I am a little tardy with the report, but hopefully better late than never...
In the days leading up to Ironman Lake Placid 2009, I looked back at my last race report, which was from Kona last October. Kona was not the race I wanted to have. I worried about things like who was racing and what the weather was going to be like; things over which I have no control. So for this race, I decided not to worry about the things I can't control, that I would go out and do my best, may be have some fun, and the rest will take care of itself.
By 3:30 in the morning, I was ready to get this race underway. Mike (my spouse) was already up milling about our Kottage at the KOA (coincidentally, the airport code for the Kona International), doing the dishes and had our Bridgehead Papua New Guinea roast ready. I downed my oatmeal, banana, coffee and nutrition drink quite easily. We got out gear on, grabbed our bags and headed into town. We got our usual parking spot in town and walked down to body marking. It was at this point that I starting to get excited about the race. Next it was off to fill up the Zipps, put my drinks on the Orbea (which has been finely built and tuned to perfection all season by the staff of Cyclelogik - thanks very much!). I opened my bag of GU Chomps, or as Mike calls them. “GU-jubes”, and checked my supply of Vanilla Bean gels, and then headed over to the condo where other Ottawa triathletes were staying for the race. Before long it was time to get to the swim start.
The Swim - 53:38
On the way to the swim start, I said my good byes to Mike and received lots of support from the Ottawa crowd. I got in the water as soon as Mike Reilly invited the age groupers to get in. I had a really good warm up. I felt ready and very comfortable. The plan was to start at the front, get out fast and over to the left of the buoy line, and hopefully find some good feet. There was some pushing amongst the age groupers once the pro race was underway. Shortly after the anthem the cannon went off, without warning or countdown I might add. I started fast and after about 20 strokes I could see I was close to the first buoy so I hopped over a couple of people and got to the left of the line. I found some good feet to draft from and fought hard not to let anyone steal them from me. The first 500m went by so quickly. I just sat in on the hip of my “draftee” for the reminder of the loop. As I finished I saw the first loop time of 26:00, so I was right on target. I fixed my cap and goggles while running around the dock, hopped back in the water and got back on that good set of feet. We then relaxed into a really nice pace, as planned. The rest of the swim felt very good. Once out of the water I ran past “the good set feet” (I guess I should have thanked him…), I quickly worked on getting my arms out of my Zoot Zenith wetsuit so the strippers could do their thing. Once my wet suit was off I ran as fast as I could to the first transition, passing a woman who came out just ahead of me in the swim. That run from the swim to T1 is so amazing in Lake Placid with everyone screaming and cheering. It really got my adrenaline going!
A huge benefit of getting out of the water quickly is that there are very few other women in the tent, so I had about 3 or 4 volunteers helping me. They were so primed to get me through that transition that one volunteer just ripped open my bag and put on my shoes and jammed on my helmet. I was in and out in no time! I peeled out of the tent and my Ordu was waiting for me at the end of the row. The volunteers at Lake Placid are just tremendous!
The Bike: 5:51.
I wasn't on the course long when I passed another woman and Kim Loeffler passed me. She was smokin’. I thought about trying to keep her in my sights, but she was going away too fast and I reminded myself to do my own race and, particularly, not to work to hard on the way out of Placid because it is not an easy part of the course. Slowly, but surely, guys started to pass me but for the most part I was riding alone. Then it was time for the first part of the Keen Valley by the Lakes. The new pavement was good to ride on and before I knew I was at the top of Keene.
I am not a big fan of this descent. Most often it is done with vehicles travelling very close to you and at high speeds, but on race day there was almost no traffic of any kind, so I gave it my best shot. As usual, guys were going past me but I was going much faster than usual until I saw the deer in the middle of the road...OH *&#@$!! I started screaming at the deer, but it didn't move, so I had to squeeze the brakes a bit and tried more screaming in a much higher pitched voice. The deer moved while I was still a comfortable distance away, but my heart rate had sky rocketed for a minutes or so…
The rest of the ride was fairly uneventful, except when I lost my salt tablets and the wind picking up quite a bit on the second loop. I thought I was riding fairly hard for me but the legs just were not responding as I had hoped they would. I was eating and drinking a fair bit to see if that would help, but it did not seem to get the legs going. The second time up from Wilmington to Lake Placid, my back was starting to get pretty tight so I had to ease off in fear of not being able to run. I was so happy to finally ride over the Cherries and up that last blankety-blank Papa Bear Hill to transition.
T-2: Once I handed off my bike to a volunteer, I started running to my bag. My helmet was off and I was in the tent in no time. Again the tent was pretty empty. I got the same great service and some "recon" from a volunteer who told me as I was heading out that a woman in my age group had just left the tent...I thanked her and I was off.
The Run - 3:23
Once you come out of transition in Lake Placid, the course is literally all downhill. I find I have to be really careful not to get carried away here because it will catch up to you. The crowds here are also fantastic and really motivating. The Ottawa crowd congregates at the first corner on the run course. I was greeted with lots of cheering, extended hands; it was a real blur, but I had a long way to go, so I focused on making sure I was under control and not pushing too hard. Before the first mile I caught the woman in my age group. At mile 1, I looked at my split: 7:11.... oops too fast, but it is mostly downhill. Mile 2 I slowed down to 7:29, but then I was back down for miles 3, 4 and 5. I started to see people on the run course from Ottawa. The support on the course for all of the athletes is tremendous, and it is one of my favourite parts of the racing experience in Lake Placid.
At mile 5 or so I saw the first age group woman. It was Molly Zahr, and she had won this race before. Soon I was at the turn around. A couple of miles later I saw Mike. I was happy to see he was safely off the bike and running well. He told me that I was closing fast...I assumed he meant on the first amateur woman. I strongly resisted picking it up, but I am pretty sure I did anyway.
I noticed around 10km, that the sun was actually making an appearance: what a concept. I made sure that I had water and Gatorade at every aid station to ensure I was well hydrated for the second half of the race and maybe avoid the med tent.
I ate my second GU at the last aid station on River Road. Before I knew it, I was pounding up the ski jump hill. Just over the top of the hill, I could see Molly. I concentrated on holding a steady pace, and passed her just past the Horse Show grounds. Next it was up the big hill in town and again past the Ottawa and Zone 3 Sports crew. The cheering and encouragement was really motivating. The lot of them looked like they were having a great time. Since this is not an easy hill and I wasn't half way done yet, I kept my head down and kept on my pace. At half way I was 1:37+, which was a lot faster than I had planned to run. In fact, I planned to run the first half of the marathon slower than last year. The deed was done though. I acknowledged to myself that there could be consequences to pay later in the race. I just had 13 miles to go...
The second loop to the turn around went by pretty quickly. It was at the turn that I noticed that it was getting much warmer than was forecasted, but so far so good. It was getting harder to get to the aid stations and I had to really slow down and walk at a couple of stations to get enough coke into me. To stay focused, I concentrated on picking off the next person in front of me.
As I approached the ski jump hill, where I fell apart in last year’s race, I started to push. By the time I got to the top of the hill and, perhaps fittingly as I passed the Show grounds, I was running like a horse to the barn. I had about 3 miles left to go. I think this is where I saw Mike for the third time on the run. He congratulated me on my race. I think I said, “Go”. And that is it because it was getting hard to do anything but put one foot in front of the other as quickly as possible.
Soon I was at the bottom of that freaking long steep hill in town. This is it I thought: one more time up this…………hill and you are an Ironman! I started to smile half way up the hill. Yup, smile because I was going to finish. I tried to high-five as many Ottawa/Zone 3 people as I could, but I couldn’t really move quickly to get everyone. I really appreciated the gesture. It’s that kind of support that makes being part of the triathlon community in Ottawa special. I made sure that I high-fived Rick Hellard, my coach and the coach of the many talented Zone 3 Sports athletes, as my gesture to him for another coaching-job well done.
Shortly thereafter, I was at the top of the steepest part of the hill and all thoughts turned to leaving every last bit of what I had on the course. The turn on to Mirror Lake Drive and back to the Oval has got to be the longest part of this race. Soon I was on the Oval and as I rounded the last corner, I could see the clock reading about 10:13 and counting. Most people would just enjoy the moment and listen to Mike Reilly say their name and that they are an Ironman, but I gave’er. The family Ironman record was on the line! I knew Mike had gone 10:14 in Florida, but I didn’t know the exact seconds. I know what you are saying: Isn’t it enough that Mike is a long-suffering member of MWKMAATC? Nope. As it turns out, I now have the record by 22 seconds…My smile was ear to ear at the finish line. I even have finish line pictures this year!
Shortly after I finished, I went straight to T3: the med tent. There is nothing like 3 bags of saline, an anti-nausea shot and a coating of Alcis cream to straighten you right out. As I was trying to leave to find Mike, but I was told he was only two rows over in the med tent! After we left the med tent, we stayed and cheered for a while. I wanted to stay to see the midnight finishers, but I started to power fade around 11 p.m.
So all in all, Lake Placid 2009 was a very successful Ironman, which I could not have done without the love and constant support of my spouse and 10 time Ironman finisher, Mike Giles; my coach, Rick Hellard; all of my training partners extraordinaire and teammates at Zone 3 Sports, my swim coaches at the Ravens of Carleton, John Hawes and Claudia Cronin-Schlote, my expert massage therapist, Alison Graham; and my fabulous sponsors: Zone 3 Sports, Zoot, Orbea, Zipp, GU, Fuel Belt, Suunto and Alcis cream: I couldn’t do this without you, thanks so much!
See you in Kona!