Ironman Lake Placid 2008 Race Report

Summary: 12:52:13
Swim: 59:46 (11/268 AG, 176 O/A)
T1: 8:12
Bike: 6:46:16 (162/268 AG, 1371 O/A)
T2: 5:25
Run: 4:52:36 (138/268 AG, 1223 O/A)

Thursday – Drove to LP and registered. Found that my bike rack slot was next to the very last bike slot in transition, meaning a long run to get the bike, and longer run to the bike start, all in grass, while wearing Keo-cleated bike shoes. Went for a short run to stretch the legs and found some back roads that would lead us to great race day parking. Met up with Kurt and LMS. Kurt looked fit and ready to rock the race course. Discovered that I had left all my Hammer Gels at home. Ran back to High Peaks Cyclery to get gels. Since they didn’t have my flavor in bulk, I had to settle for packets, which would make packing the bento box difficult. Drats…

Friday – Breakfast followed by short ride out along the run course and up the last climbs of the bike course (Little Cherry, Big Cherry, Mama Bear, Baby Bear and Papa Bear). On the way back stopped at Placid Planet to shop for tri-bikes. They had a Felt B2 in my size and on sale. They set it up for me to take a test ride. I hammered a quick test ride and fell in love with the bike. I made a silent promise that if I had a good race, I may reward myself with a new bike.

Saturday – Hooked up with Kurt for a very short ride out-and-back along Saranac Ave. We talked about race strategy and figured we had pretty similar expectations, with some stretch goals if the conditions allowed for a good race. Checked in the bike and transition gear. Weazer and I had an early pasta dinner close to our hotel. Later that night I went through all the race memorabilia in the TRI-DRS dog tag pouch and was filled with inspiration. Truly great stuff in the bag!

Sunday – up at 4:00am, ate my Pop-Tarts & PB&J bagels. Drank my Gatorade and prepped the rest of my nutrition. Just before I left the hotel, I put on the TRI-DRS dog tags. After negotiating some small back roads, we got a great parking spot in the neighborhoods below the IGA hill. Figured out where Weazer could catch the shuttle service to get back and forth to the hotel, because our car would be on closed roads until the bike course was re-opened for cars. Dropped off the rest of my nutrition on my bike and dropped off special needs bags on Mirror Lake Drive.

I met up with another member of my tri club (paramountadventure.org) while standing around near the swim start. We chatted with his father and wife while waiting for the event to start. About 30 minutes before the swim start, it began to drizzle, then it began to rain. So we got into our wetsuits and headed to the swim start.

I got myself located in the very front row about 10 feet off the dock. It was hard to maintain my position amongst all the other athletes but I tried to remain calm and aware of the other bodies around me. I spotted Shelly McKee on the dock and I think that she got a good picture of me. If you got a copy of the Results Newspaper, you can see me on page 8! (bonus points for getting press coverage!)

The gun went off for the AG’s and off we went. I had a surprisingly good swim start. It was chaotic, but manageable. I got bumped, jostled and felt up by my fellow athletes, but nothing that caused me any concern. I quickly found a fast pair of feet right off the wire and tucked in behind. At times I was pushed way off to the right side and out of the flow of the racers. I could really feel my speed drop for the effort I was putting in and I would push my way back into the mix.

I hit the beach for the first loop in a bit over 28 minutes. Right on schedule. However on the second lap the wind seemed to pick up and it began to pour rain. Then I had a bit of a gagging fit when my wetsuit crept up to my throat. That caused me to get swept up in a pretty big group with no way through them so I just coasted the rest of the way into the swim, concentrating on my kick to help open up my legs.

Out of the water in 59:46. Not bad, but I was looking for a 56:00 or better…

Got my bags and got a seat in the changing tent. Since I was the dumb ass that tied his bag in a knot, I spent a good bit of time futzing with my bag until my volunteer suggested that I tear the bag open and get my stuff out. I did that and got my gear together and got on my way. I had a long, muddy jog to get my bike, and a longer, muddier jog to get to the bike start. By this time the rain was steady and the bike start was getting crowded. This could get ugly.

I managed to get safely out of the bike start, down the steep drop offs and out to the main bike course. My plan was to spin up the inclines, fly down the descents and push a bit on the flats, keeping myself in a solid aerobic HR zone for the entire bike ride, and evenly split the loops. Somehow I never managed to get my Garmin’s clock to start up properly, but I wasn’t really concerned with time, instead focused on feeling and HR. The rain switched between drizzle and deluge all along the course. The big descents into Keene were really sketchy with some folks crawling along the shoulder with both feet out of the pedals outrigger style, and other folks bombing down on the left in full aero position. I felt myself hydroplaning several times and had to keep feathering the brakes to keep some sort of control on the bike. Between the brand new tires and the carbon rims, maintaining speed and control was a full time job. I know I lost a lot of free time by wussing out on the descents. Then again, I managed to keep all of my skin intact.

Nutrition-wise I never really felt good. I was trying to keep to the plan of 1 24oz bottle of Heed or Perpeteum every hour along with a quarter of a PB&J bagel every 14 miles, but I quickly had a lot of bloating and discomfort. I tried to push some Hammer Gel’s down and that made things worse. At special needs I picked up my extra nutrition bottles. By a great coincidence a triathlete acquaintance handed me my special needs bag. She was the same person that handed me my bike special needs in my 2005 IMLP race. It was great to see a friendly face in all the rain.

By the end of the second loop I had given up on my nutrition plan. I was only taking in small sips of Heed and trying to keep pushing down the PB&J’s but only managed to get through half on the second loop.

I got out of T2 relatively fast, since I opted to put on some dry socks. Again, when I switched my Garmin from bike to run mode, the clock was screwed up, starting up from the previous run finish on Friday. It wasn’t a big deal because I was planning on running by HR and feel.

As I headed out on the run, my legs opened up quickly and I felt really, REALLY good. I was a bit surprised how good I felt, and was wondering when the implosion would occur. Again, my plan was to keep my pace and HR low for the first half of the marathon, and then picked it up on the second loop. I began to hit the rest stops and grab a half-cup of Gatorade, dump a half-cup of water into the Gatorade and chug down the mix, then follow that up with chicken soup. The chicken soup was a race-saver for me as it began to really settle my stomach and allowed me to run a bit faster, more comfortably. Out on the second loop of the run, I began to pick up the pace just a bit. Unfortunately, the increased speed was negated by potty-stops almost every mile. I’ve never had to pee so much in my life, and I’ve been to my fair share of keggers. Each time I passed by my friends house on River Road, I got a huge cheer and shouts of encouragement, and I would find myself running even faster. After the last turn around on River Road I allowed the encouragement to push my pace up higher, and I began to pass a LOT of people. Each time I passed someone I felt stronger and better, especially those in my AG. At the Ford Inspiration point (about 5 miles from the finish) someone posted a message to me: “G Bassett – Kick!” I have no idea who posted the message, but it was the right word at the right time, so I started to pour out everything I had left. I knew that two of my Paramount Adventure team mates were right behind me and closing fast so I began to run scared.

About 3.5 miles from the finish I had to duck into a blue box one last time. As I exited I noticed that one of my team mates had just passed me. It was time to HTFU and pull ahead. I straighted up my form and cruised up to him and made a comment about him catching me in the can. Somehow I found some extra speed and pulled ahead for good. Since I had no clue about the time of the race, I figured a PR was out of the question. There was no way to guess the time of day from the sky, and I wasn’t going to stop and get the time from my Garmin. At this point, someone in the race asked a spectator for the time. It was 7:20pm. A PR for me was a finish anytime before 8:13pm. I knew I had it in the bag. Now I wanted to get under 13hrs. At the final turnaround on Mirror Lake drive, my teammate was less than a minute behind me, and I knew he was going to open up his can of whoop-ass on me. I managed to dig really deep and pull an 8:00pace out of thin air up to the entrance to the Oval. There was one guy in front of me as I entered the oval, and he began to slow down. Another guy came flying past me, and I used his pass to pull me up and then allowed the adrenaline rush of the finish line to pull me in. When I looked up at the clock to see 12:52, I was ecstatic! I crossed the line at 12:52:13. My teammate crossed in 12:52:14.

So I set a new PR for the course, taking a little more than 17 minutes off my 2005 time. The best part for me was that I stuck to my race plan, and had a solid marathon. I also never, ever had any doubt that I would be able to finish the race, despite the conditions. And I had a whole lot of fun. Who doesn’t like to play in the rain?

I packed up my stuff and retrieved my bike. Somewhere within the transition area though, I managed to lose the head unit of my Garmin 305. That makes TWO of these stupid units lost in about two months. Bugger all!.

We went back to the hotel and ordered some Pizza for dinner, and chatted with Kurt, LMS and the hotel owners (Vinny & Louise – great people!) We all were smiling and laughing about the day, even though none of us had the killer race that we wanted, we all agreed that it was a really fun day, and an epic race that will be talked about for years to come.

Monday I felt pretty good, but a bit stiff and sore. We headed to the expo but didn’t find any finishers gear that we wanted. We never made it over to see my fininshing photo nor pick up my finishers certificate. It was still raining, so I made an appointment for a massage then we wandered around town for awhile. I got my massage, then we went to check out a wine tasting at the Swedish Hill winery. Later, we hooked up with Kurt & LMS for dinner at the Fireside Inn. We devoured huge steaks and had a bunch of laughs, then off to Ben & Jerry’s for ice cream. Kurt and LMS headed to Lisa G’s for drinks with another group, but Weazer & I decided to head back to the room. Somewhere in the middle of the night I woke up with serious GI problems. The rest of the night, and all the next day (Tuesday) I felt miserable. Tuesday evening when we arrived at home, I took my temperature and found that I was running a low-grade fever (100.2). By dinner time, I felt a bit better and by Wednesday morning felt fine. It was the strangest recovery issue I’ve ever had. Weird.

BTW, On Monday, I went back to Planet Placid, and bought the Felt B2. Delivery is expected on Friday (7/25). The bike’s name is Blackbird, in honor of my father, and his work on the SR-71 spy plane. Bike pics to be posted soon.