Ironman Lake Placid 2015 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 this season – Scott Iott of Training Bible Coaching. I’ve been a Hammer Nutrition Sponsored Athlete since January 1 and racing for Team Training Bible Coaching (Team TBC) this year.
I was fortunate enough 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 6 weeks before the race and made 2 trips to ride the bike course, swim Mirror Lake and run on the course.
I rode my Felt B16, Zipp Sub9 disc wheel and Zipp 404 front wheel.
My target power for the bike was 220-230W, and target pace on the run was 7:15-7:30.
I fuel with Infinit on the bike (about 300 calories per hour) and Hammer gels on the run (one every 30 minutes).
The swim start was a rolling start with self seeded corrals.
The rolling swim start worked better than I thought it would and didn’t take as much from the experience as I expected. Most of the guys going for a Kona slot were in the first coral anyways so it still felt like we were racing head-to-head. I was in the first coral estimating right around a 1-hour swim. There was much less fighting for position as the fast guys pulled away quickly and I went hard to get on fast feet.
It’s a two-loop swim with a short beach run in between loops. There is a cable underwater that the buoys attach to, so you can follow that rather than sighting. Everyone had that idea though so I swam on the hip faster swimmers who were on the cable for most of the first lap. I checked my watch at the end of the first lap and saw I was just under 30 minutes and right on track for where I wanted to be. The second lap got more challenging as we overtook a number of the slower swimmers who started last. I stayed relaxed and avoided getting kicked from the thrashers and tried not to panic them more than they already were.
I felt relaxed and in control the whole swim, trying to keep smooth and long in the water, yet strong. I came out of the water and saw the race clock was 1:02 and change. I was happy and figured I’d be on the bike before the packs formed and able to ride a consistent power output without having to surge to pass large groups.
The run down to the Olympic Speed Skating Oval (where Transition was located) from Mirror Lake was a carpeted run, probably about ¼ mile. I skipped the wetsuit strippers to save time and do it myself without sitting down. Grabbed my gear bags, made it to the change tent and grabbed a volunteer. He was a teenage boy and seemed a little frightened by all the craziness. I told him I needed my helmet and sunglasses out of the bag and I’d leave him with my wetsuit and swim goggles and cap to pack up and put back. Thanked him and gave him a pat on the back as I ran off to grab my bike feeling ready to ride.
Running out of T1 something didn’t feel right. I hoped on the bike and realized my rear wheel was flat. I inflated it pre-race, but I must have done something to the stem trying to get into the disc cutout to inflate it. I’ve never had that problem before. I hoped off the bike about 50 yards from the mount line and changed out the flat with the spare tube in my flat kit. I had just swapped this tube with my usual one as it had a removable core so I could use it with an extender on my front wheel if needed. The valve stem fit in the disc cutout, but was longer than usual so I couldn’t get my CO2 chuck in the cutout to inflate it. I tried to bend it out of the disc cutout and inflate with CO2 but that didn’t work so I wasted one CO2. I had one more left to try but I wasn’t going to use it unless I was sure it would work. Then I got lucky and a guy was walking by with a pump. I grabbed it and fought with the stem to bend it out of the cutout and get the pump chuck on it to inflate. I got it inflated eventually and started riding, this whole process cost me about 14 minutes. All along 2 guys were encouraging me and asking if there was anything they could do to help without DQing me for outside assistance. As I was struggling with the pump trying to get it to seal and inflate, a fireman came over and stepped on the pump to keep it stable while I pumped one handed. As I continued to struggle he went to get his motorcycle with a compressor to help. By the time he returned I was inflated and ready to go. At points I through about walking back into transition and DNFing. It was really helpful to have the guys there to encourage me and keep me focused.
My first loop was fast, it was overcast and the winds were light. I really enjoy the descent into Keene, it’s about 4 miles long with good flowing turns so you don’t need to use your brakes nearly at all. I topped out at 54MPH on the first lap and was passing lots of riders as I worked back up to the stronger riders. Since I lost 14 minutes to the flat I found myself in the middle of the age group pack instead of near the front with clear roads. There were some guys that were clearly choosing to draft and ride in a pack, it’s always frustrating, but that’s on them though. One guy on a Cervelo P3 was annoying the crap out of me. He’d sit in my draft while I’d ride 220-230W, surge to pass me, then I’d drop back out of the draft and I’d have to ride 180W to stay outside the draft zone, so I’d pass him back. We’d repeat this process until about mile 30 when he either realized he couldn’t ride with me, got dinged for drafting, or found another wheel to follow. By about mile 40 I was back out of the congestion of riders. The climbs helped stretch things out quite a bit. My first lap was the fastest time I’ve ever ridden that loop and my power was right on track (~220W).
The second lap my power was lower than I thought it’d be looking at things after the fact (Normalized Power was 198W for this lap). It definitely became work around mile 85 or so. The winds and sun exposure were an issue on this loop and I had to fight to stay engaged mentally and stay aero. I had a small can of coke at mile 85 to help pull me through.
In all I Felt decent coming off the bike and happy with the ride time, ready to run. It was my fastest ride on this course. 5:26 moving time, 5:40 clock time. Normalized Power 208W, down about 5% from our target, but acceptable.
I felt good in transition and was excited to start running. I slipped on my socks and shoes, grabbed my visor, race belt with gels, and a small can of coke and headed out for the marathon. I stopped for sunscreen on the way out of transition. I’ve made the mistake of not getting sunscreen enough in racing to know it was worth the 15 seconds to stop.
I worked to keep it easy down the hills out of town and through the first 3 miles (the goal was no faster than 7:30 effort but it was pretty much all down hill so it was going to be fast). By mile 4 I realized it was going to be a challenge to hold 7:30 all day, let alone the 7:15 pace we were targeting. It was hot (85º) with lots of sun exposure on the course; I heard reports of a heat index of 95º. I tried to just settle in and run the effort level we had planned rather than be concerned with the pace. I ignored my watch from this point on except to see when I needed to eat. I was passing people and petty much running alone. By mile 5 I saw the race leaders coming back from the turn around, and noticed I was running just behind the second place female. By that point I choose to walk the aid stations to get in as many fluids as I could and grab as much ice as possible. With the heat it felt like I couldn’t get to the next aid station fast enough to get more water. I took in a lot of coke in between my gels (which I took every 30 minutes) I had a constant stream of ice down my pants and top, and 1-2 cups of water per aid station and water over my head to help cooling. I walked a few parts of the up hills on the first loop to try and save my legs a bit. In all it was another disappointing Ironman run, but probably the best I could have pulled together. I still haven’t quite cracked the Ironman run and achieved what it seems I should be able to on paper.
As I was doing the final out-and-back along Mirror Lake, the girl I’d been trailing in second place came into the aid station headed back into the finish. 2 other women were holding her up and her legs were all wobbly. One of the volunteers yelled to radio medical and get her medical attention immediately. It turns out she had pushed hard to take the lead and then within the last mile or so her body gave out. That aid station was about ½ mile from the finish line, just about ¼ mile from the entrance to the Olympic Oval.
Running through the finishers chute in the Olympic venue with the torch burning was amazing.
Given the flat and spare tube issues I figured my shot at a Kona slot was gone. I tried not to think about that and race as planned. The heat on the run took me by surprise since we were forecasted for 77º, cloudy and rainy. Even if I had the perfect race it seems unlikely in retrospect that I would have gotten a Kona slot. This year we only had 3 in my Age Group (rather than 5-6 in past years) and first and second place overall guys for the day were in my age group.
Total: 10:25:12 12th in Age Group, 43 Overall