Tuesday, September 16, 2008

My day of Iron...Ironman Wisconsin 2008

This is a long one......and sorry if some of the verbiage is weird, I'm trying to modify one race report for a few different groups of people (ie family/friends, tri-group, coaching group) without having to do a full length copy for each.....

I get up at 4:30 and I don’t know why, but I took a shower. I guess I just wanted to feel clean and I guess it did wake me up. Ate my race day morning nutrition (2 cliff bars, some Gatorade and half a banana) and started to get ready. I grabbed my special needs bags, my wetsuit, and we are out the door.

I go down get body marked and then head to the terrace thinking that’s where I needed to drop off special needs. Luckily another athlete saw me kind of looking around and informed me that the special needs was actually two blocks north by the capitol.

(Me trying to figure out where special needs is)

So I trek up there to drop the bags off,…get back and I’m pretty much under the gun to get down to the lake. I make my way down, ran into coach who gave me some last words of advice while giving me a shot to the tummy (photo evidence)

...I say goodbye to everyone, zip up and eventually make my way into the water.

(off I go!!)


I feel calm.

I must say, there is something special about sitting in the water and looking up and just seeing people EVERYWHERE. On the sidewalk path, up both of the helices, on top of the terrace, everywhere I could see, there were people. It was something I’ll never forget.

I tread water as the pros go and I know my day will start soon. The kayaks start moving and before you know it the gun goes off and away we go.

I must admit, the swim wasn’t half as bad as I was expecting. Sure, there were a few parts where it seemed to get congested, but overall I didn’t get elbowed or kicked around like the horror stories I’ve heard. It could be that I was throwing elbows at everyone around me like I was in a cat fight and kicking really hard so people would back off……just kidding…..but honestly, I didn’t think it was that bad at all, a few close calls, but nothing too bad overall. Just like Sat, it was VERY cool to swim along the terrace and see all the people clinging all over it. It definitely made the swim go by pretty quick, at least mentally.

My race plan for the swim per coach was to start off with a moderate effort for the first loop, and then kind of back off the second loop. That’s exactly what I did. I felt good for the entire swim. I make the last corner, and swim the last straight away back to the shore, look up and the clock reads 1:20. Not the quickest, but I’ll take it. I felt great, which was more important to me than time anyway.

(I'm in the middle there)


Run out of the water, past my friends (stop for a quick pic) and up the helix. Grab my bags, run into the mass naked room, and change. Do a fairly quick clothes change, throw on some Assos Cream (sorry but that name cracks me up no matter how many times I use it) and I’m out. Grab my bike, run towards the end of transition and I’m on my way.

The plan for me was to go zone 1 for the first 30 miles, then climb to mid zone 2 for miles 30-108, and bring it back down to low zone 1 for the last 4 miles to spin and get my legs ready for the run.

As I get down the helix and head out on John Nolan drive, I once again ride by my friends (who have ran from one side of Monona terrace to the other as I was in T1) and they cheer me on. About 1/2 down the road, I hear this yelling from the road. I look over and much to my surprise it was Cheese and Meg, in their vehicle, heading out to the bike course. Talk about totally random.

I have to admit, as I was heading out, I felt like I was standing still numerous times. People were just BLASTING by me. “Race your race, this is your first one, all you need to do is finish”, I kept saying to myself. It took me about 5-10 miles to get my heart rate down to Z1 where it needed to be but I did it and stayed the course. I got to Verona and started the loop.

I’m not sure if you have all done the loop or not, but let me tell you, that stretch from Verona to Mt. Horeb, except for the first 4 miles or so, you are not missing much. It’s a series of false flats, along with some small climbs, and a couple of downhills that seem to end in turns and are definitely not as far down as the hills are up. To me that part of the course is just mind numbing, but I kept my heart rate in check and pushed on through. Made the corner into Mt. Horeb and hit the first climb.

By this time I was allowed into zone 2, so I felt good up the hill and knew one “fun” part of the course was coming up. Made it through the town, and hit the rollers. Now being a Clyde, as you can guess, hills are not exactly my strong point, however, the downhills are. So for the next 5 miles or so after Mt. Horeb, I was yo-yo’ing with a lot of people. They would get me on the climb and I would literally blow by them on the downhill. Made my way through the rollers after Mt. Horeb and got to where it primarily downhills into Cross Plains. I started to pass a lot of the people here that had passed me earlier in the race before Verona.

Made my way through Cross Plains and onto the “bitches” as they call them. Up the first long one, with all the spectators there it made it feel MUCH different than when I rode it during the summer. It was great. Almost every step of the way someone was yelling out my number or encouraging me on. I made it up the long climb and spotted my family and friends just after the crest. So I passed them by giving them a close buzz by and then it was on to the short and steep hill one mile down the road.

(My little girl, this is one of my all time favorite pictures.)

Again, the spectators on this hill made it a night/day comparison to when I rode it during the summer. I knew another hill was four miles down the road, but it felt good to have the first loop pretty much down. I ended up seeing my friends Casey and Dave on that last hill so I made it up that last climb with those two encouraging me on and got back to Verona (where I saw Meg and Cheese again, Meg screaming so loudly she almost scared me off my bike, haha). I stopped at special needs once I got through Verona to refuel with my Carbo Pro for a quick second and then was on for loop number two.

The second loop was pretty much the same, except for the mind numbing Verona to Mt. Horeb leg, the wind decided it would pick up drastically. So not only did we have to deal with the false flats, and overall slow elevation gain, we were riding straight into the wind.

And oh yeah, this was also the area where some kind lady decided to take a piss on her bike, RIGHT IN FRONT of me. Now I’m not the rant type, but let’s think about this for a second. Right about this time in the race, we are somewhere between 1300 or 1400th place, I’m just saying. I mean, is it really going to kill you to stop and take a piss at one of the porta potties that were along the course? And if you have to take a leak on the bike which I guess I can come to deal with, couldn’t you at least look back to make sure no one is right behind you (4 bike lengths of course)….I’m just saying, I mean I had my aero-bottle on the front of my bike, directly in the line of fire…yeah you get the picture. So I shot out and passed her and wiped that straw down as many times as I could before I took another drink. Unreal.

So after that little dilemma, I made it to Mt. Horeb…on the climb into the town my left hammy felt like it was about to cramp up, you know how the leg kind of gives you that “warning” twitch? Well mine did. So I immediately threw down a few electrolyte tablets. It would be a concern for the next ten minutes or so as I know the second round of rollers where coming up. Luckily they did the trick and I made it up the hills......


....through Verona, where my support crew had moved, so it was great to see them as I knew the hard part of the bike course was over and the wind would be at my back the rest of the way. With that I headed back to Madison, up one last hill, which was tougher than I thought it would be, and finally the course flattened out and I closed in on Madison.

My bike time was 6:50. Not exactly the fastest, but when you consider I was in zone 1 for the first 30 miles and the headwind on the second loop, I’ll take it. Again, goal number 1 was to just finish.


So I drop off my bike and head into T2 to change. Get my bag, and start changing. It’s right around this time that I decided I had to let one fly. So I start to pass it when all of a sudden I get a code red from down there, not good. Considering I had been sitting on the bike for 6+ hours, I didn’t exactly have full control, if you catch my drift. Luckily, I was able to contain it before any got out. By this time I didn’t have my shoes on. I threw my glasses, HR watch and visor into my shoes, and head out of T2 with them in my hand. I head directly to the porta potty…THANK GOD they were right by transition. So I get in there and I will not go into details, but let’s just say I came out A LOT lighter than I went in. (and it also explains the 15 minute T2 time, honestly I had to be in there for 10 minutes). So while I’m taking care of business, I put on my shoes, sync up my Garmin, get my glasses and visor on. I finally feel comfortable (or safe) enough to stand up, and head out on the run.


To my amazement, I start running and my legs feel FRESH as can be. I head out very encouraged. I really don’t remember much of the first few miles. I do remember the crowds, and tons of people cheering me since I had my bib number on my front. The nice thing about Ironman is that aid stations are placed every mile, so if you don’t look at the big picture, but rather think “It’s just a mile until the next aid station”, the miles tend to click by, at least for me they did.

The only mistake I made on the run, was that I forgot to put the orange gu’s in my jersey for the first half of the race (I could have sworn I did on Sat when I packed my run jersey). Luckily with all the aid stations though, I was able to get powergels, even though they are not my favorite. The first half of my run went well. I was averaging 9:30-10 min/miles the first 12 miles or so. It was there that my legs started to act up.

Not many of you know, but up until about 4 weeks ago, I could barely run. Pretty much right after the Spirit of Racine, they basically went to hell. I had major right hammy and left quad pain when I ran and when I did run, I could barely muster 13 min/miles, much different than the 7:45 min/mi pace I was doing in May and June. Luckily through weekly deep tissue massage and tons of stretching, my legs did get much, much better the last few weeks. Unfortunately it meant that the longest run I was able to do was 14 miles, and that was way back in May. So it only made sense that my body would start to fight me at this point.

However things were not that bad. I was still able to run, just not able to push off as hard as I would like. So instead of 9:30 to 10:30 min/miles I was doing at this point, I had to ease up and settled into about an 11 to 12 min/mile pace. Mentally I felt fine, same goes for my heart rate, it was in check, it’s just that I couldn’t push my legs harder without fear of them giving out.

So I started out the second loop, got my Gu’s finally from my special needs bag, and was on my way again. The second loop was fine, I never was in a position where I thought I wasn’t going to finish, or where I couldn’t push forward. There were a few times were a pain would flair up, but I just kept thinking “It’s suppose to hurt, if it didn’t everyone would do it”…..that motto kept me going.

I eventually made it up and down state street and I knew I had only 6 more miles until the moment would come that I have been dreaming about for the last nine months. One longer stretch out along the lake to the last turnaround and I knew it was 4 more miles to go. At this point, my legs just seemed to get lighter. My garmin at this point had lost reception, but I can tell you that I “surged” those last 4 miles. I only stopped at one aid station that last home stretch. I could taste it.

I got to the last climb around the capitol and I could hear it, I could hear the man from the elevator a couple of days of before. If I wasn’t a man, I would say that I shed a tear or two, but I’m a manly man, so of course that didn’t happen…….I made it up that last incline around the capitol (again what kind of sick joke is that?)…..to where it flattens out and I can see the left turn that’s going to take me home.

From here on out I don’t know how to type it. Something took over me. All I know is I was yelling the whole way down. I remember jumping in the air a couple of times, but then felt my legs cramping up, so decided against doing that again. I remember clenching my fists and raising my hands in the air in a “pump up the crowd” motion (all the while I’m still yelling, of course) and I remember running along side of the fence and clapping people’s hands down the chute.

You know what I don’t remember? That’s right, I don’t remember (or didn’t hear above my own yelling) Mike Reilly saying “Chris Schabel, you are an Ironman!!”….so now I have to wait for the little finish line video you can buy to hear the words, haha.

Finish Time: 13:33 --- not the fastest in the world, just on the back side of middle of the pack, but to be honest, I couldn’t be more pleased considering it was my first one.

Overall this year has been one of the best experiences of my life, it has made me stronger of a person than I ever thought I could be (both mentally and physically). It’s over a week later and I still can’t stop smiling. Putting on that M-dot official piece of clothing for the first time was such an honor for me, it’s something I’ll never forget.

To me, I guess that’s what it’s all about. Not everyone has Kona qualifying ability, but if you can you look at yourself in the mirror after it’s all over and say, I gave it all I could, trained the best I could and I respected the distance to the best of my ability, well then it really doesn’t matter if you finished first or with four seconds to go, like the lady did at the end of the race this year. You are an Ironman, and no one can ever take that from you.

(On a side note, were any of you there for the finish at midnight? I was, I came back after I ate and showered. For the lady that finished with 4 seconds to go I was almost as excited for her to finish as I was for my own finish – 4 seconds to go before the cut-off!!! The crowd went CRAZY when she finally crossed the line, it was pure pandemonium. When the finish line video comes out, check hers out for sure and just watch the crowd, unbelievable).

Not sure what’s next. For the first couple of days after the race, I wasn’t thinking of doing another IM until 2010, but to be honest, these last couple of days I’ve been thinking I’m not sure if I want to wait that long….so I think I’ll give myself a few weeks to ponder it. It’ll have to be either Louisville next year (which would be fun as it sounds like a few of you are doing that) as that’s the only one in the US still open, or something in 2010

To finish up this post, I just want to say "THANK YOU" to everyone who has supported me...this post already has take over two hours (poor me, I know)..so I'm not able to fit every detail of the day I wanted to with everyone, but I want you all to know it's not forgotten.

To my family, all of you that came out, it meant the world to me. Jeanette, you've been a top notch IM widow all year. Letting me come and go pretty much as I please for workouts. I couldn't have done it without you.

Cheese and Meg, all day you were awesome, how such a big sound comes out of such a small girl still amazes me. Wade, Casey, Josh, Matty, thanks for making it up to see me, I know it was a long day for you guys too. Amy and Mark, although I hear there was some difficulty meeting up with the crew, it was great to have you out there to cheer me on. For my MSM south tri-group, I can't ask for more. The support, training rides and knowledge all of you have given me this past year was very much appreciated. To the TFP crew and Coach, obviously you saw me through this year and got me to the finish line. To Dave, Dan, Steve (even though you scared the hell out of me, haha) for rooting me on during the day, Glenda and Lauri for taking care me at the finish. To the ladies I saw out on the course cheering me on as well, I truly appreciate it (sorry I don't have all your names down yet, but I will be around more next year to help you all prepare for 2009). Mommymeepa, thanks for medaling me. Spandex King, sorry I didn't get to talk to you after I finished, but I will be up there next year volunteering, so you bet your ass I'll be cheering for you. To everyone who reads this blog that gave Jeanette an email of encouragement to give to me, she printed all them up and I opened those up the night before the race, I laughed at some, perhaps shed a tear at the others, thank you, it was pure motivation for the next day....now I know what it feels like when an actor wins an award...I hope I'm not forgetting anybody. Thank you to all.


Friday, September 12, 2008

Thurs- Sat

Thursday: Decided to head up to Madison on Thursday for a few reasons. One being the Hilton required a 4 night stay and two my parents were coming up to camp at nearby Stoughton for the weekend (Viking Village – GREAT campground), so I figured a little downtime wouldn’t hurt. Got to the hotel, checked in, dumped my stuff in the room and as we were getting on the elevator to go down, I look up and who happens to be in the elevator? The voice of Ironman himself, Mike Reilly. So I make some small talk and as we are about to leave the elevator I tell him I’m looking forward to him announcing my name on Sunday as I cross the line, then I said my name to him slowly (first and last), so he could announce it correctly, haha. After that we headed out to the campground (a quick 10 mile drive) and actually decided to just sleep in my parents camper that night.

Friday: Got up, came back to Madison, registered, got my transition bags, race stickers and checked out some of the stuff at the expo.

Spent most of the day at the hotel and Monona Terrace then head back to my parents camper early afternoon, dropped off the little one, and headed back for the athlete meeting. Meeting overall was pretty informative, a few funny points, and oddly morbid as they spent a good chunk of time explaining all the different ways you could die on Sunday. After that Cheese and Meg stopped by my room for a little bit and then it was time for bed. They say it’s not the night before a race that’s the most important, but the night two days before the race, so I wanted to make sure I got a good nights sleep.

Sat: I get up around 9 and head down to the Gatorade swim. Coach said to do a 5 min warm up – 10 minute medium effort- then 5 minute cool down. Swim felt good. It was kind of surreal to be swimming with the huge building right along the lake front, but having something to look at seemed to pass the time of the swim.

After the swim, headed up to the room and got the bike ready, checked over my bags for the last time.

I went down and dropped them off at the terrace and my bike in transition."No turning back now" I said to myself.

Future Ironman?

See, she's going for the finish line already.....

Can you find The Clyde?

As I was dropping of my bags at the terrace, I ran into fellow blogger Mommymeepa, who was volunteering (thank you, ALL the volunteers were top notch throughout the weekend). It was nice to meet up with in the real world for once!

After that, as you guessed it, we headed back out to the campground. I rounded up the troops (Meg and Cheese met up again with us, along with my family) and we drove around one loop of the bike course to show them what I’d be up against the next day. It was a nice refresher for me, although I had biked the loop 3 times already. After the drive, judging by the looks on their face, I pretty much got the notion they thought I had lost my mind. I just kept hearing them say, “You have to do this TWICE?" and I believe Meg something to the effect of "If you make it through that tomorrow, you have definitely EARNED your Ironman"

After that, my wife’s parents were coming into town for the night and so we all had a nice spaghetti dinner put on by my Mom at the campground. It was a pretty relaxing meal and a nice added surprise showed up. One of my best friends, Wade who said he couldn’t make the race had flown in from Virginia and surprised me at the campground. After the meal we all said our goodbye’s and I made my back to the hotel. A quick call to coach, and I was in bed. Although it took me about 3 hours to fall asleep, I eventually managed and got very good sleep for 5 hours I was able to squeeze in.

Looking at the finish line.

View I was looking at Saturday night from my hotel room.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Race Report ..

...it's coming, trust me. However, it's back to real life for a few days first (I had 500 emails in my inbox when I got back to work today, sure not ALL work related, but still, I was only out 4 days!!!)....

I'm going to break up the report into 4 parts, so I don't totally bore you with one long one.

In the meantime, the sweet taste of victory, as pictured below....

Monday, September 08, 2008

Just one pic for now...

This is for my boy Moonpie.....

....you know, The Clyde just chilling with his good friend, Hillary Biscay, who just happened to win the race yesterday.


Have to get packed up and home, but I did it!!! More later.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Storm Before The Calm Before Storm.

Well my fellow friends, bloggers, lurkers, etc....I was going to post a nice long post on the eve of heading up for Madison, but truth of the matter is, I just gotz no time to do it.

Between trying to figure out how to stop my effing bike seat post from creaking (last minute of course because I finally found out the true cause of the noise), to packing (casual suitcase and race suitcase), to making sure I have everything (bike, check, shoes, check), to trying to tie up all loose ends at work (let's not even go there, taking 4 days off during my busy season), etc, etc...you get the idea...the last few days have been pretty nonstop.

So with that being said, now that everything is almost packed up, work is behind me, and all I have is a little car ride up to Wisconsin, I feel the next couple of days will be much more relaxing than the last few were. (And who knows, maybe I'll have time for that long sappy post about what this race means to me over the next couple of days, we'll see)

I'll post pictures as best I can over the next few days. As a veteran of many races non-Iron distance, I realize that the first of any kind of race is always extra special, and I want to absorb as much of it as I can.

I really don't have a game plan for the next couple of days. I know Cheese and Megan are coming up Friday sometime, so we'll be hanging out when they arrive I'd imagine. Saturday, I was thinking if anyone wants to meet for lunch we can (do bike check in then get some food), and then after that (Sat afternoon) I am planning on driving one loop of the bike course to show my parents and Mrs. Clyde the "roller coaster" course that it is, but that's about all I have on the schedule. (I guess there is an hour long mandatory athlete meeting Friday night as well.)

If any of you are interested in lunch or course preview Saturday, either give me a call or text (I know this is taboo to put your number on the scary 'net, but 847-323-3037 is my number), or email me at Djgoldnboy1635@gmail.com (Goes to my blackberry so I have email where ever I go) and I'll let you know when plans are finalized.

And with that, I'm off. I'm nervous, excited, scared, confident all in one. These next few days are going to be "totally epic"....if you catch my drift.

On my way, on my way....hopefully to be...

(BTW...... HUGE props to Cheese's designer friend who came up with this logo for me, I always knew Cheese was that artsy type. Yes, I said artsy, not fartsy, but both do apply.)

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Trying to start her early....

...but so far this is about as far as I have got......although it's a pretty cool little bike trainer...she's still just a tad short for it...a few more weeks and she'll be flying all over the place I'm sure.

One last IM post tomorrow, then I'm heading up Thursday AM......