I just want to preface this race report and mention Rolf Prima Wheel System (who helped me crush the bike) and TriMafia for providing a team, kits, motivation and triathlon family. My goal was a sub 13 and I wasn’t sure if I was going to come near that as this was my first Ironman.
I arrived in Lake Placid on Thursday and made it just in time for check-in! Barring some parking issues check-in went as smooth as possible. The volunteers were all amazing. I got my number and off to get weighed I went. I would later learn this is to prevent issues of hyponatremia (low salt) if anything goes wrong during your race. I dillydallied around town for a bit and made my way back to my AirBnB in Jay.
On Friday I decided to do a loop in Mirror Lake – people kept saying it was like swimming in a pool and I couldn’t believe them… well, it is! The cable guide is the most convenient thing since sliced bread. Didn’t even sight once the entire loop. Following my fun little 1.2 mile splash session I wanted to check-out the Keene descent. I had to prepare myself for Sunday. Thankfully my friend Christine shared the same mentality and we did the ride together and had her parents drive us up because there was no way were going to ride it back up. Of course in Gene fashion I had to ruin her family’s surprise (they got VIP tickets for the race)… but I digress (SORRY, Christine!!!)
Saturday was rather uneventful except for bike and gear bag check-in. The logistics of a full Ironman can be a little overwhelming but with a checklist in hand it all went OK.
My special needs bags were fairly empty (bike had a tube and CO2 and run had snickers and and M&M’s…. don’t ask)
I went to sleep at 8PM on Sunday and actually slept the entire night-Benadryl 40 minutes before bedtime and you’re out like a rock (warning do not do this for the first time the night before your race). But then, a 3:45AM alarm disturbed my peaceful slumber and it was go time. My traditional oatmeal and coffee breakfast served me well and then it was off on a 30 minutes drive to Lake Placid where I sipped on water. I scouted out a parking lot about 0.3 miles from the Oval (email me if you’d like my secret location) and it was empty when I arrived at 5:20. Perfect. Made it into transition at 5:40 to set things up and off to Mirror Lake I went. After a short 5 minute warm up I lined up with the 1:20-1:30 swim group and waited… finally the anthem was sung and the cannon went off and it was GO TIME… or so I thought. Apparently a rolling start is a bit less dramatic than I expected and once again I was waiting for my turn. What seemed like eternity passed by and then off I went into the crystal waters of Mirror Lake.
Swim: For those that know me know my swimming is pretty bad. Going into the race and hearing of the fabled fight for the cable I was scared to come near it. But then, 7 seconds before running into the water, in a moment of clarity or insanity I threw caution to the wind and wanted in on the cable. The reason? Well, it was just too damn convenient to not sight and everyone knows triathletes are the laziest people around. I just simply didn’t want to be bothered with raising my head every few yards. The fight for the cable began and I was winning – after only a single digit number of punches and kicks to the face loop 1 was over. As I was exiting the water for my first loop a familiar face was seen before that familiar face slapped me in the head and in a moment of sheer confusion I saw the number 1 written on his swim cap… it was Andy Potts. Andy Potts just slapped me in the head. All I needed during my first Ironman was to get punched in the head by one of the pros.
I finished the second loop only 2 minutes slower than my first and it was rather uneventful except for some more violence, of course.
Swim time: 1:24
T1: About half a mile from the lake is the transition so it was hobbling on disgusting carpet through the streets of LP until I reached my bike. No issues here as a volunteer handed me my bike and off we went for a quick 112 mile ride.
Bike: I had a nutritional plan that I managed to stick to nearly perfectly for the bike. I had 900 kcal in my aero bento box and planned to take a few more kcal from the aid stations. Fluids consisted of 4 bottles of Gatorade Endurance and 3 liters of water because that’s what seemed to work for me during training. I also took in about 4 grams of Himalayan Pink Salt –which I ground up and put in a little tic-tac box. I HIGHLY recommend this. I’m convinced this is what kept me strong on the bike and my electrolytes in order.
If I had to sum the LP bike in one phrase it would scenic torture. The hills are relentless and the last 12 miles of the bike just wouldn’t move. My Garmin just didn’t want to acknowledge the miles I’ve ridden. Every mile felt like 10 because of the hills. Don’t let anyone tell you the Bear Climbs (3 bears) are hard. They aren’t. Unfortunately, everything else is. The climbs from town and to town are savage. My garmin clocked 6.7k feet of gain over the 112 and it surely felt like it. Thankfully, I knew it was hydrating well. Well, you guys know why. I won’t go into it. Papa Bear climb into town felt like I was Peter Sagan during the Tour de France, the streets are lined with spectators cheering you on and you don’t even feel the climb. It was amazing.
T2: Rolling into T2 I wasn’t sure how I felt for the run… but there was no time to maul it over as my bike was snatched by a volunteer and I grabbed my bag and put on my running shoes.
Bike Time: 6:15 Strava Data
Run: Immediately I felt a horrible pain my foot what I only assumed was a stress fracture caused by the relentless hammers on the hills. Thankfully it only lasted for all of 10 feet and it was gone as quickly as it came. I checked my time and saw that I had about 5:20 to finish marathon and still manage a sub 13 which made me elated. I was going to make my goal! Somehow, I was managing to keep about a 9:30 for the first half of the marathon. This confused me since my Syracuse 70.3 half was a 2:05 (see my Syracuse Race Report) so the numbers just didn’t add up but that didn’t matter. The miles slowly kept rolling and by mile 14 I could no longer take it solid foods because my stomach was just not having it. On top of that I got an annoying click in my ankle. About 4 years ago I suffered a horrible ankle injury saving a kitten from a tree (or so I tell people) that tore several ligaments completely off the bone. Doctors weren’t sure if I would be able to run so I imagined the worst. It didn’t hurt, but the clicking was the most annoying thing in the world. I’m super anal about the gear indexing on my bike and any clicking just annoys the hell out of me. Unfortunately, this click wasn’t going to be fixed by adjusting the barrel so I plowed on knowing that all major and minor deities were laughing at every click. Back to the food story as that’s clearly more important…I switched to Coke, Red Bull, Gatorade, water poured onto my head and whatever salt I can fish from my pocket because my tic-tac container had opened. If there are pictures of me licking my fingers you’ll know why.
Highlights of the run included drunk spectators in their underwear, seeing friends, giving little kids high fives, contemplating the meaning of life, hating myself, considering to jump into the grass and cry myself to sleep and locking myself in a port-a-potty so no one could find me. By the time all these questions and life choices were answered I was on mile 20 and bumped into my friend. We convinced each other that we must run faster, as it will lead us quicker to the salvation known as “sitting” and “laying down” This went well for me up until mile 25 where the pain grew so immense I think it was the closest I’ve come to crying since that time I didn’t have sushi for a week. Jokes aside, it was an insane mental battle and I’m positive my face didn’t do a good job at hiding it. Nope, it didn’t. See below.
Rounding the Oval I didn’t like how quiet the crowd was so I decided to scream and pump them up! It worked wonders. Finally, I heard Mike Reilly say “Gene, You. Are. An. Ironman.”
Run Time: 4:24