Ironman Lake Placid: The Why, the Data, and the Photo I Carried

So, it’s been over 3 months since Ironman Lake Placid and I finally got around to uploading all my data from my GPS devices for the day. Better late than never, eh?

The Why

I’ve never really come out and said why I wanted to do an Ironman. For a long time I never thought I would want to do an Ironman. The miles and time involved to complete an Ironman seemed impossible, especially for a mediocre athlete like myself. Swimming, cycling, and running over 140 miles in under 17 hours was ridiculous and best left to the crazy, ripped and lean athletes. Even after my first Half-Ironman in 2011 I didn’t want to do an Ironman. Then, I watched the 2011 Ironman World Championships tracking my coach and a few fellow Maine triathletes and watched Chrissie Wellington not only come from behind to win, but with broken bones and serious road rash. I realized that there was something special about Ironman. My resistance against the idea started to turn into curiosity and finally the seed was planted. I was determined to become an Ironman someday. Ironman no longer seemed impossible, but a major goal that I was seeking to reach. Perhaps I was crazy to think little old me with my overabundance of injuries could hear Mike Reilly say that “You are an Ironman.”

I’ve always been very self-critical of myself. My father was very hard on me growing up and often pushed me to my breaking point with harsh, uncalled for comments. But, it formed who I am today. I am stubborn and I don’t give up easy. I will die trying. I hired a wonderful and supportive coach in 2012 to help prime me for my potential debut Ironman in 2013. I was still on the fence about it until I went to training camp and realized that I could do it. The impossible became the possible. I chose to do an Ironman to prove to myself that I am capable of what I put my mind too. I’ve always strived to be the best and worked hard to achieve it. I’m competitive by nature. I know I’m not the best. Many people are stronger and faster than me, but I strive to be the best and strongest person I know I can be. Completing Ironman Lake Placid this summer allowed me to put the little voice in my head that is constantly telling me I’m not good enough to rest. Ironman, the holy grail of triathlon, is achievable to anyone who is willing to take the leap and put in the work.

The Data

As I mentioned above, I finally uploaded all my Garmin devices to Training Peaks. During the race I used my Garmin 910XT and my Edge 800. Of course, being the technical idiot that I am, I messed up my 910XT and had the longest transition one of 112 miles! 🙂 Luckily, I had my Edge on my bike to catch a majority of my bike leg.

I felt like I had a good swim leg. I stayed off the cable to avoid the flailing arms and legs, but I guess I also swam an extra 0.26 miles by doing so! But, that also brings my pace down to 1:38/100 yards!

My awesome ability to swim a straight line...

My awesome ability to swim a straight line…

My bike data was fun to view. According to Training Peaks I gained 10,423 feet! I’m thinking there is a major glitch in their elevation algorithm since I know I didn’t ride my bike a few times up and down Mt. Washington! I averaged a cadence of 80 rpm, which I’m happy with since that includes all the zeros from the 10k downhill section riding into Keene (that happened twice!), thus my cadence is actually higher. Winning! My power VI was 1.15, which is good for me, especially with the ups and downs of the course.

My run data was kind of sad to view, watching my declining pace over the course of 26.2 miles. But, I knew it inevitable. Darn, knee…

Declining run pace

Declining run pace


The Photo I Carried

I knew my first Ironman would be special. I also knew it would be a long, long day that might involve some mental negative talk. I needed and wanted some motivation over the course of the day. My father refused to come to Lake Placid to watch and cheer me on and I was definitely disappointed about that. My mother was always one of my biggest cheerleaders in life and I knew that if she was still alive that she would have been there, getting up at the crack of dawn to drive me to transition and been there until I crawled across that finish line. On race day I carried her in spirit and also a picture in a little baggie tucked into my sports bra. When my thoughts turned negative and the little voice started whispering that I couldn’t do it, I thought about my mother. I was able to find my strength again and proceed onwards to the Olympic Circle. When my knee gave out at mile 18 of the run I thought back to her battle with CJD and realized the last 8 miles of the run was nothing compared to what that disease did to her.

My mom and Duke riding in Acadia National Park circa 1998

My mom and Duke riding in Acadia National Park circa 1997

My advice to anyone doing an Ironman is find something (a photo, a pin, a quote, etc.) to either carry with you physically or mentally throughout the day that will remind you why you are doing the race because there are times that your thoughts will go dark and you start to doubt your fitness, ability, and training. The mind can often push our bodies far past its breaking point when we believe we have a reason bigger than ourselves to be doing the crazy things we do.

One of my favorite quotes! (Source)

One of my favorite quotes! (Source)


~ Happy Training!

What Motivates YOU!?

Yesterday at the gym I was doing my dynamic warmup when a bootcamp class came over to the area I was working in to do some plyometric work. Just about everyone in the group was whining about how hard burpees and squat jumps were. Every other word out of their mouth was f-this and f-that. Wah, wah, wah! I came extremely close to asking them if they wanted a little CHEESE with their WHINE because a) I was annoyed by the lack of class they were showing with their language and b) their lack of motivation and effort. Do you think exercise is supposed to be EASY? It’s called WORKing out for a reason! If exercising and eating healthy was easy then we wouldn’t have the obesity crisis we have in this country. It never seizes to amaze me how many people will sit there half-ass a workout and whine the entire time when they would benefit more from shutting up and just doing the work. And then they wonder why they aren’t seeing any differences or making any progress?!

Thank you “People I Want to Punch in the Throat” for this one!

Back in September I read a great post from Mary Eggers entitled “Because I can.” In the post she says:

“Holding plank position in class, the woman next to me asked me “Gosh, I NEVER hear you complain in this class. Why don’t you ever complain.” I looked at her.

“Because I choose to be here.” I said.

As I walk through the gym I notice all the other people having these roaring laughing conversations with their personal trainers. In all honesty when I am working with Steve I don’t think I could have a roaring laughing conversation if I was paid to. I am totally unable to. I am working too hard. I am focused. If you have ever seen me in the gym you know I have the highest sweat rate of anyone in the damn world. Not only do I fuel as my fueling plan calls for I seriously consider adding extra sodium. Even when I am standing still.

When I am holding myself up on a pullup machine and curling a dumbbell somehow as I am suspended in mid air all I can do is stare at the tennis court where it says Player 23, and listen to him remind me to breathe, remind me to keep my elbow in, and tell me not to fall the hell off the pull up machine! Or I am shuffling side to side grabbing basketballs that he’s rolling just out of my range and throwing them back at him while he yells to throw the ball….. higher higher.

You will never hear me complain. I might roll my eyes and I might give Steve the finger behind his back (I haven’t yet but I have come close), but I am here because I choose to be here.” – Mary Eggers

This is exactly how I view my workouts. When I go to the gym or a class, I’m not there for social time. I’m there for a good ass-kicking because I know that it will make me a stronger athlete at the end. I CHOOSE to be there. You will never see or hear me complain. Sure, I might say “that hurts” or “are you trying to kill me?” but I quickly shut up and do the work.

Whining doesn’t get you anywhere. It is certainly not going to make you lose 5 pounds or get that 6-pack you so desperately want so you look good in a bikini or PR in your next 5k race. It’s a little blood, sweat, and tears that will do that! Gyms are a funny environment. I have a love/hate relationship with them. I love to see people in the gym working out, but if you look around how many of them are truly working out, there isn’t many. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve seen people walking on a treadmill talking to someone of their cell phone. However, for every person at the gym, there are probably at least a dozen sitting at home wishing they had the motivation and discipline to hit the gym. So I applaud anyone who gets up and moving.

I LOVE the quote above because it is so true. We only begin living when we are outside of our comfort zones. As far as exercise goes, our bodies are built to adapt. We quickly adapt to our current workouts that we do and that is why you need variety in your workouts. In order for me to become the best athlete I can be I need to push myself outside my comfort zone. I will be that annoying girl who throws medicine balls against the floor, skips around people doing deadlifts, and does chin-ups until I fall off the bar, but you will never hear me complain about it because I choose to do that. I choose to work my body until it screams for no more.

There are times in my life, whether in sport or life in general, when I just plain fail or get rejected. It happens. As much as it sucks, IT is what motivates me to push myself harder. People often like to say “good things happen to those who wait.” I hate that saying. Good things happen to people who work hard. No one in life is just going to hand you anything. Sure, some people are luckier than others, but for the most part, people work for what they have. I know I’m not a naturally talented athlete. I’m mediocre. Just because I’m mediocre doesn’t mean I’m not going to push my body to its limits. What sets me a part from many people is my ambition, dedication, and determination. Some people don’t like those qualities about me and hey, someday I don’t like them either. But at the end of the day it is who I am.

I do what I do because I can. I am lucky that I live in a world where I can afford expensive triathlon equipment. I am lucky that my body is healthy. I am lucky that I have healthy food that is available to me. I am lucky that if I am injured that I can seek out the best medical care that I can get. So many people can’t because they have limitations. Some people have legitimate reasons, but most people make excuses. Put those excuses out of your mind and find something that motivates you. No one said living a life worth living is going to be easy. Take chances and make changes. Put yourself out there for failure and rejection. It will only make you stronger in the end. Be ambitious. Make goals. Find your strength. And remember, stop whining and just do it.

My favorite quote!


What’s your motivation?

Race Report: The Mid-Winter Classic 10 Miler

The title should really read the “Mid-Winter Class 10-Miler: The Almost DNF”

I’ve been putting off writing this post because I needed to get over my disappointment from the race. I had a goal for the race and I was positive that I could meet and exceed it. However, I failed. I failed hardcore. It came pretty close to a DNF. The DNF that no endurance athlete ever wants behind their name.
From a young age I was taught that failure was not an option. My parents, mainly my father, always made sure that we didn’t fail and if we did then there were consequences. So failure has never been an option for me and when it does occur then I beat myself up about it. I failed on Sunday and I succeeded to beat myself up about it for the rest of the day. I’m beginning to believe that my dislike of running stems from my belief that failure is not option. I hate failure; therefore, I hate running because I feel like I’m always failing. However, lately I have been running so much better and, dare I say, I actually might enjoy running?!
As I mentioned in my previous post, I was sick pretty much all last week with a sinus infection. My head was foggy and I felt like it wanted to explode. I worked a few half days and went home to sleep. I also got 4 days off completely from working out. I also lost my appetite, which usually occurs when I’m sick. Eating anything usually makes me nausea and I can only get a few bites in before I either want to puke it up or it just isn’t appetizing anymore. By Friday I was feeling better so I definitely planed on running the race. On Saturday I went to packet pick-up at Maine Running Company and also got a new pair of kicks at a sweet price! Thanks to a kick ass friend (who ran 23 miles last Thursday for his birthday and then a super fast 63 minute 10-miler)!
I woke up on Sunday and had my regular breakfast of oatmeal, peanut butter and banana. I went to go start my car (which is a standard) and my clutch wouldn’t go in. I tried twice and then started panicking! How the hell am I going to get to my race if my car wouldn’t start? I tried a third time and mu clutch went in and I was able to start my car. I got the the race start and go ready, did a warm-up, peed about 10 times, had some water and a gel. We lined up and the gun went off. The first mile was fast, mostly down hill. The next few miles had some hills but I felt good and settled into my goal pace.
The first 5 miles of my race went very well. I was running good and I felt good. I had a gel and a little water at the mile 5 water station and then continued past the Spurwink Church and started cruising up the hill towards Crescent Beach on Rt 77. Then it hit me. I felt lightheaded and dizzy. And then the tunnel vision started to occur and I knew it was an “oh crap” moment. I thought for sure I was going to eat pavement. I remember thinking that if I was going to pass out then I hope I don’t land on my teeth because I don’t want to get dentures. Weird thought, I know. And as a side note I have a tendency to pass out on occasion from no apparent reason so I’m well verse in knowing when my body is going to pass out and mile 5.5 was one of those. During my freshmen year of college I was sitting at my desk eating a bowl of cereal when the next thing I know my roommate is pulling me out of my trashcan and asking me if I’m okay. I just passed out for no reason. She was very worried about me so she bought me to the ER to get checked out. The doctors did a blood sugar test, a EKG, and a urine and blood test. Everything came back perfectly normal. The doctor told me “well, it’s not uncommon for young women like yourself just to randomly pass out.” In other words, they didn’t have a friggen clue why I passed out. Awesome.
Anyway, back to the race. So I felt like crap starting around mile 5.5. There was even the ambulance parked on the hill leading up to Crescent Beach. That was the moment when I considered DNFing. I walked for a little while to take my breathe and gather my thoughts again. I felt a little better so I started jogging again. Then I few minutes later I would feel like crap again and walk. This happened for the rest of the race. Between miles 7-9 I got going pretty good for awhile then the cold wind picked up and I started having trouble breathing. Fantastic! Let’s just have an asthma attack too! But, the end was near. I saw my running coach about 200 yards from the finish and I told her I was going to pass out because I knew I was going down if I stopped. She finished the last bit of the race with me and held me up at the finish. She bought me inside and gave me water and some food. I started feeling better afterwards, but my head was pretty cloudy and my nose was running. Great. I probably just made my cold worst. Once I felt better I got changed into warm, dry clothes and got in my car.
My car started but it was acting funny. The engine would rev up every once in awhile if you added more pressure to the gas. I decided to make a pit stop at Panera Bread to grab some food. I got my food and got back into my car to head home. It didn’t start. And it didn’t start during the other 10 times I tried. So I do what every girl does and calls her father. “Wah, my car won’t start! Help me!” My car was making funny noises while braking occasionally so my father drove my car around the block a few times Saturday night. While he was getting out on my car he must have pushed my car mat up underneath my clutch. It was the reason my clutch wouldn’t push in in the morning. I realized that before I left in the morning and fixed it. However, it’s the reason my car wouldn’t start! Grr… so my father came and saved the day (or so I thought). He got in started and I had him drive it home. I followed him and my car was a smokin’. Awesome, my father just killed my clutch. He called me and told me to pick him up at our mechanic.
Well, I guess I need a new clutch, new timing belt and possibly some front brake work. My car is 10 years old and has almost 140,000 miles on it. It’s been a great car and it’s the original clutch, which is pretty impressive! But, the question is, is my car worth fixing. Our mechanic, whom we have used for years, is going to take a look at it and let us know if I will be paying close to $2000 in repairs or buying a new car. And my visions of a new tri bike and powermeter are slowing disappearing…. Ugh, NOT my day!
I laid on the couch for awhile on Sunday and had a pity party. I was super disappointed with my performance in my race. I was running so well and then I got sick. I talking with a friend and he reminded me that I had a bad race. It happens. My important races are in the summer. He’s right. I had a bad day and I had a lot of things stacked against me.
So what happened? My day before race day and race day nutrition was fine. It was my nutrition earlier in the week when I was sick. I didn’t eat much at all so the energy storage just wasn’t there. I actually weighed myself the morning of the race and I weighed about 3 pounds lighter than when I last weighed myself on that Monday before. As much as I loved seeing the new weight I knew it wasn’t a good sign. Another reason was I didn’t sleep much either so my body was tired. And obviously I was still sick.
So lessons learned from Sunday:
1. Don’t run races sick (someday I will learn this! See previous post about my half marathon experience)
2. Don’t let your father drive your car because he’ll burn out your clutch!
In other news, I had a great run tonight in my new shoes! I’ve finally got my appetite back and have made some yummy meals that I’ll share soon!