Ironman Wisconsin Pre-Race and Swim

For the last 9 months, dedication has pushed me to achieve new limits and prepared me for Ironman Wisconsin 2014.  This journey has been full of highs and lows and nearly everything in between.  Every step of this journey has been worth it and every step has helped me achieve my goals and get to the finish line of Ironman Wisconsin.


We were fortunate enough to be staying in the guest suite of the Nolen Plaza Condo complex thanks to Sue and Michele…my “separated from birth” sisters.  Nolen Plaza is only about 3 blocks from Monona Terrace (the location of T1/T2) and the finish line.  We couldn’t have had a better location for lodging.

Can you guess which condo is ours?!?!?!?!?
Can you guess which condo is ours?!?!?!?!?

The alarm went off at 4:30 am, but we both woke up a few minutes before ready to start what was sure to be a spectacular day.  Waking up this early is pretty normal in our household, so our bodies were use to it 😉  I ate my cream of rice cereal with raspberries, drank my orange juice and Osmo Preload, jumped in the shower (I normally don’t shower before a race, but I knew it was going to be a long day and thought a shower would be a great way to get it started) and donned my lucky red TYR swimsuit before we were to meet Sue and Michele in the lobby of the condo.

I had ZERO anxiousness, nerves or negative emotions.  I only had pure excitement and joy for my long day that was in front of me.  We walked to the finish area and dropped off our special needs bags before heading to Monona Terrace where the swim start would take place.  Once at Monona Terrace, I got body marked, pumped up my tires, put my bike bottles on my bikes (2 water and one Osmo Active Hydration), set out my tracking devices to acquire satellite signal, turned on my Garmin and attached it to my bike, double checked that no one had moved my T1 and T2 bags and then went into the parking garage to get my wetsuit on in solitude.

getting wetsuit on
Not my best side…getting the wetsuit on is always a struggle.  Photo courtesy of Sue Fink
Racing with Tim Jenks...gone, but never forgotten!!
Racing with Tim Jenks…gone, but never forgotten!!  Photo courtesy of Sue Fink

The spectators were already getting themselves lined on the helix (ramp to the parking garage) when we walked down to the swim start.  The fan support in Wisconsin is like no other Ironman (except maybe Kona, but I don’t have experience racing there)!!  Sue and Michele took our morning clothes bags and we parted ways at the bottom of the helix knowing we would see them really soon as we exited the swim.

fan support helix
Fan support on the helix is AMAZING!!  Photo courtesy of Lora Bierbaum

As we filtered through the swim start area by 6:40 am, we saw Lora and Allen.  It was so great to see them and get one last hug from each of them before walking down the boat ramp and submerging ourselves into the water.

swim entry fun
Who’s ready to have fun today?!?!?!  I am 🙂  Photo courtesy of Lora Bierbaum
swim entry
Photo courtesy of Lora Bierbaum


Ironman Wisconsin is a floating swim start, so we found our place in the water with about 15 minutes until the cannon would sound for all of us age group athletes to start our day.  At 6:50 am, we heard the cannon sound for the professional triathletes to start their day.  As we floated, the voice of Mike Reilly only solidified my positive feelings about the day to come, “The only thing you have control over today is your attitude.  When doubts creep into your mind, you can control whether you allow them to take over your day, or squash them and keep yourself positive.  Think of this as a really long training day with 2800 of your close friends and you get full service, including catering.  You will be an Ironman today!!”

Those are people in the water ready to start swimming...not seaweed or birds
Those are people in the water ready to start swimming…not seaweed or birds like some might think.  Photo courtesy of Lora Bierbaum

Right before 7:00 am, the Iron Hippie and I gave each other one last good luck kiss before the cannon sounded and the swimming frenzy began.

In 2011 when we participated in Ironman Wisconsin, the swim was a two loop course, but it has been changed to just one really big loop.

Screen Shot 2014-09-12 at 7.07.15 PMWhen the cannon sounded, I immediately found myself in a smooth and easy “gear.”  I felt like I could swim forever.  That feeling was short lived…I soon found myself among LOTS of other swimmers.  Many people did not properly seed themselves…instead, they started a bit too far forward for how slow they swim.  I swam over some people who were slower than I was and others who continually zig-zagged across the water…take a few seconds and site people!!  I was only in this congestion for the first leg of the swim, but that was long enough.  Thankfully I remained calm and never panicked…keep a positive attitude, Kecia 😉

Swim frenzy :)
Swim frenzy 🙂  Photo courtesy of Lora Bierbaum

As I approached the first turn buoy, I lifted my head just briefly to hear all of the swimmers “moo” in true Ironman Wisconsin tradition…but no one was “mooing.”  I was very disappointed, so I put my head back in the water and rounded the turn buoy.  As I turned my head to breathe, I yelled, “moo” hoping to remind those around me of this awesome tradition.  I continued on to turn buoy #2, where I was immediately freed from the chains of swim congestion.  At this point, I decided to take advantage of the open water around me and swim full speed ahead.

After some time, I rounded turn buoy #3 and shortly after that #4.  I was on the home stretch to the swim exit!!  I saw a volunteer on a stand-up paddle board nearby, so I asked her what time it was, but she did not have a watch.  She thought we may have been swimming for about 1 hour.  WHAT?!?!?!  I remained calm and just kept swimming.  As I approached the last few buoys indicating the swim exit, I started to kick a bit more to get the blood flowing in my legs since I would soon be standing on them.  I also noticed the swim congestion pick up again, but I continued to remain calm.  I swam full speed ahead until my hand touched the bottom of the boat ramp.  I stood up, ran out of the water, and took off the top of my wetsuit as I ran to the nearest wetsuit stripper I could find.  I laid down on the ground, the awesome gentleman quickly pulled my wetsuit off, helped me stand up and sent me on my way toward the helix.  As I approached the bottom of the helix, I saw Sue, Michele, Lora and Allen all cheering me on.  I asked them what time it was and Allen responded with, “8:23.”  WHAT?!?!?!?  I just set a new PR on the swim, but didn’t know my exact swim time.  WHOOP!! WHOOP!!  What a great start to my day 🙂

Photo courtesy of Lora Bierbaum
Photo courtesy of Lora Bierbaum

Transition 1 (T1):

I jogged nice and easy up the helix and went into Monona Terrace where I grabbed my T1 bag…went into the change room, ate a homemade Cheerio bar and drank some water while I did a full change.

T1 bags (this photo was taken when we dropped our bags off on Saturday).  Photo courtesy of Lora Bierbaum
T1 bags (this photo was taken when we dropped our bags off on Saturday). Photo courtesy of Lora Bierbaum
Women's Change
Women’s Change…Photo courtesy of Lora Bierbaum

All of the volunteers were busy helping other athletes, but eventually one came to help me.  If you have never been in T1 (either as a participant or volunteer) you don’t know what you’re missing!!!!!  After thanking the volunteer who helped me, I exited Monona Terrace and ran to my bike.  Since my bike was near the bike exit, I knew I had a long way to go from the change area to my bike.  I decided to carry my shoes with me and put them on at my bike.  An awesome volunteer got my bike for me while I put my shoes on.  I put my tracker on and ran with my bike across the timing mat where I met the mount line and the start of a whole new adventure…the Bike 😉

Swim Time:  1:21:52…A PR by 9:53 🙂

T1:  14:15

20 thoughts on “Ironman Wisconsin Pre-Race and Swim

  1. Kudos to you and that swim PR…impressive! Even though you may have not known your exact time, you knew you had started the day off really strong! Way to go!

  2. Nerves only get in the way! 🙂 You had trained hard and was ready to go!!! Awesome swim!! I am glad you were positive and smiling! You swam great with a 9 minute PR!! Yay!! Rock Star!!
    Did you like the single loop better than the 2 loops?!

    1. Thanks Leslie!! I felt like there was a lot less congestion with the single loop than the two loops since the pros and most of the fast age groupers caught up with me on by the end of the 2nd loop. The back stretch is long, but so much less congestion 😉

  3. I didn’t hear anyone moo, either! What’s up with that?! Congrats on a stellar swim, Kecia, and a HUGE PR! Setting yourself up for a GREAT day indeed 🙂

  4. How were you NOT anxious at all??? I get super nervous the morning of the race, which actually helps me a lot. I love the feeling of adrenaline and nerves zipping through my body. It sounds like you stayed in a prime location! What gorgeous weather you had too! What did you think of the mass swim start (I got the impression that it wasn’t a wave start)? That transition area looks legit – I can’t wait to experience that one day.

    1. On race morning, I focus on having fun and staying focused. I think the only reason I don’t get nervous is because I have done this so many times. I use to get REALLY nervous at the start of a triathlon 🙂 I love the mass swim start. Floating in the water is definitely the way to go and you know you are ahead/behind others when you come out of the water. 🙂

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