Where does one begin after a day like IMLP except to say - I am an Ironman finisher- 13:14.50! Woohoo!!
What a day everyone had up here in Lake Placid. It was amazing having so many familiar faces surrounding me-not only those that were my support crew (family and friends), but those that raced along side of me! The Trimax team was in full force and ready to go- and it was great to bump into everyone prior to race day as well. You all are awesome!
Before even getting to the actual race report, just have to sum up a few things. The people were fantastic; screaming at us like we were rock stars as we run from the swim start to transition, roaring and ringing bells as each biker moved along the road, yelling and motivating runners to get it done! The volunteers were incredible. All day, I made sure to thank many of them - they are what makes this race a huge success. And having family and friends share this experience was priceless. It was a perfect day - each little thing wrapped up into one big package of fun, excitement, mental games, pain, and everything else you can imagine going through the head for many many hours. If anyone ever wants to attempt an IM, do it in Lake Placid - the feeling is something you'll never forget!
The weather was almost perfect. All my prayers worked! It was a bit cloudy and windy and it rained a little on the bike course, but it was not too hot and I felt pretty comfortable all day long.
So RACE REPORT:
Early morning, 4:30, the alarm doesn't even have to go off...I'm already up and going to the bathroom. I'm quiet and get my things ready to go -special needs bag: check, water bottle: check. Coffee is going, so I make myself a large bowl of oatmeal - it looks like triple of what I'd usually eat, but I knew it was going to be a long day and that the calories were needed. I did my best to get it all down, ate an egg and had my much needed coffee. In total, probably went to the bathroom 3 times before actually getting the shoes on to go.
Knowing that I was walking a bit to the swim start, I grabbed my water, gatorade and ipod and hit the road. The sun was not quite up yet - this time of the morning is my favorite. It is so peaceful. Just before I reached transition, I dropped off my special needs bag and headed down to be body marked. "#2689 please", I said to the marker man. Done and off to the next thing which was getting rid of my morning bag. I headed to my bike to make sure all was set - filled the tires, poured in the water and that was all that was needed to be done. It felt as if something was missing, but it always does. Went over and dropped off my clothes, grabbed the wetsuit, cap and goggles and walked up to the swim area. I, of course, needed to pee once again, so to the porta potty line I went. It was sooooo long, but worth the wait. After a 10-15 minute time lapse, I found some open space and put on the wetsuit. Time was going by quickly and before I knew it, they'd be calling for all the competitors to cross the timing mat to get in the water. At this moment there was a sense of calmness going through me - we did still have 20 minutes before we'd actually be starting. Sue and I hugged and wished each other luck and into the water we slid.
I got out under the flags and saw Max, smiled, and then proceeded to find a space where I could just chill. It didn't take long for the area to fill up and my space was completely invaded. I actually started wondering if we'd be able to even get going since everyone was so close together. Being a female upfront can be a little dangerous, so I settled in a few people back and ended up next to a few men that didn't know how to tread water. Anyway, adjusted the goggles a million times and waited and watched...the crowds and lake full of athletes ready to be ironmen were amazing to see. The gun goes off and here we go!
It was a blood bath out there of hitting. I actually kept my head out of the water for maybe 200 yards just to not get kicked in the face. There's nothing worse! I seemed to be right on course, a little to the right of the buoys so I got going. Felt great on the first loop and even better as I came toward land and heard the crowd and announcer. Jumping out of the water, the clock read 39:10ish which meant I had done the lap in 29 minutes. That worked for me...in I went for lap # 2! This one had a little more going on. I immediately got toward the buoy line and found a swimmer or two that I could hang with for the race. It helped time go by quickly. I was having a small wetsuit issue where I could feel water going into the arms, which gets annoying quickly, but I tried to just focus on staying on course and getting home. On the way back a little water was swallowed and the goggles came off slightly due to an arm flying in the face, but other than that I was pumped to get to the next leg. I ran out of the water, saw my time of 1:01, got my wetsuit stripped off (this is such a bonus), took off the cap and goggles and headed to the transition! This was the most amazing feeling - I almost lost it here. People were everywhere cheering you on- gives me goosebumps! I run through the bags and pull mine and run to the tent only to see one of Sue's friends, Benz (you rock!), who helps me with my stuff. She gets everything organized, puts on my race belt, says some encouraging words and off I go to get the bike.
I hate running in my bike shoes, but I knew it would be over soon. Fortunately, I was out of the water before most of the masses (which is why I love the swim), so I had someone hand me my bicycle so I could get to the start of the bike. The mount was fine, and it felt to get the legs going. My heart rate felt pretty good and the legs felt strong. I relaxed and pedaled away. People were passing me on the left minute by minute, but I remained calm and kept my pace. I knew I needed to stay in a certain zone in order to have anything left for the marathon. This was going to be a long day. I started taking gus 25 minutes into the bike, so my gu eatings were at 25, 45 and 05 every hour. The first 7 miles were fairly rolling and up hill and then we had a lovely downhill which is when it started raining. It felt great, but the roads were slick. I couldn't believe how fast some of these men were going down - I know I hit speeds of 44 mph and I still looked as if I was standing still. Once at the bottom of Keene, the turn and trip to Jay was lovely. I managed to pee on the bike - I really had to go. It was a good ride- I saw Brittany pass me at mile 30ish and John get me closer to mile 50, so I knew I was holding a pretty good pace, even though everyone else seemed to be flying by me. Pretty uneventful except for a 2 bike crash right in front of me on a hill no less (a woman and man)- I asked if they were okay, and they seemed to be alright so I kept going...I did see a man come toward them to check. Also, hit a huge bump and my salt tabs and bike lever fell out, so had to stop and go back to get those. Didn't take much time and I knew I couldn't afford not to have those things.
Climbing Papa Bear toward the 2nd loop was crazy. People were in the streets, getting in your face and I felt a surge of energy rushing through my body. I saw some friends on the side and then saw Max at the crest of a hill yelling some encouraging words! The kids were the best at the turn into town...screaming and smiling....they were probably shocked to see me still alive and going strong :) Got to the special needs, pulled over and grabbed my bag to refill on gus and got a PB and J sandwich. My legs were quivering - maybe from the excitement and nerves! Got going again and once headed out of town, I attempted to eat a quarter of the sandwich and it was just too messy. That was a mistake...no more of that. Back to gus. Also, the sun came out, so did a salt tab on the 05 of every hour.
The 2nd loop was pretty strong too. I probably could have picked it up a little, but just made sure I wasn't pushing too hard - you can tell I was nervous about running after the bike. I have never done over 56 miles on the bike ever, so every mile after it was an accomplishment! Sue caught me at around the 70 mile marker and we chatted for a few minutes. She looked great, happy and strong! Off she went! I ended up on route 86 climbing towards Hazelton and looked up to see that Ariel was right in front of me...we said hi and then kept going. I hit the turnaround and glanced at the porta potties and knew I needed to use one- much easier than attempting to go on the bike. It actually felt good to get off, stretch a little and squat. Back on I went and knew there wasn't much time before I'd be back in town to begin the run. Chris caught me at mile 105ish and I knew he was having a good bike - he looked relaxed and strong and there's nothing like seeing a familiar face as you're on your journey! Thanks for the pick me up! So, again, coming into town - you feel like a million bucks and a rock star! I know I was thanking the gods and my bike for holding out for so many miles - the day was only going to get better! Bike time was 6:50.
Benz met me in the tent again! It's so nice to see a happy smiling face! Got some fresh socks, put the shoes on, used the potty and headed out. Got some water on the way out and started chuggin' away. The hard part was coming off the bike and getting those legs going and to get out of town, much of it was down hill so a little rough at first on the legs. Max had the kids jump into an aid station to volunteer so that was a nice surprise as I was coming down the hill to grab a water and see them. So far, I had stuck to my nutrition plan and felt great, so I wasn't going to give up on it. Come mile 4 aid station, I stopped the gus and hit the coke w/ water. At this point, the sun was still out and pretty strong, so still did a salt tab every hour just to be safe now that I didn't have the sodium from the gus. The first leg felt pretty strong and on the out and back on River Rd. I got a little surge of energy each time i would see someone I knew! I continued walking every aid station to get what I needed and ran in between. So far this was working for me. Out on River Rd, there was a Ford motivational tent set up and a little note from the kids that choked me up for a moment, but made me realize that I was getting close to town. I hit the kid's aid station again, and this time I was going up hill. I started walking a bit, but all those people got me going within a few seconds. It may not look like I was running, but I was! Hit the turn-around at the top of Mirror Lake Drive and knew that I'd have to be fairly mental to get through another 13. The feet were starting to really hurt and I could feel a significant amount of chaffing going on around the boobs and neck (from the swim).
I stuck to my plan of walking each aid station as best as I could and walked very infrequently. I also used the potty probably every 3rd station and it helped to squat and stretch the legs a bit. Between mile 16 and 17, Martin caught up to me. He was looking strong! We chatted a bit and then I watched him go by. I didn't let him out of my sight and he had a run, walk strategy going on, so he would start walking I'd just about catch him and then he'd begin running again. This went on for about 1 1/2 miles and at the turn around we met up. Something hit me and I felt better and stronger. From that point on, I knew there was not too many miles to go and it gave me hope. I also had a pretzel or two at each aid station and I think that little bit of a change plus the coke really kicked in and made me feel pretty good overall.
Running up into town, I caught up to a guy that was dressed as Elvis, who was on his first loop of the race. He was hamming it up with everyone and having fun! This is just an awesome race and I almost started thinking that it's going to be sad when this all ends...but my goal was to get done. I had a huge smile going into the last turnaround - Sue and I had always thought that there should be a better one than going by some older folks sitting in chairs with their bells - but hey, they were motivation enough for me to finish up that last mile with some energy. Taking a right hand turn and then going into that oval was electrifying. I high fived a few on the right and then just was in awe at the crowds there to support everyone! Finishing felt spectacular! I was so happy that I was able to complete this and was thrilled with my time! Max was there to great me with open arms - thanks honey for all your support through this journey. I thought I would have cried, but I just felt too good and there was so much positive energy in the air. I was happy to see all my kids who I thank for putting up with me when I had to get my workouts done or if I was cranky!
The day finished up with an average massage in the tent and then a walk home with Max carrying the bags and me with my bike. But to top off the day, we cross paths with the one and only Michael Phelps!! Max asks for a quick photo, and as Phelps is refusing politely because he has to get to the oval to see his sister finish, Max convinces him to take a photo with me (told him it was my first ironman)! Shocked, I jump into the shot and get a great one with me looking like I'm crazy and Michael looking cool as a cucumber! So fun.
Home was a place to collect, shower, have a slice of pizza (hard to stomach after 27 gus, coke and water all day), and head back to the finish line for the folks coming in up until midnight. We caught our friend, John, finishing his day after a bizzare twist of events, Erica coming in with a huge smile (you are an Ironwoman!!!), and many others finding their way to victory!
While I do not have any intention of doing another Ironman, I can see why people would want to do this race year after year! It is an amazing feeling of accomplishment to come across that line and there is no other place that you feel so much energy from the crowds and the volunteers! Thank you, Lake Placid, for providing a place for so many athletes to come together to create this feeling of home and family! Now it's time for the next goal....but first a few days of rest and relaxation and getting this body back to normal!