Ironman Madison – Ex Président Keepin it real in the US

As I sit here in my Finisher t-shirt, wearing my Finisher cap and Finisher medal (I am only half joking), I’d like to thank everyone for their very kind words before, during and after my race yesterday. The hardest part of the day was accomplished by ma cherie, Ironmom, who had to herd three bored kids all day. Here is a quick recap of the race:
We woke at 3:30am to horizontals flags. Not a good sign. Still the weather was to be sunny and in the mid-seventies, which certainly beats the nineties from the day before and today. On the swim, the first guy was out in 52 minutes which shows the conditions; very choppy and strong winds slowing everyone down. Also a mass start with 2000 swimmers is something to be experienced just once in a lifetime, as it is rather scary, and unfortunately all 2000 athletes seemed to stay right beside me for the full swim. Elbows, legs and arms everywhere, including a punch to face after 3 meters, meaning my goggles kept filling with water the entire race. Not fun! I was happy with 1h19 for 2.4 miles given the conditions, then we had to tackle T1. We had to run up a winding car park ramp to the fifth floor to grab our bags then get changed inside, before being accosted by three volunteers with sun cream on my way to the bike and the 400m to run to the end of transition. Hence the really long transition time (pour Greg). Then off for 112 miles on the bike on one of the hardest bike routes on the ironman circuit (see my earlier post for proof). The bike route is amazing with some great scenery, relentless turns, climbs and descents with great crowds. It is very challenging though but my legs felt great throughout the whole bike leg. The highlight was going up each of the three biggest (but short and steep) climbs with Tour de France-esque crowds in your face screaming you all the way to the top. The last 16 miles were all into a strong headwind looking to sap the last remaining energy if it wanted to, but there was still a minor matter of the marathon ahead. The finish line of the bike was back up the ramp five floors to the roof to T2. Dozens of volunteers were waiting to help at the top, and it was five star service to get us all changed and marathon ready. Off on the run! My legs felt pretty good considering but I didn’t want to get carried away, which was hard as we ran through town with the locals lining the streets screaming the entire length of the first mile. Then things calmed down as we undertook the first of two loops through the streets, the local football stadium (that was cool), then though the local university campus, and along the lake. It was superb, but I soon started to feel a little weak around mile 8 then my calf muscle went. I tweaked it four weeks previously and so I hadn’t ran at all since then hoping that it would be alright on the day. There were still 17 miles to go, so it was a case of gritting teeth and just getting the job done. Seeing Celine and the kids several times along the run really helped. Plus the crowds were amazing (and got more amazing as the day went on and the drinks were flowing). The run towards to the finish line is definitely the best I’ve ever experienced. Picture it – a finish tunnel that is 100 meters long, 10 meters wide, lined 6 deep with people cheering just for you (there was no-one ahead of or behind me) and the MC knows who is coming and calls out your name over the loudspeakers: “Bob Tweedie, you-are-an-IRONMAN”. That will stay with me for the rest of my life, and only those that have experienced it can truly understand what I mean. Two volunteers then look after you until they are sure you will not pass out, then they give you your Finisher goodies. We all stayed until the last runners came in at midnight which was also just an unbelievable experience. Ironman is many different things to different people, whether you are a triathlete or a long-suffering loved one. It is a selfish sport also, and it’s payback time.Céline Tweedie Marillier je t’aime. Xo.