Ironman Lake Placid 70.3 Race Report, Part 1: Half the Distance, Twice the Fun

I’m so relieved and proud to say that my redemption race was a HUGE success. It was a 70.3, so I’m still not an Ironman. But the months of training paid off in ways I didn’t expect. Here’s part 1 of 2 of my race report!

Day Before:

My Saturday started when our cat got needy and jumped on my chest to lick my face. At 4 AM. Oh well, it would make getting up for race day slightly less terrible. Right? I had to roll out at 5 AM anyways with my teammate Alix. We couldn’t go earlier due to work and family commitments. (Fortunately, my family commitment was vacation. On the beach. Yup, sleeping 10 hours a day and drinking margaritas was the greatest taper I’ve ever had.)

We arrived in the Adirondacks after blasting The Hold Steady, ate brunch at the Noon Mark Diner (yummm), checked in, and picked up our swag at the expo and the merch tent. I put my feet up and relaxed for a couple hours afterwards.

Then I regretted relaxing because I lost my registration packet and had to go on a wild goose chase for it.

Then I really regretted relaxing when my bike chain jammed as I rode it down to the athlete village for the aforementioned wild goose chase.

Okay, it turned out fine. I accidentally set the packet down at the merchandise tent and a volunteer was holding it for me, which we figured out in about 15 minutes. The side adventure fortunately meant that I bumped into my ROI teammates Jeff and Ann while finally checking in my bike!

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Thanks to Lisa and Ann for making this photo happen! 

Diabetes was a real pickle. My BGs were high all day from the pre-race butterflies. Then I corrected for the highs and pre-bolused for our team pasta dinner and wound up low. Thank goodness for our amazing cheer squad/chefs Amanda, Michelle, and Sam, who slipped me some emergency garlic bread. And cooked a delicious dinner for 25 people from scratch to boot! I was too distracted by laughter and baked ziti to feel too crappy.

I laid out my transition stuff while listening to Raleigh Richie to cool my nerves, then turned in with dreams of the start AND finish in mind.

Pre-Race/The Swim

I woke up at 4:30 AM with a BG of 225. One thing that’s working for me is to take my correction bolus separate from my breakfast bolus. Coach Cliff Scherb also suggested to us ROI athletes that we try a carb-loading lunch and a normal dinner to prevent race morning BG issues. (Next time… you don’t get home-cooked dinners for every race!)

All of us in the house were up and cracking poop jokes before dawn. Then we ventured into the Arctic.

A post shared by Tim Crossley (@timcrossley) on

Photo courtesy of cheer squad member Tim


The race morning forecast was nobody’s friend. The air temperature was in the high 30s, and the water was about 63 degrees. I opted for a warm-up swim, which for me was REALLY helpful. I got a wee headache from putting my face in at first, but got acclimated to the water and did some laps while hearing the gun go off and seeing the fastest swimmers start. (And one overenthusiastic chubby guy who might have snuck up there for the glory….) Getting out and finding my place in line for the rolling start was less pleasant, as the air chilled my extremities for another ~25 minutes. I kept warm by dancing to the start line music. Others had the same idea, which was good fun but also probably looked idiotic as we bopped around to Macklemore because #triathlonsowhite.

At the start of IMWI I got U2, and at the start of LP 70.3 I got back-to-back Bruce Springsteen tunes. Others around me were probably annoyed that I was belting out “BORN DOWN IN A DEAD MAN’S TOOOWN” to take my mind off the cold.

Maybe it gave them motivation to swim faster to get away from me?

In any case, “Born in the USA” segued to “Blinded by the Light” as a volunteer gave me the go-ahead to wade in the water from the beach. I’m not sure how I feel about rolling start vs. wave start vs. mass start; it all seems to depend on the people around you and how chaotic it gets.

Talking to other teammates, it seems like I really lucked out for the first half of the swim. It was impossible to see the buoys because of the fog, and my start corral position wound up being closest to the buoy line. I couldn’t drift too far with so many other swimmers to my right. Nobody was too crazy around me. I didn’t get kicked (hard) or punched (that much) or pushed down in the water.

The other advantage at the start is that the swim is my strongest discipline, and I’m good at staying calm and collected in open water. (I wish I could tell you how. I did swim team as a kid and I think it just imprinted itself in my brain. Better than riding a bike, which I learned as a girl and still fell over like a klutz until I finally got it to stick… at age 20.)

I do think it helps to practice thinking rational thoughts while you swim in open water. If I let myself go too far down the path of Ugh, too many people around me! or Help I keep swallowing water and coughing or I can’t see the bottom, what’s under there? …. then it’s too easy to get to the point where I imagine myself having a heart attack while getting eaten by piranhas. In a lake.

Well, as helpful as it is to think lovely thoughts, the good fortune burned off like the morning mist. On the second half of the swim my cap started popping off! I kept pausing to yank it down to no avail. At the same time I pulled off the cap in exasperation, my goggles came undone. To add insult to injury, they were brand new. I bought them two days before the race after noticing my old pair falling apart. I bobbed in the water like a drunk baby seal tying a knot in the brand-new pair, all the while trying to dodge any swimmers coming towards me. Luckily, they held up for the last 500 yards and I emerged from the water exactly 1 minute faster than my Syracuse 70.3 swim.

Swim time: 41:25

Transition 1

Aw man, this one was a bummer. It was too cold to take advantage of the wetsuit strippers, who are their own weird delight on race day. We had to run nearly half a mile down the road from the beach to the bikes, on what appeared to be shoddy reject tiles from Bob’s Wholesale Carpet Emporium. I used the porta-potty and accidentally whacked my watch while taking off the wetsuit, so my timing got messed up. And it took extra time to not only remove the wetsuit myself, but also to dry off as much as possible and put on all the layers needed to go biking in 40-degree temps. Plus, my BG was 201 despite following my nutrition plan. I knew this would be a long T1 but my time was still cringeworthy. At least I spotted my friends coming out of the water.

T1: 20:47

Up next….. the bike and the run, where the real fun begins!


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