Thursday, November 6, 2014

New York City Marathon Race Report

On November 2nd I ran in the New York City Marathon. This was my first time running in this marathon and my third solo marathon. I had first applied for the NYC marathon the day after I completed my first marathon at Disney World. I had such a great experience that I knew I wanted to do another. I did not get into that race because of my lack of experience. At least that is what the rejection e-mail said. I did not think too much about it again since I had started getting into triathlon. Once I did my first Tri I was hooked. Plus getting to work on additional muscle groups was a huge bonus.

When I was in Lake Placid I attended the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) team luncheon. I was racing in Ironman Lake Placid to honor my friend Jeanie who is battling Multiple Myeloma. Towards the end of the luncheon Jane, who runs the Marathon teams for the MMRF Endurance Events, asked if anyone was interested in a bib for the NYC Marathon. I jumped at the chance. How could I not? I had nothing major on my schedule in November and plenty of time to train. Boom. I was in!

I forgot how much harder marathon training is than Ironman training. All you do is run. A lot. I averaged about 40 miles a week. That is much more than my Ironman training plans call for. I was a little concerned as I began to slow down despite putting out the same effort. I thought I was burning out. My dream of a 3:45 marathon seemed out of reach until two weeks before the race when I started to get faster again. I was just getting used to running on tired legs I think, and learning how to push through the tired. I was ready.

I traveled to NYC with Jeanie and her friend Gina. Gina had flown in from California to race with and support Jeanie. (Note: Jeanie is not only battling Multiple Myeloma, she is running marathons.) The three of us had a great trip down to NYC and after checking into the hotel walked to the Javits Center to get registered. Registration was like nothing I had experienced in a race. With 50,000+ runners there were rows of registration booths. Fortunately the lines were small and the three of us got our packets, race shirts, and assorted goodies quickly. We then walked through the Expo to see what was there and headed out on the street to catch a ride to Central Park where Jeanie and Gina were representing the MMRF in the Parade of Nations. I tagged along.

At the Parade of Nations representatives from each country in the race were organized by country and they were given a sign with the name of their country. The charities were represented at the front of the parade line. I stood with the US delegation, carried a US Flag, and held the sign with United States of America for a while. The parade started, we walked through the finish bleachers where people cheered, music played, and a USA chant was started. The parade finished with fireworks. Another fun experience in NYC! After this the three of us went out to eat and then Jeanie and Gina went to the hotel. I headed to the bus station to pick up the fourth member of our group, Ashley, who had to work late. One thing that really amazed me throughout the weekend was how friendly New Yorkers were. When we were headed to the Expo people offered directions. When I was looking for the bus terminal people were helpful in getting me there. It was perhaps the biggest surprise of the weekend.

Jeanie and Gina are old friends. As often happens old friends stay up late talking. Since they were up late they slept in so Ash and I headed out for breakfast and then to the expo so Ash could get registered and I could visit the KT Tape booth to have my ankles taped. While I was getting taped Jeanie and Gina arrived. Gina wanted to meet her hero Katherine Switzer who was at the expo signing her book. We stood in line and we all got to meet Katherine and get pictures with her and hug from her. If you do not know who she is please read this. She is an amazing woman who is a pioneer not only for running; she is a pioneer for women’s rights.

Gina, Katherine, Jeanie, Ashley, Larry

Next up was the MMRF luncheon where Jeanie gave an amazing speech about living with Multiple Myeloma and runner after runner got up and shared their stories about why this cause was so important to them. It is moments like this that make me grateful for my health, and reinforce how important the work that the MMRF is doing. I am proud to wear the MMRF kit and let people know how they are changing the business of fighting cancer. On those days that I do not feel like working out I think about those who cannot, and I get myself out that door. I am lucky. During the luncheon Jeanie’s husband Mike surprised her by showing up with all four of their children. The emotions were running high, and we still had 26.2 miles to run.

Jean the Keynote Speaker

After the luncheon we headed back to the hotel to get ready for the race. It was time to eat a little pasta and chicken, pack the bags, and get some sleep. The alarm was set for 4:00 am and soon I was sound asleep. The alarm went off and I awoke instantly. Race Day! I got dressed, grabbed all of my bags, headed to the lobby and checked out of the hotel. They would watch the bags during the race. The only thing I was keeping with me was my clear bag with all of my race day supplies and the clothing I was wearing. The four of us walked out of the hotel and were greeted by the dark and chilly morning. The forecast called for temperatures to be in the mid-40’s with steady 25+ mph winds. The forecast was accurate. It was chilly and downright cold with the wind. We hurried up Broadway to Central Park where the buses that would take us to the start on Staten Island were waiting. We picked a bus labeled with MMRF, grabbed some seats, and prepared for the day to come.

I ate my breakfast on the bus and looked out the window as the bus made its way to the starting area. After what seemed to be a very long ride (which I knew I would have to run back) we arrived. As we got off the bus our bags were searched and we were wanded with metal detectors. All four of us were cleared and we walked over to the Charity Village. This was a fenced off area where the charities had tents set up that racers could sit in to keep warm. Unfortunately due to the high winds the tents did not have sides. Still, it was better than nothing. My start time was at 10:05 so I did not have too long to sit and shiver until it was time for me to get my race gear on, and drop off my bag that would be waiting for me at the end of the race. I wished my friends good luck, gave them all hugs, and headed off to my corral. I was in the second wave in corral F.

Trying to stay warm

The wait in the corral was longer than expected. The positive side of this was a large number of people to huddle with to stay warm. The negative side was having to huddle with a large number of strangers. Finally the line started to move and I kicked off my sweat pants. All discarded clothing was being donated to those in need and on a day with those temperatures and winds there was a lot of clothing piled up. I kept my sweatshirt on until I crossed the starting line and as soon as I warmed up I tossed it to the side. At the beginning of the race you run across the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. This bridge is two miles long, and is almost 700 feet above the water. Running across it I felt so small. The wind was intense with gusts over 50 mph. Jackets, newspapers, bags, and trash were blowing all over. Fortunately I missed all of the debris and as I reached the apex of the bridge my watch beeped and I looked down to see that I had completed my first mile in 9:08. I wanted to have an overall pace of 8:35 per mile and knew that I would start off slowly. As we came off the bridge the wind pushed from behind and my second mile was at 8:15. We were now in Brooklyn.

The race really started to show its character here. There were bands and crowds lining the streets. For almost the entire way to the finish from here there were crowds everywhere. It was great. I gave high fives to kids all along the way and had a smile the entire time. By this time I had settled into a groove and as the miles piled up I was exactly on the pace I wanted. I was feeling really good. I was sticking to my nutrition plan (Power Gel every 30 minutes, Salt stick every hour, drink Gatorade at every aide station) and my energy was strong for the most part. While I kept the pace up, every 25 minutes I would feel my energy flagging. I would have my energy gel five minutes later and soon I was fully charged again. The only times I slowed down were sections where the course narrowed a bit and I could not pass people, and the one time I stopped at the port-o-potty.

The course wound through the city and I felt like I was getting a tour of the city that I would not get any other way. From the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn to Queens and Harlem each section of the city was unique and similar. There were changes in architecture and different signs on the buildings yet the people were the same. All smiling, cheering, and many holding entertaining signs. I continued on at my steady pace and soon I was on 5th avenue. I did not realize until I was there that there was a long steady climb on this section of the race. It seemed to take its toll on many runners. I passed many walkers in this section, and for the rest of the race. I managed to stay at my goal pace and when I passed the 24-mile marker gave it all I had. While not much faster, I managed to average 8:22 per mile in this section and even got to 8:01 through the final .2 miles.

The course turns in and out of Central Park for the final two miles and as I made the final turn towards the finish I pushed hard. I had walked this section in the parade and knew exactly what lay ahead. I crossed the finish line and pumped my fist. I had finished. Since there was no way for me to run the tangents on the course my gps distance and the official race distances were different. While the official distance of the race is 26.2 miles, by the end I ran 26.53 miles. My official finish time was 3:48:49 good for a pace of 8:44 per mile. My watch time showed 3:46:35 good for a pace of 8:33 per mile. If not for that one rest stop I would have nailed my race goal. I cannot be any happier with my results.

The only disappointment on the day was the post race. I, along with a mass of finishers, trudged forward. About ¼ of a mile after the finish there were people handing out medals. Another ¼ mile walk and we received foil blankets. Another ¼ miles and we received a plastic bag with an apple, pretzels, water, and a protein drink. At that point the runners were separated into two groups. Group A did not have a bag forwarded to the finish line. They received a poncho. Group B did not receive the poncho that would have been welcomed on a cold windy day. I was in group B. We marched along to the trucks that had our bags. It had to be at least another ½ mile to that point. I was getting cold. I finally received my bag and continued walking until I found an exit out of the park. Once out of the park I grabbed a bench and put on my warm clothes. Better. I then continued walking to the Starbucks at Columbus Circle, which was our designated meeting spot. I knew I would have to wait a bit since Jeanie, Gina and Ash had started two waves after me.

At Starbucks I grabbed a large coffee, pulled out my Nook and read. The place was packed, as was expected. Soon I found myself in conversation with a runner from Finland who had come in for the race. It was fun trading stories with another runner, especially one from another country. This was her first marathon and her excitement at finishing was palpable. Three times my phone vibrated as I got alerts the Ash then Jeanie and Gina had crossed the finish line. In time the four of us were reunited and there were hugs all around. Mike and the kids were so proud of Jeanie. It was quite a day for all of us and the only thing left was to walk, yet again, to the hotel, get the cars, head to Katz’s Deli for dinner, and to drive home. My long and rewarding day came to an end at 2:00 am with a shower and bed. All in all a great day, and a fantastic experience.

I would race anytime in the future with Jeanie, Gina, and Ashley. They made the experience even better than it could be if I had been solo. I also plan on more MMRF events in the future. They do so much great work. I am honored to be a part of their team. Please consider making a donation to help them make it possible for people like Jeanie to thrive as they battle this disease. You can donate here and help make this a chronic condition instead of a life threatening one.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

2014 Ironman Lake Placid Race Report

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.

Climbing Papa Bear and having FUN!
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.

High Fives!

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.

Smile of Satisfaction

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.

With the Dreyer Family

I started off July 27th as a triathlete. I finished as an Ironman.

Division: 207 out of 404
Gender: 1060/1732
Overall: 1292/2764
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

Finish: 12:53:51

Link to photo gallery

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Packed and Ready To Travel

My bags are packed. My car is loaded. My bike is tuned. I am ready to head to Lake Placid.

It is astonishing how much is needed for one race. I guess needed is the wrong word. All you need is a swim suit, a bike, a helmet, and running shoes. If you want to increase your odds of finishing an Ironman you want more. Wetsuit, aero helmet, arm warmers, arm coolers, race belt (for your race number), your nutrition, etc. The list of items can be amazing. Plus all of the non-race gear that you need for your time at an Ironman.

I mentioned lists. I have a ridiculous number of lists. I have a checklist that I completed a week ago to make sure I had everything I will need. I have a packing checklist. I have an unpacking checklist. I have a checklist for my transition bags. I have a checklist for my special needs bags. I have a checklist to put in my transition bags to make sure I put on everything that I should when I am caught up in the moment of racing. I have a checklist to make sure I have my checklists. Even when I have all of these checklists I know that I will forget something. All I can do is hope it is not something critical. Like my bike.

A couple of weeks ago after doing an open water swim training I met another athlete who was getting ready for Ironman Lake Placid. I will not say he was freaking out, however he was starting to question his ability to complete the race. I asked him if he had been training and he had. I asked him if he had a race plan and he did. I asked him if he had a nutrition plan and he did. I said it sounded to me like he had done everything he could to get himself ready for the race and if he executed his plans then he should be fine. Coaches generally know what they are doing. He asked how I could be so calm about it and I said I had trained, I have a race plan and I have a nutrition plan. I also have faith that the system works - that having done the work and preparing I will be able to complete a 140.6 mile race. Until I finish the race I have to just have faith.

While my goal is to finish the race I also have time goals. I would like to complete the swim in 90 minutes, the bike in 7 to 7-½ hours, and the run in 5 hours. Will I? I have no way of knowing. There are so many factors that I cannot control. Other people, road conditions, weather, even animals. Who knows what is out there. I have trained, I have planned. I am ready.
A bear crossing the course may slow me down.
For those who were wondering, yes, that was an article in the Telegraph about me and no, it is not too late to make a donation to the MMRF.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Ironman Lake Placid 2015, You CAN do it with the support of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation

In June of 2013 I headed to Lake Placid with my Triathlon club, NorthEast MultiSport, for a training weekend. I had just completed my first 70.3 (Half-Iron Distance) race and I had another scheduled for August. I thought it would be fun to train on the Ironman Lake Placid (IMLP) course, and to see if it was something to put on the “must do someday when I have a few years’ experience” list. I rode the course. One Loop.   It was very challenging. I swam the course. One Loop. I ran the course. One Loop. Ironman Lake Placid has you do each leg twice. It is great for the spectators since they get to see the athletes multiple times.

On the team were a few athletes training for that year’s IMLP. I was in awe of the dedication and commitment to training that they showed. When I finished my one loop of the bike course, they headed out on a second. While I was exhausted and drinking my recovery drink, they were pounding the pavement. While I relaxed, they worked. They were machines. Maybe. Someday. Me.

During that weekend as I thought about a future Ironman, Colin Cook (who later that summer won his age group at the Ironman North American Championship) gave me some great advice to think about. He pointed out that if you take two hours to complete the swim and eight hours to complete the bike then you still have seven hours to complete the run portion. You can walk 26.2 miles in seven hours. Broken down like that me doing an Ironman actually seemed reasonable.

The next day I had dinner at the Lake Placid Pub & Brewery with my longtime friends Katie and John Million. The two of them live in Lake Placid and over the years have seen their fair share of Ironman competitors. They have seen their fair share of Olympians. Suffice it to say they know athletes. Over the course of dinner (and an Ubu Ale or two) they managed to complete the job that Colin had started. They convinced me that I could indeed finish Ironman Lake Placid. They invited me back up so I could watch the Ironman that, somehow, I had agreed to enter. When I came back I saw that indeed an Ironman comes in many shapes and sizes. That all I needed to do was work, and I too could be ready to compete.

Back at home, after getting approval from my family, I signed up for the 2014 Ironman Lake Placid. There are three primary ways to sign up for this race. The first way is to be in the previous year’s race. If you are you then get priority to sign up for the next year’s race. The second way is to volunteer at the race and then get in line the morning after the race and signup for the next year’s race. The third way is to try and grab one of the few remaining slots when registration opens up online. Registration costs $750.00. There is a fourth way however, and it is the way I chose to enter the race. I signed up for a charity slot with the exclusive charity for the race, the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation.

The MMRF as they are known is a game changing organization in the fight to beat cancer. (You can read my entire story about the MMRF Here) By signing up for a charity slot I did not have to fight for one of the few slots available. I could go to Lake Placid, see what I had gotten myself into, and just enjoy the experience. More importantly by committing to raise $5000 for the MMRF I knew that I was helping to save lives. While that seemed like a lot of money, and it is, I also knew that the MMRF team would help me with the fundraising. They would provide tools, communication, and any possible advice I could need. They also would provide a training plan and a kit (race clothing) for me to use. I have gotten to know people at the MMRF over the past year and have been moved by their commitment.
So, if you are like me and thinking about signing up for an Ironman yet have hesitated like I did, just remember the advice Colin gave me. You can do it. If you are going to do it make about more than just yourself. Be inspired by being part of the MMRF team. If you ask around Multiple Myeloma has affected people around you even if you did not know it. Join the team for 2015. With the MMRF, your registration fee is reduced from $750 to $250. You could apply that $500 difference to your fundraising commitment. That will give you a year to raise $4500. That is $375 per month. You can do it. Just click on this link.

Be sure to watch this video that will get you excited to be a part of this adventure!