The Electric Commentary

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

IRONMAN Race Report

So I ran Ironman Wisconsin this weekend.
Woke up at 4:00 am. This was the same time I went to sleep exactly one week before. Made some oatmeal, a PB&J and drank several gallons of juice and water. I sat down in front of the TV and tried to relax a little bit before I left for the start. Infomercials and psychics and not much else. There would be no relaxing until after the race.

I was out the door by 5:00. The walk to the start was pretty surreal. It was dark. No traffic. The only light came from streetlights. At this time on any other day there would be absolutely no one on the street. This morning, however, the streets were filled with over 2000 weirdoes holding blue and red bags. They were flocking to the start from every direction.

I dropped off my special needs bags and moved on to the bike exchange to drop off my water bottles and get marked. I waited in line for body marking behind two guys in their late thirties. They had each done 10 Ironman races before this one and were discussing the course. The one that had raced Wisconsin before told the other “the most important advice I can give you about this race is to be conservative on the first loop of the bike course. The hills can kill you the second time through” I would later ignore this advice and pay for it.

I headed into the Monona Terrace and ran into a few people from the UW Triathlon Team. I’m getting more and more nervous at this point. It’s interesting to see how different people handle a race like this. One teammate of mine, Erich, has died his hair some strange orangeish color and plans to stop to chat with people and pet dogs during the run. Another teammate, Lauren, is shooting to break 12 hours. Her boyfriend Brodie’s goal seems to be to use up an entire stick of body glide before he puts his wetsuit on. By the end of the day Erich will be taking things lightly, Lauren will have a great reason to go on a Hawaii vacation and Brodie will be out of body glide.

We filed down the helix-shaped ramp to the lake. I ran into Lars. Lars is on Iowa State’s triathlon team and trains with my former roommate and training partner Derek who is now in graduate school at IA State. Lars is a hell of a triathlete and would turn out a very strong performance today--fourth in his age group in a time of 10:28.32.

I’m in the water by 6:55. Only five minutes until the gun goes off. It’s pretty crazy to see this many people, all wearing substantially the same thing floating around in the lake. It’s even crazier to look up at the Terrace and see so many more that came out to watch. The gun goes off (or maybe it was some sort of whistle or siren. It escapes me.) and we’re off. I felt good in the water but decided to take it easy so I didn’t crap out. It was pretty crowded and I took some hits and drank way too much of the filthy Monona water but I swam relaxed and got out of the water in about 200th place. Just under an hour.

Ran through the crowd and start to ascend the ramp. I reached the “Peelers.” “Peeling” is one of the many useful services provided by Ironman volunteers. They help you take your wetsuit off.
Up the helix, into the changing room, onto my bike and I’m gone. I felt really good on the bike. Too good. I was amazed at how many people come out for the race. The roads through the towns are lined with spectators for blocks. The toughest hills have people cheering you all the way up as well. I finished my first loop and checked my pace. 21.48 mph. If I keep this up I’ll have a dominant race (famous last words) I felt good but I was slightly worried that was a little too fast. At about 60 miles I realize it was waayyyyy too fast. My lower back flares up and my legs are shot. I drop the gear down and hope I can spin it in the last 50 but at this point I’m not sure I’ll even finish. My pace is now extremely retarded.

I’m getting passed like crazy now. I notice a lot of Wisconsin uniforms. Many of my friends are having good races. At around 80 miles someone passes me and pinches my ass. It’s Clint, a fellow UW law student from down under. It’s nice to see he’s having a solid race. A tailwind make the last few miles possible and I’m to Transition 2. At this point my legs are cashed and my only goal is finishing. Under twelve hours if at all possible.

Coming out of T2 I see Brianna, a real work-horse on my team with aspirations of being an ultra-marathoner. She is having a very good race. In fact, in about a mile she’ll leave me in the dust and run to third place in her age group. One shy of a Hawaii qualifying spot.

The run portion of this Ironman is awesome. The streets are lined with people almost the entire way. Especially on State Street (or Main Street according to John Kerry). Most of my family was there and a big group of my law school crew was tracking my progress and following me. I saw them coming up Observatory hill. I would have walked up for sure if they weren’t there. 20 miles done and I was sure I would finish even if it meant stopping at every aid station. Caffeine, extran, gu and chicken broth should be enough to bring me home. At just before the 23 mile mark I ask a guy next to me what time it is. He says, “about 6:30.” I picked it up a little hoping I could still get in before 7:00. I crossed the finish line a 6:59.32. Twenty-eight seconds better than my goal of twelve hours. Na'bad.

All in all it was a satisfying performance. This one was mostly about finishing for me. Time to get something besides sugar and acid in my stomach. I’m not sure when I’ll give this thing another try but I’m sure I will eventually. I don’t think I’ll have the kind of time necessary to train for an Ironman for a while so for the next few years I’ll be concentrating on shorter triathlons and for the next few days I’ll be concentrating on beer and pizza.

2188 people raced (an Ironman Record) and over 40,000 came out to watch.

Defending champ Dave Harju won in 8:52.30.

Nicole DeBoom, wife of two time Ironman World Champ Tim DeBoom, was the top woman.

Al Toon finished 1,343rd place.

Joe Sherman, a teammate of mine who has been the subject of several Capital Times peices on Ironman, finished in an excelent time of 10:55.5.

Many great performances, lots of crowd support, a lot of spectators were inspired enough to sign up for next years race.

To everyone that came out to cheer me on, or followed my progress on the net or made cool signs and hung them on my front door, Thanks.

More info and pictures to come.


  • Dan, you are my hero. It would have been more intense if you were drinking whiskey instead of water though.

    By Blogger Rhoads, at 9:12 PM  

  • Phil Here. Well done, well done. It was hard work walking around town to see you, it was pretty hot that day. I think it is now appropriate to quote a movie line.

    "He is not a man. He is a piece of iron." (from a Rocky movie)

    see you in class.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:24 AM  

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