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IRONMAN Lake Placid: Race Report

2015 is my fourth year competing in triathlons.  2014 had been a pretty big year, ending in a trip to the USAT Nationals and a Half Iron Distance Race.  Going into 2015, I had decided I wanted to try an Ironman Branded race and signed up for IM70.3 Muncie.  Then, my dreams got bigger.  I met some really great people through a Tri Club I joined call Infinite Multisport Triathlon Club.  Many of the members have completed Full Ironmans...  many have completed multiple.  After a couple of meetings, I started to think maybe I could complete a Full Ironman, too.  With a part time schedule for second semester, allowing me to go into work late - I thought this was the perfect opportunity to try.  I found the race that I thought fit best into a teacher's schedule, and signed up for Lake Placid on February 2nd.

I drove all afternoon on Wednesday, stayed in Syracuse on Wednesday night, and got into Lake Placid early Thursday afternoon.  I went directly to packet pick-up and got my wristband, got weighed in (ugh) and filled out the forms agreeing not to sue them if I die.  Then I walked down to
the Ironman Village.  Since I was racing with a Foundation Spot, I got a hat from Ironman Foundation and I picked up the backpack from the Ironman store.  Of course, I also purchased the name shirt.  Ironman swag is AWESOME! Next was the mandatory athlete's meeting, where I met up with my teammate, Dan.  After the meeting, we rode  the first five miles of the course as an out and back.  I knew then that the first hill and I would not be friends.  The scenery though!!!

Dan and I during our "bike test" workout.  That is the olympic ski jump above us.

After our bike ride I got settled into the hotel, which was all decked out in Ironman decor, and waited for my bestie to get there.

Denise with her new cowbell :-)
On Friday, I started the day with a mile swim on the course with Dan.  There really is a bright orange rope that is about 4 feet under water on this course.  I had fun sighting with it during this practice swim, assuming I would never get close to it on race day.  

Denise and I also did some shopping at the Ironman Village and drove the bike course on Friday.  Even after our drive, I was not intimidated by the uphills... the downhills on the other hand!!  

We rounded out the day with dinner at the Lake Placid Brew Pub with Dan and his family and the Opening Ceremony.  At the opening ceremony we learned that I would be racing with 1980 USA Hockey Gold Medalist Dan Silk and XGames BMX champion Dave Mirra.  The opening ceremony was so inspiring.  I was feeling humbled by the athletes around me AND by my own determination to be there.  As my bestie likes to put it - I was having a lot of "feels" that evening.  

On the way back to the hotel we stopped and secured my pre-race dinner request.  I have started eating pancakes and eggs for my pre-race dinner.  Lake Placid is not a Big Boy kind of town though, so we had to ask the chef of one of the restaurants if they could make it for me.  Phew - they said yes.  Never hurts to ask :-)

On Saturday, Denise and I both started the day with a workout.  She ran 8 miles around the lake and I did a 20 min light bike ride and 10 minute easy run.  After that we took my bike to transition and played the role of super tourists for a little while.  We were back to the hotel by about 1 so that I could watch some youtube videos about the course that I had saved and fade in and out of sleep.  I knew sleep would be difficult that night.  At 5:00, we went to Dancing Bears to have my pre-arranged pancake and eggs dinner.  I really love pancakes!

Foundation Entry gets you a pretty good spot in transition!
Taking in the good mojo at the ice arena
Amazing view of transition from ice arena
Carb-loaded and ready to rock :-)
As we were turning in for the night, we heard sirens and learned that there was a fire in downtown Lake Placid.  I later learned that there was some talk of canceling the swim.  I am glad I never knew that... I would have never slept.  For more on the fire, click here.

Even when the alarm is set for 3:30, this girl is always by my side.
I couldN't ask for a better friend!
Mike Reilly - the voice of Ironman
Sunday morning... Race Day.  To say I was excited is such a HUGE understatement - but I really don't have a better word.  All of my hard work came down to this day.  This really was 4 years of training to get here, and I felt that with extreme excitement.  It felt like it was time for my victory lap - and that is how I would treat it.
Think I was a little excited ?!?!?

 Swim: 2.4 miles/1:18:02 This was a rolling start.  I placed myself in the 1:20 group, so I felt like I was pretty accurate.  Mirror lake is so clear for this two loop course.  As I figured, I was unable to get close enough to the rope to see it on the first loop.  About 600m into the 2nd loop, I was able to ride the rope for a bit.  After the turn to head back in, I was forced off of the rope again.  I felt very good for the whole swim.  I did have to get upright 3 times to readjust for other swimmers, but other than that is was smooth sailing.

I had hoped for a time between 1:20 and 1:30, so I was thrilled with my swim time!

Bike: 112 miles/7:19:08 The course was beautiful.  I was hoping to average 16 mph, but the hills, wind, and my feet had other things in mind. There are so many climbs on this course, but the ones that you hear the most about are not the ones that I found the most challenging.  I had the biggest struggle with the climbs that were long - even though they were not as steep.  I did let myself go on the descents more that I expected, so that was fun.  I lost my flower at mile 40"ish" and it was still there when I came back around at mile 96 - so that was awesome!  Not so awesome was the amount of power that I had to use to get up the hills.  I did not have enough gears.  If any of you plan to ride this course in the future, I strongly suggest having 3 chainrings.  My granny gear was just not granny enough...  I paid for that on the run!

Also, my feet started falling asleep at mile 70.  The only way to "wake" them up was to stop and unclip.  So, I stopped at every aid station starting at mile 70.  The volunteers were amazing and those quick stops allowed me to find my feet and a little extra energy to finish.  This is when I really started to change my thoughts about this "race."  I had said outloud, "it is about the journey", "this is a challenge, not a race", "this is my victory lap for all my hard work", etc.  I had dutifully said all of those things... At mile 70 on the bike, I started to believe them - and it felt really...  AMAZING! (I am crying as I type this, because it really was such a freeing realization.)

I had hoped for a time between 7:00 and 7:30, so even with my stops (and giving myself permission to enjoy the process), I still managed to come in at my expected time.

Run: 26.2 miles/ 6:21:40 Before this day, I had run two marathons: this first one put me in a boot for 6 weeks after and the second landed me in physical therapy with a hip injury WHILE I was trying to train for this Ironman.  Now, after 9 hours on the course - I wanted to do this marathon injury free.  I felt VERY good coming out of transition.  Plan A was to run slowly to each aid station and then walk the aid stations.  The run course is VERY hilly, starting with a 1 mile descent to the first aid station.  As planned, I ran it.  I kept looking at my watch - 9:30/mile - oh no, that is too fast.  I tried to slow down, but the downhill made it virtually impossible.  I walked the first aid station taking salt, water, gatorade, and gu.  At the end of the aid station, when I was supposed to start running, I looked up at a huge UPHILL and thought - oh hell no!  So I kept walking.  I talked to others that were walking around me.  A few were on their second lap and they were hurting - miserable really.  I even met a guy that was 12 miles from finishing and had decided to quit... at 4pm.  With all of this going on around me (and seeing several ambulances and athletes passed out from the heat), I made the very conscious decision to completely let go.

I did the math and I knew that I would finish - even if I walked the whole way.  I knew that I wouldn't have to do that, but I decided that I wanted to REALLY ENJOY this race AND stay out of an ambulance.  I walked a lot, and ran when I could.  I smiled the whole time.  I talked to athletes that needed encouragement and some that just wanted to gab ;-) I enjoyed the grapes and the chicken soup!!  I laughed at the amount of warm clothes I had packed in my special needs bag (it was so hot.)  I cried (good tears) as I read the words of encouragement that my friends and family had sent for my bag.  I hugged Denise any time I could get close enough (poor girl, I was stinky.)

When I reached the point of the run that you have to follow an arrow, either the arrow that says "2nd Loop", or the arrow that says "Finish"... when it was time to follow the Finish arrow - I bawled.  Big giant crocodile tears!  I smiled through them, they were some of the happiest tears I have ever cried.  I had no clue what time it was (my watch died at mile 21) and I didn't care.  The crowd was amazing.  Little kids were high fiving me and many were cheering my name.  I was about to be an Ironman and I didn't know how to contain all of those "feels."

Denise was waiting from me about 50 yards before the finish line.  I saw her sign and ran over to her for a hug (again - sorry for the stink).  She hugged me back, but then wanted me to run in.  She was recording :-)  So, I did - arms up, as always, screaming, laughing, crying... loving life.

I had hoped to finish the run in 5:00 to 5:30.  I was nowhere close, and that is OK.


While my words can't fully explain
what this experience has meant to me,
I think this picture says it all.

Reflection: I have had a motto for most of my adult life: "SOMETIMES GOOD ENOUGH IS JUST THAT."  On Sunday, July 26th, 2015 I realized... Sometimes MY good enough is pretty freaking awesome.  I could have pushed harder - but I didn't need to.  I didn't need to be miserable, or risk injury, or risk dehydration and a trip in an ambulance to reach my goal of finishing.  My "good enough" allowed me to finish my first Ironman and hear Mike Reilly tell me "YOU ARE AN IRONMAN."  It truly was a life changing experience.

When I turned 35, I made a 40 before 40 list.  On that list I included "complete a sprint distance triathlon."  On December 6th of this year, I will turn 40...  Sometimes good enough is amazing!


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