IRONMAN Lake Placid 70.3 Race Report: Julie Tracy
The last time I did a half-Ironman race was in 2013. Vegas, baby! I had high hopes of making a comeback this year at the Ironman Lake Placid 70.3. This was going to the be the time when everything came together. Well, long story short, it really didn’t go as planned training-wise. I had struggled with back issues early in the year. I finally got a new mattress, but, by that time, it was only a little over a month until the race. I squeezed in as much running as my body could stand, since I also had some calf issues, but ended up running just over one hour straight. I still felt like I was getting used to my new time trial bike, too. I was a little nervous going into the race, but knew I would be fine.
Usually I have a support crew of friends and family for these bigger races. Unfortunately, multiple peoples’ plans fell through, and I did the trip solo. Oh, and the weather—it would be in the thirties! I headed up to Lake Placid, New York, on the Saturday morning before the race. Lake Placid is a super-cute town with lots of restaurants, bars, and cool little shops. I tried not to get too carried away walking around because, well, I had a race the next day.
I had a small freak out when they talked at athlete briefing about frost warnings, warming tents, and changing areas. Kyle was busy with a work clinic thing, so I waited to talk to him so we could figure out a plan to combat the temperatures. Again, I had a minor freak out, but I knew I had packed enough clothing, so everything would be okay, right? This was my first cold triathlon. How bad could it be?
The swim: 29:42, 3rd age group, 12th female.
Wow, not bad, right? I only swam twice in August, but just enough over the summer to not feel terrible. The start was interesting. They did rolling starts, which meant you got to choose when you started according to the time you thought you would go. I chose 27 to 30 minutes, which was the second small group. In the meantime, the smarter athletes stood in the water, which was 70 degrees and warm on the feet, while everyone else stood outside in the 33℉. Whatever. The swim was a bit chaotic at first, and I struggled to find a smaller group until about halfway through. Things settled, and then it was done. Nothing too crazy. My cap started to fall off, which was annoying.
Longest. Transition. Ever. Part of my plan was to take my time. The freaking run from the lake to my stuff was easily two to three minutes alone. I grabbed a giant bag of my bike stuff then ran into the warm changing tent. One good thing about being a swimmer is, well, only one girl was in there too, so we had lots of space. I wore just a bathing suit under my wet suit so that all my bike clothing would be dry. I piled on a tri suit, a cycling jersey, arm and leg warmers, gloves, wool socks, vest, and toe warmers. Yes, all that. The bike route had a long descent early, and it was easily still in the 30s.
Bike: 3:00.41, 8th age group, 39th female
I was comfortable and not cold. The plan had worked! This was a hilly, but really beautiful bike course. I could have kept going on and on with the bike. Or maybe I just thought that because I was dreading the run. There were no long climbs. Just lots of shorter ones. Triathletes are interesting on the bike. One girl clipped out at a turn around, and lots of dudes blowed themselves up in the big ring up climbs. I dropped my vest around 40 miles and really concentrated on fueling. All things considered, I felt pretty good. I probably could have pushed a little more, but I held back a little because I was worried about the legs with the half-marathon still to go.
I took off everything but the tri suit, grabbed my hat, and headed off to do my longest run since 2013. Sigh.
Run: 1:56.41, 20th age group, 116th female
The run course was rather deceiving because the first half was more down hill. I was kind of flying at first (well, for me) and had to tell myself to slow down and settle into a good pace. Everyone was running so much faster than me, I had to remind myself to run my own race. I settled into a 8:30 to 8:50 pace, which actually felt moderately okay. Around mile nine, there was a big uphill. My legs stopped working normally after this, and there was a lot of uphill to the finish. The last two miles were tough. My legs got really heavy, and it felt more like a shuffle home. The crowds were awesome and really helped get me through the last few awkward miles.
Total time: 5:40.17, 12th in age group (out of 88), 44th female (out of 617)
Not my fastest half-Ironman, however the splits (minus transition) were pretty close to, if not faster than, my best.
The race was very tough, no doubt. Having a plan for the cold was definitely key. However, I would have to say the hardest part of the race was after the race. Once I stopped moving, my legs tightened right up. I think my IT band on my left side was very angry and didn’t want to bend correctly. I had some food, sat for a while, and then made my way slowly to get my morning bag. I changed into warmer clothes and sat on some grass for maybe 45 minutes or so. I finally got up, got my bike and other transition stuff, and made my way back to the hotel, which was another 0.7 miles uphill. That took me a really long time, but I made it. I hobbled to get dinner, sat on my hotel bed, and watched “Shark Tank” for a while.
Thank goodness I didn’t drive home that same day. I was still incredibly sore the next morning, but I could walk a lot better.
I’m not sure when I’ll be doing another half-Ironman—maybe in five years?
Number 4 is in the books!