Before heading to Lake Placid I went through my massive pile of checklists to make sure that I had everything that I would need to complete my first Ironman. Nutrition, check. Bike, check. Wetsuit, check. On and on it went. With everything packed, Amy asked me if I had included my cycling rain jacket. I had not. I thought about it and decided to toss it in the bag along with my cold weather swimming gloves. They do not take up much room, and you never know. I loaded the car, put the bike on the roof, and headed towards Lake Placid, New York.
I wanted to check into registration early on Thursday to avoid long lines and attend the 2:00 athletes briefing so we left home at 7:30 in the morning and arrived in Lake Placid (LP) at 1:00 with only a stop for breakfast in Woodstock, VT and gas in Rutland, VT. We found a place to park and headed into registration, which is held in the conference center attached to the 1932 and 1980 Olympic hockey rinks. After going from station to station filling out forms, getting weighed, and confirming my identity I had my Ironman wristband affixed to my right wrist, was given a welcome kit, told to go to the Ironman store, which was located on the skating oval, to get my competitor back pack and was then shown the exit. While the operations were very efficient and business like, the volunteers manning the stations were very friendly and welcoming.
Once at the oval I went to the store, got my backpack and then on the way to the 2:00 briefing stopped by the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) tent. I was competing under the MMRF banner (you can read about that in previous posts) and I was greeted like an old friend. I had met most of the MMRF team last year (Alicia and Jane) and had been exchanging e-mails with Kelley for months. We caught up and then when it was 2:00 I attended the athletes briefing which was mandatory. After hearing the rules and updates the meeting was over and Amy and I got the keys to the condo and headed down to unpack, relax, and then I got ready for dinner with friends from Endurance Nation, my training team. That evening the Dreyer family arrived. I was doing the race in honor of Jeanne Dreyer who is living with Multiple Myeloma.
|MMRF Power Team|
The next morning I got up early and headed to Mirror Lake with Mike Dreyer to get a final swim in. At 7:00 the lake was packed and I ran into many friends, as well as those I had gotten to know on various online Facebook groups over the past year. The water was perfect and I had my fastest swim to date. I was ready.
That afternoon I laid out the five plastic bags that I received at registrations. The bags are different colors and have different labels. The first was for race morning. You put what you will need the morning of the race as well as after the race in this bag. The second bag is for your transition from swimming to cycling. The third bag is for cycling to running. The fourth bag is your bike special needs bag. In this bag you put anything you think you may need for the second loop of the bike. The fifth bag is your run special needs bag. In this bag you put anything you may need for the second loop of the run. To fill these bags I had created checklists so that as I put an item in the bag it could be checked off. Simple. The two things I had not put on the list were the rain jacket and swim gloves. After much internal debate I decided to put them in my swim to bike bag. This bag was already tightly packed due to my oversize “Darth Helmet” yet somehow I found room in there. The weather report indicated that even though it may be in the low 70’s there was a 70% chance of some rain. With the bags packed I then decided to put all the contents into 2-gallon zip lock bags to keep the items dry in the event of overnight rain. I then unpacked and re-packed each bag.
On Saturday I took the bike and the transition bags to the check in and tried to relax. Everyone kept asking if I was nervous, and I was not. I was a bit concerned that I was not. All I can chalk that up to is the belief that I had done everything I could to get ready for the race. I had trained hard. I had a nutrition plan. I had a race strategy. There was nothing more I could do so why worry about it. I can only control me and how I react to the chaos around me. After eating dinner at our friend John and Katie’s annual Ironman party I headed home and went to bed.
My alarm went off at 3:00 am and I got right out of bed. Time to start executing the plan. I ate 3.25 cups of applesauce, 1 banana, 8-ounce protein shake, 16 ounces of Gatorade and 16 ounces of coffee. I then showered, got my bathing suit on, grabbed my wetsuit and race day bag and got a ride to the transition area from Amy. While I was eating breakfast I heard some heavy rain yet by the time I got to transition the sky was lightening. It was overcast however it did not have that pre-storm look about it. Excellent! Perfect race weather. In transition I checked over my bike, pumped my tires, said hello to friends going through their pre-race routines, and headed out of transition. I joined my Endurance Nation training partners for a pre-race photo and then got into my wetsuit. By this time Amy and Mike had made their way over from the condo. I handed Amy the few things I still had with me, said my goodbyes and walked to the swim start area.
The swim start is done in waves by anticipated swim time. I was estimating a swim time of 90 minutes and here is where I made my first mistake. I seeded myself at the front of the 1:31-1:40 swim group. I should have seeded my self in the 1:21-1:30 group. The cannon was shot and the male Pro racers started. Five minutes later the cannon again was shot and the female Pro’s started. Five more minutes past and the cannon fired one last time. The first age groupers entered the water and the race was on. I finally got into the water at 6:45 or so. I felt great. I had a nice pace going despite the crowd. I kept finding open pockets and would pass groups of swimmers. Only a couple of times was I hit in the head and just hard enough to jar my goggles loose. I was able to fix them quickly and kept swimming. I am not one for confrontation in the water so if I feel that someone wants to pass me I let him or her go by. Only a couple of times did I feel that I was having trouble getting by swimmers and then I just used my patience and when I found an opening a few power strokes and kicks got me back into open water. I followed the under water cable for approximately 50% of the first lap however I still felt the need to site since there were so many people swimming on the cable. I will say that if you are just doing the breaststroke I wish you would go to the sides, as the frog kicks are hard to avoid. If doing the backstroke moving to the side would probably be the courteous thing. Before I knew my hand touched the mud at the bottom of the lake. I stood up, ran through the arch and glanced at my watch. 1.2 miles in 41 minutes! So much faster than planned. I felt like I was playing with house money going into lap two.
Just before I got out of the water I noticed that it was raining fairly hard and I hoped that the spectators had raincoats and umbrellas with them. I did not give it another thought. I was still feeling great and the throng of swimmers had thinned out a bit. I found plenty of open water and I was able to stay on the line. I kept powering through and was shocked when it was time to make the turn back to finish the swim. I kept thinking only ¼ of the swim left. That’s it. All those hours of swimming and now I was about to finish my first Ironman swim. I kept counting my strokes and started to think about the upcoming transition and what I needed to do when suddenly everything changed. The flow of swimmers had stopped. It was like a wall of people had dropped into the lake ahead of me. There was no fighting through since these people were swimming in the wrong direction. I stopped swimming looked up and heard the shouts to swim to shore. Lifeguards were blowing whistles. People were yelling. It was chaos. I looked at my watch and it showed 2.1 miles and 1:13. As I joined the crowd that was headed towards the nearest shore I was frustrated. It was just rain. About 50 yards from shore I saw an enormous bolt of lightning to my right followed immediately by a loud clap of thunder. Frustration over. I swam as fast as I could to the shore and took shelter in someone’s lakeside cabana. It reminded me of a ¾ shed where firewood is stored however this one was much nicer. As a large group of swimmers sat there we discussed what now. Well over five minutes later, through word of mouth, we heard that we should head to the transition area.
After tromping through someone’s yard I started walking down Mirror Lake Drive in the pouring rain. Some people were running. I chose to walk at first then go at a slow jog down road. I alternated between the road and the sidewalk, as none of it was comfortable in bare wet feet. As I approached the Lake Placid Brewery I heard volunteers asking if we wanted help getting our wet suits off. I wanted that so I laid down in the middle of the road and a woman pulled my wet suit off me. The entire thing was very surreal and not at all how I pictured this happening. I gathered up my wetsuit, and after a few more steps I was able to enter the normal area for the run to the transition area. Thankfully this was carpeted, as my feet were not happy with the rough roads. I saw Amy and gave her a quick kiss and continued my journey to the transition area.
My plan in transition was to grab my swim to bike bag, head into the tent and go all the way to the back. I grabbed my bag, ran into the tent and stopped. The tent was packed. With so many people being pulled off the swim course at once they had all come into the tent at once. There were no empty spots near the front so I slowly made my way to the back of the tent as planned and there were no spots. People were changing everywhere. I was about to start changing in the aisle when a person next to me got up so I grabbed his spot. I had planned on doing a full clothing change during each leg of the race so I did this and I then pulled out the rain jacket and swim gloves I had packed. I was so happy I did this. I made my way out of the tent grabbed my bike and headed towards the bike mount line.
When I got to the mount line I realized there was no way to get on the bike there. Far too many people were walking their bikes down the steep initial incline. Not that I blame them. When I could finally get onto my bike I started down the hill and tried my brakes. Not too much happened. They were not very effective in all of that water. Good to know. I continued on the course and as I approached the first steep downhill by the ski jumps I again tried my brakes and again I received minimal braking. The only time this really concerned me was in this one place. Towards the bottom of the hill there were some large puddles and the bike felt a little squirrely as I went through the puddles. Up next was the first climb out of town and I noticed that I was passing a lot of people. I looked at my power meter numbers and I was exactly where I wanted to be. It was then that I became very grateful for my jacket as I noticed many riders were shaking and shivering from the cold rain. I think they were just focused on moving forward and getting warm.
After the initial climb the descent into Keene begins. The descent is long and fast. In the rain it also becomes treacherous. I enjoy going fast and as the descent began I continued to pass other riders. The Keene descent uses two of the three travel lanes (There are 2 up lanes and one down lane during normal driving usage) and the shoulder during the race. Due to the driving rain most people were on the far right side of the course so I stayed a bit to the left and focused on the line I was riding and avoiding the painted lines in the road which become very slick when wet. The road had just been paved and was very smooth. I stayed out of the aero position and would test the brakes every so often. They did not have much, if any, effect so I kept moving forward at a fairly high rate of travel. Since there were no puddles and I had new tires on I felt comfortable with the speed. The miles passed and I was in Keene where there was a large group of people cheering us on. I pedaled on, settled into a groove and made my way towards the out and back section in Ausable. This is a fast section of the course and at some point the rain stopped. Nothing too exciting happened for the rest of the ride until I was finishing the climb back into Lake Placid, other than an internal debate about wearing my raincoat on lap two.
|Darth Helmet in my rain gear|
During training I had climbed the bears (three hills in a row that are called Mama, Baby and Papa Bear) at the top of Papa Bear the crowd of people was 4 – 5 deep and they were screaming and cheering you on. It was amazing. If you were feeling a bit tired at that point I am sure that they helped restore your energy. So much fun. I then took the turn onto Northwood Rd. where there were more fans cheering. A left at the end of Northwood puts you onto Mirror Lake Rd. and you head back to town. Mirror Lake Rd. is lined with tents and fans and they keep the energy going that started back on the bears. I started to hear my name being yelled by the fans in the MMRF area and I gave them a fist pump as I rode past. Next up was the special needs area where I reloaded my nutrition supplies, applied more chamois crème to my undercarriage, and dropped of my raincoat and long finger gloves. It was now fairly nice out and I was getting hot with those items. I thanked the volunteers and pedaled on towards Main Street, which was just packed. People everywhere held back by waist high fences. It’s just overwhelming to ride through there and have people cheering for you like that. I continued on and started loop two. This time there was no rain and the sun had dried the roads. I again pedaled out of town and I was really looking forward to the Keene descent. As I passed by the fairgrounds I saw the Fit Werx tent and Marty was there DJ’ing and keeping the crowd entertained. We waved and I pedaled on.
As I arrived at the descent I was happy to see that the road looked great. Nice and dry. I got as aero as I could, pedaled on and started to go faster and faster. I glanced at my Garmin and I saw it was reading 51.1 MPH. Woo Hoo! I had been hoping to hit 50 at some point. This time the descent ended even faster than the first time. I must have had an enormous grin on my face. The rest of lap two was mostly uneventful. As I began the climb towards Wilmington I saw a NorthEast MultiSport jersey ahead of me. I now had a target since I wanted to see who it was. I slowly closed the gap and I eventually caught the rider on Haselton Road. I was happy to see that it was Chris Kaminaris. This was Chris’ second Ironman and I remembered being amazed when he was training for his first since the concept of doing an Ironman was so foreign to me. It no longer is. Chris and I caught up on how we were doing and when he headed into the aid station I kept chugging along. By the time I reached Papa Bear again I was ready to get off the bike. I heard my name being yelled again and I saw Amy, Holly Golden and others wearing MMRF orange cheering me on. I pedaled on, and on Main Street I kept hearing congratulations for finishing the bike portion of the race. I wheeled into transition, handed a volunteer my bike, grabbed my bike to run bag and headed into the changing tent.
The tent was much emptier this time and I had no problem finding a space to change. I was grateful that I had packed a towel so I could wipe my self down before changing. Since I ride for Fit Werx I had worn their kit on the bike and since I was doing this race as a fundraiser for the MMRF I wore their kit on the run. I dried my feet, got my shoes on, ran out the door, then ran right back as I had forgotten my sunglasses. I then headed to the station where volunteers applied sunblock and got myself slathered in a thick coating of the stuff. It was time for the final leg, the marathon.
The beginning of the marathon course is downhill so I worked to maintain a slow pace and stayed in control. Mike Dreyer ran alongside me and asked if I was ok. I said I was other than a sore knee while on the bike. (As I ran that soreness went away). As I approached the first aid station I again saw someone wearing the NorthEast MultiSport kit so again I had a target. My plan was to walk every aid station as well as the ski jump hill and the hill back to Main Street. The person from NorthEast apparently had the same plan and by mile three I had caught up to him. It was Chris again. I guess he had a great transition while I was forgetting things and doing a full change. We started running together and stuck together the rest of the way. It was great having someone to run with and we talked and motivated each other. During the run we saw many NorthEast runners on the course including Chris Stevenson, Craig Thomas, Ashley Blake, and Scott Golden. I also saw many other people I knew. Every mile or so brought more and more familiar faced either from NorthEast, MMRF, Endurance Nation, local friends (Katie and John), friends from my REI days (Jane, Toby, Samantha), luge friends, or even friends who were up volunteering (Laura, and among others Amy Hage who I hugged before I realized how sweaty I was). I think Chris was amused with all of this.
Lap two of the run was very similar to lap one. Chris and I had the same run plan and stuck to it. At every aid station I also drank the Perform and had a little chicken broth. At the final aid station I tried the flat coke. We kept a fairly steady pace and Chris let me know he was setting a new PR for the marathon. I let him know how impressive that is considering all the work he had done before the marathon. Since this was my first Ironman Chris said I should enter the finish area first. I thanked him, gave him a quick fist bump, and took off for the finish. I picked up my pace, waved at my supporters in front of the Lake Placid Brewery and Pub, and excitedly ran for the oval.
The finish of the race is on the Olympic oval. You run about 1/3 of the way around it and there are barriers on both side of the oval. There were crowds of people against the barriers and arms were thrust forward for high fives. I ran along slapping palms. I was taking it all in and not rushing the experience. I looked at the filled bleachers, listened to the music, and approached the finish line. I threw my arms out wide, smiled at the skies, and crossed. Mike Reilly, the longtime Ironman announcer said, “Larry Rodman, you are an Ironman” and Kelley from the MMRF placed my finishers medal around my neck and gave me a hug. I felt great.
I saw Chris, congratulated him, and then we had our official finishers photos taken. After that I found Amy and the Dreyers and received congratulations from them. What an amazing feeling. All the work had paid off. I had never felt such satisfaction at completing a sporting event as I did when I crossed that finish line. After walking around in the finish area a bit and eating some hot salty French fries I grabbed my morning bag (Amy and Mike had previously taken my transition bags and bike back to the condo) and got in the car, which Amy had parked close by. We headed to the Condo where I was able to shower; change, then headed back to the center of town and the festivities.
I walked to the brewpub while Amy went to get my special needs bags. I found the Dreyers where Mike handed me a post race beer. It was delicious. I posed for a photo with Mike, Jeanne, and their kids and then got a hug from Jeanne. I would not have even entered this race if it were not for the encouragement of a few people and a great cause such as the MMRF. All my fundraising was in Jeanne’s honor and I was so happy that she could be there to witness it. I then headed to the pub where Katie, Jane, John, Toby and now Amy waited for me. I climbed the stairs to the third floor, received more hugs, and had a favorite beer, an Ubu. We talked, I described the race, I finished my beer, and then Amy and I said it was time to head back to the Oval for the midnight finish. Along the way I talked with Sam an old friend from REI and with her husband Jeff, who once again dominated in this race. I ran into Marty again and received a congratulatory hug. More hugs from Brenda Ross and a great conversation with her husband and fellow racer Steve. We then entered the oval, made our way to the MMRF tent at the finish line, and cheered on my fellow Ironman competitors as the clock ticked down to midnight, the official end of the race. What a scene. There is no way to describe it other than to say energy, music, cheering, Mike Reilly calling out “You are an Ironman”, and looks of joy on the racers faces as they heard that call. Finally the countdown began and it was midnight. There was still one racer on the course who we cheered for to encourage her across the line. At a couple of minutes past midnight she appeared in the oval and the place just exploded. She ran across the finish line and like that it was over. Ironman Lake Placid 2014 had concluded.
I started off July 27th as a triathlete. I finished as an Ironman.
Division: 207 out of 404
Swim: 41:16 Division: 243/404 Gender:1265/1732 Overall: 1593/2764
Bike: 7:01:05 Division: 243/404 Gender: 1186/1732 Overall: 1430/2764
Run: 4:48:29 2 Division: 207/404 Gender: 1060/1732 Overall: 1292/2764
Link to photo gallery
Link to photo gallery