Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ironman Wisconsin Race Report

It has taken me a little while to get around to writing this.  The truth is I have been avoiding it. Consciously and unconsciously, every time I have thought about writing it I have "found" something else to do, or some reason not to.  Plain and simple I had much bigger goals for Wisconsin than 9:10 and 11th place.  But here goes: 

I arrived in Madison on Wednesday afternoon & was met by my awesome homestay and given the keys to their minivan.  I got in a quick swim with Hilary and hit a local restaurant with my homestays.  Thursday I decided to ride the loop portion of the course and see what I was in for.  Thursday night our homestays threw an awesome Rosh Hashana party. 

Friday morning I woke up feeling rather full from the night before.  Charisa, Steven and I met up with Kathy and her husband Kerry for a swim and breakfast.  Unfortunately, my morning feeling was a sign of the day.  Without going into too much detail, I felt "full" the entire day, through the swim, pro meeting, massage, etc... and nothing was happening to relieve that feeling.  I wasn't able to eat until about 3 and then just a few bites.  Saturday, things weren't much better, but I was able to get in a good dinner at our homestay's house and they were kind enough to let us invite about 20ppl for dinner. 

Brothers Pearson (Chris & Ryan the latter raced), Brynn, me, Catherine, Hillary, Maiki, Charisa & Steven

Race day came and I was willing myself to feel good.  I set up my bags and bike, got suited up in my new Zoot Prophet wetsuit and found myself in the lineup. 

The swim was the highlight of my race.  I stuck with the front pack for about 500m until I swam off course and lost the draft.  Hillary, or who I thought was Hillary, caught me about halfway home on the back stretch and I happily assumed a position right behind her.  A few times I tried to swim ahead but once out of her draft I knew I was swimming too hard for too little benefit.  I actually felt pretty crappy during the swim.  I didn't feel tired or weak, but I just felt slow.  Anyway, I decided to stay behind who I thought was Hillary and hope I was right, knowing she would swim well.  I did that right up until the last turn buoy when we hit an absolute floating roadblock that was the middle of the age group swim.  I seriously have to give credit to those who swim in the 1:15-1:30 range.  It is absolutely NUTS in there and I could not handle 2.4mi of that.  After working my way through the pack I hit the chute and looked at my watch to see zeros, never started. But I spotted the clock to my left and saw 53:2X and was thrilled.  Indeed it was Hillary, indeed she was true to form the 1st female out of the water, and indeed I did benefit from that.  Also a testament to Zoot's awesome new wetsuit

My goal was to bike under 5hrs.  I knew this course was a bit slower than Placid so I knew I had my work cut out for me.  I hit the course hoping the pleasant surprises would continue to come.  The old saying "You don't have to feel good to race good" was running through my head.  This was my first race on my new Blue Triad SL and my new Reynolds wheels.  I knew it was set up to go fast if the engine was willing.  Unfortunately, about 10mins into the race it was becoming clear the engine wasn't really up to the task.  I was passed early as my legs felt like concrete and my heart rate and power were stuck well below race pace.  My stomach problems from before the race were making it known that they weren't finished with me.  I struggled through the rest of the ride and except for a span from about mile 30 through 60, I felt pretty poor.  I am ashamed to admit it, but it is the first time in my triathlon career that I found myself actually wanting something to go wrong that would make it impossible for me to continue. I have always told myself that I will not DNF unless its a mechanical or a serious medical issue.  So I pushed on, told myself to suck it up and just keep pushing. Its. Supposed. To. HURT!  Needless to say I was more than a little surprised when I hit T2 and realized I had ridden 4:56.  I think this speaks volumes for the Blue Triad SL and my new Reynolds wheels

Getting off the bike, I was 99% sure I was in for some serious disappointment.  My stomach was bloated to the point of being painful and I knew my goal of a 3:00 run was about as likely as a lottery win.  I hit the run course and tried to keep the pace mellow.  About 3mi in and just out of the stadium I moved into 7th or 8th place and was hoping with all hope that I was in for another good surprise.  Again, I will spare you the gory details, but suffice it to say, things went South from there, and rapidly.  I saw the inside of more than a few Port'O Johns on the course and my 3hr run goal went out the door.  After my final Port'o visit I was actually able to pick up the pace and run the fastest I had run all day. 

I knew I was out of the money at that point but I decided to push as hard as I could to the finish. I knew that friends, family and training partners were watching on line, and that if nothing else I owed it to them and all who have supported and cheered me on to at least give it my all.  I was able to pick up a spot on the way back to town and unfortunately realized too late that 10th was only about 30secs up.  I saw my homestay in the chutes and went back to give them a high five as they had been such incredible hosts and people all week.  

Spotting my homestay a little late. Also a good Saturday Night Fever impression

Heading back for High Fives
Best Cheerleader
Incredible hosts and people
I am so proud and stoked for Charisa. She pulled our combined weight and took 5th!  Great friend, great training partner, great athlete, & great inspiration. 

When all was said and done, the clock read 9:10:38 and I was 11th.  Again, not what I was hoping for, but a good smashfest and training day.  I suffered and learned more about myself.  Although it wasn't what I wanted, I think it was a valuable experience that will serve me well.  Live to Fight Another Day.  I said that right after the race and I believe it.  

I want to thank all those who have offered words of encouragement, cheers, and support leading up to, during and after the race.  I appreciate it all more than you will know.  I also want to thank my sponsors who make this possible, Zoot, Blue, Reynolds,, PowerBar, and PVBC.  I can't thank you enough for your support and believing in me even when things go South.  I am more motivated than ever to redeem myself in the next go round.  


  1. IAN! What a day...... never easy when you train with your heart and end up with less than you hope for. Good swim for sure and you did your best to hold onto the bike/run without giving in or giving up....totally happy for you about your head staying dertermined. Recover well-more to come :) Still cheering for you.

  2. I think it says so much that you didn't give up and just mail it in!! That certainly would have been the easy thing to do. And what a swim!! Awesome job!!

    Can't wait for you to get your next chance and when the stomach cooperates better, show off all that hard work you've put in!! Recover well Ian!

  3. not every race is going to go your way... especially the long stuff. but riding under 5 hours and finishing in 9:10 on an "off" is pretty rad. when everything does (soon) go your way it's going to be game on and you will have everybody running scared!

  4. Wow! This is why you're a pro. You kept pushing and didn't give into your demons. When I saw you on the run I'll have to take your word for the fact you were suffering because I thought you looked strong (the groan when I yelled your name gave me a clue something else might be going on.)

    Under 5 hours on that bike course, feeling crappy is impressive. That course is serious business.

    Hope you're recovering well.

  5. congrats on your race Ian!! i know all too well how everything you described feels. i often feel that many pros pull out of races if they just aren't feeling it and to see you stick it out is admirable. and if i have learned anything, you beat yourself up more for not finishing than you do for having a bad finish, regardless of what took you out of the race.

  6. Another perspective: You went 9:10 for 11th on a BAD day! That's awesome and something I think you should be very proud of. And I have the utmost respect for pros who don't DNF a bad day. That means a lot to us slow guys who are out there giving it our all to just finish.

  7. So I'm reading this race report and thinking why is he disappointed. Dude, you stayed mentally tough on an "off" day, and yes, I was a bit shock to read that you were hoping for something to go wrong so you could call it a day. But it just confirms that you're human and not a robot, I was starting to suspect. Looks like you, C, and I have some barriers to break: the elusive 10 and 9-hour barrier, it'll keep us hungry for awhile.

  8. When you have that "on" day I can't wait to be there. Awesome job roughing it out. You make me proud to be your friend & training partner. And you are having a GREAT rookie pro year!

  9. I Was waiting for the Ian/Charisa photo:) You two are an inspiration and i think it's so great you support one another thru good and tough times. Congrats and hope the GI stuff is done for good!

  10. I still think you did pretty damn awesome!!!! Can I add any more explanation points to that to prove it? Yes, I can!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. bummer your stomach wasn't cooperating, but like everyone else, I agree! Inspiring performance for a tough day!! For being ill, you weren't all that far from breaking 9 hours... that's INSANE!!! hope your recovery is going well!!