My first Triathlon
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Ironman USA Lake Placid - TriathlonFull Ironman
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Lake Placid, New York
Ironman North America
70F / 21C
= 14h 52m 49s
Age Group Rank
Before I say anything, I want to start by saying what I said to my friend the morning of the raceâ€¦.â€Finishing this race will be the second hardest thing Iâ€™ve ever had to do. Getting sober was the first.â€ I stand by that. I should also note that the last six months have been some of the most difficult of my life. Between my sick grandfather, crazy work schedule, our contractor stealing a years worth of salary from us and my boyfriends mother being sickâ€¦Iâ€™m not quite sure how I managed. But I think the training helped me vent my stress and gave me something else to focus on.
I was to leave for Placid on Wednesday morning. I get a call at 11:30pm Tuesday that my grandfather has passed away. I was forbidden to come home for the funeral because my pappy would have wanted me to race, it meant too much to everyone. I had my chance to say my goodbye two weeks prior when he was alive and still with it. Even though I knew continuing with the race was best, it didnâ€™t help alleviate the guilt I felt or the overwhelming desire I had to be with my family in their time of need, especially my mother. But, I decided to follow their wishes and off I went to Placid on Wednesday morning.
It was nice to be in town a day before most people as I was able to get settled and relaxed before the melee of type Aâ€™s hit town. We had rented a house in anticipation of my family being there. With the passing of Pappy, the house was considerably less full then it was to be. The house was beautiful though and about two blocks from Main Street. So perfect location and having a kitchen to cook my own meals in was clutch.
I hosted a pasta dinner Thursday for some fellow Philly Tri Club members and friends from Philly area. It was nice to be around such good people and to take my mind off of my family and try to focus on the race at hand. My head was just not in it. I was able to also get in a short run on Thursday and I felt like dog poo. I remember wondering how on earth I was going to run a marathon feeling as crappy as I did.
Friday I woke up considerably better then I had felt in awhile. I went for a swim and rode the run course. Later in the day, my friends arrived and I was so very happy to see them and get the good vibes going. Friday night I went to the athleteâ€™s dinner with fellow tri friends and stayed for the meeting. The amount of rain falling at that time scared the beejesus out of me. It was very inspiring though to see all the athletes and start to get more into race mode.
Saturday was mostly spent swimming, going over my bags three and four and fives times. I had a back-up for my back-up stuff. If I wasnâ€™t in the mood for my promax bar, I had p-nut butter pretzels. And if I didnâ€™t want those, I had orange candy slices. I also carried a mini â€œfirst aidâ€ kit with me in every bag. This kit contained pepto, Imodium, electrolytes and advil. My only goal other then finishing was to not shit my pants. I checked and rechecked my bike and took any unnecessary weight off it. Kinda stupid considering I had weighed in a good 5 lbs heavier then when I started training. GOFIGURE! I dropped bags and bike and then spent the afternoon resting, sleeping, watching the TDF and trying not to get too pissy with anyone. I ended up in bed at 9pm and watched tv until 10:15 when I fell asleep.
So my alarm was to go off at 4:15am. I woke up on my own accord around 3:45am and was ready to go. I immediately downed an Ensure
) and was able to get down most of my 2 packets oatmeal with 1 banana. This is the ONLY breakfast I can choke down when Iâ€™m nervous that will not jack up my tummy. I started to sip on my gatorade, grabbed my bags, my HRM and stuff for my bike. My crew, The A-team, was ready to roll. We walked to transition and I was feeling good. I didnâ€™t feel nervous and just wanted to get it all going. We hit body marking first, I found a nice looking fella who looked like he was giving the good vibes out. He said my numbers looked like fast numbersâ€¦to which I replied â€œAs long as they are finishing numbers, thatâ€™s all I need.â€ I pumped up the tires, put water in my aero bottle and my frozen carbo/GE bottle into the cage and off I went to the start.
I got lucky and got in line for the port-o-pots well before any line formed. Ten minutes later, I was feeling light and feelin good and then the rain started. O SHIT, NOT THIS YEAR TOO! I put on the wetsuit to stay warm, said good luck to some fellow team membersâ€¦.and was ready. Off I went to walk over the timing mat. For a split second, I wanted to go home. The thought of the long hours ahead got to me for a split secondâ€¦but that was it.
My warm up for this was nil. I stood on the beach, just kind of taking it all in. I would look for my friends, then I would look for fellow teammates, then I would listen to Mike Reily, then I would spit in my goggles, then I would adjust my wetsuit. I kept busy for the next 30 minutes. After the pros went off, I decided it was time to find myself some space. I knew I didnâ€™t want a thing to do with that front line, but I didnâ€™t want to stand on the beach either. So I seeded myself about 30â€™ behind the start line, smack in the center. I floated, listened to the anthem and waited for U2, Beautiful Day. I had it in my head that since they played that last year, it would be a starting song this year. I looked at the clock and it said 6:59:50. I thought â€œI wonder if they will start on time?â€ No sooner did that thought enter my head did the cannon go off. Holy crap, I didnâ€™t even have a chance to get nervous! I didnâ€™t have time to try not to puke my breakfast up! How did that happen? Who cares, I was OFF!!!
1h 15m 6s
01m 47s / 100 yards
So the swimâ€¦boy was I scared going into it. I am a strong swimmer, so I knew I could handle it. But you hear such horror stories, you just expect the worst. I found that even though I thought I would have SOME space at the start, I was immediately surrounded by the mass. I surprised myself and that I did not get nervous, did not freak out, I just went with it. I never found myself more then 20â€™ from the line and just went with the flow. I was not over aggressive nor did I let anyone aggressive get close to me. I conceded a lot of position at first
(and through most the swim
) for me, it was easier to just stop, float a second and get the open space once the aggressors got through. Every time someone would swim up on me, I let them and just moved to the side. I didnâ€™t try too hard either at this point. I mean, itâ€™s just tough to say how you will feel after 2.4 in the water. So I was swimming when I thought â€œwhere is the turn?â€ Next thing I know, Iâ€™m being pushed to my left. I look up and see the turn buoy. Holy crap, Iâ€™m Â¼ way through the swim!!! The turn sucked, but that was expected. I get to the Â½ way and see the clock; 34 minutes and I wasnâ€™t even working!!!!!! I casually get back in water and decide at this point I LOVE LOVE LOVE the washing machine of legs and fists and bodies. I wanted to be in the mix and so I stuck to the line the entire second loop. Once again, I just kept my cool, wasnâ€™t too aggressive and went with the flow. I was able to bi-lateral breathe almost the entire time too which surprised me. My back started to tighten a little on my final way into the exit. I was a little worried about this since I still had a long day ahead of me. I exited the water and saw 1:15 on the clock. Ok, a little slower then I wanted, but was the time I said I would be happy if I got. And considering that I didnâ€™t work at all and really truly enjoyed the hell out of that swim, I have to be ok with that time. I mean, my god was it a blast and easy to boot! I would do an Ironman mass swim every day if I could.
I found a strong looking guy, pointed at him
(I learned this from someone on BT; point to the guy you want and go for it
). I laid down and whoomp, off the suit came. Cool, totally cool
What would you do differently?:
Well, thereâ€™s lots I would do differently. The main thing is I would be about 10x more aggressive. I thought for sure the bumping and kicking would scare me. Just the opposite happened and I thrived on it. So next time I would seed myself better and not concede to others like I did. Also, I would actually swim harder. When I say I barely worked, I mean I barely worked. I have a pretty decent underwater pull that I had worked very hard on this year and I didnâ€™t not pull hard once, not once. I know I can go at least 1:05 next time and I will.
I ran lightly to T-1. I didnâ€™t want my HR to spike and wanted to see my friends while running down. Smiled for my buddies, grabbed my bags and into the tent. I took my time and got dried off, got clothes on. There wasnâ€™t anyone to help me so I was on my own. It was such a happy mess of people in there, I loved the energy. I was so frantic though with my thoughts and so excited from the swim, I just kept catching myself standing there daydreaming. Finally got all packed up, lubed the heck outta my nether regions and got sunscreen from a volunteer. Off I went.
What would you do differently?:
Next time I would HTFU. I mean, it looks like I took a nap in there!!!
7h 31m 45s
Well, boy was I excited for the bike. I was feeling so good from the swim that my stomach was actually growling! That never happens to me. So I decided to take advantage of it. This would later come back to haunt me. I spun my way outta town. I had no problems letting people go by me. My goal was to stay comfortable, spin the up hills, take it conservative on the downhills and really work the flats and rolling sections. I felt really great and positive until I hot the out and back. All of a sudden I was hit with the worst stomach cramps. I had eaten too much too fast and now I was paying for it. I stopped to try to go potty and nothing. Ughhhhh. I also stopped just at the end of the out n back to mix my carbo pro into the GE I picked up at the aid station. I would not do this again for two reasons 1
) It was wasting a colossal amount of time and 2
) my bottle started to taste funny. From here on out I would only grab bottles and toss them when done. Ok, so the crampsâ€¦boy did they suck. BUT, I dealt with this before and knew I would eventually start to feel good again. My goal was just to spin spin spin and try to eat and drink what I could. I didnâ€™t want this to hurt me later.
I came through town only 10â€™ slower then I had wanted. This made me happy considering how shitty I felt. I spun my way out of town and was still feeling ill. It shows on my splits too that I wasnâ€™t feeling hot since I was majorly slow in that second downhill section. Totally bummed about that one too. I saw some carnage here and there from wrecks. Since the people were being tended too by medical personal, I tried not too look. I didnâ€™t want to get in that negative frame of mind. I tried encouraging folks where I could but mostly I kept quite since I was hurting. Somewhere around mile 70, I started feeling ok again. YIPPEEE. And since I had been mostly spinning, my legs felt very fresh. I started working it a bit harder but was hit with that dang headwinds coming up the mountain. Nothing like having to up uphill with a headwind. What a complete and utter demoralizer. I tried to keep my spirits up though, which was tough at times. I was bummed there wasnâ€™t more people around me. I like racing with lots of people and felt very alone on the bike. I started to feel like a loser for being so slow. But what can you do when your stomach says eff you?
I can report some fun stuff though on the bike. After my two pits stops, I decided no more stopping for me! I was going to hold it until I hit the transition area. Welp, that was not to be. I had about 16 miles to go and boy did I have to go. I made sure it was a number 1â€¦it was. I lifted by bottle outta the cageâ€¦lifted by butt off the seat and weeeeeeeâ€¦pee city baby. That was my first ever pee on the bike. It felt liberating and boy was I proud of myself. So proud I did it again ïŠ
I hit the Bears and felt amazing going up the hills. My back had tightened slightly by this point but nothing major. I got to town and can honestly say my legs didnâ€™t hurt one bit. I credit that to being sick and taking it easy. But given the choice, I would have preferred to have gone faster and hurt a little more. The bike was just too easy.
What would you do differently?:
I would have not eaten so much so fast!!! I know better then that. I was just so hungry and thought I should take advantage of the situation. Not good. BUT, I wonder had I not got sick and been forced to take it easy, how would my run have went? I guess thatâ€™s something to experiment with my next IM. Other then that, I wouldnâ€™t do much differently. I executed my plan well and adapted my plan to the situation when I needed to.
Ok, so T2 was way better then T1. I had a great helper this time. She did everything for me and gave me such great positive feedback. I had a complete change of clothes, including compression socks which took forever to get on! Other wise, I felt good and was ready to run!
What would you do differently?:
Maybe HTFU again. But otherwise ok T2
5h 41m 23s
13m 02s min/mile
So I started out on the run feeling amazing. I started at a 9:30 pace. Ut oh, I knew I couldnâ€™t hold that! So I reined it in quite a bit. I hit the first aid stop and started on what would be my routine. Sip of GE, one or two orange slices and a cup of iceâ€¦along with two sponges. I ate while walking through the stations and carried the cup of ice while I ran. It would melt a little and I would get ice cold water which I LOVE when I run. I get very ice obsessedâ€¦itâ€™s weird. So I made a deal with myself. I would run/shuffle between aid stations and then walk them. I would also walk all hills. I was able to do this for quite awhile. The entire time I was very happy and never hit a wall or got into a negative place. It was also great seeing my friends right outside of town. My best friend made a sign that said â€œEat lighting and Crap Thunderâ€ It was awesome! I wasnâ€™t exactly doing that, but I was constantly moving forward which was fine by me.
I got to the half way mark and woohooo, still felt pretty good. I stopped at my special needs and looked into the buffet I had waiting for me in it. I wanted nothing from it except my jar of Vaseline. It was a very PG13 kind of moment as I dipped my hand into the jar and right down my pants! I was averaging about 11:30 when running and kept up my walking routine when needed. I did start to get bummed out when the course thinned out. When I first went out, there were lots of people. By the second loop, there just werenâ€™t a lot of folks. Like I said before, I like to race in crowds and the lack of people was getting me down. Again I felt like a bit of a loser and wished I could be faster. I hit the out and back on River Road and started to get antsy. I wanted it to be over!!! I saw some friends working the Christmas aid station and they really cheered me on. I also was carrying letters from friends and family for inspiration. I had them all write a small blurb to help me on when I felt I couldnâ€™t go on anymore. I can say I never got to that place. But I read them anyways and cried from all the love they sent me.
By the time I hit the horse grounds, it was pretty much dark. I saw my friend pass in the other direction and hoped he would make the midnight cut off. He would later be the VERY last guy to come in at exactly 17:00, pretty amazing. But anyways, I was doing more walking at this point. Iâ€™m not sure why either. I wanted to be done and I wasnâ€™t in any pain. I think I would just lose focus and forget to run. Once I would snap back into reality and realize how slow I was going, up and run again I would. I am surprised at how quiet I was during all of this. Normally I talk to other athletes, encourage them and what not. I was even looking forward to finding a â€œbuddyâ€ to run with and share in our fun and pain. But for whatever reason, I just wasnâ€™t feeling it. I made my way up to Mirror Lake and knew for the first time I was going to be an Ironman. All the crowds by the Brew Pub made me cry. I started to get very emotional. I saw my Tri Club by the turn around on Mirror Lake and my Tri Club president
(who happens to be a KQ and SO FAST
) told me he was proud of me. That meant the world to me coming from him. I picked up my pace and decided not to stop till I crossed the line. I chugged passed the small crowd outside the oval and slowed a bit to give the guy ahead of me his space. Made sure there was ample space behind me and into the oval I went.
I rounded that last turn and my god did every emotion in my body go on full alert. Seeing the lights and hearing the crowds and remembering in an instant my life and how I got there and everything just made me so emotional. Iâ€™m getting chills right now as I write this just thinking about it. I raised my hands and heard Mike Reilly say â€œAmanda Strouse from Philadelphiaâ€¦.you are an IRONMAN!â€ I did itâ€¦my god I did it.
What would you do differently?:
Not much. I had hoped I could pull around a 13â€™ mile avg and I just about did. I could have pushed this harder for sure considering how good I felt. But since my only goal was to finish, I felt great. Also, at one point, I remember thinkingâ€¦â€slow down so you can squeeze every ounce of pleasure from this race as possibleâ€ What a masochist I amâ€¦but I didnâ€™t want it to end!
Post race I was immediately grabbed on to by two catchers. I was crying so hard they thought something was wrong with me. Through my sobbing and tears, I was able to get out that they were happy tears and I was fine.
It took awhile for me to find my friends since they were waiting on one side of the oval and I on the other. By the time I found them, I was surly for them missing my need for emotional support. I got over that quick and one again, the flood gates opened.
I wasnâ€™t hungry and only wanted a coke. Drank that down and off I went for a nice shower and sofa city.
What limited your ability to perform faster:
Inexperience limited me. I for sure could have pushed harder, but my main goal was to finish and I did.
This has been the single hardest and funnest accomplishment of my life. I have moments where I feel like it was nothing, like anyone can do it. And then I remember all the early mornings I sacrificed and the long rides and lonely runs and hours spent in the pool. My house became a mess and I rarely saw my friends. As part of me is happy itâ€™s over and I can do normal things again, a bigger part of me already misses it. It went by too fast. I will never again have my first Ironman.
This has been a goal of mine since I was 8 years old. I lost sight of it through the many years of addiction. I thought I was meant for a life ending in tragedy. Now, I feel like my life has purpose and meaning. I feel like I can really accomplish anything I put my mind too. I wish I could impart that on everyone I know, especially those who struggle. Life takes work, goals and dreams take work but boy are they worth it. That 30 seconds it took me to round the bend and run down the chute are going to stay with me for a lifetime. Itâ€™s incredible.
Iâ€™m also so proud of myself for how far I have come. Just over 3 years ago I was really down. I honestly thought the world would be better without me in it. Now, today I am an Ironman. I remember my first time on a bike. I felt like such a screwball. I didnâ€™t think I would ever get comfortable. Hell, even up to this year I didnâ€™t think I could do 112 miles, let alone do it and follow it with a run! But I did and it was the most fun I have ever had. I enjoyed every single piece of the day. Not once did I give into the thought of quitting, and I had that thought like once! Not once did the pain take over. I was happy and positive the entire day, even when I was sick.
I would also like to comment on the amount of support I got. Itâ€™s amazing how many people wished me well or said they were praying for me or thinking about me. It humbles me to no end to sit and think about the love I got. Itâ€™s incredible and quite frankly makes me cry. I know I deserve it but man, itâ€™s just soo much.
Through all the training and through the race, I have learned so much about myself. I have learned to persevere in the face of pain and discomfort. I have learned that obstacles can be overcome, even if just very slowly. I have learned to take it all in for what it is and work with itâ€¦and to be grateful for every single moment.
Last updated: 2009-05-04 12:00 AM
01:15:06 | 4224 yards | 01m 47s / 100yards
70F / 21C
Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
07:31:45 | 112 miles | 14.88 mile/hr
2 loops of up hills, downhills and flats...fun stuff!
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Shoe and helmet removal
05:41:23 | 26.2 miles | 13m 02s min/mile
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Lots of volunteers?
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5]
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