I felt good, hydrated with no stomach issues. I was taking a gel every 15 Min's, chasing it with water. After the first 10km this changed.... the course became difficult to maintain a rhythm, It was up down, left, right, onto a sidewalk and then back onto the road and my pace began to wain.. Note to self, always recce the run course too, this was simply bad admin on my part. I should have biked it before the race. It really is a crazy course... at one point we ran into the 100'000 seater 'Wisconsin Badgers' American football stadium, round the touch line and back out!!!
At the half way point Mike Reilly shouted over the speaker that I was the 5th amateur, third in my Age Group and that number one was just in front..... this was like a red rag to a bull, I pushed on. Suddenly I saw a guy walking in front. He was the lead guy in my age... great I thought, 1 more to go. I could see him in front, Brian was his name. I was catching him each mile, but the second lap had become really congested. At the aid stations It had become increasingly harder to be re supplied with sponges and water. Each aid station was laid out in a different format and I found myself having to stop and often walk back to the water supplier, who had missed my shouts for water as I ran passed. This had began to annoy me as I kwew I would have to burn the precious seconds that I had worked so hard for... Eventually I caught Brian and passed him decisively. I could hear his feet disappear, and knew he hadn't come with me. I was now leading my Age group and was third amateur overall. The race was mine too lose.... and this became a real possibility. I had used GU gels for this race,which were not my usual choice and they were giving me gas!!!Not good.... at this point I was concerned about having a You tube incident, so had to duck into a portaloo. Can you believe that the first two were both occupied. Typical ehh...I really didn't expect this, I even mindlessly started to queue. I frantically ran through the next aid station looking for the loo, and thank goodness found one.... I was almost disappointed having burnt all this time to find out it was just wind. Brian had re passed me and was now 200m up the road. I had just the up hill stretch home to catch him..... I had run out of road, despite upping my pace I wasn't able to bridge the gap. I was now surrounded by so many athletes on their first lap he was difficult to pick out ahead. I took solace that I was now finishing my marathon and that my race was almost over. I decided to enjoy it, ignoring the the younger age grouper who ran by me, Thorsten was his name. I celebrated with the crowd, high five-ing everyone and doing a 'Tim Don' aeroplane down the finishing flume... It felt just awesome!!!
3.16:28 not my fastest Ironman marathon, but it had put me 18th overall, 5th amateur and 2nd in my Age Group. I missed 1st by just 41 seconds.....
Job done - Kona 2010 here I come - Hooray!!!!