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Race Result

Racer: Mike Guzek
Race: Ironman USA
Date: Sunday, July 28, 2002
Location: Lake Placid, NY
Race Type: Triathlon - Ironman
Age Group: Male 25 - 29
Time: 11:31:21
Overall Place: 334
Age Group Place: 55
Comment: First time doing this race.

Race Report:

Ironman Lake Placid 2002

Ok folks, here are the vitals for the 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run. You can also check out the full results: I finished 334th out of 1750 with a time of 11:31:21. Swim was 57:28 (125th overall), bike 5:51:52 (19.1 mph, 377th overall) and run was 4:32:39 (562nd overall). I was 55th in my age group out of 144 and I was the 5th 39 and under clydesdale. Here is my story.

Leading Up To The Big Day
I arrived in Lake Placid, NY after the 10-hour drive late Thursday night. Friday morning I did a 1.2-mile swim in the crisp (I am a wuss in cold water) waters of Mirror Lake and hit the big pasta dinner that night. I woke up Saturday and did a quick spin on the bike, short run, checked the bike in and laid low the rest of the day trying to prep for tomorrow's race.

Race Morning
Sunday morning (race morning) I was up at 4am, pummeled a small amount of oatmeal, some shredded wheat, a couple of bananas and started sipping on some high calorie drink concoction I made (the idea seemed better than the taste). Got all my stuff to together and hit the door looking for some action.

My name is Mike Guzek, and I am ready for the Ironman.

I arrived at the race site and checked in my bags, did my normal freak out about things that really weren't a very big deal, and headed towards the water. In rare Mike Guzek fashion, I was early and decided to hang out with Melanie for about 15 minutes to get focused--hands down the toughest part of the race and anyone will tell you that. It's not the race, it's shortly before… all that energy just bottled up, your mind running over and over everything you have done to see if there is a flaw. Did I inflate my tires? Are my running shoes in my transition bag? Where is my water bottle? Should I have brought my other bike? Are my shades too dark for the bike? Did I leave the iron on when I left this morning? And on and on… No one wants to screw up any triathlon they do, but an Ironman is the ultimate race not to screw up. Months of planning and training, thousands of dollars put into travel, lodging, race fees, gear, food, etc. And maybe worst of all, tons of people who will ask you about it when you get back. You fret about showing up in the transition area and realizing you forgot your helmet or your running shoes or any of the dozens of the other things that are needed to race. If you do, all the money and time may go down the tube and then you have to tell everyone who asks you how your race went, that it didn't, cause you're an idiot. OK, that said, I'm nervous.

I say my goodbyes and start to pull my wetsuit on. Look down, I am pulling my wetsuit on over my bike shorts. Did I say anything about nerves? Wetsuit off, shorts off, wetsuit on, now I am ready. Hit the water and seed myself as close to the front as I can get which is about 5 feet off the line. It's so crowded that as I tread water, both legs are continuously intertwined with other swimmers. Patiently I wait there as we tick away the final few minutes. "I am pretty sure that the iron was off when I left."

The swim takes place in Mirror Lake in downtown Lake Placid. It's a two-loop course where swimmers exit after 1.2 miles, run around a buoy and go back for the second loop. The water is clear and there is even a small wire the runs the length of the buoys that you can use as a guide. You could literally swim the course without having to look up. Of course, there are 1700+ other people with the same idea, so if you want a spot on the rope, be ready to fight for it.

We're Racing
3,2,1 GO! We are off! The swim for the first 500 meters was absolute chaos. I have never been in anything quite like it. I am a good swimmer, I can normally get up front and break free of most of the mayhem, but I started 5 rows deep and there were plenty of other "pretty good swimmers" there. So me and my 1750 friends all tried to head towards the same buoy. My heart rate skied as I literally fought with everyone around me--getting dunked, hit, kicked, you name it. This probably zapped about 2 min off my time. I'm not complaining though--it was the same for everyone, unless you sprang off the very front. Once I got going, I totally chilled. I drafted probably 85% of the way. I rarely looked up as I followed the rope below. Of course I swam dead on into nearly every buoy there was because the buoys are connected to the rope… I was swimming above the rope…so, I ran into……you get the idea. I got out of the first lap, checked the watch: 27 minutes… "Eh, little slower than I wanted, no biggie." Back in for lap 2. I just stayed in the draft of others, gave a couple goat kicks to swimmers behind me who repeatedly felt the need to hit me every stroke and stayed focused. I exited in 57 minutes (125th overall) and was really relaxed as I hit the transition tent.

The Bike
The 112-mile bike course consists of 2 56-mile loops around the village of Lake Placid in the Adirondack Mountains. The course starts off with about 25 miles of mainly down hills and flats including one 4-mile descent where speeds can approach 60mph! The next 20 miles are moderate and the final 10-12 miles is mostly uphill, climbing out of the valley you descended into at the start of the loop. For you altitude geeks, here is the bike profile.

For the first 40 miles or so I went a little hard, taking advantage of how gravity pulls "fat" guys down hill (Hey, I'm 215lbs!), but on the climbs back up into town I tried to put the brakes on and save my gas for the second loop… actually, I think it's the 215lbs that put the brakes on! In any case, I watched a solid stream of people ascending by me over the last 10 miles into town. I stuck with my strategy to be absolutely patient on lap one and ignore the speed demons. My first split was great, I was in at 2:44 and I felt pretty good, but was still worried I had hit it too hard. I cruised through the special needs station and picked up a nice hammy sammy I made that morning. It tasted fantastic. I did my first and only other Ironman distance race last year at the Great Floridian and at that race I was unable to stomach any more power bars/gels/etc on the second loop of the bike. This year I tried to take care of that with some more traditional foods- my sandwich and some Combos at the halfway point! Tasty! On to loop 2!

Bike Lap 2
There is a nice uphill about 5 miles out of town and when I got to that the second time around I felt the burn in my legs, more people passed, and I got a little worried I had gone to hard on the first loop. I wondered if I might crumble. About this time, I became very aware that over the past hour the clouds were starting to look pretty ugly. I thought, "There is no way it will rain during MY Ironman." Well, I have been wrong before and I was wrong today…it rained…and it rained and rained. It started right as I began the screaming 50+ mile/hour descent at mile 65 and continued for about an hour. At first I felt like life sucked. I was tired and sore and not even halfway through my day, and now--now I was wet. But I realized it forced me to slow my pace and catch my breath. It also made heat a non-factor. So eh, not that bad I guess. And by about mile 80 it stops raining. Cool. I try to dry off. Oops, mile 85, the rain is back. I am wet again. Finally about mile 100 it lets up just as I was making the climb back into town. Perfect.

Things are picking up, I am nearly there, my time is good, I feel good, I held the pace I wanted to finish strong and wait… what's that noise? Don't tell me it's a flat. I check. It's a flat. I flatted on my new rear tubulars that I have never changed in my life. I was terrified. I just got this wheelset about 2 weeks ago and I figured praying to the no flat gods would prevent a flat. Even if I was successful at changing it I was probably looking at 20 minutes as I fumbled around with my spare having no idea what I am doing. If you don't know, a tubular is not like a normal tire, the tube and tire are all one piece and you glue it to the rim. There was still barely a small amount of air in it so I prayed it was a slow leak and filled it up with a CO2 cartridge, got on my bike, and absolutely hammered to get in as soon as I could. I think I barely made it. It was pretty wobbly on the home stretch and totally flat when I got the bike after the race. I'm either very lucky or unlucky depending on how you look at it. Shew. This race's disaster was averted with only a couple minutes lost! I cruised in with a 3:06 second loop, a 5:51 total time and a 19.1 mph average, but most importantly, I felt really good. Last year, I put all I had in the bike and limped into T-2. This year I road in clenching my fist in celebration--I felt good.

I was in at 6 hours 56 minutes almost identical to my race last year. I held out a for the small hope that I could assemble a 4-hour marathon for an 11-hour total finish, but that was also the plan last year and it turned in a 5:18 marathon, so I was not using that as the benchmark for success today. I have to pat myself on the back for one thing. I slipped some dry socks into a zip lock bag in my transition bag so in the even of rain they would be guaranteed to be dry. They felt great to put on… I feel good now just thinking about those socks. Great job Mike!

The Run
At the Great Floridian, when I headed out on the run, I made it about 500 yards before I was on the ground with cramps and stomach problems. This time as I headed out of the transition tent, I felt terrific. I started cruising out of town at 8:30 miles with a grin on my face because I had gotten to the run how I had hoped (I could actually… RUN!).

The course contains 2 13.1-mile loops. Each loop starts out with about 3 miles of mainly down hills or friendly flats and then flattens out with some gentle rollers at the bottom. Again, for you altitude geeks, here is the run profile.

I ran strong through 10 miles averaging under 9-minute miles, pummeling every bit of food and water I saw. I remembered last year how I felt light-headed from lack of eating and how I got cramps from lack of salts. I was not going to let that happen this year. I slammed back Gatorades, like I used to do Beast Light in college. I sucked back gels, Cokes, and tons of water. Every half hour or so I popped a salt tablet and crushed bananas every few miles. I had plenty of juice for the run, that's for sure, but the fuel of champions I assembled in my stomach reared its ugly gaseous head every 10 minutes or so. It would start with a rumble, then a tumble and then I would have about 30 seconds where I was ready to duck behind a bush or rock to relieve myself (this is a PG13 version, the R version has all the action from inside the Port-a-Potty). I actually (luckily) only needed to duck into a bathroom one time on the run. As I made my way back up the hills into town to finish my first lap, I started to feel the onset of "eeeee! my thighs are burning," but I was sticking to my plan of holding a steady solid pace and walking through the aid stations. I made it to the halfway point just a couple minutes over 2 hours, and by this point I was feeling pretty spent. If I wanted to make 11 hours for the race I needed to run a couple of minutes faster on the second half than the first… so right about then I knew that that was not going to happen. No biggie, I was still surprising myself on how well I had done up to this point.

Run Lap 2
The second half would prove much tougher and it took me about 2:30 to finish. I made progress by walking the aid stations and hills and doing my best to run all flats and down hills. I also got a chance to see some friends on the course. I saw Aaron and Candyman, both of whom were kind enough to pass me on the second lap, (thanks guys) and my Lake Placid roomie, Mike, who looked pretty good on the run.

Unlike last year where the whole run was fraught with cramps, indigestion, dizziness, heat, queasiness and fatigue, this year I struggled only the last 13 miles and that was only because of fatigue. That means I did everything else right and I just got tired at the end and that's ok. Little more training and a little more work and hopefully I can push the breaking point a little further and further out until I cross the line, having never faded during the race. The problems I had last year on the run were symptoms of going too hard on the bike and not fueling properly. At least today, I took care of that. I felt good at the finish and crossed the line with a 4:30 marathon at 11 hours 31 minutes and 21 seconds in 334th place. I tried to give the Heisman pose as I crossed the line, but I think it just looked like I had a cramp or some problem. I was pumped and I was done and I shaved 48 minutes off my only other Ironman distance race in October.

I'm Done!
When the race was over I slammed a few pieces of pizza and got a nice massage. I worked my way through the array of check points, routing plans and mapping protocols they had in place around the transition area to be sure no one left with someone else's gear. "Sorry sir, no one can help you carry your bags because they can't come into the transition area." "Sorry sir, you will have to take your bike and your 3 transition bags all the way around to the north exit way over there… the one you can barely see, where, of course, you will lose contact with people you are trying to meet up with…" I totally understand, it was all set up like that for good reasons, but I was tired. "Will you please suspend the race for about 5 minutes and let me get my gear without all these distractions?" Jeez, can't a guy get a break around here!?!?

I got back to the hotel room with the intentions of heading back to the finishing line to see the last people come in, but after a nice hot shower and short nap on the bed, it became really really hard to get back up. When a second torrential (and I ain't exaggerating here) rain started around 11:00 pm that cinched it. I was staying put in the hotel room.

I left once again with the greatest admiration for the final finishers of the day. Not only did the last finishers finish near midnight, after 17 hours of racing, but this year they had to contend with an absolute monsoon. It rained so hard and thundered and lightning so bad, the TV broadcast was turned off, the PA system was turned off and everyone was removed from the bleachers. Most finishers revel in the moment you make your way down the finishing shoot and announcer calls your name and declares you an Ironman. With no PA system, these people, soaked, didn't even get that. Those guys are total warriors.

Well, that's it for Ironman 2. Time to rest, my legs are tired.