Celebrating 5 years of Ironman participation

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Triumph and Tragedy

One week post Ironman, I somehow found myself in Mercer County, NJ for the New Jersey State Triathlon. Now, this was no ordinary race – it was the club championship! How could I not participate? DC Tri has held the USAT-MA Club Championship title for 3 years in a row! Not to mention, this race was our key race for all our New Triathletes (including my mentee). So, I joined over 210 of my fellow club members Sunday morning.

For the first time, I can tell you I did not compete in a “full” triathlon [many people seem to think that only an Ironman is a full triathlon, but doing all three sports in any of the four distance segments really constitutes a full tri]. I participated in the swim portion of an Olympic distance relay with my friends Nikki and Rachel. We three, the DC Tri Chix, were ready for some competition! And, it just so happened that our friends Travis, Joe, and Katie were lined up for a relay too. The odds between us were good – Joe and I were both coming off Placid and the other four were coming off the NYC Olympic Triathlon the week before. Could I make it through the swim without flashbacks of being dunked? Would Nikki prevail over Joe’s tired legs on the 25 mile ride? Would Rachel be able to set her PR on the run?

Maybe it was the “tri-chic” socks I special ordered…or all the smack talk in the car on the way up to Jersey Saturday…or the pre-race beer Saturday night, but we were ready on Sunday morning. The swim felt a lot longer than 1.5k – especially in the warm water where no wetsuits were allowed. I made it out of the water just before Travis, then we handed off the timing chip to Nikki to crush it on the bike.

Nikki and Joe were neck and neck until the end, when Joe took the lead. Katie led the way out of the transition on the run, but Nikki and I were jumping with joy to see Rachel speed by her by mile 3 of the run! We the Tri Chix took home second overall in the relays!

To add to the triumph, the DC Tri Club dominated the race course with both competitors and volunteers, and captured our 4th consecutive USAT-MA Club Championship!

And then the tragedy sets in….

While the race was coming to close in the early afternoon, the search for a missing swimmer was well under way. Robert Hogood, 52, had been competing in the Sprint race and unfortunately never made it out of the water. His death is one of several swimming deaths in triathlons in recent weeks.  It is definitely a reminder about the dangers of the sport.


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The Full Race Report

Race Morning: I rolled out of bed at 4:45 am and ate my favorite pre-race meal of a peanut butter sandwich and a banana. For the first time all week, I felt nervous. While I told my friends and family that nobody needed to head down to transition with me, I was pretty psyched that they were all up and ready when I left at 5:30 am. I found some friends in transition, pumped up my bike tires, unwrapped my bike (thank for the tip about putting garbage bags over it the night before!), and got my bodymarked. Then I walked down to drop off my special needs bags and get ready on the beach.

Swim: I bumped into my friend Joe on the beach and we wandered over to the water together. I decided to seed myself towards the front and middle. No matter how many times you watch an Ironman swim start on You Tube, nothing will prepare you for the chaos of the mass start! The first two minutes felt like 20 as I struggled to get a spot where I could just stretch out and swim. Finally, I broke free – only to be clobbered in the nose. I was certain for the remainder of the first loop (and even later on the run when I bumped my nose with a cup of gatorade) that my nose was broken. I kept feeling for blood, but decided if I could breathe ok, I should just keep swimming. The second loop cleared out a bit – until we made the turn to head back in…and I got straight out dunked like my head was a basketball. I popped up screaming “What the hell man!” and was ready to fight until I realized nobody was paying attention – just swimming. So, back I went to concentrating on a nice long stroke. I exited the water in 1:06 and was psyched to see my crew of 10 in their yellow Team Stropedogg shirts lining the run from the beach to transition.

Bike: After a little confusion in transition (turns out you need to go through the change tent even if you’re not changing), I was off on the very wet ride. Luckily, I was used to the rain from a training weekend in June. The first loop was pretty uneventful for me. My nutrition plan was solid – I packed plenty of gu, shot blocks, cliff bars – and a delicious peanut butter sandwich in my special needs bag. Coming down the big descent on the second loop, I was freezing thanks to the rain! Forget gatorade and water, I desperately wanted hot chocolate! Joe caught me on the second loop and it was great to have some company for a while. Also, the aid stations were fantastic! My favorite aid station was on Hassleback road – while I used the porta-potties, the volunteers filled up my water bottles and piled up food on my aero bars!

Run: What a fun first marathon – rain, rain, and more rain! I changed into my DC tri top – which made it really easy to be spotted. I saw Kip and Kevin on the way out of town. I ran with my friend Jim for the first three miles and saw Joe, Tom, Heather and a couple other tri club folks on the course. My run to each aid station and walk through the station strategy held up until about mile 19 – when I had to start tossing in a couple more walks. I passed Jim again on my way back into town and he gave me a huge hug, “You’re going to be an Ironwoman today!”  I started my final two mile trudge up the hill into town.  It was so great to see my friends and family as I climbed the final hill back into town. I stopped for photos and high-fives. The best part was hearing my two year old niece say, “what Aunt Sara doing now? Aunt Sara run! Evie too! Evie too!” Oh yeah, and with never-ending rain, I learned that body glide and vaseline just don’t hold up.

Finish: I crossed the finish line in just under 14 hours with a smile on my face! I went home to shower, then returned to the stands to cheer the final participants in – what an amazing experience!  Music was blasting, the stands were shaking, and it almost didn’t matter that I felt like puking every other minute.  I wore my finisher t-shirt from that night all the way through Monday night!

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Pre-Race Days

You may be wondering what on earth I’m doing with all my time in Lake Placid before the big event Sunday…

Well, here is my schedule (same one I posted on the house fridge yesterday!):


  • Pick up house keys and settle in
  • Race check in – sign some waivers, get weighed, pick up race numbers and timing chip, and get Community Fund swag.
  • Bike Ride – Ride the run course and stop by High Peaks Cycle Shop for last minute maintenance
  • Round One Team Stropedogg Arrivals – Mom and Dad (and the dog Serendipity)
  • Dinner with Mom, Dad, and Team RA3 (JJ, Jim, Colin, Betsy, and Tom – plus their support crews!)


  • 7:30 am – Swim one loop
  • 8:00 am – Community Fund Breakfast
  • 10:00 am – Expo opens…wander around tents and town
  • 5:30 pm – Athlete’s dinner
  • 7:30 pm – Mandatory race meeting
  • Round Two of Team Stropedogg Arrivals – Seth, Sharon, Evie, Beth and Darcie


  • Race bag and bike drop off!
  • Round Three Team Stropedogg Arrivals – Mona, Andrew and Sherry!
  • Team Stropedogg and RA3 BBQ and sleep!


i (heart) ny

Ok, I’m going to put on my NY Ambassador hat for a little here to tell you all a bit about the greatness of upstate NY. For those of you going to Lake Placid in a couple days, this list will hopefully provide you with some ideas of things to do while I’m our on the bike course for 7 hours. For those of you just following the journey, hopefully you’ll be inspired to visit the Adirondacks!

A Little History and Education

  • The village of Lake Placid actually sits on Mirror Lake
  • Lake Placid is located within the Adirondack State Park – which is the largest park in the country with 6 million acres! That’s one fifth of all the land in NYS too!
  • Lake Placid was not only home to the Miracle of the 1980 Winter Olympics, but was also home to the 1932 games. It’s one of three communities in the entire world ever to host the Olympics twice!
  • There are 46 High Peaks in the Adirondacks – and that many sandwiches at the little Deli on Main St in Lake Placid Village.
  • Oddly enough, the Albany Times Union ran a story on Lake Placid the weekend I was up there training in June!

Things to Do Around Lake Placid

  • Visit the Olympic Center and Museum – check out an ice skating show or go to the top of the ski jump!
  • Take a Gondola ride at Whiteface Mountain – or rent mountain bikes and ride down the mountain!
  • Sit back and sip a UBU Ale at Lake Placid Pub & Brewery
  • Play golf, browse independent bookstores, go rafting (I highly recommend Whitewater Challengers)
  • Learn how maple syrup is made!
  • Go for a hike! Giant Mountain is right on the route from where you turn off I-87 to get to LP. Here’s me on Giant Mountain a couple years ago!
Giant Mountain - 4,267'

Giant Mountain - 4,267'