Ironman Wisconsin Recon

Registering for a race, you have never seen takes guts or maybe stupidity. Ironman Wisconsin is the only 140.6 race that is within a 4hr proximity of central Illinois. You would think that makes it the perfect option. Unfortunately for me the terrain of central Illinois is extremely different than that 4 hours north. This was the main reason for the Ironman Wisconsin reconnaissance.

I heard many story’s about IMWI bike course. Mainly that it was a 112 miles uphill, into the wind and on chip and seal. I joked about this, and thought…. how bad can it really be?

Friday evening Eric Sommer, Travis Schroll and I packed up the Jeep and headed north to Madison, WI. Our plan was to wake up Saturday morning and ride out to Fireman’s Park, meet up with Joe House, ride the two loop course, than ride back into Madison… An easy 112 miles…

We left the hotel at 8:10, a few minutes behind schedule.  We zig zagged through downtown trying to make it to John Nolan dr.  We passed some college student houses.  They all had balconies.  One had a sign… “Cool Guys Live Here”.  Oh, to be in college…  We eventually made it to the bike path on John Nolan, and started the IMWI bike course.  we went out pretty easy thinking we had until 9 to meet up with Joe.

The course on the way out really didn’t seem to hilly.  I started wondering what all the fuss was about?  We made it to Fireman’s Park. Joe was ready to go.  We snapped a few photo and headed out on the 40 mile loop.

Our pace was slow, and we were interested in learning the route.  We looked around, talked and waited for something to happen.  That something arrive soon enough in the form of some giant hills.  My experience from last year on hilly course was spin up and take it easy on the legs.  You have to save them for the run!  The hills started coming one by one, but with each hill was a decent.  I clocked over 40mph going down a few of them.

One major climb comes to mind, which was in the later half of the loop.  A couple of clubbers caught up with us, before the climb.  Eric and I had a hard time being showed up (or holding back).  We both started spinning up the hill to catch them.  Before I knew it I was in my 42-23.  That was all I had. Spinning, almost looking for one more gear.  Damn! this was a hill!  We managed to drop the crazy clubbers and their wool clothing, but slowed down at the top to wait up for our group.

The first loop took us over 2 and half hours and we stopped at Joe’s car for some refreshments.  We had a cooler full of Gatorade, Mt. Dew, Pepsi, and Red Bull, thanks to his wife!  I refilled my bottle and downed a Dew.  Our second lap was going to be a little more intense and everyone would ride their own pace, and meet back up at the end.

The four of us started out, but split up rather quickly with the first hill and decent.   I tried to get all the speed I could on the downhills to help power up the other side.  I really wanted to make this one hurt, hell I drove 4 hours for this…  Eric and I started pushing the pace.  The group kind of fell apart on the hills, but that was ok, we planned on meeting up later.

I tried to push Eric the best I could, but he was way too strong.  I could only hope that he wouldn’t drop me.

We flew through the second lap in 2 hours or so, and surprisingly knew the course pretty well.  We made it back to Fireman’s Park and started to wait for Travis to show up.  Waiting for 6 minutes, I decided to text him, and tell him we were at the car.  Seconds later, I get a text saying that he was heading back to Madison already, which would put him 2+ miles up the road.

We jumped on our bike reluctantly and started the chase.  I was trashed after that last lap, and I don’t think Eric felt any better.  We got back down in the aero position and gave it what we had left.  This sucked!  We made it to Whalen road, and got kicked in the face with another hill, not to mention a head wind on a crappy road.  All I could think about was getting back to the hotel.

Finally out of the blue Travis appeared.  Thank God we caught him.  We stopped at a light and texted Joe, telling him we were heading back.  Going back through town.  The local college kids were already having fun.  Riding down one street a whole house started chanting for us “U..S..A..”, “U..S..A”…  It was kind of funny, like having you legs ripped from your body and somebody telling you a knock knock joke.  That kind funny.  (I felt like ass!)

We made it back to the hotel, and realize that our nutrition was not spot on for the day.  We were starving to death and plan on heading out immediately to find some food.  But after 3 showers and some lounging, 5 o’clock rolled around pretty quickly.  We headed out the Dane.

All day I thought about BEER, but at this point, it was the last thing on my mind.  We ate dinner and headed back to the hotel, for a quick 45 minute rest before meeting up with Joe and his wife at Buffalo Wild Wings.  Two words: Ranger IPA on Tap!

We  planned on meeting up with Joe at 8 in the morning for a run on the IMWI run course, but there was a delay.  We did make it out on the course at a very slow running pace.  6 miles in, Eric and I called it. So much for a long run.

117 miles on the bike and 6 miles of running.  Much, much tougher than I thought it would be.  I am really starting to wonder why I registered for this damn race in the first place.  It will definitely be a challenge to finish.

Before heading out-of-town we stopped at Machinery Row.  A kick ass bike shop. They had everything, including two Trek Speed Concepts.  This was the icing on the cake to great weekend in Madison!  A big shout out to Joe for a great time in Madison!