From the moment I arrived at the cottage we were renting in Lake Placid I knew that everything was “right”. There were images of moose scattered throughout the cottage on lampshades, candleholders, and dishware and I instantly knew that my grandmother was with me. Reflections of my childhood summers at Big Moose Lake in the Adirondacks came to mind and I knew deep down that I was going to have a fabulous experience at IMLP. My grandmother was one of the strongest, kindest people that I have ever met. My first 70.3 her name was on the metal bar next to my race number where I racked my bike. My childhood summers had been spent swimming in Big Moose Lake with my cousins, biking on the dirt road on a pink bike that probably cost as much as a big tub of Powerade Perform, and running away from my parents when it was time to come into the cottage for the night. Everything was coming together.
My training partner and I awoke, ate breakfast and then headed out to mirror lake for a 1.2 mile swim (1 loop). I was incredibly nervous as my shoulder had been bothering me to the point that the day before I had eaten several ibuprofen. I knew that my swim technique was not fabulous as evidence by the one swim clinic I attended several months prior where the instructor informed me that I hyperextend my left arm to the point of pain. No wonder my left shoulder always hurt after a 60 min swim. I tried to correct it on my own in the few swims I did the last few weeks prior to IM, but I knew that without a coach and trying to wing it on my own I probably wasn’t doing so hot. I knew I could “get through” the swim so decided not to focus on it.
The other reason for my nerves was that the last time I had swam in Mirror Lake I completely hyperventilated. (It had snowed in Lake Placid the week before and the water was freezing!!) I had never had that happen to me and was terrified of experiencing that panic again. Thankfully the water was 76 degrees that Wednesday.
We got in, easily found the white rope at the bottom of the lake that maps out the swim course and started swimming. I don’t know what it is about that lake but I felt fabulous. I felt like I was gliding through the water, was breathing effectively on both sides and had NO shoulder pain. What a sigh of relief!
I awoke after some crazy nightmares around 350am. I was convinced that someone was going to enter the cottage through the window and murder me. I very RARELY EVER have nightmares and I certainly NEVER have trouble sleeping through the night. My poor brain subconsciously must have been on overdrive with worry about the race!
We got up and had fabulous coffee and then I proceeded to curl up on the couch with my blanket and watched “The Goonies” as it was drizzling outside. Perfect little morning.
The last workout before IMLP. 3 mile run out towards the horse show grounds. Everything felt great- I was pushing the pace a little bit when I looked down at my garmin and saw 8 min miles I figured I better slow down.
My parents then arrived in the afternoon and later that evening we attended the athlete dinner. The athlete dinner opened with the Olympic theme playing and Andy Potts came in carrying the “olympic torch”. Again, I felt like everything was coming together when I heard this music as this was the song I had used on my alarm clock all through the winter to motivate me to get out of bed in the dark to train.
We spent most of Saturday trying to stay off our feet and of course had to go check in our bikes. It was very hot without a cloud in the sky this day and volunteers were warning us to let some air out of our bike tires. After I racked my bike I leaned over to let some air out of my tires and automatically heard a “WHOOSH”. I had somehow managed to let out all the air in my tire! I walked around asking the volunteers for a bike pump but no one had any pumps. I frantically looked around transition for Alex or Paul but could not find them and did not have my cell with me! (one of the very very few times that I actually did not have my phone). I finally found Paul, had to take my bike out of transition into the expo, and found a bike pump at the bike mechanic tent. After I was thoroughly covered in bike grease we finally headed back to the cottage for a pasta dinner cooked by Caylin. Great food and great friends!
7/28/13 RACE DAY
I awoke at 3:45 am- surprisingly I slept well. I got up relatively easily, had half a cup of coffee, some powerade, a bagel and a banana- I think?? (if my memory serves me correctly). We all (Mom, Dad, Chris, Megan, Paul, Laura, Caylin, Alex and Cathy) left the cottage and walked down to the body marking area. Paul made sure to stick by me because he had told me that I needed a “special” mark. After getting marked Paul asked the volunteer for the marker and put a big “V” on my calf. “V” for virgin. Super funny.
The Swim: 1:27
Obviously being my first 140.6 I have never started in a mass IronMan start, but I was not a fan of the rolling start. When the gun went off it was completely anticlimactic and I found myself swimming faster than a lot of the people that had lined up in my “corral”. I got hit multiple times (mostly by green capped boys) and decided it was time to swim wide on the left side. I know that I added some mileage by doing this but was happy when I was getting hit much less. I felt good the entire swim.
Swimming is clearly not my strength but my plan was just to get through it. Mission accomplished!
Swimming is clearly not my strength but my plan was just to get through it. Mission accomplished!
The Bike: 8:00
My plan for the bike was to be slow and steady as I did not want to have nothing left in the tank for the run. When I had volunteered at IMLP the year prior I had found a 30 something year old guy laying in the middle of the road about a mile from the finish line around 10pmish. He was clearly very hyponatremic and I’m sure he had multiple other electrolyte imbalances. That picture is something that I will never forget and was terrified of being in that position. I knew I could bike the course in 8 hours (as I had biked it the weeks prior to race) and I knew that would still leave me an extra hour to play with in terms of cut off times. Around mile 88 my quads started to burn and I remember turning to Paul (who had turned up around mile 70ish) and asking is this normal???!! Paul replied “yup, you just biked 88 miles completely normal”. I never was in any pain per say, just burning.
I should also mention that I had decided to change my Garmin to “multisport” option about 5 minutes before the race started. Had I ever used the “multisport” option?? Nope. Fabulous idea Laura, switch the Garmin to an option you have never trained with. So for 90 miles of the bike I had no bike data. No heart rate. No alarm telling me when to sip from my aero bottle. No cadence. And the little chart that I had taped to my handlebars telling me what time to GU,completely irrelevant as I only had the total race time flashing on my Garmin.
At 90 miles Paul wanted to stop at the aide station and stretch his back- thankfully I found a girl that knew how to make my data viewable! So for the last 20 miles of the bike I had my data. The only other part of the bike course that bothered me was coming up the climb near Wilmington Notch campground- my legs were tired by this point and I was alone as I had left Alex and Paul behind me somewhere. Thankfully, there was a guy with a sign that said “smile if you have peed on yourself today” He was super inspiring and was yelling positive statements at me getting me through that little spot on the course. When I finally dismounted my bike I was nothing but super excited to run- my favorite part of the IM!
The Run: 5:18
Definitely my slowest marathon BY far.
As I left transition I felt so good and was just excited to be running. As I hit mile 3 I realized that I was running 9 minute miles and I should probably slow down. I slowed a bit, still feeling good- I saw Jamie around mile 4ish and he took one look at me and said “ You have way too much pep in your step”. As much as I wanted to stay and run with him so I could talk to a familiar face I pushed forward as I knew if I slowed it would be bad news. Probably around mile 6ish I saw a lot of people walking and thought.. Hmm Maybe I should walk? I felt good then but was scared of what I would feel like at mile 21 and couldn’t help thinking about the boy laying in the middle of the road last year. So I walked bits and pieces.
At hour 11 I finally felt like I could have a BM- Had NOT had one at all before the race and was feeling bloated by this point. As I was in the port-a-potty I heard this poor girl outside asking for me to hurry up. Pretty sure she was outside vomiting. Later I saw multiple other women puking alongside River Rd and of course the nurse in me told the volunteers to give them chicken broth as I was pretty sure they were losing massive amounts of sodium.
Heading back into town to complete my first loop I saw my parents (My mother was screaming Laura Natalie!!!! Natalie was only ever brought out during my childhood when I was bad so I immediately stopped in my tracks) and ran over to them screaming only 13.1 to go!! I felt good. I charged up the hill, instead of walking like many were doing. I remembered back to the days of team in training and being taught to run up the hills of Mendon and not stop.
I felt so good that I went into my special needs bag at mile 13 and pulled out chocolate chop cookies. Yes, you read that correctly. Chocolate chip cookies. Did I ever train with chocolate chip cookies ?? Nope. What possessed me to put them in my special needs bag I do not know. All I knew was that I was hungry for “real” food and did not want a single more vanilla GU. So I ate my chocolate chip cookies and immediately my stomach revolted. I thought for sure I was going to vomit or need to use the restroom. I ran down main st in Lake Placid thinking “don’t puke on main st. Don’t puke on main st” (crowds lined this street). Luckily, as soon as I was at the end of main st- headed up the hill near Liquids and Solids it started to rain. It only rained for about 5 minutes but it was exactly what I needed and I immediately felt better.
The rest of the run was fun. I enjoyed talking to random strangers and I noted all the signs up along River Rd. My favorite sign being “You win. Andy Potts never did a 17 hour IronMan”.
I felt strong the last few miles and was so happy to see my friends Dave and Margaret Brongo and Robin near the finish. As I entered the oval I’m pretty sure I was saying “oh my God, Oh my God, Oh my God”. My only regret is that I didn’t slow down to enjoy those crowds.
Crossing the finish line was amazing. I saw my family and immediately devoured 2 slices of pizza. They kept taking my picture and all I remember thinking was “Can I please just eat my pizza?” And in the end… I felt better after this IronMan than I did after my last marathon.
Excited to truly race this event in 2015. Can’t wait to set a PR.
Amazing experience and amazing people I have met through this triathlon journey. I really can’t thank the people in my life enough!