We’ll, they say all good things must come to and end, and unfortunately my winning streak of 4 in a row came to and end this Sunday at the Ironman Lake Placid.
I toed the line this year in search of my 5th victory at Lake Placid. From the competition, I knew that this would not be any small task and that I was going to have to have a very good day to beat the likes of Kate Major (AUS), and Jo Lawn (NZL).
The picture perfect day started with a great swim in Mirror Lake. I had a good swim for myself – slightly faster than I had been on previous occasions, and more importantly closer behind the main competition. I came out of the transition a few minutes behind Jo Lawn and right with Kate Major. Off on the bike we went and Kate took off like it was an Olympic race. Just be patient I kept telling myself – she will come back. Well, was I wrong, Kate went on to post what could only be called an “INCREDIBLE” bike ride – having the 9th fastest ride of the day overall. The time checks that I was getting out on the road were anything but encouraging, with Kate eventually coming off the bike 27 minutes up on me. I have come back on the marathon from some pretty significant deficits, but realistically 27 minutes was an insurmountable lead – but then again, this is an Ironman and anything can happen.
Off onto the marathon I went. I have to be very honest – more than a few times, I questioned whether I was going to be able to finish the race. I felt OK while I was running but also had to hold off the desire to just stop and walk – or maybe pull off and call it a day. I just went from aid station to aid station, from one mile to the next. Next thing I knew, I was half way through, and actually finishing looked possible. I kept trying to focus forward, but was also worried that someone might come from behind and catch me. Based on how I was feeling, survival seems like the theme of the day and the chance of catching either of the two ahead looked pretty grim. I was slowly chipping into the lead that Jo Lawn had on me after the bike, but honestly, didn’t think that I had enough to bridge the gap. With about 2.5 miles to go, I could actually see her up ahead in the distance. I told myself – OK you have toughed it out this long, let’s see what you can do. It took every ounce of energy that I had to pull even with Jo, and of course this happened at the bottom of the Mill Hill – the steepest and longest hill on the course. Jo matched me stride for stride up the hill and it appeared that she was not going to just let me go. I knew that once we crested the hill, there was a nice flat section where I would have to make my move. Off I went and built up a slight gap. Those last couple of miles were some of the most painful. I managed to cross the line 1:19 in front of Jo, and a whopping 13:57 behind Kate.
While I was disappointed to not be able to defend my title here, it was definitely a character building race for me. I have always said, you learn more about yourself on those days that
photo: Mark Oleksyn don’t go as well as you hope – and I can say that I definitely learned a lot. I am proud of myself for sticking in there when the easy thing to do would have been to give up and either call it a day, or jog on in to simply finish. You can only ask of yourself to give everything that you have, and I can truly say that I gave every ounce of energy I had both physically and mentally.
My hats off to Kate Major for an incredible performance – she has proven that she is definitely the next generation of winning Ironman athletes and has a very bright future ahead.
A special thanks to everyone for all of their support, without which I would not be able to do what I do.
Now it is time for some R&R to recharge the batteries before the big push for IM Hawaii in October.