Archive for September 2010

Ironman Race Report – Part 1

September 24th, 2010 — 11:50am

60073-562-023f1One thing I’ve learned is that Ironman doesn’t get any easier with experience. As many of you know, earlier this month I attempted my 7th Ironman triathlon. To say I know the Wisconsin course like the back of my hand is an understatement. I know every turn, incline, and surface. I’ve raced the course in rain and cold, extreme heat, and on a truly perfect day. So in some sense, I have a pretty good idea of what to expect on race day. Yet there are still so many unknowns. But one thing’s for certain—there will be pain.

Although I had no coach or real training plan, I worked hard and trained smart this season. I definitely put in the miles—nearly 3,000 from May through June. I rode through the off-season and bought a new bike (my first carbon frame) this spring. I also trained for and ran my first ultramarathon in May (the Ice Age 50). As a result of the psychological boost that came from my new bike coupled with the strength and endurance I gained from ultra marathon training, I was able set PR’s in every race I competed in this season. In fact, I was so pleased with this season’s results that I told myself if things don’t work out in this year’s Ironman, that’s okay. But deep down, I wanted to do well. And I really wanted to break 11 hours.

Leading up to the race, I was surprisingly calm. I slept like a baby the entire week before the race—which  is rarely the case for me leading up to an Ironman. The forecasts called for perfect weather—mid-seventies and overcast. I went through all of the week’s requisite steps—picked up my race packet, dropped off my bike and special needs bags, and anxiously waited and rested for the big day.

I woke up on race morning at 4:30 a.m. For breakfast I had a bagel with peanut butter, a banana, and French-press coffee. I got dressed and applied excessive amounts of Body Glide ALL OVER my body in an effort to avoid the severe chaffage that comes hand-in-hand with an Ironman. My best friend came to pick me up at 5ish. Together we biked the few blocks to the Capitol Square, where I dropped off my special needs bags in the assigned drop boxes. Then I set to work on the remaining pre-Ironman rituals—I got body marked, filled my water bottles, used the restroom, pumped air in my bike tires, and then found a comfy spot in the Monona Terrace where I could sit and relax. Luckily, I was able to see my parents at that point. As race time drew nearer, I pulled my wetsuit on and made my way to the swim start.

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From Wisconsin to Hawaii

September 13th, 2010 — 6:56am

by Karen Mittelstadt (guest blogger and proud friend of an Ironman)

It was the perfecting ending to what was a perfect day for my favorite Ironman. Kristin crossed the finish line with a big grin as she smashed her PR by close to 30 minutes, enjoyed a hug from her mom and dad, and then plunked down on the curb with a plate of cookies to celebrate the fact that she had earned her second-straight trip to Kona.

I suppose in a sport that is a bit obsessed with times and numbers, we should start there. Kristin’s official time was 10:44:40. She was 165th among the 2,556 competitors, 17th among women, and 2nd in her age group (W 25-29). Kristin swam her 2.4 miles in 58:46, 5th in her age group and 78th overall. She transitioned from the swim to the bike in 6:48. The 112-mile bike course took her 5:50:22, with a 19.2 miles-per-hour pace. Her bike time placed her 6th in her age group and 469th overall. I think Kristin must have known good things were going to happen on the run, because with a 3:42 bike-to-run transition, she was very quick to get to the course. Her marathon time of 3:45:04 reflected an 8:36 pace and placed her 1st in her age group and 143rd overall.

For me, as someone who gets to watch and admire the person behind these numbers, the memories I take away have more to do with what led up to the finish line than what the clock above it read and the results page revealed after the fact.

I suppose when you see someone train and work as hard as Kristin had leading up to yesterday, and watched her worry and fret about everything from the sodium ratio of her salt tablets to the number of cogs in her bike cassette to the order in which her gels were taped to her bike on race day, any finish is a good finish. (Please, just finish!)

But as Kristin tells me, her favorite part of Ironman is the months of training beforehand, the friends she has in the sport, and the adventures she enjoys on race day itself. The finish line certainly propels and lures her, but it’s not why she does it.

When I met Kristin at 5am on race day, to ride to the start (yes, she rode her bike to the start of Ironman!), she was smiling. That smile rarely left her face all day, and it got bigger often–like when she saw her parents before the start and as all her friends cheered her on the course. I’m sure there were grimaces. I know there at least one killer leg cramp on the bike, and some notable stomach issues on the run, but she fought through, kept going, and kept grinning.

A lot went right for Kristin yesterday. Certainly the weather was perfect for fast racing. She said she had her cleanest Ironman swim ever, never even bumping up against another competitor. In both transitions, Kristin had the unbelievable luck to be assisted by her great friends Jen and Krista. Her new bike rode smooth and fast. She drank and fueled well throughout the day. Her fans were everywhere—Jill and Ryan out in Verona; fellow Ironmen Lauren, Brodie, and Jamie back-and-forth on the course; coworkers around the Capitol; Brigham on State Street in his gladiator costume; Tim and Jackie pretty much every 20 miles on the bike and every 5 on the run; Kelly and Ben tracking from San Francisco; and Daily Mile and Endurance House friends everywhere. Her one moment of anxiety came as she started running in her long (and hot pink!) compression socks and thought they might be too hot, but even that played out fine.

There’s a bit of luck and good fortune that goes into every successful triathlon, and undoubtedly every Ironman has a strength that comes from physical capacity. But what sets Kristin apart–what makes her PRs happen and Kona-dreams come true–is the will and attitude that accompany all the rest of it. That’s what I love watching on race day. Yes, Kristin is fast (hell, she finished 45-seconds behind a pro). But as she’s out there ticking off her 140+ miles, she’s also inspiring, gracious, funny, encouraging, and very happy.

This morning, I’ll get to watch as Kristin signs up for next year’s Ironman World Championship and then stands on the stage as a top finisher at the Ironman banquet. Both well-deserved rewards for hours-and-hours of work and miles-and-miles of training. Knowing Kristin, she’ll take it all in with a fair bit of pride…and a very big smile.



13 comments » | Racing and Training

Madison Mini Race Report

September 2nd, 2010 — 8:15am

61881-052-013fI’ve wanted to participate in the Madison Mini-Marathon since it’s inaugural run last August. Unfortunately, I was out of town during last year’s race so I was unable to participate. Afterward, I heard nothing but great things about the race. I definitely wanted in for 2010.

Several aspects of the race were appealing to me—the proximity of the start line to my apartment, the post-race party at the Memorial Union terrace, last year’s fabulous race t-shirts, and the timing of the event (just three weeks out from Ironman Wisconsin). All good reasons to sign up. So I did. And the race took place on Saturday, August 21.

Unfortunately, I had a bit of an injury scare the day before the race. I had raced my last Aquathon on Thursday night (which included a 5k run) and felt some stiffness in my left knee the following morning. By Friday afternoon, my knee was completely locked. I couldn’t straighten it and had trouble simply walking across the office. As you can probably imagine, I was worried sick all day—that I wouldn’t be able to run the mini. And more importantly, that my Ironman Wisconsin dreams would be crushed. But then a miracle happened. As the work day came to an end and I was able to get up from my desk and onto my feet, the pain subsided. By race morning, I was seemingly back to normal. It was time to get my run on. 008

I’ve come to learn that race morning is infinitely easier when you keep it local. I literally rolled out of bed, got dressed and pinned on my race number, ate a piece of toast with peanut butter, and was on my way. I biked the few blocks to the Memorial Union and joined the masses of runners preparing for the start of the half-marathon. I had a lot of friends who were doing the race and was able to see many of them beforehand.

Although the race began at 7 a.m., it took a few minutes for us to actually start moving. The first mile was all uphill as we climbed Langdon Street (Greek row) toward the state capitol. I wasn’t sprinting, but was running at a good pace and weaving between packs of runners. As we rounded the capitol, we passed by the farmers’ market before heading down State Street. I felt winded from the Langdon hill, and hoped I hadn’t taken it out too hard. My goal was to run the race as hard as possible, while keeping a pace I could feasibly maintain for 13.1 miles. I’ve had first hand experience with taking a half-marathon out too hard and bonking in the middle. All I have to do is call on that horrendous experience to keep my pace in check.

Although still early in the morning, it was already very humid. But luckily, the skies were overcast, so we didn’t have the hot sun to deal with. I took in fluids at every aid station and dumped water on my head repeatedly. Within the first few miles I was soaking wet. After weaving through the Mills neighborhood, we entered the Arboretum and ran on the roads for the next few miles. My legs were tired from training (and racing on Thursday), but overall, I felt strong. I kept telling myself that 13.1 was nothing compared to the 20+ mile training runs I had done the previous two weekends. 003

Once we emerged from the arboretum, we ran by Camp Randall stadium and then toward the Lakeshore path. My legs and feet felt increasingly heavy (probably partially due to my wet running shoes), but I knew that the finish line was in sight. It was great to run along the lake and take in the beautiful sights of campus and the sailboats gliding across the water in the distance. With one mile to go to the finish line, I locked my jaw and kicked it into high gear. As I rounded the Memorial Union, the big crowds of people cheered me through the elaborate finish line arch. The announcer said my name and commented that my running posture was excellent. Whatever that means. My official time was 1:36:33. Which made for a 7:23 pace and personal record for me at the half-marathon distance. I was the 21st female overall (out of 1,767).

I was happy with my performance, but even more happy to be part of such a great Madison event. I would definitely recommend the Madison Mini-Marathon for anyone looking for a late-summer race (there are both 5k and half-marathon distances offered). The half-marathon course highlights the very best parts of downtown Madison, and everything throughout the weekend was phenomenally well-organized. And you certainly can’t beat post-race beers on the terrace.

2 comments » | Racing and Training

Door County Camping

September 1st, 2010 — 11:11am

44987_1263164879615_1844541879_528697_509486_nI spent the past weekend camping with a group of six friends at Peninsula State Park in Door County. As I’ve mentioned previously, I grew up camping there with my family. Door County continues to be one of my very favorite places to spend a summer or fall weekend. The area offers the perfect balance of the great outdoors with great dining and shopping. What can I say, I need a little bit of both. 44433_1263162519556_1844541879_528653_51451_n

I took the day off of work on Friday and made the drive with two of my friends. We took the scenic route along Lake Michigan, and enjoyed the great views from the port cities along the way. Upon arriving at the park, we set up camp and headed out on a bike ride to the beach. By the time we made it back to the site an hour our two later, our other friends had arrived and we enjoyed a delicious camp dinner—foil packets with potatoes, sausage, onions, peppers, and brussel spouts. After several rounds of competitive Banagrams by the light of our headlamps, we retired to our tents for the night. 46381_1263164159597_1844541879_528684_7483566_n

Saturday was filled with more adventures. I woke up early to get in a short run along the lake with one of my friends. We arrived back to camp just as our other friends were beginning to emerge from their tents. After a quick camp breakfast, we hopped in our cars to head to the Cana Island Lighthouse. There, we took a tour of the grounds and climbed the daunting spiral staircase all the way to top. The views of Lake Michigan were incredible. We pondered what life must have been like back in the day for the families of lighthouse keepers. It was fun to learn more about the trials and tribulations such families faced.46795_1263163039569_1844541879_528663_5816577_n

After our informative lighthouse visit, we drove the peninsula and took in a few shops and boutiques. We stopped for ice cream at Wilson’s and then headed back to camp for lunch. Back at the park, we ventured out on our bikes for another trip to the beach. After some nice time in the sun and requisite lake baths, we got ready for our night out in the big city. We had reservations for a fish boil at the White Gull Inn at 7pm. I’ve been to a few fish boils at the White Gull Inn over the years, but the experience never gets old. I love the whole production of cooking the Michigan white fish in a big cauldron of water, and the giant flame and boil over that erupt as the master boiler throws kerosene at the fire. We drank beers as we watched the show from the patio. Once the food was ready, we headed in for a buffet dinner of white fish, potatoes, bread, coleslaw, and fresh cherry pie. Afterward, I was so stuffed I could barely move. 44417_1263161879540_1844541879_528638_1901090_n

The next morning we did a group run together. It was great to further explore the roads and trails of the park. After breakfast and packing up camp, our time together sadly came to an end. We parted ways and headed home. But luckily, I’ll be back soon. I have a fall camping trip scheduled in Door County in early October. One thing’s for certain—I’ll never tire of long weekends in Door County.

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