Ironnman Lake Placid

It has been a long time since I have been able to blog! Training the last weeks of training consumed all of my time. Now that I have time I can’t wait to catch up on everyones blogs!

Well I finally met my goal and finished Ironman Lake Placid! 3rd time is a charm!


As some of you may have heard race day brought unforseen events! It goes to show that anything can happen, and as much as we prepare, you just never know! Definately train in any weather, no matter what, because as this day showed, if it’s gonna happen, it’s gonna happen out there! You need to have the ability to stay calm and keep moving forward!

So here is my race day report:

The “swim”. The day started with a chance of rain… I seeded myself in the 1 hour 10 minute area for the swim. The first 1/2 of the first loop was a little tough. I found myself next to a man that seemed to be working very hard at punching the water, nearly missing my face many times, and I was having a hard time pulling away from him. But finally I was able to get away safely. It was pretty crowded and the first loop took me longer than planned. The second loop I was able to settle right in and have a great swim-until! I had just made the last turn around the buoy and was headed back when a kayaker was screaming into a bullhorn into my ear. Swim to shore now!!! What?!?! Why??? Then I saw it, lightening zigzagging across the sky. Chaos errupted as thousands of swimmers headed to one shoreline, swimmers were being picked out of the water and put on boats, and the rest were completely panicked and swimming faster than they knew they could! I headed to the closest dock, there are a number of residences on this shoreline fortunately. As I swam up to the dock with lightening flashing, I realized I swam to a metal dock-fabulous! A group of us scurried up the dock safely and up the hill of this persons yard looking to get out onto Mirror Lake Dr. We got close to the road and found the home was fenced in! Lucklily it was a horizontal wooden post fence. There was no room to go under it, so we looked at each other and climbed the fence in our wetsuits. Hmmmm, didn’t train for this scenario! We then had a 3/4 mile walk to transition in one heck of a storm.

T1. Yup you guessed it, insanity! Because most of the athletes got out of the water at the same time, we all got to transition at the same time. There was no room to change your clothes. The ground was saturated, the rain was unreal, the lightening was very close by, and we had no idea if the race was continuing. Finally, we got word, continue on. Really? In this lightening? Yikes!

The bike.  OMG! The ride starts with a dangerous decent right out of transition. Now imagine everyone and I do mean everyone, getting on their bikes at the same time and heading out together in torrential rain! The roads were slick as ice and the rain just kept coming hard! I managed to keep my head and get going. There is another long decent roughly 8 miles long in which speeds of 50mph are not uncommon. The road was newly paved and of course with the rain it was like ice. I saw 4 crashes on that road, &  it smelled of burning rubber from people trying to squeeze anything they could out of their brakes. It was a scary and COLD decent. I made it down and one piece! Phew! The rest of the first loop was more rain and lightening and strong head winds. I was pretty cold and my hands were numb. I had a hard time opening my nutrition and suffered because I wasn’t able to eat as I trained. I did however, remember to smile and celebrate that I was still moving forward! The second loop the sun was out more often, but the winds stayed, and the rain and lightening still had its moments. I was on the last climb of the day and cutting it close to the 5:30 cut off time, when my asthma kicked in. I thought  my day was finished! As I said in past posts, I have been here before. In 2008 IMLP had a “monsoon” I was pulled out for hypothermia on the bike, and in 2011 at the same race, I missed the bike cut off by 2 minutes 13 seconds. This was my last attempt at this race, this can’t happen! I got off my bike, sucked on my inhaler, walked a minute, and luckily I was able to continue. I did it! I made the bike cut off!! Wooohooo, finally, I have made it further than I ever had!

T2. God bless the volunteers! They were amazing!! My boyfriend had stayed nearby me on the bike, and was waiting for me at transition. He is a 7 time ironman, he knew this race meant the world to me and with the days conditions he decided to sacrifice his race to support me, and that he did!

The run. 26.2 miles of Hell on earth. Whoah! Much to my surprise, my gut shut down immediately on the run. This was new, I have never experienced this in any race or training day. I couldn’t keep anything down, not even ice chips. I vomited throughout the run. I had 6 1/2 hours to complete this marathon, and it was going to happen if I had to crawl the whole way! My guy grabbed my hand and held it for 26.2 miles. I would stop throw up, he would ask are you ok now? Yes I’m ok, then keep moving foward, stay off the guardrail. We walked and walked, and walked. Occasionally I jogged. He kept track of time,  & encouraged me the whole way. The crowds and again those amazing volunteers motivated me to carry on! I finally made my way to the olympic oval! My boyfriend ran just ahead of me and got the crowds even more riled up. Mike Riley was waiting, and at 11:54 the crowd in the stands gave me one heck of a welcome! Denise you are an Ironman!  Everyone screamed it! Wow, it was overwhelming! I cried and and laughed all the way in to the finish line! Steve was waiting on the other side of the chute for me. I remember hugging him and getting my medal. The next thing I remember was him picking me up and calling Medic! Two IVs and some Zofran, a few blankets to get my temp above 93F, and I was headed back to my hotel as an Ironman!!



Oh the lessons we learn while training! Of course this is the purpose in training, to work out the wholes in our plans, and get the mistakes behind us before race day. I just should’ve known better by now. Nutrition has always been tough for me to figure out. Today though, I made rookie mistakes.

Mistake # 1: I forgot my watch. Hard to time nutrition without one. Especially when you are riding in unfamiliar territory, and you don’t have landmarks to go by.

Mistake # 2: I figured since this was a flat course it would take less effort than the hilly courses I am accustomed to. WRONG! I found it much harder to ride flat, there was no rest from descents, so it was non stop pedaling mostly into head winds. I will take brutal climbs any day. Sigh.

Mistake # 3: I was riding with my boyfriend who is much faster and stronger than me. This isn’t usually a mistake, he makes stronger by pushing me beyond my comfort level. Today though, he was in a hurry to finish the ride, and I got.caught up in chasing him, trying to keep up. I was pushing hard and forgot to take in the supermarket I had packed to eat along the way.

Mistake # 4: I did an 8 mile very hilly run late last night. I did not eat when I got home. I drank a smoothie, packed my gear for this mornings ride, showered and went to sleep.

The result? You got it, bonk! I started out feeling fatigued and it only got worse. As we all know catching up is impossible. I barely finished.

After todays ride, I went home with my tail between my legs, and a massive bonk headache. I immediately ate a grilled chicken sandwich, macaroni salad, and a protein smoothie. My feet are up, I’m sitting in the shade relaxing, and this is how strenuous the rest of the day will be. Tomorrow is a rest day.

Lesson learned!

Training breakthrough!


The Syracuse 70.3  Ironman course is no joke! It’s been several years since I’ve ridden this course. I’m not a climber and this course is ridiculous! The first 15 miles is uphill. There were 2 climbs on this course that ate me alive at every attempt. This year I am doing this race as a “training race” for IMLP. I half heartedly signed up to the Syracuse 70.3 because I had long given up on my ability to do it. But this year I signed  for a several reasons.

1. It was a package deal with IMLP and guaranteed entrance into IMLP without having to stand in the volunteer line at 0 dark thirty.

2. The race is in my town. No traveling expenses, and home court advantage.

3. It’s exactly 5 weeks before IMLP, and is a perfectly timed training race.

4. The entire course, in my opinion is tougher than IMLP. Training on this course for IMLP will definitely prepare me.

5. Most importantly, this year is about facing my demons. This bike course has kicked my ass more times than I can count. As I said, there were 2 hill segments that I never made it up. I unclipped, hung my head in shame, & walked up. I needed to conquer them!

A couple of Sundays ago, I rode the course for the first time. I made it up the first hill that always got me with no trouble. However, the next hill, which the locals cyclists here call ” the wall,”  got me again. On this segment you have a short fast decent and then a sudden climb. You go from 30mph to 3mph as you make the  214 ft elevation climb.  It got me again. I was so demoralized! But I finished the ride and tried again this past Sunday. This time, I did it! Woot!!! This course was no  longer something I could not do!


I will no longer dread and avoid this course. This past Sundays ride was a huge breakthrough for me. I know now that if I have a day that I think I can’t do it, that it is mental and I can physically do it. The ride from this point on is not as difficult. This particular day we had a nasty head wind, so we felt like we climbed the entire 56 miles. It’s ok though, there is always a head wind going through the gorge on IMLP course right before the climbs begin, so this was great training for race day. The only thing I need to keep improving is nutrition on the bike. I had terrible stomach cramps when I got off the bike. Thankfully we didn’t have enough day light to do a brick. I need to figure that out, I have a feeling it was too many shot blocks and gels. I will work on that on this weeks long ride. Swimming is on track. I’m getting pool time in and look forward to open water swims.  I need to do more running, but I am doing ok with it. Now that spring is actually showing itself, and the days are also longer, training time is improving drastically!  

It’s a grove thing!

It’s a grove thing, and I finally feel like I’m all in!! It has been a very, very long winter in Syracuse NY!  But finally this week, the trees are blooming, the temps are on the rise, and it feels as though spring has sprung! With the weather being so miserable this “spring”, outdoor training has been minimal. My riding time has been cut significantly by the impossible conditions, and now it’s time to get off the horrid trainer, and make the bike my major focus for the next 79 days!  My running is on track, and swimming has been consistent. Which by the way, I recently purchased a new training toy! I love training gadgets, big or small, especially when they make training a little simpler. We have enough to think about, why not make it a little easier when we can?  So I bought a lap counter/timer.  Not terribly exciting I know, but at 5:00 a.m., I no longer have to keep track of my laps.


It stays on my finger, is comfortable, and I just click the button at the end of each lane. No more moving my water bottle from tile to tile on the deck every other lap to try to keep count!

I also need to dial in my nutrition a little better.  I have been doing really well planning my meals and snacks, and eating pretty darn healthy.  I do still have a tendency to eat poorly when I’m tired, or rushing around though. Grabbing whatever i can and not thinking before I shovel it in! The next few months are going to require fuel from the best nutrition I can eat.

I’m super excited for the upcoming months, it’s about to get crazy! I have a training camp in Lake Placid the first weekend in June. It’s going to be  a great weekend to gauge my progress, practice my race day nutrition, and see what I need to focus on. The weekend includes the Lake Placid half and full marathon, and of course riding and swimming the course. The swim in Mirror Lake in just 3 weeks? Well, we will see about that! The water may be too cold still, even with a neoprene cap, wetsuit, and water socks! Time will tell!  I’m not very optimistic! June 22nd will be another opportunity to tune up my training. It’s Ironman Syracuse 70.3.  It’s a very challenging course and  is comparable to Lake Placid although, the run  course is much tougher.  Lucky for me it’s in my own back yard and Ironman has cleverly lined it up 5 weeks before IMLP. Perfect timing, and the perfect place to do my training!

So, on that note, friends and family it’s that time of year, I beg for your support and understanding, as I move into race phase training. It’s that time of year my sanity gets questioned. My toenails blacken, I live in spandex, I smell like sunblock and chlorine, I seem to drink only from a squirt bottle, have been spotted with the occasional smearing of bike grease on my leg, and appear and disappear at home like a ghost. I leave the house at 0 dark thirty,  come back  home at sundown, shower, eat, and in bed minutes later.  My car although very neat, (minor ocd issues) will resemble a locker room, with  bike and running shorts, shoes, hats, helmets, bike pump, and a portable mini bar of water, recovery drinks, and electrolyte replacements. The console will hold Band Aids, gels, aquaphor, extra goggles, sunglasses, snacks, gels and sunblock…  My time with you all be limited, but feel free to join me on a ride or run. I love the distraction!


Time is flying!



93 days left until Ironman Lake Placid! Time is flying by! I haven’t had the opportunity to post in a while, life has been crazy! I’m getting training in, although not nearly enough.

My daughter was to run in the Penn Relays this week, and as a high school freshman, that’s quite an accomplishment! Unfortunately, she broke her ankle at a track meet  2 weeks ago. As we all know it’s devastating! She is doing well, and we will find out next week if surgery will be necessary. Either way, she will heal and we  will get her on the road to recovery and back in her running shoes in no time. So between taking care of her, dealing with the only full bathroom in my house being renovated, work, and the mood swings mother nature is having here in central New York, training has been limited! Nothing we haven’t all faced in our training. Too little time to get the amount of training in we need, and time just keeps ticking away whether we like it of not!

This week has been good though. I ran my first race of the season on Saturday, a 10k on the run course of the Syracuse half Ironman, which  I will be doing in June. It was cold and windy, but a lot of fun and I ran my personal best. Sunday I did a brick, & I spent the rest of the day cooking and baking healthy meals and snacks for the week. What a time saver that has been!  More importantly I’m finding that by having healthy meals and snacks immediately available, I haven’t been grazing on cookies while I’m waiting for dinner to cook, or cooking a frozen dinner or eating out simply because time was short and I was too impatient, tired and hungry to prepare a proper meal. Brilliant right? I don’t know why I didn’t do that sooner!

Sunday, I will post this weeks training. It feels good to be back on track! I am determined to succeed at IMLP this year and regardless of what life throws at me, I say bring it on! I will overcome it and keep moving towards that goal!

Finally a ride outside!


Now that’s what the back of my car is supposed to look like! Finally a break in the weather! Today it was 50f and sunny, so we could get the bikes out of the basement and ride outdoors! It was fabulous! I’ve been riding that trainer so much this winter, I wasn’t sure I would remeber how to ride it! Turns out all that basement suffering has payed off. I felt strong! No training wheels were necessary!

My 16 year old daughter has expressed an interest in doing a tri this year, so we brought her along on todays brick. She is a sprinter/ hurdler and was chugging along on a trek cruiser but she rode 15 miles and ran 3.5 miles. She loved it and we had a blast! Its time to invest in an entry level road bike and some gear for her. Having her come along today was the perfect way to do a little training and still have time for  my daughter.

Hopefully spring has sprung, and training season can continue outdoors! Todays brick was the perfect beginning! Happy spring  training everyone!

starting over



A frightening health issue has sidelined me for the last few weeks. Thankfully, I have been given the green light by my physicians to begin training again and I’m starting over.

Tuesday morning the alarm went off at 4:00 a.m., I bounced out of bed anxious to get in the pool again! I ate a light breakfast and made my way to the gym. As we walked in we saw the dreaded sign on the door-POOL CLOSED! Is this a joke? Turns out I wasn’t being punked, some poor person vomited in the pool the night before. My first day back and the pool is closed, UGH! Ok, regroup, suck it up and do something else. Fortunately I had workout clothes with me. I am not a person who enjoys indoor stationary cardio equipment, my bike trainer is quite  enough for me. I decided to do some strength training instead. It wasn’t what I had planned, but that’s ok, it was good to be training again!

Wednesday night I called the gym and was told the pool has been cleaned, shocked and open again. Yes!!! So Thursday I repeated Tuesday mornings ritual and arrived at the gym just before opening time. This time the pool was indeed open I snapped on my goggles and had a great swim! I love starting my day with a swim. The smell of chlorine, the feel of the slap of warmup strokes, the peace and quiet of being in the water. What a way to start the day!

Saturdays plan was to put the running shoes back on. It was 39 degrees out which for Syracuse isn’t so bad. However, we were blessed with 30 mph winds, making it feel much colder & I had no desire to go.  Steve was not about to let me skip this workout, he gave me a time to meet him and expected me to be there. Sigh, he was right, we have to get the run in. We agreed on a short but hilly route. Tomorrow is going to be bitterly cold, and will be the day to do a long ride on the bike trainer. Today is the best day to get out there. As I mentioned earlier, my health took a hit recently, shortness of breath, chest pressure, and a heart cath put me on the sidelines. I admit that I was hesitant to run. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to breathe. I was afraid my body would fail me again. Would this inhaler I have been prescribed work? Will it make my heart race too fast? There is only one way to find out. Ultimately, I decided to trust my doctors, I exhaled and breathed in my inhaler, put the dog on his leash, laced up the running shoes and met Steve for a run. We of course were unlucky enough to have a headwind most of the run. It was a challenging 5 miles! My reunion with my running shoes was not instantly blissful. I felt sluggish, heavy, and winded. My legs to my surprise have remained strong and they carried me through.  Sure I coughed, gagged a few times, and got a little light-headed, but I finished. I was grateful Steve encouraged me to get out there. If it wasn’t for him I would’ve stayed home nice & comfortable. We all know however,  that results happen outside of our comfort zone!

Adapting to the “Adaptation Phase” of training


Admittedly this past weeks training has been less  than stellar. The adaptation phase is about getting your mind and body ready for tough training that lies ahead. This short period of time in training allows you to get your house in order. It gives you the time to figure out how to walk that tightrope, delicately balancing family, friends, work, training, and personal time.  I didn’t balance  well at all last week.  I had a brief illness, a weekend away, and a family obligation to tend to. Before I knew it, 5 days had passed and no training had happened.  No excuses though, there were a few  opportunities that I could’ve gotten in some short training sessions. No point in looking back , I have to chalk it up to a learning experience and  move forward.


The week was not a complete loss, I put my big girl pants on, skipped the excuses and got to work…

Thursday swim:

200 w/u

4 x 250 build

200 k w/board

4x 150 build

200 pull

4×100 fast

100 c/d

Friday brought a very short break in the weather after work. A friend of mine is running in a half marathon on Sunday so I took the opportunity to join her on her taper run of 4 slow and easy miles. It was nice to go on a casual run and run at a pace and distance that allowed for conversation!

Saturday was a scheduled brick day! My boyfriend and I got on the ever exciting bike trainers and did a 2:20 virtual ride from the village of Lake Placid to Wilmington.  As boring as the trainer is to me, I like using this time visualize the bike course. I’ve ridden the course many times before, and the DVD is a great reminder of the work that needs to be done! We followed that with a 20 minute run.  It was a relatively warm day yesterday but the wind was strong and cold, making that run a little tough. I felt strong though, and I feel like I’m making progress!

The sun is shining today, and it’s a balmy 38 degrees. It looks as though it may be the best day of the week. So it’s time to get off the computer and take my dog out on a 80 minute run! Happy training everyone!