While the race and your training is fresh on your mind could you do me a favor?
I want to be able to provide your valuable learnings, wisdom and experience from Ironman Wisconsin 2011 for the class of 2012. I'd invite you to take a moment and share your learnings, what you might have done differently (training, nutrition, physical/mental preparation, race weekend logistics....you name it) and what you would emphasize if giving advice to others (especially first timers) coming to Madison for the race next September.
This doesn't need to be long.......Thanks in advance for your insights!
This was my first IM and I had a very fun day and I'll never forget it. Here is my advice:
1) Swim - I was most scared about the swim start and having to tread water for awhile. It turned out, it was not a big deal. I waited with my wife down by the water, but I didn't line up until about 6:45am. I ended up getting in the water at 6:57. Everyone was in the water before the race started, so you won;t get stuck in a line when the cannon goes off. I swam to an open spot near the back and before I had anytime to freak out, the cannon went off and the race was underway. I did not get hit that much at the start (the turns were worse). I took the swim slow and steady and felt great when I got out of the water.
2) The Bike - I did NOT ride the course before the race or drive it. That may have helped, but I don't live near Madison. If you can ride the course, obviously do it, but if you can't, don't worry about it. It's a very fun course. I took the first half a bit faster than I should have. I spent the 2nd half of the bike trying to save my legs for the run. I think I did a good job recovering from the first loop, but my advice would be to take the first loop slower and see how you feel on the 2nd loop. Don't get too stressed out about all of the rules on the course - from what I saw, people did not follow them that closely and they were not enforced either. The course was crowded and riders would bunch up and there was no way to keep the 4 bike lengths between bikes. Be respectful out there, but don't worry about having to remmeber all of the rules.
3) The run - take the COKE as soon as you can. Also, take the SOUP. I took the COKE and it saved me, but I never took the soup and I felt awful after the race. A lot of people told me I should ahve taken the soup. So, please take the SOUP. My run strategy was to run from aid station to aid station and take my time at the aid station to fuel up. Once I got through the aid station, I would run again until the next. I tried to only walk the aid stations and the few uphills. That seemed to work out pretty good. The crowd support is pretty awesome.
It's a fun race and a pretty awesome experience. Good luck to everyone in 2012.
Bob, thank you for doing this...such a great idea for future use.
If you have done multiple Ironman events, you take away something new each time. For me, I'll start with the swim. I don't know if anyone else had this problem but I was allergic to whatever was in the lake. I have this problem with lakes in Florida as they heat up but didn't know about anywhere else. So my husband and I swam on Thursday, I reacted immediately to the algae. I decided to not wear a nose clip and paid for it the entire bike ride.
T1 transition was huge and a few of us were joking that they should take off some of the distance from the run because of the long transition. I had a great swim but after being suspended in water for over an hour and then had to get my body adjusted to standing upright again, I didn't run up the Helix but enjoyed the fast walk. As for my bike shoes, I kept them off until I got to my bike and was happy I did. No slips or falls and no broken cleats.
The bike was never ending. Not being able to ride the course wasn't major, but I was able to see what the course was like on my friend's CompuTrainer and it did help. The only advice I can give to anyone on this is to train hard and race easy.
The run was great with the crowds and the aid stations. I of course, finished well into the dark but was happy when I didn't have to spend any more time in the sun.
Some of the best advice I could give to someone doing the Ironman for the first time is don't skip the weight training for both upper and lower body. It is so key in giving you the ability to power through the hills and feel good after the long swim.