VIDEO: Ironman Wisconsin 2014 Swim Start

Ironman Wisconsin Swim Start has fascinated me for the last 3 years.  Last year I swam, this year I captured it all on video.

Below is a little preview of a video I’m working on for Ironman Wisconsin that will include swim, bike, and run.

Please follow me on Twitter @miketarrolly or get emails of my posts by signing up on this blog.  The full video should be finished in the next week or so.

The Ironman “Lifestyle” – Guest Blog

I have been eagerly awaiting this written piece for two years, which is ironic, because without him . . . Crushing Iron may not exist.  I am excited to release the debut post from the man who got me into endurance training, Jim Schwan.  

Not only is Jim a great friend, I would not be where I am in triathlon without his support, insight, and patience.  He’ll be on the course at Ironman Maryland this weekend and taking a new training strategy along for the ride.

Time to Put My “Lifestyle” to the Test  -  Jim Schwan  

JimlifeRevFinishI wasn’t going to do an Ironman this year.  Too many life changes to think about dedicating the time and effort into 6+ months of training.

The problem with that plan was 2-fold.  First, some of my closest friends were all planning to race and either directly or indirectly putting pressure on me to make the race commitment.  And second, I really enjoy the training.

Even before I decided I was going to do a full Ironman this year I knew I was going to spend countless hours in the pool/lake and on the bike.  I mean, could I really lay in bed while Corey, Wasky, Robbie and Tarrolly were logging miles and chiding my laziness?

What became clear to me early in the training season was that I would really have to work my ass off just to keep up with them 241901_4075557724391_823704067_oon the Trace and as much as I enjoy riding with them I really wasn’t that interested in killing myself this season.  Thus, the “Lifestyle” approach was born.

Just putting in the miles.  No tempo work. No pressure.  Just enjoy every workout.

If I wasn’t into it I would cut it short or not start at all.  If I was enjoying myself I would go longer or maybe push a little harder.

In the past I have meticulously tracked my workouts…heart rate, cadence, mph, etc.  I would study and analyze the details.  I was literally sweating the small stuff.

This year the approach couldn’t have been more different.  I wore a HR monitor all of one time.  I only used my cadence monitor when on the trainer and although I would check my speed averages, I didn’t let it dictate how I felt about a workout.  I just put in some miles.

Well, I did eventually pull the trigger and signed up for Ironman Maryland and holy crap . . .It’s race week.  This is the inaugural full IM in Maryland but it uses some of the old Eagleman 70.3 and Chesapeakeman full courses.  Flat, fast and windy.


Mike, Wasky, Jim, and Corey at Rev3

This will be similar to my first iron distance race, which incidentally, was my fastest.  So it is time to put the Lifestyle to the test.

Even though I put in substantially less miles than I ever have for an Iron distance race I have a calm confidence about it.  I am probably under trained but healthier than I have been in 3 years.

My longest swim…3500 yards.  My longest bike…2 Century rides (but well supported and pace lined).  My longest run…14 miles.

I really have no idea if I will PR or finish in 16:59.  I’m going to take this race just as I have taken my training.  If I’m not “feeling” it I will take it easy, take in the scenery, cross the finish line and add a crab to my calf.  If I’m into it and feeling good I will push myself and try to make my 4th iron distance race my fastest. Who knows…maybe there is something to this “Lifestyle.”




After Ironman, Try This . . .

I’ve always believed Europeans, mainly because their societies have been around longer, tend to be ahead of the curve in the search for meaning.  Last night, this post about a trend in European endurance sports reinforced my theory . . . and made me squirm.

The picture below is a scene from ÖTILLÖ , an absolutely bonkers island to island race in Sweeden, which is largely responsible for a trend called “swimrunning.”  The race is essentially one and a half Ironman runs in a wetsuit, and 3 Ironman swims in your running shoes, but it’s so much more than mileage.

Otillo swimrun World Championship

Otillo swimrun World Championship

It’s the furthest thing you can imagine from laying in your aero bars or running through city streets with no change of scenery.  They forge the elements with one eye on your partner, the other on survival.

Over the 2-plus years of my training, most discussions I’ve endured have been about pace or distance.  Rarely what we saw or experienced.

It’s almost impossible for me to swim, bike, or run without knowing my mileage or speed.  I have literally gotten depressed when my Garmin battery died on a run.

The article also talks about the obsession for making a race fit to a certain distance rather than adapt to the terrain.  It reminded me of the controversy at Ironman Chattanooga, where the bike course is four miles longer than a typical Ironman.  Few say anything about where they “get to bike,” it’s all about the distance, time, cutoff and . . . the medal.

Some nights I Google “Most amazing triathlons,” or “Coolest runs” and click through the pictures in awe.  The eery mood of a swim, the wild terrain of mountain trails, the breathtaking views from the bike.  These are the pictures that grab my attention when I’m at a computer, but when I’m in the actual scenery, I tend to look at my watch or 10 feet in front of my face at a hazy mix of concrete and gravel.


1.  suffer (something painful or difficult) patiently.

2.  remain in existence; last.

Exercise gives me that natural high I can’t get enough of, but masochism is only temporary satisfaction.

So, I swim, bike, and run further and further.  Then conquer ungodly distances like an Ironman, twice.  Now what?



10 Solid Strategies for Ironman Chattanooga (Maryland)

My coach sent this to me, so I’m sending it to you.   

With Ironman Louisville and Wisconsin in the rear view mirror it’s time to turn our attention to Ironman Maryland and Chattanooga. Both races take place this month with each making their debut on the WTC Ironman circuit. Last night I had dinner with an athlete who is about to take his first crack at the Ironman distance later this month in Chattanooga. We talked a lot about the upcoming race and pelted each other with questions for about 2 hours over pizza. I know the majority of athletes doing IMCHATT are first timers so in the spirit of state wide preparation here are the top 10 tips I deep dished out:
1. Paper or Plastic?
You’ll likely be dealing with some cooler temps as you hop on the bike soaking wet on race morning. Instead of throwing on winter cycling gear go with plastic garbage or grocery bags. Take about 3-4 of them, fold them up into a “chest size” vest. In T1, place them underneath your tri top before heading out. The bags will keep your core warm and also serve as a wind breaker for the downhills and winds on the flats. It will keep you warm. Save you time in T1 and no aero penalty. When you get warm enough ditch them at an aid station. Problem solved.
2. Cut it out! 
Do yourself a favor and find room in your suitcase to pack scissors. Take your bike number and cut it in 2. Trim ALL of the fat from your bike. Place one number on each side of your downtube. You likely spent a lot of money to make things “aero.” Dont negate it with a number flapping in the wind. Or worse, place it on your seat post and risk some nasty papercuts on your hamstrings. Regardless, it just looks clean.
3. No peaking
The majority of you will be following some sort of HR or power guidelines for pacing. Keep the “home” screen of your bike computer focused only on those. NO mph. Follow your plan and ride smart. Obsessing over your average MPH for 116 miles will just lead to your ego taking over and over cooking the bike.  Work your plan and let the day fall where it may. Bike for show. Run for doe.
4. Drugs are bad. Coke on the other hand…
Their is nothing sweeter on the run than flat coke. Carbs, sugar, calories and caffeine. Hit it at mile 1 then make sure you keep going back to the well at least every other mile. Besides the “energy” boost you will likely start to face some mental fatigue on the run. You have been up since 4am. Swam 2.4 miles are biked 116. Its been a long day already so the caffeine will help keep you in the game.
5. Get your roll on
If you plan on rocking arm wamers/coolers dont leave them strung out in your T1 bag. I have seen some people take longer putting on their arm warmers than it took them to get into their wetsuit. Put on your arm warmers. Then fold them down, over, and over. About 3-4x. Leaving 3-4 inches unrolled and pack them. In T1 put them on each wrist (think old school sweatbands for your wrist). Get on your way and then roll them up during the first few miles of the bike. Get to warm. Roll them back down.
6. Your current stroke
The swim will be with the current. Keep your strokes long and strong. The current will be pushing you and with a full stroke you will be able to grab all of the water below that will be pushing against your forearm. Enjoy the swim and likely a new PR.
7. No nutrition left behind
Simple but often over looked. If you drop your main nutrition, either your concentrated bottle or your gel, capsule, bar bag, go back and get it. It might cost you a minute or two but a botched nutrition plan could cost you and hour or 2. Just go get it.
8.  Back it down
Run your first couple miles at least 2 min/per mile slower than you “hope” to settle into.  You’re hotter than you think off the bike and driving your heart rate and core temperature up too fast could ruin your run.
9. Conserve on the Hills
By all accounts Chattanooga run course has some unwelcome hills and the last thing you want to do is increase effort to get up them.  The time you lose climbing hills using the same effort level you do for flats will be well worth the energy saved in your legs.
10.  Keep moving
If there is any doubt about your hydration or core temperature it’s probably a good idea to walk the aid stations while fueling.  But other than that, running, no matter how slow, will be the key to finishing in your hopeful time.  The run is going to hurt, but unless you have a walk/run strategy, fight with all your might to keep from walking.  Once you give in, it keeps getting easier.


Sunday – 10 Things I Thought About On My Run

1.  The first step is always the hardest.

2.  No matter how hard I try, I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the taste of bugs.

3.  Whenever I see someone walking alone in the dark on the Greenway I start talking to myself so they think I’m crazy.

4.  I love lesbians.

5.  Running hills is where it’s at.

6.  Cyclists that hammer down on bike paths are smarmy.

7.  I much prefer the sound of that quiet little bell over a screaming “passing on your left!”

8.  Just one time I wish I could remember that dog at the end of the street will bark and scare the shit out of me.

9.  Sometimes I miss my skateboard.

10.  Running in this Wisconsin Boxing t-shirt kinda made me feel like a badass.


10 Things I Thought About on My Run Tonight

1.  I wonder if all runners go through the same cycle:  Obsessed with knowing everything about running, obsessed about their times and pace, loving running because it’s free and feels good.

2.  Why don’t all runners smile, wave, or say hi to each other?

3.  Is patriotism a necessary evil in the wide scope of humanity?

4.  I really wish I would have changed my socks halfway through the marathon at Ironman Louisville.

5.  Are non-English speaking citizens lonely, or happier than most because they have a small and tight circle of people they trust?

6.  What do dogs think runners are?

7.  Are we really meant to be with one person forever?

8.  I can’t wait to get back into the pool.

9.  Running doesn’t have to be that hard.

10.  It’s amazing how fast you can get out of shape after an Ironman.

Wisconsin Badger Basketball and Ironman

My coach sends me a lot of triathlon articles, but this one may be my favorite.  I’m a huge Wisconsin basketball fan and didn’t realize it while shooting video at the race in Madison, but former player Zach Bohannon was on his way to becoming an Ironman.

Reading made me a little emotional because the way he told the story reinforced why I love Badger basketball.  He downplayed his efforts and gave credit to the team.  I only wish I would have stuck around to see the celebration.


The Basketball team celebrates Zach’s Finish at the Ironman Wisconsin.

In this article by Mike Lucas, Zach says his reason for doing Ironman was “To say I did it,” but I think it’s more likely because, that’s how he does life.

For most of my childhood and early adult years (even though the teams were pretty bad in the 70′s and 80′s) Badger basketball was my favorite sport.  After listening to games on the radio, I’d put on a heavy coat, shovel snow, then take jumpers on an ice-covered driveway while imagining leading Wisconsin to the national championship.  It wasn’t easy to make shots with thick Winter gloves, but I never blamed the conditions.

Earlier this year, I was in the crowd as Zach and Company lost that Final Four heartbreaker in Dallas, but was incredibly proud to be a Badger fan.  They were largely a group of unheralded players that worked hard, believed in themselves, and had contagious chemistry.

“We weren’t just a team last season; we are friends for life wanting each other to all do well in whatever we pursue,” says Bohannon.

I really believe there’s nothing more important than being around people that support and inspire you.  Ironman can weed them out in a hurry.    

Like decade-long runs at the Final Four, Ironman can be an incredibly isolating and lonely journey.  You battle pain, self-doubt, and have a lot of time to reflect.  At Ironman Wisconsin last year I described the end of that road like this:

“If there was any doubt about why I would do such a crazy thing, it was answered when I saw my family and friends in the Finisher’s chute.  I was on the course by myself that last hour, but was not alone.  I kept running because they were waiting.  Waiting on their son, waiting on their friend.  And there’s nothing more powerful than someone excitedly waiting for you to come home.”

This is how Zach recalled it, “As great as finishing was, seeing the support of all of these people was even better,” he said referring to his family, friends and teammates.  

I’m drawn the the Ironman culture because it’s filled with “normal” people who won’t accept limits.  This holds true for both the athletes, and those who support our quest.  It’s embracing possibility and making the most out of our lives.

There’s a commercial on the Big 10 Network where Zach makes a bold acknowledgment that his goal is to someday be President of the United States.  Ironman is surely a step in the right direction, and I have no reason to doubt he will make his dream reality.

Maybe you can spot Zach in this video I made of the Wisconsin Swim Start.  






Ironman Wisconsin Swim Start Crowd

These are all screen grabs from the video I’m working on.  Hope you enjoy.

Ironman Wisconsin Swim Start

They were lined 8 deep to watch racers run up the helix after the Swim.

Ironman Wisconsin Helix

This is a wide shot from near the Swim Exit

Ironman Wisconsin Swim Start

They crowd in tight when you run up to your bike.

Ironman Wisconsin Swim Start

This is on TOP of the building and they lined the entire way.

Ironman Wisconsin Swim Start

Waiting for swimmers to reach the top of the helix.

Ironman Wisconsin Swim Start

Jam packed to watch triathlon.

Ironman Wisconsin Swim Start

This is on top of the building where crowds lined the walkways to watch bike transition.

Are Pro Triathletes Missing the Boat?

EDIT: Here is another perspective on why pro triathletes may not be getting as much publicity as they should or could.  I know this is all about money, but if WTC is purposely keeping pro athletes from gaining popularity, that’s pretty sad.  

I think one of the coolest things about triathlon is racing with the pros.  Age groupers are fascinated by the ungodly splits, mysterious lifestyles, and mythical training schedules.  All of which is why I think a lot of pros are missing a huge opportunity.

Age Groupers are rabid fans who can’t get enough of their sport, but I’m pretty sure most “Ironmen” can’t name more than one or two pros in their race.  I write and think about triathlon every day, and the Pro Roster at Wisconsin was totally off my radar.

Ironman Wisconsin Konstantin Bachor

Konstantin Bachor, after setting a new Wisconsin bike course record

I’d imagine it has to feel like a traveling circus for many pro triathletes.  Showing up in random towns with other endurance freaks so the age groupers can gawk at their oddities.  But, just like carnivals, triathlons have a built in, and captive customer base.

Occasionally I will strike a conversation with a pro at a race and they have always been really cool, but I am typically unimpressed by the way most handle their online presence.  Some are accessible, but most of the time it feels like the conversations are “inside baseball.”

I went to Wisconsin to “cover” Ironman simply because I love the sport and culture.  I was shocked by how many people recognized me and said they read Crushing Iron.  Open communication resonates, and I certainly connected with a bunch of new friends and readers.

I have written over 500 posts about triathlon and while I’m certain much of it is BS, I rarely hear or get responses from pros.  I don’t mean praise or positive reinforcement, but a quick barb, thank you, disagreement, or whatever.

Last night, out of the blue, I did get a “thank you” on Twitter from Pedro Gomes for posting a picture of him at Ironman Wisconsin.  I didn’t even tag his name under the photo because I wasn’t sure who he was.  But now I know.

Not only did he thank me, he followed, responded again, then sent his email so I could link him some video I shot at the race.

pedro gomes

Pedro Gomes, 3rd Place at Ironman Wisconsin 2014

It’s not a huge deal, but I thought it was cool, so I checked out his website, and Race Report (which included a photo credit for me).  You can rest assured my friends will now be getting a taste of Pedro Gomes 1st place predictions.

A little Twitter love goes a long ways.  I’ve heard from Jodie Swallow, Mirinda Cafrae, Ben Hoffman, and . . . well, that’s about it, but I definitely remember and talk about them.

I just think with all this talk about cutting pros out of races, etc, it would be in their best interests to build followings and marketable brands for coaching, merchandise, or general leverage with sponsors.  I would certainly order a “Gomes Racing” or “I Follow The Swallow” t-shirt.

I really enjoy having pros at races and think it’s important for the integrity of the sport.  But with the growing popularity of Ironman among the carnival goers, it makes you wonder if the pro circuit is losing some of its allure with race directors.

Ironman Wisconsin 2014 Pictures

The Mass Swim Start at Wisconsin is one of the coolest sporting spectacles you’ll ever see.  If you don’t believe me, ask my mother.

This Pro triathlete, Pedro Gomes.  I posted this picture on Twitter with the caption “3rd Place Pro,” and somehow he found it and personally thanked me.  Pretty cool move. pedro gomes

State Street has that European Cafe flavor and it was bustling all afternoon for Ironman Wisconsin.  “My people” never miss a reason to have a party and they were throwing down in Madison.  IMG_4973

I happened to be standing by the Run Out when first pro off the bike, Konstantin Bachor, glided by with a big smile.  I didn’t move until the next runner came by and it seemed like forever.  I truly started to wonder if Bachor was an impostor.  He wasn’t and held on for 4th place.

Ironman Wisconsin Konstantin Bachor

The 3 big hills at Wisconsin aren’t “that” bad, but they are nice little climbs in the middle of a challenging course.  I was lucky enough to hang out at the third one where people are absolutely bonkers with their support.  There’s nothing like laughing while you grind your way up a tough hill.



I grew up in Wisconsin and only last year realized the true beauty of the state capitol.  It is absolutely massive and the perfect backdrop for this finish line.


The crowds were genuinely overwhelming and made it very hard for me to get good video footage.


These were from my walk around on Saturday night.  The calm before the storm, including a rare nighttime shot of bike transition.

IMG_4901 IMG_4903