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Monday, September 20, 2010

Pushing the Reset Button

Ironman has been done and over for a week now. It was a wonderful experience for me with lots of highlights.  I shaved time off my swim and transitions and took nearly an hour off my bike from last year, allowing me to finish comfortably in under 17 hours a la the plan, even after I was reduced to a walking-only regimen a bit after the halfway point of the marathon. I smiled literally all day. Aside from the technical stuff of the details of the kick, pedal, and stride are the personal connections through the day - seeing people you know cheering you on, people you don't know calling your name (it's on your bib, but it takes a while to figure out why all these people know you), and people doing hysterically funny things that keep you going.  I find myself living for one connection, one person to the next and that is what got me through the day in the high spirits I finished with. I had a blast, enjoyed (almost) every minute.
Eclipsing all of that is knowing that Mike was unable to achieve his goal for that day. He can tell his own story, it's not mine to tell. It's ironic in hindsight that everyone's encouragement and attention to saying "You'll do it this time" were directed at just me most of the time prior to race day.  It was a given that Mike was going to get there and be comfortably ahead of me, I was the one who would be racing the stopping of the clock.  After all, he is stronger than me, faster than me, can go longer, harder, and endure more suffering than me before breaking.  I wish we had had that day instead.  Had the tables been turned, it would have been easy for me to concede and support because that was the performance that was expected of me really. I can see that every mention, every picture, every "atta girl" someone sends, crushes his spirit and sends him to dark places.  I am not able to experience the joys that come with the achievement because the mere mention feels like rubbing it in Mike's face and I watch him become more and more hurt and distant with each word and picture. I hesitate even to post a race report as I know talking about my own wonderful day will feel like a kick in the teeth for him. I know he is a bigger person than what I am seeing right now, but I can empathize in knowing he is still licking some fairly large wounds.
And so, with no  further ado, today opens the next chapter.  I am done talking about Ironman until Mike is ready to move forward.  The pictures will be archived, thoughts of the tattoo put on hold, the scrapbook mementos and Finisher stickers tucked away for later, and the conversation geared once again to what is on the horizon not what happened in the past.  It would be great to celebrate and relive it over and over, but it is not worth the emotional costs at this point in time.  
So what's next?
On the short term, I want to continue to work on my weight and lose that last few pounds that seem to be permanently affixed to my ass. Operation Eat Whole begins again today and will hopefully be a giant success without the concurrent pressure of trying to peak my endurance training.
I've also done zero activity for the last week, unless sofa surfing counts. So tonight, weather-permitting, I will try a short run and see where that goes.  We'll take it from there, but I am intent on maintaining fitness through the winter. And taking my pup for nice long walks. And finding joy in life every day, because that is what it really is all about.

Brought to you by the letter J-Wim
Fortitudine Vincimus! (Through endurance we conquer!)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

IMWI Spectator Guide 2010

Spectator Guide
Wimmers Do Wisconsin -Part Deux
September 12, 2010

Mike Wimmer ~ Athlete #1497
Jennifer Wimmer ~ Athlete # 2692

Race Start: 7 AM from Monona Terrace

The Swim:
2.4 miles/3.8K (2 loop course) in front of Monona Terrace

If you want to see the start, you’ll need to get there early (like by 6:30) There is no parking at the Terrace and parking in the downtown ramps may be tough. You can park at the Alliant Energy Center and take the free shuttle to the Terrace.

Where to watch:
There are several options here. Be aware that these areas are all quite crowded. Think early about where you want to be watching from and ease your way into position.
• from the sidewalk along the lakefront in front of Monona Terrace. (Good lateral view of the swimmers as they pass by twice)
• From the top of Monona Terrace (great view of the “washing machine” from above and there are vendors there selling breakfast items and drinks)
• At the swim exit chute (you can watch swimmers exit the water and get wetsuit stripped)
• If you want to watch the swim exit, please get there right away after the start. This fills up very fast and gets very crowded once the athletes start exiting the water.

Anticipated Finish Times:
Mike: 8:40ish AM.
Jenny : 8:30ish AM

T1 swim to bike transition:

wetsuit stripping at the swim exit in Law Park next to the Terrace building and run up the helix into the Terrace and dress for the bike. You can see this from the “grassy knoll” area. It’s packed there, so you may see us and we might not see you. Stripping is cool to watch though .
Roughly 10-15 minutes??

The Bike: 112 miles/180K start ~ 8:45AM

The course goes from Monona Terrace out to Verona where we do two 40-mile loops before heading back to the Terrace for the run.

The easiest place to watch is probably Verona at the High School aid station. That is roughly mile 50 so there is plenty of time to get there. The riders come by very quickly so it may be difficult to spot specific riders and it’s hard for riders to find you in the crowd, but it is very spectator-friendly here. There are usually area service groups that sell concessions, grilled sandwiches, etc here so bring a few bucks to eat lunch.
There is a free shuttle by the Terrace (corner of Wilson St) that will bus you to Verona. You could also drive to Verona and park by the library.

Good spectator spots on the bike course:
• Verona HS aid station (easiest to get to, bussed in and out from downtown area-see above)
• Mt Horeb HS aid station
• Timber Lane – very steep hill (the 2nd of 3 hills known affectionately as “the 3 Bitches”) This is the best option to actually see us (going very very slowly uphill) but it fills up fast and is a bit more difficult to get to. Athletes go by very slowly here and it is really easy to see them. You have to park in the residential neighborhood and walk down Timber Lane. If you want to go here to watch, ask us about instructions.
• Midtown Road- the 3rd big Hill. This is a less crowded option than

Lunch: You have lots of options here.
In Verona, you can eat at the stands along Main Street in Verona, or if you head south you’ll find some places to eat. You head up the hill to the corner of the course, there is a gas station in walking distance where you can buy a cold soda or snacks.
I recommend that you pack a few snacks and water in a backpack to bring with you. It is important you stay hydrated and nourished – it’s a long day for spectators too.

Anticipated Finish Time: 8 hours (@14 mph avg) ~ 4:45-5pm ~ This is a total guesstimate.
Mike is hoping to be off the bike by 4PM, Jenny by 4:30, but who knows.

T2 (Bike to Run Transition): roughly 5-10 minutes to change clothes/shoes

The Run: 26.2 miles / 42K ~ start 5pm-ish

The run will be more spectator-friendly than the bike. This is a 2 loop course and you should have several opportunities to see us if you move around a little. The finish line is near the Capitol. You can watch runners there, along the square, or further on down State Street. State Street is great because you see the athletes pass down and back. Once you see us running toward the Capital the last time, you will have time to get to the finish to watch us cross the line.

There will be a lot going on in this area, especially in the afternoon and early evening. Find somewhere to eat some supper; there are more options than I can list within easy walking distance. I recommend Ian’s Pizza (sold by the slice) on State Street, especially the Mac & Cheese pizza – YUM!

Realistically, we are looking at finishing the run between and 11pm and midnight, so find a place to entertain yourself, and be sure to find time to sit and rest – it’s a very long day! As the race winds down and it gets darker outside, the spectators usually start to move closer to the finish line and you probably should too. (There can be a shady character or two out there at night, so be safe!)

With all that said, anything can happen and times can be way ahead or behind. Ironman can get the best of people on the bike or more often on the run, so don’t get worried if we get off schedule.

The Winners:
The men’s winners will probably be finishing about 3:30-4:00pm. Women’s winners will likely be 45 minutes or so after the men’s winner.

Foofy Stuff:
Unless you are totally into the triathlon scene, spectating is frankly kind of boring. There is a tent by the finish line where you can make signs or you can bring chalk and write encouraging messages on the State St like “only 6 hours left” or “stop puking” or “you paid to do this??”
There is also an IM shop in the Terrace where you can look at or buy mementos or overpriced gear. Let me know if you need our wish list and sizes :)

Tracking your Athlete:
They have computers available in the Terrace where you can check the athlete tracker on and type in our numbers if you lose track of us – or if you can’t make it and are following from home. They are also showing it live on so if you can’t come and you’re interested you can watch the live feed and see some of the race and the finish line. (Be warned- we tried to use the live feed last week for IM Louisville and it was AWFUL to try to get this to work and only barely got it going before we saw our friend cross the finish line. If you use this, you very possibly might not see anything at all).

Taking care of yourself for race day:
• Wear comfortable shoes with good support and cushioning. You will do a lot of walking; flip-flops or cutesy shoes will not serve you well.
• Get a good night sleep.
• Pack a backpack with a few snacks, a water bottle, some money for snacks/meals, sunscreen, a disposable rain slicker, a light jacket for evening. Remember that you will have to carry it all day, so pack light!
• Be sure to get enough to eat and drink. This is an endurance sport for the spectators too!
• Take time to rest and relax. Find a park bench or piece of shade and get off your feet.
• Enjoy the ambience of the day ~ it can be very uplifting and exciting!

VERY IMPORTANT- We can receive no outside help so please do not help us. Do not hand us anything, including water, a jacket, hat, food, or anything. We may be suffering, but it is our choice. This could cause a disqualification. We paid good money to suffer so let us.


Many thanks to Mike Wolfgram from whom I pirated the majority of this guide, with some minor adjustments for pacing as he is far faster than we are!

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