Neil Withington IMLP 2017

Neil Withington: IMLP 2017 Race Report

Becky was so prompt that the pressure is on to write a race report (and pass the pressure on to Jodie, Paul and Mike…).

Nearly a year ago, I signed up for IMLP 2017 and lodging. Then sometime in February 2017 I committed to being part of a 4-woman team for RAAM (late race report “coming soon”…). Since IMLP and the lodging were non-refundable, I decided to go ahead and race 27 days after finishing RAAM!

Because of my late decision to participate in RAAM, my swimming and running were scaled back to concentrate on biking. Not the best prep for an ironman. Additionally, I fell while running on trails last November and ended up with a tear in my rotator cuff. The little swimming I attempted after the accident was slow and very short, and I took all of February and March off from swimming since my shoulder wasn’t improving.

By the time race day arrived, I had not done any swims over 2 miles and had only done a couple 12-14 mile runs. And, my quads were still having issues from RAAM because I never really rested after the race.

I had maintained all along that I reserved the right to decide not to start up until the gun went off. I think my decision on race morning to go ahead after being awake worrying most of the night was due in large part to Carmen’s “IMLP musings” email. Thank you Carmen, for reminding me that I am lucky to still have the opportunity to be able to even try!

SWIM: Lake Placid has a great swim venue. And if you are lucky enough to follow the buoy line, there’e even an underwater cable to make swimming a straight line a breeze. Bigger, faster swimmers are usually on the cable, so I swim a bit wider. Even so, during the swim I felt like I was constantly squeezed between much larger people. I couldn’t seem to find open spots. During the second lap my right arm cramped, presumably due to pain from the rotator cuff tear and not having trained for long swims. In the end, it wasn’t my slowest IM swim and all things considered, I was happy with it. And coming out of the water ahead of my age group in the swim? That just doesn’t happen to me.

T1: I have a hard time staying warm, so I had to take extra time in T1 to put on an additional dry shirt and arm warmers in order to deal with the cool temperature. I’m not exactly speedy at transitions, so many extra minutes were wasted.

BIKE: Starting so far back in the self-seeded swim and being such a slow swimmer puts me waaaay behind a lot of cyclists. I had to spend most of the first bike lap passing hundreds. It seemed like everyone was strung out in one long line. (If the course marshalls had wanted to give out drafting penalties, they would have had to stop everyone!) I was very pleased with my first lap, and was able to build up enough lead over my competitors that I had the luxury of stopping at the 2nd lap first turnaround to use the porta-potty and stretch my really, really tired legs. Building up a 2:08 bike lead? Absolutely necessary because of my run. Missing a sub-6 bike by 33 seconds because of stopping? Not so good. But not having to pee myself? Priceless.

T2: Another really long transition. Maybe I had my hair done or put on make up? What goes on in transition stays in transition.

RUN: I’m a mediocre swimmer, but I’m able to enjoy it. I bike okay and I love it. Running? Just not my thing. I don’t like it. It hurts in the best of times. It’s embarrassing. This time – I just didn’t have much to give. I think I walked 80% of the marathon. I was in a mental fog. I saw the 2nd place woman in my AG and had to keep reminding myself that she was an entire lap behind me, not just on my heels. I just wanted to see the ski jumps again on the second lap – they are a huge mental boost! 26 miles – repeating the same loop twice – waiting to see those ski jumps a second time – is a long way to walk. But a nearly 2-hour lead off the bike and a chance to go to Kona made it impossible not to try. I gave up 32 minutes in my run to the second place finisher. But definitely not the edge-of-your-seat finish Becky had.

This was my third IMLP. It was my slowest overall time, but my best bike (some things get better with age) and second best swim here (and unlike the surprise announcement just before the swim start in 2011, we were allowed to wear wetsuits this year). I really like this race.

Congrats to: Becky (10th overall, just amazing. And thanks for sharing my house and keeping me less nervous than usual.), Jodie (going to Kona on her first IM), Mike, and Paul. And thanks to the amazing cheering squad: Gina and John (who flew in race morning, cheered hard all day and then flew home), Karen (who had to sleep on a short sofa), Whitney, Brian and of course, Tucker (who logged 25 miles spectating. xo.).

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