Wow!! After many issues with Google and the Blogger site I'm finally able to put together an entry to the blog - but only on my son's MacBook. Weird! Anyway, it's been almost a month since Ironman Lake Placid and I so wanted to capture it here cause it was such an eventful day. We arrived in Lake Placid on the Tuesday before the race. This was my 5th IM Lake Placid and, as usual, we stayed in Wilmington at the base of the Whiteface Mountain or the start of the climb back towards Placid on the bike course.
We stayed at the North Pole Camping Resort and this was our view from the fire pit at the back end of our site - a pretty sweet view! We unpacked and set up camp aka home for the next week.
Here's the finished product. We spent the next day pretty much relaxing, doing some activity with Logan and enjoying camp life. Thursday came and it was time to head in to Placid to register for the race. We went to town and Sara and Logan went to Critters - Logan's fav store for all things stuffed animals. I swear after all these years we should be part owners for the money we've dropped there. I headed to the Placid convention centre to get registered. There I saw my friends Mark and Dianne Trafford.
Mark and Dianne are dear friends and we've known them since 2000 and met through triathlon. We first crossed paths at a tri in Peterborough just before the 2000 IM USA (that's what Placid was referred to before all the other races came along). Mark was doing the race, they had 2 boys (Tyler and Jordan) and I had twins that were Jordan's age, and we were all staying at the Whiteface KOA for that particular race. It's funny that a chance meeting like that has developed into such a lasting friendship but that's what I like about racing and the Traffords are such down-to-earth people. So forge ahead to 2013 and Diane, Mark and oldest son Tyler are all doing the 2013 race! Dianne and Tyler are doing their first IM, Mark his 8th and 7th Lake Placid. Diane also turned 50 and it was Mark and Dianne's 25th anniversary - talk about eventful. Tyler is a talented triathlete and is 22 - how many kids his age do you think are taking on IM?!!
The cool thing about Lake Placid is that it's an endurance athlete's playground. The riding, running and swimming environment is tailor-made for triathletes. The scenery is spectacular. The only drawback is the town has only 3500 permanent residents and when IM comes to town it overflows. There is always limited parking during race week but, with experience, we have found some secret spots over the years. Of the IMs I've done here, though, none could compare to the intensity vibe that was oozing around town from the athletes. In the past there was more of a relaxed, celebratory vibe but people this year were clearly tense and on edge. Perhaps it's the way IM racing is going as Kona slots are reducing with the addition of races. Who knows.
The carbo dinner was in the Herb Brooks Arena, site of the "Miracle on Ice"hockey win against the Soviets - pretty cool.
The next day was all about dropping off stuff in preparation for the big day. Transition bags, my bike were all racked. The race area is on the speed skating oval where Eric Heiden won 5 gold medals for the US in the 1980 Winter Games.
From there it was back to camp to relax for the race. By this time Gran and Gramps arrived. Logan was excited to have them there. We chilled by the fire and got to bed at a decent hour. The weather for race day was to be overcast with some bouts of rain. We woke up to some light drizzle that stopped as we reached town.
Race morning is always a little crazy. Pumping tires, last minute bag checks, port-a-potty, body marking, dropping off special needs - it's all very quick. The other difference this year (for the first time) was that the swim would be a rolling start. We would self-seed ourselves according to blocks of time and we would run over the mat on the way into the water and get going. The archway where the mats were could only accommodate around 15 people at a time so you have no issues getting into the water.
I didn't get any swim photos so here's a recap. The rolling start was pretty good for getting started. A couple weeks ago I had my regular wetsuit completely rip apart in the arm so I would not be using it race day. I was using an old one from 5 years ago and after 1km I understood why I got rid of it in the first place. The wetsuit had little flexibility in the shoulders and arms and it didn't take long to fatigue. In addition water got in through the material in the armpits where there was no neoprene. Normally I like to swim right over the cable but because of these issues I was slower and getting a lot of contact and ankle pulling. I decided that I needed open water to deal with the situation and get through as best as I could. I came out of the water in 1:15ish, 8 minutes slower than 2011. Yuck! By this time it was now raining. I got through transition with no issues and started the bike. Because it was slick everyone was a little cautious on the downhills. I made my way out of town and found my rhythm and got to the Keane downhill in good time. It was still raining at this point so I stayed upright and controlled for the long descent. Once into Keane I made the left that would take us for 35km to the out and back in Ausable Forks.
Once I made the turn in Keane my day took a severe turn that would impact the rest of the day. A few km after the turn my back tire went immediately flat. I managed to stop by the side of the road with no incident and started to change it. Because I had the race wheels the back tire required me to remove the valve extender, remove the tube, attach the extender to the new tube and put the tire on. No issues there. I applied the CO2 to the new tire and I did not have in fully engaged. Some of the CO2 came out, I pressed harder and got about half of the tire filled - stupid! Not really assessing clearly I decided to use another CO2 with the idea I would only use half to fill it up. I applied the CO2 and released it but it got stuck on the valve extender and I couldn't prevent it from releasing the full amount of gas. It blew up my tire!! BAM! The tire was now damaged. I thought my day was now done but then I remembered that there is tech support on the course but I would have to wait until they drove be. I was by the road for about 20 minutes when Mark rode by. He curled back to me to see if I was alright or needed anything. I told him what happened and how I would need a new tire. He says "I have one right here - you can have it". Miraculously Mark carries a tire with him when he races. I protested saying that I did not want to take his tire in case he needed it later - I'd feel crappy if I impacted his day. He insisted and became my race saver. He went on his way, I changed the tire without incident and got back into the race with a half hour of time on the side of the road. The mosquitos enjoyed the meal though! I got back going and about another 3km down the road I slowed at the aid station to grab a Perform drink. It was here that my day would change and not in a good way. I came upon the aid station and someone was being treated for an injury. The person was Mark's wife Diane!! Mark had just recently given me a tire and here was his wife and my friend sitting on the ground with medical personnel in a neck brace. As it turns out Diane was going through the aid station and another biker suddenly stopped in her path. She collided and went over the front of her bike and her shoulder and face hit the pavement. I was shocked to see it was her when I came on the scene and stopped to help out. I tried my best to comfort her and spoke with the medical personnel to offer any info that they may need. Diane relayed what had happened which indicated she was not concussed but clearly she was shocked and upset. Tragically her race day was done. She would be taken to hospital in Elizabethtown where her shoulder, which was quite injured and painful, would be assessed. I stayed with her until she was put into the ambulance and she made me promise that Mark and Tyler were not told and that they finish their respective races. She thought there was a risk that they would quit if they knew what happened - completely understandable. I promised her I would keep quiet and I would tell Sara when I saw her to go to the hospital to be with her. After 20 minutes I got going again but I was completely gutted. Seeing my friend hurt and in pain made me question if it was worth it. I was now trying to focus on gettting to Sara to relay the news and try to come to terms with what happened. By this time I hadn't been moving for almost an hour and with all that went on I neglected to eat and drink - something that would plague me later on. The other problem was Sara was approximately 45km away so I was stressing over getting the news to her. I did the out and back at Ausable Forks and Haselton Rd - I did not see Mark at all and Tyler was way ahead at this point.
I finally reached Sara and pulled over to give her the unfortunate news. She told me Mark had come by a few minutes prior. She would head out to Elizabethtown and I would try to catch Mark to give him the bad news. By this time I decided I would tell Mark because I know that, if I were in his shoes, I'd want to know. I made the climb to Placid and started to head back out of town to start Lap 2 of the bike.
As I approached the Keane descent I finally caught up with Mark. I told him to pull over by the side of the road and I told him what happened to Diane. He was visibly upset and was trying to come to terms with what happened. I relayed Diane's instructions about he and Tyler finishing the race. Above is a pic of Mark and I just after giving him the news. We talked it over for a few minutes and I said let's start riding and I will stay with you. We rode together for the next 20km chatting about everything. At one point I said I will move a little ahead because I didn't want to add a drafting call to an already eventful day. It was at this point that Mark insisted I carry on with my race and he vowed to finish it. Confident that he would see it through I carried on.
Starting the run I knew that the deficit in fluids and calories were going to impact my marathon. It's funny how you just feel it. I felt sluggish and had no bounce in my step. I decided I would run slow n steady for as long as I could and see what happens. I headed out of town and felt ok for the first 16km.
Faking a happy shot for the photo about 6km in. This is on the River Rd out n back (you can see the Olympic ski jumps in the background). I maintain my slow pace until I returned to the ski jumps and made a right to head up the first big hill leading to the horse grounds. I had to walk it. I had no strength and my stomach was doing backflips. I realized there that my day was going to be a lot longer. Feeling ill is never good times so I figured I would run when I could and when nausea took hold I would walk til subsided. I ran a little bit here and there, walked the big hill in town, and updated Sara on my status. I also got a Diane update. She was back and in a sling but miraculously she had no broken bones or concussion. She was just trying to come to terms with what happened. It was great to hear she was back.
Lap 2 and now feeling brutal. For the second lap I was cramped up due to walking breaks and I could not run up any inclines. I pretty much ran flats and downhills only. This went on for the rest of the marathon.
Once back in town I saw Sara again and she walked on the sidewalk as I walked the big hill in town. I just wanted to get the race done at this point. Even the brief downpour didn't bother me.
Finally the finish chute! I managed a smile and high five the left and right side of the stands, something I've never done - it was fun. I had another athlete far enough ahead of me so I thought I would have a decent finish line photo. One last surprise awaited me however! The woman in front decided she would leap at the finish line a couple of times before crossing the line. By the time she finished I had caught up so I'm sharing my finish with her. I'm thinking if you can leap that high at the end you haven't raced hard enough!!
Finally she got out of the way and I was relieved to be finally done. Right after the finish photo was taken I got a tap on my shoulder and I turned to see my Mom in the finish area. How she got there I'll never know but she just walked through the secure area and found her way to me. Too funny!
1) this was the heaviest I ever raced IM (165) - can't do that, never again
2) expect the unexpected on race day
3) I got what I trained for - my program was very loose and without focus. The result should not be a surprise.
4) Camping, while fun, is not optimal for resting pre-race