Friday, August 15, 2008

Ironman Lake Placid RR: A Day of Biblical Rains and Watermelon Angels

First, I want to acknowledge that Team Z has the best support and cheering crew on the face of the planet. They were all over town and at the out and back on the bike. The biggest group was on Mirror Lake drive as you made your way to and from the out and back and special needs. You couldn’t miss the tons of screaming people with green horns and cow bells. Every time I saw you guys my spirits were lifted and I found energy I didn’t know I still had. Thanks to ALL the spectators and volunteers for sticking it out in that rain.

It’s hard to see everyone as you go by on the bike or when your head is down on the run and more difficult when everyone is covered up. But these are the spectators that stand out in my mind: Kerri Kramer: You are the best cheerleader ever! Roy and Linda Rumsey: Sagtastic, baby, Sagtastic! Ed and Brian on the second loop of the bike; Cathy Lett who I saw when I first started my run for the split second when I was still feeling good; Holly – I saw you very briefly but I remember seeing you. Es – you are loud, but it was great; Fabrice – Dude, you looked like you were having a great time!; James’ wife (can’t remember her name) for helping me get some cream; Matt’s brother was great; Dave F. Holy Shit dude you were freaking awesome! A special thanks to Lindsay Mauldin for being a great rode trip buddy, roommate and Sherpa! I will be there for you next year, Lindsay thanks sooooo much.
To every single person: Thank you so much for being there. Having people cheer for you is always great, but on a day like that, it means so much more.

To everyone that raced: You are some of the toughest Ironmen ever. Congratulations to you all. “The name of the game is to finish”. John Collins.

The Swim (1:21:35, AG: 70/123). Besides the fact I suck at swimming, I was actually ok with this as I went 1:27 at Kona last year.
About the only time it didn’t rain was before the swim. I made my way into Mirror Lake and chose a spot about to the right of the buoys and about 10 yards back from the flags in the middle. This ended up being a good spot and the swim start was no where near as physical as I thought it was going to be.

My swim went well and I didn’t have to sight much at all. On the way back in there was a glowing green sign thingy at the finish and used it to sight. I thought: “Swim to the light, swim to the light” as it was kind of mesmerizing. I’m not sure exactly when it started raining, but at one point it was coming down pretty hard and I thought it would probably stop before we got on the bike. Yeah, right.
The only swim advice I can give is about swimming straight. To all the crooked swimmers out there: Pretty PLEASE practice swimming straight in open water.

T1 (7:59):
It was my first time with a wetsuit stripper and the wetsuit came right off. The run down to transition was fun as the crowd support here was awesome.

The Bike (6:25:37, AG 31/123) Sweet.
The bottom line for me on the bike is that the rain just didn’t bother me. After facing 70 miles of winds on the bike at Kona and letting it get to me mentally, I just wasn’t going to let the rain get to me. And because it wasn’t windy, I managed to stay strong and warm. The only issue I had was the chaffing started near the end of the first loop. This is almost never an issue with me, but today it was. For the first time (but not the last) I grabbed some cream and while a couple Team Z spectators (James’ wife and someone else) tried to shield me, I reached down my shorts and lubed up. Modesty was not even on my mind.

I finished the first loop in about 3:05 and I felt good. The second loop was much less crowded coming down into Keene and at one point I was going so fast (over 40mph), I was smiling. I was having a blast. The second loop was slower of course but I still felt good. I saw Ed and I think he was with Brian on the climb into Jay. I blew them a kiss and waved! On the second loop I managed to deal with the chaffing, but it still hurt.

Team Z people I remember seeing on the bike that I know there names: Tim G (he was looking sooooo strong), Colin, John M, Matt, Talia, Chris, Sebastian, David G, Kate, Harriet, Carole, Charlotte, Jana (you are so tough); Jen M – girl you had the race of your life! I saw more I can’t remember.

T2: (6:55):
It felt soooooooo good to get some dry clothes on, even though they were about to get drenched. The volunteers in the changing tents are just so great at Ironman.

The Swim. Wait, I mean Run (4:56:01, AG: 53/123). This was my worse marathon ever. Oh well.
At the start of the run, my legs felt good and running through town was great. After a couple miles though, I noticed that my lower back was a bit sore and this slowed me down a bit. The run just sucked. Period. I never had a good moment but just kept shuffling along and walked more than ever. I was one of the lucky ones that didn’t get cold, as I had a shirt with sleeves under a sleeveless Team Z bike jersey and instead of a visor, I had a ball cap on which really helped keep the heat in.

Team Z I saw on the run: John M (dude you rocked that second lap) Kate G (you rocked the run, girlfriend), Jody, Ryan, Kona Bound Chris, Sebastian, Damon, Colin and Kim (we walked some together), Tony (you looked like you were having waaaay too much fun!), Matt, Andrea (that girl would smile through anything J, Jana, Justin, Charlotte, Harriet, Carol, Jen M- still looking strong; and so many more…

I had to lube up a couple times with Vaseline as the chaffing was pretty bad. One time a guy volunteer shielded me with his poncho. He knew exactly what I was doing but was a perfect gentleman. Again, modesty was beside the point. I walked at every aid station and grabbed at almost everything I could. I don’t know if I needed it all, but I took it anyway. While I really don’t want to talk about the run because it was such a miserable experience, I do have two good moments I want to share.

At one aid station a woman handed me some chicken broth and said to be careful because it was hot. I took a sip. No shit, it was scalding. However in my other hand, I had some cola. I really wanted and needed the broth, so to cool it off I dumped the cola in with the broth. I know, gross, but it actually tasted ok and I was desperate. I just made a broth/cola chaser! It was salty and sweet! Good stuff on a day like that.

The other memory happened on the second loop at the first aid station right after you make the turn to the terribly long out and back. A woman walked toward me and the other runners with a platter full of freshly cut watermelon. “Do you want some watermelon?” she asked. For a second I thought I was dreaming. “OH MY GOD! Yes please”. This woman was the Watermelon Angel brought down to earth and she smiled at us as we all grabbed at the watermelon like we were starving. It was the best thing I tasted all day long. Thank you, Watermelon Angel.

The Finish
Slowly, I made my way back into town. At this point, I resigned myself that I wasn’t going to break the 13 hour mark and had not looked at my watch in a long time. I went past the Team Z tent on the out and back and this really helped lift my spirits as I felt like total crap. They were cheering their asses off for everyone – Team Z or not.

At this point it wasn’t really raining that hard and I picked it up for about the last half mile. However, right before the turn onto Main after running down Mirror Lake Drive a downpour came out of no where. I laughed and smiled at how funny this was. It actually would have been disappointing not to finish the hard rain after a day like that. Bottom line: I was finally entering the Oval. I tried to wave and smile at the crowd, but I definitely was not enjoying this finish as much as I did at Kona.

But, as I made the final turn and saw the clock I realized I was just under 13 hours and picked up the pace big time. I was so concentrated on the clock that I didn’t wave and smile to the crowd until right before I crossed the finish line. When I knew I broke 13 hours and heard Mike Reilly say, “Stacy, You.Are.An.Ironman!” I was sooooooo happy and celebrated at the finish. Paul had the camera and I said, “I just went sub-13!”
My time: 12:58:06. AG: 37/123. WooooooHoooooo!

Next IM: IMFL November 2009. Weather forecast: Late season hurricane.

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