Lynn Vogt First Ironman
TR: Can you share with us a quick background of yourself and how you got into triathlon?
Lynn: I started swimming for exercise and to lose weight when I was 39. I’m 66 now. About that same time, a Masters Swim group formed in Des Moines and I joined them. Most of the group was triathletes and I evolved into triathlon by first picking up the bike and then I began running a couple years later. I was very active in triathlon throughout the 1990’s doing five to seven races per season. That continued until the spring of 2002 when I broke a bone in the ball of my foot. The broken bone was buried in tendons and since it wouldn’t get blood flow, my podiatrist said it would most likely never heal. At that time I gave up running and focused on biking. To complete the story, in September of 2011 my oldest daughter told me that she and her husband had signed up for Ironman Wisconsin. I thought about it overnight and decided that if I had trouble running, I could always walk the marathon and would still have enough time to complete the race within the 17 hour time limit. The next morning when I attempted to sign up, registration was closed. In 2012 I realized how badly I missed triathlon while I supported my daughter and son-in-law on the IM Wisconsin course. I also wanted to race with them, so we picked 2014 as the year to do Wisconsin together. We did shorter races in 2013 with the longest one being Superiorman in Duluth.
TR:How are you feeling following Ironman Wisconsin?
Lynn: The general rule is that you take one day off for every hour that you spent on the course. I did not do anything the first week following Wisconsin. My legs were a little sore for several days, but by Thursday after the race they were feeling normal. The second week after, my coach said that I could do some light workouts, but as soon as I felt tired or had any pain I should immediately stop. I went for a mile fast walk a week after the race and felt ok. I spent the next week doing some short, easy swimming, biking and running. By the third week after Ironman, I was probably back to 80% of my top condition.
TR:Tell us about the experience; was this your first Ironman?
Lynn: This was my first Ironman distance race. I had supported my daughter and son-in-law in 2012 and volunteered in 2013 so I knew the volunteer and crowd support on this course was special. The race organizers claim that there are 75,000 people out cheering on race day. I don’t know if that number is correct, but there are people everywhere on the bike and run courses. Since your race bib has your first name on it, most people are calling out your name as they cheer for you on the run. I can’t say enough on how much this helps you keep your mind away from the negative thoughts. In addition to the volunteers and spectators, there were ten of my family and friends racing IM WI. I didn’t see much of them all day until the run, but that also helped make the run a little less painful.
I had done two half distance races this year in preparation. Mostly I did the halves to test my nutrition and hydration plans – especially hydration. I sweat far more than the average person and I have trouble at times managing my sodium intake. I also wanted to test the nutrition plan to see if I could consume my planned calorie intake and not have stomach issues. The weather for race day was near perfect. The air temperature was about 50 degrees and the water was 73. Winds were calm and the sky was clear. Later, to start the run, the temperature was near 85 degrees.
IM Wisconsin is an in the water start. I did not anticipate how long it would take to get approximately 2800 people in the water and since I was near the back of the line to get into the water, I did not have much time to tread water before the cannon went off. I was completely surrounded by people and boxed in for most of the first ¾ mile of the swim. I wasn’t able to stretch out my stroke until after that. The rest of the swim was good and I tried to stay relaxed and not push too hard as the day was just beginning. After you exit the water, volunteers help strip your wetsuit and then you run four stories up a parking ramp helix and into Monona Terrace to your swim to bike transition bag.
The bike course for IM Wisconsin is anything but flat and you constantly make shifting decisions. The course leaves downtown Madison and heads out to Verona. From there it loops to Mt. Horeb, then to Cross Plains, and back to Verona where you start a second loop. Basically, the second time you get to Verona you have completed your warmup. If you are going hard before this point, you probably won’t have enough left for the run. The third time you get to Verona, you turn away and head back to Madison. I think the only flat part of the course was about a mile outside of Cross Plains. The rest of the time you are either on false flats or hills. There are a number of hills that are very steep and I ended up being in my smallest gear (34×30) just to keep a spin going. I didn’t want to push the hills hard as I have a tendency to cramp in the later miles if I do that. I had ridden the two loops around Verona in 2013 the day before the race, and I rode them again over the 4th of July weekend with family and friends. I also did a long weekend in Madison the 1st weekend in August so I could ride the course again. Due to the hills and the technical nature in a couple of spots, I would recommend at least one pre-ride for anyone that is signed up to do this race.
As you arrive back in transition and get to the dismount line, volunteers take your bike from you and they return the bike to the bike racks. I went into Monona Terrace and retrieved my bike to run transition bag and changed clothes. Volunteers in the transition areas help you unpack your run gear and repack the bag with your bike gear. Exiting transition I headed into unknown territory. My longest run to that point had been 18 miles and that was not after a bike ride. I had only done two runs over 13.1 miles so I didn’t know how I would react to a marathon after 112 miles on the bike. It felt like I was going slow to start the marathon but it turned out that I was going faster than my planned pace. My plan was to walk all of the aid stations and at least one of the hills known as Obseratory Hill. Observatory Hill is one of those where you don’t see the top of the hill when you start up the bottom of the hill. I had not previewed the course so my first thought was “this isn’t as bad as I’d been hearing”. Once you see the second half of the hill my thought was “this is just plain cruel”. The second half of the hill is reported to be 17% grade. Except for that hill, the rest of the run was flat to rolling type hills. The run is a two loop run. The worst part of that is when you get within 1-1/2 blocks of the finish line and you look straight down the street at it then you do a 180 and go back out for your second 13 miles. I had a little intestinal distress for the first three miles of the run, so I had stopped eating for most of the first half of the run. That caught up with me the second 13 miles and I started slowing down more and more each of the last six miles. I made it to the last aid station – about a mile from the finish before the volunteers handed me a glow stick to wear.
TR: You recorded a 13:50:21 and how did that measure up to your expectations?
Lynn: I had made a race plan for IM Wisconsin and set a number of goals. First and foremost – finish. Second – enjoy the day and stay in the moment. I also had a sub-goal of getting out on the run before the first Pro finished (Check). My swim goal was 1:16:00, my bike goal was 6:20:00 and my run goal was 6:00:00 and throwing in time for transition my overall goal was 13:58:00. My actual times were: 1:11:22 swim, 6:25:15 bike, and 5:55:05 run. So, I’m pleased that I was able to follow the race plan, had no major disruptions to my race, and no big issues with my body.
TR: Was Kona the target entering into Ironman Wisconsin?
Lynn: Before the race I was fairly certain that a 13:58:00 would not stand up for first place, so my focus stayed on my race and I didn’t think about where anyone else in my age group was at. I did think a place in the top five on the podium was possible but I didn’t dream that I would finish first and qualify for Kona in my first Ironman.
TR: What emotions were going through you when you came through the finish?
Lynn: Crossing the finish line was thrilling to say the least. As I came down the finish chute, I pumped my fist in the air about 50 yards out and noticed the crowd reacted with an increase in cheering. So I did it again to see if I would get the same reaction. Yep. Then as I came to the finish line, Mike Reilly announces: “Lynn Vogt, from Ankeny, Iowa, YOU … ARE … AN IRONMAN!” It doesn’t get any better than that.
TR: How much faster do you think you can go, and where would those improvements be?
Lynn: I have started to look at the answers to this question and think that I can knock an hour off my time if I were to do Wisconsin again. Perhaps a little more than that under the same conditions. I took a very conservative approach to the bike since I didn’t know how my body would react to the run. And, with a slight modification to my bike nutrition plan, I shouldn’t have to spend 20 minutes in the kybos during the first three miles of the run.
TR: What do you plan to do during the off season?
Lynn: Right now, I’m doing some lower intensity swim, bike, and run workouts just to stay in shape. Until six months ago, core strength wasn’t part of my training, so I plan to continue that and hopefully improve this winter. I’m going to try Jeff Galloway’s Run/Walk/Run method for the upcoming IMT half marathon and then incorporate that into my long run training next year. That should be of great benefit in the last half of the marathon. I probably won’t get too intense with my training until after the first of the year.
TR: How do you plan to prep for the Ironman World Championships in 2015? What is the goal?
Lynn: I plan to do something similar to this year in 2015. I have a friend in the Twin Cities that is a certified tri coach. She got me to the IM Wisconsin start line fully prepared – physically and mentally, and injury free. I didn’t lose any training time during buildup due to injury and I give her a lot of credit for that so I will use her services again next year. I haven’t fully decided on next year’s race schedule, but I am thinking I’ll do Ironman Kansas 70.3 in June and the Duluth Superiorman in August as part of my buildup.
The race plan for Kona hasn’t been developed. I know that the ocean swim will be slower; the bike is rollers with a climb at halfway point and the wind can blow up to 60 mph on parts of the course; the run can be very tough with the high heat and humidity. Like Wisconsin, my main goal in Kona is to finish. To be out on the course with the world’s best will be something to savor.
TR: Is there anything else we should know?
Lynn: Ironman Wisconsin has a tremendous reputation for the crowds and support. In addition, I had friends and family both supporting and racing. In all my years of doing triathlon, I haven’t had that many friends and family out doing one or the other on race day. That made it really special for me. During the Championship Slot Rolldown ceremony the day after the race, my friends and family cheered when Mike Reilly announced my name for the slot. When I stood and accepted the slot they cheered again. Mike said, “That’s quite a support group you have there. Are you taking them to Kona?” Before I could answer, they all yelled “Yes!”
Somehow I’m going to have to get over the fact that a group numbering over a dozen of my family and friends are going to be relaxing and drinking beer while I’m out on the course next October.
Thanks for the opportunity to share my story.