Sunday, August 3, 2008

2008 Ironman Lake Placid Race Report

First of all, I want to give a huge thanks to everyone who was following my first Ironman journey and race. Thanks for supporting me throughout this journey and taking the time on your Sunday to keep track of me live. It really meant a lot to see how many of you were reading, posting, and keeping in touch with Nikki during the race.

Now sit back, grab a cup of water (or coffee), and enjoy my full (it’s long) 2008 Ironman Lake Placid race report.

On a day that will forever be known for the rain, I became an Ironman. It rained and rained, and just when we thought it might stop, it rained even harder. Something in the neighborhood of 3 inches of rain fell in Lake Placid between 7am and 8pm on that day, July 20, 2008. Even without the torrential downpour, I wouldn’t have any trouble remembering my first Ironman experience.

In what felt like the longest two day, 10 hour drive ever, we finally arrive in beautiful Lake Placid. New York has always been the big city to me. However, upstate New York, especially the Adirondack region, is like a whole other world. This place is absolutely breathtaking. It’s Thursday afternoon and Placid is buzzing. Athletes are everywhere, running, biking, and swimming. We drive up the short massive hill to our hotel, the Crown Plaza, and comment on how Nikki and the kids will be in pretty good shape after going up and down several times during our stay.After we check in, get the room situation cleared up, and get settled, I change and head out for a short jog. Felt good to get out, see everything, and loosen up.

2 Days to go

On Friday morning, I get up at 6AM to meet John and Ed for our 1.5 hour bike. We had already decided to take the descent into Keene to get a feel for the speed and road conditions. Just prior to the descent, this a**hole blasts past us way too close. Ed gave them the “international peace sign”. Well, they didn’t like that so they pulled over ahead of us. I had dropped back a bit to kinda stay out of the way. When John and Ed passed, they shouted “what’s your problem”. Ed simply said “use your head”. This a**hole screeched out, I was a bit behind John and Ed which put me right beside this knucklehead, almost taking me out forcing me across the double yellow. He got so close to John and Ed that I thought he was gonna run them both over! Some people! Whew. With that little scare out of the way, we took on the descent. We all felt much more comfortable getting a look and feel for that steep descent. It looked much more intimidating on the drive in. On the way back to Keene from Upper Jay, I got the pleasure of riding in
my very first thunderstorm as I think to myself “I really would hate to have to take the descent in the rain”. Finishing our ride back in Keene, I ate a great breakfast at the Bed & Breakfast that John and Ed were staying at.

Once I got cleaned up, I headed down to get myself checked in. What could have been a very complicated process ended up being really smooth as the volunteers were great, very organized, and very helpful. Nikki and the kids met me down there as I was finishing up the check-in process and we headed over to the expo and merchandise tents. I picked up some sweet Ironman gear! Back in the room, I began to place all my race things into the transition and special needs bags.

Later that evening I donned my wetsuit and we took the kids down to the beach for a swim. Logan thought my wetsuit was really cool and was calling it a “zoom suit”, as he’s been hooked on the movie
Zoom. Honestly, I really didn’t want to swim. It was getting late, all I wanted to do was rest, and that was the one thing I was most concerned about. I swam one lap, 1.2 miles, and thoroughly enjoyed my swim in gorgeous Mirror Lake. Ended up being the best open water swim I’ve had. Got out in 40 minutes and was very pleased. I was now pumped for the swim on Sunday!

1 Day to go

I got a great night’s sleep! Saturday was pretty uneventful. Karen had us doing a short swim/bike/run in the morning, but due to storms, we bagged it. No sense risking a fall the day before the race. Needed the extra sleep in the morning more than a workout anyway. We ate a giant breakfast at the hotel, very good hot breakfast buffet. I finished placing all my gear into the transition and special needs bags by late morning so that I could get them down to transition and turned in with my bike. Didn’t want to be running around looking for things at the last minute. Once the bags were all packed, we took my bike and transition bags to be checked into the transition area to await me on race day. Took a look around the skating oval to see everything. Saw the finish line, but wouldn’t go underneath it. Waiting until tomorrow for that experience!
That left most of the day to just chill. We spent the rest of the day doing some walking around town for me to stay loose and lots of relaxing in the room. Got my nutrition bottles and water bottles filled and ready to go, as well as my bike nutrition. Thought about doing a swim, but decided to conserve energy. Tomorrow is going to be a very long day. I ate a great bowl of Fettuccini Alfredo at Charlie’s on Main Street as my last full meal prior to the race and went to bed early.


“BEEP-BEEP-BEEP” “CELL PHONE RINGING” “PHONE RINGING” 4AM. This is it. Race Day. It’s all come down to this very day. I didn’t sleep well, but that’s expected. Fixed some oatmeal and had two hard boiled eggs. Grabbed my four remaining bags (dry clothes, bottle and nutrition, special needs bike, and special needs run) and then headed to transition just after 5AM.

Headed over to my bike to check it out and get my nutrition and bottles on board. Another racer in my row let me borrow his pump so that I could get my tires inflated a bit more. Decided to run 112-115 PSI instead of my usual 120 PSI, just in case it rained. John had suggested to run a bit softer as they’d handle and stick much better in wet conditions. That would prove to be a brilliant suggestion.

After a bathroom break I put my Richmond Tri Club race jersey on, hung up my dry clothes bag, and headed over to get body marked. I still love the smell of black sharpies the morning of a race. Another pee stop, then I donned my wetsuit up to my waist and headed down to place my special needs bags in their place. The CarboPro bottle I was sipping on since breakfast was great. It was keeping the energy up and keeping me full so I wasn’t getting hungry. Took a trip into the woods for yet another pee break, and then headed over to the swim start.


Miraculously, I found John and Ed within the 2000+ Athletes all in black wetsuits. John assisted me with pulling my wetsuit over my shoulders and zipping the back up. It was about 6:30AM by this time. We followed the heard of Athletes over the timing mats, under the Ironman arch, and into the water. John swam out so fast that Ed and I lost him amid the purple swim caps. Took my final pre-race pee, along with many others, and I was ready. (The joke at the awards banquet was how the rain was coming down to flush the giant toilet that was Mirror Lake!) Ed and I picked a spot a few rows back and about halfway between the buoys and the shore. As we were treading water, we realized that we had drifted very close to the front. We quickly swam back a few rows so as not to get run over.

As we were listening to
Fall Out Boy’s “Sugar, We’re Going Down”, we heard Mike Riley announce, “Have the best day of your life!” As the cannon went off, the pandemonium began. Amidst my swim stroke and all the commotion, I did manage to hear, and listen a bit, to the chorus of the signature Ironman start song, U2’s “Beautiful Day”.

For the first 5-10 minutes, I felt like I was in a washing machine.
Got kicked in the face, had forearms and elbows to the head, even had someone place their hand on my hips and push me down under water. Through all of this, I never panicked and actually held my own out there. I settled into my grove and had a great swim. Karen would have been so proud. I was pulling through and rotating to my non-breathing side.

About halfway to the turnaround I felt a pitter-patter on my swim cap. Surely that can’t be rain. It would have to be raining pretty darn hard to feel it as I swim. I rotated a bit more on my next breath and sure enough, it was raining. And coming down hard.

Before I knew it, I was getting out of the water, crossing the timing mats, and reentering the water for lap two. I saw lots of folks removing their goggles and trying to fix or adjust them. Mine were good. So good, in fact, that I was taking no chances on removing them. I did have to pee again really bad on that second loop. Mirror Lake tasted really good, by the way. I tried hard to just go as I was swimming, but just couldn’t do it. Would have to wait until I was in transition. The crowd really didn’t thin out on that second loop. Probably since I was swimming so well, I was still among a very large group. I did feel really good the second time around and swimming very close to lots of folks that were at the same pace as me. This helped me to keep up my pace and not slow up. I remained very focused through the entire swim and it showed when I got out of the water.

Swim time – 1:15:52


As I came out of the water, there were wetsuit strippers on the beach. This was so cool! My wetsuit was already half off as I approached. All I had to do was find an available volunteer, lie on my back, and have them yank the rest of the wetsuit off my legs. Once my wetsuit was handed back to me, I headed on a quarter mile jog to the transition area.

Through the bag area, I grabbed my T1 bag and went into the men’s changing tent. I entered and was like a deer in headlights. That tent was VERY crowded and VERY muggy. It was in the infield of the skating oval and there was deep, thick, mud everywhere. I sloshed around and found a seat. I just sat for a minute or two and sorted through all my stuff. Once my bike gear stuff was on, I headed out to get my bike. Also took that pee break I needed from the swim. As I head out a volunteer shouts out my number and another is grabbing my bike off the rack to hand it to me in the middle of the aisle. Don’t have to find my bike amongst all the others. Before I cross the bike mount line, I find a large water puddle to step into and get all the mud off my bike cleats. So that I can actually clip into my pedals.

T1 time – 11:47


As I was leaving transition, my helmet just didn’t feel right. I decided that before I get going, I’m gonna pull over and adjust my helmet so that I’m safe and comfortable. A lot of the spectators gave me kudos for getting that straight before I started downhill out of town. As recommended, I didn’t press too hard on the first loop of the bike. There were a few big climbs getting out of Placid, then the descent to Keene. That was fun in the pouring, blinding, rain. I was pretty conservative on that first loop descent. There were still lots of folks around me. Way too many people to take big risks on a rainy descent.

After we descended into Keene the ride to Upper Jay and Jay was flat and rolling. I was riding at a pretty good clip, roughly 20 mph, but was getting really cold. Riding downhill and then riding fast on flats with very little climbs, doesn’t get the heart rate up that high to heat your body. I started shivering. I couldn’t believe that I was getting cold while working so hard. I glanced at my skin and it was a little bluish with chill bumps. At this point, I was seriously thinking that I may have to drop out due to hypothermia. I shifted into a bigger gear to activate my larger leg muscles and gutted it out until the climbs. I was actually looking forward to the 20+ straight miles of climbing on the backside of the loop. Lots of folks I was chatting with mentioned the same thing.

Those 20+ miles of climbing is why the Lake Placid Ironman has the toughest bike course on the North American Ironman circuit. I was hitting under 10 mph through most of the steep sustained climbing. It was tough. Like nothing I’ve ever done. The last climb before we turned into Placid had a Tour de France feel to it. The streets were lined with people shouting and we had a very narrow path to pass through them. It was really cool and got me all jacked up heading into town.

Just after that climb, we were passing Mirror Lake and our special needs bike bags. I made a stop and grabbed my two Three Musketeers from my bag. Man, that Three Musketeers tasted SO good! I stashed the other in my jersey pocket for later. I ended up never eating it. Didn’t need the extra tire tube or CO2 cartridge, so I just left them in the bag.

Climbing out from Mirror Lake, I saw Nikki and the kids at the bottom of the hill from the Hotel. They were cheering so loud and just filled me with energy. I did have to be careful through the rest of town. It was all jazzed up with spectators screaming so loud. So much excitement, it was awesome! There are some very nasty, twisty, downhills leaving town, so I really had to get my focus back quick from all that excitement. I was out of town and back on the road to Keene.

The climbs, even the smaller ones, were MUCH larger the second time around. This is exactly why people tell you to be conservative on that first loop. I did feel much more confident on the descent. Got into a really nice tuck and hit 44 mph! 44 mph in the pouring rain! I was a small stone away from death. Anything that wasn’t the road itself that I hit going that fast could have sent me flying to the pavement. Again, those Oakley’s were worth every penny. I trusted my bike and trusted my ability to handle her down that mountain.

I was staying hydrated well on the bike as I had to take close to a dozen pee breaks during the entire bike. Now I’m not one of the Athletes that can pee while riding a bike, so I just took my stops. Gave me a chance to get off the bike for a few seconds. The volunteers were great, they’d hold your bike and refill your bottles (if needed), while you were in the port-a-john. You will also pee more when it’s cooler and raining outside as your body doesn’t sweat as much as it normally would during such intense exercise. Excess fluid has to go somewhere. Afterwards, I spoke to John and he was the same way, lots of pee breaks.

The one thing I really missed about the bike was not being able to see the beautiful scenery. The clouds were so low and the rain was coming down so hard, I didn’t get the chance to really look around. I was really looking forward to seeing some breathtaking views.

On the positive side, the rain forced me to really focus on my bike. I was really listening to what she was telling me, what she wanted, and most importantly, what she needed. Flowing with the bike, instead of fighting it. My mind was focused, instead of wandering through the mountains. I could honestly feel everything about that bike on that day. I was 100% dialed into it. That fact alone made the first 100 miles of biking feel like it was an easy 2 hour Saturday ride. I actually laughed out loud when it began to rain harder, what else could I do? The only rough section I had on the bike was the last 12 miles. I lost some concentration and that made those last 12 miles feel like 40. In the end, I finished the second loop of the bike just over 4 minutes from the first loop. Exactly where I wanted to be, keeping both loops very close.

Seeing Nikki and the kids again in town, screaming and shouting, was all it took to get my concentration back. Just in time for the marathon.

Bike time – 7:16:23


As I crossed the bike dismount line, I was pleased to see the bike handlers. I actually wanted off that bike and to start running. They took my bike from me to be placed back on the rack as I headed around the skating oval to the bag racks. Lots of volunteers advising the Athletes to take very short strides so that the legs didn’t give out. They were right, my legs felt like mush on that little jog. I grabbed my T2 bag and headed to the change tent. As I entered, I noticed that there was a section of the tent in the back that was actually on the oval itself. On pavement and not in the middle of the mud pit. As I headed back there, I heard, “Deal!” I looked up and saw Tyler, then headed right for him. Shortly after that, I saw Adam, Greg, and Blake. A whole Richmond Tri Club contingent, volunteering to be able to sign up for next year’s race. They were pretty excited to see me. Tyler was helping me go through my bags, making the joke about my nutrition, “you have a lot of stuff in here that your body probably doesn’t really want right now”, both of us knowing that I needed it. I joked about having first class service in the change tent with so many helpers and Greg made a hilarious comment that I can’t post on this family friendly blog. Enough laughter to get me going as I started the marathon. I didn’t sit down this time and moved pretty quickly through T2, nearly half the time I was in T1! Tyler and the gang took care of getting all my bike stuff back into the bag and I headed out to run.

T2 time – 6:56


I never thought that I’d be looking forward to running a marathon. But, after 112 miles of biking, I was ready to run. This is when it sunk in. In just a few more hours, I was going to be an Ironman. Lots of spectators kept shouting, “You’re gonna be an Ironman today!” It was very uplifting.

I chose not to run with my fuel belt since they had aid stations every mile. There was no need to carry my own bottles when there was a rolling buffet at every aid station. This made the run much more pleasant, since I didn’t have to worry about the belt and the chaffing that comes along with it. Also kept me a little lighter, not carrying the extra fluid weight.

Again, the rain was really coming down. I just continued to laugh and make light of the situation. No sense getting frustrated or angry. Miraculously, I ended up without a single blister! I’ll put my plug in for Target C9 performance socks. They stuck to my feet so well and didn’t allow my feet to slide around in my shoes. With all that rain, I could have ended up with hundreds of blisters all over my feet.

I did really well on the first loop. I was running at a good clip, hitting just over 10 minute miles. I was nailing my nutrition and hydration. Still making several stops for pee breaks, but making good time. This run course isn’t easy either. There are enough climbs to keep your pace in check and humble you every time you felt like pushing a bit faster.

While looking for Nikki and the kids at the turnaround, I was running outside the cones and heard lots of shouting at me. Turns out I missed the timing mats and had to go back a few feet to cross them. Glad everyone else was paying attention to me! Saw Nikki and the kids and ran over to them to hand off my sunglasses. “I’m not gonna need these anymore” I stated with a laugh. The kids looked cute in their new raincoats.
The second loop was much harder. Mainly due to the fact that my stomach and GI tract was in anarchy. I just couldn’t find any food combination that worked. I did have to make 2 “#2” potty breaks and was getting a little worried if that kept up, I could end up getting dehydrated. About mile 18, I started on cola, bananas, and water. One wouldn’t think that odd combination would work during a race, but it was perfect! Settled my stomach down and gave me some good energy to finish strong. Since I had started on the cola I had to keep it going at every aid station from then on, so as not to get a sugar crash.

I walked more on that second loop and chatted with a lot of other Athletes. However, unlike the Shamrock Marathon, I was choosing to walk, so when I got a bit cold, I could pick up the pace. I saw lots of folks running with those mylar blankets and I didn’t want to have any part of that. Once you put those things on and get heated up, you would never be able to take them off, as you’d be way too cold. I still wish that I had gone a bit harder on that second loop. I now felt that on the second loop, I was running “not to get injured” as opposed to keeping the pace I had on the first loop or running at a faster clip. The soreness was setting in and really messing with my head. Flashing back to Shamrock and all the pain I had while walking the last 6-7 miles.

There was this one section called the motivational mile where they placed all the signs that families had made for their Athletes. Logan made me one with Nikki’s help. They never told me what it was so it was tricky to spot amongst the masses of signs. I saw it on the second loop, as I had slowed up to see them all, and got all teary eyed. “Bryan Real Deal” was on it. Logan had drawn a Stitch on it. Nikki had also entered a text message for me to see on the large digital board. There is a timing mat that gets your race number and displays the message on the digital board about 20 yards ahead. I saw that one on both loops of the run. Really great to see and very motivational. “We Love You” was on it.

Back into town for the steepest of the climbs, I heard
one of my favorite workout songs that glided me up the hardest climb with ease. I checked my watch with a couple miles to go and knew I was gonna be really close to my goal of 14 hours. Picked up the pace as I didn’t want to miss that mark. About that time I heard another great song.

As I entered the skating oval for the finish, I couldn’t hear the music at all. I may never know what song I finished to. The emotion and the cheering were overwhelming and I just drowned out the music. I heard all the guys from the Richmond Tri Club, Ryon, Adam, Tyler, Greg, and Blake, at the top of the oval hooting and hollering for me. I headed over to them, high fiving them all on my way around. I had also heard and saw them a couple times along the run course. It was so cool to see so many familiar faces out there. I crossed the finish line, ecstatic! The one thing I really wanted to hear was Mike Riley saying “Bryan Deal, YOU, are an Ironman!” but I totally missed it. Regardless, I was more than excited to have completed such a huge accomplishment.

Marathon time – 5:06:25



After I crossed the finish line, I had another great volunteer helping me out. She grabbed my arm and supported me so that I wouldn’t just fall over. Another volunteer placed a medal over my head and a nice Finisher’s hat on my head. We walked over to get my chip taken off and she asked me what size shirt I wore and grabbed me one. After a few minutes, she asked me if I was okay to stand on my own, and I was okay. In a daze, I began looking for Nikki and the kids, but couldn’t see them anywhere. I headed over to find some food. Ended up only finding the bagels, bananas, and cookies. Grabbed a handful of cookies and sat down for a minute. I later learned that there were Subway subs and Pizza. Darn it! I didn’t see that anywhere. I must have been pretty out of it.

I went ahead and headed into the transition area to grab my bike and then over to get my transition bags. Just wanted to get it all together before I headed out so that I wouldn’t have to come back into the mud and get them all.

As I was leaving the transition area, I caught Nikki and the kids! I was so happy to see them and they were equally excited to see their new Ironman! I gave Nikki a huge, wet, sweaty, hug and just held her for a bit releasing some of the emotion I had from finishing.

I had heard so much about the energy and emotion of watching the last few finishers come through and did not want to miss out since I was here. I got to the room, that hill up to our hotel was VERY difficult, and took a very long warm shower. Put some dry clothes on, ended up with two base layers and a sweatshirt as I was still a little cold. Then headed back down to find some food. Walked into Pasta la Vista, where we had eaten lunch a few days ago, and sat at the bar. They didn’t sell pizza by the slice, but did have slightly larger personal size pizzas. To which I replied, “I’m pretty sure I’ll be okay with that.” Met this really nice English couple, Simon and Lisa Thomas, who are riding motorcycles around the world. They were taking lots of pictures of the Ironman and really liked seeing my medal and hearing my story. They were really fun to chat with and thoroughly enjoyed hearing about the Ironman race. They have a website chronicling their journeys,
2 Ride the World.

I made it down to the finish area about 11:30PM. It was so exciting to be there and so emotional. Watching the finisher come in 8 seconds after the official finish time was heartbreaking. Caught up with Adam and chatted a bit, then headed back to the room and crashed about 1AM. I had been up nearly 24 hours! Oh, and by the way, I AM AN IRONMAN!!


I’m definitely doing that again! I thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience and the journey that led me to become an Ironman. A lot of people say that an Ironman finish is all about the journey. I can tell you that is correct. It’s been a long and hard, sometimes painful, journey. But one that I’ll never forget. Karen’s training program was awesome and not only prepared me physically, but mentally as well. If she’s available, she’ll be my coach on the next go ‘round.

I learned a lot about myself out there. I can handle large amounts of pain during exercise and know that I could definitely push harder through the bike and run. I did hold some back due to the challenging course, my first time experience, and the torrential rain. I didn’t want any rookie mistakes that would have taken me out of the race. After all, the number one goal was to finish and enjoy the day. Mission accomplished. I AM AN IRONMAN!

I had no races scheduled for after the Ironman, not knowing how I’d feel. I’ll be signing up for the Richmond Marathon this November and am already excited about it. I’m going to push this one hard and keep that “I might get hurt” feeling out of my head. I’ve gotten Nikki a little excited about training and racing. She’ll be running the Ntelos 8K the same day as the Richmond Marathon.

Next year, I’ll focus on a Half Ironman or two. Have to stay local as the last two years we have planned a family vacation around one of my races. Nikki and the kids deserve a family vacation with no race attached to it.


James Daniels said...

That was a great post and again congrats on becoming a IRONMAN.

Very Proud Mom said...

Been waiting to read about the race in full detail!!!It was GREAT!!Loved all the pictures and the one of the kids is adorable!!What an accomplishment!!You truly deserved to win!!!Go Ironman!!

Ginger Alligood said...

I couldnt be more proud and even more impressed with you and your family. The love and support that you all have for one another is incredible. Not that you need this but Bryan Deal, you are the man!!! And Nikki, you def. get the SuperMom title!!!!

TriGirl Kate O said...

Congratulations again. It was a pleasure meeting you last night. Tell Nikki thanks for letting me crash the party with my "date" Lynn. Reading your race report makes me nervous for what I've signed up for, but also give me some good pointers. Good luck with the marathon training!

TriGirl 40 (okay - 41) said...

Congrats on your awesome IMUSA finish - was so cool to be up there and witness the horrific conditions - but also the amazing spirit of all you folks racing.

Had a great time celebrating your success! Love the tatt!