Race day started just like any other. After a great night sleep I got up at the crack of dawn. I did my business eat peanut butter toast with coffee and relaxed. It was quite, calm and relaxing Sunday morning at home. The day couldn’t have started better.
As we headed downtown I remained calm. I know that no matter what was going to happen today, it was going to be fun and that is really what matters. The drive downtown went smooth. We had access to parking close to the start/finish/transition area. A short walk which was really nice.
Two things needed to be done before walking down to the water. First, I made my way up to the Capitol Square to drop off my special needs bags. Having number 74 came in handy right off the bat and as I’d find out all day long. I was able to drop my bags off without having to walk all over the place, right up front.
I headed to the transition area. This was the second stop before hitting the water. I took my Tailwind and placed it in my bottle holders. Dropped off the Garmin bike computer with the map ready to go for once I got out of transition. Finally I inflated my tires to the proper PSI and wished Shirley good luck. Next time I’d see my girl it would be ready to ride 112 miles.
After Shirley was ready I waited in the bathroom line before heading down helix and near the water. A short wait before the day would begin. Jen and I waited for under 30 minutes before it was time for me to get in. The group of swimmers started entering around 630am. Since I wanted to get close to the inside and up front I choose to get in at that time as well, a full 30 minutes before the race started.
We treaded water. I found a few teammates and chatted with them. A good way to hold of the fear. I was still nervous about the mass start having never done it.
The cannon went off, BOOM! It was a madhouse. A mad dash, a scramble, an in the water stampede. I inhaled water, lots and lots of water. So much water that it had to come back up. It did come back up. Within the first few minutes of the race I was already sick so to speak. I continued on the swim and found my groove. Keeping even with a pack of swimmers. The swim felt long on the last stretch after making the turn back towards the capitol.
After exiting the water you ran up the helix into transition. I grabbed my bag and headed to the change room. I got on my gear, socks, shoes, helmets. Nutrition went into my pockets on my jersey for later. I wish ready to go. As you ran out of transitions there were people. There were people everywhere. You ran out of the Monona Terrace and to your bike.
My bike was about as close to the second helix as you could get. I ran the entire parking lot and towards Shirley. I found her thanks to the awesome volunteers yelling and getting her ready. I ran toward the mount line which was a few seconds away.
I got on the horse and rode down the helix. My stomach was hurting from the water intake but I had to start off the ride right. I drank some fluids and navigated out of town. The first few miles tested your bike handling skills. Under walkways with sharp corners, around and up bridges. It was actually quite fun.
As I exited town and was out on the stick I felt my stomach turn once again and out it said. The little fluids I’d been able to take in didn’t last long. The good news was that I felt better. I ate some solids and wait a few minutes before taking in some liquids. It was working and I stuck to the plan even though I was a little behind now.
Before I knew it I was through Verona and past Mount Horeb. It didn’t seem to take long until I was at Barlow Road. The hill everyone and their grandmother talked about. It is tough but not a show stopper for me. I geared down and started at it. After making it up the hill I was ready for the downhill but new the next few miles were going to be tough. Some big hills to go including Midtown.
Midtown was probably my first favorite part of the day. It was a Tour De France style hill. The crowd was on both sides of you leaving just enough room for a bike or two to get through and up to the top. You got to go Midtown two times on race day.
As I made my way back into Verona the main drag was amazing. I saw my family as I came in. My mother and father, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins were there hanging out. It was so great to see them coming into town. I rounded the corner and Mike Rieley was there to annouce me coming through town. It was pretty awesome as the crowd went wild.
I stopped at special needs and grabbed my things. A sandwich I made. Some extra tailwind bottles and a letter from Jen. I headed back out for loop two. I felt slow but I did on loop one as well. It just wasn’t my day so far. I made it out and around Mount Horeb once more. Around the backside of the loop up and down the rollers. Midtown was the last hill on the loop. THe crowd was even larger and louder! It was amazing and I felt no pain going up the hill.
One last time I came into Verona. I saw my family seated and cheering their hearts out. It was so cool to see them and it really helped knowing they’d be there on loop two. I headed back towards the stick and tackled the last hill on the stick. My legs were feeling good and my stomach was just barely hanging in there. I knew that I’d have plenty of time coming into transition to finish, I just didn’t know how my stomach would hold up.
Transition two went by fast despite the fact that I changed shorts, socks, shoes and put on hydration belts and bib numbers. It went smooth and I was out the door again. I rounded the corner and saw Jen and my coach Todd and off I was. I was having a tough time getting going right away and as soon as I hit the stadium I was already walking. I walked for a few miles at the very minimum. As I started running again I was feeling a little better.
I ran for the next 8 miles before my legs had just about had it. They were sore and now I knew it. I kept going. Taking in fluids at each aid station and chatting with others along the way. I saw my family and Jen a bunch of times. Jen was even waiting with the parents who had come out to watch. So cool!
The run always seems like it will go on forever. Somehow it always go by in the blink of an eye. Not sure if it’s the pain that blocks out the memory or the fact that at some point you just give in and start having fun.
Coming down State Street was such an awesome experience it lived up to everything I had in my mind. The amount of people watching alone was incredible. I rounded the Capitol Square and could hear the finish line crowd. It was my time to shine. I came down the finish excited and with a massive smile on my face.
Crossing the finish line for the third time was just as exciting as the first and second. To cross the line in Madison made it even better. Knowing how many people were watching and cheering me on. Family, friends, teammates. It was a wild dream come true!
Post race I got some pizza and diet coke. It went down smooth. I grabbed my bike from transition and got my transition bags. It was the end of the day. We made our way back to the car and Jen drove us toward home. We got McDonalds on the way home and I ate the heck out of that stuff. Jen had to drive home for school the next day so it was a short goodbye.
Overall the race day was fun. I pushed through stomach issues again, some of the worst I’ve had. But I made it through. The finish in Madison was one of the sweetest and raising money for charity with the funds staying right here in Dane County was the icing on the race cake.