August 2, 2011

2011 Ironman Lake Placid race report

I wanted to write this one a little bit after the fact because I wanted to let this one sink in a little bit before dropping my thoughts on paper.  As evidenced by prior posts, I had an inkling that I was going to rip a solid race and had put a lot of hours in this year so far leading up to it.  (editors note: I do not believe I had a GREAT race, I had a good race and was able to turn around a few mistakes I made during the day)
But leading up to this race, I was feeling pretty confident. I had been using the same race day nutrition that I used on race day since November of 2010 on every single trainer ride in my basement and every other ride to get my body used to breaking down that many calories and the specific concentrations of my drink mixtures.  As far as training hours go, since January 1, 2011 - I had put in close to 470 hours of training.  I won't bore you all with the details, but it was 243 hours of cycling and 1,000+ miles of running and 88 hours of swimming.  (Basically I had maintained my swim distances from 2009, increased 38 hours of cycling and then 209 more miles of running as compared to 2009)  That was a lot of time and I'm not going to lie, I was stretched pretty thin at times.  (I thought I was stretched thin before....) But I had about 8 weeks over 20 hours total and had an average of 16.5 hours for each week in 2011 (that's including my 8-9 hour rest weeks) Needless to say I had put in the training...

The days leading up to the race were pretty status quo for me, I had a good taper going, wasn't really feeling too awful fresh, but starting to get that bounce back in my step and I was getting everything organized.  One thing that was weird was that Kim kept on talking about how this was going to be a "non-wetsuit" swim.  And I have heard all the chatter on slowtwitch before and people "freak out" that the water's too warm and everything and I didn't want to accept it.  Kim decided to order us Blue Seventy ZP3TX swim skins in the unlikely occurence that it would be non-wetsuit.  She ordered them and told me, if we don't use them, we return them, if we do - they'll help and hopefully you can wear it at another race this season that's also a non-wetsuit swim.  I am VERY glad she was persistent enough to order one.  :o)
Other than that, the days leading up to the race were good, dad and I travelled up to the ADK's and we had a hotel at the Adirondack Holiday Lodge in Wilmington (better than "the Ritz") and we had kind of a "home base" with Kim's family who had rented a condo place on the run course.  This would prove integral to eliminating the stress leading up to race day by either just having meals there or just having a place to crash and not staring at each other wondering what to do next in a hotel somewhere.  Dad and I hung out there for the two days leading up to the race and he hung there on race day.  Kim's dad had the great idea of creaing "Team Ammon and Earley" t-shirts and everyone wore them for the race, which was really cool. 
Race morning came and I really don't remember too much from that.  Weird.  I heard as I was dropping sunglasses off in my T1 bag that it would be a "non-wetsuit swim for those age groupers going for awards and Kona slots" and I smiled as I walked into transition.  A non-wetsuit swim would help me (the stronger swimmer) and also I had the swim skin.  I was hoping to do pretty well in the swim.  Kim and I got dressed in the suits, walked down to the water and sat with a few friends for a few minutes before I got antsy and got up.
I got in the water and the pro's went off, I was still hanging on the dock and I treaded water over to the start line and was about 5-7 people to the right of the dock and RIGHT on the line.  There was a bigger guy next to me in a full wetsuit who was breaststroke kicking the hell out of me as I was in the swim skin which had no bouyancy.  Regardless, the next 10 minutes were really long as I treaded water and tried to maintain my position on the line.  But as "Christmas Day" drew nearer, I knew I would be ready.

Swim - 2.4 miles - 56:27 - 4th in the AG
The cannon fired and it was physical.  I knew that going into this, it's a variable washing machine of bodies all around and not having the extra float of a wetsuit made this a little daunting.  Regardless, I got out and hooked onto a pair of feet, loop one was really uneventful other than just trying to get on faster feet each corner.  (as was everyone else, which made loop one pretty physical)  As I drew near shore and saw the timing mats upon exiting the water, the clock read 37:XX which to me shocked me, for a brief second, I didn't know if I had swam really slowly, or if they hadn't changed it over from the pro's.  It would be the second of my two ideas that was true. I hit the mat in 27 minutes. Phew. 
But after going thru the arch and hearing the names being called, I heard Ken Koppenhaven and then another name, then Travis Earley! So I yelled, "Ken!!!" as I dove back in and sprinted to catch up to him.  I caught him as we were rounding the dock and I put my hand right into his armpit as swam up to him (Don't ask, I think he was actually going straight and I hadn't turned yet, plus he had a wetsuit on...he had a GREAT swim) but he gave me a thumbs up sign on his next stroke and I swore I saw a smile :o) It was a good feeling as in 2009, I had done pretty much the same thing with my buddy Bruce. Good times.  But anyway, the rest of the loop was good, I would spot Ken a few more times and we would exit around each other.  I goofed off on the way to transition and I was having a fun start to the day.

Bike - 112 miles - 5:41:23 - 9th in AG
After heading thru transition, I grabbed my bike from another friend volunteering, Jeremy Hammond.  He gave me some words of encouragement and ushered me onto the course.  I started riding and immediately noticed my Garmin wasn't picking up HR or power.  This scared me, but I knew I could do it without.  However on the rollers out of town, I played with it a bit and eventually shut it off and turned it back on and they were detected immedaitely.  Phew, disaster averted!

Loop one was really nothing special, just what I had practiced and nutrition was going in smoothly and I was hitting all of my numbers.  I made it down the descent in one piece and fellow awesome triathlete Ryan Barnett, dropped like a stone next to me down the descent and was whizzing by so fast I couldn't even call his name out! Loop two the descent was a little more shaky for me, but I survived.  On a side note, I checked my brakes as I got my bike home and they were almost completely worn thru because of how much I was braking on that downhill...scary.  But nothing special really happened other than a little squirrell going across my path on one of the out and backs which made me smile. 
About 3:30 into the bike I re-evaluated my nutrition that I still had on me.  I had a 600 calorie bottle of gatorade and carbo pro and 2 gels each being about 100 calories a piece.  I knew that I could digest about 400 calories an hour on the bike and mentally split this bottle in half for the remainder of my ride (one half this hour and then one half the next hour) About 45 minutes later, I reached back to have a drink and squeezed into my mouth and it was empty... Whoa.... NOT good!  I immediately thought my race was over, that I had screwed up again and it was completely my fault.  But then experience reared it's sly head and said, "no, you know what to do, you've overdrank calories before, just slow down, sip a little wate and take a salt pill.  It took about 1.5 hours for my gut to calm down, but I dug myself out. 
I ran into Nick Brodnicki in the last 11 miles of the course and he helped me to maintain a steady speed and play a little cat and mouse with him.  He entered T2 faster than I did, but as we exited he was right in front of me.

Run - 26.2 miles - 3:27:05 - 4th in AG
The run was what I knew I had faith in.  I had been putting in some GOOD miles leading up to IMLP and I was prepared to unleash my secret that I'd kept hidden for so long.  I caught Nick and our other friend Andy Burke on the down hill heading out of transition and didn't look back.  I was motoring.  I had some folks on the run course that were being spotters for me and telling me how far back I was in the AG and I didn't hear anyone on loop one.  I just knew that when I saw the leaders coming back towards me on River Road, I could just count those folks in my age group based upon their bib #s (I knew the range was approximately #760-#960) The first loop, I did an approximate count and I was about 7th according to my calculations.  It was time to start cranking. 

I floated the first loop and was feeling good, I climbed Rich Clark hill and slapped a bunch of fives and then by the time I got back to transition, my watch read 1:35 for the marathon.  By this time it was getting a little hot out and muggy.  I was picking folks off and by the time I hit River Road on loop 2 I was in what I thought was 5th.  The race was now mine to lose.  I only got passed by about 3 people the entire 3rd loop (that I saw...) and one was a 50 year old dude that did an "airplane" around the last River Road turnaround. 
Mile 16 came and I started to walk the aid stations to ensure that I was getting all the nutrients that I needed.  My mile splits were going north pretty quick and the 7:15's and 7:30's that I was holding on the first loop gave way to 8:00's and I even saw a 9 on the screen at one mile.  I was taking salt like it was my job and probably ate about 10 tabs over the course of the marathon.  Meanwhile, I kept on looking at calves and checking to see if anyone was coming up on me quick.  By this time the lap traffic of the first loop athletes were mixing in to the 2nd loopers and it was getting harder and harder to find out who was on what loop. 

By the time I hit the River Road turn around, I mentally made note that it was about a 10k back to the finish line.  I thought to myself, how many times have you run a 10k in training, just get this done!  I hit 4.2 to go and I envisioned that I was in my neighborhood doing my normal loop.  Climbing the "Rich Clark hill" the second time, there were no high fives to folks, it was ALL business.  I made it to the last little out and back before the oval and I thought, "I'll be damned if someone passes me right now and knocks me off the podium" so I gave it my all and halfway back to the oval, I started to run out of gas...but was able to power thru the downhill and towards the finish line.  I hit the oval and looked over my shoulder and thought I saw someone, so I started sprinting.  (there was no one there)
FINAL TIME - 10:10:31 - 4th in the AG and 62nd overall (including pros)
The aftermath is that it didn't sink in that I had just done a 17 minute PR, the only thing I wanted to do was sit down, or lie down.  I started to dry heave a bit and as I let my body go limp and have a few good hurls over a garbage can, they moved me into the med tent.  Upon getting weighed on the scale, I was 13 pounds lighter than when I initially was weighed at registration.  That was enough for them to administer an IV for me to get some fluids in me.  As I was laying there with the IV, I saw Ryan and he told me, "Stop being a little bitch and let's go get a beer at the brew pub." He apparently had some blood blisters in his shoes that broke open near the line that looked a whole lot worse than they were. 
I scared the hell out of my dad (which is to be expected after the ridiculousness of 2009) by being in the med tent, but I knew if I got an IV, I would be better recovered in the chance that I might be punching my ticket this year.  A little more than 30 mintues later, I discharged myself from medical and started wandering around looking for dad.  I felt like a lost puppy dog and I couldn't find him for the life of me.  He apparently was busy wrangling my bike out of transition, grabbing my bags meanwhile looking for me as well.  We were just missing each other.  2 hours later I found him and we watched Kim finish and it was a good afternoon.  I tried to post as many pics as I could here, but there are some more right HERE if you want to check all the shots. (I think there's even an almost video of me coming towards the finish line - It cuts off)
I'm going to post another one about how everything with Ironman is hard....even going to get a Kona slot (long story) I'll try to post that before the weekend as I have some good photos to get up as well.  But thank you to everyone on course cheering me on (seriously it seemed like all of Rochester was there!) and to everyone I saw and yelled at on race day.  Every Ironman has a story and this one was a pretty good one...Cheers.

1 comment:

Tim said...

Nice work! Did you make it to the brew pub? Because if you didn't then you know what that makes you, right?