Monday, July 25, 2011

Riding Downhill - Race Report, IM Lake Placid

Last year some of you may recall that I raced Ironman Lake Placid and had a decent day until about mile 21 of the run when I lost 5th place and proceeded to get passed by 2 more guys in the 24th & 25th miles.

Soon after the race I mentally put IMLP on my schedule for this year, intent on doing much better.

Yesterday the cannon went off and it seemed that I was on the right track. But soon, things went down hill, rather abruptly. Despite some serious doubts and mental battles, I rode it out in the hopes of learning from the experience and coming out better for it. The following is my report on that downhill ride.

Swim: The water was 77f so we were without wetsuits. I haven't swam in a wetsuit yet this year, and after training in St. George and my swimming in a suit feeling strong, I was looking forward to rocking my new Zoot Prophet for the 1st time this year. That was not to be, but I wasn't really bothered by it as I was very concerned about overheating if somehow they had found a 76.0f spot. 

The cannon went off and I had a good start and was swimming after about 200m finally lost the feet of TJ Tollakson and Luke Bell. From there I was swimming next to Specialized and Zoot teammate Ben Hoffman. I swam next to Ben until the 2nd turn buoy when I hitched a ride on his feet back to the beach. Onto lap 2, I stayed on Ben's feet for the first few hundred meters then in a bit of spontaneous teamwork, I took the lead and pulled for the remainder of the swim. After fighting through some of the age groupers (sorry to those I swam over) I got out and was pleased to see 52:xx on the clock. Official time after crossing the mat was 53:06.  I was happy with this, felt great, and thought my day was looking good.

Getting on the bike I felt good and Ben was just a bit in front of me. On the first climb I got out of the saddle and my rear brake started rubbing, and rubbing bad.  I was pushing ~340w and barely moving. I stopped, tried to adjust it, got back on, rode with it rubbing for a while, stopped again to adjust... repeat that 3x. The final time I even managed to fall. My brake was rubbing so bad that as soon as I quit pedaling I stopped dead in my tracks and wasn't able to unclip fast enough. Fun times. I was passed by a few guys and was pissed to lose Ben, and give up spots when my legs felt good and I had swam so well. I finally managed to fix my brake and was able to ride on my watts for the rest of the 1st lap, regain the spots I dropped and only be passed by a charging Eduardo Sturla.
I began the 2nd lap feeling good but quite suddenly, that changed. I began feeling very flat. I pounded down some extra nutrition and tried to rally, but the body was not responding. In the past I have put a 12oz Red Bull in my special needs bag. But with my friend missing his bag here last year, and me missing mine at IM AZ I decided not to rely on special needs this race and skipped the Red Bull. Not sure if this was a good call in hindsight. From there on out, I went into damage control mode and just tried to ride as steady and strong as I could. I was hoping to ride 2:50 or below and after a 2:25 1st lap, I was on pace to do so. So I was obviously bummed with a 5:04 bike split. No excuses, I just fell apart and didn't cut the mustard.

With how terrible I felt the last 2hours of the ride, I was actually concerned that my legs were just not going to hold out for the run. Thoughts of my 1st DNF began to enter my mind. I just figured I would go until my legs just quit. I went out and tried to down as much fuel as I could before having to climb back into town. The 1st lap was pretty much a struggle every step of the way. Not Fun. But I put faith in the power of the Red Bull waiting for me at Special Needs and just endeavored to make it there as fast as possible. I was cramping a fair bit on the uphills and again, hindsight being 20/20 salts may have been a good idea.
After the Red Bull I got a bit of a second wind and just tried to focus on the next aid station, and staying up on nutrition. At the bottom turn around, I saw I had about a minute on 7th place. After getting caught in the final few miles, I was determined not to let it happen again. Given that I was in the money I didn't really want to give it up, but I made the decision to go for broke. If I fell on my face and DNFed I figured I would feel better bout that than I would if I played it safe, gave up a spot in the final miles and made a small amount of money. So I went for it. Coming in the last mile, I was in a bad way, but made I made it and held my spot. I had a goal of running sub 3, obviously 3:10 is a far cry and again, no excuse, I just failed to perform.

I have never felt as bad after a race as I did yesterday. A big thanks to the medical team for helping me out.

Also a Big thanks to my sponsors. As always, I had the best equipment and support I could ever ask for from Zoot, Specialized, Reynolds Wheels,, Palos Verdes Bicycle Center, and PowerBar. Nothing, absolutely nothing, in my lack luster performance can be blamed on my equipment or fuel. I had the best possible equipment to carry me to my goal, just lacked the motor.

Also a HUGE thanks for the humbling support from one of my long time best friends and his beautiful fiance, Tommy n Katie for making the long trek from Connecticut to watch me race.


  1. Ugh...sorry you felt so bad!! Amazing what you accomplished considering, including a payday! Can't wait to see what you will do when you feel good!!

  2. You are TOUGH! IMLP is about the LAST place you want to have a rubbing brake; I have been there and know it is not fun at all. On the bright side: just think how great it will feel in your next IM when things work properly...This was "racing with resistance"--like swimming with a drag suit. You gave yourself some great practice here by pushing through it all, but of course we would not expect anything less from you, Ian!

  3. Glad you went for it. Rest, recover, repeat....with fewer problems next time :)