Best/Worst race ever: IM Wisconsin race report

So after yesterday’s race and all that happened during the day I figured I would get this race report out quicker so anyone who was curious on what exactly happened can read about it while it’s fresh in their minds.

Race Week

Woke up on Monday and went for a run.  Nothing special about that but what happened on the run stayed with me until race day.  During the run my quads totally seized up on me.  And not normal cramps, like they tightened and nothing I could do would get them back.  Ok, that has happened before, let me get my massage and I will be good as new.  Massage was Tuesday so I had 4 full days before the race.  Wednesday I tried to go for a bike ride but couldn’t manage more than 10 minutes before my glute and hamstring locked up on me, tried a run, quads and calves locked up.  Well this is terrible!  Oh well, let me totally rest the next few days.  So I stretched, foam rolled, and took ice baths in hopes that it would help.

Saturday comes along and my legs aren’t really sore, sweet!  So I go for my normal day before a race bike ride but bam, glute and hamstring lock up on me.  Again tried to run but couldn’t make it 5 minutes before my quads and calves gave out.  Now I started to worry.  Less than 24 hours until Ironman Wisconsin and I could not run more than 5 minutes without pain!

I really need to figure out what is going on here because it is terrible.  It has happened before both Ironman races, with this being far worse than Texas, and there seems to be no reason for it.  I am not dehydrated, I get enough electrolytes, and they do not feel like normal cramps.  They are very, very painful and nothing I can do gets rid of them for more than a few minutes.  And they aren’t isolated; it’s both legs from calf to glute.  And they lasted for a week plus this time.  Ok so let’s fast forward to Sunday.

Race Morning

I woke up at 4, ate my chocolate chip muffin and had my 2 Ensure drinks with some EFS like usual.  Headed down to get my bike ready for the day, nothing special here.  I was racing around adding things to my gear bags then all of a sudden I could barely walk.  Holy shit!  Worst possible thing to happen 40 minutes before the start of an Ironman.  So I limp down the helix to where my girlfriend and parents are waiting and break down a bit.  Was all my hard work and time going to be for nothing?!  Quickly I realized I had to at least try to do it.  Luckily my parents and girlfriend were very supportive either way but I know for sure my dad wanted me to do it.

Swim: 1:06:19 31st AG and 301 overall

My original plan for the race was to start out middle and a few rows back.  But with my legs feeling like crap I decided to start wide in hopes or staying out of any fighting for position.  And I was right.  Granted starting way wide and making wide turns probably cost me a few minutes but not having to fight with anyone for position was great.  My legs felt ok during most of the swim thanks to my wetsuit so I was able to have a nice 2 beat kick.  But by no means were they feeling good.  The water felt good and I liked the one loop swim.  It actually went by fairly quick considering everything.

Exiting the swim

Transition 1: 25:53 (is that a record?!)

I hop out of the water and start to jog to the wetsuit strippers.  Get my wetsuit off and start jogging up the helix.  And here we go again, I can barely walk.  So now thoughts are going through my head, do I even start the bike?  Can I ride?  But I knew I had to at least start the bike, my parents and girlfriend were out on the course somewhere waiting for me.  Lucky for me there were some massage therapists so I had someone work on me for about 10 minutes.  Then I walked out to my bike and made a call to my dad telling him I was not sure if I could bike but I was going to try.  So off I went.

Bike: 7:00:34 (6:30 moving time) 129th AG and 1603 overall 138 average power/167 norm power

Well I will probably sum up the bike ride in a few paragraphs because it was the same thing over and over.  I started off the bike not being able to pedal without excruciating pain.  So I would pedal then coast then pedal then coast.  A few miles in was my first stop to stretch, and I have to say triathletes are amazingly helpful and supportive, I would say that 80% of people who passed me while I was stretching asked if I was ok and needed help.  A few more miles go by and I see a girl and a guy changing a flat and I stop to ask if I can help.  I basically have resigned to the fact that I wouldn’t be able to finish the race so I change her flat then head back on the road.  And for the next 20-30 minutes my legs didn’t feel like crap.  Ok so maybe things are turning around.  But right as I was thinking that the glutes started locking up again.  Pretty much both of my legs were locking up but the thing that I felt the most were the glutes.

The feeling not terrible, feeling like crap was a very common theme during the ride.  But I kept pushing because I wanted to at least see my girlfriend and parents once.  I thought they were going to be at one of the big hills but they weren’t.  So after a very mentally and physically painful 53 miles I see them in Verona.  I stop and tell them what’s going on and also stretch.  They were all supportive and I think my mom and girlfriend wanted me to stop because they thought I would injure myself.  But my dad, being a guy who broke his hip then drove home from Wisconsin, was pretty much saying go and see how you feel and if you need to drop out call us and we will get you.  So off I go with the special needs pick up being my next goal.  Again, I was starting to not feel terrible so my head was back in the game.

It was a chilly bike ride to go along with a painful one.

I get my special needs bag, crush my peanut butter M&Ms then start another climb.  And this was more than painful, so after a bit I tell myself it’s time.  Pull over and wait for a SAG vehicle or an official then go to medical.  But the problem was I was not close to an aid station and I didn’t want to sit around for a long time so I get back on my bike and head to the next aid station.  Feeling not terrible again, then get to a hill and feel like crap, then stop and stretch.  But by that time I was like 45 miles from the end so I said screw it, even if it takes 3 hours to finish those 45 miles I would rather drop out during the run knowing I tried each leg of the race.  I see my family again at one of the big hills and tell them I would least finish the bike then see how I felt during the marathon.  So now I was calculating how long it would take me to finish the bike.  Ok, a 7 hour split would put me at 8.5 hours which means I would have 8.5 hours to walk the marathon.  Notice how I said “walk”, at that point I thought there was no way whatsoever that I would be able to jog let alone run because of how my legs felt in the morning.  I ended up HAMMERING about 25 minutes towards the end of the ride because I actually felt ok so I just Time Trialed and went as fast as I could, figuring what would it really do to my legs?

Transition 2: 16:41 (combined transition times of 42 minutes!)

I hop off my bike and start to jog a bit, legs didn’t feel as bad as I expected.  I got my gear bag and put my shoes on and saw the amazing massage therapists again!  So for the next 10+ minutes he worked out, or tried to, all the tension in my legs.

Run: 3:54:55 93rd AG and 1000 overall 8:57 min/mile

I get out of transition and decide to try to run, “wow, I am running!”.  That is all I could think about, now how long will it last?  One step at a time.  I started off running about 8:30-9 minute miles in the hopes it was slow enough that my legs would hold up.  But the key to this run was making sure I was taking shorter steps and having proper form.  I think I upped my cadence so I would not stride out too much; not that my legs would even be able to have a good stride at this point.  I was pretty much doing a fast shuffle.

The whole run I was looking at the ground about 5 feet in front of me trying to think about anything but running.  I was going by feel and trying to keep my pace no slower than 9:15 min/mile if I could.  Now when would my legs give out?  The answer to that is never!  Maybe it was the fact that I was thinking about anything else in the world besides running, maybe it was my legs telling me that I had won the battle and they would give in and get me to the finish as fast as they could.  But either way I was ecstatic.  I saw my girlfriend and parents on State Street on both loops and towards the end of the loop then at the finish.  When I saw them on State Street the second time I told my girlfriend that I was going to collapse at the finish.  She has seen that happen on videos I have shown her and told me that if that happened to me she would freak out, and who wouldn’t?  So I decided to give her a heads up. My brother and his girlfriend had also showed up at that time as well, so I had a good supporting crew out there!   I thought I was going to collapse because I was going to run the last few miles as fast as I could and figured my legs would just give out on me.  But they did not even after running a low 7 minute last mile plus.

Running through Camp Randall Stadium the first time. I tried to give a thumbs up but the pain in my face is visible.

The course was pretty fun, except for the big hills on Observatory, those were brutal.  Going up was bad but going down, especially the 2nd loop, was as bad if not worse.  Running down State Street was also fun; there was a lot of fan support which made the run a bit easier.  Another cool thing about my run time is I gained 36 spots in my AG and 603 overall during the run!

Total time: 12:44:22 for 93rd AG and 1000th overall

Pure relief and joy at the finish. This was a very emotional race for me.

I sit here at my computer today more sore than I have ever been in my life but at the same time what I did yesterday was the biggest athletic accomplishment of my life.  I pushed through so much pain and fought with my body and mind all day and I won!  I would have been fine with a DNF because I knew I had given it my all but finishing that race and hearing that amazing phrase “Jeremy Rielley from Evanston, Illinois, you are an Ironman!” was well worth all of the pain of yesterday and the pain I will be in the next few days!  know there is plenty of stuff I am missing out on in this report but if I put it all in there it would end up being like 10 pages, so you’re welcome!


4 thoughts on “Best/Worst race ever: IM Wisconsin race report

  1. Pingback: It’s been too long! « 140.6 Miles to Glory

  2. Pingback: Mysterious leg issues | 140.6 Miles to Glory

  3. Pingback: Ironman Wisconsin Race Report | 140.6 Miles to Glory

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