Race Report – Ironman Lake Placid (Part 4 – Run)

This ended up being really long, so I’ve broken it into parts. You can find the rest here (when they’re ready):

I had just finished the bike course, and I knew I was running short on time. So while I was happy to be through with the longest part of my race, I knew that the marathon wouldn’t be easy. Being sick during the last couple of months of training had meant that I had had to let something go. And that something was my long runs. The furthest I had ever run in training was a single 14.3-mile effort.

I was feeling down about my race at this point, but still happy to be on the last part of it. My ankle had ached during the second half of the bike section, so I was a bit worried about how it would deal with running. But then the volunteer in the changing tent dumped out my bike-to-run bag and OMG – chocolate-covered salted cashews! I had stashed a lot of goodies in my bags, but this was the one time where I really, really needed them.


Not a great photo, but those are the cashews!

I changed into leggings and a tank top for the run. The temperature was much better by now and the rain had stopped. I had a long sleeved shirt stashed in my run special needs for later, if I got cold. I dragged myself out of the tent on started the run (er, walk).

T2 = 9:00

I still could barely move, but that was fine. It was easier to eat my cashews while walking anyway, and I knew that the beginning of the run course was downhill. By this point in the day, everyone was out cheering on the athletes. The run course was two loops, with one long out-and-back that led back through downtown, followed by a short out-and-back that paralleled the end of the bike course. So everyone who was running overlapped in town a few times.

I shuffled along as the course turned toward the long downhill section. Then I heard a familiar voice beside me and found my brother jogging alongside me. He wanted to make sure that I understood the cut off times, which I thought I did. All athletes had to reach the turn around for the second loop by 9:00 p.m. and I also had to reach the finish line *before* midnight. I had started my race a few minutes before 7:00 a.m., so in order to make the total cut off time of 17 hours, I’d have to make it to the end a few minutes before 12:00 a.m.


My brother found me in the blurry dusk.

My brother encouraged me as I finished up my cashews and found that I was now able to jog. He coached me a bit and told me that I needed to get through the run in about 6 hours. I felt pretty good about that prospect now that my legs had started to cooperate. I had done the run in the Quassy Half in 3 hours with a run-walk approach, while still sick and coughing, so 6 hours for the Ironman run should be doable, right?

I have to admit, I was a bit disheartened by seeing other runners on their way back in from the long out-and-back. How far ahead of me were they? How many were already on their second loop? My brother peeled off at this point and I was alone with my legs.

I found that the first 5 miles weren’t really that bad. I had done plenty of runs of this distance in my training, so now that my legs felt better, I was able to keep my pace where I wanted it. I walked at every aid station, and alternated between water and Gatorade Endurance. Later on, I would switch to soda and Red Bull. I had plenty of gels and had planned on taking one every 45 to 60 minutes.

On the way out of town, I did experience some exhaustion-fueled resentment toward all those athletes who were on their way back into town and appeared to be happily walking and chatting with newfound friends. I knew I wouldn’t have time to ease up at all as I made my way through the marathon.

The course led down the hill beside the Olympic ski jumps before making a left turn that took athletes through a wooded area with slightly rolling hills. I felt like I spent most of the run on this road, and I heard complaints that this stretch was boring. However, I kind of liked it. The aid stations broke up the monotony of a long run, and it wasn’t really that hilly. By the time I had reached mile 8, I started to hurt though.

I had blisters on both feet, along my pinkie toes where I usually get them. My left ankle had begun to have twinges of pain, and my right hamstring twitched like it wanted to cramp. I would walk whenever this happened and it never got any worse, so after a short break, I’d run again. My overall pace was steady, and only a tiny bit slower that I would have liked. I knew that I still had to go up the hills back into town (and would be walking those parts), and I knew that I had somewhere over 6 hours to get through the miles (probably closer to 6.5).


I made this photo little so you don’t have to look at my super-zoomed in blisters/toes.

I made it back to the hills and was relieved that I had a good excuse to walk. But as soon as I reached more level ground, I pushed myself back to my running. The miles slowly ticked by. I passed a few athletes as I went, and at least a couple who were doubled over sick at the side of the road.

The stretch between the ski jump hill and the steeper hill into  town was short and flat, and went by quickly. When I reached the Main Street hill, I walked again, jogged through town, then turned onto the second shorter out-and-back on the course. This section was lined with tents, tri-clubs, and spectators. The run special needs bags were also located here, but I decided to forego my long-sleeved shirt.

As I made the turn-around and sped toward the halfway point, I could hear the finish line. Knowing that I was only halfway through the run while others peeled off to the finish was disheartening. BUT – I was also halfway through! I made the time cutoff at the halfway point at just a little over 3 hours, and headed out again for loop 2.

I wasn’t sure how my ankles, knees, and muscles would react as the miles accumulated. My initial approach was to slow to a walk when something twinged. After a while, I grew tired of this, so I started to just push through those tiny aches and pains, and everything was fine. I never cramped and my ankle randomly hurt, but never got worse. I didn’t have any pain in my knees or my back. I did have to stop at the medical tent to smear Vaseline on my inner arm where it had started to chafe against the edge of my tank top. My blisters still hurt, but felt like they weren’t getting worse.

I tried the hot chicken broth at one aid station, and it was a bit too weird for me to drink much of it. Maybe if it had been a colder evening, it would have been a nicer treat. I reached mile 15, and from there on I just chuckled to myself with each mile. I’d never run this far in my life, and I didn’t even like running! Why would anyone ever run this far?!?! These were the thoughts that cycled through my head. I even continued to pass a few people on the course.

By the time I had reached the long wooded section along Riverside Drive, it was full dark. The course was lit, but there were some long stretches where I couldn’t see the road surface well at all. I made an effort to keep my feet active and tried not to trip on anything. The volunteers handed me a glow-necklace, and the course thinned out. It was pretty desolate out there, but at no point did I ever think that I would give up. I felt in a better place mentally than I had on the bike.

I did have some mild nausea on the second loop and stopped eating my gels. I think I actually took in too much liquid, so I backed off on the water and soda until my stomach felt better. I took three bathroom stops on the run course, and these didn’t take me long. By the third one, the Porta-Potties weren’t in very good shape though.

Despite the automatic tracking app giving my family anxiety and reporting that my pace was all over the place, I was actually very consistent throughout the run. I slowed again to walk up the hills on the way back in, and I now knew that I was going to make it. If I was truly running short on time, I could pick up my pace. I didn’t want to because that would *really* hurt, but I knew I had that effort in me if I needed it.

My brother found me again as I passed through town and onto the last out-and-back, and I also chatted with a nice older gentleman who was struggling at a fast walk. I had given him some words of encouragement earlier, and he was thankful, telling me that it had kept him going. He was going to make it also, and ended up finished just before me.

The turn around felt so far away at this point, but I finally made my last 180 and had about a mile to go to the finish. The spectators had also thinned out beside the road, but in just a few minutes I would see where they went. I could already hear the music and shouting from the finish.

The final part of the run passes through the area that had earlier been part of the Expo and around the Olympic skating oval, which is a paved track in the center of the downtown, set between the ice rink and the high school. Transition had been in the grassy middle of the oval, so the last part of the run was essentially a short trip around transition. My brother met me on the way into the finishers chute and videoed me for as far as he could get away with.


I had been told to slow down as I ran the last stretch. The Olympic torch blazed ahead of me and the fans at such a late hour were incredible – so many people lined the sides of the finish cute and pounded on the sides in rhythm. The lights shone down and I could no longer hear the music over the cheers of the crowd. Hands reached out and I smacked as many as I could as I jogged by. When I crossed the line, I couldn’t even hear Mike Reilly announce that I was an Ironman.

A volunteer caught me after I crossed the finish line. I guess some people collapse, but I was relatively okay. I grinned as she handed me my finisher’s goodies, someone placed the medal around my neck, and I smiled for more photos. The elation of the experience is hard to describe, but all that mattered at that point was that I had conquered Lake Placid. I was an Ironman!

Posed Finish

RUN TIME: 6:14:32

TOTAL TIME: 16:52:32

Next: Part 5 – Aftermath

See all my race reports here.

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Race Report – Ironman Lake Placid 2018 (Part 1 – Pre-Race) | Clare L. Deming
  2. Trackback: Race Report – Ironman Lake Placid 2018 (Part 2 – Swim) | Clare L. Deming
  3. Trackback: Race Report – Ironman Lake Placid 2018 (Part 3 – Bike) | Clare L. Deming
  4. Trackback: Race Report – Ironman Lake Placid (Part 5 – The Aftermath) | Clare L. Deming

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