Lets get right into it…
Swim: The game plan here was simple…find the underwater cable and hold it for 2.4 miles. Everyone speaks of the magical cable which runs the entire length of the swim course. It does exist, and as they say, it is magical; but you better be willing to work for it if you want it. I positioned myself toward the front/middle of the 60 – 70 minute pace group. I am a strong and confident swimmer and have never been afraid of getting a little jostled in the water. I planned to try and jump on the feet of a group and just hang on as long as I comfortably could before getting into a smooth steady rhythm. The swim was a battle from the gun through to the final stroke. The first loop wasn’t too bad, but there were a good group of people who either far overestimated their ability or mistakenly thought they’d have more time to race if they got into the water earlier. So, needless to say there were quite a few people to swim around, but thats no problem. The biggest issue were the people who even though they were swimming with an actual sight line, couldn’t swim straight to save their lives! I got slapped, kicked, elbowed, grabbed, swam over, but none of that stuff bothers me anymore. I came out of the water in about 33-34 minutes for the first loop, hustled back in and completed the second in around the same time. I’m not sure exactly where the timing mat is (either at swim start which begins lap 2 as well and then at entrance to T1) or at the swim exit (ending both loops). I came out of the water after my second loop, found the nearest wetsuit stripper, and made my way down to main street and T1.
T1: T1 was uneventful. I grabbed my swim to bike bag, ran into the changing tent, pulled out and put on my socks, shoes, and helmet, and was out as quickly as I had come in. I handed my now empty bag and wetsuit to a volunteer and asked him to get the wetsuit back into the bag. A lot of people said that they had things not make it back into their bags, make sure you physically hand your belongings to someone, and things will not get lost or misplaced. Running to my bike, I applied some chamois butt’r, ran to my rack and made my way to the the mount line for the 112 mile ride.
Bike: Game plan for the bike was to take the first loop easy, spin up all the hills and stay calm as people flew by me as they blew themselves up trying to hammer. The course starts with a few downhill sections but soon you’re faced with what many people consider to be the toughest climb of the day out to the Keene descent. Theres probably a good half-hour of climbing before you get to the descent which is marked by the “Trucks use Low Gear” signs. As soon as i see these signs, my eyes light up and I start salivating. I LOVE going fast and am fearless descending. I have complete confidence in myself and in my handling. I flew down the descent, topping off somewhere around 50 MPH. After the left turn at the bottom of the descent, theres a good 30 mile stretch where you can get comfortable in aero and just ride. One thing that really annoyed me on this section was the amount of drafting going on. There were some sections where packs would ride by that looked like Tour de France pelotons. I was mistakenly under the impression that they actually extended the draft zone before this year, but apparently they must have completely eliminated it.
Anyway, I kept right on the plan and kept my effort under control. The last ten or twelve miles are the climb back into town and it starts with the right turn taking you from Jay into Wilmington. There isn’t any climb on this section that is too difficult, especially on the first loop, but by the time your here on the second loop and already have over 90 miles in the saddle it can be grueling if you went out too hard early on in your ride. The infamous three bears are within the last 3 or 4 miles of each loop so with 110 miles behind you, the second time you attack the bears, they are fighting back! However, developing a solid game plan for the bike leg will save your legs for this climb, and even better leave you with some legs for your marathon.
T2: I slipped my feet out of my shoes, but in a 13+ hour day, haven’t yet risked a flying dismount at an Ironman race yet. I quickly hopped off the bike leaving the shoes attached to the pedals and handed it off to a volunteer. I quickly grabbed my bike to run bag, changed socks and put my shoes on, grabbed my hat, sunglasses and race belt, and hustled out.
Run: Game plan for the run was simple…RUN! If I had paced the bike well enough, this should not have been a problem…just find a pace that i could maintain and keep putting one foot ahead of the other. I had a plan to run the first 10k without stopping, but after that ran the final 20 miles from aid station to aid station, stopping only to fuel and hydrate at the aid stations. The weather was much different than anticipated, but I made a point of training midday in the heat to prepare for all weather conditions. It was in the mid 80s, with high pressure and high humidity and some people were saying the heat index was around 100 degrees. I saw Amy and my coach quite a few times as placid is two out and back loops that have you running through town four times before you make your way to the finish line at the speed skating oval. I was proudest that I was able to run up every hill and not have to stop outside of the aid stations on the run… something I had never done before in ironman.
I was holding a pretty steady 11:30 min/mi pace while running and walked 30-60 seconds at every aid station to make sure i cooled my core temp, and got in food and drink. The run seemed to end as quickly as it began, and before I knew it I was making that right turn at the end of the second out and back on Mirror Lake Drive toward the Oval and the finish line! I saw Amy again this year, so for those of you keeping score… Lake Placid, saw Amy at both finish lines… Louisville, didn’t see her.
At the end of the day, I walked away with a PR in the swim and run, and a course PR on the bike. A new Ironman PR by over 70 minutes from 1 year earlier. I think I’m going to take some time off from the full distance, but will be back, and will be hungry for more!