Ironman Lake Placid 2010

As most of you know, my plans to do Lake Placid came after a failed attempt to complete the inaugural IM St. George (Utah). After my first ever DNF, I had my heart set on racing an IM as I wanted to use all the training I had done since post Kona 2009. To sum it up, I wanted to race prepared with my HEAD in the game. Let me tell ya, I so did this time around, and it paid off… Kona 2010 is in my future ;)
The day I got back to Boston I contacted everyone and their grandmother to find a my way into Lake Plaid It is quite a challenge after the race sells out and the community slots are gone. I did luck out and was able to get into LP. I have to give a great big shout out to the person that delivered… you know who you are! THANK YOU!! The next day I was back on the wagon and training for LP.

It took me about a week or so to get back into the swing of things, but once I did, I was on fire. I made it through the days and weeks no problem. Training weekend was solid; I had a quasi Olympic race (Mooseman) and managed to squeeze in Providence 70.3 before LP. I was on lockdown and I was in now way straying. I got plenty of sleep and stuck to the core several weeks out from the race. I have to give another shout out to my friends and family who didn’t get to see much of me those few weeks. Thanks for your support and for dealing with my diet obsession ;)

I headed to Lake Placid the Thursday before the race with my friend Nancy. The 5+ hour ride went by fairly quick and before I knew it we were passing the Olympic grounds. Pretty cool! After we made it through a hotel glitch, we settled in, registered and then headed out for a swim, bike, and run. So, my second fiasco on the day, a flat tire! I was a bit stressed as I changed the tire and it flatted instantly. Not a good sign. Thanks to Nancy for riding 650 wheels, we were able to use her spare. Another thanks to teammate Pat Wheeler for taking a break from his LONG day of riding to help change the flat. He did a fabulous job as usual. We were finally back on the road and my tire was holding up. I was a bit nervous seeing it wasn’t me that successfully changed the flat. Oh well, if I flatted on race day I would just have to cross my fingers

My next, and last, fiasco all started when I got back from my run. I went in my car and noticed one of my race wheels was missing. Yeah, I totally forgot to put it in the car after my ride. I put my bike in the car, however, in my absent state, I left the front race wheel leaning about against the car. How could I be so stupid?!?!? I totally freaked out, cried for a minute, called my coach in tears and left a pathetic voicemail, and then just stood there in complete shock. Two minutes later, a guy came over to me and asked if I was looking for my race wheel. I was like uhm yeah. He then told me that he took the wheel and put it inside as he didn’t want anyone to steal it. Oh my lord, there ARE good people out there! He returned it to me unharmed. Wow! OK I was happy again… off shower then eat my last core meal before the carb load!

Friday morning was the usual routine, get the workouts in first thing, pack all my race gear up and then start carb loading. My quick swim was refreshing, my easy spin on the bike and run were both super duper chill (with some bad arse pickups). Time to EAT… and that I did for the next day and a half. Big lunch and dinner Friday and big breakfast Saturday with an semi big lunch, and then it was all about the food taper. This time I did it right and did not eat any unnecessary junk like I did pre Kona.

Saturday afternoon I went over to where Coach Jesse was staying to have the pre race chat. I got the quick pep talk reviewed my pacing, and I was off on my merry way to put my feet up and rest. Not so fast. I actually offered to take my teammates down to drop their bikes off as the parking was tight down b the Olympic Oval. Tim wanted to take his car seeing there were three bikes. My mini SUV wouldn’t work given I don’t have a bike rack. It all seemed like a good plan until I went to start the car and broke the key in the ignition. Yup, you read that correctly. The key was no longer attached to the little black gadget with the automatic door and trunk opener. So, that called for some pliers, which Cait retrieved from the house. That fixed our problem and then we were off. We actually found a spot down by the lake so I did not have to drive in circles. Great! I would just sit in the car and wait with my feet up.

Well, nothing could go as planned this weekend. When the crew returned, the car wouldn’t start. We found a fellow triathlete to jump the car, but that didn’t work. Luckily Chrissie saved us and brought us to lunch while Tim hung back with the car. The good news is, the car started about 30 mins after and Tim got home safe. We got the lunch and everyone was happy… especially with the sweet honey mustard I picked out for our turkey sandwiches. SOOOOOO GOOD! Anyway… I made it back to the hotel and all I did was snack and watch TV. It was nice to just chill for a few hours. When I started to get antsy it was time to get dinner, so I took a brief walk down the street and grabbed my kid’s pasta chicken meal. That would be it and then it would be lights out.

Race morning came quick and it was the usual 3:30 am applesauce delight topped off with a banana and protein, and washed down with Powerbar Endurance. Yum! I always attempt to go back to bed, but I just end up laying down with my eyes shut thinking about the race. 5 am the alarm sounded and I sat there for a bit and chatted with Nancy. It was show time. I never feel nervous, but I do act nervous. I guess I was power walking down Main Street at 5:30 am. Nancy told me to slow down. Ha! We did see an interesting group of kids in their early 20’s (if that) wasted out of their mind walking around town. Quite the opposite of where I was at, which made me chuckle.

I made it to transition to get my bike in order and get body marked. I was done in all of 20 mins. The rest of the time was spent saying hello to fellow triathletes, waiting in the port-o-potty line and getting in the zone. The morning passed by and it was time to head down to the swim. Holy cow…this was it! I paced the swim area a bit before getting in the water, which is typical. I don’t like to take the plunge until 10 mins before the start. I had my PowerGel, stretched, and then made my way in. There were WAY more red caps (men) than white caps (women), which was frightening. I was told to go about half way over and 2 rows back. Yeah I was with all the red caps thinking to myself that I was going to get killed. A few minutes later I heard my name and it was my teammate Molly. Good to see her as I knew I was in the right spot and she was in the same boat as me. The countdown started soon after the pros took off. I was ready to roll. The cannon went off and it was show time. The last 8 weeks were going to be put to the test.

My first 400 yds or so was pretty clear. I just kept my head down and swam hard. I was wondering what was going on and why I wasn’t getting wacked from every angle, but I’ll take the clear water for as long as possible. Soon after the other swimmers cramped my style and the mad dash to the first turnaround started. I made it OK and just headed back towards land on my own. I stayed away from the line as it was a cluster F. I finished the first loop in 32 mins…right on track. I went around the doc and got back in the water for round 2. I took the chance and jumped on the line. What a great choice I made; I got a free ride the whole way to the turnaround buoy. I made it around and attempted to hop on the line, but this time I got the crap kicked out of me. I decided to swim out far on my own and work the last stretch. It was a bit longer, but I made it. I was out of the water with a 1:06 swim. Right on track.

I ran quick to transition and grabbed my bike bag. It was an easy transition, as I was very calm and there weren’t many people in the tent just yet. I ran off to get my bike for 112 miles of saddle time. The plan was average 145 watts and then if I had some juice in me after mile 80, push up to 200 watts as much as I could. My first lap went well. As soon as I got out of town I spazzed and dropped my chain. It was a 30 second fix, but it is still a pain to get off the bike. I white knuckled my way down the 5 mile descend because I was scared as heck and it was raining. I knew I lost some free time, but I was putting my safety first. The short trip on Haselton almost resulted in a crash. Some guy stopped dead at a water stop and I almost ended up in his back tire. I somehow managed to avoid that mess.

A few miles later I witnessed another female rider pass a guy on the right, causing him to fall into my front tire. Again I managed to get away unscathed, but I can’t say the same for the guy. I felt bad his seat was totally broken off, which means his day was over. The aggravating thing was the girl just rode off. She did not stop to check on him or apologize. Some people… anyway… I continued on with my ride and battled the winds ok on the back end of the course. After the bears I made the turn to head back into town and that is when my chain dropped again and the rear derailer had caught my chain as well. Time to pull over and check out the situation. I put the chain on and then could not pedal past a certain point. That is when I realized the tangled chain in the back. I panicked for a second and then talked myself through the mess. After a few minutes I had it under control and I was back on the bike pedaling away.

I saw my friends in town and coach, which was a great boost. The second loop I was able to just ride. I had no issues and just focused on my power and nutrition. As Coach Jesse predicted, I passed several people on the second loop of the bike. I was able to push the watts after mile 80 as well. The wind was definitely a lot tougher the second time around. I just stayed aero and talked myself through it… I may have been talking out loud at some points Well it helped and I ended up with a 5:58 bike. Again, right on track with my targets.

T2 was just as painless as T1. I grabbed my bag from the volunteer seeing I went down the wrong isle. Thanks to the volunteer who saved me from having to go ALL the way around. In the tent I made the quick change from bike to run gear, grabbed my blocks, banana, and headed out. The banana was a nice treat. As I ran out I felt awesome. All I had to do was hold a 7:55 pace for as long as I could. I saw Coach Jesse and the QT2 crew right when I made it out of transition. I got the usual “slow down”… yeah I always want to run super fast. I listened and brought it down to 7:55 and then I was running between 7:40 and 7:55. I couldn’t help it. The run seemed so easy for the first 13 miles. I was just waiting for the legs to start getting heavy. I flew up the hills into town, waved to the crew, and headed back out on the course. I started doing the walk run at mile 15. I would walk through all of the aide stations and then run as hard as I could to the next station. It was exactly what I did in Kona. Let me tell ya, this works awesome! I was still feeling tired, but I was able to gain some wind when I tool a short power walk break.

The second set of hills into town were freaking tough. I managed to run up all the hills with no walking. I saw the crew one last time with 1 mile to go. Coach Jesse gave me the “keep it steady” shout out and gave me a time check saying I was close to 10:40. My target for the day was 10:45 – 11:00… I was ahead of schedule. As usual my un ended up being stronger than anticipated and I finished the marathon in 3:31. The turn into the oval was such a great feeling. I knew at that point I was finishing, and most likely up there in my age group. I was in shock, but I am not sure why seeing I put in all the training and was in the game mentally.

It was nice to be greeted at the finish by my friends Nancy and Marybeth. Thanks for taking care of me ladies! It was also great hanging at the finish with my teammates Custie and Jay, who both had amazing races. Overall a great day… I came out of the water in 21st in my AG, biked my way to 8th, and ran my way to 2nd … 10:42:23! Michelle Joaquin you are an IRONMAN!

The road to Kona has started and I will be sure to post updates along the way!!!

Thanks to my family and girlfriends for being supportive and putting up with my crazy schedule and diet; Coach Jesse for the guidance and extra push; Team Qt2 for being such great athletes and training pals; Cait for letting me stay on your wheel on those really LONG rides; Kitty for giving me swim guidance; Nancy for being my race Sherpa; and Brian Hughes for all the bike help

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