It has taken me some time to really want to sit down and write this post. Lots of folks have been asking though, so I’ve decided to give a quick run-down of the race and interlace that with photos of a spectacular venue.
I think everyone is aware that I did not have a good day. But I’m beginning to feel like a broken record. I’ve had nearly the same issue, with a few variations to keep it interesting, in every one of my Ironmans. I guess the upside is that when I get it figured out, I’ll have a great race. But lets start out with some pics from what is now my favorite IM location.
The SMALLER of the two ski jumps.
I guess I’ll get down to business. Strangely enough for me, the highlight of the day was the swim. Open water swimming doesn’t get much better than this. Its a beautiful, fairly clean freshwater lake that gets little to no chop. The water was 74°, perfect for the ole’ long john wetsuit (thanks Xterra!). I had heard many stories concerning this swim. The start-line is a narrow chute with little room for 2588 athletes to start close to the front. I’ve listened to horror stories of swimming in a washing machine the WHOLE WAY. I certainly don’t enjoy that type of scenario so I opted to go with some superb advice from my friend Melissa. Start front and center and go like hell for the first few minutes. I found my friend Nick (a very good swimmer), which was crazy in such a goggly mess, and I started slightly catercorner to him. As the start time approached, we were being forcefully pushed from behind from the remaining 2300 athletes. Instead of treading water, we were vertical kicking at this point. But BAM!
We were off and I went hard for maybe 30 sec and found myself totally alone with open water. Huh? Where is everyone? Well the 2 dudes in front of me immediately swam away from me and I, away from the folks behind me. So I settled in quickly. But shortly after, the next wave of speedsters swam right over top of me. The small cluster of men was perfect because I knew I could get on some feet that were slightly faster than my own. I swam the first loop in 31. I had a hard time finding good feet on the second loop and swam by myself a while, but still came out of the water in 1:04. A nice PR for me!
On to the bike. My main objective for this IM was to ride the bike easy… the. whole. damn. way. So I did. We wanted to make sure I wasn’t sabotaging my run with too big of an effort on the bike. This was incredibly boring and frustrating. IM LP has a very tough bike course with several major CLIMBS–my kind of course so soft pedaling up those hills was bothersome. But I stuck to my guns and smiled and SCREAMED down the descents. I definitely learned some descending skills in France! Not one person, male or female, passed me on the descents (we are talking 10 min descents). That was fun.
But 80 miles in, I was already starting to feel the digestive issues that I’ve succumbed to all too often. Uh-oh. I should have known it was too late, but I started trying to reconcile…
From the very first step of the run, I knew I was in trouble. I was already under such significant duress that I moved quickly passed the frustration part and on to preservation and salvation. I puttered along, but couldn’t manage anything faster than 9:30s or so. I was at a loss of what to do. (Wondering what’s going on? Its just total system shutdown. Imagine your digestive system just completely shutting down.) I saw my family at around mile 13 and told them my state but that I thought I would finish… It was just going to take a while. I kept motoring along, but when I reached mile 19, not being able to eat or digest anything for hours upon hours caught up and I found myself hunkered over on the side of the road about to pass out. (This part happens quickly.) Next thing I know I have volunteers standing over me offering up a smorgasbord of aid options and an ambulance ready to whisk me away if necessary. Coke. I think I just need some coke. Several cups later, the vision came back and I was able to stand again. I waved off the ambulance and just thought how all of these people had come to see me do this IM and by God, I was going to finish it. An aid station volunteer walked with me for 3 miles. I just sipped coke and tried a pretzel every now and again. I was always walking the line of consciousness, but pressed on. It. Took. Forever. I’ve never wanted to quit something so badly in all my life. What a freaking nightmare. In a daze, I kept moving forward. I could hear the crowds and then the announcer, then finally, I could see the lights (slightly melodramatic, I know, but accurate none-the-less). One foot in front of the other. Until. I. Crossed. That. F-ing. Line.
For me, there is no glory in doing an IM this way. I’m capable of SO MUCH MORE. But I did learn. Its not the bike!! Woo hoo!!! I mean, certainly I can’t go out and do 40 K TT speed, but hey, I can ride a friggin’ IM bike leg. Its all in the nutrition. I’ve yet to find the formula that my body can handle, but we are getting closer.
And I had huge support this time and I’m so grateful. My parents made the trek from Virginia to Lake Placid to see me, as did my dear friend Amy. And of course, I had my family.
Amy made me these AWESOME signs. She and her husband own a Fast Signs store in Springfield, VA.
We poked around the town and area for a few days after. Mountains, lakes and Olympic history–I think we all want to move there!
Up next is a couple of smaller, more local races, including a half on the Outer Banks. And then, I believe I’m headed to Florida for IM FL. One way or another, I will get it right.