Monday, September 12, 2016

Race Day Update #3

The most important picture of the day:

All three finished. John with a time of 15:15:30. George with a time of 14:31:30. Rob with a time of 12:28:49.

Dell Finney is still out on the course but estimated to finish this year. I so wish I had the energy to go watch him and cheer him on, but as the saying goes, stick a fork in me 'cause I'm done.

It has been an amazing day, full of joy and fun, a friendly clown and a very docile boxer who sniffed my feet, Patriot Day observances, and an iPhone battery that lasted just long enough. Good times.

Thanks for following today's adventure. All the well-wishes and congratulations are very much appreciated.

Peace out.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Race Day Update #2

The marathon has begun! All three of our intrepid Springboro racers are on the marathon. Here's an update of times.

George's bike time was 6:29:53, and he's pacing on the first four miles of the run at about 12 minute miles. That's awesome!

Rob's bike time was 6:13:47, with an awesome pace of 9:18 per mile at 8.9 miles. Rob is a really fast runner!

John's bike time was 7:09:44, and no run pace is showing on the tracker yet.

Dell Finney's bike time was 7:56:28, and he's on the run!

Soldier running with his pack and the flag.
In combat boots. Respect. 

Rob, who almost ran right past a whole bunch of screaming
fans calling his name. He was in the zone. 

Race Day Update #1

So far, so good! We are almost five hours into the race and here's how things stand.

George Raihala came out of the water at 1:13:38 and did the first 39.5 miles of the bike at a good pace.

Rob Ekin came out of the water at 1:14:23 and did the first 39.5 of the bike at a slightly better pace than George. The two of them are very close so far, but Rob is wicked fast on the run, so that won't last!

John Seminary came out of the water at 1:24:49 and might have had a flat or some other trouble in the first 39.5 on the bike, as his second split pace was unusually low. Hopefully at the next split we'll see that he's recovered from whatever snafu affected the second split time.

Dell Finney had a great swim at 1:20:36 but doesn't yet have a second bike split time. His first split (18.3 miles) was a solid 15.47 mile per hour pace though, so way to go, Dell! Update: His second bike split puts him at 13:63 mph, which is slow but still moving forward!

I'm keeping watch on the times through an app on my phone, but you can follow along at the Athlete Tracker online.

Ironman Live coverage will be available later. Follow the link and you'll see it when it's available. The Live Blog is on the sidebar of the page, and it's mainly following the pro women but occasionally has shots of volunteers and such as well.

Here are some pictures from this beautiful, beautiful morning in Madison.

Part of the bike transition area. There are 2400 bikes racked her,
worth about $3 million.

John, Rob, and George getting into their wetsuits. Rob and George
are both unusually nervous this year, but John said he was experiencing
his usual pre-race nerves. Rob and George were trying not to throw up.

Sunrise over Lake Monona. Absolutely beautiful.
Note all the kayaks and paddle boards. Lots of safety for the swimmers.

The race begins with a cannon shot at 7:00. 
 After the start, I dashed to the hotel to drop off George's triathlon bag and bike pump, and stumbled across a very somber and moving memorial service in front of the Capitol. The contrast between the loud and high-energy start of the race and this quiet, peaceful memorial was striking. We need both, don't we, after 15 years. We don't forget, but we will not stop striving. Thank you, first responders and military service personnel. Thank you.

The colors. 

Military service persons.

A military band.

Flag raised by two fire ladders. So moving. 

After the guys were safely on the bike, Rob's parents, his wife, John's wife, and I went to the Old Fashioned for brunch, and we were met by Marcia, one of my blog readers. I'm so grateful she chose to come cheer George on this morning...and it was so fun meeting her and having a meal together. Thanks, Marcia!

Me and Marcia, beaming!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

On the Eve of the Race

If you're reading this in email, be sure to scroll down for Saturday's earlier posts.

Bike and transition bags at race site. Check.

Carbo loading at Tutto Pasta complete. Check.

Feet up, killing time until lights out. Check.

We will rise at 4:00 central time in the morning. George will prepare his nutrition for the day, eat a honey-and-peanut-butter sandwich, drink a Coke, and try not to barf from nerves. We will head down to the start around 5:15. At 6:15 or so, he, Rob, and John will have wetsuits on and walk to the swim start.

It takes a lot of time to get 2,700 or so athletes across the timing mat (which is maybe 12 feet across) and into the water. The professional athletes will start at 6:45, and everyone else when the cannon goes off at 7:00.

If you're the praying kind, please pray for a safe race for everyone tomorrow...racers, volunteers, spectators, random people who get caught in the chaos.

If you want to follow the race as it happens tomorrow, I will post periodically here, so check back often. You may also follow the race on the Ironman website.

The Athlete Tracker is here.
George's Bib #2677
Rob's Bib #2310
John's Bib #2693
Dell's Bib #1800

There will be a live feed on the IM website of the finish sometime in the afternoon, and you can watch each finisher cross the line. I will let you know an estimate of the time George, Rob, and John will cross, as well as Dell Finney, in case you'd like to watch.

And now we are off to sleep and dream about cow medals and Mike Riley saying "You are an Ironman!"

May it be so.

Past Performance and Call for Q&A

Repeat performance at Ironman races is extremely common. This is George's eighth year at IM Moo, and he's done Mont Tremblant and Lake Placid, making this his tenth attempt in 12 years. 

Just let that roll around in your head for a minute. Tenth attempt in 12 years. 

Let's revisit those previous nine races in George's own words (slightly edited for PG-13 rating). For those who don't know, DNF stands for "did not finish" and PR for "personal record."

Ironman Wisconsin 2005:  "DNF at start of second lap of run.  Horribly hot, windy day that sucked.  Cramps crushed me on the bike."

Ironman Wisconsin 2006:  "First finish; 13:25 on a cool, rainy day.  Never got above 60F, IIRC.  Skinny people were shivering while they ran it go so cold on the run.  Epic day."

Ironman Lake Placid 2007:  "Ambulance ride to the med tent at mile 14 of the marathon when I couldn’t walk straight.  2 IVs later and I felt much better.  Couldn’t believe I had another DNF."

Ironman Wisconsin 2008:  "Great day; PR in 12:41."
Ironman Wisconsin 2009:  "Had dreams of going sub-12, and went too hard on the bike too early to make it happen.  PR’ed with a 12:36."

Ironman Wisconsin 2010:  "Wheels came off at mile 14 of the marathon.  Bad year of training; burned out on Ironman, and just didn’t have the mental fortitude to finish a race I should have finished.  DNF."

Ironman Wisconsin 2013:  "Back after a 2 year hiatus; older plus bad knees limited my run training; 14:05 finish."

Ironman Wisconsin 2014:  "Complete crap year of run training; no running for month of July due to injury, longest training run was 5 miles all year.  Just happy to finish with a 14:15."

Ironman Mont Tremblant 2015:  "Another relatively crappy year of run training, although better than 2014.  Had hopes of going around 13 hours, but the day was incredibly hot and humid, and the bike course difficult. Still, best finish since coming back to Ironman in 13:57."

So let's see what Ironman Wisconsin 2016 will bring. The weather looks to be ideal, with forecast calling for sunny skies, high of 75 degrees, and wind 5-10 mph. George is now in Sloth Mode. He tries to do nothing and keep off his feet the day before a race. Here he is, surrounded by electronic entertainment and definitely channeling his inner sloth.

Since he's slothing it, if you have any questions about Ironman, training, or general lunacy, please post them in the comments, and he'll try to answer them! 

Friday, September 9, 2016

Random Observations on a Friday at IM Moo

1. George is doing this year's race with John and Rob, two triathletes from our hometown. It's motivational to have friends doing the race, too.

John, George, and Rob

All three simply must finish because the finisher medal is outstandingly cool this year. It looks like the cow logo on the race banner.

The only way this year's medal could be better would be if it looked more like this:

But even without the tongue, it's a cool medal.

2. Signing up for most Ironman races really only has two prerequisites. You need to be kinda crazy and register before the race fills.

To finish, well, that requires months of serious training, smart nutrition and hydration, luck enough to avoid injury, and a whole lot of determination. This year, Dell Finney wins the prize for most inspiring story I've heard so far, and he exemplifies that determination.


I saw Dell yesterday at the lake and noticed how random strangers were walking up to him to shake his hand. The beard and tats get him noticed. Turns out he's quite famous on the IM Moo Facebook page. He started and did not finish the last two IM Moo races, and he's back this year for a third attempt. I'm totally on Team Dell and will track him on race day. I really, really want to hear official Ironman announcer Mike Riley call out, "Dell Finney, you are an Ironman!"

3. George, John, and Rob attended the mandatory race meeting today and had an amusing few minutes while an Ironman spokesperson tried to convince the dirty-minded crowd that the new section of the bike course resembles an upside-down Florida. Decide for yourself what the northwest loop of the course looks like by taking a look at the map.

Yep. Saying "upside-down Florida" doesn't cover the options, now, does it?

4. On a much more serious note, this weekend marks the 15th anniversary of 9/11. George and I noticed a giant American flag being raised at the Wisconsin Capitol building this evening. It must have been a trial run for an official raising since the flag didn't go higher than in this photo, but wow. That's a big flag. I hope we get to see it raised fully and rippling in a gentle breeze later this weekend.

Old Glory. Glorious.

A Stroll down Memory Lane

The problem with blogging something that happens annually is coming up with fresh material, a new perspective on the same old thing. I've written lots about Ironman before and thought I'd share links to my favorite posts from years gone by for those of you who are new to Ironman lunacy or who simply want to take a stroll down Memory Lane.

Happy reading!

Just Tri-ing to Understand 2008

IM Moo in Review from 2009

When There Was Still Hope from 2010 (George DNF'd that one)

Tri-Maniacal Post from 2013

Now I'm off for fresh material from this year's IM Moo.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

IM Moo...Again

A week ago, an odd situation came up around this year's Ironman Wisconsin, and George said to me, "If you don't want to go, I understand."

"Oh, no. I'm going," I replied.

"Thank GOD! I can't do this race without you!" he exclaimed. 

He's right. Well, sort of. Technically, he could do it without me, but it would be much, much harder. For one thing, after he raced 140.6 miles, he'd have to retrieve his bike and all his heavy transition bags and hike them to the hotel all by himself. 

This chore is apparently so hard in the utter state of exhaustion at the end of a race that racers are seriously tempted to leave all the gear behind...including the $6,000 bicycle. 

"After all," the devastatingly exhausted racer tells himself or herself, "I'm never, ever doing this race again."

I've heard these words, spoken by my beloved husband, and laughed and laughed and laughed.

If you don't know an Ironman, you might not get the joke. You see, no matter how much most Ironman finishers hate getting kicked in the head on the 2.4-mile swim (which resembles nothing so much as salmon spawning), no matter how much they hate their bike at the end of 112 miles, no matter how solemnly they swear they'll never run another step for the rest of their lives at the end of the 26.2-mile run, they will do it again.

They will.

Because they are lunatics. 

At least, that's my conclusion.

Fortunately, they are the sort of lunatics you want to have around for entertainment value, not the terrifying sort that try to get you to join them in their masochistic shenanigans. After all, someone has to stand on the sidelines and cheer them on.

If you'd like to follow George and a few of his lunatic friends who are tackling Ironman Wisconsin (affectionately referred to as IM Moo), stick around Questioning for the weekend. There will be photos and videos and jokes and all sorts of amazing physical accomplishments by racers...and even by a certain blogger, who will heroically retrieve George's heavy bags and nasty, sticky, sweaty bicycle and schlep them to the hotel while he's trying not to pass out or vomit on the marathon course.

I do this because I love him and, more importantly, because abandoning a $6,000 bike in the Monona Terrace parking lot simply isn't an option. 

A note to email subscribers...if you wait for the posts to arrive in your mailbox, you'll miss some of the fun. On Sunday, I'll link to the live feed of the finish line and keep you posted during the day about George's progress. It'll all be old news Monday morning. Check in and refresh the page if you want to follow along.