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2014 IRONMAN Lake Placid

"MICHAEL PARKER, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!" More details to follow, the race was very exciting and very eventful. Mile 5-7 of the run was the most exciting part...chicken broth goooood.

In reply to AeroParker

Congratulations Mike. Quite an achievement. Can't wait for the details.

You da man Mike!!

In reply to AeroParker

"MICHAEL PARKER, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!" More details to follow, the race was very exciting and very eventful. Mile 5-7 of the run was the most exciting part...chicken broth goooood.

Wow. Those words should echo through your head every day, Mike. Congrats. How about some details?

Dude, you can't leave us hanging. Where's our report?!?!?!

Part 1: Up to Transition 1

Hey guys! Thanks for being patient; I have been living in Ironman fantasy land for the past few days and have really been enjoying myself. I’m still not totally back into reality; I’m at my folks place in the Finger Lakes just enjoying the sights and sounds of the woods. I must warn everyone, I’m a pretty open person and I talk a lot about bodily functions and fluids in this write up:) I also think potty humor is really funny(except during a marathon.)

So the day started off early, I set my alarm to 4AM but I woke up at 3 and I could instantly feel the nerves really bad and my stomach was just twisted in knots. I sat there for 10 minutes just freaking out. I made my way to the bathroom and just totally filled up the toilet. After that the nerves just melted away; I did not feel nervous at all for the rest of the morning. I danced back to bed and actually fell asleep until 4. I got up pretty quickly and started my pre-triathlon routine. Made my oatmeal, started drinking Heed, drank some Ensure, and half a bagel. Then I always take a nice warm shower just to help loosen up and calm any residual nerves. Then by 5 or so my dad and I walked down to transition. The hotel we stayed at was like ½ a mile from transition, it was super convenient.

Once at transition there were a few jobs to do, first get body marked, make sure the bike and gear bags are all set (I placed the bike and gear bags on Saturday) and drop off my special needs bags. The Ironman does things a little differently than other triathlons. We get 5 bags that we have to fill up with stuff: morning clothes bag, bike gear bag, bike special needs, run gear and run special needs. For example my bike gear bag had bike shoes, helmet, glasses, gloves, bike jersey, arm warmers, wind jacket, salt pills, pb&j sandwich and some cliff bar products. I like the cliff bar stuff more than the ironman stuff. We do not lie anything out on the ground by our bikes. These gear bags are in a separate location from our bikes, the bike area is only for bikes and kept very clean. The rules said we are not allowed to bring pumps into the bike area; there will be bike techs with pumps that can help. So I walk into the bike area and realize the line for a pump is like back and forth and wrapped around the oval 6 times (I’m exaggerating a bit, but its long). I never leave my carbon clinchers pressurized, so I certainly need some air quickly because I want to go to the beach. Fortunately the guy next to me has a pump and he allows me to use it. I walk over to the beach with my dad and we drop off my bike special needs bag(filled with extra CO2, clothes, pills and food) and then walk over the run area and drop the run special needs bag(more pills and clothes). All my pre race duties are complete and I just wait for the race to start. I meet up with the rest of my family and munch on some more food and Heed.

I get corralled into the athlete area on the beach and grassy area. People are starting to line up on the beach; however I wanted to stay back on the grassy area so I could see more of what is going on. At this point music is blasting out of the speakers and the announcer is pumping everyone up. We pause for the national anthem and soon after the cannon fires! The male pros go off first, then the cannon fires a second time for the female pros. I decide to now walk over and get in line for the wave swim start. The Ironman changed this last year, instead of having a huge mass start they let people off in waves all based on your anticipated swim pace. My plan is to start with the 1:20 group. I started walking up to the huge mass of people and realize it’s very densely packed. I’m slowing working my way through the crowd, and I’m looking up and I can see the 1:20 sign but it’s so far away and there are so many people in the way. I catch onto a line of people moving up a small ally way and all of a sudden some older lady cuts off the line and says with serious attitude “I’m not letting any more people past me, grumble grumble, grumble” Then some dude next to me says “lighten up lady, it’s a long day ahead of us” her face turned beat red, I thought punches were going to start flying! I just stood there in the back with the 1:50 crowd. Once the cannon fired a third time, the age group people started moving and the corralled area loosened up a bit and I was able to squeak up to the 1:20 people.

As I walked up closer and closer to the water I said aloud to myself, “oh boy, no turning back now” I just looked out into the lake and could see the entire swim course in one field of view. I slowly walked into the water until I was thigh deep and then jumped in and was off. I pretty much immediately settled into a pace and held that pace the entire time, the swim actually seemed easy. The Ironman puts a white line a few feet under the water marking the course, you actually never need to sight and look for buoys. There was hardly any traffic and I could swim right over the line for most of the swim. It was kind of weird because a majority of the people were way outside the buoy line, I’m not sure why because the line is the most direct route around the course. A couple times I moved away from the line because there was probably more draft in the large groups. Also about 10 mins into the swim it started pouring rain, like down pouring really hard, it continued to do this for the entire swim! I got back to shore in about 39 minutes; so far I am right on pace! I run across the beach and get back in the water for my second lap and I decide to pause for a moment just to take it all in. Shortly after I start the second lap it starts to thunder and lightning! I can actually see lightning strikes off into the distance and I can hear the thunder under the water. But I am so totally focused on swimming I don’t even care about the storm. I just swim! I finish the swim with tons of energy! I stand up in the water and I notice all the volunteers are all screaming at us “HURRY UP!!! GET OUT OF THE WATER!!! IT’S A LIGHTNING STORM!!!” I run out onto the beach, get my wetsuit stripped off and run up the chute. The place is totally flooded! We’re running in a stream of water! I see one of my college buddies and his wife, it was so exciting to see them! Then as we approach T1 I start to notice there are herds of athletes coming from another direction. I am so confused? Where are these people coming from? Did I miss a turn or something? Was I supposed to run somewhere else? What’s going on? I eventually learned throughout the day that the officials called the swim; some people had not even started their second lap. The officials sent kayaks into the water to redirect the swim course. The kayaks went to the far end of the swim, stopped the swimmers and told them to swim to the closest shore and pointed to a boat house. There was not much direction for these people, some people went to the boat house, some people just swam to a random shore and had to crawl through the mud and crawl up a steep embankment with weeds and trees. Some residents said athletes were running through their yards. When all these people got to the road, nobody knew what to do? A lot of people thought the race was cancelled. People were very upset. They eventually started running down the road back to T1. I found out later that this modified swim course still ended up being 2.2 miles long + a 0.5-1 mile run back to T1. I found out from my friends watching that I was one of the last people to exit the water. One of two things may have happened, either I was just barely ahead of the kayaks or I was extremely focused and blew off the kayaks. But whenever happened I finished 2.4 miles of swimming, I would not feel like I completed the whole race if I got pulled from the water. Although the official results only display the first lap of swimming.

Part 2: up to T2

So I run into transition, grab my bike gear bag and then run into the “male changing tent.” And let’s just say what happens in the male changing tent, stays in the male changing tent. I magically come out of the tent wearing full bike gear. Run up to the sun block table and lather myself up, even though it’s pouring rain out. Run into the bike area, grab my bike and run out of the bike area.

Finally I’m off on the bike! Except its really cold and it’s really wet. Almost immediately we start a long slogging climb out of lake placid, every book and article I have read about this course say take it super easy and just let everybody pass you. I started out that way, except because of the swim debacle a lot of slower people are actually ahead of me. It’s really not long before I start passing masses of people on this climb. I’m still taking it very easy and my HR and breathing are under control. I settle into a pace with a couple other people around me, there is some chit chat about the swim. One of the ladies near me says “I don’t have my electronic shifting battery” I look over at her bike and say, “at least you’re in an easy gear.” This folks is why we don’t use electronic shifting (just my opinion.) After we reach the top of the climb we start descending down a massive mountain. The decent is 7 miles long and terrifying. It’s still pouring rain out, the roads are super slick; and the road has just randomly been repaved. It constantly changes from new pavement to old pavement with plenty of bumps and frost heaves in between. The road just totally nose dives and the further you go down the steeper it gets. It’s easy to average 40 MPH for 7 miles and at some points it’s easy to go 50+. There is absolutely no stopping on this hill, especially with carbon wheels. I did actually pass by two people walking down the hill. I am so freaked out in this section, on my right there are people going way to slow, but on my left there are people just ripping down. To make things worse I am absolutely shivering. Finally after 7 miles of torture the road begins to level out and the rain even begins to slow and stop. I pass by a parking area full of ambulances idling and just waiting…

The next part of the course is my favorite! From Keene all the way to Ausable Forks is flat and super-fast. This is where the tri bike earns its keep; well actually does the tri bike ever really earn its keep since I don’t get paid to do this? This is a nice 20 mile section with just slight rollers and wide open road. I like to open up a bit on this part and put down some power. I had two friends from Torrington doing the race and I passed one of them in this section. He told me afterwards he could do nothing to catch up and say “hi.” It was awesome :) I make it to Ausable, do the turn around and head back to rt 86. Once on 86 we start climbing, and I like to call it a rolling uphill. We are mostly gaining elevation, but there are some fun and fast down hills in the middle of things. Also by this point the weather is perfect, it changes from clear and sunny, to overcast and cool. We make it to the next out and back section in Willmington, this is where I volunteered last year. After this section we start heading back to Lake Placid, but we still have 12 miles of climbing. Everyone says this is the most difficult part of the course and I agree. Just have to take it easy, stay seated and spin. In this section I actually catch up to Chris McDonnell of Team Grace, I pretty much stay in his vicinity for the rest of the bike, and some of the run. We get to the three bears, this section of road has a cult following. Tons of people line the road just cheering everyone on. The cow bells are so loud my ears are still ringing. The hills really aren’t that steep it’s a bunch of hype, but the're the last 3 hills of the bike and they are exciting to crest. After that we ride along Mirror Lake back to transition, there are still tons of people around cheering us on. It’s so loud and there is so much energy in the air. It really is magical in Lake Placid. We get our Bike special needs bag, I get to see my friends who flew all the way from Seattle, and head back out for the second bike lap. For me this lap is even more awesome than the first. I actually accomplish a negative split! My second lap is 10 seconds faster than the first! How’s that for consistency! Nobody does that, most athletes fade big time on the second lap. Even though I stayed consistent, by mile 90 I wanted to get off the bike. I get to the three bears; see my friends from Seattle again, and make my way into T2. While I’m in T2 I hear all sorts of commotion, the 1st place male is finishing.

In reply to AeroParker

Congrats Mike!!!! Next year I'm planning a half, we'll see if I'm ever brave (or dumb) enough to do a full.

BTW, wouldn't make a judgement on elec. shifting based on one person not smart enough to be prepared and have their battery charged before a big race, making sure my battery is charged is on my checklist just as checking tires, brakes, etc are before a big ride.

Can't wait to hear more of your adventure.

Excellent. Please continue..........

The exciting part is coming up next :)

Besides being with my family and friends, the run will be the most memorable.

In reply to AeroParker

Cliffhanger...

Congrats!! What an epic event. We vacationed in the area and saw several athletes in training so I can picture some of the sections you're describing. I was discussing the event the other day with a friend who heard the weather had created issues - thanks for your report and the details!

Ok let’s finish this race report. It’s now longer than the actual race. I’m also going to steer this race report in a different direction. So far I have mostly talked about the good aspects of my ironman; good swim, awesome bike, great things are happening, very energetic spectators, staying well hydrated, keeping my energy levels up high, it’s awesome. But we must not forget there is a very very dark side to the Ironman. A lot of people enter into this dark side, but nobody ever talks about it. Maybe some people are embarrassed, maybe some people choose to forget, however I am not one of those people. Here is my run story.

In the weeks before the race I made up a schedule of exactly how long I expected things to take me. I gave this schedule to my friends and family so they would know about when and where to see me. So far I have nailed the schedule on the head. My buddies said I was +/- 5 minutes when I left for the marathon (I know exactly how fast I can swim and bike!) However I am a very weak runner. I gave myself 2:30 for the first lap and 3:00 for the second lap; I am expecting a 5:30hr marathon and this puts me in around 8:30 PM….WRONG!!!!

I leave transition feeling really good and strong. The run course starts out with a lot of downhill and I run almost all of this, then once we are out of town the road flattens out and I immediately start a run/walk/run. About a ¼ mile run, 25 yard walk, ¼ run…and I am successfully doing this for like 3 miles. Of course I walk the aid stations, and I even stop to drink and pop some pills. Then we come up to a very bumpy section of road. The bumps are not really a problem running, but the bumps are a problem for bikes. I forgot to mention this part in my bike post. I ride a Trek Speed Concept and the saddle bag for the spare tube and CO2 is actually a plastic box that becomes part of the frame, it’s pretty convenient and clean (Trek even says it makes the bike more aerodynamic, not sure if I buy it.) But anyways when I hit these bumps the lid popped off and spilled crap all over the road, unfortunately I did not notice this until like a mile down the road. I got off the bike, checked the box and sure enough my tube and a tire lever were missing, I figure it was okay because I had a second lever and a patch kit still. So I put the lid back on and took off. Now that I’m running on this same section of road I wonder if I my tube will appear. So I’m scanning the road as I’m running and I don’t see anything, then I notice on a guard rail there is all sorts of bike stuff. There are C02, tools, tons of water bottles and my TUBE! I take it and put it in my jersey pocket! Even though it’s only a couple dollar tube, I am thrilled! In my delusional state I just can’t stop laughing. Also sitting next to my tube was a Di2 shifter battery, I wonder if it was that woman’s battery?

Anyways back to running. I continue this run/walk/run for a couple more miles. Slowly the running intervals get slower and shorter and the walking sections become more frequent and longer. Whenever a slight uphill starts I immediate start walking. Then around mile 5 a spectator points out to me that I have a bloody nose. Well, that’s not good. I am also beginning to realize I can’t work up any saliva in my mouth. I am getting confused as why this is happening. I have been staying hydrated all day, I have been going pee often and my pee has been a really nice color. I can’t be dehydrated. So I just walk, I walk for like ½ a mile, stop at an aid station and get some water. I walk another ½ mile; my stomach begins to hurt. I’m not feeling well at all. Then my vision becomes a little blurry. I start to become very light headed and very dizzy. I feel a cold sweat come on. I immediately start thinking that I’m not going to be able to finish and I should be looking for medical. I move over into the ditch, lean over and just projectile vomit all over the place! Like I mean a column of fluid comes shooting out of me at a 45 degree angle! Oh my god! I take a few steps forwards bend over and barf a second time all over the place. Oh god! Then I barf a 3rd time! I think more than half a gallon of fluid comes out of me! I feel like my jersey fits me better and I could feel my stomach shrink during the process. What a relief! My dizziness goes away! I can work up salvia in my mouth and I feel so much better! I am actually glad I did not see medical b/c I could have gotten pulled from the race. After this I take it super easy, jogging intervals are very short with long walk breaks. I start to put some fluid back into my stomach and some fruit (not sure if the fruit is a good idea or not.) All this by mile 7, so exciting!

Even though the barfing felt amazing I have some lingering GI problems that are not going to go away. Also by this point I am starting to develop some chafing issues. This has happened a couple times during training, but with the use of Chamois Butt’r I have always been okay. I have been applying the butt cream all day, in T1, bike special needs, and T2. I figure its fine because I have more butt cream waiting for me in run special needs. I just push through the pain and drag my feet for a few more miles. I finally get back into town and receive my run needs bag. I take a big heaping mound of butt cream, stick my hand down my shorts and feel and intense shooting pain through out my entire body! My skin is so raw and the cream stings sooo bad. The pain eventually subdues, but man did it hurt. I shuffle my feet to the next aid station and get my first cup of chicken broth. Oh wow, the broth is so good! This is going to solve all my problems. I am still only at the 13 mile mark; the schedule I set has been totally blown apart now.

We start the second lap, and by this point I am fading away quickly. I’m losing a lot of energy, my GI problems are more severe and my chafing hurts so badly. For the next THIRTEEN aid stations my routine is exactly the same. I go right into the porta potty; get water, coke and chicken broth. Then ask for the Vaseline and apply a fresh coat (for anyone planning to spectate an Ironman event, NEVER high five an athlete. That hand has been in some nasty places!) I mostly walk the entire 2nd lap, sometimes I try jogging but that only last maybe 30 seconds. Then I try walking long stride and that helps, then maybe I will try to shuffle my feet a little, then I go back to walking. At some point the volunteers hand me a glow stick because it’s getting dark out. I was not happy; I’m not supposed to have a glow stick because I should have finished by now.

Just before we get back into town we have to run on this long flat section of road, it’s very dark and not many other people are around. I run past this very large and scary looking man standing on the side of the road, he is a spectator. He is staring right at me; I awkwardly look away and pretend not to notice, but his stare it too strong. His glare burns a hole right through my eyes; I can feel him looking deep into my soul. He says in a deep booming voice, “Michael…how bad do you want this?” I don’t say anything in return, but I think to myself “as long as I never have to see you again, I’ll finish”

So finally after all that I make it back into town, I still have another stupid out and back next to Mirror lake, and finally come up to the Olympic oval! I am able to run now! I see tons of people going crazy and cheering and ringing cowbells! I can run all the way around the oval and cross the finish line. Yay, I made it!

The run was brutal, out of the 2,500 athletes that finished I had the 11th slowest run time. Also looking at my finisher photos I am extremely bloated!

I had three goals for this race. The first was to make it to the start line healthy and well trained, I succeeded there! The second was to finish healthy and injury free; even though I had problems I was actually healthy. The third was finish before dark; I did not meet this goal. Oh well. Now that it has been two weeks since the race I am thinking I would like to try this again, but on a different course and many years from now.

I also must say this report is still the abridged version, while I was out there so many other things went on, so many more stories. Now that I have had time to reflect, I have so many more thoughts about what went on, but I’ll save that for another time.

Thanks! -Mike

P.S. Get a bike fit from Jan! It was AWESOME!

In reply to AeroParker

Mike,

Thanks for the sharing. I have more respect for what you accomplished, the pain you pushed through, than if you had won the damn thing. Wouldn't let the 11th slowest run time bother you. You beat everyone that quit and you beat everyone who would never attempt such a thing. (Like me).
Great job.

Walt

Fantastic re-cap. Almost felt like I did it myself. (I was exhausted before you started.)

It blows my mind that you found your finish picture showing you bloated. I would figure you'd see a skeleton with sneakers and clothes draped over the bones. I'm curious to hear more on that. You don't have to publish though, I'll catch up with you on a ride.

Thanks for the report. Well written, lots of details, and very intriguing!!!

Mike, what a great race report. Thanks for taking the time to write this. You had a truly amazing experience - and shared all of it with us. All I can think of is one of my favorite quotes by one of my least favorite people. Mike Tyson once said "Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth". So true and fitting for IMLP. Thanks Mike and congratulations on your awesome accomplishment.

In reply to AeroParker

I check the forum about....we'll...never and I'm just reading this. Thanks for sharing, Mikey. The body does funny things when pushed past its limit and you sure proved that. Great job on a very tough day. Except now I'm going to rethink my "Ironman when I'm 60" pledge. But you are probably doing me a favor!

In reply to AeroParker

What a great race report. I was riveted to the screen reading each sentence, visualizing the scene. Thanks for sharing it all.

Doug Gerard