Aka Ironman #11.
Last year, I signed up the day after the race as an age grouper, but was able to come back to the site of my first Ironman and race as a pro five years later. THAT’S the reason there was 2 Pat Wheeler’s on the start list–I was registered as both!
After a very tough Ironman Texas and Syracuse 70.3, in combination with the weather we had the last four weeks, I was not in the best mindset leading up to Lake Placid. Although we made big changes to the training in the last 3 weeks to do confidence building workouts versus my normal Ironman build-up, and those went very well, there was still a lot of doubt in the ol’ mind on how the day will actually unfold.
We arrived on Tuesday to better weather and legs that felt like they were ready to race. I did the last few workouts solo, and by Friday afternoon I was ready to eat and prepare to race!
Sunday morning finally came, I went through the normal race morning routine, and was in the water by 6:05 for the 6:20 start and was able to get in a 500-600 yard warm-up. I think this really helped my overall swim time. Being a very aerobic athlete, I need to have a good warm-up to be able to hit the swim hard in the beginning.
I lined up behind Tim Snow, just to see how long I could hang on him for. Within 30 seconds, I had no idea where I was, I was just swimming as hard as I could go, and by the first turn I was swimming by myself. My feet and legs kept getting hit, so I knew someone was back there. A few hundred yards before the end of the first loop, they weren’t coming around so I slowed up a little and a group of four guys came around me and I got on the back with the goal of them helping with navigating around the age-groupers on the second loop. We swam all the way to the turn buoy on the second lap, and all four of them cut in front of it, so they didnt have to go into the chaos that is the turn buoy. I continued on the course to go around the turn buoy as fast as I could , and was able to latch back on just in time for them to cut diagonally across and skip the second turn buy and head back to shore. At that point they had cut 25 or so yards, and I just couldnt make up the gap as I went around both turn buoys like I was suppose to. (I won’t name any names, but I and the other guys around me know who they are.) I hit the beach with a swim PR of 54:58.
Got on the bike and immediately hit the first part of the course hard, and happily I found my legs decided to join me in Ironman Lake Placid. Pretty uneventful 112 miles, and after 5 hours and 12 minutes worth of pedaling, eating, and drinking it was onto the run.
Jumped off the bike, quick change (maybe not SO quick), and onto the run. The run was started with the plan to get everything under control by the left hand turn onto River Rd, and then to take the Garmin off, put in my pocket, and run best effort all the way to the finish. Although I never actually took the Garmin off, I didn’t necessarily use the pace or HR to pace myself, I just liked to know it was there. I knew I was running, based off effort, too fast, but the plan was to just best effort it and see where it ended up so thats what I did!
Around Mile 19, I started to pay for the effort of the day, and the next 7.2 miles are going to take me 10 days to get recovered from. It took a lot of mental effort and toughness to keep it together to the finish, but seeing all my friends out on the course and in town really helped and I crossed the line after a 3:05 marathon.
I was able to finish in 9 hours and 20 minutes which was good enough for a 28 minute PR on the course from 2009 and 10th overall pro.
The best part of the day was the simple fact that IM became fun again. I was really happy to just be able to be out there going full gas. No pressure, no expectations (minus a small wattage goal on the bike), just go out, have fun and finish as fast as possible.
Thanks to Jesse for all the help over the last 6-8 weeks and keeping my head on straight. To everyone who cheered for me, it meant a lot when I was really suffering out there. To Blueseventy for the wetsuit. QuintanaRoo for the most comfortable TT bike out there, the CD0.1. Powerbar for the fuel and Normatec for getting the legs back to normal everyday after training.
Picture credits to Charlie Abrahams and Kelly Gallagher.
9:17 is the women’s PRO time, I am told after Ian finished they moved the clock back. I was pretty bummed to later find out I was actually three minutes slower. Oh well. Always next year, right?