January 29, 2015

Don’t Dream it Be It, Val Dix’s Prospective on 2013 Ironman Lake Placid

I DID IT!!!  Those are the words that I repeated to myself so many times after I finished Ironman Lake Placid. It’s amazing how empowering those three little words are and it’s something that I hope all of you get to tell yourself and celebrate both within and outside of your triathlon careers in the near future.

In May 2013,  I attempted and was not successful in completing Ironman Lanzarote, a race with a reputation of being one of the most challenging bike courses on the entire worldwide Ironman circuit. With that DNF over my head, on June 16th, right as I was beginning my build for Ironman Louisville, and just six weeks before Ironman Lake Placid, Coach Ed sends an email to the team announcing there were 10 slots available for Ironman Lake Placid. Armed with the ok on whether or not I should race from Coaches Ed and Tony Stocker, I decided I wanted my next big race to be with my friends and teammates and I wanted to share the experience of me overcoming a DNF with everyone.  My goals were simple, get my ass to the finish line before the 17 hour cutoff. That’s it, no race plan, no over analyzing or over stressing the course or the weather forecast, just continue to move forward and take the day one swim stroke, pedal stroke, and foot step at a time.

I’m going to spare all of the course details, but I will say that it was a very fun day. The support from the team and coaches in Lake Placid and back home were  amazing. Thank you guys for being so awesome and continuing to support us even when us athletes were hurting and couldn’t really talk.  Mary Pickering and Coach Ryan were bright rays of sunshine on a very dark evening, when I passed the tent at the run turnaround on lap two with about 8 miles to go, I was questioning my sanity, questioning whether I had done enough training to finish the race, if I was going to be able to pull off finishing under 17 hours, and how in the world was I going to do this again in 4 weeks. It’s amazing what a smile, a bear hug from your closest friends on the team, telling me that “I’m insane and I love that about you,” a rainbow wig, a teammate offering  Vaseline and to take  my nasty wet socks 1/2 way through the run, can do to life your spirits.

A few small things that saved my day in Lake Placid:

  • WEAR A TUTU  during the run!! I’ve worn a tutu at a few races when I was running in a relay and during the run at Rev3 1/2 in Williamsburg, with Placid being the longest I’ve worn one. I promise tutus will get you more cheers, smiles, comments from racers and spectators alike than anything else on the course. I probably got more cheers than Andy Potts (well I like to tell myself that anyways). Hands down the best decision I ever made. It also reminded me this is supposed to be for fun!
  • Vaseline is AWESOME and a fantastic multi-use miracle ointment! Why I have never used this stuff before baffles me! Look for it during both the bike and run if anything is chaffing or causing blistering. It doesn’t matter what body part is being stubborn and difficult.
  • Coke, chicken broth, ice, and cold sponges on the run. AMAZEBALLS! After 8 hours of taking in Ironman perform every 15 minutes and powerbar gels on the bike every hour, I could not for the life of me get myself to take either of these two products during the run.
  • Make sure you’re flexible. Many people have already said this, but the day will not go according to plan. Have some flexibility to overcome those challenges….and wear a tutu or put something funny in your special needs bags to mentally bounce back!

16 hours, 41 minutes, and 22 seconds after I crossed the timing mat at the swim to start my day I crossed the finish line.  I LOVE BEING A BACK OF THE PACKER!!!!  Just as I planned, the finish line was absolutely amazing and packed! Unfortunately, neither Mike Rielly nor his son announced my name or “You Are An Ironman,” but it doesn’t matter. Sharing the experience with all of you takes the cake and I look forward to continuing to pay it forward at upcoming races and at Ironman Florida.