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IRONMAN WISCONSIN RACE REPORT

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Post  Randy E on Wed Sep 14, 2011 11:10 am

IRONMAN WISCONSIN RACE REPORT
I signed up for Ironman Wisconsin one year ago. Well, that year zoomed by with lots of life and hard training. It's all kind of a blur as life usually is when you look back at it.

I won't bore you with the many hours and miles and miles of training it took to prepare for this event. So, let's talk about the main event.

FULL IRONMAN DISTANCE: 140.6 MILES

SWIM: 2.4 MILES
BIKE: 112 MILES
RUN: 26.2 MILES (MARATHON)

VENUE:

Ironman Wisconsin takes place the second weekend of September in Madison, Wisconsin. This is just a short 2 1/2 hour drive from Chicago which also allows many local folks and clubs to go there and support athletes who are competing. I want to say thank you to the Chicago Tri Club for all of the support during the event. Also, thanks to my Vision Quest friends who were there screaming and spurring me on during the run.

If you would like to experience an Ironman I would highly recommend driving to Madison for this event. It is a lot of fun.

SWIM:

Distance: 2.4 Miles

The swim part of triathlon is my weakest link or "limiter." I hope to make this a stronger part of my arsenal in the years to come.
With that said, I was probably most nervous about the swim. Not so much Swimming the actual distance of 2.4 miles but the uncertainty of what would happen. If you've ever seen the "mass start" of an full Ironman event you know what I mean. Once that cannon goes off to start the event it's a flurry of flailing arms and swooshing water. The triathlon term is, "washing machine." When you see this you wonder how in the hell can anyone swim in that. Well, surprisingly, it gets done.

The crowd around lake Menona was absolutely HUGE. People were everywhere. They were lining the boardwalk and hanging off the Helix with signs and banners. Loud music added an air of excitement. It was also a beautiful sunny and warm day.

I was hanging with my Ironman competitor friend Laurie and we decided to stick close together, at least until the cannon went off. My wife was there as well and she was with Laurie's husband, Jim. As we entered the water we chose/strategized to stay near the outside of the mass of swimmers in order to get a better start and then we would work our way in towards the middle once swimmers got spaced out. We were standing in the chest deep water waiting for the professional start when all of a sudden, BOOM. The cannon for the pro start went off right behind us and scared the hell out of me.

We were next. Imagine thousands of bobbing green and red swim caps. Men in green and women in red. Eyes peering through swim goggles. Looks of worry, concern, uncertainty and excitement could be seen on the faces of my fellow competitors. Laurie and I decided to move up closer to the start line. We looked at each other and said good luck. Once the cannon went off for our start we would never be able to tell who's who. So we said our goodbyes.

The announcer said 30 seconds. There was such an air of excitement that it was amazing. We were ready.

BOOM:

We were off. I dog paddled for a few seconds to give the people in front of me a chance to get going. I already lost Laurie. Once I had room I started swimming. There was contact but it was not to bad at all. I sighted frequently (looked up as I swam) to see what was in front of me. At first all I could see were arms and water everywhere. With my face in the water all I saw were feet and ankles. Every once in a while I would hit someones leg and someone would hit mine. It's all part of the program. One must expect this and be prepared to deal with it.

After a few hundred yards swimmers started spacing out and there was room to swim. But, you must continue to "sight" frequently to make sure you stay on course and stay in clear water. I felt good. My heart rate was fine and I had no issues of concern. This was really exciting. Our swim would be two laps around various spaced buoys so we had a bunch of counter clockwise turns to make. I avoided the first turn and it's traffic jam by staying to the outside. You can only fit so many swimmers in a funnel. Also, as I went by I herd the "heard" of swimmers do the customary MOO (like a cow) around the first buoy.

Basically, I just kept swimming and swimming and sighting. Every once in a while someone would run into me and I would have to change course a bit. Physically I felt strong and could just let it go. The only small issue during the swim was a feeling of a calf cramp just wanting to start. So, as I swam I would bend my foot to stretch the calf. I also just tried to keep my legs relaxed.

The cramp never developed and I was nearing completion of the swim. The last turn around the red buoy was just ahead. As we rounded the corner more swimmers converged into the small water exit area. It was a race baby. It's just ahead and the water is getting shallower. Time to stand up. It's funny, but swimming horizontal for a long time makes standing upright a challenge. Eventually I got my balance and started walking out of the water. I felt good.

As I exited there were wetsuit stripers there who would help you take off your wetsuit quickly. Then it was the run to transition area 1. To get there we had to run up the Helix which is a circular driveway up a parking ramp. This is akin to running up a circular three stories. Kind of interesting and a workout in itself. The crowd along the way was amazing as they were screaming and yelling. It was just awesome and hard to describe and give appropriate credit to.

SWIM TIME: 1:21:58

TRANSITION AREA 1:

Transition areas in a "full Ironman" are like red carpet treatment. You run inside grab your bike equipment bag and someone helps you get ready. It's very nice and you don't have to worry about anything but competing. I was still a little disoriented in T1 but that is normal. Once I had my bike shoes and helmet on I got up and started running outside to where my bike was. It was a long run to the bike and then an even longer run with my bike to the bike mount line. I was happy to get there.

BIKE:

DISTANCE: 112 Miles

Once competitors reach the bike mount line we rode down the other helix of the parking garage. Around in circles we went heading out for a 112 mile journey.

Ironman Wisconsin is known as a challenging Ironman. Especially the bike course. There are many many hills to contend with. I practiced on parts of this course so I knew what to expect. In the early miles my goal was to let my legs loosen up. Then when the legs felt warmed up I would ride harder.

I was not so concerned about the bike because I trained hard and was prepared. I was looking forward to seeing my Chicago Tri Club supporters at Cross Plains. They would be dressed up in Hawaiian mode with palm trees and all.

As I biked I sure passed many other athletes. I remember when I started triathlon last year that I got passed a lot. Not any more. Don't get me wrong, I did get passed, but, not as frequently. I did most of the passing.

For example, after the swim I was in 1444th place and after the bike I was in 724th place. Therefore, I passed around 700 people during the bike. That's a lot. Also, it's funny how, during the 112 miles, you seem to be around some of the same people.

After around 50 miles I came up to Cross Plaines and there were my Chicago Tri Club friends. I zoomed by with a smile on my face. I wish I could have stopped if just for a bit. At this point I knew that some "really" serious hills were coming up. The hills I was approaching were exciting enough that there would be many many spectators lining the uphill route with signs.They wanted to witness the struggle. They would also have funny clothing on and would yell words of encouragement. The three hills are named: The Three Sisters.

What a bunch of bitches.

We would climb these sisters twice during the race. Honestly, I think I handled the sisters very well. I even passed quite a few riders on the way up. Yes, the quads were burning and the legs were tired. But, the training and Vision Quest classes prepared me to be strong and deal with pain. The pain will go away.

I had one thought in the back of my mind as I rode and rode and rode: "how the hell can I run a marathon after riding a tough 112 mile bike route."

After I went around the second loop, climbing the sisters again it was time to head back to Madison. I pedaled hard and was trying to break 6 hours on the bike. I missed by a little.

BIKE TIME: 6:01:18

Once reaching Madison we rode back up the helix to transition area two. It was nice that all I had to do was hand my bike to a helper and run (walked gingerly) inside to T2. I could not run yet after the 112 mile bike. The legs and back were very stiff. So, I walked into T2, grabbed my bag and headed to the men's changing area. I quickly changed into running shoes, put on a hat and headed out for a MARATHON? HOLY CRAP!!!

THE RUN:

Run Distance: 26.2 Miles=Marathon

My goodness. Here I go. Can I do this? I know I can! Must...get...the ....legs....moving. Ah, that's better. Short stride after short stride the legs were waking up. My friend Jim was right there when I started and asked how I felt. He ran alongside as I ran and said I looked great. I did not see my wife at this time.

After 5 minutes or so I had some sort of running legs. It felt good. The crowd once again was huge as they lined the beginning of the run route. It was very warm now with the temps near 85 and full Sun, no shade. No doubt about it, this was going to be a battle.

I've had a couple people really help me with training and advice (coaching) and one of them mentioned, "the swim and the bike deliver you to the run." It's all about the run. Well guess what, that is so true. I have never felt so tired in my life. I felt strong during the first few miles but it did not take long until my body said, "you are nuts."

But, I must just keep those legs moving. I must just go mile by mile. One of my Chicago Tri Club friends said, " the Ironman marathon is not 26.2 miles, it's 26 one mile runs." I used that thought a lot. I would stop at the numerous aid stations and consume water, Coke, orange slices and chicken broth. I had to do this to finish. Everyone did.

I just counted down mile after mile. One highlight was running around the inside of the football stadium. There were also some amazing hills to run up. Since this was a two loop course it meant running up these massive hills twice. I am happy to say that I did run up these hills both times. Many chose to walk.

As I was approaching the end of my first loop I finally saw my wife and Jim lining the street with many others. I stopped for a moment and my wife kissed me. I said, "I am sooo tired." She said, "you can do it." That helped me a lot. Jim was there taking pictures and I hope to see some good shots. When I went up the street to turn around Jim was there and asked how I felt. I gave him two middle fingers. A joke of course. (Jim is an exceptional Ironman athlete).

As I approached the finish line the first time I would have to veer to the left because I still had 13.1 miles to go. Again, this is the most exhausted I've ever felt. It's actually amazing how you can keep yourself moving. I was not in much pain at all, just plain pooped.

I turned around and began the last 13 miles of my first Ironman. I was 13 mile from becoming and Ironman. I focused and just kept forward progress. I would pass my wife and Jim twice more for encouragement. The Chicago Tri Club members were out there shouting. My Vision Quest peeps were there yelling our names and keeping us going. The emotions would build inside. The tears were there but I held them in.

I wanted to hit mile 17 and only have single digit miles to go. Only 9 more miles. Only! I was surprised at how many people were walking the run course. To each their own.

After I passed mile 17 I just wanted to hit mile 18, then 19, then 20, then, wait....I passed my wife and Jim again and the big crowd, all screaming. Jim reminded me, "only 6 more miles." I thought of all the inspirational quotes that mean a lot to me, to strengthen me. With 4 miles left I thought about how short of a training run 4 miles is. I just wanted to hit 2 miles left. Keep the legs moving. I skipped the aid station because I was almost done. My legs were made of something heavy now. Could it be that the closer you get to the Ironman finish line your legs are filled slowly with, "iron," making them even heavier?

With one mile to go I was starting to get emotional. The crown was lining the street, witnessing your achievement, calling out your name and spurring you on. As I entered the finishing shoot I did not have to veer left this time. I could stay to the right to cross the finish line. I had new energy. I looked to my right and left and saw my wife's smiling face. I saw many other faces as well.

Then I heard the words: RANDY EGGE YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!

I crossed the finish line and was promptly held up by two young women. They put my arms around their shoulders and carted me forward. They were great. Here I was all sweaty and all and they did not care. They got me my medal, finisher shirt and something to drink.

Then as I was about to exit the finisher area I saw my wife and our eyes met. We both cried tears of joy and hugged.

RUN TIME: 4:22:22

Right after the Ironman I did not feel good and could not really eat anything. I thought I would throw up. I was dizzy and nauseous. I wanted to go to the medical tent. The doctor assured me that I was feeling the way I should feel after doing an Ironman. So, Beth and I went back to the hotel so I could relax for a bit before we joined Laurie and jim for dinner and then head to the finish line to support other competitors who would be completing their Ironman experience. We stayed there until midnight. After that the Ironman event is over and those competitors who do not finish by then are out of luck. There will be no medal for them and no acknowledgement of completing an Ironman.

CONCLUSION: TOTAL TIME: 12:00:28

What an experience. I loved it and am already signed up for next year. I am also planning on Ironman Cozumel Nov 2012.
Thanks for reading. And, you too can do this. Don't doubt yourself. You are much stronger than you will ever know.

Randy

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Post  Julie on Wed Sep 14, 2011 11:17 am

Congratulations! That must have been something to hear that at the end. Congrats on the great training and great race.

ETA : you are some incredible athlete, I hope you know that. I seriously can't imagine running a marathon after all that swimming and biking (I can't swim, period, but I can imagine the strength it takes). Tell me you enjoyed a few rest days after this? Any more ironman plans in your future?


Last edited by Julie on Wed Sep 14, 2011 11:23 am; edited 1 time in total
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Post  Jerry on Wed Sep 14, 2011 11:18 am

I just don't comprehend how one can run a marathon after let's say just sitting there for 7 hours.

When I first knew marathon as a citizen event and realized I could be one of them, I was excited. When I first watched Kona Ironman TV special, I didn't have the excitement, but simply was scared. The amount of elites to hit the wall and still walked to the finish just shocked me.

When the prior year's winner walked to finish and asked why he didn't drop out, he responded because finishing one is proud. I don't ever hear an elite marathoner say that.

Randy, you have all my respect!
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Post  Randy E on Wed Sep 14, 2011 11:30 am

@Julie wrote:Congratulations! That must have been something to hear that at the end. Congrats on the great training and great race.

ETA : you are some incredible athlete, I hope you know that. I seriously can't imagine running a marathon after all that swimming and biking (I can't swim, period, but I can imagine the strength it takes). Tell me you enjoyed a few rest days after this? Any more ironman plans in your future?

Julie, thanks.

Next year, I have already signed up for IM Wisconsin again and also will do Ironman Cozumel Nov 2012.
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Post  John Kilpatrick on Wed Sep 14, 2011 11:37 am

You certainly earned that one with a lot of hard work. I am so proud of you and your steady march to that day. Great job! I am volunteering and signing up for the Florida IM next fall so I'm sure I will use your words to help through that. Seems like you have come a long way with swimming and I remember reading somewhere that IM Wisconsin is the 2nd hardest bike course out there. I still have a hard time wrapping my mind around what you must of gone through - I can't even imagine running a marathon after your bike effort. I have ridden fairly frequent 50-80 mile routes this training cycle and know from experience, there is a HUGE difference between a 75 mile ride and a 100 mile ride (let alone 112). Unreal. Great job and congrats on something that can never be taken away from you. You were great on Sunday.

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Post  Glenn on Wed Sep 14, 2011 11:50 am

Wow. Saying congrats just doesn't seem like enough! I have a friend that did this race last year, and I followed him online that day - but that's pretty sterile. He didn't write a race report, and I didn't see him until months afterwards. Reading this, I have a much more visceral understanding of what you, him and all that take on such a challenge go through on race day. Thanks!
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Post  Randy E on Wed Sep 14, 2011 12:07 pm

@John Kilpatrick wrote:You certainly earned that one with a lot of hard work. I am so proud of you and your steady march to that day. Great job! I am volunteering and signing up for the Florida IM next fall so I'm sure I will use your words to help through that. Seems like you have come a long way with swimming and I remember reading somewhere that IM Wisconsin is the 2nd hardest bike course out there. I still have a hard time wrapping my mind around what you must of gone through - I can't even imagine running a marathon after your bike effort. I have ridden fairly frequent 50-80 mile routes this training cycle and know from experience, there is a HUGE difference between a 75 mile ride and a 100 mile ride (let alone 112). Unreal. Great job and congrats on something that can never be taken away from you. You were great on Sunday.

John, I will say that there is a huge difference between a 70.3 and a full Ironman. I now realize that you really can, "race," a 70.3. But, a full IM seems to me, as of now anyway, a matter of endurance/survival. And that is mainly during the marathon. The swim and bike you can sort of race. But, by the time the marathon comes around watch out. The fatigue catches up with you.
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Post  Liz R on Wed Sep 14, 2011 12:23 pm

Wow! I have been waiting for that report and it does not disappoint!

I do have to ask, though, what did you eat during the race and when did you eat it? Did those foods work for you? As you run over all the details of the race in your mind over the next few days,I'd be curious to hear what worked and what you would do differently next time, not just nutritionally, but in pacing, training, strategy, all that.

Also, how do you feel today?

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Post  T Miller on Wed Sep 14, 2011 1:27 pm

Thanks for the report Randy, I've been waiting for the report too. I was tracking you on Sunday and trying to imagine what it was like for you at the different stages. HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to you for finishing and you had an INCREDIBLE time. It will probably be a few more years before I take on the full IM because I want to be prepared for it and I feel like I don't currently have a sufficient amount of time to do that.

As Liz asked, I'm very interested to hear your thoughts about nutrition, pacing and strategy after you've had time to reflect on this experience.

Great Job IRONMAN!
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Post  Kenny B. on Wed Sep 14, 2011 1:57 pm

Amazing report I Really felt your mile by mile 26.2 mile adventure. Tremendous job Randy you are now IRONMAN. Now half measures for sure!
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Post  dot520 on Wed Sep 14, 2011 2:46 pm

Wow, you certainly did not disappoint in your race report! Thanks so much for adding details and letting us experience it with you. You did incredibly well and as I tracked you, I also just missed you coming in by less than a minute. Dang! Congratulations and all the accolades that go along with that. Awesome.

So....will you get the ironman tattoo?
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Post  Pete B on Wed Sep 14, 2011 2:47 pm

Congratulations once again Randy,

You continue to inspire and amaze me. Two years ago I couldn't imagine running a Half, much less a Full Marathon. Now I look at a Tri of any distance with that same awe and wonder. I still cannot imagine being able to compete in one, but you provide the inspiration to at least think about it. You have achieved a truly magnificent accomplishment and have every right to be proud and say 'I am an Ironman.' A great race and a great report!
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Post  Stephanie on Wed Sep 14, 2011 3:15 pm

Wow Randy, congratulations! Just reading your report got me all choked up - especially the end!! Thanks for sharing your training and experience with us - you are an inspiration!!!
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Post  Alex Kubacki on Wed Sep 14, 2011 3:27 pm

Great report Randy. Very very few get to call themselves an Ironman and you are one of them. Amazing.
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Post  Randy E on Wed Sep 14, 2011 3:53 pm

@dot520 wrote:Wow, you certainly did not disappoint in your race report! Thanks so much for adding details and letting us experience it with you. You did incredibly well and as I tracked you, I also just missed you coming in by less than a minute. Dang! Congratulations and all the accolades that go along with that. Awesome.

So....will you get the ironman tattoo?

Hi Dot, sorry you just missed me finishing. And, I just got home from the tattoo parlor. I've always liked the Ironman tattoo and got it just under my right calf.
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Post  Randy E on Wed Sep 14, 2011 3:58 pm

@Pete B wrote:Congratulations once again Randy,

You continue to inspire and amaze me. Two years ago I couldn't imagine running a Half, much less a Full Marathon. Now I look at a Tri of any distance with that same awe and wonder. I still cannot imagine being able to compete in one, but you provide the inspiration to at least think about it. You have achieved a truly magnificent accomplishment and have every right to be proud and say 'I am an Ironman.' A great race and a great report!

Hi Pete, maybe you couldn't imagine doing the things you've done. But, look what you've accomplished over the past two years. A ton. You can pretty much do what you set your mind on. I used to think, "how could I ever do that?" Well, obviously I was getting in my own way. I guess I realized later in life that I can also accomplish things. After all, we all breathe the same air.
If you can think about doing it the next step is deciding to do it. Then, registering and then coming up with a plan. There is no magic.........Just will.
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Post  fostever on Wed Sep 14, 2011 5:18 pm

That's like a major feat to do your first in a little over 12 hrs. Now you're hooked, I guess. You are truly Ironman, Randy!
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Post  Tim C on Wed Sep 14, 2011 6:09 pm

Fantastic job, Randy!

I am seriously considering doing a half IM, but the full just sounds too daunting. I've done several 100 mile rides and cannot even imagine running 26.2 miles after.

Well done.
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Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Thu Sep 15, 2011 9:29 am

I, too, have been waiting for this report, Randy, and I was not disappointed. What an incredible race! I was so very impressed as I was virtually following you especially with how you kept edging up in those standings, and now I know why - you executed the race perfectly - wow, what discipline and fortitude. I especially love the quote about the marathon being 26 - 1 mile runs as it really sums it all up.

I'm so very proud of you and all the fantastic training that you did. It just affirms that if you work hard at something you will reap the rewards. Can't wait to catch up with you and give you a big congratulatory hug in NY (of course, as long as Beth doesn't mind). You are one of my heroes!

PS I remember working T1 at IM Florida when a friend did it in 2008 -incredible!)
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Post  Max M on Thu Sep 15, 2011 11:24 am

Congratulations Randy! I am so jealous!
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Post  amyjoann on Thu Sep 15, 2011 1:22 pm

Wow I didn't realize you were doing the full AMAZING! Your report was awesome I felt like I was there,I would love to do this one day but I'm pretty scared. How much weight did you lose during the event? How is recovery going? Have you run yet? Thank goodness you like warm weather cause you sure had your share of it on Sunday .You have to get the awesome ironman sticker for your car for sure. Ok if you can do a 4:22 after all that, I better get my act together and do that for my next race thanks for the inspiration:cheers:
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Post  Michael Enright on Thu Sep 15, 2011 9:16 pm

Wow. That's all I can say.

That and that cannon must have started you off strong!
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Post  stanton on Thu Sep 15, 2011 10:25 pm

Amazing accomplishment!
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Post  Seth Harrison on Fri Sep 16, 2011 8:06 am

An amazing accomplishment Randy! Like everyone else, I've been waiting for your report. It's the first Ironman report I've ever read, and I loved following along with you. You did a fantastic job, and thanks for a great report. You must be so deservedly proud of yourself!
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Post  Chris M on Fri Sep 16, 2011 9:02 am

Holy Smokes, that is an accomplishment. Wow. You did something so few people would even consider trying and you knocked it out of the park. Very impressive time and obviously the result of some great training and superhuman dedication and toughness in the race. I did just the run in a full IM as part of a relay team and I found all of the full IM particpants to be so impressive to the point of intimidating. It is such a scary thing to take on and you did it and will be coming back for more. Wow. CONGRATS IRONMAN!
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