Monday, August 06, 2007

IMLP - Full Race Report

A few weeks late, but still inspiring! Okay, maybe not..

Looking forward to the race as far back as 2005 when I was at Lake Placid for the first time to spectate and train, I had high hopes for 2007. I knew I'd be participating at LP that year and it just so happened to coincide with my plan to do my first 100 mile trail run as well. I'd done two IM's within 4 weeks of each other back in 2004, so I figured I could do something similar this year. Heck, I'd have 9 weeks between the two events! So what happened? Life happened. I started getting involved in a new sport (rugby) and new relationships started to take my time and focus away from triathlons and training. Running was still a priority as the 100 miler was my main goal for the first part of 2007. I didn't want to short change myself there since I'd never done a race of that distance before. Having done four previous IM distance races, as well as having been to LP, I knew how to prepare mentally for the challenge, and knew what it would take to get myself to the finish line.

Pre-race goals were very modest as I figured I’d finish close to the 15 hour mark, however, my "ideal" goal was to finish with a 1.5 hr swim, 7 hr bike, and a 5 hr run. If I threw in a 30 minute buffer for transitions and any 'downtime', my finish would be closer to 14:00 with sub-13:30 benchmarked as my "bagger" goal. I had been in the pool maybe 2 times since early May, done 2 open water swims of 45-60 min each, and 1.2 miles as part of a HIM; I had done a 200 mile ride as my long ride, but the farthest I had biked aside from that was 56 miles as part of the HIM, and a few 90 minute to 2 hour rides on the trainer. Rarely did I ride outside, or use my tri bike. The run had been my focus, and after taking a couple weeks off from running after the 100-miler, I only did about 1-2 runs each week, with my longest run around 12 miles. Nutrition, to say the least, was less than stellar.

I arrived in Lake Placid during a downpour Wednesday and kept putting off any type of workout. Managed a 30 minute swim Friday morning in my sister’s sleeveless wetsuit (considered using it race day), got in a 30 minute ride Saturday morning (needed to ride it after getting a full tune up the week before), and I guess I could count running in the rain a whole 50 yards for a photo op on Friday my last run before race day. Needless to say, I was pretty calm and relaxed before the race. Saturday was spent getting my bags organized and out of the way, watching baseball, and figuring out my nutrition plan for the day. I had a Post-In note from 2005 when I rode the course, and pretty much went by that. I also guesstimated that I needed between 300-350 calories an hour (based on my MMT training) on the bike, and filled up 2 bottles accordingly - one to freeze for my bike special needs bag, and one to start with on the first loop.

Morning of the race, I had the same breakfast I'd been having all week – toasted bagel topped with peanut butter and a sliced banana. I drank a bottle of Gatorade when I walked to transition at 5:30am and downed a GU about 15 minutes before the start. I slowly waded into the water at about 6:50 and treaded water until the start. It was cool to see everyone around Mirror Lake, but it’s no Monona Terrace at IM Wisconsin.

Swim - the plan was to stay in the thick of it. I didn't mind the punch to the back of the head, the elbow to the left eye, or the elbow to the nose since it meant I was still in the mix and that others were pushing me along. The less I had to work, the better. I took the turn too wide and knew I was off when I was in way too much open water. I spent too much time getting back to the buoys, but did my first loop around 40:11, which was my split at MooseMan Half. At the start of the second loop, again, I wanted to be in the mix with other swimmers, but they were a little more spread out this time. I didn't take the turn as wide and exited the water around 1:24:31.

T1 – I ran. I didn't want to lollygag; I wanted to get to transition and on the bike. I was amazed at how packed the change tent was and how many people were putting on new tops, bottoms, or both. My bike was waiting at the end of the rack when I came out in 6:24.

Bike – After my 30 minute ride the day before, I had my race plan – work as little as possible. By that, I mean spin up the hills, stay relaxed, and try to avoid 'firing' (using) my quads. I trained at LP 2 years ago and we drove the course Friday, so I was familiar with the hills, turns, wind, etc. If I felt like I was going too hard, I backed off. I'll admit to getting bored at the start of the second loop even after seeing my cheering sections. Mentally, I didn't want to do the ride, and could tell the lack of long rides was hurting me. To get over this, I started telling myself "let's just see what's around the corner and see if you still want to quit". The out/back to Haselton wasn't as bad as I'd heard, but it was the section of 86 to High Falls Gorges that I wasn't looking forward to. I finally made it to and over the cherries and bears before gliding into transition and passing off my bike in 6:55:36.

T2 – "You don’t have to run," a volunteer said to me. I didn't listen. I wonder if they say that to the pros. My bag was handed to me and a volunteer helped me in a nearly empty change tent. I put on my race belt, shoes, and visor, while she applied Biofreeze to my knee, then sunscreen to my arms and thighs. I about kneed her in the face when she rubbed my thighs too hard and told her, "I'm a little sore". She meant well and was just trying to massage them to loosen them up. I thanked her before heading out in 4:09.

Run – the early cheers are great and I saw a handful of people I knew. It was nice the first loop and I enjoyed reading all the chalking and signs along River Road, but I was starting to hurt. I ran with a girl I knew for a bit on the way back to town, then stopped to hug my GF around mile 10 and inform her "I hurt" before continuing on. Coming up the hill to Main St., Dave Greenfield from Elite Bicycles recognized me (hasn't seen me since Eagleman last year) and said I looked good. I put up a front as I made my way past my cheering boss, her husband, and parents, and started the out/back section of Mirror Lake Road. It was a great surprise to see a friend spectating and drinking along this section as he reminded me of a time I didn't give him water at Wisconsin 2002. It's a story he loves to tell, which gets more outrageous every time, but it kept me going. I hit the half way point in 2:24 and knew I'd have to dig deep even though my feet and Achilles were hurting. I said my 'nice job' to those I knew on the first loop, and decided to put my head down on the second loop. When passing my cheering section, I announced "See you in 2:45, or less". I ran along the white line and tried to avoid looking up as much as possible since I didn't want to see what was ahead of me. I wasn't sure of my minute/mile pace; I just wanted to focus on moving forward at a consistent speed. It wasn't until I hit mile 22 that the thought of finishing under 13:30 crossed my mind. I didn't push the pace and figured "if it happens, good; if not, oh well". I saw my GF and cimit before making the turn onto Mirror Lake Rd and said I'd be close to 13:30. My friend along this stretch offered me a Saranac Pale Ale, but I just couldn't take it. He still owes me. I headed into the Oval, ignored the kid who told me "hurry up", saw my boss and her neon green signs for me at the turn and took her advice when she said "wipe your nose" (it was encrusted with salt), then checked behind me to make sure no entourages were going to ruin my finisher photo as I cruised across the line with a marathon time of 4:58:29.

Total time was 13:29:09.

It was a good race. I can't say that it was perfect or ideal, but I "raced" within my abilities. I know I expect a lot from myself and had hoped to do close to 12:30 when I signed up last year, but it wasn't meant to be. Even when that wasn't an option, I tried to stay with it mentally and just enjoy the race. Also, I started the year at 172 or 174 and weighed in at registration at a husky 170. How 'bout that.

I will start training for Philly marathon Sept 9th with a goal of getting my stand a lone marathon time (4:00:18) as close to qualifying for Boston as possible.

There are no guarantees, but I've come to realize that already.


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