Ironman Wisconsin Race Report [LONG post]

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Harold Buck

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Sep 13, 2003, 12:36:01 AM9/13/03
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[This is a really long post. Please feel free to start new thread names
if you're responding to a specific part. I tried to put some headings in
so you can skip parts you aren't interested in.

I'll also be throwing out a large number of other threads about the
race; I'll tag them all with "IMWisc."]


***Background***

I've wanted to do an Ironman since I first heard about triathlon in
1982, when I was a high school junior. I figured the swim wouldn't be
too hard since I was a summer ocean lifeguard already. I was a good high
school cross country runner (17:15 for 5 k), but I didn't know much
about biking. I did the Philadelphia Marathon my senior year I high
school without any real training plan or nutrition plan, bonked at mile
18 after 2 hours 10 minutes, and limped home in 3:45.

At that point, triathlon wasn't very popular, and it wasn't something
easy to get information about, so I didn't do anything about it for a
while.

In college, I did a wide variety of intramural sports, but no focused
training except swimming, running, rowing, and paddleboarding in the
summer through lifeguarding. My biggest regret in my life is that I
didn't run cross country in college because I though it would take time
away from studying, when in reality all it would have taken time away
from was hanging out with friends in the lounge.

When I started grad school in 1988, I subscribed to Triathlete magazine
and Runner's World, and I started training for a marathon. I still
didn't have much of a training plan and ended up with a foot injury that
kept me from doing the race. I was still interested in doing an Ironman,
but I got sidetracked again.

Over the next 12 years I wouldn't do much training during the school
year, but I always tried to get in shape for the summer lifeguard
competition season (sometimes with better results than others). But when
my wife and I decided it was time to have kids, I knew my days of
running out to New Jersey in the summer to lifeguard were numbered and
that I'd have to find a new way to stay in shape.

When I got back to Minnesota in August of 2000, I searched the internet
and found the Square Lake Triathlon, a half-mile swim, 18-mile bike, and
5-mile run. I'd been running and swimming that summer already, so I
borrowed a bike and trained for the three weeks or so before the race.
I'd figured I would do it in about 2 hours, and I did 2:03. More
importantly, I was hooked.

I bought a road bike with clip-in pedals and immediately started having
IT-band problems in my left knee. The diagnosis from rec.sport.triathlon
was that I had IT-band syndrome and that bike fit should be addressed. I
took it to one place, where they said the bike I'd been sold was too
small but that they could make adjustments for me. That didn't work. I
went to another place for a "Fit Kit" fitting--where they have special
tools to measure your femur length and other important stuff--and they
said the bike was just too small. I ended up taking it back where I
bought it and getting a different bike in a larger size for $50 more. I
went back to the bike shop that did my Fit Kit to finish the fitting.

The problem now was that I was getting the IT-band pain when I was
running. The next spring I also had some trouble with my right Achilles
tendon. I lost the entire 2001 racing season to physical therapy, doctor
visits, x-rays, MRIs, a cortisone shot, and more physical therapy. Then,
in October of 2001, my son was born, and I began work as a stay-a-home
dad.

Eventually, orthotics and physical therapy seemed to do the trick, and I
got back on track in 2002. I signed up for a sprint triathlon, an
Olympic-distance race--which got cancelled--and a half-Ironman distance
race. The deal with my wife was that if I still wanted to do an Ironman
after doing the half then it was okay with her. The half-Ironman was 93
degrees and humid, and it took about an hour longer than I'd expected
because of it, but I hadn't changed my mind. I signed up for the 2003
Ironman Wisconsin on the day online registration opened.

***Training***

When you tell people that an Ironman consists of a 2.4-mile swim,
112-mile bike, and a 26.2-mile run, most people figure you must have to
train 30 hours per week. While some pros might train that much, you need
a lot less to just finish an Ironman. I was figuring that my biggest
weeks would be about 16 hours, with the rest around 10 hours. The plan
was to run 3 times per week, swim 2-3 times, and bike 3-4 times,
starting in the spring. The most important workouts would be the long
runs and bike rides.

I decided to get into cross-country skiing to help get in shape over the
winter. However, there was barely any snow in Minnesota, so that didn't
work so well. I also coached high school fencing in the winter, which
cut severely into my training time. The fencing season ended at the end
of February, and I was eager to start taking my son to the daycare at
the gym and getting some workouts in. Unfortunately, he didn't
cooperate; while he'd loved going to the daycare in October, he wasn't
having any of it in March. He screamed his head off every time I tried
to leave. So that was out, and I had to count on my wife watching my son
to get training time.

Then we found out my wife would be losing her job at the beginning of
July. I ended up officiating a lot of extra high school lacrosse games
in the spring to save up money just in case we needed it later. This
really cut into training, but at least it involved some running. I began
building up my long runs from 7 miles at the beginning of April to about
14 miles by the middle of June.

By the beginning of June, the lacrosse season had ended and Devin was
willing to tolerate daycare at the gym again, so I started to get more
training in. I was still having a hard time getting bike rides in, since
I couldn't do that at the gym. I managed to get a 50-mile ride and an
80-mile ride in during the spring, but there wasn't much of a slow
build-up like I'd planned. I'd never ridden longer than 62 miles before
this season, so jumping up to 80 with little training was kind of a big
deal.

I made sure not to sign up for too many races because I was afraid
shorter races on the weekend would just cut into my longer rides and
runs. I did the Trek 100 (a 100-mile charity ride) in early June and a
half-Ironman at the end of June. The next weekend I did a 103-mile ride
with a friend, including about 30 miles in the hilliest part of town.
I'd been warned about the hills on the IM Wisconsin course, and I wanted
to be ready. The weekend after that I did the American Cancer Society
Relay for Life; I ran about 16 and a half miles on the track in 3 hours.
Two weeks later, I did a 106-mile ride by myself, this time with about
50 miles of tough hills.

The day after this ride, my family flew to Indianapolis to look for a
house. My wife had accepted a job there, and we had to move as quickly
as possible. Complicating matters was that shortly after we returned
from the house-hunting trip, my son and I had plans to fly to New Jersey
to see my family for the first two weeks of August.

While in New Jersey, I did a 3 hour, 20 minute run (probably about 17 to
17.5 miles), a 3-mile ocean swim, and a 90-mile bike ride on a stiff,
rented road bike that didn't fit me particularly well. I'd intended to
ride 115 or so, but between the lack of comfort, the strong winds, the
flat course, and the lack of scenery (3 laps on an 18-mile long island),
I bailed out early. I did get a few other swims, runs, and rides while
there; in fact, I think while I was there was the only time I actually
achieved my goal of three rides, runs, and swims in a week.

The day after my son and I returned to the Twin Cities, we moved to
Indianapolis. In my final month, I got one more long ride and run (60
miles and 9 miles), plus some shorter workouts, which were all less than
an hour. I was supposed to be tapering at this point anyway, but I
didn't intend to taper so sharply. They often say you're better to be
10% undertrained than 1% overtrained, and I hoped it was true. If
nothing else, I simply wasn't able to train so much that I ended up with
overuse injuries.

I figured I was probably ready, but I asked the triathlon newsgroup
online and people seemed to concur that my training would probably be
fine for someone who had a goal of finishing. However, I probably would
not be taking home the $25,000 prize for first place.

***Race Week***

I spent the beginning of the week packing up my gear. An Ironman
presents tremendous logistical problems, and you need to make sure you
have everything you need. You really want the peace of mind that comes
with knowing you'll have everything you need when you need it.

You're issued 5 bags for your gear and supplies. The first is the dry
clothes bag, in which you put anything that you have along before the
race as well as some comfortable clothes and shoes for after the race.
You also have two transition bags, one for the swim-to-bike transition
and one for the bike-to-run. After you complete your transition and
leave the changing tent, volunteers stuff your gear from the previous
leg into the empty bag and you can pick it up after the event is over.
Finally, you have two special needs bags, one that you get in the middle
of the bike and one for the middle of the run. These are mostly for
re-supplying food, but I had some other stuff in there as well, like
extra sunblock for the bike and a long-sleeved shirt in case it got cold
after dark for the run.

I got my last workout on Labor Day, when Indianapolis was getting 7
inches of rain. I made sure to pack a lot of warm clothes in case the
weather was like that on race day. When I drove to Milwaukee Thursday
night, it looked like that was a good idea since it was quite cold after
dark. I got a great night sleep at my in-law's house: ten hours, which
is a rarity for me.

On Friday I had lunch at Noodles and Company, then drove the last hour
or so to Madison and checked in. I then went to the Expo to buy
overpriced clothes that I'd be ashamed to wear if I couldn't finish the
race (a bike jersey, arm warmers, a polo shirt, and a long-sleeved
T-shirt). I went to the carbo-loading dinner that night but left after I
finished eating, not realizing that there was a bit of a program at the
end. I found out later there was one guy there who was doing his
forty-fourth Ironman race. That's a fortune in entry fees alone!

Friday night I went to stay with a friend, Liz, in Madison. I finished
packing my gear bags and got to sleep as early as I could, managing to
get another 10 hours sleep. This was fantastic, since the sleep you get
two nights before the race is most important (and no one can really
sleep the night before the race anyway).

On Saturday, the main goal was to carbo-load. I quickly got tired of
eating; at my second breakfast (Pancakes at Perkins), I was forced to
quote Homer Simpson: "I don't understand: there's food in front of me,
but I don't want to eat it!"

I checked my bike in and dropped off my transition bags, then waited for
the rules meeting to start. Instead of just describing the race course,
they had a video to cover all of the important issues. It starred
Triathlete columnists Paul Huddle and Roch Frey, and it was
*hysterical*. Huddle wanted to hear about the strippers that would be on
hand to entertain us after the swim, and Frey explained that they
weren't "strippers," but "wetsuit peelers." Huddle also complained about
how long the runs in transition were and how that distance should be
taken off the Marathon at the end. I wish they would have included the
video on the race DVD they gave out on Monday.

They also had a discussion about the race rules, for which about 300
people stood up and walked out. I imagine many of these were people who
got penalties on race day.

I went to Olive Garden for dinner and got the "Never Ending Pasta Bowl,"
but by that point I couldn't even finish the first platter. I went back
to my friend's place, forced myself to eat some more, set 8 different
alarms so I wouldn't oversleep, and was in bed by 9:30.

At this point, I knew I'd done the best training I could do given my
circumstances, and that my gear was in the best shape it could be. I
wasn't too stressed at this point; I knew I was either ready or not, and
I wouldn't know which until it was all over.

***Race day***

I woke up at 4:25 a.m., 5 minutes before my alarms were set to start. I
started eating right away, shaved, brushed my teeth, grabbed the last f
my gear, and headed for the car with my friend, Liz, who was kind enough
to offer to drive me to the race and pick me up afterward so I didn't
have to deal with parking.

It was already warm, and temperature predictions had been rising all
week. I dropped off my special needs bags, went to body marking, put
some frozen water bottles on my bike and pumped up the tires, ate some
more, and put on my wetsuit and timing chip. For those of you who don't
know, you wear a small chip on your ankle that records the time you pass
certain checkpoints on the course. It gives accurate times and also
prevents people from taking shortcuts, since if you miss a timing mat
they know you didn't do the whole course.

You had to enter the water through an arch with a timing mat so they
knew exactly who was in the water when the race started; they could then
check to make sure everyone made it out of the swim safely. The course
consisted of two laps of a large rectangle, with the corners marked by
green buoys and other color buoys along the sides.

The starting line was at least 200 meters across, and I'd spent a lot of
time trying to decide exactly where to line up. If you're too close to
the front and you aren't fast enough, you get beaten up by the faster
swimmers climbing over you. Too far back, and you have to try to get
around the slower swimmers, some of whom are a little freaked out by the
swim to start with.

Usually for open-water swims, I like to start at the front of the line
but on the far outside and angle over to the first buoy. It makes you
swim a little farther, but it keeps you from getting pounded. Today,
however, I decided to go tight to the inside and maybe 25 yards back
from the starting line. I'd found out that you only had to go around the
green corner buoys; you could go on either side of the other buoys, so
the plan was to stay just to the inside of the course--where I expected
far fewer people to be--and then fight it out going around the corners.
This worked perfectly: the common turns were rough, as expected, but the
rest of the swim was relatively uneventful.

The only exception was after the third turn, when I couldn't find the
next green buoy anywhere. I just tried to follow the crowd until I
figured out what was going on: there was a judges' boat parked right in
front of it, so there was no way to see it.

I made it back to the makeshift beach and caught a look at the clock as
I went through. I finished the swim in 1:15:03, and I'd been estimating
1:15 for the swim for months. So far, so good.

I grabbed my glasses from the eyeglass table and proceeded to the
strippers, er, wetsuit peelers. I got a calf cramp when they told me to
point my toes, but the guy stretched it out for me real quickly and I
started the *long* run to the parking ramp, then up the parking ramp and
into the building. I grabbed my transition bag, headed into the changing
tent, got my bike shorts and jersey on, grabbed my shoes, and headed
back out. I had to stop at the port-o-potty, then did another long run
to where my bike was. I ate two gels during the run to the bike and put
on my bike gloves while running, then stopped at my bike and put on my
bike shoes. I'd decided this was the best option, since I really didn't
want to run that far in cycling shoes. I ran my bike to the mount line
and headed for the roll down and out of the parking ramp. My transition
time was 11:35, which was pretty good for me considering there was at
least a half-mile of running in transition and I had to go to the
bathroom.

For the bike, I'd been warned about how many people go too hard on the
first half and pay for it in the second. I tried to always go one gear
easier than I felt like I should be using, but I was averaging about
16.5 m.p.h., which is a bit fast for me for this long a ride. I chalked
it up to not having to stop and start for intersections and kept going
at this pace. I did all of my re-fueling on the fly for the first lap,
slowing down to grab bottles of Gatorade and water from the volunteers
at the aid stations (which were supposed to be about every 10 miles, but
I think it was more like every 15 miles).

I ate a Clif bar during the first hour of the bike, then started to eat
a Clif Shot gel every half hour. I also took electrolyte capsules every
hour or so. It didn't take too long before I wasn't excited about the
gels, but I knew the longer I could keep pumping them in the more
calories I'd have for the Marathon, when I'd probably have a lot harder
time taking in calories.

The hills weren't as hard as the ones where I'd trained, but they were
relentless. Furthermore, they were far enough apart that you couldn't
keep momentum from one downhill into the next uphill. There were a lot
of spectators, many ringing cowbells in typical IM-Wisconsin-fan
fashion. I told them, "It sounds good, but it needs more cowbell," a
Saturday Night Live reference lost on most people. On some of the hills
there were people dressed in devil outfits, shaking pitchforks at you as
labored away. I told them, "Too bad I don't believe in you!" and kept
pedaling.

At one point, I was what was essentially a paceline of 15 people blow by
me. All I could think was, "Where are the race marshals when you need
them?" Not 5 seconds later, I heard the motorcycle coming up behind me.
It pulled up next to the paceline and the official wrote down penalties
for a long time. It was pretty sweet.

I was deeply disturbed by the amount of litter I saw on the course, and
I hope a lot of these idiots got penalized as well. Your bike jersey has
3 pockets, so pick one for a trash pocket. I was also bothered by the
amount of "inspirational graffiti" on the roads; chalk is fine, but they
specifically told us to tell family members to avoid using paint. The
litter and paint just make the locals sorry that we're there and
jeopardize the route for the next year.

I couldn't believe how many people flatted on the bike. I think I saw 20
people myself. There were also at least a few crashes.

At the end of the first lap, you go through the town of Verona. They'd
had huge crowds, estimated at 25,000, last year, and they were
predicting 40,000 this year. I think someone forgot to tell them the
Packers were playing the Vikings on TV that day. I'd be surprised if
there were even 5,000 people there when I went through.

At about the halfway point I got my special needs bag; that was the
first time I'd stopped since the bike started. I went to the bathroom,
mixed up some of my own Gatorade since the bottles they were handing out
were starting to taste too strong, put on some sunscreen, and ate some
raisins instead of a gel. Then I got back to riding, and started doing
some calculations. It was 12:30 now, and if I did 13 miles an hour I'd
hit my predicted time of 4:30. I was pretty sure I could do better than
13 mph, so things were looking good.

However, the sun was higher and hotter by this point, and I started to
have to pour a lot of water on myself. At one rest stop, I heard about a
guy that didn't want to quit, but he wanted someone to come give him an
I.V. They told him he was done for the day.

Psychologically, that third quarter is always the toughest: you're deep
enough into it that the adrenaline is long gone and you're tired, but
far enough from the end that you can't see the end. A theme for the rest
of the day emerged, as I had to stop at the port-o-potties two more
times on the bike.

Anyway, the hills felt a lot tougher on the second lap, but I managed to
handle them all; more than a few people were walking up the big hills on
lap two. However, the heat and hills eventually wore me down, and I
ended up doing the second half of the bike pretty close to that 13 mph I
mentioned before. Fortunately, the road back to town was mostly
downhill, and I started to look really look forward to getting off the
bike after 8 hours and doing something different.

I'd expected to finish around 4:30, and at exactly 4:30 my bike computer
turned over to 112.0 miles. Unfortunately, my computer isn't calibrated
perfectly, so I was still 2 miles away. There was also something weird
at the 105-mile marker that a few other people noticed; there was
suddenly a big jump between what our bike computers were showing and
where they had the marker.

As I came into T2, I had to ride back up the parking ramp, but I'd read
from people's race reports last year that it wouldn't be that bad, and
it wasn't. I took my shoes off so I could leave them on the bike,
pedaled up to the dismount line, and jumped off. Liz was there, cheering
loudly, with a big sign.

I'd gotten some good advice online: no matter how bad you feel after the
bike, focus on changing your clothes and getting out of the tent.
Sitting there feeling sorry for yourself doesn't get you any closer to
the finish line. Fortunately, I felt pretty good, but it was nice to
have a clear mission. I changed quickly, hit the bathroom again, and
started walking and eating a little. I finished the second transition in
8:31. It was close to 5:00 p.m. now, and I had a little over 7 hours to
make the midnight cutoff.

My goal was to walk for a half-mile or so until my legs turned over from
biking to running, then to start running in between the aid
stations--placed roughly every mile--and walking through the aid
stations. It was still pretty hot--someone told me later that it had hit
90--so this strategy only stayed in effect for about the first three
miles, after which I started walking everything but the downhills.

Around mile 4, I met up with Jay Steele, whom I'd met at the carbo
dinner on Friday. He'd been lying on the ground at an aid station for he
didn't know how long. He'd gone numb "from the jaw down," but he was
feeling better and jumped up when he saw me go by. He was on his second
lap of the Marathon, 13 miles ahead of me, but we stayed together until
he had about a mile to go, occasionally talking each other into jogging
for a while. We were in perfect agreement that there would only be
walking when going uphill.

For most of the first lap I didn't feel like eating would be a great
idea. I ate a few pretzels and drank Gatorade and water, but I didn't
think I could stomach any gels at that point. Even though I didn't think
I was drinking more than I wanted to, I was hitting the bathrooms more
and more frequently. I guess it was a lot better than being dehydrated,
but I hated to lose the time.

By the time I finished the first half it was about 8:00 p.m., and I felt
good. I was tired, of course, but I had no major problems, and I was
buoyed by two things. First, I was making frequent calculations that
showed even if I walked 20-minute miles the rest of the way I'd still
finish with a cushion. That cushion was about 12 minutes when I started
calculating, and it kept getting bigger, so I knew I was actually
averaging better than 20-minute miles.

Second, I knew that if I needed to I could go to some version of walk a
minute/run a minute and probably keep it going for a long time, so if it
looked like it was going to be close I could significantly increase my
average speed. But since the goal was just to finish under the 17-hour
cutoff, I just kept walking and calculating. I figured if I started
running now I might wipe myself out, so I just kept that as a reserve
option. In any case, the psychological help of knowing that if I just
kept doing what I was doing I would finish was immensely comforting.

At mile 13, I got my run special needs bag. I'd given up caffeine for
the previous 8 weeks so that I'd get the maximum jolt at this point. I
had two caffeinated gels in the next half hour; it was hard to tell what
effect they had--I still didn't want to run--but I think they probably
gave me some extra energy. I also switched from Gatorade to flat Coke at
this point; I was told not to go back to Gatorade after switching since
it would mess with my stomach.

Not too long after switching, I started to feel a little queasy. I don't
know if it was the gels or the Coke, but I'd grabbed some chewable
Pepto-Bismol from my special needs bag, and that really did the trick.

The first two legs of an Ironman aren't very social. You can't really
chat while you're swimming, and the anti-drafting rules on the bike make
it illegal to ride close enough so you can talk. The run, however, is
completely different; people are constantly pairing up and talking,
helping each other through the Marathon. On the second lap, I spent
significant time with a number of different people, often getting
separated (because of my now ridiculously frequent bathroom breaks) and
then pairing up again later.

I had one moment of sheer, stark terror. We came around a corner and saw
the capitol building, which is near the finish, but we knew we should
have about 8 miles to go and could think of a long chunk from the first
lap that we hadn't done a second time. We were sure we'd missed a turn
and were on our way to getting DQ'd, but we finally figured out that
there was a turn-around point further down the street, after which we'd
hit the missing section.

Liz apparently knows Madison very well, because I saw her about 7
different times. The last time was around 9:30, after which she went to
pick up my bike to throw it in the car. I took to calling her
"IronValet" since she did so much to help me.

The rest of the second lap was uneventful, and I knew I was going to
finish. In fact--except for thinking that I'd missed a turn--I never had
a moment where I thought I couldn't do it.

As I got closer to the finish, I started to see some people I knew,
including Jay Steele. The closer I got, the more people there were
cheering for me. Perfect strangers wanted high fives. I started to get
very emotional and started running just before making the turn onto MLK
Drive. It was *incredible*. There were hundreds of people cheering like
crazy as I ran the last 150 yards or so. I crossed the line, assured the
medical personnel I was okay, got my finisher's shirt and medal, and was
greeted by IronValet.

She rounded up the last of my gear while I got changed into dry clothes
and signed up for my free massage. Things were going pretty well,
considering what I'd just done. However, after my massage, when I sat up
I suddenly got extreme chills. IronValet had wisely saved out my
sweatshirt even though I'd told her I didn't think I'd need it, and they
gave my some foil blankets. Eventually it settled down, and Liz got the
car and drove me home. Later, my mom suggested that the massage lowered
my blood pressure, so when I sat up the blood drained out of my upper
body.

We went back to the apartment, and, because I'd had chills, I skipped my
plan for a bath and just collapsed into bed, getting up at least every
20 minutes for the first few hours for more visits to the bathroom. Liz
was kind enough to bring in my gear and wash out my (borrowed) wetsuit
and other gear.

***The Day After***

I managed to sleep maybe 5 and a half hours, then I got up and got a
bath. Liz made me some breakfast, and I limped back to bed for an hour
nap. Then she helped me load up the car and I headed back to Monona
Terrace, dressed in the recommended attire for the banquet (finisher's
T-shirt). I was stiff, particularly in my right hip and the back of my
right knee, but it wasn't really that bad. I'd say it was marginally
worse than I felt after doing my first half-Ironman, exactly one year
earlier.

I picked up what was left of my special needs bags, got the results
book, and looked over the Official Finisher's Merchandise, none of which
I thought was worth the money. I then headed down to the banquet. I was
a little late, but I had time to grab some food and sit down before the
program began. They spent some time telling us how awesome we were, and
then they gave out the awards (which is probably a lot more exciting if
you win one). Afterward, they handed out DVDs with a video of the race,
and I got in the car for the long drive back to Indianapolis.

***Afterthoughts***

A lot of people think you're crazy when you tell then you want to do an
Ironman, and they simply can't imagine what would make someone do it. I
can't speak for everyone, but, for me, it was the attraction of setting
a goal that seems impossibly high, working really hard to achieve it,
and being successful. You can't possibly imagine the feeling in that
last hundred yards unless you've wanted something so much and worked so
hard to get it.

There's also a tremendous amount of camaraderie during the Marathon,
with lots of people fighting toward the same goal, encouraging each
other and forming alliances. It isn't often that people readily connect
with perfect strangers so easily, and helping each other through it is a
big part of what Ironman--at least at the back of the pack--is all about.

Often people spend the Marathon lamenting their condition and swearing
they'll never do another Ironman, and then their stance softens over
time and eventually they change their mind. I have to say, I never felt
awful and I never got to the point where I was swearing I'd never do one
again. However, I'm quite certain that I would have ended up in the
hospital if I told my wife I was going to do another one next year,
especially with another kid on the way. (In any case, I'm not going to
be doing Ironman Wisconsin next year, since the race filled up just a
few days after registration opened.)

So next year I'm going to focus on trying to get faster by focusing on
some shorter races. I'll probably still do at least a half-Ironman, and
I'm trying to get some people together to run the Milwaukee Marathon
next fall. But I know with some work I can get faster, especially
considering how slow I am right now.

***Acknowledgements***

There's no way I could have done this alone. My wife was extremely
understanding about letting me get time to train and spent a lot of
extra time watching our son. I think my 8-hour bike rides were in some
ways as tough on her as they were on me.

A variety of other people helped out watching Devin so I could train,
including my sisters, my mom and dad, my mother-in-law, my sister-in-law
and brother-in-law, Kari Treichel , and the childcare people at
Maplewood Community Center.

I'd like to thank my parents, who took me to swimming lessons when I was
a kid even though I had no interest in athletics at that point, and who
sent me to a private high school where I was forced to participate in
team sports (which is the only reason I started cross country running).

Finally, I'd like to thank my high school cross country coach, Dave
Satterthwaite, who had just the right temperament to take a kid who
wasn't into sports and make him really love them.


--Harold Buck


"I used to rock and roll all night,
and party every day.
Then it was every other day. . . ."
-Homer J. Simpson

trihard

unread,
Sep 13, 2003, 10:46:22 AM9/13/03
to
Congratulations, Harold, on becoming an ironman, and on your articulate and
detailed race report!

Your report helped put me back in the ironman mentality for my upcoming
Ultramax extravaganza, 2 weeks from now (....although, i'm a bit concerned
that i'm not psyched up enough for it, my 6th ironman distance event). But
there's nothing like hearing a first-timer's experience to put it all back
into perspective!

One comment: You forgot to acknowledge your friend and ironvalet, Liz in
your "acknowledgements" section! Having been on the receiving end of some
very excellent support----ironvalet is a very apt description!---and also on
the giving end of hopefully as exceptional support, I've come to realize
just how crucial a competent support person is to your ultimate*enjoyment*
of the ironman experience, especially if you're having any sort of post-race
discomfort!

again, congrats!


"Harold Buck" <no_one...@attbi.com> wrote in message
news:no_one_knows-8A9B...@news.comcast.giganews.com...

JGre700769

unread,
Sep 13, 2003, 11:20:17 AM9/13/03
to
Congratulations!
Your race report was very inspirational to an iron-wanabe.


Polly

1/2FeDoc

unread,
Sep 13, 2003, 6:27:34 PM9/13/03
to
Harold - Totally awesome! You are an ironman!!! I thoroughly enjoyed your
report. I'll have to save and read it in the beginning of 2004 when my
training ramps up for my first IM in Lake Placid 2004. Some great tips.
Thanks. For now 2 more short races and a fall season of rest. 2003 seems
like it was a great year for you. Congrats.

Walt S.

--
__ o 0
/\o__ -\<, //\/
^^^^^^^ ( ) / ( ) \/\
..../

Asweepay

unread,
Sep 13, 2003, 11:19:32 PM9/13/03
to

>I told them, "It sounds good, but it needs more cowbell," a
>Saturday Night Live reference lost on most people.

-tock- -tock- -tock- Don't fear the reaper ....


Congrats

curt

unread,
Sep 14, 2003, 7:12:51 PM9/14/03
to
Congratulations and thanks for giving us a report. I hope I can do an IM
some day. I don't know if I have what it takes, but your report was sure
inspirational.

Curt


Tom Henderson

unread,
Sep 14, 2003, 7:42:34 PM9/14/03
to
Harold Buck <no_one...@attbi.com> wrote in
news:no_one_knows-8A9B...@news.comcast.giganews.com:

> As I got closer to the finish, I started to see some people I knew,
> including Jay Steele. The closer I got, the more people there were
> cheering for me. Perfect strangers wanted high fives. I started to get
> very emotional and started running just before making the turn onto
> MLK Drive. It was *incredible*. There were hundreds of people cheering
> like crazy as I ran the last 150 yards or so. I crossed the line,
> assured the medical personnel I was okay, got my finisher's shirt and
> medal, and was greeted by IronValet.

Great RR Harold! Congrats! I got a short report from a friend who has
done multiple IM's that the bike was very tough this year. He ended up
DNFing this year, but I haven't talked to him long enough to get the
whole scoop.

I am particularly encouraged by your report, because it sounds like you
got about the same amount of training that I'll be able to squeeze in. It
give me hope that I can be successful in my attempt at IMFL in November
2004.

So, what's next? Are you going to enjoy training for shorter races for a
while? Or has the itch started for another IM already?

Tom

Mike Tennent

unread,
Sep 15, 2003, 9:56:23 AM9/15/03
to
Great report, Harold. Congratulations again!

A couple of observations:

Although it may seem that your frequent porta-potty stops were a
hindrance, they're actually an indication that you nailed the
hydration in very difficult conditions. A lot of very good, very
experienced, Ironmen didn't and paid the price at that race.

<big snip>

>I'd gotten some good advice online: no matter how bad you feel after the
>bike, focus on changing your clothes and getting out of the tent.
>Sitting there feeling sorry for yourself doesn't get you any closer to
>the finish line. Fortunately, I felt pretty good, but it was nice to
>have a clear mission.

You learn well, Grasshopper. <g>

<big snip>

>Second, I knew that if I needed to I could go to some version of walk a
>minute/run a minute and probably keep it going for a long time, so if it
>looked like it was going to be close I could significantly increase my
>average speed. But since the goal was just to finish under the 17-hour
>cutoff, I just kept walking and calculating. >

This is the only negative I have. I think you cheated yourself a
little. I don't disagree with playing it safe, but you had more in
you. Next time, go for it.


Finally, your IronValet deserves at least a dozen roses.

Way to go, Ironman!

Mike Tennent
"IronPenguin"

Harold Buck

unread,
Sep 15, 2003, 3:52:24 PM9/15/03
to
In article <g4gbmvo42lsvrq0c8...@4ax.com>,
Mike Tennent <iron...@darientel.net> wrote:

> >Second, I knew that if I needed to I could go to some version of walk a
> >minute/run a minute and probably keep it going for a long time, so if it
> >looked like it was going to be close I could significantly increase my
> >average speed. But since the goal was just to finish under the 17-hour
> >cutoff, I just kept walking and calculating. >
>
> This is the only negative I have. I think you cheated yourself a
> little. I don't disagree with playing it safe, but you had more in
> you. Next time, go for it.


Who says there's going to be a "next time"? :-) No, I'm kidding, I'm
pretty sure I'll be back. I just have to decide when (likely 2005) and
where (Madison was great, but would it be more fun to go somewhere
else?).

Mike Conway

unread,
Sep 18, 2003, 12:31:21 PM9/18/03
to
Harold, once again congratulations...your report was a great read.

Mike C


Harold Buck

unread,
Sep 19, 2003, 2:13:15 PM9/19/03
to
In article <Xns93F6BDF8997D4T...@216.77.188.17>,
Tom Henderson <TomH...@BellSouth.net> wrote:

>
> Great RR Harold! Congrats! I got a short report from a friend who has
> done multiple IM's that the bike was very tough this year. He ended up
> DNFing this year, but I haven't talked to him long enough to get the
> whole scoop.
>
> I am particularly encouraged by your report, because it sounds like you
> got about the same amount of training that I'll be able to squeeze in. It
> give me hope that I can be successful in my attempt at IMFL in November
> 2004.
>
> So, what's next? Are you going to enjoy training for shorter races for a
> while? Or has the itch started for another IM already?
>


Well, I never said once during the race that I'd never do one again, so
that's a good sign. My wife doesn't want me doing any more, but I'm
already lobbying for 2004 (we're having a baby soon, so next year is out
for IM, although I intend to do some other stuff). I'll probably do
Madison again because it's close to my wife's family, but I wouldn't
mind doing a race somewhere else sometime.

Harold Buck

unread,
Sep 19, 2003, 2:15:06 PM9/19/03
to
In article <25G8b.85$Fc2.15...@newssvr11.news.prodigy.com>,
"trihard" <nos...@nospam.com> wrote:

>
> Your report helped put me back in the ironman mentality for my upcoming
> Ultramax extravaganza, 2 weeks from now (....although, i'm a bit concerned
> that i'm not psyched up enough for it, my 6th ironman distance event). But
> there's nothing like hearing a first-timer's experience to put it all back
> into perspective!
>

Good luck!

> One comment: You forgot to acknowledge your friend and ironvalet, Liz in
> your "acknowledgements" section! Having been on the receiving end of some
> very excellent support----ironvalet is a very apt description!---and also on
> the giving end of hopefully as exceptional support, I've come to realize
> just how crucial a competent support person is to your ultimate*enjoyment*
> of the ironman experience, especially if you're having any sort of post-race
> discomfort!
>

Whoops! Well, as she noted, she got plenty of play in the report itself,
so it was kind of implied. I'm also kicking myself for not mentioning
the awesome volunteers at the race; that's what happens when you hurry
to get a report sent out before you leave town.

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