Another top ten Ironman finish and in the money again. I'm a happy guy. I am making progress, and I can comfortably say that I am becoming a pro in the sport of triathlon. Over the past few years, I have felt like the age group guy who shows up to the pro meetings and then lines up and gets dropped in every race. This year, things are different and I'm starting to feel like this is where I belong.
So lets back up a little bit:
I did Ironman Boulder six weeks before this race while my wife was very, very pregnant. Then, on July 4th, she gave birth to an absolutely beautiful and amazing little baby girl. Makena Hope Laughery was born a little after 10am on the Fourth.
Beth or I will do a post about what the birth of our daughter meant to us, and about the struggles and losses we have gone through over the past five years
So in the weeks between Ironman Boulder and Ironman Lake Placid, I was living in a kind of blur. I raced an olympic two weeks after Boulder, then Makena was born, then did the Boulder Peak a few days after that, then was off to Lake Placid to race.
There was no real consistency or flow in my training. I was spotty at best and my hours were super low. I was hopeful that I didn't lose too much fitness, but I sure as heck knew that I didn't gain anything either.
The days leading into the race went like this:
I flew out with my Mother on Thursday before the race and got into Placid pretty late. My family has a lake house that we go to as a sort of family reunion/summer vacation spot every year around this time (two hours away), so it was natural that I chose to do Ironman Lake Placid in 2017 when they had a mens pro race. Beth and I have been wanting to have a second child for years and it just so happens that Makena was born a few days before leaving for this race. I committed to racing, thus I came out to do it.
I had an AWESOME few days with my mom in Lake Placid and had a bunch of great meals, some good walking time, and an all around good time connecting with my mom like I had not in quite a few years. Given the recent events in the birth of my second child, it was kind of a full circle experience. The importance of a mother in a childs life is incredible... Spending this time with her was incredible.
My son and father, along with my sisters family - who was going to stay a few weeks after at the lake house - joined us on Friday evening.
The morning of the 23rd came and I was up with my 3:01 alarm as usual. I had my own room for the night, and was able to get some good sleep. I spent the first hour of my day getting things ready and doing final prep for the race. I was in the car early and headed towards transition early with my dad.
My mom and son came to join before the swim start and was pretty bummed because my little boy seemed exhausted as heck. He apparently spent the night getting up with my niece and causing a little trouble. Aiden (my son) had a long day ahead and was already ready to go back to bed. I felt bad for the little guy.
Men pros went off at something like 6:25am. It was a non wetsuit swim and the lake was a comfortable 74 degrees. I have been struggling with wetsuits this year and was SO HAPPY that I did't have to deal with one during this race.
I got in a quick warmup as it was pretty cold being in the water and standing around. We listened to the national anthem, then we were off. I felt in control and settled into a group of three within the first ten minutes. At the first turn, I saw that I was swimming with Justin Daerr and Paul Ambrose. These were two guys that I was happy to be with and planned to stick with them until then end of that first lap. Going into the second lap, the swim was a mess. The age group race had started and we were in contact with tons of people of all ability that whole second loop. I did manage to stay with the group of two pro's for the remainder and exited the swim with them in 55+ minutes. I would put this as my second best Ironman swim this year behind my leading second pack 54 minute swim at Texas.
Onto the bike, my goal was to try to stay with Justin and Paul for as long as I could. It did not last very long. I had them in sight for maybe 15 or 20 minutes.
I had no real understanding of the difficulty of this course as I had not driven it before. I did know that there was a LOOOONNNGGG descent, then some flats, then a LOOOONNNNGGG gradual climb. We were to do that twice. As a guy who does not like to descend, this was not a great course for me to be on. I did my best to remain aero and keep speed as much as possible, but just lost time as I went. During the long climb back into Lake Placid, I kept my power high and did my thing to maintain place. after the first loop, I thought I could hit a bike split in the low 4:50's. This was discouraging as that is a slow bike split for me and I didn't know how fast other pro men were going.
The wind picked up on the second loop and during the out and backs, I was able to see that I was not losing as much time to many of the guys. I was not moving back spots as quickly as I thought. It was a long 112 miles on July 23rd as I came back into town in 4:59. I had not ridden that slow in an Ironman in many years, but looking at results it wasn't as bad comparatively as I thought.
I came into T2 with Daniel Clarke and was off onto the run.
The run in Placid starts going downhill, then hits a flat, then goes downhill again. I started the run in 11th or 12th place. The whole first lap was enjoyable for me and I moved up a spot or two coming back into town. I felt good, and the pace was consistent. I had not trained much outside since the race at IM Boulder, but this did not seem to affect my ability to feel good on the steeper uphill portions of the marathon. My biggest change in my treadmill training this year was that I was using incline for the first time ever. This may have been the difference.
The second loop came and went and I was only starting to fade in the last 3 - 5 miles. I was very suprised by my consistency on the run and very happy to have moved up to 8th overall by the end of the River Road portion. I crossed the line in 9:09:34 and ended my streak of sub-9 IM's. I was fine with that given the toughness of the bike course. I was off the next day towards the town of Inlet, NY for a few days of fun.
Though the timing of this race was not good, and I could have easily skipped it, I would not change doing it at all. Ironman Lake Placid was a great experience and a beautiful race. I look forward to doing it again someday.