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Preparing for Ironman WI with WiBA

One of our good friends, Doran O'Brien is preparing for Ironman Wisconsin.  He found a free, three day prep event and sent us this wonderful write-up.  Enjoy!

by Doran O'Brien

With Ironman Wisconsin in 5 short weeks, I had decided to do some hands on research about the course. Someone from my Triathlon Club, mentioned a 3 day event that does just this. It's called WiBA, Wisconsin Brick Adventure (pronounced wee-ba). Surprisingly, it's a completely free weekend with a request for donations. You are responsible for your own lodging and food of course, but all the day's events are prescheduled with each discipline as a focus. 

This year was the largest participant year they have ever had, over 200+ had signed up. Friday night was a meet and greet at Smokehouse BBQ in downtown Madison. We met other athletes participating in the weekend (about 50 people showed up), shared a meal, and had a brief presentation from the even host Rob. We also had the opportunity to hear from the IMWI race director Ryan Richards, who surprisingly has never done a triathlon (no joke). He is a shorter, stocky fella, with a full red beard. He looked more like a beer brewer than an IM race director. Having him at our disposal for Q and A was great. He walked us through a course overview and opened it up to questions. Very helpful information that I wouldn't have known otherwise. After some good laughs, a couple of beers, some pulled pork and mac-n-cheese, it was off to bed.

The next morning we all met at the IMWI swim start on Lake Monona. Two waves of swimmers either started at 6:00am or 7:00am. Rob set up two waves for safety purposes, he wanted enough kayaks in the water per swim wave. These are all volunteers mind you, which is pretty cool. They had buoys set up with a rough idea on the swim course. I ended up doing about 2 miles of the 2.4 mile swim, the water temp was in the mid 70s and very calm. This helped get an idea of the surroundings for sight lines, starting strategies, and exit view points. It was a good morning.
Now, off to the bike. There were two options. You could ride from Madison and complete the course in its entirety or meet in Verona at Rocket Bicycle Studio. I chose to start in Madison, ride the 16 miles to Verona, and at least complete one of the loops around Verona before heading back to Madison. I did just that, biking 78 miles! The course going out to Verona is a nice warm up before the hills in Verona, and oh boy are there hills. 

Here is a Strava map of the course, check out the elevation changes . The bike ride was unsupported, which was fine. During the entire time I was out there, I could always see another cyclist. Cue sheets were available, but you didn't need them. With all the bikers and arrows painted on the roads, it was easy to stay on course. The loop around Verona was technical, with many twists and turns, changing gears, and keeping a watchful eye for cars. With all the athletes on the roads, some motorists were not very nice, there were a lot of bikers. After the bike, you were invited to a cookout with brats and burgers in Verona (a $20 donation was suggested). I opted to not attend the cookout, but rather went back to the hotel for a beer, a shower, and some grub in Madison. I think I made the right call, plus I slept like a baby.

Sunday morning was time to run. We met at the Monona Terrace parking helix (the location for T1 and T2), it was already hot at 7:00am. You had the option of running the entire 26.2 mile course (minus running through Camp Randal, which you do on race day), or bite off as much as you would like to chew. I bit off 10 miles, the heat was too much for me without fluids (I didn't plan very well in that regard). The run course is fairly flat, some hills (biggest climb is less than 100 feet), with a few turns on the city streets. I've heard the spectators during the run is epic, I'll need it come race day.

I've been kept challenged by Ben Jonjak regarding activity and weight loss, it's been a huge help for sure. My goal weight for IM was 250lbs or less, I've got 20lbs to go in 5 weeks. It's a tall order, but I think if I keep focused it is attainable. My swim is strong, the bike is getting better, and the run will be the biggest challenge for sure. September 7th will be here soon and my only goal is to finish by the midnight cutoff and hear the announcer and crowd say, "YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!!"

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