The amazing Dead President Tour of 2008 began on Wednesday with the arrival of my brother Andrew from Portland, OR. Julie and I took him out to dinner; afterward we were treated to shockingly large bag of trail mix and homemade cookies in a (stolen?) Tupperware.
You might be curious to understanding why I am into dead presidents. Well, for starters I do have a history degree and have always been interested in the topic, but really the catalyst goes to the (dare I say great?) Manus Hand. Way back when webpages were truly novel (early 90s), Manus put together his interest in visiting presidential gravesites online. The 2008 inspiration was actually my brother; the thought just got me wanting to pick up my old past time! And just to throw it out there, here are the ten graves I have previously visited:
- George Washington
- Thomas Jefferson
- James Monroe
- Andrew Jackson
- James K. Polk
- John Tyler
- James Buchanan
- Woodrow Wilson
- William Taft
- John F. Kennedy
Thursday, September 4th
The thousand mile journey towards Madison began at 7:30AM when Andrew and I left with Winston bound towards Asheville. From there we then took a very beautiful country road northwest towards Greeneville, TN. Our destination was the final resting place of Andrew Johnson. Ironically enough, Andrew (my brother) and I had visited Andrew's (the president) birthplace a number of years ago in Raleigh, so here we were completing the circle. Johnson rose from very humble beginnings and let's be frank here, got a bad rap with the whole impeachment thing. As noted by Manus Hand, Johnson wished only to sleep eternally with the Constitution (or at least a copy) as his pillow. It was quite a beautiful view from Signal Hill and a wonderful beginning to our bagging expedition.
My only two regrets were that we didn't have enough time to visit his homesite and I missed an opportunity to visit with Genevieve, a wonderful friend who used to live in Charlotte.
From there we went back down I-81 towards Knoxville then headed north on I-75 towards Lexington. After some beautiful mountain vista views we were then treated to the famous horse farms of the Lexington area.
Our next destination was just outside Cleveland (in North Bend) to visit the final resting spot of William Henry Harrison. This site also had a pleasant view looking over the Ohio River. Harrison mostly makes notice these days for serving the shortest term of any president - 30 days. Andrew pointed out the irony that one of the columns had the opening from his inaugural address. Harrison stood in the rain and went on and on and on. And he died because of it! Good thing I can blog from the safety and comfort of my house, otherwise if I were in the rain I'd make my point and move the hell out.
From Cincinnati we scored some cheap gas and moved west towards Indianapolis. The hotel where I made reservations turned out to be in a very iffy industrial part of town - right next to the Hostess Factory. And there were no free samples - we had to go far to find some real food.
Friday, September 5th
We rose early and headed through more tougher sections of Indianapolis west towards the utterly massive Crown Hill Cemetery. We had to nearly circled it to find the main entrance, and from there it was dumb luck (and asking some walkers) we found the grave of Benjamin Harrison. Yes, this was a Harrison two-fer, Benjamin's grandfather was William Henry Harrison. All reports were that Benjamin gave his inaugural address in a more safe location (although he died of the same thing!). Benjamin Harrison was elected without the popular vote, which goes to show that this electoral mess will continue the Electoral College is dismantled. Benjamin Harrison is also the only President from Indiana. Considering the disastrous consequences had George H.W. Bush died in office, let's call this a good thing.
From there on it was corn corn corn!! Okay, more like corn soy beans, and then corn. We steered our trusty steed Audrey west and then north to steer clear of Chicago. The timing was critical, as I learned quite late in the game that registration was closing at 4PM that day! Andrew dropped me off at Monona Terrace and it was actually not too bad, way less traffic than waiting for the Half Ironman in Providence. And that point the next immediate destination was to continue along Washington towards I-90, where our palatial cramped home would be for the next few days.
A few hours later Andrew dropped me off again so I could attend the pre-race dinner and instructions. The hall reminded me of attending the ESRI plenary a few weeks ago - a huge sea of people and a dog and pony show. I didn't know a soul so I circled around a bit and randomly sat down next to a young guy. I ended up having a nice conversation with him - his name was Dan, he was from Wisconsin and this was his first Ironman. Apparently Dan was not alone, it was announced around HALF of the participants were Ironman newbies. The most interesting part for me was seeing Paula Newby-Fraser in the flesh. Paula won the World Championships in Kona an unmatched EIGHT times, surpassing in my mind even the great Dave Scott or Mark Allen. Then again, she is the head of the corporation that runs the Ironman brand races. It troubles me that in reality it's just a business. The race fees for these events are ridiculous, but I cannot argue against the first class support one does receive. Dan was trying to qualify for Kona, but knew it was going to be a tough haul. There were three other ladies who joined our little circle - all of them were first timers. The doctors' talks were just horrible and Greg Welch must have dropped acid before being called up. As one of the many nervous wrecks in the room, I did get some pasta and useful logistical information.
Andrew then picked me up and we cruised out to the airport to pick up our dad. It was here in early August of 2003 the great suitcase (near) debacle was rectified. From there we went back to the motel. Good thing I brought my air mattress, the two full beds were not going to cut it. There was just enough space and as per usual Winston slept on my bed.
Saturday, September 6th
The main thing I remember about Saturday was fending off many panic/anxiety attacks. Any sort of diversion was welcomed. I was looking forward to sleeping in after two hurried days of travel, but even that wasn't as long as I hoped (see above). The three of us walked up to the Denny's, fairly certain we would not be discriminated against. I ordered an absolutely huge breakfast, the plan being to eat progressively less during the day. Our first order of business was to drive the bike course. My reasons for signing up for Ironman Wisconsin had a lot to do with several individuals who lived there. Unfortunately the main individual, a close family friend who goes by the name of Eric, had moved on to greener pastures. Unable to be there, Eric insisted we meet up with his good biker friend Dave who he met while working at the Why Files. Since Dave knew the roads so well, I offered for him to come along.
I wasn't quite sure if I had met Dave during my three visits to Madison (August 2000, early August 2003, and August 2003). Maybe he was the driver during "The Great Airport/Suitcase Fiasco." Hmm. Not sure. It took me, my brother, and my dad (all of whom know Eric quite well) about two minutes to figure out why Dave and Eric were good friends. Before leaving we also chatted some with Dave's wife Meg. It was a full car - me driving, Dave in the passenger seat, and then Andrew, Winston, and Dad in the back. But hey, we were being efficient. We first went back to the convention center where I had to drop off my bike and transition bags. Yes sir, this was the triathlon BIGTIME. Transition bags, changing rooms, and biker assistants in the transition area (on the fourth floor parking deck). You can actually see the course yourself - Simply Stu has accelerated videos of the swim, bike, and run courses from 2007. I was glad I checked out the bike online before seeing the real thing. Dave was an excellent guide and we all had a very enjoyable couple of hours. Once we deposited him back so he could continue his mission to sell their red car (no, we don't want to buy it!), we took our leave for another couple of hours.
The number one reason I came to Madison was to see my friend Alice. She has a very special place in my heart as she not only introduced (pushed?) me to triathlons but is an excellent friend. We met when I was in grad school; I was at Duke and she was at UNC (star-crossed indeed). My first triathlon ever (ironically enough) was in Charlotte and I remember our trip quite fondly, from the bike that almost fell off the car on I-85 to the wrong way turn into Kenilworth, to the free meal at the Omni. Our favorite trip was up to Lynchburg, Virginia for the Angel's Sprint. I also remember coming down to White Lake to watch her and Dan (her now husband) do the Half. That was what got me to take on my own, and now here I was (for a second time!). That afternoon we had a most fabulous visit - she was expecting by the end of the month, but was excited to come out and cheer for me; in addition to a co-worker, her brother-in-law, and his girlfriend. I got my first opportunity to meet their two year-old son, not to mention her now grown up Lily (the bulldog). At first Lily was somewhat aggressive towards us, but soon enough she and Winston were tearing around the backyard having a fun time! Deep down I was saddened to come to the real grips of not seeing Oliver, but Alice's deepest love for that dog was perhaps the most special intangible she has passed on to me.
Unfortunately the time zoomed by and they had to leave for a family dinner, so we hit the grocery store and returned for what Dave deemed "The Last Supper." It was a delightful evening, ruined only by my growing anxiety.
Pictures often lie. This one is a great example. First off, that's a terrible indicator of Meg's personality. She was totally cool. And look at me - I'm smiling. Way off. You also can't see the beer I drank. Yeah, yeah, I drank a beer. A far cry from a glass of red wine and rubbing Roxie's head. But this was a white wine house and Roxie is now with Oliver in doggie heaven. It looks like it's just me and 140.6 miles tomorrow.
Sunday, September 7th - getting the Ironman Monkey off my back
Naturally there were a host of concerns up to this point. Ironman Wisconsin has always been known for its violent weather, whether it goes over 90 to decimate the field or puts them in misery during a 50 degree rain. As of Saturday night, it was tending to go the cold route. During the approaching week I had constantly monitored the weather and was amazed the high temperatures were going to be near 70 degrees - that's like an icebox for us living in Charlotte and any other hot place in the world! My other major fear were my hamstrings - I spoke nothing of them to no one, esconced in fear that the pains that showed a week before would hamper my efforts. And then of course my left foot, injured in a mysterious way on my first day of Ultimate back in June. I did something - it did not necessarily hurt but would always be swollen. I went to the doctor and they took x-rays - nothing was broken. Something in the arch was very funny, and I didn't know what it was.
The day began around 4AM when I took in a couple of Ensure drinks and a banana. I "went back to bed" for an hour and then it was "go time." It certainly was nice to have the bike and transition bags all taken care of! Even better was when I looked out the window and saw it was clear - initial indications were of a clear "cool" day. That would certainly be near perfection. It was still dark as we cruised westward towards downtown. Dad dropped me off with Andrew, who would initially be handling Winston, then went off in search of parking. Naturally I was nervous and anxious as hell, but I saw relief in sight with the sound of the 7AM cannon. One other mistake I wanted to avoid was getting out of the bathrooms with too little time to put on my wetsuit - that nearly sunk me at Vineman last year. I had already gone several times but the more the better! By a random coincidence, I met Alice's co-worker as I then made the final preparations up on the fourth level parking area. We then all descended the helix - temporarily losing Andrew and Winston. Dad helped me on with my wetsuit then I got into a large crowd of athletes being lead into the water. There I actually ran into Dan, the guy I met at the dinner Friday night! I was near stepping in the water when the cannon went off at 6:50 for the 33 professionals and their start. Perhaps the biggest x-factor in this event was the notion of starting with 2000+ swimmers - that definitely unnerved me. The starting line was generous, but still I "stood" in the water, lightly treading the (the wetsuit provided most of the bouyancy) until the moment I could start my watch with the others get this show on the road.
THE SWIM - 2.4 miles
At 7AM the cannon went off and I began what I often call "just another long day at the office." It is hard to say whether my placement, horizontally or vertically, was sound. Starting at the front of the line closest to the buoy was obviously not a good idea. Starting in the back would not be sound either. I knew, with the wetsuit, I would come out somewhere in the middle. The first five minutes was okay, but then I really started to get battered. I believe it was there that I got my first kick to the face. It was of little consequence, especially compared to the kick I received at Over The Mountain several years ago. It calmed down some as we swam parallel to the Monona Terrace. The course was of largely rectangular design and required two loops. The lake was 71 degrees and perfect, except for all these damn people! The first turn I heard someone yell out 15 minutes, but other than that I remember turning too close and just getting slaughtered by a bunch of crazy people! I seem to recall on the return side I suffered the worse injury. Some jackass doing the breaststroke kicked me right below the left shoulder - it hurt BAD! The event was obviously a test of my patience - none of these people meant harm (if they grab your ankles, that's different!). The huge multitude of swimmers provided an excellent guide - I thought my "steering" was pretty damn good - even when it died down some on the second lap I was physically brushing the buoys.
When it came time for the second lap I did not take a moment to look at the watch - I did however have a reaction that would be repeated three total times - "Another lap? Are you fucking kidding me?!?" I was able to dig deep for the second go around, although there were the momentary swings of despair I kept hammering away. My body felt fine with the very large exception of my calves. They were both tending toward massive cramps during the last forty minutes. As I made the final turn and headed "for home" (which took FOREVER) my left went critical. Had I not been wearing a wetsuit I would have had to stop dead. My legs went completely dead as I pushed forward in extreme pain. My hope was for the timing - I definitely needed a functional leg in approximately four minutes. When my hands hit the ground and it became time to push up, I got what I hoped for.
Right before going under the banner and the timing mat, which would announce to all my friends and family following live, I glanced at my watch and saw my time would be 1:18:24. I was not surprised. And here is why.
In 2007 the four months leading up to Vineman I swam 27 times, covering a total of 27.7 miles. I averaged a 37.3 minute mile pace and participated in five swims greater than 1.2 miles and five swims at the 1.2 mile level. Then at Vineman I swam with a smaller crowd of 250. My time was 1:15:38.
The last four months leading up to Ironman Wisconsin I swam 17 times, covering 15.6 miles. I did average a slightly stronger 35.3 minute mile pace, but swam only ONCE over 1.2 miles and two times at 1.2 miles. As a result, my time slipped, a 3.7% slowdown. Now in the larger picture, I would consider myself quite fortunate to grab such a time - and any triathlete worth their salt knows differences in swim time are easily erasable over 112 miles of biking and a marathon. But still, the fact I had a wild goal of going under 13 hours. This was not a good start.
My time put me about where I thought I would land, slightly below average. Of the 2,207 individuals that completed the swim, I finished 1,215th, which is in the 55% arena. Good thing only about 300 probably ran into me!
My immediate fear was cramping in my legs. In Providence, when the wetsuit strippers had me down I had a massive cramp. The two volunteers here did a good job and I took it easy laying down for the final pulls. Transition times should very rarely be compared with other races, simply because the distance traveled varies so much. This triathlon easily took first place for longest/hardest transition.
Once stripped (my dad told me a fair number of people ran up still with their wetsuits on) I began the run towards the "dreaded" helix, and then around and around I went as I headed towards the fourth floor. I got a little dizzy but was able to trot most of the way. It was then into the room with all the gear bags. My bag had the luxury of being right up against a stand, so there was little delay in getting to the big changing room. There I actually took off my swimsuit and put on my bike shorts and then all the gear associated. The big question associated with the weather was whether to wear my blue sleeveless again or if it were too cold my 24 Hours of Booty jersey. I even had my arm warmers in the bag! My choice was clear here. The fewer clothes the better. I knew I had a long way to go to get to my bike, so I choose not to put on my shoes. I then left the building and turned around to go down the long transition area.
A volunteer held my bike as I put on my shoes. It was then a fair distance to get to the mount line. That took 9:37 - wow. Let the games begin.
THE BIKE - 112 miles
What goes up must come down - or so I've heard. Immediately after mounting Holman I faced the dizzying spin down the other helix towards my date with ... something. It was stressed at the pre-race meeting about no passing and taking it extremely cautiously. Check. The bike route for Ironman Wisconsin basically heads out west. At a certain point there are two loops. Then one takes the same route back to base.
The initial segment to cross over John Nolen was quite bizarre. We actually got on a bike path that descended underneath then did a wide sweep through the parking lot of the arena. For that part there was another "no pass" zone and I felt like I was on a beach cruiser peddling along on a lazy Sunday afternoon. This was Sunday, right?
For the first hour I was passing bikers right and left (logic would dictate I passed 189 riders by the end). It was a strange sensation to start at the same time with so many people, so you knew exactly where they were, and most of these people were stronger swimmers where taking a more sensible pace or some variation therein. The skies were still clear and the ambient temperature cool. Apart from a mechanical issue, it appeared there would be no excuses. The clocked ticked slow for me, obviously getting used to the solo rides with the iPod was a bad crutch, not to say this whole experience was not interesting. Especially for the first lap there were always tons of bikers to watch. I couldn't remember exactly where the loop started, so my attempt to time it for return purposes didn't work out. I first spotted the Bodien crew on the moderately long climb up to the town of Mt. Horeb. Winston certainly did not look interested in the proceedings.
After passing the Mile 30 mark the turn onto Witte Road marked the start of the infamous Ironman Wisconsin bike course rollers. I hung relatively well, refusing to check in on my pace. My cycle computer was kept on the time the entire duration. I used it to time the consumption of my eight gels and salt tablets. After that was the climb up Garfoot. Near there the vista was absolutely incredible - following which was one of two dangerous descents. Hmm, note the haybales placed especially for this race. Okay, I'm listening! Once into the town of Cross Plains there were a lot of rambucous pirates - okay... From there the inevitable countdown toward the Old Sauk hill climbs. This was the one place that resembled best a highly contested mountain climb on the Tour de France. There were a lot of spectators just going crazy. As it was set in three doable stages, I was out of the seat and carefully climbed my way up to Timber Road. Once at the top I started to cry. And I really don't know why, maybe because that was so utterly cool. It was after another successive climb on this road that I spotted the support crew again.
At the end of Timber Road was a huge plummet followed by a sharp left bend. I took the hill very conservatively and began the trek towards the town of Verona - where I had heard the real bike course party was in motion. And yes, it was kind of like being in the Tour de France, but passing through a city. It was here that I really began the real plummet of losing faith. I had just experienced a nasty cramp on my right quad (I almost never get these) and I was starting to lose sensation in my toes. Having to take a right on Whalen was just devastating, but not quite as bad as the real pit of despair. Even worse was that through a series of mistakes did not put together a "special needs" bag that had a sandwich. I relied entirely upon handed out bananas for solid food during the bike. My speed took a hard turn for the worse as I started the second lap. I fought on, quickly being passed by some familiar faces. The dark clouds had also started to mount - perhaps some additional misery was in order? It was only after climbing into Mt. Horeb again that I began my biking renaissance. I took Witte relatively strong and then was elated to see the support crew plus Dave (apparently Meg was around the corner but I missed her).
I pushed harder on the technical descent, becoming more alienated in my seemingly convoluted quest. Why on earth do I participate in this? What's the point? The pirates of Cross Plains were noticeably more tired of "arghing" when I saw them again. I continued to prepare for the worst on the Sauk climbs. It was slower, almost like that tortuous second attempt on Chalk Hill last year. But I made it, did not cry, and pushed into myself even deeper to keep the legs going.
I took the Timber Road descent at a much strong pace. Around Mile 90 there is another nasty hill on Midtown Road. This was the one that nearly did me in. Sick and tired of riding at this point, I pushed on to Verona, where the crowds had also begun to thin. Outside of town we had to veer left around an ambulance - a rider was on the backboard getting a ride to somewhere he didn't want to go.
I was overcome with emotion on being able to turn left on Whalen and return to town. I absolutely began to hammer for the remaining fourteen (?) miles. I knew once again I would be losing time but I wanted to limit my damages. I cared more about making a less disastrous mark on the bike rather than the run. I averaged almost 19 miles an hour on my way back to the helix. After the last overpass, I swung around the Alliant Center jockeying for a position that would not compromise me on the no-pass zone, then hyped myself up for the finish twist back up the helix. It was harder than I thought it would be, but I managed well. A female rider behind me started to scream for me to pick it up near the top, since she was climbing hard but still couldn't pass. Part of me wanted to punch her in the face, but I was so on fumes at that point and I heard a rumor a marathon awaited me. I dismounted my trusty Holman at 6:25:14 (17.4 miles per hour). This marked the only split where I beat the average, finishing 1,026th out of the 2,139 (48%) that completed through the bike.
In the four months before Vineman in 2007, I biked 25 times, putting in 1,329 miles and averaging 16.9 miles per hour. I took on four century rides and eight over 56 miles. During the Vineman course my bike split was 6:30:56 (17.1 miles per hour), which INCLUDED a five minute stop. So even with the stop halfway, I ended up beating my 2007 ride.
Logging the four months before Ironman Wisconsin is a little more complicated, as I started to commute via my steel bike 26 times (on 13 days, there and back each day) for a total of 201 extra miles. When looking at the pure numbers for actual bike rides, I went out 26 times, logging 1,117 miles with an average speed of 17.1 miles per hour. I only put in three century rides and six above 56 miles.
So the evidence there seems to point to some sort of wash, which is about what happened if you don't consider the 2007 break. I made absolutely no stops during the 2008 saga. Amazing.
I should also note that my cycle computer, which is extremely accurate, logged the distance as 113.52 miles, which means I really averaged 17.6 miles per hour.
After handing off Holman to a trusted volunteer, I ran into the convention center to grab my second bag, which didn't go quite as well as the first time. As I ran out I had to put the bag in my face and stare hard at the number - 602 - yep - that's me. You need to appreciate I was kind of out of it at the time. I did a complete changeover, including my socks. I actually thought about leaving my sunglasses, but I certainly was glad I did not. Right out the door I made what was technically my only stop during the entire race. I stepped into the Portajohn and spent a whole eight seconds. How lazy was that? I had switched watches to my Garmin. The real trick was the hope it would be functional by the time I crossed the mat. Uh no. Sorry. My T2 time was 5:35.
THE RUN - 26.2 miles
The run portion of an Ironman is the real war of attrition. And I certainly did not do my homework on this portion. We did not look it over - I had obviously looked at maps but basically had planned to follow the cones and people. Did not know what to expect, except to have my ass kicked multiple times over a 5-6 hour period. My goal was to just edge under the five hour mark, which meant a pace of around 11:20. That was the purpose of the Garmin, and that device had taken about ten+ minutes to find itself. I certainly was not in good shape. I had pangs on both sides of stomach. It was here I feared my hamstrings and all the other foibles found below.
The absolute neatest thing about this particular race were the crowds and having your name on the the race bib. A large majority of people that got right close to me would cheer me on by name. Naturally it was mostly the same kind of stuff, but there wasn't a moment it was not appreciated! Besides stating the course was two loops, it is hard to describe and best viewed visually. It was when I had gone under the train tracks and and up to the path I got my only view of Chris McDonald, the eventual winner. He was coming back on his second lap and looking like an absolute champ. The amazing thing with both him and Hillary Biscay (who I later saw but didn't recognize) is that the previous weekend they raced Ironman Louisville. Wow. Perhaps the most unique thing about this run was looping through Camp Randall Stadium.
After leaving and cresting up Breese Terrace I saw that guy Dan again. He was walking up the other side and obviously completing the first lap. Dude, that's not going to cut it to qualify! I would later find out he finished around 12 hours. The first six miles of the race were my absolute worst, but hey, everything is relative. I was totally unprepared for the absolute nasty climb up Observatory on the UW campus. Then there was the drop and entrance to the cheering mecca that was the (west side) of State Street. It was AWESOME! And right there near the turnaround I spotted the Bodien crew!
I executed my patented backward spin on the turnaround. A minute or so later I was close to exiting State Street when the guy in front of me tripped on a raised portion of asphalt. A cop was right there on him and he told her he heard something snap. That was all right in front of me! The ensuing long flat distance along the bike path all the way down towards Picnic Point was part of that "recovery" for me. I knew that going under five hours would not happen, but I had the power to at least maintain something close to decent considering the circumstances. It was around State St (on the east side) that I saw the crew again, and then a little later up I spied Alice and her eyes lit up as she saw me pushing on a pace good enough to get some real cheers. Her husband Dan was a little further up and I have must have surprised him - boy was he excited too. Wow, that really lit a fire! I spun through the first lap at 2:45:28, which is a 12:37 minute mile pace. Maintaining this pace would put me at 5:30, which would really limit the damage done early in the run.
By then I felt a rather large bliser forming on my left arch, which was completely unexpected. Normally during a marathon I will get them on my toes. Although I was running in a relatively new pair of Asics Gel-Evolution IV shoes, I had worn these shoes in the past (and they are the one shoe I should be wearing). All the muscles in my legs seemed to be straining past the point of sanity, but on I pressed. I fought my way running "up" to the stadium and then up the section of Breese, refusing to stop until Observatory. Running up this made no sense to me. Once again I was into the crowd on State Street. It was also time to hand my sunglasses off to my brother. We were definitely in the throes of twilight going along the bike path. Once at the Mendota Drive turnaround the realization I only had to run back made me so happy! Sick sick sick of this crap!!
Of all the items at the multitude of aid stations, I think I dug the chicken broth the best. I was surprised I had grown utterly sick of Gatorade. I had some grapes, more oranges, and definitely hit the cola as well. The sponges were most useful very early on, and for being just 70 degrees it seemed rather warm out but come on - that's a cakewalk. And for the last forty minutes I really had to pee, but I didn't stop. There was no walking at all past Observatory - time to finish this mess out! Naturally it was approaching 8:30PM and was quite dark at this time, but I didn't want to have to get a glowlight. The crowds had thinned some on the other side of State, no doubt they had turned to the finish line. And I could then hear the roars. The last minor pitch was not an issue. Right as I turned on MLK Drive I could finally see the goal. I then pumped my fist with utter joy. It was a slight descent and I really came in screaming, finishing at 13:27:20. I was the 1,259th person to cross the line, 823 would follow me.
For the second half of the run I had run a negative split, doing the remaining 13.1 miles in 2:43:04 (12:26 minute mile). The total time for my run was 5:28:32 (12:33 minute mile pace). I finished 1,259th out of the 2,082 (61%) that finished the run and consequently the entire event.
In the four months before Vineman in 2007, I ran 51 times, racking up 335 miles with an 8.2 minute mile pace. There was one run over 20 miles, one over a half marathon and 8 over miles. At Vineman I also ran a negative split, three progressively faster loops for a time of 5:04:20 (11:42 minute mile pace).
In the four months preceding Ironman Wisconsin, I ran 64 times, logging 379 miles but with a slower 8.5 minute mile pace. There was one run over 20 miles, two over a half marathon, and only four runs over 10 miles.
Several have already made comments that I don't look tired at the finish line. I would agree with that analysis, and not because I'm boasting, but moreso because I'm actually being quite critical that I didn't leave all out on the field. I could have done better and I find most of the run portion performance regrettable.
So I lost 19 minutes and 58 seconds from my first Ironman. The course and weather were optimal in Madison for a PR. I only got a PR on the bike, but once again paid the price with a far slower swim time. The evidence of my preparedness wrote this one in stone, but overall I'm not upset. I don't regret for one moment all the stuff I did instead of training, especially spending time with Julie. If I can get away with this time of result with so little training, then that's cool.
After getting my medal, hat, shirt, and time printout I left the corral and found my brother, dad, and Winston (who finally recognized me!) nearby. I just walked back and forth between the corral exit and the convention center. I went to get some pizza, but I just felt like crap. We eventually went down one level (me in the elevator!) to get my bags and then the bike. They had done very well finding a close parking (and cheaper!) parking garage right next to the convention center both times. It was a LONG wait as they put the bike on the rack, and then we headed back towards the motel. I went straight to bed without a shower.
Monday, September 8th
I slept like crap, and felt totally dirty as I was covered in salt and sweat. Oh well. The shower that morning did feel great. The three of us were up to cold drizzly weather in the 50s. Wow, that would have been detrimental. Us athletes were extremely fortunate for Sunday's weather - no doubt there.
After breakfast Dad took Andrew to the airport as with everybody and everything Audrey would quite not have been big enough. From there the bike and dog (and an utterly sore Ironman) were loaded in the car and the journey began south back towards Charlotte. Our route was the same through Indianapolis. From there we headed south towards Louisville, where only a week ago Chris McDonald finished in second. What a badass!
Our goal was to get to our lodgings around 8PM so we could meet up with my friend Mike from Marching Band. The timing was pretty close but I decided to risk it and hit the beltway to make it to the fourth presidential burial site. The freeway access to the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery (a very small one) was quite easy, and perhaps the best stroke of fortune was that the gates were still open around 7:40 when we arrived. Located there was a tall monument and crypt adjacent, surrounding by the standard white gravestones. I don't know quite what to say about old "Rough and Ready," except he had quite the distinguished military career and of course the interesting work done to determine if he had died of arsenic poisoning."Hello, Mr. Taylor? Can I take another sample to see if you're related to Elizabeth?"
After snapping the required photos and elevating the count to 14 we moved back on to the freeway and minutes later were off at the right exit. The location was easy to see from the freeway but very difficult to access. The real frustration was that this location was twice as big as the Madison lodgings and even had queen beds. What a hassle that was!
We still had enough time to situate the critical items (Winston and Holman) before Mike showed up in his snazzy Prius. Definitely one of the highlights of the trip to ride in this very cool vehicle. Don't tell Audrey, but I would have bought a Prius in a heartbeat if they were actually affordable! We went a few exits down and he showed us what seemed to be a very cool, vibrant part of town. We all agreed to hit up a brewpub for dinner. By far the most disappointing part of the trip was that his "special lady friend" (Mike pronounced a categorical distaste for the word fiance) was unable to join. Still, it was absolutely fabulous to catch up with him, and I think he thoroughly enjoyed talking with a fellow engineer. It was especially interesting to hear about two years Mike and Megan had spent in London (they just returned back to Louisville). My dad and I had some very interesting fish sandwiches, way too much fried frish on a slab of rye (tasty though!). The porter was stellar, the cream ale tolerable. My first drinks of celebrations - very nice indeed. I wish I had been more say "alive" during the conversation, as it was a very good one. I am so glad that worked out!
Tuesday, September 9th
Our plan was to be on the road before 8AM, as I had to be at Queens University to teach my class by 6PM. The views around Lexington and southern Kentucky were quite pleasant, and then we hit some hard squalls south of Asheville.
We then swung south on I-26 to make the final leg back to the Queen City. What a relief to be home! Another 2,046 miles on the odometer (and 140.6 on mine).
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