PostHeaderIcon Plan to Execute and Execute the Plan!

I have tried countless times to sit down and write a race report in the 2 weeks following my Ironman race. So instead of a normal race report I want to tell you about a journey.  This is a journey that started 17 months ago and continues to this day.  I have found that crossing that finish line in Madison Wisconsin was not the end of the journey but rather just another of the many highlights that I have had the opportunity to enjoy along the way. The best part about this journey is how many wonderful people I have met as I traveled the path that led me to that finish line. I have formed friendships that will last far beyond triathlons and races. When I started this journey I was focused on getting to that finish line to be done and be able to say that I did something amazing. Funny thing is that the highlights of my day were not until after I crossed that finish line. This is just a small part of the journey and a story about only two of the hundreds of friends I made along the way.

Long before this day as I was on one of the many training rides I rode with Julie I made her a promise. I said if I can still move once I finish this race I will come back out and find you and give you a big hug on the run course.   The night before the race as I was talking with Katie she nervously asked me to wait for her at the finish line. I agreed and told her I would. There were many more stories like these of friends I would talk to and encourage during the race however these two ladies had become like sisters to me over the course of the summer. We officially met at the MT Horeb Kwik Trip on the very first loop of my first trip to Verona for a training ride on the Ironman bike course back in May.  I finished that loop riding with them and we talked and laughed about anything and everything you could imagine. We rode another loop that day along with another friend Dell. From that day on we kept in contact almost daily for most of the summer. We would bounce ideas off each other and use each other for motivation to get out there and do the workouts even when we did not feel like it. We met in Wisconsin many more times during the year to train together and laugh and share cheese curds and a cold beer or two.

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Julie on left Katie In middle and Me on right


Our first swim in Lake Monona Julie on left Katie In middle and Me on right


Cheese Curds and Beer at Greys Tied House

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When you prepare for a race like an Ironman they tell you that you will have dark moments during the day and during those dark moments you need to have that “One Thing” you can focus on to get you to push through those moments. So as I get ready on race morning I was thinking a lot about the promises I had made to these two ladies. I was determined to keep these promises at all cost. So my “One Thing” was really “Two Things”. Finish the race with enough energy to still be able to walk and to keep my promises to Julie and Katie.


Julie Katie and Me on Saturday before the race in Monona Terrace


I had a race plan and I was going to execute it. I wanted to swim the 2.4 miles in 1 hour and 20 minutes. I wanted to bike the 112 miles in 5 hours and 45 minutes and I was going to do the math when I ran out of transition to pace my run to finish my race in 11 hours 45 minutes. The overall goal was to not be in the medical tent or carried away from the finish line. I knew if I made these time cutoffs that I would have time to get back to my room and shower and change clothes and come back to the finish line and start tracking both Julie and Katie along with looking for the countless other friends I had still out on the course.

Race Day:

The Swim:

As I sat in the water waiting for the cannon to blast to start the swim portion of the race I was totally at ease. No stress at all. It felt like I had been there before and I was ready to take on this long training day. My mind was totally calm and I even found myself getting bored during the swim portion of the race. Sure I was getting hit and kicked by others swimming around me after all there were 2826 other swimmers trying to swim 2.4 miles as fast as they could too. The swim portion was awesome and I had tears in my eyes as I walked up the boat ramp through the swim finish arch in 1 hour and 20 minutes and 8 seconds. Part one of my plan was complete! Mission accomplished! I walked up the helix which is a four story parking ramp spiral where we had to run through a crowd of family and friends cheering us as we got ready to change clothes into our bike gear. As I got almost to the top I spotted my Son David and Friend Ann yelling at me. I pointed at them and continued on to the top where to my surprise I found Katie. She had finished the swim in about the exact same time as me and we shared a hug  as we ran into the changing rooms.


I spent 13 minutes and 20 seconds in the changing area and running out to get my bike. They call this T1 or Transition 1.  It was hard to get my clothes on over my wet body. I wanted to make sure I took my time and get everything I would need for the 112 miles on the bike.


The Bike:

I started down the Helix and out onto the course. There were bikes everywhere and we were on a narrow bike trail so I just sat up and pedaled with the pace of everyone. This was a no pass area as it was far too dangerous and you were not going to win the race in this part but you could certainly end your day with a crash here. Once we got onto open roads I got into Aero and started pedaling. I had a max pace of 20mph that I was aiming for on this the first part of the course. I wanted to do the first four hours at this pace. The goal was to slow slightly on the 5th hour to allow the legs time to recover and then push the last hour as I headed back into Madison and the end of the bike portion of the race. I would ride hard until I came to a big hill then I would sit up and shift to my easiest gear instantly and pedal at a high cadence up the hill. I got passed by many people as they pushed hard to get up the hills and then I would pass them and leave them behind as I was still pedaling on the crest and downhill portion after the hills and they were coasting as their legs were fried from the hill climb. I saw a few friends on the hills and Tiffany a friend from Iowa and someone I had logged countless hours training with was on the last big hill of the loops. She ran alongside me as I climbed and encouraged me and told me I was killing it. It was great to see her on the first loop as that gave me something to look forward to on the second loop. On the second Loop as I climbed that same hill I saw another friend John who grabbed my arm and gave me a nice shove on the rear as I passed him on that same hill. I remember thinking where were you on the other hills I could have used the shove there too after I pedaled away.  I rode back up the helix at the end of the 112 miles on the bike and was pleased to see that I had done my goal time on the bike. I finished the bike portion in 5 hours and 42 minutes46 seconds. I handed my bike off to a volunteer who was there to rack our bikes for us and heading into the changing area of T2.


I changed out of my bike bibs and jersey and changed into my running shorts and shirt. I grabbed my race belt and some gels for the run and headed out of T2 in 5 minutes and 23 seconds.


The Run:

I started the Marathon 26.2 mile run and headed up towards the capital. I looked at my watch and quickly did the math to figure out what I had to do to reach my goal to finish in 11 hours and 45 minutes. I calculated that I needed to average 10 minutes and 2 seconds per mile pace to finish in that time. I quickly decided to hold back a little on the first half of the run to save my legs and try to finish strong and still running. My goal was to get to the half way turn around and then to recalculate my time I had left to reach my goal. I finished the first 13.1 miles in 2 hours 12 minutes and 5 seconds at an average pace of 10:05 min/mile. I knew I had to speed up for the second half but did not want to push myself so hard that I crashed and had to walk. So I stayed at a steady pace and tried to gain time were I could without getting into that grey area. As I rounded the Capital for the final time and entered the finishing chute I started to sprint to get past a group of runners so that I could have this moment all to myself. As I crossed the finish line I looked up at the clock to see those magical numbers 11:44:09. My official chip time was 11 hours 44 minutes and 11 seconds. I hit every goal I had on the day to this point.


Ironman Wisconsin 2014 Finish Line 11:44:11


Finishers Medal


Dave and Ann were waiting for me at the finish line in the VIP area and we talked for a while as I ate pizza and chips in the finishers tent. I talked with a few other friends about the race too. David and Ann went to get my bike and gear and we met back at the apartment so that I could change and shower. They left to drive home as they both had to work the next day and I showered and headed back to the finish line.


I now started tracking Julie and Katie and heading backwards on the run course. Once I got to State street I waited there as I was finding many friends pass me and I would cheer for each of them as they ran by. I was the most anxious as I waited there looking for Julie to run out of the darkness on that street. When I saw Julie I yelled at her and she ran up and we had the biggest hug ever. I told her she was doing awesome and to keep going. I said I would see her at the finish line in a mile. I cut across the blocks to get to the finish line ahead of her and as she ran down the finishing chute she found me and ran over and gave me a high five.  She had a smile on from ear to ear. It was so surreal to fulfil that promise I made months before to find her on the run after I finished. I met Julie and her Husband Pat and two daughters and other family and friends at the finisher’s tent and I got another hug and you could just see the pride and sense of accomplishment as she smiled and talked to everyone.


Julie and I after the Finish line!





Julie giving me a High Five as she runs down the finishing chute. I am wearing the white finishers hat on the right.

Julie headed back to her room and I started tracking Katie again to see where she was on the course. I had a friend Kerri who was volunteering on the run course so I went out and found her so we could hang out and wait for others to finish. We were there watching for Katie when out of the darkness she ran around the capital and headed down the finishing chute. She was high fiving everyone and then stopped short of the finish to greet her parents for a moment. Then she turned and ran through the finish line.  I saw her parents waiting by the side so I stayed back for a few minutes to allow them to have their time to talk. I went over and we talked about the day and how awesome it was to share this journey. We shared a hug or two and I stayed and I talked with Katie and her parents for a while and then they went back to her hotel to get cleaned up.


Katie and I at the Finish Line!


Both Julie and Katie had exceeded their expectations for the race and they both had awesome and well executed races. It was such a privilege to be a small part of their journeys to that finish line. Who would have known back in May that on this day I would feel more pride and sense of accomplishment watching these two ladies cross that line than I did when I crossed it myself.  What started out as a journey to find out how far I could push myself turned into so much more as I found myself more concerned with getting others to that finish line? Who would have known when I started training that I would share such an emotional journey with so many people I never even knew before I started.

Thank you all for sharing your journey with me! I look forward to where life will lead us in the future and feel confident that our paths will cross again many times!

Until then,

I will See You at the Finish Line!


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