Got to bed early on Saturday night. Slept like a champ. I had no nerves our pre-race jitters...which was unusual for me. I remained very confident about what was about to go down. Up at 3:30 to eat 3 hours prior to race start.
Unsweetened applesauce w/whey protein
24 oz of Accelerade
I did not manage to get back to sleep after I ate...but I didn't really expect that to happen either. We headed up to The Oval at 5:00am, got tires pumped, checked in special needs bag, and made our way to the swim start. We got a chance to see our families before we got into the mass of racers, got our wet suits on, and jumped in Mirror Lake for a quick 5 mins. After that, I seeded myself in the 1:10-1:20 swim corral. Seemed appropriate, but I really had no idea. The cannon went off...and just like that...it was on.
The Swim (2.4 miles):
The first 100 yds of the swim were rough...I was smiling too much. Giddy. I was finally doing my IM. I made my way to the underwater cable, and got into "my box". There was a little contact along the way...but it was really the easiest swim I had ever done. Ever. My swim goal was simple: Swim in control, don't waste any energy. Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast. Get out alive. In the end, I swam :37 and :39 min splits. Total swim time: 1:16...perfect.
Looking back, the swim was the most peaceful part of the entire race. While it may appear to be total carnage from the surface, it is a very calm and quiet experience for the racer. I focused on swimming buoy to buoy and counted my strokes to 20. Sounds easy, right? It was.
Light rain had started to fall during the swim. Making my way to transition, I was already thinking about the decent to Keene. Transition was smooth, but not as quick as I had hoped. I opted not to go with the rain vest or arm warmers. Turned out to be a wise choice. I would not have needed them. Before I knew it I was out of the tent, and getting my bike from a volunteer. I should mention the volunteers were AMAZING! I tried to tell them that every time I could...but they really were.
The Bike (112 miles):
My bike game plan was to ride stupid easy. One month again, I had done a 125 mile training ride...avg just shy of 19.5 mph. I thought riding LP around 6:10 (or around 18.0 mph) would be stupid easy. I was wrong. Those hills...oh, those hills. But I'll get to that later.
I set my bike up to be crazy simple. One bottle between the bars. One bottle on the down tube. I carried two tubes and 2 CO2 in a aero box behind the stem, and 4 Gu's in my tri suit. I took in Perform & water on the course and one Bonk Breaker before the end of loop 1. Did the same on loop 2. I had one wheat, honey/PB Uncrustable in my special needs bag...it was perfect. I hit the end of loop 1 around 3:05. Which I thought was spot on at the time. Got to see my entire family and they made me smile to no end. I was having a BLAST! And patiently waiting for mile 18 of the run (where I THOUGHT I would get the green light to GO).
Loop 2 was more of the same. The crazy, 6 mile, screaming decent to Keene was drier, a little faster and more enjoyable this time. I felt like I rode the flats between Keene and Upper Jay faster (I think I was between 20 and 21mph on that section). However, the relentless climb back into Lake Placid was definitely tough. Never to the point were I was hurting...but it wasn't Northern Illinois. I stopped for about 3 mins to help someone put her chain back on her bike. I figure it was good karma...plus we had chit-chatted for a bit on the first loop. I don't think I did anything she couldn't have done on her own...and at the end of the day, I would have loved those three minutes back. But oh well...no big deal.
Got off the bike feeling good. Not over cooked. Ready to run. Through the course of training, I had done several big training days of 1 hr swim, 6 hr bike, and 1 hr run. So far, I was not in uncharted territory and thought the game plan was going smooth. I moved through transition quickly, again, keeping things simple, I headed out with only a couple Gu's...just in case.
The Run (26.2 miles) :
The run is really where I pride myself, and I was looking forward to this. In my mind...this is were I could make up big ground on the guys ahead of me. Months ago, I thought I might be able to rattle off a 3:30 marathon. As the day approached, I figure it would be much closer to a 3:50 and I was OK with that. My game plan was to run the first 6 miles at goal pace +:30 seconds (so 9:00min/miles). I would walk the aid stations for 30 steps, using them for water and Perform every mile, and water and Gu every 3rd mile. Through 6 miles, everything was fine. At mile six, I dropped down to 8:30 running pace, still walking the aid stations, and really...still feeling good. I continued this for the next twelve miles...but around mile 15 and 16, I started to feel the quads. It wasn't my running pace...rather, it was a manifestation of the 112 miles on the bike. It was around mile 17 when I knew I had overcooked the bike a little. So at mile 18, "the line" as we like to call it...instead of picking up the pace and racing my way back to the oval...I was in survival mode to keep moving. I took my first walk break on a small incline just past mile 18. I made a decision that I would walk the hills and run the flats. When I was running, I was still managing 9:30ish pace. If I could keep that up (walking the hills, and running the flats), I'd be OK. And for the most part I did. The brutal climb in mile 21 took some time out of me...but I managed to keep the engine moving at the top. Just get me back into Lake Placid. The crowds were picking up as I got back into town, and they did a good job to keep me going. The final out and back along Mirror Lake was the worst...but once I hit the Oval and could hear Mike Riley...well, none of that mattered.
12:02 for my first Ironman. It was a crazy day. I was soooo glad to be done. I found Angie shortly after and I could say was: "That was awful". And it had been. I'd never felt that bad in a race before...but really, what did I expect?
After a few disoriented minutes at the finish, I managed to make my way up to see the girls and Angie's parents. I was freezing, tired, and hungry. I got wrapped up, sat down...ate some pizza and drank a 7up.
Reflecting back on the day, there is very little I would have done different except for try and pace the bike slightly better. I think an extra 15-20 minute on the bike may have saved me close to 25-30 on the run...and I wouldn't have been in such a sufferfest on the run. Too bad my power meter crapped out on me...first time ever. I'm not sure it would have made too much difference...but I think it would have kept me in check on the final climbs back into Lake Placid both times. Never-the-less, 12:02 is where I ended up. My original goal from MONTHS ago was somewhere between 11 and 12 hours. If you give me those three minutes I stopped to help out a fellow racer on loop 2...well that's an 11:59. :)
The burning soreness in my quads have since relinquished...and I'm finally kicking around that idea that I might actually do another one. But that is YEARS away. I already packed up my all tri gear and don't plan to get it out until next summer. No post IM blues here. I've got some plans for the months and years ahead, all of which will help me be an even stronger IM if I choose to do another. But for now...I'm focusing on having FUN in my training and spending A LOT more time with my amazing family!
I've always maintained that this was only a race and not a life changing event. However, my life certainly did change over the past year. I'm the healthiest, strongest, and fittest as I've ever been...and it feels good. Hell...I'm not going to lie...it feels great.
Thanks for reading! It was an amazing journey, one that I was blessed to have such a family and life to allow me to do it, and do it right. Cheers!