{IMLP} The Swim

Ok, so let’s pick up right where we left off shall we?  Race day started with a 3:15 AM alarm.  There were three of us in the house who were racing.  We had determined that time as the appropriate time in order for us to get up, eat food and get to transition by 4:30 AM.  Fortunately, I was smart enough to program the coffee pot the night before so I didn’t have to fumble around with that in the morning.  I woke up, headed downstairs for some oatmeal and a bit of pre-race banter.


3:30 AM Party… Not!

Once we had eaten, coffeed up and woken up all the way, we headed in to town to get ready for the day.  First stop was to drop off our bags at bike and run special needs.  For any not familiar with an Ironman distance event, there is a half way stop on both the bike and the run where you can drop a bag of supplies that you can then access at the half way point if you need them.  It’s not mandatory, but recommended that you throw some things in there that you might need.  For example… my bike special needs contained some chamois butter, sunscreen, additional skratch labs hydration and my energy ball fuel.  I had also packed a can of coke (wicked good on a long ride), a peppermint patty and some pop tarts.  I had no clue what I would or would not use but I figured it was better to be over prepared.  In my run special needs I packed an extra pair of dry socks, a long sleeve shirt, a head lamp, an additional visor and extra fuel for second half of the marathon.  Along the way to drop off these things, we ran in to some of our supporters/volunteers who would be out along the course.


Long dark walks to bag drop off…

I think my face had officially gone green by this point.  It’s not that I wasn’t ready to do an Ironman.  I was.  I was just really nervous about swimming in Mirror Lake with 2800 other athletes.  I know many people who have had a panic attack at the beginning because of the arm, leg, etc chaos.  So from the time we dropped off our bags until the race began, I was nervous and very emotional about getting in the water.

After dropping off our bags we headed over to body marking and then into transition to drop fuel in our bike and run bags and make any last-minute changes to our set up, pump our bike tires, etc.  Once that was done we headed back toward to the beach area to drop off our big bags with family so that we didn’t have to find a place to stow them for the day.  Fortunately, while doing this we ran into some friends.


Sun is up and friends are here!

After all of the prep, it was finally time to head down to the water.  I was with Ben & my friend Brian at this point.  We all opted to jump in the water quick to calm the nerves, test the goggles and get ready.  We only had a minute or two to do that before Mike Reilly called us to get into the wave start lines as the pros were getting ready to start their day.  I lined up near the 1:30 swim time wave.  This seemed doable to me and I crossed my fingers that it would be safe and I wouldn’t get mauled as all of the swimmers tried to make their way to the notorious white cable that marks the course underwater in Mirror Lake.  I took many a deep breaths while they sang the National Anthem and the pros and then eventually the age groupers started making their way into the water.  I’m not sure but I would guess that it took about 20 minutes for us to get in the water.  And please keep in mind that the weather was still ominous.

I entered the water and tried to stay wide of the cable because I didn’t want to have an immediate freak out about being hit and swum over by the other athletes.  Unfortunately within about 200 yards I could tell that I had been pulled over towards the line.  Not only did it come into view, but I was all of a sudden in quite a bit of swimmer traffic.  Of course, as predicted I started to freak out.  I couldn’t breathe so I popped my head up out of the water and decided to breast stroke a bit to catch my breathe.  The huge mistake with this was that when I popped my head up, I was able to get a glimpse of what was going on around me…. Holy snikes.


Credit Steffo photography

Imagine popping your head up in the middle of that fray in an attempt to calm yourself.  Yep, didn’t work for me.  I took a few minutes to calm myself as much as possible and then had a little pep talk with myself.  I figured if I didn’t put my head back in the water there was no way that I was going to finish a 2.4 mile swim.  So eventually I calmed down and went back to it.  “Just keep swimming.”

At some point I could tell that the bit of sunshine we had at the start had gone and that it was now raining.  Before the close of my first loop it was raining pretty hard as I could feel it hitting my face when I’d turn to breathe and I could hear it in the water.  Great.  Well, I guess that chance of rain came true.  I made the turn and headed toward the arch to complete my first loop of the swim.  It was definitely raining but it didn’t seem horrible out.  I hurried under the arch and headed back out into the water to complete my second loop.  This is when things get interesting…

As I was swimming down the first length of my second loop I could tell that the rain had picked up.  Not only that, at one point I felt a strong vibration with my entire body.  At first I didn’t know what it was and then I realized that it had been a big old clap of thunder.  Uh oh.  Well, again, just keep swimming or so I thought.  As I rounded the turn buoy at the end of the loop, I noticed that the kayakers had all moved in closer.  I lifted my head to hear what was going on and they were telling swimmers to cut the loop short and head back in to the finish asap.  Ok, I cut off the bottom corner of the rectangle and started to head to the other side.  Within a few strokes I could sense that there was additional panic happening so I once again lifted my head to find out what was going on.  I heard lots of people screaming…. “Swim to shore, swim to shore.  Forget the finish.”  This was about when I had seen the lightning.  All of the sudden Ironman was on hold and we were all swimming frantically to the shore of Mirror Lake.

There were athletes scattered everywhere as we picked random docks to climb up on out of the water.  My understanding is that some athletes were put into the police boats in an attempt to clear the water.  It was a very odd scene.  There were hundreds of athletes lining the shore as we stood there and wondered what to do.  After few minutes we were told to head to our bikes.  We did not start the run down Mirror Lake drive to the olympic oval before pausing a moment to give all of the water safety volunteers and personnel a big round of applause for getting us out of the water safely.  After that I began to run down Mirror Lake Drive, in my wetsuit, in the rain making my way to transition.  There were volunteers in the road offering to do the job of wetsuit stripping.  I was going to sit so they could take mine off, but I was able to quickly peel it off myself instead.  As I ran up into transition it hit me that this was going to be a mob scene.  Because everyone had been pulled from the water together, they were all going to be in the transition tents at the same time.  I had flashbacks to Ironman Lake Tahoe.

At the end of the day I managed to swim 2 miles before being pulled out of the water because of the lightning.  At first I didn’t know what to make of this.  Some people report feeling a bit jipped because they didn’t complete the full Ironman distance.  I have come to the conclusion that despite not having swum 2.4 miles, I’m still an Ironman.  I mean for crying out loud there was a huge lightning storm all around us. I have spoken to several of my friends who were there on land and they have told me how scary it was and that they were so happy that we were pulled out.  Honestly, I’m happy too.  The water safety crew did their job and kept all of the athletes as safe as they possibly could.  And we are Ironmen because we chose to press on despite the adverse weather conditions.  You never know what the day is going to hand you, all you can do is keep moving forward and make the best of the situation.

Stay tuned for the bike report!

Posted in Ironman Lake Placid, Swimming | 2 Comments

{IMLP} The Lead In!

Now that Ironman is over, I’m ready to recap it so that I can write about the amazing experiences I had and share the story with all of you.  I am not sure how to put everything that happened into words, but I am surely going to give it a try.  So, I am going to break the report up into different parts so it’s not such a long read.

Let’s start from the beginning and first cover the days leading up to the race.

Little Boy Blue and I were lucky to be heading up to Lake Placid on Wednesday to get some relaxing in before the race.  My Dad, Step Mom & Brother were camping at The North Pole in Wilmington, so we planned to head up and spend Wednesday afternoon with them having lunch and relaxing.  We ate some clams (thanks Dad!), told stories and I began the process of trying to clue them in to what they were in for on Sunday in spectating an Ironman.  While we sat at the campsite it rained on and off… We briefly discussed that the weather forecast for Sunday wasn’t good.  I decided to maintain a positive attitude that the weather would pass and just not talk about it.  Don’t worry, we’ll talk more weather later… Wednesday night the rest of the folks that I was staying with in Placid arrived, so we headed in to unpack the car and meet everyone out for dinner.  It was a great dinner with lots of love, laughter and smiles.  We headed home, put kiddos to bed and eventually tucked ourselves in as well knowing that we needed to do a number of things on Thursday to get race ready.


My hometown support crew!

Thursday morning started with a short one hour bike ride to spin out the legs and make and final adjustments on our bikes.  Within a few hundred yards it was clear that my brakes would need some adjusting, especially with the potential for rainy weather and the need to break on the downhill.  I rode with my good friend Lonnie and it was a beautiful morning.  We took it easy and just enjoyed the morning and all of the energy out on the race course.


Smiling the day away!


We found this beauty at the run turn around when we were riding!

After finishing the ride, we all showered up and got ourselves together to head into town to check out the expo and go about checking ourselves in for the race.  Also known as packet pick up, etc.  We went through the process off getting our bib numbers, signing all of the medical waivers and reassigning an emergency contact.  We were then weighed and given all of our stickers, bibs, gear bags, etc.


Oh the paperwork!

After that we did wander around the expo a bit before heading back to the townhouse to once again relax.  The beauty of having rented a house was that we were able to cook real food and were not forced to go out to eat for every meal.  So, we gathered together as a group, ate some ziti that Lonnie had made in advance for us all and spent another night relaxing off our feet.

Friday morning we headed down to Mirror Lake to get our last practice swim in.  Again, just keeping the body moving prior to race day.  When we woke up it was a balmy 41 degrees in Lake Placid.  Fortunately the water temperature was much warmer than that.  Brrr! I hopped in the water with several of my training partners and supporters to swim a little 1.2 mile lap around mirror lake.  I was reminded how long the swim seems as we essentially swim the entire length of the lake and back again in a lap.  I also thought a bit too much about how calm the lake was that morning and how calm it would not be with 2800 athletes on Sunday morning.  Ack…  Swimming and panicking and lots of arms, legs, etc in my face is certainly not my favorite.  So, I tried my best to get out of my own head and just swim.


Just Keep Swimming

Overall it was uneventful and the chilly morning made the coffee afterwards all the better! We ate some food, hung out at the Capital District Triathlon Club tent and chatted about what race day might have in store for us.  At this point, my nerves were relatively calm and I will still managing to deny that I would be going 140.6 on Sunday.  We continued on with the day ate an early dinner of grilled pizzas with all of our friends and family and headed to bed early.  Friday night was an important night for sleep as it’s probably the last good night of sleep most of us would get.  I slept like a baby from 9 PM until about 6:30 AM.  That’s money in the bank for me because I knew that I would get little to no sleep on Saturday night.  Before heading to bed on Friday we also found a local bike mechanic that was able to adjust my bike brakes a bit to eliminate the squealing.  Score!

As soon as I got up on Saturday morning I headed to the coffee pot and got ready to pack my gear bags.  There’s a lot of organizing and reorganizing that have to happen to get gear for an Ironman ready.  On top of that, the weather forecast was still calling for a 75% chance of rain so I had to take that into consideration.  I laid out all of my bags on the large dinning room table and went to work.


After organizing and reorganizing each of my bags (swim to bike, bike to run) I put everything inside of a garbage bag, tied it shut and then put it inside of the gear bag.  If those bags were going to be sitting out in the rain all day waiting for me to grab them, I wanted to try to make sure that the stuff inside would stay dry until I got there.


Once everything was ready and all marked up with the right numbers we headed down to check in both our gear bags and our bikes.  They all have to go in before 3:00 on Saturday and remain there for the night.


Raven racked for the night… ready for her first IM!


Gear Bags All Hung Up




And the kids made some race signs!

After getting everything in for the night, we headed home for yet another early dinner and to rest up for the big dance on Sunday… Oh if only  could have rested.  Saturday is when the nerves really started to kick in for me as there was no longer any more days between and Ironman Lake Placid.  Regardless, I kissed my kiddo and my parents and said goodnight.  I was in bed by 8:30 PM with my eyes closed in an attempt to be ready to face the day when the 3:30 AM alarm clock would go off on Sunday.

I went to bed feeling grateful for the journey I’d had thus far. I was overwhelmed by how much love and support I was already feeling in the days leading up to the race.  Now to try to calm myself enough to sleep…

Posted in Ironman, Ironman Lake Placid, Race Report, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

{Two Things Tuesday} It’s Done


1) I will have a full race report to come, but as I unpack from a week in Lake Placid, I can report that I did it. I finished Ironman Lake Placid. We experienced amazingly ridiculous weather but we persevered and stayed the course. I finished with a smile on my face and I was even found singing along the run course. So needless to say, I maintained my goal of keeping my head in a good place and I helped out a friend along the way. IMLP 2014 is in the books.


2) And the best part is that all of my friends finished too! There is nothing like doing and Ironman, but now imagine doing it with about 30 people that you know. It makes for a day filled with hugs, high fives and more all along the race course. Add to that all of the support from additional friends and family along he course. I had friends from the body marking station to transition tents to bike special needs and more. Hands down the best. If you can ever race that which is essentially a home town race, do it!

And with that, it’s back to unpacking! Happy Tuesday!

Posted in Ironman Lake Placid, Two Things Tuesday | 1 Comment

{Window Wednesday} The Journey

Sometimes, you really have to get wrapped up something to find out who you really are.  This training cycle has provided me a chance to really push my boundaries, to push who I am and in the end to find myself.  I owe huge thank you’s to my coach, to all of my triathlete training buddies and most of all to my family.  I am so pumped for race day and I am ready to get out there and #doit.  Enjoy the journey!

Posted in Inspiration, Ironman, Ironman Lake Placid, journey, Window Wednesday | 1 Comment

{Two Things Tuesday} The Final Countdown

Well…. It’s here.  Race day is just five short days away… So let’s do two quick notes in our final count down.


1) Find Family  – I am so very blessed with all of my triathlon family and my family family.  I know that I have talked about this time and again on here, but as I mentally process all of the training that has lead me to Ironman Lake Placid, it bears repeating.  Without the support of my friends and my family, I would not be where I am today.  I would not be going into an event of this magnitude in the positive mental space that I am and in the strong physical shape that I am.  I really believe that you and your support are what make me who I am each and every day.  I have so many friends that are racing with me on Sunday and I have many, many friends and family who will be out on the course.  I have a few family members who would love to be there, but due to life circumstances aren’t able to.  Things happen, it’s life.  Regardless of whether you’re at the race with me in person or you’re there with me in spirit, I appreciate your love and support more than you’ll probably ever know. So, just one last quick thank you for all that you do and all that you are.  I love you.


2) Believe! My advice for everyone else.  Follow your dream.  The one that you know is right for you.  Believe in yourself, do the work and surround yourself with love.  If you do all of that, anything is possible.  I know it.

“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.” ~ Shel Silverstein


Posted in Believe, Family, support, Two Things Tuesday | 1 Comment

The Taper Is Here…

I don’t have a lot of days left between now and the big dance at Ironman Lake Placid.  I won’t do a count down as I know that myself and all of my friends who are racing in Ironman along with me are nervous enough without a reminder of just how many days, hours and seconds we have to go.  Just the thought of it makes me want to smile, shed a tear, laugh, and/or puke all at the same time.


Has anyone seen my bike? #bikemadness

Welcome to the taper…

Last night I swam 3000 yards in the pool.  I forgot my wetsuit at home and with no open water swim practice with a club, I wasn’t about to swim 2 miles sans wetsuit without a life guard.  So yes, I swam 3000 yards at the ymca.  Going back and forth, dissecting all of my Ironman training in my head.  By the time I had finished the swim, I had basically determined that Ironman is not for me.


Oh hey taper.  Nice to see you.

So I spent some time in my own head last night beating myself.  Counting a few missed workouts.  Wondering if I could have done something different.

new goals


And then I remember that this is a time for rest.  That all of the work has been done.  I remember that I need to smile.  I remember that I need to trust that I have put in the work and I will reap the rewards on race day.  I remember that I need to be brave.  I can do this, if I believe that I can do this.  I remember that I am “racing” with almost 40 other people from my triathlon club and that I have tons of friends and family who will be at this event. I remember that I am surrounded by love.  I remember that there are things in life that are so much bigger than this race.  I remember to be thankful for all that I have and will have in my life.  This is just a minor detail.

The taper crazies are still here, but if I can just keep remembering… I will be ok.




Posted in Taper | Tagged | 4 Comments

{IM} Wednesday Inspiration

Some people ask why…..

While watching this causes both tears of excitement, it also elicits tears of fear and worry about what IM will bring.  I can promise you that I plan to give it my all and I plan to have a date with that finish line.

And if you ask me why right now, I’ll tell you… because “I can.”


Posted in Inspiration, Ironman | 1 Comment