by Keith Rousseau
We got to Lake Placid on Friday around 2pm after picking Michelle up directly from class and immediately hit registration. We decided to skip the WTC pre-race dinner and went to a restaurant in town so we could get a good meal in us. After a short workout on Sunday, we got our bike and run bags ready and dropped off our bikes around 2pm. The rest of our day consisted of a good amount of eating pizza and pasta in an attempt to carbo-load for the race. Then we were in bed by 9 pm to try and get our sleep in before the big morning.
Our alarm was set for 4 am so that I could choke down a bagel w/ peanut butter and apple sauce even though I was still full from dinner the night before. Surprisingly, I slept really well, unlike before most of my races. However, once I got up the nerves started to hit me as I realized what I was about to do. I threw on my tri outfit and left for the race around 5 am to get the bike ready and get to the swim start. 6:30 came quickly and transition closed so we met our parents for last minute well-wishes and then we dropped off our special needs bags and were off to the swim start.
Earlier in the week, there was talk that this would be a wetsuit optional swim, which means that if you want to qualify for awards or Kona then you couldn’t wear a wetsuit. This rumor was confirmed on race morning, as the water temp was a balmy 77 degrees (76 is the cutoff). We figured that we weren’t even close to awards or Kona, so we were going to wear one anyway.
All along Michelle and I were nervous for the swim, as we’ve heard a ton of horror stories. We were about to find out what it’s all about first-hand. I waded in the water off to the right side about 10 rows back where I actually had some room around me before the start. Then the cannon went off and the race was on! I actually had some clean water for the first hundred yards or so and then the chaos began. I had very little room to do anything for most of the first lap and I was kicked in the mouth and nose along with being hit numerous times. At the first turn buoy I cut it a bit too close and everything backed up and I came to almost a dead stop while people were trying to swim over me. The second lap cleared up a little bit, but it was still a fight the whole way. Needless to say, I was really happy when the swim was over and it was time to get on the bike.
Final Swim Time: 1:15:11
After getting through the changing tent and being handed my bike by a volunteer, I got behind a few others to mount my bike and fly downhill out of transition. The beginning of the bike contains a fair amount of climbing before the descent into Keene. I tried to keep my power down for this section as best as I could and not worry about keeping up with the masses. I did a pretty good job in this regard, keeping my average below 190 by the time I reached the top of the hill. There were a good amount of people on the descent and unfortunately some decided that riding in the middle of the road would be smart. I flew by yelling “On your left!” and hoping that they would hold their line even with their sketchy bike handling skills. Once we hit Keene, the ride flattens out, which led to monster draft packs on the bike. There were packs of probably 30-40 riders with nowhere to go. You couldn’t drop back or someone would just fill the spot in front of you. We finally hit the climbs after Ausable and then the crowds thinned out a bit, as the weaker bikers fell back on the tougher terrain. The hills and rollers in Wilmington were relatively uneventful, although I probably let my power creep up a bit too high, which would come back to haunt me on the marathon. The first loop brought me through town in 2:47 with an average power of 185, which was right around my race plan for power.
The second loop was a bit cleaner as the crowds had thinned out a bit. I was able to settle into a rhythm and ride my race. My overall power dropped a bit also, as I tried to hold back and save a little for the marathon and as my legs just got more fatigued it was tougher to hold in the 180s. I definitely was ready to be off of the bike as we were riding past Whiteface for the second time. There were probably a little under 10 miles to go at that point, but I just wanted to be done now. I finished the lap with an average power of 170 and time of 2:57. This is actually probably close to where I should have been on the first lap too. I think the power in my race plan was a bit on the high side to run a good marathon after.
My biggest issue throughout the bike section was getting in the nutrition that I needed. Throughout the whole ride my stomach just didn’t feel quite right and I was never able to eat and drink all of the calories that I was planning to. I ended up only having 2.5 bottles of IM Perform, 5 gels and a PB&J (from my special needs bag) for a total of about 1200 calories. I really should have been closer to 1700 calories by the time I got off of the bike. This deficit catches up with you really quickly once you start the “run”.
Final Bike Time: 5:43:49
To call it a run is overstating it a bit. It really is more of a shuffle in complete survival mode. I came out of town really trying hard to keep my pace down based on my race plan. I was planning on a 9 minute mile, which is about 30 sec slower than my long run pace and would have given me a 4 hr marathon. It was really hard to run that pace with all of the downhills and the first few miles were closer to 8:30 miles. I pulled myself back after about a mile and a half and kept my pace to a 9 minute mile like I had planned. I was feeling somewhat decent at this point and was running through the aid stations, taking in either Perform or water at each. I also grabbed some ice for my hat and some of the wet sponges and stuffed them in my shirt making “sponge boobs”. This continued for a little more than the first hour.
And then I hit the wall - hard. My pace dropped to a little over a 10 minute mile and I felt like crap. I started walking the aid stations, taking in a lot more calories (usually Perform and/or Coke and some water at each aid station). I also ate a couple of cookies and some pretzels for salt. I was dousing myself in water, ice and sponges to try and stay cool, but nothing seemed to really work for me. This is pretty much how the rest of the run went for me. Obviously this took a serious toll on my overall pace and I missed my goal marathon pace by a large sum. I think I underestimated the difficulty of a marathon at the end of a difficult bike on a really sunny and hot run.
After slogging along for the last 3.5+ hours, I finally came to the Olympic Oval for the finish! There were a bunch of finishers around me so I help up for a bit to let the person that was sprinting past me to go by so I could get a clean picture. I threw my arms up, crossed the line and I was finally finished!! It felt a bit weird to have all of that training and the last 9 months of my life be finished so abruptly, but I don’t feel any of the “Post-Ironman Blues” that I’ve heard people talk about before. There are no plans for another IM in the near future, but I could definitely see myself doing another down the road. Next year will be dedicated to ½ IM and XTerra racing and I’m pretty excited for that and for the rest of this season (AG Nats, Pumpkinman ½ & Buzzards Bay Sprint).
Final Run Time: 4:41:01
Overall Time: 11:49:49
AG Place: 65/144
Overall Place: 626/2542