Ironman Lake Placid 2013.
This was my fourth crack at Ironman Lake Placid and I was looking to make it my best one yet. In ’06 I went 11:39 for my first one. In ’08 I had to stop after the swim due to illness. That one stung but I rallied in 2011 for a 10:45 finish and a strong day. So this year I was looking to improve upon THAT. I felt that my training would allow me to drop down under 10:30 on a perfect day. As it turned out I was able stop the clock at 10:37 and I had a tremendous day. Here’s how it played out.
Our trip to Placid went well after we were able to (ahem) depart. It’s always an adventure travelling with my girls and due to my genetic make-up I really have to work at not being a complete jerk about leaving on time. I’m rarely successful. After I wound the gums to them about how they had six months to get ready for this $&%*&$$ TRIP I drove out of the driveway having left the garage door open. HEheheh….
We arrived in LP and checked in to our “best kept secret in town” motel. We have stayed in this same place a few times and the girls give me a hard time EVERY time. It’s not the best of places but it is CLOSE to the venue and only sets me back about $800 vs the $1,200-$1,500 I would be paying at a “good place”. There’s really nothing wrong with the place other than the fact that the owner clearly makes no improvements and is barely holding the place together. I view it as a place to sleep. The girls, on the other hand are looking for a little more from their lodging experience than this place provides so I may be forced to upgrade if we visit again. Pick your battles, right?
I did all the right things over the next couple of days, got to bed early, rested, ate right, reviewed my race plan etc.
Race morning came and I was still on the fence about a sleeveless vs full wetsuit. I grabbed the full and headed to the venue plenty early. Everything went smoothly and I was able to see two of my three athletes that were racing today. Chris was right in a lather having dealt with a few curveballs in getting to the venue. Jason was fine and I was able to lighten up their load by delivering their special needs bags for them. It’s a delicate balance to be wearing both the COACH and ATHLETE hats on the same day but I think I did a pretty good job making sure they were all set and staying focused on my race as well. I knew Marc would be OK as he has done this race before but I was worried about my first timers – Chris and Jason. As it turned out, no worries needed!
The new rolling swim start program at Lake Placid had us lined up in a chute self seeding based on our projected swim time (see, Beach To Beacon Starting Line). I was hopeful this would be a good thing and I would have open water all the way. WRONG. I got POUNDED. I was planning to swim 1:00-1:05 and take advantage of the work I have put into my swim over the past two years. No dice. I didn’t get a clean stroke the entire way. I also got punched, kicked and pushed like never before. Not fun. Ironman needs to figure this out. It is NOT an improvement. And it wasn’t just me. I talked with guys that are faster swimmers than me (ha, most are) and they felt the same way. I ended up swimming two minutes SLOWER than in 2011. The full suit was a mistake and I heated up again like in ’11. I recieved my post race e-mail from Ironman yesterday and I’ll be filling out the survey and letting them know what my experience was. Anyway, whatever, that’s racing and everybody had the same crap to deal with so I didn’t waste a lot of mental energy on it during the race, I just hung tough and kept my cool. SO, 1:10 swim and off to the bike.
T1 was a little slow but I got on the bike and tore out of there for my 112 miles. I saw all my peeps and had good energy. I was soaked immediately by a steady rain. Perfect. I will take the rain any day over the heat. I rode a smart ride and although I haven’t had a chance to break down the power file with my coach yet, I believe I nailed it. I pushed it on the second loop but I felt I could and as it turned out I was damn close to even on both loops with regard to power output. Solid. My only miscue was that I did not identify just how cool it was. Given the weather leading up to the race I was ready for HEAT. We got COOL. I was losing a ton of fluids (that’s code for peeing a lot on the bike) and I was worried I was going to dehydrate. I didn’t realize until later that I was not sweating as much. As a result, I dealt with a quad cramp after mile 100. I dialed the wattage back and managed it into T2 where I took a couple extra minutes to get right. I bent to put a sock on my left foot and my whole legs cramped. NOT a good way to be staring down the barrel of an Ironman marathon. Gulp. I ended up posting a 5:33 bike split. Pretty solid if you plan to run well after. J
I took off on the run and decided I would take the first few miles easy and see if I could get by the cramping. I saw Jared and told him what I was dealing with and he told me to fight through it. I went into full-on nutrition alert and got my act together through the first loop. Lots of fluids, salt and some luck got me headed back into town feeling pretty good. I saw my friend Angela Bancroft and I knew I had to look tough going by her because, well, she’s tougher than me! Ha! Thanks for the support Ange. I always like to run the big hill going into town MOSTLY because very few others do. I turned the corner and saw my family and friends and pulled some energy from that. I was now running well and thinking I might get this thing done without an epic implosion. I headed back out of town with “only” 13.1 to go and I decided to take it up a notch and see what I could do. I ended up posting a solid pace through 16 miles, hung tough through 21 when the wheels started to come off and then gutted out a strong finish. I saw Ange one more time as I was coming back and I told her I was hurting bad… I guess I just needed to tell someone. She gave me some encouragement and I stopped whining and tried to kept turning it up.
I saw my friend Sean Snow closing on me toward the finish. I had no idea who was ahead or behind due to the swim start but Sean was catching me at the turn around on the backside of the lake. Damn. I love racing this guy. He never gives you an inch and if you think you’re going to beat him you’d better have your act together. What I like most is that we swap punches all day long and then sit down together afterward and swap war stories, eat pizza and catch up. He’s a class act and I’ve enjoyed gunning for him over the years. So, anyway, here he comes in mile 26 of Ironman. Crap….NOW I GOTTA try to drop a fast mile on this guy to hold him off. Here we go…. Don’t get too excited though. He out swam me but seven minutes, started well after I did and beat me overall by some 13 minutes! And THAT is what SUCKS about the rolling swim start. If I am racing I want to know where I am in the field. Otherwise, it is nothing but a time trial. I’ll have my say on it, you can bet on that.
So I had a strong finish. Wrapping up the marathon in 3:42 or so. Overall time was10:37 for something like 158th place overall amongst 2400 or so. Not too shabby. Interestingly, my time would have me 24th in the male 30-34 age group but was only good enough for 38th in my age group (M40-44). These old guys are FAST.
I am blessed with great family and friends that came out to support me. I felt like I had an army of people helping me get this done. Thanks to my wife and daughter for putting up with the training and the unconditional support. Thanks to my parents who gave me the drive to do this stuff and continue to attend my events WHEREVER they are. And thanks to all my friends that travelled out there to cheer me on. The Grover Family, unreal support. Thank YOU. Love you guys. Jenny, Melissa, Meg, Brackett, Durgin, Jared, Christina, Stan, Chelsea, Greg, Katie and many others. Thanks to all you Facebookers for blowing up my page with support and thanks to my extended network of family, friends and co-workers for blowing up my phone with texts of support and congrats. I am overwhelmed.
I also want to mention that my athletes, Jason Stokes, Chris Ebbrecht and Marc Dupuis all had great days as well. So I double dipped. Had a great day as an athlete AND as a Coach! Good job guys, proud of you! Last but not least, THANK YOU Jorge Martinez of E3 Training Solutions for both the opportunity to Coach with E3 AND the opportunity to race for the team! Loving it!!!
So there it is. It’s in the books. As they always say, I would have liked to have been a little faster but hey, who wouldn’t, right? I know there are areas for improvement but right now those areas are family and work. Time to right the ship. Ironman takes a round out of you and those around you. Balance.
Next up is the Rev3 OOB in August and I have a few people that I want to “trim up”. Let’s see if I can get recovered and bring it!