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Race Result

Racer: Michelle Henry
Race: Ironman USA
Date: Sunday, July 25, 2004
Location: Lake Placid, NY
Race Type: Triathlon - Ironman
Age Group: Female 40 - 44
Time: 15:19:42
Comment: My first Ironman - Woo Hoo!

Race Report:

This is my first race report posting to the web site and how fitting that it's also my first Ironman. I can't imagine a better firt-time experience for me. It was all about just finishing and I did that so I feel great.

Happy reading.

My husband, the dog and I arrived in Lake Placid on the Tuesday before the race. A little early to arrive but I wanted to get in lots of practice in Mirror Lake. This is my fourth trip to Lake Placid (my husband has done the race before) so I know the lake is beautiful, a perfect place to swim but still needed to get comfortable.

Needless to say, from Tuesday until race start on Sunday, I was fairly nervous. My first Ironman, my first 2.4 miles swim. I could care less about the other distances, the swim has always been my nemesis.

Ok, it’s race day. Took care of all my last minute “stuff” and got down to race start around 6:30am. Hubby took the requisite pre-race photo (Ick, me in a wetsuit…so not flattering.), gave me a good luck kiss and then I headed for the water. At this point, I thought for sure I’d be a bundle of nerves and would throw-up in the water. But it never happened. Instead, I was amazingly calm and was enjoying the moment. How was that possible? Oh, just because of a few things:
• My coach Neil McLaughlin. Because of him, I felt prepared.
• The inspiration and support from family and friends.
• And a song. A friend mentioned to me a song that got her through an Ironman race - “It’s a Beautiful Day” by U2. Worked like magic.

Being a slow swimmer and wanting to avoid the “washing machine“ effect when 1900+ athletes start swimming all at once, I planted myself in the back - the way back. And so the gun goes off. I take a deep breath and start swimming. Surprise, surprise - I feel great. No hyper-ventilating, no freaking out because the swim in so long, no collisions with other swimmers… just swimming. And U2 playing in my head. Swim time: 1:37:29

Transition uneventful and now I’m out on the bike. In addition to having a solid nutrition plan (some other friendly advice I received), I set my watch to go off every 15 minutes and when it did, I made sure to drink or eat something. Big help.

Ah, the bike course. It totally kicked my butt; nothing but hills. Of course I knew this going into the race but…Wow! My strategy was to keep a nice steady effort over the entire course since I had no idea how I would fair on the run after a difficult bike. The course certainly required me to raise my threshold for speed. Before this race, I was comfortable with 20MPH on a downhill, now I’m up to 30MPH. With so many hills, the only place to pick up time was a downhill. No time to be a chicken. Had new songs for the bike to help pass the time. On the descents, Breathe by Michelle Branch, to help calm the nerves as the scenery flew by and for the ascents, that song about an ant that had high hopes and could move a rubber tree plant. Yes, painfully corny but it worked - helped me up and over every hill. Bike: 7:57:46

Had a lovely time in the transition tent. Drank water, washed road dirt off my face and hands, changed my clothes, put Two Toms’ Blister Shield foot powder in my socks and just took it easy.

Off on the run. It’s so nice that the run begins on a downhill. I was able to start running the moment I left the tent and I my legs felt great. My strategy for the run was to walk any major hills, run a nice easy pace as much as I could and make sure to eat/drink something at each aid station. I stuck to my plan and had a great run. Not fast but comfortable. Kept singing the song An Ordinary Day by ZOEgirl - it has a really good beat. With the last six miles to go, I felt good and kept an easy pace. I passed several people who energized me with their encouragement and it helped me realize that after about 14.5 hours and roughly 132 miles, I still had the stamina to keep moving. That felt great. Run: 5:17:38

The finish line! What a moment and it all went by so quickly. I was yelling my head off with excitement, the crowd (saw hubby on the way in) was incredible, the announcer said my name, I broke through the tape and it was over. I meant to take my time and enjoy every moment of the finish but once I got there, it was too energizing. I found out later that my sister and her family had seen me come across the finish on ironmanlive.com. That was pretty cool.

Once I crossed the finish, I wrapped my arm around a “hugger” as I felt queasy. He walked me over to sit down and got me a piece of pizza. Eventually my husband came over to sit with me but I still wasn’t feeling so great - kind of queasy, kind of dizzy. Couldn’t eat all the pizza which bummed me out because it was good and I totally missed the box of cookies. Uggggh! Anyway, the medical tent was close by so I paid them a visit. Eventually got an IV and got wrapped up in space blankets to keep me warm on the walk back to the hotel.

Well, it’s a just a memory now, what can I do for an encore? Maybe go a little faster next time? Yea, that’s right – signed up again for 2005. Stay tuned.

It’s a beautiful day…don’t let it slip away….a beautiful day