Thursday, August 2, 2007
Swim - The swim was the craziest I've ever experienced. Mirror Lake where we swam is pretty narrow for the most part and to fit almost 2300 people in a mass swim start is sort of crazy. I placed myself with a friend in the back of the speedy swimmers and sort of on the inside by the dock to align myself with the buoys we needed to swim around. That proved to be a very costly mistake. It took me almost 2-3 minutes to even get across the start line! Once across - I could merely dog paddle or tread water to hold my ground and look for ANY open space to begin swimming. I would not really find a good comfortable pace until lap two however, due to the congestion of bodies. At the beginning of lap two - the athletes actually run out of the water onto the beach and then back into the water on the other side. Once I started running, my left leg cramped horribly and when I tried swimming it simply kept cramping. I swam back to where I could stand and massaged my calf for a minute until most of the pain subsided enough to swim. That was the first cramp of that magnitude I've ever experienced in a race and I really thought it was going to prevent me from completing the swim!
Bike - The bike was simply too gorgeous for words. I wished I would have taken a camera with me but I'm afraid I would never have been able to complete the course in time if I had done so! I had friends warn me to be extremely relaxed and to take my time on the first loop of the bike course. The hills were very long and high but very manageable as long as you found a good cadence and stuck with it. On most of the big hills I could only manage about 6-7 miles/hour. There is a long down hill once you reach the top of one of the sections which is about 6 miles long. It was amazing - my first loop I managed to reach 47 miles/hour - but due to the wind on the second loop I could only muster 35 miles/hour. There was a section where it's an out & back and the turn around has an aide station. At the turn around there is actually a very small town which looks like there are only about 20-30 homes. I have heard stories about this place and that they have a different theme each year and dress up in costumes etc. All I can say is that as we were approaching the town you could hear the thumping of the music for miles. Once I hit the town limits it was mayhem and throngs of people everywhere. My eyes misted over a little because I do not believe I've ever experienced anything like it. It was a huge party just for us. You couldn't help but smile from ear to ear. This years theme? Halloween. They had balloon arches and they had the lawn/house ornaments out, balloon arches etc I stopped at this aide station both times and talked with some of the volunteers. They were a blast - and I told them they were the highlight of my trip. I had some Gastric problems on the bike right away - and it took me a bit to dissect the issue and then try to correct it. I think my Gatorade concoction was too harsh - so I had to dilute it. It would take me until about mile 13 of the run to really get over that.
Run - The run was quite hilly in spots, but again, there were some amazing sights. As I mentioned the first 13 miles my stomach was pretty upset but I knew that I was going to be able to finish in time - so I wasn't worried too much. While I tried to push myself somewhat - if I saw a person struggling - I stopped and walked a bit with them and chatted w/ them. I think one of the most interesting things about this sport is that it brings so many different people together and you have the opportunity to learn so much from others - what drives them, what inspires them, why they do this thing called Ironman. It's purely a blessing that any of us can do it - and it's another blessing to meet so many other wonderful people. The spectators where awesome as well. I don't think there was a minute that went by that I didn't hear my name called out - telling me I "looked good," or "keep going - you can do it!" I was hoping to have finished in 15 hours - but considering the views I stopped to take in and the amazing people I met along the way - I think it's worth the extra time.
If anyone is looking for a place to race their first or next Ironman. I firmly recommend Lake Placid.
My Finish Line Catcher was FABULOUS! She was extremely nice and very patient. (Even though I know you need to keep everyone moving!) She even took the picture of Mark and I!