June 24, 2016

Wisconsin Milkman Half Ironman Recap

 

Last Sunday I raced in the Wisconsin Milkman Half Ironman in Madison and cannot say enough great things about the event as a whole. The logistics including organization, volunteers, spectators and aid stations were top notch, especially for the race being an inaugural event. Go Madison!

But let’s back up a bit. I woke up on Sunday morning at 4:25AM and immediately popped out of bed (I’m pretty sure I slept with one eye open the entire night) to eat my first breakfast of the day which consisted of steel cut oats, blueberries, peanut butter, 1/2 a banana, 1/2 an english muffin and coffee. I left the house around 5:20, made the 20 minute drive to the race start and began to get my bike and gear set up in the transition area. We had until 6:30AM until we had to be out of transition which was the perfect amount of time to check and double check everything.

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My swim wave was very last, so even though the race started at 7:00AM, I actually didn’t start until 7:47AM. The time actually went by quickly as I munched on my second breakfast of the day, an english muffin with peanut butter and honey, guzzled lots of h20 and peed a million times.

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Before I knew it, it was time to swim 1.2 miles like a little fish! The one-loop swim took place in Lake Monona, the same lake used by Ironman –Wisconsin. Swimmers started on Olin Park Beach and finished at the concrete boat ramp navigating the counter-clockwise course marked with buoys every 100 yards.

I am not the fastest swimmer in the world, but I did enjoy the swim and felt really good throughout the entire thing!

The Swim: 1.2 miles: 37:59

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Once out of the water, I ran about 250m to the transition area to get set up for the bike! I stripped off my wetsuit, quickly ran to the bathroom, and threw on my bike shoes, helmet and sunglasses before it was go time!

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Transition 1: 5:09

Riders left Madison to the south using the Capital City Bike Path and traveled the country roads through the Village of Oregon and west over the challenging Observatory Hill. I was feeling really good during the bike and wanted to average around 18mph, but just around mile 20 I felt myself slowing down and realized I had a flat tire. Womp-womp. Fortunately, a support vehicle came out of nowhere to help me with it and I was back on the road within five or so minutes, although it felt like a lifetime.

But, let’s talk about this Observatory Hill for a second…um, this was no joke. SO many riders walked up this hill, but I was still angry about my flat and the wasted time, that I was determined to ride up the entire thing without having to get off. Mission accomplished but you better believe I dropped a few f-bombs in my head…

After riding through the town of Paoli, with 16 or so miles to go, I was feeling good but had a minor chain jam issue, which again set me back just a few minutes. Luckily, a friendly rider stopped to help me (thank you, you wonderful stranger, you!) and the rest of the bike route was a breeze. With a few miles to go, I rode through the Alliant Energy Center, and finished using the bike trail under John Nolen Dr. to Olin Park.

Bike: 56 miles: 3:22:57

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My goal was to eat a Clif bar every hour (I actually broke it up into three pieces and tried to eat a small amount every 20 minutes) on the bike as well as hydrate with one water or Gatorade bottle per hour. I knew the temps would be in the high 80’s for the run, so I wanted to get in as much nutrition and hydration as possible on the bike, which I think worked out pretty well!

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In transition, I changed into my running shoes, threw on my race bib and used the bathroom one more time before it was time to head out on the last leg of the race!

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I was feeling pretty good after the bike but tried to take it slow the first half of the run since I knew it was super hot out and 13.1 miles was a long ways to go. The route was a loop around Lake Monona, passing through the city of Monona on the way back to Madison. Not going to lie, the course was challenging, but the spectators and volunteers were amazing!! With HEED, water and ice every mile or so and plenty of sprinklers to run through, I actually enjoyed the run. I tried to eat a Clif Block every 20 or so minutes, drink water at every aid station and pour ice down my back and over my head which helped with the crazy heat.

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Before I knew it , I was running the last mile to the finish! Of course, to get to the finish, racers had to run up a steep hill, but luckily fans lined the way and encouraged athletes to finish strong!

Run: 13.1 miles: 1:53:24

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Total time: 6:02:24

13/47 overall in age group category

65/290 overall in women category

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Overall, I finished the race feeling good with a sense of accomplishment. It was a great race to begin the summer training towards Ironman Wisconsin!

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A special thanks to Kat (as well as other family members and friends!) who got up at the crack of dawn with us and took some amazing photos throughout the race. You’re the best!

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June 22, 2016

Ireland Recap 3

 

We arrived in Dublin just after lunch and immediately checked into the Shelbourne Hotel, housed in a 200 year old building with beautiful updated rooms and five start amenities.

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We unpacked our things for our last three nights in Ireland, took a short nap and showered up before meeting the group back up for an amazing dinner at The Seafood House. We kept the night pretty low-key which was fine by me!

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The next morning, a majority of people went golfing at the K Club while some of the group went on a walking food tour throughout Dublin.

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While Scott decided to golf, I decided to stuff my face with local cuisine 😉 We started off at a cute coffee shop, walked to a local cheese shop, followed by a smoked seafood restaurant which was adorable inside…

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Our last stop lead us to an ice-cream shop right in the heart of Dublin Square. How stunning are those flowers?!

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The food tour only lasted a few hours and I knew Scott would be gone for several more, so I took a taxi to the biggest park in Ireland, the Phoenix Park, and got a gorgeous 10 mile run in. I didn’t even cover the whole park during those 10 miles, it was that huuuge!

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The group reconvened yet again for a night out at Harold’s Cross Greyhound Stadiumbut not before stopping for some beer and whiskey tasting!

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Once we arrived to the stadium, we had front row seating and 20 euros (in addition to our own money to use if we so pleased) each to bet on the races.

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I haven’t been to a greyhound track in probably over ten years, so it was fun to watch and experience it with our big group! Once the races were over, several people decided to go out on the town (ahem, Scott) while others (ahem, grandma Katie) opted for sleep. Apparently it was super fun from what they all remember 😉

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Our last full day in Dublin consisted of touring the Jameson and Guinness factories!

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Our tour guide walked us through the living history of the Old Jameson Distillery, where the legend of John Jameson began, and ended the tour with a comparative tasting, giving us an understanding of the key differences between Scotch, American and Jameson Irish Whiskey.

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Next up was the Guinness Storehouse, one of Ireland’s most popular tourist attractions.

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Our group participated in a  7-floor guided tour through the story of making Guinness, complete with barrels, history, and a free pint at the end of the tour.

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We enjoyed our pint of Guinness at the Gravity Bar, offering 360 degree views of Dublin’s skyline.

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We had a few hours to ourselves after the tours, so Scott and I walked around to some shops and stopped in a few pubs to talk to some locals before it was time for our last night in Dublin.

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Each couple was surprised with our own horse and buggy that led us to St. Patrick’s Cathedral for dinner!

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St. Patrick’s Cathedral is the National Cathedral of the Church of Ireland. The building is a busy place as it serves as a place of worship, a visitor attraction and as a host for many events. A dedicated team of staff, volunteers and members of the Cathedral community are responsible for ensuring the building’s ongoing life and ministry is maintained for future generations to enjoy.

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It was the perfect ending to an unbelievable trip to Ireland!

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