My “Road To Madison” One Year Anniversary

Two things happened a year ago today.

1) I started my final 30 week training plan for IM Wisconsin.

2) I started this blog

Several months have past since I competed in the event, and I can now look back on the day and see what it meant to me. Did is live up to my expectations? Would I do it again? Good questions…

I have several hopes leading into that day. After all, I had been obsessing about it for about 2 years. I figured that it would be impossible for the race to live up to all of my hopes and dreams. But, somehow, it did. I had hoped to be healthy…and I was. I had prayed for good weather…and it was perfect. The day was sunny but not too hot. There was no humidity or wind. The lake was calm with water temps in the low seventies. The air temp peeked in the mid 70’s and dipped down into the low sixties for the run. I could not ask for better. The perfect late summer day brought out the spectators in droves. The crowd support was amazing, The venue was charming. Downtown Madison was beautiful and welcoming. We got one of the most unique transitions in all of triathlon (inside a convention center). I got to experience what has become a rarity in triathlon…a true mass swim start. I overcame what is known as one of the toughest bike courses on the Ironman circuit. And, I got lifelong bragging rights.

My wife got to see me cross the finish line. Many others (from co-workers to Facebook friends) got to watch me finish via a live finish line cam. My FB page got flooded with support and congratulations.

I had hoped for a good picture of me crossing the finish line. It turned out to be the best event photo I own. I also got several other great pics from the swim, bike and run. The finishers swag was amazing. I love the shirt, hat, backpack and jacket. Most of my training gear and much of my wardrobe now have the M-dot on it (so do my coffee mugs). No tattoo yet…still debating that one.

The crowd was electric on the big hills and along State Street. The volunteers were a constant source of encouragement and assistance.

Yep, the day was darn near perfect.

Did anything NOT live up to the hype and my expectations? Well, I can think of three small quibbles.

1) I got some GI troubles early in the race which resulted in dehydration and I came close to a DNF. It almost derailed my whole day. It probably cost me 1-1 1/2 hours on my finish time and generally made the day much less enjoyable. But, I can also look at it as overcoming adversity, digging deep and finding strength that I never knew that I had.

2) Mike Riley never called out those 4 works as I crossed the finish line (“You Are An Ironman”). He did call out my name and I was certain that he said those words until I watched my finishers video.

3) Damn, the finishers medal is ugly. The previous two years featured a big M-dot design medal that I would have loved…but many complained that the medals looked the same at every event. As my one and only full Ironman, I would have loved one of those. Instead, the medal designers tried to make each medal unique…with mixed results. Wisconsin’s was awful…but I have grown to love it anyways.

I have a ton of momentos of the event (photos, videos, gear, swag, backpack, coffee mugs, shadow box, finishers medal with display, and a ton of clothing) all reminding me of one of the best single day experiences of my life (the only 3 days that top it are my engagement day, my wedding day and my graduation).

So, would I do it again?

Not a chance.

The further I get from the event, the more convinced I am of that decision.

I look back on my 30 weeks and over 4000 miles of training and I wonder how I ever did it. Realizing that I started that journey today, I shutter at the thought of repeating that journey. I look at my training logs and cannot imaging repeating it. I think that the only reason that I was able to keep pushing myself was because it had become an obsession. Since I have now completed it once, I doubt that I could ever muster that kind of drive again. The training was extreme (as was the event). It was more extreme then I would want or could imagine as a continuing lifestyle. Yes, I want to be fit and healthy, but I need balance in my life. Training shoved aside my work and personal life. My wife was EXTREMELY supportive and understanding, but I can see where the “Ironman Divorce” comes from. It is almost impossible not to neglect your family when training for something this big. It is very selfish, and it is not something that I could ever do to them again.

Also, the event is now this near perfect memory. On the other hand, I have completed 10 marathons and five 70.3’s. All of those events have blurred together in my mind and are almost indistinguishable. What makes Wisconsin special is that it is so unique. Just like my wedding day and graduation day, it is not something I want to do again. In some ways, repeating a once in a lifetime events diminishes it. It is never quite as good as the first time…especially what the day was otherwise perfect.

And the blog?

That certainly grew. It was intended as an online training journal…something to keep me accountable. I was surprised when others started to follow me and offered support and encouragement. I also drew inspiration from the blogs of others. I thought that my blog would be closed up and forgotten by now. But I keep drawing more and more from it and has become a great outlet for me. I never expected that.

Would I recommend an Ironman? Only if it is something that you really want. But, if you have a passion for it and the desire, it can be a life changing experience. I love the memory, and grateful that I was able to participate…

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