Reply To: Good Luck at IMLP

Joseph Fengler

Initial thoughts.  What a great course. I am very impressed with those that made this their first Ironman. It is a beast with lots of hill challenges. If you are not ready, this course will find every fault in your preparation and every weakness in your body.  Out of the 2,470 that signed up, 700 didn’t start or didn’t finish. So, the course is no joke. I glad I set my sights on Lake Placid for my Ironman event of 2019 and happy and honored to finish.

Swim. I went out faster than I wanted.  I attribute that to other participants NOT seeding themselves correctly.  As we were in the line, it was very apparent to me that dozens and dozens of swimmers lined up in time slots much faster than their capabilities.  I started with the 1:20 to 1:25 group.  And even then, I was swimming over top of people for the first leg of the first lap (several dog paddlers, back floaters, crawlers).  So, I pushed the pace to find better waters and that meant more effort than I wanted.  Once I got into a rhythm and found relatively open waters, the rest of the swim was on point.  Looking at the numbers, my heart rate climbed a bit too high at the end of the swim and then spiked at I got out of the water. The spike was more than likely during my wet suit removal as it was a bit chaotic on the sand.

Transition 1.  I walked/jogged.  I really focused on taking some deep breaths and relaxing to not have any big heart rate spikes. Put on dry bike jersey top and took my time.  Drank some water and ate a waffle bar before I got my bike.  Got some good advice earlier this year – if you don’t expect to finish in the top 50 in your age group, taking an extra minute or two in transition is well worth it.

Bike. It was a warm day for sure.  But, my nutrition was dialed in (thanks Coach AJ). Decided to drink a bit more than I planned to stay hydrated.  Ate almost all my complex carbs with about 30 minutes to go on the bike. I pushed the bike a bit on the flats.  I knew I was going to be a bit gimpy on the run, so I wanted to bank sometime in case my leg fell off on the run.  I knew I was burning some reserves.  I hit the deceptive rolling hills between Keane and Jay at 138 to 140 HR instead of 130 to 133 HR.  On the hills, I tried to ride conservative – although I was in zone 3 more than I wanted – part of that was the heat. Looking back at the numbers, my heart average was high and my cadence was a touch low.  Given I was exceeding my heart rate targets, I didn’t really use my goal power target. It was clear that pushing a 140 watts power – as an average – on the rolling hills would have easily crushed my heart rate to over 150.  So, that power “target” was quickly dismissed early. I did use power as a reference on the climbs – just to make sure I didn’t push too hard as my heart rate tended to lag on the front part of a hill.  The bike course took a lot of folks. Lots of walking bikes on the second time over the Bear hills.  Blown riders on the second pass from Keane to Jay.  I was glad to have rode the course and knew what was coming and took the proper plan to the ride (thanks Ryan…).

Transition 2.  Good.  Again, a complete change of kit. New kit – shorts, new top, new socks. Water, water. Don’t know why my heart rate jumped – I suppose I started to jog in transition.

Run.  It was very hot. Even with the run/walk, I couldn’t get my heart rate down at the start of the course. So, I held on to run/walk – ran steady. As the temperature dropped, my heart rate dropped and became more manageable (e.g. started acting “normal”).  I found a groove between miles 8 and 18.  Walked all the hills and stations.  It was the hardest run I have done. Lots of people dropping out.  But, generally, aside from the 6/1 alert, I didn’t look at my Garmin.  Just ran and talked to other participants. I really had no idea where I was at in terms of course time until I got to mile 20 (the turnaround beyond the ski jumps) and one of the volunteers said – you can make it to the line with 25-minute mile pace (best news I heard all day).  So, then it was just a matter of gutting it out. Last four miles I dropped 6/1 and just did what could be done.  Got to hear Mike Reilly call my name…that is always awesome.

Overall. Very happy to finish my second Ironman. Had a great experience. We had to weigh-in at check-in on Thursday.  By Monday morning, I lost 12 pounds on the course. So, it will take a lot out of you. Leaned a ton about myself and the sport. This race was more about the journey. My swim was the best of the three sports.  The bike was slightly aggressive – by choice.  The run was a survival run – but, that is what I was expecting.  A good opportunity to check “ego” and realize that speed/time are not the only things that matters.  The volunteers were great and the course was beautiful. If you want to put a tough IM on your list – this is the one to do.