The end of the journey to my second Ironman started early. I had set the alarm for 4:30am, but ended up not needing it. Breakfast consisted of a couple of bagels with cream cheese. I also drank a bottle of my custom drink mix to make sure I was hydrated and ready to go. My Dad drove me over to the Crown Plaza parking lot so I could walk down the hill with my morning gear and get going.
First thing I did was get marked, because they don’t let you into the transition area unless you have been marked. After finding a short line and quickly getting marked I walked into the transition area and the first person I see is Heidi and Jan pumping up their tires. Julie shows up a few minutes later after getting her bike all set. I borrow Jan’s pump and head down to my bike and fill the tires, put the water bottles on and calibrate my power meter. The bikes are all set so we head out of transition.
Outside we wait for Roger to come and get Jan’s pump and backpack and while waiting I take a quick walk around to try and find my Dad. He was wearing a bright orange shirt so he would be easy to find. The problem is that he isn’t the only one that thought of that and I’m not able to find him. Roger makes it down to the Mobil station where we are all waiting and takes a couple of pictures and a quick video before we head over to Team BPC for the group photo.
We get over to Dave (my coach) and Michelle’s condo and I put on my wetsuit and leave my morning clothes in a bag there. I was going to leave the bag on the transition rack for later, but it was looking like rain and I didn’t want everything to get wet if I was going to wear it after the race. I’m pretty much ready to go at this point. I have my cap, goggles, a Gu and I’m wearing my wetsuit. Let’s get this rolling! But first we have to get the team photo. We all walk over to get the team photo for BPC (Breakthrough Performance Coaching) and from there we can see the swim start. It’s just before 6am and they are not letting anyone in the water to warm up just yet. Jan is getting anxious at this point and wants to get started, as we all are really.
The pros are going off at 6:25 and the rest of us are going off at 6:30. We can see people warming up in the water now and starting to line up for the rolling wave start. Jan is getting really antsy now. “Can we hurry up and take this picture?”, “Shouldn’t we be over there right now?” Finally we get the picture done and head over, to Jan’s relief!
This is the first year they had a rolling wave start. This is similar to a road race where all the athletes seed themselves accordingly so that we don’t all swim over the top of each other. Coach Dave is up front in the 60 minutes or under. Jan and Michelle Roy are in the middle of that wave somewhere. Michelle Sek and myself are at the back of the 60 minutes or under wave. I’m not sure where everyone else is at this point. I turn and look up into the crowd and I spot my Dad up on the hill and he sees me and waves. Glad I saw him before the start. The gun fires and we are off. Michelle and I make our way down into the water and start out. The beginning of the swim is better than last time and I can feel the draft as I’m just being pulled along. That feeling lasts for about half way down the first loop. Then it just turns into a mess as people start swimming back and forth across in front of me and I have to get out wide to avoid them. The problem with being out wide is that you don’t get any draft and you have to swim a longer distance. Once I make the turn and start to head back I stayed about 10 yards wide of the line and just cruised in for a 31:05 first split. Not bad and I figured it would open up a little more on the second loop. Second loop went well until about halfway down on the way back. That is when I ran into the back of the slowest people and started to have to swim around and do a lot more sighting than I wanted to. The second loop was almost two and a half minutes slower. Total time for the swim was 1:04:37, almost the same 2 years ago.
I came out of the water and quickly took off my watch and got my wetsuit down to my waist so that the wetsuit strippers could pull it off for me. As always the volunteers are awesome and the guy quickly pulled the wetsuit off my legs, pulled me up and had me on my way. On my way over to transition I hear Jan’s family yelling my name, quick turn and wave and I’m on my way to get my transition bag. I get into the tent and try to hurry, but I’m also trying not to forget anything. I forget to put the heart rate monitor on, so I try to hurry up and get it on. T1 is slow at 7:21. Kelly comments to me afterwards that she though something happened to me because I took so long. I mean it was long, but it wasn’t that long!
I didn’t realize it during the swim, but it had started to rain. I just kind of laughed to myself because I had done so many training rides in the rain, I just figured it was going to be one of those days. Turns out that by the time I got to the bottom of the descent into Keene it had already stopped and it didn’t rain again.
My goal on the bike was to stay at the power numbers my coach had set out. This was particularly important at the beginning of the bike course when everyone is racing up the climb out of town full of adrenaline. It’s a hard thing to do, watch everyone pass you going up the hill. Some of the people were standing and grinding away and I just though I’ll be seeing them on the run. I felt pretty good after the climb up and the descent and I remembered thinking to myself this is where I let the ride get away from me last time. On the long flat out to Ausable I just rode way to easy the last time and didn’t pay attention to the power numbers. This time I was prepared and held the Watts all the way out and made it to the turn or just over 30 miles out in about one hour and thirty minutes. That’s pretty much the half way point time wise for the bike course. The way back goes slower because you are climbing back up to Lake Placid.
On the way out to the Ausable passed Jan at around mile 22 or so. She was looking pretty strong and was feeling good. After chatting with her for a little bit I headed out to the turn around. Just as I got to the beginning of the stretch of road where you can see the riders coming back I saw Coach Dave. I started looking for everyone else after I made the turn to come back from Ausable. First I saw Jan again, she was not far behind me and was still looking strong. Then I saw Heidi, not very far behind Jan. Michelle was next with a big smile. All three of them were doing their first Ironman.
When you return from the out and back you take a right and head toward Jay. I just took my time and spun up the hills keeping my power numbers in check. At around mile 40 or so Heidi finally caught up to me. She was riding well and having a good day. We rode up into the short out and back and saw Jan as we were heading back out. I remember telling Heidi that Jan was killing the bike. Heidi started pulling further ahead and I think I finally lost sight of her around mile 50.
The final hills up into town are probably the easiest on the course. Everyone is yelling and screaming on Papa Bear. It is a lot of fun to ride up that hill with everyone cheering you on. The first loop of the bike took me 3:03:36. I was pretty happy with that. I was thinking I might be able to come in off the bike in around 6 hours and I wasn’t far off on that first loop. However, I knew the second loop would be a little slower. The question would be, how much slower?
Starting the second loop I was still feeling pretty good and again watched the power numbers on the climb out of town and stayed in control. This time around there were not too many people passing me and I was actually starting to pass a few back that I tried to crush the course on the first loop. I made it out to the turn in 1:28:28, that was only 2 minutes slower than the first time around and now I’m 86 miles into the ride.
The last 26 miles were not as kind though and I ended up losing more time over the first loop. My time this time around for the last 26 miles back to Lake Placid was 1:42:44, the first loop it was 1:37:06. So lost almost 6 minutes on the last part of the second loop.
Total time for the bike course was 6:14:38, that is over 35 minutes faster than 2 years ago. While I wanted to go under 6 hours I also wanted to stay with the power numbers and see where it got me. I figured if I had something left after the bike I’d push the run.
The transition from the bike to the run was pretty uneventful. They grabbed my bike and I went and got my run gear and headed to the changing tent. Changed into my running gear and headed out. The nice thing about this year was that I didn’t need sunscreen because it was so overcast.
The goal on the run was to maintain E pace or E pace + 30 for the first 20 miles and then see what I have left. For me that means 8:30 to 9:00 minute miles. I did ok with that through the first half of the marathon. Actually, I did that ok all the way through mile 16. At that point the wheels kind of fell off and I just did what I could to hang on. I think part of my problem is that I may not have taken in enough nutrition late in the marathon. Thinking back on it now I don’t remember taking any Gel in the second half of the marathon. I made sure to drink at each water stop. I would have Ironman Perform and ice at each one and made sure to drink it down because I didn’t want to cramp. The marathon ended in 4:05:10. Not exactly what I wanted to run, I think I blew it by not having enough Gel, I remember taking it early on, just not in the second half. That was about a 9 minute improvement over my first Ironman Lake Placid marathon.
Total time for the Ironman was 11:36:29, a 50 minute improvement from the first time I did Ironman Lake Placid in 2011.
I want to thank my family for all of their support. Kelly, Mackenzie and JP have been great through all of the training and it always lifts you up when you know you are going to be seeing them on race day as you come in on the bike or the run.
I would also like to thank my coach, Dave Sek, from Breakthrough Performance Coaching for preparing me for Ironman. I thought he did an outstanding job of training me and getting me ready for Ironman. I felt like I showed up to the race injury free and ready to go.
Congratulations to all of the other Ironman finishers that I trained with at one point or another as well:
Janet Barnes (Kona qualified – awesome Janet!)
Dave Sek (Kona qualfied – 2nd time!)