Trek Women Brand Manager Leslie Prevish recounts highlights from her journey to complete Ironman Wisconsin on September 11. The grueling 140.6-mile race includes 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of biking, and 26.2 miles of running, as well as good dose of determination and maybe a touch of insanity.
At mile 20 of the marathon, the moon saved me. I was on a pretty dark section of the race that had few spectators. In the solitude, I wondered whether I was going to make it to the finish with my exhausted body and stomach cramps that had started with my first mile.
I hope that the highlights below from my training and race day experiences may inspire others to take on this journey, or any formidable goal, that requires committing to a plan and finding the resilience to overcome challenges along the way. “La vita e’ una sola” is one of my favorite Italian phrases, which means, “You have just one life to live.” So live it!
Training: 5 a.m. wake-ups and killer kaiserschmarren
- I estimated that I put in 600 hours / 1700 miles of training over the past six months. Most of it was solo, but sometimes I rode or ran with friends, who kept asking me when this “Crazyman” was over so I could go out gallivanting again.
- My circadian clock loves the night, so I detested the 5 a.m. alarm, which I had to change from a buzzer to a Christian rock station so I wouldn’t throw it across the room after interrupting my REM cycle.
- Most of my weekends included long runs and several centuries getting acquainted with Alessandro, my gorgeous Project One Speed Concept. After I got him, I realized how much difference a great bike makes. Not only does it make you faster on the bike course, but your legs are fresher for the run.
- I loved the long runs, except for one in Austria after scarfing down a delicious regional dessert, kaiserschmarren, which was made with eggs and buttermilk and tasted like a mix between pancakes and French toast. Unfortunately, the next day my gut was screaming for 14 of the 18 miles. But it was so darn good going down that I actually ate another later that day before departing for the airport. Seriously.
Kaiserschmarren: delicious, but definitely not training food.
Final Prep: Finger freeze and family support
- Bike prep and practice was KEY. I had co-workers supervise my numerous flat-changing attempts, freezing my finger on a CO2 cartridge once after it slipped off the stem. You really have to manhandle those puppies.
- In the race, I had enough CO2 cartridges on my bike and in my halfway bag to change half a dozen flats, or fill up a kiddie pool if I decided to take a break from the heat. Thankfully my Bontrager R4 Aero tires kept punctures away!
- A few days before the race, I sent out emails to the folks on the prayers lists I had laminated and put on my bike and run bottle. I asked them to pray for “Crazy Les” and told them I’d be doing the same along the 140.6 miles. I enjoyed thinking about memories with them, and it helped to know that their prayers were giving me extra strength.
- Anyone who’s done a race knows the importance of family and friend support, especially in the moments of self-doubt late in the race. My sister, her kids and my aunt came in, bearing signs and purple shirts with “Iron Woman Les” that helped spur me on throughout. My 4-year-old niece yelling “Go Aunt Les!” at the halfway point during the run brought tears to my eyes.
A sea of swimmers take off - survival of the swiftest!