Ironman Wisconsin Training Weekend

Thursday afternoon we set out for Madison, Wisconsin at about 1 pm for our own training camp weekend. We absolutely LOVE Madison and would move there in a heartbeat if we had good jobs…Maybe it is time to start working on making this dream become a reality!

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After arriving at our host home (thank you Chris for your wonderful hospitality and friendship!!), we grabbed dinner at the Great Dane in Fitchburg and prepared for a LONG day of exercising on Friday.

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Friday we set out to ride “the IMWI loop” 3 times. We parked at the Park and Ride on Old County Highway PB and were wheels on at 6:30 am. Our only goal was to finish the 3 loops, so we didn’t set any record breaking speeds. The first part of the loop was pretty uneventful. We made it through Mt. Horeb and out to Witte Road (which we refer to as ribbon road). After descending Garfoot, we encountered some light rain as we entered Cross Plains. This is where we encountered our first snafu…road construction. We stopped to look at a map and figure out how to get around the construction. During this time, a local man (out walking) told us we could “go through the construction. Bikes go through there all the time.” So, we decided to head that direction and we would turn back around if needed. It had stopped raining by the time we got to the construction site. We stopped and talked with the construction crew and told them we were from out of town and what the local man had told us. The crew leader told us we could get through this time, but we should take an alternative route the next two times through. She also told us there was a state trooper sitting farther up the road writing tickets to people who didn’t abide by the “Road Closed” signs, but we wouldn’t be going that direction. We thanked them and continued on. We made our way up the three bitches…Old Sauk Pass, Timberline (AKA…Cell Tower Hill), and Midtown, then back into Verona. Loop #1 was a success…41 miles done!!

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Ribbon Road!!
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The view at the top of Garfoot.
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Having fun on the first loop!!

This is when we learned of the new Ironman Wisconsin bike course because the road construction is supposed to continue through the middle of October. Thanks to SBR with Rocket Bikes in Verona for posting this information on Facebook for us to refer to!

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The new IMWI bike course

So loop#2 would be different from the first one. How different?! Let’s find out! The first part of the course is the same through Mt. Horeb, out to Witte Road and down Garfoot. This is where things change. Instead of going into Cross Plains, we now turn right on Observatory Road. I have experience with roads in Wisconsin labeled “Observatory Road” and none of them are easy climbs, but the views are usually spectacular!

No easy climb follows a sign that says "Observatory Road"!
No easy climb follows a sign that says “Observatory Road”!

We quickly turned off of Observatory Road and onto Barlow…this is where things got tough…real tough! Barlow is no joke! It is about 2 miles of hill climbs in a step format. This is when the rain started again…just in time for us to start climbing. It starts off gradual, and then builds to 17% and continues to build to about 21% at it’s steepest point. I wanted to get off my bike and walk up the hill and cry, but I saw my “Believe” tattoo on my arm and forged ahead. Thankfully we only do this hill one time for Ironman Wisconsin. I’m certain there will be people who walk this hill on race day and others who burn themselves up on this hill for the remainder of the day. As this loop continues, the road surfaces are decent (not like Stagecoach road for those of you familiar with that rough surface) and there are more hills on Maurer shortly before climbing Midtown…it is Wisconsin where hills are a expected! We then made our way back into Verona and to the Park and Ride so we could reload our bottles and fuel. Loop #2 was done and a success…about 86 miles done!

Looking down Barlow...this doesn't do it justice since you can't see the bottom!
Looking down Barlow…this doesn’t do it justice since you can’t see the bottom!

We set off for Loop #3, which would be a bit different from the first two. The first part of the loop is the same as the others, so we made our way to Mt. Horeb and out onto Witte Road, were we took a short break to get off the bike and refuel before continuing on our way.

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After leaving Witte Road, this time we turned right on Mineral Point Road and immediately climbed a decent sized hill. This loop meets up with the later part of loop #2 that we did today and continues on the same route as that loop. The same hills on Maurer lead into Midtown and back into Verona. We didn’t encounter any rain this loop, and arrived back to the car with 125 miles and 6847 feet of climbing. We quickly put the bikes in the car, changed our shoes and set off for an hour run around Verona (not on the IMWI race course).

125 miles and 6847 feet of climbing later...
125 miles and 6847 feet of climbing later…

We ran on some beautiful trails and had to loop back to the car for some nutrition part way through the run so we could continue on…HUNGRY!! When the hour was up, I was so happy to have 125 tough miles on the bike followed by 6 miles of running under my belt!! I loved running in my new Coeur Sports Zele kit!! #stylishspeed and super comfy!!

Happy to be done with a tough and awesome training day!
Happy to be done with a tough and awesome training day!

Saturday we started the day with the Shoreline 2.4 mile open water swim in Lake Monona. It was a small event, with lots of support. The race was a 1.2 mile loop (the original IMWI swim course) that the 2.4 mile swimmers did twice before exiting the water. The water was about 79F, so it was not wetsuit legal, but optional. The Iron Hippie and I opted for no wetsuit. If it were race day, we wouldn’t wear our wetsuit, so we might as well practice without it today. I was a bit worried about how my body would hold up today after such a BIG workout yesterday, but I was completely comfortable in the water! The back side of the rectangle was a bit choppy, but nothing that caused me to panic. This wasn’t my fastest swim, but it wasn’t my slowest either…with no wetsuit and a very tired body, I was pleased with my efforts. I finished at the EXACT same time as the Iron Hippie (we saw each other as we turned the last swim buoy and swam it in together) in a time of 1:42:27. That put me at 14/20 in my age group, 43/56 women, and 98/117 overall.

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We followed this swim up with running one loop of the IMWI run course (13.1 miles). It was a beautiful morning for a run! We had to make a few creative route adjustments because we can’t run in Camp Randall football stadium until race day since it is closed to the public and we opted to not run around the Capitol square on the return back to the car because of the VERY LARGE and amazing Farmer’s Market.

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IMWI run course

We did walk up Observatory Drive and we periodically walked to drink from our hand held water bottles, but otherwise we kept moving. It felt really good to have this run done and our own Ironman Training Camp complete! We had thought about riding one more loop of the bike course on Sunday, but we were so exhausted we decided sleep was much more important before driving back home.

This is what happy looks like after a successful Ironman Wisconsin training camp!
This is what happy looks like after a successful Ironman Wisconsin training camp!
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Love him!!
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Not our fastest run, but I definitely felt I could have kept going, and possibly even faster than this. Let’s put that to the test on race day!

It is always awesome to get to train on the race course (even though we have done this race 2 other times before and have trained on it many times in years past). This was a huge confidence builder for race day in just over 5 weeks! I LOVE the challenge of the Wisconsin course…and it IS challenging!! Madison will always have my heart!!

Have you ever done a training camp? If so, what was your favorite part? 

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9 thoughts on “Ironman Wisconsin Training Weekend

  1. It looks like a beautiful area! Well done on the all the training-you sure are committed 😉 I’ve never done any kind of training camp, but when my in-laws come visit next month I’m hoping to sneak away for a night with my bike to do a fun ride somewhere.

  2. Awesome weekend!! I wish I could see the course before the race!! I had no idea they changed the course until you said it. I checked FB immediately(after I ready this the other night) and the comments are so funny. I am definitely nervous but there is nothing I can do about it but keep training on the hills!! 🙂 I understand that the loop is different but is it 2 loops(they are both different?) or is it just a different loop we do twice??
    Great swim too. Good practice without a wetsuit!!

    1. Thanks Leslie! It is now two different loops, so we only have to do the hill on Barlow once. Don’t worry about that big climb. You will be totally fine! I may walk it (even though I know I can ride it), just to conserve and prevent an accident with other riders all over the road. We’ll see how crowded it is on race day!

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