Not your typical race report. Sorry.
The Ironman Lake Placid experience started the Wednesday before the race. I was lucky enough to be able to stay the entire week in a house that I shared with my friend (and veteran IMLP-er) Lindsey. This arrangement was awesome for a bunch of reasons: she has an awesome dog, Beckham, we got to do our "end of the road" training together, and Lindsey was super helpful for answering pre-race questions. She also ended up lending me her aero top for the race since the one I had tried out last week kept riding up while running.
A couple of days before the race we took a short, early morning ride on a particularly mentally challenging part of the run course, River road. Lindsey's a talented multi-tasker/bike-photographer so she took some cool pics of me while riding. We chatted about the road, and the dark places one might go while running there, for a couple of reasons:
A few things started coming together for me before the race. We went to an awesome talk held by my training team, Endurance Nation, and they talked about the "suck line." The idea is that Ironman is demanding, and it's going to suck at some point. Based on how close you stick to your race plan, you can move that line towards the beginning of the race or push it back towards the end.
I thought about River Road after that talk and realized that's where the line is going to be. It's going to get dark out there, and it's going to suck. My mind is going to go to unthinkable places. I was kind of excited.
Was this going to be a new, evil Mel and I had never encountered before?? Should I find a stick-on goatee and a pitch fork and embrace my new dark self for the last ten miles of the run or so??
Race day came. I wasn't nervous. Just excited and a little emotional. I slept great the night before, highly unusual for me.
We swam, and the swim was fine. I got kicked/punched/pulled/swam over. I swam over people. But it was fine. Let's move on.
I swallowed a lot of pride on the bike. I wanted to race, but I knew I'd sink myself for the run. I held back, trying to convince myself to take it easy. I peed 5 times. Drank a ton of water and BASE Hydro. Ate a lot of GU's. Most of all, I just tried to enjoy myself. At mile 80 or so, I started to push it a bit. My legs felt good. I saw very few people I knew on the bike so I was ready to get off. My mind started to turn to mush a bit the last 12 miles.
I was ready to run, and I was ready to hurt. I felt awful getting off the bike, but then I descended down the hill out of town and my legs started to turn over. I found a familiar place on the run, but I was ready for that unfamiliar place of pain and mental anguish. I thought about some words that my friend Suz put in a note before the race: "Just stay positive and keep moving forward." I repeated that as my mantra.
And it never came. The suck never came. I had pain in my foot the first 6 miles that felt like someone was trying to rip off my pinky toe, but that's it. Oh and I almost puked because I took a Hot Shot in the middle of the run when I felt like I was going to cramp. To Hot Shot's credit, I didn't cramp!
But where were the dark places? I was really looking forward to getting to know a new side of myself, and she never showed up to the party. Instead I got this joker:
I learned more about why I do these races rather than about my character during IMLP, and I think that's okay. I think I do them to just see new sides of myself, and to see how I deal with pain. In a relatively comfortable life, it's hard to see how you would deal with actual pain, most of us are lucky enough to not see much in our day-to-day lives. Many of us end up not wanting to learn about the pain, some of us want to dig deeper and see what's under the hood.
I saw some pain during IMLP, but as a relentlessly positive person, the pain doesn't come easy. There will be more races, and more Ironmans, Maybe pushing harder will help me learn more. Is it a bad idea to adjust your race plan to ensure pain? Will I blow up next time for this weird quest?
I also learned (again) that I have the BEST support crew!
Two more tris this year: Martha's Vineyard 70.3 and Buzzard's Bay Sprint. Now for a FUN AUGUST!