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Be About It

CPC's Blog About Health and Wellness

IRONMAN - It’s a long day for Everybody

Thursday, 8 / 2 / 18

Two weeks ago, on July 22, 2018 IRONMAN Lake Placid was held for the 20th consecutive year. Four 18 Maple athletes took on this extraordinary feat of physical and mental endurance covering a total of 140.6 miles. I am incredibly proud to say that all finished. They allowed the hours of training and preparation to take over and bring them to the finishing line with times ranging from just under 11 hours to just over 14 hours.

but the resounding similarity between racing and spectating and IRONMAN is just how long and exhausting each are.

In past blogs I’ve written about my own personal experiences of the training sessions leading up to Race Day and Race Day itself. The range of emotions that as an athlete you go through are vast. IRONMAN Lake Placid was no different for the four 18 Maple athletes who put on an incredible showing of endurance and grit. What I’ve failed to write about, largely because I’ve haven’t been in this role often is that of a spectator. I made the trip to Lake Placid to share in the experience of IRONMAN but as a coach, friend, spectator, and volunteer. Race Day for me was just as special and nerve racking as a spectator but in completely different ways, but the resounding similarity between racing and spectating and IRONMAN is just how long and exhausting each are.

Below is a side by side comparison of how a typical IRONMAN Race Day typically unfolds for an athlete and how my spectating experience unfolded at IRONMAN Lake Placid. If you haven’t had the opportunity to watch an IRONMAN live and in person I can promise you you will not be disappointed. However, the day is long and while you are not doing the same amount of work as the athletes racing you are still doing work. The day is long, the coffee is plentiful, sleep is non-existent, and you’re feet will hurt by the end, but the reward of seeing your athlete cross the finish line makes it all worth it!

Typical 18 Maple Athlete Race Day

SK’s Day of Spectating 2018 IRONMAN Lake Placid


Wake Up - you’re already awake, you just decide it’s time to get out of bed and tackle this massive event in front of you.

Bathroom visit #1




1st Alarm - No. Just No.

2nd Alarm - I smell coffee.

3rd and Final Alarm - It’s time to get up. There’s coffee. I can do this. Why is it so early? I actually enjoy doing this


Coffee & Breakfast - bagel & peanut butter, coffee, water, sports drink, a banana (maybe)


Coffee #1 & slice of toast.


Get dressed for the day. Do NOT forget to put timing chip on! Pack bottles and nutrition for bike, wetsuit, cap, goggles, bike pump

Bathroom visit #2


Pack backpack - water, sunscreen, raincoat, sweatshirt, umbrella, phone, charging cord, extra of everything for athletes - gels, bars, goggles, etc.

Coffee #2 for the walk to transition


Head to Bike Transition to load bottles onto bike, check to see if bike survived the night & pump tires

Body Marking

Wait in the longest line EVER for bathroom visit #3


Head to Bike Transition with athletes. Hold onto anything and everything. Make these hours leading up to race start as easy and with as little stress as possible. Or, just get out of their way entirely. Consider waiting in the porta potty line and then force yourself to wait until the athletes get in the water. NO LINES!


Special Needs Bag Drop off - Bike & Run.


Maybe, if your athlete trusts you enough they ask you to drop off their special needs bags. DON’T screw this up.


Make the walk to the Swim Start

Headphones in, music on.

Chat with other athletes, friends, and family.

Sit by yourself and envision your day.

Possible bathroom visit #4

Squeeze into wetsuit, take a short practice swim.

Make way into the sea of athletes to line up in predicted swim finish time

Watch for fly over, national anthem


Hustled to the Swim Start to claim a spot along the swim exit chute to see the athletes fly by.

Be a calming force for the anxious athletes. Tell them they are ready and will do great. Tell them it’s a “really long training day” that they’ve done many times before.

Finally starting to feel awake from the coffee and they buzz of excitement and nerves at the start.

Begin to wonder what it would be like to be on the other side of the fence lining up to swim & quickly push that thought away.

Fly Over, National Anthem, PICTURES!


Pro Swim Start & eat Gel

Rolling Swim Start & GO 2.4miles




Pro Swim Start, Age Groupers Rolling Start. IM Tracker begins to blow up phone with athlete notifications. No lines at the porta potties for a quick bathroom visit.

Watch Pro Heather Jackson come out of the water in 1st (only to hold the lead ALL DAY!)

See and cheer for all 18 Maple and Cyclonaut Athletes


Exit Swim, Run to T1 to ditch wetsuit, dress for bike, grab bike, and start 112 miles


Hustled to Bike Mount to see as many athletes off on the bike as possible. Remarked at the ridiculousness of many of the spectators trying to get the “perfect shot” of their athlete.


Bike 112 miles

Manage effort by:

Heart Rate



NUTRITION - eat a bite every 5 mi

DRINK - sip every 15mins

Be smart. Have Fun!



Walk back to house for BREAKFAST & Coffee #3

IM Tracker APP - buzzing every 15-20mins with athlete updates

Sit still for a few minutes & work up enough energy to get a swim in



Swim 1 loop of the IM Course - all athletes are out and bouys are gone, thank goodness for the cable running the entire length of the swim course for easy sighting.

Back to house to shower, change, check IM Tracker


Bike Dismount - the best moment ever!

Quick Run to T2 - grab bag, run gear out, bike gear off & into back, run gear on, race number & belt on, and GO!


Quick Snack, Coffee #4, Walk to bike turn to scope out best place to see everyone in from the bike and heading out on the run

Cheer everyone out of T2, remember how awesome and terrible this moment feels, take pictures & video!


Run 26.2 miles

Settle into a stride by mile 1

Settle into race pace by mile 4

Each mile - Aid Station - water, gatorade, coke, food, gatorade, water, sponges - in that order

Mile 13 I feel great.

Mile 13.5 Oh man this is going to hurt.

Mile 18 #$&!

Mile 22 Just 4 more to go

Mile 26 Don’t trip. Just keep moving.

Mile 26.2/140.6 Done!


Lunch. Finally a chance to sit still

find an outlet in the restaurant and charge phone, again.

Try not to keep checking app while phone is charging.


Hustle back to run course to claim a spot where we can see the athletes come up from loop 1 of run, head out for loop 2, and take the final stretch to the finish line.

App check. App check. App check.

Cheer. Yell. Scream. Quiet. App check. App check. Nerves.

Finish Line.




This is highly dependent upon how you feel after crossing the finish line.

Med tent is a possibility.

Pizza, Coke, french fries is a possiblity.

Lots of hugs and celebration from Family & Friends is inevitable.


Day is not over yet. It’s time to give back to the sport - volunteer at the Finish Line!

Catch finishers as they come across the line. Grab them their medal, t-shirt, hat, chip removal, pose for photos, and escort to food or medical.

Midnight finish with Mike Reilly calling in the last finishers. An Amazing finish to an amazing day.


Early to bed … OR...

cap off the evening by watching the last few finishers be called in to the finish line.


Celebrate a great day for 18 Maple and all of the racers with a few well earned adult beverages.

Martha walking to transition Race morning.

Swim start!

Mike making his way to the turn around on Mirror Lake Drive for lap 2.

Jeremy staying focused on the run.

Waiting not so patiently for Elena to pass by on her last lap to the finish line.

Big smiles with Martha at the finish.

TAGS: Ironman, Race
Sarah Kelly