Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Ironman Wisconsin
Walrus Karma

7th Female, 10hrs17mins

I probably should have been concentrating harder on navigating my way around the buoys in Monona Lake and trying to find some other swimmers but at some stage my mind drifted and I started thinking about walruses. If there was a walrus in this lake, it would be laughing at me now and I have no right to complain, I laugh at them. Have you seen a walrus move on land? Flippers flapping, head wobbling, bottom wriggling. They use almost as much energy moving on land, as I do in the water. As I flapped, wobbled and wriggled my bottom through Lake Monona I came to the realisation that when I am laughing at a walrus, I am really laughing am myself.

So that was the start of Ironman Wisconsin for me. It was a bit disappointing as I’d done my swim training and I didn’t feel I did the swim I am capable of but, I have been disappointed coming out of the swim before and I just refuse to do it again. There is too much left of the day at that stage to worry about what has passed and besides the crowds are cheering, the music is blaring and I've finished the swim! What's there to be sad about. As one spectator reminded me at the top of the hardest climb on the course "I like to ride my bicycle." After the swim I got to do the funnest transition ever. We ran up a spiral ramp to the third floor of a multistory carpark and met our bicycles.

I like the Ironman Wisconsin bike course. Someone asked me after the race if it was a hard or easy course. Time wise I really don’t know but mentally it is a good course to get your head around because it changes direction so often that you really can’t get your head around it.

It was a delight to ride amongst so many spectators. Towns, crests, corners – they found all the good sports to cheer from and as expected my favourite American cheer, “good job” was being shouted from all directions.

I think my favourite memory of the race was of coming into transition two. It’s worth remembering because it’s always good to have something to look forward to for the next race. “If you peddle hard Prue, you will get into transition two early and there will be lots of people there to help you.” When I ran in this time there were about fifty women lined up to receive the expected arrivals. Their was a bit of a shortage of arrivals so I got extra special attention and a very warm send off.

That was just the start of it. The marathon course for this race is just how I think a marathon course should be – right through the centre of the town and the important places of the city. A marathon is an inspiring event and it should be thrown out there in front of everyone, so that everyone can see what everyone is actually capable of doing. The main street was lined with people and the university seemed to turn into one big party. We ran through the local football stadium, which was a first for me. It was serene inside and for just a minute we ran on soft green, grass surrounded by a building filled with the essence of sport.

I was hurting in the second half of the run, my feet were really sore and my back was really tight, it was the first race I’ve done where really it was joints and pain that started holding me back rather than muscles and fatigue. The racing element was there and I concentrated hard on making everything move as quickly as possible but I slowed a lot in that second loop. I was happy with how I rode and pleased with what I did during the run given the suffering but maybe next time I would like to go a bit faster. : )

One thing that stands out from that run is that when I first started doing Ironman events I would entertain the idea that I couldn't make it, or I would need to give in. Those thoughts are fading as I do a few more but I think the bigger influence is from looking around me at my fellow competitors. As I was finished most of the people around me were heading out for another lap. They were running, and they were running hard, and they were running for longer than me. I thought it was quite a tough marathon but with the crowds and the huge field, a really inspiring one.