Thursday, August 2, 2012

Ironman Lake Placid Race Recap: For The Children's Tumor Foundation

No, not me!

This particular race recap is courtesy of my friend Sarah.

I got to know Sarah last fall, while I was training for the NYC Marathon and raising research funds for The Children's Tumor Foundation.  I followed her Ironman training through her facebook status updates, as she got nearer to race day, Sarah dedicated each of her training days to a different person affected by this disorder.  She was the Featured Athlete of Ironman Lake Placid, and is truly an inspiration.

I will now give the floor to her:

Ironman was a word that had no meaning to me 6 years ago. Running a marathon was out of the question. I hated running! "Can't" was a word in my vocabulary. Ironman isn't just a goal, it isn’t just an endurance event. It was life changing. I now have finished an Ironman, run 10 marathons, and now believe I CAN do anything. I had the honor of fundraising for the Children's Tumor Foundation and raised - as of today with matching gifts - nearly $12,000

Race weekend: 
It started with a drive up to Lake Placid with my dear friend Kristin who was the one who first got me to sign up. The next day I was greeted by Kylie, age 6, and her superstar triathlete mother, Angela. As the featured athlete of the race I was interviewed and asked to share my fundraising journey with NF Hero Kylie. This video was shown at the athlete dinner in front of nearly a thousand athletes. After the video played Kylie and I were asked to come up on stage. By the time we got to the stage (a 15-foot walk), everyone - EVERYONE - was on the feet with tears in their eyes. That moment, like a hundred others from that weekend, will last forever.
Here is the video that was shown at the dinner:


Swim Start:
I was mentally prepared for this to suck (sorry mom, no better word here). But walking up to the swim start arch, I was in my zone. The panic went away and my body just knew we had a long day ahead and we worked way too hard to freeze up now. I waited a few minutes to let people start, despite being a strong swimmer; what’s a couple minutes when your day is based on hours? It is a mass swim start: 2,600 people are in the water, the clock hits 7am, and the start cannon goes off! U2’s "Beautiful Day" comes across the speakers and you are in it.

The swim is a two-loop course in which you have to get out after the first lap and dive back in. Kylie was on the dock and saw me thanks to my ultra cool Orca wetsuit and was screaming for me to give her a high five. I didn't see her due to my goggles fogging (they were as tight as possible for fear of getting them knocked off, it is a little crowded with 2,599 other people). But if you watch the next video you will see I got to see her right out of the swim. I ran down the chute into transition and saw my amazing friends Alyssa, Angie, Cory, Sam and Dan screaming their heads off. 

Here is the video after the swim: 


The longest section of the race. There is no way around it. It is a long time on your bike. Everyone tells you the training is the hardest part of the Ironman experience and you know what they are right. Trying to fit into a 24-hour period a 7-hour bike ride, followed by a 1-hour run and a 30-minute swim, plus eating, sleeping, balancing a full time job and having some what of a social life for seven months is not easy. Race day is the last 140.6 of an incredible journey. So when I hit those tough hills, I smiled. When I hit mile 100, I remembered my friend Cory who a year ago helped me ride my bike for the first time.

There was a section on the course where you feel like you are in the Tour de France; the hill is lined with people as you go about 8mph uphill. Riding into town was an insane feeling as you see your family and friends. I stopped at the special needs and asked the volunteer to open the drawings from Kylie and her sister Katelyn who thanked me for racing for her sister. If that isn’t motivation to do another 56 I don’t know what is!
So... I wasn't prepared to feel this good. For those runners out there, you know that when predicting your marathon time you double your half marathon time and add 10 minutes. Well with triathlon you double your half time and add about an hour or so. I just stayed at the same speed as my half Ironman.

I hit about mile 95 on the bike and by that point, I had seen numerous guys (yes, no girls) stopping to throw up or lie down to have a minute, and I was struggling a bit. I knew I needed to continue to get down some nutrition, but it was 90 degrees, sunny and, oh yeah, the toughest part of the course. I couldn't wait to get to the run. When I came out of transition in my brand new race top with all of the NF heroes on the back of my shirt I felt like a million bucks.

I know how crazy all of this sounds and if you have read up to here I am impressed. 
Running a marathon after a 2.4-mile swim and 112-mile bike sounds like a punishment.  I totally hear you! But it wasn’t! It was my tenth marathon and my favorite. I felt good the whole entire time and I think I was smiling the whole time. The course is an out-and-back (twice) so you see people multiple times including your friends and family. This was such an incredible feeling because at this point you know you are going to finish no matter what and you also know (yes, I thought it too) your friends and family are breathing a deep sigh of relief from tracking you. The run is my thing and I knew I would finish. The camera also found me at about mile 16 of the run. ( Mile 16 which  is really mile 150.6…sure no big deal).  They asked me how I was feeling and I think they were shocked by my smile and ability to form sentences.
I hit my last special needs bag at mile 12 and was holding on to my last letter which was from Krissy Diaz who is 24 and has NF2. I read her letter to the camera, but the part you don't see on camera is that it hit me a mile later she won't be able to hear me say those words because she has lost her hearing. The reality hit of how lucky I was too be out there. How I had the honor of getting out there. Krissy wrote me and told me she could read my lips from the video.
YUP I said it! I FINISHED.

My friends were lined along the course and I knew they would be in the Olympic Oval awaiting my last couple of steps. I knew I just had to get to Amy right before mile 25 who sent a message to the Angela and Kylie at the finish line. Kylie was waiting for me to finish with two medals (one she made herself). Then I hit the last mile. I just slowed down and took every step in. This was it... this is what got me up every single morning, this is what a year ago I thought was impossible. This is what I was scared to tell anyone I signed up for. 

This is what I did.

Ironman is life changing, being able to be the featured athlete of the race was a dream come true. I have devoted most of my life the past 5 years to fundraising and endurance events. So for me, it wasn't Mike Riley saying "you are an Ironman." It was the journey it took to get there and making that turn down the finish chute and taking a deep breath and soaking it in. The video captures me finishing and Kylie giving me my medal with a double high five.
So there you have it folks, 140.6 in the books. 
The question I get now is: what's next? 
My question for you is...........What will you do next? 
Whether you sign up for a 5k, a bike ride, a walk, or to volunteer, it doesn't matter the distance as long as you are dedicating a part of your life to help others. 

It will change your life
My experience with the Ironman Foundation as the featured athlete reminded me how incredible fundraising can be. Fundraising allows us to give others hope. It allowed me to share 99 stories of those living with Neurofibromatosis. It connected families, and got me through the hardest physical journey of my life.  

I challenge you to do something for yourself, push yourself out of your box and find a cause that is meaningful to you.

If you would like to contribute to Sarah's fundraising for The Children's Tumor Foundation, here is the link:

(Sarah raised her goal to match her time )

: ) 


Anonymous said...

This is so exciting!!! I'm an injured runner, so am thinking about learning to swim and bike while I recover and try a (sprint) triathlon! Your story is so inspiring! Way to go!

Unknown said...

WOW! Just amazing! :)

misszippy said...

Very nice, Sarah, on all counts! Congrats to big achievements!

I did IMLP back in '99. I totally get you when you say it feels good to get off that bike and run a marathon. I remember thinking toward the end of the ride that I wouldn't be able to run, but switching up those muscles was fantastic!

Big Daddy Diesel said...

Molly, I literally jumped out of my seat when I read your title of this post!!!

Congrats Sarah!!! Amazing race!!

K said...

Yay Sarah!! I actually just signed up for my first Ironman last night! I'm totally bookmarking this post because of your positivity...LOVE IT! CONGRATS!!!

Michelle said...

Absolutely fantastic Sarah! Congratulations!

Suz and Allan said...

Great job Sarah! So impressive!

Lisa said...

Such an impressive and inspiring story! I am in awe of everyone who can complete, even start, an ironman. And to participate to help others? So amazing. Congratulations!!

Black Knight said...

Congrats to Sarah, very impressive. Congrats.
My last race before the injury was dedicated to fundraising the hospital where both my grandchildren will get a transplant. Thanks to all the persons like Sarah.
Thanks for sharing.

Yo Momma Runs said...

Love the videos! What a great inspiration to use running for more than just exercise or getting a medal (though I also love those!).