IMLP Race Report...DNF...on to IMMT!
So, a little over 2 years ago I came up with this plan to race Ironman Lake Placid to (a) come back from major knee surgery, (b) raise money for Shriner’s Hospital for Children-Boston, and (c) so that my kids could actually see me finish. Well, as most of you know by now, things didn’t go according to plan….and I wound up dropping out of the race before mile 2 of the run. It was an agonizing decision, but ultimately the correct one. That said, I figured I’d add some color on my day and what went wrong, from my perspective.
First and foremost, I respect everyone that toes the line at one of these races…whether you’re finishing first or last. It’s a hard race and takes a lot of training. So, please don’t take my decision to abandon the race as a lack of respect or anything….it’s not.
Leading into the race, I put a LOT of pressure on myself. I had clear goals in mind, and made them VERY public. I was okay with all of that. However, what I didn’t contemplate was that the pressure caused me a lot of pre-race anxiety and a bunch of sleepless nights leading up. The week of the race, I was waking up at 3:30-4am and couldn’t get back to sleep. I was getting panicky by 3 days out and even bought some CBD oil to see if that would help me relax. However, nothing really worked. In addition to being extremely tired, my appetite left me. When I should have been carbo loading, I wasn’t hungry. This has NEVER happened to me leading into a race.
Another factor leading into the race was my position/fit on the bike. I have a new bike and I just never got completely “dialed in” on it. I kept tweaking my fit leading up to the race…which is kind of a no no. In retrospect, I believe my position was way too aggressive for an ironman.
On the day of the race, my prep went pretty well. I woke around 3:30am, fueled up, headed down to transition to set up my bike and transition bags, etc….everything went according to plan. I said my goodbyes to the family and headed to the swim start.
The swim has been a bit of question mark for me recently. So, I prepared myself for a slower than normal swim. However, I wasn’t expecting 1:05 (more like 1:02-3). But I wasn’t going let it ruin my day. I definitely should have swam harder, and straighter…but it is what it is. I made my way through T1, pretty efficiently. I got on my bike and got to work.
I made a conscious effort to keep the HR and power down on the climbs, especially on the first loop of the bike. I passed a bunch of fast swimmers….and also got passed by some slower swimmers. On the descent into Keene, I really wanted to let it rip…free speed. I was thrilled to hit 54mph. That’s the fastest I’ve ever gone on it (small victories!). As I approached the end of the first loop, I knew I wasn’t biking great, but it wasn’t bad. I was in okay position. What I hadn’t realized was that I was behind on hydration, which was amplified by the fact that my salt capsules had gotten wet and were disintegrating, so I wasn’t taking them. After the descent on the second loop, I started falling apart. My lower back and upper neck got very sore and fatigued….and I was beginning to feel the effects of the heat. And, I was getting passed, a LOT! About 80 miles in, my right leg (inner thigh) cramped up. I was fortunately able to work through it., but knew it was likely going to happen again. Additionally, due to my bike position and back/neck soreness, I couldn’t get into my aerobars for more than a minute or two at a time. At that point, I knew I was in trouble and went into damage control mode. I started popping my disintegrated salt capsules (if you’ve ever done it, you know how awful that is!)…but it was a bit too late. The last part of the bike slowly climbs back into Lake Placid and my leg cramped no less than 10 times. Add to that, I was feeling a bit out of it due to the heat. It was terrible. I told myself that I really hate the ironman distance and that I don’t want to do another one. I made a deal with myself, just finish the bike and get through the run…let my kids (and wife) see me finish and call it an ironman career! Easier said than done.
I pulled into T2 in bad shape. I walked through transition (something I’ve never done). I sat down in the changing tent and both legs completely cramped/locked up. I was able to get my shoes on and made it onto the run course. I immediately saw my wife. I stopped to tell her that things weren’t going well and that I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to do the run. I started running again and made it about a half mile before I was reduced to a walk. I hit the first aid station and grabbed a banana, which I could barely take a bite of….I was feeling pretty ill. I kept walking and contemplating. Am I really going to walk 26 miles? I couldn’t stomach any food…it was brutally hot. This was Ironman #12….I know I can finish one. So, after about 45 minutes of back and forth….arguing with MYSELF, I abandoned the race. I had told myself that I would never drop out of an ironman again….and here I was….doing it again. I quit my first ironman (2004 Ironman Florida). I SHOULD have finished that one. This one was different….different circumstances. I got a ride back to transition and the medical tent. They checked me out until Jenn came to get me. We stopped by our friends’ house on the course to pick up the rest of the family and then headed back our our rental house.
By the time we made it back to our house, I was already thinking about Plan B….would it be Ironman Wisconsin or Maryland? There was NO WAY I was leaving things with a DNF. There used to be a time when you had to sign up for these races the day registration opened (a year in advance). Now, they are staying open longer and longer….sometimes up until race week. As I was contemplating the pros and cons of the two races….I had another thought….what about Ironman Mont Tremblant? Was it open? It’s only a few weeks away. I quickly checked and it was indeed open. I checked with my coach, who thought the idea of racing IMMT was perfect. Lastly, I checked with my law partners as I would need to take more time off…and, per usual, they were completely supportive. So, less than 3 hours after abandoning Ironman Lake Placid, I was registered for Ironman Mont Tremblant. The silver lining of NOT forcing myself through the run at Lake Placid is that I am able to race again pretty quickly. I also need to thank my wife, who knew I was going to race again before I even mentioned it to her….and, as always was beyond supportive.
So, three days later….I’m still disappointed. It was a blow to my ego….and, I’ll say it, it was embarrassing. I need to fix some things, which are definitely within my control. I’m working on tweaking my bike fit so that I can ride 112 miles without the discomfort I had….and so I can still run a marathon. I need to fix my hydration issues…and I have ideas how to do that. I will also figure out a better solution for my salt intake and make sure I am on top of it early. With respect to my sleep issues….I’m not sure what I can do. I’ve gotten many recommendations. I’ll review everything and do what’s best for me. I will say one thing….I’m leaving my goals at the door on this one. I’m not going to worry about podium finish or a Kona slot….if they happen, they happen. I just want to have a strong race and, most importantly, have my kids see me finish.
I will say, August 18th can’t get here soon enough!