Ironman Lake Placid 2016 in Lake Placid, NY
This was my first A race of the year and an attempt at a Kona Qualifying Slot.
I’ve been working with a coach 1 on 1 again this season – Scott Iott of Training Bible Coaching. I’ve been a Hammer Nutrition Sponsored Athlete again this year, a PowerTap Grassroots Sponsored Athlete this season, and racing for Team Training Bible Coaching (Team TBC) again this year.
We’ve put a lot of work into my swim and bike in the last two seasons, seeing these as my limiters. That’s resulted in raising my bike FTP from 295W to 325W, and brought my swim threshold from 1:30/100yds to 1:23/100yds.
I was fortunate enough again this year to be in the Adirondacks for work since the middle of June and only 1.5 hours from Lake Placid. That meant I trained in similar terrain for 5 weeks before the race and made 2 trips to ride the bike course, swim Mirror Lake and run on the course.
My bike and race wheels were replaced this season so I rode my new-to-me 9 Series Speed Concept and Zipp Super 9 disc wheel and Zipp 808 front wheel.
My target power for the bike was a conservative 215-225W, and target pace on the run was 7:30.
I fuel with Infinit on the bike (about 300 calories per hour) and Hammer gels on the run (one every 25-30 minutes).
The swim start was a rolling start with self seeded corrals.
3:45AM wake-up, after going to bed around 9PM. It was probably the best night’s sleep I’ve had pre-Ironman ever. I felt rested and stress free as I went about the morning. I ate my usual breakfast of a bagel with almond butter, a banana, and a cup of coffee right away. Did my usual bathroom routine and headed off to set-up transition at 4:30AM for the 6:40AM race start.
It was a self-seeded rolling start, so I got in the first group for the sub 1-hour swim group. This was a female pro race. They started 30 minutes before us, by the time we were starting the swim only 1 had come through the first lap.
The rolling start was fairly smooth, but still the usual melee for the first 500m until things spread out. I was on some fast feet by then and felt like swimming was effortless, I moved off to the side to see if I could go around and realized the draft was significant and I wouldn’t be able to make the pass without expending a lot of energy. So I stayed on those feet for the rest of the first loop. I lost that guy going into lap 2 and found a woman who was moving quick so stayed on her feet until I lost them in the congestion overtaking the slow swimmers about 600m from the end of the swim.
I felt relaxed and smooth in the water; it was the best I have ever felt coming out of the water. I saw I was under the 1 hour mark and really happy with that.
Swim time 59:27
It’s a long run down from Mirror Lake to transition; I skipped the wetsuit strippers as usual. Had my wetsuit down to my waist by the time I was in the change tent. Grabbed a volunteer, stripped the suit the rest of the way and left my goggles, cap, and wetsuit with him to bag and return to the rack. I put my helmet and sunglasses on while running to my bike. Feeling calm and collected I mounted my bike barefoot and was off.
From the beginning I had clean, open road to ride with very few bikers around me. I got on my power target and made sure to stick to it through the rollers going out of town. The descent into Keene is REALLY fast and a good 6-7 miles. I stayed aero and passed several guys, one that was sitting up riding his brakes terrified – understandably so I was consistently hitting speeds of 40-52MPH. Having ridden this course a lot in training and now racing it twice I felt fairly confident in my ability to push it.
After the descent into Keene it gets fairly flat to slightly rolling for about 20 miles. I was leapfrogging with a guy from New Zealand for much of this section. Early on a group of 6 riders latched onto us and were drafting us – intentionally or not I can’t say, but it attracted a draft marshal and we never saw them again after that.
The last 20 miles of the loop are climbing up to Wilmington and then back up to Lake Placid. Much of this section I ride out of aero since I’m going maybe 10MPH up the climbs. I felt great through the first loop and ready to repeat it. My power was right about where we wanted it at 228W for the first loop.
Along the flat section out and back on 9N of the second loop I started to struggle mentally. This is the worst road surface on the course and I hate having to dodge patchwork and ruts and getting tossed around while in aero. I let it get to me and sat up out of aero for most this section. Once I made the turn to start the climb back up I was able to pull it back together again and get aero when it made sense. I noticed my power was a little lower and I was working to hold 215W since 225W felt a little out of reach. I also noticed I was starting to feel hot from the sun and was trying to cool myself with water from the aid stations but had long stretches where I was choosing to save the water to drink rather than cool until I could get another bottle.
I noticed my right hamstring was starting to act up in the last several miles of the bike so I tried to get out of the saddle and stretch it a bit. I finished the bike happy and ready to play it smart on the run. My power was about 205W for the second loop, a little low but not out of the ordinary for IM racing – especially for me.
Ride time was 5:26:24.
With a barefoot dismount and handing my bike off to the catchers, I was off to grab my run gear bag. I slipped on my socks and shoes and my race belt with gels and left the bag and my helmet for a volunteer to take care of while I headed out on the run.
Right away I noticed my hamstring was going to give me trouble. The first mile or so of the run is down hill and pretty steep at some points. I was working to keep the pace easy and keep my cadence up. After about 2 miles I was feeling confident and collected and holding back running my target pace of 7:30/mile. Around mile 4 I decided to stop and use the bathroom and was pretty happy about that since it meant I wasn’t dehydrated (a goal we’ve been working on this season).
I was feeling strong through mile 12 when all of a sudden my right hamstring locked-up. I couldn’t move and was in excruciating pain. After a minute or so it finally let go and I started trying to run again and it did it again. I started to question if I was going to be able to finish the race. I choose to walk it out for about a ¼ mile and then cautiously I started running again. Everything felt fine and the 7:30 pace felt natural again so I go back at it. I saw Amy and ran to her, got a hug and kiss and said my hamstring was cramping and I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to run. She encouraged me and I was on my way again. At the next aid station I took some salt tablets in hopes of stopping the cramping.
As I was starting loop 2 a friend I had met a few days before was just starting his run, we chatted for awhile as we ticked away the miles. I’d run ahead until my hamstring would start acting up again and then be forced to walk or I had to get nutrition in at an aid station, he’d catch-up and encourage me and I’d start running when my hamstring calmed down again.
Like all Ironman marathons it was a battle, a frustrating battle because I felt fine running and wasn’t pushing it for once but my hamstring just wasn’t cooperating. It’s also not something I usually deal with. In 10+ years of endurance training and racing this was the second time this has happened.
In the end it was a decent run and pretty much the same as all my other IM runs. On paper, it’s still a little slow for what I “should” be capable of. That’s encouraging because it’s still a growth edge for me as an athlete.
The finish was sweet and felt well earned after the run battle.
Run time 3:38:55
The overall winner was from my age group again this year. He’s a guy from the Chicagoland area that used to race pro. He even beat Heather Jackson who set a new female pro course record. Given the ever-increasing size of the 35-44 year old age groups my age group is getting few and fewer Kona Slots. We were allotted 2. The first place guy had already qualified so his rolled down. It made it to 4th in the Age Group who went 9:50ish. That’s a time we figure I’m capable of on this course so that’s encouraging. The quest for a chance to race on the big island continues.
Total: 10:11:09 11th in Age Group, 44 Overall (including pro field)