The day started early around 5:30 when we left the hotel and headed up to the start line. Since we stay so close we are able to sleep in a bit and not have to get up at the crack of dawn like some of the other events. Once I got up there I really only needed to check on my bike, drop my phone off and get my wetsuit on for the swim. I gotten most of that done by about 6:15 so I had about 15 minutes to kill before I headed down the helix. I used that time to get pumped up, hug and kiss the family and get ready to go. Right before Jen and the boys went to find a place to watch the swim I saw my friend Aron Gordon, who was doing his third Ironman, so I was able to hangout with him and walk down the helix.
Around 6:30 we decided we had better start making our way down to the water. It takes quite a while to get everyone in and if you don't start early you might not be in by the start of the race. Being pretty experienced at this point I don't really get the nerves like I used too so I can look around and see all the other people who look like they are about ready to freak out. It was about 8 minutes before the start before Aron and I got into the water. By the time you get swam the 200 yards out to the start line we only had about 5 minutes before the start. We found an open spot right behind the boat ramp to start the race and relaxed until the cannon.
Being Wisconsin is mass start it is always a pretty rough swim. This year it was even worse since I've actually become somewhat of a swimmer I don't fall of the back of the pack but stay right in the middle of it. I got swam on, kicked and hit for probably a mile and a half before I managed to find a bit of open water to swim in. At on point I was swimming behind this woman and she kicked my so hard in the face that I thought for sure I would have a fat lip or at least be bleeding. I'll say after fighting so much in the first part of the race it felt good to finally get the reprieve of some clear water.
It stayed pretty clear until the final quarter mile of the race when it starting to neck down to get into the finish chute. When I finally reached the finish of the swim I felt pretty confident that I had a good swim but image my surprise when I saw my time of 1:25. That was over 30 minutes faster then my swim at Wisconsin last year. Now granted last year it was pretty windy but still it was 20 minutes faster then my fastest "perfect" conditions swim at Wisconsin. Also, not only did I swim faster but I felt really good coming out of the water. Instead of being asked by numerous volunteers if I was alright like last year, I managed to have a nice jog up the helix.
Once inside I saw another thing I'm not used too, the transition was absolutely packed. Normally I get in transition and most everyone else is gone and I get personal service in getting ready for my bike. This time I found a seat way in the corner and had to pretty much get myself ready. I was alright not being dizzy or anything I was able to get my stuff on and get ready for a bike ride. Once I was done I ran out of transition, got some sunscreen on and headed towards the place Jen and the boys said they were going to be at. Once I found them I told them I felt really good, gave some hugs and was off for my 112 mile journey.
The Wisconsin bike is a very challenging bike course. I would say it isn't as demoralizing as the Boulder course was but it does offer a ton of hill and opportunities to make mistakes. I've ridden the course more then a dozen times at this point which gives me a huge advantage on know how to do it correctly. The first lap was pretty straight forward. I could tell my legs weren't as fresh as I would like but overall I would say that lap went well. I didn't manage to see Jen and the boys in Verona when rode through but it wasn't that big of deal. I have a watch that shows me the text messages people send me so they were able to communicate with me and wish me luck the whole way.
I got to the special needs bags, around 58 miles in, grabbed my food, my note from Jen and put some shammy butter on for the next half of the ride. I knew that the second half of the ride was going to be tough so I was mentally preparing for a pretty brutal ride. For the first 20 miles or so it isn't to hilly, kind of boring, but not physically tough so I used the time to relax a bit a prepare for the hills. The second time up the hill into Mt. Horub I could feel my legs starting to cramp in the quads a bit but it wasn't too bad. I knew that I would have to ride smart if I was going to have enough for hard three hills towards the end of the second loop. When I got to those hills my legs weren't doing too bad and I was able to get them done without cramping too bad. The last hill my right leg grabbed at the top but I was able to keep rolling and not stop. Finally I got to the end of the loops but I still had 16 miles to ride to get back to transition two. I was sick of being on the bike but managed to "focus on the end game" and get it ridden in.
Once again when I got to transition it was busy as hell. It was about 3:30 when a majority of the riders where coming in so I had to pretty much do my own transition again. I could tell when I was changing that I wasn't feeling very well. Not that you are supposed to "feel good" when you reach transition but I knew I didn't feel right headed into the run. I thought about sitting in the transition area for a while to get myself feeling better but I figured that it was better to hit the course so no one could pull me off if I was in really bad shape. As I left transition I started to run but I was really dizzy, like Colorado, and felt like I was going to pass out. I saw the family shortly after I left gave some hugs and kisses, told them I felt like total crap and then headed out to tackle my 26 mile ordeal.
After around 5 miles I was finally able to get myself feeling "better" and was able to start mustering a run. While I knew I felt like crap and was going slow I knew I had plenty of time which meant all I really had to do was stay upright and I would get to the finish. It's kind of frustrating when you figure out you are going to have a horrible marathon but I had to stay focused on the finish line and my goal.
I got to special needs area at mile 13 picked my stuff up and headed over to see Jen and boys. When I got to them I sat down for around 10 minutes to talk to them a bit and enjoy my beef jerky. It was nice to be able to sit down for a bit and talk to the family. To be honest, it was hard to get up and finish the last 13 miles which I knew was going to take around 3 hours to finish. When I stood up I just about passed out but once again focused on staying upright and got back after it. Like always my feet really hurt, I was tired, my stomach felt like crap but I knew I was going to finish. It went on like this for 3 hours like I expected before I reach the finish line for my 7th finish. I'm happy to be done with the race even more happy to be done for the season and have a couple weeks off before I get back after it.