Monday, September 11, 2006

Ironman Wisconsin Post Race Report.

It never got out of the mid-fifties, it never stopped raining, I never was warmer than I was in the swim and I never want to race under those conditions again. A brutal, demanding and completely unforgiving day for all athletes from the fittest and strongest to those who at midnight, an enduring near 17 hours of early like winter conditions made it across the finish line. An honest and sincere tip of the hat to anyone who didn't snap and pack it in. It was best summarized for me when at mile 55 I passed a shivering and blue lipped Jesper Blake, the German stud with three other top ten Ironman finishes who could hardly talk or for that matter maintain control of his bike. Who ever said that low body fat and power to weight ratio was beneficial in cycling obviously never raced in a winter league.The swim set the tone for the day winds were constant from the "go" at 15-25 from the North East and it stirred up an evil, evil chop on lake Monona. The IM Wisconsin swim course is a two loop swim course shaped like a rectangle, the first half mile down was tough a rolling but inconsistent swell for about 1000 yards. At the turn buoy you turn East and suddenly you are swimming into the wave pool at Ocean's of Fun. I think I must of drank a gallon or so of that good ol' lake Monona lake water yesterday. A pack of about 6 of us endured the hardest and longest swim I have ever been a part of, to put it in perspective the fastest male pro did not exit the water until 55 minutes, about six minutes off the norm. No one broke the 51 minute mark, unheard of at this course.Ironman Wisconsin is famous for it's ridiculous T1, as you exit the water you run about a quarter mile to the start of the "helix" a walkway much like at Royals stadium then after only about another half mile of running you finally arrive at your bike. It was in the changing room of T1 you had to make a decision, do you take the time and put on extra layers, in what seams like minutes ticking off the clock, you recklessly try and pull Lycra up and over your wet body, here you bite the bullet or pay the piper soon after. Speaking of which, the bike is where all the fun really begins, so after the quick dip in the washing machine I'll tell you about where the race really began.The bike course has a twelve mile out then two loop course, it is an extremely demanding course on a great day. Throw in the kind of conditions we had and it becomes the deal breaker, the fastest time on the day was only 5:10, unheard of! I just kept telling myself that I had to eat and drink, every aid station I forced myself to take on gatorade and GU, in these conditions if you start to feel hungry, you can forget about coming back form the dead. In every race you feel significant highs and lows, but when you get low and your near hypothermic the mind is so prone to collapsing. My low came at mile 90 it was here when I came near the crest of one of the more significant climbs of the day. As I made my way to the top an age grouper who was on their first lap was making the climb about 10 yards ahead of me. Just as he was begening to crest the hill he started to do the "squirley snake", you know, where you feel like if you cut it back and forth from one side of the road to the other you just might, maybe, make it over that bastard. I am coming up on him and telling him "on your left, on your left!" he keeps on cutting it back and forth, but now he is on the back side of the crest. I am thinking to myself I am going to just bust out and by him to the left, as I make my move he cuts back hard in my direction. I start yelling again "on your left, on your left goddam it!". Just then his aero horns and mine lock and he cuts back to the right snapping us on to the ground and me over my handle bars. He lands on top of me driving his cleat into my right shin, my left leg burns almost instantly. I get up and look down, the guy is in la la land on the ground, I really think he was oblivious as to what he just did. At this point a couple of spectators have our bikes up, my brakes are all bent of and my wheels are knocked off center. My left and right legs are cut up, my left knee all ready starting to swell, my left arm and elbow, road rash. The hardest part of this was the let down after having my adreneline surge to deal with the incident. Just two miles down the road my stomach and body just crashed, just as we turned in to make the last 12 miles we took on a mean ass head wind 25 mph when gusting. I pulled everything out of my pockets four GUs a Bakers Breakfast cookie and ate them right then and there. The run was horrendous cold, wet rain fell the entire time. My left leg was burning with the pain setting in from my crash, and I was trying to get my nutrition on line. Out of T2, two guys dropped me in the first mile, and I was moving. I felt really good about the way my run was starting out and these guys just flat out dropped me, I would see them again in 5 miles. The run got to cold that the entire second loop I was having trouble grabbing items at the aid stations I couldn't seem to open and close my fingers and I was basically just slapping gatorade out of the hands of the volunteers. I was never happier to find the finish line coming across the line tenth and feeling completely wasted. I hate these conditions and it took all I had to hang in there yesterday, I just kept telling myself all day that as a firefighter on September 10th I wasn't allowed to quit. If I really wanted to honor the 343 brothers that gave all and marched to certain death to save thousands and thousands I had a responsibility to live in the same spirit. Simply said, to give my all and march on, to do otherwise would be to dishonor them and their memories. Today as we look back on the events of five years ago, we should forget the politics and look to all those who answered the call on September 11th 2001 and what they proved and gave to us. The human spirit is still good and strong we need to honor it. I want to congratulate Barry Ogden, Dave Cee and Chris Yows as well as all the others who hung in there yesterday, to finish is always the goal. Yesterday it was an especially admirable one to achieve.

1 comment:

tsp said...

Right on man--sounds like a tough one. I do a mean "squirrely snake" on the dance floor--might even be scarier than what you just experienced. Give me a call when you're safe and sound in KC. -TSP