My IMLP Race Report

Please hit play to get the full effect of this race report... actually, if you can take your computer into the shower that would work too...

Leading up to the race I was a mixture of excitement and nerves, as expected. Last year in Arizona I pushed the negative thoughts of "I had an injury for the past few weeks, how will I fare come race day?" to the back of my mind. This year I pushed the thoughts of "I had some good training, but I really lost focus in the past 6 weeks, can I do this?" to the back of my mind. I think we're all battling some kind of confidence issue prior to race day - whether it's injury, not training enough, or maybe having trained too much and just feeling burned out. But I managed to stub out the negative thoughts, take in the beauty of my surroundings, become inspired by all the support and words of encouragement, and just focus on my number one goal for the day - to enjoy myself. Leading up to the race this seemed a done deal, how could I not enjoy myself on such a beautiful course?

Before I left Austin I met with my coaches Chrissie and Maurice. Maurice had told me to expect different challenges the second time around. That whatever difficulties I faced the first time would unlikely happen the second time. That I would be faced with an entirely new set of challenges. That two Ironman's are never the same. This proved very, very true. So here my story begins... IMLP 2008.

The Early Morning Hours

I woke up before my alarm, of course, feeling absolutely refreshed and ready for the day ahead. I made some breakfast, coffee, got dressed and we all piled into the car to head into Lake Placid. I am so happy that we stayed away from the hustle and bustle (read: triathlete crazy zone) of Lake Placid. We had a little oasis of peace and calm in our chalet in Wilmington. Unfortunately it meant that Gordon, Kate and Andy wouldn't have a base camp to come back to during the day (the road leading to Wilmington was on the bike course) but they were fully prepared to battle out the next 16 or so hours, as was I.

We arrived in Lake Placid about 4:50am. Transition wasn't even open yet, but the bodymarkers were already setup so I let them ink me with the numbers 2096 and 32. Good numbers. As soon as transitioned open at 5am I headed in, got my tyres pumped up straight away (yay, no line! and so awesome to have someone else pump them up for me), filled my aero bottle with water, put my nutrition on my bike, reset my bike computer, made sure I was in an easy gear, checked my tyres again, then I was ready to leave. Well, kind of. I always have separation anxiety from my bike before such a big race! So it took me a few pats of the bike, squeeze of the tyres, and some gentle reassuring words before I headed out of transition and down to the lake.

As Calm as Mirror Lake

I met up with the others as soon as I left transition and we walked down to Mirror Lake. It was only about 5:30am and still very quiet down by the waterfront. Most other people hadn't arrived yet or were still in transition. I was experiencing a sense of calm that was familiar from Arizona last year. I wasn't nervous, I wasn't antsy, I wasn't excited, I was just calm. I hung out with Kate and Andy for the next hour or so, had some more food and water, and just sat down and chilled. Gordon had already set himself up in prime position for taking photos. Then it was time to put on the wetsuit, give Kate a last hug, and head into the pre-swim holding pen. I found Gordon and had a few words to him, a hug, a smile and a kiss. Then I got into the water and swam out to the start line. I bobbed around for a while smiling at the people around me, floating on my back and taking it all in, watching the helicopter overhead. I still felt calm. Bang! The gun goes off, I start my watch and I'm off swimming.

An Ironman swim is the least enjoyable part of the day for me, and I love swimming! I tried to stay wide on the swim course, but inevitably wound up near the cable line, which was pretty rough'n'tumble. The usual things happened - punch in the head, people grabbing my legs, getting dunked, I also managed to give my fair share back to some of the big blokes who tried to swim over me. Take that. Yes, I still need to work on keeping my focus. Anyway... the water temperature wasn't cold and it wasn't warm, it was just right. After I'd fought my way through the more crowded part of the swim start, I noticed that it was raining and thought that was pretty cool. Swimming in the rain, I always love that. Fairly soon I was approaching the end of the first loop, I pulled myself out, ran back to the swim start and dove into the water for lap two. As I swam the second loop it started to thin out a bit more and I noticed it was still raining but at that stage didn't think anything further, just focused on being smooth and slippery in the water. Then it was the end of lap two and I was out of the water for good, yee-haw!

Down on the ground, wetsuit stripped off by one of the awesome volunteers, then back up with wetsuit in hand, feeling awesome and running downhill into transition. This is one of my favourite parts of a race, I love how strong and excited (and relieved!) I feel after getting out of the water. I looked around for Gordon, Kate and Andy but hadn't yet seen them (found out later Gordon was right in front of me!). Then as I was halfway down to transition I heard Kate and then saw her! That was a huge rush and made me feel so good. We almost high-fived but not quite. But it certainly gave me a high as I finished the run into transition.

I picked up my bag and went into the change tent. A quite well-timed power outage plunged us into darkness, which made it a little interesting trying to undress and get changed in the dark! Before too long I was out of the change tent, socks and shoes in hand. Given all the rain I didn't want to run through the mud with my shoes on and get mud in my cleats. I've had problems with that in the past and taking forever to clip in, so I figured this would be a good approach (and it was). Unfortunately no-one had my bike ready for me, but I knew where it was so I ran right over and grabbed it and made my way out to the bike course. Socks and shoes on, mount the bike, clip in to the pedals and I'm on my way. The first part of the bike is a tight turn on a downhill so we had to be pretty cautious with the wet roads. But I was careful and escaped without incident. I was feeling so pumped and happy and was smiling at everyone. I was on the bike!

Warming up

The first 6-7 miles of the bike are full of rollers that aren't too challenging but you definitely want to keep the effort easy or you'll pay for it later. I took the time to get some fluid and take a gel, settle myself into the rhythm of being on the bike, and feel how my bike was responding to the wet roads. I felt good. Then we came upon the long downhill into Keane. This would be a great section to really scream down in good weather! But with the rain I could only manage around 34mph comfortably. I wasn't wearing sunglasses so the rain was lashing at my face and eyes, and I was squinting just to try and keep sight of the road in front of me. I started feeling a little cold on this section, but as soon as we passed through Jay and took the left turn into Wilmington I started to get warm again, because... this is where the hills started! I really enjoyed the hills on the way to Wilmington, nothing was too steep and I felt fresh and strong. I found myself easily cycling past others on the uphills (only to get passed again on the downhills, oh well).

Mama Bear, Baby Bear, Papa Bear

Once in Wilmington there is a 12mi out and back section. This corner was rocking! Full of cheering spectators in their ponchos. The rain certainly was not dampening their spirits! I was smiling at everyone and thanking them all for being out there. This out and back section was my favourite - you get to see all of the other competitors ahead and behind you, sharing smiles and jokes about the weather. I went past a woman who had scratched out her name on her bib and instead put the words "Vegemite", a fellow Aussie yay! So we had a chat for a few minutes before we went our own separate ways. Once the out and back section was finished I knew it was onto the last, toughest part of the loop. The climb back into Lake Placid. I have to admit, these hills were pretty tough. None of them were very steep, but they weren't spaced out very well and so this section was very tough. My favourite bit on this section back into town was the "Papa Bear" hill - I felt like I was in the Tour de France! Tonnes of spectators lined the hill, including a devil (!) chasing us with his fork, and the energy and enthusiasm and support was so contagious. I powered up that last hill, turned the corner and started cruising into Lake Placid. Everyone was cheering wildly and I saw Gordon, Kate and Andy cheering even more wildly for me! Big grins at them - unfortunately Gordon was only able to catch my butt pedalling away from them on the first loop. Guess I was flying past them too quickly ;)

Why am I here?

The second bike loop was tough. Tougher than the 25mph winds in Arizona last year. Tougher than any of the 100F bike rides I've done this summer. Physically I still felt pretty good, but mentally I had checked myself out. I got quite cold on the downhill into Keane, and that damn rain felt like hail against my skin. I had a bit of a cry. Then I had another cry. Then I stopped at the rest stop in Jay to re-fuel and visit the bathroom - the bright point of this rest stop were the two kids that helped me out. I think they were about 12yrs old. They filled my aero bottle while I was in the bathroom and held my bike for me the entire time. They were so sweet. I gave them a big thankyou and took off towards Wilmington. The out and back section was still the best part of the loop and I kept my spirits up for the spectators, although not quite as enthusiastically as on the first loop.

Finally I was on the last 14mi of the course, heading back into Lake Placid. I had completely lost my motivation. Mentally I was broken. The consistent downpouring of rain had dampened my spirit and this is when the conversations with myself really started. "Why am I out here?". "I've done an Ironman before, so why do I need to do this again, today, in this weather?". "How can I finish the bike, get changed, and head straight back out into this rain for a marathon?". I had even sketched out what I would write in this blog post. That it just wasn't my day. That everyone would understand. I convinced myself to just tough out the rest of the bike, finish strong, and then I could be done. Finished. So I rode the rest of the bike course, went up that last hill, finished strong, and cycled into town. I saw Gordon, Kate and Andy again cheering absolutely wildly for me, and I couldn't summon up the strength to smile back at them. Instead, I gave them a sad little smile, "I'm sorry I've let you down. I'm going to quit now.". I didn't say those words but it was written all over my face. As Gordon describes in his race report, and as you can clearly see in the photo he took of me, you could tell that I was done.

I'm not done

I handed my bike off to the volunteer, grabbed my bike to run bag and went into the change tent. I sat down and one of the volunteers came over to assist me. "I just need a moment", I said. She pulled all of my gear out and I slowly started drying off, getting changed, preparing myself for the run. For some reason I just couldn't utter the words "I'm done". I thought, why not go out there and start the run and see what happens? So I finished getting dressed and ran out of the change tent, onto the run course. I started running. Everyone was cheering. It felt good to be off the bike and running. It was still pouring with rain. I looked out for my support crew but didn't see them. I wasn't surprised, they were pretty far away on the bike course and the run went in the opposite direction. Doesn't matter, I'll see them later.

I ran out of town, feeling strong and the crowds were phenomenal, calling out my name, encouraging me, pushing me forward. I ran about 3-4 miles before I started the run/walk two-step. My stomach was bothering me and I just couldn't summon up the will to run continuously. I was tired and I knew if I run/walked that I'd finish in a decent time. I was either running a solid pace of 9min/mi and easily passing people, or walking 14min/mi (I'm a pretty fast walker, I wasn't just lollygagging while I was walking!). I alternated between gels, chicken broth, cola, pretzels, water. Finally I made it to "Inspiration Station" and eagerly looked for the message from Gordon and Kate on the LCD - "What would Timmy say?". It made me laugh. It's a long story behind that message. Actually, not really such a long story. Tim is Kate's husband. His favourite saying for the past year was inspired by an infamous Australian (ps. only click on the link if you are not offended by profanity. He swears a lot. Don't open it if you're at work. You've been warned). It made me laugh, and I kept pushing on back into town.

Unexpected encouragement!

I was about 10 miles into the run when I saw Gordon. I slowed down to have a hug and a chat. I was expecting some soft, gentle, encouraging words "c'mon Amanda, keep going petal, you can do this", but instead he
started yelling at me! "C'MON AMANDA, KEEP RUNNING, YOU CAN DO THIS, C'MON!" and he ran with me part of the way. Exactly what I needed, mind you :) He had also convinced a whole tent full of people to cheer for me too. That felt good. I did end up walking the ginormous big hill leading back into town. That thing was a monster! I ran the little out and back section and before I knew it I was on my way to the second loop. I was making decent time, nothing super speedy, but okay. I felt like a superstar running down that enormous hill, passing people and feeling strong. I got a lot of great comments on how strong I looked. I even managed to get a kiss out of Gordon this time.

I can do this

Then I was out of town past the showgrounds where the crowd thinned out and I resorted to my walk/run thing again. No worries. Need to keep my energy up for the finish! I passed the "Inspiration Station" again, got another chuckle out of "What would Timmy say?" and headed back into town. Only 3ish miles to go now. I can do this! When I came back into town and that huge uphill Gordon and Kate were there - they cheered me on and ran with me for about 20m or so. That was awesome! I really enjoyed that. Then they yelled out "see you at the finish!" and I was on my own for the last section into town. I still couldn't convince myself to run the entire way in, I don't know why, I just couldn't. But by the time I hit the last mile I knew I had it in the bag and I started running and running and running. I ran into the finish area, saw Gordon, Andy and Kate, ran even harder, through the puddles, towards that finish line and finally heard the words "Amanda McGregor, you are an Ironman!". That makes two for two!!!

Proud, tired, happy

I was so happy to be done. I was so proud of myself for continuing to push through on a challenging day. I almost gave up because I thought it didn't matter if I didn't finish, because I had already done an Ironman. When Maurice had said different things will happen in your second race, he was right on. I had bad weather at Arizona (wind) and bad weather at Lake Placid (rain), but I never thought of quitting during Arizona. The hunger for becoming an Ironman was too great. I seriously questioned myself during Lake Placid because I thought I didn't have that same hunger to finish. But apparently I did. Because I finished. And, I actually enjoyed parts of it too :)


I was awesome.

Torrential downpour the entire day almost broke my spirit by the end of the bike. But I collected myself in T2, changed into dry clothes, thought about everyone cheering me on, and just couldn't utter the words "I'm done, I can't continue". So I put on my running shoes and headed back out into the rain for my marathon and that Ironman finish line.

It took my second Ironman to hear the words, but this time I heard them. "Amanda McGregor, you are an Ironman!".

That makes two for two. It was a completely different experience the second time. Different thoughts going through my head and I had to dig deeper to motivate myself to keep going, but I did and I finished and I had many moments out there that I truly enjoyed.

Thanks Gordon, Kate and Andy. I know it was a long, rainy day for you too, but seeing you out on the course kept my spirits high and drove me on to that finish line. Thank you.


T -16 hours

I am loving my time in Lake Placid. It is a beautiful area of the country and I feel very privileged to be doing my second Ironman here. I like that it's so different from Arizona and although true inspiration can only come from within, I'm sure I will find some of it lurking out there on the course - in the small towns that we pass through on the bike that will be full of cheering spectators, the long climbing uphills that are almost always followed by a refreshing downhill, the lushness of the landscape, my family waiting for me as I come back into town on each bike and run loop, cheering wildly, and my family and friends cheering me on from afar. I can't wait! Yet I am also wildly nervous.

You'll be able to follow me on www.ironmanlive.com - they'll have the race coverage up for IMUSA and you'll be able to "track an athlete". Just search for me under my name or you can use my bib number - 2096. The page should update when I finish the swim, each loop of the bike (there are two) and probably halfway point on the run, then the finish. You should also be able to get a live video feed of me crossing the finish line!

Gordon is also going to update his twitter feed, linked at the top of the page. Now it's time for some final relaxation, a call to Mum and Dad this evening and an early night. Thanks to everyone for all of your support and friendship. I'll be thinking of you while I'm out there tomorrow.


Becoming an Ironman

The water laps your toes and envelops your skin. Close your eyes. The masses become silent and your heartbeat thunders. You have planned for today, talked about today, trained for today, imagined today, dreamed today, and yet you still don't know what to expect.

Manage your day. Stick to your plan. Be flexible. Just finish. Float when your mind and body detach and watch your body move without you - pushed by the crowd, the volunteers, who lust for your finish as if it were their own.

But it hurts. And you don't know for sure why you're doing this and what it will mean when you do. And then you see it. A banner, a clock, a frenzy of applause. And you know you made it happen through whatever means and power source you draw strength from.

Becoming an Ironman, Kara Douglass Thom


IM Lake Placid - Good luck Amanda!

Here is a sampling of some of the good luck wishes that my awesome training group - T3 - have been sending my way. Not to mention the emails and phone calls. THANKS guys you are the absolute best!

Just wanted to wish Amanda good luck in Lake Placid this weekend! Hope you have a great race, and know that we will be cheering for you all day long :)

Have a great race Amanda! I know you will de awesome. We will be cheering for you and sending you a lot of positive energy.

Have an AWESOME race Amanda & make sure Gordon takes lots of great pics!

Good Luck and have fun!

Good Luck! You have looked simply awesome everytime I have seen you!! Hope you have a great race and a wonderful day!

Have a great race!!! Just keep that great attitude you always have and have fun :) we'll be cheering you from here!!

Good Luck!!! Have a great race and enjoy the day..

Kick A**!

Enjoy the day. And afterwards you can join Gordon on working on your buoyancy. (Thought that was a great line from Gordon awhile back.)

Have a fantastic time!

you are going to rock :)

w00T! You're going to have a great race!


T3 only needed to send one person to Ironman Lake Placid...

A sniper always says... "One shot, One Kill"

You are gonna kill it girl!!

Am I ready?

Lately people have been asking me "are you ready?". I hate that question. I'm sure the people asking it are not wanting to cause me to question my training - but of course it makes me think twice. Am I really ready? Have I done enough long rides (yes), have I done enough long runs (think so), have I done enough swimming (for the most part)? Do I have a good nutrition plan (pretty sure I do)? Have I developed more mental toughness during the training? ABSOLUTELY! That is the part that I have really been working on this time. If I compare training hours between IMAZ 2007 and IMLP 2008 I'm almost exactly the same. But I know I feel stronger mentally. I've done most of my long rides on my own - sometimes starting with friends, but always finishing on my own, often in 90 degree weather. I've forced myself to keep training - losing focus sometimes - but always coming back and getting those key workouts done.

It's weird because I don't have a benchmark for my progress this year, having trained on my own. When I trained for IMAZ 2007 I always had others in the group to check progress against, but this time I haven't. I also didn't really think about the IMAZ course much last year - knowing it was flat made it easy and I only worried about the distance, not the course. But IMLP is a totally different ballgame. Sure, I know I can do the distance, but those hills? I do like biking on hills, but how am I going to pull up after 112mi? The run is hilly too, and my running got off to a slow start this year with a slight injury going into the training. But my running is finishing stronger than it did last year when I had shin splints leading up to the race and could barely run.

I find it interesting
how I switch between being SO excited about this race one minute, then a few hours later being absolutely terrified that it's going to be ridiculously hard? But then perversely looking forward to the hard times during the race because I want to overcome the challenges this time - overcome them and put a smile on my face and enjoy the day?

I'm not posting this to have everyone message me and tell me I'm going to be awesome. I know I'm going to be awesome. Finishing the training and getting to the start line makes me awesome. Finishing the race is just dotting the i of the ironman.


Weather is looking good!

Jul 20



Just finished another long swim in Barton Springs - I love that place. Wetsuit feels good!


Bib numbers are up!

Hi from bib number 2096!

My number in Arizona was 2114. Does this mean I have to aim for 18min faster than last year? ...

calming the butterflies

Just dropped my bike and bag off at Jack and Adam's.

I think I'm having separation anxiety already.

Now it is all becoming real!


Bike and bag ready to go...

I have so many lists on the go right now:

1. Packing list for TriBike transport. They're taking my bike and one bag up to the race - they actually drive it in their big 'ol truck, saving me the hassle of having to take it apart and fly with my big bike box. The bag is full of a bunch of stuff - electrolytes, running shoes, spare tubes, CO2 to inflate my tires if I flat during the bike, bike tools to change a tire, bottles filled with suspicious white powdery substance that I probably shouldn't be flying with (it's only CarboPro - my nutrition - nothing to worry about, no performance edge for me there!), spare goggles, etc... as many things as I could pack. Some things I still need up until the race - like my bike shoes and bike helmet. Luckily I have a road bike so that I can keep riding while my race-ready, fast-looking tri bike is on its way to Lake Placid!

2. Packing list for race day. Swim stuff, T1 bag (swim to bike transition), bike special needs bag (for halfway during the bike - they put it out for you on the course and you generally pack it with things you may have run out of - like spare tubes, or if you dropped a bottle of nutrition - or something you might be really craving, like sour cream and onion pringles for me, or maybe a vegemite sandwich ;), T2 bag (bike to run transition), run special needs bag, and don't forget the post-race bag!

3. Packing list for all the things I'll need for the race minus the items already packed in my bag that shipped with TriBike.

4. General packing list for the weekend. Also keeping in mind that it is going to be cooler up there - like 25 degrees F cooler, yay!

5. Location list for where to find my marbles, in case they get lost in the coming days.

Time for bed I think...

I love watching this video

I came across this YouTube video several weeks ago, a recording of someone's race at IMLP last year. Every time I watch it I get excited and nervous all at once!


Awesome 40/10 final pre-race brick!

Saturday I did my final pre-race brick, a 40mi ride followed by a 10mi run in the Circle C neighbourhood. Gordon was my awesome support crew and created a mobile water stop for me along the run route. He even beeped the horn and shouted encouragement... thanks Gordon! It meant a lot to have you out there supporting me.

The weather was humid and cloudy and not too hot. The ride was awesome and I actually had a really good run - not awesome - but really good. Although my legs took about 20min to get into the running groove, they did loosen up and I managed to feel good. Circle C isn't a really hilly neighbourhood but there are definitely some gradual inclines that can make it a little tough.

A great final big workout for me, and huge confidence boost leading into LP. Only 13 days to go!


Update on attack of the Ponzu

Last week Gordon and I decided to go to Uchi for dinner. It is one of our favourite sushi restaurants in town. Expensive, but the food is delicious. We enjoyed a cocktail out on the patio in the lovely evening weather and caught up on our day, then about an hour later sauntered into the restaurant, ordered some green tea and some food. We had a delicious seaweed and cucumber salad, then some oak smoked escolar. It was really good.

Then the waiter brought out our two pieces of shrimp tempura with ponzu sauce in a ramikin. Here is where it all went south, literally! Instead of asking the couple with the baby who had stopped at the adjacent table to chat and who were oblivious to the fact that they were in the way, decided to do a shimmy around them, and of course as the plate made its way down to the table, the ramikin decided to slide off and douse me with ponzu sauce! All over my brand new blouse, eeek, but thankfully not all over my white jeans (I never wear white jeans because I'm normally too messy!).

Anyway, the waiter was obviously sorry and apologized several times, the manager also came out and made sure I knew that they would take care of the dry-cleaning cost. I also made sure to check that if for some reason the dry-cleaning didn't fix it, that they would reimburse me for my brand new blouse.
I was a little surprised that they didn't offer a round of drinks or some kind of discount on the bill which I would be expecting in this type of situation.

I took the blouse to the dry-cleaners but they were unfortunately unable to remove the stains. So I sent off an email to the manager today requesting compensation for the blouse and the dry-cleaning. She replied back within 3 hours and said that the check has already been filled out and is ready for me to pick up. I was very impressed with the speed of response and the overall outcome of the situation.

I would go back. Maybe not order the tempura next time though!


Life is very very bizarre

When Gordon and I did Ironman Arizona last year, Gordon's brother Andy just happened to have a business trip to the US at the same time - very last minute trip - and so he ended up coming to Arizona and cheering us on in his very British style, heh. It was awesome to have him there.

Anyway, so today we found out that Andy is going to be in Houston July 16th and then needs to be in Boston July 21st... so he's coming to Lake Placid to watch me do another Ironman. Crazy! It's going to be cool having Gordon, Kate and Andy all there cheering me on. Gordon can do a hybrid British/Texas cheering thing, and Kate can channel our Mum with her cheering style! I can't wait.