Wednesday, September 10, 2008


2 Ironmans in a week has officially been written in the book. On Sunday, September 7, 2008 I accomplished what I secretly thought was a VERY lofty goal that had a pretty big chance of not being accomplished due to injury, sickness, or just plain can't finish.

But the mission has been completed and for those interested, here is how Ironman Wisconsin 2008 went down:

SWIM: I swam at 40%-50% of maximum race effort. Wanted to just take it easy because I know for an Ironman race, going 50% effort or 90% effort is just going to get me 10 minutes....not worth the effort since I had NO IDEA how I would perform only 156 hours since my last Ironman triathlon.

Swim time: 1 hour 11 minutes

BIKE: I modified my nutrition from last week at Ironman Louisville so that I wouldn't have the same gastrointestinal issues on the bike as I did IM Louisville. It worked. I felt only slight gastrointestinal issues for about 20 min, but fixed it and never felt them again. Had a heart rate cap of 150 beats per minute, meaning I should not exceed this heart rate at anytime during the bike (150bpm is my maximum lactate steady state heart rate) but raced most of the race at 140+ heart rate except for the hills where I rested (literally rested while climbing the hills). Since I was "scared" of the marathon and expected the wheels to fall off during the run portion of this race due to my "mission of 2 Ironmans in a week" I took it TOTALLY EASY on the hills.

What does "totally easy" on the hills mean? Well, with no exaggeration, I rested on the hills. I climbed them at about 30-40 revolutions per minute, sat up out of my aerobars, and let my heart rate DROP during the climbs to around 130bpm staying relaxed and breathing through my nose. Yes, I was cycling uphill at around 3-4 miles per hour (no joke) but I really didn't want to blow my legs out and walk the marathon...too long of a day. People were walking alongside my bike as I climbed and they were going the same speed as I was.

My right knee started to bother me and get tender around mile 40; which scared me because I felt this was Ironman Louisville rearing its ugly head (can you say "injury"). I felt that I may be overdoing this 2 Ironman thing and this was just one bad idea I I babied it on the bike pressing more on the left leg...but stopped that pretty quickly once I realized my overcompensation was going to cause something else to hurt by the time the 112m bike was done. My right knee didn't get anymore tender once I stopped babying it, but it also didn't get any better.

Wind on the 2nd loop picked up a bit, but nothing serious. Around 10-13mph is all, nothing I haven't ridden in before so I just stuck my head down and kept working...keeping my heart rate firmly into the 140-148bpm just below my maximum lactate steady state heart rate of 150bpm. It worked well because I finished about 5 minutes faster than my Ironman Louisville bike split. I was happy but not surprised at my split getting off the bike.

Bike time: 6 hours 5 minutes

RUN: My coach told me that I should pretty much ignore my heart rate and run by Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) since my heart rate would probably be doing weird things by this time, esp after I did an Ironman just a week ago. He told me to run at an effort that felt like I was working just a little bit...but not too hard.

Ok, check.

Out of the second transition I took 2 doses of Aleve tablets to help any pain that might start in my right knee and then I started runninng at this RPE...just run so I felt like I was working just a little bit, but nothing too hard. 1st split 8:34 minutes per mile. For those of you who don't know me....that's historically VERY fast for an Ironman mile pace for me. But I didn't question it, I felt good, and was running at the appropriate RPE so I kept it up.

Well I ran like Forrest Gump. I just kept runnin' and runnin' and runnin' and miles 4, 7, 10, 13, all came and went and I didn't slow down! I thought to myself....what the hell is going on? I walked the hills to save my legs because my history has shown me that I always slow down to a walk/run pace around Mile 18 and then it's then just survival mode for the rest of the Ironman race. But it didn't happen! I kept churning out an 8:25-8:30 minutes per mile pace and figured eventually it would catch up to me and I would have stop and do a walk/run (aka the Ironman Shuffle) until the finish line but I didn't care and I just kept up my RPE where I was told to and let the pace continue be what it was. I didn't feel any need to slow down, so I didn't.

A fellow racer who slowly passed me about mile 18 asked..."how do you feel?" I replied "unbelievably amazing." He turned to me with a look of confusion, didn't say another word and just kept going...but that's how I felt...unbelievably amazing!

Oh yeah I almost forgot, the 2nd loop of the run (miles 13-26) I walked a little slower on the hills because, as I mentioned already, I really thought I would slow down around mile 18ish and I wanted to save my legs the best I could for what I thought would be the inevitable Ironman Shuffle that was forthcoming.

Well once mile 20, 21, and 22 came along and I was still throwing down 8:30min/miles I just couldn't contain myself (although I did). I was so amazingly excited about what I was about to accomplish.

See, there are these goosebumps you get at the end of an Ironman triathlon with the crowd screaming at the top of their lungs just for you (for that minute and a half as you run down the finish chute) and they have the rock music playing and Mike Reilly is yelling to everyone "you are an Ironman"...yeah, those goosebumps...well, I got those goosebumps early and they came around mile 23 when I thought about what I was about to accomplish...the fastest Ironman race ever for me. Goosebumps, goosebumps, goosebumps.

I crossed the finish line in the daylight (something I've never done before in an Ironman) and crushed my Personal Best time by over an hour with a finish time of 11 hours and 38 minutes.

A miracle occurred in Madison, Wisconsin and it happened on Sunday, September 7, 2008 at 6:38pm when I crossed that finish line.

I have no idea how I did it or why it happened but to this day I still can't believe what I have accomplished...something honestly well beyond what I expected or even thought I was capable of.

I must tip my hat to my coach. He's an unbelievable coach that obviously knows what he's doing. I have no idea what he puts in that flux capacitor of his to spit out the weekly training plans he's been giving me...but he obviously did it right.

After 12 years in the sport of triathlon, several 24 hour adventure races, several 10k rucksack runs in the military, blah, blah, blah, I thought I knew my body and its athletic endurance ability.

Well, I guess not! Smile

I am firmly planted on Cloud 9 and the view is amazing from up here.

I have coined a new phrase out of this experience: "You have not tasted success until you have succeeded at something you truly thought not possible"

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Rainmaker said...

Holy cow dude - you knocked out a mid-11 Ironman just a week later? That's unreal. Really, I can't even imagine how excited you must be.

Serious congrts! One for completing it, and two for raising the money. Now ENJOY the recovery.

Iron Greg said...

Wow!! Good for you!! I am mighty impressed - cutting off an hour and a half only a week later!!
You are awesome - crazy what the human body is capable of hey?? :)