Celebrating 5 years of Ironman participation

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Ironman: A Devoted Spectator’s View

From Mona – Number 1 Fan:

A year ago today (July 20th), I stood with Sara’s family, friends, and thousands of other spectators anxiously awaiting a glimpse of their own personal Ironmen and women at the 2008 Ironman Lake Placid.

I followed Sara’s training schedule since she first flirted with the idea of signing up for the Ironman. I admit, like many people she first told, my first reaction was “Wow. That’s crazy.” However, my very next words were “but I know you can do it. You can, and you will.”

I decided I’d make the trip up to Placid from NYC, but I really didn’t know what to expect from such an event. My past experience as a spectator at any event like this was limited. In fact, the closest thing was the few years I was fortunate enough to cheer the marathoners in Boston. That was exciting, but this was different. There would be a marathon, but not until the end. There was still a swim and bike course to contend with… AND Sara was competing in this. This was, in fact, my first triathlon I’d be watching. I knew I’d be excited, I knew I’d be proud, but I really had no idea how intoxicating the whole experience would be.

Months later, as I stood near the swim start while thousands of athletes filed into the water, it happened. Suddenly, a swimstartwave of emotion engulfed me. The best explanation for how I felt was my heart swelled with pride each time I spotted Sara along the course. Truly, there was this big, happy thing bursting with joy in my chest. Everyone’s hard work over the past 6-12 months all came down to this, and I felt the enormity of the moment for each and every one of them. As the first group took off, hundreds of arms splashing, I teared up. U2’s “Beautiful Day” was blaring in the background as the swimmers set off, definitely adding to the emotions of the day. The weather that day was anything but beautiful – it was cloudy, cool, and started pouring rain shortly into the swim. It didn’t matter though, my spirit couldn’t be dampened.

The excitement was contagious. Thanks to Sara, we had the most exclusive spot to watch the triathletes. The house where we stayed was in an area that was restricted to everyone but those living on the street. We had no problems tracking her online, and calculating when she’d loop back through town. Every time she passed us, it was our job to re-fuel her reserves with our cheering. So I cheered loudly. I jumped, I pumped my fists in the air, I screamed myself hoarse. So did the rest of the her family and friends, all the while with Sara smiling as she biked or ran by us.

My first experience as a triathlon spectator, at an Ironman no less, was amazing. It was so inspiring to watch everyone powering their way through hours and hours of swimming, biking, and running. All you triathletes should know that you bring as much to us, as your supporters, as we hope to bring to you. The triathletes in our lives remind us that we are capable of doing anything!

Team Stropedogg at the Finish Line

Team Stropedogg at the Finish Line


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Confidence and Terror

Besides tapering, eating well, packing, and sleeping this week, I’m spending a fair amount of mental energy on vacillating between fear and excitement over IMLP. As Jim told me, “I waffle between holy **it I have to do an IM race in a week and OMG I’m going to be an IM in a week. Sometimes, I can’t figure out what the difference is between the excitement and the anxiety!”

I guess this feeling is pretty common! I received an email from the Ironman Community Fund that called out this strange bi-polar feeling and how to cope with it:

Congratulations on making it this far! Many times the most challenging aspect of Ironman racing is merely making it through the training and arriving on the starting line in one piece. If you’ve made it this far, the battle is more than half over. As we watch athletes go through the usual waves of confidence and terror that precede an Ironman, we want to remind you of a few things which may or may not help you.

I am Terrified of:

  • The Swim Start (see above – that’s 2,000 people all at once!)
  • Flat tires on the bike ride
  • Stomach problems on the run

I feel Confident knowing:

  • Never in my life have I been this fit
  • I have a nutrition plan
  • Team RA3 will be there with me
  • My family and closest friends will be there cheering (in matching t-shirts, no less)
  • I’ll have support from many, many folks from DC to California to Singapore and Japan

Have you ever had that nervous excitement? How do you deal?


Great Advice

Do you ever get advice that is just absolutely perfect? I recently reconnected with my high school swim coach and aquatics director of the Albany Academy pool, Bonnie Morse-Gillham, who also happens to be a triathlete! Given Bonnie’s experience (Nationals, World Team, and Hawaii Ironman!), I figured she would have some good advice – and she did!

Here’s what Bonnie recommended for my first Ironman:

“My advice to first timers is: ALWAYS KEEP SOMETHING IN RESERVE…..ENJOY EVERY MINUTE OF THE RACE…….AND COME ACROSS THE LINE WITH A SMILE!! This advice has worked for everyone. It’s the athletes who go out like a bat outta hell that end up on the DNF (Did Not Finish) list…so don’t be one of those. Really get into it, talk to spectators, other athletes, officials, etc. High five people along the way…it is an awesome accomplishment, something you will savor for the rest of your life.”

I’m definitely going to keep Bonnie’s advice in mind on race day. I think my “team” (Mom, Dad, Seth, Sharon, Evie, Sherry, Mona, Andrew, Beth and Darcie) will be a great help too – especially with the t-shirts they will all be sporting on race day!


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The House at Lake Placid

I love camping. I love the Adirondacks. But camping before the Ironman, just seemed like a bad idea. Given my luck at the North East and Dewey tris last year, I know I have a knack for bringing the rain with me when camping before a race. Plus, I knew if I wanted any supporters (which I will desperately need from mile 12 on of the marathon), I would have to figure out something convenient.

So began my search for a house in Lake Placid from July 16-22! After countless searches on Adirondack rental sites, Craigslist, and more, I quickly learned that I was about 6 months too late. IMLP is THE event of the summer. People sign up for the race a year in advance, so of course they secure housing as well. But, I had the brilliant idea to sign up in December and look for housing in February. My prospects were looking pretty grim until I spoke with Marti from John La Selva Real Estate! She uncovered the PERFECT house at Lake Placid!

Lake Placid House

Not only will this house fit my growing crew of supporters (Mom, Dad, Seth, Sharon, Evie, Mona and Andrew confirmed so far), but it is located right next to the transition area! Yay! That means I can sleep later and all my supporters can relax while I’m biking somewhere between Keene and Jay for hours.

The house has 4 bedrooms, 2 baths and was recently updated. Of course, I’m most excited about the kitchen!

Lake Placid House KitchenLiving RoomMaster Bedroom