by Scott Carkhuff
MY FIRST IRONMAN!
I signed up for Ironman Wisconsin on 9/8/14, and after I signed up I immediately had a little anxiety thinking about what the next year of my life was going to look like to accomplish something I once thought was impossible.
So IMWI is on a Sunday. We made the 4–5 hour road trip from Iowa on Thursday. We arrived around 1:00 or 2:00 in the afternoon on Thursday. I was traveling with my wife, mom, and two daughters, so naturally the first exciting thing on the list was going to the hotel and checking out the pool. But first we actually went and did my athlete check-in to get it out of the way. We walked around the Ironman Village and looked and the different vendors and bought a couple small items. Then we checked into our hotel. We stayed at the Holiday Inn about 10 minutes from downtown Madison. My wife and I went back to the swim start and I got a short swim in with the wetsuit on.
Friday 9/11, this was our day to let the kids do what they wanted and have a little fun, so first off I went and got another shorter swim in. I felt really good and did notice I need a little more body glide on my neck so I’m glad I decided to swim. Later on we went to the Kids Museum in downtown Madison. Not much else going on this day except to get back to the hotel and get some good sleep, which I did.
Saturday 9/12, this was my day to do next to nothing. We headed into Madison to check my bike in, walk through transition, and check in my T1 and T2 bags. Everything went smoothly; the volunteers pretty much keep you going in the right direction. Although, I did get paranoid once and had to go back to my bike to make sure I put it in the right spot that matched my number. I did. We made our way back to the hotel around 11:00 and the rest of the day I just lay around and watched football, seemed like a pretty good day!!
Sunday 9/13, this is RACE DAY!! Race begins at 7am.
I got up at 3:30 a.m. and ate my normal breakfast: two heaping scoops of steel cut oats, honey, peanut butter, a banana, and a bottle of Gatorade Endurance. We headed into Madison so I could put all my nutrition on my bike. I had trained with what was going to be provided on the course to make it easy on race day. So I just filled my top tube bento box with cliff bars and GUs and Base Electrolyte Salt. I use the hydration system on the Specialized Shiv so I filled that up along with a rear mount bottle and one bottle on the frame, and then my plan was to refill with what was on the course which was Cliff bars and Gatorade Endurance. I pumped up my tires; I normally ride with 100 psi in the front and back. I left transition and found a quiet spot in the Monona Terrace which overlooks the swim course so spectators can see the entire swim. At about 6:30 I started to get my wetsuit on and made my way down to the swim start. My wife was with me the entire time until she couldn’t go any further and we said a fast goodbye and it was time…
I got into the water at about 6:50 or so. It’s a mass start, so the athletes make their way to the start line and all 2500–3000 athletes start at the same time for a one-loop 2.4 mile swim. So I took my time to get into a good spot where it didn’t look too crowded, plus I didn’t want to be treading water in one spot for 10 minutes, so I swam around found a good spot and heard Mike Reilly say, “1 minute!” I got ready, took a couple deep breaths to calm down, and then the countdown from 10 started. Then BOOM, the cannon fired and we were off. There was lots of contact, nothing major. Seemed like I couldn’t ever find good open water, couldn’t get in a good rhythm for a lengthy amount of time without running into someone. First turn everyone always moo’s around the corner, and that was pretty funny to hear. I made my way to the swim exit, stepped on a nice sized rock, made my way up the ramp, and had two nice ladies rip off my wetsuit. I’m pretty sure I was no help to those two volunteers at all! Got my wetsuit off and headed to T1. Swim time was 1:13.
T1 you run maybe a quarter mile from the swim exit and part of that is running up a parking ramp and then you go inside the Monona Terrace and get your bike bag and then go into a separate room to change. I opted to keep my tri kit on for the entire race rather than changing my entire outfit. So I put my socks and bike shoes on, with some arm warmers. It was maybe 50–55 degrees when we started. Then I put my sunglasses and helmet on, and I was off to get my bike.
The first couple miles on the bike is a no passing zone and on a bike trail with some weird corners so I kept it pretty cautious during this time to make sure nothing happened to me or my bike. I gave myself 15–20 miles to get relaxed on the bike and settle into a good cadence. I had ridden the bike course one other time, so I kind of knew what to expect. The bike course has over 5000 ft of elevation and it’s a two-loop course, so all the hills you do the first time you have to do again. The first 20–30 miles I did lose my base salt; it fell off my bike. So it was GU and Gatorade Endurance and Cliff Bars. Toward the end of my ride, Cliff Bars started to get annoying trying to eat them and choke them down, so I did more Gatorade and GUs the last 30–40 miles.
The thing about the IMWI course is the support from volunteers on course and spectators is pretty awesome. When you’re going up the hills it truly feels like a Tour De France hill with all the people cheering you up the hill. I enjoyed the bike ride. The bike went pretty much as planned maybe slightly slower than expected but I wasn’t really worried. Bike time was 5:43.
T2 goes back up the parking ramp (Yes this is the last hill), and a volunteer takes your bike from you and you head back inside the Monona Terrace to change for the run. I took off my arm warmers, shoes, and socks, and put on new socks, calf sleeves, my running shoes, running hat, and sunglasses. I grabbed a quick drink of water and stopped at the port-a-potty. Right as I got out of the port-a-potty, I saw my crew. I stopped, kissed my daughters, high fived the fam, and off I went.
I wanted to build on the run so I wanted to start my run slow and to tried to get my running legs going after getting off the bike. I did that, I ran my first ½ of the run in 2:05, shortly after that I need to go to the bathroom, #2, so I stopped and went, and when I sat down my right hip flexor cramped up, looked like I had a softball in my leg, so I massaged it and got stood back up, from that point on I think I was in survival mode, my right IT band started hurting also which was weird because I had no issues with it in training.
Now, it was just trying to get to each aid station, make it up the next hill. It was hard, I knew it was going to be hard. I got to the 20 mile mark on the run and saw my family again which gave me a little boost. I felt like a zombie, so I told myself to run these last 6 miles only walking at aid stations. I started drinking Coke, chicken broth, and Red Bull, and eating potato chips and GU chomps. Chicken broth and Coke saved me and kept me moving. I made the last 6 miles and made it to the finish line. The crowd support and volunteers on the run course were awesome as well! Run time 4:49.
Hearing Mike Reilly’s voice at the finish is good motivation. The finish line was great. Running onto that carpet hearing “Scott Carkhuff, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN,” for the first time is one of the most awesome accomplishments anyone can accomplish. All the hard work and training and sacrifices were worth it! I did it, I finished my first Ironman! Overall Time 12:06.
I have to say thanks to a lot of people. First, everyone who supported me during this journey, My job, Cline Tool, making it easy to get training in and being flexible! Some local businesses who showed me some support: El Sombrero, The Newton YMCA, Bridgehouse Coffee, Bisom Trucking, Leavens Construction, First Newton National Bank, Terry & Patti Purvis, Pat & Carolyn Sullivan, and Denise Alexander. And of course I wouldn’t be able to do any of this without Kyle at Kyle’s Bikes and the awesome people at kylesbikes.com. Thanks to my amazing family that helped me all year long, watching our kids, helping us out wherever we needed it. Couldn’t have been a success without awesome family! Last but not least my amazing wife and kids, it was a battle, we had ups and downs, but she did awesome! From getting the kids to where they need to be to taking care of housework, THANKS KYLIE AND PAYTON AND TEAGAN! They truly are an IRONFAMILY!
Complete results for Ironman Wisconsin are on the Ironman website.
Image Credits: Scott's friends and family