7/31/17

2017 IM Lake Placid Race Report



"The only way to achieve the impossible is to believe it is possible."

I woke up to my alarm at 3:40am on Sunday morning. Since Karel and I prefer not to sleep in the same bed on the night before a race, I woke up Karel after I got myself out of bed (Campy refused to get up that early so he stayed snuggled under the covers).

There was not a lot of talking that morning as Karel likes to get into his zone on race day morning. I let Karel do his thing, which started with 2 cups French Press coffee (brought from home) and then a pre-race meal of a bowl of oatmeal and a glass of Infinit MUD mixed with cow's milk. He also took in 1/2 croissant with jam as we were heading out of the door. For the next 90 minutes, he sipped on a bottle of water mixed with Precision hydration 1500 and took in 1 enervit pre sport just before his swim warm-up.

Karel is not methodical with this pre race nutrition but this approach has never failed him. He simply eats what he wants and doesn't overthink it. After 8 Ironman finishes, he has yet to have a nutrition related issue before or on race day so we don't need to fix what's not broken. 

Before we left the house, Karel did his typical routine of heading outside for a brief 10-15 min jog to help get his system going.


It was a refreshing morning, not too cold but in the low 50's. The predicted temps were absolutely perfect with little chance for rain. After our 10 minute walk up the hill and to the oval, Karel got body marked and then proceeded into the transition area to set up his bike bottles. While Karel was attending to his gear, I walked up to the bike special needs (behind the oval) to drop off Karel's bag, with 2 filled sport nutrition bottles inside. 


With Karel being number 402, he had a perfect spot, right behind the sign. I then walked over to the run special need drop off, behind the lake, on the out and back section of the run course before getting back into town. In his run bag, he had three filled flasks and a Hot Shot.

In total (including special needs)
Bike: 5 bottles of sport nutrition (3 bottles Levelen 5, strawberry citrus and 2 bottles INFINIT Trimarni base phase fuel). 1 Kits organic bar (~3/4 bar). 1 Enervit Cheerpack. Hot Shot.
Run: 5 flasks (2 x Levelen, 2 x EFS Pro cucumber melon, 1 Enervit Cheerpack). Hot Shot. Coke/Red bull/water from aid stations. 


Since we Karel was in transition by 5:2am, Karel had plenty of time to relax before the swim practice opened at 6am. I found us a spot close to the water for Karel to get in the zone before getting on his wetsuit. I tried to stay out of his way but still be available if he needed anything. 


Karel is a big proponent of swimming before a triathlon as it helps him feel relaxed and less anxious in the water. Although his swimming skills/fitness have improved drastically since his first IM in Placid in 2013, he still needs a good swim warm-up to get a good feel of the water. Our Xterra Vengeance wetsuits are extremely comfortable and light, with little restriction and just the right amount of buoyancy during open water swimming. 


I stayed put by the water so that Karel could get a few more sips of his drink around 6:30am, before lining up in the corral before the start of the race at 6:40am.


To be honest, I was a bit worried and nervous for Karel because of his prior sickness but as competitive as Karel can be on race day, I also know that he is a very smart racer and does not race with an ego. Although he can push through pain, I just hoped that Karel could get to the finish line, safely, as this was his comeback race from 2015 (intentional DNF due to torn plantar going into the race) and to see what he could accomplish on this course, after 4 years of completing his first Ironman. 


Karel lined himself up in the back of the sub 1 hour group of the wave start. We are big fans of the wave start as it makes for a fast swim by surrounding yourself by swimmers of a similar ability, although Karel mentioned that there were several athletes who should not have been in that wave. Karel was ok with being in a faster group than his predicted 1:03ish swim time and he was able to get clean water for smooth swimming until the 2nd loop. 


Karel was able to see his swim split after the first 1.2 mile loop and he was shocked to see a PR of 29 minutes. This gave Karel a big confidence booster but he made sure to continue to stay in the moment and only focus on one leg of the Ironman at a time.

After the swim, Karel lapped his watch but didn't look at it as he wanted to forget about the swim and prepare his mind for the bike. Little did he know, at the time, that he had a huge PR of 1:01! I was so thrilled for him.

As Karel was swimming his second loop, I walked back to our house to rescue Campy (more like wake him up) as I waited for Karel and our other athletes (Chris, Michela, Heidi and Adam) to come by on the bike. 


I gave Karel a big cheer as he flew by me. I then waited for the rest of the Trimarnis to come by before heading inside for some food and a little rest before heading out on my bike. Campy had the best seat in the house! 


Thanks to the new Ironman tracker app, I was able to track Karel and all of our athletes. I was receiving updates throughout the first loop of the bike and after Karel left Wilmington, I got on my bike and road a few miles away to cheer for him and the other athletes on the course. 


Karel enjoyed the first loop as he had fun flying down to Keene. His legs felt good and he was able to ride well until he hit Wilmington. At that point, his legs started to get a bit crampy and even with Hot Shot (which likely saved him from full blown cramping), he had no power in his legs. At this point, his competition was riding by him and he was struggling.

For the climb up into town, Karel had to self manage. Even though Karel isn't metric focused when he races, he could see that he was not pushing the watts that he was capable of holding. He just focused on taking good care of himself with his nutrition and making sure that he could deliver himself to the run. Without focusing on the next mile, he stayed present and rode an effort that was manageable to minimize the cramping. Needless to say, Karel could have gotten very upset and frustrated but he kept his cool and just trusted that he could still run off the bike. 


While waiting for Karel, I saw a handful of age group men pass by and from the tracker app, I could see that Karel was moving down places on the bike. Although his weapon is the run, I knew he wasn't having a good day on the bike. But no use telling him what he already knows - instead, I told him how awesome he swam by shouting "Amazing swim - 1:01!!!" If anything, I hoped that this would register in his brain that even though he was not riding well, he still had a great swim and something to reflect all of his hard work in the pool.


After cheering for some familiar female faces, I rode back to our house, walked Campy around as the male pro's ran by and then headed up the road to wait for Karel. 


When Karel got off the bike, the tracker told me that he was in 6th place in his AG - not too shabby! Prior to the race, I told Karel that even on an off day, he could still podium. Because Karel was not taking a Kona slot at this race, his IM Lake Placid performance was all about himself and seeing what he was capable of doing on this very tough, yet beautiful, course. 


Karel was moving pretty fast when I saw him - it must have been his new #silenthunter New Balance 1400v5 shoes. The thing with the Ironman is that it's very easy to un-commit from the day, especially when things are not going your way. Although I know Karel all too well and he never ever counts himself out, I wanted to make sure that after a 5:19 bike (not too his standards), that he knew he was still in it to podium.

When I saw Karel, I immediately told him that he was in 6th place so that he knew he was close to the top of his age group. I then proceeded to tell him that the guys in front of him did not look fresh. Even though we were only less than a mile into the course, I wanted to give Karel a little boost that he had the ability to run down a few guys to move up in his age group. The Ironman is very mental and even when you are not having the day that you hoped for, you can still do something amazing with the body so long as you believe in yourself and never stop doubting your abilities. 


After Karel passed by, I cheered on some of the female athletes that I knew and then went back inside so that Campy could get a power nap before Karel came back through town again.

I had a great time tracking all of the athletes and the Ironman tracker app allowed me to follow all of the Trimarnis and know exactly where they were on the course.

With all of the excitement, I made sure to rest my legs a bit so that I could make it through the day because being an Ironman spectator is hard work! 


I waited for Karel on the big hill heading toward town and told him that he looked good. I never expected for Karel to talk back to me but he told me that "I don't feel good at all." I was really surprised to hear Karel tell me this so this told me that Karel was really hurting. I wasn't sure of the problem, was it the normal Ironman hurt or something more serious so I just cheered him on and told him to do the best that he could. Thankfully, Karel was keeping up with all of his nutrition and fluids and he was peeing throughout the day (a sign that he was well-hydrated) so nutritionally, he was energized but sadly, his muscles were not liking the all day exercising. Karel was unable to keep the rhythm that he felt was good in the first 9-10 miles and for the rest of the run, it was all mental.

Karel was in 4th place in his AG and battling with a lot of demons in his head and in his body. Although he could have been satisfied with 4th, I knew his European mindset would not be happy with 4th place as technically, 4th place is not "podium" per European standards. His legs were fatiguing with every step and his mind was telling him to shut it down and just lay in the grass and go to sleep. Karel let his thoughts rant through his brain until finally, he had no more  negative thoughts and he simply became numb inside - he put one foot in front of the other and told himself that all the pain will be over when he got to the finish line. Quitting, stopping or slowing down was not an answer.

As Karel ran out of town for his second loop, he looked great on the downhill. A big part of me wanted to believe that he was just hurting from the hill because let's be honest, who ever feels good on an uphill?? After Karel passed by, I stuck close to the tracker and saw that somewhere on River Road, he was getting closer to the 3rd place male. I could see that Karel was not slowing down as the 3rd place male was slowing down. Karel said that when he saw the guy ahead of him stopping at an aid station and grabbing his quads, Karel felt a burst of energy, proudly pumped out his chest and ran by him as if he was just starting the run. Of course, Karel had nothing left inside of him but that simple pass gave him a tiny ounce of energy to keep digging deep to the finish.

Once Karel passed mile 20, his legs started to buckle. Karel was forced to walk as he no longer could get his mind to work with his body. Karel is no stranger to walking as he doesn't view it as failing so he walked the big hill into town (being passed by older women running by him - Karel made note to tell me this :) and finally managed to dig deep for the last 2 miles to the finish. Oh how cruel to run uphill, see the finish and then run out of town for 2 more miles! I saw Karel around mile 24 as I was cheering with Trimarni athletes Ariel and Stephanie and I gave him a huge cheer as I could tell he was suffering so much and he was so ready to get the pain overwith at the finish.  


I made my way to the finish chute and I must say, it was rather quiet. According to the tracker, Karel was in the top 15 overall amateur males so the finish line was a bit empty, for each athlete to enjoy. 


I was so excited to finally see Karel and SO relieved that he made it to the finish line. After all that he went through going into this race, all that he suffered with during the race and all that he has been able to accomplish and overcome since his first Ironman, in Lake Placid, in 2013, I knew this finish meant a lot to him. 


Karel was able to fist pump across the finish line but not too long later, he collapsed into the arms of the volunteers (oh the volunteers - they are amazing!) and he was put into a wheelchair as he was rolled to the medical tent.

With this being the first time that Karel was in the medical tent, I wasn't sure what to think about the situation. Of course, my first thought was "I hope it isn't life threatening." I was standing with Ariel and Stephanie at the finish and told them to head back out on the course to cheer for the other athletes as I went to the athlete medical information booth just outside of the finish line area.

I was able to speak to one lady of the medical staff (who was so nice and attentive) as I waited outside of the transition area and after she checked on Karel (I had to give her his athlete number), she told me that he was not looking good and that he appeared to be dehydrated and he was not talking and he was unable to speak or open his eyes. For some reason, I was not freaking out. This is not like me as I am a very sensitive person and certainly, I care about Karel as he is my world. But for some reason, I felt in my heart that he was going to be ok.

As I sat outside of the transition area for a good 30+ minutes, waiting for the medical staff lady to give me more information, I was anxious to see Karel, to make sure that he was ok and to give him the news that he was 3rd in his AG. So long as his health wasn't compromised, I knew that he would be thrilled with his podium performance. 


Eventually, after over an hour of waiting outside for Karel, the lady told me that he was not dehydrated and didn't need an IV (he only lost 3 lbs from pre/post race). She told me he was just exhausted and he was finally able to talk and drink some chicken broth. He was still unable to stand up on his own as his blood pressure was a little wonky and his quads were not working but finally, she let me inside of the transition area to see Karel. Although they typically do not allow this, she said that I had been waiting for long enough and perhaps by Karel seeing me, she thought that this may help Karel.

After 11 Ironman's, I have never been inside a medical tent before and have never had an IV after a race so I wasn't sure what to expect inside of the tent. There was a lot going on inside the tent (even though there were not a lot of athletes in the tent at that point) and I finally made my way to Karel, who was sipping chicken broth from a straw in a cup and laying on a cot, with about 5 volunteer medical staff around him. After talking to Karel for a good 10 minutes or so (this is 60+ minutes after he finished), he finally felt like he could try to stand up. It took 3 people to help Karel up as his quads were buckling under him but he was finally able to put weight on his legs and hobble his way out of the medical tent. 


At this point, Karel was ready for some food in his belly. We walked over to the food area and Karel sat down in a chair as I got him some french fries from the food tent. Of course, me being the sport RD that I am, had a backpack full of post-race eats for Karel - a spicy ginger drink (which is in the above picture - no, it's not a beer - Karel gave up beer in January of this year and hasn't had one since), some candy and saltine crackers. Although Karel enjoyed the ginger drink, the salty/fatty fries hit the spot. 



It wasn't too long later that Karel finally started to look, talk and act more normal - although he was moving slow. He picked up his gear bags and bike and we made our way back to the house so that Karel could clean up so that we could cheer for the rest of the Trimarni athletes. 

Campy was so excited to see his daddy and Karel was also happy to get a few kisses from Campy. There's nothing like the unconditional love from a doggy. 


After cheering for the athletes for a little bit, Karel started to get a bit more hungry. Around 8pm, we walked across the street to Lisa G's (pet friendly outside on the patio) so that Karel could fill his empty belly. Karel really wanted a burger and soup, which both hit the spot. However, Karel could only manage to eat about 3 bites of his burger until he felt full. Don't worry, the burger didn't go to waste as Karel finished it off around 3am when the post-race insomnia hit him hard. 



After a restless night of sleeping for Karel (Campy and I slept great!), we made our way to the award ceremony. Karel couldn't believe that on a day when he felt empty (almost all day) that his mind would win over his body to give him a podium slot and a slot to Kona. 


Because we decided early on this year that Karel would race IM Chattanooga for IM Kona 2018, Karel let his slot roll down. 



The roll down slot could not have been more special as Karel's friend, from Czech Republic, earned his first slot to Kona. Roman finished 6th AG (40-44) and broke 10 hours for the very first time - after just starting the sport 3 years ago! This was also Roman's first trip to the US! Karel served as Roman's translator throughout the week and helped him register for Kona (by translating). Karel was thrilled that his friend Roman earned a slot to Kona. 


Not only do I want to give a HUGE congrats to the Trimarni athletes who finished Ironman Lake Placid (Heidi, Adam, Chris, Michela) but I also want to congratulate my long-time nutrition athlete Christine for placing 1st AG and earning a slot to Kona. 
I must mention that Christine worked hard on her nutrition (daily and sport) for the past few months so that she could complete IM Lake Placid.......as the oldest female finisher of the day in the 70-74 age group! Talk about an inspiration! 
Christine declined her slot to Kona so that she can focus on the IM 70.3 World Championship in September. 


Karel and I would like to say thank you for reading this race report and for all of the cheers/support via email, text, phone and social media. We appreciate the support and we hope that we can continue to inspire you to work hard and to never stop believing in yourself.

As Karel always says, "the only bad race is the one that you don't learn anything from." Karel learned a lot from this race and even though he told me in the medical tent that he "never wants to do another Ironman again" because he thinks he is just too old for this sport, he is recovering a bit more every day and he once again has a fire inside his body to work hard to see what he is capable of achieving before the day comes when he can no longer do what he can do with his body. 



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A BIG thank you to our 
2017 Trimarni sponsors and affiliates:

-Run In - for helping us with all of our running needs
-New Wave Swim Buoy - for keeping us safe and seen in the open water
-Mg12 - for helping our muscles stay relaxed
-Clif Bar - for quality ingredients in quality sport nutrition
-Cheribundi - for providing a safe, natural and delicious way to reduce inflammation
-Veronica's Health Crunch - for the most delicious hand made crunch - ever!
-Infinit - for customizable sport nutrition
-Levelen - for helping us optimize our hydration needs through sweat testing
-Hot Shot - for keeping Karel cramp-free!
-Solestar - for maximum stability, better power transmission
-Boco Gear - for helping us race in style
-Canari - for the most comfortable, functional and stylish gear
-Xterra - for the fastest wetsuit ever (so fast, Karel is now beating me in the swim!)
-Alto cycling - for enginnering the fastest race wheels
-Swamp Rabbit Inn and Lodge - for keeping our campers happy with perfect lodging options
-Salem Anesthesia - for your Trimarni support