Saturday, August 23, 2014

Ironman Lake Placid 2014 Race Report

I had signed up for IMLP while I was onsite in 2013.  I had a year to plan, prepare, think, make changes etc.  I had an okay day at IM Louisville in 2012 - I went about all my training on my own, hitting a couple 30+ hour training weeks (because that's what you do when you've just finished grad school and haven't started working yet).  I trained, trained some more and over trained in 2012.  I was young and rest was not in my vocabulary.

Fall of 2013 I started looking for a coach to help get me through Ironman #2 faster, as well as reach some other goals throughout the season.  I nailed down an awesome coach, took a little time to get used to the plan and how we were going about this, and eventually bought into 'the plan'.  Fast forward to July 2014 and I was feeling fit, strong, and ready to get to Lake Placid!

The Olympic Speed Skating Oval 

Adam, my brother and I left DC very early Thursday morning and had a great drive up to Placid.  Arriving with enough time to get my packet and a little run/swim action in before hitting the Lake Placid Pub/Brewery for dinner.  Mom arrived Friday and we all enjoyed some Ironman festivities and grilling out at our condo leading up to race day.  Saturday was  the usual pre-IM dance: finalize gear bags, check bike, pack special needs bags, etc.


The alarm went off early and the race plan execution was under way. I started the morning off by trying to get in a nice big breakfast (and succeeding!).  The sherpa team was up and getting their coffee made.  The air outside was cool, but no rain, and the dark early morning sky didn't look threatening.  We made the 1/2 mile walk to transition with hundreds of other athletes and spectators that figured our road would be a good place to park.  As we arrived at transition you couldn't help but feel the energy and Ironman buzz in the air.  I went over to Mr. loaded him up with Osmo hydration and my nutrition for the longest part of the day to come.  I topped off the tires with air and checked the brakes before regrouping with the sherpa team to head towards Mirror Lake.  We were able to have a home base under the DC Tri Club tent on Mirror Lake Drive.  It was great having a place to sit, see other DCTCers pre race and even run into my coach (2nd Place Pro!) while getting my game face on.
Things got serious....I guess...
DCTC ready to race!

THE SWIM - 2.4 Miles - 1:17:16 (1.2 Miles - 37:10)

I lined up mid pack of 1:10-1:20 thinking this would put me near 1:15.  First loop went well, a little physical initially, but I found some clear water and nice feet along cable line and was at the T1 bouy before I knew it!  I felt like I was passing a lot of people during the first part of this loop, unusual for me. I  came out just over 37 minutes to start loop 2. Loop 2 started out well, I found good feet and was swimming in clear water along the cable for a good amount of it.  Had to get through some slower packs a couple of times.  After T2 bouy things changed, took an elbow to the goggle - I was fine just had to dump water out. Guy who had elbowed me then was trying to take the feet I was following and gave me a nice 2 handed shove.  He then proceeded to stop and start yelling something, I kept on plugging away.  The rain started coming down when I was near the T2 bouy.  Luckily, with the cable line in Mirror Lake the rain didn't mess up my sighting.  The general flow seems that everybody's 2nd loop was 2-3 minutes slower due to more congestion of the swim course and the rain.  I'll keep working in the pool, but an 11 minute improvement since the 'fast' swim course in Louisville...I'll take it!

T1 - 5:51
It's quite the run from swim exit to T1.  I done some race recon and learned that the wetsuit strippers are pretty closer to swim exit.  I decided to make a game time decision based on how far I had my wetsuit down by the time I was passing the wetsuit strippers as to if I'd utilize them or not.  well I still had 1 arm in my wetsuit and I wasn't about to stop to take that out to let the strippers take my wetsuit.  I continued to run and wiggle down my wetsuit as far as I could while moving along.  It was raining pretty hard, I didn't seem to notice or really care.  I grabbed my Bike Gear Bag and headed into the change tent.  A quick helmet and shoe job and I was off.  As a volunteer kindly handed me my bike she said 'be careful out there sweetie' and that's when I realized...there was a huge thunder storm...and I was about to bike through it.

THE BIKE - 112 Miles - 5:56:13

Descend in aero...yes please!
As I rolled out of T1 and down the first hills of Placid I realized that this ride was going to be about being safe and smart and coming back to T2 in one piece.  I saw my brother and Adam as I rolled out.  I was happy and ready to execute.  It was raining, the skies were dark and there were huge lightning bolts and monstrous thunder up ahead - but the conditions were the same for everyone.  I made a decision very early on to let the weather be to my benefit - maybe others would slow down, DNF, etc because of the weather but it wasn't bothering me and I wasn't going to let it get me down.  I passed quite a few people during the first climb out of Placid.  By the time I got to the descent it wasn't too crowded and mostly everyone else on the descent was riding their brakes.  This was my 7th time down the descent in about the past year - and it had recently been re-surfaced!  I took it in aero and had a blast!  The rain felt like tiny rocks and it was sort of painful, so the quicker it was over the better. Once I got to the flat-ish section that takes you out toward Jay the rain was slowing and the sun was trying to come out.  I had been sticking to my nutrition and hydration plan and basically started peeiing 90 minutes into the bike and about every hour after that.  Hydration was not going to hold me back.  The first out and back gave me a chance to see where I was in relation to some of the pro's and fast age groupers.  I was feeling strong and ready to tackle the hills starting in Wilmington.  I took it easy and spun on up, I also got to see Octavio having an awesome race!  Once to the 3 bears I put my climbing legs on and went after it, it's amazing how many triathletes can't climb well.  I saw my sherpa team along Mirror Lake Drive
Rolling through to finish loop 1.
before making a quick stop at Special Needs to restock my Osmo hydration and nutrition needs.  The sun was out for the 2nd loop and as the water lifted off the road the humidity came out to play.  The course was a little lonely during the 2nd loop.  I saw my friend, Mary, as we made the initial ascent out of Placid.  The descent to Keene was a even more fun with less people and better visibility!  I felt great  until about mile 84 - which is when I started to wonder if 'the plan' was too hard.  I reminded my legs to shut up and get to work.  There was a nice headwind once we made the turn to head towards the 3 bears.  That part of the course always always gets me on the 2nd loop.  I watched my numbers and carried on.  I was still passing people, still peeing and generally feeling ok.  Once at the 3 bears I was energized and ready to get to T2.

T2 - 2:28
I was ready to get off my bike and see what the legs could do on the marathon ahead.  I was fairly certain I was doing decently well as there was no one else in the women's change tent when I got there.  I had 3 volunteers to myself.  One dumped my bag adn put my race on me while 2 others put my socks and shoes on.  Nice!  I got in some water and ice as I leff the change tent and headed out of the oval.

THE RUN - 26.2 Miles - 4:36:01
I'd run this course before and I knew the first few miles could be deceptively fast due to the downhill.  I focused on my hydration, nutrition and heart rate.  My legs were feeling good
and my heart rate was right where I wanted it. Down and out of Placid before making the left turn for the long out and back along River Rd.  I got to see many pro's finishing heading back on their first loop as I was heading out.  I also got to see Kendra, who I hadn't seen all day.  It's the small things that can make you smile during the Ironman marathon.  I took in Osmo, water, ice, gels, orange slices, etc.  I felt great my entire first loop, even coming back up the hills into town.  Just about at special need's my HR started dropping.  I wanted to run faster and bring it up but my legs weren't willing to go.  The out and back seemed even longer on the 2nd time through.  I was excited to see Kim running in 2nd and closing in on the finish, Katie running in 6th and a bunch more DCTC people out on the run course.  My stomach was ok but I couldn't stand the thought of gels anymore so I switched over to orange slices and coke in
addition to my Osmo.  I was fighting to keep my heart rate from dropping anymore. Adam ran with me a bit - saying he thought I was 7th off the bike - at this point I thought about 15 people in my age group had passed me so I figure I was now somewhere between 15th and 25th.  Really, I had no clue.  All I knew is that this was hard, and if you'd asked me at mile 18 if I'd ever sign up for another I would of said, "hell no!".  (Well that changed rather quickly).  I fought up the hills once last time and knew I could push it for the short out and back on Mirror Lake Drive before heading into the oval.  One of the last aid stations was playing happy and it definitely helped bring a smile back to my face for the last few miles.  

Final turn before the finish line!

Happy to finish strong and thanking my Dad!
If you have followed my blog, you know this race fell on the 3rd anniversary of my dad's death.  I raced my first Ironman (Louisville) in 2012 just over a year after his accident.  The training was therapeutic, the challenge was new and  I was out there as part of my journey.  When I noticed IMLP was on the 3rd anniversary of the accident I had to sign up.  The setting, the race, the date - everything about it was perfect.  I trained and I raced for dad.  Everything else was just icing on the cake.  My dad will always be an inspiration and motivating force on this Ironman journey, but the next's for me and he'd love that.

We found out a bit after I finished that I actually finished 6th in my age group!  With how my run went I didn't think I'd cracked the top 10.  I was pleasantly surprised.  Excited to see if maybe a Kona slot would roll down and excited that I was only a few minutes off the podium.  Then it a hit me...a few minutes over the course of 11+ hours isn't that much. I was slightly dissappointed I didn't know where I was in the race during course of the run (had I come off the bike in 4th or 7th?) it's not entirely clear on the Ironman Tracker.  Had I known, I'm not sure I could have done anything differently.  It was truly a great day with a superb sherpa team!  I'm sticking to 'the plan' and going to see where we can go from here!  

Thank you to my sponsors - Snapple, DC Tri Club, Osmo Nutrition, Rudy Project, Normatec Recovery, and Rose Physical Therapy Group for help me get to the start line race ready and helping me have a great day getting to the finish line!  Thank you to my awesome sherpa team - Adam, Mom, and Rory!  They were great all week long and put up with me all the months leading up to the race.  Thank you, Kara for your virtual cheers and support (she was the first to know how I placed!).

Adam, Rory, and Mom near the Flume.  Natural ice bath!