IronStuff!

The climax of many a race season happened this past weekend, where vast scores of SSSMST’ers were competing in ultra distance racing – some for the first time – at Ironman Wisconsin and the Rev3 Cedar Point triathlons.  Quite impressive, as just attaining a finish in these races is an accomplishment in and of itself.

Lori in transition

Lori in transition

Kostura in Transition

Kostura in Transition

Lori crushing the marathon portion of IM Wisconsin!

Lori crushing the marathon portion of IM Wisconsin!

Katie Shaw, in her first foray into the ultra distance:

I’m late to the party on the IM Wisconsin race report, but wanted to add a few words. This was my first Ironman and I never truly understood what others meant by the Ironman journey until I experienced it myself. I went in to the race with a few expectations and time goals, but made the decision in the weeks leading up to the race that I was going to go to Madison and just have fun and enjoy the whole experience no matter what. So ‘fun’ was my over-arching strategy and ‘keep moving forward’ was my mantra. I did both. I smiled the whole time (except miles 18 – 20 on the run – things got a little rough for a bit before I rebounded thanks to flat Coke – liquid gold!) and the miles kept ticking away. Based on training, I figured a 13 hour Ironman was achievable but hoped to be under 13. I came in at 12:48:51 and was ecstatic. I have to thank all of the SSSMST crew, Cleveland area triathletes and Ironfans that were racing and cheering. The camaraderie and support was awesome and made the day all the more enjoyable. Still riding the Ironman high a week later and enjoying a little down time, but my mind is already starting to think about what’s next.

Lori, a virgn at the long course, had this to say about her experience:

Wow. This was my first Ironman. I could probably write a novel about the whole experience, but I’ll spare you all the details and get to the heart of it. Training for an Ironman is not easy. I trained for this race for 8 months. I’ve never put so much time, money and effort into one day. To put all your eggs in one basket like that is a risk, but when the risk pays off, it’s an indescribable, amazing thing. So many of the things I heard about this process are true. It really is about the journey.

I want to thank everyone who was a part of this day and the weeks and months leading up to it. Every area athlete participating in the race was very lucky to have a huge group of Cleveland fans there. Outside of our group the fan support was fantastic too. I loved being called ‘The Green Machine’ and one of the highlights of the day was trying to find the people I knew on the run to cheer them on.

My real goal was to finish feeling good. I had a smile on my face until mile 21 of the run, and by then it was dark, so most people couldn’t tell how much it was hurting. I was glad to have that shroud of darkness present so I could concentrate on just getting it done. It was tough, but making my way to State Street and the finish line and hearing from afar the sound of Mike Riley’s voice was the best ending to that darkness. As the crowds grew and the floodlights got brighter and the voice got louder, my pace picked up and the pain faded. Right before the final turn and sprint to the finish I saw Mehul with a group of my amazing friends and all the pain that day and the previous eight months was worth it. I turned left into the light and ran the fastest I may have ever run in my life (the downhill slope helped). Many of the details were a blur, but I heard it! I heard my name announced over the loud speaker… “Lori Muller, you are an IRONMAN!!”

It was the best ending I could have imagined, and I’m glad that I dared to imagine it.
🙂

Here’s  Jen P, who went long for the first time at Winsconsin:

Jen in Transition

Jen in Transition

Wow. I don’t even know how or where to begin on writing a race report for this! What a day! What an experience! What a journey! I was definitely most nervous about the mass start and swimming with 2000+ of my “closest friends.” That wasn’t too bad but the wind created a tough chop/wave action on the backside of the one-loop swim which was the longest stretch. Fortunately, Murphy and I had done 7 big swims in Lake Erie so I was prepared and did the Nemo “just keep swimming.” I was a little disappointed to see 1:32 when I came out of the water-far off from my 1:15 goal but was very proud to have made it through so I kept smiling and moved on. The bike began well-tailwind on the way out on the stick of the lollipop of the course which was a nice boost and again kept smiling. But about mile 48 got tangled up in a crash up a climb in Middleton. A guy got stuck in his gears and came to a stop, fell over on a guy, who fell on me and down we all went. Ugh. Not cool. Of course others were still trying to climb up so quickly tried to get up and move left. Inspect bike and fortunately had some help getting going again. After reaching the top though I noticed my handlebars got shifted left. Really?! Well I guess it was good that wasn’t a course for riding aero a lot! Frankly I really enjoyed the bike course and took in the fans-going up the climbs was so fun! I’ll climb hills all day any day if there will be crazy fans and signs! Riding back in was a fairly stiff headwind but overall the bike went fast and getting back in I couldn’t believe it was over! Now onto the run-the part I had been looking forward to the most! I was scouring the crowds out of T2 and didn’t see my parents…finally about a good half mile in there they were and I gave them a hug. It was great having them there. I felt great. “I like running. Running is my favorite.” Is my mantra on the run. The next time I saw my parents I asked where Mark was as I was surprised I hadn’t seen him but knew he was ahead somewhere…then from there they gave me updates till I caught him. But about mile 19 (where apparently we hit at the same exact time!) he passed me back as my stomach was revolting a bit. I knew a POP stop was in order but didn’t want to however shortly after that pass I did and am so glad as after I felt much better and could take in coke, chips and chicken broth which revived me! About 5k to go Murphy was walking with Gibb and I passed, with a butt-slap of course. We are almost done! The last 2 miles were amazing. On state st with about a mile to go tears started to come…I am going to be an IRONMAN! All the hard work, fatigue, tears, etc came to mind. Heading around the last bend into the finish was awesome. I spotted and hi-fived my dad. Then continued to the finish smiling and with tears of joy. So amazing. All the SSSMSTers had a fantastic day and it was great to see them on the course. Of course big special thanks to Murphy, training partner and boyfriend, who I was blessed to share this journey with. Next up – Tim Walsh, also at Wisonsin…something tells me for not the first time:

Team Walsh (note Morgan sporting the cheesehead-style onesie!)

Team Walsh (note Morgan sporting the cheesehead-style onesie!)

IMWI Wkend Noteables: –conditions: race day temps in low 70’s, a huge blessing; race day wind in double digits, little rough as it makes for lake chop and head winds. –swim: giant single loop, happy because fewer turns equal less chaos; choppy water very typical of lake erie, sadly I rarely swam in lake erie. –bike:hillier than I remembered, happy that I borrowed a 28 cassette; fan support phenominal, one climb had so many fans it was a single track up hill, just like the Tour. –run:loads of compliments on sweet kit with green compression garmet and scott shoes, thanks nacho and second sole; sadly it didn’t make me run any faster. –family:first time with wife and baby in tow for IM, note that baby runs the show; saw family half dozen times during race, more memorable than anything else that occurred that wkend. –teammates/clubmates:felt like a local race, so many friends racing and their support crew present, definietly the way to race. –venue: world triathlon company knows how to pick a venue, Madison, WI is my favorite. –takeaway: I love the ironman event. You can not get away from the fact that for Ironman there is a certain amount of work that needs to be done; I personally did not do that amount of work (without apology though) but most of my teammates/clubmates did and boy were they rewarded. I believe Marty Mason would be proud as their “homework” got done. And new Dad Brian Kostura:

Kostura kicking butt on the run!

Kostura kicking butt on the run!

This race had me “geeked up” all week leading up to Sunday, but the end result was well worth it. This was to be my 4th Ironman and to which I’d be racing a course I was familiar with. Back in 2010 I raced IM Wisconsin, and the bike course got the best of me for sure, there was not much left in the legs a the time of the marathon. This year, my plan was to learn from those mistakes and be technically sound on the bike course in order to set myself up for a solid run. With favorable weather potentially in the forecast, anything was possible… Sunday morning the temperature was in the 60s, with high humidity and wind (10-20 mph). Fortunately, the wind did not make Lake Monona too choppy, but it wasn’t exactly smooth either. The first length of the swim course felt relatively fast (which probably isn’t saying much given that I’m not exactly fast in the water), but the back half took considerably longer. It appeared that the waves kicked up a bit more, and that we were swimming against a current. Either way, I still managed to maintain my comfort level, and finished the swim with a better time than I did in 2010. Feeling happy to be out of the water and ready to start the bike (to which I was already planning during the swim) I hurried out of the water an up the helix to transition. Fans lined the entire way, and I ran into Reddy as I went to grab my gear bag. As I hurried out to my bike after swapping my gear, I ran into family and friends awaiting my arrival, giving me some extra motivation as I started the bike. If you have never bike the course here, I recommend it; beautiful countryside and a challenging route (seemed like one hill after another, and if you weren’t going up a hill, you were going into the wind…ha!). The first loop of the course felt rather good (windy, but good), keeping tabs on my nutrition, and attempting to strategically shift in order to “flatten the course”. Speaking of shifting, I ended up having issues shifting my front derailleur in the second half of the first loop, but luckily the issue resolved itself after I dropped my chain on a slight downhill in Verona. With the bike performing well, the amazing crowds lining the streets up the steep climbs of the course, and seeing Clevelanders all along the way, I knew the next loop could be just as good as the first…relatively speaking, it was; most importantly, my legs felt great at the end. Making it back to Madison, I was focused on settling into my pace for the run and letting my legs carry me. I did not want to push too hard, but I did not intend to take it easy either. If I needed to, I was prepared to walk the water stops, but I wanted revenge on this course, so if at all possible, I wasn’t stopping. Before I knew it, one, two, three miles, were gone, and I was almost done with half of the first loop. The legs were feeling no pain, or at least that’s what I told myself, and I knew I had to keep on the nutrition to stay on pace. I felt my pace was good, and seeing fellow teammates, CTC’ers, family, friends, and perfect strangers cheering me on, kept my spirits high! Mentally I felt strong, and knew I had a reasonable chance to set a PR for the Ironman distance (BTW…I consciously did not keep track of my overall time throughout the day), but I knew it was going to be close. Making the final turn at the back half of the second loop, I told my family (with my newborn daughter in tow) “I’ll see you at the finish!” As the miles ticked away, I heard somebody talking as they were headed out for another loop saying “it’s 6:38pm”….doing the calculations in my head, my heart started to race, and I realized that I could potentially blow away my previous PR of 12:10:34. As I made my final turn towards the finish line, I found my family, kissed my wife and daughter, then looked to the clock…11:44 and change!!! I was going to do it, I was going to break 12 hours, something that I have been unable to accomplish the past 3 years! I was so elated and thankful at the finish! Throughout the day, my mind was focused on my Mom and her battle with cancer, Kellen and his fight with cancer, my wife and her strength giving labor 14 days prior to the race, my newborn daughter and how amazing she is, and my wife’s uncle Paul and his sudden passing Labor Day weekend. Writing this now, there’s no wonder why I was so stressed for this race, but keeping in the forefront of my mind the memory and fighting spirit of everyone mentioned above is what got me through this race and faster than I had ever done before. For that I am truly thankful! Next we hope over to Sin City where Brian Stern continued his summer racing tear at the Ironman 70.3 (that’s a half for those not counting) World Championship: Nothing like toeing the line with some of the best in the world on the hardest course that I have personally visited. The best part is I came back to this course after racing on it in 2011. Pain, Pain, and more Pain. Lots of climbing on the bike and run ( I think the swim was up hill both ways). Really humbles me with all the great athletes on course, but still a great experience. That’s why I love triathlon so much. And now over to our favorite Amazement Park – Cedar Point – for the Rev 3 Triathlon, and Adam Roark taking on the half iron distance and trying to slay some demons: The goal of this race was leaving the long distance racing of old behind and trying to be consistent. I always tried to go fast the whole time when I raced and I knew I needed to get rid of that in longer distance stuff. The plan worked until about mile 10 of the run when the wheels came off. This is always an amazing event and the community support from random people on their porches is awesome! Major congratulations to everyone who raced.  Time to take some well deserved time off.  Just don’t get greedy trying to use some of that great fitness too soon!!!

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