Richard Nelson

Lessons learned from Ironman Wisconsin 2007

In Ironman, lessons learned on 2007 September 19 Wednesday at 22:10:00

In the ten days since the Ironman, I’ve been thinking about what lessons I’ve learned. This is a little different from looking forward, another post I’ll do soon. This is about things I did, or didn’t, do that turned out good or ill. So here’s a cut at what these lessons were.

First, what did we do that turned out right?

1. We stayed in a good hotel. We didn’t “find” it; I reserved late, ’way too late, and the Ironman Wisconsin Web site found us the Staybridge Suites Hotel Madison East, which is a Six Continents/Holiday Inn brand I wasn’t familiar with. The property is an undistinguished box at the corner of City View Drive and High Crossing Boulevard. On paper, it looked ’way too far out of town, but it was a great hotel, really. We were so delighted, we happily booked there again for next year.

2. Do the one-day drive, i.e., through Chicago. On our last trip, we took two days and drove via Sault Ste Marie. Although the one-day drive is long—thirteen hours, even with minimal stops—there’s none of the hassle of checking into a hotel or a bed-and-breakfast, and it is quite doable with two drivers—and it makes us feel better about the time we take from work and our cats for the Ironman.

3. Stay five days and six nights. We drove to Madison on the Wednesday after Labour Day, and drove home the Tuesday after the race. It worked out very nicely, as follows.

4. Pick up my packet about an hour after pick-up opens on Thursday. When I went, 11 a.m. local time on Thursday, the line-up was short. The volunteer told me it was quite busy just an hour earlier. Going at 11 on Thursday meant that I got my kit early, but it didn’t take very long.

5. Spend the Friday before the race obsessing about my bags, and getting things I’m missing. You drop off your bike and the two transition bags the day before the race. Feeling I have a full day to lay out the contents of all my bags, and then to run around getting the handful of things I was missing, worked out really well.

6. Bring our own coffee for the in-room coffeemaker. I’m an early riser, especially when I’m in the Central Time Zone, and it was nice having a decent cup of coffee at 4 a.m. on race morning.

Second, what did we not do that I now wish we had?

7. On Saturday, don’t check in my bike and transition bags until I’ve done my “race prep” work-outs. I don’t think I was as sharp as I could’ve been. (Alternately, I could bring my road bike as well as my tri bike, but that seems like a lot of trouble.)

8. Do all work-outs Coach Steve sets, including the swims.

9. Bring our own food for lunch and dinner. The hotel’s complementary breakfast was perfectly adequate, and it was nice to discover Panera Bread, but my comfortable food would’ve helped me out in the pre-race days.

10. Use a big backpack for my morning stuff. It would’ve made hauling all that stuff around (wetsuit etc.) a lot easier!

11. Look at the picture accompanying this post. The lesson here is that when I see the race photographer, look like an Ironman participant! Don’t give the oh-I’m-about-to-have-my-picture-taken grin!

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