My first Triathlon
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Ironman USA Lake Placid - TriathlonFull Ironman
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Lake Placid, New York
Ironman North America
70F / 21C
= 11h 52m 33s
Age Group Rank
My Race Report:
Okay, it's taken me three days to find a block of time long enough to sit down to write my novel-of-a-race report, so here we go:
Here's what I've eaten since my IMLP finish as of Wednesday evening:
2 slices of pizza
2 chocolate chip cookies
1 bowl of Raisin Bran
1 1/2 cinnamon rolls covered with icing
1 strawberry/banana smoothie
1 "Tail 'o the Pup" barbecue beef brisket sandwich
1 seasoned waffle fries
1 order of mozzarella sticks
1 chicken parmesan w/peas, 2 rolls, and 4 cookies
1 blueberry scone
1/2 sugar donut
1 Vermont melt sandwich w/seasoned fries
1 gigantic El Torito Burrito Especial and 1 basket of tortilla chips
4 strips bacon
2 pepperoni pizza hot pockets
1 handful of cashews
2 oatmeal/raisin cookies
1 breast of teriyaki chicken w/white rice and soy sauce
4 chocolate chip cookies
That doesn't include the drinks, gum, mints I've consumed with it. So, I probably cooked out 15,000 calories on Sunday and I'd say it's safe to say I've put 'em all back in and then some. Suffice to say, the post-race gluttony is one of my favorite parts of Ironman racing. But...I digress!
Many of you read my daily updates from LP, so to pick it up where I'd left off, fast forward to the night before the race. I had all intentions of getting a full night's sleep, but as we all know, the night before Ironman is wrought with doubts, last-minute changes, going through your bags in your mind over and over, etc. and add to that my 8-month-old son waking every 3 hours crying like a gator had just torn his arm off, and that made for a fairly sleepless night. Oh sure, I snuck in an hour at a time between wakeups, but rest-assured I was far from rested or assured when I woke up. However, adrenaline has a funny way of erasing sleep deprivation, and I was ready to roll after downing a bowl of cereal while sitting on the edge of the bathtub
(couldn't turn the lights on in the room as I didn't want to wake the wife and kids
I'm a bit of a weather nerd and always have been and I was following the NWS discussions
(NOT the generic forecasts that most others read that were all wrong!
) all week and knew the night before it was going to be a soggy one, so I had packed away my $9 Louis Garneau rain jacket. Turns out that decision probably saved my 5.7%
(according to the Tanita folks
) bodyfat ass!
I grabbed all my gear, put a peanut butter/banana bagel in my mouth and did the zombie walk with all the other athletes down the street.
SIDEBAR: AGAIN, MASSIVE thanks to Bill Ulmer
) for working out the room transfer with the Golden Arrow- Bill, staying there made our weekend! It was perfect for the wife and kids!
So, as I arrived and got bodymarked, I looked up and the sky was looking quite ominous, but still dry at that point. I proceeded to my bags and put some things in, and took my folded up rain jacket to my bike and rigged it to my Xlab Flatwing with a rubber band
(thanks for the idea Dev!
). My next step was to do a few stretches, so I found an open area near the pro bikes. There was one portapotty there and what played out was a mini-scene from Candid Camera. The line had about ten people. They would open the door, take a step in, and reel back in horror. The next person would to the same, often making comments as they stepped quickly back out. Once in a while, a person would brave it and shut the door, coming out moments later on the verge of upchucking. Obviously, some poor sap had unleashed their anal fury on this portapotty, and I for one was glad not to be a portapotty company cleaner dude that day of the week in LP!
So, I put on my wetsuit and made my way down Lake Placid Club Drive to drop off my SN bags, and then stopped to line up at the portapotty there. The line was about 20 deep and it took a good 25 minutes to finally get there, and of course the toilet paper had run out, so after doing my business, I figured what the hell, I was going to be covered in sweat, water, pee, etc. all day, so I saw a little crumpled up but non-stained piece of TP on the floor and used that to wipe, but realistically, it wasn't even close to enough, so I just pulled up the shorts and continued with my morning, poopy pants and all. I made my way to "chip in" as they call it and briefly crossed paths with the infamous Paulo and Jodi, but we were all in a hurry, so we said "hi" in passing and continued on our way. The crowd of racers to get across the timing mat was horrendous, but I made it into the water and lined up near the opposite side from the dock, about 4 rows back, thinking I'd be swimming about 1:10-1:15.
BANG! The cannon went off and I was off and swimming. I always like to avoid the crowd as I'm not aggressive, but there was simply no avoiding it unless I had hung back for 5 minutes at the start, which wasn't happening. I had a race goal of sub-12 hours. So, on my side of the lake, there was jostling, bumping, and light brushing, sort of similar to what salmon mating must be like, not that I'd know. But fortunately, no kicks to the head, punches to the ear, etc. Some close calls, but that's it. The bummer was, I simply couldn't get a solid rhythm going because of the ridiculous amount of people around me. I did find feet from time to time. It's funny, you have kickers, and non-kickers. I typically prefer to draft non-kickers to avoid having my fingers broken, and when I see breast-strokers, I avoid them like they have ebola as a boot to the ribs would be a tough start to the day.
My daughter overlooking the swim from the balcony of our hotel room:
I ended up about 30 yards outside the buoy line, but the strange paradox of the giant group swim in an Ironman is that I truly believe you could simply tread water and still finish under the cutoff time simply by virtue of the circular current that is created when that many thrashing bodies are swimming in the same direction. So, despite my wide path around the buoys, I came in from the first loop at exactly the same time as my training loop two days prior
) when I was following the underwater cables right along the buoy line. It was at that point that I realized I should be able to lay down a 1:10 swim
(my PR was 1:14 at IMC last year
). I never get winded during an IM swim which leads me to believe I should be swimming harder. I certainly have it in me, but always feel like I need to be conservative on the swim as it's a long day ahead. I did stop kicking long enough to pee as I swam in lap two, but it took tremendous concentration!
So, I exited the water in 1:09:28. Off to a good start.
As others have mentioned, the raindrops began to fall about halfway through the swim. I was running along the stretch to T1 hooting at the spectators, just enjoying the scene that is Ironman and trying to have fun. There were a lot of folks finishing in that time as we all know, so I didn't really have much room to pass people on the T1 run, so I passed when I could and entered the mudpit ready for the bike. I got my bag and ducked into the chaos that was the change tent. It was pouring outside and crowded, muddy and dark inside. What to do...I opted to find a chair and did, and a great volunteer helped me sort through my stuff. I put my sunglasses on and they instantly fogged up, so that was out. I put my socks and bike shoes on over muddy feet and ran to get my bike. Immediately, I decided to put the rain jacket on, and I was outta there. I put the glasses on now that the fog on them had cleared and hit the ramp out of T1. I had to walk my bike all the way down the first ramp due to the massive crowds, but finally I hopped on my Dual and headed out on the course. T1 time: A blistering 8:41. Jeez, pathetic!
There's something liberating about being soaked to the bone for more than 6 hours. What that was I was to discover. As I descended out of town to the cheers of the crowd, which incidentally were as hardcore as they come for braving those unfriendly conditions, my bike shoes and socks became fully drenched within the first mile. Living in SoCal, we don't get much rain, so I can count on one hand the number of times I've been forced to ride in the rain, HOWEVER, if you simply embrace that you're going to be wet and are prepared for it, it sort of becomes almost comical. I found myself laughing several times at how miserable it was.
The misery up close:
There I was, powering along, with my cheap Louis Garneaux rain jacket over top my tri singlet and shorts, feeling pretty comfortable, but damn if I couldn't see out of my sunglasses. I found myself pulling them down onto my nose, so eventually, I realized they were useless and stuffed them in the side pocket of my shorts. Soon, the Keene descent was upon me. Now, I have never pre-ridden or driven the course, so it was all new to me at that point. I have a self-imposed speed limit of around 40mph on downhills, but it was WET today, so I was going to play it extra safe. Road rash wasn't in the race plan and I wanted to keep it that way. I began descending, lamenting about how much I would have loved to have been enjoying the scenic beauty that is upstate New York, but careening downhill on a wet road with raindrops pelting my eyeballs, all the while trying to avoid losing traction and stay out of the way of the speed demons was my top priority. Even so, I got it up to about 38mph a couple of times. Great Balls of Fire! Soon, we were in Upper Jay, then Jay, and of course I felt right at home. I had my...gasp...Bento Box filled with two Clif Mojo bars and one regular Clif Bar, and my pockets full of Gu's. I was going to eat some of the bars every 20 miles and down a gel roughly every 15 miles. I was sticking to that, but I had pre-opened the wrappers on the bars, so some rain got in. Soggy Clif Bars taste a bit like cold oatmeal, which I don't like. As we headed up the hill toward Wilmington, I couldn't help but laugh at the irony of passing a place called "The Ark", which featured a large..well..Ark out front on the lawn. Mental note: Go there quickly with two of each animal if the rain continued, which at the time, seemed like a distinct possibility. The cool thing was the random appearance of spectators out in front of their houses, just sitting there in the rain with umbrellas, cheering us on. How cool of them! At one stage, I passed a girl who couldn't have weighed more than 100lbs soaking wet who was shivering along in her sports bra and tri shorts who commented that I was smart for wearing a rain jacket. And to think I wasn't even staying at a Holiday Inn Express! Before the race, I had memories of reading all the horrifying race reports from IMMoo '06 of people who didn't have rain gear or warm clothing and froze to death on the bike ride in that race.
Soon enough, the out-and-back on Haselton Road. On the way back, I hit up the portpotty for my first stop, which was around mile 35 or 40. I saw a number of flats, people walking bikes for miles to aid stations, etc. Obviously the weather was wreaking havoc on peoples' bikes and I couldn't help but feel terribly sorry for guys that looked really fast, but were obviously out of the race. For a millisecond, I thought they were probably thinking, "damn slow guy on the Dual with the rain jacket...give me your bike so I can get my damn Kona slot!". What a bummer to put in all the preparation and spend all that time and money to get to this point, only to have your BIKE fail you rather than your body. Damn!
Finally to the "Three Bears". There was a lady banging a drum as we began the climb and I told her I'd see her in three hours. At that point, I thought I could come in under 3 hours for the first lap, but not knowing the course exactly, didn't realize that the last few miles into town were wrought with climbing, grinding my average speed down like a dull axe. So, I powered up the final climb to the cheers of the small-but-enthusiastic crowd, including the "yelling insults at you to motivate you" guy, which I loved incidentally as I sang "Hurts So Good", and continued toward the SN area. I pulled over and was handed my SN bag and was at 3:08 for that first lap. I had a Priority Mail box in my SN bag and the lady asked me if I was mailing something. I laughed and unzipped the box and pulled out my bagel w/ PB and jelly and my bag of PB pretzels and cookies and left the Chamois Butt'r in there as my taint was feeling pretty well lubed still. I quickly booked back out onto the bike course stuffing the bagel in my mouth until the downhills leading out of town where done. The second loop of the bike was more of the same, but considerably more spread out. My energy level waxed and waned in this lap, hitting a low from about mile 80-90, but coming back after that, I was on a steady diet of G'ade, water, gels and my bars, and after one more pee stop decided that this was the race were I'd just pee my pants as the rain would just wash it all off, so I did that twice in the last 30 miles of the bike, saving a few moments.
My final climb into town was great. The drum lady was STILL there! The verbal abuse guy was STILL there yelling at me. Great stuff! I tried to take that last two miles after the climb easy to prepare for the hell that is the marathon ahead. Legs were feeling decent, about right, and I felt fueled, but not overly so. I really cut back on the nutrition in the last 20 miles of the bike to empty my stomach a little. My second lap was noticeably slower at 3:17:47..nearly 10 minutes slower. Total bike was 6:26:18. At IMC I rode 6:09 last year, but I think this course was a little tougher. Either that or I simply suck, which is a strong possibility.
Back to the mudpit. A bike wrangler grabbed my ride and I got my bag and entered the dungeon
) again. More mud, but less people this time around. Another super-helpful volunteer grabbed my bag and emptied it on the chair next to me. We sorted through and grabbed my dry socks and I basically just put the shoes/socks on and grabbed more gels stuffing them in the pockets and pulled on my hat and left, thanking him. Total T2, again, not great at 3:41, but not terrible.
I took a look at my watch right off the bat and it said 7:47, meaning that to break 12 hours, I'd need to run a 4:12 or better marathon. I've done 2 marathons, and they were both IM marathons. Last year at IMC, I ran 4:09 and it hurt, and I had to walk aid stations for much of it. I like having a little cushion, and felt like I was better-prepared this year for the run, and secretly, a sub-4 hour marathon was my main race goal here. The sub-4 thing sort of slipped away when the rain became part of the picture as I knew wet shoes/socks were going to suck for my feet, but figured I'd see how things went as I ran.
Before the excruciating pain began:
About a mile into the run, I decided to take my rain jacket off as the rain had actually stopped for a brief time. Hell, my feet were actually still dry as I folded up the jacket and wrapped it around my waist. Ultimately it was annoying, but rather than throw it away
(I knew I might need it later
), I folded it up and stuffed it in the back of my tri shorts, which caused a nice rash that I didn't notice until after the race. So, about 3 miles into the run, things weren't feeling so great. I was pacing my run and I was holding about an 8:40-8:50 pace. I have a 1/2 marathon PR of 1:40, so I knew I could hold a pace around that range for 13 miles, but what about 26.2? I found that I was feeling a mild nausea early on, and I just couldn't shake it. I thanked volunteers all day, but just responding to the encouragement at this point was a struggle as I was turning inward for my strength and endurance. The race was going from thrill to ill quickly for me. I had this idea in my head that I HAD to keep downing calories or I'd bonk. I had G'ade every other mile, and water/Gu every other mile. In hindsight, I think I was downing too many calories. Gels every two miles meant about 3 an hour, plus the calories from the G'ade, which probably put me around 400 calories/hour. Too much for the run! I didn't eat nearly that many gels in training on long runs, but I kept thinking they'd "pep" me up. I kept eating and drinking despite not feeling like it, and managed to keep a pace going through the out and back on River Road. I remember the turnaround on River Road thinking "how in the Hell am I going to keep running?". It really hurt and sucked, but my motivation was that I'd never forgive myself if I left anything out on that course, and the ST'ers would say "HTFU" over and over, and I just couldn't live with THAT! I had my HTFU wristband on and looked at it for motivation as well as the "Hey Jay, HTFU" message I'd typed for myself at the Janus Inspiration Mile sign hoping that would motivate me. It didn't.
Me trying to look like I wasn't in agony:
I was totally committed to NO WALKING on the entire marathon, even at aid stations, so I negotiated with myself that the only rest I would get would be portapotty stops. I really could have simply pissed my pants since it had started raining again an hour into the run, but the three portapotty stops were instrumental in my being able to keep running despite the fact that I wanted more than anything to walk or stop altogether.
So, as I approached the steep hill into town on the first lap, I shortened my cadence and increased the arm motion and powered up that damn hill like my life depended on it, and did not stop running. My feet were waterlogged, and my quads were starting to throb in pain. I developed a permanent grimace. One aid station sign said "let's see your smile". I asked if a grimace qualified. They allowed me that. I grabbed more Gu's at the SN station and continued to the endless out-and-back on Lake Placid Club Drive dreading the fact that I had another two hours of this pain and nausea that was entirely self-inflicted. Totally against human nature! I honestly didn't want to keep running, but kept thinking about how important it was to my psyche to finish the race having gone to the edge of my limits. I seriously felt like I was there and now was going to have to push beyond those limits. By now, lots of folks were walking, if not just on the hills, then even on the flats. I was watching my pace and it had slowed in the 9:30 range. A 4-hour marathon, while a remote possibility, was not a probability. I hit the LONG out-and-back of River Road again and was just dying inside.
Me no longer able to hide that I was in agony. Notice the shuffle-like run stride compared to the earlier photo, 13 miles earlier in the run:
I tried to imagine the pizza, sitting down, getting warm and dry after the race to motivate me. It helped a little only in that I wanted to keep my speed so I didn't have to be out there any longer than necessary. I started thinking about not stopping to pee, but mentally, to get through the last part of the course, I NEEDED to stop to pee. I would climb into the portpotty and lean against the side of the thing with my eyes closed while peeing. I'd hope that I had to pee a lot so I'd get more rest. I did this three times on the run. Ultimately, missing my sub-4-hour marathon goal by 4:25 could have been credited to my pee stops, but the reality is that I don't think I could have kept running through all the aid stations for the entire run without the physical and mental break I had in those brief moments. I passed the Inspiration Station again at mile 21 and wanted to pull out the goddam plug on that sign when my HTFU message appeared again. I thought "okay Jay, 5 more miles." I would imagine 5-mile training routes I did. Then 4, then 3, then that damn climb into town. Again, I put my head down and shuffle-ran up that beast with people cheering me on. Good! Now adrenaline should shut out the nausea and the "oh snap, did someone hit my quads with a 2x4?" feeling I was suffering. The bottoms of my feet felt like I'd just been through torture at a Turkish prison. Ironman pride and adrenaline are wonderful anesthesia for those last couple of miles, though I do recall cursing the final out-and-back along the lake, but once through that, I was home free. I had a good cushion to come in under 12 hours.
The rain was falling, and a few guys were in front of me as I entered the Olympic speedskating oval. I had hoped something would make me cry at this point...something other than pain that is. Inspiration, validation of all my hard work to reach this point, something, but all I wanted was to cross the line and stop running finally. The best part of the run, other than the end, was my wife and kids yelling out from the side of the oval with the video camera! I ran over to them and kissed my daughter, and then resumed the last 100 yards of masochism as a guy rushed past me with his kid. The guy seemed to want to beat me over the line or something, so he proceeded to leave his kid in the dust
(or water as it were
) and sprinted ahead of me. I slowed and waved him past, not wanting a shitty finisher's photo, so after he crossed, I picked up the speed again, with the kid still racing behind me to catch his dad who'd already crossed the line. I launched into my now obligatory leap across the line to come in at 11:52:33.
Yes, sweet relief, with racer's betrayed kid trying to catch his dad coming up behind me:
My catcher grabbed my medal and helped me get my t-shirt. I took a moment to size it up to make sure I had the right size, and told him I felt fine and thanked him. Got my photo and then headed for the food.
A look of total delirium:
I figured there was no way I was going to find my wife and kids in the crowd, and access for our huge stroller was limited, so I proceeded to the pizza. The bummer was that though pepperoni pizza is my favorite food on earth, my damn belly was still doing backflips and I couldn't really enjoy it. I forced it down and then headed for a massage, which was heaven on earth, if not for the fact that they send you back out into the rain afterward.
On to retrieve my gear, I walked through the now shin-deep mud in the transition area and got my bike, and crammed stuff in my backpack and hobbled my way up the hill to the TriBikeTransport tent and turned over my steed, and then shuffled my way back to my room 1/4 mile up the hill. I had two huge blisters on my big toes, which I never usually get. My first order of business was taking a hot bath, which was delightful. After that, a nice bowl of cereal, followed by reading a couple of posts on ST about you uber-studs who were already comfortably eating steak dinners while I crossed the finish line, and soon it was time to head back to see the last hour of finishers. That's a must-do if you have never done it. That will give you some inspiration! I ran into Chris G and finally met the infamous Record10Carbon there as we walked out after the end. Chip is one classic dude! There was one annoying buffoon with a megaphone pseudo-heckling Mike Reilly that we could have all done without.
So, my third IM now complete, with IM CDA looming in 11 months, I have to say that really I've pretty much "winged" it through my first three IM's and finished all three in the 11:44-12-hour range. I will get a bit more serious about nutrition, especially on the run for my next IM. What I learned at IMLP is that indeed the mind can in fact will the body to do things that it shouldn't normally be able to do. It reaffirmed that if swim, bike, run, nutrition are the 4 main disciplines in Ironman racing, mental toughness is certainly the 5th, and perhaps the most important discipline. I went beyond my limits in this race. That, to me, is what brings me back to IM. I'll never be super-fast, but Ironman is a microcasm of life for me. Find a way over obstacles. Do what it takes to reach a goal. Don't impose personal limitations on yourself. Instead, strive to go beyond them. Okay, enough of this inspirational babble. Congrats to everyone who made it to the start of LP this year! It was great meeting so many ST'ers at this year's race.
Just standing by the lake the day after felt like my legs had been pummelled by bricks:
As a post script, we were on the ferry back to Burlington on Tuesday morning and had the unexpected pleasure of meeting Courtney Ogden and his girlfriend. I had a nice long conversation with him about PowerCranks and how his races have gone this season. A truly top notch dude!
1h 09m 28s
01m 26s / 100 yards
6h 26m 18s
4h 04m 25s
09m 20s min/mile
Last updated: 2008-07-25 12:00 AM
01:09:28 | 4224 yards | 01m 26s / 100yards
0F / 0C
Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
06:26:18 | 112 miles | 17.40 mile/hr
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Shoe and helmet removal
04:04:25 | 26.2 miles | 09m 20s min/mile
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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