My first Triathlon
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Ironman USA Lake Placid - TriathlonFull Ironman
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Lake Placid, New York
Ironman North America
72F / 22C
= 16h 49m 18s
Age Group Rank
As I had everything well organized the night before, I was pretty relaxed the morning of the race. I was really happy to have had a nice big BM shortly after waking. Took away the stress of having to wait in long porta-john lines and possibly missing the race start. Had some coffee, a cliff bar, gatorade, showered, changed, etc. - all without waking the kids.
Had a ten minute walk to the transition area and reminisced about all that had transpired over the course of the last year. The day after last year's race in Lake Placid, my brother, Kevin, and I signed up for this race. He and I had only just completed our first Olympic distance race the month before, and we had not even attempted a Half-Iron distance. Our wives
) thought we were crazy.
Fast forward to race morning, and here I was walking to transition alone. My brother was unable to participate due to a number of medical issues and couldn't make the trip north due to work conflicts. I was missing him. At about 5:30 a.m., I left him a voice message - inquiring among other things whether he had in fact shaved his legs
(as I did the week before
) and whether he had any plans to ride the Lake Placid bike route on his trainer w/ Coach Troy as I was riding the actual course.
Got to the transition area at 5:45 a.m., inflated my bike tires, loaded gatorade and water onto my bike, double checked my transition bags, got body marked, slipped into my wetsuit, dropped off my special needs bags, and headed to the swim start. Surprisingly, I didn't have any pre-race performance anxiety. However, I was concerned about the weather. It started sprinkling just prior to the swim start and the skies were covered by dark storm clouds. We were told that the swim would be cancelled if there was thunder and lightning. I prayed/hoped that I could get through my swim before a storm hit. It would have seriously sucked if the swim portion of the race was cancelled. Even if I had completed the bike and run, I wouldn't have considered myself an Ironman.
As an aside
(albeit an important one
), my training for this Ironman, which began January 1 of this year, has been intentionally unorthodox. I have so many interests and responsibilities outside of triathlon, that I didn't want my Ironman training to adversely impact other aspects of my life. Plus, I really didn't want to train that hard. With this in mind, I experimented with how little training I could get away with and still complete one of the most challenging Ironman courses - Lake Placid - without injury. Since January 1, I only spent 12 hours running; 15 hours swimming; and 87 hours on the bike. This roughly equated to biking once a week
(Saturday or Sunday
), and swimming and running every other week. That's it.
Not much of a warm up. After I dropped off my glasses at the glasses table, a woman sang the national anthem. I then waded towards the back of the swimmers and quietely waited for my adventure to officially begin.
1h 43m 36s
02m 27s / 100 yards
As the race started, a mass of over 2300 swimmers churned the otherwise quiet waters of the lake. While I had positioned myself towards the back of the pack, I was still found myself completely surrounded by other swimmers. One swimmer, accidentally hit me in the face and knocked my goggles askew. My goggles quickly filled with water and I tried to tread water to fix my goggles. However, the swimmers behind me ran into me. I started to panic a little bit, and ended up inhaling a bit of water and started chocking and gagging. Not good. I tried to calm myself down and just kept swimming. After a few minutes, the crowd lessened and I was able to fix my goggles and get into a reasonable breathing rythm. After that, it was all good.
One of the great things about swimming Lake Placid were the cables at the bottom of the lake that hold the buoys in place. I never really had to lift my head to sight. I just kept my head down and followed the cable.
I'm a slow swimmer. But I was happy to find that there were other slow swimmers participating in this race. In fact, there were people drafting behind me! What a concept! It was also nice not to be swimming all by my lonesome at the back for the first time. I was in a small peloton of slow swimmers, and I really enjoyed the company.
Throughout the swim, I could feel the rain on my arms at every stroke and I just kept hoping/praying that the race director wouldn't cancel the swim. My anxiety grew greater as I came closer to the finish. Towards the end of the second loop, I could hear the music and the announcer announcing the names of the people coming out of the water. This just gave me renewed energy and I started sprinting to the finish. This was the beginning of a day of firsts. I had never even swam 2 miles before, and here I was just moments away from completing a 2.4 mile swim. I was so excited that I finished while hooting, hollering, and pumping my arms. I beat my goal time of 1:45 by 2 minutes. A major victory considering the bad start.
I took off my swim cap and goggles, staggered over to retrieve my eye glasses, and then the wet suit strippers did their deed. Then off to T-1 and the bike.
What would you do differently?:
Nothing. The experience exceeded all my expectations.
It was pouring rain as I made my way to the transition tent. The tent was huge mud pit from the rain and all the swimmers that came before me. I found a relatively dry area to sit down and methodically put on all my bike gear and double checked that I had all my nutrition and other necessities. I visited the porta-john outside of the tent, and then made my way towards my bike rack. On the way, I was surprised to see my family cheering me on and ringing their cowbells. My wife, Kim, and children, Madelyn and Daniel, were already soaked - but smiling. After a few kisses, I was off.
What would you do differently?:
Nothing. Things went as well as could be expected.
8h 19m 3s
I started the bike with some anxiety. I had never cycled in the mountains, nor had I ever trained in wet weather. And, I never got around to completing that all important 100 mile training ride.
On the long and steep descent down to Keene, I was riding my back brakes, and praying I wouldn't wipe out. I had a cycling hat under my bike helmet that kept the rain from the inside of my glasses, but it did nothing for the outside. There were times that I didn't want to risk taking my hands off my handlebars to wipe the rain and fog from my glasses. Going down a mountain road with impaired vision and limited bike handling skills does not engender a feeling of comfort.
I started breathing normally again once the descent was over at Keene, and felt great for most of the first loop - including the brutal climb from Jay to Wilmington. On the out and back portion of Haselton Road, I was lapped by the pros. I just kept thinking that the human body was a thing of beauty - capable of seemingly super-human feats - like lapping me.
The 12 mile ascent up White Face mountain into Lake Placid took much longer than I had anticipated, and when I finished the first loop at 1 p.m.
(after four hours
), I had some real concerns about making the bike cut off of 5:30 p.m. I had heard talk the day before that "normal" cyclists generally add 20 to 30 minutes to their time on the second loop. The problem was that I wasn't a "normal" cyclist. I was a bad, slow cyclist. How the hell was I going to finish the second loop in 4 1/2 hours when my legs were already fatigued? If I didn't make the bike cut off, I'd be embarrassed, my wife would be pissed, the kids would be disappointed, and all the naysayers would come to the fore about my lack of proper training.
I said to myself, no f**king way that's going to happen. Conditioning or no conditioning, I was going for it. I flipped up my visor and let the rain pour down my face, and I tackled the second loop. As I needed every last second, I flew down the descent to Keene - nearly blind, pedaling and screaming all the way down. The gods were apparently with me as I didn't die.
After that, it was just a gut check to maintain a less than mediocre pace for the balance of the loop. The last 12 miles up White Face was worse than the first loop. My legs were burning, I couldn't go any faster, and time was running out. I was stressed, but I had to smile knowing my wife, Kim, was also freaking out. I ended up finishing the second loop with about 10 minutes to spare. When I saw Kim and the kids towards the end of the loop, I could also tell that they were just as relieved as I was. My bike training was just enough to get me through! Near perfect efficiency.
As an aside, I hydrated well on the bike - probably too much. I went through about a bottle of gatorade every half hour. That's roughly 16 bottles of gatorade in 8 hours and 20 minutes of riding. Because of the rain, I didn't know how much I was sweating, but I sure needed to pee a lot. I made the decision early in the ride that I couldn't afford to stop at a porta-john. I figured I'd lose about 4 minutes for every pit stop, and I knew that I needed every last minute to hit the cut offs. So I learned to pee whilst riding! Sounds easy, but it isn't. The first time, it took me a few miles before I could "relax" enough to let it go. After a few times, I was a veteran and could go on command. I was thankful it was raining, as it helped wash me down and camouflaged the stream running down my leg! I have to say, though, it was cold on that bike, and having something warm your legs and feet, even for a moment, was nice...
What would you do differently?:
Nothing. It was perfect.
As I made my way to the transition tent, I started shivering and feeling a little nauseous. I was cold, exhausted, and soaked, and couldn't believe I still had a marathon ahead of me. I asked myself, "Why the hell am I doing this?!" As I changed into my running clothes and shoes, I noticed that my feet were as wet, white, and pruny as I had ever seen them. However, I was more concerned about getting hypothermia than hurting my feet. I knew I'd have serious problems if I didn't get warm soon. Luckily, one of the volunteers gave me a heat reflective blanket and tore a hole in the middle, and I wore it like a poncho. After that, I headed out of the tent and into the rain, again.
What would you do differently?:
6h 11m 49s
14m 11s min/mile
Shortly after starting the run, I got into a nice rythm. I managed to maintain a consistent 12 minute mile pace for the first 13.1 miles of the run. Not fast, but I was happy that I was able to run/jog with little discomfort. After 13.1 miles, I was in unfamiliar territory again. My longest run in the last 6 months was 13.1 miles at a half-iron on June 1st. The balance of my runs were either 5 or 10 miles.
Somewhere around mile 15, my right arm started to tingle and go numb, and I felt a stabbing pain in my right shoulder blade. Shortly thereafter, I couldn't bend my right arm. Not good. A herniated disc in my neck was acting up. Fortunately, I had a couple Tylenol pills with me, and I washed them down with some chicken broth at the next water/aid station. Within a mile the pain and numbness subsided, and I had use of my right arm again.
I continued running/jogging, although a bit slower, until I hit the 20 mile marker. It was around 10 p.m., and I knew at that point that even if I just walked the rest of the way, I'd be an Ironman! So I started celebrating right then and there, by myself, in the dark, on a lonely road somewhere outside of Lake Placid. I left a voice mail for Kim, letting her now that I'd be in sometime around 11:30 pm. Then I called my brother w/ a "Wassup?!" I think he was surprised to get a call while I was in the middle of "competing" in an Ironman. We had a nice conversation, and then I went back to walking for another 4 miles - taking mental snapshots and reminiscing about the event that I had not yet even finished.
As I got closer to town, I started jogging again, but my body had already gotten used to walking, and jogging was now painful. My right foot was blistered and I was limping pretty badly for the balance of the run course. Of course, as I entered the Olympic oval and the finish, all fatigue left me and my posture and stride dramatically improved. I saw my daughter, Madelyn, waiting for me near the finish, and I took her hand and we ran through the finish chute and across the finish line together. I heard, "Ron Williams, you are an Ironman!" It was awesome. Finished with plenty of time to spare at 11:49:18.
What would you do differently?:
Nothing. It was a great experience.
Took a post race picture w/ my daughter. It took me nearly 20 minutes to find Kim and Daniel. When we finally did meet after the race, Kim was exhausted and in tears. And not tears of joy. Apparently, Daniel
(three years old
) had been crying on and off for the last couple of hours, and Madelyn
) was not much better. It was a hard day for families as well. Being out in the cold and rain for the better part of the day and evening w/ two small kids was no small challenge.
After wrapping myself in a blanket and eating a hoagie, I grabbed my bike and gear, and we walked the half mile to our hotel as we exchanged stories of yesterday's race.
What limited your ability to perform faster:
My training philosophy.
It was a great race - even with the adverse weather conditions. The volunteers were so supportive and the spectators were fantastic. The town and surrounding areas are beautiful. It's not hard to understand why people come back to do this race over and over again.
Last updated: 2008-02-01 12:00 AM
01:43:36 | 4224 yards | 02m 27s / 100yards
Avg. HR 153
Two loops (counterclockwise) in Mirror Lake.
0F / 0C
Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
08:19:03 | 112 miles | 13.47 mile/hr
First Loop: 151 HR Second Loop: 143 HR
Two loop course on beautiful mountain roads. Spectacular scenery. Scary descents and brutal climbs.
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Shoe and helmet removal
06:11:49 | 26.2 miles | 14m 11s min/mile
Avg HR 135
Two loop course on rolling hills.
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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