Saturday, July 30, 2005

Ford Ironman Lake Placid

Pink's Beautiful Day
July 24, 2005

It’s been a long time since I’ve had to wake up early for a race; and I mean 3:45am early. I had been up in Keene (20 minutes from Lake Placid) with my home stay Lisa and Rich for almost two weeks prior to Ironman. It was extremely hot and humid the weeks leading up to the race, but when I woke on Sunday morning it was crisp and cool with very little humidity. It’s been such a long time since I’ve raced an IM that I had to ask a few of the pros what went in my special needs bags and in my transition bags and then were did they go! I felt like a newbie with all my questions. I was so used to setting up my transition area with everything I needed right there and this was foreign to me! I figured it out with a little help and after I dropped off my special needs bags near the lake and then proceeded to get my wetsuit on and do a warm up swim. The lake temperature was comfortable and what was even sweeter was the fact that about 4 feet under the water was a rope holding the buoys. So, around the entire race course under the water there was a rope to look out and keep you going in the correct direction. No need to sight as it was like having a black line down the lane of the pool! My kind of swim course!
Swim Course in Mirror Lake, LP

The canon went off at 6:25am giving the women professionals a head start of 35 minutes. This race was named the Women’s Championship, so there were no men professionals. The 35 minute gap between the pros and amateurs was to allow us time to get around the two loop swim without interference from the faster amateur men and hopefully would allow for the first woman to cross the finish line ahead of the amateurs. I got beat up a bit in the beginning; everyone jockeying for position. I received a kick to the goggles which made them suction even more to my eye. I decided that it would eventually ease up and it did. I kept my pace comfortable and ended up passing quite a few women on the first loop. I eventually found myself leading a small group during the first half of the second loop. Soon another woman came to the front and I drafted off of her until the swim exit. Come to find I came out of the water with Karen Smyers in a time of 56:05.
I ran into the change tent and got my helmet and race belt (yeah, we had to wear it on the bike too) put the helmet on and ran through transition with in on (what a dork!) until I reached my bike; grabbed it and ran out to the mount line just ahead of Karen. It took her a few miles before she rode past me like I was standing still! A good friend of mine told me to be patient and during the first 56 miles (1st loop) that’s what I did. A few other women eventually passed me, but I did my own thing and kept enjoying the experience I was having. The night before I had chopped up Power Bars and but then into this bento box that straps onto the top tube. I had cut up about 5 Power Bars thinking that I would be able to eat it all and then pick up a few more in my special needs bag. Well, the Power Bars hardened and clumped together so much that I was lucky if I pulled a ¼ of one bar and ate it. So, needless to say, I didn’t eat as much as I wanted to and I need to devise a new nutrition plan! I was lucky this time around as I finished the first loop and grabbed my special needs bag, I had put a flask of Power Gel and that was what got me through my second 56 miles. Well, that and a water bottle full of Red Bull. I wanted to negative split the second loop and thought that I could, but because I didn’t get the nutrition in that I needed to and because the wind inevitably picks up, it didn’t happen and I was actually a bit slower the second time around. I was however able to pass two women toward the end of the ride, which brought my overall standing up to 10th. With about 11 miles to go I was ready to get my feet out of the cycling shoes as my toes were numb. It was such a welcomed sight as I took the last right hand turn towards T2 and the crowd was going crazy. I finished the bike in 5:46. I dismounted at the line and started running with my bike to transition when someone said that they had my bike and let go. I have been racing short course for so long now and we must do everything ourselves, that I completely forgot that at Ironman there are volunteers waiting to take your bike for you. So, I let go and just as I did I see my bike crashing onto the pavement and the volunteer falling over my bike! She dropped my bike. I hope she didn’t slice her leg on the chain rings.

I was told to keep going that it was okay, so I continued to run into the changing tent where approximately 5 women were there to help me put on my socks and shoes and grab my race belt while yet another woman was slathering my back with sunscreen and was able to dab some on my face as I ran out of the tent into the sunshine and screaming fans. I had the biggest smile on my face and I waved a few times as I ran by the spectators all the while feeling great to be off of the bike and now running. My goal for this race had been to keep it fun and to have a good time. If I placed in the top 10 or qualified for Kona that was just icing on the cake. I wanted to feel good for the entire race i.e. No aches and pains. Enjoy the experience that is Ironman no matter how long it took. As I ran out of T2 I instinctively hit the lap split on my watch. As I ran by the first mile marker I looked at my wrist to see the bold numbers staring back at me, 6:25! Too fast. I needed to slow down a bit. Even though I think of myself as a great runner, I know I’m not that fast yet! Give me a few more years and I’ll be able to hold that for a marathon. (Maybe not in IM, but just a straight marathon!). At the aid station at mile three, there was a man there with a sign and yelling to the athletes if they’d like to touch an Olympic Gold medal. I of course said “Hell ya!” with a huge grin on my face. I figured a little bit of Olympic luck might be just wanted I needed to get through this.
Olympic Ski Jumps

It eventually took me about 4 miles to slow my pace down to where it was something I knew I could most likely sustain. Not too far ahead I saw 9th place. I kept saying to myself, “patience, patience,” as I crept up on her and passed her. A few more miles down the road I saw other girl and steadily made my way into 8th. I still felt great and my pace was just right. I felt so strong and in control and all the while smiling at the competitors and the spectators. Between mile 10 and 15 I passed two more women; I’m now in 6th and still feel great. Up ahead I see 5th place moving slowly and I knew I could catch her. By mile 16 I passed her and never looked back. With three miles to go though I started to feel my legs; my right calf and my left quad were now starting to ache and the smile was slowing disappearing from my face. A friend rode past me and yelled that the 6th place woman was 800 metes behind me. It took everything I had to run up the last small incline and then continue with the last out and back section before heading onto the Olympic Speed Skating Oval for a half a lap around and into the finish.
While running those last few agonizing miles, I was thinking to myself that I had qualified for Kona and that I still had to train for these distances and if it was something that I really wanted to do? Going into this race, again, I thought it would be great to qualify, but I never really thought too much about it or that I would still have to train long! Then I thought, “I’m in the money.” Then as I crossed the line, I thought, “It’s about time! And I’m going to need some help because my legs don’t feel like moving any more.” My run split was the third fastest of the day and my personal PR at 3:23 with a total finish time of 10:10:16 and good enough for 5th place at the Ford Ironman Lake Placid Women’s Professional Championships!
I was soon taken to the Medical Tent, a common place for me to end up as some of you know, where I spent the next 3 ½ hours. My home stay Lisa was there with me and she stayed the entire time. After two IV’s and two trips to the toilet I was still unable to walk on my own due to the fact that every time I tried to stand or to take sips of water or chicken broth I would have horrible intestinal cramping. I couldn’t be released from the med tent until I could walk on my own. They wouldn’t let me lay down outside. Eventually there was nothing left for the medical staff to do and they needed the cot so I was relegated to take the token ambulance ride to the Saranac Lake Hospital. While in the ambulance I was stuck again for my third IV. Lisa was able to grab my belongings from the transition area and then meet me at the hospital. I unfortunately had to leave my car at the race site which we had to get the following day. While at the hospital I received another IV (that’s 4 total now) along with Protonix, Phenergan and Ativan. One of the prior mentioned drugs made me sleep for a while and when I woke I actually felt much better. I was diagnosed with mild exercise induced gastritis. To get the full X-Rated version of my hospital stay, you’ll have to call me! I was finally discharged at 2:30am and Lisa and I didn’t get home until about 3am when without taking a shower I got into bed and fell asleep.

I’m so glad that I was patient and raced my own race. I am recovering now and getting ready for my next race in Bellingham, WA which happens to be only two weeks from IM.

Oh, and I did accept the Kona slot.

1 comment:

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