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2015 Ironman Lake Placid Race Report: The Swim Bike Mom Version

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Ironman Lake Placid 2015

What:  A race consisting of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and a 26.2 mile marathon
When: July 26, 2015
Where: Lake Placid, New York
Who:  Meredith Atwood, AG 35-39 (and 2500 other people)

 

Thursday, July 23, 2015:  Swim Bike Legal Drafting (and not the Bike Kind)

My parents headed up from Savannah to Atlanta early Thursday morning (race day was Sunday) so the Expert and I could get on a plane to New York. We hurried out of the house, but not before I had this panic attack.

I had totally forgotten that the Expert and I were leaving our kids for almost 5 days… and I could not find our Wills.  I had not left a list of bank accounts and assets and all those things that responsible parents do when leaving their kids for a period of time, where they both could die.

Well, if we go down in a fiery crash, the children are hosed because Mom and Dad didn’t bother to leave the whereabouts of life insurance policies and bank accounts for their legacy.  Mom (and Lawyer) of the Year.  WTF.

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So I went digging through the fire box.  I found our Wills from 2006. Before kids.  Nice.  Then I found our 2009 Wills… unsigned.  Who is this lawyer? Geeeez.

Long story short, I drew up some quick and questionably enforceable Wills, and we signed… then hit the road.

[Note to self: revise Wills now.]

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Our flight was delayed, and finally took off around 6:30 pm, which made for a REALLY late arrival into Lake Placid – a well-over two hour drive from the Albany Airport.

We had reservations at Wildwood at the Lake, a small motel and cottage deal, across the road from the Rite Aid and Saranac Sourdough cafe on Saranac.  Rustic.  Very good pricing. Done deal. The owners live on the property and were kind enough to leave a key for us with my name on the envelope at the front saying, “Check in with us in the morning.”

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Awesome.  Recommend for location (easy to get to grocery – 1/4 mile walk), ease of access to Rite Aid and restaurants off the main drag.  Price couldn’t be beat.  If you are looking for a high end hotel–this is not it–but really, was fantastic and plenty of room for organizing “ALL THE THINGS” and drying out the wetsuit on the balcony.

Friday, July 23, 2015

Rise and freaking shine.  Lawdy.  I fell asleep well after 1:00AM, and the alarm buzzed at 6:00 for the Mirror Lake swim.  Swim Bike Mom Ambassador Team Member (and Lake Placid 2014 FINISHER), Sarah and her friend Cathie, agreed to be the babysitter for me this morning.  I was so appreciative of the ride to Mirror Lake AND the coffee which Sarah came bearing.

We headed down to Mirror Lake, where I saw lots of friends who now don’t just live in the computer.

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Did a quick little 750 meter swim, and then I was out. I take taper very seriously… seriously, I do. I expend like ZERO extra energy in the four days prior.  Many theories to the taper–that’s mine. Rest – because I need it.

Oh, by the way… GOSH, I love my ROKA wetsuit. Really, I do. It’s absolutely fantastic, and I am thankful to ROKA for sponsoring me this season.

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After the swim, we headed to Stewart’s and grabbed a coffee.  Sarah gave me a tour de transition and bike out, and then we headed over to Athlete Check-in, where I was weighed (yes, really) and signed my life away in waivers.  Back over to Ironman village for picking up the BAG (Ironman registration includes a race embroidered backpack—good swag!).  Picked up the bike from Tri Bike Transport, and headed back to the hotel.

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I took the bike for a quick shakeout, then walked over to the grocery and filled up our room fridge with all sorts of things.  (Where is the Expert during all of this?  Well, he had a business meeting in Albany – so he drove over there for the day. It was actually really nice, because I had lots of time to be alone and take time to breathe. Was a good plan, actually. I tend to be a little high strung during these things–so it allowed me to yell at myself instead of him.)

We ate dinner at the Dancing Bears, stopped by the store one more time for a few things, and headed back to Wildwood. It’s 8:30 now and I am sitting in the bed with my feet up and the compression socks on.

[And frankly, I am ready to sleep already.]

I took just a few minutes to put all the stickers where they belonged: helmet, transition and Special Needs bags, bike. Then placed most of my necessary things in the transition bags and special needs.

(For information on these mystery bags and Things I Learned from my “First and Last” Ironman, check out this post from 2013. 🙂 )

So that was another day in Lake Placid. The weather here is FANTASTIC.  After doing most of my long runs in 85-97 degree heat, I am stoked about wearing a hoodie in the early morning. FUN!

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Tomorrow, I’ll probably head back to Mirror Lake for a quick swim and run, check the bike, spend too much money in the Ironman Village tent… and get off the feet and into the mental headspace of FINISHING my third iron distance race.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Well… I woke up at 8:00. WHAT? Yep, I slept 10 hours, and it was good sleep too. Thankfully.

The Expert and I made some coffee and blew a fuse in the hotel room by using the microwave at the same time as the coffee pot. We called the front desk and Mr. Weber was up in a jiffy, fixing it and showing us where the box was located. Amazing.

I sat on the floor of the hotel room, loading my T1 and T2 bags, as well as Special Needs bike and run bags. I had pre-packed everything at home, in clear bags this time. I previously used garbage bags, but I found that packing in clear bags solved a lot of the panic attacks (e.g., I could look right into the pile of bags and say, “oh yeah, I have my shoes.”) I checked all the numbers on my helmet and bike, and we loaded up and headed back down to Mirror Lake.

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I was planning on doing another swim this morning, but decided against it at the last minute. Not sure why, just did. Lots of people down there. Lots of buzz. I kind of wanted to get down to bike check, bag check and do my quick run.

I zipped the Expert into his wetsuit for his swim, and took off on my little 10 minute run back to the car. I ran into SBM Ambassador Team member, Anne, and we chatted for a spell. Then to the car where I retrieved Lucy the Bike and my bike and run bags to check in.

I ran into Karen and Fiona at the bag check, and Karen gave me a quick tour of transition and where the maze was… e.g., running from the swim to the bags to the tent to the bike racks and bike out. (Whew). Took a group photo with the lovely ladies from Massachusetts, and then headed over to the Women for Tri tent.

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Sat there for a few moments, stopped by the ROKA tent and said hello. Then the Expert and I grabbed a quick lunch at an Italian place down the road, Nicolas on Main.

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Then we drove the bike course, taking time to stop and see the amazing sights, have a snack at the most awesome place, The ADK Cafe… in Keene, after the killer-long descent. I loved Keene – what a really fantastic town.

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We turned left at the intersection and weaved along the mostly flat and slightly hilly roads. I didn’t see anything that was crazy hilly until after Jay (you turn right and then the road pitches up pretty righteously)… but then it seemed to balance out. The last 10-15 miles seemed to be a series of pretty big climbs and probably a shitton of false flats (if I can imagine race day). I learned where to eat, drink and where to slow down, use the brakes and be aware of potholes.

We had a little adventure.

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Coach Brett advised against RIDING the course yesterday, and I am really glad that he decided that. I don’t think anything would have been gained from that—I was able to see everything from the car AND feel safe. The traffic and cyclists in town today and yesterday was really wild.

A few more stops and we were back at the hotel by 3:30. I packed up the rest of the things I needed for the morning, put on the race number tattoos (I bought this because I usually sweat off my race numbers by the end of the bike OR the Sharpie ruins my clothes… so interested to see how the TriTats pan out). Anyway, yes put those on, along with compression socks and proceeded to sit my butt down.

I emerged only for a pasta dinner. Then we drove down back through town, and witnessed a horrible thing… buildings downtown Lake Placid on fire. People were standing on the streets, in canoes and kayaks on the lake, just watching the fire. I don’t know what happened – we stayed until the fire department clearly had it under control, but I know that many businesses and residences were lost. Prayers going out to those involved… I hate that on a weekend that is such a joyous event for the town and the economy something like that happened.

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We headed back to the hotel and started watching the last of the “Twilight Saga” movies. Yes, it’s true. I needed something to put the Expert to bed at 9:00. We planned to rise and shine bright and early… and start the long day that is Ironman.

Sunday, July 26, 2015 – Race Day

Transition opened at 4:30AM, which seemed a little silly to me, so we “slept in” until 4:00.

I washed my face, pigtailed my hair, put on the race kit and made breakfast. I had the abbreviated hotel version of the Power Breakfast: Uncle Ben’s microwaveable brown rice, raisins, almond butter and banana. Lathered on Neutrogena 100 SPF sunscreen and had the Expert slather on the hard-to-reach places… somehow this sunscreen really does work continuously through the day, and I love it.

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I used TriTats for my race numbers, which I really liked. EXCEPT the directions in the package said to place Age Group number on the LEFT calf… which I thought was wrong, but I did it anyway. Then when I arrived at transition, I found everyone had their right calf marked. Whoops, and oh well. And big deal.

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We were out of the hotel door by 5:00.

The Expert was playing the role of Sherpa for race day. He dropped me right in front of transition by 5:15, which gave me 45 minutes before transition closed. Off I went to check on Lucy the Bike, put on my race day nutrition on her, and pump her shiny new tires. After kissing Lucy on the aero bottle and saying “Be good to me, girl” (yes, really), I went to find the Expert.

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I found him by 5:40, and off we wandered around looking for where to drop the Run and Bike Special Needs bags—not the easiest thing to find on race morning, and kind of an annoying walk down to Run SN drop—but really, I was looking for anything to distract me at this point.

The Swim

Summary: Two loops of 1.2 mile swim in approximately 72 degree water in a lake. Water is reasonably clear, though not completely. Slightly congested swim. Ha. Understatement.

We walked down to Mirror Lake, and found a spot of grass to begin the wetsuit application process. Le sigh. The Expert snapped a picture of me while I was rolled into a ball pulling the wetsuit up over le thighs, which he promptly deleted and said, “You will not like that one.” I said, “Yes, best to wait until the application process is complete.”

After five or so minutes, I was in full seal suit, and we walked a little closer to the lake.
I looked at my watch. 6:08. First swim wave was heading into the water in 22 minutes. Holy guacamole.

Then the fear rushed over me. The Expert must have seen the immediate change in my face, and he said, “It’s okay, breathe.” Then the tears started in my eyeballs, and I blinked them away. Happens every time before 140.6 miles… third time, third bawl bag of tears. I guess I just don’t really process the emotions of race day until race day… until minutes before the swim start—and then it’s suddenly quite overwhelming. No difference this time.

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I hugged the Expert, and headed to the swim start corral. 6:18. I bravely picked the 1:00-1:10 projected finish time group and joined them. (Be brave, be thankful!) As I stood there in the crowd of crazies, I noticed a few things: lots of green (male) swim caps, not so many pink (female) caps. Everyone in this wave also seemed really tall.

And as the National Anthem was played, the tears started rolling down my face. I prayed for one thing only: “Dear God. Please keep me safe and let me come home to my family.”

The one physically challenged athlete, a blind woman, headed into the water with her guide first. (Wow. Can’t even imagine this course with sight… just wow.) The countdown was close…

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6:30. 

Then the race cannon went off, and the first wave was in the water… I was in the next, and we moved forward and continued to roll forward, into the water. And then, we rolled right in…

I hit “enter” on my watch, and it was go time.

Two 1.2 mile clockwise swim loops.

Mirror Lake has an underwater cable, about 8 feet under the water, that can be used like a line in the bottom of the pool—it wraps the entire 1.2 mile loop of the lake—so if you plant yourself on it, you can swim looking down at it. Therefore, you don’t need to ever peep out of the water to sight (unless you’re just feeling like seeing what’s up outside.)

The other side (the dark side) of the underwater cable? Everyone allegedly wants a piece of that action. Translation? You’re going to be pummeled and struggling during the entire swim. I had heard this, and thought, “Yeah, no thanks. I’ll just avoid that mess.” So I placed myself a little to the left and figured I would stay out of the fray.

Mirror Lake is actually not that large (in comparison to other lakes), and the swim course was pretty congested right out of the gate. I was taking hits to the ribs and the legs right away. I love this part of the race (seriously)—so much energy, even don’t mind the pummeling—but I do try to avoid getting beat up too much.

I have found that most races start with a fury, but then after 200 or so meters, everyone sort of finds their space and stays there, with only an occasional intrusion from others. But this was not the case here. People were everywhere in this swim. After about 300 meters, I looked down and I could see the cable about twenty feet to my right. I swam a little more, and I found myself closer. (My right arm has a stronger pull so I was gravitating that way, even with sighting. Crap.)

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After another 100 yards, I was nearly on the cable, and said, “Well, I’m here. Let’s play ball.”

I put myself slightly to the left of the cable, and I swam like Michael Phelps… Or his quite slower distant cousin. I managed to hold my own and didn’t get swam over very much; did my fair share of unintentional underwater boxing (as my Instagram friend, Amy, called the swim: “The underwater boxing match that was the Lake Placid swim.”)

At about ¾ of the way through the first loop, I got pinned between a school of racers, and I couldn’t seem to get behind or ahead of them. I am thinking they seeded themselves too slow—caught up to our group. They were swimming just slightly faster than me, fast enough to catch up, but not fast enough to really pull ahead of me and get away.

So I slowed my pace a little, just deciding to get behind them, and draft off their feet.

I don’t know what happened at that point, but I received a really hard foot to the right jaw.

Sort of frazzled me, and I sat up for a minute. Jaw intact, moving on. I swam about ten strokes, and I had another kick to same side, knocking my goggles askew. Okay, I’m getting the hell out of here. I tried to ease to the left and give myself some space to recover and get my heartrate down. At that point, I swam a few more minutes and out of nowhere, I had another punch or kick (not sure which) to my right goggle. SON OF A—-! That one hurt, and my head started throbbing. (It’s funny how irrationally mad this can make you. I know it wasn’t intentional—the people were just swimming. But man. I was hot. I talked myself down, and was seeing that the first loop was almost complete.)

I was coming up on the last red buoy, and time to get out of the water, run across the sand and go back into the water for loop 2.

As I emerged from the water, I took off my goggles and rubbed my head… plopped them back on, looked at my Garmin (35 minutes, pace 1:50/100m)—and dove back into the fray.

Loop two seemed a little calmer, but honestly not that much better. Still, I headed back to the cable.
Because now my head was hurting and I didn’t want to sight. I was swimming with my arms high and wide, like protective barriers for my head. The turn buoys were insane, but I kept myself right in the mix, and swam strong and with confidence, and hoping everyone left my damn head alone.

The last 800 meters was fairly uneventful, with the exception of the scuba diver who caught me by surprise. Boo!

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Out of the water in 1:13— a seven minute PR from my 2013 Coeur d’Alene swim. Unexpected and happy with that.

And into T1

I was wetsuit stripped and hauled butt into Transition. Quite a little jaunt from the lake to T1, but the ground was carpeted and it was fine. I moved forward with a purpose.

I was looking around for the Expert, and didn’t see or hear him on the long swim exit. I figured I had missed him, and resigned myself to the fact that maybe I’d catch him on bike out.

Just as I entered T1, I heard, “Mere! HEY!!!!” I looked over, and I swear to you, it looked like the Expert had jumped up on the T1 fence and was hanging on like a spider monkey. “Hey!” I said laughing, “1:13!” and I kept going.

Grabbed my T1 bag and into the women’s changing tent. I moved to a far chair and dumped out the contents of my bag onto the ground. I changed my tri shorts into cycling shorts and dumped a ton of Aquaphor on the Queen. A lovely volunteer came to assist, and all she did was put things back into my transition bag—which was awesome.

I like to do my own thing in transition and sometimes overly helpful volunteers mess up my brain and I lose track of where I am. [Please know that it’s not a knock on the volunteers—these LP volunteers were fantastic—it’s just how I am. I have an idea of what I need at the moment and when I am thinking Okay, I need socks and someone is shouting, “Do you need your helmet?” I lose track and forget where I am. It’s more of me being kind of dumb than anything.] Anyway, so this volunteer was fantastic and packed up my stuff as I threw it down, and I was out of transition in 8:30—which included the run from the swim.

[A note on the volunteers… holy cow, what amazing volunteers this race. I can’t believe how wonderful everyone was. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.]

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As I was running to get my bike, I realized that my chamois shorts were way crooked, so I was running and digging at my shorts in the crotch. Such a lady. But what can you do when you put on your pants crooked?

So a pretty quick T1, and I pleased with that. The day was off to a decent start, with the exception of the grinding, dull ache in my head that was growing…

The Bike

Summary: Two loops of 56 miles of lots of climbing. Not for the faint of heart or the weak of quads.

SBM Team Member, Sarah, had taken me on a tour of the course on Friday. One thing she pointed out was the crazy exit on “Bike Out”—a curvy “S” after the mount line. I was thankful for this, because instead of trying to mount the bike and navigate two sharp turns, I walked my bike down the first little decline, and mounted there. It saved me the worry of a low-speed tipover at that moment. One Appreciated.

Before I knew it, the bike was here. I didn’t think it would be an overly warm day, so I hadn’t really over-hydrated or salted much. I packed three bottles of 400 calories of Tailwind for the first loop (56 miles = 1200 calories), and figured that would suffice.

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Right out of the gate, the bike course starts to climb. I was getting obliterated by the “ON YOUR LEFT” cyclists—the dudes that have slower-than-me swims, but are absolutely murderous on the bike and run. I felt like I was at my first ever triathlon, the number of bikes that were passing me, and at the speeds they were. But it was my race, and I had to race my pace—which included going easy on the first loop, so I had energy for a second loop AND a marathon.

About five miles into the bike, I really began to notice my head hurting. After the steady climbing started, the pounding was almost unbearable. I did not want to take any anti-inflammatories on the course, but I carried them, just in case. I asked myself the question, “How bad do you need this Aleve?” And then I reached into my bike bag, and swallowed two. Boom boom boom went my head.

I think the first part of the course—the five miles of climbing heading out of Lake Placid before the Keene descent—is probably the first most underestimated part of the ride. The second most underestimated part is at the end of the loop–before the Three Bears–there is an 8 or so mile stretch that is just brutally and falsely flat coupled with headwinds. Ouch. (Anyway, more on that later).

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So yes, the stretch of climbing out of town, while not steep, was an ass-kicker. Which is well rewarded by the crazy 5 mile descent into the town of Keene.

Everyone talks crazy about this descent. Rightly so. And I think I might have been really petrified of it if I hadn’t ridden in North Georgia and the Gaps with Coach Brett (in the rain). The descent from Woody Gap in Georgia is more treacherous than the descent into Keene—but both are gnarly. Both are not for the faint of cycling heart. So for my Southern peeps wanting to do Lake Placid, go ride Woody Gap in preparation, and the Keene descent will feel better on race day. Also, Coach Brett recommended that I drive the Placid bike course the day before race day—not ride parts of it. And I am glad for this as well. I didn’t unnecessarily waste energy riding—but was able to see the course and it was clear in my mind for race day. ]

So the descent into Keene. Yes. It was fast and furious and delivered on its promise. I heeded the advice of those before me (Sarah, Coach Brett, Moira) and: feathered the brakes, held my line, stayed focused, and rode smart—hit about 33 MPH on loop one, and 43 MPH (more confident) on loop two. Turned out to be quite fun.

As I turned left heading into Jay, I was averaging a lovely 17.7MPH, even with the first part of the climbs. I wanted to maintain 15 MPH on the course, so this was some speed in the bank.

The next 20 miles or so was relatively flat. A good time to enjoy the scenery, eat and hydrate. I was sub-par on the eating and hydrating part, because my head hurt and it was making me queasy. I should have sucked down an extra Huma Gel or two, and grabbed some extra water at the aid station. The day was getting warmer, but I wasn’t really noticing it. All I could think about was my head.

After the turnaround, I headed out another 8 or so miles before turning a hard right.

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Then came the next portion of climbs. (Thirty miles worth, really).

Mental note from the car ride the day before: Near the blue house and at the hard right, it’s time to seriously climb. (Be in the low gear. Seriously).

I saw the riders beginning to turn and I saw the blue house… click click click into the gear, turn right, and time to go up up up.

About halfway though the first climb, the vision in my right eye sort of went lights out on me. I got fuzzy in the eyes, and then it just sort of went away. Well, that is alarming. I pedaled onward. At the next aid station, I’ll ask for medical.

The next aid station was on a hill, so I didn’t want to stop on a hill. [Really rational thinking here, I know.] SO I promised myself I would stop at the next aid station. We turned right and did a short 2 mile out and back, and I stopped at that aid station. Someone was throwing up in the bushes, and they were phoning medical to pick them up. Do I really want to be picked up? I can sort of see out of this eye. I chugged some water and got back on the bike. I will stop after Loop One.

Everyone talks about “the Three Bears” on the course… a series of three climbs that starts with Mama Bear, then rolls into Baby Bear, and finishes with Papa Bear—the biggest climb. None of these are that steep or terribly tragic, but they were noticeable. Even more noticeable were the preceding miles, though. I was glad to see Mama and Papa Bear after the miles of headwinds and steady, relentless climbing grade. At least it was a change of scenery. Wow.

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I tried to enjoy the sights on the tough remaining miles of Loop One, but my right eye was still sort of “out”—so I had to turn my head really far to see the streams and mountains to the right…so I just tried to enjoy the blue sky and mountains ahead.

Lots of the spectators gather on Mama and Papa Bear and cheer you up Papa Bear like you’re on the Tour de France. [I pretended that I was, and felt awesome!]

Headed into bike special needs and saw the Expert, Precious and Julie. Sarah met me with my bag, along with Cathie, and I was out of Special Needs in a jiffy, and back out for the second loop. I forgot about my head pounding in those moments, and it appeared that my vision had returned… so I was right back on the course, with Loop One of about 3:45.

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I was behind schedule. That’s okay, you wanted to ride the first loop slower. Time to pick it up.

When I started the second round of climbing, the head would pound with every pedal stroke. However, I could see out of my right eye again, so I wasn’t as concerned. I didn’t understand why two Aleve wasn’t touching the pain, though.

After those five miles of climbing it became very apparent to me that my second loop was not going to be faster afterall. I watched my average pace slowly drop, and there wasn’t really anything I could do about it. So I pushed onward and gritted my teeth through the massive headache, which was being greatly exacerbated by the rising heat. I spun up up up and flew down the descents, and tried to remain positive.

At the swim start, Mike Reilly said, “You cannot control a lot of things today, but you can control one thing—yourself.” So I kept controlling myself. But ignoring the part of me I couldn’t control—the pounding head.

I felt okay, overall, despite the queasy feeling and the head. I managed to suck down all my calories and drink some water at the aid stations. When I passed the Mile 90 sign, I was struggling mentally, knowing the last 20 miles were the most furious.

At this point, I continuously talked to myself. Simple is clean, clean is fast (An Andy Potts quote from my favorite LifeProof video… and all the Expert repeated to me at the swim start). You are stronger than you know. Tomorrow you can have ice cream.

But eventually the words turned dark.

And I pulled over and hopped off the bike once when I realized I was climbing and repeating the “F” word to the rhythm of my pedal strokes.

You gotta stop that sh*t, Mere. So I got off the bike until the F-bomb cursing stopped (about 3 minutes), and then pedaled onward.

One guy rolled by me right at the Mile 100 sign.  He smiled and shouted, “Hey we’re almost there!  In 12 miles we can FINALLY run!”

(And he was serious.)

He rode off quickly, and I almost chased him down and pushed him off the mountain. (I jest.)

Anyway… I was hopeful about the run, but not “excited” like that crazy human.

I WAS thrilled to see the Three Bears and I victoriously pulled my butt out of the saddle on the last climb back into town. Glad to get off the bike.

14.22 MPH average on the entire bike course. I was strangely disappointed because I had set an arbitrary goal of 15 MPH, despite never having ridden the Placid course. So I set myself up for idiocy from the get-go. It was actually a fantastic pace for the climbing, afterall. My mind wandered a tad, but I had all the time in the world for the marathon, so that was great.

It was a tough ride, and honestly, that’s not a bad pace considering.

Strava says my suffer score on the bike was “103” and “Tough.” Ya think?

Into T2

At this point, I thought my head would explode. The pain was the most intense headache I have ever had. And guess what? I had a marathon left! Freaking party.

Then the haunting words in my head: “You cannot control a lot of things today, but you can control one thing—yourself.”

You gotta get your head back in the game, Mere.

I saw my friend and TriEqual founding member, Kelly, in the women’s change. She came right over to me as I dumped out my bag.

I told her, “I am done. I quit.”

“The %&$ you are,” she said.

“Yes, yes I am.”

“The %&$ you are,” she repeated.

I stared at her. This was not going to go my way.

I changed into my tri shorts. I fumbled with my race belt. I muttered. I cursed. I didn’t understand why my head hurt so damn bad.

At that point, I looked at my feet. You have got to be effing kidding me. The pads of both of my feet, my big toes, and the last three toes on each foot were stark white.

Blisters. I had full-foot blisters before I even started the run??? Holy guacamole.

I changed my socks, lubed up my feet and hoped for the best. (Note to self: never these socks again. Never skip drying feet and body thoroughly on iron distance. Never never never. Also climbing will cause much more friction. Must figure feet out.)

Kelly helped me fill up my bottles, gave me a “get your act together now, woman” pep talked—and she shoved me out into the sun and the heat of the day…and on to the run. [Thank you, Kelly! ]

The “Run”

Summary: Two loops of reasonably hilly 13.1 miles. Also, not for the faint of heart or the weak of quads.

The Expert was waiting for me at the exit to transition. He was smiling. I was all business.

“Text Coach Brett and tell him that I have had a headache since the second loop of the swim. I got knocked in the head a few times. Oh, and that I haven’t peed once. And my feet are raw. Ask him what I need to do… more water? More salt? More Aleve?” [Though I had a good idea myself, I wanted my Coach to tell me things.]

Then I said something that is absolutely laughable in hindsight: “I’ll be back in 13 miles.” He looked at me.

I said, “I don’t feel well. But I’m going. I love you.”

I don’t know if he even said anything to me (I’m sure he did), but as I went out and started running, I looked back and he had his nose in his phone. I knew he was texting Brett.

I began to run, and I felt good. My legs and body were like, “Yeah! Running!” That felt fantastic. My head did not. And my feet… oh, the humanity. The skin on the bottoms of both feet was moving with every step. My skin was literally sloshing. &$%^.

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The run out of town was filled with people cheering and I loved it! My pace was fabulous at an 11:30-12:00 mile. I felt amazing to be running. MENTALLY, I felt amazing.

Twenty-six point two miles. Twenty-six point two miles. Twenty-six point two miles. Twenty-six point two miles. Twenty-six point two miles. Twenty-six point two miles. Twenty-six point two miles. Twenty-six point two miles. Twenty-six point two miles. Twenty-six point two miles. Twenty-six point two miles. I repeated with every step.

By the time I reached the Mile 2 aid station, my head was a new level of torture, and my vision started wavering again.  My pace was fine, but I really didn’t feel well. The head. The feet. Not well. At all. I wrapped my mini-sport towel in ice. I chugged three cups of Gatorade, took a Base Salt from the next tent, chugged an entire bottle of their water, and ate a cookie.

At that point, in my heart, even though I had more than seven hours to make the cutoff, I knew the race was going to go one of two ways: DNF or DNF.

DNF #1: “Did Not Finish” due to quitting.

DNF #2: “Did Not F-Up” – e.g., I kept moving and didn’t give up, despite all the craptastic elements swirling around me.

The head was bad, but honestly, my feet were in far more terrible shape. I knew that I was going to tear those blisters slap open if I kept pounding them on the run.

I don’t want to walk. I repeated to myself. Another voice said, “If you don’t walk, you are going to risk tearing your feet open. Then you’ll definitely be done.”

I slowed my pace, released the running muscles… and I began to walk.

Immediately, that eased the pain in the feet and the “skin slosh” significantly. I looked at my Garmin, and said to myself (in a sentence eerily similar to my race in Coeur d’Alene), “You must maintain a 16:00 minute mile pace and then you can walk this race right in to Mike Reilly.”

Got it. I got this. No big deal.

But to be very honest, at that point my day went very dark. Not because my head hurt (hell, it did!), not because my feet hurt (yep), but because my reality became so abundantly clear. I was walking for the next 24.2 miles. And walking a marathon takes a very, very long time. And it wasn’t part of my plan.

Frankly, I was mad. Because I had a run inside of me. I had a solid run inside of my head and heart (and legs). But I had a solid death march walk to bring to the table due to my feet.

And it pissed me off. And there was nothing I could do about it if I wanted to finish.

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So at that point, around Mile 3.5, I had a rough talk with myself. It went something like this:

“Can you run without tearing your feet?”
Answer: No

“Are you doing your very best right now, in light of this information?”
Answer: Yes

“Can you walk 22 more miles?”
Answer: Yes. (But I don’t effing want to.)

“I know you don’t want to. But can you?”
Answer: Yes, but I don’t effing want to.

“Yes, we have established you don’t want to. Irrelevant. What do you need to ensure that you are ready to walk the next 22 miles?”
Answer: Cocaine.

“No, drug addiction is not an option. Try again.”
Answer: I need to hydrate the living hell out of myself, and eat the party buffet that is spread before me at the aid stations to get me through the next seven hours. Oh, and mind tricks and a song.

“Exactly. Your mind tricks are counting the people passing you and figuring out what city they have come from. And your fight song is literally, ‘Fight Song.’ How is that?”
Answer: No, I can’t sing ‘Fight Song’ for the next 22 miles. Pick another. Oh, that dude right there is totally from Austin.

“How about ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’ by Billy Joel?”
Answer: You have to be kidding me…

“Okay. Go with Rhianna ‘Diamonds’ and Maroon 5, ‘Maps.”
Answer: It’s a start…. Okay, I’m done talking for now.

“Just keep moving forward.”
Answer: Don’t say that to me.

And that was how my hilly little walking marathon got started. I watched my Garmin, and I played mind games. All the way back to town. I smiled a lot. I encouraged the runners. I encouraged the walkers. I high-fived every kid that would play along.

Around Mile 9, Kelly appeared with her BF, Ryan, and my spirits lifted a little higher. Then the Expert appeared, and I was glad to see him. I was doing okay at that point, and trying not to think of the long miles remaining.

Heading back into town, I heard my name (or Swim Bike Mom!) shouted repeatedly, giving me a massive boost.

Loved seeing everyone and appreciated the encouraging “you look great” comments to my power walking. At this point, ugh, I wanted to run so badly—intensely frustrating. But one thing I knew? I had to run my own race. And at that point, my race was a walking marathon to save those feet for the finish.

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I couldn’t get caught up in the hype and energy and start pounding the feet.

I walked, I smiled, and I smiled some more. I was brave. I was thankful.

I knew I would see the Expert heading down Subway Hill around Mile 13.5.

[Sidebar… what sherpas do when you are out racing 140.6 miles.]

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Interestingly the Miles from 10 to 13.5 turned a little rough(er) for me.

At run special needs, I didn’t see anything in my bag that I needed (or wanted). Who packed this sh*t!?  Oh, I did. What a dumbass.

I balled up an extra pair of socks, and stuffed them in my back pocket. I took my headlight and clipped it to my visor, since it was bloody apparent I was going to be needing it afterall.

I did not change socks at that point, because I knew if I laid eyes on my feet, it would wig me out. I didn’t want to see the damage. So I kept going in the socks.

At this point, I still had not gone to the bathroom–the entire race. I was taking water and Gatorade (and fruit or cookie or pretzel) at each aid station, but nothing. I was sweating like a crazy person, and my heartrate remained very elevated.

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But guess what? Ah-ha!!!  Finally, the headache was finally gone! WOW! I felt like a million bucks.

But then I didn’t.

I saw the Expert heading back out on Loop 2. And I told him, “I want to quit.”

He said, “No.”

I said, “I do. But I am going to keep going. And I may quit in a little bit.”

He said, “No.”

I said, “Whatever.”

“The next time I will see you will be at the Finish, you know? You have 5 hours,” he said.

“I do not have five hours.”

“Yes you do.”

I snapped my Garmin watch face at him, and said, “This is my race time. I have exactly 4 hours and ten minutes.”

“Oh. Okay. Well, you have four hours and ten minutes to walk 13 miles. Get walking.”

“Fine.” I said. “I love you.”

At that point, I really did want to quit. I didn’t want to walk for four hours and ten more minutes. I was tired and my feet hurt and I wanted to eat some real food. The intense pressure in my head was gone, but it almost left a weird void of indifference—like I really didn’t care about the finish at all.

_7c

SO I had another conversation with myself. And it went like this:

“You can quit if you can come up with a really good reason you can write on your blog.”
Answer: I have extreme blisters.

“You are going to tell everyone that you quit because of blisters?”
Answer: I can show them pictures.

“Blisters? I quit Lake Placid because my feet hurt? Waaaaaa…..”
Answer: Shut up.

“You need another reason. And guess what? You. Don’t. Have. Another. Valid. Reason.”
Answer: I am hurting. I am really hurting.

“Guess what, sissy? So is everyone else.”
Answer: I hate you.

“Just keep moving forward.”
Answer: I hate you.

So on I went. Step by blistery step. I kept going and watching as people ran by me—for hours and hours.

The sun began to go down, and relief from the heat happened, and my heartrate had finally settled down and I was finally balanced and hydrated. I felt really good, actually, with the exception of the feet, around Mile 18.

Eight miles to go. Three hours to do it. You got this.

Around this time, my pace dropped significantly. I was trying to keep up the 15:00 overall average I had maintained at that point, but it was slowing.

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I’ve noticed in most races, that I usually find a walking buddy or friends for times when it’s dark on the course. I had very little real interaction with other racers this time. I don’t know why. I saw my friends, Don and Cristina, Cheryl, and a few others, but they were trucking—and I was not, so the interactions were so brief.

In Coeur d’Alene and Beach to Battleship, I walked with a some folks for several miles. Spent time with others for long stretches. But this time, I was really alone out there.

_6uu

And with six miles left, I started sobbing.

I felt so alone. I felt the weight of all and any of my life’s mistakes and regrets pound me in the skull and it was overwhelming. I had been in my own head, alone and suffering, for fifteen hours, and I was really, really weary.

I missed my children. Bad. I wanted nothing more in that moment to have James and Stella and kiss their faces. I moved forward, thinking, “I have to make them proud.”

I still had time, but it was ticking. I was getting nervous and tired doing the math, thinking, “Am I really going to make this? Am I going to go 26.2 miles and actually, miss this cutoff?”

I didn’t know. And at Mile 21, my Garmin screamed at me: LOW BATTERY.

Noooooooooooooooooooooo.

My pace calculator and accountability partner (and apparently, my imaginary friend in the theme of “Wilson” from Tom Hank’s movie, Castaway) was about to leave!! I made a mental note of the pace I was walking and ingrained it in my head to go this fast, and I waited as the Garmin slowly died on me.

Mile 23. With a 5k remaining, a Swim Bike Mom friend (I can’t recall her name… so sorry) came up to me, and told me that I was inspiring…at that point, I started bawling and telling her that I wasn’t going to make it. She told me I was, and I said, “Please do the math for me. I can’t do the math.”

She did the math. And I would make it. I just had to walk. And go. And not stop.

“I am sorry I am crying,” I said.

“I’ll never tell,” she said.

It was emotional.

Then a ghost appeared at Mile 24, and said, “Pick your head up. You’re almost there. Go.”

SBM Team Member Anne also appeared in her crazy outfit and prodded me from the sidewalk. I climbed up Subway Hill and back into town, hearing Mike Reilly welcoming in all the Ironmen.

Two Miles to go.

IMG_3470

I saw the Expert, Precious and Julie again—they were cheering, I burst into tears again. “You can do it! You’re almost there.”

I didn’t know how much time I had. The Garmin had fizzled, and I knew I didn’t have much. Team member, Sarah, then walked on the sidewalk with Anne, screaming at me and making me laugh, then cry.

At that point, I literally screamed out in pain, in front of Anne and Sarah. My left foot had ripped open.

There it is! I started crying again. (Ridiculous amounts of crying this race, I know.) But I was so relieved that I had walked and waited on that… and it held out until the bitter end.  But damn, it was excruciating.

I limped down all the way to the turn around. A volunteer said, “Alright sister. You have one mile.”

I said, “One mile? Are you sure?”

He said, “Absolutely.”

I said, “I can run one mile.”

IMG_3472

And I started running. The pain in the feet brought stars to my eyes, and with a half mile to go, my other foot ripped open underneath the toes. And I didn’t care. Anne and Sarah, in flip flops, shouted at me, “Go get the finish!”

I couldn’t wait to get off my feet. I ran. I think I couldn’t have been going any faster than a 13:00 mile. But I could hear Mike. I could see the lights.

I realized in that moment that I had run two miles–and then walked 24.2 miles without stopping. Without bending over once to stretch. Without stopping at a porta-potty. Without standing still at an aid station. I had literally moved forward the entire time.

And there it was… the little arrows and an Ironman “to the finish” sign.

I looped right, and I was in the long Olympic oval heading towards the finish.

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I burst into tears (a theme here, a theme), and I looped around, and headed left. I could see Mike Reilly, and I ran right up to him.

He took my hands in celebration, and I planted a smooch right on his cheek.

_3c

_3d

_3e


I threw my hands in the air. I crossed the finish line, wiping the tears from my eyes.

It was done. And it was eerily completed in 16:44… the exact same finish time as my first Ironman in Coeur d’Alene in 2013. A totally different race. Different conditions. Different “me”. Bizarre.

More crying…

_3f

How does it compare to Coeur d’ Alene?

I have already received tons of messages asking this question. I think somebody much smarter and more accustomed to the use of pie charts and graphs would be better to analyze. But I’ll give it a shot.
Both are scenic and fantastic. The towns are wonderful and the volunteers amazing. [THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to all the volunteers. I cannot say it enough.]

However, I will throw my hat into the ring and say that I think Lake Placid is a tougher course. The swims are very comparable, but I think the Placid swim is technically “easier” because of the cable and the lack of frigid water; however, the lake is smaller so the underwater boxing match was rougher than CDA. I definitely like the CDA swim more for that matter.

_11

CDA and Placid are both bike course monsters—CDA doesn’t really have anything super steep, whereas Placid throws in the steeper wrenches at the end of both loops. Both nasty and tough for their own reasons.

The Placid run course is far hillier, so it is tougher for that reason.

_2t
Placid wins for an epic finish line. CDA’s finish is fantastic, but the Olympic oval was breathtaking.

The Aftermath

Three days later, I still can’t walk well on the feet… but my body feels great. A testament to the shape I was in for the race, but wasn’t fully able to utilize on the run course. Wait a minute… How wrong I am!!

_8d

I am so grateful for this race. I am not going to qualify anything.

I am GRATEFUL for a THIRD 140.6 finish. Yes!

How crazy is that? From someone who couldn’t run a mile five years ago… to this. It’s crazy land when I think about it.

_3

So I should not discredit a second of the hard work and qualify “if only this, then that…” It would be very easy to do… because on the face of the race finish times from CDA in 2013 to Placid this year—there’s not improvement. But that’s such garbage.

In truth, I had an amazing day, full of emotion and perseverance. Each second was calculated and none wasted. Had I not been in the shape and lost the weight I had, there is NO WAY I would have finished the race. Had I not moved forward each moment with purpose, I would have missed the cutoff.

Even through a long, emotional death march, I would have never made it off the bike and into the run had I not prepared the way I had. So for that, I am thankful.

_3a

I am THANKFUL for the finish. I earned every last step and mile of that course.

I am ever so thankful to Coach Brett Daniels with PTS Sports. Thank you.

For my family and the Expert. Wow… there are really no words. Thank you for putting up with me and supporting me through all of these Ironman dreams… I know it’s not easy. And I thank you.

_11c

For the entire SBM Army, for being behind me and telling me to move forward all day!

Today, I remain in awe of the sport. I remain in awe of the caliber of athletes on that course—amazing athletes everywhere. Amazing heart.

_10

I am ready to heal these feet, and get back in the saddle in time for Ironman Louisville, in a mere 72 days.

Lake Placid was a warm-up. I will live to see another race and learn more with each one. In my mind, I’m just getting started. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Love to you all.

_10a

PS – I did go to Medical for an hour after the race to have everything checked.  My fear was that I had suffered a concussion. They monitored me, wrapped up my feeties, and graciously wheeled me to the car. I appeared to check out…

Thankful for those volunteers as well. <3

 

83 Comments

  • Jillian

    July 29, 2015 at 3:43 pm

    …and now I am crying. You are so amazing and strong! What a sufferfest you persevered through. So proud to be part of the army. xoxo

    Reply
  • Beth E.

    July 29, 2015 at 3:46 pm

    Picture a moving graphic of hands clapping here. Way to go, Meredith. I followed you all day and guessed something was going on. Way to persevere! Now get some rest and heal those feet!

    Reply
  • Rene'

    July 29, 2015 at 4:05 pm

    This was such a great post…. I have a sprint this weekend and the bike course is tough. You just inspired me to get over myself. You truly are AMAZING! Thank you for sharing your journey.

    Reply
  • Diane

    July 29, 2015 at 4:11 pm

    Congratulations on your Ironman finish! You are an inspiration! Thank you for sharing your story, the good and the rough moments. Your children definitely are learning about dedication and perseverance through your example. They will be strong in all they do because of you.

    Reply
  • Angie Flynn

    July 29, 2015 at 4:17 pm

    OMG! I have tears streaming down my face as I read this most excellent race report! What a crazy, incredible day! MOST people would have quit – MOST people would have said “F__K this” when they saw the blisters and were blinded by the headache. But not you, YOU were REMARKABLE! What courage you displayed out there! And you were smart too! How easy would it be to let ego rule the day and then truly be one of those people who are crawling through the streets because the physically CAN’T go one more step?

    So proud to be a soldier in your Army. Congratulations again, Meredith! Rest up and get back after it. IMLOU waits for no one!

    Reply
  • Melody

    July 29, 2015 at 4:28 pm

    Congratulations on your finish!! Under those conditions, just finishing is freaking amazing in my books. Your inner strength is amazing, not to mention an incredible inspiration for the rest of us! You, Swim Bike Mom, are a major badass triathlete!!
    I did my first Try-A-Tri this year, followed by my first Sprint a few weeks later, and have a half marathon scheduled in September. I have been waffling the last few weeks on whether I think I can step up and do an Oly next year. You have just shown me that there are NO excuses! Thank you! I will put the Oly on my calendar for next summer! 🙂

    Reply
  • Kerry

    July 29, 2015 at 4:37 pm

    I am amazed and humbled. I have close friends who are IM competitors, I read your blog and others like it religiously – and yet I STILL have trouble wrapping my head around what it takes to complete one. Let alone complete one with the injuries that you were suffering. I hope that I can remember this when I’m doing my sprint in a few weeks and want to call it quits on the run.

    The day I can successfully beat back the NEGATIVE I know that I will be able to do anything.

    Congratulations on another well earned Ironman.

    Reply
  • Meagan

    July 29, 2015 at 4:46 pm

    WOW! You are a constant reminder that I can do anything I set my mind to (as I sit here eating some animal crackers and a marshmallow). As others have commented I too cried reading this. Thank you for being an inspiration! And happy healing!

    Reply
  • Ed C.

    July 29, 2015 at 4:53 pm

    Absolutely amazing race report!. I was glad to see that I am not the only one who cries at the start! It is the overwellming realization of all the time and effort spent training. Well done and thanks for sharing.
    PS: it is amazing that you will do this again in 72 days, That is studly!

    Reply
  • Maria

    July 29, 2015 at 4:53 pm

    I loved watching you cross the finish line that night. I was supposed to be there, but have an injury. When you crossed, it was like you did it for me. THANK YOU!! Can’t wait to do it for myself next year in Boulder.

    Reply
  • Mary

    July 29, 2015 at 5:07 pm

    This race report should come with a “do not read at work because you will cry” warning!

    Congratulations on your very hard-earned finish. Now heal up and go kick some serious ass in the Bluegrass!

    Reply
  • Amy

    July 29, 2015 at 5:07 pm

    So awesome! Congrats on another Ironman. And for not stopping. Forward motion is the simplest thing but the very hardest thing sometimes, especially when you are in the “dark”. Great job!

    Reply
  • Heather

    July 29, 2015 at 5:24 pm

    Amazing! Thank you for sharing everything you went through. Not only are you physically strong you are a beast mentally to have gotten through that race. So inspiring and the embodiment of ‘just keep moving forward’.

    Reply
  • Linda Nollette

    July 29, 2015 at 5:26 pm

    You made me cry – I so recognized myself in your story!! Amazing job. I remember running (walking!) in CdA watching the blood rise through the top of my shoes from the toenails I was losing. Sometimes I wonder….why do we do this?’ But….I know. It’s a good thing. And a much better addition than it could be…!!!

    Reply
  • Sue

    July 29, 2015 at 5:47 pm

    You are truly an inspiration. I am currently training for my third sprint and my 5th half and have had moments of wanting to quit. The next time I think about quitting I will remember your mind games and your conversations and “Keep Moving Forward”!

    Reply
  • Rick Bulger

    July 29, 2015 at 5:59 pm

    i loved reading your story, and gaining insight into the mind and heart of a regular Ironman, like I hope to be one day. Historically a runner, I’ve recently become addicted to the quest for Iron. I volunteered at IMLP this past weekend, and was at the swim start at 6:30 and finish line from 7-midnight. I watched every finisher cross the line in that time frame and saw you with tears in your eyes kiss Mike Reilly and finish your race. You are the only person I saw kiss Mike, so I know it was you I saw. Watching so many people realize their dreams was so inspiring. Reading your story and seeing all the pain and doubt over the course of 140.6 makes me want it more. Thanks for your detailed story. It’s cool to know all that went on for almost 17 hours, and all I saw was your victory. Well done!!!

    Reply
  • Suzanne

    July 29, 2015 at 6:02 pm

    Congratulations! Love reading your report. I watched as you ran across the finish. I’d never have known that you ran just 2 of the 26.2 miles. You are a badass.

    I think you had a migraine. Classic aura & pain. Probably due to the hits to the head, the heat, and the intense physical stress.

    Reply
  • Lindsay

    July 29, 2015 at 6:53 pm

    I saw you in the T1 chute – 4 minutes faster than my speedy coach (who is one of those slow swimmer/fast biker dudes, and ALSO had to walk 20 miles of the marathon due to a knee injury. He collapsed at the Finish line and it was heartbreaking), then again at Bike Special Needs looking super strong with a solid time – no idea you were hurting so much! Then again when you came in from the second loop – you could tell you were tired – 114 miles in, duh…then I saw you for a final time on the course as you started your run, smiling and looking speedy and strong. I started looking for you at the finish at the 15 hour mark – expecting a similar time to your B2B race…then it was about 15:45 and I though “she’ll be an hour faster than CDA.” Around the 16 hour mark I stopped catching other ahletes because I didn’t want to miss you. At 16:30 I started to worry, and at 16:40 I was convinced you had already finished and I had completely missed you. I asked the timing people and they said you were coming into the oval shortly. I couldn’t believe it, and I knew from following your blog that something had happened. I knew you had adjusted your nutrition and lost weight and were 100% prepared for this distance and course and that something bad must have happened.

    Thank you for letting me catch you at the finish and put your medal around your neck. You know that you inspire me in everything you do, and it was truly a moment I will always remember. I wish that you had had a chance to get the run in that you are more than capable of, and didn’t have the pounding headache throughout the race that prevented you from taking in the breathtaking beauty that is the setting for that race. You had a tremendously difficult race due to things outside your control and your grit and determination is what carried you to the second most spectacular finish line in the world. You are truly a role model for us all. This shit is HARD! Sometimes it’s easy and fun, but sometimes it is EFFING HARD and so many people quit when it gets hard. You taught me not to quit and you are still teaching me not to quit.

    I signed up for the race next year and have made a commitment to myself to lose weight, because I am NOT dragging this bum up those dang hills! thank you for once again showing me that it can be done, as long as you don’t quit, it can be done…I’ll just do what you did and keep moving forward. Thank you Meredith, and congratulations!

    Reply
  • ECS

    July 29, 2015 at 6:59 pm

    You crushed it!!! I had tears while reading your blog. You did not let your mind beat your body during the run part. You are an inspirtation to many all over the world! You ROCK! and THANK YOU for sharing your story with us!

    Reply
  • Mo

    July 29, 2015 at 7:12 pm

    Wow, Tears here! Tears of happiness, tears of joy, tears of pain! You are AMAZING! So proud of you and to call you my friend! I’m in the midst of my IM training and keep trying to visualize my race, my finish, those amazing words, but until that day comes, I have no control of anything but me! Thanks for sharing all the deep dark moments too!

    Reply
  • Heather

    July 29, 2015 at 7:14 pm

    inspiring….so much so that I’m going to train for a 70.3, for 2016 and hopefully a 140.6 by 2017 or 2018. thank you!!!!!!

    Reply
  • Lane hammack

    July 29, 2015 at 7:38 pm

    Incredible. Every part of it. Thank you for sharing. Saying Congratulations isn’t enough… But CONGRATULATIONS!!!!

    Reply
  • Kim Fox @ Swimmykimy

    July 29, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    WAY TO GO!!! I was out there spectating on Mirror Lake Drive (under the Boston Tri Team tent) and gave you a massive high five on the first loop 🙂 You looked all smiles then, I had no idea you were having such a rough race! Placid is SO tough, but you rocked it girl! That heat was unrelenting. Did you hear about what happened to the woman’s leader? She went unconscious and was rushed to the hospital right before the oval. I am so sorry you had a tough day, but at least you didn’t end up going to the hospital!!! Congrats again on a great race, you truly won the mental battle which is much harder than the physical one!

    Reply
  • Julie G.

    July 29, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    Oh Meredith, Congratulations! I stalked your race a few times through the day and watched your finish on the live stream! It is so cool to now read the race report to see what was happening throughout the race. Strength, perseverance, determination, patience…..you truly embodied all of those things! I loved a few things about your journey: 1) The conversations in your head with yourself and 2) That you raced YOUR race. What a brilliant decision to walk so that you would be able to finish instead of running when a big part of you could have.

    I don’t think we give as much credit to the mental side of triathlon, as in, we are constantly evaluating, making decisions, thinking of the next step, etc. We always talk about the mental part as in the struggle to keep going when we want to quit (which is valid), but there’s a whole other side of using your head in this sport! You dominated that in this race! Way to overcome!

    Reply
  • sarah

    July 29, 2015 at 8:27 pm

    I’m so proud of you! I am crying reading this! amazing job! you are such an inspiration. I did my first tri because of you. and after reading this, I am determined to do an Ironman. thank you Meredith!

    Reply
  • Ineke

    July 29, 2015 at 8:28 pm

    Congratulations Meredith! Tears here also. Know that your story and the inspiration you provide to others travels far and wide – I’m in Australia and training for my first 70.3 in Mandurah in November. When the negative self talk creeps in I’m going to remind myself of you and Keep Moving Forward… ❤

    Reply
  • christina

    July 29, 2015 at 8:33 pm

    straight up amazing – you are so much stronger than you give yourself credit for! Both physically and mentally.

    And your legs are looking awesome! 🙂

    Reply
  • Linda Kingsbury

    July 29, 2015 at 10:00 pm

    Meredith- the whole army was cheering you on and you led us to the finish line! Victory, perseverance and inspirational!!! I cried watching the live feed and you inspire us all through your post race review and you did it!!! You look pretty awesome in all the pics!!! Rest your feet and be good to yourself! Thank you for sharing as we felt we were with you…

    Reply
  • Larissa

    July 29, 2015 at 10:13 pm

    Just awesome. I just found your blog (I know, where have I been ?!?) and am so encouraged and inspired by your journey. Thank you so much for sharing it.

    Reply
  • Alicia Amaro

    July 29, 2015 at 10:48 pm

    I’ve read this race report twice already – so brutally honest & inspiring! I love reading the conversations with yourself, the time spent in your head. Reminds me of something a teammate once said – “Don’t spend so much time in your head, it’s a bad neighborhood”. After crossing the finish line at IM Canada last year I looked at my friend and told her, “Slap me if I ever talk about doing another Ironman”. Didn’t take long to start thinking about the next race but I said I would give myself a couple years before signing up for a full IM. As I was finishing the run at IM Vineman 70.3 this year I thought, “Ok, this is enough – forget a full!” Following your journey and reading other race reports I started looking at different races, even texting my husband 2 days ago with “How about IM Maryland in 2017?” His response – “I’ll go wherever you go”. Best partner and sherpa ever! Seriously considering Lake Placid, even more so after reading your take on it. I know it will be a challenge but that’s ok and it will be a great way to celebrate my 60th year of life. Thanks Meredith for opening up yourself to us and reinforcing that anything impossible. Congratulations on another journey across the finish line. Now on to Louisville!

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  • Suzie Luthe

    July 29, 2015 at 11:05 pm

    Simply AMAZING!! Thank you for being so honest and true. You are a true inspiration and I admire your will and determination!! Please don’t ever stop believing in yourself!

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  • Ana

    July 30, 2015 at 7:56 am

    Meredith, you are amazing!!! I totally understand the frustration you felt at having to walk the run leg, and I can only imagine the pain you worked through. But you know what? You worked through it. You didn’t quit. And you are all the more magnificent and inspirational for it! Congratulations!!!

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  • Michele whaley

    July 30, 2015 at 8:39 am

    Wow is all I can say! What an incredible testimony to perseverence and heart! You are an inspiration and I am grateful to be part of your army of women who are writing their own stories of courage and grace!

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  • Maria A. Størkson

    July 30, 2015 at 10:14 am

    You are totally amazing! Thank you for being an inspiration and someone to look up to when I have a hard time getting my ass of the couch, and showing me that you do not have to be perfect to be IRONMAN 🙂 PS. Is it possible to get an autograpf, so I can keep it inside my copy of your book?
    Maria S, Norway.

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  • Joanne

    July 30, 2015 at 10:47 am

    You should have put a disclaimer to NOT read this at work…. Sitting here with tears in my eyes while sitting at my desk. Your race report makes me want to try a 140.6 next year. Nothing worse than being in the med tent after the bike and the doctor taking your timing chip away from you as you are telling them you are going to head back out. Congrats on your finish!!

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  • Helga Junold

    July 30, 2015 at 11:13 am

    I have been waiting for your race report since Sunday. Thank you for writing and sharing. I don’t think I could have done anything like that with a pounding headache and blisters. You are mentally very very strong. Wow!

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  • Alan Ali

    July 30, 2015 at 11:55 am

    Here I am in my office trying not to cry….. you amaze me and inspire to go after what I want….. and that is Ironman.

    Thank you for being you.

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  • Ann Secprd

    July 30, 2015 at 4:32 pm

    You are a true inspiration. A tri – any tri is on my bucket list and I’m inspired anew each time I read one of these but this post is incredibly special to me. We have a gorgeous home on Mirror Lake and several times we’ve enjoyed the Iron Man spectacle. Couldn’t be there this year, but last year we helped haul swimmers out of the lake when Lightening started to crack and they called off the swim. We cheer the bikers and then runners as they pass each lap in front of the house on Mirror Lake drive. Until now I always wondered what it was like to endure that crazy swim with the cast of thousands. Did not know it was punishing because the other swimmers beat the hell out of each other. I’ve done marathons, but frankly the DRIVE down the hill to Keene freaks me out – I cannot imagine biking down that crazy, winding, steep road with the same characters that just wailed on me in the lake.

    You are my hero. One of these days I’ll do a short tri. Am hoping to get to Placid in July again for the IronMan. Thank you a million times over for this detailed and heart felt report of your experience.

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  • Kristen

    July 30, 2015 at 5:05 pm

    Tears…crying…it’s the theme of this race for not just you but for me reading your recap. You are friggin’ AMAZING!!! Seriously. There are no words so I will leave it at that.

    Thank you!!!!

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  • Cynthia @ You Signed Up For WHAT?!

    July 30, 2015 at 5:17 pm

    I love your race report – I felt like I was right there with you! Thanks for just keeping moving forward and inspiring the rest of us to just keep going through obstacles on race day and beyond. I hope the feet heal, and something totally out of our control like that petrifies me so I’m curious if you figure out what caused it (wet feet in cycling shoes/socks?) so I can learn from it! Way go to, Ironman Threepeat!

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  • nichole

    July 30, 2015 at 6:03 pm

    Meredith you have to know that you are inspiring so many of us that you don’t know personally. The mental strength you had to complete this race is incredible-the way you kept talking yourself through this race is beyond amazing.
    Know that you are giving each of us who want to aspire to do “big” things great insight. Your realness helps us know that we ourselves can do it!
    Now maybe I will sign up to do my first ultra race- a 30k trail race- sometime soon!
    xoxo

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  • Sandy

    July 30, 2015 at 8:24 pm

    You are amazing! I was also racing and I saw you on the 2nd loop of the run course on the opposite side of River Rd. I yelled to you “Swim Bike MOM!” but beat myself up the rest of the way thinking “Her name is Meredith and I’m sure she would like to be called by her name!” I was glad to read in your blog that other people called you “Swim Bike Mom” too and it helped you along. I had quite a disastrous run in the race too and am so happy to have made it to the finish!
    In case you ever find yourself bored…here is a little write up I did for family and friends..
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1TGJl0U4tjySX3c_xjcAKfOHRAO31qXFQEALlCm2quWM/edit

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  • Christy

    July 30, 2015 at 11:04 pm

    Terrific race report! Wow, sounds like a brutal race, but you did it! Congrats on pushing through that awful headache and those blisters…I can’t even imagine. I’ve wondered about both CDA and LP, but I’m thinking I might just stick to IMTX. You only have to deal with the heat! Congrats again!!!

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  • Donna Penney

    July 31, 2015 at 1:01 am

    what an amazing person you are, Meredith. Love you and your incredible spirit. Love how you embrace the process of your growth and bare your soul to all of us. That takes a HUGE amount of courage. And you were never alone during that race. So many of us were cheering for you and praying for you and urging you on. We want you to cross that finish line just as bad as you do because you’re crossing it for ALL of us. We are there with you. Thanks for letting us in to your world.

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  • Rosemary Dunn

    July 31, 2015 at 5:24 am

    You are my hero. I was the crazy person screaming “Swim, Bike, Mom!” over and over again when I saw you on the run. I couldn’t help myself, because you have inspired me for so long. Congratulations on this impressive achievement!

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  • Crystal B

    July 31, 2015 at 12:44 pm

    I don’t think I am saying anything you haven’t heard before about being inspiring, but you are. Totally. You inspired me to get up off the couch and learn how to swim. You inspired me to get my first bike (at age 33) and give it a go. You inspired me to run/walk because that was all I could do at the time. And this race recap reminds me why I started following you. You are inspiring. And thank you for being so honest, and raw, and open about your experience with IM. I don’t think I will be getting there any time soon, but thanks to you, I never say never anymore.

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  • Alli

    July 31, 2015 at 12:51 pm

    Congratulations Meredith!! Be proud of yourself for this amazing achievement for not only doing another IM but sticking it out til the end under these challenging circumstances!! You are such an inspiration to all of us!!
    Lots of Love xx

    PS. I hope you got the ice cream in the end ?

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  • Stephanie

    July 31, 2015 at 1:46 pm

    I hope to see you in Louisville!!! My husband is doing his first ironman! I am his spectathlete ?. I will be there cheering u all on and I can’t wait!! Great race report. You are one tough chic.

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  • Lorie Toplikar

    July 31, 2015 at 5:38 pm

    Inspiring!! You are amazing and just as wonderful in person. You give me the desire to want to follow my dream which is Ironman Maryland next year. I will remember your words from the race recap and always KEEP MOVING FORWARD!! You rock, Meredith!

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  • Jess Chatten-Brown

    August 1, 2015 at 9:29 pm

    I adore you and all you stand for. Your family, your goals, your challenges and inspirations: I share them all. I look forward to taking all of your strength and refusal to compromise with me to IMAZ in November. THANK YOU for being so awesome and so REAL. xoxo

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  • Matt Dubreuil

    August 3, 2015 at 10:17 am

    Loved reading this. This was the hardest but most rewarding day of my life! If it makes you feel any better, not one person I talked to the next day said they enjoyed that race… Including a guy that had completed 13 full Ironman races. He said “this was the toughest one yet”. Extremely hot and one of the toughest courses on the circuit. I guess thats what makes the finish so much better. Congratulations on a great finish on a tough tough day. Cheers

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  • Dana Deak

    August 3, 2015 at 11:29 am

    Way to go Mere! So proud of you and all of your accomplishments. You keep it real, and I find that inspiring. Do they have events for people with lots of artificial joints. ; ) I will continue to follow your triathlon career and follow that simple rule “Just keep moving forward.” Congratulations again! Good luck on your next challenge. : )

    Hugs, Dana

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  • Mel O'Dowd

    August 3, 2015 at 2:11 pm

    I knew you would do it! AGAIN!!!! You are an amazing person and I am very proud to know you. Your wit and lust for fitness are so inspiring . . . I recall that determination from years gone by. You inspire me to find it within myself again and hold on to it. Keep us ALL moving forward with you, Mere. WE LOVE YOU.

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  • Meg Guerra

    August 3, 2015 at 3:54 pm

    Your story is so inspiring! I stumbled across your blog after I signed up for my first Sprint Tri in College Station, TX on 7/26. I felt an instant connection, because 1) I am a lawyer, 2) a mom of two kids, and 3) a decent athlete in my younger years that was yearning to be found again. Before my Tri I literally read every post you had ever written, and all of your input was invaluable. My goal is to continue to train, and one day I hope to enter my first IronMan. Thank you for sharing your journey and being so REAL.

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  • Lindsey

    August 3, 2015 at 9:58 pm

    Whew this made me tear up! And laugh, too 🙂 Those convos with yourself are too much.

    Congratulations on an impressive race. You are so strong and beautiful! I hope you are SO PROUD!!

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  • Sydney C.

    August 5, 2015 at 9:05 am

    Just finished reading your book yesterday and today I read your race report and cried. This is my motivation to train for my first triathlon knowing that one day I would be able to do this 🙂

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  • Gill

    August 10, 2015 at 9:28 am

    I am almost finished your book but keep having to go back to read the funny parts and the inspiring bits. Being quite a bit older than you (and rather plump/fat) I often felt a bit of an interloper around all the lean “real athletes”, but you have made me realise that it’s all psychological!
    I had tears of laughter rolling down my face when you described your “whale suit” (I too am a beached whale) and the panic of the first open water swim…. Been there, done that and hoping for my Half-Ironman and (one day) full t-shirt. I snapped my Achilles over 18 months ago, which set me back a good year (give or take gentle stuff) of training and piled on 20kg. A shocking lack of discipline with a bit of depression thrown in – it becomes a vicious circle. But, my second Standard/Olympic distance is coming up in 2 weeks and I’ve entered for Half Ironman South Africa – THANK YOU for inspiring me to continue chasing this dream….

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  • Jeremy

    August 25, 2015 at 10:43 am

    Your story is one more reason I keep pushing myself. I learned of your site through triathlon.competitor.com today (8/25/15), and just reading this first story is enough to bring me back and encourage others to read your journey. My long training days are getting tough and it would be so easy to stop. Your perseverance and dedication shows that I, too, am capable of completing this journey. Thank you and congratulations…

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  • Peter Kim

    January 22, 2016 at 12:22 pm

    Meredith, thank you for sharing this race recap. Amazing, not because this is well written, but because of your Iron will. You never said it explicitly but you hardened the F up when it counted. I am registered for IMLP 2016 so I am looking forward to it!

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  • Nikki @ will run for pizza

    June 11, 2016 at 3:43 pm

    Just found your blog today and I’m SO glad I did! And now I’m crying…haha
    I’m signed up for MY first tri on July 24th. It’s “just a sprint”, but I’m already making a list of other tri’s…and with each brick workout I do, that little phrase “why not try an Ironman?” keeps popping in my head…Glad I found ya! And GOOD JOB finishing that beast!!!!! That takes SERIOUS mental focus to WALK a marathon…I don’t know if I could have done that! You. Are. AWESOME.

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  • Christine Gouwens

    August 4, 2017 at 3:20 pm

    I’ve been a reader of your blog for a while now, and just last week I finally registered for Ironman Lake Placid 2018. It will be my first 140.6. I grew up in LP and have had it on my bucket list for quite some time…looks like 2018 will be my year! (Hopefully!) Tears reading this, terror running through me at the thought of having to go through this is 350ish days, and excitement to be able to do it… Maybe I’ll see you there?!?!

    Reply

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