A Journey to Ironman
Age on Race Day: 56
Race: Ford Ironman USA Lake Placid (Lake Placid, New York) July 26, 2009
At Lake Placid, New York on July 26, 2009, I completed 140.6
miles in 14 hours 18 minutes and 45 seconds. Why did I set out to do the Ford Ironman Lake Placid?
About 5 years ago Rich and Dorinda Miller invited me to join them at Lake Terramuggus in Marlborough, Connecticut
to do a sprint triathlon, a ¼ mile swim, 11 mile bike and 3.1 mile run. I had been running regularly
since 1986 and swimming in High School made it easy to start doing laps at the new pool at the Mansfield Community Center
(MCC) which opened in late 2003. I had biked a lot in my younger days so I dragged my bike out from the
seventies and put some miles on it. I completed the Terramuggus sprint and remember clearly that the transition
(T2) from the bike to the run felt worse than any marathon I had ever run. Over the past five years I completed
many other sprints at Terramuggus and Lake Placid and in 2007 and 2008 I did two ½ iron distance triathlons, the Musselman
in Geneva, New York and the Half Vermont Journey in Salisbury, Vermont. It was Dave
Kloss who convinced me to join him for the first 1/2 iron distance race, the Musselman. That was a great
weekend and one filled with memories of the cabin and campground, pasta with venison sausage and nerves ready to break on
the car ride to the starting line. That weekend we talked about Ironman and Dave was thinking ahead to
doing Ironman in a few years.
Still why an Ironman…..
Go back several decades and it was 1982 and I was watching Julie Moss in great physical distress after a large lead
over the second place women at the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon. She eventually crawled to the finish line
and was passed within feet of it by her pursuer—ask anyone and they could not tell you who won that day, but they remember
Julie Moss. I cannot say I got up from watching that and wanted to do an Ironman but this image of Julie
stayed with me for all of these years. Forward to 1999, and we are up at the cottage on Lake Champlain
and we hear there is a new Ironman in Lake Placid. We did not go to see it but we were there afterward
and saw all of the banners hanging on buildings. There was still a sense of excitement in the Town. The
restaurant we ate in gave me the Ironman banner and I brought it home (I hope I can find where I stored it). I
thought about how awesome these athletes were, but I did not go out and start riding or swimming.
In 2006, after completing a number of sprints, I went to the
Lake Placid Ironman race and saw Brian Usher go by twice on the bike. It was awesome to see someone I knew
and all the other athletes in action. In 2007, I bought my first bike since the seventies, a Cervelo Soloist,
an aero-dynamic road bike with the ability to convert it to the tri angles needed in the aero position by turning the seat
stem forward. Spike and Matt at the Ski Rack in Burlington, Vermont really helped me zero in on the best
bike for my goals. At that time I told Spike I might do an Ironman some day. He told me if I was to only
own one bike it should be a road bike, as training on a tri bike is a lot tougher on the body.
It was all of these experiences and knowing I was not getting younger (56 as of race
day) that some time last year it clicked and I signed up for Lake Placid. Maybe too, it was the quotes
that hung on the refrigerator up north that had spurred me on in marathons, “Only those who attempt the absurd achieve
the impossible.” Or “That which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.”
F. Nietzche. I know that the encouragement of my young friend Asher Kach, who was himself an Ironman, completing
Wisconsin, was key to me finally signing up. I asked him after the May, 2008 Vermont City Marathon how
I could do this when I felt so bad at the end of my seventh marathon and he said “If you think about it that way
you would never do an Ironman. You cannot think about it. Charlie, I know you can complete
one.” Arriving at 9:00 a.m. in Lake Placid the day after the 2008 Ironman, a little ambivalent and not really worried
whether I got in or not, I got one of the last spots. That year the registration sold out at the site following
the race on Monday. I had not really convinced Lisa that this was a good thing, and it cost more than either
of us imagined. But I was in…….
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