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Race Result

Racer: Brady DeHoust
Race: Ironman USA
Date: Sunday, July 25, 2004
Location: Lake Placid, NY
Race Type: Triathlon - Ironman
Age Group: Male 25 - 29
Time: 10:18:29
Overall Place: 83 / 1860
Age Group Place: 12 / 151
Comment: Best IM on the course that handed me my worst.

Race Report:

My pre-race goals, written approximately one-week out from race day, are in brackets throughout this report.

[So, here I am --- approximately 1-week out from Lake Placid 2004. I can certainly say that my training and fitness is where I want it to be; then again, making goals of 10:30 (total)/3:30(run) are hard when I got my ass handed to me on this course last year. I think I certainly have the potential to go 10:30, given things come together and we have a good day on the course (weather!).]

Things seemed to come together, and I'm very pleased with the results. I don’t think I could’ve done much better, which is a good thing. I hit all my goals, with the exception of the run --- just barely, though. I believe the Lake Placid course takes strength endurance over speed endurance, and the ability to race this course by minimizing how much you slow down will make goals much more attainable. With both the bike and run loops ending with climbs/hills, it seems nearly impossible to even-split, thus, minimizing the positive minutes on the respective second loops is ideal. I slowed down a little more than I would've liked during the run, but that's what I had on that day. I don’t think I went out too hard, I just think I need to get increase that strength endurance. I exited the swim in 638th place, finished the bike in 120th, and ran to 83rd overall.

Deidre, Kyle, and I arrived in Lake Placid on Thursday afternoon, after a two-day trip, taking the western route and stopping in Scranton, PA on Wednesday night. With Kyle just 9-weeks old, we thought it best to break-up the trip in two-parts. Plus, we really weren't in any rush, so the leisurely route seemed to suit us best. We really enjoyed the trip up to Lake Placid. Kyle enlightened us with some new talking and lots of smiles. We tried to stop in cool places when it was time to feed him (Oneonta and Lake George were two of the final stops). Finally arriving mid-afternoon on Thursday, the village was crawling with competitors and their families and friends. We stayed about 2-miles from the village in the Olympic Center condos --- just about waterfront to Lake Placid. Guzek and his girlfriend, Melanie, were en route all day Thursday and would stay just across the hall in another unit. So, our "crew" for the weekend was Guz, Mel, Kyle, D, and myself.

The Friday plan was to get the registration taken care of, hit the swim course, and do a short run. As soon as Guz and I exited the condo, a torrential downpour ensued. This would serve as a foreshadow for the following days' activities; every time we left to go somewhere...rain. We got the registration stuff done while it poured, then scooted over to the swim course. Luckily, the rain had stopped and we were able to get in some swimming. After the swim, a short 20-minute run and the planned activities for the day were done.

Saturday we chose to do a short ride to ensure that everything was working mechanically with the bikes before it was time to check them at transition. Deidre and Melanie made a huge amount of pasta, with some of Melanie's special sauce. My folks attended the pre-race pasta stuffing dinner and left early to allow Guz and I to unwind to try and get a few hours of good sleep before the long day.

Race morning, I had planned to awake around 4:30, primarily to allow time to eat a good breakfast and drink some coffee. At 5am, Deidre asked me what time I was getting up, and I told her 4:30...arg, my watch was still on set mode --- the rush was on. Melanie stepped up and offered to drive Guz and I to the race. The plan was to leave the condo at 5:15, so I had roughly 15-minutes to cram down some yogurt, a bagel, a banana, and some coffee. This is not how I normally choose to operate. Generally, I’d rather be up 5-minutes before plan than 1-minute after. I took care of the yogurt and bagel, and stuffed the banana in my pocket…there’d be plenty of time at the race start to eat some food.

As Guz and I waited in the body marking line, the air was cold. I had some concerns about starting the bike with wet gear from the swim and only arm warmers for warmth --- especially with a 9k descent roughly 30-minutes into the bike. After body marking, we then went out separate ways to take care of last minute transition bag stuff, hit the port-a-loo, and drop off the special needs' bags along Mirror Lake Drive. I waited as long as possible before taking off my warm clothes and putting on my wetsuit. Dropping off the special needs bags, I ran into some familiar faces and chatted briefly. The race announcer was calling for everyone to make way to waters edge...the nervous excitement ran through me.

I entered the water around 6:50 to get a quick warm-up and find a good starting position. With roughly 2000 competitors, the swim start in the narrow Mirror Lake can considered more of a boxing match than a swim. With the air temperature at 43-F, the 70-degree water temperature was very pleasant. While treading water with few-minutes before the start, I spotted Aaron right next to me. We both wished each other luck in the long day ahead. Then BAM! ...go-time.

[Swim: I swam a ton in the earlier months of the year, and got much stronger. But, when racing season came around and the bike/run volume started to pile up for Ironman training, my swimming faded off a bit. Still, my times in the races I've done thus far have all been better --- just not as much as I hoped. I hope to stay relaxed on the swim, knowing the better and longer part of my race is still ahead. I'll be happy with something in the 1:07 – 1:10 range.]

I'm pretty sure that, unless you are a mid to lower 50-minute swimmer that can get out front quick, there's no getting around being absolutely pummeled at the start of this race. There's really no great way to go about it, other than to be patient and realize that you're not going to actually swim (read: take 6-strokes in a row without an arm landing on someone or getting a heel to the chin) until about 800m into the swim. And even at the first turn buoy, all the swimmers who start wide right are merging over and causing a mass of congestion to deal with again. I do, however, think there are some advantages in that the huge masses of people keep the water moving forward at all times. As long as you can stay with a pack, it's almost hard not to draft. I felt comfortable swimming, and once things thinned out, managed to stick with the same group of swimmers the entire way. I'd occasionally brush the bottom of one guy's feet with successive strokes, and he'd reward me with a huge whale kick --- clearly asking me to quit the constant touching. I exited the first loop right on goal, somewhere around 33:xx. Sometime in the final 1000m, my right calf muscle started to cramp. This happens to me during long swims, and I'm pretty sure is due to the tight constriction my wetsuit puts on my leg muscles. It didn't cause any major issues, but forced me to swim for 30-seconds here and there with a straight leg to attempt to stretch out the muscle so the cramp would subside. I didn't feel like my pace had faded too much on the second loop. I exited the swim in 1:07:49, roughly 8-minutes better than my swim last year. It was a huge boost to start my day with a goal swim accomplished.

The run from the swim exit to T1 is roughly 400m along an astro-turf like matting. There were masses of people lining the fences along the path --- cheering loudly, screaming names, and ringing bells. I had tunnel vision as I ran towards the tent, but heard many calls from the usual suspects out there cheering. Into the changing tent, I dumped out my bag and loaded up the gear for the bike. Sometime during my change and unknowingly to me, one of the volunteers picked up my sunglasses from the ground and shoved them back into my swim-to-bike bag with my wetsuit and goggles. On my way out of the tent, I realized I didn't have my sunglasses and quickly headed back to my changing spot to look for them, but no luck. It wasn't worth dorking around in the tent any longer, so I took off without any sunglasses for the duration of the race. Thankfully, I had laser eye-surgery last year, so I didn't need the sunglasses to protect my contact lenses from the wind. And it's not like leaving transition without sunglasses is like leaving without your biking shoes --- no big deal and I'd get over it.

[Bike: 5:30. That was my goal at Duke (5:25), although the course was more "fair" for a 5:30 than LP. Take the first loop at a pace that will allow a somewhat comfortable 2nd loop. I know that mile 80+ will be difficult, and that mile 98+ will be painful with the climbing back to the village. The goal is to ride a pace that will allow me to run to my potential. If that's 5:30, then great...if it's 5:40…fine. I just want to be able to run strong.]

According to plan, I waited roughly 10-minutes before taking in any fluids. I felt comfortable with the air temperature with the arm warmers. There is some decent grade heading out of Lake Placid, before ripping down the descent into Keene. I road steady, and passed other riders as I headed out of Lake Placid. Immediately after the long descent, I started to consume some solid food (Cliff bar) and take in more fluids on a regular basis. Food was going down well in the initial stages of the bike. I thought that anything solid would be best early on, and at special needs, otherwise, it was gel and sports drink (Gatorade / Accelerade). I really love the section after turning off of 73 onto 9N in Keene. You can really set a good tempo and keep speeds high. One slightly annoying thing was how alert I had to be to not put myself into a position to get penalized. With approximately 600 competitors out on the bike course in front of me, it was really congested and difficult to sometimes find my own riding space. At times, I'd drop back to get out of any drafting zones. But more often, I'd ride really hard for 45-seconds to get up to a spot of clear space. This worked well through the first loop, but on the second loop, it was more difficult as I was now riding with people riding a similar pace. Hitting the out-and-back section, I had the chance to see the leaders on the return and getting ready to start the climbs up Whiteface and Jay. The pros seemed to be pretty spread apart for being so early in the race. Glover came through in one of the early packs. I missed Steve somehow. I saw Cascio next and shortly after, the Big Horse, all on the back part of the out-n-back and all looking strong.

One strange thing during the bike at Lake Placid was "how" I was riding. Normally, I'd think that I'd have an advantage on others on grade and climbs, and get swallowed back up on flats and descents. Strangely, it was opposite in that I'd lose ground on the rollers and shorter climbs, and then pass the same riders on the flats. I finished the first loop and felt really good about my efforts to this point. I didn't have any major stomach issues, and really no major leg fatigue. Heading back through special needs, I grabbed a half peanut butter sandwich, a fresh bottle of Accelerade, and a fresh gel flask. It was great to get the pump riding through town with the huge crowds and screaming, crazy fans. I had the chance to see my folks as I passed by the swim start and tried to put on my "I'm feeling good" face. First loop time was 2:35, and knowing that the second loop would likely be slower, I was very pleased to be on pace for my bike goal of 5:30, yet, a little concerned that I went too hard.

On the second loop, there seemed to be a slight headwind heading out of town. Speeds on the descents were slower. On the climbs, I found myself out of the saddle more --- in part to stretch out, and it also felt better on my fatigued legs. I still didn't feel any signs of cramping or nutrition problems. Gatorade was a little too sweet, so I took it in small doses with water immediately following to dilute the sweetness. On the flat stretch of road on 9N, around mile 70, I rode passed a "Dan" (according to his race number). Dan asked if I was from Sterling. He said he recognized the name ("DeHoust" according to my race number), and we chatted shortly. Dan was from Herndon and we both agreed that biking was beginning to get old. We played a little cat-and-mouse before I edged passed him for good. It was a nice little break-up in the ride and at a tough point. Dan would go on to post a very even Ironman race(196th, 200th, 255th S/B/R respectively).

The second time on the out-n-back, I saw all the usual suspects again. I had gained a lot of ground on the Big Horse, and knew that catching him on the bike leg of a triathlon for the first time was possible. It also made me question, again, whether I had ridden too hard. My goal this race was to ride a pace that would allow me to run well, and putting that into jeopardy would be a major issue. Right at the 100-mile marker, the "runner" caught the "swimmer". We always say the bike is a wash between the two of us in our internal competition, although, it's normally what decides who crosses the finish line first --- he who rides better will prevail. His swim margin is normally cancelled out by my run margin, so the bike becomes the deciding factor. Although, with the swim only 2% of an Ironman, chances are good I'll cross paths with the Big Horse if things are going well...well, things were going well, and from mile 100 of the bike on, I'd be out in front for once.

The last few climbs into town hurt pretty good, but I was really just happy to know that I'd soon be able to hand over the bike to a nice volunteer and get things started on the run. The crowds, again, were amazing back into town. My second loop was 2:49, for a total bike split of 5:24. I came out of the water in 638th and would finish the bike in 120th. Things were going as planned. The weather was great. My legs felt good, my nutrition seemed okay, and I was going to start the stronger part of my race.

The bike-to-run transition was pretty quick. Not much to it other than putting on the runners and the visor. I also had a fresh gel flask to take on the run that never once got lifted out of my jersey pocket.

[Run: 3:30. I can't get away from this goal. I think I have the potential to run the 3:30 with the right effort on the bike. So many factors go into having a good run in ironman. So many things need to come together and be "right" (a good bike, nutrition, "running" legs).]

Out of transition, I quickly made note of how I felt --- things checked-out. Heading down the hill out of town, I saw and heard lots of familiar faces and voices. I knew the first mile would be pretty fast, and not a good gauge for subsequent miles. I hit the 1-mile mark in 6:58. Mile-2 came in 14:03, and mile-3 in 21:04. I stuck to plan and ran on "feel" I was a bit concerned that the miles were ticking by too fast. I had envisioned something like 1:40/1:50 for the two-loops to hit the 3:30 mark, and at my current pace, I would come in well under 1:40. To think of it as "banking" time will get you into trouble, and this may be where more experience will help me in the future. I probably went out too hard for an ironman, but again, I was going on "feel"...and I "felt" pretty good. I noticed a fade in pace around the 6-mile mark, but it wasn't terrible. Somewhere between the 5 and 6-mile marker, I was passed by two age groupers who would go on to each run 3:01 marathons and place 5th/6th respectively in our age group. Eventually, I was running steady at around 7:35/mile and felt comfortable. The out-n-back section of the run can get very lonely. There aren't too many spectators out there. Just aid stations and one section I'd label "sign section of hell". It's a long, straightaway with a sign every foot along the way --- way too many for me to be able to concentrate long enough to read. I slowed down considerably hitting the hills back into town to finish the first loop, and felt a big fade in the works. At the end of the Degree of difficulty hill, I saw my Dad, slapped him five, and shuffled on. I started to worry about a bonk and began to feel very fatigued and run down from the long day.

I detested the thought that I'd soon to be running again through "sign section of hell". Out of town was once again a big boost with all the fans and shouts of encouragement. I started to hurt really bad and stared with a dazed look straight ahead. The same folks who I was giving smiles, "thanks", and thumbs-up to on the first loop were lucky to receive a nod. I didn't have the energy any longer to respond to their cheers (shame on me). It was all about progressing forward without resulting to a walk. On the return trip in the valley, I hit my lowest point of the day. I didn't want to eat or drink anything...it was all forced. Somewhere on the return, a volunteer stuck out some chocolate/peanut butter bar (Marathon bar, I think). I swooped it up and it tasted really good...it hit the spot and gave me some calories to take to the finish; otherwise, I think I would've been in serious trouble. Pretzels also worked, with a salty as opposed to sweet taste.

Steve was not too far ahead, and when he came upon Guz who was on his way out, he stopped and chatted with him briefly and waited for me to catch-up. I think we were both in the midst of the wheels falling off, and it was tough to keep conversation going. I had thoughts of possibly finishing the run with him and crossing the finish line together, but that quickly faded as he pulled away with every step. I had sections where I'd feel terrible, but would rebound and feel okay for another section. At some point before making the turn out of the valley to start the climbing back into town, Steve must have hit the port-a-loo and I passed him. I started to taste the finish and was able to maintain a more consistent pace. I big savior in my race was the ability to recover often, after feeling the need to potentially resort to a walk.

The night before the race, my Dad asked me how long after the finish it took to experience the euphoria of the accomplishment. I told him that that feeling starts around 1-mile to the finish, and lasts...well, for long time after the finish. Rounding the corner to hit the last couple miles on Mirror Lake Drive, I thought about that answer I gave my Dad the night before, and wondered whether it was valid. I was far from euphoria with 1-mile to go. With about a half-mile to the finish, an age-grouper darted around me and immediately put a gap between the two of us. It took me a few seconds to process that I had just been dropped by an age-grouper and would likely lose an age-group spot in the final moments of a 10+ hour day. I kindly asked my body to respond, but it had no answer --- the pace I was running was the pace that would remain. I hit the oval for the finish lap and the euphoria started kicking in. I crossed the finish with a 3:37 marathon, adding 18-minutes to my second loop, but maintaining a "run" nonetheless.

I often think of ironman racing being analogous to a video game where you only have one life. Starting the game over and over is like your training, and the more practice you have, the better your chances of making it through the game without losing your "man". But there's always the chance that, no matter how much you practice and perfect the game, something can always come along and take that life and end your game. Ironman racing is similar. So much time and training is required, yet there's only one chance to put it all together. There are uncontrollable circumstances that can always interfere with your progression through the "game". I was happy to make it through Lake Placid with one "man". That said, I'm always inspired by those who persevere through the unforeseen obstacles that they sometimes face during such an event.

In addition to the stupendous support I always get from Deidre and Kyle, my parents decided to make the trip to Lake Placid to experience their first ironman as spectators. My parents, along with Melanie and others, really helped Deidre get our 9-week old son, Kyle, through his first ironman as part of Dad's support crew...he was awesome! It was really nice to have them there as added support and extra encouragement during the race. And it can't go without saying that Deidre is amazing. She took 99% of the parental responsibility during the days leading up to the race to allow me time to get things in order and take care of all the race logistics. She's now not only #1 fan, but also #1 Mom!

Melanie cooked us up a big breakfast Monday morning of eggs, sausage, hash browns, and toast. My folks came over and enjoyed all the post race talk. It was fun to hear their perspective on the day.

And just today, I received an email from my Dad with the subject: "Dad's Race Report". I’ve attached his account of his first ironman experience below. If your eyes are still open, and you have a fresh cup of coffee, it's really a great read (and much shorter than my "iron" report :) ).


Dad's Race Report
Lake Placid Ironman
July 25, 2004

The Distance. I'll start by working backwards. Everyone instinctively knows the Ironman distances are phenomenal challenges. But, I really wanted to get a handle on the swim and bike evolutions having run two marathons many years ago. So, Margie and I rented a kayak and paddled our way around the Mirror Lake 2.4 mile swim course, the site of the Lake Placid Ironman. A mile distance seems to look a lot longer on the water. We paddled one length from the turn around buoy to the start, .6 of a mile in about 13 minutes. At this rate Margie and I would have finished 5 minutes behind the winner and only 5 minutes ahead of Mike Guzek, Brady's friend. I watched the water as we paddled and imagined someone swimming along side. We were paddling in a leisurely fashion, but still were moving along nicely. I know how hard Brady has been working on his swim, his most challenging part of the Ironman, but now appreciate the fruit of his efforts. Several years ago I was toying with running a marathon and went out one day and ran 6 miles. At the end of the run I thought about having to do another 20 and quickly gave up on the marathon idea. It took me about two years to overcome the mental barrier. I think Brady may have had similar feelings when he went to the pool for the first time and was wiped out after about 30 lengths (?) or so. Overcoming doubts must be a big part of being a tri-athlete.

I also noted the run and bike courses on the map. On the ride home, I rode down out of Lake Placid and noted both turns off Route 73, at Riverside Rd. for the marathon and Route 9N for the bike. I noticed that it seemed mostly down hill out of town. Of course that meant a steady up hill climb on the way back. Again, I had a new appreciation of the effort of all the athletes. I even felt some disdain for the course architects. They are probably driven by some devious code to always make the way back the most difficult. I'm sure the participants feel the same way when they’re working up those hills.

Next I watched our odometer on the ride home. The ironman total distance is 140.6 miles. Just for comparison, we were 10 miles below Albany when we hit exactly 140.6 miles from the bagel shop in Lake Placid. It's also about the same distance to my son Matt's home in Smithfield, VA, from our house in Dumfries. So I started thinking-I could swim from our house about 2.4 miles to 95 S, bike through Richmond to about 20 miles past Hopewell and then run the final 26 miles to Matt’s. Yikes!!!

Finally, I noticed as we neared our home in Dumfries on Tuesday that we would make the trip back in 10 hours and about 20 minutes. It was along day in the car, I was stiff from sitting and tired of driving even though Margie and I split driver duties. I told Margie we would make it home in just about the same time as Brady's triathlon. I imagined having to spend over 10 hours in extremely vigorous, arduous, competitive Ironman events. Another yikes!!!

Pre-Race Day. Margie and I walked to town for breakfast and I overheard a couple of conversations among participants. The day before an Ironman should be called the "Day of Doubts." Seems every conversation centered on words such as "I don’t think I've biked hills enough" or "I think I can make it to the run but that may be it." I’m sure these athletes are also really tuned into their bodies and are nearly paranoid about any new feedback such as an unexpected tightness are a pain here or there, especially right before the race. I imagine the "Day of Doubts" can seem a long one.

Race Day. There's a lot of excitement race day for everyone. We ran into a first timer in front of the post office and evidently his "day of doubt" spilled over to race day. He was really nervous and told me so. The only encouragement I could think of was to tell him "nervous is good." I don’t think it was much help mentally but we were able to help in another way as Margie took a pre-race picture of him with his family. Turns out we saw his wife later at the finish and he made it in 11:12:48 in the 40-44 class. See, "nervous is good."

It's tiring to watch an Ironman, especially if a family member or someone you are close to is participating. Margie and I started the day praying for Brady and his friend Mike and for Deidre and Kyle too. After all, spending about 11-12 hours wrapped up in one event can be exhausting-just think about Kyle, at only 9 weeks old. We prayed that they would do well, that they would be safe, that the bikes would work properly and there would be no injuries. We also prayed that Kyle would have a good day, too.

I think the most tiring part is dealing with emotions. I remember Brady's first Olympic distance triathlon in Bethany Beach. We watched him take off in the ocean and never saw him come out, never saw the transition to the bike and of course were worried that the ocean had swallowed him up. Lake Placid was a much bigger event and you only get a glimpse of your participant several times during the race. It's hard to gauge how they are doing but you try. Here are some of my feelings during the race:

-I saw Brady running up from the swim-checked my watch (1:09)-great time but he looked cold.

-I saw him head out on the bike-I hope he doesn't have any mechanical problems. He seemed really focused, especially trying to avoid other bikes. I was concerned about mechanicals for the whole bike portion. That part isn’t fun.

-I saw him at the half way point of the bike-he looked strong and pleased.

-I saw him start the run – he looked determined and comfortable.

-I saw him on the way up the hill at the completion of the first loop of the run-looking good but it's only 1:23 from when I saw him last-I thought maybe he was going too fast and might pay later.

-I saw him on the way down the hill going for the 2nd loop-looked good and he was happy to see Kyle and Deidre.

-I saw him round the turn to the finish line. He looked beat but was still moving well. 10:18:29-83 overall, 12th in his age group. What a great job! What a great day!

-I saw him a while later. He seemed fine. I kind of expected him to be either delirious or somehow out of whack after such exertion

The trouble with feelings and trying to read the participant is you can't get a really good assessment in 10 seconds. It's such a long ordeal and I think the natural thing is for them to try to look fine for those rooting for them even if they are really hurting. It's probably better that you don't have a good assessment-there are probably too many ups and downs for the athletes over the day that the roller coaster ride would be too much for those rooting for them.

Post Race Day ("Pay back" day). Only one observation, I saw many married participants pushing baby carriages, holding hands with their kids and otherwise being very attentive to their families the next day. Most were obviously allowing their wives the well-deserved opportunity to shop and enjoy the town after spending the previous day rooting for their husbands and taking care of the children. (Remember the couple we met in front of the library. I watched her stuff one of the posters she had made for her kids to cheer Dad on in the trash after the race. I think she really needed a "Pay back" day).

Random Observations.

-Triathletes have to be some of the most dedicated, disciplined and courageous athletes of any sport.

-Triathletes put it on the line since no matter how hard they train, they really don't know how their body will respond on race day.

-You can train for months and then have your bike break down. I'd worry about that the most.

-Physically it's unbelievably demanding- but the mental aspects are probably even more demanding.

-You can't make a half-hearted commitment to being a tri-athlete.

-Everyone who finishes is a winner in this sport-every time they finish

-We were so pleased for Brady and Mike.

-Margie and I loved the experience.

-I'm a fan.

To Melanie, Mike's girlfriend, for ushering us around the course and getting us to good places to watch Brady and Mike. She really knows how to get through a crowd!

To Brady, Deidre, Mike and Melanie for having us to dinner and breakfast.

To Brady and Deidre for letting us take Kyle for the night.

To God, that our prayers were answered!

Last thought. Margie and I visited the Olympic Training Facility the day after the race. From a window on the second floor I could see workers tearing down the tents and support equipment from the previous days event. I suddenly realized what a big event it had been and how much I enjoyed it. Sometimes it takes a while to process events that move you.