I followed my Ironman Lake Placid experience with a family vacation so if you’re interested in Ironman Lake Placid Race Reports you may have already read about 100. But you should still read mine, because it’s maybe the longest ever.
Sunday, July 26th 2015 – Ironman Lake Placid 2015 race day.
Up early – raining. The rental house had no air conditioning so the windows were open and I heard it raining during the night as I slept the light sleep of pre-race night. Cold and rainy was my worst nightmare but one I had tried to prepare for by borrowing enough foul weather gear for an army. I even had my friend Benji put in a good word with the Mexican Rain God for what good that might do. Apparently it worked because the rain stopped during drive to town.
I was very lucky for this Ironman that I had a lot of family with me for the experience. My husband’s Aunt and Uncle even got up to come see the swim start for which I’m thankful. Having family to cheer you on is pretty great.
We had an elaborate multicar parking plan to make sure we had a car parked close to the finish. It worked. Best $5 all day parking I’ve ever paid for.
Found my friend from training camp, Chris on the walk down to the oval. At this point I directed my dedicated family to the swim area and summarily dumped them to go and do my own thing.
Tried to get into transition and was redirected to body marking. As with all things in this race the logistics were supremely well organized. The volunteers even knew answers to questions like, where is special needs and where do I go. I’m making a joke but it’s true this race is really well organized and it’s a true pleasure to participate.
After the torture of having a volunteer press sharply into my arms and legs with a pointy and ineffective marker (see the photos for proof – if you can read my number I’m impressed) I made it into transition. I saw another friend Joe at the very front of transition. He’s a super fundraiser for Team in Training and as a bonus he gets a fantastic transition spot. Quick hug and wish for good luck and off I went.
Checked my tires – still good, put my Garmin 910xt computer on the bike. Waffled a bit about whether I should turn it on because I was concerned that it would make it all day. Decided to go for it so that I didn’t have to try and turn it on while I was on the bike. Good decision but fast forward spoiler- no the battery did not last all day. I may be adding “get new watch” to my pre-Ironman purchase list. Put my first set of nutrition on the bike. Then a fairly long walk for special needs bag drop offs then down to the lake to put on my wetsuit and warm up a bit.
The swim “corrals”‘are way way way too small. My technical estimate is that the corrals were about 1000% too small. Put myself by the 1:10-1:20 which is to say I could see that sign from where I found my teeny tiny bit of space. Looked for my friend Christina since we swim similar speeds and we had a very loose plan to find each other at the start. We both know that’s a crazy plan so since I didn’t see her I didn’t worry about it at all.
It was very crowded and people were jockeying for position. I figured that once the first group entered the water it would clear out a bit as the corals spread out and then we would move forward. I was totally and completely incorrect about how this would play out.
Listened to the anthem and teared up. I said a quick thank you that I was here healthy on the starting line. Then it was go time. I quickly realized the pacing signs weren’t actually moving. I then confirmed this by asking the sign guy who confirmed nope they just stand there, So, since I’m a smarty pants I started moving up in my place and before I knew it I was in the water. I didn’t hesitate – I just went.
This is actually a very big deal. I am normally a super chicken at swim starts but I wanted to be assertive in this swim. Thank goodness that was a goal because there was no other alternative.
The swim was the roughest and most aggressive swim I have ever done. I was hit and kicked and for the first time ever I had someone grab me by the shoulder and push me under. Even after all the swims I’ve done I just don’t understand how it’s not an intentional move.
After the second turn buoy I had to regathering myself because the aggression was so much – I was honestly rattled. I literally turned around and told a guy to stop grabbing me (there is a difference between contact and grabbing and if I can tell through 5mm of neoprene that’s saying something) and he had his head out the water and was not suprised to see me rebuke him but in fact responded, ” just keep swimming , just keep swimming” which means he knew he was grabbing me which is totally bizarre. But I got my thoughts together and just swam. At just about the swim out for the first loop I totally t-boned a fellow swimmer in her chest with my left eyeball. OUCH. For the record I was headed the correct direction and she for some reason was swimming directly perpendicularly in the wrong direction (unless she wanted to swim actually into the dock). I was a little shocked I didn’t get a black eye. My left goggle filled with water from that smash but I was almost ashore so I just waited till on the beach to clear it out.
I never in the whole two loops found clear water for more than 5-6 strokes at a time.
Know before you go: Serious advice for people signed up for 2016 be ready for a full contact swim. Take up kickboxing or Kung fu as your cross training activity to get ready. Forget about the cable because you’ll never be more than 2 inches from about 25 of your new best swimming friends who are trying to drown you. Just follow them and it’s basically impossible to get off course.
1:18 out of the swim.
T1 – 9:10 Long run to transition on the carpet. Grabbed my bag and headed into the changing tent. Pulled on my shorts and my vest and off I went.
I love this bike course. That is all. Just kidding, I have lots more to say. It’s 112 miles that’s time for a lot of things to happen.
You’ll be surprised to know that I read everything about this bike course that I could get my hands on. What, not surprised? You know me well. Anyway – the name of the game for the first loop of the bike course is to take it easy. So I did.
It was overcast and chilly and I was happy for the vest. At around mile 35 I felt like I would explode so I stopped and used a port-a-potty. Not only was there no line there was a volunteer to hold my bike. Amazing! Then it was climbing into town – the crowd support in this race is phenomenal!
Also on the bike course I saw most of my friends. This is because of the out and backs which made them less boring. Right off the back I saw my friend Michael from training camp he promptly passed me and that was that. I saw Meredith from Swim Bike Mom … she’s kind of famous and I she was wearing her signature kit so it was easy to spot her. She may not actually have appreciated me just totally saying, “hi” like I knew her and we were pals but I did anyway. She didn’t look terribly happy at that particular time on the bike. But if it matters she looked pretty cute in her pigtails. I saw my friend Tiffany from training camp and also Cristina from Triathlonmami.com. I was looking for my friend’s Chris and Debbie who were concerned that they’d survive the swim but I didn’t see them. I found out later that Chris missed the swim cutoff by 8 lousy seconds and Debbie made the swim and bike cutoff but then had a really tough run much later.
Stopped at special needs which is on a hill. They also put SN on a hill in France. Hellooooo. Seriously why do RD’s do this? It is so tough to start up and clip in on an incline. I put my jacket in the bag – the helper changed out all my bottles and I grabbed my snickers bar. That’s it off I went. Snickers are delicious.
Lap 2. The sun and wind came out for lap 2. I will say the only braking I did down the Keene descent was because of nearby bikes at the bottom – otherwise I let-er-rip. So much FUN! Top speed 43 mph. Relax, speed demons. I’m only 115 pounds (fully dressed and hydrated as confirmed by the pre-race weigh in) that’s as fast as I can really go.
My neck and shoulders hurt a lot in lap two. I was in aero a lot and holding my head up was painful. I actually think this discomfort was from sighting so much in the swim believe it or not. I’ll have to do more tarzan practice in the pool. Come to think of it I bet water polo players would do well in this swim. It has taken days for my neck muscles to relax. I also think this is partly a sign of my lack of strength training. Sigh.
At the tail end of the course I had bad, bad, bad foot cramping and I had to take off my shoe and stretch my toes. I did this – twice. That was a bummer. This means two things first, I was pushing my physical limits on the bike and second my hydration was off but I didn’t know it at the time. The arch of my right foot was still tight as I wrote this days later. (Edited to add that it is now totally fine). Also later I thought of a third thing – it could partly be from my newish bike shoes. Hmmmm.
But I still finished in 7:07. I’m very proud of my bike finish. Thrilled for no flats or mechanical issues. As always after 112 miles really very happy to be off the bike.
Nutrition Note. I drink Infinit on the bike. I set a timer and drink every 7 minutes. (Pink lemonade is my new favorite flavor). I stash a Snickers bar in special needs which I eat if I want it which makes up for any calorie deficit that I might run from missed beeps and intense climbs or whatever. Anticipating cool temperatures I had mixed my Infinit bottles rich for the race so about 16 ounces every hour. That turned out to be a mistake on the second loop where I should have gone with the full 20 ounces in each bottle and I probably should even have taken water from the course.
This is a spectacular bike course. 10/10.
Advice to those who race Lake Placid regarding the bike course. It is a great course. The challenge is that the climbing is at the end of each loop so plan accordingly. Everyone says prepare for all kinds of weather. I would add to that prepare for the weather to change during the bike ride. For us it went from cool to hot. So I should have taken in more water but I didn’t make the connection until later.
T2. Quick change mostly race belt, visor, shoes. Stopped for sunscreen and I was on my way. Again, fantastic volunteer support.
Run 5:56 not what I was hoping for.
I felt good at the start of the run happy to be jogging along. My plan was to start chomps and water after one mile. I messed that up when at .5 mile was a water stop and my addled brain water stop means eat. Eat.
I still felt good but soon I saw one person out with an IV and quickly another. I thought to myself, self, it’s hot – let’s assess. So I looked and sure enough I wasn’t really sweating. Not good. Plus my mouth was dry, I was dizzy, nauseated and I hadn’t peed since mile 35 of the bike.
Okay new plan: slow up and hydrate.
I saw for the first time my friend from camp, Mandy. We had similar marathon goals for the race and we had promised that if we ended up together not to let the other stop. She was walking and felt like crap when I saw her so I passed her doing my shuffle.
Later she would show that she’s much tougher than I am (something I knew already since she’s got some amazeballs credits to her name including a bunch of tours of duty) by toughing out the run and passing me later and staying ahead.
I also saw friends Joe, Tiffany, Tim, Cristina, Tom and Michael. Michael looked like he was just breezing through the marathon. Tim was also flying on the run but he had the decency to at least look like it was challenging. I should say people keep saying I looked fresh and great on the run but in fact I felt like total crap so looks can be deceiving.
At the start of the second loop I looked for my family and didn’t find them. I actually cried a little bit. I was feeling worse than I ever have on an Ironman run and was really looking forward to some support but they weren’t there. To be honest catching me on the course isn’t something my husband is good at so it’s not a total surprise but it did stink.
It is the only time I’ve ever really considered “can I actually finish this … do I want to” during a race. But since there is no exit after the first loop I just kept going. Usually when I get these dark thoughts it’s because I need calories to get to my brain. My body had stopped accepting the skratch bites so I had just been taking water but I did have a backup GU in my special needs bag that I had picked up so when the tears appeared I ate that at the next water stop. It was a bold move because with a tender stomach sometimes a GU can equal disaster and that’s why before this race I had looked for something other than the GU gels. But miraculously, it was fine. I felt better and was able to jog a little bit more.
The second loop I felt a little better than the first. I stopped twice at port-a-potties and was amazed that they were still sort of clean at this point in the marathon. I also tossed my visor once it was dark. I have a bad habit of throwing things away mid race. The visor paid the price this time. But I did carry my empty hand held water bottle complete with unused packet of Infinit run powder for the whole race. So maybe I’m growing up a little bit. Or maybe it was brand new and I’m too cheap to throw away new things.
And with about 2 miles to go … my watch ran out of juice.
Thanks a lot Garmin 910 xt.
Grrr. It is pretty frustrating. It was fully charged and it’s a few years old but honestly it should last the whole race … because it just should. That’s it’s job. It is the premier triathlon watch this is the ultimate triathlon distance I don’t think it’s too much to ask that it last 15 hours. Do you?
I turned it off before it went dead because letting the watch die while recording is a formula for screwed up data. A lesson I’ve learned before the hard way. It was super important to me to know how fast I had gone down the descent. These are the important things people!
I’m honestly a little bit disappointed in my run. But I’m going to admit that this is the best I could do on this day. I kept asking myself throughout the run: do you have anything more to give. Normally that results in a yes and a faster push. But on this day the answer was, no – this is it.
But it was a weird thing it was not a tiredness or a calorie deficit it was more of a shutdown of my body – side stitch, tunnel vision and nausea. I would feel ready to run and then 20-30 steps later I would need to stop. It was upsetting even while it was happening. But even at the time I knew that I was making the only decision I could then. I just tried to enjoy the moments. I met some wonderful people along the way. There was one guy who was totally running and screaming encouragement along the way. That was annoying but also kind of great. I talked to a guy from Ecuador he was great. I also talked to a local from Tupper Lake and was able to express to him how wonderful I thought Lake Placid was.
My results show that I was simply under trained for the run. That’s just the truth of the results. That’s why races are such a great thing – the results show what you really could do on that day and that’s it.
Plus something went wrong with my nutrition or rather hydration and I ended up very dehydrated on the run. Alarmingly, I peed once just before bed and then not again until after noon the next day. I think I know what I did wrong.
Sometimes people say to save your legs for the marathon. To not over bike. I guess that’s good advice but honestly while I’m proud of my bike finish I’m not such a fast biker that I could have gone much slower. I mean it is possible to go slower but what I’m trying to say is that I biked within my limits (which I know from my heart rate during the ride). My HR average was mid zone 2. I was simply trained just enough for a good swim and a good bike. Had the finish line been there I would have been in great shape.
Advice to those training for Lake Placid this is a hilly marathon. Train accordingly to have the strength to complete it.
The finish! This is a magical finish line. You pass the turnoff to the second lap and turn into the Olympic oval. You can hear the crowd roar. You run under the Olympic Rings which is special for what they represent even if you aren’t an Olympian. Then you go around the turn and you are in the chute. Then I saw my family which was fantastic. And then Mike Riley announced my name which was great.
And after 14 hours and 38 minutes it was over which was also great. There’s nothing quite so great as finally stopping.
In case you’re curious here’s my goal post. Go ahead and go read it I’ll wait. My goal was to beat 15:20 which was my time in France and I did that by 41 minutes. Pretty good. I had it in my head that 14:05 was my target but it turns out that my memory was flawed. 14:30 was what I predicted and I hit 14:38. In other news we can learn from the photo below that I went into the water 9 minutes after the start.
Shortly, after the finish I was able to find my family which included my two little nephews from Maine. Again, phenomenal race organization. It was a real treat having everyone there. One of my nephews carried the edge of my shiny blanket all the way up to the car (like it was a train on a veil). I felt like and Ironman Princess. My son even carried my transition bags for a few feet until he promptly gave them to my husband. They were heavy, I understand.
And that’s it. It’s over. Until the next one … which if you’re curious is Ironman Florida in November. No hills, no excuses.