Monday, 15 September 2014

Ironman Wisconsin 2014 -- The course

The curves of Garfoot Road
Jen and I ran the entire run course Thursday afternoon. After lunch of plain white rice from the nearby sushi restaurant, we started with the loop around the capital. Straight away came a brisk rain shower during which we paused under the nearest awning, but it turned into sunshine an hour later.  There was no wind to be felt in the streets of town.  The run starts by circling the imposing capital building, and proceeds west through the University of Wisconsin campus.  It was just letting out for the day when we passed through, and the sidewalks were full of students.  The marching band was holding practice.  
We parked at the not parking sign
After a brutal climb up Observatory hill, the road is pointed towards the capital.  You can see it tantalizingly close, just a couple blocks away when you arrive at turn-around.  It's an out-and-back. It's 10 km to get here, then 10 km back. It took us 3 hours altogether, with variety stores for fluid refills, and lots of heated discussion over what the map meant.  We made more than a couple of wrong turns, getting completely off course near the stadium, and taking the lakeside leg early. For dinner we went back to Red Sushi, the one fancy restaurant which we went to the entire trip.

I hope they sweep up the storm debris
Friday we went biking.  We drove to the town of Verona where our volunteer station was located and parked.  We did one lap of the bike loop.  It's a very tough course, not just from the incessant up and down of the hills, but the poor condition of the roads.  Most of it was tar and chip surfacing.  That means they spread tar over the asphalt, then pack it down with fine stone chips.  Where we come from that's done to extend the life of the road for a couple years before proper resurfacing.  Here it seemed to be a standard practice in lieu of proper pavement. It was years old, with plenty of cracks.  

Lots of tar and chip
The storms had blown some debris on the roads from the tree canopy.  They better send a sweeper around or there's going to be some flat tires. 

Let's throw some dirt out there
The surrounding countryside of corn fields made us feel right at home, except that the hills are really long and steep. At times the road would seem to just disappear into the woods in front of us.  The worst was shortly after the aptly named Windy Lane, where a steep downhill was interrupted by a right turn halfway down the hill.  That was followed by a winding passage downhill with a hairpin right turn immediately at the bottom.  There goes all your speed. This must be the one I've heard of with the hay bales at the curve. The next downhill section was really a lot of fun (Garfoot Road).  Fast, with plenty of turns, but not too steep and dangerous. 

The road just drops away to nowhere
Along came a horrible railway crossing with huge gaps.  Then, stagecoach road where the cracks had left the side of the road split like cobblestones.
When you let the lawyer write the road signs
Now comes the dreaded climb up Old Sauk Pass.  Just steep enough that if you stop, it will be tough to get moving again, and it goes on for ages.   Once again, the road just seems to drop off into nowhere. It's one of the steepest hills I can remember and it's downhill and super fast.  

It's a great course that I'm really looking forward to racing. 

The railway crossing
Friday afternoon, Lake Monona had calmed considerably from the whitecaps the day before, and they had placed the markers, so we put on the wetsuits and went swimming.  I had a moment of panic seeing how far away the furthest buoys were.  I can't swim two laps of this in 2 hours!  It's one lap, they changed it, someone told me.  Oh good.  Whew.  Jen was tired from the long bike, so we sent to the first turn marker and came back.  It was her longest swim ever.  

Ooh! pine cones! The road needs pine cones!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Ironman Wisconsin 2014 -- The trip

Border crossing to Port Huron. I wonder where he's going
Jen and I headed out at 5 pm Wednesday towards the sunset.  The CD player is busted, so we had to listen to the radio.  Through Michigan it was the metal station.  Not something we would play much, but really different from the middle-of-the-road generic pop that all the Canadian stations gravitate to.  Through Grand Rapids we found the alternative station amusing.  They played weird bongos, techno, jazz... an odd mix, and a long way from the ordinary.  Our choice in Indiana was one of the Christian stations.  They had upbeat spirited rock songs that we had never heard before.  
We got there on Thursday

It seemed like all of the freeways through Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin were under construction. Lane closures, construction, crappy roads, and more construction.  Fortunately we passed through Chicago at 2 am, so traffic was light.  During the day it would be a mess.

The badger within the capital

The weather forecast was frightful.  Rain, thundershowers, high winds and hail overnight, turning into thundershowers in the morning.  By afternoon on Thursday , partly cloudy with more rain and some thundershowers. Plus a chance of thundershowers. We napped in the Walmart parking lot Northeast of Chicago for a few hours overnight before heading on to Madison. Thursday morning is no parking day in downtown Madison.  It's trash pickup day, si it's to ensure room for the trucks.

Casting the "locate" spell

The website for the Dade County campground wouldn't let me make a reservation within 5 days ahead.  When we got there it finally made sense.  Drive-up campers could take charge of a spot for 4 days simply by plopping a tent on it.  We did that and paid through Monday. The website doesn't know that's happened, so it simply locks you out for days that close.  Lake Park was already full, so we went to the second choice, Babcock Park.  It had a convenience store in the gas station across the road.  The evening attendant became our concierge, giving directions, restaurant information, and tips on their selection of liquor. 

It makes you want to stand on one foot

Thursday was mostly sunny.  Lake Monona, where the swim is held, had whitecaps from the 40 km/hr wind.  The bike would be a nightmare on a day like this.  We didn't see anyone brave the water.  We toured the capital building.  The main hall is dominated by the badger figures at opposite ends.  They love their badgers.  We came across a couple badger statues in the streets.  We both bought official IM Wisconsin biking apparel at the expo.  I also picked up a bottle of their recommended wetsuit lube.  

It's like the bridge of the Enterprise
 Saturday we held rest day.  We drove to Milwaukee and toured the art gallery and the sculpture garden.  Jen took the full set of high-school art classes, so she can provide good commentary.

Lynden Sculpture Garden

We were to bed at dusk Saturday for our 7 am wake-up on race day.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

A Midsummer Night's Run - Race Report

It was nine in the morning, and Noah asked, "Don't you guys have a race today?"  Jen bounced up and down, "Yes!  and I didn't have to get up at 4 am."
Profigliano !!!

That's the magic of A Midsummer Night's Run.  Instead of driving through the dark, we glued on the pointed ears, and applied the makeup.  I did a last quick shave of my legs and chest.  The shaving cut on my left leg was still red and looking infected.  On Tuesday previous, I did a test run with the wings.  The wooden rack I built to hold them at an attractive angle worked great.  It was obvious that having the straps over my shoulders was going to cut through to the bone in 20 minutes. I managed to reduce the tension by harnessing them above my biceps, using socks to reduce the friction.  They sat lower on my back, but weren't going to chafe.  I ran an hour on the treadmill, covering 10 km, without trouble.  Ready to go.
Nothing happened.  I think it's broken

Thank you to Tara and her friend for doing the henna patterns on Jen's arms and my legs.
The 3:15 pace fairy. I hear he has a new dress every year

Off to Toronto.  We picked up our race packets, then dined at Casa Sushi on the Danforth, looking out at the rain.  We killed some time at Book City, where I picked up a copy of Dawkin's The God Delusion which I had always wanted.  The girl at Tim Hortons wanted to talk about our outfits, but we just wanted the coffee.  For the second time that day, I was turned down my request for Tim's new Dark Roast.  It's advertised all over the cups, but there's none in the pot.  
Let the rain come

We parked at the post office, and bused to the race site.  The coffee kept us warm in the light drizzle coming down.  Several people got pics with us.  The wands were a nice touch.  A woman with small child asked for a group shot.  I knelt and waved at the little girl.  She huddled behind Mom, clinging to her legs.  It's scary like meeting Barney in that huge purple suit.  Fairies are supposed to be these tiny things that sit on your hand so you can crush them to they if it upsets you.  
The forehead made me look like a Klingon

One last downpour dumped on us as the race got started, then the sun came out. Ah, the memories of the Leslie Street Spit.  I raced this for during my first marathon, before the Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon became big and they abandoned it for more-popular city streets. Crossing the bridge to the spit, Jen's wings came apart and fell off.  She whipped out her emergency rainbow rope, which I used to fasten them. Surely the rope burn would ruin her before we were done. A cop shooed us off the bridge to let traffic through.  
The rubble at the end of the spit. Lake Ontario to the South

My wings were doing fine.  I couldn't even feel them behind me, but they stayed secure for the whole race.  After stopping to take pictures, I sprinted to catch up to Jen, and my necklace blew apart with a broken string.  I scooped it up, but it won't be salvaged.  Trailing way behind the pack, our run was quiet with few others around.  It was more of a loop than an out-and-back, so there weren't returning runners to see.
Skyline to the North

The run was 30 km including out to the end of the Leslie Street spit and back, then over to The Beaches and through the woods, with almost 700 of us entered.  The woods weren't lighted, so there was a cutoff near 8 o'clock, that we hurried to meet.  They had a timing mat for a split at the half-marathon mark.  We did it in about 2:30, which is good for Jen.  She will need such strength to do the Barrelman.  That ended the delirious happy part of racing, and brought us to the tired part where it's no fun anymore.  The sun set, and we did the last 5 km in the dark.  Jen's wings held out, with no rope burn.  It was warm, not hot, and after the opening shower, only a like sprinkle of rain for a couple minutes towards the end.

Finish -- 3:41 covering 30 km.

It was a good long run, without the pain of finishing a marathon.  The medals are beautiful.  They spin!  Dressing up made it a fun, family event.

The wings can run

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Race Report - Iron Girl

Sunday was a terrific day to race a triathlon.  The weather was warm, but not stifling.  The water was cool and flat.  This was Lake Ontario, which can be frigid cold even in August, and have plenty of choppy waves.  The recent weather has had so many stormy days that there could have been an overnight storm to leave it that way.  

No more bagels!

A sticker here. a sticker there. 
We were out the door at 5 am, in the bright darkness of the full moon.  We saw a meteor ahead of us on the highway.  It's the peak of the Perseid shower.  I wasn't racing, so it was Jen's pick for what to stop for on the way.  No bagels!  

Swim time

Swim start

Amongst the first to arrive, she set up the bike in the nearly empty corral, went through registration, then back to the bike to put on the stickers.  Shopping time!  There was an expo on site.  I bought combo shorts.  I have plenty of bike shorts, but have been wanting tri shorts, because I don't really like the feel of my one-piece kit.  I want to race in my bike shirt.  I got some cheap sunglasses from D'Ornella's booth.  I drove to Toronto 10 years ago to get my trainer, since they are the local Kurt vendor.  It's the trainer which I wore the bearings out. That was a year ago. I called Kurt to ask about replacement parts, and they shipped me a whole new unit gratis.  Hurray for lifetime warranty.  Good to see D-Ornellas is still in business.  Two places where I bought new bikes over the last few years have gone under (All Seasons Sports; Multisport Zone).  Pedal Power in Woodstock is keeping them running great, in spite of the harsh treatment I give them.  They tuned Jen's Bianchi for this day's race.  Oh, and Sport Luub.  He said it's wetsuit friendly.  We're almost out of the Body Glide teflon lube that we've been using.

Not a sport for shy people
The drink matches the bike!

Saddle up 

They bused us to the water start. It was only a couple blocks.  Jen squeezed into her wetsuit.  It's overkill for the 15 minutes in the water on such a nice day, but the race is prep for Barrelman where she will have to use it.  Off they went at 9 am.  I jogged back to transition to wait for them.  First girl out sure had a great swim, but spent ages changing clothes while others came and went.  Likewise, Jen had lots to do in transition.  This was her first wetsuit race.  The last time she raced was here in Grimsby, many years ago, and her bike shoes weren't there when she got out of the water.  They turned up later, but she rode the tri-a-tri in her running shoes.  

Let's go

I sauntered back to the car and read a magazine.  Analog.  A David Brin story about how what if vertibrate animals didn't give up the caterpillar stage of insects, they gave up the butterfly stage. Suppose we can engage the transition?  After 40 minutes, I went to the road to wait, and there she was already.  I figured for closer to an hour on the bike.  It was an easy flat out-and-back using the service road by the expressway.  I just made it to transition in time to see her take off on the run course.  A few of us waiting on someone's lawn for our girls to get back.  Jen was an hour 42 altogether.  Way faster than expected.  That's good news except for the swim.  It was clocked at 18 minutes for the 500 m.  That's not going to cut it at Barrelman.  They give an hour 10 for the 1.9 km.  Have to keep moving through the water.

Yes, you wear the medal all day

Sunday, 3 August 2014

The Long Ride

Today was the longest ride for this year.  I don't expect another one like it this summer.  To Normandale and back, it clocked in at 165 km.  

Downtown Normandale
On the way back I got caught in a thunderstorm.  If it was just rain, I would carry on through, but the thunder was overhead, and I could see some fierce lightning in the distance, so I stopped and huddled under a tree to wait it out.  A kind lady in a nearby house invited me to sit on the porch with her, and she made us some tea while I waited the 20 minutes for the worst of it to pass.  Another 20 km up the road, I made it back to sunshine, but my shoes had already filled with water and wouldn't be the same for the rest of the trip.

Weather porn
An hour later, another thunderhead passed a long way to the South, without affecting me.  Overall, then it was still a good day.  I loved about the Ironman training how easy it was to cover 160 km every weekend. I'm expecting leg spasms in the night tonight.  Today I felt strong.  I'm expecting the September half-distance race to go well. I have my wings prepped for the Midsummernight's Run, so that should be a good time too.

Here's what I listened to today.

  • Jonzun Crew - Lost In Space
  • John Williams (soundtracks) - Lost In Space (TV Series)
  • Honeymoon Suite - Honeymoon Suite
  • Bon Jovi - Lost Highway

Friday, 1 August 2014

All Your Bridges are Closed

The Saturday blood donor clinic was full, so after my daughter made my lunch at Pita Pit, I carried on South, intending to circle around through Aylmer.  It wasn't happening.  The bridge is out along White Oak Road.  Undaunted, I made a bypass, and found the next crossing of the expressway under construction as well.  Further along, I don't even know if they are building a crossing at Wonderland, but it wasn't happening either.  I eventually came to Colonel Talbot, but it is way, way, way to busy for me on my bike.  I went North back into town.  That's where it began raining, just to rub it in.

Westminster Drive is closed

White Oak Road is closed

I don't even know what that is out Wonderland Road

so I carried on South.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Foam Fest

This was a silly, fun event.  Jen heard about it on the radio.  The promotion must have been working because many of the obstacles had line ups.  They have to fix that. People won't stand for a long wait. 

I told the kids it was an obstacle course based on the TV show Wipeout.  They like the show, so everyone agreed to participate.  I was down $150 just in registrations for them, so I skipped entering myself, and just went to watch.  
She can go first
That's the Death Drop in the distance behind them.  Rather than a grueling test of fitness and courage, it was a set of bouncy castles and slip-and-slides.

Leaping from the Death Drop
It took them over an hour and a half to navigate the 5 km course.  Installed at the Boler Mt ski hill, the run looked tough.  They were up and down the hill several times.  There were waits at some of the equipment, but that let the slow catch up to the fast, so the group tended to stay together.  Everyone got their wind back and was ready for another hike over the hill.
Foam in the face
Many of the competitors arrived back at the finish covered in mud, but my kids jumped over that pit and were clean.  The worst of it was the final slide, face first into the foam.  Soap up the nose, down the shirt, and all clean.  I'm glad they had a good time and got some exercise.