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Ironman USA Lake Placid - TriathlonFull Ironman

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Lake Placid, New York
United States
Ironman North America
75F / 24C
Total Time = 13h 48m 49s
Overall Rank = 1614/2902
Age Group = 35-39
Age Group Rank = 238/359
Pre-race routine:

I got up at about 4:35 and headed over to Bobby's room with my wetsuit and assorted bags in hand. I had a cup of coffee there (thanks Maureen) took a few pictures with Bobby and started to walk to the olympic oval for the race. On our way there, we ran into Barb (one of the owners of our hotel) and she offered us a ride, which we gladly accepted. At this point, I promised myself that if ever go to Lake Placid again, I will only stay at the Maple Leaf Inn.

We got to the oval and it was truly amazing. I was in total awe of what I was looking at and I couldn't believe that I made it here. 3 weeks ago, sitting on the side of the road after my bike accident, I honestly didn't think that I would actually get here. My shoulder was a little stiff and I felt some pain, but I knew nothing was going to keep me out of the water.

I got a few things set up on my bike, got body marked and ate my customary two power bars. I just hung around for aout an hour, taking it all in and put on my wetsuit at about 6 am. I knew that it was going to be a long day and I just really wanted to take my time getting down to Mirror Lake.

Once we were dressed and ready, Bobby and I started the walk down to the lake. It was only fitting that we made this walk together as we have been side by side throughout this whole journey... Bobby was there for all the highs of the great training days and prs leading up to the race and he was there with me on the side of the road on July 2nd. We got in the water and this was it!!! We were going to be IronMen by the time the sun set on that day.

There was so much going through my mind as I waited for the race to start. I thought about all of the hours of training, prep and planning that went into this. I thought a lot about Kev and the fact that he was here, that he is even alive, to watch this race and I thought, of course, about my shoulder and the fact that I simply didn't really know how long it would hold out for. I thought a lot about my family and the support that they have given me and about the amazing friends I have that I know were following me online and were in my corner.

Kev has told me so many times that getting to the starting line of an IM is a hell of a lot harder than getting to the finish. I knew he was right and I found a lot of solace in the idea that I was here, at the start, and I knew I'd be at the finish... Eventually.

I looked around for Adam (kev's nephew) but didn't find him. My plan was to start far to the right with him and swim behind him, knowing his bigger frame would help protect me from getting bumped around during the 2500 person mass start. When I didn't see him, I went a little further right and decided to wait a little while after the gun went off so the field would thin out a little.
Event warmup:

It's an Iron Man.. Do you really need to warm up?
  • 1h 29m 36s
  • 4224 yards
  • 02m 07s / 100 yards

I simply stuck to my plan which was to stay as far away from trouble as possible. I'd swim freestyle for fifteen strokes then do two strokes of breast stroke to get my bearings and then repeat an repeat, and repeat. Once I got to the first turn buoy I made a sharp left and started heading there. I was about 10 yards or so to the right of it, but the angle was good.

On the first return, I noticed the cable connecting the buoys out of the corner of my eye on the left. I swam towards the cable and literally swam right on top of it for the entire way back in on the first loop. I found some people to draft off of and my shoulder really loosened up a lot at this point. I stuck with the plan and stayed in the rhythm.

At the end of the first loop, I was really confident... finally. I jumped back in the water, swung way wide of the dock and got back into a nice relaxed rhythm again. Some people were getting a little crazy with some violent kicking and stuff so I slowed down swam out of the crowd and found a good line in the direction of the first turn buoy, made it there, made a sharp right to the second buoy and followed the cable again. I was very lucky to have found the cable on the return for both of my loops. I swam, literally, right over it for the entire final 1,000 yards. Since I didn't have to sight at all, because of the cable, I just swam freestyle the whole way in.

I got out of the water in a mass of people. The volunteers stripped my wetsuit and someone said, "at least we can breathe air for the rest of the day." That kind of summed it up for me. It was now time to relax. The pressure and worry was gone. The thing that scared me the most, the shoulder not allowing me to finish, was over now. I was sure I was going to be an Iron Man

I was overcome with a tremendous sense of relief and found myself getting choked up for what would be the first of many times today. All in all, the swim was perfectly uneventful!
What would you do differently?:

Nothing. Given the fact that my shoulder wasn't 100%, I had a near perfect swim. The truth is, I was very cautious. I knew it was going to be a long day and I know I could do that swim in 1:20 or so, but I think the thing that stuck out the most in my mind was that I had to race the race I should race... not the one I could race.
Transition 1
  • 10m 58s

I ran up the carpeted chute towards the oval with my wetsuit in hand and my goggles and cap tucked into the sleeve. Then I saw them... Cindy, Madison, Cassidy and my parents were standing along the route to the oval yelling my name. I stopped briefly to give them all hugs and kisses. I think we all sensed the relief at this point. We didn't say anything about it, but the rest of the day would be a lot less daunting for me.

I got to the tent, shouted out my race number and was directed to the rack that held my bags, I grabbed them and headed into the changing tent. I took my time in there. The tent was pandemonium, to say the least. I found a chair and changed into all of my cycling stuff. I took an extra minute to make sue I wasn't forgetting anything and put on some sun block and headed out to get my bike.
What would you do differently?:

  • 6h 59m 26s
  • 112 miles
  • 16.02 mile/hr

As I headed out of the transition area, I spotted Kev. I looked at him and he told me to get going. He sort of held his hand up as I went by and something kind of clicked. This is not a race! It's an event... a celebration of life! Like the author of "Born to Run" points out in that amazing book, "we don't run to beat each other, we run to be with each other." There were so many things Kev had told me in the past that started to resonate in my head, one of which being, "you have to know your limitations and manage your expectations." That would become my mantra for the remainder of the day.

I started out on the bike course for what would be my first ride over 30 miles since the bike accident. The truth is, I had no idea whatsoever what I was up against. I have never seen, ridden or even drove the course in my life. I didn't have the luxury of knowing what was coming up around each turn, but in some ways, I think that was a good thing for me. Ignorance is bliss.

The beginning of the course was relatively easy. As I hit the Keene descent, I started to get very nervous... ok, scared. I have heard the stories of people hitting 50 mph down these hills and around these turns. I decided I was going to get to the bottom still on my bike and in one piece. I sat up, to catch some of the air resistance and tapped my breaks... and then I started holding my breaks to the point where I could smell my break pads burning!

Once I got into Keene, I was overcome with another sense of relief, as the second most intimidating portion of the Iron Man was behind me. The middle 20 miles or so of the course is relatively easy, not to mention unbelievably beautiful. I took in the scenery and stuck to my nutrition/fueling plan, one powerbar every 45 minutes and I forced myself to finish one - two bottles of gatorade between aid stations which were roughly 12 miles apart.

At the end of the first loop, I really understood why this course is considered to be among the toughest IM bike courses. It's one hill after another. At times I felt like I was constantly climbing. I stuck to my plan of staying in an easy gear and sitting the whole way up each and every hill to conserve energy. I rode back into town amidst tons of screaming people... it was awesome, except for one things, I had to do another loop... and some interesting/great things happened at precise moments of loop two.

Mile 62... Hit the Keene descent and found, right there, on the side of the road... my cycling confidence. This time I attacked the descent hitting 45 mph at one point. I squeeze the frame with my thighs and made sure I had no one around me as I picked whatever line was best for me.

Mile 70... My front derailleur stopped working, which meant my 20 speed turned into a 10 speed and it was the ten spinning gears I was left with and a horrible clicking noise as I pedaled.

Mile 75... flagged down a mechanic riding by on his scooter and he fixed the transmission in about 7 minutes. Well worth the time as I was able to lower my rpms a bit and relax during the rest of the easy portion of the bike.

Mile 80... ate the Take 5 candy bar I put in my bike special needs bag and it tasted better than anything I had eaten all day.

Mile 90... back to the climbs for the last 22 miles of the ride. At this point I thought a 6:30 bike split was still a possibility and maybe a sub 13 hour Iron Man was in the cards for me. I met a guy named Woody who has done Lake Placid 13 times and talked numbers with him. He said we were looking at more like a 7:00 ride... and he pretty much nailed it. By the time I was at mile 95, I was in survival mode. I couldn't wait to get off of the bike and I still had an hour and change left to go.

As I hit mile 110 and headed back into town I was completely sick of riding my bike. My handlebars were a sticky mess from energy drink splashing all over them. I was soaked from pouring water over my head (which felt great) and I felt like I had powerbars floating in energy drink sloshing around in my stomach. But, once again, the crowd and the volunteers get you through it.
What would you do differently?:

I guess I wouldn't have gone into the ride blind, but in the long run, it all worked out. I stayed within myself and if I had bombed the bike course because of my lack of scouting that would have been bad.
Transition 2
  • 07m 27s

Took my time again and actually looked forward to running. I had to stop and use the little IronMan's room... which I thought was a good sign. As the day went on, it got a little hotter out than I expected and dehydration was a fear. I was happy to find that all systems seamed to be working normally.

I did another complete change of clothes and socks. Applied more sunblock and off I went on the marathon.
What would you do differently?:

  • 5h 01m 22s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 11m 30s  min/mile

To say a 5 hour marathon was perfect and great sounds a little weird, but I simply cannot imagine a scenario that would have been any better. I managed my expectations at the start of the run and knew a sub 14 hour Iron Man was certainly doable as long as I didn't explode on the run and lose all control.

I quickly came up with a plan to walk all of the aid stations (they are at every mile) and every difficult hill. I decided that 11 minute miles would be perfect at this point. The marathon simply became 26 1 mile runs between aid stations... this was a lot easier of a pill to swallow. Doing an Iron Man is a unique challenge to say the least. I learned that you cannot look at it as a single event, instead you need to find way to break it up in your mind so you can digest it all. My nutrition plan changed too as I suddenly found myself craving regular food instead of gels and bars.

At every aid station (yes all 26 of them... even at mile 25.X) I had two cups of water, a cup of sports drink, a cup of pretzels, a half a banana, an orange slice and I would squeeze two ice soaked sponges over my head. Once they started offering the chicken broth at mile 13 (I think) I would take a cup of that too. Kev told me a while ago, "when they offer you chicken broth, TAKE THE CHICKEN BROTH." My nutrition "plan" ended up being perfect. I kept reassessing myself and looking for good signs... like the salty sweat stains on my shirt and shorts, the salt caked in my elbows and behind my knees and the second pee break of the day at mile 23 (it was clear... ok, too much information).

The long out and back on river road started to get a little hot and there was very little shade. I met a guy named John from Albany who was also doing his first IM and he was following the same walking/running plan as me. We talked to each other for the better part of 6 miles and it really helped the time pass. It also helped me make sure I wasn't expending too much energy as I was able to hold a conversation without having to gasp for air between sentence fragments. He slowed at mile 10 and we parted ways. (I ran into him again later in the weekend and we exchanged congratulations and best wishes).

The worst part of the run was mile 13.1 when you run back down into town from Mirror Lake Dr. and you can see and hear the stadium. It was difficult not to turn right into the "finish" chute and instead turn left to the "lap two" chute.

I saw Bobby when I was at about mile 15 or so and he was on his way back into LP, which was about mile 21 or 22 for him. He looked strong and he had a great race. We had a brief talk and wished each other luck as we parted ways. It's amazing that we both became Iron Men on the same day.

I ran out to the turn around on River Rd and crossed the mat for the inspiration mile... I looked up at the big digital board out there on that lonely road and saw, "1319 MIke Hall - Madison and Cassidy" in lights. Earlier I typed that in as my inspiration which they truly are and, yet again, I had to fight back the tears. I started running with another guy who was doing his 20th IronMan and he did some quick math with me and figured out that I could walk the rest of the marathon and still finish before the midnight deadline. That was an amazing thing... for maybe the first time all day, it sunk in that I was actually going to finish this and I was going to do so comfortably.

As I ran by the oval for the final time, I saw Kev and his brother Gary. I stopped and hugged them both. I thanked Kev for everything he has done for me and everything he has taught me about this sport. I know he knows how much it meant to me for him to be there. I wish he was able to race, but for a guy who, for all intensive purposes died from a heart attack 4 weeks earlier, was brought back and looks as strong as ever... there just aren't any words.

We headed back into town for the short out and back and I honestly couldn't believe how long it felt this time around. I ran by the guy who was handing out the glow in the dark bands and heard him say he was going to start handing them out in 5 minutes. One of the things I told myself and Bobby and I have talked about was that I didn't want to have to wear one of those... I wanted to finish before darkness flooded the course... needless to say, I was thrilled to not have to pick one up.

I was running next to a woman for the last 5 miles or so. We were chatting a bit and and with about a mile to go, I looked over at her and she was sobbing. I asked if she was ok, and she said that she just couldn't believe we were going to finish this thing... again, I had to fight back the tears. I walked the last aid station with about a mile left to go.

This time, I was able to run into the finishers chute, and like Charlie said in his race report a year ago.. I was a rock star!! The crowd was amazing. Screaming for all of us heading into the oval. The volunteers directed me to the correct path and I don't even know if my feet hit the ground for the entire final 200 yards of the run. It was sort of like an out-of-body experience. I was witnessing my finish in the third person and from what I was watching, it was amazing.

I came around the final turn and saw Cindy, Madison, Cassidy and my parents standing along the fence next to the finish line. They were right there next to me as they have been through all of this. I stopped and ran over to them about 25 yards before the finish line I gave them all hugs and kisses. I think I was crying, but I can't even remember. I held my arms up and ran through the line to the end, trying as hard as I could to savor every minute of this.

A volunteer came up to me and hugged me as she wrapped the foil blanket around me, and gave me the medal. She walked me through the whole finishing process of picking up my finisher shirt, turning in my chip and getting some food and water. They took a few pictures of me in front of the finisher backdrop and I could see my family over the photographer's shoulder. I also saw Kev there with them. I quickly got out of the line for food and made a bee line for all of them. We took a bunch of pictures. I gave them all hugs and kisses and thanked them all.
What would you do differently?:

Absolutely nothing.
Post race
Event comments:

There really is nothing more to say about the entire experience. I think of it as I would any great thing or great event. You simply cannot describe it to people who have never been to, or raced in an IronMan. The entire event is simply amazing.

I don't know if it has even sunk in yet that I finished an Iron Man. The entire thing is just so difficult to put into words. The truth is this isn't about one event or one year leading up to an event. This has been a 6 year journey for me. 6 years ago, I was 60 pounds heavier than I am now and I would have never even thought I could do something like this. When I first started training, I couldn't swim 100 yards or run 1.5 miles without stopping. And now here I am... a finisher of the most difficult one-day endurance event in the world.

As much as I am trying to remind myself to cherish this, I am thinking about what's next. I don't think another IronMan is in the near future... maybe 3-5 years from now, I'll do another. The hardest part really is the training... the grind... the getting up at 3:30am and the long weekend training days. Trying to juggle 10-13 hours a week of training while holding a full-time job and trying to be the best husband I can be and the best father I can be to a 5 year old and a 2 year old, is a bit much. That's the hard part. But the reward is amazing!! Nobody will ever be able to take this from me. I don't think I can ever look at any challenge in my life again and say, "that's too hard".


Last updated: 2010-07-26 12:00 AM
01:29:36 | 4224 yards | 02m 07s / 100yards
Age Group: 277/359
Overall: 2026/2902
Performance: Good
Suit: B
Course: two out and backs of 1.2 miles each in beautiful Mirror Lake.
Start type: Wade Plus: Shot
Water temp: 77F / 25C Current: Low
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Good
Waves: Good Navigation: Good
Rounding: Average
Time: 10:58
Performance: Good
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed: Good
06:59:26 | 112 miles | 16.02 mile/hr
Age Group: 264/359
Overall: 1805/2902
Performance: Good
Wind: Little with gusts
Course: Two 56 mile loops with a wicked descent into Keene and some very, very tough climbs. It's a tough bike course.
Road: Smooth  Cadence:
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 07:27
Overall: Good
Riding w/ feet on shoes Bad
Jumping off bike Bad
Running with bike Good
Racking bike Good
Shoe and helmet removal Good
05:01:22 | 26.2 miles | 11m 30s  min/mile
Age Group: 238/359
Overall: 1614/2902
Performance: Good
Course: Really pretty course. Basically two out and backs from the town of LP. One 5 miles and the other 1.5 miles.
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

2011-07-26 8:56 PM

Miller Place, Long Island
Subject: Ironman USA Lake Placid

2011-07-27 5:24 AM
in reply to: #3616190

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Middle River, Maryland
Bronze member
Subject: RE: Ironman USA Lake Placid

Great race and race report.  I'm in Bobby's mentor group so we all heard about your bike accident.  Even though you couldn't ride much the last three weeks (and I'm guessing not a whole lot of swimming either), you were able to trust those 10-13 hour weeks you put in and it looks like they really came through.

Congratulations Ironman!!!!

2011-07-27 8:43 AM
in reply to: #3616352

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, Minnesota
Subject: RE: Ironman USA Lake Placid
Congratulations - and a wonderful report! 
2011-07-27 8:54 AM
in reply to: #3616190

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Subject: RE: Ironman USA Lake Placid
Wonderful report!!! Big congrats. Smile
2011-07-27 12:18 PM
in reply to: #3616190

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Subject: RE: Ironman USA Lake Placid
2011-07-27 3:32 PM
in reply to: #3616190

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Subject: RE: Ironman USA Lake Placid
Michael, Michael, Michael.  You succinctly captured the essence of Ironman in this Race Report.  Your 'Born to Run' reference sums it up.  These events bring us together.  They are a celebration of life.  Life at it's toughest and finest.  We don't bond as people watching tv together or just standing or sitting around one another.  It's when we train together; grow together, suffer together, push through and accomplish something great -- like finishing an Ironman... together.  That's when we truly bond and souls intertwine. 

Congratulations Mike.  You absolutely deserved the great day you got, we all got.  

Oh, and we did warm up.  We swam to the other shore, remember?   


2011-07-28 4:53 PM
in reply to: #3616190

Subject: ...
This user's post has been ignored.
2011-07-28 7:14 PM
in reply to: #3616190

Guilford, CT
Subject: RE: Ironman USA Lake Placid
Great job Ironman! 
2011-07-29 7:32 AM
in reply to: #3616190

Long Island, NY
Subject: RE: Ironman USA Lake Placid
There was no doubt you'd see the finish line.  You put in the work to get there and have learned from your racing experience to know how to manage the race itself.

The awesome part is that you got to really enjoy yourself and put the day in the proper perspective for what you were looking for from it.  It certainly sounds like you found that out there on the road.  To steal your line from the end : "I don't think I can ever look at any challenge in my life again and say, "that's too hard".  That's what I was able to take from the race last year and it's served me well.

Congrats Mike, savor the feeling of accomplishment.  You earned it.

2011-07-29 7:48 AM
in reply to: #3616190

Subject: RE: Ironman USA Lake Placid

I loved your race report. "little Ironman's room"? That made me laugh out loud. I'm pretty sure you were the "Scott" passing me on the hills on the bike! Also loved your philosophy on the race being an event and celebration of life... awesome perspective. Great work and congratulations on a great race and finish!


2011-07-29 8:42 AM
in reply to: #3616190

Williamston, Michigan
Subject: RE: Ironman USA Lake Placid
COngratulations on an amazing race and journey. Fantastic race report

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