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Vote for me!

If you know me, you know my love for all things nail polish related.  My favorite brand, Rescue Beauty Lounge is holding a contest for fans to create their dream nail polish color and I am a finalist!  There are 14 finalists and the top 6 will get to create their nail polish from beginning to end and have it sold as part of the RBL line!  I could not be more excited!
If you could take a moment and head over to the RBL blog to vote for me, I would appreciate it.  My entry is #8 and I am really hoping to make the top 6!

Click HERE to vote for entry #8 and help me make my dream come true!!

Also, for those of you interested, I’ll be having a nail polish sale here on my blog in the next few weeks, so keep your eyes out for that!

Ironman Lake Placid 2011 Race Report

Hi everyone — letting Andy hijack the blog again to post his Ironman experience… enjoy! – Candice

Ironman Lake Placid 2011 Race Report

For those of you who just want the numbers they are

2.4 Mile Swim    1:22:16 (2:09 per 100 m)

Transition 1         10:58

112 Mile Bike     6:27:09 (17.36 mph average)

Transition 2         4:27

26.2 Mile Run     3:40:47 (8:25 mile pace)

Total                      11:45:35 (Overall 589/2538 and 82/216 in the Male 30-34 Age Group)

Race Morning

My day started at 4:30.  I set three alarms just to make sure I got up.  I was in bed for eight hours and got about 5 ½ hours of sleep which is better than I had anticipated given my pre-race excitement.  The first words Candice said to me were, “You’re going to be an Ironman today.”

Candice and Andy on race morning

I had a bowl of cereal and a bagel; got my things together and Candice and I were out the door of the hotel around 5:20.  I went to transition to check on my bike.  Candice had left a note at my bike the night before to wish me good luck which was very nice. I got my body marked with my race number and age then put on some body glide, wetsuit, swim cap and goggles.  Candice applied some sunscreen to my face and then we went to meet with my family on the beach around 6:35. We took some pictures, everyone wished me good luck, and I got a kiss from Candice and got in the water around 6:45.

The Iron crew just before the start

The Swim
There is something special about the start of the Ironman.  I had seen it once before and it is a powerful scene to see 2500 extremely determined athletes in the water all at once.  In a way the start line is the end of a journey.  Training is six to nine months long and folks put in eight to twenty something hours a week of training.  Making it to the start line healthy and prepared is a huge accomplishment in itself.  Also there is an electricity in the air knowing this is the calm before the storm.

The swim start

The swim is a two loop course around a rectangle.  I positioned myself on the outside and about 40 yards back from the start line since I am a little slower swimmer.  I treaded water for six or seven minutes while I waited for the cannon to go off.  I had heard some horror stories about the Ironman swim start and I went in expecting the worst.  Some folks get kicked in the head, goggles broken, pushed underwater, etc.  However, things were not that bad.  I got a few minor kicks and elbows but nothing too bad.  There was a little congestion which slowed things down some but overall I was able to get into a decent rhythm.  The second lap cleared up as people were more spread out and I was able to get into even more of a rhythm.  There is a rope line five feet under the water which you can follow if you get close enough which makes it easier to see where you are going.  I was too far to the outside to see it on the first lap but I was able to use it some on the second.  Sighting was not much of an issue and I did not veer off course so that was a small victory in itself.  I was out of the water in 82 minutes which is about where I expected to be.  I felt completely fresh and had no fatigue at this point.

Transition 1:
I ran up to a wetsuit stripper and had them assist me with getting my suit off.  The strippers are a big time saver.  I saw my family and Candice and they were all screaming.  I tripped while I was waving to them and almost fell but was able to keep my feet under me.  Transition is about a quarter mile from the swim exit.  Most folks were jogging slowly or walking but I ran over.  I mean, hey, why waste time?

Running through Transition 1

The actual transition area is inside the Olympic Speed Skating Oval.  This is where the bikes are racked, the changing tents are located and the transition bags are racked.  I picked up my swim to bike transition bag and went into the changing tent.  I had all my nutrition in the pockets of my bike shirt. It all proceeded to fall out when I put my shirt on so I spent a minute picking that all up and putting it back.  I put on my helmet, gloves and cycling shoes and jogged out of the changing tent.  I made a quick stop at the port-a-potty to go pee and grabbed my bike off the rack.  I jogged over to the exit of transition to start the bike and had to wait about a minute and a half because there was a line to get out.  Everyone had to go through an archway that was about 10 feet wide to go over the timing mats and this just took a little while.  Oh well.

The Bike

I had ridden the bike course a few times before so I was familiar with the course.  Knowing what to expect was definitely a big plus.

I have a LeMond road bike with clip on aero bars which has served me well.  There are plenty of folks at Ironman with much more expensive bikes.  Some are as much as $15,000.  Mine was much, much less than that.  You can spend a lot of money on triathlon gear but you can also get into the sport without breaking the bank.

It was not long before I realized I had left my swim goggles around my neck.  In the rush to get through transition I put them around my neck and just forgot about them.  You are not allowed to give things to your family or friends and they are not allowed to give things to you so I was stuck with them.  It was not a big deal in the grand scheme of things but it was a little annoying.

The bike is also a two loop course, 56 miles each.  The first two or three miles are downhill or flat then you have the climb out of town.   Everyone is pretty tightly bunched in the first eight or so miles especially on the hills.  You are supposed to be four bike lengths behind the person in front of you or you can be penalized for drafting.  The drafting rules are not really enforced in the first few miles of Ironman though since everyone is so close since we all left transition around the same time.  After about forty minutes there is a six mile descent into the town of Keene.  Usually descents are the best part riding.  Gravity is doing most of the work.  However, the descent into Keene is really steep and the road has several significant turns which I had to slow down for.  The local road repair crews added some blacktop to parts of the road but it is a bit rough still.  It is not fun hitting rough road when you are going 40 miles per hour.  But I survived the descent (on both loops).  Then the course hits some flats with a few rolling hills for a good stretch.  I was able to keep up with my nutrition plan which consisted of water, Fig Newtons and apple cinnamon flavored Hammer Gel.  There are aid stations about every ten miles on the bike and I picked up new water bottles at almost all of them.  I was able to finish up the first lap in 3:10 which was a little faster than I had anticipated; but not so fast that I thought I had set myself up for trouble later on.  I did not want to be a first-lap hero.  I wore a heart rate monitor which I get some feedback but primarily I pace myself based on perceived effort.

On the bike

The first lap was a breeze.  At no point did things get tough.  On the second lap I hit a few mildly rough patches after mile seventy where my legs were feeling a little out of it while ascending.  However, none of the rough patches lasted for more than a few minutes.  On the way back into the village there is a series of hills they call Mama Bear, Baby Bear and Papa Bear.  Papa Bear is the last, and largest, climb of the three and it is reasonably close to town so a ton a spectators that come out to cheer the athletes on.  It is really intimate since they are so close.  Half are on the double yellow line and half on the white line, plus during the ascent we are all climbing relatively slowly so we aren’t just whizzing by them.  There is so much positive energy on Ironman day.  Everyone genuinely wants the best for the athletes.

On the bike

I did not have any mechanical issues on the bike!  I was psyched since getting a flat is not uncommon, especially on a long ride.  I saw Candice and the family on both loops and finished the second lap in 3:17:09 for a for a total bike split of 6:27:09 (17.36 mph average).  My goal was to be under 7 hours and, if possible, be under 6:45.  I was really thrilled that I was able to break 6:30.  At the end of the bike I was ready to get on with the run.  It is not comfortable being in a bike seat that long.  Also, I did not have to pee on the bike!  I have done it in training but it slows you down because you have to stop pedaling and you have to be going downhill.  I went in my wetsuit at the start, the port-a-john in T1 and the urinal in T2 and that was it.

Transition 2

I dismounted my bike and handed it to a volunteer.  I jogged to the rack and got my bike to run transition bag.  There was a great volunteer who helped me take my bike shirt off and put my run shirt on (talk about service!).  Plus we had a laugh about me still having my goggles around my neck.

I put a small plastic water bottle in my transition bag that I thought I would carry with me for the first mile.  I never run with a water bottle so throwing it in was an afterthought but I ended up keeping it with me for the whole race.

The Run

This is where the race is made or lost.  What would it be like to take on the 26 mile monster after the bike?  Would I be crushed by the distance or would I be able to tough it out?

The run course consists of an out-and-back that you get to do twice.  The first mile is all downhill.  I ran it in 6:22 because it just felt right.  I was glad to be off the bike and onto the run.  After about three miles you turn onto River Road which is a bit secluded and there are considerably fewer spectators.  It was about 3:30 and the sun was beating down.   From miles three to four things started to get really tough.  This was the roughest patch of the whole day.  I knew going into Ironman that this would come but I did not expect it so early in the run. I thought I was going to have to walk.  I was frustrated that this was happening so early.  I stopped for about 20 seconds and stretched my calves and that made all the difference.  I got a second wind and I settled into a “new normal” which ended up being an average of 8:25 mile pace.  Normally I do not run 8:25 mile pace.  However, this is what my legs were telling me I had in me; so what choice did I have?

On the run near an aid station

Ironman running was not the fast running I am used to.  In normal races I am used to fast miles just pouring out of me.  I get in a flow in the 6:20 to 6:30 range for most road races between 10k and the half marathon.  I have even done the marathon at 6:28 pace.  After the first three miles Ironman running was difficult.  I worked much harder to run these “slow” miles than I had in any of the faster marathons I had run before.  At no point were these miles just flowing out of me.  I knew before the race that my pace was going to have to be in the 8:00 to 8:30 range.  The slower pace was forced on me by heavy legs.  I so seldom run on “heavy legs” that I sort of forgot what they were like.  This was my first ultra-endurance event and I knew I was signing up for running some tough miles.  Ironman did not disappoint in this regard.

My nutrition strategy for the run was to take sports drink at every aid station for the first 18 miles then switch to de-fizzed cola for the last 8 miles to get a little caffeine kick for the end.  The aid stations were located about every mile.  I also filled up my water bottle that I grabbed in transition.  I am so glad I brought that little water bottle.  It was so nice to have constant access to water for the whole run.  The aid station refueling usually took about 5 – 15 seconds but other than that I ran the whole course.

There are two big hills on the course which we go up and down twice each.  I told myself before the race I wanted to make sure I ran up them, especially on the second lap.  There were so many people walking or run/walking the hills but I was able to run them on both laps.  The last one is brutal.  It is at mile 24, it is the steepest hill on the course and there is a 90 degree turn half way up.  Once you turn the corner it just keeps going.  I know the run course like the back of my hand so I know it keeps going but it is still tough to turn that corner and see the ascent continue.

My primary time goal was to break twelve hours for the day.  I also wanted to break four hours on the run and ideally be in the neighborhood of 3:40.  With about five miles left I realized that if I could hold my pace I would break 12 hours and probably be under 11:50.  This was all the motivation I needed to drop the hammer on those two killer hills.  I rocked the hills and by mile 24 ½ I knew I would be under 11:50.

The finish line is on the Olympic Speed Skating Oval.  There are bleachers on one side and a hill on the other and there are hundreds of people there.  I could hardly believe it when I ran into the oval.  I had a huge smile.  I had thought about my finish for over a year and it was finally here.  I turned onto the final straightaway and I could hear Candice and my family cheering.  Mike Reilly, the emcee, who is THE voice of Ironman said, “Andrew Totman YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!”

Turning onto the final straightaway

The Iron crew at the finish

I crossed the line and was given my medal, finisher hat and finisher t-shirt.  I met up with Candice and my family.  I felt fine for about 10 minutes then I started getting light headed and I knew I needed something to eat.  I got two slices of pizza and sat down to eat them and I felt better after that.

Pizza! Delicious, delicious pizza!

In Summary

The entire day was great.  I was a rock star for the day.  Just the way Ironman should be.  I could not have asked for anything more.

I will probably do Ironman again, but not in 2012.  I enjoy training but it is a big time commitment and I want to focus on other things for a while.  I will probably give the marathon a shot again since I can train for them in a lot less time.  I will probably keep up some cross training and do some shorter triathlons as well; maybe the Syracuse Ironman 70.3.  However, for the next couple weeks I am going to take things easy and recover.

There have been several projects that I have said I would get to “after Ironman” that I will get started on like building bookshelves for the living room and taking down the monster trees in the back yard.  Plus my sister is getting married August 12th!!!

Thanks to everyone who supported me through this, especially Candice.  She was super supportive through the months of training and I appreciate all she has done.  My family and friends have been great as well.  Everyone has listened to me talk about triathlon more than most folks should be subjected to in a lifetime.  Now when someone asks what I did on the weekend the answer won’t be a long bike on Saturday and a long run on Sunday.  It was also great to know so many folks were following online and via Facebook.  Thanks for all the support and well wishes.

Also, I would like to say that anyone can cross the finish line at Ironman.  You just have to want it and put in the training.  Even if you have little or no athletic background it is still doable.  There were forty three people in their sixties and three men in their seventies who finished the race on Sunday!  The triathlon and running communities are so outgoing and friendly.  Everyone wants everyone else to succeed.  More experienced folks are happy to help the newer people get into the sport and the social aspect is great.  Utica and Syracuse have such great running and tri communities and there are races most weekends during the spring, summer and fall.  If you want to run your first 5k, do a sprint tri, the Boilermaker, a marathon or Ironman you can do it.

See you on the roads!

Ironman Andy

You are an Ironman!

image

This morning I told Andy, “You’re gonna be an Ironman today….”

And now he is.  So insanely proud of my Ironman.

T-1 Day to Ironman!!

Not much to report today — a lazy day overall.  Andy did 15 minutes on the bike this morning and then a 15 minute run, just to keep his muscles loose.  After that he said goodbye to his bike and packed up all his bike and run gear to bring over to the transition area.  He’ll get to see it again tomorrow any time from 5-6:30 am to get everything completely situated.

I worked on my assignment for school pretty much all day (still working on it now…) with a 3 hour break for my IM volunteer shift at 5 this evening.  We basically just took inventory of all the different brands of bikes, wheels, pedals, components, etc on ALLLL the bikes in the transition area.  I made sure I did the row that Andy’s bike was in so I could leave him a little note of encouragement.  Hopefully he sees it!

The Little Road Bike that Could

There were a LOT of fancy bikes out there, and Andy’s is pretty simple.  I’ve heard it said that it’s not the bike that makes a difference, but the person on it, so let’s hope that holds true tomorrow.  We all know Andy’s a really strong runner and doesn’t need anything more than a pair of sneakers to smoke everyone on the course.

Andy took it easy for the rest of the day… normally I’d make fun of him for going to bed at 8 pm, but he’s got a pretty big day ahead of him.  He’s still not nervous, though he is worried that he won’t sleep much tonight with all the energy and adrenaline that is pumping through his body.  I hope he gets more than he anticipates, because 4:30 am will be here before we know it.

I will be up with him in the morning, though I’m still up now finishing up school work and then I’ll hit the sack.

For those of you who would like to track Andy’s progress tomorrow, he is bib #1021 and you can track and follow live at Ironmanlive.com starting at 6 am.  The race starts at 7 am, though we’re hoping Andy will be done around 7 pm or so.  That website has live coverage as well as a tool to track an athlete’s pace, so keep him in your thoughts and prayers!  And me too, because spectating Ironman has been compared to watching the slowest, longest parade!🙂

Tomorrow’s a big day!!

T-2 days to Ironman

Friday is almost over, another beautiful 85 degree, sunny day in Lake Placid.  Andy and I took a short drive on part of the bike course today so he could show me the infamous “descent into Keene” which is very steep and scary when you think about going down it on a bike.  They can reach speeds of 55-60 mph and there are some really rough patches of road!  I’m going to try not to think about that on race day so I don’t get nervous.

We spent a good portion of the day with Andy’s parents and brother at the little beach at our hotel.  The water was perfect and I took the kayak out again today.  I paddled pretty much the whole lake, making sure to do a section that included the Ironman swim course — and it seemed SO far to me.  2.4 miles is a long way to swim!

After the beach, Andy and I headed over to the Official Athlete’s Dinner at the Lake Placid Horse Show Grounds.  For a mere $30, I got a plate full of carbs, including ravioli, mac n’ cheese, bread and a stray piece of roast beef and some green beans.  I hope my nutritionist isn’t reading this!  Thankfully, the meal was free for athletes.

I had a wristband.

Our dinner was emceed by Mike Reilly, who is the official Ironman USA announcer — he’s the one who announces at the finish line and says those famous four words…. “YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!”  Mike gave us some statistics about this year’s race, which is 75% male and 25% female and he brought up the youngest (18) and oldest (75) competitors which was really cool.  Hearing from the 75-year-old made me feel a little ashamed of myself though!  But, knowing that he and the oldest woman (65) didn’t do their first Ironman until they were 50 was encouraging!

We also listened to some motivational words from Matt Long, who is the NYC firefighter I mentioned in one of my older posts here.  After dinner was the mandatory athlete’s meeting where they went over all the rules (which the racers should already know, since they’re in the athlete guide, but you know how that stuff goes).  The swim race director informed the athletes that the World Triathlon Corp water temperature cutoff for allowing wetsuits is 76.1 degrees.  The water in Mirror Lake has been between 76 and 77 degrees for the past few days.  At first we were a little nervous when we heard that because Andy needs to wear his wetsuit — swimming isn’t his strongest leg of the race and the wetsuit adds much needed buoyancy.  However, they said that if the water is too warm, they will still allow people to wear wetsuits — however, if you opt to do that then you cannot qualify for the Ironman World Championships in Kona, HI.  Since they only take like top 1% of each age group for Kona, Andy’s not really worried about qualifying, so he will wear his wetsuit regardless.  I personally would like him to get to Kona one day!🙂

On our way out we ran into Alex and Anh, a couple that we met here in LP last year while standing in line to sign up for Ironman.  We were all happy to see each other and realized that we’re all staying in the same hotel!  We exchanged numbers and talked for about half an hour before the mosquitos got to be too much.  We’ll hopefully see them on race day and maybe get together for drinks early next week.

On the agenda for tomorrow is a whole lot of the same.  Andy will do a short bike and run, just 10-15 minutes of each to keep his muscles limber. At some point he has to say goodbye to his bike for the night and put it in the transition area to be ready for race morning.  I signed up to volunteer in the bike area from 5-9 pm, so I will do that while Andy rests up for his big day…. more to come tomorrow!

Andy at the Athlete meeting

T-3 days to Ironman

Well, we arrived safe and sound in Lake Placid last night around 7:45 pm.  Check in to the hotel was nice and easy and after unloading TWO luggage carts full of stuff, we were in the room and ready to unpack.  I unpacked almost immediately and set about to organizing this space that we will call home for a week.  Andy started making something to eat (we brought cold cuts and rolls … we are definitely doing everything we can to save money considering how much we’ve paid thus far) and after we ate we went and spent some time relaxing in the pool, hot tub and steam room.

We woke up today to a clear blue Adirondack sky and already warm temperatures.  After eating, Andy went for a training swim with his wetsuit in Mirror Lake while I got ready for the day.  An hour later he was back and we were ready to go out for the day.

Task #1 for today was for Andy to check-in for the race and pick up his goody bag, chip, athlete info and all that good stuff.  Something they do at Ironman which I’ve never seen at any of his other races is weigh the athletes at check-in.  I guess they do this in case you need medical attention for dehydration (or overhydration)… they can compare your weight in the medical tent with your starting weight.  Though I guess it’s not at all uncommon to lose 7-8 pounds during the race!  (Note to self:  Do an Ironman this weekend.)

They give you a little blue wristband to wear all weekend (you can’t take it off until after the race) so that you can be identified as a competitor (for things like getting into the pre-race dinner, which is free for athletes).  I like it because now I don’t have to guess who is competing… there are definitely Ironpeople everywhere!

Our second task was to hit up the Ironman Store in the Ironman Village and buy some Ironman apparel.  I bought a couple things for myself, including one to wear on race day and Andy bought an Ironman LP bike jersey.  He saved that bulk of his purchase allotment though, because on the Monday after the race they sell all the official Ironman Finisher apparel.

Andy pointing to his name at the Ironman Expo

After successfully completing our two tasks for the day, we came back to the hotel and spent some time at the little beach on the lake.  It was very hot outside, but such a nice day that it almost felt a shame to spend it inside in the AC all day!  Andy sat on the beach and read, trying to stay out of the sun as much as possible.  I think both to protect his skin (which already has tons of color from riding his bike outside for months now, even though he’s diligent about his sunscreen!) and to conserve his energy, since we all know how much being in the hot sun can suck it right out of you.  I, on the other hand, wanted desperately to be in the sun and water, so I took a kayak out on the lake.  It was really perfect, the water was pretty calm and there was a slight breeze.  For those who haven’t been to Lake Placid, the village itself is actually on Mirror Lake and there are no motorized vehicles allowed in the lake at all, so it’s pretty serene all summer long.

At the beach!

After the beach we met up with Andy’s parents and brother for dinner for a belated birthday celebration for his dad…. we all had good Mediterranean food at Nicola’s on Main.  We walked around town some more and did some shopping before heading our separate ways back to our hotels for the night.

Now I’m here trying (unsuccessfully) to finish up an assignment for school while Andy gets some beauty sleep.  We haven’t turned on the TV at all yet, which I consider a success!

On the agenda for tomorrow is some hardcore relaxation by the lake.  Andy’s planning on staying off his feet for the next two days to really rest up as much as possible for Sunday.  Fine by me!

Andy’s IronDream

Andy wanted to share his thoughts on Ironman with the masses, so I reluctantly agreed to give up my blog for the night… enjoy! ===Candice

My IronDream

When I tell people I am doing Ironman the conversation often goes something like this:

“So, do you have any races coming up?”

“I’m doing Ironman.”

“What is that?”

“It’s a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and a 26.2 mile run.”

“Wow, that’s crazy!  What made you decide to do that?”

There is not a good short answer to that question so I thought I would try to elaborate on it here.

My endurance sports story starts with a 5k in Baldwinsville in June of 2004 (thanks for dragging my butt along Kristin!)  I was a year out of college and I had never done a road race before.  Running regularly for its own sake was relatively new for me.  I was overweight and running helped me get back in shape.  By October of 2005 I took on the marathon for the first time in Corning.  During the 16 months in between I fell in love with running.  I loved going out for a run almost daily; the longer the better.  Running long on the weekend was my favorite thing to do.  Getting my daily dose of endorphins has become part of my life.  Also, having time to myself is something I cherish.  Don’t get me wrong; I love being around people but it is nice to have some regular alone time.

Sport has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.  I played youth soccer as a kid.  In high school being involved in varsity soccer gave me my first taste of the extraordinary experience available through sport.

While soccer and endurance sports are a world apart I have been able to find the extraordinary in both.  My first taste of it as a runner came in Corning for my first marathon.  I had trained well and I was ready to go.  I was a bit nervous going into race day despite having run 26.2 miles three or four times in training (which is totally unnecessary by the way).  I knew I could go the distance but I knew racing would pose a tougher challenge.  My goals for the day were to run the whole thing without stopping, qualify for Boston (which meant under 3:11) and to break three hours (which I thought was a bit of a stretch).   I ran a 2:55 (6:42 mile pace), didn’t have to walk and things never got “ugly”.  Things got a bit tough from mile 22 on but nothing horrendous.  I was thrilled with the result and fell in love with the experience.  Not just running the marathon but training as well.  I was hooked.

The other extraordinary experience I had came six months later at the Boston Marathon.  I felt there was something special about the Boston Marathon.  Some of the greatest distance runners to ever draw breath had put forth some of their best efforts on that stretch of road between Hopkinton and Boylston Street.   Also, in order to run I had to qualify; which I did with the 2:55 in Corning.  Plus there were over 20,000 marathoners (compared to 537 in Corning).  I was fortunate enough to start in the first corral behind the elite runners and Meb Keflezighi was just a few feet in front of me.  He won silver for the US in the marathon in the Athens Olympics in 2004.  The race was everything I had hoped it would be.  There were so many spectators, especially at the start.  I felt like a pro athlete standing in a sold-out stadium.  I felt strong throughout and finished in 2:49 (6:28 mile pace).  When I turned onto Boylston Street and I realized I would break 2:50 I could hardly believe it.  My Boston experience was truly amazing.  The possibility of experiencing something like this in Lake Placid is a big part of why I want to do Ironman.

So how did I make the transition from a one trick pony (running) to a three trick pony (swim, bike, run)?  I came down with Achilles tendonitis at the end of 2008.  I had it once in 2007 I stopped running for a month and it got better.  This time it just never seemed to get better.  I missed about 15 months.  In the beginning of 2009 I started swimming and biking as an alternate way of getting exercise although I gave it up after a couple months because while it did not aggravate my Achilles as much it still bothered it.  So I gave up on exercise completely for about 9 of those 15 months and eventually the Achilles was mostly better.  During this time I was able to reflect on what I wanted to do in endurance sports.  Having done a marathon each year from 2005 to 2008 I wanted a different challenge.  Putting together another quality marathon is something I will do again.  However, I wanted to try something different.  The idea of Ironman was creeping into my head.  When someone first told me what Ironman was a few years ago I never thought I would do it.  I knew how hard it was to run a marathon after a three week taper.  I could not imagine starting one already exhausted.   Plus I did not swim or bike at the time so I never thought much of it.  However, given my injury issues and my desire to still do something special in endurance sport I was warming up to the idea.

I volunteered at the 2009 race in Lake Placid with Candice and it was truly moving.  Seeing these incredibly fit people give it their all was simply amazing.  Candice wrote a nice piece which goes into this in greater detail.  You should check out Candice’s post “On Being an ‘Ironwidow.’”

At Ironman I talked with some folks who had done Ironman before to get a feel for how much training I would need to do and it did not seem as bad as I had anticipated.  Plus I was able to see that these were “real” people.  There was no magic to it.  You just had to want it and put in the training.  Also I came to the conclusion that I did not have to do two-a-day workouts.  I did not want to have to get up and put in a workout before work some days and not others because that would screw up my sleep schedule.   I do bricks (a run immediately following a bike), but that does not really count as a two-a-day workout in my eyes.   It took several months to make up my mind but I decided that I wanted to do this and I am so glad I took the plunge.  Candice and I volunteered again in 2010 and I signed up the day after the race.  When I signed up for Ironman I was in the midst of training for the Half Ironman in Syracuse (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run) but had not actually participated in a triathlon.  Having said this I feel I took an appropriate amount of time to build up to the iron-distance.  I trained for seven months from March to September 2010 to do the Syracuse Half Ironman which went really well.  I turned in a 39 minute swim and 2 hour and 59 minute bike and 90 minute run for a total time of 5 hours 22 minutes.  I started working on building my base after Thanksgiving 2010 and “official” Ironman training started the week after Christmas for the July 24th race.  So I will have sixteen months of multi-sport training under my belt when I make it to the starting line in Lake Placid which is in line with what most folks recommended.

I will briefly touch on training since that has been a big part of the journey.  I would like to start by saying that I really enjoy swimming, biking and running.  I never would have decided to do Ironman if that was not the case.

Coming to enjoy cycling has been one of the best things to come out of my road to Ironman.  Without the Iron-carrot being dangled in front of me I do not think I would have given cycling a shot.  Running was my thing and I was a little biased towards it.  It is still my favorite of the three disciplines.  I had never ridden a bike regularly since I was a kid.  I just went to my local bike shop, bought a bike and started riding.  There was no magic; I just gave it a shot and it turns out I ended up enjoying it.  Knowing that I can bike somewhere 50 or 100 miles away is kind of cool.  I have biked to my parents’ house in Marcellus from New Hartford which seemed kind of crazy when I first thought of it.  I do most of my long rides heading south on route 12 then turning around and heading back.  I have been to exotic destinations such as Sherburne (60 miles total out and back), Norwich (90 miles), and the little town of Oxford (112 miles).   I have five rides of 100 miles or more under my belt and I feel very comfortable being in the saddle for six or seven hours (or as comfortable as one can be on a bike seat for seven hours).  I usually do a long bike on Saturday and a long run on Sunday with shorter workouts during the week.  It was really tough to get used to running long the day after biking long.  However, like anything I was able to get used to it after doing it enough times.

Swimming has been a nice addition to my workout routine as well.  I never swam laps as an adult until I decided to give triathlon a shot.  I got into it in much the same fashion I got into cycling.  I just went to the pool and started swimming.  The first time I went to the pool just swimming across one time would really get me winded.  But with time I was able to pick it up.  No one who knows anything about swimming is going to look at me and say, “Damn!  That guy can swim!”  But my swimming is adequate for what I am looking to accomplish.  To put things in perspective a professional Ironman swimmer can do 2.4 miles in about 50 minutes.  Someone who swam at the collegiate level could bang it out in about 60 minutes.  A good recreational competitor can do it in about 70 minutes.  I expect to be in the neighborhood of 75 – 80 minutes.  In the course of a 12 hour race 10 minutes is not that big of a deal.

Going into Ironman I cannot know for certain that it will live up to my expectations.  However, I feel there is the potential for this to be a truly special experience.  I have a similar reverence for Ironman that I had for Boston.  Actually the reverence I hold for Ironman is greater than that I have for the Boston Marathon since Ironman will be more of a challenge for me.  I have read the stories of so many athletes who have done Ironman.  They are so full of passion and emotion.  Some folks go so far as to say it is one of the greatest experiences of their lives.

As I finish this up Ironman is five days away.  It is hard to believe it is almost here.

I will write about my race experience shortly after the big day so stay tuned!

Your soon-to-be-Iron-friend,

Andy

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