2006 Ironman Lake Placid: A Competitor’s Perspective

About the Author: Eric Cressey

By: Jon Boyle

This could possibly be the longest report of my life. I promise that I will try to plug in humor along the way so that you all can make it through. I promise I’ve left out everything that doesn’t have to be said and included everything that has to be said. Keep in mind that might be in my terms, a simple race report might just go like: “It hurt like a damned bitch. I finished.”

It wouldn’t be fun if I didn’t explain the full nature of the pain. I can say that I have realized that while the distance increased only two times from my last triathlon, the pain increased nearly ten times. But, on to the report…

August 2005, my first triathlon: I slept on the floor.

June 2006, my second triathlon: I slept in my car.

For Ironman, I figured it might be good to go first-class: I slept in a bed. Improvement!

My favorite day-before-race-day meal was chili nachos. I took a nap around 6:30PM and yes… acid reflux. Woke up around 8:00PM for the pre-race shave and back to bed at 9:00PM. I woke up at 5:00AM.

This is when it all started settling in; I was really concerned about having the worst GI problems I have ever experienced…ever. I didn’t want to screw this up. I adjusted my pre-race meal.

Woke up with 10oz grapefruit juice, a scoop of whey, 4 Flameout, and my Alpha Male. I owe that grapefruit juice magic to TC. Finished a peanut butter and wheat bread sandwich with 90 minutes until the gun. I was down to my one banana and Gatorade. I closed up the meal gap with 45 minutes left and threw in my four BCAAs with 15 minutes until the gun.

The Star-Spangled Banner started up and each note struck like never before. The swim was a mass start – 2,500 people all going one place at one time. I got about a two-minute swim warm up, as I was a bit delayed by the extremely long bathroom lines. When the gun went off, I actually felt pretty good. I had a really good location – right about in the middle – for the swim start. The whole first mile I could feel the person behind me dragging on my legs, which made me realize that if I didn’t keep going, I’d get trampled by the 1,000 people behind me! Of course, I kept going. It was as if every intelligent participant had been reduced to the nature of a fish – just scrambling. I was really relaxed in the swim and I felt great, remaining aerobic the whole time.

At the 1.2 mile I was out of the water at 33:00. I was back in the water and off. Only complaint is that my wetsuit had taken on more water than the Titanic and I could feel it with each stroke. At the half-mile turn, I saw my first scuba diver and I gave him a thumbs-up. I am not sure if it was bad luck, but I some how managed to swim WAY off course at that point. I actually ran into the kayaker telling me “Dude, the course is that way!” Either way, I was out at 1:15. I suffered one kick in the face, some scratches on my ankle, and a jammed finger.

It was a quarter mile “run” to the transition area. Why? I don’t know. It gave me some time to adjust from being horizontal for over an hour. I was in the transition area and decided to take my time. I chatted a few with the guy next to me. Had it not been for his complete lack of English skills, I would’ve gotten out a lot sooner.

I had a lot of heroes that day. My first hero was the guy who applied my suntan lotion. Congratulations, Suntan Man. You’re my first hero of the day.

The bike was unbelievable. They told us the first lap would be “cake” and the second lap would feel a lot worse. I have to admit, 112 miles would be the longest I have ever biked, but I didn’t feel that bad. Whoever designed the “bento box” is a real jerk, though. They included this useless piece of plastic with no covering; thanks to it, I managed to slice up my knee until I finally threw it off the side of my bike. My nutrition was great throughout the bike. I was on one BCAA every 30 Minutes, one Flameout and one GU carb packet every 45 minutes, 1.5 bottles of Gatorade throughout the hour, and 8oz of water throughout the hour; it was all working well. My HR was about 165 for the first 30 miles – a lot higher than I would’ve liked, but I figured that it was more nerves than exertion that was causing it. The climbs were hellish, though.

I realized that people enjoyed calling me “Spike” because of my jersey, and I really didn’t mind. I’ve probably been called a lot worse! In all, it was three climbs of 1,100 feet, but I loved it. 6:06 on the bike split.

I was out for the second loop and every hill just seemed bigger. I kept up the nutrition plan and was actually inspired when I cruised by a mailbox with a hanging sign that said “Cressey.” Looks like the man of the hour bought a house just for the occasion. Really, Coach, you shouldn’t have. I topped out on the downhill at 50mph, which was a thrill alone. The most memorable bike moment was the guy beating the drum to the rhythm of the climb.

As I came into the final transition, my feet started acting up. In the transition tent, I opted for a foot massage before I got going. Hero #2 of the day was the ART therapist that cleaned up my plantar fascia before heading out on the run. I told him “I feel like a new man.”

The run started and I felt like I had some digestion issues. I walked the first mile and it felt good. I started to run, and kept up the nutrition plan. I cut out the Flameout in the last hour of the Bike and I pushed the BCAAs to one every 45 minutes. Digestion on the run is a lot harder than on the bike.

At about Mile 6, I couldn’t take it anymore. The downhills hurt, and the uphills were like cliffs. I began to walk just to get myself to recover. I could tell I screwed up something because I sort of felt intoxicated. I did the walk/jog/run/shuffle/repeat routine. Around mile 13 it hurt to walk. I’d like to think I have a pain tolerance and this just had me at the brink.

My “anti-heroes” of the day were the multiple people throwing picnics at the side of the road. I don’t need to see a lobster when all I’ve had on the day is GU and Gatorade. The last half of the “walk,” I was cursing ever seeing a GU packet again. I opted for the luscious Fig Newtons instead. I swear that nothing tastes more heavenly than a stale Fig Newton. I actually washed it down with chicken broth. Yum. I also took the opportunity to Vaseline the “nips,” as I figured the red-eleven would be embarrassing on the finish line…a combination most would not choose. At that point I debated dipping the Fig Newtons into the broth, but I figured that’d be too much.

My next heroes of the day were the kids that gave out high-fives. When I came in for that last mile on the marathon, I began the sprint. I probably ran sub-six minutes on that last mile just knowing I was heading home. It brought me to a 6:30 walk/run-a-thon.

When I came into the finish line I decided to jump with my hands up to celebrate. Upon landing, I realized had about zero eccentric strength and nearly fell on my face.  Chalk that one up as a lesson learned.

I think I had more people call me Spike on the run than Boyle. I guess it goes with the hair too.

At the finish I felt as if I were in a drunken stupor. My next hero of the day was the lovely old lady who brought me my medal and blanket. She asked, “Would you like food or a massage?”

I thought to myself, “Damn, I must be in heaven!”

So, she repeated herself: “What would you like?”

All I could muster up was “Mom and Dad.” I figured I could pass out right then, but I still need to give my parents a hug.

I went in for my massage and afterward I started the uncontrolled shivering, which meant a trip to the medical tent. I had a final temp of 95°F. I only dropped about six pounds on the race, meaning I was “decent,” but still a little bad. They didn’t deem me worthy of the IV, though, so I just got chicken broth and a bag of lays potato chips.

Of all the people watching from my family, my brother-in-law’s brother and my friend Anders were the only two people to see me finish. My poor sister managed to watch five hours of finishers and missed me.

I remember I was going to try and make this funny and exciting but I forgot a lot about it. I think I’m still stuck in the euphoria at this point.

My final heroes: everyone that supported me along the way. A special thanks goes out to everyone who covered my shifts throughout this season, and this weekend. I couldn’t have done it alone.