I did this race in 2009 and again in 2011. This report is from 2011 but other than some minor changes on the bike course the race is still the same. Much of the road has been re-paved and it’s no longer a mass start.
The Short version.
Good weather, Lake Placid’s first ever wetsuit optional swim, overall had a good day. Placed 2nd in my age group finished in 11.26.54 a little faster than my last IMLP and tempting as it was I turned down a return to the big Island.
The Long Version
I should have taken it as a sign when Leslie kindly offered to lend me her legal skin suit last weekend but I did not. When I arrived in Lake Placid on Friday the first thing I did after checking in was go for a swim in my wetsuit. I knew as soon as I got out that the temperature had to be close to the cut off and sure enough the verdict at the prerace meeting was final call for Sunday morning but it could be a wetsuit optional swim. You can wear one but if you do no age group placing and no trips to Kona.
I spent most of the day Friday swimming short distances in Mirror lake in every combination of tri clothing I had with me. None of them worked so I did what all good Ironman competitors do when they have a problem I threw money at it and bought a short tri top! The last time I wore a bikini top was in high school!
Race day morning when the canon for the pros went off I was still in line for the porta poties. I was running to the start mat taking off the XL Canadian Death Race T-shirt which was covering that tiny little top (I have never done the race Harold bough the shirt at Value Village but it made me look tough!) when Leslie appeared out of the crowd and caught it. I swam though the crowd in the water during all of the American National anthem (sorry about that America) trying to get out from behind the dock. I managed to squeeze in between two large guys in wetsuits two rows back from the front line on the shore side. note: in 2011 ironman races still had mass swim starts
Swimming without a wetsuit in a sea of people wearing them makes you feel like a cod fish in a swarm of seals. You are surrounded and you may be eaten at any time. I don’t think I sighted at all during the swim I just swam where there was room for me. Swim time 1.09.24, 6 minutes slower than 2009 but to be expected with no wetsuit.
T1 involved some new challenges as well. No way I was riding 180K in that little top so for the first time ever I attempted to put on a tri top in hurry when I was wet. The volunteer beside me’s comment was “oh my you really do have that in a knot don’t you”. Once she untangled it for me, I continued to tie myself in knots with arm coolers! I have not seen my T1 time but I don’t think I want to know. I also forgot to put on sun block.
Coming out of Placid the bike traffic was so thick I felt like I was on the Queensway at rush hour. The first decent down Keen was alarming with guys flying by on their arrow bars. The guy in the middle of the road being attended to by medical with his clothes torn up and huge patches of road rash was enough to convince me to slow down. The pavement was better than expected until we reached Wilmington where it was pretty rough all the way back into Placid. Going up Papa bear was kind of fun with the large group of noisy spectators I felt like I was in the tour!
The second bike loop was like the first (oddly enough) although it was less congested. By the time it was over I was ready to get off although I will say it was the least painful IM bike ride I have ever done. Bike leg 6.08.59 eight minutes faster than 2009.
T2 was much less troublesome than T1 although I did manage to miss the sun block for a second time. The first half of the run felt pretty good, by 16 miles the wheels were starting to fall off and at 19 I started walking though the water stations (something I told myself prerace I would not do). I walked up the hill at the ski jump and the hill at Canada Corner as well. I would like to say my legs were spent because of the extra effort of swimming without a wetsuit but I would have been tired even if I swam with one .Run time 3.57.18 three minutes faster than 2009. Mike declared me to be an Ironman and it was over.
I found Harold and then spent an hour going to every parking lot via shuttle bus except the one the car was in. I ended my day with half a glass of diet ginger ale and fell asleep with my race gear still on!
Thank you to my husband Harold, my children who never know where I am but generally assume I am on a bike somewhere, to Justin for making my bike purr like a kitten, and to Bob, Dave (congratulations to Dave as he too is an Ironman) and Bushtukah. I could not do it with out you all. Thank you also to Kanako and Face who surprised me out on the course with a very nice sign and words of encouragement. To everyone yelling go Judy as I came out of the water, to Andrea, Steve, Darius and everyone else out volunteering. Amazing race.