lake placid ironman

Haven’t posted under the influence in a while.

Texas? Awesome.
New job? Even awesome-er.
Training? Kinda awesome.
Weight loss? Annoying.
Dating? Don’t get me started.

On an endurance sport note, I think I’ve come to a pretty huge decision regarding my future and it’d probably come to a surprise to most. I still haven’t divulged my immediate plans, which are pretty big, but this one takes the cake.

It’s crazy that Ironman Lake Placid is only a few weeks away.

The year has surely flown by.

Ironman Lake Placid Recap

Eight months of training boiled down to one day… and I had an amazing day. The weather was hot, not humid. The water was perfect. No mechanical issues on the bike. My family was everywhere, screaming their heads off! I probably saw them a dozen times. It was one of the best experiences of my life.

(sorry this is long, so was the day)

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Honesty hour.

I didn’t want to get up and run this morning. I also didn’t want to step on the scale last night. But I did both.

Fully carb-loaded and hydrated, I weighed in at 212 for Ironman Lake Placid. Fully lethargic and unmotivated, I weighed in at 231 last night. Sorry, not sorry! I ran a 1:51 half marathon at 184, and then a 1:44 half marathon at 193, so I don’t necessary believe in “the lighter, the better,” but I do believe there’s a point of diminishing returns.

And 231 isn’t benefiting anyone, haha.

I also expected my sloth-ass to die on our 5 mile hill route, but I surprisingly held my own. Starting from 0 is never fun, but it’s only going to get harder if I wait any longer. I even bought new running shoes online last night.

I’ve got some competitions to own.

Ironman Timberman 70.3 Race Recap!

Ironman Timberman was my 4th attempt at the 70.3 triathlon distance (2nd this year, and 1st legit “half-Ironman”), which consisted of a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride, and a 13.1 mile run. This race was a last minute decision, due to my learning experience at Ironman Lake Placid, and was spearheaded with mixed feelings. After Lake Placid I spent a few weeks doing absolutely nothing that had to do with fitness, due to my 30th birthday and wanting a mental break from training, but ultimately decided that I couldn’t let my fitness go to waste. Knowing that the race would be my last triathlon of the year meant that I could leave it all out on the course, and that I did!

(Fair warning, and it’s like my 3rd time mentioning this, make sure you have a solid 5-10 minutes to spare. This post is LONG!!)


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Ironman Lake Placid 2016 Race Recap - The Finale

The Run.

This one’s going to be a long one, folks!

In the beginning, it did not feel like I was starting a marathon run.  I just felt like I was going out for a victory lap. I told @funnyrunner that it wouldn’t seem like I was running the third leg of an Ironman; instead, it’d appear as if I was running for Mayor of Lake Placid, since I’d be high-fiving everyone, taking pictures with people, and kissing babies. I wasn’t kidding, either, because I would’ve definitely kissed a baby. I was that happy!

As soon as I left transition, I was taken aback by the amount of spectators that lined the course. It was a handful of minutes before 5 P.M. and these people were still going strong! It was so uplifting! I made sure to thank those who were cheering and started my focus on the run. I quickly hit my stride and found myself moving at a decent pace. It was a bit surprising.  It wasn’t a quarter mile into the run that I saw a familiar face! Carl’s wife yelled out to me and got one of my favorite pictures of the day, in the process! She told me that Carl just passed through, and to look out for him!

My pace hovered in the 9s and I realized I would not be running the whole race at that pace, so I decided to walk/run in order to prevent blowing a gasket. That, and I wanted to find @funnyrunner, @emilydoesscience, @findingironman, @trekrider83, and Carl! I kept my eyes on the runners ahead and before I knew it I spotted Funny! She was already on her way back into town. I didn’t know what to yell, because of general excitement, so I just blurted out random shit. She was also super excited and commented how she was happy that I finished the swim. Since we didn’t see one another on any of the out-and-backs on the bike course (or so I thought… I’ll get to that in a bit), no racers from Tumblr knew if I had made the swim cutoff since they were all ahead of me on course. It was great. We went in our opposite directions, and not even a half mile later I spotted Emily!! I swear she was more excited than I was that I made the swim cutoff that morning, finished the bike, and was out on the run course! She gave me such a boost! I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the marathon! At that time, I just had to keep an eye out for Amy, Greg and Carl, but I knew I’d catch a couple of them near the turnaround points on the run, since Carl was roughly a mile ahead of me (and I wasn’t catching him) and I assumed Amy and I would be roughly in the same area (not sure who would be ahead or behind, just knew we’d be close). So I put one foot in front of the other and kept it moving.

The “fun” part about this course, something I heard about from multiple people, was the out-and-back section on River Road. It starts at mile 2, as you turn away from the monstrous Olympic ski jump towers, and heads 3.5 miles into the middle of nowhere. It’s a winding road, often with lots of tree cover, with rolling hills to keep you busy. There are very few spectators, only the aid station support to pick you up in between miles, so it can get very introspective. Definitely “fun.”

I hit River Road for the first time and I was on cloud nine. Runners surrounded me, some starting their 1st loop, starting their 2nd loop, heading back to town to start their 2nd loop, and those heading back to town to finish the 140.6-mile journey. It was an incredible feeling to be surrounded by so many amazing athletes! Still, I kept on. The first loop on River Road was very straightforward. Aside from losing half of my gels, they somehow fell out of my fuel belt, and almost losing my salt, I heard it hit the ground and stopped dead in my tracks to go get it, I fueled at each aid station and topped off my Camelback handheld in order to stay hydrated. I had to go to a backup plan since I lost most of my gels, so I took in pretzels, oranges, red bull, coke, and whatever else sounded good when I hit each station. It worked well. I approached the turnaround on River Road and finally spotted Carl. He was mid-bite into an orange when he spotted me, so it looked like he had a big orange smile on his face; it made me laugh. He told me to keep the smile going, and that I would be an Ironman in no time. Hearing him say that gave me chills. We bid each other adieu and I headed for the turnaround. 

The rest of River Road, back to Lake Placid, was the same monotonous grind. The exceptions were seeing Emily again, this time charging out to the turnaround (she looked absolutely fantastic out there), and seeing Funny towards the end of River Road. I yelled “Squirrel!” in Funny’s direction, she fractured her collarbone a few weeks before Lake Placid by flying off her bike because of a rogue squirrel (Yes, I’m an asshole), and I’m pretty sure she threatened to punch me in the face. This is what I did to occupy my time. Also, I thought it was hilarious. But seriously, she did the race while being broken. Insane props to her, even though I downplayed her injury from day 1.

I made my way back into Lake Placid, the crowds started to build, the energy picked up, and I was on my way up the hills that led into the center of town. I crested the steep hill that welcomed us back and took off running! It was a slight uphill, which turned into another slight uphill, but the energy from the crowd carried me! I saw my friends, Steve and Heather (Heather had her 2-month old baby with her, Paige, but they were across the street, so I couldn’t kiss the baby. Whomp Whomp.), who were screaming their heads off for me, and then saw my other friends, James (from the changing tent), his wife Kate, and my teammate Katie, on the side closer to me near the Lake Placid Brewery! Luckily, they got a picture of me, since FinisherPix, must’ve closed up shop for us later runners.

I hit the special needs area, grabbed my Goldfish crackers, inhaled a couple Honeystinger waffles, and kept it moving. A volunteer was standing on an elevated wall and yelled for me to “enjoy your dinner!” as I passed by. It was probably the first time throughout the day that I realized how long I had been out on the course! I shuffled forward and before I knew it I was at the second turnaround, on Mirror Lake Drive, making my way back to the center of town to start my second loop.  I passed Heather, sans Steve and baby, and my tribe at the brewery before hitting the downhills that lead out of Lake Placid. I crossed paths with Emily for the last time on Subway hill, I could see a lot of emotion on her face (she was less than 3 miles from finishing her Ironman, so it was understandable), and pressed on. Crossed paths with Funny for the last time shortly thereafter and congratulated her as well! This is where I was got really worried. I still hadn’t seen Amy.

This is where it gets pretty funny. I found out shortly after the race that Amy had finished, so I was extremely relieved about that, but, after I posted my cycling recap, she realized that I was the one in the shark kit on the bike course. I realized she was the one with the pink tri bike, and we BOTH realized that we actually talked to each other a couple times while we were riding, unbeknownst to either of us who each other were!  I spent the majority of miles 6-15 staring at women’s crotches (where their race bibs were, you sick freaks) before I just hoped I missed her somewhere. It was a long day, haha.

I made my way out of Lake Placid, took the left on River Road, and made my way out again. This time it was MUCH emptier. The sun was almost down, with the sunset glowing over the mountains in the distance. It was an unbelievable sight. I kept up with my run/walk plan and was caught by a guy who was running a decent pace. I looked over to him while I was walking and told him he was “looking great.” He looked at me, stopped in his tracks, and said, “Wait, I know you! You gave me salt at Quassy!” and all of a sudden it hit me who he was!

Side story: At the start of the 13.1, during the Quassy 70.3, I approached a guy who was limping on the side of the racecourse. As I got to him I asked if he was OK, he mentioned his legs were cramping, and I asked if he had salt. He said he didn’t, so I offered him some of my BASE salt and I stayed with him until he started running again. Well, that was Jimmy; And Jimmy remembered me. We chatted about the race and the swim came up, which led to talking about last year. He mentioned he missed the swim cutoff by 6 minutes and I told him I missed it by 8 seconds. He instantly knew who I was, aside from the salt at Quassy. It was a pretty awesome moment. We both had the same race plan and played leap frog with each other for the rest of the race, pushing each other to start back up. It was great; but back to the race.

Since the sun was almost completely down, the course was going to get extremely dark. This is where Ironman thought of everything. Volunteers were handing out mandatory glow sticks to all athletes still on the course. I didn’t think it was absolutely necessary, but what did I know. I took my glow stick, wrapped it around my race belt, and kept it moving. I hit the aid stations and, within 30 minutes of getting the glow stick, it got pitch black out on the course. It was surreal. The only lights on course were floodlights that Ironman put at specific spots to help light the course, but they were few and far between. I followed the glow sticks ahead of me, occasionally running with someone who had a headlamp, and slowly ate away at the marathon. It was trippy. To add to the fun in the dark, at around mile 18, my watch flashed the “low battery” message. I decided that I would rather have most of my data, instead of none of it, so I ended the multisport mode to save it.

I was at mile 132. ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY TWO!

It was the first time all day that I saw the total mileage, aside from seeing the 2.4 at the end of the swim, and it felt kind of amazing! I restarted my watch in run mode, but shortly thereafter it turned off completely, leaving me blind on the run. It was an odd feeling at first, not having my pace/total time/marathon distance, but I’m not incompetent without my watch. I knew my walking pace, the mileage left, and the time left until midnight. I was going to get it done whether I had a working watch or not. So I kept on, into the darkness.

I hit the turnaround on River Road, still playing leapfrog with Jimmy, but started to incur another problem: my old friend, Mr. Chafing. I won’t go into major detail, but it turned me into a waddling duck. NOT FUN. It essentially limited me to a brisk walk. I would try to run, but the pain was excruciating. I spent the rest of River Road doing my best duck impression until I got to the medical tent. I slathered myself in Vasoline, to the point where it was semi-bearable, and took off. I was still in complete darkness, following the glow sticks ahead of me, when I started to hear it. It was Mike Reilly’s voice echoing in the distance, calling people in to the finish. Calling each person an Ironman. I was so close.

I finally turned off of River Road, saw the mile 22 sign, and made my way back into Lake Placid. I ran some, walked a lot, and ran some more. The crowds started to fill up again, it was close to 10PM at this point, and they were still as supportive as ever! Each person cheered me on by name and/or gave me a high five as I ran by. It was an incredible feeling. I thanked as many people as I could and kept it moving.  I walked up the Subway hill, saw the sign for mile 24, and took off running. I turned the corner onto Mirror Lake Drive, spotted Emily cheering me on from the crowd, and motored up my final hill. I saw some familiar faces in the crowd, but emotions were driving me forward. By this time, the Vaseline had lost its effect and running was painful again. I walk/ran down Mirror Lake Drive, hit the turnaround, and started making my way back to the finish. This was it.

I started back down Mirror Lake Drive for the last time, saw the lake to the right of me, and felt a little off. All I could think was “This is it, I’m going to finish an Ironman, but I don’t feel it.” I tried to channel something that would bring the emotion out of me, it actually seemed a little bleak for a couple minutes, but then it clicked. It was the phrase that drove me through my training. It was the phrase that could give me instantaneous goose bumps as soon as I thought it up.

“Right turn off Mirror Lake, left turn into the Oval.”


It was the last official direction on the run course. It was the phrase that popped in my head when I didn’t want to workout. It was the phrase that meant I’d be an Ironman, and it was a half of a mile away from becoming true. So, with tears in my eyes, I fucking ran.

I thought about the day, the months of training leading up to the day, and the years actually spent preparing for the day. I thought about my failure, the pain I felt sitting at Mirror Lake after missing the swim cutoff, wondering if I’d ever get the shot at it again. But there I was, 140.5 miles down. I was turning into an emotional wreck, but I fucking ran my heart out.

I approached the last downhill, less than a tenth of a mile from the oval, saw the turn off of Mirror Lake Drive, and tried to keep myself together. This was it.

I turned off of Mirror Lake Drive and made the left turn into the Olympic Oval.


I was told that there is no feeling like your first Ironman finish, and to take it all in, but I couldn’t control myself. I was running with emotion. I high-fived a few fans as I entered the oval and, as I turned the corner, I saw Steve, Helen, and Jess!

Originally posted by kermityay

Steve put his hand out, we connected on the most solid high-five in the history of high-fives, and I made my way around the final turn.

I’ll just let the pictures tell the rest…

It was the most AMAZING FEELING EVER!

Somehow my friend Tom, the one who wrote my age on my calf before the race, was the “body catcher” awaiting me once I crossed the finish line. I realized it was him, he looked me in the eyes and said “You fucking did it!” and gave me a high five and a hug. He guided me through the finishers area, brought me to take my finishers picture, and got my finishers swag.

I was officially done. I fucking did it. I got my redemption.

I was an Ironman.


Not to keep this going any longer than it should be, but I want to give a huge thanks to all of you guys for being amazing supporters. The tumblr updates, texts, and FaceTime call I got post-race put a stamp on the fact that I am associated with some of the most amazing people because of this blogging website. The love I’ve felt has been insurmountable.

Thank you!

Ironman Lake Placid 2016 Race Report - Part 3

Transition 1.

The run from the swim to T1 wasn’t exactly short, I believe I heard it was 300 yards, but I loved it. The fan support at Lake Placid is second to none. Between the swim and bag area I saw my immediate family, best friends, a friend who attended the training camp with me last year, Mandy, and the two coaches who ran the training camp, Jeff and Sherri-Anne. Needless to say, they were all elated to see me out of the water.  After I passed them, I grabbed my bike bag, ran to the changing tent, and the first volunteer I saw was my tri-team teammate James! He grabbed my bag from me, took all my gear out while I was pulling my wetsuit off, may or may not have seen my bare white ass while I was changing from my swim shorts to bike shorts (I warned him, but honestly that whole tent was a sausage party), helped me gear up for the ride, and before I knew it I was on my way out of the tent. I got some sunscreen from a volunteer and immediately realized it wasn’t enough. Oh well, that was my first lesson learned. I rounded part of the oval, entered the grassy area where Catalina was napping, a volunteer yelled out my number over a megaphone, and by the time I got to my rack a volunteer was waiting for me with my bike! The volunteer complimented my bike, joked with me that she debated taking a piece of my PB&J because it looked good, and off I went! There were very few bikes left in transition, because I’m such an awesome swimmer, so I had all of the volunteers cheering for me. Perk of being a slow! Either way, I approached the mount line, inhaled one of my Clif bars, and prepared myself for the fun part, the 112 mile bike ride!

The Bike.

Once I got out onto the bike course I had a feeling like no other. I did not feel like I just swam for almost two hours. I felt fresh. I felt ready to kick it up a notch. I felt ready to fuck shit up!

The easiest way to describe the first loop of the ride? Fun! Right out of the gate I was picking people off. I had a year’s worth of pent up energy in my legs, ready to hit the hills of the Lake Placid Ironman course! I cruised up the long climb out of LP, passing those who looked to be struggling already (this kinda worried me; not for myself, but for them), hammered the rollers until the Keene descent, and then bombed down the hill, with a top speed of 47 mph! I stayed in my larger chain ring for the majority of the first loop, cruising in and out of the aero position, taking in the beautiful scenery along the way. I stopped at each aid station, chatted up the volunteers (I wasn’t going to win the race, so I was going to enjoy my day!), and kept it moving.

Random note: At one point on the racecourse, somewhere between the Keene descent and the Ausable out-and-back, there were kamikaze chickens. Yes, you read that right, Kamikaze chickens. As I approached them, going roughly 25mph, I was baffled. There was a guy in a lawn chair in the grass, to the right of them, who didn’t seem to care. I figured they’d run to the grass as I approached. Nope! They just kept doing their chicken thang in the road. “Getting plowed by a carbon fiber road bike” would’ve never been my thought for the answer to “why did the chicken cross the road?”

To be completely honest, I barely looked at my Garmin during the first loop, only to see how close I was to my next snack. I was just enjoying the ride, smiling as often as I could!

I did my thing on the Ausable out-and-back, climbed out to Wilmington, took in more gorgeous sights, cruised through the Hazelton out-and-back, and made my way back to Lake Placid. At this point there’s only 15 miles left in the first loop of the bike course, but it’s where you’ll find out who actually trained hills. See course description below.

For me, miles 40-56 were fun. At one point a motorcycle with flashing lights passed me and I knew who followed. It was Heather-Fucking-Jackson tearing the course up! She was already on her second lap of the bike course, heading back to LP to start the marathon, while I was heading back to start my second bike loop! As she passed me I yelled out “HEATHER, YOU’RE FUCKING AWESOME!!!” and she looked over and smiled! It took so much control not to pick up my pace and hammer the hill with her, but I held back and raced my race.

Before I knew it, I was approaching “The Bears,” at mile 54. The bears consist of 3 “hills”, (I use this term loosely, because Quassy skewed my definition of what a hill actually was. See: Hell) and are appropriately named Momma Bear, Baby Bear, and Papa Bear. I made easy work of Momma and Baby, with Poppa looming ahead. From a distance, Poppa seems a little daunting, but with the crowd lining both sides of the road, I made Poppa my bitch. I hit the bottom of the hill with a head of steam and flew straight up it, giving the energy back to the huge crowd as I got to the top. It was amazing! I made the turn at the top and knew I was halfway home on the bike course.  I cruised along Mirror Lake while taking in the atmosphere and energy from the crowds.

I scanned the crowds as I approached, hoping to see my family, and I started to think I missed them. It wasn’t until I was approaching special needs that I saw them!! And, on cue, there was Jess!

Originally posted by kermityay

I acknowledged them, waved, and headed to special needs. I grabbed my new PB&J sandwich, my slushee pedialyte (it didn’t completely thaw, but it was enough fluid/slush to fill most of my bottle), and grabbed my spare Clif bars. It felt like flawless preparation on my part. After a minute or five I was on my way. I rode around Main Street, past the Olympic oval, down around the back of the high school (where the split for T2 and the second lap is), and started my second lap.

I made my way out of Lake Placid, again, but this time runners accompanied me! It was humbling seeing how fast they were! Unfortunately, my excitement was short lived, because roughly 3 miles into the second loop I started to cramp severely in both of my medial quads. My left quad started to cramp first, and then my right, with the pedialyte saving the day in between cramps, but I was burning through it entirely too fast. I spaced my first bottle of pedialyte across the whole first 56-mile loop, but I was damn near empty with my second bottle as I approached the mile 72 aid station. It was getting bad. I desperately needed salt. In came my savior! I stopped at the aid station and asked the first person I saw if they had salt tablets. She looked at me and said “No, and I have no idea why not!” She then thought to herself and ran over to me and asked, “If I can get you some potato chips, would that help?” I immediately lit up and said, “That’d be AMAZING!” She ran off to the snack section designated strictly for the volunteers and grabbed a couple bags of regular Lays potato chips for me! She opened one, handed it to me, opened the second one, rolled up the top, and stuck it in my bike jersey! I inhaled most of the bag and probably thanked her ten times for saving my ass. She didn’t have to do that, but she did.

I can’t say enough about the volunteers out on the bike course. They made me feel like this was MY race. Whether it was running to get snacks and bottles of hydration for me, holding my bike while I ran into the port-o-potty, or covering me with sunscreen from head to toe, they were the real MVPs.

Miles 73-110 were similar to the first loop, except a little bit slower due to the heat and the obvious fatigue. I stopped eating towards the end of the ride, even though I knew I had to. After 7 hours, I just didn’t have it in me to eat any more PB&J. I conquered The Bears one more time and knew I was done with the bike course. I cruised towards Lake Placid, except now there were A LOT more people on the run course! It was MOBBED! It looked so awesome to see so many people out there! We shared the road as I cruised down Mirror Lake Drive. I saw my friend Carl for the first time of the day; he was already killing it at mile 11 on the run! He saw me approaching, yelled to me, and seemed so pumped that I was about to finish the bike, knowing I actually made it out of the water before the cutoff that morning. It felt great! I made my way down through Lake Placid, spotted my friends, Steve and Heather, as I was rounding onto Main Street, gave a Lance Armstrong-esque fist pump as they cheered, and made my way around the back of the High School to finish my ride.

I was done with the 112-mile ride. 7 hours and 43 minutes.

A volunteer awaited at the dismount line for Catalina; so I hopped off, grabbed my Garmin, and watched as she was escorted away to transition after owning the shit out of that course. I hit the lap button on my Garmin, crossed the Bike Entrance arch and I was officially on my way to T2!

Transition 2.

For some reason, as soon as I got off the bike I started to run. There was no reason to run, and running in bike shoes is pretty dumb, but I was so pumped to be done with the 2.4-mile swim and 112-mile bike ride.

I grabbed my run bag from my rack, ran into T2, and to my surprise James was working the tent again! He grabbed my stuff, unloaded my run bag as I took my bike gear off, and helped me get ready for the run. He assured me that I came in with plenty of time to spare before the bike cutoff, and that I had roughly 7 hours to finish the marathon. That excited me, but I realized I still had to finish a fucking MARATHON in order to be called an Ironman. I did a triple check of my gear, got coated in sunscreen by a volunteer outside of the tent, and hit the lap button on my Garmin.

It was time for the marathon.

It was time to earn my Ironman status.

It was time for redemption.

You know the old saying...

That someone “fell off the wagon”?

Well, I didn’t fall off of the wagon.

I intentionally got off of the damn thing, let the horses run free, and proceeded to chop the wagon into fucking fire wood.

Then I roasted marshmallows on the resulting bonfire and drank a lot of good beer.

Lets just say it’s been VERY quiet on the athletic-endeavor front since the Half-Ironman.

Shit happens. Sometimes you lose your focus. Sometimes beer and cookies sound better than running or riding. Sometimes you put on a bunch of weight because food is fucking delicious. Oh well.

But that’s over now.

I officially start training for Ironman Lake Placid 2016 tomorrow (albeit, it’s just a coach-instructed ten week swim program, it’s still a start!).

4

Today’s post is short and sweet since I’m about to head to bed.

Got a short 4 mile ride in this morning to check over Catalina, brought my bike/run bags and Catalina to leave overnight in transition, and spent the rest of the day hydrating and relaxing.

This year has been insane, and it all comes to a head tomorrow. I want to thank everyone for their well wishes along the way, it has meant so much to me!

Just gonna go out there and leave it all on the course!

Don't Worry! I have a PLAN~

And its a good one too:

September 2012: Ironman 70.3

November 2012: Philly Marathon

March 2013: Maryland Marathon

April/May 2013: Tough Mudder

September 2013: Ironman 70.3

January 2014: Goofy Challenge @ Disney

July 2014: LAKE PLACID IRONMAN

BOOM.

Consider this my official statement. I am training and planning to compete in the 2014 Lake Placid Ironman. This is a huge commitment and its going to take 2 years of work, but I want it.

2

IT’S FINALLY HERE! THE OFFICIAL FIRST DAY OF IRONMAN TRAINING! GUESS WHAT MY WORKOUT WAS!!!

A fucking REST DAY.

Talk about a buzz kill. I was so amped to get started, and totally forgot the plan scheduled rest on Mondays. Whatever. I still did a 4/1 mile brick workout, because I’m a rebel.

I’m back to deciphering the plan, and with no actual classes this semester, or a girlfriend, I shouldn’t have any reason to skip a workout. The thought of that, alone, makes me giddy with excitement.

This time around will be different.

9

My day, in pictures. Checked in, got all of my race stuff/swag, managed to escape the merchandise tent without buying anything (had 3 things in hand and put it all back, tomorrow’s another day though haha), walked around the village and got to see the finish line area (shit shit shit), and finished the day with my last beer until after the race! The energy in the air here is second to none!

Ironman Lake Placid 2016 Race Recap - Part 2

The Swim.

You know, My FAVORITE part.

Well, I got into the water and my first goal was to get on the cable. I’m pretty sure I’ve written about it before, but Mirror Lake has a nylon cable, roughly 5 feet below the water’s surface, that runs its length for the boat races (buoys are tethered to it). It is also used for the Ironman swim course and it seems like EVERYONE fights to get on it. Anyway, I found my way to it and immediately noticed there were a bunch of people behind/to the left of me who were flailing around/panicking. I steered clear of them but I found myself in a position I’ve never been before… I WAS PASSING PEOPLE! I’ve never been in the position of having to go around people, but now I see why people get grabbed/kicked/punched/swam over. I consistently found myself at someone’s feet, at the beginning of the swim, and with people at both sides of me. I found my stroke and reassured myself that this swim was going to be different. I kept stroke for stroke with the surrounding swimmers and, before I knew it, we were already past the 2nd of the numbered swim buoys.

Side note, these buoys fight back. I want to say there were 16 numbered buoys, 8 yellow, 8 orange, and 3 red turn buoys. I swam into damn near every one of them, similar to downhill ski slalom. I was hell bent on staying on the cable, but these buoys were like honey badgers, they didn’t care.

I kept it moving, paying attention to my breathing, making sure to extend fully and shoot myself forward on the pull, while keeping an eye out for other swimmers. I kept watching the yellow buoys go by, and by buoy 6 I realized I was still in a huge pack of swimmers. My initial thought was “There’s no fucking way all of us will DNF the swim!” and kept moving. I finally saw the first red turn buoy and avoided looking at my Garmin for my split time. I knew I hit the first turn buoy in roughly 26 minutes during my practice swim, so I had a goal. When I got to the turn, I cut it wide and angled my watch upwards to see the split, 24 minutes! I was PUMPED! I put my head back down, swam towards the second turn buoy (the swim is a narrow rectangle), and hit the second turn at roughly 25 minutes. It was at this point, barring absolute catastrophe, that I knew that I was going to put my 8 second fiasco behind me. But, this is where it got interesting. The faster swimmers arrived. I felt like Mufasa getting stampeded by a heard of wildebeests, except I ain’t no bitch. I moved a little to the right of the cable, sighting backwards every once in a while to make sure one of these hotshots didn’t try plowing over me. I got kicked in the nose once and twice in the goggles, with the second time almost knocking them off. If the UFC sponsored swimming, it’d be in Mirror Lake.

Along the way, though, something crazy transpired. I found myself swimming stroke for stroke with Amy (@findingironman) for the majority of the return trip! Amidst the chaos, I noticed someone with an odd swim stroke besides me and, after a few run-ins with wildebeest, noticed the 989 on her swim cap! What are the chances?? I knew it was her, and I felt like she knew it was me, but we couldn’t exactly stop and talk, ya know, since we were both getting stampeded in an Ironman swim. It was pretty cool. I lost her at a swim buoy, it looked like she went under it, and didn’t see her after that.

I kept my line, staying close to the draft in the lake, and pulled my way closer to the end of the first loop. I could hear Mike Reilly’s voice bringing people in, and that brought back last year’s memory of the finish. It empowered me. I could also see the dock with all of the spectators and the final red turn buoy. I was feeling great. I made the final turn, fought with a few more wildebeest, and stood up when I saw the sand close enough to my face. I looked at my Garmin and was in shock, 55 FUCKING MINUTES! I did my practice swim in almost 58 minutes, and that was with an in-water start and only swimming to the outside of the dock! “Fucking ecstatic!” would be the polite way to put my emotions at the time. I realized that I had 85 minutes to swim another 1.2-mile lap, to make the swim cutoff, and knew I could do that doing a goddamn doggy paddle.

I was going to do it.

I ran through the swim exit, made a right, and ran back through the swim entrance for my second lap in the lake. To my surprise, they had a water station in between Exit and Entrance, so I downed a couple cups of water instead of drinking the “electrolyte enhanced” lake water. The second lap started much calmer, since the wildebeests were heading for their bikes, so I pretty much had my own lane for the majority of the second lap. I didn’t have the benefit of the draft, but I also didn’t have to worry about getting kicked/punched in the face or having my Garmin knocked off. I noticed a few people in front of me, but we had a similar pace, so there was no need for combat swimming. I paced myself well, swimming into every goddamn numbered buoy, and found myself at the first red turn buoy again. I didn’t check my watch this time, instead waiting for the second turn buoy. At that turn I swung my arm up, saw 1:24 and realized I had 56 minutes to swim the last section in order to make the swim cutoff. I got chills.

By this point, the sun was out, the fog was gone, and I was on my way to finishing the Ironman swim. If it was possible, I felt strongest on that final stretch. The numbered buoys were flying by (my sense of flying might be skewed…), I was catching and passing people, and I could start to hear Mike Reilly again.  At this point I was thinking about my finishing time.

Another side story: I had a 1-dollar bet going, the cost of the Irontrac App, with a couple people. One stipulation centered on swimming slower than 2:05, that was with Dan, one of my swim partners, and also with Lindsay, but that stipulation was simply to make the swim cutoff. Seemed like everyone enjoyed breaking my balls about the 1-dollar App! Spoiler alert, I kept my dollar bills!

I got to the final numbered buoy, saw the mini orange buoys that guided people away from swimming into the dock, saw the scuba divers under the dock giving people thumbs up, and pulled my way to the final red turn buoy. This time I didn’t have a kayak escort. This time I didn’t have wrecked shoulders. This time I wasn’t going to be the last person out of the water.

This time I was going to finish the fucking swim before the cutoff.

I saw the sand, stood up, saw the swim finish arch, and looked at my Garmin. It read 1:55!! TWENTY-FIVE MINUTES AHEAD OF THE CUTOFF! A TWENTY-FIVE MINUTE PERSONAL BEST! Explaining the feeling of making the cutoff isn’t easy, but it’s probably up there with riding a Unicorn. I was officially going to make it to the next stage of an Ironman!

I exited the water through the swim exit, turned to the left to see two photographers and a line of volunteers forming a funnel down the carpet, all of them cheering for me! I ran right through them with no idea that they were the wetsuit strippers. Whoops. I was entirely too in the zone. I made my way out of the beach, and as I approached the turn to transition I heard loud screaming coming from the crowd. It was my family and friends! The only thing that stuck out to me was my sister, Jess, and her obnoxious screaming and flailing.

Originally posted by kermityay

 It honestly made my day.

 Adrenaline was pumping through me and it just carried me through to T1. My energy was off the charts. I had just swum for longer time than a few of my half-marathons, and I was like a spring chicken out of the water. I didn’t have to run, but it was the only thing that felt right. I was done with the swim. DONE. 

Now it was time to get changed and tackle the meat of the day. The 112 mile bike ride. So, off to T1 I went.

Ironman Lake Placid 2016 Race Recap - Part 1

Those who’ve followed me for more than a year know how big of a deal this race was to me. Even those who came aboard in between could probably sense it.  It was huge. IMLP 2015 was, and still is, my only DNF. IMLP 2016 was the comeback story. And, god damn, was it a good one.

This will be broken down into a few parts, since I am incredibly long winded and also, I do what I want.

Prerace:

I was up at 3AM to eat my pb&j sandwich and started the hydration process for the race. Lots and lots of fluids. Made some final adjustments to my special needs bags (I swear it was the theme of the weekend, bags and bags and bags), stuffed my wetsuit into my backpack, triple checked my list of necessities and I was on my way to the Olympic oval. I started out of the hotel, hit play on my race day playlist, and the opening line in the first song hit me like a ton of bricks.

“Are we ticking on borrowed time?”

Untold backstory: My uncle was one of my biggest fans, with him insisting that I “get paid for doing this shit,” and often inviting me up to ride the mountains where he lived so I could prep for IMLP. He admired what I did. Unfortunately, he passed away suddenly last November. It hit me hard. In his passing, though, I realized that I still have an able body and a beating heart. It’s what led me to signing up for, and eventually getting my ass handed to me at, the Quassy Revolution weekend in June. It hurt like hell, but it was a great hurt. I’m still almost positive it down poured during the whole 70.3 half-marathon because of him, just so he could laugh at how incredibly hard-headed I was… Anyway, back to the recap.

I started making my way down Main Street with a bunch of other athletes, until a woman ran across my path, stopped, and overlooked the lake. First thought, “Who the hell is training right now?” Then I realized it was the woman who would be wearing the #1 race bib in a couple hours, Heather Jackson!! I wanted to ask her for a picture soooo bad, since she’s one of my favorite triathletes, but decided against it because it’s obviously race day and she probably getting in the zone (She won the race and shattered the women’s course record, btw). So, that was pretty awesome.

I finally got to the body marking area and quickly found my friend Tom, who was volunteering. I intentionally didn’t mark my age on my calf, I had Tritats for the race (They make you look like a pro, haha. Fake it til you make it!), just so he could mark me and chat a bit before I went on my way. He wished me luck and I headed for my bike. As I got into transition, I saw Emily (@emilydoesscience) by her bike and made my way over to her to wish her luck. She seemed like she was ready to kick ass (and she DID!). She noticed the writing on my forearm in permanent marker,  “8 Seconds,” but that needs no explanation. We wished each other luck and I went over and got a start on getting my bike ready. I found the frozen pedialyte that my official/unofficial Ironman coach (@funnyrunner​) stashed for me, loaded up my bottles, stuck a few Clif bars in with my PB&J, and then found another familiar face in front of me! Apparently Greg (@trekrider83) was racked right behind me! He let me borrow his bike pump, we chatted a bit, wished each other luck, told Catalina that I would DEFINITELY be back this year, and I headed out of transition to drop off my Special Needs bags.

At this point, I was in my zone. T.I.’s “Go Get It” (another phrase written on my forearm) followed Eminem’s “‘Till I Collapse,” and it gave me chills as I was walking up Mirror Lake Drive. The fog on the lake was serene, the Ironman Swim Entrance and Exit were set up, with all of the buoys in line. Last year’s memories started to creep in, but I did my best to stay positive. I dropped my bags off, found my family, and with 40 minutes to the start of the race, I figured I’d try to use the bathroom. HA! The lines were so long; there would’ve been no way I’d make it before the start of the race, so I went back to my group. They asked how I got back so fast and were worried when I said I didn’t go. I let them know that there were two kinds of triathletes: those who pee in their wetsuits, and those who are LIARS. So I put my wetsuit on, let my group write on my arms for encouragement (I now have “Wild Baboons 4 Life!” sunburned into my forearm because of my sister) and headed for the swim start.

I barely had enough time to get a practice swim in, but I did float around for a few minutes to get the cold water into my wetsuit. That helped. The race started shortly thereafter and I patiently waited for everyone to funnel into the water. I seeded myself right behind the people at the front of the 1:45-2:00 pace group and felt the pressure weighing down on me like the weight of the world. The group started moving faster, and there was suddenly a single file of people in front of me. I high-fived the volunteers, getting a little choked up, looked down at the “8 Seconds” written on my forearm, and had only one thought on my mind.

“Go Get It.”