Ironman USA Lake Placid - TriathlonFull Ironman

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Lake Placid, New York
United States
76F / 24C
Total Time = 11h 50m 11s
Overall Rank = 614/2156
Age Group = M30-34
Age Group Rank = 120/279
Pre-race routine:

Had my alarm set for 4:15. Woke up at 3:57. Had cheerios, bagel, and a banana. Walked the 1/2 mile from our condo down to transition carrying all of my gear bags. Had another bagel, ran into some friends, checked over my bike, got bodymarked, walked a ways to drop off special needs bag, made my way to the swim start.
Event warmup:

The last two years of training.
  • 1h 19m 49s
  • 4224 yards
  • 01m 53s / 100 yards

The drama and energy of the swim start was like nothing I've ever seen or felt before. All these heads bobbing in the water, all the anticipation of a long day ahead, all the energy of the crowd being stirred up by Mike Riley. At exactly 7am they fired the cannon and over 2000 bodies started moving. I had decided that I would try to get inside the buoy line once we passed the dock at the start, since I had seen pictures from last year and there tended to be more open water in that area. It was absolute chaos - arms, legs, heads, bodies going over bodies. I never did get hit too hard - probably the worst was when I felt a toenail scratch my upper lip. Most people were being pretty smart and courteous and not kicking like crazy, but there a few who didn't seem to notice that they were surrounded by hundreds of people. Despite all the chaos, I was able to keep my head down and keep moving forward. I started to find some patches of open water (open in the sense of not having someone immediately on top of you), and I just kept moving forward. Things got pretty crazy again when we rounded the end buoys, but then it was relatively calm the rest of the way back in. Finished the first lap in about 38:40, walked out of the water and then back in the other side of the dock and waded out to start the second loop.

Surpisingly, there were still some pretty crowded points on the second loop. There were also some times when I had some open space and I almost felt like I was being lulled to sleep - I had my eyes closed and was stroking with a nice rhythm, and it was actually very peaceful for a few moments. This was usually interrupted by someone bumping me, but still, it was nice to have those moments. I was trying to just take it all in, stay relaxed, and enjoy every minute. As I approached the beach, I saw the clock and realized that I could go under 1:20, which was my ideal goal, so I pushed just a bit to get in under that time.

Even with all the craziness of this swim, I was so excited to have done it. A year and a half ago I could hardly swim a lap. Last August I struggled through the swim at Timberman Half, with a lot of back and breast stroke. This swim felt smooth and strong, and I felt like I was off to a great start on my ironman day.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing. Seriously, nothing. I could have put myself further outside, but I'm glad I did the work of staying in by the buoy line and experiencing this swim the way I did.
Transition 1
  • 08m 59s

Came out of the water, flopped down on my back, and the wetsuit strippers had my suit off in two seconds. Jumped up and started the run to T1, which at LP involves a several-block run. My friend Tanya had come out of the water right ahead of me, so we ran together to T1 trading some quick war stories - she had her goggles knocked off at the beginning of the second loop, and never found them. Found my T1 bag on the racks, went into the tent. I wore the same outfit all day, so I only needed to put on socks and shoes and load my pockets with food, salt pills, and spare tube/CO2. Ran out the back of the tent and out into the oval, where a volunteer was waiting at the end of my lane with my bike.
  • 6h 17m 12s
  • 112 miles
  • 17.82 mile/hr

As usual, I started passing a lot of people at the beginning of the ride (that's what I get for being a slow swimmer). The ride starts with 2-3 miles of pretty flat riding and then hits a 1.5 mile uphill climb. I was flying by people up this hill, and feeling great. Again, I was just trying to take it all in and enjoy all the moments, and there was a lot to take in and enjoy on this ride. On this big climb, I passed a guy with a prosthetic leg, and this helped put things in even more perspective.

Made it to the start of the Keene descent and then enjoyed the 6 mile downhill ride. I maxed out at 43 mph, riding on the bullhorns but rarely braking. There were people passing me that had to have been going well over 50. Once in Keene, there was about a 10 mile section of rollers and flats, so I started to focus on eating and drinking. Once in Jay we turned left to head up to Wilmington and faced another nasty long climb, then some rollers until the turn onto the out and back on Haselton Rd. Once we finished Haselton we turned back onto the main road and then onto 86 for the final 10 miles of misery going back to LP. Everyone talks about the five named hills at the end of the bike loop, but it was the five miles or so preceding those hills that seemed like the worst. I tried to focus on holding back some, and even though I was still passing a lot of people up the hills I did not feel like I was burning too much energy. When we finally hit papa bear (the last big hill before LP)there were people lining the road like in the Tour de France, banging drums, screaming our names, and making you feel like you were the most incredible rider around. It felt so awesome. All my training has been on very lonely and very quiet roads in Maine, so to have this kind of support was just phenomenal. You then ride through town, again surrounded by hundreds if not thousands of people screaming, cheering, and giving you the rock star treatment. Mike Riley called out my name, and people cheered even louder. Just incredible.

I finished the first loop in 3 hours - a little faster than I should have, but not bad. The second loop was much more difficult, with all those hills feeling twice as hard the second time around. My attitude started to drop at times in the second loop, but I kept reminding myself that this is what I trained for, this was the day I had been looking forward to for a year, and that every mile brought me that much closer to 140.6. I tried to take in the scenery, especially on the last 10 miles by Whiteface Mountain. The road goes through these beautiful river valleys that are breathtaking, and when I really stopped to think about where I was and what I was doing I would get kind of emotional. I kept reminding myself "this is ironman, you are doing it", and I just kept moving.

The second loop took 3:17, which I was fine with. I had an ideal goal of being done with the bike and out on the run by the 8 hour mark, and I was definitely ahead of that goal.

Other highlights of the bike:
-Random people in remote areas playing drums and bongos, cranking music for us to enjoy, cheering us up the big hills
-Passing 104 miles and realizing that I was now on my longest ride ever
-The volunteers and the other athletes who were all so encouraging
-Seeing the family as I finished the second loop
Transition 2
  • 04m 22s

You have to love IM races - they met me at the dismount line and took my bike away. I then got my bag and went into the change tent, where a volunteer sat down with me and started helping me pick out what I needed and re-bagged my bike stuff. They put some sunscreen on me and sent me on my way.
  • 3h 59m 51s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 09m 09s  min/mile

I crossed the timing mat to start the run at 7:50, feeling really psyched to be out on the run. My ideal goal was to go under 12 hours for the day and to run a sub-4 marathon, so I was feeling like I still had a shot. I took off down the first mile (which was all downhill), with my left heel/arch bothering me quite a bit. Fortunately this loosened up and didn't bother me the rest of the day. I hit the first mile in 7 minutes - whoops! Definitely too fast, but the downhill and the excitement of the crowd must have fired me up. Things settled down after that. My plan was to get through the first loop with a pretty constant effort and then try to survive the second loop.

I also had a plan to try to get through the first loop only walking long enough to drink something at every other aid station, and I made this plan work. The miles started ticking away, and I was averaging around 8:30-9:00's through the first loop. There were some pretty rough hills on this run course, but I kept my legs moving. I told myself that I would not walk anywhere but in the aid stations. There is one particularly rough hill around mile 11 (and 24) of this course, but it was lined with hundreds of people cheering and screaming my name (I loved having my name on my race number). There was this one group who kept seeing me pass everyone on these hills, and starting calling me "Robert, the king of the hills". This hill continued to climb up Main St., but there were more people there cheering, giving you high fives, calling your name, and so on that you couldn't help but keep your head up and your legs turning.

I finished the first loop around 1:53, and went flying down that hill again to start the second loop. I decided that I would hit every aid station on the second loop, and I started to develop a routine for the aid stations - water, then coke, then either a gu or banana or sometimes some fig newtons or pretzels. I also took a wet sponge at every station and carried it with me to wipe my face every few minutes - definitely helped to keep the sweat out of my eyes.

I started having some really emotional moments once I got into the second lap, as I began having conversations with myself - "yes Rob, you are on the last loop, and yes Rob, you are going to finish this thing, you are going to be an ironman." The miles just kept rolling up, and by the time I hit 20 I was pretty ecstatic. Yes, it was painfully hard, but I was still moving, still running. I was expecting to hit a wall at some point, but it never really happened. Everytime I thought about walking I would have this conversation in my head along the lines of "is this mile REALLY harder than the last one you just did? No? Then keep moving."

Got to see all the family multiple times during the run, as well as Todd, Sarah and the rest of Darryl's family and Tanya's parents. Very encouraging all around.

Saw Max and Dennis a few times out on the run. I was trying to remember numbers of other BTers but not having much luck. I saw Rob (cptnjacksparrow) volunteering at an aid station around mile 25 and he was very encouraging. Way to go Rob for being out there all day volunteering - he was at the transition zone EARLY in the day and was still out there helping out late in the day.

I had been looking out for my friend Darryl throughout the race - I knew he would be much faster than me on the swim, but we are pretty similar on the bike and run. I ended up catching up to him on the last big hill, then got a little ahead before he re-caught me with less than a mile to go. He asked me if we should finish together, and I said absolutely. We came flying down the little hill onto Main St., crossed over and through the big Ironman arch, then cruised around the olympic oval to that final stretch of glory. Crowd going wild, Mike Riley calling our names, fresh finish line tape, and over the line we went. Words can not describe this moment - you truly have to live it yourself to understand the depth of these emotions. It hit me like a ton of bricks - all the work, all the training, all the worrying, all the hard moments - it all just melted away and was replaced by this feeling that I'm still having today and hopefully will keep for a long time. I just keep thinking about what all 2000+ people did out there yesterday, and am amazed at the work of all those people from Zymetsev to the guy who came across the line at 16:59.

I have become an ironman, and as Mike Riley said today at the finisher's banquet - "no one can ever take that away."
Post race
Warm down:

My finish line catcher was a young girl - good thing I didn't collapse cause we would have both gone down. They gave me my finisher's schwag, then Darryl and I had some pizza then met our families. Came back later to see Max and Tanya finish.

Event comments:

The volunteers and organizers were amazing. They catered to every need we could have, and did it with a smile. So many awesome people carried us through this day.

So many awesome people carried me to this day as well. My wife Jen sacrificed a lot of time and energy to watch our daughters while I trained. She also listened to me babble on about ironman for the last 12 months. She was there for me all day, and it felt so good to hear her tell me how proud she was of me (both before and after I finished). My girls (ages 3 and 5)were awesome - they had been running around all week saying "you're going to be an ironman." My in-laws had t-shirts made for the girls that said "my daddy is an ironman." I about lost it when I saw them wearing those after I finished. Thanks also to all the BTers who supported and inspired me as I prepared for ironman.

All in all, one of the best days of my life. I met every ideal goal I had in mind: sub 1:20 swim, sub 8:00 swim/bike/transitions, sub-4 marathon, and a sub-12 IM. I still can't believe it.

Profile Album

Last updated: 2006-01-12 12:00 AM
01:19:49 | 4224 yards | 01m 53s / 100yards
Age Group: 223/279
Overall: 1532/2156
Performance: Good
Suit: Orca Speedsuit (full)
Course: Two laps of a long, narrow rectangle.
Start type: Deep Water Plus:
Water temp: 76F / 24C Current: Low
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Good
Waves: Navigation: Good
Rounding: Good
Time: 08:59
Performance: Good
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
06:17:12 | 112 miles | 17.82 mile/hr
Age Group: 151/279
Overall: 885/2156
Performance: Good
Wind: Some
Course: It's in the Adirondack Mountains, so what do you think? Hills and then some more hills...
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence:
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 04:22
Overall: Good
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
03:59:51 | 26.2 miles | 09m 09s  min/mile
Age Group: 67/279
Overall: 344/2156
Performance: Good
Course: Two loops, majority is pretty flat but with some solid hills at times.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 5
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5