Ironman Wisconsin 2013 – Ironman #2
Going into race day, I was battling a head cold. I hadn’t been sleeping well, and was feeling nervous about feeling 100% come Sunday. I was resting, taking Nyquil, and doing everything I could to get better fast. When I woke up Sunday, I felt better, but definitely still sick. I woke up and thought, “you can’t worry about how little sleep you’ve gotten the past few days, or how you feel, today’s the day, let’s do this!”
My brother and sister drove me to the race start, and helped me with my last minute preparations. My parents, sister-in-law, and niece were meeting up with my brother and sister a little bit later, but right before the cannon went off.
Swim – 1:14:46 (1:46/100yd) – 17th in AG
I got in line to enter the water with all the other penguins, and before I knew it, when my toes hit the water, Mike Reilly said 2min til the start. I couldn’t believe it. I thought, man, all the people behind me better GET IN! I placed myself near the front and toward the outside. The thing about Ironman is it’s a long day. Which actually helps calm my nerves because I know that I have all day to try to chase people faster than me. I also was less nervous because I felt really prepared, and having already done Ironman Wisconsin once in 2011, it made it a bit easier on race day to know I’d already done it.
So, the actual swimming part…right away I started swimming side by side with this guy. He practically was swimming right on top of me, and so I would charge ahead, and yet he would still be right there. Apparently he was annoyed too, because about 300yds in, he literally jabs me right in the ribs, and it was seriously intentional. I saw him underwater bend his elbow and throw it right into the side of me. Now, I know we are all swimming on top of each other, but seriously? The first 500-700yds aren’t fun for anyone. Not only that, guys were wearing green caps, and girls were wearing pink, so he knew I was a girl. I sat up for a hot sec, and said to him “seriously?” and then kept swimming. I eventually lost him, thank goodness and went on my merry way. Other than that, the swim was just a sh*t show”. It was crazy choppy, and the swim is one loop, and the longest stretch of the loop, was straight into the chop. I decided to conserve energy, and sight every 24 strokes vs. my usual every 12. This was to avoid taking in too much of the lake! The chop was crazy though, you would literally feel your arm go up into the air over a wave and then smack the water. There was no consistency to the chop, which made it frustrating too. So, mentally I just told myself, you are a strong swimmer, you just need to keep pulling hard, and fight through this, just stay focused.
I exited the water, looked at my watch, dang 1:14, no wonder that was starting to feel long. I finished the swim in 2011 two minutes faster, and I’m definitely a stronger swimmer now than I was two years ago. Right then and there, I decided time could not be a counted on today as an indication of how well I’m doing. I let go of time, and just continued to give it all I got.
T1: 5:53 – in and out.
Bike – 6:21:17 (17.62mph) – 10th in AG
I knew the bike was going to be slow due to the wind. So, my goal was just to keep a high cadence, focus on nutrition, and power down the downhills. I had learned some gearing tips in the last few weeks, and was eager to put them to use. It may seem simple, but it was new to me.
Tip: Try to keep your chain in the middle of your back cassette. So, when you are changing from big ring to small ring you don’t drop your chain, but also keeps your power up. It was fascinating.
I passed two girls in my age group simply because of this tip, because they both dropped their chain. And had to get off their bikes and put it back on. I also saw a lot of people recovering on the downhills, i.e not pedaling, and I promised myself I was going to race the bike, so that meant, PEDAL the downhills. I wanted to get as much speed going downhill as I possibly could, so that I could get up the next hill as much as I could without a lot of effort, before I had to start “grinding” to finish out the uphill. There were two funny things about this bike.
1. I can’t seem to keep my water bottle cage that sits behind my seat ON. I’ve now lost two. I had tighten the screws right before bike check-in, so I knew it was on tight. It didn’t matter. About 50 miles in, a guy tells me, you are about to lose your back cage. Dang it! I grab my water bottles, stuff them in my back tri kit pocket (thank goodness the pockets were big enough), and about 10 miles later, it hit my back tire and bounced off into a ditch. That could have been disastrous. As both bottles had powerade in them.
2. I had put my aerobars on my bike at the slightly wrong angle. They were angled down. This made for a slightly uncomfortable 112 mile bike ride on race day. I had taken it out for two spins, but for some reason it didn’t quite register. This definitely made me more aero for those downhills though. Besides that I felt weird, and awkward, and just thought, well this is making your day more interesting.
Besides that the last 32 miles of the bike were straight into a headwind, and SLOW and PAINFUL. I am definitely a much stronger cyclist and again, I finished this bike 2min slower than my time in 2011.
I executed my nutrition plan, just as planned, but quickly realized that I probably didn’t have enough calories on the bike. In training, I don’t do too many of my long rides with any race pace intervals, and so I forgot that I would be burning more calories on race day, because I’d be working at a higher intensity. So, I ate EVERYTHING I had on me. A bonk breaker, a honey stinger vanilla waffle, my powerbar chews, and all my powerade. I was really looking forward to T2, because I knew I had put another honey stinger waffle in my T2 bag just in case, and I’m soooo thankful I did.
Also, I can’t even explain the spectators on the bike of Ironman Wisconsin. You are RARELY alone, and they line up each and every hill, and help you power through them. It is unreal. They are dressed up in silly costumes, and running along side you, as you grind your way up. The spectators are what make this bike truly special.
T2: 3:20 – in and out (although I did have a mini picnic in T2 I was STARVING)
Run – 4:11:41 (9:36min/mile) – 6th AG
I headed out on the run, and had seriously wobbly legs. The first two miles, I felt like I had no control over them. I had never felt that before. I thought, I DID race the bike!!!! I had no idea where I was in the field the whole race, so I was really excited when my brother told me at mile 2, that I moved up 7 places during the bike, and I was now in 10th. He then helped me the rest of the race chase girls down. I was ready to embrace the pain. I stayed focused and just powered through, checking off 1 mile at a time. I LOVE this run course, because there are spectators EVERYWHERE. This run course is not easy. There are plenty of steep hills, that almost everyone walks, and then you get to feel the burn in your quads as you run down the other side. Again, I could care less about time, and I just wanted to chase girls down. By about mile 18, I had ran myself to 6th place, and the girl ahead of me was still about 12min in front. I tried to keep pushing on, and I did, but I was only able to close that gap by another couple minutes. I was STOKED as I came up the finish shoot. My family was right there, and I gave them all high fives as I ran my way down to the finish. I couldn’t believe I just got 6th place!!! I cartwheeled across the finish line as Mike Reilly told me, “Katie Morse, You are an IRONMAN!” A big smile came across my face, and the lovely volunteers brought me a chocolate milk, which I stood there and chugged.
Nutrition – one pack of strawberry banana powerbar chews (with caffeine) – some powerade, and cola the last 6 miles.
This was the first time I had NO GI distress the whole race, and I seriously felt great, besides the MANY snot rockets I blew through out the day. I ran this marathon 9min faster than in 2011.
Finish: 11:56:57 – 6th place AG
I walked away with NO blisters, and only a little bit of chafing. Surprisingly, besides the cold, this is the best race I’ve ever had, I think. So, I was 3 min slower, so what. I ultimately was faster In 2011, I finished 17th in my AG, and this year I finished 6th. Which given the crazy windy conditions, is all that matters to me.
Thank you to my family for all their support. I couldn’t do this without them. And having them there on race day, means more to me than they’ll ever know. LOVE YOU ALL! Big thanks to my friend Lisa, who drove over from Milwaukee to cheer! And also to my friend Erin, and her boyfriend Nick for all their support throughout the day. Thanks to everyone out there for all the cheers and support! I’m overwhelmed by all the sweet messages. You all are amazing. I am one VERY lucky girl.
Erin and I
And of course, a big thanks to my coach, Beth Walsh, for getting me to the finish line! I’m stoked to see what kind of race I can put together at Ironman Arizona in 10 weeks!
Big congrats to my coach, Beth Walsh, for a 4th place finish in the women’s pro field, and having the fastest run split of the day 3:05!
And in case you missed it – here’s my race day in action from start to finish
Also, big thanks to Oakley Women, Rehab United, and Coeur Sports!