In the last six years, I've completed thirteen iron-distance events, I've qualified for Kona four years in a row, I've been on the podium numerous times and I finally accomplished my ultimate goal of winning my age group at Ironman Coeur d'Alene in 2013.

Is this the end, I wondered? I had joked about it. I think I said something along the lines of how fitting it would be to call it quits after that race. It was a great race and after chasing 'something', I felt like I'd finally caught what I'd been chasing.

Over the years, I've repeatedly stated I will do Ironman forever but as I look around, I see my friends, guys at the front of the pack, slowly disappearing from the field. Will I be that guy?

As 2014 progressed and my training focused exclusively on ultrarunning, it seemed as if I had lost my appetite for Ironman training and I had turned into that guy. I felt a small loss but it wasn't enough to get me into the water or on the bike.

When June rolled around and Ironman Coeur d'Alene popped up on the calendar, I got on a plane, I went through the steps with the other athletes but my intention was not to race. My role in Coeur d'Alene was coach, Sherpa, bike mechanic and husband but not racer. And while everyone was in on the action, I didn't feel like I was being pulled in that direction.

When we returned home, another race appeared on the calendar, Ironman Wisconsin. After donating $700+ dollars to the noble non-profit organization known as the WTC for an Ironman Coeur d'Alene backpack and some slices of pizza, I was less than enthusiastic for another donation in Wisconsin.

My intention had been to cobble together some training over the remaining weeks but my lack of enthusiasm prevailed. Before I knew what happened, I found myself standing in the garage, tools in hand, packing our bikes and I wondered what sort of disaster awaited me with practically zero swim and bike training.

In a normal year, I bike anywhere from 5000-7000 miles and I swim about 10,000-12,000 yards each week. As I stood on the starting line at Wisconsin, excluding some rides from back in January and February (and trust me that wasn't much either), I had logged about 300 miles on the bike and maybe 10,000-15,000 yards total.

Typing that out makes me laugh because it's ridiculous to think I'd be stupid enough to start a race with so little training but I felt like my lifetime base coupled with a tremendous amount of running would allow me to fake my way through the event. I didn't think it was going to be pretty and I was more than curious as to how long it would take to get to the end but I was confident in my ability to finish.

Just finishing -- I sort of liked that goal because the pressure to perform was absent.

As we went through the motions of packing the bikes, going to the airport, getting on the plane, the rental car, hotel check-in, etc., the feeling was familiar and I liked it. By the time race day rolled around, I was a little nervous about being unprepared but I was excited to race and I had finally found my mojo. Unfortunately I had zero training time remaining because I was entering the water about to start the race.

Making my way to the line, I swam to the inside, a few rows back with the intention of swimming the least amount of distance while trying to not get my ass kicked.

When the gun went off, I got bogged down by slow swimmers and I regretted not getting up front. There wasn't much I could do except deal with the situation and I eventually found clear water.

Understanding my limitations, I tried to remain consistent -- in a nutshell, I only had one swim gear and exerting excess effort could prove to be problematic. I avoided the bottlenecks, I swam a straight line and when I exited the water, I was pleasantly surprised to see I had exited in 1:09.

Running up the helix was not a problem and when I entered the transition area, I got my stuff, got out on the bike and I anxiously waited for what the bike course would do to me. In all honesty, I felt like the swim was going to be fine but I really thought I was going to get crushed by my lack of biking.

A little over two hours into the bike, I was already feeling off and that was much sooner than I had anticipated. When I started thinking about it, it was too soon. Something was wrong and as I went through some self-diagnosis, I concluded that I was taking in too much nutrition. In an attempt to get back on track, I stopped taking in calories for about 30 minutes. That seemed to right the wrong because somewhere around the midpoint of the ride, I could feel the strength coming back.

As the remaining miles ticked away, I felt strong and I was really surprised I kept that strength with me all the way back to transition.

When I got back to T2, there was some doubt in my head about whether or not I could run but with the swim and the bike out of the way, I still felt like I was home free.

Running out of T2, I felt wobbly, it was muggy, I felt hot and I cursed my buddy Ken who said Wisconsin wasn't humid.

The first few miles didn't instill confidence but as I ran through the different parts of the course, seeing some of the shaded areas, I felt like it was going to be better than I had initially thought.

Let's face it, I've been running all year long with a focus of completing a 100 miler in November. Regardless of the heat, humidity, my lack of swim / bike training or anything else, I should be able to run a marathon.

When I started running, the first thought that popped into my head was it's only a marathon and for a number of weeks this year, that was called 'Saturday'.

With any distance, I like breaking it down into chunks. When I first hit the run course, I targeted the midway point, 13 miles. It wasn't like the first 13 were easy but I didn't feel the need to make the first chunk any smaller. After getting through 13, getting to 20 was the next target.

With zero intention of doing anything other than finishing, I focused on heart rate. Just keep it above X, I repeatedly thought.

Assessing my situation about midway through, I was hydrated, my nutrition was good and I felt relaxed.

When I got to 20 miles, my legs were getting a little tight and the day started feeling long.

I really didn't want to be trashed after completing this race but I couldn't help myself -- I was in the zone and this was racing,

I felt alive and I remembered why I love Ironman. And with that thought, I decided I wanted to mow everyone down.

I kept the pedal to the metal but I had to break the race down into mile increments. When miles 21 and 22 ticked over, it started getting hard and I could feel my muscles tightening.

In the remaining miles, I couldn't remember how the course worked its way back to the finish but I just kept following the arrows and celebrating each mile ticking over. Bodies and spectators were littering the course and everyone was incredibly supportive.

As I wrapped up my race, I was happy I found my way back to the starting line of an Ironman and I can't think of a better place to do it. 

Madison, Wisconsin, you rock!  Thank you for helping me find my way!

When I crossed the finish, I had nothing left in the tank and I didn't throw my arms into the air -- I just ran across the finish. On the inside, a mental tweet -- #awesome.

I have so many more thoughts but I'm trying to keep this post from turning into a book. I will most likely write more in the weeks to follow but let me finish with three statements:

I'm not that guy.
Ironman does not have to be all or nothing for me.
I'm signed up for Ironman Wisconsin 2015 -- you can read into that anyway you'd like. :)

Some additional photos for your pleasure --

Taking every precaution to prevent those evil doers from harming my precious bike...

The locals are incredibly supportive and I can't recommend this race enough...

Given my level of seriousness for this event, I got a special race hat...

Madison is a hot bed of fun in the summer...

... but in the winter, it can get downright cold and there are certain benefits to living in one building versus another...

While going through the check-in process, we got a good view of the swim course while other athletes tested the water...

I know what the sign says but the bags seem to be containing less...

Popping out onto the street after check-in, we got a really good view of the capital...

But don't be fooled by those blue skies, the weather can change in an instant...

And then back again...

The University of Wisconsin, Madison is the #2 ranked party school.  The Badgers...

... played on the day prior to race day.  They started partying around 8am.  The first signs could be seen and heard directly across from our hotel in the adjacent building...

I showed my team spirit in my own way...

During the race, you run through the stadium twice.  I couldn't remember the mile markers and I'm too lazy to bother looking them up.  The one thing I've noticed in my run photos, something I've been trying to work on, is that I look a lot more relaxed. 

After the race, I hung out in the finish area because once you leave, they won't let you back in.  I wanted to get our photo...

And after the Mrs. decided to kill some time in the back of an ambulance, we celebrated in style...

... which complimented this...

The day after the race, we were roaming around and I spotted this...

Buried in a list of 3000 names, I spotted it immediately.

Thanks for reading!