My race at Ironman Lake Placid was amazing.
Best. Day. Ever.
I have to post this in 3 parts because it would be way too long otherwise.
I want to say from the start that I couldn’t have done it without the tremendous support of my friends and family – but I want to espeshally thank Mom, Adam, Shelby, Beth, Cindy, and Mike (IMLP 2012 entrant!) for coming to the race to cheer me on in person. Without you guys, this wouldn’t have been possible. Or at least it would have been a heck of a lot harder. Thank you so much.
I got up and ate at 3:30am. I have such a hard time eating that early! I had a banana, and Ensure, and a waffle then laid back down until 4:30am.
I got up and mixed up what I needed for nutrition on the bike and checked all of my bags to make sure I had everything. I left my carefully prepared nutrition on the counter and headed out the door.
I know, what a dope!
Getting down to the transition area for body marking was crazy, there was already a huge crowd gathered. I found someone to mark me and wandered into transition to put my nutrition on my bike.
I filled up my water bottle and started digging in my bag for my nutrition… I know I have it here somewhere…What did I…
Crap. What a bonehead.
I ran out of transition (not an easy thing to do on IM morning – talk about crowds!) and just happened to find my friends Adam, Shelby, Cindy, and Beth. I took my nutrition out of my bike special needs bag (turned into my I need now bag) and asked them to get the stuff I left in the room into the same bag and then run the bag down Mirror Lake Drive to special needs for me.
That was so clutch, thank you guys!
At some point it was officially announced that the swim was wetsuit optional. If you were gunning for a Kona slot or for Age Group Awards, then the swim was not wetsuit legal. This was no real surprise, but it was also a non-issue for me because I was certainly in no danger of qualifying for Kona or for getting an age group award.
The benefits of being a back of mid-packer just keep piling up.
There was this palpable nervous buzz in the air as I walked toward Mirror Lake. It was such an amazing feeling, walking through the tunnels of spectators, everyone wishing you good luck, chatting with the other athletes, and just sort of taking it all in.
I ran into Joe who was volunteering. Once down on the beach I ran into first Jason then Derek. We wished each other good luck and went our separate ways. I went through the timing mat, entered the water, and made my way to the far right shore.
I stood in the knee-deep water and watched the 2700 people pile in. About 500 people seemed to have my plan, to start far right and angle toward the buoys (which were on your left), about 500 more were in the center on shore, and the others all seemed to be scattered in the middle, trying to find a place on the famous buoy line.
No freaking way was I getting in the mosh pit in the middle. Screw the buoy line, I know how to site.
As I stared out at the mountains at the edge of the lake listening to the National Anthem, my nervousness completely melted away and this amazing calmness came over me.
I knew I was ready.
Swim~ 2.4 miles ~ 1:35:36
I didn’t hear the crowds or anything, I was focused on the valley between the mountains that lined up with the first turn buoy out in the distance. That was what I was sighting on.
After the anthem the gun went off, and I walked into the water, did a few breast strokes and then just started swimming. I was under the flags that hang at the start line in less than 10 seconds from the start.
No mosh pit. Lots of swimmers, swimming straight. I caught a pair of feet within 5 minutes and held onto them to the first turn buoy. I got some light contact from the sides and behind there, but it wasn’t at all aggressive, just some bumps. I started touching the feet I was following, so I tarzaned around him and suddenly I was at the second buoy.
There were more people this time, a kind of pile-up of sorts, but I was sighting and saw it, so I easily weaved around it. I realized that I was much closer to the buoy line than I had planned, but was kind of stuck where I was.
Then I saw it.
I smiled! I laughed even. I couldn’t freaking believe it.
I swam the line for the rest of the second loop, giving up sighting except to get around or away from people who I didn’t want to be near, but mostly I just put my head down and swam like I was at the pool.
It was awesome.
I came out from the first loop and walked into the water waving at the crowd then dolphin dived a few times and got right back on the line.
Unfreaking believable. 2700 people and I am on the line with minimal contact? I mean, I realize I am not fast, but at the same time, I was baffled by this.
As I approached the turn buoy I really started sighting more, and I started to get pushed around a little there. I just sighted and swam aggressively around people, not wanting to expend unneeded energy, but wanting to get away from the mosh pit.
After I passed some dude in a too tight pink speedo (yes I said dude and pink speedo in the same sentence) I got right back on the line and stayed there until I started seeing the bottom of the lake.
Which meant the swim was done.
Holy crap. The thing I was scared of the most was over, and it was so spectacular.
I came out of the water smiling. The sun was shining and I finished my Ironman Swim comfortably.
I took off my swim cap and unzipped my suit as I ran through the strippers, looking for the biggest guy I could find. I picked out a big dude with popeye arms. I jumped on the ground, put my feet in the air and said “strip me baby!” He said, “My pleasure!” and ripped my suit off and wished me good luck as he handed to me.
I thanked him and ran the 800 yards to the amazing cheering crowd to transition, waving to my friends and family on the way by.
The volunteers are so awesome. I will probably say this about 100 more times because really, they just are amazing.
As I got to transition the volunteers pointed me towards my bike bags and the women’s changing tent. The second I entered the tent a volunteer took my bag and sat me down, handing me some water.
I drank it, and my bike shoes seemingly magically appeared on my feet. I tightened them up and she handed me my helmet and the few other things in my bag. I thanked her profusely as I clipped on my race belt and ran out to find my bike…and it was handed to me by another volunteer as I approached the rack.
I freaking love you guys.
Feeling very much the rockstar, I ran out of transition and mounted my bike.