I will admit, I am a horrific swimmer. So coming out of the water was as orgasmic a feeling as I have ever felt – overstatement but hopefully you can see how excited I was to be out of the lake. That joy was tempered by the realization that my IT band – the same IT band that had sidelined me for a month before the big day, the same IT band that allowed me to jog .5 miles 2 days before the race because I could not take the intense pain – had not healed.LESSON 7: THERE ARE TIMES IN A RACE WHEN YOUR BODY WILL ACHE AND YOU WILL QUESTION YOUR DESIRE TO SUFFER IN AGONY FOR THE REMAINING HOUR(S). THOSE TIMES ARE MUCH MORE DIFFICULT THAN ANY CURRENT OR HILL. MENTAL CHALLENGES ARE A PART OF THE RACE THAT SHOULD BE ANTICIPATED AND PREPARED FOR.Now you can imagine my attitude – here I was in a half Ironman, which every friend / family / postman I knew, and the same pain that prevented me from running more than 5 minutes two days earlier is acting up before I have even rode a mile – before I even got to T1! But I realized something like this could happen (although not this early into the race) so I told myself, YOU GOT INTO THIS MESS, YOU GET OUT OF IT. So I started the journey to my bike, grimacing all the while but knowing there was no way I could stop. Important note to readers: I am not tough. I cried during the Lion King stampede, during Armageddon when Liv Tyler collapsed on the TV as her dad wished her farewell and, most embarrassingly, E.T. But I was prepared mentally more than physically. I knew that I was going to will myself through this race and that spirit, more than my conditioning, was what I would rely on most. My goal was not to get a certain time or to finish in the upper tier of my age group. My goal was to become a real boy, a real triathlete. And all that entailed was crossing the finish line. So crawl, walk or run, I was doing that no matter what pain I suffered.One of the great movies of my era, is Young Guns II. See, I was a big Billy the Kid fan, so this movie hit home. There was one particular scene that I actually remembered as I was jogging the transition. Please excuse the crude reference to Asian people, as well as the misogynistic “whore” reference – cowboys were not known for their politically correct ways and I commend the director for realizing this and authentically portraying them. Nonetheless, Billy, as he turned away from Pat Garrett, said, “You remember the stories John use to tell us about the three chinamen playing Fantan? This guy runs up to them and says, "Hey, the world's coming to an end!" and the first one says, "Well, I best go to the mission and pray," and the second one says, "Well, hell, I'm gonna go and buy me a case of Mezcal and six whores," and the third one says "Well, I'm gonna finish the game." I shall finish the game, Doc.Readers, I finished the game.I get to my bike and look at my rack --- only about 3 bikes left. While this may disappoint most other racers I thought, “There are slower swimmers than me? THERE ARE SLOWER SWIMMERS THAN ME!” And with that, I felt like Neo when he realized he was “The One”, like Bruce Leroy when he discovered he was “The Master”. I was energized.After basking in my status as not-the-last-one, I realized I still had to settle the issue of attaching my race number with the safety pins in my race packet. For this race, on the bike portion, the number had to show on the back side, whereas on the run, race numbers had to be visible from the front. Because I forgot one of the race numbers, and had no race belt, I had to manually put the number on my back, remove it and put it on my front.I spotted a man with a race staff shirt and went to him to ask for assistance. Somewhat of a larger person, he was obviously very comfortable in his lounge chair and apparently upset that I asked for assistance.“Excuse me, can you help me put this number on the back of my jersey?”“You know they have race belts. They sell them over there.”Appalled by the suggestion that I interrupt my personal-best time to purchase a race belt so he would not have to move, I replied, “I forgot my wallet at home. Could you?”“You should have bought it before the race.”Interruption. The first declaration of war. Remain calm Adam. Breathe in, breathe out. “Now is not the time to think retroactively sir. Can you please help me?”Begrudgingly, he helped, albeit slower than my swim split. At first he tried to fasten the number while sitting down, asking me to bend backwards or to inch to the right. After the second instance where the safety pin pricked my skin, I suggested it may be easier if he got off the chair. After a moan, he got up and he was able to fasten the number with 3 safety pins, in less than 15 seconds. I thanked him and went on my way.Total T1 time: 7:15.Now I was on my bike and my IT band was hurting once again but I was excited to start the 2nd of 3 legs. The course was mainly flat with some short hills and about 2 miles of ungraved pavement which aggravated me and those dozens of riders who passed me.Life on the aero bars was not as difficult as I thought. I did not come close to crashing, although I was definitely not riding in a straight line for most of the race. And you know what readers – neither were a lot of other people! With their fancy-smancy bikes, I saw people swerving in an out of lanes as if the rest stops were giving stronger beverages than water and Gatorade.LESSON 8: LOOKING AT OTHERS WITH BIKES AND OTHER EQUIPMENT VALUED AT MORE THAN YOUR HOME, INTIMIDATION AND SELF-DOUBT IS NORMAL. BUT ALL THAT MEANS IS THAT THEIR BIKE OR EQUIPMENT IS MORE EXPENSIVE!The 56-mile bike ride was pleasant because of the scenery. Here are some interesting stories:About mile 14, I chatted with some woman, as she passed me.“Nice shoulders kid.”A compliment does not come around very often for me so I decided to take full advantage of this opportunity. “Thanks. Wish other women would notice.”“Sure. Right. Where I’m from, you’d be noticed.”“Where is that? Think I may have to move there!”“I’m too old for you.” Where that came from, I don’t know.“Maybe you don’t realize that you are gradually passing me! Seems like I am not worthy! Fly away butterfly!”Perhaps one of the coolest experiences of the race is when you are on your bike and you need to master the art of grabbing a drink. Again, this was one of my first times on the bike so this was an adrenaline rush! I missed the first time (mile 15ish) but after that, I was perfect!About mile 37, I came across a water station that was handing drinks out in cups and bottles. So I reached for a cup and emptied the water on my head. With temperatures in the 90s and humidity increasing with the day, I was on the verge of overheating. So I thought this was a good idea.LESSON 9: WHEN DUMPING WATER ON YOUR HEAD, AND THIS APPLIES TO LIFE OUTSIDE OF TRIATHLONS, MAKE SURE IT IS WATER. Readers, instead of water, I dumped a cup of Gatorade on my head, creating a sticky patch for bugs to rest. For about 10 miles, I had a sticky face and neck. Eventually I came to another water stop and specifically asked if the cup was water before cleaning myself. But I learned a valuable lesson and, hopefully, you did too.One problem I had with the course was the turnaround areas – too narrow. One specific turn took place after a downhill and, not having mastered the fine art of turning, I rode right into someone’s lawn. While the man driving his children thought the sight of a biker out of control was amusing and worthy of honking the horn shouting “So close!”, I, on the other hand, did not enjoy this near-death encounter.Spectators were positioned at the sides of residential roads, sitting on beach chairs with their radios. Very cute scene and the support really did make a difference. The idea of people taking time out of their day to sit / stand outside, to show support for people they do not know is very touching to me. Again, remember I cried during Titanic. So take this for what it is worth.My IT band was excruciating when I realized I was less than 5 miles from the start of the run. Now, being this was my longest bike ride ever (by over 30 miles) I should have been ecstatic with myself. Unfortunately, the realist that I am, I realized I still had 13.1 miles to go, on a bum knee. So as I entered the Disney resort, I was not the happiest camper in the land. Dismounting my bike and running to my rack, I passed my friend and sister. They were cheering me on and that lifted my spirits. Reminded me of my goal – finish the game.Lacing up my sneakers and finding ANOTHER race staff member, I asked her to help me with my race number. This person’s ability to get me patched up quickly allowed me to shave well off one minute on my transition time and I was off!The course was remote. Except for the beginning of the course, which was near the athlete village, the bulk of running took place on a golf course, which did not allow any room for spectators. Actually, all runners were constantly reminded not to touch the grass for fear of immediate disqualification! I kid you not…From the beginning of the run, I was suffering because of my IT band. So my miles were slowing from 9:12 first mile to 10:50, 11:47 and then 12:32. This is when I realized something must be done. The sight of 60 year old women passing me did not bother me at first, but the 10th woman was a gut check.Every mile there were rest stations loaded with all kinda of goodies: water, Gatorade, oranges, pretzels etc. Although I am a glutton, I must admit the volunteers manning each station provided much more energy than the food. At mile four station, one of the volunteers (mainly teenagers) thought it was funny to throw water on racers. She would pose as if she was handing out cups for runners to take on the go and then, at the last second, empty the cup on the poor, unsuspecting runner. You got to wake up pretty early to pull one over on this Brooklyn Boy! Before I made it to her position (end of the aid station), I got a cup of water and held it ready. Running, I exaggerated my tired physical state and pointed to her. Nothing short of a Daytime Emmy, I played possum until 5 feet of contact and then let her have it. In perhaps one of the most underhanded moves pulled in a triathlon, I, Adam Dumey, wet a volunteer. Her friends cheered me on and I knew I had put a smile on someone’s face! So I kept running…a few seconds later, sponges were being hurled at my head. I turn around – volunteers are chasing me! Thank God they were slightly overweight and got tired at around 200 yards because I would have given up, dropped to the ground and surrendered both my pride and my life.I felt great! Yes the pain was excruciating but I had something to break the monotony of the course. Rather than robotically running and counting backwards from 13, I now broke the race up into 10 minute segments, looking forward to each rest station. This is what saved me!Word must have traveled – SOME GUY DRESSED IN RED ATTACKED A VOLUNTEER. TAKE NO PRISONERS – because I got into water fights at the next 3 stations. And with that, I was recharged.LESSON 10: BREAK THE RACE INTO SMALLER PIECES, OTHERWISE THE WHOLE WILL CONSUME YOU. My mile splits were dropping into the 9's and I found my groove. Next thing I knew, we were entering the transition area, so I knew the end was near. Running along some man, I noticed he was struggling a bit, so I said, “Don’t stop now. Let’s finish this together. Stay with me.” And he did.At this point there were no more mile markers. So we relied on a volunteer to provide a sense of the finish line location. Unfortunately, this volunteer was wrong.“How much further?” I was hoping to receive some good news.“Only about a mile to go.”Just what I wanted to hear. I told my running companion, “Now, lets empty the tank.” He advised me, in not so many words, that this would not be possible and I should go ahead. So I did. By the time I reached the next volunteer, my mile was 8:47 but I did not hear the crowd gathered at the finish line. It was silent.“How much further?”“Just another mile! You’re almost there!”I reached my boiling point. “Serious? The woman back there said we had a mile to go…back there!”“I know. She has been telling people that for the past hour for some reason but I promise – one more mile.”“If you lie, I’ll be back.”By now I was running on empty but 5 minutes later I started hearing some noise. With each step, I came closer and closer. Finally in the distance I saw the finish line. There was one person ahead, maybe 50 yards, so I picked this poor soul to pass. Unfortunately, this woman still had something left so she sped up and I never saw her again – which left me alone.As I entered into the grass patch, 50 yards from the finish line, I was surrounded by strangers seemingly cheering for me (since there was not another runner in sight). Then the loud speaker announces “Here comes Adam Dumey, from New York City.”And with that, I became a triathlete.
Personal apple pies, loaves of banana bread and stacks of pancakes and/or french toast. Not withstanding these weaknesses, 05 Lake Placid Ironman or bust!