Monday, September 8, 2008
Dave's Adventure at Ironman Wisconsin
The past week has been Ironman mania in Madison. I'm assuming most readers know what an Ironman is but it's the crazy endeavor of swimming 2.4 miles, then biking 112 miles, and finishing off your day with a 26.2 mile run. Ridiculous and impressive. The bike shop was full of nervous athletes needing tubulars glued on last minute and picking up clothing and food. The weather forecast was looking a little sketchy on Thursday/Friday with temps predicted at 70 with a decent chance of rain. So we sold lots of armwarmers and vests. Dave was going through his taper getting ready for his second IM and trying to rest up as much as possible. He finished his first IM in 11 hours and 14 minutes and was hoping to cut off 30 minutes this year. He went out and got a pair of Skins this week and did a lot of couch surfing with his legs up.
He had a pretty extensive squad of fans planning on coming out on Sunday to cheer him on. In addition to numerous friends and his Swimfast teammates my parents, Dave's parents, and his brother Ryan and fiancee Rachael were in town for the event. We were both up at 3AM unable to sleep and while Dave slugged down some Ensure I put on some awesome Ironman tattoos.
We were downtown by 5AM and while Dave was hanging out with some friends getting ready for the 7AM start I parked myself at a coffee shop for some caffeine and people watching. It was pretty entertaining to watch anxious athletes and their fans stream in to get their fix and try to plan out their day. I headed to where the athletes get on their bikes and head out on the course. The IM is at the Monona Terrace and there are these huge helix shaped structures that people have to run or bike up/down depending on the transition. It's a pretty common generalization that triathletes often struggle with steering their bike in anything but a straight line so they put up helpful signs for them.
I ran into our friends Jordan, Rachel, and Yvonne and we watched the swim and snagged an apparently off limits spot to watch the start of the bike. Here are 2200 people swimming in the lake - a picture can't really do it justice but the sound of all the flopping arms and legs is pretty cool.
Cider amused us while we waited by pulling some weeds and digging in the mulch.
Dave was out of the water at 1:13 (that's an hour and thirteen minutes - the fastest pro this year was 51 minutes) and we were in a great spot to cheer him on as he got on the bike. Several of my coworkers and other friends were participating and it was fun to yell for them throughout the day.
After we saw him off it was a dash to the car to drive out and try to catch him on his first lap of the course. Amazingly we all got there in time to see him ride by.
Then we had a nice leisurely almost two hours to sit in the sun and wait for him to come by again. Weather was perfect - low 70s, mostly sunny, and then the wind picked up while they were out there but still conditions were ideal.
After we saw him the second time - looking strong and flying up the hill - Ryan, Rachael, and I kitted up and got on our bikes. We cut through the course and ended up riding backwards to try to see him once more. We ran into our friends Brian and Courtney who also rode out there and stopped to cheer along the road. They just happened to stop where this sign was.
Dave's boss lives nearby and had made it and stuck it out on the course. Dave was looking great on the bike and we saw him earlier than we expected to. We rode back to our house to change and then drove downtown and got on our bikes again to follow him around on the run course. He was sporting the flashy white compression socks and the first time we saw him he had a smile on his face and his stride looked smooth and strong.
We rode around more and ran into more friends and family scattered on the course. It's so cool to see how many people are out there cheering and the volunteers for the event are top notch too. We caught him at mile 19 still running great and Dave's dad (through his complex and precise equations) figured Dave was on pace to run a 10:45 - his goal. We all made our way up to the finish line and I continued to bike around trying to catch him with roughly 2 miles to go. He came through where I was waiting at 5:20 (10:20 race time) and I yelled at him how well he was doing and what his time was.
I was so excited at how great of a day he was having. He was going to do better than he had hoped for and was looking really strong (although I'm sure his feet felt like they were going to fall off!) I quickly rode up to the finish, locked the bike, and squeezed my way into a good spot to see him cross the line. I saw him coming and he came across in 10:35!
Lots of friends and family were on hand to congratulate him on his amazing time. He finished 162 overall out of 2082 finishers, 41st in his age group, and he cut nearly 40 minutes from his time last year.
I am sooooo proud of how well he did and his dedication and determination throughout the entire process. Dave is the ultimate multitasker and his ability to train as much as he does when he works as much as he does is truly impressive. Doing an Ironman is tough when you put your all into trying to peak for one big event. So many things have to fall in place and you have to hope everything works out just right. It was awesome to see all of that come together yesterday and to support him in such a great achievement.
Big thanks to all of our family and friends that cheered him on throughout the day. He was so inspired by all of the support out there and to see the same folks at different parts of the courses all day helped fuel him on.
Congratulations to all of our friends and his Swimfast teammates who raced too! It's an inspiring event and anyone who completes such a massive feat deserves some recognition.
Thanks for reading!!