IRONMAN WISCONSIN – SEPTEMBER 10, 2006
I know. Most stories don’t start with a postlogue. But some of you watched Ironman Wisconsin live on the internet Sunday, waiting for the three of us to finish. Others were expecting a detailed, photo- and video-infused race report from Dave early Monday morning and were greeted instead with silence. And others of you have heard some, but perhaps not all, of the dramatic events that unfolded in Madison this past weekend. For you, I cut to the chase and to the only important part: he’s conscious, he should be getting out of the hospital soon, and he should recover fully.
Now, back to the story . . .
In light of the outcome of this year’s race, a debate will no doubt ensue as to whose stupid idea this was. All I know is that I did an Ironman in 2004 and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. At some point in time, Chad and Dave were ready to commit with me to Round Two. We pondered race locations for a while. I offered up Wisconsin as a possibility, given its driving proximity, but I clearly warned that its bike course was brutally hilly and that the run was likewise far from flat. But Wisconsin became the group decision. Over a round of Bloody Mary’s, we signed up in September 2005. Over the next year, we would spend countless hours preparing for the race, discussing the race, and training for the race. For me, sharing this part of the adventure with two great friends was most memorable. And we made lots of new friends along the way. Personally, the stress and anxiety of Ironman is that you put so much time and money into it, and divert so much time and energy away from other things that matter more in the long run, you’ve got to make it count. In my book, the only way to fail is to not show up or quit. But with this group, I knew neither would occur. In fact, when someone asked us about Dave’s prospects for finishing, Chad correctly responded that, “Shultz is the type of guy who would crawl 10 miles just to finish.”
Dave, Chad, and I arrived in Madison on Thursday and unpacked our boxes of stuff in the University Inn, a place Dave quickly dubbed “The Dumpy Stone.” Why, I don’t know. But this place should be condemned and leveled. Truly awful. But it’s just a hotel; we planned on spending most of the time in the gorgeous late summer sun of Madison. We ate a nice dinner, along with a few beers, at the Great Dane. Then to bed.
On Friday, we arose to nice weather, grabbed a powerful cup of local brew, headed down to the Monona Terrace Convention Center, which would be the hub and transition area for the race, and began the registration process. We then dropped several hundred dollars on souvenirs for a race that we had not even started (a jinx perhaps?). But just being at the epicenter of the Ironman brought back memories of why I enjoy this race so much. It’s basically an entire block of nothing but Ironman. You quickly realize where your $425 entry fee went. We eyed the swim course from the fourth-floor terrace overlooking the water. It looked quite daunting, especially considering that we’d have to do two laps. We grabbed some lunch, then headed back to the D-Stone to sort, mark, and organize gear and double- and triple-check our bikes. We attended the pre-race dinner at the Terrace, along with thousands of others. It was a lot of hype, but fun and worth the time and effort. Then, off to bed. Unfortunately, downtown Madison doesn’t sleep at 10:00 p.m. Or at 2:00 a.m. The Dumpy Stone was conveniently located about 15 feet from one of Madison’s loudest and most raucous outdoor college bars. Great.
By Saturday, our relatives had arrived. My wife and mom were there, Chad’s mom and step dad were there, and Dave convinced his wife, two kids, and mother to join us. Dave was surprised that evening at dinner when his brother Doug showed up unexpectedly. In retrospect, it really is amazing that peo