This past Sunday I completed the Ironman Wisconsin 70.3 triathlon, my first half iron tri.
Swim: 1.2 miles took me 40:27
Bike: 56 miles took me 3:30:46
Run: 13.1 miles took me 2:10:15
Final time with transitions: 6:33:40
Overall it went very well, and I exceeded most of my goals. Only my run was spot on my goal of 2:10.
I didn't really follow any real training plan. I did several short distance triathlons this summer. These helped with experience but also distracted from longer distance training.
Generally I tried to do three swims, three bikes, and three runs a week, knowing I'd probably only get six or seven workouts in. I did get some good open water swims in, including some 2500 yard swims. I could have been more consistent about doing swim intervals.
Biking is my weaker sport, and I did make a point of getting out to do a long ride most weekends. This included riding sections of the course and up to the full course a couple weeks out. There are a few big hills, and riding them several times really helped because I knew what to expect.
I've been running the longest and trained the least deliberately for the run, expecting to lean on my years of running base. I did do a ten mile trail run a few weeks out, and that helped reassure me I could do a longer, challenging run.
I picked up my packet Friday and took a dip in the lake after. The lake temp had come down from the August highs and was comfortable in the low 70s.
Saturday was mandatory bike drop off. All bikes had to be checked in Saturday. I didn't do any other fitness Saturday, feeling like all the walking around Friday and Saturday was enough to get me moving.
My half Ironman was the same day as the full. They started at 6:45, but we had until 7:00 to get our transition area set. That meant filling up water bottles, packing food for the bike, and arranging the bike and run gear. I'd gotten there about 5:10 as I'd been worried about parking, so by 6:00 I was just killing time. Around 6:30 I headed to the swim start to watch the full start.
My race started at 8:40, and around 8:00 I started getting my wetsuit on and took a little dip in the lake. That helped get my arms moving and get some water in my wetsuit. That always helps me slip the suit on another little bit.
The swim is a rolling start, with swimmers self seeding based on expected swim time. I lined up with 43-46 minutes but clearly should have been a little further forward. My swim went great. Swimming is the one discipline in triathlon where drafting is legal, and with so many people in the water I think I was almost always behind someone.
The swim course itself was a simple rectangle. Three right turns and then a left turn back to land.
The transition area was up a parking garage, so coming out of the water we ran up the spiral ramp to our floor. By the time I got to my bike my wetsuit was unzipped and arms free. I sat down to pull my wetsuit off, socks and shoes on, and swap my swim cap and goggles with helmet and glasses.
The bike goes down another spiral ramp to ground level. The course was really well marked, though it helped that I knew the course well already. I had with me a bottle of Gatorade and finished that a little before mile 20. I'd planned to stop at an aid station there to refill but must have read the map wrong. It was only water, which was better than nothing.
The hills start around mile 25 and continue for about 10 miles. I'm still not the most confident going fast, but I'm glad I'd ridden them and was a lot more confident than I'd been my first time down them.
The ride was a little dicey when the course merged back up with the full course. The two come together part way down the steepest hill, and when I turned on there was a rider right in front of me hard on her brakes while others were flying by at 30+ mph. I did get by them eventually and got some decent speed. At the bottom of the hill I found an ambulance and an athlete sitting in the grass. It's a fast hill with a turn at the bottom.
Another hill as I came down a guy was weaving on the road to come to a stop which was super dangerous. I'm not sure what he was doing but called out "on your left" as I approached.
Around mile 45 a cyclist ahead of me steered into a driveway, started to dismount, and then just tipped over. I called out "are you ok" and he returned "I'm ok!" as he grabbed his leg. My in-the-moment conclusion was he was lucid and probably cramping badly but not having a medical emergency. I rode on.
By that point a little wind had picked up, but I pushed through it ok. My bike is a road bike, but I have aero bars that can help me get out of the wind a little. The road back to transition is totally flat which was some nice relief.
I felt good off the bike. I did change my socks and don't regret the time. My feet felt good all run.
I've mostly switched to Altra shoes. They're good for me in general but especially off the bike the zero drop helps my calves not blow up.
I'd say I felt pretty good for about a mile, probably the adrenaline of being off the bike. Normally I'd take a gel every three miles or so, and did have one around mile two. But something about gels just wasn't what I wanted, so I was drinking Gatorade and Coke every aid station. They had grapes, too, which I took a couple times. I saw cookies and bananas and Red Bull which I didn't try.
I think I stopped at literally every aid station except the very last one a half mile from the finish. I walked at them and sometimes walked a block past. I wasn't struggling but wasn't exactly feeling energetic.
But once I got back less than a mile from the finish, I was able to muster the energy to put in a solid finish. It felt good to run to the finish! I felt good across the line, though they have catchers because many people get across and collapse, especially in the full.
Weather was perfect all day. A friend found me and congratulated me, then I found a bathroom and the provided finisher food. The food was disappointing and the same thing served at small local races. I still ate it, of course.
I got my bike, loaded up my car, and went home to a much needed shower. After a little recovery, I went back to look for a friend doing the full. He ended up finishing in 14:40! Just a colossal day for him and a lot of people.
I used to like to say doing a half Ironman wasn't a goal, but it was said with a bit of a wink. I think I want to do another. There's one in Door County, WI in July that's supposed to be good. It isn't Ironman branded so I assume it's a little cheaper. IM has 70.3s in Indiana and Michigan that might also be options. They haven't announced Wisconsin 70.3 for 2022.
I won't commit one way or the other on doing a full. I can see the allure, but I can also see the absolute time sink. I don't know how I'd find the time to double the training I did this year.