Lining up for the swim start as the sun rises.
The day started at 4:00am after a surprisingly GREAT night’s sleep! I was in bed by about 8:30pm and slept soundly until 4am. After some last minute packing of special needs bags and nutrition, Maggie and I met my brother in the lobby and we were off to Monona Terrace. The morning went pretty smoothly. We droped off my special needs bags, added nutrition to my bike, got my body marking and had a few potty stops. About 6:15am, Maggie and I headed to the swim start to sit and watch the sunrise over Lake Monona. It was a beautiful morning and all was good until that sunrise…. then my emotions kicked in. After some tears, hugs and lots of encouragement, I put on my wetsuit, turned in my dry clothes bag and headed into the water to find my spot and wait for the cannon. I had decided to start to the right of the ski jump and about middle of the crowd. I had heard lots of different advice about the start but since I used to be a member of the water ski team at Baylor and did a little jumping in college, I felt drawn to the ski jump – a sense of comfort I guess! Well that ended up being another great omen – my swim went GREAT!!!
Swim Start of just under 2500 athletes
I loved the swim start!!! Jockeying for position in the water, I think helped me swim with determination and focus. At the start of the second loop, I glanced at my watch and saw 38 minutes!!! Wow my goal was to start the second loop at 45 minutes. The second loop was much calmer, not as much bumping or contact with the other swimmers and I think that slowed me down. I had a comfortable but rather boring second loop. I came out of the water at 1:23 (1 hour and 23 minutes) WOW! 7 minutes ahead of my prediction!
Getting my bike in T1 from Alex
I found Maggie in the transition changing room and she helped me get all my bike stuff on and sent me out the door. So nice to have a few words of encouragement from Maggie as I started my least favorite leg of the race. Yes, biking is not my strength. As I approached my bike rack, I saw yet another friendly welcoming face, Alex! Alex handed me my bike and I was off to coast down the helix and out onto the course.
Coming through Mt Horeb on the second loop
The first loop of the bike course was great. I resisted the temptation to check my pace but felt pretty good, things were going according to plan. I was taking on nutrition and fluids at my desired rate and my stomach was doing great. I saw my sister-in-law, Stacey, in Mt Horeb but missed the rest of the family there. I was surprised by the crowds on the hills between Cross Plains and Verona. It reminded me of climbing the Alpe d’Huez in France before the Tour de France! People on both sides of the roadway, cheering and holding signs, dressed in costumes and running along side of you! I was even more surprised to see my friends, Sally, Beth and Jacinda, at the top of one of those hills!
A few of the people along the way who brought a smile to everyone's face no matter how bad you were feeling!
The second loop proved to be a little tough. I started feeling a little less energetic and just not right. I stopped in Mt Horeb at the aid station to make some changes – dump one bottle of sports drink and switch to water. I then decided to increase my fluid consumption to every 15 minutes instead of every half hour as I didn’t feel hydrated. The temperature was hotter than I had expected and I needed to keep my body cool and hydrated. I started out only to see my family a few blocks down from the aid station so I stopped to chat and get a little extra break and encouragement. This was probably my worst point in the whole day, so I was glad I had a lot of fan support there! After chatting for a minute or two I pedaled away.
Climbing a hill with a few of my Ironman friends
By the time I reached Cross Plains, I needed more water, food and a potty. While I was in the potty, two boys held and restocked my bike. I came out to full bottles, a few smiles and a banana! Love Ironman volunteers. I pedaled on knowing the hills were next and praying the crowds were still there! Not only were the crowds there but my 3 IronFans (Beth, Jacinda and Sally) with a BIG poster of me from the first loop!!! Talk about a pick-me-up!!! I knew I would get up that last hill and back to Madison!!! I did experience two entire leg cramps on the final miles of the bike and really was concerned how I was going to do on the run. I consumed all the food, salt and fluids on my bike before I got back to Madison hoping I would be as ready as possible for the run.
Pedaling up the helix was not bad at all and I was thrilled to not only turn over my bike to the volunteer at T2 and also to see my friend Kelly and give her a hug. I did tell the bike handler he could keep my bike! I ran into transition, grabbed my bag and found another great volunteer to help me put on my fresh running clothes. I also took a minute to drink two cups of water and take 2 salt tablets. Once I was dressed and had all my nutrition stowed in the proper places (side pockets and in my favorite cleavage alley of my SkirtSports top!!!!!), I ran out of transition for some more sunscreen and a little jog around Madison.
Approaching the end of the first loop about 12.5 miles into the run
The first few miles of the run were okay and I consumed a lot of pretzels and sports drink to make sure I had enough salt/electrolytes on board. I continued consuming bananas at every aid station, water and grabbing sponges and ice to cool my body. At Mile 4, things started clicking and my body started feeling good. My plan was to run from aid station to aid station and that is pretty much what I was able to do! I did walk for 1 minute between a few aid stations that were or seemed more than a mile apart. The run was going really well and as I had been told “If you can run most of the marathon, you will pass hundreds of people.” I have no clue how many people I passed but I do know a number of people passed me as I grazed in each aid station. I tended to be faster in between the aid stations but I took my time once I was in an aid station, eating and drinking as much as I could hold or stow in my top! I am sure I was quite the image shoving food here and there! I must have looked like I was starving!
Heading out for the 2nd loop of the run course
Although my stomach was feeling pretty bloated, I didn’t feel too bad and knew my run would be good. It got a little dark on sections of the path and I could not see where I was putting my foot down, so I worried a bit about tripping. My right knee started hurting, so I knew the slope of the road was getting to me. I tried to run on the crest or opposite side so I would have an opposite slope. That seemed to help so I just kept moving forward as fast as I could. I did have to make a few potty stops but knew I was still ahead of my goal so it was okay. Some where along the 2nd loop, I switched my watch to time of day since that is what I had written my race day plan using and I was tired of translating! Silly me, I don’t know why I didn’t switch my watch earlier! As I began to approach State Street the crowds got larger again and the run got even easier!
Coming down finishing shoot towards the finish line
It is uphill to the Capital and I knew this so I was very prepared, but the adrenaline from the crowds yelling “Way to Go, Pam”, “You’re about to be an Ironman”, “Congrats, Pam” must have had me running faster than I had planned. So when I got directly across the square from the finish, I needed to walk so I could catch my breath. The crowd immediately started yelling “Don’t walk now you are almost there!!!” I almost screamed “Sc–w you, I have been running for hours!!!” but I didn’t I just smiled and tried to catch my breath. I walked about 1/2 a block and then started running again! The crowd seems to get louder at each turn (you run three sides around the capital before you turn away from the Capital and run down the finishing shoot with the Capital building at your back). That last turn is AMAZING! The crowd is SOOO LOUD I couldn’t hear anything and all I could see was the finish line.
About to cross the finish line
It seemed that everyone was yelling my name and I didn’t know where to look so I just stared at the finish line and concentrated on getting there as quickly as possible! During the run, I had decided I was going to try and do a little victory jump when I crossed the finish line. Well, I have never had much of vertical jump, so after 14 hours and 32 minutes I had a smig less! I probably got about 2 inches off the ground and had it not been for all of the upper body movement and swinging arms, no one would have even known I had tried to jump. Well except that my landing wasn’t very graceful and I scared the volunteers as they thought I was going to fall! I did not fall and amazingly I did not cry or get emotional! I think the big smile that I had apparently been wearing all day just got a whole lot bigger! I had not only finished Ironman Wisconsin and was now an Ironman, but I also did it 13 minutes faster than my best prediction. My overall goal had been to stay under 15 hours, a goal I beat by 28 minutes! What a day!!!!
Link to video of my finish, I am not sure how long this site will be active as it is the professional photographer trying to sell me photos!
Celebrating with my parents, brother, Jeff and sister-in-law, Stacey.
Ironman Wisconsin Official Times