2016 Ironman® Wisconsin Race Report: Shaughn Simmons

425 640 Rich Strauss

A very, very good day.  Fantastic weather, challenging course, incredible team mojo and support, EN staff onsite (Coach R and Mariah) nailing the 4 keys and every other aspect of the race weekend, I was healthy, not injured and my fitness level was very good,……….. I mean, how many things can a person have going for you as you head into an IM race weekend?  Will be very difficult to match those conditions for a future race.

Let me start with my goals for 2016:

  1. Upgrade my aging equipment:  New Bike, new wetsuit, new bike computer, new bike shoes, New bike travel bags, Normatec recovery boots and the list goes on……….
  2. Improve the swim and build durability on the swim that would manifest in the run.
  3. Improve run durability, run the entire marathon and negative split on IM race day.

Note that I did not mention the bike fitness.  I planned to do all the bike wkos (and I did) but to focus on the above as those were my weaknesses.

Goals for race day where to swim 1:16 – 1:19, 7-10 mins T1, 5:45 bike on a .71 IF and >290 TSS, 5 min or less T2, Run 4:10

Reality:  Swim 1:16 (PR), T1- 7:50, Bike 6:03 w/ 5:49 moving time on .74 IF and 326 TSS, T2 – 5:34 (cramping) Run 4:22

Below is a historical of my 7 140.6 races:

Race morning, Ed Croucher and I left the apt at 5:15 and walked over to the Bike section to set up everything.

Once we finished, used the bathrooms and found the team we began to wait around when a message was sent to us from Scott Dinohfer that bib 544 back tire blew in transition area.  It was my bike.  Scott saved me 8 minutes or so right there on my race day.  I went up, fixed the issue and came back down in time for the team pic.

Swim – 1:16 – swam buoy to buoy the straightest ever!  Kept running into people and have to find a way through them or around them constantly.  Kept focusing on strokes, form, and rhythm…….I felt like I had been out there for 90+ minutes and was surprised to see the time when I exited…..off to a good start.


T1 7:50 – jogged lightly up the helix on the inside, found a nice volunteer, asked him to open my bagged, took out the helmet, shoes, glasses and asked him to replace with my wetsuit then jogged to bike.  I spent a minute at the bike putting on a EN jacket give I was acclimated for Dallas TX.

…..and I was off trying to focus on getting the HR down to 120, eating, drinking a full bottle on the first mile and settling in.

Things went fine, maybe I was being a little too conservative but my goal for the day was really just to run well for this race given my last two IM were less than par in that area.  At mile 20 I began to slightly increase my focus on driving watts.  At mile 30 I was having fun, I saw Trish Marshall on the course, a nice unexpected chat/boost.  Then is happened as I was mentally going over my Barlow tactics, all of a sudden the chain locked and no peddling was possible.  Felt like someone through a stick in the drive terrain.  So, I stopped the bike, got off, looked at the derailluer, jiggled somethings around for a while and then it worked.  I had no idea what I had done to fix it but the chain was moving so I hopped back on only to find it lock up again….at this point fears and frustration of a possible DNF came into my head while cyclist continued to pass me….I was getting pissed off…..“calm down and solve the problem” were the next thoughts into my head.

I pulled over and pulled the back wheel off.  As the back wheel came out, the entire cassette exploded across the road, and a new fuse of anger had been lit followed by a major WTF moment……

During this time more and more cyclists continued to pass me and to add to the fun, a Sheriff walks over and asked if I could quickly get all my stuff and move across the intersection so that he could get ready to let some traffic through.  Now keep in mind, I had not practiced any of this scenario in my training/race rehearsals……

I grab all the parts, the wheel, the bike, and hobble across the intersection.  The motorists, police officers and cyclists alike must have been thinking something like “what is this idiot even doing in a race like this with his bike all over the road and in pieces??”

After beginning to breathe again, I reassembled the back wheel, hand tightened the cassette and everything worked correctly.  I was off again losing ~15 minutes of quality bike time.  My recorded moving time is off because I had to move the bike around walking and fixing it so much that it did stop the clock correctly.

Bike stats by lap here:

Lap 3 contains the mechanical failure, Lap 5 contains a quick Special needs stop for another bottle.  VI at 1.12 is ugly and yes I include zeros, other than that I was aero and pushing the IF the rest of the way in with my HR holding given the cooler temps.  Disappointing to me to push a .74 IF and 326 TSS to only record a 6:03 bike time (my worst time ever.) But life must move forward.  I rode with Pat Ward the last 10 miles which was very good for me considering where I had been for much of my bike leg.  At mile 110, I began to pull back and prepare for T2 and the run.  I had peed 4 times on the bike given the lower temps and my focus on nutrition.

Rolling into T2 and dismounting, my legs locked up and I could not move.  Stood there with a volunteer holding my bike while both hamstrings had their way with me.  Cost of pushing out of my box on the back half of the bike.

Came into the changing area just in time for another cramp then put on the shoes.  T2 was ~5:34 given the leg problems.

I had punched the swim and bike tickets giving me my entry to the run and avoided a DNF issue on the bike but incurring an ugly bike time.  During the first 6 miles of the run I was determined to keep the HR between 130 – 135.  Several hamstring cramps came and went in those miles driven by nothing more than the push on the last half of the bike.  Each time I would bend over and stretch the cramp until it passed then restart.  At mile 7 I was able to push faster, cramps were coming less frequently and I was focused on the next 6 mile block keep the HR between 135 – 140.

Just before halfway I met Mariah on the course and tried to unsuccessfully hide my focused demeanor…..she doesn’t know it, but she was a huge boost of mojo for.  I saw Ed C., Ed E., Bill, Alan, Connie, Rich, Anna, Ian and others out there during this time, I was stable, in a good place with no stomach issues.  I began to refocus for my next 6 mile block and The Line, miles 13 – 18.

I had been taking 2 salt pills every mile from mile 2, 1 cliff shot blok every two miles from mile 8 in and drinking both water and gatorade as I walked 20-25 steps through those aid stations. Lap two began to bear down.

But I was determined, I had all my one things lined up and ready to go, I was waiting for the dark place.  I did not care anymore at this point about the bike fiasco and I was not going to have another fiasco on the run.  I saw Ed C. and Ed E., Rich and Anna again, they were just kicking ass, sucking it up, and taking names….it was all I needed to pull my weight…..

Mile 18 came, no wall, so I waited to mile 20 then switched to Coke and water.  Things became a bit blurry from there on in. I focused on RPE and began ratcheting up the RPE from 20 on in with never really hitting a wall I could not overcome.  There was something that happened within mile 23 and I was so focused on ramping the RPE I am not sure what happened but at one point my body made me stop and vomit……was weird but no real issue.  Miles 24 and 26 became my fastest run miles of the day.  I had pushed the HR ever so slight up, negative split the marathon and hit my primary goal for the race coming off a 326 TSS bike ride.

Best part of the race, without a doubt, is racing with the right people/team.  Can’t say enough about it and how lucky I am to be able to do this and do it with fantastic people.  Crossing the finish line, Coach R was there and just a huge support.  I was not as patient in those moments.  He asked me if I needed something and how I felt and I replied in a bit of a short response, I feel like I just did a Ironman………let me say I appreciate these coaches, what they have built and all of you guys and what each of you uniquely bring to the table.  Impossible to get this done without it!  Only by following the principles of the 4 keys, training plans and wisdom of the veterans on this team was I able to turn a less than optimal day into what I view as a win!!  And, as I aways say, remember, no matter what happens, KMF!

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