Reston Area Triathletes RATS.net Logo

Race Result

Racer: Alex Rochette
Race: Ironman USA
Date: Sunday, July 25, 2004
Location: Lake Placid, NY
Race Type: Triathlon - Ironman
Age Group: Male 30 - 34
Time: 12:16:17
Overall Place: 792 / 1961
Age Group Place: 159 / 329
Comment: Wanderings of an under trained first timer

Race Report:

Summary – Upstate New York wanderings of an under trained neophyte.

I registered late for Ironman Lake Placid (I got a slot at a recent Mid-Atlantic race) and meant to use it as a rehearsal for another Ironman later this fall. I somewhat crashed my training (one long run, one long ride, and some mountaineering in Colorado) and followed it by an “extreme tapering” (9-day layoff).

I had relatively low expectations given the circumstances but I had a great time on a scenic but mean course (hilly!). Result-wise, in a nutshell:
- Swim: bottom 10%;
- Bike: middle of the pack;
- Run; top 10%.

Overall time: a little over 12 hours.


I received the confirmation that I would be able to enter Ironman Lake Placid (IMLP) only a few weeks beforehand… so I basically crashed my training. I didn’t have the time to sweat the long stuff and my key workouts were, two weeks before the race, clustered in a five-day “boot camp”: 20-mile run, 100-mile bike ride, climbing Mt Elbert (6:00 hike), Mt Massive (6:30 hike), and Mt Harvard (9:30 hike) in Colorado.

My legs were pretty shot… and I didn’t do anything for the following 9 days (except for stretching). I am calling this “extreme tapering.” I am still not sure if this last minute training surge helped or hindered my efforts.

So, in effect, (I realized it the evening of the race) the swim and bike legs of IMLP were respectively my longest swim and bike ride to date (shame on me). I was much better prepared for the run leg… as I still benefited from my training for the Boston Marathon.

Given the circumstances, I decided to take it relatively easy (what a nice day for training). Don’t get me wrong: I was not exactly slacking that Sunday… just being conservative and avoiding any injury.


I arrived in Lake Placid after a 12-hour or so trip. The New York area being flooded, I lost an awful lot of time in the traffic jams. I got the comfort to listen to French radio toward the end of the trip… didn’t realize how close Montreal is from Lake Placid (a mere 100 miles)! I met with the Buechlers (Joanne, Jordan, John, and Jeffry – notice a pattern here?), Olwen and her mother, and Joanne, Julie, and Eric at the lodge we were renting. I had considered camping but it was nice to be dry and sleeping in a bed.

I bugged the veterans with silly questions about the course and race/nutrition strategies (thank you all for your advice), and even got to play a game of petanque on the eve of the race.


The swim was scary! About 2,000 people aiming for the same turn-around buoy. Being the awful swimmer that I am… I not only seeded myself at the back of the pack but also waited a couple minutes before actually starting to swim. This probably helped but the first lap was still very crowded.

If you read Julie Oplinger’s race report, you remember that she was swimming shoulder-to-shoulder with Heather Fuhr (the eventual female runner-up). Well, I am proud to say that I was myself swimming shoulder-to-shoulder with no less than Simon Lessing (the eventual male winner)… only I was finishing my first loop when he exited the water on his way to a new course record! I guess I’ll look silly on ESPN. Oh, well.

Anyhow. I finished my second loop (a little faster than the first one). It took me 1:38:00 to swim the 2.4 miles… at that point, I was 1,900th or so (sic). The upside is that I was not really tired (how could I be?). Only, most everybody else was 30 minutes ahead of me.


Pretty eventful. Run a quarter mile down the carpeted streets of Lake Placid. Pick up my bike gear. Change. Pick up my bike. 8:00.

The bike was fun. This is a mean course: about 6,000 foot elevation gain overall (quite alright for the uber cyclist like Kyle Yost or Steve Smith, tough for me) but very scenic. I was a bit tense in the first downhill – getting accustomed to a new bike – but as time passed by I relaxed and enjoyed the ride. [Note: Thank you Willis and Jeff for your bikes!] I was probably approaching 45 mph on the steepest downhill. (There is a 1,500 foot elevation drop over a 5 mile stretch. Do the math, it’s pretty steep.) Then there is the long uphill back to Lake Placid.

I finished the first loop in 3:05:00 or so. It was a bit faster than I expected and I slowed down on the second loop (this being my first Ironman, I didn’t know what to expect for the run… so I chose to play it safe). The second loop also included a couple pit stops and my stomach was not feeling too well (I nearly vomited a few times but nothing ugly so far) and I wrapped it up in 3:30 or so. My knees were starting to hurt and my energy level was decreasing quite noticeably (here is for the lack of training, and, more to the point, the lack of long rides).

One of the amazing things is to traverse Lake Placid at the end of the first and second bike loops. I felt like I was in the final mile of a Tour de France’s stage in the Pyrenees/Alps with the crowd cheering and all. Quite an adrenaline rush!

Also, a nice benefit of being a slow swimmer is that you get to catch a lot of people in the subsequent legs. I estimate that I passed about 400-500 people over the 112 mile ride and about 600-700 over the course of the marathon. This is always good for the morale.

The volunteers were amazing. When I reached the transition area, somebody grabbed my bike and took care of racking it for me. Nothing special again, only I took the time to change clothes (most people seemed to keep their bike clothes on). 5:00.


Surprisingly to me, my legs were feeling relatively fresh: no embarrassing shuffle exiting the transition area. I hit the first mile sub 7:00. And then ran the first 10 miles at a pace between 7:30 to 8:15 (depending on the profile of the course). Well, the 11th mile includes a pretty steep section maybe 150 feet gain over a quarter mile (there is an overall 1,300 foot elevation gain)… and after that, I was pretty much done. Pooped. The following miles were slower by at least 1:00, sometimes 1:30 or 2:00 (I am not complaining: most people around me were walking by that point). I must have finished the first loop in about 1:45:00 or so, while the second loop took me about 2:00:00. Also, my stomach was not happy at that time. I had to stop twice to the port-a-potties and to replace carbohydrate gels/water by Gatorade, and later plain water.

Funnily, when I was reaching the 25 mile mark, I saw Joanne (Julie’s friend) running back, probably to find and cheer Julie over the last few miles. She was wearing regular clothes and her hair was wet. Dang!?! She had the time to shower, change, and now, incredibly fresh, she is running and cheering? Oh, my! (I didn’t realize she was not racing Lake Placid this year…)

Finish chute. Again, incredible crowd support. Last few steps… 12:15 or so. Aaaah. This is good when it ends. :)

Recovery drink. Massage. Aaaah…


Swim: a gel after the first loop. T1: an Ensure. Bike: Two bottles with thick carbohydrate mix; Water bottle every other station (about 16-20 ounces per hour). T2: an Ensure. Run: Two carbohydrate mixes: a swig every other mile with water… and when my stomach started to do poorly, Gatorade for a few miles, then just water.

I had a great time and this was a great real life rehearsal for this fall. My goal will be to finish in 10:xx: it seems reasonable to shave 15 minutes on the swim (probably the most difficult part), 45 minutes on the bike (I am fairly confident about that), and shave about 15 minutes on the run (very feasible, but it will depend on how my body reacts to a more strenuous bike ride).

What I need to do:
1/ Spend time in the pool.
2/ Do the long stuff: at least 3-4 120 mile rides, and 2-3 20+ mile runs.
3/ Strengthen my biking legs.