As I started loop two, my abdominal pain had finally gone away. Unfortunately, since I was not able to eat or drink much to that point because of the pain, I was quite dehydrated, nauseated, and weak. I was way behind on fluids, calories, and electrolytes. I had only gone thru one bottle of Gatorade since getting on the bike. I had hoped to have consumed 4 bottles by this point. The bike special needs checkpoint was coming up. I had 2 fresh bottles of Gatorade in my SN bag and I figured that I should try to get as much of my remaining bottle down as I was spinning thru Verona. I guess that I should mention why I was lugging around my own Gatorade. The official (and only) sports drink for Ironman is Ironman Perform. That stuff turns my stomach on a good day. So, if I wanted any sports drink during this event, I had to bring my own.
Despite all of the stomach issues, I was making decent time. I was worried about the bike cutoff, but I had about 5 hours left at the halfway point. I had the time. None of the usual things were hurting. My “sit bones” were fine. So were the legs. No carpel tunnel issues or back problems either. The bike training really had paid off.
It was also a damn glorious day to be riding…sunny, warm (but not hot), with a slight breeze. The volunteers and crowd support were amazing, and I was still smiling and giddy with the notion that I was actually doing an Ironman! Despite everything with my guts, I really was enjoying every moment of this experience!
Special needs was a long stretch on the side of the road. There were rows and rows of bags, each about 25 deep and organized by bib number. As I pulled up, a volunteer yelled out my bib number in a megaphone. There was 1-2 volunteer at each row and they all pointed me down the road to my row and a volunteer was waiting for me with my bag. This was awesome!
He opened my bag and I swapped out my bottles, and tried to gulp down a third (smaller) bottle. Stomach wasn’t happy with all the fluids it received in such a brief time, and I wasn’t sure it would stay down. I did not need the baggie of broken up Cliff Bars (since I didn’t touch the ones I had with me), or the spare tubes/CO2 canisters (yay! No bike mechanical issues). Finally, I put on a fresh coat of sunscreen. The volunteer asked me if I was doing OK. “You’re really shaky, are you sure you are OK?” This was an eye opener. Volunteers could tell I was in trouble. I might be in worse shape then I thought, and I was only halfway thru with the bike leg. There was a salted nut roll in the bag and I tried a couple of bites but could not finish it. I down a couple of salt tabs with the Gatorade and hope I can start reversing the dehydration. But the volunteer was right, I was really shaky.
I set off on the second loop and the hills started right away. Funny how they seem so much bigger the second time around. The tummy voiced it dissatisfaction with all the fluid, but everything stayed down. I was going slower and working harder on every hill. The pack of cyclists had thinned and I was certainly drifting towards the back of the pack (which I knew would happen on the bike). I came to Mt Hobeb and the worst hill on the course. This was a long painful grind. It just keeps going, and keeps getting steeper. The crowd is out in force and they help propel me up the hill towards the next aid station. I had tried some Gatorade a mile back and could only handle a sip. I decided to grab a water bottle to see if I could get that down. I worked a bit better. Got about half the bottle down and poured the rest over my head (and ran over a traffic cone in the process….my bike handling skills are so non-existant…I am amazed that I have never hurt myself while riding).
I push thru town and fly down Witte road and onto Garfoot (sipping Gatorade whenever I think about it) and pull into Cross Plains. By this point, I was getting very weak and I decided to use the aid station as a pit-stop. They bring me a bottle of water and a banana. I tried one bite and had to spit it out. I was able to sip on the water and got a couple of salt tablets down. I tried using the port-a-potty and got a slight trickle. This gave me a glimmer of hope. I thought about sitting down, but I knew that I had to keep going. I was at mile 80…with 32 more to go. And the three bitches were coming up soon…
Again, the crowd support at the three hills was overwhelming. We were greeted and cheered like we were rock stars! The guys in devil outfits had left Old Sauk Pass, but there were more then enough left to propel me (slowly) up that hill. Timber Lane (with it’s 9% grade) was an even bigger party. Little kids were running along with the bikers on Midtown (and generally going much faster). Somehow, I summited the hills and coasted downhill and back into Verona. The Verona festival was still going, and bleachers of spectators were still screaming and cheering. It really was a great bike ride with amazing support and great weather on an awesome course…and I still could not stop smiling!
Another rest stop at the next aid station and I pedaled out of town. I hit the split again, and took a left hand turn this time, onto the stick and back towards Madison. I still had 16 miles to go, and a very long and hilly stretch down Whalen Road. At mile 102, I reached the last big hill. There was a bit of crowd support, but nothing like on the loop. I just had to get into granny gear and just grind it out.
As I covered the last few miles, my head was spinning as fast as my legs. I was getting fluids down but not fast enough to keep up, much less catch up. My legs were starting to have muscle spasm in odd places (likely from electrolyte depletion and dehydration). I was way behind on calories and I am surprised that I hadn’t bonked yet. The tank was out of gas. I did not want to quit, but I did not think that my body could keep going. I was weak enough and shaky enough that I was not sure course officials would even let me keep going. Worse, there was a part of my brain didn’t want to keep going. I could barely stand up, was sick and dehydrated, and had been competing for over nine hours…and I was going to start a full marathon? I could not wrap my brain around even trying such a crazy thing. The only ending I could see in my future was a DNF. No other option made sense. Any other option had no basis in reality. The truth was that I was out of gas. I had nothing left.
I could see Monona Terrace coming up fast. I had a sense of foreboding as spun up the parking ramp. I wanted to quit, and knew that this could be the end of my day.
I crossed the timing mat and entered T2…
Bike Split: 7:37:37.
Total Elapsed Time: 9:18:33.
Time Remaining: 7:41:27.