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Race Result

Racer: Ted Waugh
Race: Ironman Wisconsin
Date: Sunday, September 11, 2005
Location: Madison, WI
Race Type: Triathlon - Ironman
Age Group: Male 35 - 39
Time: 12:08:00
Overall Place: 272 / 2076
Age Group Place: 54 / 364
Comment: Ironman Wisconsin 2005

Race Report:

This was the first time I did back-to-back Ironman races (Lake Placid on July 24 and Wisconsin on September 11) which seemed like a good idea at the time.

Preparation: I finished Lake Placid at the end of July feeling pretty good about my training routine. So much so that I decided to keep up the efforts right after the race. The plan I used was to continue training hard on the bike and swim right after LP, and reduce the running to avoid injuries. During the seven weeks between races, I did four hard rides greater than 75 miles and a couple runs between 15-18 miles. I felt worn down at times, but also felt really good (both mentally and physically) on other days and avoided any serious injuries. I recognized the stress of the training, but thought that a standard 3-week taper beginning in late August would get my legs back to where they needed to be in time for Wisconsin. In other words, use Lake Placid as a "all-out, super workout" before IM MOO. I believed that the four weeks of overloaded training followed by the three-week taper would cause my body to rebound with superior fitness and enable me to cut my Lake Placid time (10:27) by a few minutes so that hopefully (and with a little luck) I might get a roll-down slot for Hawaii at Wisconsin.

Swim: Like many others, I dislike swimming. Brady Dehoust once told me he would rather ride five hours than swim for one and I have always been in his camp. Moreover, I always finish the 2.4 distance in the same time no matter how many previous hours spent in the pool. That being said, since IM MOO does not require you to exit the water, I thought I would exit a few minutes earlier this time around. During the swim, I gave my usual effort (or even a little harder), but was surprised upon finishing that I was about 5 minutes slower than usual. Five minutes is not that long in an Ironman race, but considering that the swim did not require an exit from the water, I couldn't help but wonder whether this was a sign of things to come.

Bike: The IM MOO course and conditions were harder than I expected. Although the bike profile shows constant rolling hills, what I had not foreseen is that there are many pick-ups and slow-down on the course. Riders must constantly brake for sharp turns and then use extra energy to get back up to speed. It is a good course for riders with lots of power. In addition, while the scenery is nice, the road surface leaves much to be desired. A large part of the bike roads are made up of "joined asphalt slabs" which causes bumps every 20 feet. There is not a significant out and back section in the course, so it is difficult to gage where you are in relation to other racers.

Through bad luck, the temperature was 90 degrees and the winds were strong. I was concerned about trying to hard on the bike to make a goal time so I intentionally set my speedometer to mileage and rode to the level of effort that felt about right. I knew I was drinking about twice as much as usual, but the temperature did not really bother me. The only time I noticed the heat was when I slowed down below 8 mph for a hill. There were moments when I felt really weak, but I assumed this was simply a bad patch during the race. This was my 9th Ironman so thought I had a pretty good idea of what level of biking effort was right, but was again surprised that when I finished the leg my time was much greater than expected. Based on my placement when starting the run, I learned that I had simply ridden slower than where I thought my level of effort would have placed me. This again prompted me to wonder whether this was a second sign of things to come.

Run: The run is where the reality set in. After the first three minutes, I realized that: (1) no my legs were not going to simply flush themselves out, and (2) not only that, but my legs were in fact completely trashed. I knew it was going to be a very long day when I had to walk through the second aid station at mile 2. I won't go into details, but through the last few miles I was pushing hard just to maintain a walk. That being said, the run course is great. It takes runners through the University's stadium and there are many spectators as the course proceeds through the college campus. Under different circumstances, this would have been a fantastic Ironman run course.

Take Aways:

First, I should have rested more after the first Ironman. Perhaps this was obvious to everyone but me, but I know others that have done back to back Ironman-distance races while keeping up hard bike and swim training efforts and been catapulted to new fitness levels. I unfortunately was not one of them. My feeling now is that the effort to finish one Ironman is so challenging that many physical effects are latent. In other words, even though I did not feel especially bad during the training time in between the races, the lingering effects became manifest during the second race. I am not sure whether I would have fully recovered ten years ago (I am 37), but I am positive those 10 years since my mid-twenties did not help my recovery.

That being said, I still think doing two Ironman races in less than two months can be done well, but a better approach during the interim is needed. If anyone has thoughts on how to maximize the benefits of the first Ironman for an improved second race (especially training partners familiar with the level of effort on our rides/runs), I would be interested to hear them. I think I will try doing these same races together again, but not next year.

Second, I should have saved more on the bike even though I felt fine during the ride. I suspect that while I did not really notice the heat during the bike, my body was in fact receiving a toll which came out on the run. Underestimating the heat that day was a very common error. I was surprised at how many people were walking after their first hour of the run. As Ted Purnell noted this year about 20% of the racers dropped out of IM MOO. I was told that the medical tent was so full, many racers were sent to the hospital simply due to lack of space.

Third, the last realization came a few days after the race. I told someone that I was disappointed because I had done a lot of hard training, did not meet my goals, and regretted not using a different strategy. She responded that anyone who does a triathlon should be pleased with his/her accomplishment. At first, I took her comment as mere politeness and something I had heard before, but taking a step back, I took it to heart, appreciated the reminder and am glad I made the trip. For that reason, Iíll pass it on to you as an ongoing reminder for your own races.

Thanks for reading.