We’ll start this story with the lead up to the race following IRONMAN Cork. It’s no secret that Ireland took it’s toll on me both physically and mentally. Just about the entire trip was filled with stress between the travel and the race. I went in more physically fit than ever, and because of some errors in race execution, blew up to finish 1 place out of the money. I used the following week to allow my body and mind to bounce back and wrap my head around racing IRONMAN Lake Placid. Over the next few weeks I had some decent (and HOT!) training marked with a couple standout sessions, but had trouble recovering as well and settling into a groove. But I knew the fitness was there to pull off a decent race.
Then the sickness came. First Rebekah came down with what we thought was food poisoning. Then Charleigh vomited enough to warrant a trip to the ER. Then my mom who was in town caught it. After a couple days I thought I was clear! Then 10 days before the race, I succumbed and spent the entire day as a pathetic blob in bed. After barely eating for a couple days, my body started to bounce back. The first few attempts at any light exercise ended pretty tragically, ensuring I at least wouldn’t be over trained for the race. I was finally able to get some easy workouts in shortly before our flight and was hoping for the best!
The travel to Lake Placid was significantly smoother than our last adventure, and even included free upgrades on a flight and a hotel suite! (though there may have been poop in our previous hotel room) The drive from LaGuardia airport to Lake Placid was beautiful and I made it with perfect timing to the Pro meeting on Friday.
I spent the rest of my time until Sunday doing mostly the following:
- Eating pancakes.
- Wondering if I’ll have any energy during the race.
- Chatting with friends I haven’t seen in forever.
- Trying to schedule a massage for my now suddenly hurting hip.
- Eating Pop-tarts.
- Checking out the course and pre-riding some sections with Coach Jesse.
- Having an existential crisis.
- Prepping my Omni bike and the rest of the my race gear.
- Actually getting decent sleep.
- Wondering what Upstate NY has against air conditioning.
- Eating more Pop-tarts.
Despite all of my concerns leading into the race, I was excited to test some changes I was making from my race in Ireland. Primarily nutritional since I believe that is what led to my demise in that race. It helped that all of my Team Kattouf nutrition arrived intact (double bagged it this time!) and ready to go, and not spread open throughout my bag.
I even got a little help getting the Omni all cleaned up!
Everything went smoothly on race morning and I rode to the start with my roommate for the weekend, fellow Pro Steve Rosinkski. I eventually made my way to the swim start after doing my final preparations in transition and was feeling pretty good. A quick swim warm up had me feeling ready to race and see what would happen!
The race started and the chaos of every Pro swim start began! I took the normal battering and there seemed to be a lot of movement and changes in position in the first couple minutes. The only person I recognized in this mess was eventual winner, Matt Russell, who I’ve had the pleasure of swimming with at a number of races. Things strung out as we continued out on Mirror Lake with me being towards the back of a line. The pace wasn’t crazy, but the effort stayed consistently high for me to stay on. As we neared the end of the first (of two) laps, I was feeling pretty throttled but was still in contact. As we exited the water to begin the second lap, I fell off the pace and wasn’t able to catch back on to the group. This left me in a relative no-man’s land, other than the many age group athletes starting their first lap. I attempted to limit my losses on lap two, but had definitely spent the majority of my energy on lap one.
The legs felt pretty good and the run to transition actually went relatively quickly. I started the bike just in front of friend and fellow Dad Colin Laughery, and got to work to reel in some of the quicker swimmers. While my upper body was sore, the power was coming pretty well on the bike with no indication of slowing down anytime soon. The first out and back showed a number of riders not too far up the road. I made a few passes over the next climbs and the long Keene descent. I also ended up getting passed by Greg Close who I decided not to chase having flashbacks to riding with him and Andrew Talansky at Louisville last year.
As I powered up Jay Hill at about an hour into the ride, I went to shift back into my 55 tooth front chainring, and nothing happened. I kept trying, but nothing was happening. I pulled over and did a quick diagnostic, and realized the issue. The Di2 battery was dying. Everything was connected properly but the junction box was flashing red with complete shutdown imminent. Race support pulled up rather quickly and came to the same conclusion. They attempted to at least get me into the big chainring to ride in, but even that wasn’t working. Meanwhile, I watched everyone I had passed and then some go by, until eventually the age group field was upon us. It was at that point that I officially pulled the plug. I had no desire to ride the Lake Placid course on a single speed bike followed by running a marathon on a hip that continues to bother me ever since the race. A younger me may have relished the challenge and it would have made a great story, but my main desire was to take what time I had and spend it with Rebekah, Charleigh, and my dad and sister who had also come.
After everything that went into this race, I certainly did not expect it to end this way. While I had been anxious about my body failing me, I had not expected a mechanical failure. The battery had been charged just 2 weeks prior and showed a full charge the day before the race. I had the chance to replace the now 5+ year old battery not long ago, but opted to be cheap and continue using it. I have now learned my lesson.
While I was certainly in a funk leading into the race, it seems that I was still able to execute at least semi-decently until my mishap. I already feel like I’m getting into a better rhythm now and am looking forward to another block leading into IRONMAN Chattanooga at the end of September. Chattanooga remains my best IRONMAN placement with my 6th place last year, and I fully intend on improving that this year! Hoping to see more friends there so let me know if you’ll be in Chatty too!