Ironman USA 2000 Race Report Page 1

E-mail Adam

Updated Site Updated: 12/20/04

Ironman USA 2000 Race Report
I just completed my second Ironman distance race and of all the emotions I feel, relief is dominant. My first Ironman effort, in 1998, was an emotional eleven-month journey culminating in a difficult day filled with many foolish mistakes. I left that race honored and satisfied to say I was an Ironman, but a small part of me felt I had some unfinished business on an Ironman racecourse. Shortly after that event, I had elective knee surgery to replace a badly needed ACL injured in high school. My revenge would have to wait until I recovered from the surgery.

Two years later, at Ironman USA in Lake Placid, NY, I began the last day of my journey to take care of that unfinished Ironman business. I felt I had two missions in this race: one, to test out my new knee; and two, to satisfy a voice of doubt that was gnawing at me since that first Ironman race in 1998. I badly wanted a sub eleven-hour Ironman race time.

With that goal of Ironman redemption constantly in my mind, over the last ten months I focused intently on the task at hand and stuck to my training plan with a lot of discipline. I trained through voices telling me to stay in bed when the alarm clock went off at 5:00 am three or four days a week. I willed my body through the final miles of long, hot, lonely, tiresome runs and rides. As bad as the physical discomfort was, I knew the mental discomfort would be worse if I stopped. Not a swim, bike or a run went by without imagining myself on the racecourse at Ironman USA accomplishing my goal.

Lake Placid:
Once again, I was extremely grateful to have many friends and family in attendance to watch my effort. Support of this kind before and during a race is very special to me. It gives me an added moral boost and makes me feel like I am doing this for others as well as myself.

On race morning, I woke up early and did the usually preparation. I was not nervous at all and felt eager to complete the final chapter of this odyssey. Normally, I have no problem sleeping, even before a big race, but that night I got one of the worst night's sleep I can remember. A dense morning fog made for a very surreal experience as I walked around the swim and transition area at 5:00 am getting prepared. I knew the hard work was behind me and that success here was a matter of having the discipline to execute my race plan. I barely remember getting my race numbers written on my arms and legs as I concentrate on the day ahead.

In an Ironman race, the battle to stay within your limits in the early portions of the race is just as difficult as the battle with fatigue in the later portions. Throughout the race, there are constant temptations to push you beyond your limits and away from your plan, jeopardizing your goal. Other racers, your ego and the crowd provide momentary delusions of grandeur, asking you to push too hard too soon as you struggle to stay on track. Some of my training this year was with Ron Shilon. I saw him in the swim start area twenty minutes before the race began. We briefly chatted and in an effort to remind him as well as myself what had to be done to finish this race. I said to him, "Remember, above all, stick to the plan." I hoped all my discipline over the last six months of training would stay with me for one last day. If it didn't, I was not going to make my sub eleven-hour goal.

The fog was low and thick at the swim start making for a very memorable scene as I waded into the water to take my place with 1,600 other athletes. No one could see the first swim buoy a few hundred yards out into Mirror Lake. The swim was going to start out as a game of follow the leader. I took a spot on the far right hand side of the field back a few layers from the other athletes at the start. I asked a few people around me what their expected swim time would be. Their answers were right around the time I was expecting for myself so I knew I found a good spot. At the swim start it is important to be in a position with swimmers of similar abilities, otherwise you will either be swimming over people or you will be swum over once the race begins. Neither is a pleasant experience.

The 2.4-Mile Swim:
The race began at 7:00 am. I surged forward with the crowd and quickly found I should have started ahead of a few people in front of me. Instead of swimming over them I took the longer but safer route going around them. Sticking to the plan I tried to settle into a comfortable rhythm. Being far out to the right of the swim buoys I had to guess at the direction I needed to head. I followed the general direction of the other swimmers around me. Throughout the entire swim I know I threw in a few extra zigs and zags for good measure. I thought, "2.4 miles just isn't enough for me." :-).

The swim course was just over a half-mile long rectangle that had to be completed twice. We would have to exit the water after the first loop for a ten yard run back to the swim start to complete the other lap. I kept my face buried in the water only briefly turning my head to catch a breath and occasionally look forward to navigate. The only sound I heard was the muffled rhythm of my breathing and the water running over my ears. This is strange and eerie because you know there is tons of activity all around you, but you cannot hear a thing.