Becoming an Ironman: the Run

After handing off my bike to an amazing volunteer (there were other volunteers asking if you were alright and if you needed anything!), I walked, along with others, to grab my run bag. I felt no need to rush, as I was about to embark on a 26.2 mile run.

By this time, it was warming up, and I thought it would  be a nice time for a shower of some sort to pass by. But, Mother Nature had the rain happen at last years event, not this years. I sat down in the changing tent and a volunteer brought me a cup of water. The volunteer was SO helpful and patient with me! I changed into running shorts and put on a new pair of bright compression calf sleeves (so that I would “stand out” and family could find me more easily). I grabbed my race belt, visor, sunglasses, and a Honey Stinger, and walked outside and asked the Sunscreen volunteers if I could have some sunscreen (i forgot to put it on my legs for the ride–oops). I’ve never had three people apply sunscreen to various parts of my body before! They were dancing and singing– under different circumstances one might see this as some sort of rite of passage in a cult. But in an Ironman, it is totally acceptable to have people smear suntan lotion all over you! I thanked them, and was out of transition.

Bike-to-run transition time: 7:23

The Run

Just like arriving back into town on the bike, leaving the town of Lake Placid was amazing. There were people everywhere cheering for you as you ran. I heard a lot of “Go Molly!!!!! You can do it!” and then I heard a lot of “Go Holly, Go!” which made me chuckle to myself. Heck, I’ll take anyone cheering a name that rhymes with my real one! Since I had not eaten as much on the second loop of the bike I worked on eating the honey stinger. The last time I had run a marathon was two years ago on my 27th birthday. I had no idea how this run would go; the longest training run I had during my training was 14 miles (oops) so I just decided to jog to each aid station, walk through the aid station, then jog again. I had no idea what time of day it was. I just knew that I finished the ride in 7 1/2 hrs, and the swim in under 1 1/2 hours, so that meant I had 7 hours left to complete the marathon.

Completely doable.

The first three miles out of town to the ski jumps was mostly downhill, which was quite nice. I kept my pace easy– I didn’t want to get tired out too quickly– and just kind of ran along. I knew I had a friend, Bev, volunteering down at the ski jumps, which gave me something to look forward to.

My nutrition plan for the run was to have something ever 4-5miles, and have a sip of water or gatorade when I felt like it. The aid stations had cookies, gels, pretzels, gu chomps, oranges, gatorade, coke, water, ice…you name it. Mentally, I broke the marathon into 4- 6 mile chunks (because, when you do the math, 26.2/4= 6, right???? Well, to someone who just finished 9 hours of continued exercise, it made perfect sense.) I saw Bev, and was overjoyed. Seeing her helped me get through the out-and-back portion of the run. At mile 4, I decided to have some gu chomps. As I walked, my intestines decided they were done with the race. Apparently, I am not the only athlete who had GI issues on the run. In fact, it is completely normal to see people vomiting along the course, or hear people’s major flatulence issues. I made it a point to bring some tums along with me, as I had read people advise bringing some along.

I felt a bit worried that, by mile 5, my intestines were in major turmoil. Instead of having the goal to get to each aid station in order to get ice or water, my goal was to get to the aid stations because they had port-a-johns there. Let me tell you, there is nothing more rancid smelling than those things along an Ironman run course. I must have a weak gag reflex, even for being a nurse, after having to go in them. But, I kind of had no choice.

Volunteers were, again, amazing, and despite the intestinal discomfort, I kept truckin’ along. Once I hit mile 6, I was excited that I was about to head back into town, where I would get to pass Bev, and see Kevin, Jen, and my parents.

Looking forward to seeing these two!

Looking forward to seeing these two!

Once you hit the Ski Jumps, you have to go up the hill you ran down to get into town. At this point, most people walk. I ended up chatting a bit with someone who had a neat water bottle carrier, and figured my walking pace was faster than my running pace. All I wanted to do was get to the turn around point in town and see my family. I felt hot, and took the opportunity to stuff ice cold sponges in my top, which helped cool me down. (A spectator later told me what good use of sponges I had! Hahah– the spectators were the best).

I jogged up the hill in Lake Placid to Mirror Lake Drive (where the run special needs bags were), along the way I glanced through the crowds to find those familiar faces. Finally, I saw everyone which made me extremely happy.

First loop almost done!

First loop almost done!

Okay Molly, just get to the turn around, and you can give everyone a hug!

I finally reached the turn around after walking most of mile 12 because my intestines were relentless. I had no idea how I was going to do another 13.1 miles feeling this way. But I kept thinking, I am so close to finishing! I am so close!

When I got back to my family, I gave everyone a hug, and went back out for the last 13.1miles of my 140.6 mile adventure.

They say the last half-marathon of the marathon run is more mental than physical. And, I think that is true. I was prepared to be in more physical pain than I was, which was good, I guess. But my body was tired. I was no longer jogging from aid station to aid station. I would pick out a tree or landmark, jog upto it, then walk. I told myself I would jog the downhills and flats, and walk up the hills, which helped pass the miles.

Then,at mile 18, when I thought, “yes! only 6 more miles!” it dawned on me that, no, it wasn’t 6 more miles until the finish– i had EIGHT miles to go. Oops. I guess we know now that it is a good thing I didn’t become a math teacher.

At this point, more and more people were walking than running. I was able to give some tums away to some other people who were like me and had some “issues” going on. I imagined the eight mile run I did back in Rhinebeck. You can totally do this. It’s only eight more miles.

At the same time, I was so tired. My lungs hurt. It was hard to even muster energy to thank the volunteers.

By this time, the sun was setting. On my way back to the ski jumps, I really wish I was able to carry a camera, because it was gorgeous. If I saw people running past me and start to feel disheartened when my body wouldn’t let me run, I kept thinking, this is a race against you, not them. I thought about things in my past that had discouraged me, and those things and those people who had left their marks on me gave me the energy to keep going. To prove them wrong.

When I got into town, it was dark. I was tired. The crowds were still there, and still amazing. I saw my family, Kevin, and Jen, and waved as tears started to flow. I was so close to the finish, and yet had another mile/mile and a half to go.

I think it was the longest mile I have ever had to run.

I could hear Mike Reilly at the finish chute. I could hear the cheering. I wanted my body to run, but it wanted to walk.

I walked most of that mile, and chatted with yet another person, this time, about how long this last mile seemed to be.

We were all in the same boat. It wasn’t just a long mile for me, it was a long mile for a lot of other athletes.

When I got closer to the finish, I started to run. As I started to run, there was no holding back the tears. I saw my dad, gave him a huge hug, and started bawling.

“Okay Molly, you are almost there! Keep it together! You got this!”

I’m going to be an Ironman. Holy crap, I’m going to finish! I kept thinking. 

As I ran, I passed all the spectators cheering for me, and for others running with me. They make you feel like you are a winner.

I ran up to the finish, and stopped.

I heard Mike Reilly say, “You are an Ironman!”

I did it.

I made my dream come true.

Most awkward finish photo?

Thanking God that I finished! Gotta love the guy in front of me, too 😛

I’m an Ironman!

Months of preparing for this, and just like that, I was done. It took me 14 hrs and 27 minutes, which was a surprise, because it was two hours faster than I anticipated.

A volunteer took me in is arms and another gave me a bottle of water. Then, someone placed the finishers medal around my head. Everyone congratulated me, and the volunteers were amazing. They stayed with me, to make sure everything was okay. After I took the finishers photo, another volunteer gave me a thermal blanket and asked me if I wanted anything to eat.

“There is pizza, coke, sprite, water, gatorade, hot chocolate, chicken broth.. french fries..” He went on.

“Wait, french fries???” If you know me (hint hint, Jen) then you know I LOVE french fries!

This was the most perfect post-race food, ever….If only I was hungry.

I sat down for a second and then realized I wanted to find my family; I didn’t feel like sitting and eating by myself. I heard my name and saw Jen, Kevin, and my parents. Floods of tears came back.

“I did it! I did it!” I was still in shock that I finished. At this point, everyone was crying. Hugs were given, and photos were taken.

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My man.

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My soul sister

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It is a day I will always cherish and never forget.

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My family.

There were a few times in my training I didn’t think I would be able to finish the race– from surgery a couple months ago, to time taken away from training for my new job, and school– life seemed to happen. But ten months ago I was determined to finish this adventure that I had started, and finish I did.

A HUGE thank you to Kevin, Jen, my parents: for a long day of waiting, and driving hours to see me. There is nothing more important than family, and I love you all.

For Jen D.,  a fellow RN, and Lisa and Bev, fellow triathletes, for cheering for me!

And for those of you who sent me letters– THANK YOU! They meant SO much to me 🙂

To my coach, and Jane, thanks for helping me out!!

IMLP: The Bike

Transition 1 time (swim -to-bike): 9:14

The Bike

As athletes were  running though the Olympic Oval, there were volunteers on walkie-talkies relaying athlete’s numbers, so that once you got closer to your bike, a volunteer was there with your bike waiting. I ran the bike to the mount line, pulled to the side (so I would not be murdered by other athletes on their bikes), and hopped on the seat that would be the place I’d sit put for the next 7+ hours. Right after I mounted, I heard someone call my name which made me smile (anytime someone shouts your name you get a little burst of energy). Heading out onto the bike course has a couple sharp turns, and is downhill, so I took my time. I ate a luna bar and the bike portion of IMLP began.

The course heads down through Lake Placid, past the famous ski jumps, and then has a gradual 7 mile incline before you head down the famous Keene Descent. Having read as many Lake Placid race course information guides/blogs as I possible could in the past couple of months, I came to LP fearing this descent. People said it was dangerous, curvy, fast, and terrifying. To me, going down from Tannersville to Palenville on a tribike is terrifying, and I assumed this descent would be the same. But I was mistaken. The descent itself is not scary– it is all the crazy triathletes around you that is the scary part. I stayed to the left because I love going fast, but I soon realized that “slower cautious” triathletes had the tendency not to stick to the right side of the road and veer right in front of me, I had to slow down a bit (note: I think it is presumed that if you plan on being slow, you stay to the right side of the road, so that speed demons can be on the left). People can reach 50+mph on that road. I, however, was not one of them.

Looking back at part of the Keene descent (not on race day!)

Looking back at part of the Keene descent (not on race day!)

Anyway, I heard in the Endurance Nation talk that you should be conservative on the first loop of the ride, and let everyone pass you; you should focus on nutrition and hydration during the first 30 miles (after the descent that is). So, that is what I tried to do. From mile 7 to 30, it is basically descent and flats: perfect for eating/drinking. My goal was to take in one cliff bar per hour (~230-240cals) and take in water ever 20-25 minutes. Then, depending on how much I sweat, take 1-2 salt tabs/hour. I went as fast as my legs felt comfortable: I knew the course was long, so I didn’t feel the need to go super fast.

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At about mile 35 you start going uphill from Jay to Wilmington. I was prepared for this (thanks to the EN talk!) and at this point I was starting to feel a bit hot. (Mistake to wear arm warmers!) From this point until you head back into Lake Placid, it is basically 21 miles of gradual uphill. But, gorgeous uphill, with rivers and amazing views. Within the last 10 miles of the course are what are called “the Three bears”: Mama bear, baby bear, and pappa bear. These are three hills. Truth be told, they actually aren’t the worst hills in the world (right after pappa bear, which is the steepest of the three, there is another little hill that you need to go up–I think they should call that one grandpa bear) and all the climbing I’ve done in the Catskills and Gunks really prepared me well for the bike course. On each side of Pappa Bear there are people cheering you on, which is pretty cool.

Back in town, you stop at the bike special needs to grab anything you might need. I took off my arm warmers and made another mistake by putting on sun sleeves which were NOT at all “cooling” like they advertised. In fact, they were BOILING. Right when I was heading back to on the second loop of the bike, I saw my friend Lisa which was pretty cool, as I seem to have missed Kevin and Jen.

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The second loop I did the same thing: focus on nutrition and to just keep pedaling. I stopped at an aid station to get sun tan lotion applied, since the sun sleeves had to go. The aid stations were great. People are ready to help with whatever you need, even if that is spraying on sunscreen.

After that stop, I started to feel waves of nausea ripple through my stomach. I wasn’t sure if it was because I wasn’t hydrating enough, or over hydrating, or not eating enough. I just kept pedaling and tried not to think of the nausea. Then, a friend Don pulled up beside me (yay!!! a familiar face!) and asked how I was doing. “Honestly, I’m feeling kinda sick right now and don’t know what to do.”

He suggested maybe taking it easy on the nutrition and sticking to water for a bit. (The food in my stomach was probably sloshing around unable to be digested as fast as I was eating.) I welcomed any advice at this point, and, eventually, the nausea subsided.

Similarly to the swim, I tend to count miles on the ride– only 30 miles left. Only 15miles left. I know rides around my house that are those distances, and it makes it easier to “determine” how much longer I would be on the bike.

When we hit mile 100, I was ready to be off. I was done with riding. My feet started to scream at me with sharp pain and each pedal stroke was miserable. I tried imagining I was pedaling on water to help ease the pain. It didn’t work. I tried to take a bike of a cliff bar, because I had not been keeping to my nutrition plan (due to the stomach issues) and one bite made me want to vomit. Cliff bars had become repulsive. So I sipped gatorade and tried some cliff gummies. I kept waiting for the three bears to come along and it seemed like forever until I saw the little markings for the bears on the road. Once I passed Pappa Bear and headed towards town I started getting a little emotional. (Being emotional is a common theme for me in this race). I could feel tears filling my eyes thinking, “I’m almost done with the bike! I’m almost 2/3 done!” Coming back into town is amazing, because there are lots of people along the course encouraging you to keep going. I saw Jen and Kevin and was so excited– I was scared that I would miss them in town because I had not been very precise with my timing.

My favorite picture: this is my friend Jen cheering me on!

My favorite picture: this is my friend Jen cheering me on! She was literally a foot in the air!

Then before heading back into the Olympic Oval, I was surprised to see my parents which was exciting. I never give up the opportunity to wave while on the bike, as you can see.

Hiiiii

Hiiiii

I dismounted the bike, and was beyond joyful that I was off the bike and had only one more thing to complete: the run!  Volunteers grabbed your bike from you, and I ran to grab my run bag and head back into the women’s changing tent.

Elevation profile of the ride

Elevation profile of the ride

Bike time: 7:29 (pretty stoked since it was my first ride longer than 102 miles!) In retrospect, the bike course is not as bad as I thought it would be. It was difficult, but very doable, and not nearly as tough as Quassy’s bike course.

…To be continued….

Lake Placid Swim Recap: “I’m Crying Because I Have to Poop!”

My alarm went off at 4am and I woke up feeling pretty ready for the day I’ve been waiting months for. I prepared PB&J sandwiches for breakfast for Kevin and I and had a cup of coffee, whilst getting dressed and filling water bottles.We were out the door headed to Lake Placid forty minutes later. Like most other athletes, I had been watching the weather closely and low and behold, the weatherman was incorrect in that it was not thunderstorming (is that a word?) but only drizzling out.

pre-race B-fast

pre-race B-fast

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We parked, took a shuttle into the town, and I went over to get my body marked with my race numbers. The town was bustling with athletes and spectators, and the once-empty race bag racks were now filled. I dropped off my dry run/bike clothes, prepared my bike, got into my wetsuit, and went back out to find Kevin and drop off the bike and run special needs bags.

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Mike Reilly!

Mike Reilly!

The bike transition is a bit of a walk from the swim start, and so were the bag drop-offs. By this time, it was about 0600, and people were beginning to line up at the swim start. Ofcourse, after dropping of my special needs bags, nature called and I needed to get into a port-a-john line that was insanely long. But, what can you do when nature calls? So I stood in the extremely slow moving line with Kevin while my anxiety rose. I was worried I would not be at the swim start in time. Instead of focusing on the swim, my focus and stress was on getting to the port-a-john. Seriously. They should put out more of those things; Lord knows a lot of people will be using them! As time ticked away and it got closer to 0630 I started to panic. My friend, Jen, found us, and by this point I was fighting back tears. “I am not going to have time to go! This line is SO SLOW!!!!”

“Just line up and go in your wetsuit.” Jen suggested

“No no, I have to do number two!”

“Ohh.Yeah, can’t do that in a wetsuit.”

I looked around and then the tears came. I wasn’t going to make it in time to go to the bathroom and get to the swim start. The people in front of me were looking at me like I was crazy. And, they are right I probably was crazy at that point.

“I can’t believe I am crying because I have to poop.”

Never in my life have I had such stress over this matter.

“You will have time! Don’t stress!”

A few tears too late. I kept wiping my eyes, slightly embarrassed I was crying over such a matter.

About a million minutes later, I was able to get business done and zip up in my wetsuit. I hugged my race support team and after a few moments was off headed to the crowd of 2400 athletes about to head into Mirror Lake to start their race.In retrospect, such anxiety over having to go to the bathroom totally diverted all my emotions away from the swim, so by the time I ran over to the swim start, I felt very little anxiety in regards to the swim start. The IM race has a rolling start to the swim, according to the time you think you will finish in. It was so packed that I was in the 1:44-2hr swim time. But I didn’t really care. I was aiming to finish the swim in 1:30-1:40 (based on the one other 2.4 mile OWS I did in training) and figured I could always go faster in the water once I was in.

Sea of green and pink

Sea of green and pink

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Right before we entered the water, volunteers were at the start high-fiving you as you entered the water. Mirror Lake is pretty awesome, in that it has a yellow underwater cable that runs the swim course. You really don’t need to sight if you are over the cable. However, every swimmer wants to be over that cable, and I veered as far away from it as I could. (Away from the cable= away from mass of swimmers). I was able to get into a comfortable swimming rhythm pretty much right away, which is far from what I felt during the swim at Quassy Half (during that swim I think I did breaststroke more than freestyle). There were some people that kept swimming into me, but for the most part until I hit the turn buoy, I was able to keep my distance from people. I kept the pace comfortable and then started to count. 1…2…3….25….73…..100 I am not really sure why I count when I swim outside– maybe it is an automatic mental response to help pass the time? Or help with nerves? Anyway, once I reached 100 I started to count from 1 again. When I reached the turn buoy, I was faced with lots of swimmers swimming into each other as they turned. I tried to swim to the outside of everyone, and had to stop and figure out what was happening. I actually heard a swimmer shout “C’mon people! Take it easy!” Basically, a giant cluster f-ck.

When I turned to head back to the start, I was able to get back into an easy pace and try to focus on my form. As the speaker at Endurance Nation said, only swim as fast as you can keep your form. So, that is what I did. And I then began to count.

I reached the beach, where you have to get out of the water and run to enter it again for your second 1.2 mile loop. I was excited that I finished the first loop–it wasn’t as hard as I imagined it to be–and I purposefully did not look at my watch. I did not want whatever time it was to cause me to get anxious over being too slow. I entered the water again, and the counting began. Between the counting, I kept thinking, “holy crap, I am swimming in an ironman right now!”

I finally reached the swim finish and looked at my watch: 1:21. Holy crap! I wasn’t expecting to finish that fast, and to think i was even taking it easy so not to wear myself out.

Trying to get my wetsuit over my watch. Face of determination?

Trying to get my wetsuit over my watch. Face of determination?

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i was thrilled to finish my second 2.4mile OWS ever. 1/3 of the race was done! I ran over to a wetsuit stripper and they peeled my wetsuit off (hallelujah!) and I started the jog back to transition. On my way, I saw Kevin and Jen in the crowd.”I finished the swim!!!” I exclaimed.

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Happy face!

The transition, as I mentioned before, is quite a little jog from the swim finish. Once I reached the Oval, I grabbed my bike bag and headed to Women’s changing tent. I had read about this part in blogs before, and people’s description of the tent was spot on. There were chairs to sit in, and it was warm and filled with partially naked wet women changing frantically into their bike gear. Volunteers were great, and helped you grab what you needed from your bag. Since I had no plans on winning this race (hahaha) I decided I wanted to be comfortable on the 112 mile bike ride so I changed into bike shorts and put on my Fats in the Cats Bike jersey. I can now say that I am butt buddies with another random woman after bumping into her when I was changing. I made sure I had everything, put on my helmet, and ran around the oval (more running?!?) to get my bike.

…To be Continued

Ironman Lake Placid: Days Leading Up

It is insane to think that Ironman Lake Placid is over. I think that reading this will probably take longer than the whole race itself (just a heads up!) I figured the best way to handle such an event would be to break it up into a couple different parts.

After a couple days of craziness (IE work, cupcake order, packing, last minute race shopping, lack of sleep due to excitement), Kevin and I took the trip up to Lake Placid on Thursday morning to get their early.

Packed and ready to go!

Packed and ready to go!

I wanted to get there with plenty of time, and to have a couple days to just “bum around” before the masses of athletes went up. Packet pick-up was composed of signing my life away with waivers, getting weighed (that was a first at a race!) and getting my race number, chip, and cap. We also took a look around to see where “The Miracle on Ice” occured.

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The Olympic Oval!

The Olympic Oval!

Site of the Miracle on Ice

Site of the Miracle on Ice

We walked around the town for a bit before attending an athlete meeting and then headed to Saranac Lake to our lodging for the next couple of days. We stayed in (what used to be) a bed and breakfast that was nice. There was a refrigerator in our room and a coffee maker, so we could prepare breakfast and lunch (which ended up being PB&J sandwiches). It was about 20 minutes from Lake Placid and about 1/3 the price of what I would have had to spend to stay in Lake Placid itself.

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For dinner, we headed to this neat small local restaurant called Eat and Meet (thank you, Yelp, for helping us). If you are there, you should check this place out. It has outdoor seating that is actually on a little hill so you can sit on the balcony and look down on the street. There was a little fire pit with a fire, and it is also an old mini-golf course! There was some rain as we ate outside, but the ambiance was awesome. I think we fell asleep by 7:45pm– let me tell you, I cannot remember the last time I was so exhausted.

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Friday morning we went back into Lake Placid so I could take a quick swim in Mirror Lake. Ofcourse when we left Saranac Lake I realized I forgot a vital piece of swim equipment: my goggles. So we wasted a bit of time in town before the Athlete Village opened so I could purchase a pair of goggles. I mean, you can never have enough goggles anyway.

Mirror Lake is gorgeous. Compared to what I am used to (which is, swimming in a murky pond) I felt in heaven. It is crisp and feels “fresh.” Over the past couple days I had been concerned that I would overheat in my long-sleeved wetsuit (pre-race jitters probably contributed to it). After much back and forth with whether or not to try a sleeveless wetsuit that a friend of mine had lent, I decided to just go with what I know and use the full-sleeve wetsuit. There were other people who were doing the full loop of the swim, but I kept mine short  (about 20 minutes) since I knew I would be swimming enough in a couple of days!

After the swim, Kevin and I headed to a little race info session presented by Endurance Nation. I really wanted to go, since I had never ridden the bike course before, and figured I could use all the help I could get with this race being my first Ironman. It was very informative, and gave Kevin a chance to take a snooze. We even got a free training DVD and some gummy chews.

Kevin picked up a few extras while I went to the restroom. Haha

Kevin picked up  just a few extras while I went to the restroom. Haha

In the afternoon, we headed back to Saranac Lake and took a leisure ride around the area, which was gorgeous. The air in the Adirondacks is crisp and the weather was beautiful. No humidity whatsoever. Perfect.

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The views were amazing

After the ride I packed all my bags and prepared my bike. They give you five bags: one for AM clothes, one for the bike portion, a bike special needs bag, one for the run portion, and a run special needs bag. I’m pretty sure all IM athletes are just as anal as I and packed/unpacked/repacked all their gear at least two or three times before actually placing everything in the appropriate bags!

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My packing list:

Morning Of bag:

  • tri-top,
  • tri-shorts,
  • flip flops,
  • long pants,
  • sweat shirt,
  • body glide,
  • wetsuit,
  • goggles (x2),
  • swim cap,
  • timing chip

Bike:

  • Helmet,
  • gloves,
  • long fingered gloves,
  • arm warmers,
  • bike shorts,
  • jersey,
  • spare tube/ co2 cartridges (three on the bike),
  • socks,
  • bike shoes,
  • sun glasses,
  • sun tan lotion,
  • chap stick,
  • wet wipes,
  • towel
  • sunsleeves (which were horrible! cheap does NOT mean better)

Bike special needs:

  • rain jacket
  • wet wipes
  • contact solution
  • contacts
  • chamois cream
  • luna bar
  • 2x cliff bars
  • extra tube
  • extra CO2 cartridges
  • advil

Run bag:

  • running shorts
  • compression calf sleeves
  • socks
  • running shoes
  • visor
  • race number
  • fuel belt (with tums/salt tabs/ chap stick)
  • nutrition waffle

Run Special needs:

  • contact solution
  • nutrition waffle
  • arm warmers
  • long sleeve t-shirt
  • wetwipes
  • gloves
  • advil

Nutrition:

  • cliff bars (goal: eat one per hour on the bike; I cut them into six pieces so they are easier to eat)
  • energy waffles
  • bio-charge
  • Salt tabs
  • O2 Gold

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Once that was done, we took a little trip down to Schroon Lake to visit my parents at their campsite and have dinner as well as go through race day arrangements.

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Saturday

Saturday morning, we awoke early and headed back to Lake Placid for a hearty breakfast and took a nice walk around Mirror Lake. Then it was time to drop off my bags and bike. Since the weather forecast showed rain overnight, I left out the clothes that I wanted to stay dry overnight. Let me tell you, there are some pretty cleve people who came up with ways to keep their bags dry if it rains (hints for a future IM race?!?) I checked in my bike (and they even take pictures of every bike!) and we headed back out of town. I kind of wanted to get away from all the craziness/ excitement and just relax outside of town.

Perfect day.

Perfect day.

Loading up!

Loading up!

I ordered a

I ordered a “side pancake” and this is what I got. To put it in perspective, that is a pint glass of water in the back. It was HUGE. And yes, I ate it all.

My love helping apply my number

My love helping apply my number

Bike is racked!

Bike is racked! Thanks to the wonderful volunteer who took my photo.

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We visited a local Hudson Valley-er (and also triathlete!)at their campsite for a little while for a beverage (well, I had gatorade) and then headed to an early dinner. By early, I mean 4:45pm early. There, we met up with another fellow ex- Hudson Valley-er/ mountain biker/road rider/duathlete/ my soul sister Jen C) for some pre-race de-briefing. It was important that I had my pre-race veggie burger and french fries–a pre-race tradition that is vital! Low and behold, I found out this restaurant did NOT serve french fries (whatttttttt???????). Jen, I love her, spoke up and asked why they do not serve french fries if they serve chips. The waitress was great and offered home fries instead, and Jen and I had some of those instead of french fries. We chatted about everything and then headed back to our lodging early so I could relax and, yet again, go over all the things I would need in the am.

Veggie burger with....home fries

Veggie burger with….home fries

Love this guy

Love this guy

My soul sister :-) Traveled all the way up from FL to be here with me!

My soul sister 🙂 Traveled all the way up from FL to be here with me! And yes that is a brownie which I just HAD to have. 

….To Be Continued

The Emotions of Ironman.

…Okay, tomorrow it will be one week until the big day.

Calm my excited, rapidly beating heart.

I finished my last “big ride” (50 miler) today. Tomorrow morning before work I’ll head for a short 6 mile run and Monday I plan on another swim around here. (I am not sure what is in store in terms of next week’s workouts, but I’m pretty sure next week is all about taking it easy.) I found myself wanting to go out and do more (of either running/biking/swimming) today, but in a weeks time I will be doing plenty of all three (and hopefully all under 17 hours).

As I was driving around picking up some last minute items to pack, I was trying to figure out what I really feel in regards to this race.

Disbelief. When I started setting out all my gear the other day, I could not really believe that I am taking part in IMLP. For years I have followed the blogs of triathletes; I have read about their own packing lists and experiences training and racing in Ironmans. But I never actually thought I would be doing one someday. There is a difference between wanting to do something, and actually going out there and doing it.

The start of my packing task

Packing has only just begun.

Fear. No doubt about it, I am scared. I am scared of the mass swim start. I have only swan 2.4 miles outside once before, and that was by myself. I am scared of bodies swimming over me and the feeling of “drowning” under them. I am afraid of not finishing by the cut off times. I am afraid of not finishing, period. I have invested so much into this race, the thought of not completing it is frightening. I am afraid of having to stop and waste time going to the bathroom (i know, silly things). I am afraid of failing. I fear all the missed workouts from surgery, or when “life” happened, will add up and ultimately, my body will not let me finish.

Regret. Parts of me regret those times when I “listened to my body” and refrained from going further, or pushing myself harder. The times I took an extra “rest day” when my coach had workouts planned.

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Sadness. There are parts of me that are sad that this journey I started in October is almost over. What will I do with my life? My weeks have been planned around my long rides and long runs! (Well, we all know I’ll be going back to grad school in the

Stress. There is a certain element of anxiety/stress that goes along with every race I do: getting to the race location, making sure everything is all set up by the time it needs to be; the stress of parking and finding family members (and also knowing the stress that family members will encounter trying to find me! I know I will hear about it after the event.)

Joy. I’ve talked about it before: ironman training has created an emotionally unstable being in me…Atleast when it comes to watching ironman finish videos. Tears of joy seem to well up in my eyes when I imagine myself crossing that finish line and becoming an “ironman;” hearing my name by Mike Reilly on the loudspeaker…I choke up inside thinking that that could be me. Seriously. I do not know how people watch those YouTube videos without crying. (Lets face it, those people must simply be robots).

And the biggest emotion I have felt recently is excitement/anticipation. I am definitely excited for next weekend (rather, Thursday, when Kevin and I head up to Lake Placid). I have embarked on other adventures in the past, and have challenged myself physically and psychologically, but nothing compares to taking on the challenge of an Ironman.  I cannot wait to get my race packet– to see my number with my name….To see Mirror Lake in person…To meet other triathletes I have come to “know” online, who have given me tips and hints on the big day…I am sooooo excited!

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It’s Doable.

There are 15 days left until race day.

A little over two weeks.

While tying that I just had a “Ohh sh-t” moment. Seriously, only two weeks left?

Where did the time go?

Ironman Lake Placid has been a part of my daily life for the past 8 months. I’ve thought about it, in some capacity, everyday. Whether it was a long training ride, or jitters I had the night before a tough training day, or if it was a “rest day,” I’ve thought about this race on a daily basis.

Crazy? Yea, probably.

For me, it is crazy to think that now I am “tapering.” I don’t think I have ever really “tapered” before. There are parts of me that want to make up for all the long runs and rides I never finished. But I know that pushing myself now will not get me to the finish line any quicker in this type of event. It takes weeks to build up to riding the full ironman distance ride (and run, and swim). So one extra day will do nothing.

It may be because  I have settled into a more normal pattern at work, and finished up that summer class, but I feel I have all the time in the world at the moment (which I know will not last once I go back to grad school in the fall). So I figured I would enjoy this time and blog.

It is funny how as the length of the race you train for increases, your perception of training decreases. For example, I remember training for my 70.3 triathlons and thinking, “Holy crap, a half marathon after a 56 mile bike ride? Are you kidding?” Now, the thought of jumping on the bike for a 56 mile ride is nothing (heck, any ride under 4 hours is a short ride). I run half-marathon distance runs weekly, as if it is “just another run.”  I never thought I would be able to finish a century ride, especially alone. But I’ve completed four 100+ milers since the end of May.

Despite wanting to complete an ironman in my lifetime, I never really thought I would ever be able to swim 2.4 miles in the open water without the use of flippers or a buoy (as crutches to use when I was tired). Yet, I finished my first 2.4 OWS alone on Monday. To my surprise, I did not drown, nor have a seizure, nor be eaten by fish. I put my mind to completing that distance, and I did it.

I remember vividly my first time back on the mountain bike last August after my nine month mountain biking hiatus. I was horrible. I was scared to ride over rocks and roots that I once was able to ride over without difficulties. The ride was supposed to be fun. All I could think about while trying to concentrate on the trails through my tears was how I wasn’t good at anything. I ended up walking more of the bike ride than riding. I gave up. I’ll never be a good mountain biker. Why can’t I do this? Why can’t I buck up and be brave? I suck at mountain biking. I’ll never be good at anything.

 It is during this bike ride that I made the mental decision to sign up for IMLP–to prove to myself that I can do something that I put my mind to; that I can be brave, that there is something I am good at.

(Mind you, the next day of mountain biking was the complete opposite– I guess it took awhile for me to get my “mountain bike legs” back.)

Now, I am just your average beginner triathlete. I’m not out to gain a slot at Kona by doing IMLP. I’m a back of the pack swimmer, and your average cyclist and runner. I don’t think I will ever be a triathlete who gets to Kona, and I am okay with that. I am doing this race because I want to do it. I’ve turned into an emotional guppy during training; whenever I see a video of people crossing the finish line at IM races, I start to cry. Yes, it is because I may be tired, but crossing that finish line is something I want to do so badly that even the thought makes me tear up.Why? Because completing this type of event is beyond what I think I am capable of doing.

Despite those little voices that tell me I can’t finish this race, there is a voice that states, “It’s doable.”

I did not realize those two (or three) words could have such an impact on me.

This Ironman is doable. Just like the 2.4mile open water solo swim was, and a century ride was.

It’s doable.

I know I am physically in the best shape I have ever been in. I’ve gained stamina and strength through all the training I’ve done. I’ve gained knowledge about my body, and the power of nutrition. I’ve learned that no matter the weather, you are still able to ride/run and swim. I’ve realized that on those rides where I’ve been cold, wet, and tired, I never gave up. (Well, being alone in areas without reception, you kind of have no choice whether you give up or not, because no one can get to you). My last long ride was horrible. I didn’t even finish the distance I was supposed to,nor did I finish the long run I had planned. But, I know in a little over two weeks I will be doing it all again. The next time time, though, there will be thousands of other athletes around me. We will all be in the same boat together. Attempting for the first time (or second, or tenth for others) a race that so many people have called us crazy for attempting. Doing something that people say is impossible, and that is unnatural for the body to do. We will push ourselves, mentally, physically, and emotionally, to see what we are capable of doing.

Despite the doubts, pain, and fear, we will do it.

When was the last crazy post written?

July 2015
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