Race Recap: Ironman Wisconsin 2013

I’ve now written this post three times. Here’s the problem: a 10 hour race is really boring. I swam for a while, I biked for a really long time, then I ran a marathon. I wish I could regale you in stories about overcoming demons and reaching some new metaphysical understanding about myself, but I can’t because that didn’t happen. I raced within myself and everything fell nicely into place.

So here’s what I’ll do: I’ll go through each part of the race, give a quick summary of what happened, then provide some bullet points covering some things that either will be helpful for me to reflect on or might interest you. If you have any  questions about my race, leave a comment and I’ll answer! 

BUT FIRST! There are many many thanks in order. From race day to the training cycle to my whole triathlon career (all two years of it), there are a huge number of people who make it possible for me to compete in one of the most selfish sports out there and I don’t thank them enough. In no particular order, HUGE thanks to:

“From one high performing endurance athlete to another: whoop some ass tomorrow @grumplesiggy #1177” Posted on Instagram by my little brother the night before the race. Totally unexpected and totally awesome.

  • Holy shit my family. Though they may not know it, the number of times they almost made me cry race weekend was probably in the double digits. My mom, 5 weeks off breaking her humerus while trail running [60+ year old badass alert], still managed to kick major ass as my race sherpa (though it led to a hilarious situation moving out of our second floor walkup the day after the race when we had a pile of crap to move to the car with one person (me) who couldn’t walk down stairs and one person (her) who could only carry with one arm). My dad, brother, and sister-in-law all made the trek up to Madison for the race. I was under the impression that my brother and sister-in-law were leaving halfway through the race to get back to real life, until they surprised me at the finish line. And my two other brothers and my other sister-in-law made their presence known with a constant stream of texts and phone calls through the weekend. That was just race weekend. They’ve put up with my shenanigans for 27 years now, so many more thanks are in order, but I’ll save the rest of you from that.
  • The entire population of Madison, volunteers and spectators. What a freaking incredible place to race. The volunteers were perfect. The spectators were out of hand. You guys made the experience. While were here, a huge shout out to fellow geophysicist and maybe-turning-pro triathlete Summer, who absolutely nailed restaurant and spectating recommendations.
  • My coach, who somehow puts up with all my whining and my horrible inability to update my training log in a timely fashion.
  • All you crazies on Twitter, who manage to keep me honest day-to-day with my training and then spend 10 hours of their life refreshing athlete tracking on race day to track someone you probably haven’t even met. I do have to single out Carlos who has been sending me all kinds of on-point advice since I started into this whole triathlon thing. (Best piece of advice: “Pee anywhere and everywhere.”) Your Jedi-like guidance over the past two years has been extraordinarily valuable and I can only hope to be half as helpful to the kids in the future.
  • My team and all our sponsors, with a special shout out to Bryce and Jeff who kept me loose all race week with some classic texts/snapchats.
  • Roni at Champion System, who provided some of the best customer support I’ve ever received and really fucking comfortable (and pretty!) race kit. The saga of my race kit is a story for another day, but Roni went far and beyond her duties to make sure I was happy. She made me feel like a pro, even though I’m absolutely not. I didn’t think about my race kit once over the course of the day, which is the exact performance what you want out of your clothes.
  • My PhD advisor. She lets me schedule my life however I wish as long as I get my work done. Without that freedom, training wouldn’t happen.

Swim – 1:19 (1:52/100yd), 75th in AG, 821st overall

This is what I ran up to get to transition. Only a few people. So. Freaking. Cool. Photo cred: rando girl on instagram

Plan: “Line up front row and inside…Find feet. Fast feet. Bury yourself to stay with them.” -Coach.

Conditions: Windy, ~2ft swell, a bit of chop. Nothing too crazy. Long leg of the swim was against the current.

ExecutionHahahahahahha nope. My plan was to get into the water at 6:45AM, warm up for 5-10 minutes, then get the pole position as directed by coach. Well it turns out if you try to get in the water at 6:45, you end up actually stepping into Lake Menona at 6:58 and start last row, outside (you know, the exact opposite of where you want to be).

  • I’m not one for serious race day nerves, but I was just about ready to vomit from the time I left the apartment until the moment I zipped up my wetsuit.
  • Man, the back/middle of the pack swimmers are annoying. They literally would stop at every buoy (100m apart) to sight the next buoy. At which point I would swim full speed (which obviously is not that fast) into them. Turns were also a dead stop. Lovely.
  • I constantly make fun of two of my teammates for being total psychos race morning. They’re the guys that are at transition 5 minutes before it opens. I had a good laugh/head shake on the swim thinking about how my getting-in-the-water late clusterfuck would have been avoided if they were with me. Karma’s a bitch, I suppose.

Bike – 5:18 (21.1mph), 12th in AG, 85th overall

Late in the bike.

Late in the bike. Photo cred: finisherpix

Plan: 190-195 watts, 140-150bpm. Let time fall where it does. But hopefully sub 5:36 (20mph).

Conditions: Windy, overcast. Perfect temps (high 60s, low 70s). 6500ft of climbing, with constant hills. A 15mi out to the main loop, 2 times around main loop, then 15mi back.

Execution: For nerds, 178 watts, 140bpm, 1.05 VI. My average power was lower than any of my training rides, but my time ended up being faster than I expected. A VI of 1.05 is solid on such a hilly course, but I think I could get that down a point or two. 28th fastest amateur bike. Considering my first bike ride over 60 miles was in mid-March of this year, yeah I’ll take this ride. I do think I have massive room for improvement.

  • Only one scare during the bike, when I was descending on Timber Lane (steepest descent of the course) heading into a 90deg left turn (sketchiest turn on the course) and my rear wheel skidded out for a second. I recovered, but was far more ginger the second time around. Then I was especially ginger when there were two ambulances helping cyclists that crashed. Yikes. Hoping for a speedy recovery for those athletes!
  • I totally lost my focus during the 4th hour. Dumb dumb dumb mental mistakes.
  • Crowd support was insane. The three climbs on the back of the loop were so much fun.
  • I hit bump at mile 96 or so, which (I think) threw my front wheel out of true causing some rubbing with my front brake for the 15 miles back into town. That was also the section with the worst headwind. Instead of pushing hard through it, I told myself to take it easy and prep myself for the run by taking in fluids and calories. In my half iron-distance races, I always have to pee as soon as I get off the bike, so I took the opportunity to do that on the bike. I found a nice downhill (so you can coast), stood up, and let it flow. And flow it did. Before I knew it, I was off the downhill, but it was still flowing. And I was losing speed quick. By the time I was done, I almost fell over I was going so slowly. A surprisingly close call which would have been super embarrassing.
  • Random note: there were only 3 amateurs who biked under 5 hours. That’s how hard the bike course is.

Run – 3:22 (7:43 min/mi), 6th in AG, 45th overall, 24th amateur

Early in the run

Early in the run. Nice kit, eh? Photo cred: finisherpix

Plan: Keep it in control for 25k. See what you can do for 17k.

Conditions: Overcast, high 60s/low 70s. Great running weather. Surprisingly lumpy course. 2 loops.

Execution: 20th fastest run by an amateur. Let’s skip straight to some notes…

  • I got my first penalty in a triathlon. Ever. As I do for most races, I pulled my trisuit off my shoulders at the start of the run. I know it’s technically illegal but I’ve never heard of anyone having issues unless the officials specifically say they’re enforcing the rule (like at Collegiate Nationals). Well as I ran up State Street around mile 12.5, right in front of a bar, an official pulls me to a full stop. “If women can’t run without a top on, men can’t either,” she tells me, asks me to put my top back on, and marks my race number to indicate I received a penalty. I am on my merry way after the stop-and-go penalty, annoyed but not angry. Not half a mile later, I pass a woman running in just a sports bra (not a cropped tri top). I wonder if she got a penalty…. I’m thinking no.

    Running down the finishing chute. Photo cred: sister in law

  • Since you love hearing about my pooping habits, I stopped twice for poops: during the 12th (40 seconds) and 14th miles (1:17). My second poop was the difference between being on the podium and not.
  • About half a mile after my second potty break, it felt like my race belt somehow loosened and was now hanging around my mid-thighs (constricting my stride). So I went down to fix it and found my race belt correctly located on my hips. It was just my quads wanting to burst in half. Sorry guys, we aren’t slowing down.
  • I offered side-fives up to the top three male pros running the opposite direction. Only Romain Guillaume accepted. Come on guys! Step up and amuse some age groups!
  • The first loop was a bit lonely with only 85 people on course. I made my way through quite a few people, but generally everyone was looking solid. The second loop was crowded, but never congested and people looked decidedly less solid.

    My hair didn't actually look good.

    My hair didn’t actually look good. Photo cred: finishpix

  • I was passed exactly once by a dude who *flew* past me in the opening miles as I was ticking off miles in the high 6s. I passed him back on the second loop, which means no one held a pass on me. Super pumped about that.
  • A group of women dressed as sexy beer wenches were around mile 11/24. On the second loop they cheered me as I picked up the pace to finish. “You look great!!” Pause. I run past. “So does your hair! How is that possible?!” I almost fell over laughing. Thanks for the compliment, girls! Much appreciated.
  • As I ran through the back half of the women’s pro field, I cheered them on. I passed Hillary Biscay with 10k to go, dropping a “Only 10K to go. Let’s goooo,” which was met by silence. (She apologized for not being social on Twitter the next day.) 2 miles later, I passed Suzy Serpico and said something similar. We chatted for a bit, then I moved ahead to the turn around ~20m ahead. When I pass her going the opposite direction, she looks over and goes, “Show me how you close!” I hope I made you proud, covering the last 3.2mi at 7:30 pace.
  • I had the finishing chute to myself and running down the finishing chute was one of the coolest experiences of my life. I can’t put into words, but it was so mind-blowing that I didn’t even hear Mike Reilly tell me I’m an ironman!

    Best spectators on course. photo cred: @lazymarathoner

Overall – 10:07. 

Final thoughts:

  • I had the 14th fastest amateur race from the end of the swim to the finish line (and fastest in my AG). I suppose I should learn how to swim faster, eh?
  • 24th out of 2500+ amateur racers puts me in the top 1% of finishers. I think of myself as a solidly middle of the pack racer. That’s probably a result of being on a team with 3 pro-caliber athletes.
  • Speaking of pro-caliber athletes, while I was busy not even making the podium in my AG, a teammate and one of my coach’s other athletes were busy, uh, winning races. Unreal. Huge congrats to them.
  • I don’t get why people change in transition. I saw a guy putting on tighty-whiteys in T2. Why? Why? WHY! I wore one trisuit the entire race. And didn’t chafe anywhere.
  • I was 53 seconds away from my age group podium, 3:55 away from qualifying for the 2014 Ironman World Championships in Kona, 7:12 from breaking 10 hours, and 10:04 from winning my age group. I could over-analyze my race and find 3:55 of mistakes or I could go to the pool instead. Time to get to work.

51 weeks……….




About siegfried

just a runner. kinda a triathlete. and a big couch sitter.
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7 Responses to Race Recap: Ironman Wisconsin 2013

  1. Well, I wasn’t bored, but I’m a tri geek (and regular geek). Nice report Matt, and thanks for the shout. I texted a friend to look up your swim/bike splits for me while I was on the way back from Iowa (because my current phone doesn’t perform such magic) and from them I reasoned that you were either 1) having a fantastic race or 2) being a complete dumbass. I’m glad it was the former! Way to nail it right out of the gate. I’m sure you’ll be turning even more heads next year.

    • siegfried says:

      Hahahaha. Let’s go with option 2. And I hope I can at least turn the beer wenchs’ heads against next year. That’s priority #1. Thanks again for all your pre-race wisdom!

  2. Mike says:

    Dude… that didn’t bore me in the least. It was awesome! We may have seen each other in T1, but no chance after that. Nice race!

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  4. Pingback: 50 Ironman Wisconsin Race Reports in One Place #IMWI | Crushing Iron

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