Thursday, July 28, 2011

Part 1: Pre Race and Swim: Lake Placid Race Report

I'll be honest, it took a loooooong time for this race to "hit me." I never got the chills or that "oh shit" moment until the night before. I think it was due to having 11 other family members show up and needing to entertain them. This kept me mentally busy and helped me not concentrate on the race. I would highly recommend this for you future first time Ironman-ers!

So what did we do?

We saw a gorge

We shot some guns
My biggest brother. He got 8/10 targets

Did some training swims with some blogging buddies

Ran into some more blogging buddies on the street

We went on a train

I hung out some more KICKASS bloggers at the welcome dinner

We drove up Whiteface

That is Lake Placid

And we celebrated my mom's birthday.
Happy Birthday Mom!
 The cupcakes were UH-MAZING! Thanks Mandy for the the recommendation!

THEN I went for a quick walk, chatted with my coach, and THEN it hit me finally.

I was about to do an Ironman!

Morning of:
Because I rented a house on Mirror Lake Drive at the run turnaround, it was an easy walk past the special needs drop off on my way to the Oval for transition. I saw Emily @ Sweat Once A Day on the way. Body marking was quick. I got all of my food into the transition bags and liquids onto the bike. I could tell I could immediately go into panic mode at any moment for any reason, but I knew what I was doing and just stayed calm. I had plenty of time to get into the water!

On the beach, DROG happened to walk right past me, so it was cool to calm the nerves with someone I knew. The water was warm due to the heatwave that enveloped the entire east coast. So warm in fact that if you wanted a Kona slot or AG award, wetsuits were illegal! This was the first time in Placid's history that it was a wetsuit optional swim.

Thats my backside. Perfect 10, right? hahahahahahaha!
The Swim: 1:10:51
I wore the wetsuit. Yeah, it was a bit warm, but I trained for this race wearing a wetsuit and I knew this race would always involve a wetsuit.

So! I lined up far to the right and about 7-10 rows back. It was a good place to start. Maybe it was a tad too far to the right, but the contact for the most of the swim was nothing too too bad. If I even attempted to get near the buoy line, I could see the carnage, so I stayed just to the right of them all.

Funny note, the water temp was kinda nice behind the start line. As soon as you pass the start line, the water temp jumped about 10 degrees! Wanna know why? Well, I am not gonna tell. I think you can figure that part out ;)

Coming out of the first loop, I saw my family, actually stopped and treaded water and waved to them all. They saw me too! It wasn't hard to see them. My family rocks! They made the most AWESOME T-shirts!!! Check these out!

Front & Back

Getting out of the water for loop #2 I was slow. I was hot. The water temp + wetsuit was starting to take a toll. I think it was doing that on everyone. So I trudged on.

Then I got a side stitch. Son of A!!!!! It freaking hurt but I just swam through it. Boy that hurt.....

Near the end of the out on loop #2, I got onto the buoy line! It was great. I really calmed down and had a smooth stroke for the first time all swim. It also took my mind off of that side stitch. After rounding the turn for the final leg home, I figured I would just stay on it. WRONG. People who just slap the water were all around me suddenly, so I drifted back right.

As we all came to the finish of the swim, naturally all of the swim lines started to condense. Out of the entire 2.4 miles, the MOST amount of contact I had was in this last 200 meters. Its like everyone started sprinting and panicking  and kicking HARD all at once! I was like, "You have 10+ more hours out there!" So I tried to get to the right, but I couldn't. I was locked into this sea of crazy people and got nailed in the chin twice in the last 2 minutes of the swim. WTF?!?!

It wasn't anything I anticipated, but I survived and you know what? That was physically the EASIEST 2.4 mile swim! I was mentally and physically prepared for that swim more than I ever thought I was.

What I did right for this swim:
Every Friday was a 4000 yard swim. They sucked, mentally more than physically. Ok, physically they sucked too, but knowing that you can swim 4000 yards (not straight!) was a huge mental boost. Actually, starting off the swim with a 2000 yard straight warmup, building to race pace (which isn't fast!) really helped by knocking off 50% of the swim. Then spending the last 2000 yards doing intervals and descending/ascending sets really puts the hurt on, but man do those sets really put money in the bank!

What I should have done better for this swim:
More intervals, but at higher intensity. I won't lie, I had more swimming speed in January and February, then in April. From there, I went flat and actually lost speed. However! My endurance continued to creep up, but I never regained that "sharpness" that I had last winter, and in April. I honestly think I should have taken swimming rest weeks.

In January, my 100 times were getting down to 1:25/100 without even blinking. Heck, I went 14:47 for a 1000 yard TT. Now? Hitting 1:30/100 on an all out 100 is a dream come true! Just don't freak out if some of your speed gets sacrificied for endurance. Also, the accumulated fatigue from the massive volumes of biking and running sap your mojo in the pool as well.

What got it done:
I aimed for a 1:10 swim split, and I got that 1:10 swim split. My training got me there and I was happy with that time! For reference, I swam on average about 30,000 yards/month. A 1:10 isn't a blazing fast swim, and I am not a natural born swimmer, but this kind of volume got me there. In my case, my swim was 1/12th of my day! Was my swim training 1/12th of my overall training? No, but you have to remember that coming out of the swim fresh, which is what I did, only helps on the bike and later on in the run because you haven't blown it all in the first hour of the race.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for T1 and the bike!


  1. I can't wait for the next episode!

  2. I am taking notes on how to keep busy before a big race!! Great tip, never thought about that

    You know all the old says "you wont win your race during the swim, but you can lose it on the swim" and "Survive the swim, pace the bike"

    Cant wait for part 2

  3. Life lesson #1: beware of warm water pockets and yellow snow.

    Life lesson #2: Better to go 2 minutes slower on the swim and have a kickass race then kill yourself trying to be the best swimmer of 3000.

    Congrats on hitting your goal EXACTLY despite heat and cramping!

  4. FReaking awesome Split! 1:10!!!! That sounds blazing fast to me...when the overall avg for LP I think is around 1:17

  5. I am taking notes, so keep the tips coming.

    yay for a great swim!!

  6. Very cool you got to hang with some of the other blogger buddies!

    Sounded like just another day at the office for you on the swim. IT is amazing how all the accumulated fatigue hurts your swim speed? My 100 times have been great in the last month since I am only swimming 4-5k per week now. Weird.

  7. Awesome job, Jon! That's a great swim split. Love the t-shirts!

  8. Hitting your goal for the swim is great and I'm looking forward to hearing about the rest of the race! It sounds like you had a smart strategy for the pre-race days in Lake Placid. I've never thought about how important that is for race day nerves.

  9. Love reading this, VERY good stuff in here. Thank you for saying exactly what I believe about the swimming.

  10. Great job and post! As an aspiring tri-athlete it is great seeing how the training pays off!

  11. Awesome job! Way to execute and hit your goal right on the mark!

    You are dead on with it only being 1/12th of the day. I was talking to MattyO about the swim and I mentioned how I could have a great long swim and a crappy long swim and the time difference would only be 2-3 minutes. Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things.

    It sounds like found some great ways to keep your mind off the race beforehand.

  12. I can't say it enough but thanks for the tips. I really like how you break it down to what you did, what you would do and how/why it worked.

    This is a huge help and can't wait to keep reading the report. It will be out later today right?

  13. Those shirts are great and your bum definitely gets a 10! LOL! I wish I understood swim talk but if you say you could be faster well then, get faster will ya? LOL! :) Anxiously awaiting the next report...

  14. I really like that you are analyzing each leg as related to your training. And congrats! 1:10 is effing solid!

  15. Awesome job!!! 1:10 is amazing!! I won't lie, watching that video got me a little freaked out about my IMAZ swim start, but both you and Mandy commented on how you didn't get too much contact, so that is what I'm going to focus on!!
    I can't wait to read about the rest of your race!!

  16. Dude. This is awesome. Thanks for posting the pictures of the blogger buddies!!! I like how you analysed it as it related to your training. Very awesome swim my friend!!

    I think all of us went to High Falls Gorge, so funny

  17. totally awesome! Happy Bday to ur mom!

    Whiteface looks cool

    you had a great swim!

  18. I think family definitely helps keep your mind off things before the race, but nothing can prepare you for the "Oh shit" moment that you will inevitably have that night before! :)

    Love the shirts!!!!

    You had one heck of a swim... can't wait to read about the rest of the race!

  19. People never seem to own up to kicking/clawing anyone in the swim... Just complain about being the kicked/clawed victim ;)

    Love the fam t-shirts!!!

  20. Great first recap!

    Your arm tan line picture is great in that blogger training pic, haha

    I'm not sure which blogger is in that Run EMZ shirt, but that is awesome!

    Those shirts are indeed awesome - Fe + man = iron man, lol

    Sounds like the swim went right according to plan!

  21. I like the shirts too :)

    I also like hearing about how your training made your swim go so smoothly. You're giving me ideas for my (one day future possible) ironman exploits... congratulations!!!

  22. I definitely see how that swim training volume served you well. You definitely wouldn't want to be fatigued coming out of the water.

    Looking forward to part deux!

  23. Really enjoyed this post. Congrats on a great start to your race. Luv the shirts.

  24. Way to go! That video really gave me an idea of what the swim of a ironman looks like. It sounds like you got what you were shooting for, so nice work! I can't wait to read the rest.

  25. I'm totally with you on the speed vs endurance swim thing. Every time I get in the water these days I'm like WHY AM I SO SLOW?!? But you clearly knew what you were capable of and were right on, so nice work!


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