Friday, August 31, 2007

Ironman Lake Placid - Part 3: The Sequel Part II

I had two objectives by changing into running gear:
1) Have nice, new, ungrossified clothes to put on.
2) Give myself something to focus on (changing), so that I could get in and out of the change tent and not get stuck to the nice, comfortable, hard plastic, folding chair.

That plan worked on both fronts, so I was quickly off on the run.

...or rather, off on the walk. My marathon "race" plan was actually to run 10 minutes and power walk 45 seconds, starting with a walk to get myself used to moving again. Naturally, all the spectators were yelling at me to go (since it was just the start of the marathon), but I smiled and waved and stuck with my walk. A few minutes into my first run, I passed everyone that I had left transition with, never to see them again.

My little run/walk strategy worked great. I stuck to it except for a few aid stations and the last two hills back into town. Very few people passed me, but I got to get through a bunch of people, some of whom I'm sure where annoyed that I'd run past them, then they'd pass me when I walked, then I'd pass them back when I ran again.

I had a nice conversation with one of the pass/repassers about my awesome ugly shoes (Vitruvian Running -- $60!). Exchanged stupid jokes with other runners, none of which were funny, but we all politely laughed. That's mostly what I remember.

I never hit "the wall;" I just gradually slowed down (10-minute miles on the first loop, 11-minute miles on the second). Mostly that's a result of my (lacking) run fitness. However, I maximized the fitness I had and ran to my full potential (on the day).

Moving through lap two (somewhere around mile 15). Luckily this is a downhill, so I still look like I'm moving at a decent clip.

Coming in to the finish. Hey, did you know that Ironman is sponsored by Ford?

No, really, I'm serious.

I swear, it really is. I guess you'll just have to take my word for it.

So, that's that. I executed the race exactly as I had hoped, and came up with an almost 40-minute PR, almost all of which occured on the run. You can't ask for a much better day than that.

Here's my support entourage/family post-race (minus Robin and Bob). It was great to have everyone there.

Well, at least JNM looks good. And maybe my dad.

Ironman Lake Placid -- Part II: This Time It's Impersonal

I don't have too much to say about the bike section. It's long. It's hard. It's quite scenic. A lot of people think they're faster than they really are.

I had traveled to LP in early June to ride the course and got myself walloped. After that experience, my entire goal was to train to ride conservatively and set myself up for the marathon. So, it was all business (slow, slow business). I executed my (slow) race plan flawlessly, so flawlessly (slow) in fact that I rode within 11 seconds of my (slow) Wisconsin bike time from '05 (that's a 6:57 for those of you keeping track).

While you might think I was slow, I was happy with my overall bike performance. The only low point was into a wicked headwind on the downhill and flattest parts of the course (naturally). I typically don't do well in headwinds, and this was no exception. Here's me trying to be as aero as possible and hoping the headwind will be a tailwind on the climb back to town (try not to be blinded by the pasty white skin).

Well, I don't know if there was a tailwind into town or not, but clearly I paced myself well, because I rode the back climb only three minutes slower than the first lap. It was probably the first time in any triathlon I've done where I passed a bunch of people on the bike. Of course, none of us were moving that fast, but it was nice to be the demoralizer instead of the demoralizee for once.

T2 was a complete wardrobe change -- new shorts, shirt and socks. I kept telling the volunteer in the change tent that I was going to change everything and that, while appreciated, I didn't need his help, but he seemed intent on helping me put on my race belt. It wasn't until I dropped trou that he realized he might want to back off a little. Awkward.

Then I got glopped with sunscreen by another helpful volunteer (who I did not get nude for) and I was off on the run.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Ironman Lake Placid - Part: the First

Finally, the moment all (none) of you have been waiting for... my IMLP race recap!

I drove up to Lake Placid the Thursday before the race. Had I been thinking, I would have taken pictures of the constant downpour, which was more than a little unsettling. I had prepared myself for the likelihood that it would be warm; or rainy and warm; or cold at first, then warm; or cold, then rainy, then warm. However, it hadn't ever occurred to me that it would rainy and cold only. So, in a mild panic, I had Hannah bring up three different long sleeve shirts when she came on Saturday with RDM and JNM, none of which I ended up using (the day ended up cold, then warm... whew).

There was a minor incident with Johnny Law that kept my vast fan base from arriving as originally planned, but it worked out in the end.

Race day got off to a (cold) start with some aimless wandering around. Here's everyone (minus photographer RDM and my uncle) after I dropped off my special needs bags. I had seen them from a decent ways off and was waving to get there attention, but it wasn't until we were right on top of each other that they noticed me. I'll be honest, I was a little unsure of their spectator skills at this point, as the race hadn't even started yet and they couldn't identify me (don't worry, they did fine).

I got myself (wet)suited up and headed out to the start.

After splashing around trying to stay warm for 30 minutes or so, we got rolling with the start canon. I had lined up in the second or third row back, right in the middle of the start line. I might as well have started in the very front, because I got pummeled like never before. I don't think I was so much swimming as much as climbing on top of people for the entire swim. It was the first race I've ever done that I thought about that old Clif Bar commercial.

I wasn't too happy and chose to walk the section on the beach between the two loops. Here's me taking my time amidst others not taking their time (I'm in the middle with red shoulders, you know, the one with the white cap and goggles).

The second loop was only marginally more pleasant than the first. I finished in just under 1:01, with about two minutes difference between the laps.

After the swim I had trouble getting out of my wetsuit sleeves (I wore a somewhat unique two-piece suit), then had trouble getting into my arm warmers in T1. Slow going, but it was worth it to be warm enough for the first part of the bike.

As much as I would like to pretend I was being all cool and giving a thumbs up here before getting my bike, that wasn't the case.

Friday, August 24, 2007


According to my friend Ed, Hannah's living in a fictional California city from Demolition Man. I'm going down to visit this weekend, so if I run into a crazed Wesley Snipes or a knitting Sylvester Stallone, I'll be sure to take a picture.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Big Goal

I'm going to go under 12 hours in an Ironman.

Now, that's not a huge deal to many people in the sport, but it represents a significant breakthrough for me. I'll need a sub-4:15 marathon, sub-6:30 bike and sub-hour swim. That also gives me 15 minutes for transitions.

Winning means sub-12. Losing means not sub-12. This is the first time in a while I've had such a quantitative goal.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


I'm waiting for RDMs photos before I post my witty race report for Lake Placid. Otherwise, you'd get Hannah's pictures from the race. While good, they're not the best for the web, if only because she takes a bunch of shots of me getting closer and closer, then nothing when she puts the camera down to wave, then pictures of my back.

So you get little faraway Nick --> slightly bigger faraway Nick --> Nick's backside --> slightly smaller Nick's backside. I appreciate the waving and cheering more anyway.

RDM on the other hand is all business. I don't remember seeing his face on race day.

He's in Dallas right now, but I hope to get the pictures this weekend.

Friday, August 03, 2007


Why I think I've been happy with almost all of my triathlon results over the last few years: I've become more self-aware. Basically, that means I race to my fitness level.

It's easier to do that in long course events because it's such a long day. If I tried to "race" the 11-hour guys, I'd blow up by the halfway point (or sooner, since I'd be drilling it on the bike -- my weakest event). In short course stuff (for me, that's my youth swimming, all my rowing and various short triathlons) it's harder to moderate effort, since you have to go from the start if you want to win (or get a PR).

My last four long distance tris (Devilman '06 and '07, Musselman '06 and IMLP) were all successes (to me), despite not always resulting in PRs. Mainly that's because I was looking to raise my fitness over two years and have a breakthrough at Lake Placid -- I wasn't overly concerned with my times, so long as I executed effectively.

I'm spending some time thinking about a new long-term athletic goal. Likely it will be another IM in two or more years. I think it will take that long to address my various limiters and raise my fitness to a level that can allow me to reach another breakthrough, without compromising on everything else I need to focus on.

I'm also working on incorporating that self-awareness into the rest of my life. I think I'm doing okay with it, but there's always more room to improve.

Okaaayyyy... enough personal introspection in a public forum. Back to self-deprecating race summaries in the next post!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Official Lake Placid Photos

Official race photos are up. Some pretty good, some not so flattering. I'll get my race summary up sometime in the next week. Good day!