To summarize…..


“…you’ll do it the way you do anything – start at the beginning and continue to the end by way of the middle.”

I know I can’t tell everyone in person all the details of the day I became Ironman.  I will do my best to summarize (in a long way) here. I won’t be able to capture the essence of what every moment felt like, so if you want that, you need to sign up and go do one yourself:-)

The day begins with the night before.  Or the day before, okay, I’ll keep it the night before lol.  Mom and Jenny were kind enough to take the kids for the night back to Jenny’s house 45min away, so Jim could have his own room and I could have my own room, waiting for Patrick – supporter numero uno to arrive that night.  He had to take some board exams outside of Tulsa on Friday and Saturday, drive to Tulsa, hop on a plane and get to Madison in time to get to the race before 6am.  Great plan.  Plane delayed after the usual layover in Chicago, then cancelled at 8:30pm.  No rental cars.  I was really wanting to be sort of sleeping already. Instant high heart rate, despite his assurances he’d get there.  He had to get on a bus and ride it for 4.5 hrs – luggage still in Chicago, then walk to hotel from bus.  He came in about 1 ish.  I got up at 4.  Nothing unusual though, I never sleep great anyway, any day of the week.

The distraction I guess was good for me I was pretty relaxed, not like the usual butterflies and weak pre race jitters. My usual coffee and hot cocoa, almond butter, Choc arbonne protein shake, one last non Ironwife kiss on Patrick’s sleeping forehead and head downstairs to get a $4.50 banana.

Jim, Jamie and I walk through the full moon night sky around the capital building to Monona Terrace, one amazing place to stage an Ironman.  Crowds are already finding their spots to watch as we drop off our special needs bags and make final adds to our Transition bags.  Quick stop to visit the Biscuit and load my water bottle and Accelerade.  Next time we meet I’ll be “in” the race!  OMG!!

There is lots of loitering inside the Terrace, great place to hang out, lights, carpet etc. Open morning bag alot to peek inside at my wetsuit, goggles and cap, making sure still there lol.  We finally decide to mosey down the stairs and helix to the path to the water and wait for our Support Crew, nana, kids, jenny and her kids, Jamie’s wife and girls and whoever else they found along the way.  We stand right under the speakers, so get full on loud music, the excitement in the air is indescribable.  Remembering the day 10 years ago, where I was when I heard the news, watching the Towers fall live, sombering but empowering also.  The sun is nearing it’s moment, colors intense over the water, making the kayaks and buoys nothing but dark silhouettes, the lake shimmering between gold and platinum.  Then it appears, the golden miracle, that was a moment, I think everyone paused.   Ok, it’s time to pull on the wetsuit, don my pink cap and mosey to the water’s edge, where I stood for awhile taking it all in.  I waited for the pro’s gun to go off before gingerly stepping in and picking my spot to swim to. This is really happening.  I’m getting in the water for the mass swim start at Ironman Wisconsin! Are you kidding me?!

The water is a perfect 70 degrees, enough to keep you cool, chilly when not swimming.  I found my spot near the front-ish, at the inside buoy.  Then I did it, I looked over at the swim exit, at the Terrace.  Please tell me I have a camera!  The sheer masses of people lining a half mile stretch and up n down the two Helix (heli?) and all the levels and top of the Terrace patios, shoreline, bike path, everywhere.  Capital in the background – orangey pink sunrise glow on everything.  I can hear the announcer and music seems so far away from here.  All of us pink and green heads floating and bobbing waiting for the cannon, like in the videos I watched over and over. Not nervous, proud of myself for finding a brave spot in the water, ready for the day..

We start! We swim! I actually get to swim, not get clobbered, not bad anyway.  People grab my ankles, elbow in the mouth, I adjust move around, swim straight, take peeks at the crowds, buoys, see feet kicking in front and around me.  People have some really strange ways of kicking lol.  We make it the first half mile to the first buoy and we all pop our heads up and MOOO, yup I Moo’d, what fun!  I think I am swimming great, better than ever, not the normal nervous weak feeling I have, so I try to keep focus on following the right path, my form, and not wasting energy.  Then my stomach twinges, a pain here, a pain there, then constant.  I can still swim fine but trying to evaluate what if anything I can do besides go lay down somewhere lol.  I notice my wedding ring slipping around, suddenly fingers feel too small!  I back off of my pull suddenly conscious of losing them. ugh. All the bubbles I’m swimming through make me feel fast (if I only knew) so I don’t put in much more effort.  Keep going wide to the right and adjusting, but not horrible.  the final turn and I see a straight line 300m to swim exit.  I can do this, I am finishing the Ironman swim.  I am out of the water, unzipping, flopping down for the stripper, taking my floppy wetsuit with me on the long run to and up the helix.  Run run run, tippy toe up up up turn turn turn, then I see mom!  Yay!  then around the turn again and into the long hall to my T1 bag, then to the changing room to grab my helmet and shoes and number.  I RUN what feels like a quarter mile to my bike, in socks, shoes in hand, volunteers have Biscuit already off the rack waiting for me!  So pampered! Now to get on and cruise down the whirly turny helix.  This was fun, started to get cold. Was all wet and now cold wind on me and that nervous rush I was shaking and chattering teeth for a good 5 miles~!  Took a long time of casual pedalling to get on the roads, past one poor girl we had to stop for who crashed in a tunnel and was on a stretcher.

Once we were on open roads finally we could go, I had a mantra in my head to just ride along, do not go too fast, keep it steady, pass when you can.  So many turns kept alot of us bunched together for a long time.  Not alot of aero happening, which was good, because my stomach had never recovered and stretching up felt better.  Worry about the run with tummy pain, but that wasn’t for 112 miles, I had time to work it out?!  Even stuck behind a car for awhile, never anticipated that lol.  Dropped my chain 3 x on the down to uphills.  Yes, I’m a dork, unfocused shifting bad, focused shifting good. As I ride along, all I can think about is that I’m in an Ironman, I’m on the Wisconsin hard bike course!  I get to do those crazy hills! The fun weeeee turns!  My neck is stiff in an Ironman, my legs are tired in an Ironman, my stomach hurts in an Ironman.  Pinching myself.  I am lucky. I am here.

The first big long hill is one of those little hills that just gets bigger and bigger and never seems to end, in Mt Horab.  It signals the beginning of all the fun and hard parts.  After this one you get to the roller coaster on Witte Rd, and Garfoot Rd. these are BIG up and steep downs that even have turns within them. You can see forever at the top, it is gorgeous, like the top of the world. I looked yes. The next 3 big climbs are Tour De France style.  crazy crowds cloistered on top of you as you try to pedal straight and steady up up up. funny half nekked guys sprinting next to you- giggles.  This was a blast!  Timberlane, Old Sauk Pass, Midtown road, all legends.  Not because they are the highest or steepest, but they are one after another, after another, after another, after others that weren’t easy either, always after turns it seems!

Midtown road held my family.  First Jim’s mom and sister at the bottom, then the rest midway up.  Patrick starts running with me, and running, Me grinning big, wanting to cry, but laughing at his goofy self hi stepping up the hill.  My stomach never stopped hurting and I didn’t want my special snickers, but I stopped anyway at the Special Needs at mile 60, ate the snickers, switched out accelerade bottles and promptly handed my bike to a sweet boy at the porty happy blue box.  Time of stop 10 min. Necessary evil.  Oh well. I felt better for second loop at least.  After mile 60, the second loop feels harder, false flats and little hills that don’t stop and a  teeny bit o wind slow you DOWWWNNNNN> I did not want to kill my run legs so I pedalled strong but safe.   Saw everyone on the roundabout in Mt Horab, downhill so I was flying by happy and relaxed.  By the time the fun hills came again I felt super but so funny that the legs didn’t quite pedal so handily up, there was no “light spin” up anymore, it was work to go 7-8mph.  Finishing the second loop was sort of emotional.  Go through Verona for the second time, crazy Ironman town, barricades and chalk on road for miles it seems.  I had done 2 loops, the 2 loops of the Wisconsin course. wow, and now I just have to get back to down 16 more miles and run a little!

Adrenaline and relief take over at that point.  I cruised in avg over 20mph, only my neck hurt, but I knew it wouldn’t when I was running.  Calves felt tight from the initial run up the helix, but shouldn’t be a problem either.  We finished the 112 mile jaunt by riding UP the helix.  not as bad as I thought, fun actually.  Time to focus and not fall of on the dismount!

Transition 2! They take your bike for you – a beautiful thing, and I ran in for some silly reason all wobbly on my bike legs and bike shoes. Not much to do there but the girl helps me even so, gets my gum out for me, new socks on, running shoes and visor and I’m off. Run out and see my peeps!  Yay!  A few quick goofy poses before I run out, I mean run. to . the . blue box.  And so it would go.  Start running, remembering coach words, go slow, then slow down. So I keep it about 8:45 with :30 walks every mile.  Cramps in first mile never stop.  but it’s ok, I just try to keep abs tight and relax the rest of me.  I see Steph at mile 1 on state street!  So exciting! YAY!  gives me a boost, but remember to not run fast.  Felt like I should go 8 or less, knew I shouldn’t.  Plan to keep this pace for 6 miles.  The course was turney and shady, and SO PACKED with fans, and runners, never alone.  Was warm enough to need ice sponges but not like a bad heat.  Kept looking for people I knew– around mile 2 & 4 I saw Jamie and we leap frogged the rest of they way in our varying state of decline lol.   We ran through the stadium on squishy turf in silence, past dancing girls with loud dance music, on a dirt trail by lake Mendota (the other lake) UP AND UP what seemed like many steep hills.  Well, I walked those actually.

The stomach issues started pretty strong after mile 9, headed back to state street and the 13.1 turn around.  But so many people around you couldn’t help but smile and laugh and high five little fingers stretched out.  Stop at a few blue boxes.  Make it to the turn around on track for 12 hour finish. But inside I had a feeling it may not happen if things continued.  It was cool to see the finish and the leaders of the whole race, then turn around and go do 13.1 again. ha. I changed socks into dry ones, glad I did. My legs felt great, tired and achey of course but nothing looming injury wise or “have” to walk wise. The second loop required around 10 bathroom stops trying to feel better.  I walked my :30 every mile, I walked the big hills, I walked the last 20 feet of aid stations. I saw 12 hours not possible anymore.  I just wanted to feel better, so I walked some extra minutes here and there, but that made me nauseous. Once 12 hrs was out of reach I just did what I could to manage without imploding.  If I ran faster for longer who knew what would happen. I might be ok, I might not.  A lot to learn in your First full.  Nausea didn’t go away after mile 17, I could barely make myself take gulps of water or gatorade and I knew I “needed” calories again (didn’t really feel weak or anything, just following my rules), so at mile 22, I squeezed a teeny blob of gu into the front of my mouth. That’s all it took. 20 steps of running, found a cute little tree, can’t believe I’m about to throw up in an Ironman – how funny, I’m like other people that do that! dry heaves and throw up, fun stuff. Then off I go, for a mile I felt better.

3 Miles to go, surely I could run most of 3 miles. surely. Well, when you feel yuk, you suddenly lose competitive instincts, good for you little runner person, keep on plugging by me heehee.  I’m just gonna walk a few steps, I’m going to finish Ironman! SOOON! It will happen!  I ran by crowds, walked the last little hill before the final turn around the capital, I could see the Lights, I start to cry (for the umpteenth time). It flattened out and I took off, I felt amazing, wish I had felt like this for just a few more miles.  The crowd and the announcer Mike Reilly were so loud!  I heard Washington, Oklahoma, heard my name barely.  I ran hard, lifted by everything that happened that day and the power of all the people around me. Amazing people around me. Grinning too big for my face.   Raised my arms in victory as I crossed under the Clock Arch.  OMG.  I did it!  The most insanely crazy feeling ever.  2 girls catch me and hold me tight as they are supposed to, in case I collapsed and passed out- Shirt, medal, hat, all given to me in a blur.  Hurry and get my photo and then I see them– My patrick, my kids, my mom. The kids look like I came back from the dead.  So happy to see me alive and well haha!  I look back as I head to food tent and get overwhemed with emotion, can’t talk and have to turn away.  Food actually not a great idea I realize, so I head to med tent for the nausea and make sure I’m really ok!  They give me chicken broth, after a few minutes it actually tastes good.  I do body check, no injuries, at all, Shock and awe. Walk to hotel to the sound of person after amazing person finishing, realizing dreams.  Proud, Happy, Honored. Can’t wait to do it again, and bring people with me.  This was my Ironman day.

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Brandon Perkins
    Sep 16, 2011 @ 12:24:15

    Amazing, congratulations and great job, you are an Ironman!

    I too saw the lady who crashed under the bridge at beginning of the ride, noticed your tri-top with the names on the run, and finished 1.5 mins behind you!

    Maybe we will meet in Arizona in November!

    Enjoy the accomplishment.



    • roadtoironmom
      Sep 16, 2011 @ 13:22:56

      Wow! we were close then haha! you prob saw me stop start stop start! lol. You still doing redman next week or just waiting for Arizona? You must be feeling good, IM #2 for the year! awesome job! See you soon. I will keep an eye out.



  2. Brandon Perkins
    Sep 16, 2011 @ 16:47:58

    I am Redman-ing…..why? I don’t know….See you OKC? Thanks for volunteering and tell your husband- Good skill, luck, and to enjoy!



  3. Heather Doyle
    Sep 16, 2011 @ 18:01:47

    Wow! You had me in tears for you! Thanks for sharing such an amazing experience! You did great doll!!!



  4. kristenlodge
    Sep 16, 2011 @ 20:22:58

    Great story. Thanks for writing it. I’m crying right now writing this. What an amazing day. You did it through all the pain and finished with an amazing time. I can’t wait to meet you.



  5. C.j. Hartman
    Sep 18, 2011 @ 10:54:36

    Awesome Accomplishment! It was great to meet you at check in and to know you were a part of our extended Ironman friends and family on the course. Thanks for wearing your Team in Training shirt and supporting others as you worked hard to achieve your Ironman goal.



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