Ironman Wisconsin 2019 – #6

Just like my day-before race day Instagram post, I have nothing brilliant to say going in. This is a lengthy one, so let’s just dive in!

Race day conditions

55-66 degrees, cool, cloudy, 30% chance of rain, gloomy.


1:19:42 – 2:04/100
Fuel: Breakfast at 5:30am of granola with almond milk and half a banana.

What the hell was that Lake Monona? When I was done with morning bike set up I made my way down the helix and could see quite a bit of motion on the lake. I voiced my observation of a kayak noticeably rocking from side to side. An Ironworx teammate tried to assure me that it was close to shore and that’s why it looked so bad. Nice try. I knew we were in for a wavy swim!

I lined up behind the 1:15 sign and tried hard to surround myself by pink swim caps (females) but I was surrounded by green. Ladies, where are you at? Come do triathlon with us! Yes, sometimes it’s wavy, but we need more females doing this sport! I found myself sandwiched between green swim caps swimming horizontally, diagonally, all while being pummeled by 2 foot swells. I know, I’m not making this sound inviting, but trust me, it’s fun and you can do this!


In the past I’ve always enjoyed the swim, seeing the beautiful Madison skyline to the left, the sun rising, and crowds, and the excitement of beginning our day. In this swim I was becoming easily frustrated at the crazy swimming coming and going in every angle with a lot of contact and looking for space. And I missed the sun this year. I’m a big fan of sunshine. I thrive on it. A gloomy day feels like the winter blues to me.

The long stretch after the second turn buoy felt like forever, as usual! I couldn’t see the buoys above the waves, and I was positive that they had floated away.  We were probably going to swim an additional half a mile, (the stories we make up while swimming for forever). I prepared myself to see my slowest Ironman swim time yet, but was pleasantly surprised with a 1:19:42, just seconds slower than last year’s time!



6:31:23 – 17.17mph
Fuel: 2 bottles water, 2 bottles Tailwind, 5 Kings Hawaiian rolls with peanut butter, 6 packages of Honey Stinger gummies,

Before I got on the bike, I put on entirely too many layers in T1, taking almost ten minutes! Again, I wasn’t a fan of the cooler temperature this year. I was shivering cold at the swim start waiting to get into the water. I did not trust that it would be warm enough for the first hour or so of the bike ride. I started with winter gloves, which I never ride in because when it’s winter I ride indoors. Gloves were a new challenge, causing me to lose my first Kings Hawaiian roll at mile one. Fck! I thankfully had a spare Gu in my pocket just in case something like that happened. The gloves were tossed at the first aid station and I grabbed a banana knowing I lost approximately 200 calories in dropping that roll at mile one!


The next thing that went wrong was my chain dropped during the first decent of the rolling hills on Messerschmit Road. I had to think quick, do I stop now to fix, or let the momentum take me? I let it take me to approximately a quarter up the next roller and pulled over, fixing the drop very quickly. The problem was clipping back in on an uphill, as other riders were zooming up with their momentum that I just lost. I took this mishap as a sign to slow down and relax.

I learned in my training to take it easy for the first loop of this course. Do not attack hills, do not chase others passing, just relax, settle and enjoy. I stuck to my plan, had fun on the second loop and felt great. It was fun to see friends out on the course cheering along with excited spectators in silly costumes. There was a touch of headwind here and there, but after Ironman 70.3 Ohio it was a piece of cake! My main goal on the ride was to see a 17 in my average at the finish, which motivated me to keep working to the end!

Fuel strategy:

  • Started with one bottle of water and one bottle of TailWind on the bike
  • Started with 4 Kings Hawaiian rolls in my back pockets, 3 packages of Honey Stinger gummies in my bento box.
  • I take in 3 gummies and water every time my Garmin beeps a 5 mile split. I eat a Kings Hawaiian roll every 90 minutes: Leaving T1, then 1:30, 3:00, 4:30, 6:00.
  • At Bike Specials Needs (mile 56) I had a pre-mixed bottle of TailWind ready to go. I left my empty bottle there and took the new bottle. I also had a sealed water bottle to refill my plain water bottle. I restocked my back pockets with Kings Hawaiian roll supply here too.
  • As I was switching out water bottles I kindly instructed my Bike Special Needs volunteer to open the three new packages of Honey Stinger gummies and put them in my bento box. I give myself 4 minutes tops at Special Needs, treating it like a penalty tent. I got out in a record 2 minutes!

I did hit a little wall around mile 85 and couldn’t figure out what my body needed, as I was taking in fuel and water throughout. I tried a lick of Base Salt and that seemed to do the trick! I rode strong back into Madison, smiling from ear to ear seeing that I would PR the bike course by over 20 minutes!



4:38, 10:38 pace
Fuel: Started with 4 Gu packs in my pocket to take every 45 minutes, with 2 more in Special Needs. Ran most of the first half with a coconut Bai water bottle in hand, plus a new bottle waiting for me at Special Needs.

In hindsight, I did not execute a fuel strategy for the run. In just typing above what I had, I realize I didn’t stick to an every 45 minute strategy for Gu. I started running somewhat reckless with sub 9s for the first two miles, but, they are mostly downhill. Last year I negative split the run and have trained myself to do it again. With negative splits in mind, I walked the hills and started walking the aid stations around mile 5 during the first loop. At the half way turnaround I was ecstatic with a 2:15 half! I took off onto the second half smiling thinking I had it in the bag.



My gut had other ideas. I had painful gut discomfort, likely gas that wouldn’t release and I’m too stubborn to visit a porto-potty unless I absolutely 100% have to go. I didn’t have to go, so I kept trying to run, but mostly walking. I watched my splits dip into the high tens, then elevens, twelves, and even had to walk the out and back through State Street for the first time. In every past year I’ve always enjoyed running up and down State Street and soaking in the energy from the crowds. It was a run-walk-shuffle from miles 15 to 23. At mile 23 my Garmin read 4:05. I was shooting for a 4:30 marathon finish. It was enough motivation to make me run through the gut pain to the finish as quickly as possible.

In the last two miles I noticed all the lights turning on as daylight slipped away. My pie in the sky goal was to finish in daylight. Earlier in the day I had already accepted that this day was not my day for daylight. It was gloomy all day and that’s not my cup of tea. My daylight finish is reserved for a future sunshiny day. This was my day to practice racing strong, smart and “collecting cookies”, also known as moving further up in the rankings. Most importantly, this was a day to be grateful for the ability and privilege to finish my sixth Ironman Wisconsin.

Screen Shot 2019-09-09 at 7.58.58 PM



Running towards those bright lights (damn the lost daylight!) and loud noises at the finish chute was a relief this year. I achieved 21 minute PRs on both the bike and run, along with a 41 minute finish PR. Plus I joined the 12-hour club! There is no unfinished business for this season. It was all left out there, yet has me eager for training in the future!

Thank yous

Volunteers – thank you, thank you, thank you.

Spectators – Your cheers do not go unnoticed, even if I have running-bitch face!

Virtual spectators – Your messages, wisdom, tips, encouragement are carried with me through training and in race day. It helps. Thank you!

Ironworx Multisport – Having a team to lean on during training and race day is a huge boost. It’s a team where friends feel like family.

Coeur Sports – The community and friendships I’ve gained from this brand mean the world to me.

John – Sorry you lost your voice screaming all day. I’ll be screaming all day for you in 2020!


  1. This leaves me with all the chills + heart flutters! I’m SO FREAKIN’ PROUD of YOU! Leaving the daylight finish for a future race will be that carrot that you just may need on that day in the future. While you may not have seen the sunshine in the sky, you were the sunshine to so many others and continue to be! Hugs girl! xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Congratulations and well done Steena! You looked so strong and amazing throughout the course and you inspire so many by sharing this Thank you and again Great job!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s