Richard Nelson

My Ironman Wisconsin

In Ironman, swimming on 2007 September 10 Monday at 11:49:00

To put it shortly, I was pulled from the bike course 9½ miles from the finish at 5:15 p.m. local time. There was nothing grossly wrong—the cracked rib I suffered four weeks ago just prevented me from being highly ærobic—that slowed me down on the flats, and meant I had to power up the hills (of which, for those not familiar with the course, there are many), so my legs were trashed by the second loop.

The swim went according to plan. I know the triathletes who read this will find a 2:05 swim risible (there were only 29 swimmers behind me, I think), but I couldn’t swim in November ’05, and had not swum in open water until June of this year, so I’m very pleased to have had a pleasant easy swim. My technique, of course, is terrible, but that just gives me something (of many!) to work on for next year.

I left the water in great shape, shook Rob Beuthling’s hand, and had a good transition—no dawdling, and no hurry, just kept moving—though somehow it took 16 minutes.

I cycled down the helix and got out on the course. It was pretty clear early on that something was wrong. I hadn’t done any hilly cycling since I’d cracked my rib, and the constraint it puts on deep breathing was a real problem—hills became weight-lifting exercises, and I’m a pretty heavy weight. 🙂

Anyway, it was a long day on the bike; by the halfway point I knew I’d miss the cut-off, but I wanted to finish the bike even if I was going to be marked a DNF. The official who took me off disagreed; I knew I could’ve just taken off my chip and bib and continued as a civilian, but I was, basically, in a good mood and didn’t feel like arguing. The other 4 competitors and I in the van had a good chat, and shared a couple of beers(!) on the drive back to Monona Terrace.

UPDATE: Here’s a screen shot of my official results:


After rendezvousing with my family (the only real frustration of the day!), we walked to State Street Brats for (what else?) brats and beer, and watched the run competitors come in. I was more than a little envious, of course, but content with my fate. I’d known that my rib was going to be a problem, and it really points to what I need to do.

I trained for this race from pretty much a standing start in late June ’06. Now I have another 12 months, and what I expect will be a bunch of shorter triathlons, in which to chop chunks of time off the swimming and cycling, and to get even stronger and fitter. I had trouble fitting in all the work-outs Coach Steve wanted me to, but I was getting better and better at it. Another year to “learn to train”. I am very much looking forward to getting back to training!

Thanks to everyone—the Tri-Deads, my family with their e-mails and phone calls of support, and my friends and other supporters.

Liz, my daughter, gave me bottomless emotional support, even from her three-month exile in Canada’s Yukon Territory—and spent only two days in Toronto before driving to Madison to be with me!

Mona, my SO, put up with my ceasing to be a full member of our household as I trained—and is supportive of my doing more next year!

Coach Kelvin Landolt taught me to swim, an accomplishment of which I am proudest at age 53.

Coach Steve Bentley brought me to the start line of an Ironman with confidence.

And my friend and colleague John Boguslawski talked me into the whole thing in the first place!

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