Ironman Lake Placid - TriathlonFull Ironman

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Lake Placid, New York
United States
World Triathlon Corporation
Total Time = 13h 30m 32s
Overall Rank = 1090/3055
Age Group = 40-44
Age Group Rank = 200/440
Pre-race routine:

Race Week:
We left for Lake Placid on Wednesday evening and arriving about 2:30 Thursday afternoon. I started setting up camp and quickly started to feel off, I had a headache and as the day went on I started to feel nauseous. I had scheduled a training ride with Tony, then laid down for a quick nap. When I woke up my day was done. The headache was worse and was getting sick to my stomach. I canceled the ride and then just sat in the chair trying to improve my condition, but after about an hour or 2 I was headed to the bathroom getting sick and calling it a day. On Friday morning I still felt sick to my stomach and was extremely exhausted so I stayed in bed until after noon. I struggled down a bagel and took several shots of pepto before finally starting to recover a bit. At this point I had to get moving to make registration so I had no option but to move. As the day went on I slowly started to feel better and better and by evening it was as if nothing happened. I went for a short ride down 86 to loosen up the legs, but at this point the taper was shot.
On Saturday we headed back into town so I could get a quick swim in Mirror Lake and grab some lunch.

Friday: Breakfast: Bagel and pepto, Lunch: Pizza in town. Dinner: Beef and Noodles with Sweet Potato for dinner
Saturday: Raisen bran Crunch, Coffee, Lunch: Smoked Salmon with bacon and lettuce on Rye bread. Dinner: Beef and Noodles, this wasn't until after 7:30 so a little later than I had hoped.

Race Day:
I rolled out of bed around 4:00am and started the process of preparing for this long day, breakfast consisted of bowl of Raisen bran crunch and coffee. I also added in a banana and about 1/2 a Powerade once we made it into lake placid! I set up my nutrition on the bike and put a few things in the gear bags and headed down towards the swim. At this point my nerves were going nuts, butterflies and bouncing! The amazing part was out of all these people I was able to run into Tony and walk to special needs with him. It was great to finally meet him and such an off chance to see him in so many people.
  • 1h 26m 52s
  • 4224 yards
  • 02m 04s / 100 yards

For the start it was a rolling start with about 20 or so people going in at a time, and maybe 20s between each group. There were pace signs to help self seed and I planted myself at the beginning of the 1:30-1:45. I thought about going a little further up but figured it wasn't worth it and stayed where I was. Everything moved along fairly quickly and before I knew it I was at the starting gate and into the water I went.

I took my time and found a spot out to the far left that gave me open water and hopefully keep me out of the washing machine. This worked well for about the 1st 500 yards or so, but I quickly found my self drifting into all the other swimmers. The entire lake was covered in fog and you could barely see the next buoy so all I could site off of was the other swimmers and I think this is what pulled me into the group. Instead of getting stressed out though I just went with the flow and actually attempted to draft off other swimmers. Surprisingly the bumping and hitting wasn't too terrible, I about lost my goggles on one strike but a quick adjustment and I was back on track. Once going again I found that I had made it all the way to the inside of the course and was actually swimming on top of the notorious underwater cable. With the amount of swimmers wanting to be in the same location this was really nerve racking, especially when I made it to the 1st turn. Holy cow was there a lot of people in a small area, arms flailing going in every which direction. It was truly the definition of chaos! After making it to the 2nd turn it cleared up again and I was able to get back to swimming, the bumping continued but nothing too extreme and I was able to make solid progress throughout. At the end of the 1st lap I had to get out of the water and run on the beach for a short time before starting the 2nd lap. The 2nd lap was pretty much non-eventful. For the most part I found myself in open water and just kept swimming. The fog had started to lift so the sighting was much easier which made life easier without the group to follow.

1st lap: 43:05
2nd lap: 43:45
Total time: 1:26
Transition 1
  • 11m

Coming out of the water I pulled the wet suit down to my waste and then hit the strippers, man I love these people. While sitting there I heard the announcer call out my name that I had finished the swim, that was pretty awesome as my excitement and emotions were running pretty high at this point. From here I started the 1/2 mile jog to the transition area. On the run down I was able to find Sara and gave her a hug and kiss and headed on. I changed for the bike and headed out to enjoy the "hills" of the Adirondacks!
What would you do differently?:

Uh, maybe pack a towel. Who doesn't bring a towel to transition!
  • 6h 20m 26s
  • 112 miles
  • 17.66 mile/hr

Bike: My target was NP of 180

In my opinion this course can be broken down into 5 sections, with each section giving you ample opportunities to blow up.

Section 1: Leaving Lake Placid
Section 2: Keene Decent
Section 3: Keene to Jay
Section 4: climb to Wilmington
Section 5: Wilmington to Lake Placid

Section 1;
Early on I coasted more than anything, it was somewhat downhill and with the amount of other riders it was just easier to not attempt to get into any kind of effort. Once out of town I settled in and started to hit my targeted effort. I had to concentrate on keeping the effort down though as I wanted to charge into the ride and get going. Over the next 5 miles there were several climbs that required me to down shift to keep everything in check and even though I was at my target watts I was still passing a lot of riders. This concerned me as I thought maybe I was going too hard, I trusted my training though and kept going. On the 2nd lap I held steady again and maintained an even effort.

Lap 1: 15.2mph at NP of 177
Lap 2: 15.6mph at NP of 181

Section 2;
Around mile 7 is when the fun started, this is where I hit the Keene decent. Since I had not been able to ride it beforehand I wasn't sure what to expect, due to this I was a bit cautious on the 1st lap and went a little slower. I still managed some pretty impressive speeds, topping out at 45mph and dropping almost 1200ft in elevation. All this in about 4.5 miles. On the 2nd lap I was bit more aggressive as the amount of other riders was down dramatically and my confidence was a bit higher.

Lap 1: 34.8mph, top speed of 45.0
Lap 2: 35mph with a top speed of 46.8

Section 3;
Once to the bottom the course flattened out but still had a overall decent to it which allowed for some decent speeds. The downside was all of the other riders and the amount of traffic around me. This wasn't a huge deal except when some people preferred to ride 3 wide and clog up the road causing me to have to slow down and even come up on the horns a few times. This was roughly a 18 mile stretch and went to the turn around on 9N. I made a mental note to try and push the effort a bit more on lap 2 through this section. I continued to be surprised and worried about the number of riders I was passing. It just seemed that everyone around me was going super slow. My concern was stil that maybe I was going too hard and risking blowing up. There were 2 differences to the 2nd lap in this area, 1st no riders. I went for a long section with no one around me even looking back to see if I was lost. Unfortunately This eliminated the unintended drafting affect that you have in such a large group. 2nd the wind had picked up and I could feel it slowing me down, so the idea to push the effort probably kept me from losing time.

Lap 1: 20.7 mph at NP of 170
Lap 2: 20.2 mph at NP of 173

Section 4;
Next came the turn on to 86 and the fun began, from this point what I would do for the next 20 miles would determine the outcome of the entire race. From Jay to Lake Placid it is basically a constant climb, there are a few downhills but not enough to even give a bit of relief. I went from averaging 20mph, down to what seemed to be a crawl. The 1st climb was as soon as we turned onto 86 and at 1.5 miles long it was a doozy. I averaged 176 watts all the way up and kept everything in check. Even when the crazies went by, mashing gears and standing all the way up I just stayed patient. Once to the top there was the small decent that offered a Bit of relief, and gave way to just an amazing view of whiteface. There was 1 more quick climb, if a mile can be considered quick, then through wilmington and on to the longest section of the course. Lap 2 was a bit slower through here as I was starting to feel a bit more fatigue in the legs and was worried about digging a hole. I had to concentrate on not standing or pushing to hard, which at one point I probably came dangerously close too as my watch was going nuts alerting me I was over my wattage setting.

Lap 1: 12.3mph at NP of 188
Lap 2: 11.6mph at NP of 171

Section 5;
Now for the really tough part of the course. The real struggle here is that for the most part it does not seem that there is a hill, the watts go up, the speed goes down, but visually it doesn't appear to be much. I kept with my motto of being in the moment and holding patient even though I was going so slow. I was actually happy to get to the 3 bears, at least those you could see the top and had something to shoot for. Really though the Bears were nothing in grade compared to some of the climbs I trained on in Ohio and felt I was well prepared for them. The long steady climb....that's a different story! On the 2nd lap I was able to almost duplicate the effort which was great. It would have been even better if it wasn't for all the other riders around me that wanted to surge to the top and then coast down the roller. For the last 10 miles I had to deal with these people passing me and then getting in my way and I had to pass them back. Pretty much a pain in the bum, someone should teach them smooth is fast and fast is smooth

Lap 1: 13.7 mph at NP of 172
Lap 2: 13.8 mph at NP of 171

Overall I don't think I could have done any better than I did on the bike. My effort and energy level throughout the ride was steady and without much surging. The last 11 miles into lake placid being so close from lap 1 to lap 2 is proof of this! I was below my overall target of 180 but extremely happy with the 170. I think the time gained by hitting 180 would have been minimal and I will take the consistency.

Lap 1: 3:09, 17.7mph, NP 170
Lap 2: 3:09, 17.5mph, NP 171
Total: 6:20, 17.6mph, NP 170

Nutrition: 2 bottles of infinit mix at 1600 calories, 1 1/2 power bars at 350 calories and maybe half of a Gatorade for another 100 calories to put me just a bit over 2000 calories on the bike. For water I kept my aero bottle full grabbing a new bottle at almost every aid station and using what ever was left over as cooling by dumping it over my head.

Training Peaks file if your curious:

Transition 2
  • 10m 16s

Coming in to the bike dismount I was hearing my name and found Sara and kids on the side cheering me on. I loved that they were here today and would be at just the right spot when I needed the extra motivation.
Nothing major here, gathered my gear and changed fairly quick. Or at least I thought I did. Took the time to put on clean socks and grease up to try and prevent some hot spots. One concern I had was Throughout the bike I had the feeling of needing to use the bathroom but was fleeting as I headed into transition. I did still need to urinate though so I empty my bladder and headed out. Probably a good sign that I had taken in enough fluids on the bike, I would soon regret not taking the sit down time though.
  • 5h 22m
  • 26.2 miles
  • 12m 17s  min/mile

Coming out of transition the course quickly went downhill. My pace was quick but to the point I could feel the stress on my quads so forced myself to slow down. At the 1st aid station the bubble in my stomach I had felt on the bike grew and I went to stop at a port-o-potty only to find them all full, so I kept going. By the 2nd aid station the stop was not optional, my belly was going into a full revolt and if I didn't stop there was a good chance I would be "that" guy. Coming out I felt 100x better and was able to get back on track, but only for a short time. I wound up having to stop 2 more times to keep from staining my shorts. On the last stop I had to walk 1/2 mile to the next aid station as running was going to cause a bigger issue. Finally at this point what ever was bothering my digestive system seemed to be out and for the rest of the race I had no more issues. Which was a good thing because seeing the inside of 3 different port-o-potties was too much for me.

From here I went into disaster control, I figured that due to my "issue" I had lost a lot of fluid and could be in danger of dehydration. So at each aid station I started doubling up on water and Gatorade. My plan was to have one each at each station, this was doubled to prevent any issues. My other counter measure turned into not such a good idea. My plan for the run was to try and stay as close to 120 on heart rate as possible. With the lost time though I figured holding a bit higher heart rate wouldn't be a big deal so I stayed around the 130 mark, I had time to make up! This I would pay for at mile 18.

Lap 1 going out: 12:05 pace at 122 HR

After the turn around the course was for the most part up hill, with a few significant climbs going back into town. I had already planned on walking these so I kept to that plan along with walking at each aid station. Once in town the atmosphere became more party like with all the supporters and music blaring and that helped keep the pace moving along. Over the last 8 miles of the 1st lap I had kept a fairly steady effort and was pretty much in cruise control. I hit special needs and grabbed my extra gels and carried on.

Lap 1 coming in: 11:04 pace at 127 HR

Lap 1 Total: 2:33, 124 HR at 11:31 pace

At the beginning of lap 2 I was still feeling strong and thought about pushing the pace a little faster but my legs decided there wasn't another speed available. I used the downhill to keep my pace going and felt strong until the left hand turn on the side road. At this point was where I probably made my crucial mistake. I stopped respecting the course and didn't take into account that even though the course appeared to be flat I was running downhill. I was still pushing my effort when I should have been holding back saving energy for the run back to town. Around the half way point my legs were starting to show signs of failure and was having quite a bit of discomfort in my hips. I still somehow managed to stay strong to the turn around only losing a bit of pace.

Lap 2 going out: 11:32 pace at 122 HR

I hit the turn around and was excited because from this point on I would not have to run this part of the road again. My legs though decided they wanted to take as much time as possible and enjoy the road. My hips started to ache and not wanting to move, I also realized I was at mile 18. I had never ran more than 16 miles......ever! Let the fun begin. Up to this point I had managed to keep the pace under 11:30 and even had a mile at 10:30. As stated though my legs were faltering and the pace started to drop off pretty quickly. I even found myself walking longer after each aid station and had to remind myself that I had to be running if I wanted to finish this Ironman. Around mile 21ish my legs were just about done, my hips had given up on hurting, but the quads took over and then everything moved into my shins as they just started to ache. This was probably the worst part as there was nothing I could do to relieve my pain, with my quads and hips I could change my stride length and get a bit of relief but my shins would have none of it. At mile 23 I found myself walking between aid stations for short times and needing more motivation to keep moving.

Once into town I could hear the crowds and the music and this gave me a bit of a pickup. The final push though came as I reached the top of the last large hill. I had walked up as planned and as I crested the top I heard someone say you are going to make it to the finish. Just a short 2 mile "walk" to the finish line. Walk? Walk? I am not going to walk to the finish line of my 1st Ironman so I went into a slog, that somehow turned into what could be mistaken for a run. I reached the last turn to the out and back section and found Sara and the kids. I ran straight for them crossing through runners going the other way to get high fives and hugs before I went on for the final 1.5 miles. This last section was a blur, the crowd was going nuts with everyone cheering and I just tried to take it all in.

I came down the last hill and entered the oval in my best impersonation of a runner I could manage. I hit the last turn and could finally see the finish line and knew I was going to make it. I started waving my arms to get the crowd louder and then heard what I had been waiting for all day...Mike Reilly say Matt Ambos you are an Ironman!

I crossed the line and just became overwhelmed with emotions. I had worked so hard to get to this point and used so much energy that I was just completely exhausted. The volunteers swamped me and all I could mutter was...Can I stop now!

Lap 2 coming in: 13:28 at 111 HR
Lap 2 total: 2:51, 12:36 pace at 115 HR
Total run: 5:22, 12:05 pace at 120 HR

Nutrition: I had 1 gel about every 3 miles or so, also started off with the 1 Gatorade and water at each aid station. then doubled this around mile 6. At about mile 16 I started taking 1 coke and 1 Gatorade while washing it down with water

Training Peaks file if your Curious

What would you do differently?:

Not get sick the week of my 1st Ironman! Not sure if this is what caused my visits to the port-o-potties but I'm sure it didn't help. Outside of this though, I handled it well for the 1st time running further than 16 miles :).
Post race
Warm down:

Stumbled through finish line and rested a bit, found the pizza line and gathered myself together before the best part of the day. Finding the family and giving everyone big hugs...

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Was there a faster?? My decision to skip a port-o-potty, if you think you need to use it, use it!!! The 1/2 mile walk really added some time...

Event comments:

My 1st Ironman is in the books..My thoughts? The training was not as difficult as I expected it to be. Don't get me wrong I had the moments of being tired, but not to the point everyone stressed over. I wonder if this is due to keeping the family first and having a few times when their schedule prevented a few workouts. There were not many of these, but it did always seem to fall during a peak period. Overall it did not affect the final outcome so that it is good. The race itself was fantastic, I managed myself throughout the day and stuck with my motto of being in the moment. All I could control was what was happening at the single moment and the past was done and all I could do was prepare for the next step. I made a point of enjoying the day and not stressing through which probably helped in the overall results.
Now I need to figure out my next!!

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Last updated: 2015-11-11 12:00 AM
01:26:52 | 4224 yards | 02m 04s / 100yards
Age Group: 280/440
Overall: 1771/3055
Start type: Wade Plus: Time Trial
Water temp: 73F / 23C Current:
200M Perf. Remainder:
Breathing: Drafting:
Waves: Navigation:
Time: 11:00
Cap removal: Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
06:20:26 | 112 miles | 17.66 mile/hr
Age Group: 182/440
Overall: 919/3055
Performance: Good
Road:   Cadence:
Turns: Cornering:
Gear changes: Hills:
Race pace: Drinks:
Time: 10:16
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
05:22:00 | 26.2 miles | 12m 17s  min/mile
Age Group: 200/440
Overall: 1090/3055
Performance: Average
Keeping cool Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race?
Course challenge Just right
Events on-time?
Lots of volunteers?
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5]