Race Coverage

Four Decades Strong...


By Cathleen McGinnity

Race Report Ironman Madison 2021 - Leading up to this race I have been training for two years as I deferred this race in 2019 due to Covid. Ironman Madison would be #2 Ironman for me and #2 in Madison. When I raced in 2018 I thought i would be one and done but decided in 2019 to give it another try. I like all the training, it's hard but enjoy the process. I have trained with a great group of ladies, four of us each from a different decade. Our support crew wore shirts with our names and #4decades strong. In training we swam the Devils Lake Swim race (which was good preparation as it is two loops for the ironman distance as that was a change, one of many, for Ironman this year).  That weekend we biked the Madison course together. I even convinced one of the decade strong to swim the challenging turbulent swim this year at Pointe to LaPointe. It has been a great training season and was ready for graduation in Madison.

I arrived in Madison on Thursday to check in and settle in. its quieter on Thursday and just needed to get my head straight and away from crowds.

Race day and transition was to be different as Madison is under a mask mandate so all transition was outdoors. Friday i organized all my gear bags and just relaxed. Saturday it was a quick swim in Lake Monona and getting the legs a reminder on the bike. Check in the bike and gear early and ...

head back to hotel to rest eat and prepare for race day. The hardest part is just the waiting; i am here lets get this going. Weather was looking to be good.  Saturday was hot and humid; race day was cloudy and 70's little wind.

Race am up at 3am got to eat etc. (you know the etc) Husband is not so happy but is used to it. He stayed up watching the Wolverines play.


Drop off special needs and head in to pump up tires and fill up the tank (fuel). There is something special about race morning no matter what race you do. The energy is amazing cant describe it unless you experience it. Headed to race start, down the helix and saw my coach traveled from Chattanooga, it was special to have him there. Hugs and off i went. Jumped in corral as close as i could get i was ready. Knuckle bumped Mike Reilly and got in the water. Great water temp somewhere in the low 70's. Lots of contact but not to bad. A few waves/chop on second loop but totally manageable. Out of the water; felt great. Wetsuit off, no strippers this year, and off and up the helix with everybody cheering. Transition was outside so gear bags for t1 was easy grab and head to changing tent, not enough volunteers to have one per athlete but im pretty self sufficient. Off and running to the bike. This year the 70.3 was happening at the same time, staggered start time, but did meet up with the bikers form 70.3 on a weird turn and downhill.  Saw to many bike crashes that ended their day. Gotta respect this course its got hills, turns and just gotta be smart and who you bike around. I played this smart and followed my coach directions. "Bike for dough, run for show". I let them pass me as i get some in my back pocket for the run. this bike course is so beautiful that the climbing is worth it and not to mention the great crowd support on some of the big climbs.  Around the last 40 miles i started to feel nauseated which is totally unusual for me. (I now relate it to the lake water). i cut out the nutrition and just stuck with water.  Not the greatest as i could have eaten a big ol sandwich by the time i got off the bike. I was hungry. but the nauesa was better. Off the bike now this was the hard part, no bike catchers its hard to get off the bike after riding 114 mile (yes additonal miles were added).  Had to walk my bike a long way to drop it off than had to go down a level in the parking garage to pick up gear bag for run.

This transition was long. Once changed another long walk back across the parking garage to start the run. temp was good a little humid but shorts and tank was all that was needed. A little love from my family, friends, and coach and off to finish a Marathon. I had some hip/back issues that reared its ugly head about a month ago, so knew i had to be smart on the run.
I tried a gel but stomach was not ready; so stuck with race course nutrition and that was just the chips and grapes as I have Celiac, waited on the coke until the 1/2. Even tho the run can be tough as you just biked 114 miles of hills its when you get to meet and see people. I felt pretty strong on the first half was suprised at how many people were struggling on the run. I saw a few just on the ground looking just miserable. I was grateful for where i was at. It was not the run i wanted but can never plan how injuries can happen just a month ago i could barely walk without pain.

i developed a plan at this point to just finish and feel good. i ran more than i expected. Back at special needs before headed out again. it was still warm so nothing extra to wear. I had a light for cap ; but lost that so just run in the dark as it gets dark behind the campus. I met more people and encouraged more on the last loop it is so rewarding. I finally see the lights of the Capital a quick run around the square and down the chute and i will be an Ironman again. I met up with my coach as i came up to the Capital; smiles and hugs. Unfortunately i missed seeing my biggest supporter and spouse even tho he was yelling at me. i was just headed toward the lights and Mike Reilly. Down the chute it was a bit crowded, high fived strangers and heard my name called, Cathleen McGinnity you are an Ironman. What a great day.
Thanks to all that were there to support me and those that tracked me. Thanks to my Coach Robbie and Kylee that gets me set on all my Nutrition.

and #4decadesstrong the memories we made will last forever.