and congrats to Jon for a very strong Ironman.
It’s been two weeks since IM Lake Placid. After finishing it, I had to empty our house, move to a hotel, and prepare the family for an international move to Europe that starts this Friday. So, now that we have settled in a downtown hotel, herewith a short and delayed feedback on my race in Lake Placid.
First of all, thanks to AJ to a terrific coaching period: motivating, pushing at the right moments, and adjusting expectations where needed. During the IM, probably due to excitement, I only could remember: pacing, nutrition, hydration.
- Ironman is quiet an organization, no detail is left unattended. The athlete guide is full of information. I also would recommend to attend (at least one of) the athlete briefings. Rules and tricks are explained in a fun way;
- As my wife and little kids traveled with me, I swam every day. Swimming the loop two or three days prior to the race, gives a good feeling of what to expect: water temp, sighting, distance to turns, entering and getting out of the water;
- On the way to Lake Placid, we drove the bike race, it was less hilly than expected, especially the part that is supposed to be tough;
- Since I suffered a hamstring issue in the peak week, I skipped most of the run workouts in the taper phase, and did a ton of exercises to get those gluts and hamstrings what they are supposed to do.
- Likely a local bike shop will offer a ‘free’ safety check of your bike. The two guys in front of me had to leave their bike at the shop, because a lot of things ‘were bad’, the mechanic said. My bike, of course, was also in a terrible state. I should replace the tires a.s.a.p. ,,And those gears, I have never seen a 3 by 10″, he said. Unfortunately he lost my confidence, so I didn’t buy new tires, and I also did not fix a loose chain [see bike leg];
- Check the weather forecast every day to make up your mind what to wear and what to bring to special needs;
- The day before the race, I cooked potatoes, rice cakes, and pancakes (for breakfast).
- Alarm at 3:30am, I slept pretty well that night, although it was short. Do not have any expectations of sleep, and it turns out to be better then expected;
- Did 15-20 min of foam rolling;
- Big breakfast, but regret the pancakes, also eggs, water+GU, toast, fruit;
- A good run warm up on old shoes (that I dumped before the swim start), plyometrics, and a 15 min swim with drills (I like that as a warm up);
- Even though it is a long distance event, I would recommend not to be too modest when choosing your swim wave. I did 2 km at a HIM in May in 34 minutes, one loop two days before the race in 32 min, and expected to finish the swim in 1:05-1:10. To be safe, I choose the 1:10-1:20 wave. Bad choice. A lot of people start in a wave that is a little too fast, to enjoy the drafting behind faster swimmers. This strategy works if only swimmer goes in a fast wave. If too many apply this strategy, it is gonna be a mess, see here my experience in Lake Placid. In the first loop I passed at least 100 slower swimmers, in the second loop another 50. I found it frustrating and energy consuming. On a 10-15 hour race, 10 minutes is not a big difference, but I would have enjoyed the swim more when being in a faster group;
- Sighting in Lake Placis is too easy due to a cable 4 feet under water;
- Swim exit is well organized, volunteers help you take out your swim suit.
- No rush, no pause, is my motto. Although I did it a little to easy, I had all I needed with me on the bike;
- The latest weather update I saw early AM, announced 1-2 hour rain in the first bike loop, and <1 hour rain in the second loop. I put on an old wind stopper jacket, that protected me very well during the rain showers. Only after the race I understood the rain was so bad;
- Great course, full of small climbs and nice descents;
- My swim is better than my biking and running, so I enjoyed watching all those athletes and their $10-15k+ bikes;
- I focused on hard rate continuously and due to low temperature, I had no issues with hydration or nutrition. I ate a lot and drank 28+ oz water+GU every hour;
- There was rain and wind in the first two hours. After 2 hours it stopped raining and the wind stopper was completely soaked. I did not stop sneezing, so I dropped it at the bike special need bag to pick it up after the race;
- Rain also has the advantage that peeing on the bike – for the first time – is easier. It feels dirty, especially where one foot gets really wet relative to the other. You get used to it very fast. By the third time you just look <span style=”display: inline !important; float: none; background-color: transparent; color: #333333; cursor: text; font-family: Georgia,’Times New Roman’,’Bitstream Charter’,Times,serif; font-size: 16px; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; letter-spacing: normal; orphans: 2; text-align: left; text-decoration: none; text-indent: 0px; text-transform: none; -webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px; white-space: normal; word-spacing: 0px;”>around </span>like a Swiss cow as if nothing is happening;
- I got so obsessed with those expensive bikes, especially the ones that not go faster than mine, that some force decided I should experience bad luck. At mile 98 my chain broke. End of race? No, AJ made me think of all the bad things that could happen, so I had my tools with me to fix the chain. I took out two pieces and reconnected the chain. It was too short to use all the gears, but I could finish the bike leg;
- A tip from a spectator: have a high cadence during the last 2 miles and try to sit or stand up on the bike, just to have more blood in your legs, to get them ready for the run.
- They take your bike. How awesome!
- I knew this was gonna hurt me due to those hamstrings;
- I kept a 4/1 minute run/walk interval in the first loop, and focused on form and belly pressure as much as possible. Food and drinks are available every mile, so my camelback was not necessary, and I left it at the run special needs bag;
- Spectators are awesome, motivating, cheering, etc. They have stamina too, cause it is a long day to yell at all those athletes;
- Energy wise I had no issues. The first 20 miles I drank Gatorade and water every mile. The last 6 miles I tried broth (not for me), and only water.
- Hamstrings and calves made me walk half of the second loop, too bad, but I did not want to risk an injury or a DNF. So many athletes were walking, because of energy issues. They burned up there energy and strength on the bike leg, most during that rain shower. Good to know that biking 1-2 mph slower than you would normally do, really makes a big difference in the run.
- Wherever the finish is, when you hit the spot lights (200-300 feet to go), stop running or jogging, and just walk. Stop, look around you, the crowd is crazier when you give them attention. Do so;
- At the finish line a volunteer will guide the next few minutes, really appreciated their personal attention. They also do this to check if you are okay, or need some medical attention, just in case;
- After the finish line they serve the fattiest, thickest, and most awful pizza you have ever seen. And it tastes so good;
- The massage tent: the best 10 minutes massage ever;
- The best is yet to come: those crazy last 10 minutes of the 17 hour long day. The last finishers, and those who wait to be the last, are crawling to the finish line. At Lake Placid, an old man finished 1 minute before 12:00am, he was lifted by two volunteers and still his posture looked more like a ice speed skater than a runner, but he made and the crowd turned crazy. Energy is everywhere.
- Listen to your body, also in the peak week. Even if Training Peaks says you should run 18 miles, if it hurts at mile 17, be smarter than TP;
- Take time to sit down and think what could go wrong, and reduce the risk, either by prevention, or by a back up plan;
- Be realistic regarding pace, not too fast, and not too slow;
- I prefer real food above gels and sugar bars. It takes a couple of hours to cook it, but then you have nice meals during the event in stead of an upset stomach;
- AJ, you are right, it was not easy to do an IM without long distance experience. Given six months of preparation, finishing is realistic, but not without a walk.