October 25, 2006

2006 Ironman Lake Placid: Part II

The Swim

There I was standing on a small patch of beach about to begin the Ironman. I just kept pinching myself. It was a mixture of nervousness, excitement and disbelief.

Jim and I waited until about 6:45 before we entered the lake. I looked for the family one last time but never spotted anyone. Later, my daughter Molly said she was there at 6 AM but I never saw her. Bummer! I wanted to see them before the start. We swam across the lake to the far right side and decided to stand along the shore as the last bars of the National Anthem finished up. For some reason I felt unbelievably calm. I saw Paul, Mike, and Ken, three friends from the Y and wished them all good luck. Promptly at 7, the cannon boomed and we were on our way. That’s one amazing thing about Ironman. This race starts on time no matter what.

For the first part of the loop out, I stayed far right. The water was so crowded even out there. At Lake Placid, everyone tries to hug the inside line because about 8 feet below the surface, a bright yellow rope line runs the length of the course making it easier to stay on track. However, it’s rough in there. There's a lot of kicking and punching going on. But even though I stayed right, I still got trampled on. At one point I sucked up so much water that I was choking for what seemed like 5 minutes. I was able to regain my composure and never once hyperventilated. The turn was crazy as everyone was trying to get around the buoys all at once. On the leg back, I nudged my way to the insdie, close to the yellow line. As I said, it was rough in there but I was able to stay there for ¾ of the race. As I came in, I looked at my watch and it said 38 minutes. I think it rivaled my fastest 1.2 mile time. I was ecstatic. On the second loop, it was still very crowded inside but I was able to stay on that line for the entire second loop. When I came out of the water, I thought my watch said 1:07. I couldn’t believe it!! I found out later my time was 1:19 but was still very happy.

I was through the 2.4 mile swim within my target time of 1:20! I was in awe that I was in this race to begin with and I kind of swaggered out of the water. When I finally snapped to, I had one of the strippers take my wetsuit off. What a luxury that was! I began my run to T1 and saw some friends along the way. They screamed “great job!” and it gave me a lift. I ran into the tent and a volunteer handed me my bike transition bag. For some reason I was shivering so much so I took my sweet time. I was in no rush. But I was just taking in the whole scene knowing it would be a long day. When we were sitting in this tent, he felt like we were preparing for battle. Paratroopers getting ready to jump. Everyone wanted to get this bike ride to get going but we were all a little fearful of it as well. Because when the bike ends, it’s time for a marathon! After 15 minutes+ in T1, I finally exited. As I was running to get my bike, I saw my daughter Molly and it really juiced me up. A volunteer helped me with my bike and I was off. The seat and aero bar pads were dry thanks to the bags I put over them yesterday. Thank God. Although, would it have really mattered? I mean I was estimating being on the bike for a minimum 6 1/2 hours. Wet aero bar pads should have been the least of my worries.

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