It’s difficult, because if it were easy, it would be called Football…was the first sign I saw being held up among spectators supporting the bike course of Ironman Lake Placid. I started laughing. Another favorite; “Cheer if you peed on your bike today”. Both of these among many others were there to cheer us along our goal of completing a 140.6 mile race beginning with a 2.4 mile swim in Mirror Lake. This is followed by a ½ mile transition to a 112 mile bike through the Adirondack Mountain’s with almost 7000 feet of gain. This is completed by running a 26.2 mile Marathon.
Realizing most of you are saying, “Yeah” we know the distance. Understand that I am also writing this for my friends and family members. So, roll with it!
The morning began with a 4:00 AM wake up, followed by breakfast with my wife and a teammate. After breakfast, we left our cabin and Lisa and Bill dropped me about a ¼ mile from the transition area around 5:15. This was perfect, a stress free morning to setup the bike and transition bags. I opted to use only special needs on the bike and skip the run bag. In my special needs bag contained a spare tube and CO2 cylinder. I also kept a bottle of water, a bottle of Coca-Cola and a Herbalife 24 Hydration Packet. After dropping it off, I headed up the street one block to fellow Wattie, Jon Miles’ cabin on the lake; appropriately named “Camp Awesome”.
Camp Awesome is THE closest cabin to the swim start and has a large dock in the backyard sitting on Mirror Lake 400 yards off the swim start. Camp Awesome was the perfect location to relax before the race and provided my wife and others within our group a prime location for viewing the swim. Jon & I, began our walk to the swim start and found ourselves in a herd of people. Inevitably we had to jump a fence to seed ourselves into the rolling start. I was planning for a 1:10-1:15 swim time, and seeded near the 1:15 group to avoid too much contact.
As we began entering the water via the rolling start, I quickly felt as though it was easier than many Age Group Wave Starts I had competed in. I settled in comfortably almost right away and found that I only had contact around turn one and turn two. Upon exiting the first lap of the swim, I walked quickly and shook out my arms. Many guys ran but found themselves bobbing and weaving through the group. I chose to relax and shake out my arms. Oh and incidentally that's not me in the center of the picture. I am caught slowly walking from the water here on lap 1 over this guys left shoulder. Check the guy on the left in the Blueseventy Helix.
Swim Lap 1 33:48
During lap two, I began swimming up on several people and found myself having to sight more often as I navigated through the mass of swimmers. Again, there was contact through the turns and this time people were fatiguing. Many flailed on the surface, some on their back. In the turns it seemed the weaker swimmers struggled in the mass of people to find a line. This created a backup through the tight turns. More navigation and into the home stretch. I figured I would lay down a hard 500 plus to try and make up time. During this time, I noticed rain was coming down pretty hard. I just kept my head down and laid down the hard yards. This proved successful.
Swim Lap 2 34:19
Total Distance 2.4 Miles
Total Swim 1:08.19
Later I learned, that the second lap of the swim was scratched due to lightning. Many swimmers were forced to exit the water during their second lap. Although my 1:08.19 was first recorded, it was later reduced to the first lap of 33:48. The T1 times were also scratched in order to be “FAIR” to the swimmers that were forced from the lake and unable to complete their second lap.
While running the near ½ mile to and through T1 on a completely carpeted stretch of road, I couldn’t help but notice how hard it was raining. TORRENTIAL is not a good word. I knew it was going to be a very WET RIDE. As I arrived out on the course, poor visibility and water on the road made things very sketchy. Couple that with the UBER FAST descent into the town of Keene, (many guys go 55+ MPH) and you can see there is recipe for disaster. Three little girls at home and an amazing wife cheering me on, I chose to play it safe. I purposely sat up and feathered the breaks throughout the descent. As the rim surfaces were wet, it took a moment for the brakes to work. Feathering them frequently improved my braking resistance. I tried to convince myself that frequent braking was a good move. After reviewing my Garmin File, my top speed in this section of UBER WET road within an UBER GNARLY descent, reached 38 MPH. Reflecting on this section, even this speed was probably too fast for those conditions. After the descent into Keene there is about 27 miles of rolling to flat terrain along several little mountain streams. Only if you have ridden this course, can you begin to understand its beauty. It was my goal to Average 200 Watts during the bike and this was the perfect section to settle into a rhythm.
As the rain continued to soak us, I kept saying to myself that I just needed to put my head down and pedal. The rain came down so hard that I continually had to wipe my Garmin to see the data. It was awful. Riding conservatively through lap one, I found myself at special needs, refueled and began the second loop. While winding through the mass of spectators in town, I spotted my wife and teammates, gave a wave and smile then put my head back down for a second lap.
Lap 1 3:07.53. (17.88 MPH)
It was no longer raining and the sun began to come out. As I dried off, I recalled thinking how comfortable I was the entire ride despite the weather. Evidenced by the photos you can see how hard the rain fell. The thunder and lightning that halted the swim took its toll on racers throughout lap 1 of the bike. Although I was soaked head to toe, the design of my cycling kit provided me supreme comfort and warmth throughout the ride. I chose to wear my team Bibs, Cycling Jersey and Arm warmers. Many guys complained of shivering and severe cold during the descent. This had no effect on me.
This time on the descent into Keene the roads were dry and I rode them more aggressively my Garmin file says a little over 48 MPH. I felt the wind catching the front wheel on the way down and I backed off a bit. After this gnarly descent, I could easily see big guys flying down over 55 MPH++. Too fast for this guy but it was a ton of fun as the road had been resurfaced and provided a silky smooth descent over several miles of dry pavement.
On the back half of the course near Whiteface Mountain, the course winds its way over a slow climb though a gorge and majestic rivers. I spent a lot of time just looking at the beauty the Adirondack background provided. I did this mostly because we had a solid headwind over the entire section. Looking around provided respite from the suffering. As I completed the “3 Bears” climb back into Lake Placid, the energy of the spectators surrounding the course was infectious. I have raced in many an event and Lake Placid spectators are among the very best in Ironman. As I rode back into transition, I was energized by the literally thousands of people that came to support us.
Lap 2 3:07.29 (17.92 MPH)
Total Bike Time 6:15.22 (17.9 MPH) with 6900 feet of gain.
Normalized Power 196 Watts
Upon entering T2, I made a quick change into my Two Piece Team Kit. In and out in 6:35. It was a little long but I was not in a rush. My goal was to take the first 5 miles very easy. I walked out of transition and told myself that I couldn’t run the first 3 miles slow enough. Why? Most of it was downhill. I averaged the first 5K in at a 9:15 pace and through mile 8 at a 9:33 pace. My personal goal was to stick a 4 hour marathon. As I finished the first ½ marathon in 1:57.28, and tracking to goal, suddenly the wheels fell off. My stomach began to have a reckoning.
On the backside of Mirror Lake during the close of lap 1, I vomited along the roadside. A race official came to my aid and handed me a bottle of water and suggested I take some salt. From here through mile 17, I battled the nausea and opted to let it happen again around mile 18. Now I was mostly walking. As I walked through aid stations, I sipped on Chicken Broth and Coca Cola. The warm broth was divine and by mile 22, I had recovered. Over the close of the race, I was able to lay down an 8:14 average mile.
As I entered the oval where the finish line was, a 44 year old from my age group passed me. It took a minute to register, then I began the painful struggle of chasing him down with everything I had left. It was fun trying to catch him and ultimately I did. Spectators roared at us. All I could hear was, “GO WATTIE”!!! Here is a great picture that perfectly expresses the pain and determination written on my face.
Official Race Time 11:52.27 (Not Including Lap 2 of Swim)
134 of 433 Age Group
752 of 2764 Overall
Ironman is truly an incredible experience. Looking back at this race, I learned a great deal about racing, my body, and pain during the process. Although I melted down ½ way through the marathon, I achieved each and every goal I had set for myself up to that point. Therefore, I am very excited about the result of this race.
Only through racing can we truly test our training. Furthermore, you cannot duplicate in training what your body will feel like while racing. Therefore, always some tweaking to be done. I am already discussing with my coach Adam Zucco with Training Bible Coaching a strategy to overcome my stomach issues for my next Ironman in Arizona this November.
As I close this report, I would like to thank most importantly my wife Lisa. Without your love and support, I could not participate in this sport. You are my Lover, My Confidant and my Very Best Friend. Thank you to my coach Adam, who brought me back from a difficult injury last season. You always make yourself available and epitomize the definition of a great coach. Thank you to my team and the Wattie Ink Family. You are ALWAYS there to support and cheer us on. Finally, thank you to our sponsors, Wattie Ink, Herbalife24, Blueseventy, Powerbar, ISM, Spidertech Tape, TriBike Transport, Rudy Project, Reynolds Wheels, 454 Tattoo & 10 Barrel Brewing.