I am late on this I know. But with travel, the lack of a computer (something to be remedied soon) and getting caught up back home, it was a little difficult. So without further ado, here is my Ironman Lake Placid Race Report.
Pre-Race: I flew in on Tuesday, met Charisa and our team photog (aka Steven) in Albany and we drove to Placid. I arrived at my homestay's house promptly 2.5hrs late. Nothing like a first impression.
I got my bike put together the following day, got in some swims, rides and runs, and was well rested, fed, and excited for the gun. In a text to a good friend of mine who had sent me some awesome words of encouragement (thanks Bill), I said that this distance "really fires me up." It is true. There is something about the Iron distance that really gets me riled up. The challenges presented by the distances themselves are obvious, but I think what gets me are the tests the day will inevitably put to your mental strength and will. Without waxing poetic, the purity of the you against yourself, or mind over matter battle that you must wage is visceral. It drives me.
Race day: I arrived to transition a little later than I wanted, but got the bike set up, got into my speedsuit, and hit T-0 with what I thought was a fair amount of time to spare. As I went to turn in my special needs bags, I realized this was not the case. Special needs was FAR and my barefoot 15min run to bag drop and back to the start served as my warm up. I hit the water with about 7mins of warm up time.
I had a decent start and found some feet early, but they suddenly died about 150m in. I tried to find others, but soon found myself leading the first chase pack and unable to close the gap that had opened to the front.
I led that pack through the first lap and relinquished the lead as we started the 2nd. I figured following some feet, letting them navigate through the AGers and saving some energy was a better idea. I was hoping for a swim of about 54 even without a suit, so I was disappointed with a 57, but was happily surprised to hear I was only 2:30 down to the first group (excluding Rhodsey who smoked everyone), and that I was in 7th.
A long run to and through the longest T1 I have ever been through, added another 3:30.
I had been dealing with some calf issues before the race so I knew my only shot was to ride well. I had a goal of 4:50-4:55. I knew the course was challenging, however, I had put in a great deal of work on the bike before Boise and while in Kona, and I didn't think this was overly ambitious. I still don't. My Triad was primed and ready to go, and I was confident I could do it. For the first 30mi or so however, my body seemed to have other thoughts and I struggled to produce power. I am not sure what it was, my heart rate was there, but the power numbers were just not coming up. I immediately surrendered 4 spots in the first 10mi and just kind of went into damage control mode. However, just before the first turn around something clicked and my power began rising. From there on I set about trying to close the gap. I thought a sub 5hr split was still within reach.
At the end of the first lap I felt great. Power and heart rate were perfectly in line and my nutrition plan seemed to be coming good. I was able to pick up a few of the spots I dropped just out of town and built on it out to the turn around. After the turn I hit another weak spell, pounded down some extra calories and just tried to manage and try and get back over the bump. The climbs on the back side were unforgiving, but I felt that I had done enough to recover from the energy dump and hit T2 feeling good. My split ranked 7th, but the early loss is still irking me. T2 was quick and easy thanks to my Zoot Race 2.0s and I hit the run course.
The aforementioned calf problems were definitely on my mind as I took my first strides, but I put them out of my head and just tried to run steady and smart.
Less than a mile in Brian Shea (Personal Best Nutrition) who I have been working with to dial in my race nutrition told me I was in 6th, and 4mins down. I knew I could not afford to try and close that gap too fast, so I just tried to settle into a rhythm. About mile 5 I caught Rhodsey and took 5th. On the way back I got my first taste of that gnarly hill heading into town.
It was BRUTAL. I focused on the Red Bull waiting for me at special needs and just tried to get there as fast as possible.
After special needs, and with a fresh caffeine boost, lap 2 started well. I saw at the turn that I still had a good gap to 6th, but saw that Tim Snow and Brad Seng were running well. I couldn't just run my race anymore. I knew I had to try and push to keep the gap. At the final turn around I saw the gap was still there, but that Snow had moved up and was still running fast (he ran a 2:53! which was just seconds off the race best). I did all I could to find another gear, but about mile 20 I really began to struggle. I walked an aid station, took in an extra gel and started my "I.V. line" tactic from each aid station to the next. At that point I knew the way I was feeling, the pass was inevitable. Sure enough, just before the mile 22 marker, I lost 5th, $1,000.00 and a shot at Kona. From there on it was just survival.
Brad caught me just before the 25 marker after I struggled hardily up the hill into town. At the turn, I could see my spot was secure and just enjoyed the crowd and the experience to the finish.
9:15:58 put me 7th.
Charisa and I passed a few times on the run and seeing her charging along drove me to keep pushing. In a twist of fate, and in typical fashion, she ran her way through the field and finished as the 7th female pro. Awesome.
I owe some HUGE "Thank You's" to a whole slew of people. Too many to name all individually but some I need to.
To Greg and Gail, quite possibly THE BEST homestay that any athlete could ever be lucky enough to have. I showed up late, but was welcomed into their incredible home like family. I was treated that way throughout. You truly are wonderful people and I count my blessings for being placed in your home. You guys went WAY beyond what was called of you. Thank You.
Zoot makes some of the most comfortable and best performing gear available. One of an athlete's biggest concerns is that he will be limited by his equipment. With Zoot, I don't have that worry. Plain and simple.
Blue Competition Cycles is another company that takes a firm stand behind the products they produce. When my legs came around, my Triad was ready to rock and responded awesomely. This bike continues to impress me, not only with its performance, but maybe more importantly, the way it leaves me after the ride. Running off the bike has never been so easy for me. The adjustment time is nil.
With the inclusion of PowerBar Perform on the course nowadays, I am lucky as my day is fuled almost exclusively by great tasting nutrition products that WORK!
By even the furthest stretch, I am no mechanic. PV Bicycle Center, and specifically Miguel, Sean and Josh keep my bike running without a hitch and get me to race day confident in my machine. Its priceless.
TriSports.com continues to make my life easy when it comes to getting equipment, parts, and supplies that we all NEED. Nobody stocks more or ships faster. Plain and simple, they are the best.
Brian Shea from PBN, thanks for all your help and on course support.
To all else who continue to support and encourage me, you know who you are and I value it immensely.