IMLP Race Report
This was my first Ironman, and fourth tri. Even though everyone was wonderful with describing the flow of Lake Placid, and how to prep, I had no idea what to expect and was really nervous.
Within 30 minutes of arriving in Lake Placid, I ran into Larry and his wife. What were the chances of that?! It was the right way to start out the trip, and made me feel much better.
Then, a few minutes later, I ran into Mike Walsh. Mike was incredibly helpful last month on the Lake Placid training trip, as he has done this multiple times and gave me a VIP tour of the IM Lake Placid Venue.
Once I left Mike, I ran into Larry again!! I thought these run-ins were an anomaly, but finding friends ended up being a common theme of the Lake Placid experience.
The Days Before:
I generally fly solo, and travelled up to Placid by myself. The reason I chose to do this particular event, however, was to honor a family member, and I was lucky enough to have my mom and aunt take the trip to LP to support me in that effort and share the significance of the day. It was a little stressful helping them arrive (as they insisted on coming Saturday, ended up coming during a luncheon I was supposed to attend, and also while transition was open/closing). My mother is notoriously bad with directions, and I was trying to get her to Lake Placid (and away from Canada) while dealing with failing cell service.
Once my supporters arrived, everything became much easier and I am incredibly appreciative of their help. Even just an extra set of hands to carry bags, or someone to drop me off in the morning – it makes a huge difference. If you have that, thank those people. If anyone wants to be my entourage in the future, let me know.
Dropping bags off at transition, I noticed some other people had good ideas: since it was possibly going to rain, some people stuck a hole in cup and put the drawstring through it, so the rain wouldn’t get in the opening. Other people put crazy duct tape on the bag so it would stand out among the rows of similar bags.
I had a giant knot in my back that I was trying to foam roll out while eating applesauce. I don’t know why it was there, I got two massages! But the applesauce I need to eat way earlier, as it didn’t work quite on the expected timeframe.
I got to transition at 5am, and went to the techs to have air put in my tire, and a quick check on the bike. The tech removed my entire derailleur and started adjusting things. My HR was in zone 5 when I saw my bike pulled apart at 5:45 am.
I waited in the porta-potty line until the Pros went off, and I was nervous that I was going to get in the water at the wrong time. But I didn’t really have a choice. I ended up having enough time to get my face in the water and take a few practice strokes from one side of the beach to the corral area. In doing so, I didn’t give much thought to where I lined up Left to Right, only where I seeded myself. I just got off the beach and stood there… right next to the line. Mistake #1 of the day. I actually had clear water for a long time, and was having a good swim up until the 1k mark. At that point, I swam into the slower swimmers ahead of me, and the people from my Left and Right were both in my arms/Water. Since I wasn’t moving forward with the same velocity (since there wasn’t room to swim), people from behind me were grabbing my legs. I entirely felt like I was getting pulled under, and had no room to swim or put my arm in the water without hitting a person. I looked up (mistake) and saw all the people, and freaked out. I don’t know if I’ve ever had a panic attack before, but I had one that day during a timed event on Mirror Lake. In my head, I thought that if I did get pulled under, there was no way anyone would see. I didn’t see those scuba divers. I started treading water and a guy on a boat came over. He told me to grab on. I asked if I’d be DQ’d, and he said “no, that’s what we’re here for.” So I hung on to him for a bit, and went back to swim on the outside a little shook up, but got back into it. The bad part about being on the outside was being near splashy, kicky, swervy swimmers. I ended with a disappointing swim time for my first loop. I didn’t know it was too bad because my Garmin split pace was in the range I felt appropriate.
On the second loop, I had open water, and had established a fairly good flow (with the exception of weaving around some of the aforementioned splashy, kicky swimmers). At 2.1 miles in, a Discovery-channel worthy lightning bolt flashed across the sky, and volunteers herded swimmers to shore. I was really bummed to be pulled out. We stood on a dock for a while, awaiting instruction. Then we were sent down Mirror Lake Drive, in the rain, in the puddles, and told to stay in the road for some reason. I didn’t know what was going on, or what the implications were for the rest of the race. I did end up getting a wet-suit stripper at the end! AND I left my goggles and cap in the sleeve. Thanks transition practice!
In T-1, it was a muddy mess. It was overflowing, since so many people were pulled from the water at the same time. I’m glad this time didn’t count, because I took my sweet ole time here, and even went to the porta potty.
I got in the bike, and my HR monitor started beeping at me incessantly. Oh, I had NO HR READING. I thought the strap might have been in the wrong spot – no. Clearly, it wasn’t for lack of wetness. So, on the fly, in the rain, during a race where many bikers left T1 at the same time… I adjusted my Garmin settings. I re-paired my HR monitor and turned off the alert. Oh, and my cadence sensor didn’t work the entire race. Since purchasing my 910xt, Garmin has sent me a replacement HR Strap and Cadence Sensor because mine didn’t work properly. Next up, apparently, is a whole watch. Craig, if they give me a watch and don’t take the crappy one, it’s all yours.
Loop 1 had a lot of pouring rain. The descent with new pavement – which was previously my favorite part of this course – had become terrifying. It was hard to see, and I had some semblance of control over my own bike… but no control over other people. Making it more difficult was a complete disregard for courtesy or rules by many riders. So many people were just hanging out in the left hand lane, two abreast!! In my direct observation, it was middle aged men. Pass and get over. I mean, I don’t know too much about this sport and its rules, but this one should be easy to understand because it’s just like our highway system. On the wet descent, it was dangerous, and everywhere else it was frustrating. Pass or be passed and get over to the right. I was really happy to drop some of those guys on lap 1.
With the conditions, I was extremely grateful to have been on the course a month beforehand.
I followed my plan pretty much exactly. I had it taped to my handlebars, and waited for the beep to eat. I respected my HR zones for each section, and was happy to not be in the “I went too hard on loop 1” crowd. Loop 2 was faster than Loop 1, likely because of the weather, and also because I was able to increase my HR a bit.
I had no cadence, so I had to feel it out. I’ve gotten better at this, since I rarely have cadence. Coming from a rowing background where I needed to maintain certain stroke ratings… I can at least do this.
Also, I peed on the bike. ON the bike. Like 4 times. Trent, I was entirely shocked last month when you told me about the bike peeing, but I get it now. No lines, no waiting. Still, I’m not touching your bike and you don’t need to touch mine.
This was a day of two firsts for me. First Ironman and first marathon. If we’re going a little crazy why not go full insane. It was the leg I looked forward to least, but I smiled and looked for my teammates and just stuck to the plan. The pace was something I had jokingly called “walking the marathon” earlier. It wasn’t. It was a good plan. At the end of the day, I entirely trust what’s set out for me, without reservation.
Overall, on the run, my biggest limitation was my knees. They hurt after the first loop. I changed shoes from my supportive Mizunos to a roomy plushy Hoka. I thought it would be a treat for my feet, but it didn’t have the same level of support. I did have some KT tape on my knees, and a patella strap, but it wasn’t enough. During the run, I tried to roll my compression sleeves into patella bands, but really only succeeded to cut off circulation.
I ended up running nearly the entire thing, which is a huge personal achievement for me. If you asked me a month ago, I would have told you to bring a chair because there would be a lot of walking involved. I did walk the hills on the second loop, and the big hill on the first loop. Do I want to run a stand-alone marathon? No. As I was running along, I heard a crowd person say “Now there’s a biker.” I didn’t want to disappoint them, and let them know I’m not that either, but the point is – I’m no runner.
Cheering for my teammates on the course gave me energy, and got me excited to keep going. This triathlon is an individual sport, I hear, but being on a team had a positive impact on my performance without a doubt. I saw Larry and Chris on the run a few times, and cheered for them like I wasn’t running a race myself. It was actually a highlight of my day. Same with Craig and Dan. Mike Walsh ran by, with his BQ pace, and said hi to 5 people along the way. He’s like the Mayor of Lake Placid. I also saw James on the run, who I met last month on our training trip. Chris S, I saw you running while I was on the bike, so I think you finished before lunch. Scott, I only saw you once on the run, but you got the cheer too. I was thinking of your knees.
In addition to our NEMS team, I raced for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation. Every time I passed a teammate on this team, I was excited, humbled, and thankful. Nearly everyone on this team was racing on behalf of a loved one, and had raised thousands of dollars for cancer research. Many weren’t out there as a seasoned ironman, but rather were inspired to do the race because a family member or friend had Multiple Myeloma or a similar diagnosis. So these teammates inspired a different heartfelt appreciation, because I knew everyone had already accomplished their fundraising goal and were just hours away from reaching their next goal.
The mango Perform on the run was GROSS. Perform should only come in Lemon Lime. Nestlé’s stock definitely dropped on that flavor choice. I mean, Mango is just so random.
Finishing this thing was an amazing feeling, and I highly recommend signing up for one. I also highly recommend involving yourself with the partner charity, MMRF. The minimum commit may seem like it’s unattainable, and it may be scary to put your own CC down as collateral… but you know what? It’s attainable. Your friends and family will help you. Just like training for the race, every week builds on the next and before you know it you’re there. Start with your own race entry fee that you would have paid anyway and donate it to yourself. If your company matches you’re already a huge chunk of the way to your goal. If your company doesn’t match, find a friend who works for one that does. If you are even thinking about maybe doing LP for the MMRF, contact Larry, Scott or me. We’ll answer any questions and put you in touch with the right people. Doing an Ironman is an amazing feeling and accomplishment, but I’m not going to lie… fundraising and handing over a large sum of money was a pretty fantastic feeling too.
Next up: I want to do another one. IMMT 2015. I will not camp out to do it though, so I hope it doesn’t sell out.
Colin – Thanks for masterminding the training and race plan, and being so positive despite all my training mishaps. That definitely would have been a bad experience without your help! Instead, it was a great experience!!
Last month’s training weekend was incredibly helpful as well, and if you were there, thank you because you definitely helped me out.