My first Triathlon
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Ironman USA Lake Placid - TriathlonFull Ironman
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Lake Placid, New York
Ironman North America
= 14h 26m 33s
Age Group Rank
Where to start? Saturday was a super low key day. Did a little swim/bike/run and then lounged for HOURS. Went to a dinner with Jon for the medical volunteers. Then went to our room and laid in bed and cat napped until 4am. Ate breakfast in the dark. Yup, the dark. It kept the nerves at bay so that I could eat a big bowl of cereal and a banana. We got to the big parking lot in town just before 5am and got a spot. Sweet! I went to check on my bike and put Jon's saddle bag on it. Mine kept falling off. Didn't bother checking tire pressure since Jon put as much over 100 psi in them as he could the day before. Dropped off my special needs bags and then got body marked. After that we hung out at the water for a looooong time. Saw BTer Mike - cusetri!
They opened the water to age groupers and as I was walking down the path I found Fred - PennState! Clung to him until the cannon went off. We took a few strokes to the flags and seeded ourselves 2/3 over to the right and about 2 rows back. I stretched and stretched and stretched out of nervousness. It was crazy to look behind me and see ALL of those people!!
1h 04m 24s
01m 31s / 100 yards
This was defensive swimming. The first couple hundred yards I was surprised at how much open space I had. Then the body contact began. I was swimming over people, people were swimming over me. I'd get next to a swimmer and see their big arm preparing to enter the water but unsure if it'd hit me instead. I got a body part to the ribs, my goggles knocked
(but not off
), a little something to the face. There was lots of breaststroke involved to try and strategize how to get around people who would form blockades! Rounding the buoys wasn't bad at all. Through the rest of the first loop I would find patches of calm water and patches of craziness. If I had a GPS with me it would have been something to see me zig zag my way around that lake! I LOOOOOVED exiting the water the first time!!! I raised my arms up and flailed them around and hooted and hollered before I hit the water again. I dolphined as far as I could - first time I ever tried this but I KNEW it was faster then walking like the others were doing. I had noticed that the time on the clock said 40 minutes. I was bummed that it was a slow time. I tried to figure out if I wanted to make up for time or let it be what it was. Found calm water on and off for the rest of the second loop. Reminded myself several times that I AM a swimmer and I need to swim like one. Relaxed my form and went for nice long reaches and a pretty kick. ***PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT*** Your feet should not be at a right angle to the rest of your leg when you are swimming!!! I feared that I would get kicked with a heel!!! My breathing stayed great, my form was great. It was overall such a super swim. As I exited the water I just thrived off of the cheering. I took my arms out of the wetsuit and looked for an open stripper. Plopped down and let them tear my suit off of me. I went to stand up and both of them stood me up for me! It was GREAT!!!!!!!!!! I jogged through to T1. I smiled the whole time. It was a wet parade of excited athletes and I was so stoked that I was there and doing the race and so proud of myself for the swim.
The big debacle I had before race day was what suit to wear. But the 74* water was MUCH cooler than our open water swims that reached over 81*. So, I used lots of "flushing" to stay cool. Thank you to the BTer that mentioned this in the thread! As soon as I finished the "catch" of a stroke I would grab my neckline and pull it so water would go in. It felt soooooo gooooood! I'd alternate which hand I used so that cool water would go down my right arm and across my right back and then on the other side. Great tip because having the full sleeved suit gave me more confidence that I'd have a better swim time.
What would you do differently?:
Maybe I would have seeded myself closer to the cable? There were a couple of points where one swimmer was swimming perpendicular to me and I thought "Is that person really stupid to swim across thousands of swimmers OR are they really smart for getting closer to the middle of the course?" The other thing I would have done was NOT tighten my goggles "one more time". They were squeezing my face and it hurt so bad. I was nervous that I'd have to stop at the end of the first loop to loosen them. I didn't want to lose time so I just lowered the strap on the back of my head. My goggles leaked, but not bad.
I was sent down the wrong line of racks to get my T1 bag, but you really can't be mad at the volunteers-it's chaos, but fun, to be in the oval. I wore my bike top and bikini bottoms during the swim. So I changed into bike shorts that I had put aquaphor on the night before. Thank god because I forgot lubricant the day of the race!!!!!!!!!!!! I didn't have a volunteer to help me, but it wasn't much of a big deal. I saw on the Endurance Nation DVD that I should use the volunteers to take care of the stuff that I DON'T need so I didn't throw my wetsuit back into my gear bag...as I was exiting the T1 tent I yelled
) to a volunteer "what do I do with my wetsuit?" and she kindly grabbed it from me. It worked out great because my wetsuit ended up making it back in my gear bag when I picked it up post race!
The volunteers were awesome... I started running towards the rack that my bike was on and a man spotted my number and RUUUSHED!!! to get my bike for me. What a kind soul. I got to the mount line and the clock said 1:11:something. So I knew my swim was better than I expected.
What would you do differently?:
Other athletes had creative ways of making their transition bags stand out for easier spotting-red cups, plates, ribbons, stickers, all were great ways of distinguishing them. I wish I had done that. I saw that strategy the day before when I hung my bags, but I didn't have anything in my room. I suppose I could have bought something and then put it on my bags on race day or even marked the rack itself, but it wasn't THAT big of a deal.
Also, I didn't hear any volunteers yelling about sunscreen and I didn't think to ask for it. It was only after I got on the bike that I realized that I had no protection on my arms or shoulders.
7h 40m 38s
"Don't Eat The Paste".... "Don't Drink The Kool Aid"....
Well... as you can see I had THOUSANDS of people pass me in almost 8 hours. It was hard at times to let them do that, but I knew I had to save it for the run. I felt like a rock star going through town!!!!!!! People were so genuinely excited to see athletes start their ride. I kept the gears nice and easy the whole 112 miles. As we were making our way up the first climb out of town I was getting passed pretty bad already, but the people were so great with encouraging me! Since we all had to wear our bib #s backwards for the ride it was awesome that we all could see names. So, I heard a lot of "great job Sara!" from men and women. It was sweet hearing it from the guys. =
) It felt like we really were out there with 2,700 of our closest friends. I had one gel before the Keene descent. It had rained while we were swimming and the roads were wet. I was keeping up with the fasties on the descent and KNEW that shouldn't be-they are fast because they are fit and SMART so I backed off to watch them in case their speed took them out. The descent was so fun! Once I started making my way to Jay I just took it easy. I thought about the scenery and kept checking on my legs. I constantly was switching to an easier gear and tried to judge if the higher cadence was bothering me at all. It's amazing that there's barely a sound from athletes for long stretches of miles. You just heard water from the river, or birds, or volunteers shouting "SPORTS DRINK! WATER! GEL! POWER BAR!". I'd yell for a water and a volunteer would run with me so that I didn't have to slow down too much. They'd yell "Keep going! I'll run with you!!!" They were awesome volunteers. Honestly. Roughly half way through the ride I decided to use the port-o-john. I figured I needed to use them on the bike since the lines would probably get long during the run. It was great because as soon as I got off the bike a volunteer grabbed my bike to hold it for me and asked if I needed ANYTHING. So nice! On the first loop pit stop I had just mounted my bike when I heard the most God awful scraping noise. A man with those fancy zipp wheels had fallen on his bike and his wheels were skidding across the wet pavement. I turned just in time to see him hit the pavement on his left shoulder. Ouch. Thankfully there was an ambulance a few 100 yards from there because he was going to need it. I don't think it affected other cyclists, though, good thing. The hills kept on keeping on and I kept on pedaling on. I saw a monarch butterfly cross my path in a pristine wooded section with the huge mountains in the background. Butterflies are symbolic for me. I started swimming because my dad was a swimmer in high school and when I was a young swimmer I wanted to be a butterflier like him. I'd even ask if I could stay a little bit after swim practice to work on my butterfly. So it kind of took off from there that I loved swimming butterfly because of my dad. It just breaks my heart that he's missing big life events like when Jon and I got married and now my Ironman, but seeing that monarch was like a "sign" that he was there. I cried a little, of course, because there's a lot of crying in Ironman, but it was cool to see that out of no where.
Getting to town was SOOOO COOOOOL!!!!! No matter how slow a cyclist is moving, they all make you feel like a stud. It's hard not to want to fly through the crowds so that you look good, but taking my time through town gave me an opportunity to soak up the energy. The second loop was same as the first except I started the climb out of town with egg & cheese on a bagel. =
) I had put it in my special needs bag and grabbed it in town. I mean, I wasn't going fast up the hills so it made sense to use the climb out of town to have something nice and solid in my stomach. It was funny-people passing me would be like "what's THAT?!" and I'd tell them. Hehe. One man said he had a McDonalds hamburger in his back pocket! He said "I'm going to miss dinner because I'll be on the run, I refuse to miss lunch too!". The descent to Keene was dry so I yelled out "ON YOUR LEFT!" a lot more so I could pass some people. FUUUUUUUN!!!!!!!! I didn't see anyone go down, just more people changing flats and I hoped that I wasn't going to be one of them. My IT band was acting up for most of the ride and I think I could attribute it to the high cadence of the easy gears but by the end of the ride it was gone. I did a good job standing and stretching, too. The bike ride for me was really about preparing for the marathon. One guy jokingly called me out for "sand bagging" when we were on the second loop. =p
What would you do differently?:
I would have eaten two big food items instead of just one. I would have had a gel before the Keene descent, like I did, but then I would have eaten something solid w/ high calories on the flat to Jay and THEN I would have had the egg & cheese bagel like I did. Maybe P&J or pizza would have been good on the first loop.
I got off the bike just a hair too early because the volunteers were yelling "TO THE LINE! TO THE LINE!" oops. Guess I just wanted to get off my bike! I saw Binghamton Boys as I was coming in, so that was cool! I don't remember what happened next, but I'm sure a volunteer grabbed my bike for me. =
) The volunteers in T2 were great at pointing me to my bag. Got it and took my bike shoes off so I could run to the tent a little better. Kept my socks on because I had extra in my gear bag. That was good thinking on my part. Used the bathroom for the third time-no lines! Can't pass up that opportunity!!!!! In the tent I did a full costume change. I ate up time putting my sports bra on inside out and took the time to change it. Haha. I had a volunteer this time and she was exceptional. She let me just change and then took the clothing I discarded and put it in my bag for me. Once I got my shirt and shoes on she said "You're ready to go" and I didn't question it. I just started to run! I HAD to trust her... in this race you can't think sometimes, you just "do".
What would you do differently?:
Not put my bra on inside out. =p
5h 29m 51s
12m 35s min/mile
So... I took all the advice and wisdom and reminded myself "This isn't a race until mile 18". I kept a really easy jog. Was so excited that I jogged right through the first aid station even though my plan was to walk the stations, drink, eat and stretch. I kept the run to the stations, walk the stations strategy as far as I could. Turning on the road at the ski jumps was nice the first time because it was lined with hundreds of signs that the families made for the athletes. One said something about being "Nucking Futs". I thought it was funny. I really focused on them because even on the first loop I was getting slightly dizzy, not bad, but having something close by to focus my vision on was more comfortable than looking ahead. I saw Kelley Hamlin and she looked f-ing amazing. What an athlete!!!! She had a huge smile and spotted me first. I was almost to the end of the first turn around to head back into town when the thought popped into my head "oh. my. god. I have to get my ass back to Mirror Lake from here and then... I have to come back to this point and do it again!". I developed a blister on my left foot and stopped at an aid station for something to deal with it. They scrambled for vaseline
(really? I was the first one with a blister????!
) and that was great. It really helped a lot. I ran back to town and I cannot express what it meant to me having each individual spectator cheering me up the hills... you all helped sooo much. As I turned on to Mirror Lake Drive I was thinking "wow, I remember being here last year with Mirjam and cheering for people" and in my head I started thinking " yeah, yeah, yeah, go me, go me, go me" I was really cheering myself on.... not a happy cheerleader cheer, but a motivating "just keep moving" cheer. Yanno? I stopped at special needs and the volunteer pulled out my two gels. What the f- was I thinking putting gels in there? There's nothing special about gels!!!!!!!! I was offered gels all 112 miles of the bike and every mile of this run!!!! I sighed, rolled my eyes, and took the little squirt of aquaphor that I had put in a baggy and put in on my thighs. I didn't want them chaffing. Had a baby wipe and wiped my face. Ahhh. That was nice. Went towards town and out for round two. Wanted to find my mom and say "I don't want to go back there... that River Road looks like a death march for some people.. they're so quiet...it's kind of a scary place". But I went. It's part of the deal to becoming an Ironman. You face what's ahead of you because everyone else has to do it too.
Up until mile 17 I was so absolutely super wicked freaking proud of myself for running the first 17 miles. The walking was ONLY at aid stations so that I could take in nutrition and quickly stretch the legs and go. I was passing people who had started walking way before my walking turned into a survival technique rather than a strategy. This is the point when something happens to someone during an Ironman... it's hard to explain but the sun starts going down
(when it feels like just a few hours ago you were waking up in the dark and eating your cereal in the dark and parking in the dark and walking to the oval in the dark to see the first athletes getting body marked in the dark...
). The sun started setting and the athletes stopped talking except for a few pairs that were walking side by side as if they were going for a Sunday morning walk. My mindset started to shift here. I've explained it to people that it felt like the circuitry in my brain started frying. Honestly. My head was getting light and my body was starting to hurt. I approached an aid station and just didn't want anything and didn't want to make the decision of what I'd put in my body. But I had to make that decision. A couple of times. Because it's no longer just 10 or 12 minutes to the next aid station. At this point it can take 20 minutes, or more, to get to the next mile, to the next aid station. I started putting ice in my shirt and grabbed two sponges at a time and would wipe down my arms or put one in my straps on my back. I was putting ice in my arm pits. Yup. For real. I was worried about my body temp getting too high despite the fact that now the athletes were taking those space blankets and I wanted nothing to do with something that would make me warmer. Then I started walking. Out of "survival" strategy. As I type, it seems pathetic and dramatic to use survival when describing this part of the race. But out there... the families are gone. The volunteers are out there with their smiles and they are the most wonderful people for telling you how good you look when you feel like a pathetic blob just barely walking by them. They tell you to stay strong. They tell you you are doing it. You tell yourself that you are in an IRONMAN race and then you tell yourself that everyone told you that this isn't a race. It's an event. And I didn't believe them until I couldn't run anymore. At mile 17 Ironman Lake Placid 2010 became an event for me. Not a race. And I walked. I didn't want to get hotter. I took ice from the aid stations and swallowed it whole. I bit into oranges and I drank coke. It felt like I was only eating oranges and drinking coke and swallowing ice for hours. I REFUSED to let myself even consider walking from one aid station to the next, though. To me, that was unacceptable. I trained for this day. I got up at 4:30am some days so that I could run for three hours to train for this day. I wasn't going to let myself give up and walk more than I HAD to. I wanted to earn my Ironman title. And so, when I could I shuffled. It was a walk with a little more "oomph" but it was getting me closer to the finish line and that was good. The ambulance would slowly drive by like the Grim Reaper. And in those moments my head/thinking shifted from "is it possible I could go to the hospital today? Is it possible that I'll need IV fluids today?" to "Whoa! Gotta look good! Gotta fake feeling good! Don't let them ask you how you're feeling because that means you're looking BAD and that means the ambulance wants to take you and if the ambulance takes you you can't finish your race... you can't be an Ironman finisher. You didn't do all this training for that... keep moving!" It took a lot of swearing in my head to keep going. At one point, I looked around and saw everyone walking. I remember thinking about the race reports I read from last year's race and how people kept themselves running when they didn't want to. I wanted to be back in town because I needed the encouragement of the spectators. The encouragement from the volunteers wasn't enough anymore and I felt bad and mad at myself because I wasn't thanking them for being there. The inside of my body started to wage war on itself. Ugh. And then it happened... a volunteer asked me if I was okay. Shit. I was looking as bad on the outside as I felt on the inside. But I kept trucking and as I passed that volunteer I told her I'm okay. Did I mean it? I saw Rob and I saw Mirjam and I told them how happy I was to see them and I don't know if they know how sincere I was because I meant it.
And that was miles 17 - 20.
And then something happened.
I had only 6 more miles to go and my body just said "You know what? We can get this done and we don't HAVE to walk". And I ran. And I was only walking the aid stations again. I was going past people who looked like they were physically better than me. But I was mentally in a better place. I was eating food again. I didn't need ice because I thought it would help me get to the next station... I felt like a new person. My feet were aching but I felt like I was flying. And the spectators were cheering loud for me because I was running and so many others were walking. I saw Willie and it was fun to see him!
I made the turn onto Mirror Lake Drive and it was dark. The sun was gone and the street lights were on and there were barely any spectators because they were in the oval. I could hear names being announced and then "YOU ARRRE AN IROOONMAN!!" and I wanted to be there to bask in the glory of the oval and making my way to the finish line. But I stopped to walk. With just a mile to go I was walking again.
I rounded that last turn and it was literally downhill and so I let gravity take me towards the Olympic oval. I grabbed a water at the last stop and didn't walk this time. I folded the cup and took a sip and didn't stop because I could keep running and I didn't want to stop anymore.
I couldn't believe it when I crossed the street in front of the oval and looked at the two cones on the pavement with signs-one pointing to the 2nd loop of the run in one direction and one pointing to the finish line in the other direction. I almost felt like someone was going to stop me and tell me there was "one more thing" I had to do before I could enter the oval and cross the finish line because at that point it just seemed too easy to enter the oval. But no one stopped me and my legs picked up speed and the cheering was loud. I contemplated slowing my run down so that I could look at all those spectators and look for hands to high five and look for my family, but I didn't. My legs felt fresh and I let them take me to the bright lights. It's funny... I couldn't see my time, I could just see the bright white lights that illuminated the oval after the finish line and I just went to them.
I didn't hear my name called. Or that I was an Ironman. I saw the photographer and a volunteer put his arm around me and I got a space blanket and they asked me my shirt size and in my head I thought "do I really have to make that decision right now?!". I walked towards the food and thats when I first really noticed how wet my clothing was and how icky my skin felt. I just wanted a shower more than anything in the world.
What would you do differently?:
Vaseline between my toes in T2 to prevent blisters.
I saw Mike, DIrk and Steve. What sweet guys from our tri club! They were like big brothers and it was so cool. They offered to get me something to eat or something to drink, but I felt so super great! So we chatted and Steve's dad sat down and chatted with me, too. I was sad when I looked at my finishers shirt and it was so small. Steve went to exchange it for a large and they didn't let him. I was a little sad that I worked so hard for this day and my shirt wouldn't even fit, but I told myself to HTFU. A shirt that's too small to proudly wear everywhere-training, work, weddings
) was small bananas. Found Mirjam-she had a flat on the bike course. Found Rob. Found Kelley who so kindly let me take a shower in her room. Went back and watched the last 45 minutes of finishers. Saw my mom, she had made me a sign. =
) We went over to the bleachers and danced and cheered and it was a great day. It was a great moment and experience to see finisher after finisher crying, cheering, waving flags from their county, etc. That last minute of the race was anti-climatic. There was no firefighter this year to countdown for. But, it was still one helluva a time. I'm so thankful I did it-and that I'm NOT doing it next year!
What limited your ability to perform faster:
My run... I don't know what I could have done differently. Yes, my run volume was so super low, but I didn't fall apart until mile 17. I think just experience helps to get through mile 17. Or, maybe I could have tried a long bike one day
(say, 100 miles HARD
) and then done a long bike the next
(maybe 60 miles reasonably hard
) followed by an hour run?
I felt like I was well taken care of on the course. To each and every volunteer- you are an amazing person and thank you for being there for me. I know we all had a long day on 7/25, but you don't know how much it means to an athlete to have honest to goodness kind people being there and helping. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
A note to IM newbies prepping for next year...
This is not a race for "stuff". If you want SWAG then go do Musselman. At the finish line we got a t-shirt, medal and hat. I think I waited at least a half hour for one slice of pizza. They ONLY had ham subs
(huh?? vegetarians like myself were scratching our heads
), pizza, pretzels, fruit, water, coke.... it wasn't an all-you-can-eat buffet by any means.
This is a race for the experience. Do the training. Don't make excuses to not train, but train smart.
Keep smiling after you cross the timing mat. My photo-finish looks like I'm ready to look for another port-o-potty. Ha!
Don't let anyone make you think you can't do this race. On my last stretch of the run I remember thinking in my head "F--k all the people who ever doubted me. I wish they were standing right here, right now so I could say that their pansy ass is not worthy of me even looking them in the eye to say they are a coward and took it out on me by saying that Sara couldn't do this".
Thank everyone who made your day possible. It takes a village to make an Ironman.
Last updated: 2009-09-03 12:00 AM
01:04:24 | 4224 yards | 01m 31s / 100yards
Full sleeved Xterra
Two loops of the rectangle
74F / 23C
Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
07:40:38 | 112 miles | 14.59 mile/hr
Two loops. With hills... in case you hadn't heard. =p
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Shoe and helmet removal
05:29:51 | 26.2 miles | 12m 35s min/mile
Mostly flat with two really kick ass hills that you luckily get to hit TWICE!
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Lots of volunteers?
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5]
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