Radical Immersion

Ironman Training with Life, Marriage, Children & Work

Category: Ironman Lake Placid


South Africa’s Kyle Buckingham was the winner (along with Amber Ferreira from New Hampshire) at Ironman Lake Placid.  I saw a post on Twitter this morning that said his Normalized Power was 305.  That is a bit of perspective on my new FTP.  In other power related news, this blog post from Linsey Corbin gives insight into how many watts she recently pushed to win in Austria.


Out with the old, in with the New Year

It is time for the annual post about training totals from the previous year.  I’ll be honest here, there is a sort of quiet accomplishment that comes from looking at the tallies.  It doesn’t last.  The feeling doesn’t motivate me to go do the next session or to be better this year but it does feel nice for a few moments.

The 2012 post is here and the 2011 post can be found here.

Looking back, it was a fantastic year.  Fantastic like the root word, of a fantasy world.  I did not have an injury.  Dana and I raced together — twice.  We saw good friends in North Carolina and worked it around two race weekends.  I qualified for the 70.3 World Championships.  The whole tribe went to Lake Placid and we had great fun in the outdoors.  I raced at the 70.3 World Championships!  There were new friends and old friendships made deeper.  I had a best time at Savageman by ten minutes.

The total time training and total distances were all up this year over last year.  I swam 204,265 yards (116 miles), 3,855.88 miles on the bike, and 1,006.63 miles running.  These efforts were 42, 29.9 and 23.8 percent greater than last year.  In all, there were 397 hours and 56 minutes doing the three disciplines which is more than 16 and one half days.  On top of that, I rode approximately 2,200 miles commuting to and from work.


The biggest month was July (37k) which was nearly three times larger than the smallest volume month, August when I did nearly 14k.  I did 69 swim workouts which is up 20+ percent on the 49 from 2012 and light years ahead of the 24 I did in 2011.  Swim workouts were 11.23 percent of total time training in the three disciplines which is up, but not much, from last year’s 10.1 percent.  I finally saw a meaningful improvement — not a lot, but evident — in the pace too.  My average time was 1.31 minutes per 100 yards which is an improvement over the past few years of 1.35, 1.36 and 1.34 minutes per hundred.


The overall training pace improved again.  The trajectory has been 15.78 mph (2010), 16.36 mph (2011), 17.53 mph (2012) and this year saw another jump to 18.26 mph on average.  Cycling was 52.97 percent of training time which is nearly identical to the proportion from last year.  Once again, June was the biggest month for mileage however, the June 2013 total of 616.75 towers over the 509 done in June 2012.  There were four months with more than 400 miles.  I put in 121 rides, up from 88 last year, including seven consecutive months of 10 or more.  However, the average distance of each ride dropped to 31.87 miles from 33.72 in 2012.


Running accounts for 33 percent of the workout time in 2013.  Starting in March, there were five consecutive months with at least 15 run workouts and August had 14.  The average pace was 8.44 minutes per mile or about a 8:26.  A typical run was 7 miles and throughout the year I did 145 run workouts or about one every 2 and one half days.  Between New Year’s Day and the Olympic Oval at Lake Placid, I ran 733.76 miles including four straight months of more than 112 miles each.  From July 29 to the end of the year, I only covered 272.87 miles.


My performance at Las Vegas was a bust — I went for it on the bike and blew up horribly after having a mediocre bike split.  I learned in Raleigh that with good hydration, I can do a 13.1 mile run on two gels.  I’m sure that with some more attention to detail and being smart about training, I can turn front of the pack swimming into a few really great splits which may put me in the position of riding with tactics.  Savageman continues to be about the experience, not the clock.

Heading into 2014, I won’t be training for an Ironman.  I have a nagging strain in my left hamstring and behind the knee.  I have begun running once a week with a group on a track to do intervals.  I know what it feels like to race at 175 pounds and I like it.  All in all, things are looking good.  In a word, fantastic.

More Gratitude, IMLP Run, The After — Hypothermia? & Ice Cream

The Run

In her superb love letter to swimming, Lynn Sherr observes that the best of us are only about 10-11 percent efficient in the water.  Energy expended compared to work done, there is a lot of waste.  Sea mammals we are not.  The rough and tumble of my swim may have given me poor efficiency scores in the water — there is no way I was able to turn it all the way to 11 — but the run was smooth as I could reasonably expect.

Which for me, may mean I was only 10 percent efficient but hey, who is to look a gift horse in the mouth?

To continue to use aquatic references for the terrestrial portion of the race, I was even-keeled for the run and this — more than the best time or a dramatic sprint for the finish line — was a mark of success.  The splits show a few inflection points however there were no major breakdowns.  After three miles, I went from a too fast starting pace (7:32, 8:00, 8:01) to the 8:35-8:40 range where I stayed for more than an hour.  Excepting the split for mile eight when I stopped to pee, my splits didn’t vary by more than a few seconds until mile 10.  At this point, they jumped up to the 8:55-9:10 range until mile 19 when they abruptly slowed again.  At this point, more variability entered the picture from mile to mile and I was anywhere from 9:19-9:47 until mile 25.

Mile 25 starts at the bottom of a hill and ends near the top.  I broke.  My steady-eddy attitude gave way to “get me done with this thing NOW!”  The positive self-talk turned to a blue streak of unprintables.  Even though I wasn’t tallying up my splits or figuring out my likely finish time or guessing my marathon time, I was aware that mile 25 was the first time that my splits went above 10 minutes per mile.  It was disheartening.

I knew I was going to finish.  I was pretty sure that I was well ahead of my 2012 time and on the way to a personal best.  I had just cracked — my focus, energy and ability to hold everything together had evaporated with each step up that damn hill.  Worse than cracking, I was aware that I had cracked.

And then one of the many minor miracles of the day happened.  I saw my little Uma.  Not really.  Uma died last year around Thanksgiving.  She had been with us for more than a decade and it is heartbreaking still to think about her passing.  However, at Lake Placid Uma’s doppelgänger was in town to cheer.  There she was on the roadside and I called out to her and her spirit lifted my heart and I ran a little lighter, a little taller and a lot faster through the 1.25 miles of the course along Mirror Drive and into the Olympic Oval.

All in all, the run split was 45:59 faster than 2012.  It was my best time and it was 33 seconds off of the “best case scenario goal time” for the day.  It is the best executed run that I’ve ever done.  I’ve run faster splits.  I’ve run more even splits.  I’ve run through more intense anaerobic pain.  But these efforts were all inferior to the overall mental and physical efforts that I needed to run 3:56:33 at Ironman Lake Placid in 2013.

Also, I cannot remember seeing such a lovely crew at the finish line.  The Olympic Oval is a marvelous place to finish a run.  There is the stadium seating, the gentle curve, the fans lined up, hillsides for additional viewing and, Mike Reilly’s voice echoing off of the nearby high school.  I finished well, managed a smile and although I saw the tribe on the final turn and managed a wave of “I Love You” in sign language, didn’t stop to visit or high five anyone.

The nutrition plan worked.  I stayed focused on the moment that I was in and didn’t let my mind wander to the rest of the run or the people around me.  I was able to see Dana Ann and several of the kids when I needed them so much after making the climb up the big hill at mile 12.  Simply put, the run worked and for that I’m so very grateful.

The After

I was wiped out.  Seriously, wiped out.

Hi guys.  Don't worry, Papa isn't talking sense and cannot think straight.  Here, have a medal, t-shirt and hat.  Don't fight.  Hi guys, don't worry, I seem to be repeating myself.  Anyone want to wear a medal or a hat?

Hi guys. Don’t worry, Papa isn’t talking sense and cannot think straight. Here, have a medal, t-shirt and hat. Don’t fight. Hi guys, don’t worry, I seem to be repeating myself. Anyone want to wear a medal or a hat?

As mentioned above, I folded like an accordion on one of the two volunteers assigned to help me through the chute.  I insisted that we go to a table so I could sit and not to the medical tent.  I did not want the kids to see me with the medical professionals.  It turns out, I don’t think I needed them at that time but I wasn’t being completely rational either.

I visited with Dana and the kids and we made a plan of where to meet after I got a short rubdown from the volunteer massage people.  I found Patrick and we traded notes quickly and then headed for the rubdown.  At this point, the signals started to show up, but I didn’t recognize them at all.  I was a mess and very soon I was going to need help.

I had trouble controlling my hand so that I could sign in for the massage.  As the volunteer masseuse worked on my legs, I started to cry.  There was no weeping or wailing, but there was a big release and I turned to jelly on the table.  By the time I left the tent, my right arm was twitching methodically.  It looked like I had a nervous disorder like Parkinsons.  I went to claim my bags and could not speak intelligently to the volunteers checking race numbers at the bags.

It seems that my rack had one bag on it that was mine, and a second bag that belonged in the exact same spot one rack over.  I picked up the bags on my rack without checking them and tried to walk off not realizing I had someone’s bike gear.  As the guy explained the problem, which included a missing bike bag of mine, I could not form sentences.  I just muttered and pointed and leaned on a fence.  He called someone for help to locate my bag and gently took the other person’s gear from my hands.  By this point, both of my arms were twitching and I was getting cold.  I was confused.  Not angry or frustrated, I just couldn’t figure out what to do next.

After what was probably only five minutes, the volunteers had me all squared away and pointed me back toward the flagpole in front of the school — my meeting place with Dana.  Here I made at least one good decision by deciding to leave my bike in T2 until later.  I was struggling with the bags and the maze of fences and tables on the oval’s infield.  However, I couldn’t figure out the fences and finally shouted to Dana to meet me up the street in front of the Olympic Center where there is a pile of snow (shavings from the Zamboni).

I walked up the hill on Main Street to meet the tribe at the snow pile and went into full shutdown.  Later, I realized from reading others’ race reports, I probably had hypothermia.  Finally, quivering all over and not really making much sense, I met the tribe along with Patrick and his clan at the snow pile.  Dana looked quite alarmed and she helped me out of my wet shirt and into her raincoat.  We all walked back to the hotel where the warmth, something to drink and a shower helped me immensely.

Lake Placid provided mountains of fun.

Lake Placid provided mountains of fun.

The Outcome & the Gear

All in all, the whole trip, the whole race, the whole experience was amazing.  I hope the kids get more out of watching the Olympics this winter from their adventures atop the ski jumps and walking down the bobsled runs.  I was able to finish upright and impress the woman I love — and if that is not enough reason to do these things, I don’t know what is.  And, I dropped a whole bunch of time off of my 2012 performance.  Who’d a thought that I’d finish 143rd overall or 27th in my age group?  I didn’t.

I swam well — though it didn’t turn out the way I had envisioned it.  I rode well — and had a great experience learning a little what it is like for those who race for position.  I ran well — as well as I could have hoped and without any really bad incidents.  The kids had fun.  Dana loved the town and the adventures of the surrounding area.  Even before we went to Ben & Jerry’s on race night, I was a winner.

This is the standard point in the race report of professionals and other sponsored athletes where they list all their sponsors and coaches and physical therapists and nutritionists and such.  I swim in a BlueSeventy wetsuit and was ready to rock a brand new Roka speedsuit.  I wear Speedo or TYR goggles.  I ride a Kuota K-Factor with Mavic wheels, Shimano Ultegra and Shimano shoes.  I roll with Continental tires.  On the back, I sported a Wheelbuilder.com disc cover and on the front I rode with a borrowed Zipp 808.  Usually I don a Giro helmet but borrowed a Spiuk Chronos.  I have a racebelt from Spibelt and wear a 2XU kit.  Oakley protects my eyes and I am devoted to New Balance — currently running in 890 v.2 with some after market speed laces.  I eat Gu gels and Bonk Breaker bars which get washed back by water or Powerbar Perform.  I also train with Nuun and race with Enduralytes.

Oh, and I have five sponsors.  My wife and our tribe of four little people.  They are more than I deserve.  I’m so very thankful.

NB — Corporate Sponsors Welcome.  Seriously, just call me.


Lake Placid is a slice of heaven.  It is full of activity.  A sample of what we saw and did includes jumping, skiing, swimming, sledding, running, riding, skating, climbing, fishing, kayaking, paddle boarding and hiking.

Last month, my family was able to play, relax, picnic and soak up the richness of summer.

I am so very grateful.

It wasn’t all easy.  There were arguments, disappointments, name calling and general childishness.  However, since four of the six of us are children, it might be expected.  When we went to Raleigh in June, I thought we had a handle on what it meant to have the whole tribe at a race.  Nope.

The Lake Placid experience was both better and more challenging.  While it made for its share of stresses, I didn’t have to deal with most of them because Dana was there coping, organizing, preparing, sorting, packing and refereeing the situation.  Seeing  Dana and the kids at the race definitely made the race better for me even at the expense of a pretty long, boring day for them.

In a word, you might say I’m grateful.

In fact, gratitude was the word that kept coming to mind throughout the day.  I did not plan for it to be a mantra.  There was not a Ebenezer Scrooge experience where I lost something wonderful and then vowed never again to take for granted the blessings of life.  There was no one catalyst for the idea — it simply emerged from the tree-lined mountainsides like a whisper in my mind.

Shortly after the race, I realized that for the entire day my thoughts had been dominated Dana and the kids.  Snapshots of things we had done together and milestones.  Each played like a short video in my mind.  Every time I found myself saying thank you.  I was talking to myself — to my own mind as if it had disassociated from my body and what I was doing — I was talking to history and the future and the people I love most.  They were with me and I said thank you for health and perseverance, thank you for their curiosity and varied interests, thank you.

If you are the praying type, you might say that I had my slice of heaven right there throughout a very long, arduous and fulfilling day.


I woke at 2:50 a.m. to eat.  By 3:20 I was back in bed after five hard cooked eggs, a banana and a bottle of Ensure.  I was fitful but did manage to rest.  By 4:25 I was back up and getting organized for the day.  In addition to cutting five Bonk Breakers in half (loudly according to the fan base), I managed to shower, shave, fully lubricate all the sensitive bits and get dressed and out the door by 5:05.  A short walk down the block and I dropped off a bike special needs bag and then turned the corner to get body markings.

At this point, I was on schedule and in command of all nerves.  Next stop was to put a frozen bottles of Perform and Ensure (20 oz each) on my bike, air up the tires and tuck away the Bonk Breakers.  I must have said Thank You three times to the guy who loaned me a pump.  From here, I went straight to find the port a potty with the shortest line.  I found it.  It had no line but it did have a security guy and a sign that said “Male Pros.”  It sat next to its partner toilet — also without a line — “Female Pros.”  Nonplussed by the special treatment, I eventually found myself in a 35 minute line within a stone’s throw of the water.  I visited briefly with two neighbors.  Jenny Lagerquist and then Andy Lipscomb wandered over and helped pass some of the time but as the minutes ticked by my stomach roiled and roiled.

By 6:15, I was grateful to have my turn.

The Swim

The swim featured a seeded start — a self-seeded start.  Corrals were set up on the beach.  I wormed my way through the crowd and got to the second row from the front of the first corral.  There wasn’t much room to stretch and the energy of athletes kept pressing everyone in closer and closer.  At 6:29 I started taking extra big breaths, fixed my goggles and was ready.

So I thought.

I’m not used to running into the water to start the race.  It wasn’t a clean sprint to the front of the pack, but within 30 seconds the chaos of elbows and feet had disbursed and I found myself with two other guys.  We swam everyone else off our feet for a time and I settled into third.  One of the others guys swam away after the first couple markers and the other stayed to my left.

By the first turn, the calm was gone.  I was catching people from the pro field, the amateurs had not disappeared, we were in a pack — there was neither enough speed at the front for us to swim entirely away nor was there enough space for the field to string out in a line.  I still was swimming smoothly.  There was no trouble with navigation, the water was calm though it began to rain (so I’m told)

The second loop was a total mess.  When I came through the banners to head out for the second loop, the last starters were still near shore.  Too close.  I went in the water just to the left of someone from my wave thinking I would have a nice draft.  To my left was the first age-group woman that I’d seen.  A few strokes later and it was mayhem as we rammed into wave after wave of people.

It was like a wet and ugly MMA fight.  This was the section, the third quarter of the swim, where I had planned to go from cruising speed to just below anaerobic.  I wanted to break out and use it as the place where I would make my move because it would become harder to maneuver close to the finish.  Little did I know.

I never accelerated — at least not for more than three to four strokes — before I found myself going around or over people.  There were two kicks to the face including one that I’m sure included blood in my mouth.  After final turn and about a third of the way back, someone swam perpendicular to the course — from the right to left, straight for the boathouse — and delivered an elbow to my ribs that left me seeing spots and gasping for air.

I cannot think of a time when I put so much work and energy into a swim and didn’t go anywhere.  For at least a third to a half of the second loop, I was inside the buoys.  I went over the golden cable, I went five-to-seven yards to the left of the cable and everywhere I found packs and packs of people.  Slow people.  People swimming breast stroke.  People who don’t make contact but rather actively grab limbs of the other swimmers.  People unaccustomed to open water.  People having conversations.  People everywhere.

One stereotype of swimmers is that they are introverts.  They spend hours with their head underwater and alone in their thoughts.  There I was in Mirror Lake — at the start of a long, long day — surrounded by 2,500 others and I didn’t like any of them.  I didn’t want to be with them.  Swimming is not a group activity and I was embroiled in a terrible group grope.  They were in my space and keeping me from the swim I had imagined so many times.  I wanted them all — every last person — to go away.

As it turned out, I swam one second faster than in 2012.  I ended up as the fifth amateur out of the water and by the time everyone had been counted, third in my age group and 14th overall.  It wasn’t according to plan but by the time I made it to the Olympic Oval, it was behind me.  It was part of my day, my experience, my race and there was plenty of bike course in front of me to think about without dwelling on my sore ribs.

It has never happened before but it happened there: I was thankful to be out of the water.  By the time I had made my way through the changing tents, Dana and the tribe were lining the Oval and shouting down to me.  I turned, found them on the sidewalk, waved and shouted back and meant every word: “I love you!”

That lady with the blue shirt and long sleeves, she is about to hand me my trusty Kuota.  Thank you volunteer lady standing in the rain making my morning better.  Thank you.

That lady with the blue shirt and long sleeves, she is about to hand me off trusty Kuota. Thank you volunteer lady standing in the rain making my morning better. Thank you.

The Bike

The rain had started and it felt like only seconds passed before I was at the top of the first climb and ready to descend all the way to Keane.  On the one hand, there was a breeze blowing down through the pass, I was riding an 808 on my front wheel for only the second time and the road was wet.  On the other had, I had the road to myself and didn’t feel rushed.  I was in a race but only spun down at the edge of comfort.  That meant I came off the aerobars, sat up when appropriate and rode cautiously.

After the descent, I let myself begin the work.  I wanted to ride steady, stay right on top of the nutrition plan and see how all the training would work out.  I was stronger, lighter and ready.  The first loop came in at about nearly 16 minutes ahead of my split from 2012.  However, on course I only knew the approximate time because my watch stopped in transition as I pulled on my arm sleeves.  Fortunately, a couple minutes into the ride I turned on the interval function to repeat every 30 minutes as a nutrition reminder.  As a result, I knew that I was on track as I came through town for the 56 mile mark.

I picked Dana out by her blue/purple raincoat.  She picked me out because of the amazing display of dorkness associated with an aero helmet.

I picked Dana out by her blue/purple raincoat. She picked me out because of the amazing display of dorkness associated with an aero helmet.

On cue, the rain started again as I prepared to descend to Keene.  As a result, my top speed was about five miles per hour slower than in 2012 and I topped out at 43.8 mph.  Again I found myself with an empty road and I took the turns with the same, maybe more, caution.  However, the second loop did have its drama and rewards.  There was a cooler sitting near the edge of the road with a sign that announced “FREE BEER” and the aid stations manned by people who seemed to get rowdier and more excited as the day went on.  At approximately mile 100, there were a handful of guys — likely drunk — at the top of a hill asking everyone, demanding that everyone do a wheelie.  For whatever reason I wasn’t climbing that hill particularly well and two people were just about to pass as we crested the hill.  But I heeded the call and pulled up on my handlebars to their delight.  Then I did a second one and a third and final wheelie.  To what end?  It made them cheer and laugh.  They mildly mocked the other two guys where were passing me and not playing along.  And, above all else, it was kind of fun.  I said thanks guys and rode on with a little bit of lift in my spirit.

If you look back at this video around 5:20-5:45, you’ll see the bubbles that I crashed through approaching Haselton Road for the second time.  I yelled to the kids to tell them how awesome their bubbles were.  I’m not sure they understood as I whizzed by, but I was grateful.  It made me think of the time Josephine — ever so generous and willing to share — gave Tobias her bubbles because she knew how much he loved to play with them.  He was constantly spilling his container and running out.  If only I could let him experience the *pop* of riding through rainbow colored bubbles at 25 mph.

The boy who loves bubbles  nearly as much as making faces at his Papa while touring the bobsled course.

The boy who loves bubbles nearly as much as making faces at his Papa while touring the bobsled course.

The feature of the bike ride that I most hope to hold onto and remember well took place on the flats of the second loop.  After the descent and before the hills into Wilmington, I raced.  Most of the day, most of every race I enter for that matter, is done according to pacing.  I don’t expect to win so I’m not racing with all sorts of tactics.  I rely on pace — I’d like to have a steady effort and be able to finish well.

After the right turn (at Upper Jay?) to stay on 9N, Andy passed me.  We exchanged a hello and a few words and he rode on by.  He was followed by a train of people.  As the second and then the third person passed, I looked back to see a whole group riding single file.  After a few seconds of thought, I jumped into the train about eight spots back.

I rode with these guys for about 40 minutes.  I thought a lot about what was happening as we rode.  My senses heightened.  Adrenaline fired.  Competitiveness inched into my mind and sparked the muscles as if to ignite a hidden reserve of energy.  It was a peek, a window into what elite riders experience during these races.  I got to experience what they mean when they talk about missing a break or not seeing when someone rides off the front because they were eight spots back.

I don’t think anyone in the group was trying to cheat.  It was most definitely not a paceline.  In a paceline, the effort is pretty steady from one minute to the next and the positions almost appear static.  Moves are synchronized.  We were riding in a series of surges and falling back.  Moving up left past one, two, three bikes and then being passed and therefore having to give space.  The positions were dynamic.

By my estimate, most of the bikes were not the four bike lengths apart called for by the rulebook.  But, I think most of the time most of the bikes were at least three lengths apart.  No one was riding a wheel.  No one was working together to take turns at the front.  If someone crept up on the guy in front of him, you’d see him pull off to the left to make sure to avoid the slipstream.  There was a lot of juggling of the order of the riders.  I rode everywhere from first back to last in the line.  I noticed that Andy never dropped back further than third in the group and wondered if he knew the others, knew if they were in our age group and didn’t want to give up a place.

We were like fish all going the same direction in a river.  Not a school of fish or flock of birds, there wasn’t the close quarters and coordination.  It wasn’t so much a dance like you see in the peloton on television as a very quiet grudge match where everyone was watching to make sure everyone else didn’t get an unfair advantage and everyone pushed the pace just a fraction.

After riding down to the turn-around at Ausable Forks and about two-thirds of the way back to the aid station, it was time for me to take a gel and something to drink.  In the time it took me to mess around with a gel from my shirt pocket, I slipped to the back of the line.  Another 30 seconds fiddling around and I was spit out the back of the group and off the line by 50 meters.  At this point, I sat up.  I had been going well above my ability — I wasn’t uncomfortable but it was a pace that was unsustainable — for 40 minutes.  We were approaching the big hills and I didn’t think I’d be able to keep up with the group as we climbed.  And, importantly, I needed to pee.  I let them go but it was like standing alone in the woods and seeing some beautiful wild animal and then being the first to turn and walk away.  The ending of the moment, letting them ride off when I could have extended the experience was like breaking of a spell.

I’d never had a riding experience like that before.  I was able to see it for what it was and was grateful.  Then I proceeded to pee my bike and was doubly grateful because it relieved some pain that had been building in my back.

It was all a part of the day.  It is hard to explain, to capture and remember the hundreds and thousands of moments that go into making an Ironman day.  Not only is the day long, the scenery of 140 miles varied and then intensity of emotion heightened by exhaustion, but the race is an experience that presents the clarity of beauty, the exchange of a genuine kind act, the expression of a deeply felt and private emotion — fear, happiness, pride, — over and over and over, all day long, among thousands of people.  It is amazing and can be overwhelming.

I let the swim go — with its disappointments and the anger that I had for all those people — as soon as I left the water.  I didn’t stress about the wet roads and took bike course one section at a time.  I went fast, I got passed, I ate, drank and soaked in as much of the crowd, gorgeous scenery and wonderful opportunity to do the race as I could.

And at every turn, an image or story would come to mind and I’d find myself saying, “I’m grateful.”

Next Post: The run, the after, hypothermia and ice cream.  


I’m still trying to carve out time to finish my race report on Ironman Lake Placid.  It was wonderful — wonderful in all new ways from the amazing experience that I had in 2012.  Foremost, the whole family was able to take part and for that I’m thankful. Until that time, I leave you with […]

Data Nerd Heaven — IMLP and Other Ironman Races

Why have I never seen “Coach Cox” before.  This website is chock full of all sorts of interesting analyses on a wide variety of Ironman races.

Two of the many conclusions drawn:

1. This year the swim was slower across the board.

2. The Kona qualifying age grouper — and the pointy end of the race in most age groups — was faster than expected.

Great website but be careful, it is a blackhole for time.  Once you start looking at the charts and data visualizations, you’ll be hooked.


Getting There

The path to Ironman Lake Placid was long.  It was really long.  Like, we went through more than a dozen toll booths and drove all day to get there.

But it was worth it.

Like last year, I followed Don Fink’s 30 week training plan.  I didn’t follow it exactly in that I skipped workouts each week, I made up my own swim workouts and generally, if life got in the way, training would usually get pushed aside.  In all, I did 227 workouts during the 210 days of the program and took off on 29 of the 30 Mondays.

  • I ran for 100 hours, 34 minutes and 6 seconds covering 707.56 miles.
  • I rode for 155 hours, 8 minutes and 56 seconds covering 2,837.92 miles.
  • I swam 29 hours, 1 minute and 8 seconds and covered 132,342.39 yards.

Taken together, the training was approximately similar to 26 Ironman races.  Of all my exercise time between the start of the year and the end of the race, only 3.7 percent was actually during the race.  The rest of it was preparation.

The training took nearly 285 hours or about 11.9 days.  This doesn’t count driving to and from the pool, changing clothes, sorting gear and preparing nutrition for long workouts.  It doesn’t include transition times during brick workouts.  It is a proxy however for the sacrifice and trade offs required.  June was the biggest month of training with 157+ miles running, 616+ miles on the bike and another 26,797 yards (15.2 miles) in the pool.

I lost about 16.4 pounds if you take my average weight from January and compare it to the average weight in July.  I raced about seven pounds lighter than the 2012 version of IMLP.

I went through more than two pairs of running shoes, a set of tires, a chain and rear cassette and at least three really big orders of Gu, Bonk Breakers, Perform and Powerbars from TriSports.

I also missed at least three (perhaps four?) of the kids’ swim meets and made the family late for any number of activities as they all waited for Papa to get home from a ride or long run.

Thankfully, all of this took place without injury or accident.  No wrecks, pulled muscles or other major setbacks.  It is a cliché, but true: Half of the race is simply getting to the start line healthy.

I won’t be at the start line for Ironman Lake Placid 2014.  Two years in a row is enough for me and the family.  But I’d like to go back.  I don’t plan to do an Iron-distance race next year.  Instead I’ll focus on more of the 70.3 races.  I’ll focus more on what is happening at our house where I’m loved and I so dearly love others.

The Homecoming Committee let the whole neighborhood know.

The Homecoming Committee let the whole neighborhood know.

The Race, As Told by the YouTube

Exit — Stage Left. Run Quarter Mile. Put on Helmet & Shoes. Ride.

The scene on Sunday as I came out of the water.

I exit through the red arch around the 49:32 marker. A friend who happened to be volunteering at the swim site punched five fingers up in the air as I ran out of the water and yelled that I was the fifth amateur out of the water. The time wouldn’t hold up; eventually, I’d slide back in the rankings and have the 14th fastest time. You can see me give him a “thumbs up” of thanks as I run off to the right of the screen.

Thanks Jeremy.

Mirror, Mirror…Who Loves You Most of All?

Esme wants to move to Lake Placid.

When Dana checked off a life list item by going down the Olympic bobsled run, Tobias pronounced her “Super Rocket Fast.”

Desmond and Josephine ran carefree and barefoot — perhaps the only ones who did — in the Ironkids Fun Run along Mirror Lake Drive.

We went to Lake Placid. We were in close quarters, we spent too much on food, the first night was chilly and we didn’t have the right clothes. The children were tough — tough to deal with and tough on each other. Then they toughed out a really long, rainy day while Papa rode his bike all around and ran out of town — twice. And, it was wonderful. It is my hope that it became part of the lore of our tribe. We embraced it all — from the top of the ski jumps to bottom of the holes dug on the sandy beach. We gave Lake Placid a big hug and it hugged right back.

How much do we love you?  This much!

How much do we love you? This much!

There is much to share about the Ironman experience. Obviously, the swim, bike and run must be recounted. The new speedsuit by Roka should be reviewed. Notes on nutrition, pacing and heart rate must be catalogued. Observations — like the cooler next to the side of the road around mile 35 with a hand printed sign that announced “FREE BEER” or the increase in the number of Jens Voigt inspired signs I saw along the route — can be shared. The mantra-like focus I relied upon for most of the race and my feeble efforts to explain it to the kids over Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream after the race. But all of that later. First, the down and dirty of how it all turned out according to the clock.

Tale of the tape:
Finished 140.6 miles in 10:32:51, 27th in my age group out of 294 finishers and 143rd overall out of 2,348 finishers. The improvement from 2012 was 1 hour, 12 minutes and 10 seconds from when I finished 73rd in my age group and 365th overall.

The 2013 swim was one second faster than 2012. The splits are nearly identical also. The two 1.2 mile swim splits were 25:50 and 27:18. The first loop was two seconds faster this year and the second loop was one second slower than the second loop last year. Although, more should be said, I think that I worked about 50 percent more than last year on the second loop. It was a madhouse.

The 2013 bike split was 27 minutes and 9 seconds faster than in 2012. I went around the course in 5:34:01 or an average pace of 20.12 miles per hour. I finished the bike in 17th place for my age group and had slid back to 85th overall. Last year I was in 49th and 212th position at this juncture of the race.

The marathon was 45 minutes and 59 seconds faster this year. I ran a 3:56:33 for an average pace of 9:01 minutes per mile and though I have not looked at all the data from my watch yet, I believe that only once did I split a mile over 10 minutes. In 2012 I ran a personal best at this distance and did the same course in 4:42:32.

This year both of my transitions — from swim to bike and from bike to run — were slower than last year. The first was :18 seconds in arrears and the second was :41 seconds slower.

The Start:

The Finish

I had just raised my arms to use sign language to say "I love you" but they were too heavy and drooped immediately back down.

I had just raised my arms to use sign language to say “I love you” but they were too heavy and drooped immediately back down.