Celebrating 5 years of Ironman participation

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IM Wisconsin Tips

I asked a few of my fellow Iron Friends for some tips from their IM Wisconsin races.  Here are some great bits  from Phil and Brianna – amazing athletes who constantly amaze and inspire me!

1. You may want to line up near the waterski jump ramp. It sorta shields you from the worst of the thrashing at the very start.

2. The run up the parking ramp is a pain, but there are good cheering crowds there. Good place for fam to cheer you into T1.

3. I put my shoes on in t1, then ran forever in them to my bike. Unless yours is very close, I’d run with them in your hands and put them on right at your bike. So awkward to run in cleats.

4. As everyone says, the bike course is deceptively hard. Stay smooth and be prepared for a lot of momentum changing ups and downs. There’s one very challenging hill that you have to do twice. Be ready–but there’s a lot of fans there to encourage you up it.

5. Going up the ramp at the end of the bike is difficult again.

6. On the run, I’d walk that one hill–observatory hill–because it’s not worth blowing your legs and there really aren’t any others of note.

7. Enjoy yourself and the great great crowds! You basically have a wall of cheering folks during most of the run.

8. There are more spectators out on the course at IM moo then I have seen at any other race.

9. You definitely can get Ice Cream after the race but I would suggest Frozen Custard!! The closest frozen custard is Micheals which I think is on Regent St, otherwise there are a few ice cream shops on State Street.



Race Report: Cranberry Trifest

Sunday, August 30th – Cranberry Trifest Olympic Race

4:30 am – My alarm went off and I looked out the window – dark and dry.  The race would be on.  As predicted, Tropical Storm Danny had passed by, the rain and wind were gone (the shorter Sprint distance was cancelled the day before due to the storm).  I needed to get up.  I packed my bag the night before, put out my race outfit, told my parents and my colleague where to meet me, made my friend go to the early bird special dinner, and went to bed around 9:30.  No excuses.  Time to get up and race, right?  According to my growling stomach, yes!

5:15 am – My oh-so-styling silver PT Cruiser rental was packed.  Bike, bike shoes, running shoes, goggles, wetsuit, body glide, nutrition…I was pretty sure I had it all.  I hit the road for Lakeville, MA and the Ted Williams Camp.

6:00 am – This is probably the earliest I have ever arrived to a race, but I figured I knew nothing about the area and had to pick up my race packet, so might as well have time.  Indeed, I did.  I was all settled in transition and hanging out with my Wheelworks teammates well before 7.  The race is the Northeast USAT Regional Club Championship race.  All the participating teams had their bikes racked together in the transition area.  It was a good way to start the morning!  Oh, and with all the extra time on my hands, I realized I forgot BOTH my race belts.  Some other guy offered me his extra, but then he couldn’t find it.  So, I bought one from the Quad Multisport booth.  Bright green – figured my race outfit could use a little flare.

8:30 am – After lots of socializing, a few bathroom breaks, it was finally time for my swim wave (35 and under female) to start.  The first wave started at 7 am, so I had been waiting a while.  At least my teammates Jen, Lindsey, and Alyson were all in the same wave!  The swim start was crowded!  It was the first time I could not break out of a pack of women and I spent the first few hundred yards swimming over people.  Good Ironman race prep!

The rest of the race

The bike ride was flat and fast!  I tried to remember to pace myself and take it easy – this race was supposed to be training for IM Moo.  But, I got stuck in this pack of women during the last 5 miles and just had to break away.  I ate one gu packet (thanks Mona for the refill on vanilla gu!) and a few shot blocks.  It was just right!

I felt great on the run!  Woo-hoo!  My pacing felt perfect for Madison.  I definitely was just getting into the groove around mile 5.  I walked through the water stations to practice for IM Moo.  But, I had to go all out to the finish line as I was neck and neck with this other woman.

Best parts of the run: Seeing my parents drive by around mile 1.  I recognized them a little too late, and started yelling, “Mom! Hey Mom!” as they drove by.  But, I guess they saw me waving – or noticed all the other racers looking at me, because they stopped and honked the horn.  The other great part was turning off the road into the park and seeing my teammate Joe Bator.  He had a cowbell.  I yelled, “I need more cowbell!”  ha ha…I got a few other spectators to laugh too!

Overall, I finished in 2:40:01.  A PR for me!  And, I placed 12/40 in my age group.  After the race, my team provided massages and snacks.  Even better, I went out to eat with my parents and their friend Donna – fresh clams, lobster bisque and fish & chips!  Oh, then I treated myself to a mani-pedi with the special nail polish colors Mona sent me for the big race: Mad About Madison and Sole Mate.

I thought it would be silly to race two weeks before IM Moo, but the race actually psyched me up and helped me remember a few little details (like, it’s a good idea to have your running shoes untied Before the race).  IM Moo, here I come!

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Ironman: A Devoted Spectator’s View

From Mona – Number 1 Fan:

A year ago today (July 20th), I stood with Sara’s family, friends, and thousands of other spectators anxiously awaiting a glimpse of their own personal Ironmen and women at the 2008 Ironman Lake Placid.

I followed Sara’s training schedule since she first flirted with the idea of signing up for the Ironman. I admit, like many people she first told, my first reaction was “Wow. That’s crazy.” However, my very next words were “but I know you can do it. You can, and you will.”

I decided I’d make the trip up to Placid from NYC, but I really didn’t know what to expect from such an event. My past experience as a spectator at any event like this was limited. In fact, the closest thing was the few years I was fortunate enough to cheer the marathoners in Boston. That was exciting, but this was different. There would be a marathon, but not until the end. There was still a swim and bike course to contend with… AND Sara was competing in this. This was, in fact, my first triathlon I’d be watching. I knew I’d be excited, I knew I’d be proud, but I really had no idea how intoxicating the whole experience would be.

Months later, as I stood near the swim start while thousands of athletes filed into the water, it happened. Suddenly, a swimstartwave of emotion engulfed me. The best explanation for how I felt was my heart swelled with pride each time I spotted Sara along the course. Truly, there was this big, happy thing bursting with joy in my chest. Everyone’s hard work over the past 6-12 months all came down to this, and I felt the enormity of the moment for each and every one of them. As the first group took off, hundreds of arms splashing, I teared up. U2’s “Beautiful Day” was blaring in the background as the swimmers set off, definitely adding to the emotions of the day. The weather that day was anything but beautiful – it was cloudy, cool, and started pouring rain shortly into the swim. It didn’t matter though, my spirit couldn’t be dampened.

The excitement was contagious. Thanks to Sara, we had the most exclusive spot to watch the triathletes. The house where we stayed was in an area that was restricted to everyone but those living on the street. We had no problems tracking her online, and calculating when she’d loop back through town. Every time she passed us, it was our job to re-fuel her reserves with our cheering. So I cheered loudly. I jumped, I pumped my fists in the air, I screamed myself hoarse. So did the rest of the her family and friends, all the while with Sara smiling as she biked or ran by us.

My first experience as a triathlon spectator, at an Ironman no less, was amazing. It was so inspiring to watch everyone powering their way through hours and hours of swimming, biking, and running. All you triathletes should know that you bring as much to us, as your supporters, as we hope to bring to you. The triathletes in our lives remind us that we are capable of doing anything!

Team Stropedogg at the Finish Line

Team Stropedogg at the Finish Line


Get Packing!

Looks like I’ll need to start my packing this weekend! Some friends prepped me about the special needs bags for the bike and run. But, I just received an email from the Community Fund about Race Bags – check out everything I’ll need below. It’s definitely a bit more involved than my other races! Good thing there’s an EMS outdoors store in Placid in case I forget anything!

Besides the standard extra bike tubes, CO2 cartridges, reflective tape (for when it gets dark on the run) and a long sleeve shirt, any recommendations on what I should put in my special needs bag? There’s no doubt I’ll have pringles and fritos in there! What else might be a good little treat to keep me going?

Race Bags:

In your race bags you will find the following key items:

  • Dry Clothes Bag – this is used to put any clothes you may wear down to the race start and clothing you may want at the end of the race. You will drop this bag on your way to the swim start and it will be available at the finish.
  • Swim to Bike Bag – this bag is for your bike helmet, shoes, sunglasses, clothing etc and anything else you will be putting on after you exit the swim and make the transition to the bike leg. This bag is checked in the day before the race at bike/gear bag check-in You will have access to this bag race morning should you forget anything.
  • Bike to Run Bag – This is for your running shoes, socks, hat, clothing change etc or anything you may need for the run leg. This bag is also checked the day before at the bike/ gear bag check-in, and you will have access to it on race morning if you forget anything.
  • Special Needs Bike – This is an optional use bag. Special needs for the bike is stationed at approximately 56 miles into the bike leg, right on Mirror Lake Drive, as you are completing the first loop of the bike course. You may use this option if there is anything special that you would like to pick-up at this point of the event. For example if you have a special drink mix that you would like to replenish, extra, back-up salt tablets, a spare tube or any other kind of comfort food/ item that you think-you may need or want and cannot get out on the course. DO NOT PLACE ANY VALUABLES INTO THIS BAG. We do try and return these bags to the transition area after the race BUT THERE IS NO GUARANTEE you will get them back. You will hand in this bag on race morning – you will have to make the walk down Mirror Lake Drive to drop this off. This is the same location as the drop for Run Special Needs. In addition we do have volunteers at this point on the bike course who will try and hand the bag off to you BUT be prepared to stop briefly if you really want to get your bag and it is busy.
  • Special Needs Run – Like the bike this bag is handed in on race morning on Mirror Lake Drive. During the race you will have the opportunity to pick-up these bags as you head to the turnaround on Mirror Lake Drive at 13 miles. It is for anything special you may need as you make the turn to start the second loop of the run. Special foods, drinks, salt tablets or even perhaps a warm shirt for those of you that may be out on the course late into the evening. Once again we will try and return these to you BUT IT IS NOT GURANTEED.

That’s a lot of stuff to prepare!  Any tips or thoughts about what may be good to have?  I think if I learned my lesson from Black Bear, some sunscreen and extra body glide will be a must!

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Black Bear – Lessons Learned

Post Black Bear, seven us weighed in on our top lessons learned during our first half ironman race. Here are the top tips for the next half or ironman distance race.

  • Eat breakfast early. Peanut butter sandwiches, banana, and rice are all good starters. If you don’t, you may be a little nauseas on the swim.
  • Peeing in a wetsuit will warm you up in cold water if only for a minute.
  • Take your time in transition, both setting up and during the race. 10 seconds makes little difference over 6 hours! And that way you make sure you have everything you need
  • Use LOTS of body glide before the race, apply vasoline to the feet before the run, and when in desperate need, use chapstick for any chafing!
  • Make sure you eat and drink plenty on the bike, you’ll be thankful when you start that run! Two bottles of Perpetuem will not be enough. Be sure to have at least two bottles of water and two bottles of sports drink (no matter how nasty Heed is or whatever they give you at the bottle exchange). Also be sure to eat a couple gels and possibly a cliff bar or peanut butter sandwich.
  • Speaking of nutrition, ask what nutrition will be on the course. Take Heed if there is Heed on the course and bring your own stuff
  • Make sure you bike computer is “on” and working before you go off to the swim start. Mine was stuck in “indoor” mode and only gave me the time.
  • Check your tires – they have no more than a 2 year life span. Changing your own tire on the course is a pain in the arse and it really puts you in a bad mood– replace tires every year.
  • Lower your expectations on a hilly course or if the heat is bad.
  • Hat is better then a visor, you can put ice in it (or at least I would imagine!)
  • Maintain your own pace and do not get caught up by competitive flow. Remember that there is a lot of race ahead of you.
  • Find time after finishing in order to put your feet/legs up and rest
  • Don’t be too shy to ask volunteers to get you food or drink if your legs are too tired.
  • Don’t forget to keep eating and drinking when you finish. Coke and cliff shot blocks go along way