ironman wisconsin

Our lives are not determined by what happens to us, but by how we react to what happens, not by what life brings us, but by the attitude we bring to life. A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events and outcomes. It is a catalyst, a spark that creates extraordinary results. -anonymous

Ironman Wisconsin could be characterized as a comedy of errors so ridiculous that really all I could do was laugh and stay positive, refocus after each one and keep moving forward. In the end, I couldn’t have asked for a better day and a happier finish line! I gave it everything I had on my all-time favorite course and chased the light – and, realized a really BIG goal (and PR!). Bring on KONA 2016…!

What carried me through a few rough patches… 

Pre-race

Race mornings are all the same… a way-too-early alarm, espresso in the Bialetti with full-fat coconut milk, gluten free sunbutter toast and final bag prep. Nick and I stayed with my good friend Kate just a few miles from the terrace, which made for an easy, stress-free morning. We got to the terrace with plenty of time and after tire pumping, body marking and dropping off our T1 + T2 bags, we met friends Sarah, Kyle and Nick, who were also racing, and coach Andy at a quiet spot inside. 

We hit the weather jackpot… ideal race conditions at 70F with minimal wind!

About 15 minutes before go with coach Andy and good friend Sarah.

SWIM // 1:08:44-ish, 1:38/100 yd

Nick, Sarah and I made our way through the masses bobbing in the water to the black ROKA buoy marking the inside line. As we treaded waiting for the cannon – the race is a deep water start (my favorite!) – I made sure to soak it all up… the sea of athletes, the spectators packed on shore, sunrise. It’s a beautiful sight. 

Before I knew it, we were off. Because I swim just inside the buoy line during an ironman, it wasn’t too chaotic, but I still had to swim around plenty of people and got hit by flailing arms a few times. 

And, then, about 10 minutes in, cue. the. panic…!

OMG. I FORGOT MY TIMING CHIP. HOLY SHIT. 

I stopped immediately, and luckily it was right by a race official with a radio. I hollered HEY!, and as he paddled my direction, I frantically told him… I didn’t have my chip, would he call it in so I could get a new one in T1, that I was bib 388. Seriously freaking out. How could I forget my chip?! Who does that?! I didn’t know what else to do. It was either hang out with the official and watch my dreams drift away or just keep swimming and figure it out once I got to T1. My only choice: keep swimming. 

Other than trying not to beat myself up too much (good positive self talk practice), the rest of my swim was uneventful. I heard everyone moooooo around the first turn buoy, was videotaped for 20-30 seconds (maybe I made the race recap video?!), coasted on some giant boat waves on the back stretch (this stretch takes forever), watched the terrace approach and then pass as I got to the third turn (I breathe to the left so had a nice view of shore), and swam a little harder (as I probably should have the entire 2.4 miles) on the homestretch in. 

Gear: ROKA Sports Maverick Pro wetsuit, ROKA Sports X1 goggles in clear mirror, Castelli T1:stealth top, Coeur Sports tri shorts, lululemon flow Y sports bra. 

Nutrition (pre-race): one pack Skratch raspberry fruit drops, Osmo Hydration preload, Imodium.  

T1 // 7-ish minutes

T1 was full-on panic mode. From the moment I exited the water until I got my chip, I was freaking out. I tore my goggles and swim cap off immediately after standing up and told myself… find the clock… you have to know your swim time (I never wear a watch during an IM swim). I remembered from 2014 that it was tucked behind the swim out arch so ran to my right to see it… 1:08:4X something, right on target.

After wetsuit stripping, I hustled up the helix, soaking up the cheers and high-fiving friends about halfway up. Still in panic mode once inside, all I could say to the volunteers was, “I don’t have a timing chip! I need a timing chip! Where do I get a timing chip?!” Three or four volunteers tried to help before someone outside knew where to get one: right before bike out. I got my bike, put my shoes on at the end of T1 and finally got a chip from a volunteer at the line. Thank god. I didn’t think about my mistake again… until Monday morning. But, more on that later.  

BIKE // 5:44:27, 19.51 mph, 5th AG (second fastest AG bike split)

The bike started out phenomenal. My legs felt strong, and I was ready to hammer. Nick and I exchanged smiles and cheers when he caught me around mile three, and I cheered on a few friends as I went by in the early miles on the stick. 

The first loop was all sorts of fun and right on target watts. Between all the technical climbs and descents (6,115 feet of climbing, per my Garmin) and seeing so many friends out there cheering, it flew by, and I couldn’t stop smiling. 

Timber Lane Tour de France style during the first loop.

Love this pic of my dad cheering me on! Photos by Ami Kochendorfer.

But, then, at mile 49, while shifting from small chain ring to big – something I’m so careful about – I dropped my chain. No problem… I’ll soft pedal while shifting and it’ll pop back on. No such luck. It was stuck between the front chain rings and the frame, so I had to completely stop and get off to fix it. Mechanical support cruised by and asked if I needed help… nope, all good, just a dropped chain, so I shooed them away and got back on my bike… only to have the chain pop off again. I hopped off my bike again to put it back on, hand pedaling it to ensure it stayed. It did, so off I went… for about a minute until it popped off again.

Cue panic mode again! The kicker: the dropped chain knocked my Quarq magnet off, so I was powerless, and my bike was making this horrendous grinding noise. I thought for sure it was a serious mechanical and for a few seconds contemplated waiting around for support, but there wasn’t time. Again, faced with a decision that could make or break my race: wait for who knows how long for support to return – and watch my dreams disappear – or keep pedaling, despite the awful noise and not certain I’d make it another 62 miles. I chose the latter… it was moving forward and that’s all that mattered.

So many people flew by me in the 4-5 minutes I spent fighting with my chain, that I knew I had my work cut out for me to regain the lost time. So, I got to work, focusing on how my legs felt, trying to maintain steady power (at least close to where I thought I should be) and careful to not push too hard so I wouldn’t shred by legs before the marathon. Many times I told myself out loud: you do NOT get to give up… keep going… keep fighting for this. 

It worked, too, as the second loop and the stick back to Madison were steady and fun (with an 11-mile homestretch QOM!). My legs still felt great, the temp was perfect and I was so comfortable in the saddle.

A few bike highlights: seeing my entire family cheering on Timber Lane, friend Julie’s crazy awesome cheers at the aid station in Verona and friend Heidi’s athlete running me up one of the climbs. 

A highlight of the bike: the entire crowd from the bottom to the top of the Timber Lane hill chanting my name! I felt like a total rock star, so thanks for that, Jeremy! (First three pics by Linus Pagusara; second two by Ami Kochendorfer)

So, the magnet… it turns out it stuck to the outside of my chain, so every revolution it wound through the gearing. No idea how I made it back to T2 without my rear derailleur completely breaking.

Gear: Argon 18 E-118, Cobb Cycling Fifty Five JOF saddle, Zipp Firecrest 808s, CeramicSpeed chain, Quarq Elsa, Garneau Vorttice aero helmet, Castelli T1:stealth top, Coeur Sports tri shorts, Sidi T3 shoes, Oakley Miss Conduct sunnies.

Nutrition: 48oz Osmo Hydration active, water, one Bonk Breaker PB+J, one sunny uplift GoMacro bar, three packs Skratch raspberry fruit drops, half pack caffeinated black cherry Clif Shot Bloks. 

T2 // 3:00

T2 was a cinch thanks to Coeur Sports teammate, Kecia, who was so helpful and got me exactly what I needed at lightning speed. In and out and ready to run! 

RUN // 3:42:11, 8:28 pace, 2nd AG (third fastest AG run split)

I’m excited for every leg of an ironman, but I couldn’t wait to run, especially after the IMCdA inferno. I bounded out of the terrace, bottle of Osmo preload + active in hand, and surprised at how decent my legs felt – and, how quiet the course was. It seriously felt like few others were running. 

My stomach was a bit unsettled, so I popped a few Tums and an Imodium around mile six when I hit the mini biff. I felt better and kept with the positive self talk – keep moving forward, never give up – while focusing on my target pace and the mile I was in. By the time the second loop rolled around, I couldn’t believe the marathon was half done. The crowds along State Street and seeing my family, friends and niece Finley… beaming! The energy along this stretch is second to none!

I ♥ this pic! 

Sonia had just given me a place update around mile 19… fifth in my AG = time to hustle!

Hard to miss this sign, made by my sweet friend Julie! 

With six miles to go, I knew I had to drop the hammer and GO. That last stretch is tough… you’re on a bike/run path, and while there are some spectators, it’s just darker. Because mile 20! I grabbed a BASE amino drink around here, got a pep talk from friend Linus and began focusing on each step and counting down the final miles rather than how awful I felt.

I vaguely remember passing a few women during those last miles, but had no idea what AG they were in. What kept me moving forward: thinking about that magical finish line and how badly I wanted to cross it. On repeat in my head: just keeping running… just keeping running… just keep running. 

Gear: Coeur Sports team kit, Hoka One One Clifton 2 and trucker hat, Feetures elite socks, lululemon flow Y sports bra. 

Nutrition: 20oz Osmo Hydration preload + active mix (carried the first five miles), four black cherry Clif shot blok chews, cola starting at mile 10-ish, BASE Performance electrolyte salt, BASE amino (last six miles).

OFFICIAL RESULTS // 10:45:29, 2nd AG, 8th OA

And, then, after a few turns on State Street around the capitol, there it was…! I was positively giddy, with a big smile plastered across my face, as I ran that last point-two. The joy of crossing an IM finish line is pretty amazing – soaking up everything it took to get there and feeling so incredibly grateful that I *get* to do this – especially at Wisconsin surrounded by my friends and family ♥

Post-race

There was no med tent this go-round (thank goodness)… just lots of laughs with my amazing support crew. 

Training and racing with this guy… so fun and so proud of him! 

So much happiness! 

Auntiehood is pretty awesome ♥

Part of my fantastic support crew… couldn’t race without them!

The two guys who push me to be my best – my main squeeze, Nick, and coach, Andy.

And, last but not least… a huge thank you to my team, Coeur Sports, for all their incredible support this year. Kebby, Reg and Hailey… you’re the best, and I’m beyond grateful! And, to Osmo Hydration, ROKA Sports, Cobb Cycling, Sound Probiotics and Pure Clean Powder… THANK YOU! I couldn’t race happy and healthy without any of you ♥

Awards + roll down

To make a long story short, awards on Monday morning were interesting. After the race, there was no question… I was 2nd AG and 8th OA. But, when they announced our age group, I wasn’t included on the list. That damn timing chip! Officials figured it out, and I kept my placement, thank goodness. WTC did, however, need to verify via Finisher Pix and the official race communications log (my conversation with the race official during the swim), so they held my Kona spot. The two-day wait was agonizing (even though the VP of ops told me it would be mine)! I’ve worked so hard the past two years and would have been crushed – there were so. many. tears. – if my dreams had been dashed. Lesson learned for sure. I will be one of the athletes wearing her timing chip immediately after race check-in! 

35-39 AG podium.

Minnesota women cleaned house! 

And, two stressful days later… we celebrated my KQ with pizza 🙂 What a day! Cannot wait to toe the line on the Big Island in 2016! 

This content was originally published here.