I have to admit, it’s been a week and my head is still spinning from last Sunday! During training my coach kept telling me that race day would fly by, and I thought she was crazy. My long bike rides during training took F.O.R.E.V.E.R. to finish and that was only one part of what I was going to go through during the Ironman. Now, after the race, I can’t believe it – the entire day feels like it took 10 minutes! (When I was actually awake and moving around for 21 hours total start to finish on Sunday!) So crazy. I guess it’s kind of like getting married, you set the date a year in advance, you think about the day, you plan for the day, you prepare for the day, you put in blood, sweat, and tears for the day (maybe more applicable to triathlon than getting married – hopefully), and then the day arrives and it’s over before you know it!
I will predict that this race recap will be a long one, so you are going to have to be really interested to actually read this whole thing. However, if you stick around I promise you’ll get the entire story of how my day unfolded, even the part of my day that I would rather forget (spoiler alert, my race didn’t really end when I crossed the finish line – not the ending I wanted, but oh well…).
I’m going to break my race up into Pre-race, Swim Loop 1, Swim Loop 2, Transition 1, Bike Loop 1, Bike Loop 2, Transition 2, Run Loop 1, Run Loop 2, and finally what I am calling 140.7, my extra stop after the finish line of Ironman Lake Placid. This way if you’re more interested in one part if my recap, OR you find yourself getting bored and need a break you can easily come back and pick up reading later.
As an alternative to reading my lengthly recap, if you get sick of reading this, you can feel free to just skip to the end to scroll through the photos. 🙂
Woke up at 3:15 am, showered and took an Imodium since I was still feeling off. (I was a bit sick the couple of days leading up to the race, despite avoiding restaurants and trying to eat very plainly per my coach’s food plan… ). Then I went downstairs in our amazing rental house and started to eat breakfast around 3:45. Bagel with peanut butter and honey and a scrambled egg. One cup of coffee and a glass of water. At 4:15 am I finished getting ready and grabbed my gear bags. At 4:30 am, I left the house with my parents, found a parking space about 2 blocks away from the start line. Even though the house was close, we wanted to get a spot for the car so that my sister and parents had a quick place to stash things, and also since Baby J is only 7 months old, we thought it would be good to have a “home base” very close to the race start/transition/finish.
Now up in the village, between 4:30-5:30 am I was body marked, then entered transition to place a final items in bike and run bags (like my heart rate monitor and nutrition, didn’t want that out in the rain all night!), then I placed nutrition and fluids on my bike, and dropped off my special needs bags with the few items inside that I had just in case I was having a horrendous day and needed a break at the halfway point of the bike or run. After I dropped off everything, I went back down onto Mirror Lake Drive and headed to the T2 tent to hang out until the race start. It was neat because so many people were walking by, I got to wish some other athletes good luck and got a last minute hug from Emily (aka Zippchick), my Betty Teammate from Syracuse! It also gave me a few minutes to just sit-down, collect myself and just chat a bit with Ed, Kristen and few of the other T2 athletes. At 6:00 am I took a salt tab and Gu – first race nutrition in for the day. Then a bit of the pre-race anxiousness started to set in, and I started the eternal struggle of putting on my wetsuit.
Once my wetsuit was on, I said my last goodbye’s to my parents and some T2 teammates, then headed to the swim start. On my way to the water bumped into Amy from Team Betty and chatted for a few before wading into Mirror Lake for a quick warm up. A few quick pick-ups in the water, and was feeling good. I had a couple really great swims Thursday and Friday in Mirror Lake so I was excited to see how things were going to unfold for the race. Around 6:20 I found my way to the 1:00-1:10 estimated swim time mark in the swim start and found my coach. Perfect!
It’s a bit funny to me, but my coach was planning to draft off me in the swim – with everything that has gone on with my biking and running in the past year, my swimming has been my bright spot and strength this year (a much different story than when I started more distance swimming in 2013!). It’s the one aspect that dramatically improved rather than slowed down during this process.
6:30 am – National anthem and the butterflies started rolling in my stomach. The swim start started to move forward, the first group was in the water. A few seconds pause and then before I knew it, I was in the water! This was really starting and it came quick! Couldn’t believe how fast the race started once we started walking. There wasn’t much time to think, just had to jump in and go which was good. (I hate how you get in the water then have to wait for a minute before you start in other tri races. I really liked the rolling start!)
Swim Loop #1
The swim was congested for a buoy or two. Then it thinned out. I found the infamous underwater yellow cable around buoy number 5 or 6 but didn’t stay there long. Way too many people bumping into me – plus the cable was difficult to see – the water was dark, not sure if this was due to it being cloudy or from the fire the night before! At this point I worked to find my way back to about 5 to 6 feet off to the left of the line again. Close enough to sight off others following the line but not in the mess. In the swim, I drafted off someone every chance that I was able to. My coach had given us some lessons in swim drafting during our training weekend in Lake Placid so I kept working to find someone swimming about my pace (another nice thing about the rolling start based on anticipated swim times) and would swim right behind their feet or just off their hip. Unfortunately it seemed that I would only find someone for a few hundred yards before I’d be alone again, but I always found another person to draft pretty quickly.
The first turn buoy of the swim was chaos. I had people swimming over me, so I can easily say this was my least favorite part of the swim for sure. Once I cleared the second turn buoy, I worked to get out of the crowd. I decided I was again best to swim a little wide of the course and avoid the swimmers that were super aggressive on the inside. At this point, I realized my goggles were fogging up!! I was so bummed because they were brand new! I couldn’t believe it. Somehow, I ended up on the cable again for a bit by mistake, it was less crowded but not great. At least I could sight something since my goggles were becoming less and less useful. Swam along the cable for 2 or 3 buoys, then I was getting close to the end of loop 1 where the final turn buoy is and the exit onto the beach. It was getting really crowded again so I tried to find some space and just get through to get in for the second loop.
Swim Loop #2
Out of the water, I looked at my watch and it read 33 minutes! Was so pumped. I wasn’t pushing my pace at all during this first loop and I had no idea what my watch would read when I came out of the water since there had been a few points where I had to stop and swim around people. My first loop certainly didn’t feel that fast, and was surprised since I thought the swim felt slow/congested so that was perfect. From talking with the other Betty’s on Friday I knew I had to be careful not to run too fast on the beach before entering the water for loop 2. If you’re not careful, you can really spike your HR which will impact your swim. At this point, I also wiped the inside of my goggles while on the beach since I could barely see anything for half of the first loop.
Before I knew it, I was back in the water and back to work. Started a bit off the cable, my strategy was again to stay off the line to avoid the crowd. Immediately my goggles were fogging again (ugh), decided to just suck it up and ignore it the best I could. The trip back out to the turn was fairly uneventful until I approached the turn. Just kept swimming, swimming, swimming. As I neared the turn I had two guys (green caps) one on either side of me and neither of them were swimming very straight. The guy on the left came right, and the one on the right came left – this resulted in an Amie sandwich. They hit me at the the same time and one punched me in the head. I was not impressed. They both swam apart again but I could tell they were quickly both coming back toward me and I really wasn’t wanting to get smushed again. Not knowing what else to do, I pulled back a bit and let them crash into each other. When they spread back apart, I swam threw them.
Now entering the turn of the course, I was back into the washing machine of athletes. I started to get beat up again around the turn, but decided I wasn’t going to take it and decided to just bust through. I came through the turns and quickly found my happy spot just off the line by a few feet. It was time to head in, I kept sighting off other people that were on the line. Again, somehow ended up on the line. (Apparently I must swim a bit to the left.)Swam for a bit longer on the line this time. Again couldn’t really see the cable very well since the water was so dark and my goggles were fogged but at least I knew I was on course. I was pleasantly surprised the cable was not more congested. I was able to comfortably stayed on the line for 4 or 5 buoys without having to battle anyone. I was so happy how quickly the swim was going by, but I knew this was just one small (and my favorite) part of my day.
As I neared the end, it was so packed. So many people… I must have caught the end of the swimmers still working to finish their first loop PLUS I was with the group I had swam the course with. At least I knew I was finishing the water and wouldn’t have to battle the crowd much longer! Out of the water, and saw 1:08 on my watch! Ran toward the end of the suit strippers and got my suit off and off to T1!!
Official IM time: 1 hour, 09 minutes, 07 seconds
Unfortunately, both my transitions were not pretty. For Swim to Bike, I grabbed the wrong bag. I didn’t realize it until I got into the tent and opened it and saw my sneakers. I was SO BUMMED. Ran back out of the tent, a volunteer took my run bag and said she would re-rack it for me. Left it with her and went and grabbed my bike bag. Back in the tent and scrambled to get ready. For some reason, despite the fact that I knew it had been super humid all morning, I still had the weather forecast of rain and cooler temperatures in my head and thought it would be cold, especially on the decent into Keene, so I put on my arm warmers and vest. This ended up being a bit of a mistake for the day…
Out of the change tent and happy that I had heard four different volunteers had announce my number so that my bike would be waiting for me. Unfortunately, when I got to the bike rack 2 volunteers were standing at the end and started apologizing since they had not heard my number. They told me to wait, they would get my bike. I ended up standing there watching the volunteer struggle to get my bike unracked. A little frustrating but nothing I could do about it. Ran out of transition and got on the bike.
Official IM time: 7 minutes, 26 seconds
Bike Loop #1
Rounded the sharp corners to leave transition, and started to focus on getting down out of town without crashing. Saw my family cheering – so great to see them! Made it down the steep decent and started out on the course, life was good. At the start of the bike, I knew I needed to focus on trying to settle in and get my HR under control. I sipped some Nuun and took a salt tab in the first 10 minutes. Kept biking and working to focus on settling in. Saw my Betty teammate Amy, (she had wanted to swim a 1:05 and did! amazing!) cheered for her as I passed her on the climb. Shortly after that, my coach KRoe passed me. She’s an amazing athlete! At 20 minutes into the bike I ate 1/2 of a Gatorade chew packet. Before I knew it I was riding along the water and almost to the decent to Keene. Whoa, looked at my time and was biking much faster than normal… this is when I started to worry I might be pushing too fast. The number one rule for the LP Bike course is pacing. If you bike the first loop too fast, you risk blowing up on the second loop. With over 5800 elevation change on the course, you’ve got to pace yourself!
Right before the decent to Keene, I ate 1/3 of a power bar. It was 35 minutes which was a little early but I had planned to take the calories before the decent and decided earlier was better than pushing all my plan back by 5 minutes for the day. The decent to Keene was beautiful. Flew down the decent to Keene and caught back up to my coach near the bottom. I arrived in Keene in 45 minutes. About 8-10 minutes ahead of any bike I’ve ever done in LP. Decided there was nothing I could do about it, so just focused on settling in and managing the rest of the bike. At this point, I took off my arm warmers – it was getting hot and was humid!! I finished my first bottle of fluids (Nuun) as I headed to Upper Jay. Filled up my bottle with the pre-mixed scratch that I brought with me. At 60 minutes I had 1/3 of power bar and another salt tab. For those that have not done a long course triathlon, the biggest thing I learned was that you have to have a nutrition plan and you have to follow it. The biggest reason I would have a bad run or bike during training was due to not following my nutrition plan. In a 70.3 distance you still need a plan to follow, but you can generally recover if you mess it up. I found with 140.6, there is much less room for error.
Grabbed a Gatorade at the aid station before Jay. Also grabbed a water and poured some down my back to cool me off. Had the last 1/3 of my power bar at 1 hour 20 minutes. Out to Ausable and was now 15 minutes ahead of plan. Whoops. Was nervous about this and how it would impact the rest of my ride but decided to just keep going and monitor my pace the best I could. Emily (Zippchick) passed me on the way out to Ausable right before the turn. Was surprised she wasn’t ahead of me, but it was great to see her! Made the turnaround (surprised how tight the turn was!) and headed back. At 1 hour 40 minutes I ate the other 1/2 of the Gatorade chew packet (60 cal). Filled my bottle with the Gatorade I had grabbed at the aid station. Turned to start the climb to Wilmington. Grabbed another Gatorade at the aid station to put in my water bottle holder. Took the salt tab right after the aid station and took in a Gu. At this point, I was in a pack of bikes. The steep little climb into Wilmington had a bit of a pack of us together, ended up talking with a guy who had done LP a few times. Not really sure what we talked about now, but it was nice to talk to someone for a little bit. It was getting so hot! Couldn’t wait to ditch my vest at special needs but knew I couldn’t focus on this and needed to finish the first loop. Kept sipping Gatorade. Was sipping my fluids about every 5 – 7 minutes as planned. Gatorade was starting to not feel great in my stomach but not terrible yet.
Now in Wilmington, quickly did the 2 mile out and back toward Hazleton. During this out and back, I managed to spill Gatorade all over my right elbow rest pad. That was fun (nice and sticky) for the rest of the day. Grabbed a Gatorade then grabbed a water here (after plowing through 2 volunteers and spilling the water they tried to hand me, third time was the charm… not sure what was going on here, have to apologize to the volunteers… at least they were laughing!!). Even though I knew having two bottles of fluid would be extra weight for the climb up “the notch” to Lake Placid, I wanted to make sure I had water if I needed it for my stomach. Took in 2 shot blocks at 2 hours 20 minutes. They were in my plan and I had trained with them but for whatever reason, didn’t taste great today. Now stared the dreaded climb from Wilmington to Lake Placid. Slow and steady…
At 2:40 of the bike I took in a Gu. I skipped grabbing anything at the aid station out here since I was still working on the Gatorade and water that I grabbed at the prior station. I kept sipping Gatorade, it didn’t feel that great on the stomach but was still going down so I stuck with it – it was the best bet I had for electrolytes and calories. As we neared Lake Placid, we started to see more and more people along the course. Some were biking the course backward and cheering, others were camping out at random places along the climb. I saw my friend Jay here! So great to see someone I knew!! At 3 hours, I took in 2 more shot blocks and a salt. Nearing town and started to climb the final set of hills named the three bears – the crowd was so awesome here!! Costumes, noisemakers, signs and just general craziness. Definitely the place to spectate the bike course in the future! Turned onto Northwoods and climbed the last little (yet very steep) hill that a few of us have now started calling “Goldilocks”. Ate my final 2 shot blocks after the climb. Turned onto Mirror Lake drive and the crows were lining the street all the way through town. So great!
As we had started the climb into Lake Placid, the sky had turned dark and my bike computer told me that the temperature had dropped from 74 degrees down to 62 degrees. Decided that I would keep my vest for the second loop after all, and hoped I wouldn’t regret this decision (I did.). I passed by special needs without stopping. My food was working and I had enough supplies for the second loop. The fluids on the course were going fairly well and I knew I had nuun tabs if needed something other than Gatorade. Finished loop #1 in 3:25. A 10 minute PR for me for a loop. Was slightly worried about how loop 2 would go for me but knew I just had to put my head down and pace the second loop the best I could.
Bike Loop #2
(Warning, the details for this loop are not as sharp, the day really did fly by, but I’ll just share what I can remember…)
I came around the sharp turn to start the second loop and down the steep hill, I saw my parents, sister and Baby J cheering for me! I was surprised to see them since I came through town a lot quicker than expected! (Later I would find out, they had just walked up when I came zipping down the hill – perfect timing!) After departing Lake Placid for the second loop, it got hot, fast. I IMMEDIATELY regretted not leaving my vest in LP but had to quickly accept that I was just going to have to deal with it. Grabbed a Gatorade at the aid station after LP. At 3:40 bike time, took in 1/2 a Gatorade chew these went down much better than the shot blocks. At this point, I realized I was running ahead of my bike plan and decided to adjust my nutrition plan accordingly. I knew I needed to take my solids on portions of the course that were not climbing (the body can’t digest as easily on climbs), so I eliminated the Gu that I planned to take at 4 hours and skipped down to the next line of my plan. At 4 hours, I was at the top of the decent to Keene and knew I was in my window to take my remaining power bars pieces in. I took in a salt tab and 1/3 of a power bar. Rocked down to Keene and was surprised to see Pandora from home had driven up to cheer me on!!! Started to tear up, couldn’t believe she made the trip (about an hour and a half drive) just to see me for a few seconds!! It meant so much to me!!
On my trip out to Jay, I had another 1/3 of a power bar. I grabbed Gatorade at the aid station after Keene. I also grabbed water and poured it over my back because I was hot and I was feeling it. At the next aid station, someone was asking for salt which made me realize that I was starting to feel a little off. I took in another salt tab at 4:40 and also took in the last 1/3 of my power bar. At this point onward for the bike, I took in a salt tab every 30 minutes. At 5 hours I was on the Ausable out and back – I took in 1/2 Gatorade chew packet and kept drinking Gatorade. I knew I was nearing the end of my ability to take in Gatorade (my stomach was less and less impressed with it) but still kept sipping it. Also, I was nervous at this point because I realized I had not peed since the swim despite taking in lots of fluids all day. Started looking at the aid station bathroom lines and did not really want to take the time to wait in line… On the climb from Jay to Wilmington, I grabbed a water and added a bit of it to the Gatorade in my bottle. My stomach was finished with straight Gatorade so I added water to the Gatorade to lighten it up a bit but still hopefully get the benefit.
At 5:10 took a salt tab. At 5:20 I took in a Gu. At 5:40 I was just before the Hazleton out and back. Took in 1/2 Gatorade chew (luckily I had an extra packet of these, so swapped these for the shot blocks I had planned to take since shot blocks really did not go well on loop 1.) Also took a salt tab. Finished my Gatorade in my water bottle and then put in my water that was left from the prior aid station and put a Nuun tab in. At the aid station I grabbed another water and topped off my water bottle. The line for the bathroom was long here too. Decided to keep going I put in another Nuun tab to strengthen the overall mix in my water bottle. I did not take in anymore Gatorade on the bike after this but was thinking the Nuun and extra salt tabs would be enough. Poured some water over my back and neck to try and cool down a bit more before the climb into LP.
Started the climb to LP at 6 hours. Still running about 10 minutes ahead of prior bike times. Took in a GU and headed up. At 6:10 took a salt tab. Made it to the aid station and stopped to go to the bathroom. There was no line and I figured T2 would be chaos (i.e this was my last opportunity before the run). Sorry for the detail, but when I stopped, holy cow. I don’t think I’ve peed that much in my life. Apparently I have a bladder of steel or something. Was back on my bike after a couple of minutes. Luckily there was no line and a super awesome volunteer had grabbed my bike and held it for me. I was good with my Nuun – had the perfect amount left on the bike and a little extra water in my water bottle. 6:20 took in a Gu. Climbed back up the bears and passed a few guys – I love the bears, I’m really not sure why people complain about them so much! My friends Kim and Jason were there taking pictures, Kim started screaming the guys I had passed that “they had been chicked” it was pretty funny and a good spirit lifter! Even though it was early, I grabbed a salt tab and the final half of the Gatorade chew packet and took it in since I knew I was going to be subject to aid stations and whatever food they had available for the next 26 miles of the event…
Official IM time: 6 hours, 57 minutes, 53 seconds
Handed the bike off to the volunteers, ran into the bag area. Noticed that some people looked really bad coming off the bike. Was glad I wasn’t limping or feeling too sore. Grabbed my bag and headed to transition. Another frustrating transition for me. Came into the tent and a girl grabbed me to help and then Christine, who I know from home, came rushing over to help. Put Vaseline on my feet, put my socks on, put on compression socks, put on sneakers, changed shorts. Put on my visor. Then put body glide on (my only hope to avoid chafing issues). Was asked if I needed anything else from my bag, I decided to go without my extra gels and I luckily did not need the Imodium tabs that I had put in my bag, but when I looked at my gear in my bag I never saw my salt tabs… and I forgot about them… not good. This set me up for a bad run. I ran out of the change tent, got sunscreen on, crossed the timing chip line and then realized I did not have my salt when I was about 50 meters down the road….
Official IM time: 5 minutes, 29 seconds
Run Loop #1
Headed out and started to panic about forgetting my salt. I had a few long runs and bikes completely ruined in training because I had not managed my salt intake correctly. I knew this could potentially be a long run… I also knew I had salt tabs in my special needs bag. But that was 13 miles away. Then, I remembered they were going to have salt on the course so decided to just settle in and grab salt for my run as soon as I could. It was also a little funny as I headed out on my run because the lead woman was just starting her second loop of the run and her name was Amy… everyone was cheering loudly for her. So I did what anyone in my position would do, I pretended everyone was cheering for me. 🙂
Arrived at aid station 1 – no salt. Not too happy but grabbed a Gatorade and water. Sipped some of each and continued on. Saw Laura out cheering and taking pictures. She was amazing. Such a mood lifter! AND even more amazing since she was planning to participate in IMLP until only a few weeks prior when she ended up injuring her foot and could no longer run… so sad to have put in all that work (and money) and then be unable to toe the start line. Ran to aid station 2 – they had salt. Hallelujah. Got the quick rundown (literally, the girl ran beside me as she explained how to use it) and carried on. Took in salt and water, grabbed a gel (strawberry banana, gross) took it, took a sip of Gatorade then went to grab a sponge and bumped into Janel who was volunteering! I met Janel last year when I had volunteered at IMLP, she is a wonderful person and I was so happy to see her! She gave me ice in addition to the sponge (score!!!), I then ran down to river road, and saw Ed coming up the hill on his first loop. Hit up the aid station for water, Gatorade and Gu. Took in salt. Was trying to get the entire Gu down each time and as much of the Gatorade and water I could as I walked the station. I knew there would come a point when I would not be able to get the calories in, so I was working as hard as I could to eat through this entire first loop.
Ran across the first timing mat on river road, realized my first split was right on track, but simultaneously realized I wasn’t going to be able to hold that pace for the entire run which was a bit of a disappointment. Slowed up a bit to keep the HR in check. At some point soon after, I saw my coach KRoe again – she was headed in on her first loop. Arrived at the next aid station – I remember the volunteers cheering a lot here, it was needed! Grabbed Gatorade, water and a Gu. Took in salt. Forced down another strawberry banana Gu, not impressed with flavor selection (I swear they just use the flavors nobody will buy at these races) but knew I needed to eat it. Kept running. My strategy was only to walk the aid stations and to run (er maybe I should say shuffle) the rest of the course. Arrived at aid station 5. Started to feel really bloated and started to worry I was going to have GI issues. Had a little Gatorade, water and salt. Tried eating a pretzel to see if it would help my stomach but it was too dry and I felt thirsty. Had some water and had some Honey Stinger chews that I had brought with me to slowly chew on as I ran out to the turn around.
My friends Kim and Jason were at the turn so that was awesome to see them again! They were all over the course on Sunday, it was amazing. Managed to eat the rest of the my honey stinger chew packet down before I got back to the aid station, grabbed water, took in salt and gatorade. Kept running. My stomach really wasn’t feeling well. Next aid station just went with water and gatorade. Kept grabbing ice everywhere too, would put it in my hands and down my top to help keep me cool. This also started the port-a-pot tour of my first loop…. I really felt awful for about 7 or 8 miles of my first loop, turns out I wasn’t actually sick but my body was having a hard time understanding what was going on…. I think I tried to eat more of the chew packet down but wasn’t going very well. Just grabbed water and gatorade and an orange at the next station and visited the bathroom, just in case… Walked up the hill by the ski jumps. Got up to the aid station grabbed water, took in salt, some gatorade and grabbed sponges. Stopped at the bathroom, even though I was stopping at every aid station it turned out I really didn’t really need to stop – false GI distress. Oh, and the port-a-pots were especially nasty, so I really didn’t want to be hanging around them. Anyway…
At this point I decided I was just going to keep running since I didn’t actually had to go to the bathroom, just a side-effect of racing all day… At this point I had been moving for over 10 hours. I saw Laura again which was awesome!! Arrived at the aid station before the climb into town. Grabbed a Gu (it was caramel!! So happy that it was not strawberry banana nastiness!), grabbed water and gatorade. RAN UP THE HILL (I’m sure it was more like a slow shuffle, but I was moving faster than most). Saw Chuck from T2 and a Betty teammate, Ginny, who was cheering for me – big boost as I shuffled up! Ran up onto Mirror Lake Dr, saw my family at the turn by the T2 tent, high fives with Carrie and Tracy at the pub then ran out towards Northwood.
The mile +/- to Northwood felt like it took FoReVeR. Arrived at special needs and grabbed another packet of honey stinger chews from my bag since they were a good supplement to the Gu. And then neglected to take my spare salt tabs with me, I thought the Base salt I was using was working (in retrospect, post race, I would say I should have grabbed the Salt Tabs). After special needs – went to the aid station, grabbed water, took in salt, grabbed gatorade. Kept running. Saw a Betty teammate, Lymaris, that was spectating and shot up some spirit fingers for pictures (might as well look like I have energy!). Took in a few chews from my partial packet. Got to the turn. Was so thirsty. Walked a few steps, got back to the aid station and grabbed more water and Gatorade. Took in salt again. Ran back down Mirror Lake Drive. Saw my family and almost started crying (I think the fact I had 13 miles to go was a little overwhelming at that point, but I also couldn’t believe how well (relatively) I was doing) 2 hours 30 minutes. Was right on schedule for a 5 hour marathon which was a little slower than I wanted, but given the hot and humid conditions things were going well. Despite the slower than anticipated time, I felt good since I was still running while so many others were walking. The training was working.
Run Loop #2
Luckily, as I started the second loop, my body seemed to have settled a bit and was no longer seeming to revolt against me, not 100% but started to feel a little better. My goal for this loop was to keep eating as long as I could. Got to the aid station, grabbed a Gu (caramel, score!), gatorade and water, took in salt. Also grabbed a spare Gu, strawberry kiwi flavor, was thinking it might be better than strawberry banana. (This one was still in my pocket at the end of the race. I never managed to eat another Gu during the race.) Ran to the next aid station, grabbed water and coke, took in salt. Had been telling myself to wait until River Road to start sipping coke but decided I could start now… I had earned it. 🙂
Ran down to river road, grabbed water, coke and an orange (I think). Forgot to take salt, but then finally finished my second honey stinger chew packet. I saw KRoe and Joe T on their second loop back into town and they were walking. It surprised me to see my coach walking but thought she was just catching up with Joe for a few since he had an injury and wasn’t supposed to be running. I will admit seeing her walking was a little mind game for me for a few miles, but knew I had to just keep running as long as I could.
Arrived at the next aid station, grabbed water, took salt, took coke, took and orange, took ice. This was now my pattern for the rest of the run. I didn’t eat much of anything for the rest of the run. I might have had 1 more partial Gu but mostly stuck to coke, water and took salt when I remembered to. I was pretty good on the salt but I know I missed a few stations. When I got to mile 16, I started my initial countdown. It was really the first time I started thinking about my distance to go which was good. I got to mile 20 and was still going. I was starting to get sore and knew I was in new territory for my running since I’ve never gone longer than 19 miles. My hips and knee were slightly sore but manageable. Grabbed Ice at the aid station before the turn and put it in my shorts on my hips to help a bit (likely this was more help mentally than physically, but whatever… you do whatever you need to just to keep moving forward).
I kept things rolling but definitely started to walk a bit longer for each aid station than I had been previously, but still held onto the rule of only walking during the aid station. When I arrived at the middle aid station on River Road, they were just stating to bust out the chicken broth, I thought about trying it since I had heard it was a magical mix to help with salt and settling the stomach but decided to stick to coke, water and taking in salt since it was working (and it was still hot out). Also grabbed an orange slice and ice at each station.
I never really wished for the event to end until about mile 22 (thankfully) and then I knew I had 4 miles to go and I could definitely do this. I also knew I wanted to maintain my 5 hour estimated time that I had after my first loop, but knew I had to listen to my body. I walked the hill by the ski jumps. Starting up running again was becoming more difficult but kept things rolling the best I could. One of my goals for this race was to finish in the daylight and I knew that goal was well within reach as long as nothing bad happened in the next 4 miles. Grabbed sponges from the aid station, coke, water, ice.
Ran into town. Got to the aid station below the hill – water, coke, ice and an orange. (I wasn’t actually eating the oranges, just taking the juice from them… kind of gross now that I think of mixing coke and oranges but it was working.) Walked the big hill into LP this time, but after the turn ran/shuffled up the less steep part onto Mirror Lake Drive. Saw my family on the sidelines and gave them high fives, couldn’t believe the end was getting so close and that I was still running! Only a couple miles to go. At this point, I felt a few twinges/cramps in my calves (my injury from last Fall started this way) as I turned onto Mirror Lake and knew the last 1.5 miles was going to be tough and that if I wanted to run in the oval I couldn’t push it. Ran to the aid station, water, coke, ice. Ran to the turn near Northwoods Drive and walked 50 yards (ish) then ran to the aid station grabbed coke and water. Ran down (again a relative term) Mirror Lake Drive past all the crowds. My calves started cramping again in front of the LP pub. Was really afraid I wasn’t going to make it. At this point, I was KRoe (my coach), Maura and Lynne from T2. So happy to be heading to the finish!! I couldn’t believe it was almost over!
Official IM Run Time: 5 Hours, 10 minutes, 54 seconds
I took the turn off Mirror Lake Drive toward the oval. As I entered the oval, I focused on staying upright, not falling or slipping. As I made the final turn in the oval, my family was on the sidelines. I was so happy, I wanted to stop and hug them all but was afraid if I stopped I wouldn’t be able to start running again, so I gave high fives to them all again. As I ran down the finish shoot I had to fight back tears (hence, why I have my sunglasses still on in the pictures, it wasn’t due to the sun…), raised up my arms, worked to soak it all in and listened for Mike Rilley to say “Amie Thomas, you are an Ironman!”
Official IM Time: 13 Hours, 30 minutes, 49 seconds
At the end of the day, I can’t believe I held it together and was able to finish strong. As I write this, I still can’t believe I manged to run a full Ironman event. A couple years ago this felt like an impossible feat. But here I stand (er, actually sit) looking back at just 1 week ago and I did it, I actually became an Ironman!
The day flew by, it all went so fast. It definitely didn’t feel like it was 13 and a half hours of swimming, biking and running! Like I said at the start, the day from the moment I crossed the start line until I crossed the finish line feels like it was 10 minutes long. Crazy.
But mostly, crazy.
Ok, now here is the added bonus part of my day…
140.7 —> (i.e. what happened after crossing the finish line.)
After crossing the finish line, a couple volunteers grabbed me, gave me my medal, my shirt, my hat, a Mylar blanket and found me a chair. Then I was served some water and pizza (have I mentioned that the volunteers at IMLP are amazing and second to none?!). I managed to eat about 5 bites of the pizza and then did not feel like eating anymore. Then I was handed a coke to sip on. I was so hot out and I had not cooled down yet so I took the Mylar blanket off. As I was sitting there and chatting with another athlete, my stomach felt a little off. A volunteer gave me chicken broth, I tried it, it tasted awful (was glad I didn’t try it on the course). Decided I was done with the finish line area and wanted to get a massage since I knew my legs were going to be sore.
As I headed over to the massage tent, I was surprised to see my mom was there grabbing my gear bags for me. I stopped and talked to her, and she followed me to the massage tent. It was at this point that I realized I really wasn’t feeling great. I got into the entrance of the tent, and sat there for a few minutes, tried sipping water. Started feeling worse. At this point, I saw a guy in a medical shirt and told my mom to grab him. He talked to me for a few minutes and told me he was going to grab a wheelchair because I felt really dizzy. At this point, I was wheeled over to the medical tent, I was weighed in, and I apparently gained 17 lbs compared to my weigh in at the race check-in (apparently they were having major problems with the scales – it’s pretty impossible to gain weight during one of these races… especially 17 pounds!!). At this point I was taken over to a cot and I was suddenly freezing. They laid me down and kept asking me questions, I was coherent but still felt awful.
After about 15 minutes, the medical staff had me sit up and take water but felt nauseous at this point. All this was about 45 minutes after the finish. The staff was reluctant to do anything because I was answering questions well and was coherent. Finally they decided to take a blood sample and run some labs. About 5 to 10 minutes later the results were in – my sodium level was extremely low. Despite my best attempts all day, I did not managed to get enough salt into my system, which left my system flushed of sodium from sweating and the hot temperatures. I’m guessing most of this happened during the run portion of the day since I was without my normal salt tabs. At this point, the medical staff quickly worked to put a high saline IV solution into my system (unfortunately for me, I was a bit dehydrated and it took three attempts before the staff successfully was able to get a needle in, due to the dehydration my veins were not easy to get to and they finally had to use an IV specialist to put in the needle). After being hooked up to the high saline IV for about 45 minutes I felt much better and started to eat pretzels. It was only at this point that the doctors starting saying that I really had looked pretty bad and started to joke around that they thought they were going to lose me for a while. I just remember being so cold – they ended up with four heated blankets on me and two Mylar blankets, so I was nice and cozy as I hung out on my makeshift cot!! (They were using the plastic reclining lawn chairs for cots.)
As I finished the IV, I was lucky that someone let my mom enter the tent with some warm clothes. I also felt blessed that I was not being sent to the hospital like a few others were. Two hours after I crossed the finish line, I finally left the med tent. I did feel better enough to walk around but had very sore legs, so I decided to swing over to the massage tent since the rest of my family was already a home (it was more than 2 hours after I had finished the race). After the light massage, I hobbled to the car (the volunteers were again super awesome and let my mom park right on the corner of transition area to get me) and went home. Around 11 pm I finally got to catch up with my family and have a mini celebration with them as everyone was getting ready to go to bed. Not exactly the finish line celebration I had hoped for, but it’s all good. (Like I said, at least I wasn’t headed to the hospital.)
Before leaving home… packing my race day nutrition. Luckily my coach forced me to write out what I would be eating, step by step, for the entire day, so actually packing wasn’t too bad. I’d already done most of the thinking!
Packed and ready to go! Actually… not as much stuff as when I was a spectator last year! I think this is part due to the fact that what you have with you on race day is what you have to stick with! Transition is set up… this was a few days prior to the race when I arrived in LP.
Typically the IM road art is on Mirror Lake Drive, this year it was on River Road and commemorated the 35th anniversary of “Miracle on Ice” from the 1980 Olympics. It was also neat to know that David Silk from that US Ice Hockey Team would be completing Ironman with us on Sunday.
Betty takeover in LP! I invited the Betty’s that were in town over so that we could all meet before the race – so fun to meet these amazing women in real life!! 4 of us were racing and 1 was volunteering and spectating so she can race LP again next year (she raced LP in 2014 and qualified for Kona!)
Getting ready to pack up my bike, run and special needs bags. This was stressful to try and figure out what I wanted to have available throughout the day…
My parents and me before the start. They were amazing spectators (I think spectating is just as exhausting as participating in one of these!) and it meant the world to me to have their support.
Before the swim start. This is only a small portion of the crowd on the beach. Seeing 2500+ people enter a swim start is craziness. It took my breath away last year, luckily this year I couldn’t see the magnitude of the swim crowd, only the people around me.
Near the start of Loop #2 of the bike. Also about the time I started cursing for leaving my vest on…
My nephew’s face cracks me up.
Rounding the turn on River Road on my first loop of the run. About 6 miles in, 20 to go.
Another action shot of Jackson’s spectating and cheering efforts. 🙂
Running on Mirror Lake Drive. I think this was loop #2… based on the sun. 🙂
Seeing Lymaris on Loop 2 – Mirror Lake Drive almost to the turn. Spirit fingers for my Betty’s! (They also make me look like I’m still going strong… the fact that finish was finally coming was the only thing keeping me going!)
The most amazing moment. Crossing that finish line.
The hardware. This one was definitely earned.