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Lake Placid Ironman race Report
Author Last Post
Tim Watson: Ironman Lake Placid Race Report 2012: I wrote this after the race.. and I a long car ride back to CT, so I am not sure it is perfect (or even makes sense in some places)…but I think you will get the point!
First, I’d like to thank all the people who contributed to My Ironman Foundation charity fund raising efforts for cancer/ Livestrong. We collected over $4200 to help support families and patients fighting cancer. I was so proud and honored to race on behalf of all of you for this wonderful cause… and it was one of the major inspirations that carried me through very tough, challenging training months and race day. Secondly, to my family and friends who sacrificed so much during the training that such a goal demands. My lovely wife Michelle…and kids (Lauren, Lily, ad Porter) came to witness this fun filled day (fun? Hugh?). My mom and dad, Sister Becky, and dear friend Richard (who traveled all the way from Oklahoma just to provide fellowship and expert triathlon support) were amazing. We laughed, bonded, and enjoyed the wonderful hospitality of Lake Placid. Training and sacrifice for an Ironman event takes the support of many people to accomplish such a crazy goal.
Friday before the Sunday race; Kids Ironman!!! Porter and Lily competed in the Iron kids races. They both ran their respective distances with Mike Riley (official voice of Ironman and the famous phrase…”You are an Ironman”) leading the day’s events and races. Porter and Lily received their medals from Any Potts and Peter Jacobs…two of the best professional Ironman of all times. Lily has caught the ironman bug… and now dreams of her first race (2020 according to her calculation). Inspiration also came for her from an 18 year old girl who was racing in her first ironman with her mom and dad (and she did great!!!). The athlete dinner provided stories of many athletes who were there on a personal mission. Anybody who witness one of these can’t help walking away wanting to get involved to help some positive movement. Lastly, Lauren got to sake on the Olympic ice area from the 1932 games. What and experience to be out there practicing and skating with some other great athletes and coaches …on sacred ice.
Saturday (one day before the race)
I awoke to a painful back that I’d somehow thrown out of line. This was NOT the time for this to happen… 24 weeks of training and planning.. and the day before the race? …ugh; horrible pain. I immediately went to seek out help from a local chiropractic and massage therapist(s) to provide 3-4 hrs of therapy …and then heat and cold. By the evening it was “moving”….and feeling better. I’m sure picking up Porter for pictures with the pros was not the best idea (his head alone must weigh 50 lbs)…especially when five weeks before this I got hit by a car running (long story, but a truck mirror hit me hard on the shoulder…for those of you who know me, this should not be a surprise). I’ve been through 5 weeks of PT for my upper back…and now the lower back decides to join the fun the day before the race. I know this is going make for more pain…
Race morning: I got up and “convinced myself” the back was manageable (but I knew it would add a new twist to the days events) , headed for body marking and all the all pre race prep… and then back to the condo for some last minute back therapy. At 6:15 AM, Michelle and I headed down to the lake, I got in my wetsuit, gave one last kiss, and headed to the starting line.
Swim: The plan was to start wide right away from the course buoy line (everybody in the water for this start) and try to find a swimming lane. With roughly 2800 athletes headed for one buoy 0.6 mile away, things get real brutal and hairy. I learned my lesson in Florida Ironman 2010 about an Ironman mass swim start, and tried to rectify that mistake by choosing a wider alley. I spotted my family and friends aligning Mirror lakes edge… and gave them one last thumb up…then BANG (gun goes off) and away we went. The first 5 min were a blur of bodies’ bumps, collisions, and one good kick to the side of my head (that I trained for through playing football…and with my wife!). BUT, all of a sudden, it was like the lake parted. Half the crew starting wide went for the line (the buoys) and the other half stayed wide/ straight. I was left all alone in the middle and could not believe my luck… NOBODY around me and free swimming space on all sides The entire swim was wonderful and open if you chose the right lines/ and faster people to draft from you could fly…and I was relaxed and having a blast….and posted my best 2.4 mile swim time ever with a 1 hr 10 min swim!!! We hooooo! BUT the kick to the head did case a bit of vertigo and a nice reminder that nothing comes free in this sport…. but who cares!!! I was out and running through the huge crowd of supporters on my way to Transition 1…and happy to be starting 112 mile bike!! (Ok, I know that confirms I am crazy). I passed my family all in their red “Watson Support Crew” shirts (which was easy to find all day in the massive crowds) and gave them a big goofy smile and thumbs up.
Bike: The bike course is absolutely spectacular on the eyes…but brutal on the legs!!! I got into a nice rhythm for the first lap (first 56 miles things went a planned). I passed a “Gumby and Poky” riding bikes in full costume, and bag piper in the woods, and massive crowds of people (I will not describe crowd outfits since some of them chose to wear the least possible….use your imagination). Lake Placid Ironman is known for its crowds and it soon became apparent to me that they might be just as crazy as the athletes (Best Sign: “Chuck Norris did NOT do an Ironman”). The last 5 miles into town you climb a hill called the Papa Bear and it is reflective of a scene right out of the Tour-de France. Some of the crowd… I am sure broke local open container codes..and OH how did that beer look refreshing (??). On second loop (same 56 mile course you ride twice)… the temperature climbed in the upper 80’s and a strong wind (emphasis on strong) kicked up. I still felt physically good (excluding the back) and stuck to my plan (I had to add in back stretching every 5 min to manage lower and upper back spasms, but I knew that and managed). Then that wind decided to throw us more powers and blasted the last 25 miles back up the hills into our face to LP (I can’t emphasize that enough). Even the pros commented on that tough section and Peter Jacobs said it was a struggle. In the course of 8 miles during this section of the bike I witnessed two people quit, one wreck into a wall, and 5 other “unknowns” being placed into ambulances. The heat and wind (combined) turned that into a very serious physical and mental challenge. I was always prepared to suffer… and this is the place this Ironman decided to punish us all. The muscles in my upper-lower back …and now the hamstring (go figure…it is connected so I guess it was a matter of time)…are all interrelated, so it did not surprise me they were hurting. Nevertheless, I stuck with it and battled the hills and wind (my CT hill training paid off). I can honestly say that was the toughest 25 miles of riding I have ever done…not from lack of preparing, but from Mother Nature’s elements and injury management. And just think, I PAID $685 and voluntarily signed up for this race…even more evidence to support me being crazy! Still, the Papa Bear put laughs and smiles on my face and the crowds were even louder! (Must be a functional relationship to all the empty beer bottles lining the road…and Oh how did the look refreshing!!!)
Run: By this time it was the heat of the afternoon and I knew I was in for some more punishment. The “bigger bodied racers” …“don’t function in heat”. Nevertheless, I started the run with a good pace for the first 2 miles and actually got into a nice rhythm. It was about mile 3 that the hamstring cramps hit hard form the natural kick of a run stride. It became time to solve this big problem… instead of just being complacent with a walk to the finish. I found a way to walk and stretch for about 3 min…and then pick up my normal 8:30 to 9 min mile pace. I could repeat this over and over…with running until the back and hamstring cramps reduced to a walk…then repeat stretching and go. I calculated an 11 min pace would still put me in my calculated race time goal and I was determined to beat this problem. My swim and bike were good enough to buy me extra time so I adjusted my plan and stuck t with it. I’m not sure LP even expected the heat and conditions because they did not have ice on the run for the first 6 miles (but they figured out their mistake as soon as the dehydration/ drop out numbers elevated rapidly…so they expedite truck loads in!!). The constant reminder of bodies being hauled out on stretches, ambulances, and even life flights …confirmed the need to race smart if you wanted to COMPLETE this race. Ironman times cannot be compared between races or even the same race. Success of any a race is not the “swim, bike, run”…but the nutrition and to be able to adjust to Mother Nature. I was able to keep a steady pace of 11 min per mile for the entire 26 miles…which sealed another wonderful experience. The crowds of Lake Placid Ironman are defiantly unique…and to have family to stop and hug and kiss half way through the marathon really keeps you focused (ok, so did the lady dressed …well… just use your imagination…hint: defiantly not PG)
Last mile: This is something difficult to put in words. Imagine hearing the finish line calling out names… and crowds of people calling your name (no, I’ not famous, my name is on my bib next to me number). The stuff roaming my head was not that I was about to finish, but to reflect on the Livestrong cause and people fighting cancer every day, my family and friends willing me home…and yes, and the fact that I had no feeling in my legs and feet. You get to run through shoots of people reaching for a high 5 …and then you enter the Olympic speed skating oval for a run through a stadium atmosphere with huge teletrons, loud music, and people celebrating (your emotions are all over the place…even on a second ironman) . I found my family in the crowed and gave them on big smile and fist pump and then heard the voice of Mike “Tim Watson, you are an Ironman”!!! I was glad to be done and glad to be upright…at least for 5 min until I struggled through some dizziness (don’t worry the volunteers are wonderful and assist you for a long time until they see you are fit to go).
Post race Facts: www.runtri.com (check out the breakdown of this tough race): “Ironman Lake Placid 2012 was a tough one for the nearly 2,273 triathletes who finished the race, and even tougher on the 11% who started but didn't finish. The average finish time of 13:30 was 29 minutes slower than in 2011, and was the slowest overall time in the last four years. Most of the difference resulted from a noticeably slower bike split of 6:37, and the challenge of those tough 112 miles significantly pushed average marathon times to more than 5 hours.
Tim Watson: 12 hrs 17 min (see below)
Thank you everybody for your support!
 
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