After reading some race reports I figured out that the best line would be to start as far inside as possible, and cut to the inside of the buoys for the straightaways, then cut back outside for the turns. This was definitely the way to go, I had clear water everywhere except the turn buoys, but no one got through those without getting a little beat up. I had no sense of pace while I was swimming. I knew that it was relatively easy because my breathing and my stroke were really relaxed, but I thought I was on pace for a 1:05-1:10. I was shocked to see the clock when I got out of the water - 59:04. A quick run up the helix and into T2, then onto the bike. The family was hanging out right by my rack, so I got some cheers from them as I was putting my shoes on. It was great to see them throughout the day and a huge boost each time.
The hardest part about being a strong swimmer and really weak cyclist is to just sit back and let everyone pass you on the bike. Even though I knew what I had to do to have a successful race it still really got to me mentally. I really need to work on this part of racing!
With the crowds and all the excitement my HR was really high when I got on the bike. I concentrated on just spinning and trying to settle it down but it took about 45 minutes to really settle. By then, I was almost at the first loop. I had ridden the loop enough to know the basic layout. I break it down into 3 sections to help get through it by just focusing on one piece at a time. The first is Verona to Mt. Horeb - net elevation gain and almost always a headwind. The next section is Mt. Horeb to Cross Plains - the rollers and Garfoot Rd descent. The last section is Cross Plains to Verona - the big climbs, then the long descent into Verona. I focused on each piece at a time and doing what I needed to do to keep my HR in Z2 as much a possible and recover on the downhills.
The crowds were crazy on the bike! I couldn't believe how many people came out to cheer. There were tons of crazy costumes, lots of people with drums, and a guy with a trombone (who didn't really know how to play, but its the thought that counts!). I have to give some love to the Chicago Tri Club for the pirate-themed aid station. The "show us your booty" signs were great!
I was able to split the race pretty evenly - 1:00 out to the loops, 2:30 for each loop and 1:00 back to Madison for a total bike time of 7:03. I had wanted to be faster, but I hit my goal for HR zones and nutrition, so I can't be too disappointed here.
I had never run a marathon before, so my plan was to break it up into 4 parts and re-assess after each section. My first mile was 9:30, too fast to hold onto, so I settled into 10:00 min/miles and was feeling pretty good. Around mile 3 I decided that I didn't want to walk the marathon, so I didn't (except for the aid stations). I'm really glad I said that to myself because I was close to slowing down and walking a few times but managed to talk myself out of it.
I stayed on my pace, my HR was right on and I felt pretty good until mile 12. My stomach turned sour on me and I felt really nauseous. I pitched the gels and started trying the food at the aid stations to get it to settle. Chicken broth didn't really do anything for me, but the coke was going down okay.
I think mile 14 was the hardest for me. My stomach really wasn't feeling it and its tough to come so close to the finish line only to turn around. It was hard to run past my family and smile and wave at them knowing that inside I was really feeling like crap.
Around mile 18 I started to feel better and the pace picked up. As each mile marker went past I was thinking about my local routes and saying things like "okay, this is just one loop around the forest preserve, you've done this before." It worked for me, and before I knew it I could see the capitol. A few turns around the square, and that was it! I was an Ironman!
Run time of 4:34 for a total finishing time of 12:50:52.
I don't think I'll be racing another IM next year, I want another year to build leg strength and tackle more hills before I come out for attempt number two. But, I'm thrilled with what I was able to accomplish this year. This was a good race to finish off my season!