Thursday, August 02, 2007

Ironman Lake Placid Report - Part 2: Race Day

I woke up at 3:30 am and did my rountine. Showered, drank my Boost (2 bottles). I also had a cup of coffee. My friend, Len, also came along to Lake Placid.

If I am going to have a big day, he will have a bigger day. A great friend he is, he will be my photographer for the day. He already plan to walk outside of the town to get some decent shots. I am very grateful to have him here.

We were staying in the first floor of the motel. I could hear footsteps above us. Clearly, I ain't the only one getting ready for the race. By 5 am, we headed out.

As we were driving I realized I left my wetsuit in my room. Dooh. In normal triathlon race, I have all my gears and my bike loaded and ready to go. In Ironman, you checked in your bike the day before and had to put your gears in transition bags. That threw me off.

Notice my right hand is holding my falling pants :)

I drove back, grabbed my wetsuit and go. Then I realize, my stomach is growling. So I went back and grabbed a third Boost. (Note: I normally drink two bottles before any race)

There is nothing like the morning silence.

How was I feeling during the morning?

There was only one focus. Get all my gears ready. Get myself ready. Get myself checked in. Get body marked and get ready for the swim start. Emotions flow in and out. I wasn't nervous or excited. I just want to go.This is the lake we will be swimming in.

As we were walking, my pants kept falling off. I hadn't wore this pair for a year. I guessed I must have trim down. It must have been a funny sight. On one hand I was holding my pants. On the other, I had my wetsuit and my special needs bag (with 4 bottles of Infinit Nutrition).

After getting bodymarked and my wetsuit on, Len and I prayed on the side and Robin bumped into me. She asked me how I am feeling. I told her I don't know. We took a pic and I was off.What I didn't realize is that she put my age as 37 on my calves :)

All suited up and ready to go!

One focus. Get through the swim and onwards to the bike.

2500 of us, wetsuited and ready to go. I did a quick warm up. Right shoulder is feeling great. I let the atmosphere lifted me up. I stood and absorbed the moment.

The air was chilly. I could see my own breathe. Yet I wasn't cold.

Are you ready to be an Ironman? - the annoucer asked...

Everyone cheered. I smiled and realized all the hard training came down to one day. Today.

The sky was blue. I saw a flock of white doves flew as they played the national anthem. I was pumped and ready to go. A helicopter swirled overhead. I am ready.

Swim - 4 km (2.4 miles)

The canon started and we were off. Right off the swim, I only had one goal. Find a pair of good feet to follow, stayed relax and get through the swim. Today would be a long day and I need to relax. Despite the seas of waving arms and elbows, I was not intimdated. I was in constant contact with others. If someone was kicking too hard, I would move and find another pair of feet.


The swim went better than I planned. It was smooth and relaxing. Pretty soon we finished one loop and going for the second one. In the second loop, I saw bubbles coming from the bottom of the lake. I looked down and saw scuba divers beneath us. COOL. I smiled and kept my pace.

At the end of the lap, there was a church building that I recognized. Seeing that second time made me happy. The swim, which I dragged from the beginning, was about to be over.

I came out of the water relax. I wasn't in a rush. I became part of the moment. I picked the closest strippers and they yanked my wetsuit off. I walked and jogged a bit down the chute. I managed to see my sis on the sideline.

Time to ride...

Swim Time: 1 hr 31 min
Swim Overall Place: 2011


I grabbed my bags and headed to the transition. I had a heck of a time putting on my bike jersey. Oh well. I got my gear and headed out.

Time : 10 min 49 sec

Bike - 180 km (112 miles)

It was cold. The morning was still chilly and I was shaking. I kept it easy rolling out of the town. My family managed to grab a spot on the side of the road at the edge of the town. I waved and I kept moving. There was a long climb and I kept in my small rings.

I sipped water for 30 min and started my nutrition intake.
Whenever I was smiling, I drink my Infinit.
Whenever I finished climbing a hill, I drink my Infinit.
Between every 10 min, I drink my Infinit.

I guess you guys got my drift. I kept my heart rate low and kept eating and drinking. I did exactly what I had done in my long ride. I wasn't going fast. I just kept it easy.

An hour into the ride, my front deraileur stopped shifting. Strange. I was in my big ring and decided to stop at the next aid station and take a look. As I stopped, I asked a volunteer if he knew anything about bikes. Thank God, there was a support crew. He took a look and told me my front deraileur was busted. Hmm...He told me he could fix it to one ring. I asked him to put me in the mid ring. Looking around, he found a piece of cardboard and duct taped my front deraileur.

I just took it as it was. I was glad he was there. At least he put me in mid ring instead of big ring. Lake Placid is one of the hillest rides in all the Ironmans. There was no way I could survive in my big gear. I could have easily DNF from the race at that point.

He patched me up good and I kept going.

The course was amazing. There was a long descent and I was in my aero position. I never rode through descent this long before. So I took it slow. There were many times I looked around and admired the scenery. Mountain on my left and trees on my right. The sun was out. Life is good.

This is between Lake Placid and Upper Jay. Pretty!!

The rolling hills in Haselton Road.

The climbs were long and some were quite taxing. I couldn't use my granny gear so I was grinding it. My cadence dropped below 60 (not good for the knees) but I needed to keep my HR low. I needed to let my body absorb as much water and food as possible. So I sacrificed my quads in exchange to getting the fliuds in.

I passed through Keene, Upper Jay, Wilmington..then we turned back to Lake Placid. In the last 20 km to Lake Placid, that's where we faced a few tough climbs. I was still enjoying the scenery. Everyone was cheering as we rode the last climb before heading back to the town. I saw my friend Len taking a pictures. I thought he saw me but it turned out he missed me. And he walked all the way there with his camera gears :). Heh.

Lap 2 - I stopped. Grab my special needs bag, exchanged bottle and headed out. The ride through the town was unbelievable. Crowds cheering us. I just rode through there like Tour De
France. Cutting corners and kept at it. I saw my family again and I was off.
Looking strong...

I was still feeling pretty good. The long climb before the long descent I was doing well. The second time on the descent toward Keene I just hammered it. I slowed down a bit as there was a cyclist crashed. I gave a quick prayer and moved on.

Along the ride from Keene to Upper Jay, I chatted up with a girl. It turned out she was part of TNT (Team In Training). Her name was Jenny and we played cat and mouse. She told me she was from San Francisco and in my mind I was singing...

"If you're going to San Francisco
Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair
If you're going to San Francisco
You're gonna meet some gentle people there"

As we passed Jay (about 50 km to go), my legs were feeling it. My quads especially. They wanted to cramp. My knees were feeling the grind. At Wilmington we did a turn around at Haselton Road and I was slowing down.

There were still a number of climbs before heading back to Lake Placid. I kept looking at my watch because I thought the cut off time was 5 pm. At one point, I was going so slow I yelled out in my head 'God, please give me strength.'

And God answered. I made it through the climbs and headed back town. Best of all, I did not cramp. Once again, the town atmosphere lifted my spirit. There was still a marathon. In my mind all I wanted to do was to start the run.

Bike Time: 7 hr 49 min
Overall Place: 1963


I went back to the transition area, let the volunteer took my bike and grabbed my runner gears.

As I put on my right shoe, my right calve cramped. I shook it a bit. And headed out.

The bike was done. And now 42 km (26.2 miles) between me and my dreams.

Time: 5 min 17 sec

(to be continued)


Thomas said...

Excellent stuff, Cliff. Most people would have freaked with your bike troubles, yet you just took in in your stride.

Now on to the third part, where you blew the competition out of the water, judging by the results page.

Rae said...

Awesome job on the bike and swim!! What a beautiful course! I love the swim pic with the mountains in the background.

Can't wait for part 3!

Unknown said...

Fine post and wonderful pictures Cliff!

Can't wait for the next installment.

Unknown said...

I love how calm you were about the bike derailler issue. Let go, and let God...

Looking forward to reading more about your adventure!

AddictedToEndorphins said...

What a well written race report!! I feel like I am right there with you!

The pictures are beautiful, and I love all the little details!

Good Job, Cliff! Can't wait for part three!

Brent Buckner said...

Love your pre-swim "focus" picture.

Well done to roll with the deraileur issue.

Mike said...

Great report cliff! I read it on the rr site, but its much better with pictures. You looked like such an athlete out there!

cdnhollywood said...

Brent's right - that focus picture is awesome! Can't wait until I can wear that look on my face.

Great RR!

elaine s said...

hurry up and write about your run!

Kewl Nitrox said...

way to push thru the bike leg despite the failed derailer.
Praise the Lord for being with you and giving you the strength.
Can't wait for the run leg..

Anonymous said...
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brendaj said...

I'm really enjoying hearing about your experience, and not just the racing aspect of it. Thanks for sharing.

C. P. said...

I was out there with you, Cliff. I didn't see you and you probably didn't see me. You don't know me and I don't know you, but we were out there together... you, me and more than 2,000 men and women of iron. Congrats on your finish and on living life to its fullest!