The days leading up to Lake Placid felt like a roller coaster ride. I experienced the highs, the lows and everything in between. Thankfully everything turned out exactly like I imagined.
12 days before Lake Placid I crashed on my bike.
I was going over 40 mph down a mountain road when it happened. I was very lucky that there were no broken bones. I had road rash on both arms and shoulders, with the worst on my tailbone. I needed 4 stitches on the outside of my left knee and my left wrist was very bruised. Four days later I fell backwards while roller skating with my kids. Now my wrist hurt whenever I move it.
Lake Placid was my A race for the year. My goals were to win my AG and return to Kona. Initially the crash was heartbreaking. I was in shock and couldn’t believe what had just happened. I knew that I would still be able to compete but I wasn’t sure at what level.
The crash occurred early in the morning so my husband was still home and was able to come get me. At home he helped me get cleaned up. He then took our 10 and 6 year old to summer camp for the morning but my 5 year old stayed home with me. My husband had to go into work but would have a break in a couple of hours. He is a general surgeon so he brought supplies home so he could stitch me up. My 5 yr old even watched part of the procedure. You can’t ask for better service. The best thing to use for road rash is tegaderm. I only wish I used it on all areas, rather on just the worst. It helps it to heal faster and it doesn’t leave a scab. In the afternoon my kids had a scheduled play date with friends that were moving in a few days. I didn’t want to cancel it so they came over but I figured they would keep each other entertained.
I posted on the EN dashboard about my crash. Initially I was resigned to just using my road bike. After getting several responses back about renting a bike it got me thinking. Since I needed a new bike I thought I’d go back to a cervelo P3. I had one last year but found a good deal on a trek speed concept. The new P3 has a smaller frame size which would fit a little better. I called a cervelo dealer in Salt Lake City. It was in stock and would arrive the beginning of next week. I asked if they could build the bike then I’d pay to have it shipped to a bike shop in LP. They said they didn’t ship bikes. I called one in Saratoga Springs, NY. When they called back they said they were out of stock until the fall. I could never get a hold of another bike shop in LP because the phone was always busy. Onto plan B. I checked the website of a local bike shop I had purchased a bike from previously. They had a trek speed concept 9.5 in my size, the same exact bike. I called them the next day and confirmed that the bike was in stock. I asked about the delivery time frame and they said that I could pay for 2 day shipping and it would arrive on Friday. I dropped off my old bike so they would have the measurements. They finished putting it together Saturday morning and I was able to pick it up that afternoon.
After the crash I took 2 days completely off. Over the next several days I did some biking and running. Nothing hard, just working out the soreness. The only good workout I had was a run on Monday. I left for Denver Tuesday night and stayed with Stephanie Stevens. I did this because we couldn’t find flights that arrived around the same time in Albany. Our flight was early Wed morning so we didn’t get much sleep. It was good because it helped me adjust to the 2 hour time difference.
I arrived in LP Wednesday afternoon with Stephanie Stevens. We are staying in a house with Scott Dinhofer and Mike Graffeo. We had some drama at the airport in Albany. Her bike didn’t arrive and they didn’t know where it was. We had a layover in Baltimore and they thought it was pulled from the plane by mistake. There was another flight arriving from Baltimore later in the afternoon but they wouldn’t know if it was on that flight until it arrived. If it was on that flight, the bike wouldn’t be delivered to LP until Thursday afternoon. Luckily our friend Scott was driving past Albany the next morning and would pick it up. Steph called the airline when we arrived in LP, they had her bike. What a relief.
Thursday morning I finished putting my bike together before going for a swim. We did one loop of the swim. This was the first time swimming since the crash. My left wrist was still sore and it bothered me a little on my underwater pull. It also made putting on and taking off my wetsuit more difficult. In the afternoon Scott shuttled Steph and I so we could ride the descent into Keene. We did this 3 times. There was a part near the bottom that I could not get comfortable riding in my aero bars without coming out of them. We drove the rest of the course. That night we went to the EN dinner. It was great to see teammates I had met before and to meet new ones. Unfortunately I didn’t have a chance to meet everyone.
On Friday we met for the team swim. I swam another loop of the swim course and this time my wrist felt better. The plan was to go for a short run on Mirror Lake Drive after the swim. I barely made it half a mile before I just wasn’t feeling it. I turned around and slowly jogged back to the beach. We went to the 4 keys talk. Coaches PnR did a good job. Later that afternoon we took our bikes and drove to Wilmington. We rode the section from Wilmington to the top of papa bear. That night we decided to go to the athlete dinner. It was good to see Woody carry the Lake Placid torch into the arena then pass it off to Andy Potts before he lit the caldron. I didn’t think the food was that good but they do a good job inspiring you.
Saturday we didn’t have any activities planned other than dropping our bike and bags off at transition. We had a big breakfast then it was back to the house to finish getting my things together. After we dropped our stuff off, Mike, Steph and I picked up lunch and ate it by the swim start. Then it was back to the house to relax. We watched the movie “Lincoln”. The afternoon went by fast. For dinner we ordered some pasta for pick up. I took a melatonin around 7:45pm and was able to go to sleep by 8:30pm.
Sunday I was up earlier than planned, probably because I was able to go to sleep so early. I had something to eat before getting ready to leave by 5 am. I kept the stitches in for the race because I didn’t want to take a chance of it splitting open before or during the race. I placed some tegaderm over the stitches and on my backside to keep the water out and to offer some protection. We got everything done in transition and made it to the team picture at 6 am.
I decided not to get in the water and warm up before the start. Instead I just stretched to loosen up. About 6:15am, I made my way to the start and positioned myself in the middle of the under 1 hour group. There was not any less contact with the new rolling swim start. My left wrist got hit a couple of times but with the adrenaline from the race it didn’t bother me on the swim. I thought with the new swim start and swimming with people your same speed; I would have an easy time finding feet to draft on. Not happening. It took until the first turn to get in a good rhythm. On the 2nd lap I started passing swimmers halfway to the first turn. By the first turn it was crowded. It was harder to sight and swim a straight line on the 2nd lap. The water was a little choppy from all the people. Coming out of the water the wetsuit strippers where right there so I barely had time to unzip my wetsuit before they were helping me get it off.
T1 – 4:34
The run from the swim to T1 is long. I am usually pretty good getting in and out of transition but this time I was a little slow getting out of the changing tent. The visor on my helmet came off in the bag and then again when I was putting it on. The volunteers had my bike waiting for me by the time I got to my row. They were awesome!
Bike – 6:03:36
It was raining at the start of the bike. The first part of the bike I kept reminding myself to just ride easy. Going up the first hill I noticed that my left wrist was swollen and it hurt to shift. The rest of the ride I used my right hand to shift. It was still raining on the descent into Keene. I make sure I kept it in control. Around mile 20 the screen on my Garmin 500 went blank. On Friday it was acting funny but I got it to work for the ride. Just to be safe I decided to wear my Garmin 910xt. I didn’t even think about checking the bike settings in case I needed to use it. I needed to change it from run to bike mode. There was a time alarm set and it was set for every 20 min. I wanted it set for every 30 min. so it messed up my eating a gel every 30’ and 1/3 of a powerbar on the hour. I ended up with an extra gel and 1/3 of a powerbar. I don’t have a quick release for the 910xt because I only use it for the run. With the watch on my wrist I didn’t have my power numbers staring at me in my face. As a result I rode a little too hard on the first lap. I only saw two ladies in my AG pass me on the first lap.
On the 2nd lap, I felt myself struggling after the first out and back. It didn’t help that a couple guys would pass me and as soon as they passed they would sit up and start drinking. This forced me to sit up so I would stay out of their draft zone before re-passing them. I took a caffeinated gel to help keep me focused. The section after Wilmington was tough, I was tired. On the last 3 hills it was great to have the roads packed with people. They made me smile and laugh. It was good to be back into town and hear the crowds cheering. Before the bike dismount line I took my feet out of my shoes. I was so happy to hand my bike off to the volunteers. Oh yeah, I peed 4 times on the bike. It gets easier each time.
I have some bike data but it is not complete. I think what happened was when I turned it off to switch it to run mode I didn’t reset it. The bike and run data are intermixed into one activity.
T2 – 2:59
Again it was a little slower than I would have liked. There were a few things that I usually do while running that I didn’t, like putting on my sunglasses and visor. Transitions are important and you can pick up a few places and time on the rest of the field. I’m a little disappointed with my transitions because I know I can do much better.
Run – 3:50:52 PR
I was pretty sure I was in 3rd place starting the run but I didn’t know how far behind I was from 1st and 2nd. The first part of the run is downhill so I kept reminding myself to run stupid slow and take advantage of this time to eat. I ate a banana and tried to switch my watch to run mode but there was a message about my heart rate that wouldn’t go away. I had to turn it off, wait for it to acquire a satellite signal and then switch it to run mode before pressing start. When I saw my pace I knew I was running too fast. I needed to slow down. My goal pace to the turnaround was to average 8:30. It is easier for me to start out at the pace I want to run at rather than to run “30 slower the first couple of miles. I had to keep reminding myself to run slow.
The first turn around was a good place to see where I was in the race. I didn’t see the 2 ladies in my AG but I saw John Withrow and Joe Manning. I wanted to catch them. At the same time, Kori Martini and Rob Sabo were behind and I didn’t want them to catch up to me. I saw these 4 people at each turn around. It was good to see familiar faces. Kori was a big cheerleader throughout the day on both the bike and run.
I like running hills so I didn’t think they were too bad. I was able to run all of ski jump hill and townie hill on both laps.
When I passed RnP, I wanted to know where I was in the race. They said they’d find out and let me know. This time on the out and back by Mirror Lake I saw the 2 ladies in my AG but I didn’t know how much time they had on me. When I passed RnP the second time coach R said that the cell coverage was bad and they didn’t know where I was but he reminded me that the race doesn’t start until I make the turn coming out of River Rd. I told him that I was in 3rd but I didn’t know how far back.
Again running the downhill section I kept reminding myself to not over do it. The 2nd lap was definitely a little tougher but I kept repeating to myself “slowing down or walking is not an option” over and over. I have missed out on AG wins twice before because of losing focus or making poor decisions on the run. In the past I would have been more aggressive in catching up to the ladies in front of me and then hope I could hold on in the end.
Coach R comes by on a mountain bike and tells me that he is going to find the 2 ladies in front of me. At the turn onto River Rd coach R is waiting and tells me 2nd is 4’ ahead but I’m running 30” per mile faster. I have to remind myself to stay calm and to keep running my pace and be patient. I still have a ways to go. This is a long out and back. To stay focused I again concentrate on running the tangents and repeating “slowing down or stopping is not an option”. At this point I am barely slowing down at the aid stations but I’m still getting perform to drink, water to pour over my head and an ice cup to hold.
I pass 2nd place shortly after the turn, at about mile 16. At the turn around I see 1st place and she isn’t too far ahead. By mile 20, I pass 1st place. As soon as I pass her, she knows who I am and says “you got this, you’re looking good.” Even though I passed her I still have work to do. I don’t know how much earlier I started before her on the swim. The last thing I want is to find out that even though I finished before her she had won because of the rolling swim start. Around this time I started running behind this guy who was is going the same pace and running the tangents as well. I stick to him like glue. I love being able to run behind someone. It makes it so much easier. Once I pulled up beside him but quickly noticed a difference so I slowed and let him go ahead again.
At the turn I see coach R and he said I was in 2nd but didn’t say how far behind. What! There was someone else! Then he reminds me only 2 more hills to go, this is the home stretch. A little while later he catches up and says you’re in first and I’ve put some time into 2nd. Before the last hill coach R rides by again and says you owe this man a beer for doing all the work. So true! It would have been tougher if I was running on my own. On the last hill coach P is there saying I am 6′ up on 2nd place and something about almost to the finish and making it hurt. The guy I’ve been running with says I’ll catch up with you later, go get it. I can rest all I want after the race. It’s time to empty the tank and give it all I have left. Had coach P not been there I would have been content to keep running behind this guy. Who knows if I would have finished under 11 hrs.
There were so many people cheering on both sides of the street. It was amazing but I was hurting and all I could do was focus on my one thing. I could hear them but that’s about all. As I came around the last turn on Olympic Oval I saw the clock. I haven’t been keeping track of my splits or the total time so I was surprised to see I was going to finish under 11 hours. I move to the side to give a few high fives before crossing the finish.
I am very happy with my run. I stuck with the plan and didn’t go out too hard in the beginning trying to catch the ladies in front of me as quickly as possible. I was patient and ran my own race. Most off all I was able to finish really strong. The crowds and volunteers where amazing. They helped me to smile and kept me going. I never felt really bad on the run. It was more about knowing that it was going to be uncomfortable and accepting it. I have two quotes on my wall that say, “being uncomfortable doesn’t equal slowing down” and “get comfortable with being uncomfortable”. Those two quotes couldn’t have been more appropriate. I love being able to see people I know on the run. I tried to cheer for as many EN teammates as I could; it makes it fun and is a great energy booster.
Nutrition on the run was Perform at every aid station. I had 6 Gu gels and 2 packages of Cliff Bloks. After the turn around on River Rd I started drinking Coke instead of Perform.
Overall a 23’ PR.
I was getting mile splits during the race so I am bummed that the data got corrupted.
After finishing I collapse into the arms of the catchers. I had a hard time catching my breath. The volunteers pick me up to take me to medical. As they were carrying me the guy I ran with at the end came up to congratulate me. I have a chance to thank him.
By the time I lay down on the cot my hands, feet and face are tingly and my hands have started to cramp. They give me some chicken broth as they take my vitals and ask me questions. I start feeling nauseous and throw up. My blood pressure is a little low. They want to draw labs and start an IV but they can’t find a good vein. Several people come and look at my arms. Finally someone thinks they can get it and IV started, but no luck. A few more people come by and they try again this time they are successful. An IV is started and they give me something for the nausea. They give me more chicken broth and a banana to eat. Labs come back normal. Two IV bags later and I still have cramping and tingling in my hands.
During this time they keep asking if I want to go to the hospital. NO, this is not an option. They start another bag with a slow drip to keep the line open and have me sit up in a chair. After walking back from the bathroom I throw up again. This is the third time. I have never felt this bad after a race. They give me something else for the nausea and some potassium. I am exhausted and just want to curl up in a ball and go to sleep.
By the time the 3rd bag finishes they are ready to release me into somebody’s care. I have been in medical for over 2 1/2 hours. I don’t have Scott’s number, so I call Steph. She is finished so she comes to medical to help me walk back to the house. Scott has both of our bikes. The house isn’t far but Scott finds us a ride. At the house, I laid down on the couch and slept for a couple of hours. By the time I wake up I’m feeling better. I get up, eat, shower and go back to bed. In the morning I’m feeling normal except for the fact that my legs are so sore.
This has been an emotional journey. I really struggled the last few months of training and then the accident. I knew what my goals for this year were since the end of last year. They were very aggressive goals. To be able to achieve them despite the obstacles is very fulfilling. The good thing is that I know there is still room for improvement. I love training and I love competing.
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