Ironman Wisconsin Post Race Report

I decided to race Ironman Wisconsin two weeks before the race. Having finished four Ironman races before and knowing that I am currently training for Ironman Florida in November, finishing the race was not a concern. I was going to use this race as a test to see where I am in my goal of breaking 11 hours at FL.

The reason I signed up for this race last minute is because of a journey, quest, goal, dream (you can call it what you like) I have to do all the US Ironman races in one year and try and qualify for the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii in 2013.

Their are seven Kona qualifiers in the US for 2013 and Ironman Wisconsin was the first on the list. I couldn't start this quest if I missed the first race, could I?

Race schedule: Ironman Wisconsin 9/8/12, Ironman Florida 11/3/12, Arizona 11/18/12 (FULL!! - still need to find a way in), Ironman Texas 5/18/13, Ironman Couer d'Alene 6/23/13, Ironman Lake Placid 7/28/13 and Ironman Kentucky 8/28/13. One down, six to go.

With that being said; I had two weeks to book a flight, hotel, and figure out how to get my bike up to Wisconsin.  This would be the first Ironman race I would attend by myself. Knowing how much goes into pre-race, race, and post-race, I was a little worried I wouldn't be able to handle everything that was at task.

With three days to spare I had booked my flight, found a hotel, and made a bike box. I booked my flight out of Tampa, FL to save on rates. I stayed at a Super 8 that was within (what I thought) 1.5 miles of site, and I got a bike box and reinforced it and disguised it in hopes of dodging the bike fee with Delta. That didn't work, darn. Was stuck paying $150 bucks to get my bike to Wisconsin. Needless to say it didn't come back with me on the flight. I decided to ship it FedEx to save some money.

Onto my trip:

I arrived in Madison on Thursday around 12:30 central time. My bike made it (minus the straps), I got a cab right away and was at my hotel by 2:00 pm. Unpacking and reassembling my bike was a lot easier than I thought. I hoped on my bike headed down to the Monona Terrace (race location) to get checked in.


While checking in I received my race bag, bib number, swim cap, and went through medical check where I was weighed and signed away my life. This was my first race without my name being printed on my race bib number, I borrowed a permanent marker and wrote it in.

I hung around downtown Madison for a while that day and checked out the area. State Street is located from Capital Square all the way to the University. This road is closed to public traffic and can only be used by pedestrians and city buses and cabs. This strip was the highlight of the run course during the race. State Street is lined with hundreds of restaurants, bars, and shops - a great place to hangout.

Friday night was the athlete dinner at the Monona Terrace. Attending these never gets old to me. It is so much fun to watch the welcome video, hear the inspirational stories, and get some stats from Mike Riley about the participants. There was a guy there who was competing in his 90th Ironman! WOW!

Race Day:

Wake up call: 3:30 am! Sleeping the night before an Ironman is over rated, lol. By 4:00 am I had gotten calls from my boyfriend and Mom wishing me luck and letting me know they would be watching me on the internet. Knowing this and also knowing all my friends would also be online, helped that feeling of being alone.

I had my normal breakfast an english muffin with nutella, greek yogurt with fruit and two cups of coffee. I had a cab pick me up at 4:45 am. I was at race site by 4:55 am and was one of the first to get marked and in transition. 

I prepped my bike by putting on my computer, filled up my water bottles and packed my bento box with enough food for 7 hours on the bike (you never know what can happen). I had to drop off my Garmin in my run gear bag and I added a long sleeve shirt into my bike gear bag. After that I got to sit down in the Monona Terrace for about 30-min before I headed down to the swim start, this was my time to mentally prepare for the race. Not having anyone there made it really easy to get into the zone. All I had to do was worry about myself and get ready for the day to come. The transition is very unique in Madison, it is located on the top of the parking deck for the Monona Terrace. You enter and exit transition on a helix.

Swim: 2.4 miles in 1:09:47, 1:48/100m.


Ironman Wisconsin is an in water start. The water temp was 72 degrees so that meant wetsuit legal, yeah for my Cat5! I got in the water at 7:38 am, I had about 22 minutes before the cannon went off. I got in a short warm up and got into position for the start. I took to my normal spot, right on the inside buoy line at the front. This wasn't my fastest 2.4 mile swim but I felt the best I have ever felt during and exiting the water. I didn't have any issues with sighting, going off course or contact. This was actually one of the more uneventful 2.4 mile swims I have done.

T1: 8:03

The run up the helix was AMAZING, hundreds of screaming fans lined the inside of the helix as you ran up it. The screams were so loud it was hard to even think about what you were doing. I made it into T1, found my bag and was in the changing tent without any problems. There has to be a better way to put on arm warmers after a swim, it took me probably close to 2 minutes to get them on. After leaving the change room I stopped in a port-o-let and went on to find my bike. It was waiting for me at the end of the bike isle and I grabbed it and went. I was about to hop on and head down the helix and noticed my chain had been knocked off. Jumped off my bike, fixed my chain, then was off for the 112 mile bike.

Bike: 112 miles in 6:26:03, 17.4 mph.


What I failed to mention earlier, when I was walking down to swim start I remembered that I had forgotten to put on my HR strap before I left the hotel in the morning. Oh boy..........since all I new about the bike course was that it was HARD, I got a quick rush of, oh shit! Then I had to remind myself that I know my body better than I ever have. So I road the course by feel. It is a lollipop bike course, you  head out from transition on a 14 mile stretch before you do two 40 mile loops. My plan was to take the first loop easy and see what it was like and decide to pick it up from there if I wanted. Well, first loop done and knew I couldn't push much harder if I wanted to have a good run. The bike course is everything they said it would be. Turns, uphills, and decents then entire time. It sure did keep you busy, not like sitting on IM Florida course in aero without moving for 2+ hours. If I remember right, I doubt I was in aero for more than 10 minutes at a time. My favorite part of the bike course was climbing the big hills into Cross Plains, WI. The town had came out in full force to line the road like the Tour de France. I saw banana costumes, guys in speedos, girls dressed in hula outfits, body painting - this was my favorite part of the bike course, even though it was the hardest. I felt good the entire time, never had any saddle issues, never got uncomfortable, I road a very smart controlled 100 miles then the unwanted happened. I broke a rear spoke. Oh no............what to do??? I knew bike tech was on the course (somewhere) but I didn't want to stop and wait. So I did what I had to, stopped to do a patch job fix so I wasn't clanging my broken spoke on my frame then I continued on crossing my fingers, riding very easy, hoping to make it back to transition or have bike tech pass with a new tire. Well I never got a new tire but I made it back to transition. (I still need to get it fixed).

T2: 4:30

This time the helix wasn't so much fun, I had a broken spoke and had enough of small chain ring and 25 gear. But I got back, un-clipped, took off my bike shoes and hobbled into the change tent after I found my bag. Took off arm warmers as it had warmed up nicely to the low 70's, stopped in the port-o-let again then was off to a new Ironman Marathon PR!

Run: 26.2 mile run in 4:15:08, 9:44/mile. 
I was really looking forward to the run. I have put in so much run training over the past year and I was hoping it would pay off. I came off the bike and hit mile one in 8:18, oops. It never seizes to amaze me how deceiving pace and effort feels after getting off the bike for 6+ hours. By mile 2 I had found my pace and held steady till mile 11 then the cramps came. I fought with them for about 6 miles, never giving up and taking in what I could at aid stations. By mile 17 they were gone and I held in till the finish. The crowd support on the run course is by far the best support I have ever had in an Ironman. During the run you travel through downtown Madison, State Street, Badger Stadium, the University, oh and the Observatory (the only big hills on the run), and also got off road for a bit on a crushed stone path. Coming into the last few miles I had so much energy and felt the best I had all race. It was at this point that I realized I could have run faster but had backed off from fear.



Ironman is a challenge I enjoy more and more every time. I learn each time that my body is more capable than I want to believe. My quest to try to qualify for Kona will be a true battle of my mental strength. I have to take the chance to over do it. I have yet to have a bad Ironman race, I finish each one filled with energy and wanting more. If I want to get to Kona, I have to fight for it and I have to lay everything on the line. My training has set me up to do that, I just have to make it happen on race day.

Racing Madison I knew I didn't have a shot at qualifying, I used this race as a test. Now I know exactly what it takes and what I am capable of. Ironman Florida girls, watch out!


1 comment:

  1. So proud and so inspired! Watching your progress and reading this give me hope that I one day will be Lori "IronMan" Richardson :)

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