My plan on the run was to start smart. The first three miles or so includes downhills. I did like that about the course, but could not let my legs get too excited on the early downhills. I planned to use that time to shift my legs into run mode after being on the bike for 112 miles. Early on, I felt ok. I had trained lots of bricks, so the bike to run transition on the legs was familiar to me. I had a very simple hydration/nutrition plan for the run. I was carrying concentrated Osmo on the hydration belt and I would supplement that with water at the aid stations and take one Gu Chomp (I would pick up a pack from the aid station as needed) every 15 minutes. I also had planned to grab orange slices and grapes, as they appealed to me. I wanted to get into a steady pace (not aiming for fast, just steady) that I would try to maintain between each of the aid stations. I had planned to walk each aid station so I could totally concentrate on eating and drinking at each of these points. I also had some other food options in my special needs bag, in case I wanted something different than what my options were on the course.
My crew was in full force on the course. I did not always spot (or hear) Nicole, but she was was in paparazzi mode around the start of run course (she would spot me several times since it was a two-loop course).
I spotted Tony a little bit into my run. Whenever I am racing, he always asks how I am feeling and I always try to answer him honestly. If I were to be experiencing problems, he could provide me ideas on how to address them. Luckily, I was able to answer him with “feeling pretty good”.
Also fairly early in to the run, another athlete recognized the MJG initials on my tri top. It was obvious that we had a mutual friend, so every time he passed me on the course, he would say something supportive. That was cool and yet another reminder to stay strong and what I was racing for!
On the River Road out and back stretch that seems to extend forever, I saw Tim. This road is closed to traffic and in one write-up I read, was described as no-(Iron)man’s land, since there are very few spectators. However, Tim incorporated a training run into the day (he and Nicole have a marathon approaching), so that he could be out on this quiet area of the course. It was so incredibly awesome to see him twice through this section. I felt special having a personal cheerleader out there! He passed along some encouraging words and since he was the one that helped me so very much when I was having issues with my hydration on the run, it seemed appropriate that he was out there encouraging me to stick to my plan. I did see one more familiar face which was another athlete I knew from Raleigh. He was on his second loop of the run but we were able to spot each other twice to lend a few words of support.
As I progressed on the first loop of the run, I did a good job executing the plan. One aid station at a time. As I approached the station (they all had water as the first option), I took a big swig of my concentrated Osmo and followed it with water. I would also take water again as it was the last option as I made my way through the station. I would take a Gu Chomp approximately every 15 minutes…I grabbed a pack early on and would take it at the aid station with water if the timing was close to the 15-minute mark. I remember taking a few orange slices throughout the first loop and a handful of grapes. I thought the fruit was a nice break!
The run course includes some rollers/hills throughout. Generally, I felt that the hills were short enough to run up, but there were a few where I chose to walk…not a causal walk, but a power walk. (There was one fellow athlete that remarked to me as I was walking one short section that I was the fastest walker he had ever seen. Ha Ha!)
The late miles on the loop contained the largest hill on the course. There were lots of people lining the street on this climb. When I approached it, I was going to try to run it, but quickly decided to shift down to the power walk. I felt this was a smart decision.
As I approached the crest of this hill. there was a lady standing pretty far out onto the street and she talked to me, encouraging me to “go chick that guy in front me” (direct quote)!
I laughed and as soon as I hit the top of the hill, I started running again, truly motivated by her enthusiasm!
Near the end of the run loop, you get so close to the finish line that you can hear the finisher’s names being announced. Nearing the end of the loop, there is another out and back section (Mirror Lake Drive) that you have to run, so you actually come close to the finish line twice (once as you start the out and back and then again as you start the second loop) even before the mid-way point of the run! The out and back also contains the area where you can access your special needs bag. I bypassed the one on the bike, but chose to grab a couple things out for the second part of the run. I took a snack pack of mini-Oreos (my favorite store bought cookie) and a snack size Ziploc of Goldfish. I immediately ate three or four of the Oreos and quickly decided that those were not what I wanted. I threw the rest away. The Goldfish, however, were a different story. They tasted great! (Thanks to Nicole for suggesting these from her marathon trail race experience!)
As I started the second loop, I was thrilled to be starting the final part of this long day. However, I would be headed into absolutely new territory as soon as I hit mile 19. I had never run a marathon and 19 miles was the longest run my plan had me complete in training. I was definitely feeling some aches in my legs. Specifically, I was feeling some achiness in my left quad (not something I have felt before) and my right glute (something I feel routinely). I started feeling my right glute on the bike (having it start on the bike was unusual) and I continued to feel it on the run. It is always just a dull ache that I have been experiencing on and off for a while. It is not painful, just achy. I had taken two ibuprofen around mile 12.
I passed Nicole again as I began the nice downhill section early in loop two. Seeing her gave me a good boost.
At mile 16, I saw Tony and Tim. More smiles as I saw them, but I knew it was the last I would see my support crew. As I passed them, after they gave me their final supporting words, Tony said they would see me at the finish line.
While those are very sweet words, I knew I had the most challenging physical part of the day still ahead. I basically continued the same approach that I had done for the first loop. I had decided to try some Coke at the aid station and/or possibly chicken broth. I had tried Coke once during my first half (to help a queasy stomach), but I had heard that Coke and broth can really help you get through the final stages of the IM marathon.
Even though my stomach was feeling fine (which was a TREMENDOUS victory in of itself), I wanted to keep it that way! I had my trusty Goldfish that I was enjoying at every aid station and still would take water as the first thing at the station. I took Coke numerous times and broth once.
As I hit the 19 mile mark, I thought to myself….”here we go. This is new ground, but I can do this!!”. As soon as I hit 20 miles, I started counting backward. I told myself that I had 6.2 miles left and surely I can run 6.2 miles! That continued for every remaining mile…whatever works to keep your mental game in play, right?? For these later miles, now that I think back, it is hard to describe, but I was definitely in a deep zone. Even more so than what I had experienced during training…thinking back to it, it is almost a blur. At least on that long section on River Road. Mentally, I think I really went somewhere deep to push through.
As I approached that nasty hill for the last time, I was so ready to go down the finish chute. However, I had that brutal out and back section on Mirror Lake Drive to do once again. I call it brutal, not because it is hilly or difficult, but because you are so close to the finish line and you have to keep running! I was plugging along and I remember stopping and walking. It was not a conscious decision at all. It was as if my mind and legs were not communicating. I literally had a five second conversation with myself and said “what are you doing? There is no walking at this point! You are so close to being done! Get a move on!” So, that five or six seconds was what I needed to push through the final mile.
As I was completeing the back section (of the out and back), it all became real. Then I had the final right turn (marked by the arrow for “finish”) to start down the chute. At that moment I felt all kinds of emotions running through my body.
I remember someone telling me to take my time down the finish chute and enjoy the moment. I did just that. It was almost surreal.
I raised my raised my arms in celebration and I spotted Tony just near the finish arch at the end of the chute. I don’t remember my name being announced by Mike Reilly (although it was, but mispronounced) and even though that was something I was so excited to hear (I frequently thought about it during training), seeing Tony as I was taking the last few steps to reach my goal was so much sweeter. He has ALWAYS been my biggest supporter and having him right there was the only thing I needed.
Immediately after I finished, a volunteer put the medal around my neck and there were two ladies there to help me with whatever I needed…one on each arm. I stood still for a bit as I was taking in what I had just completed. The volunteers were awesome giving me a wrap, my finisher’s t-shirt, hat and water and asking me if I was okay (since I continued to stand still). I was totally okay!!! I had done it! They asked me if I wanted food and really all I wanted was to see Tony, Tim & Nicole. One of the ladies gave me a chocolate milk and led me to the food table anyway. The first choices I saw were orange slices, grapes, pretzels…the same food from the course. NO! I definitely did not want that. Then I saw pizza and thought I might try that. Well. I looked even further down and changed my mind when I saw French fries. Yes please! Warm, salty fries! They encouraged me to sit down, but I told them I was fine and just wanted to find my crew. I wondered out (with my arms and hands full of my race bling and treats) and was looking for the gang. I decided to stay close to athlete’s exit of the finish chute with the thought that they would come to me. After just a few minutes (I had enjoyed four of five fries at that point), I saw Tim. He came up to me with big smiles and hugs. Just what I needed! He called Nicole and Tony and within a couple of minutes they found us. As soon as I saw Tony, he grabbed me and gave me a huge hug and the tray of French fries I had in my hand went flying everywhere! Then all the emotions got the best of me and I did not want to let him go. It was one of the best hugs ever!! I finally let him go and then got another great hug from Nicole. These guys were the best! I loved everything they did out on the course and it meant so very much to have them there.
I was on cloud nine and was so happy to be reunited with them all. I had so much to talk about and share.
This day was the cherry on top of the sundae that I spent six months building (really…it took me several years to build it as I worked hard to be in the physical and mental position to start a 6-month training plan to become an Ironman). I knew this day would be full of challenges like I had never experienced. I honestly did not think the challenges would start before ever exiting the water, but this really proves that you never know what will happen in an Ironman. You can train and prepare to the best of your ability, but you must be mentally prepared to overcome whatever comes your way. I am proud of myself. I proved alot to myself on this day and it will be a day that I will never forget.
To Tony, Tim and Nicole…thank you is not enough. Since I have spectated four Ironmans, I know it is a long day. They have all been fun days, but tiring, nonetheless. Having their support out of the course was tremendous. All the words said during the day kept me motivated and made me smile (especially the reminders about pancakes and milk shakes from Nicole). The photos I have are so special as they will always be reminders of a terrific day! Thanks to them for enduring the “normal” elements of Ironman spectating (getting up early and lots of standing around), but the harsher ones that this day brought (very cold rain).
Total Run Time = 4:36:11 (Division Rank: 57/172 Gender Rank: 206/702)
As a result of the crazy weather during the swim, WTC decided to not include the second loop of the swim and T1 in the official results for age groupers. Even if an athlete was not pulled early from the swim, everyone’s time was treated this way. According to Ironman, my official finish time was 12:41:42. However, in my mind, this is not my time. I feel I was completely on pace to match the same time in my second swim loop and if I estimate my T1 time to be approximately the same as T2, my finish time is 13:35. This, of course, does not include the time we swam to the docks, waited around and then had to walk a very long way to T1. The 13:35 would be my race time. It is a little frustrating to have an “official time” that really is not official, but I feel the 13:35 more accurately reflects my race. Even though I never shared it before the race, my goal time was 13 to 14 hours. Needless to say, I am happy!!
As several weeks have passed since I completed Ironman Lake Placid, I have frequently reflected back on that day. What should I have done differently? What could I have done better? During these reflections, I remember that decision making is also a huge part to an Ironman. The decisions made to push harder, ease up, drink more, eat now, stop for the bathroom, etc. are part of the day. I made the best decisions I could at the time. I don’t have any regrets with anything I did or the decisions I made. I learned so very much about myself and I like these lessons. I am more full of determination, grit, focus and strength than I thought. The time in my life from February 10, 2014 (the day I started the 24-week training plan) to when I crossed that finish line, changed me in so many great ways!
The beginning of the bike course literally starts with a short, steep decline and a very sharp left turn. There are hay bails set up on the turn to catch run-away cyclists. I started very cautiously since it was pouring rain…gently riding my brakes to stay in control. The first few miles are flat as you head out of town. I was trying to drink and eat a bit. Since my body was so cold, I did not feel like drinking, but it had been a while before my swim since I last had water. I knew I needed to stay on top of my hydration from the beginning, even if I was not thirsty. This part was slow going. I was being smart (ie. cautious due to wet roads), but I still did not have my mind in the race. I talked to myself quite a bit. The bike is my favorite leg of triathlon. I had ridden hundreds of miles to prepare for this day. Yes, conditions were crappy at that moment, but I had to suck it up.
The next section had a number of steady rollers and then one decent climb. I know I did not push my pace at all on this section. I had planned to start conservative and probably ended up being too conservative in this stretch since I was gradually working my mind back to business. Also, I knew I had some stiff challenges ahead…the descent.
Probably one of the most documented stretches of the IMLP bike course is the descent into Keene. This stretch is approximately eight miles long. The exciting news for 2014, was that a majority of this stretch had been recently re-paved. Most cyclists love downhills. FREE SPEED! The terrain that I typically train on does not have steep descents (in comparison to these). However, I generally feel comfortable descending and since we had driven the bike course, I knew there were not technical turns associated with these descents. I was confident heading into race day. Well, rain changes everything!!! I knew this section would be so very dangerous with the heavy rain we were experiencing. I also knew that I had to remain SMART and in control of my bike. I did just that. I rode this stretch the only way I was comfortable given the conditions.
Overall I felt that the other athletes were very aware and being safe on the roads. I think everyone’s radar was extra sensitive due to the inherently dangerous conditions that the rain brought to the roads…especially on the descents. However, in one area, I passed another female cyclist that had gone down on the descent. She was getting help, but still remained flat out on the pavement. REALITY CHECK!! As the descent continued, any warmth that I had generated on the opening climbs was gone. My teeth were chattering again and my body was shivering. I was just trying to hang in. I told myself that as soon as I made it into the town of Keene and the flat section started, I HAD TO WORK! I needed to get warm and get in my groove!
I vividly remember the mental relief I felt when I made the left hand turn coming off the descent. It was almost as if I turned a page in a book. I started really eating at that point (I had nibbled some a little earlier) and concentrating on my plan. The rain began to ease up and I eventually started seeing a bit of blue sky. Just a peak through the clouds and I know I must of had a big smile on my face! Being optimistic that things were getting better and I would not be a bike popsicle on two pretty purple race wheels!
I saw my complete support crew for the first time around mile 25. At that point in time, I was on cloud nine. I had my mind totally in the race and was eating and drinking according to plan. [I was consistently taking water from the aide stations as well an Bonk Breaker bites. I was supplementing the water with the concentrated Osmo I had brought on my bike, as well as, peanut butter filled pretzels and Honey Stinger Waffles.] I was feeling good and relieved that I had fought past this first huge hurdle. It was GAME ON for me!!
The second time I saw the crew was just after the 10 mile out and back section (to/from Ausable Forks) making a right hand turn that immediately tuned into a short steep climb, around mile 35-ish. When we drove this, Tony instructed me to stand up and climb as soon as I made the turn. I had no idea they would be there, but sure enough, as soon as I stood up, I spotted them! I know he was happy that I followed his (good) advice! Again, big smiles when I saw and heard the crew. It was amazing every time I saw them!!
I felt like I was in a good groove. Riding like I had trained. Still being smart since that was my game plan for the first loop…not pushing too hard. I had to stop fairly early on for a bathroom break. I was obviously hydrating well! The bad part was that I had waited as long as I could possibly wait and when I saw the next aide station, I stopped. Unfortunately, there were at least five people in line before me. I saw the line as I was dismounting, but there was no way I could make it another ten miles to the next aide station. I knew I would have to stop along the bike course, but I had not really planned on having to wait in line! This stop took a long time and I lost at least 8 to 10 minutes here.
As I progressed to the back end of the first loop of the bike course, I hit the rolling/climbing section that is also very well documented. There was one supporter/spectator that was “coaching” everyone to be in the small ring from there to the end of the loop…which was not bad advice. No need to overwork the legs on the first loop and not have enough left in the tank for the second. I finally came to the last stretch of climbs that are entitled the “three bears”. I was not sure when I actually hit them (the order being mama bear, baby bear and papa bear), since they are preceded by plenty of rollers/climbs. However, I did know when I hit papa bear…I saw it written on the side of the road. There were also lots of spectators and some even dressed in costumes.
As I was coming back in on the first loop after the bears, I was in the small ring and holding a good cadence to work through the last section into town. There was one man that was really excited about my cadence. He said “boom, boom, boom…look at that cadence” while cheering for me. It seemed as if there were plenty of spectators that were knowledge about cycling and/or the course! Pretty cool!
I came back into town and made my way back through to start the second loop. I was feeling good and knew I was where I wanted to be. Of course as I started the second loop, mentally I was in a place that was a day to night comparison to where I was when I had been in that same spot a few hours earlier. As I hit the descent into Keene, the roads were dry, so I was really able to take advantage of the downhills. YES! They were pretty fun!!
I saw the crew again around mile 65-ish. It was on the stretch into Keene and these are some great photos of the course.
I found that there was a sense of camaraderie amongst most of the cyclists. There was one instance when I looked back over my left shoulder to see if the path was clear so I could take a pass and someone was approaching. I was going to slow up. Instead, he verbally allowed me to take the pass first and within legal rules (no drafting). There were a few people I played leap frog with. One other girl and I jumped positions multiple times on the first loop. I spotted her again on the second loop and she commented that it had been a while since we had seen each other. There was one guy that I traded spots with a number of times. One instance when he passed me and said…”I know I will see you again in a few minutes” (he did). I also received lots of comments on my purple race wheels! One lady commented (whose bike and gear was totally outfitted in pink) that her daughter would love my purple wheels. I was also asked what my favorite color was…ummmm, I wonder!!
My ride remained strong. As I hit the 10-mile out and back section (just after mile 80), I decided to push the pace a bit. My legs responded well. It really felt good to open up. On this stretch, there were three guys that I passed with 2 minutes or so of one another and they were all very supportive of “being chicked”…each one said something supportive like “that is the way to go” or “looking strong”, etc. I just found it interesting that I received three comments in a row.
Unfortunately, I had to take a second pit stop. I would have rather not stopped, but nature called. Still a good sign that I was hydrating well. Once again, there was a bit of a line that took several minutes. Nothing like standing still to really make a dent into my average bike pace!
I was tacking the tail end of the course that is filled with lots of fun rollers and climbs, the bottom fell out. Once again, it was accompanied by thunder and lightning. Sure, I would rather it stay dry, but at that point, it really did not bother me. Other than trying to eat my peanut butter pretzels out of my bento box (the rain was falling into the baggie making for soggy pretzels) and my glasses fogging up, I stayed (mentally) unaffected. On this challenging stretch, my legs were feeling the effects of nearly 112 miles. Nothing too concerning and I had taken a few ibuprofen during the second loop to try to mitigate too many aches and pains. I think it is fair to say I was ready to wrap up the bike leg though. Considering I had been on the bike for 7 hours, I was ready for a change.
I felt I had executed my plan fairly well. Hydration wise, I felt in good shape. Nutrition wise, I had not eaten all that I had planned. I was not significantly under, but not to the level I thought I needed.
It was exciting to make it back into town. The crowd was lining the road and was super supportive. Nicole was in the crowd, but unfortunately I did not spot her before she took this photo!
As I arrived into T2, a volunteer took my bike (cool) and I grabbed my run gear bag and I hit the changing tent. Off with the bike gear, including the arm warmers, and on with running shorts, socks, shoes, visor and hydration belt. Once again, the volunteer was awesome help!! It was run time…my first marathon!!!
Total Bike Time = 7:10.10 (Division Rank: 79/172 Gender Rank: 296/702)
As most athletes do prior to a big race, I had been checking (or stalking) the Lake Placid weather forecast as soon as July 27 was included in the 10-day outlook. No surprises, but it changed daily. The chance of rain fluctuated from 20% to 60% over the course of the days leading up to the race. I felt confident that there would be rain at some point during the race. I signed up for this race knowing that rain was a frequent occurrence. Even still, I remained hopeful and positive about the weather. I was keeping my fingers crossed that it would at least stay dry until I was off the bike.
Race morning came very early. 3:45am was the alarm. I woke and immediately had breakfast. I was happy that I did have an appetite and I was not really feeling too many butterflies at that point. I had my typical breakfast of plain, stove top cooked oatmeal, sweetened with a bit of brown sugar and topped with 1/2 banana and walnuts. I also had a homemade muffin which I brought along with us for the road trip. I finished my preparation and we headed out on schedule…I wanted to be in transition by 5am.
We made our way down towards the Olympic Oval and quickly heard that body marking was required before being allowed into the transition area. Body marking went quickly and I was in transition.
I needed to put bottles on the bike (I had two double concentrated Osmo bottles and one throw away water bottle). My plan was to get all water from the aide stations, but I wanted to start with one water on my bike. I also took off the plastic bags that I had put on my bike the day before, in an attempt to keep my saddle and bars dry. (I have to laugh at this part now knowing what a lost cause all that was…!!). I checked my tire pressure and was satisfied about the firmness of the wheels, so I did not add additional air. I also had to put my two (frozen) double concentrated Osmo bottles in my run gear bag. My plan was to run with two bottles in my hydration belt. All other hydration (water) would come from aide stations.
We then made our way to the vicinity of the swim start. I dropped off my bike and run special needs bags as well. I hit the restroom one last time and then had about ten minutes before I had to put on my wetsuit to have enough time for a short warm-up swim.
Nicole was keeping me company as Tim had staked out some spots along the fencing by the swim start and Tony was kind of back and forth. I was glad Nicole was with me as it was about this time that the butterflies started. After pulling on my wetsuit I ate half of a honey Stinger waffle, one of my favorite nutrition options.
My goal was just to take a quick swim to feel the temperature and warm-up my arms a bit. Pretty much as soon as I was done with warm-up it was time to get lined up. I hurried back over for final words and hugs from my support crew before I lined up. I tried to eat the other half of the Stinger waffle, but the butterflies were in full force! The anthem was sung and the pros started. I rushed back over to the swim start corral.
I should have started the line up process a little earlier. It took a while for me to make my way up to my desired group…1:21-1:30 swim time. There were other athletes that seemed unable to make it to their desired group (toward the front with the fastest swimmers) since there were so many people in such a confined space. For anyone interested in racing LP, make note to be early when it comes to swim start line up! The age group cannon fired and IT WAS TIME!!
For those that may be unfamiliar, Ironman Lake Placid features a rolling swim start. Historically, the majority of Ironman swims have been a mass start (all 2000-2500 + athletes start the swim at the exact same time). However, in 2013, there were some changes made to a number of Ironman races to make the swim start a bit safer. Similiar to that of a road race, LP athletes self-seed into groupings of their anticipated total swim time with the idea being that the other athletes surrounding you will be swimming a similar pace. Your official time begins as you pass under the swim start inflatable arch. I passed under around 6:45-ish, give or take. I walked into the water and started swimming almost immediately. I was starting my Ironman. Here I go!!
My goal was to start the swim and just focus on getting into my rhythm as quickly as possible. Then after I was comfortable, I wanted to remain aware of my effort level and if I was pushing myself appropriately. There were lots of people around me. Nothing too brutal, but plenty of contact. I found the underwater cable a few times, but there was more contact on the buoy line. (To explain, Mirror Lake has an underwater cable that marks the local canoe and kayak course that doubles as the IMLP swim course. The straightest line is swimming right over the line (or just to the side of it if you don’t want to bang head first into buoys every 50 yards). Hypothetically, you could swim on the buoy line and follow the swim course perfectly, without having to site to the swim buoys at all. However, you must take into account that there is more traffic there and even if you are on the line, there always seems to be random people that will just stop during the swim and if you don’t want to crash into them, you need to keep an eye out!
I was feeling good on the first loop. After the first turn around buoy, I was focused on the straight away and getting out of the water for a few seconds to start the second loop. I thought I felt some rain (I was wearing a sleeveless wetsuit), but I was not certain if it was actually rain or just splashing from other swimmers. Mentally, I was in the game. No feelings of being anxious to get out of the water. There were two loops to swim and that was what I had to do. I was actually looking forward to a quick change in body position (going from swimming to being on land) for a short time. Just to break it up, if only for a handful of seconds. I passed underneath the arch to start the time for lap two and after glancing at my Garmin, I was RIGHT on point for my goal of a 90-minute total swim. I was a few seconds shy of 45 minutes for loop one. Sweet!
Loop two progressed in much the same way. I found the buoy line a few times, but still there was more traffic that I would prefer. I really shy away from the contact as much as possible. I made the turn around and knew I was in for the home stretch. I do remember thinking that my arms were cold. I thought this was a little odd, because I had been swimming for a long time, but I really did not think too much of it. I did not have too much time left in the water. I also remember thinking that it may be raining again. Oh well, not ideal, but what do you do? After a bit more time, I suddenly heard odd-sounding honking horns. I stopped and the drivers of the safety boats in the water were honking to get our attention. They were shouting at us to get out of the water. “Swim to shore” is what they were saying. The shore they were referring to was NOT the shore to exit. It was basically to turn left 90 degrees to swim to the shore that we HAD been swimming parallel to. It was then that I heard thunder. WHAT???????? YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!!!!!!
There was mass exodus to the shore. I, along with tons of other people, swam straight up to a dock. The dock was attached to someone’s house! There was a lady on the dock (wearing a bathrobe), along with her husband, helping the swimmers get out of the water as fast as possible. Just as I was getting out of the water, I saw lightning. It was raining…hard. All of this craziness is kind of a blur. I looked at my Garmin and realized that I had only been .3-.4 of a mile from the official swim finish, before swimming to the dock. So close!!!
We stood on the dock for a short amount of time and we then (somehow) heard instructions to make our way to transition. There were so many people standing on the dock that had to make it out to the road, that the man told people to walk through the house. (Remember me saying in my pre-race report how people in LP were nice? Point proven…who encourages tons of wet strangers to walk through their home??) Well, I had not been out of the water very long before I became VERY cold. My teeth were even chattering (not one BIT of exaggeration either)! We all began walking, barefoot of course, on the road. I don’t know how far we walked. It seemed like forever. There was total confusion. I just kept thinking how cold I was. This was terrible! I wished we could have finished the swim. It would have been so much easier than all this craziness. (I do understand the safety aspect and why we were pulled from the water. I am not disagreeing with that…I was just really bummed at the time!) How was I going to get on a bike for 112 miles in the cold, cold rain?!?!?
We eventually passed the wetsuit strippers, and there was NO way I was taking my wet suit off yet! I passed Tony and he had no idea what had happened. (He later told me that he knew something was odd since he saw these huge groups of people walking together into transition. Usually people will at least jog to transition.) As I passed, I told him that they had pulled us out of the water and I made a sad face to him. He read me like a book. He immediately told me to get my head back in the game. He was so right, but I was not sure how I was going to accomplish that.
I grabbed my bike gear bag and walked into the changing tent. Oh man, it felt so warm in there!! I changed into my bike shorts, put on my tri top, bike shoes and helmet. THANKFULLY, I had my arm warmers. They were tough to put on wet arms, but the volunteer helping me was amazing! I did put sunscreen on my face (I thought it was a waste of time) and laughed at the volunteer when she asked me if I wanted my sunglasses. I took them and was glad I did, but at the time, it was a bit comical. I walked to the tent exit and remember pausing for a few seconds as my mind continued to wonder how I would gut this out. A volunteer was ready to pass me my bike with kind words to be safe out there! I knew this was going to be a tougher ride than I had ever imagined it would be.
We hit the road from Raleigh to Lake Placid on Wednesday evening. We had a 13 to 14 hour drive to make, so we decided to break the trip into two legs. With our travel passing through several cities that are notorious for bad traffic (Richmond, Northern Virginia, DC, Baltimore), we planned to by-pass these cities during the typical commute hours. I had reserved a hotel room just north of Baltimore for us to stay Wednesday night. Our drive went well and did not encounter any traffic headaches. I had packed us sandwiches and fruit for dinner (and had tons of other snacks), so we would not have to stop for food. We arrived at the hotel just before midnight and crashed hard.
We slept well and awoke around 7am-ish. We hit the showers and the complimentary breakfast. I packed a couple of additional sandwiches, so once again we would only have to stop for gas and restrooms. We were on the road around 9am-ish. The drive went fairly well. We hit one traffic slow down, which probably cost us around 30 minutes, but in the scheme of things, not bad. We arrived in Lake Placid around 4:30ish.
My first impressions of Lake Placid were that it was a quaint town. Of course, I immediately saw how pretty it was. We checked into the hotel, which was in a primo location, and immediately went back outside to enjoy the perfect weather.
We made a long walk to dinner (longer than we realized it was going to be) and enjoyed a nice Italian dinner at Cafe Rustica. They were super busy, but we were not in a hurry, so no worries. We found out about the free trolly that goes around town, so we grabbed a ride back to the hotel. It was a nice first evening!
Friday morning we awoke to a very cool morning (around 45 degrees). Tony went to get us coffee while I made oatmeal in our apartment. The apartment I booked was a 2-bedroom with a full kitchen (the kitchen was a must).
After breakfast, we made our way to athlete check-in. There was a bit of a line, but it was not bad and we made it through relatively quickly. I filled out paperwork, signed waivers, was weighed and finally tagged! It felt really official then!
We then made our way to the IM merchandise tent to get the oh-so-popular IM backpack. It was nice!
The plan was to attend the athlete briefing, but we had some time to walk around the expo first. So glad we did! We were able to talk advantage of a product demo that we had seen before, but never tried. There were two available chairs, so we jumped on it! These were NormaTec which are really cool massage boots. We were able to enjoy a 15-minute demo, which was fabulous!
After a bit more browsing, it was time for the athlete meeting. It was relatively short and semi-useful.
Afterwards, we headed back to the apartment as Tim and Nicole had arrived in Lake Placid!
After their arrival, we grabbed lunch…we were all starving! We visited the Dancing Bear where we all had Lobster Rolls. Very tasty!
After lunch we split up as they went shopping and Tony and I drove the bike course. I am very glad we did as I was able to witness first hand all that I had been reading for the past twelve months. It was nice to see where the pavement conditions were good and where it was broken and required caution. It was also nice to visualize the climbs and know what to expect come race day.
After the ride, we headed back to the apartment and I put on my suit and grabbed my wet suit to go hit Mirror Lake for a practice swim. It was good to get out in the water and get a sense of the lake and swim course.
Of course, I immediately headed to the buoy line to catch a glimpse of the “underwater cable”. I swam to the third buoy or so, not far, but enough to feel comfortable. One funny story is that after I had put on my wet suit and started getting my feet and arms wet, I commented to Nicole that the water was chilly. I think the water was around 70-72 degrees. (The lake I had been swimming in at home was in the 80s.) Apparently, a random woman heard my comment and found it funny because she asked Nicole if we were from Florida because they (the locals) thought the water was warm!
After the swim, we all headed back to the apartment and got ready for dinner. We had earlier decided on a restaurant called Freestyle and made reservations. The restaurant was eclectic and amongst the group there were mixed reviews.
Saturday morning started out with breakfast at the apartment and then prepping all my gear bags. I had checklists ready to help me ensure I had everything I needed. It took me a bit longer than planned to pull everything together, but I finally got it all done.
I also took my bike for a short spin to ensure all the gears were shifting smoothly, my breaks were good and all felt ready to go. The bike felt great!
The race wheels on my bike are Tony’s wheels. However, he wanted them to be unique for me and my race. He had the red decals that are usually on the bike removed and some special decals made for me in my favorite color (purple!!).
We then headed to bike and gear bag check.
It seemed to be going smoothly…I found the rack and got my bike in place. I then tied plastic bags over the saddle and handlebars because of predicted rain overnight. I placed my gear bags on the rack. I was set or so I thought. After I got out of transition, I was telling Tony about how I racked the bike. After some quick discussion, we decided that I should probably change some things about the set up.
I went back into transition and made some changes. At that point, I was wishing Tony could have helped me out, but unfortunately he was not allowed in transition.
After we got all that taken care of, we decided to stop for a sandwich on the walk back to the apartment. The line was long, but I had read good things about the shop (Big Mountain Deli). We enjoyed our sandwiches and then the afternoon consisted of me relaxing and staying off my feet.
Dinner that night was cooked in. Tony and Nicole made pasta and meat sauce for us to all enjoy. It was the perfect pre-race dinner!!
I went to bed at a good time for me (to try) to get a good night’s sleep! After Nicole and I turned in, Tony and Tim took a little walk up to the transition area and got some photos before all the chaos ensued.
In just a few more hours……..GO TIME!!!
I am an Ironman! I did it!!!
I have so many details to share from the event. I know it will take me a bit of time to pull together all my thoughts, feelings and memories to write my race report. However, I did want to share the best part first!!!
Tomorrow is the big day. The day that I have spent so many hours preparing for. I am going to go out and give it my very best!!
These last few days have been great. Since we have arrived here in Lake Placid I have really enjoyed my experience. I am still feeling relaxed and can only hope this continues (I kind of doubt it though…). I already have so much that I know I will be sharing and after tomorrow, it will greatly multiply!
I am posting the link for athlete tracking. I have had several ask me to share this information so they can follow my progress on race day. I appreciate this support more than I can say. My bib number is #1052.
I also appreciate all the well wishes I have been receiving. The texts, notes on Facebook and comments on my blog…I read every one and each is special to me. It motivates me that much more!
I know I really can’t imagine the extent of the challenge I will face tomorrow. Not really. I am going to try to remember all the details possible, so I can share my words to truly remember this experience. So for now, I have my feet up and enjoying some relaxation…there won’t be too much of that tomorrow! Until next time…..
On race day, I will be wearing a tri top with the letters “MJG” across the front. I want to share why I choose to wear these letters when I race.
MJG stands for Michael John Gressman, a 32-year old who courageously fought cancer but lost his battle on July 14, 2009. The MJG Brain Tumor Research Fund is committed to increasing awareness and raising money for those inflicted with brain tumors, while providing HOPE and inspiration to all people along the way. Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM) is the most common and aggressive of the primary brain tumors. Few patients survive longer than 3 years and only a handful survive 5 years.
In 2008 when Tony was training for Ironman Florida, he met a couple of brothers that were training for the same race. Tony found himself spending time training with Mike & Eric Gressman. A lot of their training was with various groups, but Tony and Mike had a tendency to maintain a similar pace, so they ended up riding together a good amount of time.
During the period leading up the Ironman Florida, Mike was diagnosed with GBM. His treatment began immediately and his Ironman dream was put on hold. The relationship Tony had started forming with the Gressmans turned from a training partnership to a friendship. This was the period of time when I started getting to know Mike and Eric as well.
As Tony had the opportunity to spend time with Mike away from training, he realized that had a lot in common. In some non-athletic interests and their thoughts on certain topics, is where they found more common ground. In a very endearing way, Tony describes Mike as having a “big heart with no filter”.
Over the next year, Mike gave a new definition to the word Ironman with his will and courage to fight his disease. It was a roller coaster ride for all those that were praying for his recovery. I remember the day that Tony called and told me that Mike had passed away. Even though I had known him for a short time, it really hit me and confirmed what we all too often take for granted. Life is precious and tomorrow is not guaranteed.
A foundation was established in his honor to raise awareness and funds for brain cancer research (www.braincancerhope.org). The supporters of MJG are continuing to keep Mike’s spirit alive. I vividly remember when I finished my first half iron distance triathlon. It was the 2012 Beach 2 Battleship half in Wilmington, NC. Mike’s mom, Donna, was volunteering at the finish line. I crossed and she was the first person I saw as I had a huge smile plastered on my face and said “I did it”. With an equally as big smile on her face, she said to me, “Mike would be so proud” and gave me a huge hug. That is a moment that I will hold dear because it truly touched my heart and she said those words with such emotion and honesty.
I have been touched by so many stories lately of people that have been diagnosed with a form of this devil of a disease called cancer. It is truly incredible how strong and determined people can be when faced with the battle of their lives. The one that touches me deeply is that earlier this year, my step-father Ron, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, cancer of the plasma cells in the bone marrow. He has risen to great heights to fight the disease that keeps trying to knock him down. To be honest, the disease is also trying to knock down my mom, who is there with him every day caring for him and watching him endure the toughest days of his life. We are all confident that it is just a matter of time until he wins this battle. There will be a BIG PARTY.
When the MJG foundation was started, bracelets were made that I have worn on my wrist for over 5 years. I wear it daily to help remind myself of all the feelings I felt on the day that Mike passed away. Live life doing the things you love to do. Travel, dream, love…whatever it is that makes life even more special. Life as you know it can change in a second. I want to live my life in appreciation of the health and happiness I am so blessed to have. This is one of the reasons that I signed up for Ironman. I am lucky to be a healthy athlete and I didn’t want to delay tackling something that I dreamed to achieve.
This was the first week of taper. It was nice to have a week with some reduced volume. Plus the count down is TOTALLY ON!!!
PM – 2000-yard swim with the main set focused on speed. I felt good in the pool and I averaged 1:50/100 yards for the 1300-yard main set. It was a nice change to be in and out of the pool relatively quickly (thank you taper!!).
AM – 60-minute steady run – I felt pretty good on this 7.25 mile run. Another early morning, but not too many of these left (smile)!
PM – Bike was at the mechanic, so I spent a lot of time stretching and foam rolling, which was very much needed.
AM – 30-minute recovery run – Morning training, but I did not have to get up at a crazy time…still early, but not crazy early!! Nice easy effort run with low heart rate.
PM – 45-minute open water swim – The lake was smooth and it was a beautiful night for a swim. I really spent time thinking during my swim to ensure I was appropriately pushing my effort to challenge myself. I felt like I did a good job the entire 1.22-mile swim. However, I was not pleased with my pace that I saw on my Garmin when I finished. I was a little frustrated (as Tony can attest to) but after I talked to him about it and he urged me to put it out of my mind, I tried my best to do just that.
After the swim, I spent a good amount of time talking to a guy in the swim group about Lake Placid. He raced it a few years ago, and he provided me some insight from his experience. It was really nice chatting with him and hearing more details about what to expect on race day!
AM – 75 minutes on the bike trainer with the main set focused on lactate threshold efforts. This was an early alarm, but I am counting down the days to move past these regular, super early training sessions. My legs felt pretty good and I was happy with my effort.
PM – 75-minute steady run – With the exception of an achiness that I sometimes experience in my right glute/hammie, I felt great on this 9.12-mile run. I felt strong and had a big smile on my face when I finished, because I knew that was my last “hard work” run. I have two short recovery/taper runs next week, but those will be easy efforts.
REST DAY! WOO HOO!!!
2.5 hour bike ride – This was my last outdoor ride on the training plan. The plan was 30-minute warm-up/30-minute tempo/30-minute recovery/30-minute tempo/30-minute cool down. I have done this session on the trainer because it has typically fallen on a week that also has a longer ride planned that was done on the weekend. It was nice to take this one out on the road to add a little variety. Tony was planning to ride with me and my tried and true riding friend Susanne joined, as well as, another friend Neil. We rode one of our regular out and back courses so everyone could ride at their desired pace for the tempos and catch back up as necessary on the easy effort intervals. The warm-up, recovery and cool down intervals were all indeed very easy effort. The tempo intervals were at a pace/effort that was a solid challenge, but one in which I could maintain for the entire 30 minutes. I was pleased with both these intervals. My average pace for tempo session one was 19.8 mph and 19.5 mph for the second.
As we were headed back in, about 5 miles from home, I commented to Susanne how nice it was to finish early in the day (it was still around 10:30am). The long rides that have been part of training, really take up a huge chunk of your Saturday. I also had to comment, as we safely passed by a mound of sand in the shoulder of the road, how terrible it would be to crash at this point!! I just wanted to make it home safely!
After hundreds of miles and hours and hours on the bike over the past several months, 8 days from race day, I decided that I really needed to take a tumble on my bike! Well, I did not really decide that, I guess my bike juju did…about 1.5 miles from home, I stopped at a stop sign, unclipped my right foot and it was too late to notice that my weight was shifting left which only left one option…I fell over. I had a bit of a bloody knee and a sore spot on my left hand…I tried to be dramatic and call it a crash, but Tony insisted that Paul and Phil, the commentators from the Tour de France coverage, would call it (in their British accents)…”a little spot of bother”. It was that topple that all cyclists have done at point or another. It has probably been over a year since I took my last spill, but the timing of this one was just uncanny. Bottom line, I was fine (maybe not my pride) and my bike was fine! [All of this was in jest, and I am very happy to say that I have been fortunate to never experience a crash on my bike. Tony has gone down very hard on two separate occasions and luckily he was ok with basic first aid (and a new helmet after one).]
We finally rolled into the driveway and I was happy to be home safely (once again). We have said week and week how fortunate we have been with the weather for our Saturday rides. The last one was no different. It looked like rain on the radar, but we all stayed dry. Last outdoor ride completed at 41.5 miles!!!
AM – 60 minutes on the bike trainer with the main set focused on lactate threshold efforts. I felt so great on the bike! I was pushing great watts with the same level of effort that I typically maintain for this type workout.
PM – 60-minute open water swim. This was the last long OWS planned before race day. Tony was once again my safety support in the kayak. The water was pleasant as some rain storms had just moved out of the area. As I had done Wednesday, I really concentrated on my effort to ensure I was appropriately challenging myself. I knocked out 63 minutes at 1.71 miles. I completed this workout at a pace that would put me under my swim goal time and that is without a wetsuit. Most likely, race day will be wet suit legal. I was happy with my last long swim on the plan.
Time: 10 hours 44 minutes
Swim: 7,121 yards
Bike: 70 miles
Run: 21.6 miles
Stretching/foam rolling: Did well!
Week #22 of a 24-week training plan has been completed. WOW!! It happened. Two weeks on the plan remain and that means taper. I am done with the all the building efforts and now is the time to shift to taper. I am ready for the taper.
Tapering is when you reduce your training load over a period of time leading up to an important race. The aim is to recover from training fatigue (both mental and physical) and maximize your physiological adaptations to the training you’ve been doing (source: http://www.intelligent-triathlon-training.com/taper-for-triathlon.html).
I have been extremely dedicated to my training plan. I have put in the hours of training that I feel will make me successful on race day. I understand that many athletes do not like the taper period. They get very antsy and feel they are not doing enough. My opinion is that all the hard work is done. I am SO READY for the training volume to decrease! I have put in a tremendous amount of work over the past 22 weeks (plus all the years leading up to even begin training for an Ironman). Lots of early mornings and training when all I wanted to do was lay on the couch. I will not make any gains over the next two weeks leading up to race day. I will still train in order for my body to be prepared to race (which includes rest and good nutrition) but it will be at a much lesser extent. As my friend Tim said, “Get to the start line healthy”. I plan to do just that!!!!
Here is my latest recap:
PM – 2500-yard swim - There is nothing to really expand on. Another Monday, another swim. (I think I am ready for a break from swimming…). I felt ok. I did not completely feel like I had swum 2.5 miles the day before, but I was not feeling thrilled to be at the pool for another workout either. I got it done and my efforts and times were respectable. [This may sound like a “check the box” workout, but I am just being honest here… ]
AM – 60-minute steady run – Another early morning, but I only had business on the brain. Get up out of bed and get this run done. That was generally how I was feeling. I got in 7.22 miles for the 60-minute main set.
PM – 1 hour 45 minutes on the bike planned – This session consisted of 15-minute warm-up/30-minute steady pace at race pace ++ effort/15-minute recovery/30-minute steady pace at race pace ++ effort/15-minute cool down.
After the 15-minute warm-up I started the first 30-minute effort. I quickly realized that I did not have a lot in the legs. I stayed with it and was working very hard for very low watts. After about 10 minutes in, I took a 5-minute break and then resumed. While my watts were a touch higher, I knew I was working much harder than I should be. I felt this was different from normal “heavy legs” that I have experienced all too often with this IM training. I took it as a sign that my body was not ready to work. I don’t believe in giving up on a session just because it is hard…I would never have gotten this far otherwise. However, I do believe it is important to listen to the signals that the body sends and respond appropriately. Despite how difficult it is to call a session early, I felt that was the right decision.
AM – 60 minutes on the bike trainer with the main set focused on max effort intervals. This is a workout that I have done many times. It was a regular session earlier on in my training. My plan has not called for it in many weeks. Well, it was time to bring it back. With the previous night’s issues fresh on my mind, I was not sure what to expect in my legs that morning. I did feel better. While I still was not pushing the power that I had previously with this workout, I gave it what I could and was still pleased with my efforts. This session has never been a cake walk and this morning certainly was no different!
PM – OWS – Once again the weather looked a bit questionable. There was a front moving through that showed some rain on the radar. I still headed out to meet the group at Falls Lake. It was not raining upon arrival and the radar looked as if we had plenty of time to get in a swim before we potentially saw some rain. The wind was present though which made the lake extremely choppy. There has only been one other time this season I can remember the lake being this choppy. We decided to keep the swim course fairly close to shore in case Mother Nature had a change of plans.
The swim was not very enjoyable. I really dislike swimming in extreme chop like we had, but it is important to train in all different conditions. I found myself modifying my stroke from time to time and breathing only on one side (instead of bi-laterally, which I typically do) to reduce my chances of taking in mouthfuls of water. I finished up with 40 minutes and 1.02 miles. Certainly not a good pace, but I did my best with the crappy conditions!
AM – Bike – Yes, another bike morning. 90-minutes with the main set focused on 5×10-minute lactate threshold efforts, with 5-minute recovery between sets. I felt ok, not great/not horrible, and I worked through the five intervals one at a time. I kept my heart rate in the required zone, however, I had to keep an eye on it more than normal since it wanted to creep.
PM – Run – Main set consisted of 3×15 minutes speed intervals with 2 minutes recovery between sets. Based on the way my legs had been feeling this week, I did not know what was in store with this run. I was pleasantly surprised with myself. I took one interval at a time and once again, got them knocked out. My 7:40 average pace for the speed intervals was not the quickest it has been, but certainly within a 10-second range of what I have been doing. (I have not worked up my speed at all within a great number of weeks. I have generally been maintaining the increases I have realized.) I completed the main set of 6.23 miles and average pace of 7:53 (includes recovery).
REST DAY! WOO HOO!!!
The plan was a 4-hour ride with a 1 hour 50 minute run (brick). My awesome riding partner, Susanne, and I headed out a bit after 7am to ride our latest 68-mile route. This would put us around 3 hours 50 minutes, but since Tony pulled this route together a couple of weeks ago, we have ridden it twice and like the route. We decided to mix it up a bit and ride it in reverse. The morning temperature felt pretty good, but also was rather humid. Not as refreshingly cool as last Saturday’s ride…that kind of weather in July is enough to spoil you!! The ride was going well (despite a lot of knocking and creaking coming from my bike) and we were feeling good until we missed a turn, around mile 35-ish. We back tracked and eventually figured out the turn we needed to make (there was no road sign). We continued along and even though we have ridden this route a couple of times, I decided there needs to be a slight change. One road has three dogs that have chased us every time. With cycling, you get somewhat accustomed to seeing dogs and having them chase you, on occasion. However, these dogs are different, in that ALL THREE of them chased us and they were like the Energizer bunnies!!! They kept going and going and going……!! Typically dogs will chase you for a bit, but give up. These were relentless! This will be an easy change to make in the route and will make it a bit safer for the future.
As we were a little after the 4-hour mark, Susanne mentioned that she was very low on water. We still had over 10 miles according to the route! That missed turn really added more miles that we originally anticipated! We made a few changes to get us headed home. It was WAY TO WARM to be out without the proper hydration. We ended up with 75 miles and 4 hours 22 minutes.
I got off the bike.
I had to run.
It was really warm.
This was not going to be fun.
I made a comment to Tony about how hot it was and he kept it all business…”you have to run…you have no choice”. Well, all of that is true.
He had prepared my Nathan Hydration pack so I would have plenty of water. I also took a small concentrated bottle of Osmo (it fit in the pocket of my vest), so I could continue to get the benefits of my sports drink. I would take a small sip of the concentrated mixture and immediately drink water (essentially “mixing it” while I drank). I am trying the figure out the last of the logistics of how I am going to carry the Osmo on the course with me. [For those readers that may not be familiar with IM racing, there will be plenty of water at aide stations on the run course. There is also sports drink, but I don’t prefer the brand, so I have not trained with that product. I will need to carry my sports drink with me and am trying to figure out the easiest way, as well as lightest (less weight for me to carry on the run).]
Since the bike portion of the brick was extended by 20 minutes, I decided to reduce my run by 20 minutes. Tony volunteered to run with me on the second half, so I formulated a two loop plan in the neighborhood. Like I mentioned, it was warm with full sun (no shade to hide in), so I planned to run smart. I kept a close eye on my heart rate and focused on hydrating. After the first 45 minutes, I swung by the house and Tony joined me. I was hot, but not overly, and I had done a good job of keeping my heart rate in a good range and drinking. My legs felt ok, so I basically kept doing what I had been doing. I was glad to have the company even though I was not chatty…just focused. I completed the 90 minutes with 9.58 miles. For the last few miles of the run, I had one thing in mind and I indulged as so as we got home.
After all the crazy noises I heard from my bike today, she will be going into the mechanic for some TLC. She was obviously not very happy with me today!
OWS – I had another 90-minute open water swim on the plan. The plan was the same as the prior Sunday which was my longest swim. Once again, Tony accompanied me on the borrowed kayak (Tim & Nicole…you will get your kayak back) as my safety escort. I had one thing in mind…knock out this swim!!!!
Overall, I felt ok. I really concentrated on being long and having good form (you have plenty of time to think while swimming for 1 ½ hours). I also focused on my sighting, which is something I always TRY to do. I have pretty much always struggled with swimming straight and it has been difficult for me to improve. With all the open water swimming I have been doing, hopefully, it will pay off on race day. Tony mentioned that this was the best I had done with my sighting, from what he has seen. GREAT! I finished up with 93 minutes and 2.37 miles. Not the pace I want, but I have a plan to really keep a mental check on my level of effort on race day. Obviously, I don’t want to push too hard, but I want to find that place where I am appropriately pushing my pace (at a level I can sustain), but also not be out to just survive the swim. I can swim this swim!!
Time: 14 hours 38 minutes
Swim: 8,466 yards
Bike: 110 miles
Run: 25 miles
Stretching/foam rolling: Some but not enough
This was a milestone week. It was the week with BOTH my LAST SUPER DUPER long run and bike. Hour wise, this was a peak week for me. With my excitement level rising as we began the month of July (race month), I was ready to attack another week!
This was also the week of “FIRSTS”! All in this week were my longest ever swim, bike and run. Talk about a jammed packed week!!
AM – 75-minutes on the bike trainer with focus on lactate threshold – Third day in a row that I was on the bike. Not ideal, but you gotta do what you gottta do!! 3×15 minutes at LT with alternating cadences between 85 and 95 RPM every 5 minutes. I was definitely feeling in my legs that this was my third bike day. I powered as best I could and did not do too shabby!
PM – 3100-yard swim – I felt good on this swim. It was weird to be in the pool…after spending 3 days/week for so many weeks in the pool (and that dropped to two when I started doing open water), last week I was only in the pool once, because I did two OWS.
PM – This day was a BIG DEAL (to me…)!! This was the LAST SUPER DUPER LONG RUN on my training plan! I wanted this to be another good long run. Since we are totally into summer now and experiencing the typical NC hot and humid days, I decided that I would take my last long run to the treadmill. Since I am not training for a hot race, I felt it was more important to get in the time/miles on my legs at a pace that I am hoping to relatively maintain on race day than to battle the outdoor conditions and having to work (even harder) to stay hydrated. Tim and Nicole were gracious enough to offer the use of their treadmill again since it has the downloaded Lake Placid course that I could experience.
My game plan was the same as last long run. Two bottles an hour (one water and one Osmo) and one Gu Chomp every 15 minutes. This worked for me last time very well. I started a bit slower this time, but was just really choosing my pace based on how my legs felt. That is how I have tried to gauge most of my long runs. It seemed to take me longer to loosen up than normal, but no worries. After the first 45 minutes or so, I was not feeling the best. However, I just stayed my with my hydration/nutrition plan, did not push my pace too hard and pretty much bounced back to feeling fine. I was pleased with that.
The time passed…3 hours on the treadmill is a long time. Tony came over, so between everyone, I did have some company when I really started needing it, during the latter part of the run. Since I was “on the course”, there are a lot of terrain changes that kept me focused. When the treadmill quickly jumped from 1% incline to 8% incline, I had to adjust my set pace! I was trying to keep in my mind some of the more challenging hills sections so I will remember come race day. The steepest incline that I had was 15% for a short time!
I ended the 3 hours 41 seconds with 19 miles. It felt good to have this done. After I showered, we had Asian food delivered and the best part was Nicole’s homemade Oreo cupcakes for dessert!
PM – 45-minute open water swim – I met the group at Falls Lake for an evening swim. It was fairly uneventful. I got in 46 minutes with 1.25 miles. My pace was slower than what I feel I am capable of now, but I got it more quality open water practice.
AM – 75-minutes on the bike with 4×10-minute hill repeats with 5 minute recovery between intervals. This was a tough morning. My legs were not ready to go…I was still sleeping very hard when the alarm went off and even though I got up and got on the bike, I think my legs were still in the bed asleep! I got the workout done completely and continued to be in zombie mode until about 10:00am (thank goodness for good coffee!!!).
PM – 60-minute steady run on the treadmill (with pace being 30-seconds faster than race pace). It had been a long training week. I knew I was one workout away from a rest day…and the best kind of rest day which included a holiday off from work AND no training! I was ready to get the workout done and the only way to do that was to get started. My legs were so heavy when I got going. They typically start to loosen up after a couple of miles, but honestly, that was not the case with this run. They really felt stiff most of the run, but I got it done and about the pace I would expect. I took a huge sigh of relief when I was done because I was ready to start enjoying my holiday! For the main set, I knocked out 7.21 miles and I worked for every single mile!
REST DAY! WOO HOO!!!
Saturday morning I woke to a beautifully cool morning. With a 6.5 hour ride planned, what more could I ask for? This is July in NC…it could be warm and muggy to start with a temperature high planned to be in the upper 90s! The forecast looked great with highs forecasted in the mid to upper 80s! There were three of us riding (Susanne, Daryl and myself) the first loop which would take us to just shy of four hours. Then it was a pit stop at the house for Tony to jump on the ride to accompany Daryl and myself on the last part.
During the first route, I was feeling pretty good. I started feeling some fatigue creep in earlier than I would like, but I just concentrated on keeping an appropriate level of effort and on my hydration/nutrition plan. I was feeling uncomfortable in the saddle, which is not something I have been experiencing until much later during a long ride.
As we began the second route, I was ok mentally. Sure, I would like to be done after four hours, but I had 6.5 engrained on my brain, so that was what would happen! My eating and drinking continued as planned and I was pleased with how it that critical piece played out. No complaints and nothing to be concerned about.
We finished the 6.5 hour ride with 112 miles done! Funny how those numbers worked out!! I was very excited to have this milestone complete.
We spent the afternoon watching stage one of the Tour de France! I guess a 6.5 hour ride just did not meet my cycling dose for the day!
OWS – I had my longest open water swim to date planned. I needed to get in 90-minutes and I was hoping that would give me the full IM distance of 2.4 miles. Tony accompanied me on the borrowed kayak (thanks again to Tim & Nicole) as my safety escort. Well, to be frank, 1.5 hours is a REALLY long time to swim!! I actually completed 1 hour 35 minutes with 2.54 miles. This was a huge milestone for me. Sure, I knew I could do it, but actually doing it is a totally different story! The swim is my weakest of the three events, so having completed this prior to race day is a mental boost!
Run – 3×15 minute speed intervals – To be honest…I was dreading this workout. After the swim, I had a light bite and then was doing a few things around the house. I really felt lethargic with zero energy. I decided just to get going and do the best I could. What else could I do? Well, the run was not easy, at all. However, it was way better than I thought it would be. I thought I would begin to run out of steam and really struggle to complete it. I completed all three intervals at a pace in the range I would expect when running on a decent day. I am not quite sure how I was able to pull it out, but I did and WAS SO EXCITED to get through it!
Time: 18 hours 9 minutes
Swim: 9,770 yards
Bike: 142 miles
Run: 32.2 miles
Stretching/foam rolling: Did OK
I was so excited to accomplish what I was able to this week. Having a solid week during my peak with so many new personal records was amazing for me. I am truly proud of every single mile…they are transforming me into an athlete unlike I have been before and preparing me for this crazy event called Ironman!