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I was supposed to spend my birthday working at this year’s Lake Placid Ironman, but I ended up staying home with back issues (I’m getting old).  I did something to it in the middle of the week (slept funny?) and it took days for the discomfort to go away.  So instead, I spent my birthday sitting in my backyard pulling weeds (not good for a bad back – live and learn), and getting sushi with my friend.  Aside from the back pain, it was a good day.

I do have a pretty amazing story about a friend though…

One of the guys from my tri club had been training like a maniac for Lake Placid.  He busted his butt for a year.  A few weeks ago, he was racing in the Tinman half iron, where he got into a bike crash and broke his collarbone.  His dream of racing the 2012 Lake Placid Ironman was gone.  He was devastated.

He said he was still going to go to Placid and enjoy the day, and use it as inspiration for 2013.  But he had a different plan.

Turned out, he raced anyway.  He swam 2.4 miles, biked 112 miles, and ran 26.2 miles with a broken collarbone.  And the entire run was done with his arm strapped to his side in a sling.

He came in 12 minutes before the 17 hour cutoff.  He is officially an Ironman.

And that was with one arm, quite literally, tied behind his back.

Here’s a video of Jeff coming into the finish…

On Monday afternoon, I was sitting in my office at work, browser window open, hitting “refresh” every minute until the Ironman Lake Placid registration opened at 12:00.  I, like many others, frantically typed away, trying to get registered before all the spots filled.

No problemo!

Apparently, with the new additions of Ironman New York and Ironman Mount Tremblant, there was less pressure for people looking for a northeast Ironman to register for Lake Placid, and instead of selling out in minutes (like in previous years), it didn’t sell out until later that evening.  That certainly makes it easier!

Training for Beach2Battleship is going well.  My swimming feels fairly good. (I won’t use the word “strong,” but it’s respectable.)  Biking is still difficult, but getting easier.  I’m not fast, by any stretch of the imagination, but I get through.  Of course, running has taken a bit of a hit, since I’m not focusing on just that anymore, but it’s still going just fine.  I tend to be between 10:00 and 10:30/mile for most of my runs lately.

Speaking of which, I have a 12 miler to do tonight.  Seeing as we have a tornado watch and all these crazy thunderstorms coming through, I’ll be on the treadmill.  Hopefully we don’t lose power.

Fingers crossed!

I haven’t posted in quite a while!  Things have been so busy with my summer classes and trying to get training in, that by the time I’m done with work and training, it’s time to go to bed!

Also, I may have gotten sucked into watching the Tour de France for the last couple weeks…

So a lot has been going on – I’ve been teaching my summer classes (two weeks left and then I get a month off – wohoo!), and trying to get all my planned training in (stress on the trying).  I also had my first tri race!

North Country Triathlon: My first tri

On June 30th, I completed my first triathlon – the North Country Triathlon in Hague, NY (Lake George).  I did the olympic(ish – it’s a little long) distance race – a 1 mile swim, 26.5 mile bike, and 6.2 mile run, and loved every minute of it.

Pre-race:

I planned to wake up at 4am to be out the door by 4:45, and at the check in by 6am.

Instead, I slept through my alarm, and woke up at 5:45.  The race was an hour and a half away.  It started at 8am, and I still needed to check in, get my packet, rack my bike, and set up my transition area.  And I don’t like to feel rushed.  Uh oh.

There was a lot of swearing involved.

Fortunately, I had packed the night before, so I just threw on my clothes, grabbed my bags, and was out the door in a record 15 minutes.  Unfortunately, this didn’t give me time to eat breakfast.  I happen to have a box of Annie’s gummy bunnies in the backseat of my car, so I scarfed down a couple pouches of those for my pre-race breakfast and hauled butt up to Hague.

We got to Hague, and somehow managed to grab a prime parking spot about 50 feet from the finish line – not sure how that happened…

I got my packet, got bodymarked, and found my spot in the transition area.  The guy with the bike right next to me was there, so I gave him a heads up that I was a tri newbie, and to please just feel free to say something if I did anything stupid/rude/unacceptable.  He was really friendly and gave me some helpful ideas for laying out my transition area.

Once I got my transition area set up, I got my wetsuit on, and went out into the water to warm up.  I swam out about 100 yards or so, just to get get used to the water temperature.  It was a gorgeous day, a bit choppy, but nothing too overwhelming.  But I definitely felt like I had to work hard to go against it (away from the shore).

Just before 8am, we were all called out of the water so they could check everyone in for the start of their swim waves.  The olympic men 49+ years old went first, and then the olympic women (me).

Waiting to go into the water!

Heading into the water – I’m the short one in the middle.

Waiting for the gun!

The swim: (1 mile)

Once the first men’s wave got away from shore, our gun went off.  Since I didn’t want to deal with all the craziness that goes along with a race swim (hitting, kicking, pulling people down and swimming over them, etc.), I positioned myself off to the side where I had plenty of room and shouldn’t have much, if any, contact.

I waded out a bit since we were starting in very shallow water, and eventually dove in and got going.  It usually takes me a while to warm up on a swim, so for a while, it felt pretty crappy and slow going – I don’t think swimming against the chop helped either.  But eventually I got into a rhythm with my strokes, breathing, and the chop, and settled in.

The course was a straight out-and-back around the bouys (1 mile total), so sighting was easy.  The only problem I had was a near head-on collision with someone who was ahead of me.  They had already rounded the bouy, but weren’t swimming straight.  They crossed over the center line and into my path.  I only just saw them coming at me when they were about a foot away from slamming their head straight into mine.  Fortunately, I managed to stick my arm out into their chest and push them away from me.

Crisis averted.

Two other people swam across my path because they were swimming crooked, but I had more of a warning with those two, so I just slowed down for a minute, let them cross, and moved on.

I’m not the fastest swimmer in the world, but I finished my swim somewhere around 36 minutes or so, but it took me about 3 minutes to get to the shore and cross the timing mat, so my official swim time is 39:19.

Transition 1 (swim to bike):

I think my T1 went pretty good considering it was the first time I had done a swim to bike transition.  I brought an extra squeeze water bottle to quickly rinse the sand off my feet, rather than trying to deal with a basin, or just using a towel.  It worked great.

I had already peeled off the top half of my wetsuit while I was exiting the water.  There were no strippers (it’s a small race), so you just had to take care of it yourself when you got to your rack.  I got the wetsuit off, rinsed off my feet quickly, popped on my bike shorts, socks, shoes, top, sunglasses, and helmet (I made sure I did that before even unracking my bike – no chances of a DQ here!).

I had already turned on my garmin before going into the swim start, so I didn’t need to wait for it to get satellites.

Once the bike was unracked, I was off!

SO flattering

Unracking the bike…

And away I go!

The bike: (26.5 miles)

The bike course is open to traffic the whole way, but we never had a problem.  The roads are a bit busy in some spots, but everyone is very aware of the race, and there is plenty of shoulder in those busy parts.

The course was another out-and-back, mostly full of rollers (gentle hills up and down), but there is one killer hill from mile 10-ish to the turnaround point around mile 13.  It’s about 2.5 – 3 miles long, with grades up to 10% – YUCK.

I was feeling good on the bike, chugging along and just enjoying the day.  It took me a bit to get my bike legs in the beginning, so I was getting passed a lot for the first couple miles.  But I was just out there to have a good time and get some experience, so that was just fine with me.

A couple miles in, I started to feel pretty good, so I was able to pick it up a bit.  By the time I rolled into the town of Ticonderoga (where the big hill is), my average speed was 16.6 mph.  Not bad for me – I’m happy if I get 15 mph or higher.

Then I hit the hill…

My goal was to just make it up the hill, preferably without walking.  I almost did it.  I ended up having to walk twice, but I only count one of them.  🙂

The first time I had to get off and walk (just for a second) was because it was so steep that I had almost no forward momentum and I was about to topple over.  So better to just unclip and get to where it was a bit flatter to build up some momentum again.  No big deal.

The second time I had to walk was actually totally by accident.  I was chugging my way (very slowly) up the hill, and I meant to switch into an easier gear.  However, I accidentally did it backwards and shifted into a more difficult gear, and stopped dead.  Again, to avoid falling over, I had to unclip and walk for a second.

All things considered, I’m proud of how I did on the hill.  I think I biked about 90% of it, and I’m happy with that.  The entertaining thing was by the time I reached the top, my average speed for the bike had dropped to 12.2 mph.  Ouch.

At the top of the hill, there was a aid station, where I stopped for a second and refilled my water bottles.  Then it was time to enjoy the reward for making it to the top!

Going down the giant hill, I freewheeled it to 38 mph.  I could have gone faster, but that was the top of my comfort zone, so whenever I would hit 38 mph, I would back off and brake back down to 30 mph.  But I would immediately get right back up to 38 mph.  It was a nice little break for my legs after powering up that beast.

The rest of the bike was fairly uneventful.  I played leapfrog with a girl in my age group (your age is written on the back of your calf), for the rest of the way back to T2.  She was faster on the uphills, but I was faster on the downhills, so we just kept passing each other.  I could see her age marker, so I knew she was in my age group, so I was determined not to lose her – and I didn’t!

I finished the 26.5 mile bike in 1:53:41.

Transition 2 (bike to run):

We dismounted our bikes and ran into T2.  This switch was pretty quick and easy – rack bike, helmet off (not until bike is racked!), bike shorts off (I had my compression on underneath – that bothers some, but I’m fine with it for short races), running shoes on, garmin on wrist, grab handheld water bottle, and go.

Coming into T2.

The run: (6.2 miles)

The run was pretty uneventful.  It was HOT at this point, which ultimately was the biggest factor.  My legs felt just fine.  Out of the three, running is my strength, so I figured I could pass a couple people on this leg of the race.

The run course was hillier than I thought it would be, but it was a nice course and there were a lot of aid stations along the way.  I took a couple walk breaks along the way just due to the heat.  I made sure to get lots of water in me (and on me at aid stations), and was feeling pretty good.

I did manage to pass quite a few people on the run – including several girls in my age group, and the girl I had been leapfrogging with on the bike (yippie!).  The last little bit of the course is downhill into the finish.  At this point, I caught up with another woman, we chatted for a second (the typical “It’s so hot – I can’t wait to run right into the lake!  At least we’re almost done!”).  I had this fleeting moment of “I worked my butt off to catch you and there is no way you are beating me now, and then I took off for the line.

I smoked that chick.  Woot!  I finished my run with a time of 1:05:31.

Heading out on the run.

Coming in to the finish!

Hooray!

I had a great time at this race.  I will definitely do it again next year.  It’s really well run, with a nice course, and great people.

My overall time was 3:50:35.  I’ll take that for my first one!

Need to contact me?

geonerdette at gmail dot com

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