This report comes from Alex, member of Team WILD’s inaugural Ironman team. Way to go, Alex!!!
September 9th, 2011 was Ironman Wisconsin. I signed up for this race almost a year ago, after just having finished Kona. The highlight and motivation to do this race was the opportunity to work with some fantastic people in the Diabetic community. This was the inaugural race for the Ironman team of Team WILD. I started my training in January of 2011, working with Mark Allen Online. Over the summer I had the opportunity to meet Cliff Schreb of Tri Star Athletes. Cliff is a fellow T1, Ironman athlete and coach. About 2 months out from race day I decided to switch my coaches and work with Cliff. I was excited to have a coach who gets all of “it.”
Race day arrived and here is how it played out. I met some of my goals, exceeded a few and didn’t meet others.
I woke up at 4:00 AM, ate my breakfast at 4:30 and took my pre race bolus. AM BG was decent 147. I had planned on eating 2 instant oatmeals, a banana, and a bagel with peanut butter. Didn’t eat all of the bagel (remember this for a later). I walked over to the race start, ran into some Team WILD spouses, dropped my special needs bags and headed down to add drinks to my bike and body marking. So far so good. Met up with some more WILD women and hung out on the deck of the terrace. About 6:15 checked my BG and I was 54- oops. Remember that bagel I didn’t eat- my insulin did. So, I had a Cliff bar, gel and a glucose tab.
At this point I started getting my wet suit on and getting ready for the swim start. Great AM weather and the water was smooth as glass. Dropped all my stuff at the bag check, checked my BG again- 94. I dropped my pump, glucose tabs, and a BG meter at the eyeglass table at the swim start/finish. I’m good to go- my AM bolus had peaked and I had enough carbs on board for my swim. I shoved 2 gels in my wet suit just in case. The swim has been a mental issue for me lately- I seem to have some kind of wimpy fit about 10 minutes into my swim and then it takes me a while to get into the grove. By wimpy fit I turn the swim into anything but a freestyle stroke and wonder why I’m so far away from shore.
Today I got in the water at 6:40 and swam out towards the water ski jump on the start line. My plan was to swim back and forth a few times and the get in place to start. I was thinking that would give me a 200 or so warm up and then I’d be good. Did my warm up swimming, and I actually had my mini fit/breast stroking BEFORE the race! How’s that for a good day.
In the swim I tend to be a bit of a chicken and start further back than I should. I do that and avoid being in the thick of things but then end up with no one to draft off of. My plan for this race was to start to the right of the group- between the ski jump and the shore.
Today I decided to put my big girl pants on and get out there. I went to the left of the jump, more centered in the group and just behind that first line of folks at the start. I finished the first loop of the swim in 35 minutes. Total for the swim was 1:18- PR for me.
Heading to T1 I forgot my pump on the table at the swim exit so I had to double back. Jogged/speed walked up the helix, checked my BG- 74, not bad. Connected my pump and turned on my basal pattern for the bike. Got to T1, finished stripping my suit and got all my bike stuff on. T1 was 13 minutes- oops. I was shooting for 10 minutes here. But- I didn’t sit down! Not too sure what happened but apparently my going back for the pump cost me a few minutes.
Headed out on my bike. I was supposed to take an injection bolus in T1 based on my BG. Since my BG Was a little lower than I wanted I grabbed the correct syringe and decided to wait until I was on the bike and able to start taking in my carbs at 20 minutes to bolus. I made this decision because I didn’t want to get my insulin ahead of my carbs. I’m glad I made that call because my GI was miserable. I couldn’t get comfortable and I couldn’t pedal. AND I couldn’t eat.
About 35 minutes into the ride I started sipping my drink so I gave myself my bolus- stuck myself while pedaling, that’s a first for me. It took me an hour to get to the first aid station, I thought I was going to die (melodramatic but I was miserable). At this point I was able to start eating and getting my legs going but was further back than I wanted to be.
Wisconsin is a technical course and not what I am used to riding. It is a nice course, just a lot of work! First loop was ok, started to pick it up and was thinking the 2nd loop would be better. Nope. GI issues struck again. Another stop and then I was able to get going again. I was super bummed about my deteriorating bike after such a nice swim.
Came into T2, and gave my bike to the “valet” and headed in to get my running shoes. T2 was 6 minutes! I didn’t sit down! Headed out on the run and saw the family at the run start. I also started a different pattern on my pump for the run. Total transition time was 19 minutes and I had allotted 20- guess I achieved that goal.
I was feeling pretty good on this run. I had been mentally telling myself on the bike to be careful- I try to make up time on the bike and then I’m really hurting on the run. My goal for this was to run the run- not walk it. First 13 miles went well, took in my gel every hour and drank water at the aid stations. Towards the end of the 1st loop my GI started to act up again and I was still super frustrated with my less than stellar bike. Saw the family at the turn around and that was great. I think they were just as ready as I was for me to be done. Headed out on the 2nd loop and took a moment at the first aid station to get my GI back in line. I was so over the GI issues at this point.
The problem with stopping even for a second is that your legs are not cooperative with the idea of going again. This was the beginning of the end of the run for me. I struggled the rest of the way with the run/walk combo. I did finish the run in 5:55, still an Ironman run PR but yuck. BG was great on the run- 106 to 116. There was a 217 in there at about mile 20 and that can be attributed to a chocolate chip cookie and a gel at the same time.
It was a good race. I have a much better race in me. I’ve been very happy with how my training has progressed the last few weeks and the speed I am starting to develop. My endurance base is solid so now I just need it all to come together. My BG was great up to the race, during and after. Hindsight is always 20/20 and I have new goals and areas to focus on for the next few months. I was happy with my swim, disappointed with my bike and more disappointed with my run. I did have a rocking T2 though which was nice.
The course in WI is tough- the bike is technical and I definitely underestimated it. The run is mentally tough but also beautiful. The crowd support is amazing. I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to race with the WILD women, many of whom I hadn’t met until a few days before the race. They are a powerful group of women. The months leading up to this race were good and bad training and Diabetes wise. I have a more refined approach to managing my Diabetes and my training and I am definitely more focused on my goals and outcomes.