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Joined: 02 May 2003
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Location: Boston, MA
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PostPosted: 07/30/03 - 18:32    Post subject: Happy2tri's Ironman Race Report (very long)
get a cup of coffee and a few doughnuts for this one...........

Driving up to Lake Placid could not believe that a year had passed since I signed up for the race last July. Definitely was nervous, excited, and unsure about the entire event. Condo we rented was perfect, walking distance to the start area, but far enough out of town to be quiet and calm. Walking around town prior to the race and doing all the registration things definitely raised anxiety levels. Everyone seemed incredibly fit, ripped, shaved (I seem to be one of the few hairy guys out there!), experienced, and all tricked out with all the bells and whistles on their bikes. Did all the registration things, bought some Ironman swag (not too much to jinx the possibility of finishing), checked in my bike, and all my transition bags, and headed out of town to the condo to fill up on pasta and relax.

RACE MORNING Overall, slept well, except for being awakened by the howling winds in the middle of the night, up at 4:50ish to have some coffee, drink my banana, yogurt, and oatmeal shake, got dressed and then Terri and I were driven down the hill to the starting area. We had a short walk to oval, during this walk both of us were pretty emotional, big hug and a few tears, all this work for this one day.......Got marked, checked bike, and then walked down to the water. I body glided myself and squeezed into the wetsuit, it felt unusually tight, but I just focused on relaxing. Throughout this hour prior to the race I just focused on staying calm and trying to keep my food down. I have never been so nervous before a race, but as we were corralled into the water start area, I kept saying this is what I trained for. Enjoy yourself and keep smiling.

THE SWIM Started very close to the back, as I have heard so many horror stories of being kicked, hit, swam over, and having goggles knocked off. Terri and I hugged and wished each other good luck, no time left for being emotional, it was time to do it. The cannon went off and 1800 swimmers start out for the same spot. Overall I swam well. Had minimal kicks and gulped minimal water, stayed out to the right of the buoys, hit the first turnaround and thought to myself this is not so bad and I feel pretty comfortable. Found a nice set of feet to follow for the mile back, finished the first lap in 40 minutes, just what I would expect, ran across the beach and back in to do it again. Did not find as many people to draft off of as I would have hoped, but still was moving through the crowd. Finished the second lap with a time of 39 minutes. Out of the water, I am thrilled (note: swimming used to be the scariest and my worst sport, I could not even swim a lap or even knew how to freestyle swim 4 years ago!!), sit down on the ground and a volunteer rips my wetsuit off of me. Swim time of 1:19 (1305 overall) On the run to the tents I see Chuck, Steve, and Laureen(Terri and my official and #1 Cheering section) and they are cheering so loud for me, I have a big smile for them.

T1- Run with the wetsuit to the transition area, about a mile run, pick up my bag of clothes and enter the changing tent. Packed with guys changing, I find a chair and get dressed, pack my food into my shirt, and hit the trough urinal, start running out to my bike when I realize my glasses are not on me, and that I dropped them somewhere, I know I cannot ride without them, I do my best to stay calm, I know the day will continue to throw unexpected things at me, so I backtrack and find them in the tent, run back out and get my bike and head on out. Transition time was 12:46.

THE BIKE- My goal was to hit the first lap extremely conservatively as everyone has warned me a fast first lap on the bike will be your downfall in this Ironman. It is chilly with the temperature, strong winds, and overcast skies. The first main section is a 6 mile downhill into Keane, with the wet roads and cross winds I definitely hit the brakes a few times, some folks are in aero going down this hill??!!!,(my max speed on this hill was 39 mph) hit the bottom and a long rolling section, where I start to eat some of my PB& J sandwiches and peanut butter crackers. I am riding a relatively new tri bike for me as I only had it for 3 weeks prior to the race, felt like I finally tweaked the aero bars properly the week before the race. The first climb is a 3 mile uphill into Wilmington, on this climb I stay relax, change positions on the bike, and was passing people continually (of course they pass me on the downhills!!), hit the 14 mile out and back portion of the course and knew I would see Terri, we see each other and both of us seem right on. Make the turn for the final 10 mile climb section, the headwind was truly unbelievable, I go into aero and just keep spinning. Overall, this climb was not so bad for me, I do enjoy the hills and feel they are my strength. I did have two weekends of riding in the mountains of VT and those rides definitely gave me confidence on these hills. On this climb, the rain starts and continues to get heavier as I make it to the top. Finish the first lap with a time of 3:16 and an average of 17 mph, hit the special needs area and pick up two new water bottles of accelerade and head out on the second lap feeling great. Get to see our cheering section, they look wet, but are cheering so loud for me, I smile and continue.......

Second lap, did the downhills, ate on the flats, hit the hills in Wilmington then hit the out and back noticing the winds were definitely picking up. Saw Terri just before I turned out of the out and back section, so happy to see her and she looks great again. I turn onto the bottom of the big climb, only 12 miles left, 100 done, and I still feel pretty good. The headwind is truly unbelievable, and as I climb the rain becomes a downpour. I cannot see infront of me anymore and just keep focusing on the white line and spinning that bike up the hills. People are definitely hurting at this point on the course and with the weather. Arrive into town and I am soaked to the bone, but still feeling good. 2nd lap time of 3:34, for a total time of 6:50 and average of 16.3 mph ( I beat my goal of 7 hours on the bike) and finish in 1160 position. My new bike rocked, I cannot imagine it performing any better.

T2-The tent is under a good two inches of water and mud is every where, I struggle to get the wet clothes off and change into my running clothes, total time in transition is 9:46. In my bag is a note from Chuck, I read it and start to cry, so many folks have supported me and helped me get to this point. Happily it is not pouring out, only light raining now. I see Chuck, Steve, and Laureen, I smile, they ask How I am doing, I give them a big thumbs up and smile. In my mind I know I am going to finish this Ironman....

THE RUN- Running is my sport, so I am thrilled to be off the bike and running along, legs are tight, but no different than some of my training bike to run workouts. I decide I will walk aid stations to make sure I am drinking enough. I hit my watch for the first mile marker, then decide that is not living in the moment, so I decide run by feel and stay relax and focus on the now. I immediately start passing folks, I guess that conservative 1st lap on the bike does pay off. Hit the turnaround on the out and back 13 mile course, starting to feel a little more tired and legs definitely are heavy, the thought of food and/or gu is making me sick, so I focus on water and Gatorade. I make the big climb up into town (walking it), see Chuck, Steve, and Laureen, I make myself smile, they are cheering so loud for me, hit my special needs bag, for some Swedish fish and there is a note from Terri in the bag. I read it, start to cry and continue on, go through the marathon at 2 hours. I know the second half is going to be slower, for the next 13 miles I combine a purposeful walk up the hills and through the aid stations with running, even with this plan I am passing folks. During the run, Terri and I see each other on the outs and backs about 3 times, each time she looks so great, I keep saying we are both going to do this and need to stay strong. With 4 miles to go, it starts to downpour again, at this point it is truly miserable, I keep my head down and keep moving forward, I know I am close to making my goal of 13 hours. With 3 miles to go I cannot even think of eating and drinking, stomach is closed for business!! Walk up the big hill into town, See Chuck, Steve, and Laureen, I am overcome with emotion, start to cry, they are cheering so loud, I know I am going to finish.........last 1.5 miles was digging deep. I entered the stadium, the crowd, the lights, the announcer, I take off my hat, wave it in the air, raise my arms up to the sky, I am smiling ear to ear and break the tape at 12:56. Sub 13 hour Ironman..that is me!!

I finished the run with a total time of 4:23, slower that I would have hoped, but it is all about putting the three events together. I finished 857th overall (much better than I would have ever wished for!!) Obviously, that running background paid off with my passing 303 racers in the run portion.

THOUGHTS-Amazing experience, the goal of finishing an event like this did seem untouchable at times. It was a long road to get to that finish line during the training and on that day, but worth every step and every ounce of sweat. Life does seem different to me right now, it seems brighter, very positive, and no finish line is impossible for me to reach. You realize in training for and participating in an event like this that you could not do it with the support and love of those around you. I definitely had and have the most supportive and loving cheering section that one could wish for.

Look out Ironman Lake Placid 2004 I am coming back, and I will be smiling!!
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Joined: 14 Jun 2003
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PostPosted: 07/30/03 - 18:56    Post subject:
Mike, I am so proud of you and Terri. It is such a great accomplishment! Wink
Sandy Cheeks
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Joined: 14 May 2002
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Location: in the city that never sleeps
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PostPosted: 07/30/03 - 19:03    Post subject:

I am in awe. Congratulations doesn't seem like enough, but congratulations! fubby

What a great report, too. I could really see what was happening. Very Happy

Go Happy GO!
purple hayes
Frightened Inmate #2
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Joined: 14 May 2002
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PostPosted: 07/30/03 - 19:11    Post subject:
[scroll:a46e21bd56]Dancing Banana
Dancing Banana
Dancing Banana
Dancing Banana
Dancing Banana
Dancing Banana
Dancing Banana

Great Report! I know what you mean about feeling intimidated. There were some really fit guys at my tri too.
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Joined: 18 Nov 2002
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PostPosted: 07/30/03 - 19:51    Post subject:
Hands down, that is the best race report I have EVAH read. I felt like ai was with you every stroke, pedal, and step of the way. It brought tears to my eyes. What a huge accomplishment, and you persevered through pretty awful weather conditions. Congratulations to you, dude, on a most amazing journey.
rolling rock
The Pinball
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Joined: 15 May 2002
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PostPosted: 07/30/03 - 21:10    Post subject:
absolutely incredible.

congratulations, what a trip.

thanks for sharing.
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Joined: 14 May 2002
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PostPosted: 07/30/03 - 21:38    Post subject:
Happy, you humble me. Thank you for the race report. It has to be one of the most inspirational things I have read.
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Joined: 11 May 2003
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PostPosted: 07/30/03 - 21:54    Post subject:
What a great report! Well done Happy!
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Joined: 11 Jul 2002
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PostPosted: 07/31/03 - 08:03    Post subject:
YOU ROCK!!!!!!!!!!!!! That is an awesome report. What memories you must have. Congratulations on exceeding your goal.
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Joined: 31 May 2002
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PostPosted: 07/31/03 - 08:33    Post subject:
Way to freakin go!! That's awesome!!
my boys could swim
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PostPosted: 07/31/03 - 09:18    Post subject:
to Happy!

That was simply AWESOME!
I am so motivated right now.
You guys rock in your boots.
Gone Fishin
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PostPosted: 07/31/03 - 09:33    Post subject:
If Ironmans bring grown men to tears, I'm not sure I'd be up for the emotional rollercoaster Wink
Like I said before, you and Terri are legends in these parts now. What a phenominal achievement. Simply awesome.
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PostPosted: 07/31/03 - 10:53    Post subject:
simply awesome
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PostPosted: 07/31/03 - 11:02    Post subject:
Fabulous, fabulous, fabulous. I am in awe. You are amazing. Great report. Great race!
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Joined: 30 May 2002
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PostPosted: 07/31/03 - 14:02    Post subject:
I'm awed, inspired, enlightened, humbled, jealous and just totally amazed!

A big 1 to what everyone has said!
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