I Call It Real

Ironman Lake Placid – 2013

Ironman Lake Placid – Race Report
July 28, 2013

Ironman Lake Placid was my first full iron distance triathlon. Having been in the sport for a long time, I had a decent understanding of what to expect from both the lead up and race day. In retrospect, much of that theory holds water; however, each Ironman journey is unique with highs and lows, both expected and unexpected. With that in mind, here is a snap shot of my journey.

Ironman training is different from any other type of triathlon training. The difference is not in what you do or how you do it really. It lies in the sacrifices you ask of yourself, your family & your friends. You are a sponge when it comes to the time you absorb from the normal flow of your life. I can not emphasize enough the sacrifices your loved ones make to allow you to complete this journey. They are as much responsible for your accomplishment. In my case, I asked for a bit more. In addition to the typical long bike rides and mood swings, I decided to have knee surgery in late March. This only put added pressure on my training. Moreover, I ran the risk of not fully healing in time for a July race. I felt this was a risk worth taking. In hindsight, the surgery didn’t help my knee as intended, but I still feel that it was the right call. I did everything within my power to get myself ready for this endeavor…but I’ll get to that later. Now on to race day!

I knew going into race day that I was ready for the swim and bike legs, but had my doubts about the run. I hadn’t run anything longer than one 12 mile run about 6 weeks prior. That caused my knee discomfort. So, I shut down the run training at that point hoping that it would feel better come race day. In spite, my knee was sore intermittently in the weeks leading up to IMLP, so I knew in that the possibility existed for a difficult run. Regardless, I was calm and at ease with what was in front of me. I felt as though I was mentally ready to take on whatever the day held in store for me.

As I made my way down to swim start, I felt the energy of a typical race….except magnified by about 100. Some of this I attribute to the Ironman and some I attribute to Lake Placid. I can’t say enough about the town and the venue. Absolutely phenomenal! If you want to experience Ironman as it was intended, go do IMLP.

With the new IM rolling swim start, I was in the second coral for those expecting to swim between 1 hour and 1 hour and 10 minutes. As I entered the water, I felt really good to finally get started. The first 200 yards or so were as controlled as any swim start I’ve ever done. Most local race starts are far more chaotic than this. So, I got into a pretty good rhythm. I was about 10 meters or so away from the buoy line but still felt like I was getting a decent draft from the other swimmers. I made the first turn buoy in good shape. The next turn buoy was only 25 meters later, so it came up quickly. Upon making this turn, I caught a cramp in my calf. This was probably from a few strong kicks on the turn. I made a few strokes with a straight foot and it resolved itself pretty quickly. Back on pace, I completed my first loop about where I expected. On the short jog on the beach in between loops, I took a quick gel that I had tucked in my wetsuit sleeve. Back in the water for the second loop, I washed it down with some Mirror Lake water.  The second loop was similar to the first except that somehow I got pushed out wide after the second turn buoy. After much hype about the underwater cable in Mirror Lake that makes navigation easy, I really had little use for it. I suppose it kept everyone on course, but it was a non-factor as far as I am concerned.

Running out of the water, I was greeted with a slight drizzle and an enthusiastic crowd lining the path to the 1980 Speed Skating oval that housed transition. It was great running the short distance. I found my Bike Gear bag hanging pretty easily. Grabbed it and jogged over to the change tent. I didn’t have anyone helping me in the change tent so things were a bit longer than I had hoped. Anyways, got everything I needed and ran off to get my bike which a volunteer almost had waiting for me.

It was drizzling slightly as I headed out of Lake Placid. In spite of this, I was excited to get going. I actually love riding in the rain, so it suit me well. The ascent out of town was fairly uneventful. I was glad however for my 11-28 rear gear choice. Along this stretch I passed my good friend and training partner for several of the long bike efforts leading up to IMLP, Marc Seaverson. He was doing a quick bike check on the side of the road, but caught back up quickly. It was nice to see a familiar face. At this pint the descent to Keene was coming up. This is a wicked fast descent but the road condition is awful. Coupled with wet roads, it was quite treacherous. I love descending, so I just decided to tuck into my aerobars and let it roll. All I can say is I topped out around 50mph and had an absolute blast. The next section is reasonably flat by most standards except Florida. It was uneventful but really fun to ride. Nice rollers that you can really use to your advantage. The fun ends quickly with a right hand turn at the town of Jay. This is the toughest part of the course in my opinion. It’s a half mile climb at about 7-9% grade. After that things flattened out for a few miles before the long climb back into town. There wasn’t one part of this section that made it tough. However the entirety of it takes a little bit of the snap out of your legs, plus in the back of your mind you know you’re only half way done! This is a beautiful section to ride as it winds its way along the %#*^{ River producing some breathtaking scenery. It kind of took my mind off of the work my legs were doing. Culminating the ascent is 3 hills which are named Papa Bear, Mama Bear and Baby Bear. They’re actually rather fun as the crowd support there is off the charts. People were dressed up as Wonder Woman, the Flash and other unrecognizable entities. It was cool and uplifting though. Back through town, I passed the house we had rented and got to see Kim. Apparently, Brynley was napping and couldn’t be bothered, haha! Going through town was a bit dangerous as the roads were still wet. There are a few hard turns and road hazards through this section. I was concerned about other racers and their bike handling skills, so I eased back on the pace a little. In hind sight,I wish I would not have made this decision, but oh well. Loop 2 was good but was a bit more challenging simply because it was later in the game. I still felt pretty good and my power numbers were in the range I had expected, but I was a touch slower on loop 2 versus the first loop.

Getting off the bike felt great, but I knew the run was looming. I got my run gear bag and hit the change tent once again. This went a bit more smoothly and quickly as I had someone helping me with my gear bag.

Started the run out of town and felt pretty good. I knew I had good overall fitness, but suspected my run conditioning was a little suspect due to my lack of actual running. So, my plan was to take it easy and run for 9minutes and walk 1minute. I was hoping that this would give my body a bit of an opportunity to recover from each run portion. This plan worked out pretty well through about 4 or 5 miles. Then, I began to feel a little tightness laterally just above my knee. At this point, I knew my day would go sideways at some point….i just had no idea when.

I ran the 9:1 ratio as long as I could which was about through mile 8. This is where the self negotiations started in earnest. At first I decided on a ratio of .5mile run-.5mile walk. This was working OK for the next 3 or 4 miles. This was the part of the course where you were back in town. I was looking forward to this section to feed off of some of the energy from the crowd plus seeing my family. We had rented a house that was actually on the run course around mile 10 or 11. I figured this would be very uplifting. Wow was I mistaken. As I approached the house with the anticipation of seeing Kim and Brynley, I began to feel a cascade of emotions crash down on me. I was a shell of my normal self athletically. I had asked so much sacrifice from my family. Yet, I couldn’t do what I knew I could normally do because my knee was hurting so badly. I was overcome with an avalanche of guilt as I gave Kim a hug and Brynley a quick kiss. As I jogged off, I knew I had to pull myself together and regain some focus on the race. It took me another 5 minutes or so, but I got things emotionally buttoned back up to start loop #2.

The second loop again takes you out of town. There is a rather steep descent turning off of Main Street. The descents were difficult to manage at this point rather I was walking or running. So, I was trying to shuffle down this particular descent when my knee buckled and gave away. It was very painful and I knew that any type of lengthy running was over for me.

Round 2 of serious self negotiating began at this point. I really had two “lines in the sand” for this race…1) I didnt want to see 13:XX:XX on the finish clock & I didnt want my run time to be longer than my bike time. At around mile 16, I started calculating the times and figured if I could run some portion of the next 4 miles and make it to mile 20 by the 11:30 mark, I would be in good shape. I hit mile 20 well under 11:30, so I knew I was in good shape. I made it back through town walking but feeling pretty good about the day. The skies opened up and the rain started pouring as I approached the Olympic Oval and the finish line. I was determined to finish this race running, so as soon as I set foot on the oval I started jogging. The pain in my left knee felt like someone was jabbing it with an ice pick with every step. The crowd in the oval was fantastic though. I high fived all the way around the track and could feel the culmination of a fantastic day just meters away. As I crossed the finish line, I felt a sense of both elation and relief. Elated that I had accomplished what I set out to do and relieved that the enormity of this day was mostly behind me now.

Post Race

After the race, someone asked me if I had fun. I thought about the question for a few seconds and responded honestly with a definitive “no”. Oh sure there were a few fun parts of the race, i.e. bombing 50 mph downhill. But more than anything it was a chore that brought a great sense of accomplishment. If I could have gotten to the start line with a little bit more cooperation from my body, Im sure I could have had a better finish time on the clock. However, I’m also certain that I wouldn’t have a better day of getting everything possible out of myself on a particular day. For me, thats what this day and race was all about…taking whatever hand was dealt your way and making the best possible choices and never giving in to the voices that say no more. Always grinding, always putting one foot in front of the other…no matter what….just like life.

Are You Dedicated?

Its time to call something out as real again…how dedicated are you to becoming a better triathlete? Ready to commit to better your weakness? As a coach, one of the most frequent things I hear is difficulties with the swim portion. I am always amazed at how much time people spend swimming by comparison to their bike & run. No wonder you’re better at those 2!!! So, a fellow athlete of mine passed along his brother’s FaceBook post upon completing his college career as a SEC Div 1 swimmer. He was a sprinter, so keep in mind that a distance swimmer would be a bit more volume intensive, but it gives you some idea of the time commitment it takes to be truly dedicated. Have a look…IMG_3054

Pretty amazing if you ask me! How many yards did you swim last week? Not to say that many of us can commit that much time in our adult lives. However, I would suggest that there might be an hour or 2 here or there on the bike or run that might be better served to shift to the swim. To quote one of my new favorite artists Macklemore…”the greats weren’t great because at birth they could paint…the greats were great because they paint a lot.” Thats real.

The First Ironman Results

Saw this and was pretty amazed! After giving it some thought, I wasn’t really surprised though…shows the basic roots of the sport and what makes it so great. Can you imagine how impractical this is today with how triathlon has changed? Not to mention how irate people would be?!?! Still pretty cool to see!IM Results

A Real Pep Talk from Kid President

You struggling with some motivation today? Exhausting weekend? Coffee not cutting it? It is Monday after all right? Well, Fast Splits Coaching has got the remedy for you right here…watch this & then go get after it and do something awesome today. As real as it gets playa!

Kid President

A REAL Pep Talk from Kid President

I Call It Real Intro

Fast Splits Coaching is starting a new feature that I hope will be both entertaining and informative. It’s called “I Call It Real”. It will feature both products that I have tried and like or products that I think may be promising in the world of multisport. Additionally, it will feature some experiences and items that I run across that I want to share or give an opinion. I hope everyone one enjoys and learns!!!

The first “real” item is a plantar fasciitis sleeve by the sock company Feetures!

Feetures PF Sleeve


I have tried this sleeve while I sleep and have been impressed. I dont believe it will cure acute PF, but I do think it offers some foot relief in terms of recovery. Its pretty inexpensive and certainly worth a shot for those of you who suffer from PF or just sore feet after long runs. Check it out at http://www.feeturesbrand.com