It was a mild overcast morning with rain in the forecast. The lake was beautiful and calm, however once almost 3000 participants started the swim portion of the event, the lake became very choppy. The bike portion was very difficult, made tougher with rain that had fallen while we were swimming. The roads were slick and the fast downhill sections caused some white knuckles squeezing the brakes gently to stay under control. 112 miles of hilly terrain made for a long day in the saddle, the last few miles being a steep uphill climb. I was barely able to turn the pedals and keep the bike moving forward. Once off the bike and sitting in the changing tent, I stared at my running clothes and shoes, not wanting to put them on and get up to face the 26.2 mile run. But not finishing was never an option so off I went. After the first three miles, I realized running most of the way would be difficult. I started walking for a bit, hoping to pick up the run after another mile or so. However, I could not have predicted that the most meaningful aspect of the race was about to occur.
A guy started walking next to me and asked if I would mind if we could walk together for a bit. He had yet to complete an Ironman, having come to Lake Placid last year but suffered a bike crash at mile 109 and could not finish. He was doing okay this year until he started vomiting at the beginning of the run and possibly then not being able to finish in his second attempt. His name was David and he came up from North Carolina with his family, who naturally were very concerned for his health and welfare. I decided at that moment that my mission for the remainder of the event was to stay with David, make sure he was okay and walk with him for the entire Marathon distance.
We calculated that we had enough time until the 17 hour race cutoff if we kept up a decent walk pace of between a 15 and 16 minutes per mile. Walking a marathon for so many hours I think is even more difficult than running it, having to stay out there well into the night, with dropping temperatures and pouring rain, keeping your body moving forward. My feet were killing me as were my quads, hips and ribs. It seemed the finish line would never come. But after 16 hours and 21 minutes total race time, I still had the thrill of finishing my third Ironman in the last 12 months, but even more meaningful was helping another person successfully become an Ironman for the first time! It was irrelevant to me whether it took me 14, 15 or 16 hours. But I will remember forever the 7 hours David and I spent together, talking about everything under the sun (and moon and stars). We introduced each other to our families at the finish line, feeling as though we all knew each other forever. I suspect the special bond we forged during those hours will last a lifetime.
I have attached the picture of me and David after the race.